Friday 29 June 2012

Hebban olla uogala - perhaps the oldest poem in Dutch

 The fragment was discovered in 1932 in the margin of a Latin manuscript that was made in the abbey of Rochester, Kent and that is kept in Oxford. It has been dated to the 12th century, but may be even older.

quid expectamus nunc. Abent omnes uolucres nidos inceptos nisi ego et tu. Hebban olla uogala nestas hagunnan hinase hic enda thu uuat unbidan uue nu. Rector celi nos exaudi ut dignare nos saluare.

The ‘translation’ has reversed the order of the Latin, which adds to the punch, as we now have a three-stage rocket: nesting, exception, comment.

All birds are a-nesting
save me and thee
why now do we tarry

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