Wednesday, September 24, 2003 - Music of Elegant Gravity Commemorates 9/11

Composer Stephen Hartke has written a new symphony (No. 3) as a response to September 11. In it he uses a translation--his own! Of the Anglo-Saxon poem "The Ruin."

Googling Mr. Hartke turns up this bio in which we learn that he and I have another weird connection besides Anglo-Saxon: we both lived in Orange, NJ at one time (although he was born there and I only lived there for a few years when I was ages 3-5). Another bio says that he has degrees from Yale (where he could have studied with Fred Robinson) and Penn (where he could have studied with Ted Irving) and UCSB. Maybe I'll email him and find out how he knows OE.

You can read Hartke's translation here in Google's cached html version or the original pdf (which is easier to read, but a pdf) here.

My quick take on the translation is that it's quite good. Hartke doesn't try for the meter (which might be suprising in a composer, but he is a modernist), but he does preserve the caesura and makes a stab at alliteration when he can.

I'm particularly interested in this adaptation because I'm in the very early stages of doing an article on "The Ruin" and King Edgar's 'coronation' at Bath. The first stages in the article are always doing your own translation of the poem, using a diplomatic text or a facsimile and trying not to be guided by scholarship (not at this stage). Tomorrow I'll try to talk about that, and to go over the Hartke translation in more detail.

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