Monthly Archives: February 2016

Ingeld and Starkad

I just had to post this, it’s simply magnificent. Not only is Saxo’s story utterly gripping, and Starkad’s rant unparalleled, but the English translation by Oliver Elton is fine literature in its own right. Saxo’s Latin was first-rate, unusual for the period and was admired by Erasmus. The story bears anachronistic hallmarks of 12th century […]

The Wife’s Lament – Love Gone Wrong

The Wife’s Lament, as one of only two pieces of Old English poetry spoken entirely by a woman (the other is Wulf and Eadwacer), and a jilted wife at that, it is of particular interest and relevance to modern readers. It is, however, a very mysterious piece in a number of respects. Over the years […]

Etymology 101 meets Maxims I

(In which a lowly blogger bravely slays a hapax legomenon,  lances a festering etymological boil, elucidates a gnome, then has a good lie down.) The herculean labours of early scholars of Anglo-Saxon often contain errors. Nevertheless we should be thankful to the likes of Kemble, Thorpe, Bosworth and Grein, for without their work we wouldn’t […]

Solomon and Saturn – Boiling Blood

The passage in Solomon and Saturn I where the Paternoster is used to heat the blood has received varying interpretations. Editors either read the passage as describing the effect of the prayer on the devil’s blood (Krapp & Dobbie, Anlezark) or on the blood of a wizard (Kemble). In this piece I suggest a reading […]

The Husband’s Message – Back Afloat

It is greatly to be regretted that the wonderful poem The Husband’s Message from the Exeter Book was damaged by fire in two places, resulting in two significant gaps in the text. Various repairs have been suggested over the years, I here present a reading with reconstructions by Pope and Blackburn. The purpose is to […]

Cur Scriptor Hoc Librum Theodisce Legerit

If you read Old English for pleasure and have ever studied modern German, you will be aware not only of the large amount of common vocabulary, but that the grammar is remarkably similar. Modern German still has 3 genders and 4 cases and a large number of strong verbs. Noun and adjective declensions are recognisably […]

Metrical Suggestion For Reading Maxims I A

The lines in Maxims I are so irregular that Sievers-style metrical analysis breaks down. True, the standard accentual pattern of four feet per line (the normal line in, e.g. Solomon and Saturn) is sometimes present in Maxims I, e.g. line 10: adl ne yldo  ælmihtigne SxxSx          SSxxx often with anacrusis and long sequences of unaccented […]