Certified Legal Translation

Our Services: Get your translation now! WhatsApp: (+20) 015 5240 6458 ترجمة قانونية مُعتمدة بأفضل الأسعار مكتب زايد لخدمات الترجمة والتعريب المُترجم الدولي الخبير محمد زايد محمد WhatsApp: (+20) 015 5240 6458 (+20) 015 5240 6458 (+20) 015 5240 6458 (+20) 015 5240 6458 (+20) 015 5240 6458 (+20) 015 5240 6458 ترجمة العقود - الشهادات - الاتفاقيات - تقارير الخبرة - تقارير فنية مذكرات دفاع - مستندات القضايا ِLegal documents Contracts Case Files Certificates Statements

Summary of Old English Literature


Old English literature           

The Old English language, also called Anglo-Saxon, was the earliest form of English. It is difficult to give exact dates for the rise and development of a language, because it does not change suddenly; but perhaps it is true to say that Old English was spoken from about A.D. 600 to about 1100. The greatest Old English poem is Beowulf, which belongs to the seventh century. 

It is a story of about 3,000 lines, and it is the first English epic. ー The name of its author is unknown. Beowulf is not about England, but about Hrothgar, King of the Danes, and about a brave young man, Beowulf, from southern Sweden, who goes to help him. Hrothgar is in trouble. His great hall, called Heorot, is visited at night by a terrible creature, Grendel, which lives in a lake and comes to kill and eat Hrothgar’s men. One night Beowulf waits secretly for this thing, attacks it, and in a fierce fight pulls its arm off. It manages to reach the lake again, but dies there. Then its mother comes to the hall in search of revenge, and the attacks begin again. Beowulf follows her to the bottom of the lake and kills her there. In later days Beowulf, now king of his people, has to defend his country against a fire—breathing creature. He kills the animal but is badly wounded in the fight, and dies. The poem ends with a sorrowful description of Beowulfs funeral fire. Here are a few lines of it, put into modern letters:

epic, the story in poetry of the adventures of а brave man (or men)

alegdon tha tomiddes maerne theoden

haeleth hiofende hlaford leofne

ongunnon tha on beorge bael-fyra maest

wigend weccan wudu-rec astah

sweart ofer swiothole swogende leg

wope bewunden

The sorrowing soldiers then laid the glorious prince, their dear lord,

in the middle. Then on the hill the war-men began to light the

greatest of funeral fires. The wood—smoke rose black above the

flames, the noisy fire, mixed with sorrowful cries.

The old language cannot be read now except by those who have made a special study of it. Among the critics who cannot read Old English there are some who are unkind to the poem, but Beowulf has its own value. It gives us an interesting picture of life in those old days. It tells us of fierce fights and brave deeds, of the speeches of the leader and the sufferings of his men. It describes their life in the hall, the terrible creatures that they had to fight, and their ships and travels. They had a hard life on land and sea. They did not enjoy it much, but they bore it well.

ª angel, a servant of God in Heaven. According to old accounts, Satan and other angels disobeyed God and became the Devil and the Devil’s servants in Hell.

~ hell, the place for punishment for evil.

ª Apostle, one of the twelve men chosen by Christ to preach to others.

The better poems is The Dream of the Rood (the rood is Christ’s cross.) This is among the best of all Old English poems. Old English lyrics include Deor’s Complaint, The Husband’s Message, The Wanderer and The Wife’s Complaint. Deor is a singer who has lost his lord’s favour. So he complains, but tries to comfort himself by remembering other sorrows of the world. Of each one he says ‘That passed over; this may do so also.’ There are many other poems in Old English. One of the better ones is a late poem called The Battle of Maldon. This battle was fought against the Danes in 991 and probably the poem was written soon after that. It has been highly praised for the words of courage which the leader uses:

hige sceal the heardra heorte the cenre

mod sceal the mare the ure maegen lytlath

her lith ure ealdor eall forheawen

god on greote a maeg gnornian

se the nu fram this wigplegan wendan thenceth.

The mind must be the firmer, the heart must be the braver, the

courage must be the greater, as our strength grows less. Here lies

our lord all out to pieces, the good man on the ground. If anyone

thinks now to turn away from this war-play, may he be unhappy for ever after.

In general it is fairly safe to say that Old English prose8 came later than Old English verse; but there was some early prose. The oldest Laws were written at the beginning of the seventh century. Some of these are interesting. If you split a man’s ear, you had to pay 30 shillings. These Laws were not literature, and better sentences were written towards the end of the seventh century. The most interesting piece of prose is the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, an early history of the country. There are, in fact, several chronicles, belonging to different cities. No doubt KING ALFRED (849-901) had a great influence on this work. He probably brought the different writings into some kind of order. He also translated a number of lyric, a poem, originally one meant to be sung ー which expresses the poet’s thoughts and feelings.

ª prose, the ordinary written language, not specially controlled like verse

Latin books into Old English, so that his people could read them. He brought back learning to England and improved the education of his people. Another important writer of prose was AELFRIC. His works, such as the Homilies (990-4) and Lives of Saints10 (993—6), were mostly religious. He wrote out in Old English the meaning of the first seven books of the Bible. His prose style11 is the best in Old English, and he uses alliteration to join his sentences together.

ºHomily, religious talk.

Saint, holy man.

style, manner of writing; one writer’s special way of using language.


Thornley G. C. & Gwyneth Roberts(2003). An Outline of English Literature. Longman Group Ltd.

No comments:

Post a Comment