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University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
Beowulf and Other Old English Poems

Beowulf and Other Old English Poems

by Tom Shippey


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The best-known literary achievement of Anglo-Saxon England, Beowulf is a poem concerned with monsters and heroes, treasure and transience, feuds and fidelity. Composed sometime between 500 and 1000 C.E. and surviving in a single manuscript, it is at once immediately accessible and forever mysterious. And in Craig Williamson's splendid new version, this often translated work may well have found its most compelling modern English interpreter.

Williamson's Beowulf appears alongside his translations of many of the major works written by Anglo-Saxon poets, including the elegies "The Wanderer" and "The Seafarer," the heroic "Battle of Maldon," the visionary "Dream of the Rood," the mysterious and heart-breaking "Wulf and Eadwacer," and a generous sampling of the Exeter Book riddles. Accompanied by a foreword by noted medievalist Tom Shippey on Anglo-Saxon history, culture, and archaeology, and Williamson's introductions to the individual poems as well as his essay on translating Old English, the texts transport us back to the medieval scriptorium or ancient mead hall to share an exile's lament or herdsman's recounting of the story of the world's creation. 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, the world becomes a place of rare wonder in Williamson's lines. Were his idiom not so modern, we might almost think the Anglo-Saxon poets had taken up the lyre again and begun to sing after a silence of a thousand years.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812243451
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
Publication date: 08/03/2011
Series: Middle Ages Series
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Craig Williamson is the Alfred H. and Peggi Bloom Professor of English Literature at Swarthmore College. He is editor and translator of A Feast of Creatures, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press. Tom Shippey is Professor Emeritus of English at St. Louis University.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Tom Shippey
Note on Editions
Guide to Pronouncing Old English
On Translating Old English Poetry


A Note on Genres

Heroic or Historical Poems
The Battle of Maldon

The Wanderer
The Seafarer
The Wife's Lament
Wulf and Eadwacer

Selected Exeter Book Riddles

Gnomic or Wisdom Poems
Maxims II (Cotton Maxims)
The Fortunes of Men

Religious Poems
Cædmon's Hymn
Physiologus: Panther and Whale
Two Advent Lyrics
The Dream of the Rood

Appendix A. "Digressions": Battles, Feuds, and Family Strife in Beowulf
Appendix B. Genealogies in Beowulf
Appendix C. Two Scandinavian Analogues of Beowulf
Appendix D. Possible Riddle Solutions
Glossary of Proper Names

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