THE TALE OF CHARLEMAGNE AND RALPH THE COLLIER:
In 2007, I translated the 15th-century romance “The Taill of Rauf Coilyear,” a 972-line Middle Scots poem about the kerfuffle that ensues when Charlemagne, separated from his entourage by a snowstorm at Christmastime, seeks refuge in the home of a proud and irascible collier. Combining folklore motifs with burlesque humor and elements of chansons and chivalric romances, “Rauf Coilyear” is a lively tale of courtesy, hospitality, and knighthood.
My version of this little-known romance was an experiment: I wanted to see if I could imitate all 75 of the original poem’s tricky rhyming, alliterative, 13-line stanzas in a translation that was both readable and entertaining. I was delighted when scholars in New York and Scotland told me they were using the translation in their undergraduate classrooms.