Anglo-Saxon Poetry (Forerunners)

Underfoot Poetry

Many thanks to David Cooke for contributing this week’s Forerunner, and it’s quite a treat. Below he has recorded a good portion of two Anglo-Saxon poems, “The Ruin” and “The Seafarer” in the original Old English. Also included is the original text, an English translation and, following “The Ruin,” David Cooke’s response to the poem, “Ruins.” These doomed, mournful poems have remained vivid for more than a thousand years, and we’ll be lucky if anything from our own day lasts half as long.

The Ruin

Wrætlic is þes wealstan,   wyrde gebræcon;
burgstede burston,   brosnað enta geweorc.
Hrofas sind gehrorene,   hreorge torras,
hrungeat berofen,   hrim on lime,
scearde scurbeorge   scorene, gedrorene,
ældo undereotone.   Eorðgrap hafað
waldend wyrhtan   forweorone, geleorene,
heardgripe hrusan,   oþ hund cnea
werþeoda gewitan.   Oft þæs wag gebad
ræghar ond readfah   rice æfter oþrum,
ofstonden under stormum;   steap geap gedreas…
                              … hygerof gebond
weallwalan wirum   wundrum togædre.

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