monamy website index
seafarer essays & papers
"It is dangerous to be right when established authority is wrong." Voltaire.

"anticipates Turner's stormy sensibility"
"The flood may bear me far"

as evidenced by the two topics explored on this website
C18th marine painting and the language of the Anglians

Some Extra Remarks


Twenty-year-old linguist Alex Rawlings points out that some languages have personalities that resemble the personalities of other languages. Sometimes the opposite is the case. Rawlings somewhere says that, for instance, in spite of its origin, Afrikaans does not have the personality of Dutch. I hold that Anglo-Saxon has the same personality as Modern Swedish. Modern English, however, does not have the intrinsic personality of Anglo-Saxon. Hence the mainly misguided efforts of contemporary monoglot Anglos to re-fashion The Seafarer. On the general topic of translation, try this. A translation with, I submit, the personality of its original. The idea of personality has a definite appeal.

Cassell's German-English Dictionary, 1953, defines Sprachgefühl::

linguistic feeling; (viz. an intuitive sense of what is correct and idiomatic in a language, hence) intuitive sense of the language, instinct or natural feeling for a language.

This page has otherwise been prompted by dipping into Pygmalion. The Penguin I ordered has arrived, containing a passage I've been struggling to recall. Pages 93 and 96. A Hungarian character, called Nepommuck. Professor Higgins: "He can learn a language in a fortnight --- knows dozens of them. Sure mark of a fool." Nepommuck: "I am interpreter. I speak 32 languages. I place any man in Europe" Memory of this passage enforces my humility. try here.

GBS on Henry Sweet

Someone who had exactly the right personality for Anglian was Alfred Tennyson.
Extremely difficult not to suppose Tennyson knew The Seafarer.
Tennyson also translates surprisingly well into Swedish. Ring out, Wild Bells.

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea.

The perfection of Tennyson's simple summary of the Seafarer's concerns may be apparent even to those who have managed to discover untold complexity in the poem's 125 lines. Ignoring the unfortunate joke which, in some quarters, it has given rise to, my purpose here is to examine the original poem's understanding of the "bar" which equates to the Anglian word wearn, and the Swedish word vrn. Tennyson's verse, believed by some the most popular in Britain, is titled "Crossing the Bar". In a sense this implies humanity dropping all defence, and ultimately conceding defeat and the end. The lines "When that which drew from out the boundless deep/Turns again home" replicate the seafarer's return to the sceat, the lap of nature, from which he once emerged. We'll start with Leo, 1872.

See also here.

Although Leo initially offers what must be the primary definition of wearn, and therefore of unwearn, (namely "unguarded"), he was preceded by Bosworth. Bosworth fails to mention either "defence" or "guard".

The differences between these two sets of multiple definitions, thirty years apart, are of some interest. Bosworth's 1868 spelling of hind[e]rance is slightly curious, but of minor importance. Of greater import is his introduction of a second category of interpretation: "refusal, denial". These seem to me to be going seriously astray. Is it not a jump in sense to go from "defence" to "denial/refusal" ? Surely the principal meaning of wearn can only be "defence" ? Pointless question. Wearn means "defence". Check the Swedish, below.

Might as well say it again. Swedish is the modern language with a personality closest to Anglian. The term "Old English" is sadly deplorable. Press on to Bosworth & Toller in full throttle, 1898. Below.

Faintest of suggestions, as an afterthought: Icel. vrn, a defence. Here's BT on un-wearnum, below:

It has to be repeated that unwearnum is not an adverb, meaning "without hindrance" (ie "irresistibly"), but the dative case of an adjective meaning "unguarded", or "defenceless"; the sleeping man's attendant circumstance. Below, Clark Hall had already, four years earlier, gone totally off-piste, without the slightest mention of defencelessness, or unguardedness. I don't really know why he inserts a token reference to Leo.

I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

No harm in hoping, for Anglian seafarer as for Victorian poet laureate.

Personality is a word applicable to the style of a painter.

Opinions may only be expressed by those suitably qualified to give opinions.
"The picture's value is the picture's price"

An Explanation for the Rise of Monamy. See here.

A Reminder

Selection of genuine paintings by Monamy. A personality very different from van de Velde's.
Van de Velde's paintings are mainly about the ships. Monamy's paintings are not mainly about the ships.
They are about what the Spirit of Britain once was

Paintings like these made J.M.W.Turner a painter.
Van de Velde, father and son, were not inspired by the Spirit of Britain

see Tate Catalogue Entry.
The sometime opinion that Monamy was "theatrical" appears to have disappeared.

Although the Tate Gallery Illustrated Companion, 1979, largely repeats the views of the benighted,
its above comment on Peter Monamy shows a modicom of perception.

In the revised and expanded 1991 edition of the Tate Gallery Illustrated Companion,
written by Simon Wilson, "curator of interpretation",
Peter Monamy has completely vanished.
All marine painting is totally ignored.

.... by industrious valour climb
To ruin the great work of time
And cast the kingdom old
Into another mould

monamy website index
monamy anomalies       monamy problems
a modern eye-stretching account
seafarer essays and papers

hugr, hyge, hg
à bout de souffle
walpole's anecdotes
hervey & others on robert walpole
peter monamy and british art historians
peter monamy painting selection
walpole opposition
popery & painting
patronage & painting

"It is difficult not to impute great beauty to paintings that are the highest-priced,
equally hard not to downgrade art that is cheap"
Martin Gardner, The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener, p 77

mail here


© Charles Harrison-Wallace 2018
all rights reserved