Middle English Translations

These are my modern English translations of Middle English poems by mostly anyonymous authors. 

Sumer is icumen in
anonymous Middle English poem, circa 1260 AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Summer is a-comin’!
Sing loud, cuckoo!
The seed grows,
The meadow blows,
The woods spring up anew.
Sing, cuckoo!

The ewe bleats for her lamb;
The cows contentedly moo;
The bullock roots,
The billy-goat poots ...
Sing merrily, cuckoo!

Leonardo da Vinci Translations

These are my modern English translations of epigrams and poems by Leonardo da Vinci. I suspect da Vinci's “Paragone of Poetry and Painting” may have been aimed like a dart at his greatest rival, Michelangelo! 

Once we have flown, we will forever walk the earth with our eyes turned heavenward, for there we were and there we will always long to return.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Middle English Translations

These are my modern English translations of some of the very best Middle English poems.

 

This World's Joy
anonymous Middle English poem, circa 1300
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Winter awakens all my care
as leafless trees grow bare.
For now my sighs are fraught
whenever it enters my thought:
regarding this world's joy,
how everything comes to naught.

[MS. Harl. 2253. f. 49r]

Wulf and Eadwacer (translation)

This is my modern English translation of one of the oldest English poems and perhaps the first one written by a woman. 

Wulf and Eadwacer
anonymous Anglo-Saxon poem, circa 960 AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My clan’s curs pursue him like crippled game.
They’ll rip him apart if he approaches their pack.
It is otherwise with us.

Pushkin Translations

These are my modern English translations of poems by the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin.

I Loved You
by Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I loved you ... perhaps I love you still ...
perhaps for a while such emotions may remain.
But please don’t let my feelings trouble you;
I do not wish to cause you further pain.

ANCIENT PERSIAN POEMS

This is believed to be one of the earliest Persian poems, written by Zoroaster perhaps as early as 1700 BC …

Yasna 28, Verse 6
by Zarathustra/Zoroaster
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Lead us to pure thought and truth
by your sacred word and long-enduring assistance,
O, eternal Giver of the gifts of righteousness.
O, wise Lord, grant us spiritual strength and joy;
help us overcome our enemies’ enmity.

SORROWS OF THE WILD GEESE by HUANG E

These are my modern English translations of poems by the Chinese poet Huang E (1498–1569), also known as Huang Xiumei. She has been called the most outstanding female poet of the Ming Dynasty, and her husband its most outstanding male poet. Were they poetry’s first power couple? Her father Huang Ke was a high-ranking official of the Ming court and she married Yang Shen, the prominent son of Grand Secretary Yang Tinghe. Unfortunately for the young power couple, Yang Shen was exiled by the emperor early in their marriage and they lived largely apart for 30 years.

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