Two translations of J. R. R. Tolkien's poem Bagme Bloma

Nick: N.E. Brigand (Registered User)
Date/Time: Wed, 2/7/2007 at 2:42 AM EST
OT: A repost of NZ Strider’s comments on "Bagme Bloma".

I'm using this thread, which has itself almost fallen off the board, to repost NZ Strider's comments on and translations of Tolkien’s Gothic poem, “Bagme Bloma” from a 2003 post, so that they will be more easily accessible.

The original post, which is very difficult to open, was posted by NZS on Thursday, Sep. 4, 2003 here.  NZ Strider reposted this material in early 2005 here; that post is also difficult to access.

This is what NZ Strider posted:

Translation keeping the same verse form (pedantic and boring qualifications have been relegated to the end of post where they belong)

Bloom of Boles

Bears the birch on brightened branches
lovely leaves that light the air;
green she grows, and glitters whitely;
bloom of boles, she blossoms fair,
handsome-haired with limbs so lissom,
mistress of the mountains there. 
Winds are wafting, waving gently;
boughs she bends in blithesome play;
smooth and slender, silver-barkéd,
wisps of words she’d wavering say,
trusty tokens, runes of riches,
blessing all my band this day. 
Close of day nears, clouds array fears,
lightning leaps with lashing brands;
leaves so lovely lie now scattered.
Firm and faithful, still she stands;
bare and bald the birch abideth,
mistress of the mountainlands. 

Literal translation

On shining boughs the birch bears
splendid leaves, while giving light;
growing green she is sparkling,
flower of trees, blooming,
fair-haired with graceful limbs,
ruling the mountain. 
Winds are blowing, gently shaking;
in play she springs with her branches;
smooth, straight, and with white bark,
whispering she murmurs speech,
bright signs, good runes,
blessing my people. 
Evening darkens with clouds. 
With its flashes lightning blazes;
the splendid leaves fly loose;
firm, faithful, standing,
the birch, bare and white, remains,
ruling the mountain. 

Technical matter on the verse-form:

Odd-numbered lines: trochaic tetrameter with one internal feminine rhyme on the half-lines in line 7 [this last effect appears in the translation in line 13; other than that minor departure faithfully reproduced].  

Even-numbered lines: rhymed catalectic trochaic tetrameter [faithfully reproduced];

Most lines make heavy use of alliteration.  Lines 1 and 17 alliterate on all four stressed syllables [faithfully reproduced]; Lines 2, 4, 7, 8,  10, and 14 alliterate on both stressed syllables of the first half-line and on the first of the stressed syllables in the second half-line [faithfully reproduced]; lines 3, 6, 12, 13, and 18 alliterate on one stressed syllable in each half-line [faithfully reproduced]. 

Four lines are anomalous:
Line 15 alliterates normally on the first, second, and fourth stressed syllables and irregularly, i.e. on the second consonant of a consonant cluster, on the third stressed syllable [not reproduced in the translation; in it the line is regularised according to the model of line 2].  In line five the two stressed syllables of the first half-line alliterate with each other, as do those of the second half-line [reproduced in the translation].  In line 9 alliteration yields to internal rhyme of the first three stresses syllables: slaih-/raih-/hwei- whereby the third is a slant-rhyme [not reproduced in the translation; instead alliteration after the model of line 2].  In line 11 the two stressed syllables in the first half-line alliterate; the two words of the second half-line rhyme on the unstressed syllable [not reproduced in the translation; instead alliteration after the model of line 5].  Line 16 has normal alliteration on the first consonant in the two stressed syllables in the first half-line, but the third stress alliterates with them irregularly on the second consonant of a consonant cluster [not reproduced; instead alliteration on the model of line 5].

N.E. Brigand posted this thread on's Reading Room forum on February 7, 2007 in support of his comments on "Gothic Language". I have copied it to the Diary website to ensure easy access to it. - squire.