The Complete Old English Poems

This big book of nearly 1,200 pages includes everything from Beowulf’s time–and that’s why they call it The Complete Old English Poems, translated by Craig Williamson and with an introduction by Tom Shippey.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Shippey explains why this old literature is still worth reading and how it influenced J.R.R. Tolkien. He also discusses the Anglo-Saxon fondness for riddles and describes the paradox of how he became both a scholar of these aged works as well as the Wall Street Journal’s science-fiction book critic.

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There are 8 comments.

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  1. Fritz Member

    Thanks for this. One of the most influential courses I took as an undergrad at U Penn eons ago, as I tried to qualify for admission to the English major, was a semester’s course in Old English. We studied Anglo-Saxon to the point of being able to read Beowulf and other writings from that time. It was a challenge and a delight. I recently read a new translation of that poem, and I thought highly of it. This new book and the podcast has reignited my interest. Thanks again.

    • #1
    • February 27, 2017, at 8:36 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  2. Arahant Member

    Thanks. This was a delight. Your guest sounds like quite a character.

    • #2
    • February 28, 2017, at 12:38 AM PST
    • 1 like
  3. Arahant Member

    Hoy! I just looked it up. $57 for the Kindle edition? I may have to save my pennies for a few months for this one.

    • #3
    • February 28, 2017, at 1:48 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  4. Fred Houstan Member

    Thanks for the referral on this podcast, @arahant. I was listening to an impossibly pretentious Tim Ferriss podcast and this hit the spot.

    Yea, as Tom Shippey pointed out, I miss those old paradoxical sayings, to, i.e., “A little bit of pain never hurt anyone.”

    • #4
    • February 28, 2017, at 5:34 AM PST
    • 1 like
  5. ibn Abu Member
    ibn Abu Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Sadly, this volume doesn’t have the original Old English side by side with the translation.

    Hwær cwom mearg? Hwær cwom mago?
    Hwær cwom maþþumgyfa?
    Hwær cwom symbla gesetu?
    Hwær sindon seledreamas?
    Eala beorht bune!
    Eala byrnwiga!
    Eala þeodnes þrym!
    Hu seo þrag gewat,
    genap under nihthelm,
    swa heo no wære.

    • #5
    • February 28, 2017, at 8:30 AM PST
    • Like
  6. Front Seat Cat Member

    I don’t know how I passed the old English class in college. Can you imagine teaching this to today’s students??? They even eliminated cursing writing! You made me head to my bookshelf to find a book I have called “English Poems” by Walter C. Bronson, Prof. of English Literature – Brown U. copyright 1907 – I have the revised dated 1917. There are handwritten notes in it and it the handwriting is impeccable, like script. Arahant – it cost $1.00 at the local library sale.

    • #6
    • February 28, 2017, at 8:55 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  7. Arahant Member

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    They even eliminated cursing writing!

    Is that an autocorrent? It’s funny, however it happened.

    • #7
    • February 28, 2017, at 8:57 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  8. Front Seat Cat Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    They even eliminated cursing writing!

    Is that an autocorrent? It’s funny, however it happened.

    yes – whoops!!

    • #8
    • March 1, 2017, at 6:49 AM PST
    • 1 like