Hvítasunnubrúðhlaupin – Philip Larkin’s best known poem found to be based on previously lost Old Norse manuscript

The poet Philip Larkin might be said to have been the bard of modern Britain, narrating the post-war transition from a boasting, marauding Empire to a world of rickety consumer goods, stale cigarette smoke – and everywhere, the smell of mildew and rain on concrete. But startling new research has revealed that this most modern of poets apparently based his best known poem on a medieval manuscript. In fact, “The Whitsun Weddings”, published in 1964, is not an original composition at all but a translation of a much older work entitled Hvítasunnubrúðhlaupin.

Professor Kaj Kage of the Leyton Technical Institute identified the manuscript: “Every now and then my bookseller, Johnny Openhouse on Paradise Street, gives me a tip …

Snow: the word’s effect

Snow Cover2

Back when I was a teenager at Pratt’s Corner in Southington, Connecticut, I grew up in an old homestead built in 1827 by Seth Pratt on seven acres of farmland and an expansive forest. It was perhaps when I was 14, or in 1955, in my early high-school days, there was one dull, overcast day in late October around midday when I was with my mother, Anna Marie Bartusiewicz Masthay, in the plain, unlit kitchen as she did her usual chores. While I was standing functionless by the kitchen table, she looked out the southward driveway-side window and suddenly proclaimed in Polish, “Śnieg pada” (‘snow falls, snow is falling, it’s snowing’), and indeed it had begun to snow,

Ragnarǫk at the University of Copenhagen? The ideology of closing down smaller language programmes

Johannes gehrts ragnarok mindre

The closure of Old Norse, Old Danish, modern Icelandic, and Faroese as elective courses at the University of Copenhagen is sad news indeed, that has also been covered also in the daily press. That this is a deeply misguided decision will almost certainly be self-evident to readers of Lingoblog. 

Ideological absurdity

There is an obvious absurdity that the oldest university in Denmark will not offer medieval Danish. Or that a world-class Old Norse research institute (Den Arnamagnæanske håndskriftsamling) will no longer offer teaching in Old Norse. Or that the same institute, which is a joint Danish-Icelandic venture, should no longer offer teaching in modern Icelandic. I expect that I will not need to convince you either that this is …