Author Topic: Old English proverbs  (Read 13749 times)

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Offline klaus

  • Posts: 993
on: January 16, 2008, 21:27
Most Old English proverbs are lost to modern speakers, though some survived through the Middle English period. There are two copies of a little poem called Latin-English Proverbs in Old English. Like the Durham Proverbs, they are given in both Latin and the vernacular. The proverbs are used in the Middle English poem The Owl and the Nightingale:

Ardor frigesscit, nitor squalescit,

amor abolescit, lux obtenebrescit.

Hat acolaþ, hwit asolaþ,

leof alaþaþ, leoht aþystraþ.

Senescunt omnia que terna non sunt.

Æghwæt forealdaþ þæs þe ece ne byþ.

(Heat grows cold, white becomes dirty, the beloved becomes hated, light becomes dark. Everything which is not eternal decays with age.)

These lines become:

Nis nout so hot þat hit nacoleþ,

Ne nogt so hwit þat hit ne soleþ,

Ne nogt so leof þat hit ne aloþeþ,

Ne nogt so glad þat hit ne awroþeþ:

Ah eauere euh þing þat eche nis

Agon schal, & al þis worldes blis. (1275—80)

(There is nothing so hot it does not grow cold, nothing so white it does not become dirty, nothing so loved it does not become hated, nothing so cheerful it does not get angry. But everything that is not eternal shall pass away, and all this world’s joy.)

Interestingly, these lines are about the very process of change that they illustrate.

A last example of change appears in the use of a late Old English proverb in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, under the year1130:

man seiþ to biworde, hæge sitteþ þa aceres dæleth.

(people say as a proverb, ‘the hedge remains that divides fields’.)

The proverb here is about important differences. Hedges could be boundary markers between fields, and if two owners had fields side by side, both had an interest in maintaining the hedges. Unusual is the fact that the proverb is given a metaphorical application: just as the difference of ownership makes the hedge important, so the differences of discipline and style between the writer’s monasticism and that of the powerful monastic house of Cluny become a hedge which make it impossible for the English monastery to become part of the Cluniac movement.

Now a version of this proverb appears in the Middle English collection of proverbial material called The Proverbs of Hending:

Men seþ ofte breþren striue,

þe wiles þe fader is on liue,

Wo shal haven þat lond.

þe fader may hem ouerbide,

And þat lond, hit may atglide

In-to a fremde hond.

‘Heye he sit, þat akeres deleþ’ Quad Hending.

(Men often see brothers struggle about who is to have the land while their father is alive. The father may outlive them and the land may pass into the possession of a stranger. ‘He sighs deeply who divides the land’, said Hending.)

Hending’s proverb in the last line of the stanza is a version of the one in the Chronicle, but it has been misunderstood. There are only the smallest changes of sound in the recording of the proverb, but a complete change of meaning. The compiler of the Hending poem is clearly struggling to make sense of what the thinks the proverb means, and in the end he does quite well in that he gives us something that could perfectly well be a proverb: dividing land could be a miserable business for a wide variety of reasons. But it is a far cry from the original. Perhaps as far a cry as would be the explanations offered for p’s and q’s or being hoist with one’s own petard by most people today.

http://users.ox.ac.uk/~stuart/dits/contents_wisdom.html
Да здравствует свободная Эстония! Elagu vaba Eesti!

Offline sknente

  • Posts: 3656
  • кавайная шкодница в чепчике
Reply #1 on: January 16, 2008, 23:04
Hm, only yesterday I've been thinking about that. :'(
:3

Offline klaus

  • Posts: 993
Reply #2 on: January 17, 2008, 11:49
Идеи носятся в воздухе.
Да здравствует свободная Эстония! Elagu vaba Eesti!

Offline RostislaV

  • Posts: 1713
  • Gender: Male
Reply #3 on: January 17, 2008, 11:55
они не носятся в воздухе ... они постоянно сообщаются внутри биомассы на уровне кванта ...

 

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