Welsh and Old English nature poetry show important similarities in both mood and imagery. However, modern critics have done both a disservice by viewing each too narrowly within what Higley calls the "anglocentric tradition." Study of Old English has suffered from its isolation from the Welsh, in particular from the lessons to be learned from its ambiguous, i.e., "uncooperative" qualities. Taking an inclusive approach that extends from phonology to imagery, her book examines poems from both traditions and achieves new and persuasive readings. Between Languages attempts to bring obscure and moving poems into a wider critical orbit, and it offers new translations of The Seafarer, Maxims II, and Wulf and Eadwacer among the English and The Sick Man of Abercuawg, Song of the Old Man, and various gnomic and wisdom poems among the Welsh, including one of the few complete English translations in this century of a vatic poem from The Book of Taliesin.Welsh and Old English poetry, moreover, have often been described as like or different from each other. Higley breaks this cycle of mutual marginalization with theoretically innovative discussions of each text on its own merits. She joins scholars like Allen Frantzen, Lee Patterson, and Suzanne Fleischmann in pointing out that medievalists have, to their own peril, failed to avail themselves of the subtle resources of postmodern criticism.Between Languages makes accessible to a modern audience the traditions of Welsh and Old English poetry, which are at once parallel, unique, and mutually informative, and at the same time distinct from poetry since the eighteenth century.
Literature & Fiction, World Literature, United States,