Peter Auksi writes:

At the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference held in Toronto Oct. 27-29th 1994 there were two sessions on Tyndale to help celebrate the Quincentennial, 'Tyndale and the Age of Erasmus' and 'New Approaches to Tyndale', both organised by John A R Dick of the University of Texas - El Paso. The papers given were:

   Richard J Schoeck (Kansas): 
      'Wm Tyndale and the Double Milieu of Oxford  and Cambridge'
   John A R Dick: 
      'Sodomy and Sorcery in Tyndale's The Practice of Prelates' 
   Peter Auksi (Univ of Western Ontario): 
      'The Biblical Humanism of Wm Tyndale'
   Matthew DeCoursey (Univ of Toronto): 
      'Tyndale and Erasmus on the Eucharist' 
   Beth Langstaff (Princeton Theol. Semin.): 
      'A World without Wonders? Erasmus, Tyndale, and the Cessation of Miracles'

   Bruce Boehrer (Florida State Univ): 
      'Wm Tyndale and the Death of Political Criticism'

Donald Davie: "Our Father"

     1. On a hint from Bertolucci
Passed from you, mother, to the custody 
Of another, and that other, though a Muse, 
Acerbic, limited, can I think I am
Worth your nine months' indignity and labour? 
The Muse you may have vowed me to was not 
The one I find I'm serving. In the clear 
Service of dream you come to me, forgiving 
Although unsmiling:
                       "Look, your father's here."

      2. On another. "venne il padre"
He is the delineator, here he comes, 
Diffident porter of the primal hues
To the palette of his endowed but ailing 
Child, the devoted homemaker who scumbles 
To glories of old rose, of Cambridge blue, 
Of less than Irish green to pin the wilting 
And waxing indeterminacies of verdure.
Comes the Father, the delineator,
Master of line and of the primary,
Behind the scenes the guarantor of Nature, 
Not the all-round factotum that he seems.

       3. Green
Issue of yellow's intercourse with blue,
Green is no primary hue. Though every Spring 
Persuade us of its primacy, it is not 
The unmediated progeny of the Father.

"Father, saddest of all my brethren, father." 
Franco Fortini, what were you thinking of? 
Brothers have all one father. Are there no 
Odds between filial and fraternal love?

Lincoln green, fraternity of the greenwood... 
But blue or yellow is His blazon, he 
Sired King John no less than Robin Hood. 
Being the Father, he is no man's fellow.

       4. Alfieri
Tragedian of an Italy then unborn,
He cudgelled himself for having prostituted 
The buskin to the tiara; that's to say, 
His play to the scrutiny of the Holy Father.

Later he learned how much more tolerant an 
Unpolished pontiff was, than a godless State 
That asked a theatre for Everyman,
The man first dulled, then frivolously diverted.

Later again (we look beyond him now)
The buskin throve by dirtying - the tiara
And then the Cross; which lives by seeing how 
Unwearyingly the Father's sons revile him.

        5. To a Neophyte
Do not fancy that the "oh" and "ah" 
Which may escape me signify the cut
And smoothing face of the Father's chisel are 
Soon or blithely suffered. They are not.

From me, although acerb, no epigrams.
Much as I'm enamoured of the terse,
Frauds self-confessed, self-interested scams... 
Shameful, the in-house dailiness of verse! 
The mother of all battles, and the father 
Of every cock-up... that's an issue reckoned 
By a superior calculus. Would you rather
Side with the first, or sign up with the second?

Whichever daunting parent gets your voice, 
              To start with, you'd no choice.

          6. After Whittier
        ("Dear Lord and Father of Mankind")

Carnival-master, Father, god of the glitch, 
Functionary of the out-of-phase,
Apparent fumbler tripping the wrong switch, 
Dear gremlin Lord, frustrate our foolish ways.

           7. After Watts
Behold! what wondrous grace
        The Father has bestow'd 
On sinners of a mortal race, -
        To call them sons of God!

We would no longer lie
        Like slaves beneath the throne; 
My faith shall Abba Father, cry,
        And Thou the kindred own.

It does not yet appear
        How great we must be made; 
But when we see our Saviour here,
        We shall be like our head.

                                for Eric Griffith
Not the haruspication,
Eric, from our own entrails:
Not Pugin, Pusey and Keble, nor
The Churches of England and Ireland 
And Rome and the Church of Wales.

Not to go into all that, 
      not go, not get
      energetically into 
      disclosures of double-take;
      the first and the subsequent voicings 
      of what cannot be uttered 
      without it be gutted of some 
      of the guts of its stertorous meaning.
Not to go into all that.

Provision of predellas for 
Delightful casuistries
Is not, despite our friend's 
Able performances, 
A main concern for verse.

Language not clay in his hands, 
The prophet assaults it: a bluff 
Anglican vicar hardly, 
And yet plain-spoken enough
To voice the Voice that commands.

Postscripts to the Tyndale Quincentenary Year

...I learned from both profound ignorance and deep learning. As a professional, academic historian, with a particular interest in the religious history of England in the 16th and 17th centuries, I learned from the ignorant not to take for granted the little that I knew. When I heard from so many quarters, and from highly educated people, that they had scarcely heard of William Tyndale until the quincentenary brought him to their attention, I was reminded of the alarming extent to which academic historians relate, in a small circle, to each other, failing in their essential and most important duty, to share their knowledge with the public at large. But from these confessions of ignorance I was reminded that Tyndale's undertaking, made to Stephen Vaughan in a field outside Antwerp, had come to pass. Let the King only allow the bare text of Scripture to pass freely in his domains, Tyndale said, and I would cease to exist. There would then be no need for me to have existed. And that is what happened, as Tyndale's translations and Tyndale himself were absorbed into something called, not Tyndale's Bible, but 'the English Bible'. Meanwhile, from the deep learning of others I learned what Tyndale had successfully hidden from me: that his apparent artlessness was highly artful. I learned what a superb rhetorician it was that composed those matchless English sentences; and what a consummate Grecian and Hebraist o have such a sense of what lay behind the English words which illiterati like myself (in the 16th century sense - small Latin and less Greek, no Hebrew) take on trust.

Patrick Collinson
Regius Professor of Modern History, University of Cambridge

Simply for the record, you may wish to note that our December Plenary Translation Lecture was given by Michael Weitzman on 'Tyndale and the Translation of the Hebrew Bible' to an informed and appreciative audience of sixty translators at City University.

Tim Connell
Director of Language Studies, City University, London

Valid XHTML 1.0!