Wednesday, February 10, 2016

William Dunbar's Lament For The Makers - 1


                                                      [William Dunbar (1460-1520)]


AG: (searching through his anthology)  (Is (Robert) Creeley ….in the Norton book?… yeah, one-two-two-five..yeah, I think that might be… One-two-two-five, that might’ve been it?…No.  I’ll find it, there is some poem of his that’s like that.

So we have (William) Dunbar’s "Lament for the Poets" or "Lament for theMakers" – You remember poesis was making, making - “makeles” here – 15th-16th century. It’s (this poem's) like my own poem, "Howl", in theme and subject . It’s a lament for all the poets that he knew that lived and died, that he knew of.

So, actually, it’s his.. it’s a recitation of his lineage, an outline of who the poets were that influenced him, William Dunbar.

Is Pat O’Brien here ? – [to Pat O'Brien - Student] - (You want to try to read it?  You have a good.. you got a good.. is this a good text? I have a couple of texts here that.. maybe the one we have in the Oxford book is better?
Pat O’Brien: (.. (Norton) - page seventy-two)
AG: I’ll be up here tho’ – Can you help out (since you know the language)?

Student (P O'B) I can just do this in common Middle English. I’m not very good at Middle Scots
AG: Well, is it Middle Scots?
Student (P O'B)  Yeah, you've got to give it the Scots, roll the "r"s and so forth, and I can't do any of that.
AG: Okay
Student (P O'B):  “Lament to the Makers"
AG: Is that makers and not muckers?
Student (P O'B): Yeah
AG: Makers?
Student (P O'B): Right, well, you might say mucker
AG: Muckers?
Student (P O'B): But in general, you don’t pronounce the “i-s” after a vowel in Middle Scots (except when you feel it!)
AG: Okay ..and it’s "while he was sek?" – right?
Student (P O'B): Right
AG: In our book, we don’t have that. The full title is "Lament to the Makers When He Was Sek” -  Q-W-H-E-N - "Qwhen he was Sek" (S-E-K} – You might write that in - Q-W-H-E-N… Q-W-H-..
Student (PO'B): Q-U?
AG:  I have “Q-W” here  in the..   What do you have? Do they have that one?
Student (PO'B): Q-U-H-E..
AG: Q-U-H-E-N – he has Q-U-H-E-N,  I have  Q-W-H-E-N,  so we take a choice – "Whan he was sek" – S-E-K
Student – S-E-I-K
AG: S-E-I-K? – I have S-E-K here. What have you got?
Student (PO'B): - S-E-I-K
AG: Do it strong, oratorical 
Student: Oratorical?
AG: Yeah

[P O'B (Pat O'Brien) begins reading Dunbar's poem approximately  three-and-a-half minutes in]

THAT in heill was and gladnèss

Am trublit now with great sickness

And feblit with infirmitie:—

    Timor Mortis conturbat me.



Our plesance here is all vain glory,
         
This fals world is but transitory,

The flesh is bruckle, the Feynd is slee:—

    Timor Mortis conturbat me.



The state of man does change and vary,

Now sound, now sick, now blyth, now sary,
  
Now dansand mirry, now like to die:—

    Timor Mortis conturbat me.



No state in Erd here standis sicker;

As with the wynd wavis the wicker

So wannis this world's vanitie:—
  
    Timor Mortis conturbat me.



Unto the Death gois all Estatis,

Princis, Prelatis, and Potestatis,

Baith rich and poor of all degree:—

    Timor Mortis conturbat me.
  


He takis the knichtis in to the field

Enarmit under helm and scheild;

Victor he is at all mellie:—

    Timor Mortis conturbat me.



That strong unmerciful tyrand
  
Takis, on the motheris breast sowkand,

The babe full of benignitie:—

    Timor Mortis conturbat me.



He takis the campion in the stour,

The captain closit in the tour,
  
The lady in bour full of bewtie:—

    Timor Mortis conturbat me.



He spairis no lord for his piscence,

Na clerk for his intelligence;

His awful straik may no man flee:—
  
    Timor Mortis conturbat me.



Art-magicianis and astrologgis,

Rethoris, logicianis, and theologgis,

Them helpis no conclusionis slee:—

    Timor Mortis conturbat me.
  


In medecine the most practicianis,

Leechis, surrigianis, and physicianis,

Themself from Death may not supplee:—

    Timor Mortis conturbat me.



I see that makaris amang the lave
  
Playis here their padyanis, syne gois to grave;

Sparit is nocht their facultie:—

    Timor Mortis conturbat me.



He has done petuously devour

The noble Chaucer, of makaris flour,
  
The Monk of Bury, and Gower, all three:—

    Timor Mortis conturbat me.



The good Sir Hew of Eglintoun,

Ettrick, Heriot, and Wintoun,

He has tane out of this cuntrie:—
  
    Timor Mortis conturbat me.



That scorpion fell has done infeck

Maister John Clerk, and James Afflek,

Fra ballat-making and tragedie:—

    Timor Mortis conturbat me.
  


Holland and Barbour he has berevit;

Alas! that he not with us levit

Sir Mungo Lockart of the Lee:—

    Timor Mortis conturbat me.



Clerk of Tranent eke he has tane,
  
That made the anteris of Gawaine;

Sir Gilbert Hay endit has he:—

    Timor Mortis conturbat me.



He has Blind Harry and Sandy Traill

Slain with his schour of mortal hail,
  
Quhilk Patrick Johnstoun might nought flee:—

    Timor Mortis conturbat me.



He has reft Merseir his endite,

That did in luve so lively write,

So short, so quick, of sentence hie:—
  
    Timor Mortis conturbat me.



He has tane Rowll of Aberdene,

And gentill Rowll of Corstorphine;

Two better fallowis did no man see:—

    Timor Mortis conturbat me.
  


In Dunfermline he has tane Broun

With Maister Robert Henrysoun;

Sir John the Ross enbrast has he:—

    Timor Mortis conturbat me.



And he has now tane, last of a,

Good gentil Stobo and Quintin Shaw,

Of quhom all wichtis hes pitie:—

    Timor Mortis conturbat me.



Good Maister Walter Kennedy

In point of Death lies verily;
  
Great ruth it were that so suld be:—

    Timor Mortis conturbat me.



Sen he has all my brether tane,

He will naught let me live alane;

Of force I man his next prey be:—

    Timor Mortis conturbat me.



Since for the Death remeid is none,

Best is that we for Death dispone,

After our death that live may we:—

    Timor Mortis conturbat me.

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at the beginning of the tape and continuing to approximately eight-and-a-half minutes in]





Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Alliterative Verse (The Kalevala - 2)


                              [ Väinämöinen (1866) - Robert Wilheim Ekman (1808-1873)]

[Allen continues his reading from Francis Peabody Magoun's translation of  The Kalevala.] 


AG: Then he (Joukahainen)’s going to give him his lands from home, “fields of sandy soil” Väinämöinen refuses those, says he’s got better fields than that-“ fields in every direction, windrose in every clearing.”

"I'll give you my windrose back home, surrender my fields of sandy soil to free my own head, to random myself". / Old Väinämöinen spoke, "I don't want your wind rose, useless person, nor your fields of sandy soil./ These too I have, fields in every direction, windrose in every clearing./My own are better fields, my own windrose finer"./ He bewitched young Joukahainen, kept bewitching him further down./

The(n) young Joukahainen at last, however, grew desperate when he was up to his chin in the mud, up to his beard in a bad place./up to his mouth in a fen, in mossy places, up to his teeth behind a rotten tree-trunk. /Young Joukahainen said, "O wise Väinämöinen, eternal sage, now sing your song backward./ Grant me yet my feeble life. Set me free from here./ The current is already dragging at my feet, the sand scratching my eyes./ If you will reverse your magic words, leave off your magic spell, I'll give you my sister, Aino, to rinse out the wooden firkins, to wash the blankets,/ to weave fine stuff, to bake sweet bread."/ Then Väinämöinen was exceedingly delighted when he got Joukahainen's girl to provide for his old age./ He sits down on a song stone, sits himself on a song rock./ He sang once, he sang twice, he sang a third time too./He took back his magic words, revoked his spell completely/Young Joukahainen got free, got his chin free of the mud,/his beard from a bad place, his horse from being a rock in the rapids,/ his sleigh on the shore from being a rotten tree-trunk in the water, his whip from being a shore reed./ He climbed slowly into his basket sleigh./ He flung himself limply into a shed/ He set out in a sorry state of mind with heavy heart to his dear mother's, to his esteemed parents."

That’s really a great contest. "(sank) up to his teeth behind (an old) rotten tree-trunk”,
 I thought that was the best of it, and he found that his shoe become a stone, or his hat a stone, (hat into a cloud, shoe into a stone, reminded me of Gregory Corso’s sort of fast trickery)
Student: (Well, he wrote a poem, Gregory Corso wrote a poem called "Contest of Bards")?
AG:  Two poets on a highway” ("Poets Hitchhiking on the Highway"), which was similar, but I don’t think either of us had ever seen this. He (Corso) might have because he was pretty sophisticated with this epic meter. 
Student: It's amazingly similar.

AG: Yeah. Well I think it’s an old basic theme, you know, a contest of magic words, but, actually, the thing is, anthropologically, or, culturally, basic - the “dirty dozens” ..is a similar thing.. which blacks (sic) do, which probably is an old Afric ritual, where two blacks contest to see who can say the most filthy, insulting, degrading, degeneratething, like -  “Your father eats pussy out of your mother’s cunt, and I don’t give a shit but your grandma also (eats) of your grandfather’s crotch!” – And then, the answer - “Well, I know, but I saw your sister eating out of your ass the other night, and, anyway, it didn’t matter, because you already ate out of her armpit!” - You know, it would get worse and worse, who could capp each other – the more imaginative, the more imaginative personal-magical.. personal magical put-down. You know, the psychological war, in a sense, using language, and trying finally to get a little thunderbolt of language that would get into somebody’s heart, you know, and really get them where they don’t want to be touched. And then if you get… and then if you lose heart and get mad, then you lose the game. Whereas if you gain heart...

Student: (Like the Italians play..)
AG: Pardon me?
Student: (There's an Italian game that the Italians play in the villages in the bars)
AG: Yeah. What do they call it?
Student:  (I've forgotten  but it's just like that)

AG: Well, the phrase that I used before – “capping each other”, which musicians used, probably comes from that. So it’s a classic form. In this case, the alliterative aspect of the verse wasn’t obvious because of the English translation but that’s part of the..that was part of the scheme – and part of the inspirational formula. If you have a formula which involves alliteration and repeated phrasing – “Fair fields ful of folk”?, you know - then it’s easier to make up things, because you’re just following the..  following along the sound of the mind. You don’t have to think up the words, you just follow the sound of the mind and the first thought, best thought, that pops into your mind, you can use...

Student: Who is that by?

AG: This is by.. I’ll give you the circumstance agai. It’s Kalevala  (Kalevala? Kalevala?) Kalevala  - Kalevala – Kalevala - Kalevala  - Kalevala
or Poems of the Kalevala district, compiled by   Elias Lönnrot, (L-O-N-N-R-O-T) Prose translation  by Francis Peabody M-A-G-O-U-N  Mr Magoun,, M-A-G… 1963, Harvard Press, Cambridge, Mass – Great funny book!
Okay, why don’t we… Is there any other left-over thought because we can end on that, we can stop (while we have a little time). We’ve got the class business to do and, I think, maybe take the roll(call), could you do that?

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately sixty-five-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding at the end of the tape]