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Beowulf

Online Beowulf readings

Old English

Prologue

Modern English Translation

Prologue

Lines 1-3
 beo_a_01-3

 
 
So. The Spear-Danes in days gone by
and the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness.
We have heard of those princes' heroic campaigns.

Lines 4-7a
beo_a_04-7a

 


There was Shield Sheafson, scourge of many tribes,
a wrecker of mead-benches, rampaging among foes.
This terror of the hall-troops had come far.
A foundling to start with,




Lines 7b-11
beo_a_07b-11

 
 
                                    he would flourish later on
as his powers waxed and his worth was proved.
In the end each clan on the outlying coasts
beyond the whale-road had to yield to him
and begin to pay tribute. That was one good king.


Lines 12-16a
beo_a_12-16a

 
 
Afterwards a boy-child was born to Shield,
a cub in the yard, a comfort sent
by God to that nation. He knew what they had tholed,
the long times and troubles they'd come through
without a leader; 


Lines 16b-19
beo_a_16b-19

 
 
                                          so the Lord of Life,
the glorious Almighty, made this man renowned.
Shield had fathered a famous son:
Beow's name was known through the north

Beowulf's Funeral

Lines 3137-3142

Beowulf's Funeral



The Geat people built a pyre for Beowulf,
stacked and decked it until it stood four-square,
hung with helmets, heavy war-shields
and shining armour, just as he had ordered.
Then his warriors laid him in the middle of it,
mourning a lord far-famed and beloved.

Lines 3143-3148a

 

On a height they kindled the hugest of all
funeral fires; fumes of woodsmoke
billowed darkly up, the blaze roared
and drowned out their weeping, wind died down
and flames wrought havoc in the hot bone-house,
burning it to the core. 

Lines 3148b-3155

 

                                 They were disconsolate
and wailed aloud for their lord's decease.
A Geat woman too sang out in grief;
with hair bound up, she unburdened herself
of her worst fears, a wild litany
of nightmare and lament: her nation invaded,
enemies on the rampage, bodies in piles,
slavery and abasement. Heaven swallowed the smoke.

Lines 3156-3162

 

Then the Geat people began to construct
a mound on a headland, high and imposing,
a marker that sailors could see from far away,
and in ten days they had done the work.
It was their hero's memorial; what remained from the fire
they housed inside it, behind a wall
as worthy of him as their workmanship could make it.

Lines 3163-3168

 

And they buried torques in the barrow, and jewels
and a trove of such things as trespassing men
had once dared to drag from the hoard.
They let the ground keep that ancestral treasure,
gold under gravel, gone to earth,
as useless to men now as it ever was.

Lines 3169-3177
 

 

Then twelve warriors rode around the tomb,
chieftain's sons, champions in battle,
all of them distraught, chanting in dirges,
mourning his loss as a man and a king.
They extolled his heroic nature and exploits
and gave thanks for his greatness; which was the proper thing,
for a man should praise a prince whom he holds dear
and cherish his memory when that moment comes
when he has to be convoyed from his bodily home.

Lines 3178-3182

 

So the Geat people, his hearth companions,
sorrowed for the lord who had been laid low.
They said that of all the kings upon the earth
he was the man most gracious and fair-minded,
kindest to his people and keenest to win fame.

Old English and Chaucer

The Our Father

OurFather

Pronunciation Guide

Audio Samples

 

Caedmon's Hymn

Libravox reading

Read by J. B. Bessinger, Jr.

Nu sculon herigean

heofonrices weard,

meotodes meahte

and his modgeþanc,

weorc wuldorfæder,

swa he wundra gehwæs,

ece drihten,

or onstealde.

He ærest sceop

eorðan bearnum

heofon to hrofe,

halig scyppend;

þa middangeard

moncynnes weard,

ece drihten,

æfter teode

firum foldan,

frea ælmihtig.

 

Chaucer

Canterbury Tales Prologue - lines 1–18

Version 1

Version 2

  Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote
  The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
  And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
  Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
5 Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
  Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
  The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
  Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne,
  And smale foweles maken melodye,
10 That slepen al the nyght with open eye-
  (So priketh hem Nature in hir corages);
  Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages
  And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes
  To ferne halweskowthe in sondry londes;
15 And specially from every shires ende
  Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,
  The hooly blisful martir for to seke
  That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seeke.

 

"The General Prologue" (lines 547-68)

   The MILLERE was a stout carl for the nones;
  Ful byg he was of brawn and eek of bones-
  That proved wel, for over al ther he cam
550 At wrastlynge he wolde have alwey the ram.
  He was short-sholdred, brood, a thikke knarre,
  Ther was no dore that he nolde heve of harre,
  Or breke it at a rennyng with his heed.
  His berd as any sowe or fox was reed,
555 And therto brood, as though it were a spade.
  Upon the cop right of his nose he hade
  werte, and thereon stood a toft of herys,
  Reed as the brustles of a sowes erys;
  Hise nosethirles blake were and wyde.
560 swerd and bokeler bar he by his syde.
  His mouth as greet was as a greet forneys.
  He was a janglere and a goliardeys,
  And that was moost of synne and harlotries.
  Wel koude he stelen corn, and tollen thries;
565 And yet he hadde a thombe of gold, pardee.
  A whit cote and a blew hood wered he.
  A baggepipe wel koude he blowe and sowne,
  And therwithal he broghte us out of towne.

 

The Cuckoo's Song (c. 1225)

Music version - Summer is icumen in

Fowls in the Frith

I Sing of a Maiden

Western Wind

English Lyric Poetry

Mannerly Margery Milk and Ale

John Skelton

Music version:

  Ay, beshrew you! by my fay,
  These wanton clerks be nice alway!
  Avaunt, avaunt, my popinjay!
  What, will ye do nothing but play?
5 Tilly, vally, straw, let be I say!
       Gup, Christian Clout, gup, Jack of the Vale!
       With Mannerly Margery Milk and Ale.
  By God, ye be a pretty pode,
  And I love you an whole cart-load.
10 Straw, James Foder, ye play the fode,
  I am no hackney for your rod:
  Go watch a bull, your back is broad!
       Gup, Christian Clout, gup, Jack of the Vale!
       With Mannerly Margery Milk and Ale.
15 Ywis ye deal uncourteously;
  What, would ye frumple me? now fy!
  What, and ye shall be my pigesnye?
  By Christ, ye shall not, no hardely:
  I will not be japèd bodily!
20      Gup, Christian Clout, gup, Jack of the Vale!
       With Mannerly Margery Milk and Ale.
  Walk forth your way, ye cost me nought;
  Now have I found that I have sought:
  The best cheap flesh that I ever bought.
25 Yet, for his love that all hath wrought,
  Wed me, or else I die for thought.
       Gup, Christian Clout, your breath is stale!
       Go, Mannerly Margery Milk and Ale!
       Gup, Christian Clout, gup, Jack of the Vale!
       With Mannerly Margery Milk and Ale.

The Unquiet Grave

Recitation:

V.C. Clinton-Baddeley and Pauline Letts



Music versions:

Lau



Jean Ritchie



Kate Rusby



Cairde na Gael



  1
  The Wind doth blow today, my love
  And a few small drops of rain;
  I never had but one true-love,
  In cold grave she was lain.
   2
5 I'll do as much for my true-love,
  As any young man may;
  I'll sit and mourn all at her grave
  For a twelvemonth and a day.
   3
  The twelvemonth and a day being up,
10 The dead began to speak:
  'Oh who sits weeping on my grave,
  And will not let me sleep?
   4
  'Tis I, my love, sits on your grave,
  And will not let you sleep;
15 For I crave one kiss of your clay-cold lips,
  And that is all I seek.
   5
  You crave one kiss of my clay-cold lips;
  But my breath smells earthly strong;
  If you have one kiss of my clay-cold lips,
20 Your time will not be long.
   6
  "Tis down in younder garden green,
  Love, where we used to walk,
  The finest flower that ere was seen
  Is withered to a stalk.
   7
25 The stalk is withered dry, my love,
  So will our hearts decay;
  So make yourself content, my love,
  Till God calls you away.

Bonny Barbara Allan

 

Recited version by Kathleen Danson Read



Musical version of Barbara Allen sung by Sarah Makem



1  
IT was in and about the Martinmas time,  
  When the green leaves were a falling,  
That Sir John Græme, in the West Country,  
  Fell in love with Barbara Allan.  
2
He sent his man down through the town, 5
  To the place where she was dwelling:  
“O haste and come to my master dear,  
  Gin ye be Barbara Allan.”  
3
O hooly, hooly rose she up,  
  To the place where he was lying, 10
And when she drew the curtain by,  
  “Young man, I think you’re dying.”  
4
“O it’s I’m sick, and very, very sick,  
  And ’tis a’ for Barbara Allan:”  
“O the better for me ye’s never be, 15
  Tho your heart’s blood were a spilling.  
5
“O dinna ye mind, young man,” said she,  
  “When ye was in the tavern a drinking,  
That ye made the healths gae round and round,  
  And slighted Barbara Allan?” 20
6
He turned his face unto the wall,  
  And death was with him dealing:  
“Adieu, adieu, my dear friends all,  
  And be kind to Barbara Allan.”  
7
And slowly, slowly raise she up, 25
  And slowly, slowly left him,  
And sighing said, she coud not stay,  
  Since death of life had reft him.  
8
She had not gane a mile but twa,  
  When she heard the dead-bell ringing, 30
And every jow that the dead-bell gied,  
  It cry’d, Woe to Barbara Allan!  
9
“O mother, mother, make my bed!  
  O make it saft and narrow!  
Since my love died for me to-day, 35
  I’ll die for him to-morrow.”

They Flee from Me

 



The Burning Babe

 

Recitation by Allen Ginsberg



Version by Sting



Epitaph on Elizabeth L.H.

 



Upon Julia's Clothes

 



A Midsummer's Night Dream Audio

msnd

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