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Farewell, happy fields,
Where joy forever dwells ! Hail, horrors! hail,
Infernal world! And thou, profoundest Hell,
Receive thy new possessor; one who brings
A mind not to be changed by place or time."

Paradise Lost, I., 242-253.

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Other parallel passages might be cited showing that, over a space of a thousand years, England's two great poets are brought together by similarity of thought, of expression, and of character. But we pass to the other religious poets and poems of the Anglo-Saxon period.

Aldhelm, who was a young man when Cadmon died, was Abbot of Malmesbury, and not only a religious poet, but a skillful musician as well. It is said, on the authority of King Alfred, that no one could excel or even equal him as a writer of religious lymns and of warlike odes. And a pleasant story is told us, that when the traders came into his town on Sunday, he stood on the bridge, and, by his singing, attracted the passers-by, and thus induced many to leave their trade until the morrow. IIis songs were very popular even down to the time of King Alfred; but we do not know that any of them have been preserved to us. We have only his Latin verses, De Laude Virginum, and a prose work, De Virginitate.

Written along the margin of an old manuscript of homilies, now in the Bodleian Library, was found the fragment of a funeral-song, belonging possibly to the early pagan days. In it Death speaks to Van. Nothing could well be gloomier in tone and more sternly solemn:

For thee was a house built
Ere thou wast born;
For thee was a mould shaped
Ere thou of mother camest.
Its height is not determined,
Nor its depth measured,
Nor is it yet seen

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How long it shall be,
Until I bring thee
Where thou shalt be;
Until I measure thee,
And the earth's sod.
Thy house is not
Built highly :
It is un-high and low.
When thou art in it
The heelways are low,
The sideways un-high.
The roof is built
Thy breast full nigh,
So thou shalt in mould
Dwell full cold,
Dim and dark.
Doorless is that house,
Dark is it within.
Detained thou art therein,
Death holds the key.
Loathly is that earth-house,
And grim to dwell in.
In it thou shalt dwell,
And worms shall share thee.
Thus thou art laid
And leavest thy friends.
Thou hast no friend
That will come to thee,
That will ever ask
How that house pleaseth thee;
That will ever open
The door for thee,
And seek thee;
For soon thou art loathly

And hateful to look upon.
Most of the shorter Anglo-Saxon poems now in exist-
ence are preserved in two manuscript collections called the
Ereter Book and the Vercelli Book. The Exeter Book, com-
posed of hymns and sacred legends, was arranged by the

bishop of Exeter in the twelfth century and by him presented to the cathedral in that place. The Vercelli Book, containing metrical legends of the saints and addresses to the soul, was discovered in 1823 in the monastery of Vercelli, in Italy, where it had doubtless lain unknown for a thousand years.

In both these books are poems written by one Cynewulf, supposed to have been a bishop of Lindisfarne, who died in A.D. 780. Throughout these poems there is a kindliness of tone and a buoyancy of spirit not often met with in the poetry of that period. Nature is viewed in her more gentle aspects, and, where man is spoken of, there are touches of tenderness and fellow-feeling which do much to reconcile us with the prevailing rudeness of the time:

Dear is the welcome guest to the Frisian wife when the vessel strands; his ship is come and her husband to his house, her own provider. And she welcomes him in, washes his weedy garment, and clothes him anew. It is pleasant on shere to him whom his love awaits.

In the Excter Book is also a very old poem, called the Traveler's Song, wherein the author enumerates the countries he lias visited and speaks of the people he has seen. There are, too, several allegorical poems in which certain facts and crude notions relating to natural objects are made to do duty in the teaching of religious and moral truths. The allegory of the Phanix portrays the life of the earnest Christian. The story of the Il Fale cautions its readers against hypocrisy and the deception of outside appearances :

He calleth the little fishes around him by the sweet odor of his mouth; then suddenly around the prey the grim gums crash together. So it is to every man who often and negligently in this stormy world lets himself be deceived by sweet odor. Hell's barred doors have not return or escape, or any outlet for those who enter, any more than the fishes sporting in the ocean can turn back from the whale's grip.

Besides the poems already named, the Exeter Book contains the legend of Juliana and a series of short poems on the life of Christ by Cynewulf, an Address of the Soul to the Body, and a poem on The Various Fortunes of Men. The Vercelli Book contains the legend of St. Elene, or the finding of the True Cross by the mother of Constantine, the legend of St. Andrew, Addresses of the Soul i the Body, and a poem on The Fates of The Apostles.

Anglo-Saxon verse differs very largely from the verse of English poetry. There is no rhyme, neither are the syllables counted. Its chief characteristic is alliteration. The lines are written in pairs, and the three chief words in a pair usually begin with the same letter; two of these words are placed in the first line and the other in the second. The initial letter of the latter is called the cardinal letter, and the word the cardinal word. When the cardinal word begins with a consonant or with a double consonant, as sp, st, bl, etc., the two chief words in the preceding line must begin in the same way. If, however, the cardinal word begins with a vowel, the rule is reversed; the other words must also begin with vowels; but these vowels must not be the same. “The alliterative letters, whether vowels or consonants, .must always be found in those words which have the stress or tone on the syllable that begins with them; but a word may commence with a toneless derivative syllable without disturbing the alliteration. It is, moreover, a rule that, in the two connected lines, there must not be more than three words beginning in this manner. The cardinal letter does not necessarily stand first in the second line, but is often preceded by one or more short words, yet not by such as require the tone or emphasis in reading."*

The application of the above rules may be seen in the translation of the first song of Cædmon as rendered on page 19. The following example, taken from Cædmon's Genesis, will also illustrate the same rules:

* Rask's Anglo-Saxon Grammar.

Satan mathelode; sorgiende spraec
se the helle forth

healdan sceolde,
gøman thaes grundes : waes âer Godes engel
hwit on heofne, óth hine his hyge forspeón
and his ofermetto ealrå swithóst,
thaet he ne wolde weredâ Drihtnes
word wurthian. Weôl him on innan
hyge ymb his heortan; hât waes him ûtan
wrathlic wite.

The following is a very literal translation:

Satan spoke; sorrowing spoke
he that hell thenceforth should hold
to keep the ground; was once God's angel
white in heaven, till him his mind seduced
and his pride of all the mightiest,
that he not the Lord of hosts'
word should obey. Welled within him
his mind and heart; hot was it without,
wrathful his punishment.


The student should thoroughly acquaint himself with the history of Britain and with the period of Anglo-Saxon domination (449–1066). Most of the following books will be found easily accessible, and will be valuable aids:

Knight's History of England. Vol. I.
Green's Iristory of the English People. Vol. I., Chap. I.
Ilume's II story. Vol. I.
Thierry's Norman Conquest. Vol. I.
Turner's Il story of the Anglo-Saxons.
Palgrave's II story of the Anglo-Saxons.
Palgrave's IIistory of the English Commonwealth.
Kemble's Saxons in England. (London, 1849.)
Stubbs's Constitutional History of England.

For a more complete study of the literature of this period, the student is referred to

Cony beare's Illustrations of Anglo-Saron Poetry.
Haigh. The Anglo-Saxon Sagas. (London, 1861.)

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