To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare in 1616 (and because I’ve been wanting to do something like this for a very long time), I’ve decided to dedicate 2016 to reading through the complete works of Shakespeare. My reading plan, which consists (for the most part) of a work a week, is here. We will, more or less, be moving in order through Shakespeare’s career from the comedies to the histories and tragedies. We will finish up with the poetic works. You will notice that there are only 50 weeks here. The additional time in the year (about a week and a half this year) I will leave open as time to complete any reading that I wasn’t able to finish earlier in the year or perhaps tack on some bonus material. Along with reading the play, I will also be watching at least a few of the most popular movie versions of each and reviewing them on my blog. Please join in any weeks that interest you!
I have been considering for some time trying my hand at writing poetry, something I did a bit in my late teens but fell away from. I have also been working lately on improving my Old and Middle English. To advance both ends, I have decided to work on a translation of the 12th/13th century Middle English poem The Owl and the Nightingale. If you’re unfamiliar with it, there is a good introduction to it at Wikipedia. To put it shortly, the poem is a debate between an owl and a nightingale over who is better and, by implication, which of the lifestyles each represents is better.
As I add to and change the translation, I will be posting my work on this page, which is also accessible in the link bar at the top of the page. My goal with this translation is to remain faithful to the meaning of the text as well as its rhythm and rhyme. To this end, I will attempt to remain consistent with the iambic tetrameter and aabb rhyme scheme (that is, four-beat lines arranged in couplets) of the original. The text I am working from is that published by E. G. Stanley, which you can find online here. I welcome any comments and corrections you might have to offer along the way.