DILEGIAN, dilgian, dielgian; p. ode; pp. od To destroy, abolish, blot out, erase;:-Gif se wrítere
ne dilegaÞ ðæt he ær wrát if the scribe does not erase what he wrote before, To dielgianne
hira synna to blot out their sins, Past. 55, 2; Hat. MS. [Orm.dillghenn:
O. Sax. far-diligón Frs. dylgjen: O. Frs. diligia: Ger. tilgen:
M. H. Ger. tiligen, tilgen: O. H. Ger. tiligón.]
DER. a-dilegian, for-: un-dilegod.

[from An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, by Joseph Bosworth]

Poetry is a sword of lightning, ever unsheathed,
which consumes the scabbard
that would contain it.

[Percy Bysshe Shelley, "A Defence of Poetry"]

Welcome to Adilegian.

This is the web site of James Howell. I have an MA in English (emphasis on Creative Writing, Poetry) from the University of Southern Mississippi's Center for Writers. My main interests are poetry, the Faroese language, linguistics, translation, Old English  literature, and videogames.

I have written extensively for major publications in the videogame industry, including 1up.com, Playstation: the Official Magazine, and Hardcore Gamer Magazine. I also write content for videogames, specifically Camouflaj's RÉPUBLIQUE. I am the former part owner of DELTAHEAD Translation Group, LLC.

My poems have appeared in The Southern Poetry Anthology II: Mississippi and Flycatcher, among others. I am a senior editor and photographer for the online literary journal Town Creek Poetry.

Please enjoy the below list of projects in progress, stasis, or completion!


Writing and Video

Learning Faroese Blog

Segagaga Translation Blog

Original Old English Translations (in progress)

MGS3 FOXHOUND Rank Video Walkthrough

The Rootwork Building: Interactive and Thematic Structure in The Last of Us

YouTube Channel

Poems by Poets Whose Poems I Love

Introduction and Table of Contents


The Bonnie Jean Haynes-Chandler Genealogical Archive

PDF captures of the University of Virginia's public domain translation of Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy
[Book I]        [Book II]        [Book III]        [Book IV]        [Book V]

Jonathan Franzen's excellent essay from the 30 September 2002 edition of The New Yorker


Andrew Lang's Introduction to The Compleat Angler, from Project Gutenberg.

Anglo-Saxon Dictionary: based on the manuscript collections of the late Joseph Bosworth.

Bartleby.com: Great Books Online.

Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation.

Beowulf: the Anglo-Saxon Text Online.

Clemson University's list of trees growing in South Carolina.

Connections: A Hypertext Resource for Literature

In Parentheses: a site dedicated to making a variety of texts available to the curious public.

The International Phonetic Association's Reproduction of the International Phonetic Alphabet, along with an Interactive Phonetics Chart.

Internet History Sourcebooks Project: a great collection of historical texts. 

Internet Medieval Sourcebook.

Kudzu reference links: one of my favorite invasive plants.

Old English at the University of Calgary.

Old English Pronunciation Guide

The Online Book Page.

The Online Medieval & Classical Library.

The Oxford Text Archive. Oh, God, thank you. (Also thanks to the Oxford Text Archive.)

Project Gutenberg.

The South Carolina Native Plant Society.

University of Adelaide Library eTexts


The great instrument of moral good is the imagination; and poetry administers to the effect by acting upon the cause.

            [Percy Bysshe Shelley, "A Defence of Poetry"]

Professional ambition suggested that literary labours, unpopular with the vulgar and the half-educated, are not likely to help a man up the ladder of promotion. But common sense presently suggested to me that, professionally, I was not a success; and, at the same time, that I had no cause to be ashamed of my failure. In our day, when we live under a despotism of the lower "middle-class" Philister who can pardon anything but superiority, the prizes of competitive services are monopolized by certain "pets" of the M�diocratie, and prime favourites of that jealous and potent majority�the Mediocrites who know "no nonsense about merit." It is hard for an outsider to realize how perfect is the monopoly of commonplace, and the comprehend how fatal a stumbling-stone that man sets in the way of his own advancement who dares to think for himself, or who knows more or who does more than the mob of gentlemen-employ�s who know very little and do even less.

            [Richard F. Burton, Introduction to the 1934 edition of The Book of One Thousand Nights and a Night]

How glorious this affection for the cause
    Of stedfast genius, toiling gallantly!
What when a stout champion awes
    Envy, and Malice to their native sty?
Unnumber'd souls breathe out a still applause,
    Proud to behold him in his country's eye.

            [John Keats, "Addressed to Haydon"]

Another day, between walls of a sham Mycenian,
"Toc" sphinxes, sham-Memphis columns,
And beneath the jazz a cortex, a stiffness or stillness,
            Shell of the older house.
Brown-yellow wood, and the no colour plaster,
Dry professorial talk...
            now stilling the ill beat music,
House expulsed by this house.

            [Ezra Pound, Cantos, Canto VII]

A Poet is a nightingale who sits in darkness, and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds; his auditors are as men entranced by the melody of an unseen musician, who feel that they are moved and softened, yet know not whence or why.

            [Percy Bysshe Shelley, "A Defence of Poetry"]

Our triggering subjects, like our words, come from obsessions that we must submit to, whatever the social cost. It can be hard. It can be worse forty years from now if you feel you could have done it and didn't. It is narcissistic, vain, egotistical, unrealistic, selfish, and hateful to assume emotional ownership of a town or a word. It is also essential.

            [Richard Hugo, "The Triggering Town"]

Sometimes the blood is privileged to guess
The things the eye or hand cannot possess.

            [Theodore Roethke, "The Signals"]

Every epoch under names more or less specious has deified its peculiar errors; Revenge is the naked Idol of the worship of a semi-barbarous age; and Self-deceit is the veiled Image of unknown evil before which luxury and satiety lie prostrate. But a poet considers the vices of his contemporaries as the temporary dress in which his creations must be arrayed, and which cover without concealing the eternal proportions of their beauty. An epic or dramatic personage is understood to wear them around his soul, as he may the antient armour or the modern uniform around his body; whilst it is easy to conceive a dress more graceful than either. The beauty of the internal nature cannot be so far concealed by its accidental vesture, but that the spirit of its form shall communicate itself to the very disguise, and indicate the shape it hides from the manner in which it is worn. A majestic form and graceful motions will express themselves through the most barbarous and tasteless costume.

            [Percy Bysshe Shelley, "A Defence of Poetry"]

                                    A drainless shower
Of light is poesy; 'tis the supreme of power;
'Tis might half slumb'ring on its own right arm.

            [John Keats, "Sleep and Poetry"]

War, one war after another,
Men start 'em who wouldn't put up a good hen-roost.

            [Ezra Pound, Cantos, Canto XVIII]

Reason is the enumeration of quantities already known; Imagination the perception of the value of those quantities, both separately and as a whole. Reason respects the differences, and Imagination the similitudes of things. Reason is to Imagination as the instrument to the agent, as the body to the spirit, as the shadow to the substance.

            [Percy Bysshe Shelley, "A Defence of Poetry"]

Have all be plain, but only to a point.

            [Richard Wilbur, "Advice from the Muse"]

The while let music wander round my ears,
    And as it reaches each delicious ending,
        Let me write down a line of glorious tone,
And full of many wonders of the spheres:
    For what a height my spirit is contending!
        'Tis not content so soon to be alone.

            [John Keats, "On Leaving Some Friends at an Early Hour"]

Poets are the hierophants of an unapprehended inspiration, the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present, the words which express what they understand not, the trumpets which sing to battle and feel not what they inspire: the influence which is moved not, but moves. Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the World.

            [Percy Bysshe Shelley, "A Defence of Poetry"]

There are two kinds of opportunities: one which we chance upon, the other which we create. In time of great difficulty, one must not fail to create his opportunity.

            [Takamori Saigo]

All things exist as they are perceived: at least in relation to the percipient. "The mind is its own place, and of itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven." But poetry defeats the curse which binds us to be subjected to the accident of surrounding impressions. And whether it spreads its own fingered curtain or withdraws life's dark veil from before the scene of things, it equally creates for us a being within our being. It makes us the inhabitants of a world to which the familiar world is a chaos. It reproduces the common universe of which we are portions and percipients, and it purges from our inward sight the film of familiarity which obscures from us the wonder of our being. It compels us to feel that which we perceive, and to imagine that which we know. It creates anew the universe after it has been annihilated in our minds by the recurrence of impressions blunted by reiteration. It justifies that bold and true word of Tasso�Non merita nome di creatore, se non Iddio ed il Poeta. (None deserves the name of Creator except God and the Poet.)

            [Percy Bysshe Shelley, "A Defence of Poetry"]

Glaze green and red feathers, jungle,
Basis of renewal, renewals;
Rising over the soul, green virid, of the jungle,
Lozenge of the pavement, clear shapes,
Broken, disrupted, body eternal,
Wilderness of renewals, confusion
Basis of renewals, subsistence,
Glazed green of the jungle....

            [Ezra Pound, Cantos, Canto XX]

In the infancy of society every author is necessarily a poet, because language itself is poetry; and to be a poet is to apprehend the true and the beautiful, in a word the good which exists in the relation, subsisting, first between existence and perception, and secondly between perception and expression.

            [Percy Bysshe Shelley, "A Defence of Poetry"]

As a private poet, your job is to be honest and try not to be too boring. However, if you must choose between being eclectic and various or being repetitious and boring, be repetitious and boring. Most good poets are, if read very long at one sitting.

...In fact, most poets write the same poem over and over. Wallace Stevens was honest enough not to try to hide it. Frost's statement that he tried to make every poem as different as possible from the last one is a way of saying that he knew it couldn't be.

            [Richard Hugo, "The Triggering Town"]

Poetry is indeed something divine. It is at once the centre and circumference of knowledge; it is that which comprehends all science, and that to which all science must be referred. It is at the same time the root and blossom of all other systems of thought: it is that from which all spring, and that which adorns all; and that which, if blighted, denies the fruit and the seed, and withholds from the barren world the nourishment and the succession of the scions of the tree of life.

            [[Percy Bysshe Shelley, "A Defence of Poetry"]

Could all this be forgotten? Yes, a schism
Nurtured by foppery and barbarism,
Made great Apollo blush for this his land.
Men were thought wise who could not understand
His glories: with a puling infant's force
They sway'd about upon a rocking horse,
And thought it Pegasus.

            [John Keats, "Sleep and Poetry"]

Maps are our supreme fictions of the world, the surveyed side of our dreams.

            [Ihab Hassan, "Maps and Stories: a Brief Meditation"]

Poetry strengthens that faculty which is the organ of the moral nature of man, in the same manner as exercise strengthens a limb. A Poet therefore would do ill to embody his own conception of right and wrong which are usually those at his place and time in his poetical creations, which participate in neither.

            [Percy Bysshe Shelley, "A Defence of Poetry"]

        Joy's trick is to supply
    Dry lips with what can cool and slake,
Leaving them dumbstruck also with an ache
        Nothing can satisfy.

            [Richard Wilbur, "Hamlen Brook"]

A badly made thing falls apart. It takes only a few years for most of the energy to leak out of a defective work of art. To put it simply, conservation of energy is the function of form.

            [Stanley Kunitz, "Reflections"]

Maps may begin as a hypothesis and end as a measurement or an embarrassment.

            [Ihab Hassan, "Maps and Stories: a Brief Meditation"]

Something like that happens to you, Lord willing it won't, but something like that happens to you, just stock up on bourbon and peanuts and let your beard grow.

            [Steve Almond, "The American Male in Serious Decline"]

Irony is useful in small doses, like quinine. I don't care for it as a major element of style. It cheats anger of its force and pleasure of its integrity. Ironic self-awareness is defensive, not exploratory, which makes it a curious choice of method for the avant-garde.

            [Jack Butler, "The Kid Who Wanted to Be a Spaceman," Introduction]

Fools making new shambles;
                            night over green ocean,
And the dry black of the night.
                            Night of the golden tiger,
And the dry flame in the air,
                            Voices of the procession,
Faint now, from below us,
And the sea with tin flash in the sun-dazzle,
                            Like dark wine in the shadows.
"Wind between the sea and the mountains"
 The tree-spheres half dark against sea
                            half clear against sunset,
The sun's keel freighted with cloud,
And after that hour, dry darkness
Floating flame in the air, gonads in organdy,
Dry flamelet, a petal borne in the wind.

            [Ezra Pound, Cantos, Canto XXI]

But slice water with a knife, and water still flows,
empty a winecup to end grief, and grief remains grief.

You never get what you want in this life, so why not
shake your hair loose on a boat at play in dawnlight?

            [Li Po, "On Hsieh T'ian's Tower in Hsu'an-chou: a Farewell Dinner for Shu Yun," trans. David Hinton]

In poetry you tame and examine and purge and discipline suffering; you transform it to grace.

            [Dave Smith, "Playing for Grace: William Matthews"]

Years ago I came to the realization that the most poignant of all lyric tensions stems from the awareness that we are living and dying at once. To embrace such knowledge and yet to remain compassionate and whole�that is the consummation of the endeavor of art.

            [Stanley Kunitz, "Reflections"]

A Poet participates in the eternal, the infinite and the one; as far as relates to his conceptions, time and place and number are not. The grammatical forms which express the moods of time, and the difference of persons and the distinction of place are convertible with respect to the highest poetry without injuring it as poetry, and the choruses of �schylus, and the book of Job, and Dante's Paradise would afford, more than any other writings, examples of this fact....

            [Percy Bysshe Shelley, "A Defence of Poetry"]

The poetry of the earth is ceasing never:
    On a lone winter evening, when the frost
        Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket's song, in warmth increasing ever,
    And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
        The Grasshopper's among some grassy hills.

            [John Keats, "On the Grasshopper and Cricket"]

LUCIAN, well skill'd in scoffing, this hath writ,
Friend, that's your folly which you think your wit:
This you vent oft, void both of wit and fear,
Meaning another, when yourself you jeer.

            [Quoted in Izaak Walton's The Compleat Angler]

Yes, there's a cure for youth, but it's fatal.
And a cure for grace: you say what you mean,
but of course you have to know what that is.

            [William Matthews, "Manners"]

The tragedies of the Athenian poets are as mirrors in which the spectator beholds himself, under a thin disguise of circumstance, stript of all but that ideal perfection and energy which everyone feels to be the internal type of all that he lives, admires, and would become.

            [Percy Bysshe Shelley, "A Defence of Poetry"]

The highest form of charity in the Jewish tradition is to give a man a job.

            [Rabbi Mark Strauss-Cohn of Temple Emanuel]

Before and after pure lament, this life's
phantom treasure shines beyond knowing.

            [Li Po, "After an Ancient Poem," trans. David Hinton]

Then the events of this wide world I'd seize
Like a strong giant, and my spirit teaze
Till at its shoulders it should proudly see
Wings to find out an immortality.

            [John Keats, "Sleep and Poetry"]

For the end of social corruption is to destroy all sensibility to pleasure; and therefore it is corruption. It begins at the imagination and the intellect as at the core, and distributes itself thence as a paralyzing venom, through the affections into the very appetites, untill all become a torpid mass in which sense hardly survives.

            [Percy Bysshe Shelley, "A Defence of Poetry"]

                                            Many a one
Owes to his country his religion:
And in another would as strongly grow,
Had but his nurse or mother taught him so.

            [Quoted in Izaak Walton's The Compleat Angler]

A thousand eras lost to wind, and still
the great sages all share this moment.

            [Li Po, "At Lung-Hsing Monastery, Chia and I Cut Branches from an Wu-T'ung Tree, Then Gaze at Yung Lake," trans. David Hinton]

All poets I know, and I know plenty of them, have an unusually strong moral sense, and that is why they can go into the cynical world of the imagination and not feel so threatened that they become impotent. There's fear involved but also joy, an exhilaration that can't be explained to anyone who has not experienced it. Don't worry about morality. Most people who worry about morality ought to.

            [Richard Hugo, "The Triggering Town"]

A Poem is the very image of life expressed in its eternal truth. There is a difference between a story and a poem, that a story is a catalogue of detached facts, which have no other bond of connexion than time, place, circumstance, cause and effect; the other is the creation of actions according to the unchangeable forms of human nature, as existing in the mind of the creator, which is itself the image of all other minds. The one is partial, and applies only to a definite period of time, and a certain combination of events which can never again occur; the other is universal, and contains within itself the germ of a relation to whatever motives or actions have place in the possible varieties of human nature. Time, which destroys the beauty and the use of the story of particular facts, stript of the poetry which should invest them, augments that of Poetry, and for ever developes new and wonderful applications of the eternal truth which it contains. Hence epitomes have been called the moths of just history; they eat out the poetry of it. The story of particular facts is as a mirror which obscures and distorts that which should be beautiful: Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted.

            [Percy Bysshe Shelley, "A Defence of Poetry"]

Quia melius fuerat bona non incipere, quam ab his, quae coepta sunt, cogitatione retrorsum redire, summo studio, dilectissimi filii, oportet, ut opus bonum, quod auxiliante Domino coepistis, impleatis.

            [Bede, Historiam Ecclesiasticam Gentis Anglorum]

My very dear sons, it is better never to undertake any high enterprise than to abandon it once begun.

            [Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People]

The chief delight of form, after the music, is surprise: the opportunities, not the enclosures. There is a degree of freedom in not having to invent the guitar while you play it. And freshness and spontaneity are matters of character far more than they are matters of technique. Nothing that it keeps will make a lively mind boring. Nothing that it abandons will make a boring mind fresh. 

            [Jack Butler, "The Kid Who Wanted to Be a Spaceman," Introduction]

                                By the Rood
Where are now the warring kings?
An idle word is now their glory,
By the stammering schoolboy said,
Reading some entangled story:
The kings of the old time are dead;
The wandering earth herself may be
Only a sudden flaming word,
In clanging space a moment heard,
Troubling the endless reverie.

            [William Butler Yeats, "The Song of the Happy Shepherd"]

                          Is there so small a range
In the present strength of mankind, that the high
Imagination cannot freely fly
As she was wont of old? prepare her steeds,
Paw up against the light, and do strange deeds
Upon the clouds? Has she not shown us all?

            [John Keats, "Sleep and Poetry"]

And what is life if one can only learn, and of what one learns give nothing?

            [Etsu Inagaki Sugimoto, A Daughter of the Samurai]

Hence the vanity of translation: it were as wise to cast a violet into a crucible that you might discover the formal principle of its colour and odour, as seek to transfuse from one language into another the creations of a poet. The plant must spring again from its seed or it will bear no flower�and this is the burthen of the curse of Babel.

            [Percy Bysshe Shelley, "A Defence of Poetry"]