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Pearl

 
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 30, 2021 11:09 pm    Post subject: Pearl Reply with quote

J.R.R. Tolkien translated the medieval poem Pearl originally with the assistance of his Oxford colleague E.V. Gordon in the 1920s, but later in life decided to do his own translation years after Gordon's death. It is the most overtly religious poem of the three poem translations featured in the Tolkien book Sir Gawain and the Green Knight/Pearl/Sir Orfeo, and not being very religious myself caused me a bit of...impatience...in reading it, but it has some beautiful and memorable moments.

The speaker of the poem talks of losing his valuable pearl in the grass, and it becomes clear he is speaking of losing his two-year-old daughter Pearl to death, and the grass he is referring to is that which has grown over his daughter's grave. It becomes easy to feel for the speaker of the poem, as he lies grieving on the grave, and is given a divine vision to give him comfort.

Quote:
From that spot my spirit sprang apace,
On the turf my body abode in trance;
My soul was gone by God's own grace
Adventuring where marvels chance.
I knew not where in the world was that place
Save by cloven cliffs was set my stance;
And towards a forest I turned my face,
Where rocks in splendor met my glance;
From them did a glittering glory lance,
None could believe the light they lent;
Never webs were woven in mortal haunts
Of the half such wealth and wonderment.


The speaker in the poem get to see his daughter as one of the saints, in the glorious background of the New Jerusalem, and she proceeds, in an adult manner of speech, to try to bolster his faith in trusting God's will. The poem is impressive in its descriptive power.
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Cord Hurn
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MaleRanyhyn
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 30, 2021 11:22 pm    Post subject: Pearl Reply with quote

The poem's speaker stays restrained for most of the poem as he encounters his deceased daughter from across a wide, clear, and deep water stream, as she justifies the decisions of God while a gleaming holy city is behind her. But at last, he cannot resist trying to join her, attempting to swim across to her when he has not yet died or been saved, against the will of his Prince [Jesus].

In the ninety-seventh stanza of his translation of the medieval poem Pearl, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote:
Delight there pierced my eye and ear.
In my mortal mind a madness reigned;
When I saw her beauty I would be near,
Though beyond the stream she was retained.
I thought that naught could interfere,
Could strike me back to halt constrained,
From plunge in stream would none me steer,
Though I died ere I swam o'er what remained.
But as wild in the water to start I strained,
On my intent did quaking seize;
From that aim recalled I was detained:
It was not as my Prince did please.


His choosing to do this has the consequence of ending his heavenly vision and his discourse with his saintly daughter.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 30, 2021 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All the same, the speaker of this poem takes a positive accounting of his visionary experience, despite the pain of being yanked away from his daughter:

In stanza 101 of his translation of the medieval poem Pearl, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote:
To please that Prince, or be pardon shown,
May Christian good with ease design;
For day and night I have Him known
A God, a Lord, a Friend divine.
This chance I met on mound where prone
In grief for my pear I would repine;
With Christ's sweet blessing and mine own
I then to God it did resign.
May He that in form of bread and wine
By priest upheld each day one sees,
Us inmates of his house divine
Make precious pearls Himself to please.
Amen Amen


Not my philosophy, but it all seems nicely written, and I can see why it appealed to Tolkien, with his Catholic faith.
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