The Earliest English Poems by Michael VariousThe Earliest English Poems by Michael Various

The Earliest English Poems

byMichael VariousTranslated byMichael Alexander

Paperback | January 7, 1992

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Anglo-Saxon poetry was produced between 700 and 1000 AD for an audience that delighted in technical accomplishment, and the durable works of Old English verse spring from the source of the English language.

Michael Alexander has translated the best of the Old English poetry into modern English and into a verse form that retains the qualities of Anglo-Saxon metre and alliteration. Included in this selection are the "heroic poems" such as Widsith, Deor, Brunanburh and Maldon, and passages from Beowulf; some of the famous 'riddles' from The Exeter Book; all the "elegies," including The Ruin, The Wanderer, The Seafarer, The Wife's Complaint and The Husband's Message, in which the virtu of Old English is found in its purest and most concentrated form; together with the great Christian poem The Dream of the Rood.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Michael Alexander has retired from the chair of English Literature at the University of St Andrews. For Penguin he has translated The Earliest English Poems (now The First Poems in English) and Beowulf. These verse translations have sold over half a million copies in Penguin, for whom he has also edited Beowulf and The Canterbury Tales...
Title:The Earliest English PoemsFormat:PaperbackDimensions:192 pages, 7.79 × 5.13 × 0.47 inPublished:January 7, 1992Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0140445943

ISBN - 13:9780140445947

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Read from the Book

Riddle 25 I'm the world's wonder, for I make women happy - a boon to the neighbourhood, a bane to no one, though I may perhaps prick the one who picks me. I am set well up, stand in a bed, have a roughish root. Rarely (though it happens) a churl's daughter more daring than the rest - and lovelier! - lays hold of me, rushes my red top, wrenches at my head,and lays me in the larder. She learns soon enough, the curly-haired creature who clamps me so, of my meeting with her: moist is her eye! Swings by his thigh a thing most magical! Below the belt, beneath the folds of his clothes it hangs, a hole in its front end, stiff-set and stout, but swivels about. Levelling the head of this hanging instrument, its wielder hoists his hem above the knee: it is his will to fill a well-known hole that it fits fully when at full length. He has often filled it before. Now he fills it again.

Table of Contents

A Note on the Translation
Preface to the Second Edition
Preface to the Third Edition

The Ruin

Caedmon's Hymn

Bede's Death Song

Heroic Poems
Deor and Widsith
Beowulf and the Fight at Finnsburg

The Wanderer and the Seafarer
The Wife's Complaint, the Husband's Message and Wulf and Eadwacer

Gnomic Verses


The Dream of the Rood

The Phoenix


The Battle of Maldon

Map of the Site of the Battle of Maldon
A. The Runes
B. Suggested Solutions to the Riddles
C. Anglo-Saxon Metric
Glossary of Proper Names
Further Reading