See, it all comes down to motivation.  Ignoring the watering, the guinea pigs, the dinner, the dust, and a letter from the local council which requires me to reply, I parse slowly through the next Old English poem, consulting two online dictionaries and two paper glossaries and propping myself up with Treharne’s parallel translation, mouthing aloud like a 45 rpm single being played at 33.  And I’m still battling with the inflected endings.  For word-fanciers, the rewards are considerable.

maðm (treasure) seemed strangely familiar until I found and remembered Tolkien’s mathoms

breostcofa (breast chamber, heart)

isigfeþera  (icy-feathered)

Occasional phrases are beginning to pop into meaning without dictionary, sometimes carried to sense by their cadence:

fæst is þæt eglond   fenne beworþen  (that island is secure, surrounded by fens)

ne swete forswelgan   ne sar gefelan   (not taste sweetness nor feel pain)

bihongen hrimgicelum;  hæl scurum fleag   (hung about with icicles; hail showers flew)

Occasionally a word knocks me back because of modern English’s Romance language inheritance.  I know it means  ‘splendidly adorned with gold’ or perhaps ‘proud’ or ‘stately’, but when I read ‘wlonc’  …   it just comes out as wlonc.


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