Between Languages: The Uncooperative Text in Early Welsh and Old English Nature Poetry

By Sarah Lynn Higley | Go to book overview
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The Natural Analogy: Difficulties, Gaps, and Irritations

The lack of a sign can itself be a sign. -- Maurice Merleau-Ponty

Wea bid wundrum clibbor wolcnu scriđap ("Misery is marvelously tenacious. The clouds glide.")

-- Maxims II

As a focus for this analysis I have chosen a pattern that involves the connection between statements of mood and the natural image, in the use of which Old English and Welsh differ significantly. This book takes as its paradigm and starting point the universal link between the physical world and a state of mind, present in many different literary traditions and in many permutations, involving a loner -- an exile, a pilgrim, or a poet/seer -- pitted against the wide. open spaces of the world. I call it the "natural analogy" because of the worldwide understanding of nature or any external as an analogue of the poetic mood. Its special feature, one that makes it appropriate to this study of connection, lies in its mediation between private and public, internal and external, human and nonhuman. The narrative impulse is to "translate" from one area to another by making the outer relevant to the inner and vice versa (confession does the same, by externalizing verbally what is internal and inchoate). The hermetic and lyric impulse is to complicate translation, to blur the distinction between inner and outer. Thus the natural analogy can

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Between Languages: The Uncooperative Text in Early Welsh and Old English Nature Poetry
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