From the Exeter Book
- “The Seafarer”, pp. 71-74.
- “The Wife's Lament”, p. 51.
- “Riddles”, pp. 54-56.
Those who are interested in having a little more chance to look at the Old English originals can find most of the Exeter Book in the Labyrinth site.
“The Violent Face of Nature”, p. 58.
Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People, sel., pp. 59-63.
N.B.: Except for a Petrarch sonnet offered purely for comparison in the eighth week, this is the only work we treat in this course that was not originally written in English: though the work was translated into Old English, Bede himself wrote in Latin. It is important for our purposes, however, because it is perhaps the only piece of mature historical writing that covers the period. The present passage documents a massive shift in the intellectual and spiritual lives of the English, and sheds considerable light on the world-views of those who came before the conversion, and those who came after. You can read more about the remarkable career of Bede, one of the giants of the so-called Northumbrian Renaissance, in the Catholic Encyclopedia article here.
Celtic Literature in Wales and Ireland
- “Stanzas of the Graves”, sel., p. 66.
- “Eagle of Pengwern”, p. 66.
- “Pangur Ban”, p. 67.
- “Summer is Gone”, p. 67.
- “The Viking Terror”, p. 67.
“The Changing English Language”, p. 69.
Some questions to consider:
- We have talked in class about the overall world-view of the Anglo-Saxons. What are some of the things that contribute to this? How does Old English elegy reflect it?
- If you have read either any examples of ancient elegy (Ovid, Tibullus, Catullus [after 68], etc.) or modern elegy (Thomas Grey, Keats), how does Anglo-Saxon elegy compare? Refer to the definition of elegy in your books (p. 904) or any other you can find. Is there a single definition of “elegy”? Is there a common strand throughout?
- Read the description on “The Poetry of Beowulf” again on p. 15. Try writing a few lines of poetry in this style. What features do you notice as you work with it?
Please take the unit review quiz for Unit I.
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