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Duel of the Fates

Happy birthday to serpentcoils. May the Force be with you!

In her honor, here's a quote for the day. The chant from the Star Wars theme "Duel of the Fates," which is heard during the climactic Darth Maul fight with Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi in The Phantom Menace, is a Sanskrit translation of two lines from the archaic Celtic poem "Cad Goddeu" (or "Battle of the Trees"):

Under the tongue root a fight most dread,
And another raging behind, in the head.

In English:

"The Battle of the Trees"
as translated by Robert Graves

The tops of the beech tree have sprouted of late,
Are changed and renewed from their withered state.

When the beech prospers, though spells and litanies
The oak tops entangle, there is hope for trees.

I have plundered the fern, through all secrets I spy,
Old Math ap Mathonwy knew no more than I.

For with nine sorts of faculty God has gifted me,
I am fruit of fruits gathered from nine sorts of tree--

Plum, quince, whortle, mulberry, respberry, pear,
Black cherry and white, with the sorb in me share.

From my seat at Fefynedd, a city that is strong,
I watched the trees and green things hastening along.

Retreating from happiness they would fein be set
In forms of the chief letters of the alphabet.

Wayfarers wandered, warriors were dismayed
At renewal of conflicts such as Gwydion made;

Under the tongue root a fight most dread,
And another raging, behind, in the head.

The alders in the front line began the affray.
Willow and rowan-tree were tardy in array.

The holly, dark green, made a resolute stand;
He is armed with many spear-points wounding the hand.

With foot-beat of the swift oak heaven and earth rung;
"Stout Guardian of the Door", his name in every tongue.

Great was the gorse in battle, and the ivy at his prime;
The hazel was arbiter at this charmed time.

Uncouth and savage was the fir, cruel the ash tree--
Turns not aside a foot-breadth, straight at the heart runs he.

The birch, though very noble, armed himself but late:
A sign not of cowardice but of high estate.

The heath gave consolation to the toil-spent folk,
The long-enduring poplars in battle much broke.

Some of them were cast away on the field of fight
Because of holes torn in them by the enemy's might.

Very wrathful was the vine whose henchmen are the elms;
I exalt him mightily to rulers of realms.

Strong chieftains were the blackthorn with his ill fruit,
The unbeloved whitethorn who wears the same suit.

The swift-pursuing reed, the broom with his brood,
And the furse but ill-behaved until he is subdued.

The dower-scattering yew stood glum at the fight's fringe,
With the elder slow to burn amid fires that singe.

And the blessed wild apple laughing in pride
From the Gorchan of Maeldrew, by the rock side.

In shelter linger privet and woodbine,
Inexperienced in warfare, and the courtly pine.

But I, although slighted because I was not big,
Fought, trees, in your array on the field of Goddeu Brig.


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 12th, 2006 03:40 pm (UTC)
Excellent!!!! :)
Apr. 13th, 2006 12:21 am (UTC)
Yay! Trees rule. :)
Apr. 12th, 2006 03:54 pm (UTC)
Just fangirling you back. :D
Apr. 13th, 2006 12:23 am (UTC)
Aw! :) I'm still on cloud nine from your last email, you know. You rule!
Apr. 13th, 2006 04:06 am (UTC)
I'm right there with ya. On Cloud 9, I mean. Occasionally I pinch myself, just to see if I'm awake. I am ... either that, or I bruise in my dreams. ;)
Apr. 12th, 2006 04:20 pm (UTC)
Eeee! You are my hero... you know such cool stuff.

::uses the icon she never fully understood the significance of the quote on until now::
Apr. 13th, 2006 12:24 am (UTC)
I'm so glad it's useful to you! I think it's fascinating, how the allusions and layers of text all work together for that moment.

*loves your icon*

Apr. 15th, 2006 07:35 am (UTC)
I think it's fascinating, how the allusions and layers of text all work together for that moment.

Indeed. I have to say that the Duel of the Fates is my favourite section of any SW movie. I really wish that La Lucas would provide a single edit of it, so we don't have to have it interrupted by Gungans and Anakins.

One thing bugs me about the translation though, has done since I saw the icon: "a fight most dread". It has a dual meaning in that it could mean 'a fight most would fear' or 'a very dreadful fight'. Do you know if there's any clue in the original Celtish which favours one interpretation or is the dual meaning inherent?
Apr. 12th, 2006 05:23 pm (UTC)
Fantastic! Thanks for sharing.
Apr. 13th, 2006 12:24 am (UTC)
Yay! You're most welcome.
Apr. 13th, 2006 12:30 am (UTC)
Seeing that really brightened up an otherwise dreary day actually. I went and googled for other translations to compare but only found the Reverend Robert Williams one online.
Apr. 12th, 2006 06:15 pm (UTC)
"duel of the fates" always makes me wibble. <3333 And the blessed wild apple laughing in pride... *HUGS*
Apr. 13th, 2006 12:25 am (UTC)
*huge happy birthday hugs back*
Apr. 12th, 2006 07:06 pm (UTC)
How did I not know this? It's so awesome.

You are a treasure.

Apr. 13th, 2006 12:25 am (UTC)
Awwwww! You've made my day. Thanks for the lovely reply!
Apr. 13th, 2006 06:09 pm (UTC)
Lovely! It has a very druidic quality. :)
Apr. 14th, 2006 02:16 am (UTC)
Yes, exactly! I'm glad you like it, too.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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