Saturday, February 1, 2020

The Muse Showed Up

So today, I sat down at my craft desk with iPad open to Pinterest, and THIS PIN by Mia caught my eye. It instantly brought to mind the manuscript background I've had for forever, which is reminiscent of a miniscule script used in early medieval manuscripts from Carolingian France and the British Isles. That thought led to other Celtic-themed thoughts, and this Christmas card was born.

The only sentiment I have with a Celtic vibe is this Season's Greetings stamp, so the card, of necessity, became a Christmas card. You can clearly see the influence of Mia's gorgeous card on color and layout, with the only significant changes being the use of a Celtic border die (from Papertrey, trimmed down from a full frame to only an accent corner) and addition of the holly (punched) and two dark red rhinestones for berries.

This card took about an hour to make, given the heat embossing and inking that went into it. The inks are all Tim Holtz distress inks. It's much more involved and fussier than my usual cards, but the medievalist in me adores the Celtic theme...and it's a hard one to render with my usual abundant white space.

Thank you, Muse, for showing up today. That was fun!

For those of you interested in reading Shakespeare this year, I've moved the discussion to Facebook. Just look for The Canon Resurrected Discussion Group, request to join, and I'll add you. We read The Comedy of Errors in January and were mostly underwhelmed by its predictable plot and weak character development. It was, nevertheless, the perfect play for getting used to early modern English again because it was very, very short.

Our February read is the much more enjoyable As You Like It.

If you're scared of reading Shakespeare, I recommend the No Fear versions, which are very affordable as ebooks. They have the original text with facing page modern renditions, so it's easy to check when you get lost. It's amazing how quickly it all comes back...or you learn to adapt to the differences if you've never ventured into Shakespeare's world before. Join us!

At this point, it seems appropriate to share a pet peeve of mine. Some people refer to Shakespeare's language as "Old English." No, no, no. Shakespeare wrote in Early Modern English. Here's a sample of Old English:

Nū scylun hergan     hefaenrīcaes Uard,metudæs maecti     end his mōdgidanc,uerc Uuldurfadur,     suē hē uundra gihwaes,ēci dryctin     ōr āstelidæ

I copied this from Wikipedia. It's the opening of Caedmon's Hymn, the earliest recorded poem written in Old English (7th c.). Listen to a reading of it HERE. That's Old English...a very Germanic language. Whole classes study Old English. I've taken two myself, and never fully mastered it.

Middle English is easier, a strange melding of German and French, that takes a few weeks of dedicated reading of footnotes and acceptance that words might appear in weird order and simple words like green could be spelled grene, greene, greine, etc., because there were no dictionaries, grammar nazis, or spell check.  Here's the opening to The Wife of Bath's Prologue from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (late 14th c.) (source):

  "Experience, though noon auctoritee
                "Experience, though no written authority
2       Were in this world, is right ynogh for me
                Were in this world, is good enough for me
3       To speke of wo that is in mariage;
                To speak of the woe that is in marriage;

You can recognize most of these words, right? They were pronounced differently, with continental vowels and those gh's are pronounced like the German, with much hocking of loogies. But it's much closer to modern English.

So when you get to early modern English and Shakespeare (late 16th c.-early 17th c.), with his "To be, or not to be, that is the question...," it's comparatively easy!

And thus endeth the linguistics lesson you asked for. Or not. Whatever. Join us for reading the Bard. He's way more fun than linguistics, and not nearly so hard as you might think.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


  1. Oh, this is a fun one! Even though there's not as much white space as you usually employ, the design still has your trademark simplicity. Love the Celtic vibes!

    I enjoyed your little discourse on the stages of English, too. The Bard's English is really not that hard! I prefer Penguin's editions of his work (The Pelican Shakespeare) for their extensive footnotes and explanations about the more obscure words and phrases he used and the wordplay that would go over the head of a modern reader.

  2. Thank you for the lesson this morning. I'm hardly a linguist but I loved the audio clip. Oh and the card ;) is gorgeous. Sponging is slow work but the results are beautiful. Liz

  3. What a wonderful start to your Christmas card collection. It reminds me of the Latin Parchment stamp that I have. Thank you for the inspiration.

  4. That post takes me right back to university... Troilus and Criseyde came up in the finals!
    The only thing I remember from Canterbury Tales is that some of them were quite explicit... I won't ever look at leek with innocent eyes again!

  5. Love how your mind works ... and the cards that follow.
    I have forwarded this to my book club ... I thought some may wish to join your Shakespeare reading group.

  6. Where did you get the manuscript background stamp? I am filled with serious serious stamp lust.


Thank you so much for taking time to comment!