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Literature in Cornish

Literature in Cornish

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Image:Origo Mundi kynsa gwersow.jpg
The opening verses of Origo Mundi, the first play of the Ordinalia (the magnum opus of mediaeval Cornish literature), written by an unknown monk in the late 14th century

Cornish literature refers to written works in the Cornish language.

Pascon agan Arluth (The Passion of our Lord), a poem of 259 eight-line verses probably composed around 1375, is one of the earliest surviving works of Cornish literature. The most important work of literature surviving from the Middle Cornish period is the Cornish Ordinalia, a 9000-line religious verse drama which had probably reached its present form by 1400. The Ordinalia consists of three miracle plays, Origo Mundi, Passio Christi and Resurrexio Domini, meant to be performed on successive days. The longest single surviving work of Cornish literature is Beunans Meriasek (The Life of Meriasek), a two day verse drama dated 1504, but probably copied from an earlier manuscript.

The earliest surviving examples of Cornish prose are the Tregear Homilies, a series of 12 Catholic sermons written in English by Edmund Bonner and translated by John Tregear around 1555-1557, to which a thirteenth homily The Sacrament of the Alter, was added by another hand.

Other notable pieces of Cornish literature include the Creation of the World (with Noah's Flood) which is a miracle play similar to Origo Mundi but in a much later manuscript (1611); the Charter Fragment, a short poem about marriage, believed to be the earliest connected text in the language; and the recently-discovered Bewnans Ke, another saint's play, notable for including some Arthurian material.

There have also been Bible translations into Cornish. This redresses a perceived handicap unique to Cornish, in that of all the Celtic languages, it was only Cornish that did not have its own translation of the Bible.

  • The first complete edition of the New Testament in Cornish, Nicholas Williams' translation of the Testament Noweth agan Arluth ha Savyour Jesu Cryst, was published at Easter 2002 by Spyrys a Gernow (ISBN 0-9535975-4-7); it uses Unified Cornish Revised orthography. The translation was made from the Greek text, and incorporated John Tregear's existing translations with slight revisions.
  • In August 2004, Kesva an Taves Kernewek published its edition of the New Testament in Cornish (ISBN 1-902917-33-2), translated by Keith Syed and Ray Edwards; it uses Kernewek Kemmyn orthography. It was launched in a ceremony in Truro Cathedral attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury. A translation of the Old Testament is currently under preparation.

With the 20th-century revival of Cornish there have been newer works written in the language and today books written in Cornish are for sale in shops around Cornwall such as the Gwynn Ha Du in Liskeard. Jowann Richards (1926-2005) produced a Cornish translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (ISBN 0-907064-29-9) in 1990. Pol Hodge, Tim Saunders and Nicholas Williams are among the contemporary poets writing in Cornish. Many short stories and one or two original novels have also been published in the language.

See also

External links

Template:Lit-stub Template:Cornwall-stubca:Literatura còrnica eo:Kornvallingva literaturo kw:Lyenn Kernewek hu:Korni irodalom

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