Monday, August 31, 2009

Why I Sojourn Here

La Belle Dame sans Merci

John Keats

O what can ail thee, knight at arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has wither'd from the lake,
And no birds sing.

O what can ail thee, knight at arms,
So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel's granary is full,
And the harvest's done.

I see a lily on thy brow
With anguish moist and fever dew,
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
Fast withereth too.

I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful - a fairy's child;
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.

I made a garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She look'd at me as she did love,
And made sweet moan.

I set her on my pacing steed,
And nothing else saw all day long,
For sidelong would she bend, and sing
A fairy's song.

She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild, and manna dew,
And sure in language strange she said-
"I love thee true."

She took me to her elfin grot,
And there she wept, and sigh'd full sore,
And there I shut her wild eyes
With kisses four.

And there she lulled me asleep,
And there I dream'd - Ah! woe betide!
The latest dream I ever dream'd
On the cold hill's side.

I saw pale kings and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried - "La belle dame sans merci
Hath thee in thrall!"

I saw their starv'd lips in the gloam,
With horrid warning gaped wide,
And Iawoke and found me here,
On the cold hill's side.

And this is why I sojourn here,
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is wither'd from the lake,
And no birds sing.

Morning Medieval Miscellany

For this Monday morning:
That is all. Go forth!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Morning Medieval Miscellany

For this Friday:
Here's a blog with medieval content I'd missed: Spinning Clio. Update your blogrolls & RSS feeds accordingly.

Prepping for Dragon*Con

This morning I am writing a presentation for Dragon*Con that will deal, in part, with bestiality in medieval literature, and the medieval roots of some contemporary anxieties about genetic engineering.

  • Medieval Lit -- Check!
  • Genetic Engineering -- Check!
  • Bestiality -- Check!

Ah, the Dragon*Con triple threat...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Heptarchy Herald

Here's a brand-new blog that's already in my RSS feed: The Heptarchy Herald. In his second post, Michael discusses cooperation among medieval scholars and disciplines.

Update your blogrolls accordingly.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Morning Medieval Miscellany

I've got some sort of weird problem with my RSS feed (wherein some things don't seem to ever delete, or will randomly pop up again later) leading me to be more aggressive in my deletion policies -- and also leading to this MMM being posted in the afternoon. If you've got an important post that's fallen through the cracks here, please feel free to e-mail me a link.
OK, that's not quite all of them, but I'll catch up in the next one.

For the Middle-Aged, not the Middle Ages

And now for something completely non-medieval:

The Beloit College Mindset List, class of 2013!

A few comments:

They have never used a card catalog to find a book.
This year a librarian retired, and the invitations to the party looked like card catalog cards. The workstudies in the office wondered why there was a hole punched in them.

The European Union has always existed.
Does it exist now?

Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Latvia, Georgia, Lithuania, and Estonia have always been independent nations.
When I start a story with, "When I lived in the former Soviet Union ..." my students look at me like I'm saying, "When I lived in the Ottoman Empire..."

Vice presidents of the United States have always had real power.
Joe Biden has real power? When did this happen?

They have always been able to read books on an electronic screen. Yet not one ever has.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Birthday Wish List

Today is my birthday. For those wishing to get me a gift, I'm registered at Medieval News. If you all pitch in together, you should be able to get me one (or all!) of those.

Morning Medieval Miscellany

Let's see how far I can get before the kids' alarm clocks go off:
Here's to hoping I don't get stabbed during my Anglo-Saxon poetry lecture today...

Monday, August 17, 2009

King Mindaugus Statuette

Since it's too hot to write anything substantive, I offer here an image of a wooden statuette of King Mindaugus given to me by a friend, crafted by a Lithuanian carver of some local repute (though for the life of me I can't remember his name at the moment).

Though it very obviously evokes Christ (looking depressed and wearing a crown of thorns), it's actually supposed to be Mindaugus in the attitude of Christ -- though I'm not certain what he's go glum about. Maybe it's because there would be no further kings, unless you count Mindaugus II ... which most Lithuanians don't (more on that in the video below). I'm guessing the crown is not supposed to be thorny in this case.

I've photographed him on top of a stack of 8x11 paper, for perspective.
Below is a video of a much larger statue, and a little about the position Mindaugus holds in the Lithuanian culture.

Too Hot to Blog

It's about 80 degrees outside, and a thermostat problem has caused the heat in my building to run. I was going to write a Miscellany and a post about the Lithuanian king Mindaugus, but it's so hot in here I can't recall what I was going to write.

I'm sure it was going to be something brilliant, though. Anyone who has something interesting to say about King Mindaugus, please help me out by contributing it below.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Moratorium on Monk Eadwine

I am hereby declaring a one-year moratorium on academic books using "Monk Eadwine at Work on the Manuscript" as their cover art.

I used to like it, but Monk Eadwine's agent should tell him he's over-exposed.

These two scribes are also in danger of being included in my moratorium.

Morning Medieval Miscellany

As you head into your weekend:

*I didn't do too well. Why am I still confused that a Hundred is a unit of land (a division used for taxation purposes, as I recall)? Am I confusing it with something else?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Manly Medieval Men with Beards

This may be the greatest links page ever: Larsdatter has the Medieval Beards page.

My (ironic) favorite is Dürer's Self-Portrait in a Fur-Collared Robe. In that image, Dürer depicts himself as a sort of Christ figure -- thereby being one of a small handful of people I'd punch in the face if I had a time machine. Maybe he was so interested in the Protestant Reformation because he thought Martin Luther might start worshipping him.

Just look at him -- the dude clearly thinks he's the shizznit.* What a douchebag.

*You have now read the first occurance of "shizznit" in my writings. Make a note of it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Morning Medieval Miscellany

Today we start classes at Troy. Here are a few items to keep me from despairing:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dear World,

Please stop asking me details about the "real" King Arthur, then arguing with me when I say he's a mythical figure and that if there is any historical basis, we're better off talking about King Arthurs, plural.

If you want to insist there's some real bona fide King Arthur and that I'm wrong, fine, but don't insinuate that I'm part of some grand conspiracy to hide the truth from the world.

I mean, really, what purpose would there be in hiding that? And no channeling Geoffrey of Monmouth by saying it's to keep the Welsh down, because I frankly couldn't care less between the Welsh and the English.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Morning Medieval Miscellany

After going two weeks without a Miscellany, I hit the reset button on the inter-net-o-web-o-sphere, and here's what's come up since then:

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Looting Medieval Churches in Northern Cyprus

Medieval News has an excellent article on how medieval churches in northern Cyprus are being looted through a combination of organized crime and government cooperation. Don't miss it.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Prayer of the Woods

I got an e-mail from someone asking about "Prayer of the Woods." He's seen web sources that say that it is over 1000 years old, and that it was translated from Portuguese.

Surely there's someone in this community who can confirm the origins, and maybe even give us more detail.

Prayer of the Woods

I am the heat of your hearth on cold winter nights, The friendly shade from the summer sun, and my fruits are refreshing draughts quenching your thirst as you journey on.

I am the beam that holds your house, and the board of your table. The bed on which you lie, and the timber that builds your boat.

I am the handle of your hoe. The door of your homestead, the wood of your cradle and the shell of your coffin.

I am the bread of kindness and the flower of beauty. Ye who pass by, listen to my prayer: Harm me not.

The Norton Anthology is neither written by Ed Norton nor an anthology. Discuss.

I've been trying desperately not to blog over the last week, since that would only distract me from putting together my syllabi for the fall semester (as it is doing as I write this now).

Still, I can't help but comment, once again, about the truncated medieval offerings of the Norton Anthology of English Literature, which omits tons of extremely canonical Old and Middle English literature from its tiny, tiny medieval Volume A, but which includes so much dull, boring, stuff in the remaining five volumes of modern literature that I'm convinced the editors were paid by the pound.

For example, their Anglo-Saxon offerings:
  • Caedmon's Hymn (and the bit of Bede introducing it)
  • Dream of the Rood
  • Beowulf
  • Judith
  • King Alfred's Preface to the Pastoral Care
  • The Wanderer
  • The Wife's Lament
That's it. Really. As a bit more insult, when they added Judith in the 8th edition, they removed Battle of Maldon, as if the extra few pages was going to over-inflate the Anglo-Saxon section.

OK, I can't deal with now ... if you could knock some sense into the editors, what would you insist they include?

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Met "Pen and Parchment" Exhibit a Knockout

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is hosting an exhibit through August 23rd entitled "Pen and Parchment: Drawing in the Middle Ages." Here's a rave review from The New Republic, which calls it "the most original museum show in this country since 2002," and "a knockout, at once sumptuous and restrained."

h/t Merlin DeTardo