Posts tagged ‘anonymous’

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Story from “The Epic of Gilgamesh” by Anonymous

of him who knew the most of all men know;
who made the journey; heartbroken; reconciled;

who knew the way things were before the Flood,
the secret things, the mystery; who went

to the end of the earth, and over; who returned,
and wrote the story on a tablet of stone.

He built Uruk. He built the keeping place
of Anu and Ishtar. The outer wall

shines in the sun like brightest copper; the inner
wall is beyond the imagining of kings.

Study the brickwork, study the fortification;
climb the great ancient staircase to the terrace;

study how it is made; from the terrace see
the planted and fallow fields, the ponds and orchards.

This is Uruk, the city of Gilgamesh
the Wild Ox, son of Lugalbanda, son

of the Lady Wildcow Ninsun, Gilgamesh
the vanguard and the rear guard of the army,

Shadow of Darkness over the enemy field,
the Web, the Flood that rises to wash away

the walls of alien cities, Gilgamesh
the strongest one of all, the perfect, the terror.

It is he who opened passes through the mountains;
and he who dug deep wells on the mountainsides;

who measured the world; and sought out Utnapishtim
beyond the world; it is he who restored the shrines;

two-thirds a god, one-third a man, the king.
Go to the temple of Anu and Ishtar:

open the copper chest with the iron locks;
the tablet of lapis lazuli tells the story.

From: Ferry, David, Gilgamesh: A New Rendering in English Verse, 1993, Farrar, Straus and Giroux: New York, pp. 3-4.

Date: c1200 BCE (original in Akkadian); 1991 (translation in English)

By: Anonymous

Translated by: David Ferry (1924- )

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

One Last Word About Love by Anonymous

He that wil be a lover in every wise,
He muste have thre thingis whiche Jeame lackith.
The first is goodlyhede at poynt devise*;
The secunde is manere, which manhoode makith;
The thryd is goode, that no woman hatith.
Marke well this, that lovers wil be
Muste nedys have oone of thes thre.

*goodlyhede at point devise – perfect beauty.

From: Barratt, Alexandra (ed.), Women’s Writing in Middle English (2nd. Edition), 2013, Routledge: New York and London, p. 308.

Date: 15th century

By: Anonymous

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Song of the Man Who Was Weary of Life by Anonymous

This day is Death before my eyes
As when a man grown well again,
And rising from a bed of pain,
The garden sees

This day is Death before my eyes
Like fragrant myrrh’s alluring smell,
Like sitting ’neath the sails which swell
In favouring breeze

This day is Death before my eyes
Like water-bosomed lotus scent,
Or when, the traveller, worn and spent,
At last drinks deep.

This day is Death before my eyes
As when the soldier glimpses home,
As pent-up garden-waters foam
Down channels steep.

This day is Death before my eyes
As when, mist clearing from the blue,
The hunter’s quarry leaps to view,
Like this is Death before my eyes
As when, the captive, bound in pain,
Yearns sore to see his home again,
Like this is Death
While we draw breath,
We seek life’s prize
The prize is – Death.

From: Sharpley, C. Elissa (ed.), Anthology of Ancient Egyptian Poems, 1925, John Murray: London, pp. 79-80.

Date: c1850 BCE (original in Egyptian hieroglyphs); 1923 (translation in English)

By: Anonymous

Translated by: George Anthony Armstrong Willis (1897-1972)

Saturday, 3 June 2017

The Sick Wife by Anonymous

She had been ill for years and years;
She sent for me to say something.
She couldn’t say what she wanted
Because of the tears that kept coming of themselves.
“I have burdened you with orphan children,
With orphan children two or three.
Don’t let our children go hungry or cold;
If they do wrong, don’t slap or beat them.
When you take out the baby, rock it in your arms.
Don’t forget to do that.”
Last she said,
“When I carried them in my arms they had no clothes
And now their jackets have no linings.”

[She dies.]

I shut the doors and barred the windows
And left the motherless children.
When I got to the market and met my friends, I wept.
I sat down and could not go with them.
I asked them to buy some cakes for my children.
In the presence of my friends I sobbed and cried.
I tried not to grieve, but sorrow would not cease.
I felt in my pocket and gave my friends some money.
When I got home I found my children
Calling to be taken into their mother’s arms.
I walked up and down in the empty room
This way and that a long while.
Then I went away from it and said to myself
“I will forget and never speak of her again.”

From: Waley, Arthur, A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems, 1918, Constable and Company: London, pp. 29-30.

Date: 1st century BCE (original); 1918 (translation)

By: Anonymous

Translated by: Arthur David Waley (1889-1966)

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Fowles in the Frith by Anonymous with rough rendering into modern English by flusteredduck

Fowles in the frith,
The fisshes in the flood,
And I mon waxe wood
Much sorwe I walke with
For beste of boon and blood.

Fowls in the wood,
The fishes in the flood,
And I must go mad
Much sorrow I walk with
For beast of bone and blood.


Date: 13th-14th century

By: Anonymous

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

The Viking Terror by Anonymous

Fierce is the wind tonight,
It ploughs up the white hair of the sea
I have no fear that the Viking hosts
Will come over the water to me.


Date: 7th or 8th century (original in Gaelic); 1949 (translation in English)

By: Anonymous

Translated by: Fred Norris Robinson (1871-1966)

Monday, 17 October 2016

The Scholar and His Cat, Pangur Bán by Anonymous

I and Pangur Bán my cat,
‘Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
‘Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill-will,
He too plies his simple skill.

‘Tis a merry task to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur’s way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our task we ply,
Pangur Bán, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.


Date: 9th century (original in Gaelic); 1934 (translation in English)

By: Anonymous

Translated by: Robin Ernest William Flower (1881-1946)

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

The Wife’s Lament by Anonymous

I make this song of myself, deeply sorrowing,
my own life’s journey. I am able to tell
all the hardships I’ve suffered since I grew up,
but new or old, never worse than now –
ever I suffer the torment of my exile.

First my lord left his people
for the tumbling waves; I worried at dawn
where on earth my leader of men might be.
When I set out myself in my sorrow,
a friendless exile, to find his retainers,
that man’s kinsmen began to think
in secret that they would separate us,
so we would live far apart in the world,
most miserably, and longing seized me.

My lord commanded me to live with him here;
I had few loved ones or loyal friends
in this country, which causes me grief.
Then I found that my most fitting man
was unfortunate, filled with grief,
concealing his mind, plotting murder
with a smiling face. So often we swore
that only death could ever divide us,
nothing else – all that is changed now;
it is now as if it had never been,
our friendship. Far and near, I must
endure the hatred of my dearest one.

They forced me to live in a forest grove,
under an oak tree in an earthen cave.
This earth-hall is old, and I ache with longing;
the dales are dark, the hills too high,
harsh hedges overhung with briars,
a home without joy. Here my lord’s leaving
often fiercely seized me. There are friends on earth,
lovers living who lie in their bed,
while I walk alone in the light of dawn
under the oak-tree and through this earth-cave,
where I must sit the summer-long day;
there I can weep for all my exiles,
my many troubles; and so I may never
escape from the cares of my sorrowful mind,
nor all the longings that have seized my life.

May the young man be sad-minded
with hard heart-thoughts, yet let him have
a smiling face along with his heartache,
a crowd of constant sorrows. Let to himself
all his worldly joys belong! let him be outlawed
in a far distant land, so that my friend sits
under stone cliffs chilled by storms,
weary-minded, surrounded by water
in a sad dreary hall! My beloved will suffer
the cares of a sorrowful mind; he will remember
too often a happier home. Woe to the one
who must suffer longing for a loved one.


Date: c950 (original in Anglo-Saxon English); ?1990 (translation in modern English)

By: Anonymous

Translated by: Roy M. Liuzza (19??- )

Alternative Title: The Wife’s Complaint

Monday, 22 August 2016

Description of the Phoenix from “The Phoenix” by Anonymous

The bird is handsome of colouring at the front, tinted with
shimmering hues in his forepart about the breast. His head is
green behind, exquisitely variegated and shot with purple.
Then the tail is handsomely pied, part burnished, part
purple, part intricately set about with glittering spots. The
wings are white to the rearward, and the throat, downward
and upward, green, and the bill, the beautiful beak, inside
and out, gleams like glass or a gem. The mien of his eye is
unflinching, in aspect most like a stone, a brilliant gem,
when by the ingenuity of the craftsmen it is set in a foil of
gold. About the neck, like a circlet of sunlight, there is a
most resplendent ring woven from feathers. The belly below
is exquisite, wondrously handsome, bright and beautiful. The
shield above, across the bird’s back, is ornately yoked. The
shanks and the tawny feet are grown over with scales.


Date: 9th century (original in Old English); 1998 (translation in modern English)

By: Anonymous

Translated by: Sidney Arthur James Bradley (1936- )

Sunday, 10 July 2016

A Bitter Lullaby by Anonymous with rough rendering into almost modern English by flusteredduck

Lullay, lullay, litel child, why weepestou so sore?
Needes most thou weepe, it was y-yarked thee yore
Evere to live in sorwe, and siken everemore,
As thine eldren dide er this, whil they alives wore
Lullay, lullay, litel child, child, lullay, lullow,
Into uncouth world ycomen so art thou.

Beestes and thise fowles, the fisshes in the flood,
And eech sheef alives, ymaked of boon and blood,
Whan they cometh to the world they dooth hemself som good—
Al but the wrecche brol that is of Adames blood.
Lullay, lullay, litel child, to care art thou bimet:
Thou noost nat this worldes wilde bifore thee is yset.

Child, if it bitideth that thou shalt thrive and thee,
Thenk thou were yfostered up thy moder knee;
Evere have minde in thyn herte of thise thinges three:
Whennes thou comest, what thou art, and what shal come of thee.
Lullay, lullay, litel child, child, lullay, lullay:
With sorwe thou come into this world, with sorwe thou shalt away.

Ne tristou to this world, it is thy fulle fo:
The riche it maketh poore, the poore riche also;
It turneth wo to wele and eek wele to wo:
Ne triste no man to this world whil it turneth so.
Lullay, lullay, litel child, the foot is in the wheele:
Thou noost whether it wol turne to wo other to wele.

Child, thou art a pilgrim in wikkednesse ybore;
Thou wandrest in this false world—thou looke thee bifore:
Deeth shal come with a blast out of a wel dim bore
Adames kinne down to caste—himself hath do bifore.
Lullay, lullay, litel child, so wo thee warp Adam
In the land of Paradis through wikkenesse of Satan.

Child, thou nart a pilgrim, but an uncouth gest:
Thy dayes beeth ytold, thy journeys beeth ycest
Whider thou shalt wenden, north other est,
Deeth thee shal bitide with bitter bale in brest.
Lullay, lullay, litel child, this wo Adam thee wrought
Whan he the apple eet, and Eve it him bitoughte.

A Bitter Lullaby by Anonymous

Lullay, lullay, little child, why weeps thou so sore?
Needs must thou weep, it was destined thee of yore
Ever to live in sorrow, and sigh ever more,
As thine elders did ere this, while they alive were
Lullay, lullay, little child, child, lullay, lullow,
Into a strange world so art thou come.

Beasts and fowls, the fishes in the flood,
And each creature alive, made of bone and blood,
When they come to the world, they do themselves some good—
All but the wretched brat that is of Adam’s blood.
Lullay, lullay, little child, to care art thou bound:
Thou knowest not that this world’s wilds before thee are set.

Child, if it betides that thou shall thrive and prosper,
Remember as thou were brought up at thy mother’s knee;
Ever have mind in thy heart of these things three:
Whence thou comes, what thou art, and what shall become of thee.
Lullay, lullay, little child, child, lullay, lullay:
With sorrow thou come into this world, with sorrow thou shall away.

Never trust to this world, it is thy full foe:
The rich it makes poor, the poor rich also;
It turns woe to well and changes well to woe:
Never trust no man to this world while it turns so.
Lullay, lullay, little child, thy foot is in the wheel;
Thou knowest [not] whether it will turn to woe or to well.

Child, thou art a pilgrim in wickedness born;
Thou wanders in this false world
thou look thee ahead:
Death shall come with a blast out of a very dim shadow
Adam’s kin down to cast
as himself hath done before.
Lullay, lullay, little child, such woe was for thee wove by Adam
In the land of Paradise through the wickedness of Satan.

Child, thou art not a pilgrim, but an unknown guest:
Thy days be numbered, thy journeys be determined
Whither thou shall wend, north or east,
Death thee shall betide with bitter pain in thy breast.
Lullay, lullay, little child, this woe Adam has for thee wrought
When he the apple ate, and Eve it him brought.


Date: Early 14th century

By: Anonymous

Alternative Title: Adult Lullaby