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Me lifes onlah
He raised me to life Who displayed this light, And this bright possession Bountifully disclosed. Glad was I in ylee, Adorned with [fa:r] colors, With the hues of bliss And the lints of blossoms. .. Warriors obeyed me, Delivered me in battle, Fairly supported me, Protected me from enemies... My servants were sagacious, There was skill in their harping. It resomded loud, The strain reëchoed, Melody was heard Powerfully, nor did it cease. .. But now my breast is stormy Shaken by the season or woe, Need is nigh; And night's approach torments him Who before in the day was dear. .. A wide journey beginneth, AMiction ceascth not; He exclaimeth in sorrows, His joy hath ceased, His bliss hath declined, He is fallen from his delights; He exclaimeth not in happiness. Thus glories here are prostrated, And the lordly lot brought low;. Then the corpse lieth, Worm fretteth the limbs, And the worm departeth not, And there chooseth its repast, Until there be bone only left.
In style, it is seen to be elliptical and inverted, abrupt, exclamatory, and glowing, the more vigorous by the absence of the usual particles,-a concrete of quick, passionate images, like a succession of lightning-flashes. Alfred thus renders a sentence
"After this exposition of Anglo-Saxon verse-form, the following statements may appear to the reader not a little surprising:
In none (of the Anglo-Saxon poems) is found the slightest trace of temporal rhythin.'— Dr. Guest.
• The number of inaccented syllables is indifferent, '--Sweet,
It was not written in rime nor were its syllables counted.'- Rev. Slopford Brooke. • We do not see any marks of studied alliteration in the old Saxon poetry. — Tyruhitt. "There is no rhyme, and no counting of syllables : — Vorley. • Their poets
: : . arranged their vernacular verses without any distinct rules'; and again, They used it alliteration without special rules,'-Coppie.
Nor is ihere any rhyming, for rhyme was an adornment unknown in English poetry until after the Norman Conquest.'--Shau.
No work in which rhyme or metre was used, can be traced in our literature until after the Norman Conquest. -Collier.
of prose – So doth the moon with his pale light, that the bright stars he obscures in the heavens '- into verse:
With pale light
Then went over the sca-waves,
So that the sailors
From the life we have traced, we can infer the kind of poetry most in harmony with Old English sentiments. Its poetry will be the revelation of its soul,— the embodiment of its ideals; and human ideals, in the young generations of the world as in the old, are determined by the point of view at which men stand, being little or great, serene or stormy, sincere or hollow, as is the life of the artist, whether that artist be one or a community, one age or many ages. Every people has its Hercules or Samson ideal of brute force, of vast bodily strength or cunning, who strangles serpents, rends lions, and slaughters hostile hosts. A type perceptibly higher is the valiant one whose might, prowess, and indomitable will exorcise his native land of giant-fiends or dragons,- a heroic Captain, peradventure, true-hearted, just, and noble. Such is the central figure of our nameless English epic,Beowulf, imported from the Continental homestead and revised by an unknown Christian bard: Christian, for none other could have spoken of Cain; none other would have called the people heathens; none other would have said:
When sorrow on him came and pain befeil,
Beowulf is a hero, a knight-errant before the days of chivalry, who, with his sword hard in his hand, has rowed amidst the fierce waves and coldest of storms, and the rage of the winter hurtled over the waves of the deep’; whom the many-colored foes, sea monsters, drew to the bottom of the sea, and held fast in their gripe, but he reached “the wretches with his point and with his war-bill.' Across the path of the swans (the sea) he comes
to succor the Danish King Hrothgar, in whose hall, where the banquet, the song, and the dance were wont to go on, is much sorrow; for Grendel, “a mighty haunter of the marshes,' has entered during the night, seized thirty of the sleeping warriors, and returned with their carcasses to his fen-dwelling. For twelve winters' tide, the fiend has devoured men, till the best of houses stand empty. Beowulf, the valiant, offers to grapple with the dreadful ogre, asking only that if death takes him, they will mark his burial place, and send to his chief the war-shroud that guards his breast. When the mists have risen and all is still, Grendel enters in hope of dainty glut, seizes a sleeping warrior, bites his bone-casings, drinks the blood from the veins, and swallows him with 'continual tearings.' But the hero seizes him in turn, and, when he would fain return to his haunt, holds him:
* These warders strong waxed wrathful, tiercer grew,
And then arose strange sound; upon the Danes
In his efforts to get away, the monster's sinews spring asunder, the bone-casings burst; and leaving on the ground his hand, arm, and shoulder, he flees to his joyless home, ‘sick unto death,' for 'the number of his days was gone by.' Then are great rejoicings in the palace. But there remains the "sea-wolf of the abyss, the mighty sea-woman,' his mother, who comes by night, and amidst drawn swords tears and devours the king's chosen friend. Again Beowulf offers himself, seeks the ogress in her dread abode, where strange dragons and serpents swim, and one by night may behold the marvel of fire upon the flood, while ever and anon the horn sings a wild terrible dirge. He plunges into the surge, descends, passes monsters who tear his coat of mail, to the hateful man-slayer.' She seizes the champion in her horrid clutches, and bears him off to her den, where a pale gleam shines brightly and shows them face to face. With his 'beam of war' he smites on her head till the ring-mail' sings
‘aloud a greedy war-song’; but the weapon will not “bite.' She overthrows him, but he rescues himself, espies 'an old gigantic sword, doughry of edge, ready for use, the work of giants.' · Fierce and savage, despairing of life,' he strikes furiously, so that it grapples 'hard with her about the neck,' breaks 'the bonerings,' passes through the doomed body, which sinks, and all is silent:
'The sword was bloody, the man rejoiced in his deed; the beam shone, light stood within, even as from heaven mildly shines the lamp of the firmament.' Another triumph, and renewed joy. Afterwards he is himself ruler. When he had reigned fifty years, a dragon, who had been robbed of his treasure which he had guarded three hundred years, came from the hill and burned men and houses with 'waves of fire.' Ordering for himself a variegated shield, all of iron, he goes to battle with the foul, insidious stranger,' in a cavern “under the earth, vigh to the sea wave,' full within of embossed ornaments and wires; "too proud to seek the wide flier with a troop, with a large company'; yet sadly, as if with a presentiment that the end is near:
• Firm rose the stone-wronght vault, a living stream
The kingly Goth
Suill failed his keen brand in the unequal fray,
Again they met - again with freshened strength
With the assistance of a trusty comrade, he carves the worm in twain. Burning and faint with mortal wounds, he forgets himself in death, thinking only that his valor profits others; and says, grandly, the man breathing manifest beneath the hero:
I have held this people fifty years; there was not any king of my neighbors, who dared to greet me with warriors, to oppress me with terror. ... I held my own well, I sought not treacherous malice, nor swore unjustly many oaths; on account of all this, I, sick with mortal wounds, may have joy. ... Now do thon go immediately to behold the hoard under the honry stone, my dear Wiglaf. . . . Now, I have purchased with my death a hoard of treasures; it will be yet of advantage at the need of the people. I give thanks ... that I might before my dying day obtain such for my people .. longer may I not here be.'
He dies, killed by the dragon's flame-breath, and is solemnly buried under a great barrow rising high above the deep blue
And round about the mound rode his hearth-sharers, who sang that he was of kings, of men, the mildest, kindest, to his people sweetest, and the readicst in search of praise.'
"No sound of harp shall the warrior awake; but the dusky raven ready o'er the fallen shall speak many things,- 10 the cagle shall tell how he fared at his food while with the wolf he spoiled the slain.'
Here, under the light of poetry, through the mist of real events, transformed into legendary marvels, we see the actual life of Scandinavian English,-its pride, its melancholy, its reliance upon strength of arm, its practical spirit of adventure, its fatalism—“What is to be goes ever as it must'— tinged with the energetic sense that “the Must-Be often helps an undoomed man when he is brave.' Thought is too impassioned for the details of comparison,- a characteristic of all Anglo-Saxon verse. In the six thousand and odd lines there are only five similes. Compare the Celtic faney, with its love of ornament, as displayed in an average stanza on a Cymric chief who fell before the advancing Saxon:
*Both shoulders covered with his painted shield