Ancrene Wiseass

A would-be medievalist holds forth on academia, teaching, gender politics, blogging, pop culture, critters, and whatever else comes her way.

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Yes, this really is yet another blog by a disillusioned grad student. I sympathize, but that's just the way it has to be. For hints as to what my bizarre alias means, click here and here and, if needed, here and here. To get a sense of what I'm up to, feel free to check out the sections called "Toward a Wiseass Creed" and "Showings: Some Introductory Wiseassery" in my main blog's left-hand sidebar. Please be aware that spamming, harassing, or otherwise obnoxious comments will be deleted and traced.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Friday Poetry Blogging: A Newly Discovered Beowulf Fragment

I've stumbled upon a previously undiscovered Beowulf fragment! This could make my career, folks!

From contextual evidence, it appears that this seven-line section, which radically diverges from the traditional verse-structure of Old English, should be placed after line 606 of the poem as it currently stands, at the end of Beowulf's retort to Unferth. I've already begun working up the apparatus for the publication of a student edition; comments are welcome.

Beowulf cwæþ to Unferþe:*

Ic eom to hæmedlic for þissum meoduhealle,
To hæmedlic for þissum meoduhealle,
Ic tobrede Grendel.

Ic eom wigend, gecnawast þu hwæt ic mæne?
Ac ic com to Hroðgare on þære hronrade.
On þære hronrade, on þære hronrade, gea.
Ic com to Hroðgare on þære hronrade.

* The invaluable assistance of Mr. R. S. Fred is most gratefully acknowledged.
Old English to Modern English letter "conversions":
æ = a
þ = th
ð = th
1) hæmedlic: So far as I know, this word is otherwise unattested in Old English. However, it is clear enough that it is an adjective formed from the noun "hæmed," which means "sexual intercourse" (the adjectival ending -lic being equivalent to Modern English -like or even, in some cases, -y).
2) meduheall: mead-hall
3) tobredan: to tear apart
4) wigend: warrior
5) mænan: to tell, to intend, to mean
6) hranrad: literally, "whale-road," a kenning for "sea, ocean" (a kenning being a poetic compound that stands in for a more common word)

In other poetry news, the marvelous Geoffrey Chaucer has written yet another poem of muchel sentence and solaas, the masterful "Cipher of Leonardo."