Sunday, June 11, 2006

"To pay the Prince other sete saghte..."

I'm about to prove my incompetence with Middle English, but I wanted to understand the poem's ending, and I find that translating a passage myself often leads to deeper insight.

In this instance, my efforts haven't led me to any significantly greater understanding, for I'm still struggling with the translation. I didn't find the word "enclyin" in A Concise Dictionary of Middle English, by A. L. Mayhew and Walter W. Skeat, but the word looks like "incline," so I've provisionally chosen that even though I can quite make out the grammar.

Perhaps the experts who sometimes glance at my blog can help me out.

Just so no one is dependent upon my translation alone, I've included two online translations after my own. Mine is in parentheses, followed by Bill Stanton's translation, and then by Vernard Eller 's translation:


To pay the Prince other sete saghte
(To please the Prince or suitably reconcile)
To please the Prince and him requite
To please the Prince or with him get right


Hit is ful ethe to the god Krystyin;
(It is fully easy for the good Christian;)
Is easy for the Christian man
Easily comes to the good Christian;


Foe I haf founden hym, bothe daye and naghte,
(For I have found him, both day and night,)
For I have found him day and night
For I've found him, both day and night,


A Gode, a Lorde, a frende ful fyin.
(A God, a Lord, a friend fully fine.)
A God, a Lord, who ever can
A God, a Lord, a Friend full fine.


Over this hyul this lote I laghte.
(Upon this hill this plight I accepted.)
Upon this hill me guide aright
Upon the hillock I accepted my plight


For pyty of my perle enclyin,
(For pity of my pearl incline,)
In pity for that pearl which ran
For pity of the pearl I pine.


And sythen to God I hit bytaghte
(And since to God I it entrusted)
To God, who gives his gifts of right
Then gave I that pearl to God outright


In Krystes dere blessyng and myn,
(In Christ's dear blessing and memory,)
And to Christ's blessing which began
In blessed memory of the Christ divine


That in the forme of bred and wyn
(That in the form of bread and wine)
With bread and wine his mighty plan
Who, in the form of bread and wine,


The preste uus schewes uch a daye.
(The priest us shows each day)
The priest each day our souls inspires
The priests do daily show by measure.


He gefs uus to be his homly hyne
(He gives us to be his humble servant)
To make us each God's artisan,
To be humble hirelings he doth us assign


Ande precious perles unto his pay.
(And precious pearls unto his pleasure.)
Those precious pearls my Prince desires.
And precious pearls unto his pleasure.

The poet then adds "Amen. Amen." I presume that the double amen is significant, but I know not how.

Does it count as line 1213? That would mar the numerological structuring of 1212, wouldn't it? What think ye, schoolmen?

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At 8:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most of my Middle English texts are in storage, but I recently found (used) a 1991 printing of the Everyman edition of the "Pearl Manuscript" poems, as last revised in 1983, so I do have it where I can consult it.

A.C. Cawley glossed "Pearl" 1201 as "To please or propitiate the Prince," and "enclyin" as "lying prostrate." So far as I can recall, that is unchanged since the 1976 edition. (Which used to be my standard reading copy, although Andew and Waldron [1978] replaced it for serious consultation.)

I'm not too surprised the Mayhew and Skeat dictionary wasn't helpful -- the prominence of "Pearl" really seems to be a twentieth-century phenomenon. And even post-World-War II; E.V. Gordon's edition of 1953 made it a lot more accessible.

At 5:05 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Ian, for that helpful information. Just out of curiosity -- and I ask because you continually prove yourself a fount of information on many areas -- are you a Medievalist?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:53 PM, Blogger A.H. said...

Oxford English Dictionary (The Massive Edition) has cognate forms, all occuring in religious contexts i.e. "to pay homage" and it is offered as a parallel to "show humility". Another gloss (from another source) is "mournful"...has adjectival function. Interesting how IMS points out that Pearl is a late phenomenon...I first remember Pearl as an obscure book tucked under the arms of friends as they waited for their JJ Anderson tutorials... that would be back in the late 1970s. There is a recent hermetic edition by Enitharmon press and the meaning of "to lie forward" and show submission is retained. (Thanks for the advice on linking).

At 3:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't call myself a medievalist in a professional sense (more of a fantasy fan who likes the "originals" too). But I did wind up taking a *lot* of medieval and Renaissance literature courses, on both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Old English and Middle English in the originals, plus a mix of classes in folklore and ballads, literatures in translation, and myths and legends, covering Baltic and Slavic, Celtic, Finnish, Middle High German, and Old Icelandic material. Along with a quarter of "Classical Mythology," little of which I found new, because it was required for a comparative survey of Indo-European mythologies. And a seminar on Renaissance Epic; I've probably forgotten something.

(Some of these offerings were unique to UCLA at the time; I'm not sure of their present status.)

Much of this has stuck with me, partly because I kept on reading in these areas. Whereas my Latin has deteriorated (again).

At 8:21 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Eshuneutics, thanks. I followed up on your information and posted today on that.

Jeffery Hodges

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