I’ve been doing so much chemistry of late that I think my brain is turning quantum; one moment here, then at the opposite end of the mental spectrum with no apparent transition. That being the case, I decided to do my chem homework halfway up a tree today. It was a good change of pace. For another break before I return to work, I decided to listen to some Waybacks and post some more of my OE translations. The first is Cædmon’s Hymn from Bede’s history, and the second two are riddles from the Exeter Book. Once again, the I translated only literally, with little thought for style. The originals are pretty snappy, so I’d suggest listening to them, even if you don’t know what it means.

Cædmon’s Hymn:

Now we must honor Heaven’s guardian,
the might of God, and his conception
work of the father of glory, just as for each of the wonders
the eternal lord established a beginning.
He first created for the Earth’s bairns
heaven as the roof, holy creator,
then Middle Earth, the guardian of mankind,
eternal lord, after he created
the Earth for the people, lord almighty.

Ringing any Tolkein bells? No? Then try these on for size. I personally like them a lot more:

A moth ate the words. That seemed to me
a well-wrought fate when I learned that wonder
that the caterpillar devoured the speech of a certain one of men,
thief in darkness, the glorious statement
and its firm foundation. The thievish guest by it was
not a wit the wiser for having those words he swallowed.

My hall is not silent nor am I myself loud
around the glorious hall. For we two the lord shaped
a journey together. I am swifter than he,
at times stronger; he more enduring.
Sometimes I rest myself; he must keep running
in him I dwell always while I live.
If we two are parted, for me death is appointed.

The first of these riddles (which isn’t really a riddle, is it?) has one of the coolest words in OE: Stahlgeist. A thieving guest–how wonderfully, paradoxically strange! Of course, leave any guesses in the comments section, and let’s see what you make of the riddles.

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