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nouses. Beowulf, the great warrior, | land, the refuge of the wolf, near the offers to grapple with the fiend, and windy promontories, where a mountain foe to foe contend for life, without the stream rusheth downwards under the bearing of either sword or ample shield, darkness of the hills, a flood beneath for he has “ learned also that the the earth ; the wood fast by its roots wretrh for his cursed hide recketh not overshadoweth the water ; there may of weapons,” asking only that if death one by night behold a marvel, fire upor takes him, they will bear forth his the flood: the stepper over the heath, oloody corpse and bury it; mark his when wearied out by the hounds, sooner fen-dwelling, and send to Hygelác, his will give up his soul, his life upon the chief, the best of war-shrouds that brink, than plunge therein to hide his guards his breast.

head. Strange dragons and serpents He is lying in the hall, “trusting in swam there ; " from time to time the his proud strength ; and when the mists horn sang a dirge, a terrible song." of night arose, lo, Grendel comes, tears Beowulf plunged into the wave, de. open the door," seized a sleeping war- scended, passed monsters who tore his rior: “he tore him unawares, he bit coat of mail, to the ogress, the hateful his body, he drank the blood from the manslayer, who, seizing him in her veins, he swallowed him with continual grasp, bore him off to her dwelling. tearings.” But Beowulf seized him in A pale gleam shone brightly, and there, turn, ard “raised himself upon his face to face, the good champion perelbow."


“ The lordly hall thundered, the ale was “the she-wolf of the aoyss, the mignty sea spilled ... both were enraged ; savage and woman ; he gave the war-onset with his battle strong warders; the house resounded; then bill; he held not back the swing of the sword, was it a great wonder that the wine-hall with so that on her head the ring-mail sang aloud a stood the beasts of war, that it fell not upon greedy war-song. ..: The beam of war would the earth, the fair palace; but it was thus fast. not bite. Then caught the prince of the War... The noise arose, new enough; a fearful Geáts Grendel's mother by the shoulder terror fell on the North Danes, on each of twisted the homicide, so that she bent upon the those who from the wall heard the outcry, the floor. She drew her knife broad, God's denier sing his dreadful lay, his song of brown-edged (and tried to pierce), the twisted defeat, lament his wound.* The foul breast-net which protected his life. Then wretch awaited the mortal wound; a mighty saw he among the weapons a bill fortunate in gash was evident upon his shoulder ; the sinews victory, an old gigantic sword, doughty of edge, sprung asunder, the junctures of the bones ready for use, the work of giants. He seized burst; success in war was given to Beowulf. the belted hilt; the warrior of the Scyldings, Thence must Grendel fly sick unto death, fierce and savage whirled the ring-mail ; de among the refuges of the fens, to seek his joy- spairing of life, he struck furiously, so that it less dwelling. He all the better knew that the grappled hard with her about her neck; it end of his life, the number of his days was gone broke the bone-rings, the bill passed through by.” |

all the doomed body; she sank upon the floor;

the sword was bloody, the man rejoiced in his For he had left on the ground, “hand, deed; the beam shone, light stood within, even arm, and shoulder;” and “in 'the lake as from heaven mildly'slines the lamp of the

firmament." + of Nicors, where he was driven, the rough wave was boiling with blood, the Then he saw Grendel dead in a corner foul spring of waves all mingled, hot of the hall; and four of his companions, with poison ; the dye, discolored with having with difficulty raised the mondeath, bubbled with warlike gore.” strous head, bore it by the hair to the There remained a female monster, his palace of the king. mother, who like him “was doomed to That was his first labor; and the inhabit the terror of waters, the cold rest of his life was similar. When he streams,” who came by night, and had reigned fifty years on earth, a amidst drawn swords tore and devoured dragon, who had been robbed of his another man, Æschere, the king's best treasure, came from the hill and burn friend. A lamentation arose in the ed men and houses “ with waves of palace, and Beowulf offered himself fire.” “Then did the refuge of earls again. They went to the den, a hidden command to make for him a variegated

shield, all of iron : he knew well enough * Kembis's Beowulf, xi. p. 3a. Tbid nii. p. 34.

Beowulf, xxii. xxü. p. 62 et passim.

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that a shield of wood could not help might before my dying day obtain such or my nim, lindenwood opposed to fire.

peoples . . . longer may I not here be.' The prince of rings was then too proud to seek the wide flier with a

This is thorough and real gener sity, troop, with a large company; he feared not exaggerated and pretended, is it not for himself that battle, nor did he will be later on in the romantic imagi. make any account of the dragon's war, nations of babbling clerics, mere om. his laboriousness and valor.' And yet posers of adventure. Fiction as yet is he was sad, and went unwillingly, for not far removed from fact : the man.

“fated to abide the end.” breathes manifest beneath the aero. Then “he was ware of a cavern, a

Rude. as the poetry is, its hero is g' and ; mound under the earth, nigh to the he is so, simply by his deeds. Fai hful, sea wave, the clashing of waters, which first to his prince, then to his people, cave was full within of embossed orna- he went alone, in a strange lan 1, tó ments and wires. . . . Then the king, venture himself for the delivery ( ['his hard in war sat upon the promontory, fellow-men ; he forgets himself in ceath, whilst he, the prince of the Geats, bade while thinking only that it profits of hers, farewell to his household comrades.

“Each one of us,” he says in one place, I, the old guardian of my people,

“must abide the end of his pr:sent seek a feud.” He "let words proceed life.” Let, therefore, each do ju itice, from his breast,” the dragon came,

if he can, before his death. Compare vomiting fire; the blade lit not his with him the monsters whor' he body, and the king " suffered painfully, destroys, the last traditions of the involved in fire.' His comrades had ancient wars against inferior races and “ turned to the wood, to save their of the primitive religion ; think og his lives," all save Wiglaf, who went life of danger, nights upon the wives through the fatal smoke,” knowing man grappling with the brute crea.ion well " that it was not the old custom man's indomitable will crushing the to abandon relation and prince, “ that breasts of. beasts ; man's pon :rful he alone . . . shall suffer distress, muscles which, when exerted, tea the shall sink in battle.” “The worm came Aesh of the monsters : you will see furious, the foul insidious stranger, va- reappear through the mist of legends, riegated with waves of fire, hot and under the light of poetry, the val. and warlike fierce, he clutched the iant men who, amid the madness of war whole neck with bitter banes; he was and the raging of their own mood, be. bloodied with life-gore, the blood boil- gan to settle à people and to found 2 ed in waves.

They, with their state. swords, carved the worm in the midst. Yet the wound of the king became

V. burning and swelled ; " he soon discovered that poison boiled in his

One poem nearly whole and two or breast within, and sat by the wall upon three fragments are all that remain of a stone; ” “ he looked upon the work this lay-poetry of England. The rest of giants, how the eternal cavern held of the pagan current, German and barwithin stone arches fast upon pillars." barian, was arrested or overwhelmed, Then he said,

first by the influx of the Christian re

ligion, then by the conquest of the "I have beld this people fifty years ; there Norman-French. But what remains was not any king of my neighbors, who dared more than suffices to show the strange to greet me with warriors, to oppress me with and powerful poetic genius of the race,

I held mine' own well, I sought and to exhibit beforehand the flower in not treacherous malice, nor swore unjustly many oaths; on account of all this, I, sick with the bud. mortal wounds, may have joy.

If there has ever been anywhere a thou go immediately to behold the hoard under deep and serious poetic sentiment, it is the hoary stone, my dear Wiglaf. Now, I have purchased with my death a hoard of treas- here. They do not speak, they sing, ures; it will be yet to dvantage at the need of the people. . ,. I give thanks ... * Beowulf, xxxvii. xxxviii. p. 110 et passim.



I have throughout always used the very words Beowulf, xxxiii. vi. p. 94 et passim. of Kemble's translation.-TR.

Now do

that I


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or rather they shout. Each little verse hind; the raven to soy, the dismal kite, and is an acclamation, which breaks forth the black raven with horned beak, and the like a growl; their strong breasts heave the white flesh; the greedy battle-hawk, and

hoarse toad ; the eagle, afterwards to feast og with a groan of anger or enthusiasm, the grey beast, the woll in the wood."' * and a vehement or indistinct phrase or expression rises suddenly, almost in

Here all is imagery. In their im. spite of them, to their lips. There is passioned minds events are not bad, no art, ro natural talent, for describing

with the dry propriety of an exact desingly and in order the different parts scription ; each fits in with its pomp of of an object or an event. The fifty sound, shape, coloring; it is almost a rays of light which every phenomenon vision which is raised, complete, with emits in succession to a regular and its accompanying emotions, joy, fury, well-directed intellect, come to them at

excitement. In their speech, arrows once in a glowing and confused mass, bows of horn;" ships are

are “ the serpents of Hel, shot from disabling them by their force and con

great seavergence. Listen to their genuine war

steeds," the sea is “a chalice of waves," chants, unchecked and violent, as be

the helmet is “the castle of the head : " came their terrible voices. To this they need an extraordinary speech to day, at this distance of time, separated express their vehement sensations, so as they are by manners, speech, ten that after a time, in Iceland, where centuries, we

to hear them

this kind of poetry was carried on to still :

excess, the earlier inspiration failed,

art replaced nature, the Skalds were The army goes forth: the birds sing, the reduced to a distorted and obscure cricket chirps, the war-weapons sound, the jargon. But whatever be the imagery, lance clangs against the shield. Now shineth here as in Iceland, though unique, it is the moon, wandering under the sky. Now too feeble. The poets have not satisarise deeds of woe, which the enmity of this people prepares to do. . . . Then in the court fied their inner emotion if it is only e.s. came the tumult of war-carnage. They seized pressed by a single word Time after with their hands the hollow wood of the shield. time they return to and repeat their They smote through the bones of the head.

idea. “The sun on high, the great The roofs of the castle resounded, until Garulf fell in battle, the first of earth-dwelling

men, star, God's brilliant candle, the noble son of Guthlaf. Aorund him lay many brave creaturel" Four times successively men dying. The raven whirled about, dark they employ the same thought, and and sombre, like a willow leaf. There was a

each time under a new aspect. All its sparkling of blades, as if all Finsburg were on

Never have 'I heard of a more worthy different aspects rise simultaneously battle in war.

before the barbarian's eyes, and each

word was like a fit of the semi-hallucina. This is the song on Athelstan's vic- tion which possessed him. Verily, in tory at Brunanburh :

such a condition, the regularity of

speech and of ideas is disturbed at “Here Athelstan king, of ear's the lord, the giver of the bracelets of the nobles, and his in the visionary is not the same as in a

The succession of thought brother also, Edmund the ætheling, the Elder a lasting glory won by slaughter in battle, with reasoning mind. One color induces the edges of swords, at Brunanburh. The wall another; from sound he passes to of shields they cleave 1, they hewed the noble sound ; his imagination is like a diorama banners: with the rest of the family, the chili of unexplained pictures. His phrases dren of Edward. ... Pursuing, they destroyed the Scottish people and the ship-feet. :


recur and change : he emits the word beld was colored with the warrior's blood! that comes to his lips without hesita. After that the sun on high,

greatest star! glided over the earth, God's Scandle tion; he leaps over wide intervals from bright i till the noble creature' hastened to her idea to idea. The more his mind is setting. There lay soldiers many with darts transported, the quicker and wider the struck down, Northern men over their shields intervals traversed. With one spring shot. So were the Scots ;, weary of ruddy he visits the poles of his horizon, and battle. . . . The screamers of war they left be.

touches in one moment objects which * Conybeare's Illustrations of Anglo-Saxon seemed to have the world between Poetry, 1826, Battle of Finsborough, p. 175. The complete collection of Anglo-Saxon poetry Tumer, Hist. of Anglo-Saxons, iii, boa has been published by M. Grein.

9. ch. i. p. 245


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every turn.

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them. His ideas are entangled with exhibit it intact and original, in spite of out order; without notice, abruptly, and at the expense of all order and the poet will return to the idea he has beauty,--such are the characteristics quitted, and insert it in the thought to of their poetry, and these also will be which he is giving expression. It is the characteristics of the poetry which impossible to translate these incon- is to follow. gruous ideas, which quite disconcert our modern style. At times they are

VI. unintelligible.* Articles, particles, every thing capable of iluminating A race so constituted was predisposed Thought, of marking the connection of to Christianity, by its gloom, its averterms, of producing regularity of ideas, sion to sensual and reckless living, its all rational and logical artifices, are inclination for the serious and sublime zeg.ected.f Passion bellows forth like When their sedentary habits had recon. a great shapeless beast; and that is all. ciled their souls to a long period of It rises and starts in little abrupt lines ; case, and weakened the fury which fed it is the acme of barbarism. Homer's their sanguinary religion, they readily happy poetry is copiously developed, inclined to a new faith. The vague in full narrative, with rich and extend. adoration of the great powers of nature, ed imagery. All the details of a com- which eternally fight for mutual deplete picture are not too much for him; struction, and, when destroyed, rise up he loves to look at things, he lingers again to the combat, had long since over them, rejoices in their beauty, disappeared in the dim distance. So dresses them in splendid words; he is ciety, on its formation, introduced the like the Greek girls, who thought idea of peace and the need for justice, themselves ugly if they did not bedeck and the war-gods faded from the minds arms and shoulders with all the gold of men, with the passions which had coins from their purse, and all the created them. A century and a half treasures from their caskets; his long after the invasion by the Saxons,* verses flow by with their cadences, and Roman missionaries, bearing a silver spread out like a purple robe under an cross with a picture of Christ, came in Ionian sun. Here the clumsy-fingered procession chanting a litany. Presentpoet crowds and clashes his ideas in a ly the high priest of the Northumbrians narrow measure ; if measure there be, declared in presence of the nobles that he barely observes it; all his ornament the old gods were nowerless, and conis three words beginning with the same fessed that formerly “ he knew nothing letter. His chief care is to abridge, of that which he adored ; and he to imprison thought in a kind of muti- among the first, lance in hand, assisted lated cry. The force of the internal to demolish their temple. Then a impression, which, not knowing how to chief rose in the assembly, and said : unfold itself, becomes condensed and doubled by accumulation ; the harsh. “You remember, it may be, o king, that ness of the outward expression, which, which sometimes happens in winter when you subservient to the energy and shocks are seated a table with your earls and thanes

. of the inner sentiment, seeks only to without is rain and snow an. storm.

Your fire is lighted, and you all warmed, and


comes a swallow flying aci uss the hall; he * The cleverest_Anglo-Saxoa scholars, Tur- enters by one door, and leaves by another ses, Cusybeare, Thorpe, recognize this diffi- The briel moment while he is within is pleasant

to him; he feels not rain nor cheerless winter 1 Tamer, üi. 23i, et passim. The transla- weather; but the moment is brief-the bird soos in French, however literal, do injustice to flies away in the twinkling of an eye, and he the text; that language is too clear, too logical. passes from winter to winter. Such, methinks, No Frenchman can understand this extraordi- is the life of man on earth, compared with the nary phase of intellect, except by taking a dic- uncertain time beyond. It appears for a while tionary, and deciphering some pages of Anglo- but what is the time which comes after-the Sason for a fortnight.

time which was before? We know not. li, * Turner remarks that the same idea ex- then, this new doctrine may teach us somewhai pressed by King Alfred, in prose and then in of greater certainty, it were well that we should verse, takes in the first case seven words, in the regard it." cond five.--History of the Anglo-Saxons,

596-625. Aug. Thierry, i. 81; Beds, xii. ..


Hi. 335


sweet verse.'

This restlessness, this feeling of the came into his head: “Now we ougho infinite and dark beyond, this sober, to praise the Lord of heaven, the powe. melancholy eloquence, were the har- of the Creator, and His skill, the deeds bingers of spiritual life.* We find of the Father of glory; how He, being nothing like it amongst the nations of eternal God, is the author of all marthe south, naturally pagan, and preoc- vels; who, almighty guardian of the cupied with the present life. These human race, created first for the sons utter barbarians embrace Christianity of men the heavens as the roof of thair straightway, through sheer force of dwelling, and then the earth.” Remood and clime. To no purpose are | membering this when he woke,* he they brutal, heavy, shackled by infan- came to the town, and they brought iné superstitions, capable, like King him before the learned men, before the Canute, of buying for a hundred golden abbess Hilda, who, when they had talents the arm of Augustine. They heard him, thought that he had received possess the idea of God. This grand | a gift from heaven, and made him a God of the Bible, omnipotent and monk, in the abbey. There he spent unique, who disappears almost entirely his life listening to portions of Holy in the middle ages,t obscured by His Writ, which were explained to him ir. court ana His family, endures amongst Saxon, “ruminating over them like a them in spite of absurd or grotesque pure animal, turned them into most legends. They do not blot Him out

Thus is true poetry under pious romances, by the elevation born. These men pray with all the of the saints, or under femirine caress- emotion of a new soul; they kneel es, to benefit the infant Jesus and the they adore ; the less they know the Virgin. Their grandeur and their more they think. Some one has said severity raise them to His high level; that the first and most sincere hymn is they are not tempted, like artistic and this one word O! Theirs were hardly talkative nations, to replace religion ionger ; they only repeated time after by a fair and agreeable narrative. time some deep passionate word, with More than any race in Europe, they monotonous vehemence. “In heaven approach, by the simplicity and energy art Thou, our aid and succor, resplenof their conceptions, the old Hebraic dent with happiness! All things bow spirit. Enthusiasm is their natural before thee, before the glory of Thy condition; and their new Deity fills Spirit. With one voice they call upon them with admiration, as their ancient Christ; they all cry : Holy, holy art deities inspired them with fury. They thou, King of the angels of heaven, have hymnis, genuine odes, which are our Lord ! and Thy judgments are just put a concrete of exclamations. They and great: they reign forever and in have no development; they are in alt places, in the multitude of Thy capable of restraining or explaining works.” We are reminded of the their passion; it bursts forth, in rap- songs of the servants of Odin, ton. tures, at the vision of the Almighty sured now, and clad in the garments The heart alone speaks here--a strong; of monks. Their poetry is the same bart arous heart. Cædmon, their cla | they think of God, as of Odin, in a poet, says Bede, was a more ignorant string of short, accumulated, passion. man than the others, who knew no ate images, like a succession of light: poetry; so that in the hall, when they ning-flashes; the Christian hymns are handed him the harp, he was obliged to a sequel to the pagan. One of them, withdraw, being unable to sing like his Adhelm, stood on a bridge leading to companions. Once, keeping night the town where he lived, and repeated watch over the stable, he fell asleep. warlike and profane odes as well as A stranger appeared to him, and asked religious poetry, in order to attract and him to sing something, and these words instruct the men of his time. He

could do it without changing his key. * Jouffroy, Problem of Human Destiny. In one of them, a funeral song, Death Michelet, preface to La Renaissance ; speaks, It was one of the last Sax:

. | About 630. See Codex Exoniensis,

on compositions, containing a terrible Thorp.

* Bede, iv. 24.

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