Anglo-Saxon Poetry in Imitative Translation: The Harp and the Cross

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Anglo-Saxon poetry has increasingly become the province of a few specialists sufficiently acquainted with the Old English language, poetics, and culture to read it in the original. Except for Beowulf and standard anthologized versions of the more famous works, most Anglo-Saxon verse remains unavailable to modern English readers. This volume offers a sampling of the Anglo-Saxon shorter poems in modern recreations which remain literally accurate as well as imitative in specific prosody. With its arrangement, introductory materials, and specific selections, it also provides the reader with a sense of the Anglo-Saxon world view. In many cases it provides the only modern English translation of these works.


“This collection opens a door upon a world on Anglo-Saxon culture which has hitherto been the preserve of a small handful of specialists, and presents arguments which will be of importance to those scholars as well. Concealed under the formal designation of riddles and charms has been a world of considerable lyrical beauty and shimmering metaphor of a sort more commonly associated with the Celtic literatures. The unlocking of it challenges conventional academic classifications and popular preconceptions alike.”
– Ronald Hutton

“This collection of some thirty poems . . . gives an excellent example of the undiscovered territory of Anglo-Saxon, and does it, as has been said, “imitatively,” sticking close. Any or all of its contents deserves study, and not just study, repetition, reading aloud, being given time to soak in. . . . We deserve to know it better, and here is the way in.”
– Thomas Shippey

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: The Anglo-Saxons as English; Remnants of Poetry from an Oral Culture; Anglo-Saxon Archetypes; Failure of Classifications; Anglo-Saxon Prosody; Approach Taken with These Translations; Reflection
2. From Historical to Heroic: Edgar’s Coronation; Edward’s Death; The Battle of Maldon; Waldere
3. The Riddle of Life: Riddles; Bestiary; Metrical Charms
4. The Archetype and the Personal: Women’s Voices (A Woman’s Complaint; Wulf and Eadwacer); Men’s Voices (Rune’s Staff Story; Rune’s Staff’s Message; Deor); The Social and Spiritual (Ruin, Wanderer, Seafarer)
5. Devotional: A Prayer; the Dream of the Rood; Caedmon’s Hymn; Bede’s Death song
6. References

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