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Thread: Mid. English: Robert Mannyng's "The Chronicle"

  1. #1

    Mid. English: Robert Mannyng's "The Chronicle"

    Hi all,

    I'm currently working on a translation and analysis of a segment of Robert Mannyng's "The Chronicle" Part I, and was wondering if any of you have some familiarity with the poem, as it's extremely obscure and I'm having some issues generating enough ideas. Note I'm absolutely not asking for someone to essentially "do my homework", but just hoping to generate some discussion and gain some new insight.

    I found the translation to be fairly direct for the most part, but some bits continue to allude me (bolded):

    If žou wille alle že manere,
    whi & on what manere,
    to telle že, sir, gif žou me leue
    žat žou ne žin with me greue. (7217-7220) so genderand, ne so plentyue,
    ne so graciouse žrod to žriue,
    as we ere of our kynde,
    in no lond salle men fynde;
    ne so selcouthly to gendre,
    ne haf so many childre tendre
    & waxen men, women inouh,
    žat alle žare duelle ne mouh.

    Any suggestions? I've been consulting with various Middle English dictionaries and they have helped somewhat, but since in many cases there are no literal or direct translations it makes putting the sentence into modern English with conventional grammar a challenge.

    Besides the translation, I've found that the poem sits in a sort of transition between Old and Middle English, which makes sense given the time period (it was written in the early 14th c). Some Old English orthographic symbols like the thorn (ž) remain prominent in the text, while others are absent, such as /ę/. Similarly, the letter yogh (ȝ) is no longer being used as /g/ and /w/, but is still being used as /y/ in the case of ȝe and ȝenge (young). These are some of the most obvious changes, others are a bit harder to point out.

    Anyway I'd really love some feedback to work through the translation and discuss it. Thank you in advance!

  2. #2
    aspiring Arthurianist Wilde woman's Avatar
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    Jan 2009
    grad school in upstate NY
    I have not heard of this poem, but you're right that it looks like it's transitioning from Old to Middle English. Do you know where it was written? Or in what hand? Out of curiosity, which Middle English dictionaries are you using?

    What is this chronicle about? I ask because the second stanza you posted sounds fascinating. Off the top of my head, could the last line be translated as "dwell there no more"?
    Ecce quam bonum et jocundum, habitares libros in unum!
    ~Robert Greene, Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay

  3. #3
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    Aug 2010
    I read Middle English for fun sometimes. You need to give us a context for "The Chronicle"; it looks like it deals with poetry even though its name would suggest a history text. If you threw a random excerpt of even a Chaucer text and asked what it would translate to, then many would be lost as well.

    Edit: this looks like one of those crazy dialects where the germanic and french influences are clear. This all is also complicated by the lack of a standard spelling system in medieval England so its hard to pinpoint meanings. reminds me a bit of Finnegans Wake.
    Last edited by hanzklein; 02-17-2011 at 09:01 PM.

  4. #4
    Sorry, I should have added the context. The full poem is an account of British history from Noah's flood to the year 1307, and it includes a retelling the Myth of Layamon's Brut. The Chronicle itself was completed in 1338 in Lincolnshire (east Midlands). The segment in question that I'm working on is from part one and recounts the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons to England, lead by Hengist. Here Hengist is telling the king Vortiger about his people, their plight and why they've traveled to his land.

    I've been using this dictionary as well as this one. If I could find a full text of the section I'm working on online I would post it, but this is the first time the internet has completely failed me for research! I could type the whole thing out I guess, if you'd like. It's about 50 lines.

  5. #5
    aspiring Arthurianist Wilde woman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    grad school in upstate NY
    Hmmm, how close is the language to the Layamon? At first glance, it doesn't look as alliterative as the Layamon, so I'm guessing a lexical comparison is out of the question?

    I did a quick search of my university's library, and there is actually a fairly recent edition of this text (published in 1996) and edited by Idelle Sullens. I'm not sure if it's a translation into modern English, but I imagine it would have glosses for the more difficult lines. Here's a copy of it I found on amazon:

    And a quick googling turned up a website based on this edition. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a translation, but perhaps a useful glossary?

    I'm not sure if you were aware of this or if you have access to it, but if not, I'd be happy to take a look at it for you. I have to work in the library later this week, so let me know!
    Ecce quam bonum et jocundum, habitares libros in unum!
    ~Robert Greene, Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay

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