Researching the 2007 National Poetry Day theme of 'Dreams' this week, I came across a rich new verse translation by Mark Leech of the Old English poem The Dream of the Rood, a translation which in 2004 won him First Prize in the The Times Stephen Spender Prize for poetry translation.
I found Leech's translation a very sensuous and enjoyable poem, but regretted the odd dip into what might be considered archaic language, feeling that words like 'wondrous', 'laden' and the repeated 'bliss' and 'blissful', whilst true to the original and perfectly good in their own right, might have been better laid aside for a more contemporary feel to what is, after all, a timeless subject: the dramatic and powerful story of the cross of Christ, in its own words, as narrated to a dreamer.
You can find Mark Leech's prize-winning translation of this ancient Christian poem, with facing text Anglo-Saxon, at the Stephen Spender Memorial Trust website.
It's an excellent poetry competition to think of entering if you go in for translating poetry, by the way. Which I know several of my readers do ...