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The Owl and the Nightingale

The Owl and the Nightingale is a Middle English poem. J.R.R. Tolkien began a translation of the poem, which has never reached publication.[1] In a letter from 1967, Tolkien wrote:

I have at present given up the task [of translating The Owl and the Nightingale]. It comes off well enough in certain passages, but in general octo-syllabic couplets are defeating for a translator; there is no room to move.

In a letter written on 8 April 1932, C.S. Lewis suggests his brother Warren to read Tolkien's translation of The Owl and the Nightingale.[2] It seems therefore likely that Tolkien had completed a translation of the poem by this date, but was unsatisfied with the results as evident in the 1967 Letter.[3]

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  1. Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond (2006), The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: II. Reader's Guide, p. 771
  2. C.S. Lewis (2004), Collected Letters, vol. 2, p. 75
  3. Christina Scull, Wayne G. Hammond, "Addenda and Corrigenda to The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide (2006) Vol. 1: Chronology", Hammond& (accessed 19 July 2012)