Old Dutch poem

This is a forum for discussing Old and Middle Dutch, which gave birth to Modern Dutch. This is the place to find fascinating old texts complete with splendid spellings and wonderful word order. If you are interested in reading texts from the Middle Ages and earlier, please come on in. Translations into modern Dutch are required, and translations into modern English are welcome.
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Old Dutch poem

Post by Bieneke » Wed Sep 28, 2005 7:51 pm

I was asked to translate a Dutch poem into English and decided it would be nice to publish it in the hoekje voor gevorderden. The poem was written in the 14th century by an unknown author, who wrote it for a friend he lost. Since 14th Century Dutch is not quite the same as modern Dutch, I added a translation in modern Dutch and in English.

Egidius, waer bestu bleven?
Mi lanct na di, gheselle mijn.
Du coors die doot, du liets mi tleven!
Dat was gheselscap goet ende fijn,
Het sceen teen moeste ghestorven sijn.
Nu bestu in den troon verheven,
Claerre dan der zonnen scijn.
Alle vruecht es di ghegheven.
Egidius, waer bestu bleven?
Mi lanct na di, gheselle mijn!
Du coors die doot, du liets mi tleven.
Nu bidt vor mi, ic moet noch sneven
Ende in de weerelt liden pijn.
Verware mijn stede di beneven:
Ic moet noch zinghen een liedekijn.
Nochtan moet emmer ghestorven sijn.
Egidius, waer bestu bleven?
Mi lanct na di, gheselle mijn!
Du coors die doot, du liets mi tleven.

Egidius, waer bestu bleven?
Egidius, waar ben je gebleven?
Egidius, where have you gone?

Mi lanct na di, gheselle mijn.
Ik verlang naar je, mijn vriend.
I long for you, my friend.

Du coors die doot, du liets mi tleven!
Jij vond de dood, je liet me achter in het leven.
You found death, you left me behind in life.

Dat was gheselscap goet ende fijn,
Het was een goede en fijne vriendschap,
It was a good and fine friendship,

Het sceen teen moeste ghestorven sijn.
Het leek erop dat wij samen moesten sterven.
It looked like we had to die together.

Nu bestu in den troon verheven,
Nu ben jij in de troon verheven,
Now you have risen to the throne (perhaps not the best translation..),

Claerre dan der zonnen scijn.
Klaarder (helderder) dan de zonneschijn.
Clearer than sunshine.

Alle vruecht es di ghegheven.
Alle vreugd is jou gegeven.
All joy has been given to you (or: You deserve all joy).

Egidius, waer bestu bleven?
Egidius, waar ben je gebleven?
Egidius, where have you gone?

Mi lanct na di, gheselle mijn!
Ik verlang naar je, mijn vriend!
I long for you, my friend!

Du coors die doot, du liets mi tleven.
Jij vond de dood, je liet me achter in het leven.
You found death, you left me behind in life.

Nu bidt vor mi, ic moet noch sneven
Bid nu voor mij, ik moet mijn zondig leven nog voortzetten
Now pray for me, I still have to continue my sinful life.

Ende in de weerelt liden pijn.
En pijn lijden in de wereld.
And suffer in the world.

Verware mijn stede di beneven:
Houd voor mij een plaatsje naast je vrij.
Reserve a place next to you for me.

Ic moet noch zinghen een liedekijn.
Ik moet nog een liedje zingen.
I still have a song to sing.

Nochtan moet emmer ghestorven sijn.
Nochtans is sterven onvermijdelijk.
Yet, death is inevitable.

Egidius, waer bestu bleven?
Egidius, waar ben je gebleven?
Egidius, where have you gone?

Mi lanct na di, gheselle mijn!
Ik verlang naar je, mijn vriend!
I long for you my friend!

Du coors die doot, du liets mi tleven.
Jij vond de dood, je liet me achter in het leven.
You found death, you left me behind in life.

[edit by EetSmakelijk] Bieneke, I moved this topic to the history of the Dutch language forum and I also put the entire poem before the poem with translations so people can read the whole thing before reading the line by line translations. I didn't change any of your wording and I left the replies alone. :P [/edit]
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Post by EetSmakelijk » Fri Oct 07, 2005 2:57 am

This is way too advanced for me but I was just wondering... Was that poem hard for you to translate or is it easy to read 14th Century Dutch if you already know modern Dutch?
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Post by Wim » Fri Oct 07, 2005 10:56 am

Hallo EetSmakelijk,

No, 14th century Dutch is not easily understandible to modern Dutch people. Of course we recognise the words, and most of the words still have the meaning they had some 700 years ago, but especially the differences make it difficult. The old language often uses just a different meaning of a word from what one would expect nowadays. Besides the grammar is different. Some examples: a double negation (en ... niet or en ... negheen), the word order may be different and cases still play a part. The spelling is different as well (though one gets used to it rather quickly) and in many hand-written texts there is hardly any punctuation, so it's often difficult to decide where a sentence is ending.

An example of Middle Dutch: Ens ghene doghet sine comt van minnen.

ens = en es 'there is no' (en = negation, es = is)
ghene = geen 'no'
doghet = deugd 'virtue'
sine = zij (+ 'half a negation') 'if not she'
comt = komt 'comes'
minnen = min (obsolete word for 'love')

So the proverb means: There is no virtue but coming/resulting from love.

I hope my translation is correct, or at least understandible :) .

The period of the so-called Middle Dutch lasted until about 1500. Between 1500 and 1600 there was a period of transition and the Dutch from say 1600 onwards is considered 'modern' Dutch. But if a modern reader would read a text dating from the early 17th century he may easily misunderstand it. Maybe you can compare it to the rading of the original version of the Canterbury Tales by Chaucer and for a later stage the Shakespearian English.

Yet I think Shakespeare is less difficult to read for a modern English native speaker than a 17th century Dutch author would be to a modern Dutchman. But I may be misled by the fact that when I'm reading 16th century or modern English I'd be reading a foreign language anyway.

If you'd like to read some more older Dutch I'll be glad to present you some of it, but Bieneke's example is a very good one!

Groetjes,
Wim

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Post by EetSmakelijk » Fri Oct 07, 2005 1:49 pm

Dank je wel, Wim.
This stuff is much too advanced for me, I just found it very interesting that Bieneke could read and understand that poem. :)
I do find older versions of the modern languages interesting, but until I can understand modern Dutch, understandind old or middle Dutch is impossible. :grin:
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Post by Shea » Fri Oct 07, 2005 4:49 pm

Thanks to both of you ,Bieneke and Wim !!
They are so lovely...

I'm very interested in Dutch Literature and Poetry .

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Post by EetSmakelijk » Sun May 21, 2006 7:38 am

I re-read this poem once in awhile. Every time I do, I find it more beautiful. :grin:
I can't wait for the day when my Dutch is advanced enough to write poetry, although I will not be writing in middle Dutch. ;)
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Re: Old Dutch poem

Post by EetSmakelijk » Mon Sep 11, 2006 4:12 am

Mi lanct na di, gheselle mijn.
Ik heb een etymologische vraag. Heeft het woord "gheselle" iets te maken met het woord gezellig? Mijn idee is waarschijnlijk fout, maar ik moest die vraag stellen!
I have an etymological question, does the word "gheselle" have anything to do with the word gezellig? My idea is probably wrong, but I had to ask that question!
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Post by Bieneke » Mon Sep 11, 2006 4:27 pm

Yes, there is a relation between the two. Well spotted. :-D 'Gezel' (modern Dutch) means 'companion' or 'friend'. We use 'gezellig' to refer to something nice or cosy, usually in a social sense.
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Re: Old Dutch poem

Post by KrisPa » Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:24 pm

A very nice poem, indeed! I have tried to locate some old Dutch definite articles in it and here are my findings:

1. Du coors die doot [Jij vond de dood] : Feminine Accusative (?)
2. ... in den troon verheven [in de troon verheven] : Masculine Accusative (?)
3. Claerre dan der zonnen--scijn [Klaarder dan de zonneschijn] : Masculine Nominative (?)

Yet the last one I've found seems to me to be a modern one:

Ende in de weerelt liden pijn (En pijn lijden in de wereld) : It should be the Feminine Dative in my view, but shouldn't the old Dutch Feminine Dative be "der" rather than "de"?

Can any of the specialist of the forum confirm my findings?

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Re: Old Dutch poem

Post by ngonyama » Tue Mar 11, 2014 6:30 pm

KrisPa wrote:A very nice poem, indeed! I have tried to locate some old Dutch definite articles in it and here are my findings:

1. Du coors die doot [Jij vond de dood] : Feminine Accusative (?) yes
2. ... in den troon verheven [in de troon verheven] : Masculine Accusative (?) yes
3. Claerre dan der zonnen--scijn [Klaarder dan de zonneschijn] : Masculine Nominative (?) no, genitive fem: het schijnsel van de zon

Yet the last one I've found seems to me to be a modern one:

Ende in de weerelt liden pijn (En pijn lijden in de wereld) : It should be the Feminine Dative in my view, but shouldn't the old Dutch Feminine Dative be "der" rather than "de"? I'm not quite sure, but I think wereld is masculine as in 's werelds loon; probably a dative masc

Can any of the specialist of the forum confirm my findings?

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Re: Old Dutch poem

Post by ngonyama » Tue Mar 11, 2014 6:33 pm

Is there a way to upload a sound file? I'd like to sing it for you guys. It has a nice melody. It is also a rondeau with a scheme ABAAABAB, or A1B1A2A1A3B2A1B1

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Re: Old Dutch poem

Post by ngonyama » Tue Mar 11, 2014 6:46 pm

Correction: you a right. It should be fem dat: "in der werelt" http://www.tagoror.com/enciclopedia/nl/ ... slied.html

The masc genitive werelds stems from the days when the case system went bankrupt (around 1600).

If you are interested in Middle Dutch articles: https://nl.wiktionary.org/wiki/Sjabloon:dumart
Notice though that 'dien' was also weakened to 'den'.

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Re: Old Dutch poem

Post by Joke » Tue Mar 11, 2014 8:21 pm

Yes, ngonyama, you can upload soundfiles using the mp3 tags:

Code: Select all

[mp3]Location of sound file here[/mp3]

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Re: Old Dutch poem

Post by KrisPa » Wed Mar 12, 2014 2:59 pm

ngonyama wrote:The masc genitive werelds stems from the days when the case system went bankrupt (around 1600).
Now that you have mentioned the 's werelds form, I can see the noun must have been a masculine noun, but it must have simultaneously been a feminine noun as well which is duly testified in our days by the ter wereld form. And indeed, I have found a certain website whereon the noun wereld has been assigned both gender attributes: fem and masc.
ngonyama wrote:3. Claerre dan der zonnen--scijn [Klaarder dan de zonneschijn] : Masculine Nominative (?) no, genitive fem: het schijnsel van de zon
Here I was clearly mistaken. Prior to my post, I had not bothered to check any tables showing the Middle Dutch definite article in their different genders and cases, so I wrongly assumed that the Middle Dutch Masc Nom was der rather than die (just as it is in modern German). And it came as a great surprise to find out that the Dutch noun had the same nominative form die for both the masculine and the feminine gender :-o (simply unbelivable!).

Thank you very much, Ngonyama, for all the clarifications. My knowledge of Dutch is still very weak as I have been learning it for less than a year now, but my knowledge of genders and cases is fairly strong since we have three of the former and seven of the latter in Polish.

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Re: Old Dutch poem

Post by Mellifera » Tue May 27, 2014 11:06 pm

That is quiet beautiful.

Makes me think about Old English texts I studied for uni years ago.

There's something fascinating about the old european languages.

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