Getting Around the Cipher: Translating the Uncooperative Text
Do not forget that a poem, even though it is composed in the language of information, is not used in the language-game of giving information.
-- Ludwig Zettel Wittgenstein
Translation of these poems into modern English prose, while it remains really the only solution left to us as explicators, sometimes occludes the text we are trying to understand. Of great importance is a frank recognition that our desires for the text will shape our interpretations of the text, a truth well known to scholars; that even the employment of the so-called disinterested mechanisms of scholarship (philology, linguistics, source studies) can be bent to the powerful forces of our theories. They are theories. And between our theories and the original artifact, a third thing is fashioned. This book offers no exception.
In 1911, W. P. Ker made the following comment about the Welsh in his book The Dark Ages, voicing what seems to have been a widespread feeling of