Lowlands-L Anniversary Celebration

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About the story
What’s with this “Wren” thing?
   The oldest extant version of the fable we are presenting here appeared in 1913 in the first volume of a two-volume anthology of Low Saxon folktales (Plattdeutsche Volksmärchen “Low German Folktales”) collected by Wilhelm Wisser (1843–1935). Read more ...


Early Modern English


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Translation: Reinhard F. Hahn

Location: Seattle, Washington, USA

Language information: [Click]Click here for different versions. >

Help: Rest your cursor (without clicking) on difficult words or phrases to see their meanings in Modern English.

Click here for different versions. >[Period Script] [Modern Script] [Modern Spelling] [Phonetic]   

The Wren

As sunshine urgeth each sometimes tender spring
To summer-laden flush on every bush and wind
Birds that not long agone in dalliance did sing
Proceed to nesting, kindling to secure their kind.
On a fair day, on one of spring’s nigh last,
Passed an occurrent that a fellow’s proof approveth
Not alone courage for his progeny to shelter fast
But courage that his very self-conceited aspect moveth.
Such is the story of the wren that ye finde here related,
A tale that in a humble waggon-shed beginn’th
Whence the old wrens had flown to see their nestlings sated
When they aback repaired with morsels each one winn’th
In yet more kindling chares in groves they called their own,
And all this while their tender brood sat in their nest alone.

Doth not a father bird that sustenance home bringeth
Bear natural expect of his brood’s jolly cheer?
’T is but surmised that each young fainly springeth.
But lo! The selfsame brood was stirred like hunted deer,
Thronged on the nest-home’s inmost edge in coil,
Too feared for silence spite of keener wit,
And adding to their father’s burden utmost toil.
―What hath betided, peats? What gear is it
From which arose such fright?―enquired he.
Quoth they―a giant bugbear feared us here
With hungry eyes. He would devour us with glee!―
Go to! What rotten dare! Soon shall he rue such gere!
But say ye, peats, where might the scurvy monster be?
Down yonder now? Abide! I’ll seize that pilch!―quoth he.

Passing the corner in pursuit his right resolve to prove
He saw a lion yond with plodding paws and monstrous mow.
But anger bolds. Unto the lion’s back in one swift move,
He rightly ratedBackare! Get thee gone, thou cat-mowed crow!
What’s thy intendment gallowing my aery with thy stare?―
Bore him no mind the lion, plodding farther on his way.
Jump ill and bale!―quoth fierced the wren,―Of that I’m ware.
No rightful purpose hast thou there, false fiend, I say!
Shouldst thou again be seen in these parts, well, I swear,
Not fainly would I violent, though forced iwis I would.―
With this our minimus raised one foot in the air,
―I would thus frush and knap thy back! With ease I could.―
With this he flew aback and quoth―My peats, no fear!
I lessoned well that loon. Ne’er more will he come here. I swear.―

© 2011, Lowlands-L · ISSN 189-5582 · LCSN 96-4226 · All international rights reserved.
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