Some Swedish Seafarer words: anflygare, efter, grus, holme, håg, må, ovärn, skura, sköte, sätten, sörja, valväg (valplats), varþer, vång.

anfloga: "a griffon vulture takes care of recycling dead matter"

"There may be wisdom in a multitude of counsellors, but it is only in one or two of them." Thomas Huxley

TOPICS: Favourite & Favoured

A correspondent has informed me that "The web is a cesspit of hatred, paranoia, misinformation and propaganda." Nevertheless, by delving into this cesspit some time ago, I discovered the following (click): Michael Gilleland: "Could Pound simply have made a mistake? Is it possible that the Emperor has no clothes, or at least a rip in the seat of his pants?" This question was entertainingly answered by a David Young: "It seems to me you are too generous. Others have smelt a rat, most notably, Charles Harrison-Wallace, who has his pound of flesh and more in the Pound Notes section of his invaluable web-site on the poem (, which undertakes not so much a re-evaluation as a wholesale devaluation of some very suspect currency." Bully for Young ! Who he ?

In The Whys, 1983, Martin Gardner, on page 80, has this to say: "I agree with Vladimir Nabokov that Ezra Pound was a 'total fake'." Also, "I always read (William Carlos) Williams three or four times, hoping to find something of more value than undistinguished prose broken into lines..." That graphic phrase "broken lines of undistnguished prose" encapsulates, for me, the slippery character of modernist poetry.

In a work entitled The Elsewhere Community, 2000, page 36, the critic Hugh Kenner, Pound's greatest admirer, stated that a definition of modernism was "simple words placed in a natural order". The profundity of that remark is exceptional. However, neither modernism, nor imagism, can be said to be in evidence in Ezra's Seafarer. Kenner added that Pound was "the presiding spirit of modernism."

Imagism has been defined as a movement in early 20th-century English and American poetry which sought clarity of expression through the use of precise images. The movement derived in part from the aesthetic philosophy of T. E. Hulme and involved Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Amy Lowell, and others. Also "a theory or practice of a group of poets in England and America between 1909 and 1917 who believed that poetry should employ the language of common speech, create new rhythms, have complete freedom in subject matter, and present a clear, concentrated, and precise image." A style of poetry that employs free verse and the patterns and rhythms of common speech. Dig those simple words placed in a natural order, and clarity of expression; the patterns and rhythms of common speech. Seafarer, Ahoy !

On this page I mean to continue to flog a couple of favourite dead horses. Those minimally familiar with this website will know that the first of these is Pound and his Seafarer, coupled with a struggle to nail Imagism, Modernism and the rest of the inane but influential garbage; and the second is the fundamental kinship of Anglish with the Swedish language.

Pound & The Seafarer etc. Click

In 1982/3 Professor Christine Froula had this to say on page 36 of her Guide to Pound's Poems:

Jaw-droppingly wrong; but proof Pound had seen the uncut text; translated by Iddings in 1902.
It is also a serious error to dignify Pound's "refraction" as a "translation" of any kind.

Iddings, 1902: "Great is the fear of the Lord".       Pound, 1911: "Mickle is the fear of the almighty".

It seems pointless to mention that repeating Pound's "philological" opinion in 1982 is somewhat redundant, since a lucid exposition of the true nature of The Seafarer had been published in 1937 by O.S.Anderson. Anderson's insight into the essence of the poem derives directly from his Swedish birth and academic career. Moreover, in The Seafarer; A Postscript", published in 1979, writing as O.S. Arngart, he divided the poem into two sections. The first section represents the poet's life on earth, and the second tells us of his longing to voyage to a better world, to the heaven promised by Christianity. The bipartite construction of The Seafarer will be, and has been, examined elsewhere.

The anfloga is the Bird of Death. The word has been risibly misunderstood as "one-flier" in almost all interpretations of The Seafarer, in spite of the fact that the word's true meaning was pointed out by G.V.Smithers in 1959. The concern of the entire poem, its unifying theme, is man's contemplation of the approach of Death. The poem divides into two halves: Life/Death. The implicit suggestion is that Life on earth amounts to Death; and that Death promises Life, under the aegis of the Christian God. An evangelical message, though not one I personally subscribe to. It is distinctly if distantly reminiscent of Wordsworth's "trailing clouds of glory do we come, from God, who is our home". What a shocking thought to any committed Modernist !

One the few studies to reveal the workings of genuine poetry of any age, is Empson's landmark Seven Types of Ambiguity, 1930, There are two kinds of poem: short and long. Some poets, like Blake, are masters of both kinds, but the kind that really matters is the short. Poetry is the original of "literature", predating letters, script, and literacy. Haha. Its salient characteristic is therefore memorability, which it achieves by various devices: rhyme and rhythm, alliteration and assonance, inter alia. If it doesn't have impact, it is not poetry. Poetry compresses thought and feeling into few words, mainly by ambiguity, which increases meaning. Poetry says more than is conveyed by its words alone. It is not easily forgotten, and easily remembered. 80% of the compositions presented as poetry in the TLS today have no impact and no memorability. They are instantly forgettable. A list of the British nation's 100 favourite English-language poems, according to 12,000 voters, contains nothing by Ezra Pound, although the list does include other American poets.

The Anglian language, which for some time now has been called "Old English", used to be known as "Anglo-Saxon". This is certainly a more accurate term than "Old English". However, after some thought, I have come to the conclusion that the language spoken by the Anglians, or Angelcyn, would be more usefully known as "Anglish".

At this point I feel impelled to quote from one of the more prominent members of the multitude of Pound counsellors and hagiographers; one with whom I feel a modicum of inverted kinship. He has written, below left, as follows:

The account at left is, in some ways, a looking-glass image of an account I might have written of my own undergraduate days at Oxford. In my case, however, I'd been ceded entry to my college on the basis of three languages, and I was hiding a fourth in reserve. I'd decided to pick English, anyway, and assumed the foreign lingos would be useless. I was shown Pound's Seafarer by a fellow undergraduate, also reading English. I felt as though I'd been kicked in the head, and experienced a sense of nausea sufficient to make me forget about the unwelcome experience for the next thirty or forty years. Then, however, Pound's Seafarer became a source of inspiration, though not resembling in any way that of the enthusiast, at left. As described here, I felt that if I tried it myself I couldn't possibly translate it into worse verse than Ezra. I was, after all, relatively adept in four languages, whereas Ezra had clearly been a monoglot. Further to my looking-glass relationship with the Pound admirer, I then came to discover that the most significant passages of the poem were its beginning and its ending, along with the absolutely crucial passage at its dead centre, lines 58-64. Its Christian conclusion was equally obviously utterly fundamental to the entire composition. Below is what the admirer had describesd as "the moralising bridge passage in the middle." His modern English lines strike me as having virtually nothing at all to do with the original Anglish; and seem to come from another galaxy.

Wayne Leman: "Translation accuracy is measured by the degree to which users get the same meaning as the original."

At left (click) is the Pound admirer's version of lines 58-64. Under the influence of Ezra, his multiple misreadings of the Anglish text are truly astonishing. Virtually everything is wrong: a tribute to Pound's injunction "make it new". It certainly has hardly any perception of what the author had said or was meaning to say. In this passage the bird of death is abroad. Those with ears attuned to the Anglish language may hear the beating of its wings. The anfloga is not a spirit nor a cuckoo. It conveys its defenceless prey along the death-way, back to mother earth.

anfloga, eft, holma, hreþer, hrusan, hyge, mæg, onwæl weg, sceata, scur, siþas, sorge, unwearnum, wongas

It is not who is right, but what is right.

According to this site:; arms were attributed to the kingdoms of the Anglian heptarchy from the 12th or 13th century onward, with the development of heraldry. Although this seems a little late, when contemplating the arms used to designate the kingdoms of the heptarchy, it would seem that these heralds had not the slightest doubts about from where their ancestors had originated.

It has been pointed out by David Burns that there are over a thousand place-names in modern Sweden which start Angel, Engel or Ingel. Virtually no Saxon place-names occur in England. This was perceived long ago by Isaac Taylor. See here.

Sachsen, Sahson, Saksen, Sassen, Sassenach, Saxones, Seaxe,

See further comments on anfloga here.

"It is dangerous to be right in matters on which established monoglots are wrong." Voltaire, The Age of Louis XIV. (Adapted.)

another pge
anfloga again
The Cambridge Old English Reader
The Meaning of The Seafarer and The Wanderer. G.V.Smithers
An, Ân, & Eft: Old English Grammar. A. Campbell
Pretentious Fake
R.I.Page and the DOE
Hugr, Hyge, Håg
The prefix un- in Anglo-Saxon
the central crux of the seafarer
Biblical Echoes
re: unwearnum
visualizations of the anfloga

essays and papers

Anfloga cognates: German and Swedish: Anflug, anflygning. Flying approach, attack.

© Charles Harrison Wallace 2019
all rights reserved

I have been obliged to content myself through life with saying what I mean in the plainest of plain language, than which, I suppose, there is no habit more ruinous to a man's prospects of advancement. T.H.Huxley, Autobiography, p 1, Lectures & Essays, Watts & Co, 1931.

I have been given the impression that I was considered insulting for having wished to discuss the meaning of The Seafarer.

Does this debate, like others, become increasingly bitter because its issue is so trivial ?

. Truth treads on toes.

. In 1992 the Vatican conceded that Galileo had been right in 1633.

"no one to keen him but the black hags that do be flying on the sea"