[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Author Index][Search Archives]

Re: MR-Disc: Lak of Stedfastnesse

Poster: einar@cvn.net (carl christianson)

>From Elen Prydydd:
Alfredo wrote:
>Somtyme the world was so stedfast and stable
>That mannes word was obligacioun,
>And now it is so fals and deceivable
>That word and deed, as in conclusioun,
>Ben nothing lyk, for turned up-so-doun
>Is al this world for mede and wilfulnesse,
>That al is lost for lak of stedfastnesse.
>What maketh this world to be so variable
>But lust that folk have in dissensioun?
>For among us now a man is holde unable,
>But if he can by som collusioun
>Don his neighbour wrong or oppressioun.
>What causeth this but wilful wrecchednesse,
>That al is lost for lak of stedfastnesse?
>Trouthe is put doun, resoun is holden fable,
>Vertu hath now no dominacioun;
>Pitee exyled, no man is merciable.
>Through covetyse is blent discrecioun.
>The world hath mad a permutacioun
>Fro right to wrong, fro trouthe to fikelnesse,
>That al is lost for lak of stedfastnesse.
>      Lenvoy to King Richard
>O prince, desyre to be honourable,
>Cherish thy folk and hate extorcioun.
>Suffre nothing that may be reprevable
>To thyn estat don in thy regioun.
>Shew forth thy swerd of castigacioun,
>Dred God, do law, love trouthe and worthinesse,
>And wed thy folk agein to stedfastnesse.
>I think that this ballade is so full of words
>that happen to have changed very little that
>it doesn't have to be updated to be understandable
>to speakers-of-modern-English (nuperanglophones?).
You're right, it doesn't.  Incidentally, my mother called while I was
pulling this up.  She majored in medieval and (early) modern English at
Mercer back in the '40's (gee, how did I get interested in all of this?)
<grin>, so I read it to her over the phone.  Her immediate reaction was
"that's not Chaucer, that's the modern English of Shakespeare's time.
Linguistically, it's too close to the English we speak."  And yes,
Shakespearean English IS Modern English, Chaucer wrote in Middle English
which still shows lots of traces of Norman French, and Beowulf, of course,
written in Old English, pre-Conquest.  Mom taught 8th grade English, by the
way, and her honors class always did scenework from Will's great Scottish
play.  I'm inclined to trust her opinion.

>* Is it easy enough to read, as is?

Yes, with a couple of exceptions.  "Covetyse" leaves me a little baffled.
Is that supposed to be covetous?  "Resoun is holden fable" does,
too...possibly resolution is held a fable?

>* Would you understand it if you heard someone recite it?

Absolutely.  In fact, it's reasonably easy to recite, with the above
exceptions.  I find that understanding it myself is more than half the
effort of getting the meaning across to a listening audience.

>* Even if the reader did things like making "stable"
>sound like "stobble" and "hate extorcioun" sound like
>"hot ex-tor-see-oon"?
>* Are the observaciouns in this poem still valid?
>* Were they valid then?
>* Is the last stanza good advice for a king?

Yes, yes, yes and yes.

>BTW, I didn't type in the poem; I glommed it
>(if that's the right term) off the WWWeb at


>List Archives, FAQ, FTP:  http://sca.wayfarer.org/merryrose/
>            Submissions:  atlantia@atlantia.sca.org
>        Admin. requests:  majordomo@atlantia.sca.org

List Archives, FAQ, FTP:  http://sca.wayfarer.org/merryrose/
            Submissions:  atlantia@atlantia.sca.org
        Admin. requests:  majordomo@atlantia.sca.org