This Is How King Horn Ends

KingHorn manuscript ending lines

This is how the world ends,
Not with a whimper but with an amen.

What better way to celebrate reaching the end of a project than with a wistful amen and an ascent into heaven. The screenshot above features the final lines of King Horn, followed by a slightly modified version of the final lines of T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men.”

Yes, this is how I celebrate the countless hours spent doing the textual mark-up for the King Horn section of the Oxford, Bodleian Library, Laud. Misc 108 manuscript as part of the Archive of Early Middle English.

I started working on this project with two of my peers as our final project in my Digital Humanities class. During our class session, Amanda encoded lines 1-17 and 250-500, Shlomit encoded lines 501-700 and 901-1000, and I encoded lines 17-249 and 701-900. After our semester ended, I continued working on the project and encoded lines 1001-1570. For those counting, I did encode approximately 1000 lines of 13th century text.

Because I have experience reading Middle English, it was not difficult to plunge into the 13th century story or even to understand the idiosyncrasies of the spelling and grammar. More challenging was to dance with paleography and discover not only the words but also the art of the writing.

I started out hopeful, encouraged by how quickly I was able to begin reading and understanding the manuscript. I wasn’t afraid of the linguistic eccentricities until the time came to encode them. Using the AEME and TEI guidelines, I began the somewhat tedious process of comparing the digital manuscript to a transcription provided by my professor. Even when I was utterly confused by the manuscript, nothing was unreachable. Not even the extended “amen” with its seemingly superfluous red curls was out of reach.

Whenever I would finish encoding a page, I felt successful. Satisfaction washed over me and there was nothing to stop me from continuing my madcap dash to the ending line. Until, of course, I reached the ending line and sent the fully encoded and validated file to my professor.

Don’t worry, this isn’t the end. Now that I have a taste for encoding, I’m not going to let it slip from my grasps.


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