Dee Dyas: 1997

from Images of Faith in English Literature 700-1500:
An Introduction
, 1997

go to: line 62;   click "resistlessly" to return


Dr Dyas makes frequent reference to The Seafarer, but unfortunately relies on the 1970 translation provided by Richard Hamer. Here is Hamer's version of the central crux:

                Even now my heart
Journeys beyond its confines, and my thoughts
Over the sea, across the whale's domain,
Travel afar the regions of the earth,
And then come back to me with greed and longing.
The cuckoo cries, incites the eager breast
On to the whale's roads irresistibly,
Over the wide expanses of the sea,
Because the joys of God mean more to me
Than this dead transitory life on land.

The hyge is not the seafarer's "heart"; the sceatas are not the "regions" of the earth; the seafarer's thoughts do not "come back" to him with "greed and longing"; the anfloga is quite definitely not the cuckoo; it does not "incite"; and where does this "eager breast" come from ? The "whale's roads" are, or is, the path of death, which the naked and defenceless unwearnum seafarer must now take.

Dr Dyas evidently felt a little uneasy with this version. She edited it, thus:

How the anfloga became a cuckoo, via lone flying, was clearly a bit of a puzzle. "Irresistably" [sic] was merely a typo, one assumes.

The following excerpt from Images of Faith illustrates how imperfectly the colonisation of the British Isles has been understood. See Oppenheimer, for a start; or try Lödöse.

The peoples who populated the British Isles in the early centuries of the Christian age, and also well before, were, arguably, not essentially "Germanic", but Scandinavian. It is slightly misleading to describe "their roots" as lying in the coastlands of Northern Europe. Their roots lay in Scandinavia; ie modern Sweden and Denmark, and not so much along the coast of Saxony. It depends how one looks at the map, and its orientation.

When Doggerland sank beneath the waves, and became the lost Atlantis, the Old Scandinavians continued drifting westwards and southwards, bringing their language and values with them, for thousands of years. That language was not, of course, Old English.

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