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Me the march-paths over, or the ocean-stallion Fares the floods with me, flashing in my jewels—.
Often times a bower-maiden, all bedecked with armlets,
Filleth up my bosom; whiles, bereft or covers, I must, hard and heedless, (in the houses)
lie! 10 Then, again, hang I, with adornments fretted, Winsome on the wall where the warriors drink. Sometimes the folk-fighters, as a fair thing on
On the back of horses bear me; then bedecked with jewels
Shall I puff with wind from a warrior's breast. 15 Then, again, to glee-feasts I the guests invite Haughty heroes to the wine—other whiles shall I
With my shouting save from foes what is stolen away,
Make the plundering Mather flee. Ask what is my name!
Of the Horn.
From The CIIRIST.t
Then the Courage-hearted quakes, when the King he hears V07
Speak the words of wrath—Him the wielder of the Heavens—
t The Christ Is a poem dealing with the Nativity and Ascension of Christ, and the Day of Judgment. Our extracts arc from the hymnlike passage which presages the Judgment and the poet's dread upon that day, and which closes with a vision of the Rtormy voyage of life ending In serenity. Cynewulf signed some of his poems acrostlcally by inserting runes which spelt his name. Runes were characters which represented words as well as letters, just as our letter "B" might stand for the words he or bee. Those used In this of which we give a portion are:
Speak to those who once on earth but obeyed him weakly,
While as yet their Yearning pain and their
Heed most easily
Gone is then the Winsomeness Of the Earth's adornments! What to Us as
men belonged 806 Of the joys of life was locked, long ago, in
Mickle is our need That in this unfruitful time, ere that fearful Dread,
On our spirit's fairness we should studiously bethink us! S30 Now most like it is as if we on lake of ocean, O'er the water cold in our keels are sailing, And through spacious sea, with our stallions
of the Sound,8 Forward drive the flood-wood. Fearful is the stream
Of immeasurable surges that we sail on here. Through this wavering world, through these
windy oceans, O'er the path profound. Perilous our state of
E'er that we had sailed (our ship) to the shore (at last),
O'er the rough sea-ridges. Then there reached us help,
That to hithe* of Healing homeward led us on— 860
He the Spirit-Son of God! And he dealt us grace,
So that we should be aware, from the vessel 'b deck,
Where our stallions of the sea we might stay with ropes,
Fa-st a-riding by their anchors—ancient horses of the waves!
Let us in that haven then all our hope establish,
Which the ruler of the iEther there has roomed for us,
When He climbed to Heaven—Holy in the Highest!
From The ELENE.t Forth then fared the folk-troop, and a fightinglay 27 o The Deluge 7 property 8 ships » harbor t The Hlenc Is the story of St. Helena, the mother of Constantinc the Great, who made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in search of the Holy Cross. The lines quoted describe the battle in which Constantlne Is victorious over the Huns. See Brooke's Early English Literature, pp. 400-400.
Sang the Wolf in woodland, wailed a slaughterrune!
Dewy-feathered, on the foes' track,
Loud upsang the Haven Swart, and slaughter-fell. Strode along the
war-host; 53 Blew on high the horn-bearers; heralds of the
battle shouted; Stamped the earth the stallion; and the host
assembled Quickly to the quarrel!
Sang the trumpets Loud before the war-hosts; loved the work the
raven: 110 Dewy-plumed, the earn looked upon the march;
Song the wolf uplifted,
Ranger of the holt!" Rose the Terror of the
There was rush of shields together, crush of men together,
Hard hand-swinging there, and of hosts downdinging,
After that they first encountered flying of the arrows!
On that fated folk, full of hate the hosters" grim
Sent the showers of arrows, spears above the
yellow shields; Forth they shot then snakes of buttle13 Through the surge of furious foes, by the
strength of fingers! 120 Strode the stark1* in spirit, stroke on stroke
they pressed along; Broke into the wall of boards'*, plunged the
bill'8 therein: Thronged the bold in battle! There the banner
was uplifted; (Shone) the ensign 'fore the host; victory's
song was sung. Glittered there his javelins, and his golden
On the field of fight! Till in death the heathen, Joyless fell!
FROM THE ANGLO-SAXON
Anno 409. This year the Goths took the city of Rome by storm, and after this the Romans never ruled in Britain; and this was about eleven hundred and ten years after it had been
10 eagle i< firm
n wood is shields
i a soldiers, host 16 sword
is darts • See Eng. Lit., p. 28.
built. Altogether they ruled in Britain four hundred and seventy years since Caius Julius first sought the land.
Anno 418. This year the Romans collected all the treasures that were in Britain, and some they hid in the earth, so that no one has since been able to find them; and some .they carried with them into Gaul.
Anno 443. This year the Britons sent over sea to Rome, and begged for help against the Picts; but they had none, because they were themselves warring against Attila, king of the Huns. And then they sent to the Angles, and entreated the like of the athelings' of the Angles.
Anno 449. This year Martianus and Valentinus succeeded to the empire, and reigned seven years. And in their days Hengist and Horsa, invited by Vortigern, king of the Britons, landed in Britain, on the shore which is called Wippidsfleet; at first in aid of the Britons, but afterwards they fought against them. King Vortigern gave them land in the southeast of this country, on condition that they should fight against the Picts. Then they fought against the Picts, and had the victory wheresoever they came. They then sent to the Angles; desired a larger force to be sent, and caused them to be told the worthlcssness of the Britons, and the excellencies of the land. Then they soon sent thither a larger force in aid of the others. At that time there came men from three tribes in Germany; from the Old-Saxons, from the Angles, from the Jutes. From the Jutes came the Kentish-men and the Wightwarians, that is, the tribe which now dwells in Wight, and that race among the West-Saxons which is still called the race of Jutes. From the Old-Saxons came the men of Essex and Sussex and Wessex. From Anglia, which has ever since remained waste betwixt the Jutes and Saxons, came the men of East Anglia, Middle Anglia, Mercia, and all North-humbria. Their leaders were two brothers, Hengist and Horsa: they were the sons of Wihtgils; Wihtgils son of Witta. Witta of Wecta, Wecta of Woden: from this Woden sprang all our royal families, and those of the South-humbrians also.t
Anno 455. This year Hengist and Horsa fought against King Vortigern at the place which is called yEgels-threp- and his brother
i princes 2 Aylesford
f The language here appears to be that of a northern chronicler. The MS. of this portion has been traced to Peterborough.
Horsa was there slain, and after that Hengist obtained the kingdom, and JEse his son.
Anno 565. This year Ethclbert succeeded to the kingdom of the Kentish-men, and held it fifty-three years. In his days the holy pope Gregory sent us baptism, that was in the two and thirtieth year of his reign: and Columba, a mass-priest, came to the Picts, and converted them to the faith of Christ: they are dwellers by the northern mountains. And their king gave him the island which is called Ii': therein are five hidest of land, as men say. There Columba built a monastery, and he was abbot there thirty-seven years, and there he died when he was seventy-two years old. His successors still have the place. The Southern Picts had been baptized long before: Bishop Ninia, who had been instructed at Rome, had preached baptism to them, whose church and his monastery is at Whitherne, consecrated in the name of St. Martin: there he resteth, with many holy men. Now in Ii there must ever be an abbot, and not a bishop; and all the Scottish bishops ought to be subject to him because Columba was an abbot and not a bishop.
Anno. 596. This year Pope Gregory sent Augustine to Britain, with a great many monks, who preached the word of God to the nation of the Angles.
Anno 871. . . . And about fourteen days after this, King Ethelred and Alfred his brother fought against the army* at Basing, and there the Danes obtained the victory. And about two months after this, King. Ethelred and Alfred his brother fought against the army at Harden; and they* were in two bodies, and they' put both to flight, and during a great part of the day were victorious; and there was great slaughter on cither hand; but the Danes had possession of the place of carnage: and there Bishop Heahmund was slain, and many good men: and after this battle there came a great army in the summer to Beading. And after this, over Easter, king Ethelred died; and he reigned five years and his body lies at Winburn-minster.
Then Alfred the son of Ethelwulf, his brother, succeeded to the kingdom of the WestSaxons. And about one month after this, king Alfred with a small band fought against the whole army at Wilton, and put them to flight for a good part of the day; but the Danes had
3 Iona * the Danes 5 Ethelred and Alfred % Variously estimated at from 60 to 120 acres.
possession of the place of carnage. And this year nine general battles were fought against the army in the kingdom south of the Thames, besides which Alfred the king's brother, and single ealdormen.t and king's thanes, often times made incursions on them, which were not counted: and within the year nine earls and one king were slain. And that year the WestSaxons made peace with the army.—(From the translation edited by J. A. Giles.)
The Battle Op Brunanbubh *
Anno 937. Here Athelstan the King, ruler of earls,
ring-giver to chieftains, and his brother eke, Edmund Atheling,1 lifelong honor struck out with the edges of swords in battle at Brunanburh: they cleft the shield-wall.^ hewed the war-lindens^ with the leavings of hammers,4
these heirs of Edward; for fitting it was to their noble descent that oft in the battle 'gainst foes one and all the land they should fend,
the hoards and the homes. The enemy fell, Scot-folk and seamen,1' 11 .death-doomed they fell; slippery the field with the blood of men, lrom sunrise when at dawn the great star stole o 'er the earth, the bright candle of God the Eternal Lord, till the noble creation sank to its seat. There lay many a one slain by a spear, many a Norseman shot o'er his shield, many a Scotsman weary and sated with strife. The men of
Wessex 20 in troops the live-long day followed on the footsteps of the hostile folk. From the rear they fiercely struck the fleeing with the sharp-ground swords. The Mercians
did not stint hard hand-play to any of the heroes who with Anlaf o'er the wave-welter« in the bosom of boats sought the land, doomed to fall in the fight. On the field
2 The Germanic phalanx, In which the shields were
3 shields made of linden wood
4 swords, hammered out s the Danes
• This poem Is, says Professor Bright, "the most Important of the poetic Insertions In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles." It records the victory of Athelstan. son of Edward, grandson of Alfred the Great and king of the West Saxons and the Mercians, over a combination Including Danes from Northumbrla and Ireland. Scots, and Welsh. The Danes were headed by Anlaf (or Olaf), the Scots by Constantlne.
five young kings lay killed, put to sleep by swords; and seven too 30 of the earls of Anlaf, and countless warriors of the seamen and the Scotch: routed was the Norsemen's king, forced by need with a little band to the boat's bow. The galley glided on the waves; the king fled forth
on the fallow flood; so he saved his life.
And so by flight to his northern kinsfolk
came that wise one, Constantino,
gray battle man; boast he durst not
of the strife of swords; shorn of kinsfolk was
he, 40 fallen on the battle-field his friends, slnin were they in strife; and his son, young
left he on the slaughter-spot sore wounded. Gray-haired hero, hoary traitor, boast he durst not of the brand-clash;7 nor could Anlaf with their armies shattered laugh that they the better were in battle-work, in the fight of banners on tho battle-field, in the meeting of the spears, in the mingling of the men,
in the strife of weapons on the slaughter-field BO which they played with Edward's heirs. Departed then the Northmen in the nailed ships,
a dreary leaving of darts' on the dashing sea.
O'er the deep water Dublin they sought,
Ireland again, abashed.
So the brethren both together,
King and Atheling, sought their kinsfolk
and West-Saxon land, from war exultant;
left behind to share the slain
the dusky-coated, the dark raven 60
horny-beaked, and the eagle white behind,
gray-coated, the carrion to consume,
the greedy war-hawk, and that gray beast,
the wolf in the weald." Nor had greater
slaughter ever yet upon this island e'er before a folk befallen by sword-edges, say the books, those old wise ones,10 since from Eastward
Angles and Saxons on advanced, 69 o'er the waters wide sought the Britons, warsmiths proud o 'ereame the Welsh, Earls honor-hungry got this homeland." —(Translated by Lindsay Todd Damon.)
T clashing of swords « The few left alive. » forest
10 In apposition with "books." Ji Referring to the Anglo-Saxon conquest of Britain In the fifth century.
ALFRED THE GREAT (849-901)
Ohthere 'a Narrative.*
Ohthere told his lord King Alfred, that he dwelt northmost of all the Northmen. He said that he dwelt in the land to the northward, along the West-Sea; he said, however, that that land is very long north from thence, but it is all waste except in a few places where the Finns here and there dwell, for hunting in the winter, and in the summer for fishing in that sea. He said that he was desirous to try, once on a time, how far that country extended due north, or whether any one lived to the north of the waste. He then went due north along the country, leaving all the way the waste land on the right, and the wide sea on the left, for three days: he was as far north as the whale-hunters go at the farthest. Then he proceeded in his course due north as far as he could sail in another three days; then the land there inclined due east, or the sea into the land, he knew not which, but he knew that he there waited for a west wind, or a little north, and sailed thence eastward along that land as far as he could sail in four days; then he had to wait for a due north wind, because the land there inclined due south, or the sea in on that land, he knew not which; he then sailed along the coast due south, as far as he could sail in five days. There lay a great riveri up in that land; they then turned up in that river, because they durst not sail on by that river, on account of hostility, because all that country was inhabited on the other side of that river; he had not before met with any land that was inhabited since he came from'his own home; but all the way he had waste land on his right, except for fishermen, fowlers, and hunters, all of whom were Finns^ and he had constantly a wide sea to the left. The Beormas2 had well cultivated their country, but they did not dare to enter it; and the Terfinna lands was all waste, except where hunters, fishers, or fowlers had taken up their quarters.
The Beormas told him many particulars both of their own land, and of the other lands lying about them; but he knew not what was true, because he did not see it himself; it seemed
1 The Dwlna.
2 A people oast of the Dwlna.
3 The region between the Gulf of Bothnia and the
North Cape. „, ...
• From the addition made by king Alfred to Ms translation of Oroaiun' HMory of the World; modern English translation by Benjamin Thorpe. Ohthere was a Norwegian sailor, who, Btraylng to Alfred's court, was eagerly questioned. See Eng. Lit., p. 26.
to him that the Finns and the Beormas spoke nearly one language. He went thither chiefly, in addition to seeing the country, on account of the walruses, because they have very noble bones in their teeth; some of those teeth they brought to the king; and their hides are good for ship-ropes. This whale is much less than other whales, it being not longer than seven ells; but in his own country is the best whalehunting,—there they are eight and forty ells long, and the biggest of them fifty ells long; of these he said that he and five others had killed sixty in two days. He was a very wealthy man in those possessions in which their wealth consists, that is in wild deer. He had at the time he came to the king, six hundred unsold tame deer. These deer they call rein-deer, of which there were six decoy rein-deer, which are very valuable among the Finns, because they catch the wild rein-deer with them.
He was one of. the foremost men in that country, yet he had not more than twenty horned cattle, and twenty sheep, and twenty swine, and the little that he ploughed he ploughed with horses.* But their wealth consists for the most part in the rent paid them by the Finns. That rent is in skins of animals, and birds' feathers, and whalebone, and in ship-ropes made of whales' hides, and of seals'. Everyone pays according to his birth; the bestborn, it is said, pay the skins of fifteen martens, and five rein-deer's, and one bear's skin, ten ambers' of feathers, a bear's or otter's skin kirtle, and two ship-ropes, each sixty ells long, made either of "whale-hide or of seal's.
He said that the Northmen's land was very long and narrow; all that his man could either pasture or plough lies by the sea, though that is in some parts very rocky; and to the east are wild mountains, parallel to the cultivated land. The Finns inhabit these mountains, and the cultivated land is broadest to the eastward, and continually narrower the more north. To the east it may be sixty miles broad, or a little broader, and towards the middle thirty, or broader; and northward, he said, where it is narrowest, that it might be three miles broad to
4 forty bushels
• The Anglo-Saxons plowed with oxen.
the mountain, and the mountain then is in some parts so broad that a man may pass over in two weeks, and in some parts so broad that a man may pass over in six days. Then along this land southwards, on the other side of the mountain, is Sweden; to that land northwards, and along that land northwards, Cwenland.5 The Cwenas sometimes make depredations on the Northmen over the mountain, and sometimes the Northmen on them; there are very large fresh meres amongst the mountains, and the Cwenas carry thoir ships over land into the meres, and thence make depredations on the Northmen; they have very little ships, and very light.
Ohthere said that the shire in which he dwelt is called Halgoland. He said that no one dwelt to the north of him; there is likewise a port to the south of that land, which is called Seiringes-heal;« thither, he said, no one could sail in a month, if he landed at night, and every day had a fair wind; and all the while he would sail along the land, and on the starboard will first be Iraland,? and then the islands which are between Iraland and this land.8 Then it is this land until he come to Seiringes-heal, and all the way on the larboard, Norway. To the south of Seiringes-heal, a very great sea runs up into the land, which is broader than any one can see over; and Jutland is opposite on the other side, and then Zealand. This sea runs many miles up in that land. And from Seiringes-heal, he said that he sailed in five days to that port which is called iEt-Haethum,9 which is between the Wends, and Saxons, and Angles, and belongs to Denmark.
When he sailed thitherward from Seiringesheal, Denmark was on his left, and on the right a wide sea for three days, and two days before he came to Haithum he had on the right Jutland, Zealand, and many islands. In these lands the Angles dwelt before they came hither to this land. And then for two days he had on his left the islands which belong to Denmark.
5 Between the Oulf of Bothnia and the White Sea.
0 In the Gulf of Chrlstlnnia.
1 Ireland (meaning Scotland; or possibly an error
for Iceland). 8 England » Sleswlg