Why Read Old Poetry Essay - Essay Prowess

Why Read Old Poetry Essay


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Why Read Old Poetry

Understanding culture and historical background help us stay rooted as human beings. Many people have a cultural knowledge they identify with. Poetry also has a historical background from which it is traced. Most world-famous poems have been translated from Latin and Greek. Latin and Greek are not global languages in the modern world. English has grown to be one of the widely spoken languages across the globe. For this reason, tracing the poetic creations to the old English gives the readers the context of the close to the original Latin and Greek poetic creations. Different translators have conceptualized and translated the Old English poems in different ways for various reasons. While some translators wanted to maintain the lyrical aspect of the hymn, others saw it fit to preserve the message in the song.

This essay examines the reasons why old English should be the preferred reading.
Cædmon’s hymn presents a good incidence through which we can look at the old English and compare the subsequent translations. To begin with, it is essential to understand the original other of the poem to be able to read and understand the creation in their actual perspective. Cædmon was a herd’s man who sang in honour of his creator, belting the tune in Latin using terms that he was not familiar with. Understanding the hymn from the humble linguistic profile that described the author as opposed to the scholarly translation accords the hymn decent justice. One gets a feeling that if the poem was translated by an English herdsman possibly, the poetic expression could carry the message the original author intended.

Looking at the original Latin composition, one notices significant structural similarity with the incorporation of caesura and alliteration to ensure the message being communicated was not disjointed.
Caesura is a space or breaks that the traditional Latin and Greek poets strategically placed in-between each line. The break seems like a way to give the reader or the audience time to absorb information. This traditional creation element has been retained in the old English translation, but over time, the modern translators seem to be decanting caesura. One gets a sense that the effect of omission of the feature leaves the audience bombarded with large amounts of information without sufficient time to absorb it. Caesura makes the hymn easier to read and understand, making it s better read compared to the modern English translations.
Alliteration is something that John Pope’s translation attempts to have. Alliteration is vital in the Latin creations to join the two sections, separated by a caesura. In line 1, he said, “Now we must praise heaven-kingdom’s guardian.” John Pope maintains the initial consonant to match the one in the old English but fails to sustain the concept throughout the translation, creating a somehow disjointed translation.

This means that Pope’s modern English translation loses the poet flavour but maintains the meaning. The lack of alliteration is seen in line 1 of the old English hymn “Nu sculon herigean heofonrices weard” (Cædmon, line 1). The syllable “h” in the last word of the first section and the first word of the second section alliterate, giving the line continuity. The readers feel the poem’s flow making the poem in old English more coherent and better than the modern English translation by John Pope. A keen reader understands Pope’s predicament where he had to choose between retaining the message or having to be content with only maintaining the meaning.
Professor Milsom’s translation seems to concede that the old English made sense, and translating the same poem to modern English means losing some sense in the path of translation. Milsom had to rearrange element of her ode to ensure that the reader of the contemporary translation made sense of the reading. This seems like an indirect concession that meaning and direct translations are mutually exclusive.

Milsom says, “afterwards made the middle earth, the land, for men” (Milsom, line 9). Examining the translation against the old English hymn by Cædmon, one notices that she combines section two of line 8 to the two sections of line nine to achieve a smooth flowing translation that easy to read. The rearrangement is proof that the old English creation is more superior and presents poetic and meaning in one creation instead of having to choose.
Old English poetic pieces like Cædmon’s hymn present the audience with structurally and lyrical intact work as intended by the original composes. Caesura and alliteration are some noticeable features that set the Old English poems apart bearing great resemblance to the Greek and Latin writings. Old English translations are more desirable than the Modern English translations.

Works Cited
Cædmon’s Hymn
Cædmon’s Hymn, Translated by John Pope
Easier Version to Read, Translated by Professor Milsom

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