‘Poems and Prose from the Old English’, Trans Burton Raffel.

In attempting to find some important documents and thus turning a large room’s worth of paper and books inside and out, and consequently not finding the documents… I did, however, refresh some bookshelves !

Small volumes of Poetry by Liliana Ursu and Celia de Fréine are now moved forward in shelves where they are more accessible. I am very aware that I have written a lot on both women and Irish language poetry in recent weeks , so today, it’s a book recommendation for people who like poetry and things poetic, in Old English !

The Book Poems and Prose from the Old English , was gotten from my favourite Galway bookshop, the treasure-trove that is Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop (in 1998) .

I will look out an Amazon or essay link to add in here at the end of this post; but at this time I only have the actual book before me, which is marked within with an NGI (National Gallery of Ireland) Postcard of a painting by Sir William Orpen‘Harvest 1918’. The Poetry part is divided into four main sections :

 
1. Elegies
2. Heroic Poetry
3. Religious Poetry
4. Wisdom Poetry.
 
The Prose section, which I haven’t read yet , is similarly divided into sections but contains both a legal/testamentary section and a ‘Medical and Magical section’. I have used parts of the book on Poethead before in an elegy excerpt. The only one in the book being ascribed to a woman being a Lament . Though I highly recommend the riddles and elegies for readers who enjoy Old and Middle English.
 

Riddle 47

 
A worm ate words. I thought that wonderfully
Strange – a miracle – when they told me a crawling
Insect had swallowed noble songs,
A nighttime thief had stolen writing
So famous, so weighty. But the prowler was foolish
Still, though its belly was full of thought.

Riddle 45

 I’ve heard of a something that grows by itself,
Thicker and fatter till it lifts up the covers,
And the girl grabs that boneless what-is-it
In her high-minded hands and shoves that swelling
thing up her innocent dress.
 
(page 225 gives the proposed solutions to the riddles )

Poems and Prose from the Old English, Trans Burton Raffel Yale University Press. 1998.