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Poetry across the World

Did you know I’m a poet? Perhaps you already did know it, but that makes no difference to the discussion at hand. But if you do know that I write poetry, you probably also are aware that I am a multilingual person, and were you to put two and two together, you might come to the reasonable conclusion that I write poetry in several languages.

Well, only just recently have I begun to branch out from my native tongue in terms of writing verse. I am currently engaged in tediously reading the Medieval Greek epic Digenes Acritas, and I have written a few Greek poems adhering to the same form (fifteen-syllable blank verse). I haven’t tried rhyming in Greek yet, but I’ll get to that eventually.

But just this evening Read More

Thanks again, Google Books

Digenis AcritasAlthough you may have read with indifference my past post on the book Anthologia Graeca Carminum Christianorum, perhaps this will capture your fancy. Just today I was paging through the Google Books site when I discovered a classic favorite of mine, Digenis Acritas, which is an anonymous Byzantine epic written in Greek. I have read an English translation of it before, but the only full version I could find on Google Books was a side by side Greek poetry and French prose version.

If you know French, that’s great. If you know Greek, that’s even better. For me, I can read Greek a lot better than French, so I think I’ll just read the original this time. If you’d like to give it a shot as well, feel free to download this PDF of the book. All I did was take Google Books’ file and add PDF bookmarks for easier navigation, so here it is for free, only 13.7 MB: Les Exploits de Digénis Akritas

This version of the poem is from the Trabzon manuscript, which is one of the lesser-known manuscripts, though not the oldest. For a free book, I am quite impressed!

A Latin book about Greek hymns

In a recent project of mine I have been researching early Christian hymns in Greek, and from the book Early Christians Speak by Everett Ferguson, I was referred to an old volume Anthologia Graeca Carminum Christianorum, written by W. Christ and M. Paranikas. The title looked promising (Anthology of Greek Christian Songs for those who aren’t familiar with Lingua Latina), and I knew if it was written in Latin, it must be old.

So where does Benjamin go to find old and obscure books in foreign languages? Straight to the Interlibrary Loan page at the library website! I was surprised to find that quite a few libraries owned it, and I hoped to have better luck than the last time when I asked for an Italian book about Greek verbs (or that course for learning Huastec Nahuatl written in Spanish). I was overjoyed when the UT library agreed to send the book, and the other day I picked it up at the library.

It was all I had imagined. An old book, published in MDCCCLXXI (I’ll let you translate the date, you probably need practice with Roman numerals anyway), and entirely in Latin—except for the great number of Greek hymns from the Byzantine and pre-Byzantine time periods. There is also an unexplicable group of German hymns in the middle of the book, and I haven’t yet figured out how they fit in. Read More