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Translation of Hoccleve’s “Ballades to Henry Somer”

I am very pleased to announce that the Hoccleve Society has published my translation of Thomas Hoccleve’s “Ballades to Henry Somer”, a series of letter-poems in Middle English written in the early fifteenth century to Sir Henry Somer, an Exchequer clerk and later deputy treasurer who eventually became Chancellor of the Exchequer.

This translation aims to aims to provide an accurate, idiomatic representation of Hoccleve’s Middle English, while also conserving the sense of fun and teasing familiarity of the original. Hoccleve is best known as a poet concerned with melancholy, and so this poem, even as it deals with the very serious issue of financial precarity, also represents a playful and even celebratory side of Hoccleve that we don’t often get to see. I’m very glad to be able to present it in Modern English for the first time.

My translation can be found here.

The original Middle English can be read in Hoccleve Archive, hosted by the University of Texas.

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