G H I J K L M 

Total read books on site:
more than 10 000

You can read its for free!

Text on one page: Few Medium Many
Produced by David Starner, Ben Beasley and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team



Professor of the English Language and Literature in Yale University

Fellow in English of Yale University




The Old English _Physiologus_, or _Bestiary_, is a series of three brief
poems, dealing with the mythical traits of a land-animal, a sea-beast,
and a bird respectively, and deducing from them certain moral or
religious lessons. These three creatures are selected from a much larger
number treated in a work of the same name which was compiled at
Alexandria before 140 B.C., originally in Greek, and afterwards
translated into a variety of languages--into Latin before 431. The
standard form of the _Physiologus_ has 49 chapters, each dealing with a
separate animal (sometimes imaginary) or other natural object, beginning
with the lion, and ending with the ostrich; examples of these are the
pelican, the eagle, the phoenix, the ant (cf. Prov. 6.6), the fox, the
unicorn, and the salamander. In this standard text, the Old English
poems are represented by chapters 16, 17, and 18, dealing in succession
with the panther, a mythical sea-monster called the asp-turtle (usually
denominated the whale), and the partridge. Of these three poems, the
third is so fragmentary that little is left except eight lines of
religious application, and four of exhortation by the poet, so that the
outline of the poem, and especially the part descriptive of the
partridge, must be conjecturally restored by reference to the treatment
in the fuller versions, which are based upon Jer. 17.11 (the texts drawn
upon for the application in lines 5-11 are 2 Cor. 6.17,18; Isa. 55.7;
Heb. 2.10,11).

It has been said: 'With the exception of the Bible, there is perhaps no
other book in all literature that has been more widely current in every
cultivated tongue and among every class of people.' Such currency might
be illustrated from many English authors. Two passages from Elizabethan
literature may serve as specimens--the one from Spenser, the other from
Shakespeare. The former is from the _Faerie Queene_ (1. 11.34):

At last she saw, where he upstarted brave
Out of the well, wherein he drenched lay;
As Eagle fresh out of the Ocean wave,
Where he hath left his plumes all hoary gray,
And deckt himselfe with feathers youthly gay,
Like Eyas hauke up mounts unto the skies,
His newly budded pineons to assay,
And marveiles at himselfe, still as he flies:
So new this new-borne knight to battell new did rise.

The other is from _Hamlet_ (Laertes to the King):

To his good friends thus wide I'll ope my arms;
And like the kind life-rendering pelican,
Repast them with my blood.[1]

However widely diffused, the symbolism exemplified by the _Physiologus_
is peculiarly at home in the East. Thus Egypt symbolized the sun, with
his death at night passing into a rebirth, by the phœnix, which, by a
natural extension, came to signify the resurrection. And the Bible not
only sends the sluggard to the ant, and bids men consider the lilies of
the field, but with a large sweep commands (Job 12.7,8): 'Ask now the
beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they
shall tell thee; or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee; and the
fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.'

[Footnote 1: Alfred de Musset, in _La Nuit de Mai_, develops the image
of the pelican through nearly thirty lines.]

The text as here printed is extracted from my edition, _The Old English
Elenc, Phœnix, and Physiologus_ (Yale University Press, 1919), where a
critical apparatus may be found; here it may be sufficient to say that
Italic letters in square brackets denote my emendations, and Roman
letters those of previous editors. The translations have not hitherto
been published, and no complete ones are extant in any language, save
those contained in Thorpe's edition of the _Codex Exoniensis_, which
appeared in 1842. The long conjectural passage in the _Partridge_ is due
wholly to Mr. Pitman.


March 27, 1921.


[**Transcriber's note: The following texts have been split into small
sections based on the pagination of the original. These sections
alternate as follows, each section being separated from its neighbors by
rows of asterisks: Old English verse; Modern English verse translation;
Modern English prose translation. While this fragments each version, it
facilitates comparison in parallel.]



Monge sindon geond middangeard
unrīmu cynn, [_þāra_] þe wē æþelu ne magon
ryhte āreccan nē rīm witan;
þæs wīde sind geond wor[_u_]l[d] innan
5 fugla and dēora foldhrērendra
wornas widsceope, swā wæter bibūgeð
þisne beorhtan bōsm, brim grymetende,
sealtȳpa geswing.
Wē bi sumum hȳrdon
wrǣtlīc[_um_] gecynd[_e_] wildra secgan,
10 fīrum frēamǣrne, feorlondum on,
eard weardian, ēðles nēotan,
æfter dūnscrafum. Is þæt dēor Pandher
bi noman hāten, þæs þe niþþa bear[n],

* * * * *

Of living creatures many are the kinds
Throughout the world--unnumbered, since no man
Can count their multitudes, nor rightly learn
The ways of their wild nature; wide they roam,
These beasts and birds, as far as ocean sets
A limit to the earth, embracing her
And all her sunny fields with salty seas
And toss of roaring billows.
We have heard
From men of wider lore of one wild beast,
Wonderful dweller in a far-off land
Renowned of men, who loves his native glens
And dusky caverns. Him have wise men called

* * * * *

Many, yea numberless, are the tribes throughout the world whose natures
we can not rightly expound nor their multitudes reckon, so immense are
the swarms of birds and earth-treading animals wherever water, the
roaring ocean, the surge of salt billows, encompasses the smiling bosom
of earth.

We have heard about one marvelous kind of wild beast which inhabits, in
lands far off, a domain renowned among men, rejoicing there in his home
amid the mountain-caves. This beast is called panther, as the learned

* * * * *

wīsfæste weras, on gewritum cȳþa[_ð_]
15 bi þām ānstapan.
Sē is ǣ[_g_]hwām frēond,
duguða ēstig, būtan dracan ānum;
þām hē in ealle tīd andwrāð leofaþ,
þurh yfla gehwylc þe hē geæfnan mæg.
Ðæt is wrǣtlīc dēor, wundrum scȳne,
20 hīwa gehwylces. Swā hæleð secgað,
gǣsthālge guman, þætte Iōsēphes
tunece wǣre telga gehwylces
blēom bregdende, þāra beorhtra gehwylc,
ǣghwæs ǣnlīcra, ōþrum līxte
25 dryhta bearnum, swā þæs dēores hīw,
blǣc, brigda gehwæs, beorhtra and scȳnra
wundrum līxeð, þætte wrǣtlīcra
ǣghwylc ōþrum, ǣnlīcra gīen
and fǣgerra, frætwum blīceð,
30 symle sellīcra.
Hē hafað sundorgecynd,

* * * * *

The panther, and in books have told of him,
The solitary rover.
He is kind,
A bounteous friend to every living thing
Save one alone, the dragon; but with him
The panther ever lives at enmity,
Employing every means within his power
To work him evil.
Fair is he, full bright
And wonderful of hue. The holy scribes
Tell us how Joseph's many-colored coat,
Gleaming with varying dyes of every shade,
Brilliant, resplendent, dazzled all men's eyes
That looked upon it. So the panther's hues
Shine altogether lovely, marvelous,
While each fair color in its beauty glows
Ever more rare and charming than the rest.
His wondrous character is mild, and free

* * * * *

among the children of men report in their books concerning that lonely

He is a friend, bountiful in kindness, to every one save only the
dragon; with him he always lives at enmity by means of every injury he
can inflict.

He is a bewitching animal, marvelously beautiful with every color. Just
as, according to men holy in spirit, Joseph's coat was variegated with
hues of every shade, each shining before the sons of men brighter and
more perfect than another, so does the color of this beast blaze with
every diversity, gleaming in wondrous wise so clear and fair that each
tint is ever lovelier than the next, glows more enchanting in its
splendor, more rare, more beauteous, and more strange.

He has a nature all his own, so gentle and so calm is

* * * * *

milde, gemetfæst. Hē is monþwǣre,
lufsum and lēoftæl: nele lāþes wiht
ǣ[ng]um geæfnan būtan þām āttorsceaþan,
his fyrngeflitan, þe ic ǣr fore sægde.
35 Symle, fylle fægen, þonne fōddor þigeð,
æfter þām gereordum ræste sēceð,
dȳgle stōwe under dūnscrafum;
ðǣr se þēo[d]wiga þrēonihta fæc
swifeð on swe[_o_]fote, slǣpe gebiesga[d].
40 Þonne ellenrōf ūp āstondeð,
þrymme gewelga[d], on þone þriddan dæg,
snēome of slǣpe. Swēghlēoþor cymeð,
wōþa wynsumast, þurh þæs wildres mūð;
æfter pære stefne stenc ūt cymeð
45 of þām wongstede-- wynsumra stēam,
swēttra and swīþra, swæcca gehwylcum,
wyrta blōstmum and wudublēdum,
eallum æþelīcra eorþan frætw[um].

* * * * *

From all disturbing passion.

Pages: | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | Next |

U V W X Y Z 

Your last read book:

You dont read books at this site.