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Old English Poems and Riddles

Translated by Chris McCully

Old English Poems and Riddles
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Paperback
ISBN: 978 1 857549 25 6
Categories: Old English / Anglo Saxon
Imprint: FyfieldBooks
Published: April 2008
216 x 135 x 10 mm
320 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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  • …driven by cloud-strength,            borne into distance
    over nations, dwelling-places.         And now melody
    sings from my war-shirt;             wind-song’s lexicon
    glitters, pinioned,                  when I grace neither
    flood-plain nor furrow, but am firmament’s guest.

                                                     from a riddle in the Exeter Book

    Chris McCully brings Old English poetry to life with exhilarating immediacy. Here is the earliest surviving English poem, ‘Caedmon’s Hymn’, as well as one of the last poems to be written in the classical Old English alliterative style; some of the great elegies and epics, and a generous selection from ‘Beowulf’. Other dimensions of Anglo-Saxon culture are represented in religious meditations, riddles, charms and rhythmical prose, all translated into metrical half-lines that capture the subtlety and pace of the originals.

    The introduction explores the fascination this poetry has held for Chris McCully over many years, as a poet and a scholar. The translations are referenced to manuscripts and critical editions, making them a valuable resource for students and for all those keen to read more of the earliest English poetry. A bibliography and reading list, with a note on Anglo-Saxon manuscripts and material in libraries and on the Internet, complete the book.

    Cover image Anglo-Saxon plaque from Sutton Hoo (bronze with enamels), 7th century. British Museum, London, UK/ The Bridgeman Art Library Cover design StephenRaw.com

    Chris McCully was born in Bradford, Yorkshire in 1958. He worked as a full-time academic, specialising in the history of the English language and on English sound-structure as well as on verse and verse-form, at the University of Manchester (1985-2003) before deciding to spend more time on writing. From 2003-13 he ... read more
    Praise for Chris McCully '€˜McCully gets the life of words, their swing and weight, resonance and cadence. The poems spark with great lines and phrases...'
    Literary Review
    'this is a singular collection from a singular voice in English poetry, and I highly commend it.'
    Phillip Quinlan, Angle
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