perching on stools, straddling horses

A couple of quick notes before I head up to the city to prepare for tomorrow’s festivities.

1.  I mentioned that I had a breakthrough with the chairs stanza that has been troubling me for a month, so I wanted to share that.  I ended up not wanting to use “Moot-bench” because I preferred to use “moot” in the following line to describe what the Aesir were doing.  This left me grasping at straws once more to name the chairs themselves.  I was disappointed, in looking at Hollander’s translation, to see that he’d elided the problem entirely by leaving out any specific mention of the chairs:

Then gathered together  the gods for counsel,

the holy hosts,   and held converse;

Larrington at least makes the effort:

Then all the Powers  went to the thrones of fate,

The sacrosanct gods, and considered this:

“Thrones of fate” is actually a good translation of it, although I shy away from using “fate”; I do so both because of its Latinate etymology and, more so, because, while the Aesir are fated to sit there, they are not the agents of fate.  It’s pretty clear those are the Norns, who are soon to be mentioned and outrank even the Aesir (as the Fates do the Olympians in Greek myth).

The word I really want, as I said before, is “doom.”  And when I accidentally stumbled across the fact that “doom-stools” — the most literal translation — has been used before in Middle English, I felt confident enough to give it a go.  An Old English gospel also mentions Pontius Pilate sitting upon his “dom seotle” or “doom-seat.”  An 1876 quote from the Athenaeum includes the line “That way to the doom-stead thrones the Aesir ride each day.”  And “doom-ring” is an archeological term for the ring of stones surrounding a Norse place of judgment.  So perhaps it’s a little archaic and will require a bit of work from the reader, but I’m happy going with it now; Ryan usually reins me in if I get too antiquarian, and he gave the thumbs up.  And while the seats aren’t what we’d think of as “stools,” Ryan’s art will take care of any misconceptions.  I admit I love the assonance of “doom-stool” (the seat that is; the crap that devours the earth is less pleasant-sounding); moreover, “doom-seat” would rhyme with the next line, which is a no-no.

So, I’m putting this down for now and moving on:

The doughty gods   drew near their doom-stools

To mull their thoughts,   to moot, and to mete:

The “doughty” will become a bit ironic as this stanza repeats later as the gods face increasingly dire crises.

2. Now for Story Time with Uncle Chris, with help from Dr. Laura Smoller.

A soldier named Radulphus fought for the French king during the Hundred Years’ War.  He…he didn’t do so well.  After a battle, he was taken prisoner and thrown in a pit with his comrades by the English while they decided how best to kill them.  This troubled poor Radulphus, who began to pray fervently to both the Blessed Virgin as well as to Vincent Ferrer, a deceased wonderworker up for sainthood.  Immediately there arrived the tamest of horses, saddled, bridled, and ready to ride, and Radulphus made his escape, blessing Vincent’s name for his entire ride.

You'd be surprised how many saints get their portrait done while holding a tiny building. If only it were a Dome...

To recap: a servant of not one but two fleurs-de-lis (if you recall my post of a couple weeks back), in a highly untenable situation, is sent a fully broken horse in his hour of need.

As you may know, the Saints are, for whatever reason, considered as surprisingly hefty underdogs in tomorrow’s Super Bowl against the Colts, who most analysts are predicting will ride rough-shod over them.  And I recognize that turning to stories of medieval saints is not the most…traditional form of football forecasting.  But you must admit that my Saints-Vikes/St. Edmund the Martyr prediction was eerily, eerily accurate, what with Tracy Porter’s interception of an over-rash Viking and the rescue of victory from the jaws of defeat.  Why not one more, courtesy of St. (yes, he got canonized, thanks to 800 miracles like that one) Vincent Ferrer, with an assist from the Virgin?  Why not one more colt who arrives docile and ready to be ridden?

St. Vincent of Ferrer, ora pro nobis.

Our Lady Queen of Victory, ora pro nobis.

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1 Comment

  1. mordicai said,

    February 6, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Wait, the Saints are supposed to LOSE? Huh. Uh…


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