• Celtic Myth,  Celtic Studies Books,  Literature

    Lady Charlotte Guest

    The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography’s “Life of the Week” post this week is a biography of Lady Charlotte Guest, the translator of the Mabinogion, including the four mabinogi proper, as well as the three Welsh tales, and the four Arthurian romances, as well as several other tales, including the prose Taliesin fragment from the sixteenth century, edited by Patrick Ford as the Ystoria Taliesin in 1991. Lady Guest’s translation, with the accompanying notes, is actually quite wonderful; it was the first translation I ever read, and it still remains well-worth reading. It has become fashionable to sneer at her—and imply that she wasn’t responsible for the work. She was;…

  • Calendar,  Medieval manuscripts

    January and Feasting in the Très Riches Heures

    January in the middle ages was especially associated with feasting, and exchanging gifts on New Year’s and on Twelfth Night. In the c. 1400 Middle English poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the narrator refers to the nobles at Arthur’s court on January 1st exchanging gifts and playing games, including kissing games, perhaps, and something resembling handy-dandy prickly-prandy. January saint’s days include the Feast of the Circumcision on the first, the Epiphany on the sixth, Saint Agnes on the twenty-first, and the Conversion of Saint Paul on the twenty-fifth, among other feats. Typically the calendar page will show the sign of Aquarius, the water-bearer in a border (at the…

  • Calendar

    Nowel nayted onewe

    60. Wyle Nw Ȝer watz so ȝep þat hit watz nwe cummen, 61. Þat day doubble on þe dece watz þe douþ serued. 62. Fro þe kyng watz cummen wiþ knyȝtes into þe halle, 63. Þe chauntre of þe chapel cheued to an ende, 64. Loude crye watz þer kest of clerkez and oþer, 65. Nowel nayted onewe, neuened ful ofte; 66. And syþen riche forþ runnen to reche hondeselle, 67. Ȝeȝed ȝeres-ȝiftes on hiȝ, ȝelde hem bi hond, 68. Debated busyly aboute þo giftes; 69. Ladies laȝed ful loude, þoȝ þay lost haden, 70. And he þat wan watz not wroþe, þat may ȝe wel trawe. 71. Alle þis…