highlyeccentric: Sir Gawain: as gay as christmas - especially at christmas (Gawain)
'm back. Been busy. There was a pretty man deserving of my attention. Didn't read any modern poetry. Did read some Middle English poetry.

In which Gawain and his new and newly-hot wife get it on:

"Kysse me, Sir Knyght, evyn now here;
I pray the, be glad and make good chere,
For well is me begon."
Ther they made joye oute of mynde,
So was itt reason and cours of kynde,
They two theymself alone.
She thankyd God and Mary mylde
She was recovered of that that she was defoylyd;
So dyd Sir Gawen.
He made myrthe alle in her boure
And thankyd of alle Oure Savyoure,
I telle you, in certeyn.

With joye and myrthe they wakyd tylle daye
And than wold ryse that fayre maye.
"Ye shalle nott," Sir Gawen sayd;
"We wolle lye and slepe tylle pryme
And then lett the Kyng calle us to dyne."
"I am greed," then sayd the mayd.
Thus itt passyd forth tylle middaye.
"Syrs," quod the Kyng, "lett us go and asaye
Yf Sir Gawen be on lyve.
I am fulle ferd of Sir Gawen,
Nowe lest the fende have hym slayn;
Nowe wold I fayn preve.

"Go we nowe," sayd Arthoure the Kyng.
"We wolle go se theyr uprysyng,
Howe welle that he hathe sped."
They cam to the chambre, alle incerteyn.
"Aryse," sayd the Kyng to Sir Gawen;
"Why slepyst thou so long in bed?"
"Mary," quod Gawen, "Sir Kyng, sicurly,
I wold be glad, and ye wold lett me be,
For I am fulle welle att eas.
Abyde, ye shalle se the dore undone!
I trowe that ye wolle say I am welle goon;
I am fulle lothe to ryse."

Syr Gawen rose, and in his hand he toke
His fayr Lady, and to the dore he shoke,
And opynyd the dore fulle fayre.
She stod in her smok alle by that fyre;
Her here was to her knees as red as gold wyre.
"Lo, this is my repayre!
Lo!" sayd Gawen Arthoure untille -
"Syr, this is my wyfe, Dame Ragnelle,
That savyd onys your lyfe."
He told the Kyng and the Queen hem beforn
Howe sodenly from her shap she dyd torne -
"My Lord, nowe be your leve" -

And whate was the cause she forshapen was
Syr Gawen told the Kyng both more and lesse.
"I thank God," sayd the Queen;
"I wenyd, Sir Gawen, she wold the have myscaryed;
Therfore in my hartt I was sore agrevyd.
Butt the contrary is here seen!"
Ther was game, revelle, and playe,
And every man to other gan saye,
"She is a fayre wyghte."
Than the Kyng them alle gan telle
How did help hym att nede Dame Ragnelle,
"Or my dethe had bene dyghte."

Ther the Kyng told the Queen, by the Rood,
Howe he was bestad in Ingleswod
With Sir Gromer Somer Joure,
And whate othe the knyght made hym swere,
"Or elles he had slayn me ryghte there
Withoute mercy or mesure.
This same Lady, Dame Ragnelle,
From my dethe she dyd help me ryght welle,
Alle for the love of Gawen."
Then Gawen told the Kyng alle togeder
Howe forshapen she was with her stepmoder
Tylle a knyght had holpen her agayn.

Ther she told the Kyng fayre and welle
Howe Gawen gave her the sovereynté every delle,
And whate choyse she gave to hym.
"God thank hym of his curtesye;
He savid me from chaunce and vilony
That was fulle foulle and grym.
Therfore, curteys Knyght and hend Gawen,
Shalle I nevere wrathe the serteyn,
That promyse nowe here I make.
Whilles that I lyve I shal be obaysaunt;
To God above I shalle itt warraunt,
And nevere with you to debate."

"Garamercy, Lady," then sayd Gawen;
"With you I hold me fulle welle content
And that I trust to fynde."
He sayd, "My love shalle she have.
Therafter nede she nevere more crave,
For she hathe bene to me so kynde."
The Queen sayd, and the ladyes alle,
"She is the fayrest nowe in this halle,
I swere by Seynt John!
My love, Lady, ye shalle have evere
For that ye savid my Lord Arthoure,
As I am a gentilwoman."

(Text and gloss here)
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (shock!)
Queer theory is awesome.

I take back the sweeping general condemnations of Theory, generally, and re-issue them with the caveat bad theory. GOOD theory reassures you that you are not mad for finding bondage jokes in Sir Gawain.1 GOOD theory also provides you with cultural analysis lines down which you can take your non-salacious grammatical study.

BETTER theory would've said more about transgressive *female* sexuality instead of tying it all up with male-male desire. But hey, one can't have everything.

1. Someone has written an article entitled 'Anal Rope'. I must hie me to Fisher and, ah, pin it down.


Mar. 9th, 2008 01:49 am
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (grammar time)
So, I'm obsessed with the Old English verb thyncan (yes, it has a thorn or an eth, but i'm too tired to type them). Happily for me, when I have to prepare comments on three aspects of vocabulary in Sir Gawain, i found its Middle English equivalent, and i went a bit nuts. My commentary on the other two bits of vocab won't be nearly this long, I swear.


The verb thinken in Middle English in fact consists of two separate verbs with a similar range of spellings and- to the modern reader- similar semantic fields, which nevertheless remain distinct according to the grammatical constructions in which they are used.

• The first (v.1, according to the Middle English dictionary) appears on line 49:
With lordez and ladies, as leuest him Þoȝt. (With lords and ladies, as seemed dearest to him)

• The second thinken, which also appears in our text- is in fact in the same glossary entry- is the ancestor of our modern verb to think, and descends from the Old English Þencan, to think, to exercise cognitive faculty. Semantically and gramattically it is closer to the Middle English/ early modern ‘to ween’ than to its homophone thinken.

• The first thinken, as it appears in line 49, should be thought of in terms of the early modern methinks.
The important thing to note is the difference in the case of the pronoun. Dative case pronouns (me, you, him- these are also the accusative case pronouns in modern english, but OE has a distinction in the third person, not sure about ME) are used to express an indirect object. The thinker does not initiate the cognitive process- is not the subject- but is the recipient of a fully formed impression.

• An impersonal verb has no subject, nothing seeming. The Middle English Dictionary lists two personal constructions of thinken (v. 1): ‘to present the appearance of, to seem to be’; or ‘to seem proper, to seem good’. These two meanings occur in Old English as well, but they do not survive in the early modern methinks. The example here in line 49 is a personal construction; the lords and ladies are seeming dearest to Arthur.

• The Middle English Dictionary lists a further six impersonal uses of thinken, variations on ‘it seems (to me) that’, ‘as it seemed to him’, and so forth. An interesting use of thinken in both Old and Middle English is to present something which ‘seemed to him’ in a dream or vision- a phrase which would now present a sense of unreality, but I think conveys something more like passivity, lack of concious control, in the Old and Middle English. You can also find methinks associated with this sort of context in Shakespeare- there’s a nice big batch of methinkses used as the dreamers in Midsummer Nights regain their wits and marvel at their experiences.

Finally, coming back to our line 49 here, lordez and ladies, as leuest him þoȝt. It tells us about Arthur’s mind- his affection for the lords and ladies- and, rather than expressing the sort of doubt that would go with ‘to seem’ in modern english (well, they seemed lovely to him at the time…), I think it constructs Arthur’s attatchment to these lords and ladies as almost instinctive, a response bypassing cognition.

As another note- I can’t seem to see much in the way of personal verbs of cognition in this first 250 words. Lots of seeing and appearing, little thinking. Does this mean something? I don’t know…
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (grammar time)
Bobbaunce: pomp, pride.

Say it with your snootiest pommy accent or your most irritating french accent. Bobbaunce. Like a fat little mayor in a waistcoat. Bobbaunce.
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (waltrot)
All that can finally be said for the outcome of the narrative is that it did come to and end- and as applied to Chaucer, even that is saying a lot.
-Martin Stevens, "Narrative Focus in The Book of the Duchess: A Critical Revaluation", Annuale Medievale 7, 16-32 (31)

Also, it is not often that I complain about secondary interpreters over-Christianising a medieval text (in fact, i'd usually say there's no such thing as over-Christianising a medieval text, unless you want to Protestant-ify it). Nevertheless, I think this Stevens bloke has managed it.
highlyeccentric: A character from silentkimbly.livejournal.com, hiding under a lampshade (hiding)

... a dream (or nightmare?) in which an academic treatise comes to life, the terms of its discussion assuming physical form in the strange logic of the dream.
-Kathryn L. Lynch, "The Book of the Duchess as a philosophical vision: the argument of form", Genre 21, 279-305 (292)

right. I'm not going to sleep tonight for fear of being chased through my dreams by reality and fiction in the Chaucerian dream-vision.

ed: and, thanks to this entry, [profile] goblinpaladin won't be sleeping for fear of Helmold of Bosau.
highlyeccentric: Me, in a costume viking helmet - captioned Not A Viking Helmet (not a viking)
I am an unfaithful Anglo-Saxonist. I have developed a mad crush on Middle English. Not for its soul or content... merely because it's pretty when spoken aloud. This, I feel, is the equivalent of having a swoon at someone based on their looks.

Waltrot is my new favourite word. That thou speakest is but waltrot!

also, check out my new medieval-themed icon. I sniggers. Procrastination gives you great ideas...
highlyeccentric: A character from silentkimbly.livejournal.com, hiding under a lampshade (hiding)
Laurence Warner is definitely high-ranking in the Medieval Weirdness Stakes. (i like him for it)

Final E! It sounds really subversive... Queer Theory and Final E! Are y'all ready for some Final E action, guys? *bangs the table, in a distressingly chirpy manner reminiscent of coaches in American school movies* I thought so! *looks down at his page for a moment* The scribe of the L manuscript just didn't understand Final E. So what you gonna do, when you need that Final E, and your base text just doesn't have it?

I was telling Tocky about it. She looked puzzled. I compared it to "magic E" in primary school. She looked even more puzzled. Apparently she thought "final E" sounded like drugs more than spelling...


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