About NSCZach

A writer who translates Beowulf (and other things), freelances, reads voraciously, and plays adventure video games/J-RPGs.

Blogger’s Beowulf Book Update #4

A scribe at a medieval writing desk perhaps copying out Beowulf the poem itself.

A scribe hard at work (…or could marginalia making mean that they’re hardly working?). Image from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Escribano.jpg.

Wow. I know I’ve been posting here for more than 5 years, but I am floored by how many commentary entries there are to gather.

So far I’ve grabbed 180, and yet I’m only up to line 1268. So I’m about 1150 lines-worth of commentaries away from getting all of them. Which, at least mathematically (if each post is for roughly 10 lines), there should be about another 115 commentaries to grab.

Then I just need to edit those commentaries, and set up the links to them in the main poem.

So…progress!

I’m a little behind on the read through, though. I still need to go through another 33 chapters of the poem. Thankfully, next week I’ll have a little more time off during the week and so I’ll be throwing myself at the read-through then.

And where does all of that leave the release date?

If I’ve learned anything about myself, my process, and how my self-publishing can likely fit into the rest of my life, it’s that my release date estimates need to be conservative. So I’m going to go ahead and say April 4.

Though I can never keep my ambition far away from my plans.

I’m going to try to have all three versions of the book ready for then. No need to worry about further delays for the combo poem and commentaries book, though, since that will get all of my focus until it’s ready for pre-ordering.

So watch this space for another update in two weeks, and look for the e-book at last in April.

Thanks for sticking with me through this project!

Blogger’s Beowulf Book Update #3

A scribe at a medieval writing desk perhaps copying out Beowulf the poem itself.

A scribe hard at work (…or could marginalia making mean that they’re hardly working?). Image from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Escribano.jpg.

 

This is going to be pretty quick.

Since the last update I’ve managed to complete the 3rd draft of the poem and am now finalizing it as I go through the second out-loud read through.

Since I need to be either alone at home or home during the day for that read through, I’ve also been gathering the commentaries. So far I’ve pulled out 63, covering the entries that ran from lines 2401-3182 of the poem, which is about 1/5 of all of the entries.

Needless to say, there’s still a bit of work to cover before I get to actually turn this thing into the e-book I’ve imagined. And I’m getting more hours at my day job, so I need to re-think the release timeline once again. Which makes me feel kind of shitty.

But, I have to admit, I should have seen this sort of thing coming.

I’ve never been great at judging how long a chunk of work is going to take me and tend to underestimate the time needed far more often than overestimate it. And that has become increasingly easy for me to do as I forget about one or more of the following when trying to figure out when I’ll have this book finished:

  • the day job, which it seems is going to run up the edge of being part-time work on a more regular basis;
  • the podcast I’m a part of (Fanthropological);
  • wrapping up the drafts of my current fiction series Magic in the Air (if you’re curious, you can read the first book on Wattpad here);
  • spending time with my partner;
  • and giving myself time to recharge.

Estimating how much time I need to finish things is definitely a skill I need to work on. It’s just one of the things I hope to learn to do better as I work on this project.

Anyway, I hope that these bi-weekly updates are enough to make it clear that I am committed to finishing this project. If you’ve got any questions or concerns or tips for me, feel free to share them in the comments.

And, again, thanks for sticking with me through this project!

Blogger’s Beowulf Book Update #2

A scribe at a medieval writing desk perhaps copying out Beowulf the poem itself.

A scribe hard at work (…or could marginalia making mean that they’re hardly working?). Image from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Escribano.jpg.

All righty! This update will be much quicker than the last. Unfortunately that’s because not much progress has been made.

I still need to go through the poem double checking that the rest of the overused “then”s are necessary and changing those that aren’t, clear away the issues my editing has turned up, and then re-reading the whole poem aloud to clean up any outstanding issues.

But that’s just for the poem.

I also need to pull out all of my commentaries and make sure that they’re all error-free and easy to read.

That might seem like a lot. But, honestly, I expect this part of the editing to take much less time than the poem itself, since when I was making my original posts I think the commentaries generally saw much more attention than the scraps of the poem I was posting.

As for the timeline? Two weeks ago I had written that I was thinking this book would be finished and ready by the end of February. That’s starting to feel ambitious, but I’m sticking with it. Though, being completely real, the end of February might just be when the pre-orders start.

All that said, back to the editing! Thanks for sticking with me through this final stretch of what’s turned out to be a very long, quite educational, and warmly rewarding project.

Blogger’s Beowulf Book Update #1

A ruined medieval castle that Karl Julius von Leypold drew and that is featured on A Blogger's Beowulf for its 2018 intro post.

An illustration by Carl Julius von Leypold entitled “Winter View of the Courtyard of a Medieval Castle in Ruins”. Image from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Karl_Julius_von_Leypold_-_Blick_auf_einen_winterlichen_Innenhof_einer_mittelalterlichen_Ruine.jpg

First off, happy belated New Year, everyone! I feel like I missed the window for the usual new year goals type entry, but at least as far as this blog is concerned I only have one goal this year: finish my translation of Beowulf and release it as a book.

So, how is that going?

Well, as you might have guessed, it’s been slower than expected. Originally I was aiming to release the e-book (at least) by January. That is looking unlikely right now.

What’s Left to Do

As of this writing I’m at the point where I’m making sure that my pronouns for and capitalizations of God are all consistent with each other. Then I need to go through the poem and check to see if every use of “then” is helpful or hurtful to the poem’s flow.

Next, writing the translation as I did, piece by piece, made it very easy for words to repeat in quite close proximity. Though the original Old English seems to use “then…” quite a bit as well. Why not just leave those as is?

Well, one of the things I am completely done with is coming up with a subtitle for the translation (it wouldn’t do to just release this project as “Beowulf” after all, at least not for SEO reasons). And the subtitle that I settled on is “A Mostly Modern Verse Translation”. The resulting catch, at least for my editing, is the “Mostly Modern” part, since I want it to say that this translation of Beowulf, though trying to maintain the ancient feel of the original, is not completely unassailable by someone who’s never read Beowulf (or any Old English poetry) before. And it’s a completely stylistic choice to change some of the direct translations from the original to accomplish that goal.

After those steps are completed, and any other issues that came up in the process of working through them are also cleaned up, I’m going to do another complete spoken read through of the poem to make sure that everything sounds good. And, finally, once that’s done, I’ll be moving onto the part that might just make my translation a little unique: the blog-style commentaries that I’ve created along the way.

These commentaries will be tidied up as needed themselves, and then added to the main text as endnotes. At least in the ebook edition, these endnotes will be conveniently accessible via hyperlink. In the paperback version (which is something I want to get off the ground a little after the ebook release), they’ll just be left as endnotes since if they were added as footnotes there would likely only be a few lines of the poem per page.

Three Books from One

Once both of these components of the complete book are finished, I’m going to release them both in one book, of course. But, on the advice of a friend, I’m also going to release the commentaries and the poem itself in their own versions as well. At least initially, these two will have different covers since my starting budget for this project almost entirely went to the complete version’s cover, which I’ll reveal in the next update post.

The Updated Timeline

And there you have it. Those are the steps that remain between me and publishing this translation. So, what kind of a timeline am I looking at?

Well, optimistically, since I’ve taken up a day job in retail, all three versions of the book should be available as ebooks by the end of February. Though I plan on setting up pre-orders at least two weeks in advance of when I am 100% sure it will be available.

Before I Go

I will confess that this later release date is a bit disappointing, since I was kind of hoping to ride in the wake of Maria Dahvana Headley’s translation which released right around the switch from 2018 to 2019 (and is available here, if you’re curious). But, this way I don’t have to worry about that wake drowning me out, so it’s not all bad.

With that, thanks for checking in on this blog.

It’s time for me to get back to editing. I’ll try to check in here again at least every two weeks with updates until the paperback is out.

Until the next update, may you all be hale and hearty!

Welcome to the Wordhoard!

Featured

An Anglo-Saxon helmet with face mask of the style associated with Beowulf.

A helmet, complete with face mask, from the Sutton-Hoo treasure hoard. Image from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sutton_Hoo_replica_(face).jpg

Welcome to A Blogger’s Beowulf!

Here you’ll find my translation of the Old English epic in it’s entirety. In fact, here you’ll find two versions of this translation. The first is one that includes commentary on certain passages and words, and the second is a straightforward poetic translation of the original.

If you want to read through the first one of these translations, you can start doing so here.

If you’d rather read through the clean version of the translation, you can start doing so here.

(And if you’re looking for a glossary that explains some of the letters and words that appear in my translation posts, check out the About page.)

But, if you’re more interested in reading about various stories, events, and articles related to Beowulf (including adaptations), they’re also here to find. Here are some good places to start:

Thanks for dropping by the blog! I hope that somewhere in this wordhoard you find what you’re looking for.

-Nicholas “NSCZach” Zacharewicz

The Future of A Blogger’s Beowulf

Summer’s over and fall is on the way, it’s time to let you all know what’s going on with this blog.

To be incredibly brief: nothing.

After the flurry of activity that saw me posting here twice a week, and then reliably once a week, and that helped me post all 3100+ lines of the poem, activity here will run down to nothing.

Why

There are a few reasons for this change to the plans that I’d made for the blog back at the beginning of 2018.

1. Work

One of these is my continual search for work.

I’m a freelancer, and perhaps was too proud of that fact to realize that I just haven’t been able to consistently earn enough to make a living from freelancing alone. As a result I’m starting to look into office and retail work, which will necessarily leave me with less time to tend to this blog and create content for it.

2. New Challenges

Another is that I want to move onto the next big challenge in my literary life: publishing. I’ve written a lot of stories over the years, and a handful of them have been published in various collections and journals, but I’ve never approached publishing as a business. This needs to change before 2019, since not only am I planning on launching the ebook (and eventually the hardcopy) of my translation of Beowulf in that year, but I’m also planning to publish my own original fiction then as well.

3. There’s Just So Little Time

Preparing my translation and those other works so that I can completely follow through with my self-publishing plans will take me some time over these next few months. And time spent with my fiancée and on whatever work I end up with will leave me with too little time to make the kind of content that I’d want to post on this site.

As a result, until my translation gets published in the new year, this site is going to function as more of an archive than an active blog. It’s my hope that people will still come across it (and be directed to it!) and find what’s posted here interesting and engaging.

The Podcast

As for the podcast, I’m sad to say that it’s not going to continue beyond the current three episodes.

I’d like to deeply thank author Paul Begadon and Illustrator Alexis Fajardo for their time and participation in that experiment. And I’d also like to apologize to them for not doing more with it. Someday down the road I’d love to do some sort of classical epic poetry podcast. For now, though, it just makes more sense for it to come to an end.

Wrap-Up

Thanks to everyone who’s followed along with this blog over the years. If you know people who are looking for what I’d call a casually loyal translation of Beowulf, I hope that you’ll point them over here.

In the meantime, I’ll be linking all of the clean poem pieces together for easy navigation on this site. Watch for the new intro post for this blog this Saturday (September 8).

And keep your eyes peeled in December 2018 for the launch announcement for the e-book of my translation!

Thanks again to all of you!
-Nicholas “NSCZach” Zacharewicz

Beowulf’s Funeral: Book XLII

A ship decked with treasure and set up as a Viking funeral pyre, like the one for Beowulf.

The artist Siemiradzki’s take on a Viking Funeral. Beowulf’s pyre probably looked similar. Image from https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funerale_vichingo#/media/File:Funeral_of_ruthenian_noble_by_Siemiradzki.jpg.

XLII

Then it was seen that the journey for
that which was hidden in the earth swell
was for nought. Its guard earlier slew
that one of joy, though that one worked the feud,
and worked it wrathfully. It is a wonder
where any great man famed for courage will meet the end
of these loaned days, when he may no longer
dwell with his kinsmen in the mead hall.
So it was with Beowulf, when he the barrow’s
guardian sought, a cunning enmity. None can know
through what means his own parting from this world will be.

Just so the renowned princes solemnly declared
a curse upon that which they placed there until doomsday,
that the man would be guilty in sins,
confined in idol’s shrines, held fast in hell-bonds,
tormented in evil, whoever plundered that place,
unless he had earlier perceived
the gold-giving lord’s favour.

Wiglaf spoke, Weohstan’s son:

“Oft it happens that one warrior’s wish makes
the many endure misery, just so it has happened with us.
We could not persuade that dear prince,
this guardian of the people would not accept any counsel
to not attack the gold guardian then,
to let it lay where he long was,
to let it remain in that dwelling place until the world’s end,
to keep his exalted destiny. The hoard is
bitterly won; it was fate that impelled
that king of a people to that hard place.

“I was in that place and looked over all that was there;
through that building of precious objects I had to clear a
path. Not at all in a friendly way was I granted passage
in the place under the mound. I in haste grasped
much in my hands of a mighty burden
of the hoarded treasures, out to here I carried it
to my king. He was alive yet,
wise and aware; a great many things
the old one said in grief, and ordered me to greet you,
ordered that you should build after the friendly lord’s
deeds a lofty barrow there in the place of the pyre,
mighty and renowned, just as he among men was,
worthiest warrior widely throughout the earth,
while he could enjoy the wealth of a stronghold.

“Let us now hasten to another time,
to see and seek out the pile of finely worked jewels,
the wonder under the wall. I shall guide you,
that you shall look upon abundant
rings and broad gold near at hand. Then ready the bier,
swiftly prepare it where we come out,
and then ferry our lord,
beloved of men, to where he shall long
in the Ruler’s protection remain.”

Commanded then the son of Weohstan, gave
the fighters orders, bold in battle, like a warrior among many,
as one who owns a hall, that they might
bring wood for the pyre from afar, for the good man,
that leader of a people:

          “Now shall fire consume all
— he shall grow dark by the flames — the ruler of warriors,
he who often endured the shower of iron
when the arrow storm was sent from the bow
over the shield wall, the shafts fulfilling their duty,
arrowheads aided by hasting feather fletching.”

Indeed the wise son of Weohstan
summoned a band of the king’s thanes,
seven together, those who were best,
he went with seven others, warriors,
under the evil roof. One bore in hand
a flaming torch, the one who went at the front.
There was no drawing of lots for the plundering of
that hoard, when the men saw that all parts of
the hall remained without a guardian,
for he lay wasting away; few of them grieved
as they hastily carried out those
dear treasures. They also pushed the dragon,
the serpent they slid over the sea cliff, let the waves
take him. The sea enfolded that guardian of precious
things. Then was wound gold loaded onto wagons,
everything in countless numbers before the prince was borne,
the old warrior brought to Whales’ Ness.

For him the Geatish people then made ready
the splendid pyre in the earth,
hung round with helmets, with battle shields,
with gleaming mail coats, as he had requested.
Then they laid the renowned prince in the midst of
lamenting warriors, that dear lord.
The fighters then proceeded to kindle
that great funeral fire; wood smoke rose up
black over the blaze, the flame roared, mingling
with weeping — the swirling wind subsided — until
that blade had broken the body, proven hot to the
heart. Sad at the source, it threw about sorrowful
heat, and lamented grievously, killing the liege lord.

Also a Geatish woman’s song of mourning
[ . . . ] with hair bound up
for that sorrowful song; they said repeatedly
that they dreaded sorely an invasion,
an abundance of slaughter, terror for the company of men,
humiliation and captivity. Heaven swallowed the smoke.

Then built the Geatish people
a burial mound on the headland, it was high and broad,
for seafarers it was widely visible,
and in ten days they built
the monument for the one bold in battle. They built
also a wall around the remnants of the fire, as
the wise men had most worthily devised it.

They placed Beowulf in the barrow with rings and jewels,
all such adornments as were before in the
hoard of the hostile minded one that men had taken.
The warriors left the wealth to be kept by the earth,
gold in the ground, where it yet exists
as useless to men as it previously had been.
Then around the barrow of the brave in battle they rode,
the sons of noblemen, twelve warriors,
they would lament with their sorrow and mourn their king,
uttering dirges and speaking about the man;

They praised him for his heroism and his courageous
deeds, which were judged highly, just as it was fitting
that the men laud their friend and lord prince with
such words, love of their hearts, when he
shall lead out his soul from his body.

Thus lamented the Geatish people
for the fall of their lord, their hearth companion.
They said that of earthly kings he was
the mildest among men and most gracious, the
kindest to people and most eager for fame.

Thank you very much for reading my translation of Beowulf! Feel free to email me at nsczach@gmail.com if you have any constructive feedback to share.