Tuesday, February 24, 2009

anglo-saxon history

Mr. Schlect read a selection from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle this morning. The year is 938 AD, the moment the battle of Brananburh under king Ethelstan which pushed the vikings northward after their invasion, the words strong and well-placed.

"The sons of Edward their board-walls clove, and hewed their banners, with the wrecks of their hammers. So were they taught by kindred zeal, that they at camp oft'gainst any robber their land should defend, their hoards and homes. Pursuing fell the Scottish clans; the men of the fleet in numbers fell; 'midst the din of the field the warrior swate. Since the sun was up in morning-tide, gigantic light! glad over grounds, God's candle bright, eternal Lord! 'till the noble creature sat in the western main: there lay many of the Northern heroes under a shower of arrows, shot over shields; and Scotland's boast, a Scythian race, the mighty seed of Mars!With chosen troops, throughout the day, the West-Saxons fierce press'd on the loathed bands; hew'd down the fugitives, and scatter'd the rear, with strong mill-sharpen'd blades, The Mercians too the hard hand-play spared not to anyof those that with Anlaf over the briny deep in the ship's bosom sought this land for the hardy fight. Five kings lay on the field of battle, in bloom of youth, pierced with swords."

Would I could post the entire entry. More phrases like The king of the fleetwith his slender craftescaped with his lifeon the felon flood and The northmen sail'd in their nailed ships, a dreary remnant, on the roaring sea; over deep water Dublin they sought, and Ireland's shores, in great disgrace. The hearty, hammering words full of life and thrust (bringing to mind Hopkins' poetry), and names like Eric Bloodaxe, Ethelwulf, Bagsac, and Swein Forkbeard, make me hungry for more history of these people.

(See http://www.britannia.com/history/docs/asintro2.html for the work I quoted from.)

1 comment:

  1. that terrified and excied me at the same time it was grate