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My Own Personal Mead Hall

12 days ago

Just thought I'd share a photo of my "mead hall" last weekend.

The book is a new translation of Beowulf, although "interpretation" might be a more appropriate adjective. It was great fun, and I laughed out loud (in a good way) at this line:

Meanwhile, Beowulf gave zero shits.

Imagine my disappointment, though, when I looked up the original line in Old English and saw that it wasn't nearly as fun.

My Own Personal Mead Hall

12 days ago
Cool spot. That fire looks really inviting. I've been hiking through Utah this week. Finished my book just before leaving though. That wasn't timed well. How would you rate the drink?

My Own Personal Mead Hall

12 days ago

This trip was a canoe-camping trip, so I actually packed 2 books (finished one, started the other) as well as various other creature comforts.

Mead is sadly hard to come by, and the one in this photo was from a case I ordered online. My experience with mead is relatively thin, so I can't offer much of a comparison, but there is an oak-barrel aged version from this company that I'm kinda smitten by. It's easy to see why people once planned parties around this stuff though; I'd take mead over Bud Light any day.

My Own Personal Mead Hall

12 days ago
What was the first book? A friend recommended the Stormlight Archive to me a few months ago, and I just finished the first three. The fourth is set to be released later this year. Best series I've started in a long while. Might return to my King binge in between releases though. Finished "It" earlier this year. I've always wanted to try it. I've always imagined it to taste like a honey-flavored amber. I'd take mead over Bud Light any day. Quote of the day.

My Own Personal Mead Hall

11 days ago

Yeah, mead is like "sweet beer," perhaps somewhere between cider and beer.

The other book I read was Road out of Winter by Alison Stine, which wasn't bad. You can see it here, kinda, next to my chair and coffee mug at the same campsite.

The author probably should've been encouraged to pick a different title, because the plot already invites comparisons to Cormac McCarthy's "The Road." I enjoyed it for what it was, although I had a few quibbles: the transition from panic buying at Walmart to full-on societal collapse is perhaps too abrupt; and if a new Ice Age is beginning to lay claim to North America once again, then a greenhouse and some pumpkin seeds are going to do little good against mile-high glaciers. The plot is harrowing though and kept me hooked for the short amount of time it took me to read it.

I've been on a reading streak in 2020, beginning even before COVID. Anticipating a winter-long shutdown to begin any moment, I already have a stack of 20 books or so (and I should probably hit up Barnes & Noble again while everything is still open for the time being). Half of the books in that stack are about science and natural history, the rest are novels.

My Own Personal Mead Hall

12 days ago
That looks very cozy, but mostly I need to see more of that translation.

But that blue really pops against all the brownish.

My Own Personal Mead Hall

12 days ago

The book really is a hoot and deserves to be read aloud by a skilled actor. Some of the metaphors are perhaps too anachronistic, such as a hashtag reference and a description of Beowulf's well-crafted chain mail as being "locked and loaded" (which doesn't even make sense). Purists are sure to object, and I'm sure Tolkien is rolling in his grave. But this may be the most accessible and entertaining version of a medieval poem I've ever read.

My Own Personal Mead Hall

11 days ago

Beowulf's well-crafted chain mail as being "locked and loaded" ... Purists are sure to object,

 

Gross.  I object.

 

Meanwhile, Beowulf gave zero shits.

I can't even imagine what line that could be.  Do you still have the Old English from when you looked it up?

Never mind, I found it.

                         Gyrede hine Beowulf
eorlgewædum,  nalles for ealdre mearn.

 

Which I would translate literally as something like "Beowulf dressed himself in his armor, caring nothing for life."

It's not *terrible* as a translation out of context.  But if you say you give zero shits it sounds like you just care about anything, but Beowulf there isn't caring anything about his own life; he's getting ready to deal some serious death out.  So it's not a very good translation of what's going on in the story at that moment.

But I guess any translation of Beowulf at this point has to find a way to stand out.  I think this does that.

My Own Personal Mead Hall

11 days ago

In the 2020 version, that line is number 1441.

Going to that untranslated version of Beowulf I bought in college because I thought the Old English text looked cool, but which I could never read, the corresponding line is:

                                   Gyrede hine Beowulf

eorl-gewædum,     nalles for ealdre mearn

You can probably read this better than I can, but I believe the gist of this line is "Beowulf dressed himself in his warrior-garb, not at all concerned for his life." It's the scene where he is preparing to dive into the water to go find Grendel's mother.

**EDIT: Nice to see my attempt at a translation was pretty close!**

My Own Personal Mead Hall

11 days ago

It's certainly an entertaining read, and I'd recommend it just as a modern take on a classic poem. But I don't think her word choice accurately reflects the original; in addition to this line, there are lots of other "shits" and "fucks." This was why I looked up some of these lines when I got home, because I found it hard to believe a medieval poem that profane would've even survived, let alone be studied academically. I'm sure there probably were lots of poems in the 8th - 11th century like that, but those aren't the ones the monks chose to wrote down.

My Own Personal Mead Hall

11 days ago

A curious thing hangs by a man's thigh,
under the lap of its lord. In its front it is pierced,
it is stiff and hard, it has a good position.
When the man lifts his own garment
above his knee, he intends to greet
with the head of his hanging object that familiar hole
which is the same length, and which he has often filled before

 

Wrætlic hongað bi weres þeo,
frean under sceate. Foran is þyrel.
Bið stiþ ond heard, stede hafað godne;
þonne se esne his agen hrægl
ofer cneo hefeð, wile þæt cuþe hol
mid his hangellan heafde gretan
þæt he efenlang ær oft gefylde.

My Own Personal Mead Hall

11 days ago

I can just imagine the response of the scribe who jotted that gem down for posterity's sake!