The Complete Old English Poems
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The Complete Old English Poems

Translated by Craig Williamson. With an introduction by Tom Shippey

1248 pages | 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
Cloth 2017 | ISBN 9780812248470 | Add to cart $59.95s | Outside N. America £50.00
Ebook 2017 | ISBN 9780812293210 | Add to cart $59.95s | £39.00 | About
A volume in the Middle Ages Series
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"A magnificent contribution that overwhelms the reader with its beauty and its depth, The Complete Old English Poems is much-needed medicine for the soul."—Benjamin Bagby, performer of Beowulf and director of the medieval music ensemble Sequentia

"Craig Williamson's monumental volume takes us 'across the bridge of language that lifts / Over the river of years,' as his dedicatory poem promises. A brilliant poet himself, his translations seamlessly weave together modern and Old English language patterns, and his learned, helpful introductions allow the sophistication and beauty of each poem to be grasped anew. The volume is a gift to generations of medievalists, poetry lovers, and seekers-out of elusive mysteries."—Peggy A. Knapp, Carnegie Mellon University

"It is cause for celebration to have at last a translation of the entire Old English poetic corpus, moreover a rendering that is discerning, nuanced, and poetically crafted. The earliest English verse has never been such a delight to read."—R. D. Fulk, author of An Introductory Grammar of Old English, with an Anthology of Readings

"Craig Williamson's ambitious undertaking—translating the entire corpus of Old English poetry, in all its variety, ambiguity, and alterity—succeeds in providing both an unprecedented resource for scholars and a compelling point of entry into the Anglo-Saxon world for beginners. His introductory remarks to the collection as a whole and to each of the poems take us even further, into a subtle and timely manifesto for the value of the humanities and the work of 'hard listening' that can connect and engage people across profound differences. Like the audiences imagined by the Old English poems themselves, many readers now and in the future will be inspired by Williamson's learned, loving new articulation of old voices."—Elaine Tuttle Hansen, author of Reading Wisdom in Old English Poetry

From the riddling song of a bawdy onion that moves between kitchen and bedroom to the thrilling account of Beowulf's battle with a treasure-hoarding dragon, from the heart-rending lament of a lone castaway to the embodied speech of the cross upon which Christ was crucified, from the anxiety of Eve, who carries "a sumptuous secret in her hands / And a tempting truth hidden in her heart," to the trust of Noah who builds "a sea-floater, a wave-walking / Ocean-home with rooms for all creatures," the world of the Anglo-Saxon poets is a place of harshness, beauty, and wonder.

Now for the first time, the entire Old English poetic corpus—including poems and fragments discovered only within the past fifty years—is rendered into modern strong-stress, alliterative verse in a masterful translation by Craig Williamson.

Accompanied by an introduction by noted medievalist Tom Shippey on the literary scope and vision of these timeless poems and Williamson's own introductions to the individual works and his essay on translating Old English poetry, the texts transport us back to the medieval scriptorium or ancient mead-hall, to share a herdsman's recounting of the story of the world's creation or a people's sorrow at the death of a beloved king, to be present at the clash of battle or to puzzle over the sacred and profane answers to riddles posed over a thousand years ago. This is poetry as stunning in its vitality as it is true to its sources. Were Williamson's idiom not so modern, we might think that the Anglo-Saxon poets had taken up the lyre again and begun to sing once more.

Craig Williamson is Alfred H. and Peggi Bloom Professor of English Literature at Swarthmore College. He is author of A Feast of Creatures and Beowulf and Other Old English Poems, both available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

Tom Shippey is Professor Emeritus of English at Saint Louis University.

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