Talk:Old English literature

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Former good articleOld English literature was one of the Language and literature good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Article milestones
December 5, 2005Good article nomineeListed
October 20, 2008Good article reassessmentDelisted
Current status: Delisted good article

Old comments[edit]

This unicode stuff: what are the pros and cons? sjc

Well, the pros are that it's much more standard, and will hopefully render correctly on all modern browsers; whereas inserting the characters as they are in iso-8859-1 charset, which is what you did, is technically wrong (this charset isn't set to be the page's charset in the page's headers as returned by the wiki script) and won't work correctly with people who view the Web with some default encoding other than iso-8859-1. For instance, since I read/write a lot of Russian material on the web, I normally browser with the default encoding set to cyrillic, and I saw strange cyrillic characters instead of thorn and eth on the Old English poetry page.

Using unicode characters encoded as HTML entities also enables you to have many languages simultaneously on the page, not just latin characters with some diacritics, as in iso-8859-1.

The cons are that some browsers (I believe only very old ones by now, and perhaps some extremely light e.g. on PDAs) won't process and show HTML entities correctly.

Anybody wants to add to this?


I basically agree with this, although it's not correct to refer to HTML character entity references as "Unicode". æ, ð and þ have been around for a long time, so even fairly old browsers handle them correctly. I tried the page in the oldest browser I could find (Netscape 3.0) and it displayed fine. --Zundark, 2001 Oct 14

You're right that historically it's not correct to refer to entity refs as Unicode; however, in recent times, since the emerging of HTML 4.0, XML, XHTML etc. they are really viewed inside HTML and XHTML standards as convenient aliases of the numerical character references, and these directly reference Unicode. That's why I think it useful to consider, nowadays, things like ð to be aliases standing directly for the appropriate Unicode character. --AV

Well, it looks like we should be using Unicode throughout then. Anyone know where we can get a definitive list of them for pretty much any language we might need? It might be a useful page to have up here with links. sjc

They are not Unicode (although, as AV says, modern browsers will generally map them to Unicode). There's a complete list (for HTML4.01) at . Those in the first table should work even in fairly old browsers, but most of those in the other two tables are less well supported. Other characters can be obtained by using Unicode instead, and you can get a complete list of Unicode codes from by downloading the UnicodeData.txt file (plus the huge Unihan.txt file if you want Chinese-Japanese-Korean characters too). --Zundark, 2001 Oct 14

Thanks muchly. sjc

Please note also Unicode and HTML, and especially Wiki special characters. Hmmph, the Unicode and HTML page could be usefully extended with the official Unicode names for characters, not just numbers. --AV

My description will be simplistic, since we are discussing the matter from a purely practical point of view. Pieces of software in different (human) languages (e.g. Hebrew and English Windows) often do not agree upon the representation of computer characters (that do not belong to English alphabet, punctuation or digits). So, feeding Hebrew Windows a symbol which looks like a thorn in American Windows will not necessarily result in a thorn.

Using Unicode named entities is a way to bypass this restriction. By writing a name, you're no longer assuming that the software that was used to write the page agrees with the software displaying it. That assumption is often incorrect, since in the browser does not have enough information about the software used to author the text to figure out how it chose to encode some the symbols. With Unicode, however, you say explicitly to the web browser "give me a thorn". A good (HTML 4.0-compliant) browser then should look up the font table and try to display the symbol, no matter how it is represented internally.

The conclusion is that using Unicode is the only fully correct practice. It enables people from all over the world see the page correctly at the moment they arrive at it. Also, it is expandable so it allows using several alphabets over a single page. Unicode named entities are supported by most of the recent browsers (both IE and Netscape since Version 4). Although older browser might have problems with Unicode, any solution optimized for them will break a much bigger number of Unicode-compliant system that for some reason do not use the same encodings for some characters.


Have you read 1066 And All That, Steve? There're some great parodies of Old English poetry there ;)

Sing a song of Saxons
In the Wapentake of Rye
Four an twenty eaoldormen
Too eaold to die ...

That's more like Middle English, I suppose, but they also have a great take on the Beowulf there. --AV

Certainly have, I just recently bought myself a new copy, the old one was falling apart. One of the great critical analyses of English history, and considerably more accurate than many serious takes on the subject. sjc

What of the use of inflection during old english? I know that Chaucers original works rhymed if you pronounce the 'e' at the end. -dgd

Old English was an inflected language: grammatical information was transmitted by endings/sound changes to words. But this is not significant within a rhyme scheme since this was entirely subsidiary to the significance of alliterative binding. Many Old English grammatical patterns: adjective & noun, subject & verb, etc naturally produce type A stress patterns when used with plural forms. Another grammatical pattern (genitive plural used as a noun) produces type D patterns. The stress patterns of Anglo-Saxon poetry are fundamentally formalised, but are representative of the rhythms of Anglo-Saxon speech. user:sjc

I think your fine explanation should be moved front and center!--dgd

I'm very much working on this article as in progress and there are other concepts which are paramount, vis-a-vis alliteration. I don't really want to clutter people's vista of OE poetry with the complications of inflected cases etc until I have the alliterative stuff and the importance of poetic language firmly established since these are fundamental, the inflection issue being merely a side-show to OE in general. user:sjc

I've made an article on alliterative verse that covers much of the same territory. Perhaps most of this article might be moved there, and "Old English poetry" changed in focus, away from the prosody of Old English verse, and towards the poetic corpus in Old English? -- IHCOYC 17:34 8 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I say, go for it. Matthew Woodcraft

Rename article[edit]

I would like to rename the article to Anglo-Saxon literature and expand on it, as Ihcoyc suggested in 2003. Old English poetry can still point here, or to Alliterative verse. Stbalbach 01:15, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)

second only to Gothic?[edit]

Irish has the best claim to this accolade (see the vernacular literature article in Wikipedia for instance!, or if that is not good enough then several aerticles on vernacular/orality/literacy by Michael Richter of the University of Constanz) so I will remove it 01:02, 18 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I wrote that sentence. But I didnt just make it up, its sourced to the Angus Cameron article (see references). The thing is we are talking "literature", the context of the article makes that clear, so obviously we are not talking ancient Norse runes markings accounting for how many gold pieces a king has. I looked at the vernacular literature article and its just a stub it says very little on this subject. So I looked at Irish literature and it says The Irish language has the oldest vernacular literature and poetry in that language represents a more or less unbroken tradition from the 6th century to the present day. Well thats odd since Anglo_Saxon goes back to the 4th century, certainly older than Irish, and Gothic is older than both. I'd be happy to be proven wrong, but so far no ones been able too, it appears professor Angus is (still) correct. Stbalbach 04:14, 18 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, I am talking literature as well. Beware of self-satisfied claims concerning English literature, they often have their blind spot. For instance Southern claimed that to find a vernacular chronicle equivalent to the Anglo-Saxon chronicle you had to go to Russia. Not so. Ireland has annals beginning in Latin in the 6th century and becoming almost completely Irish by the 9th century. Seeing as you are now talking about something other than surviving texts then Irish too has been projected back into the 4th century by Jane Stevenson/Michael Richter. A little less certainty on your part is called for I think 14:30, 19 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Now for some citations. 'the dry-point Old Irish glosses in Codex Usserianus I date indeed to seventh century' in O quam gravis est scriptura: Early Irish lay society and written culture by Michael Richter, Ireland and Europe in the early Middle Ages: texts and transmission/Irland und Europa im früheren Mittelalter: Texte und Überlinferung ed. Próinséas Ní Chatháin and Michael Richter, page 29. 'literacy in both Latin and Irish had its beginnings in the fourth century at the latest' in The beginnings of literacy in Ireland by Jane Stevenson, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 89C, page 165. Your claim is not sustained so I will remove it 15:00, 19 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

English and Irish have close to equal claim in being "second only to Gothic" in terms of vernacular attestation. Richter can claim that literacy in Old Irish extends back to the fourth century, but there is no fourth century evidence for it, whereas there is clear evidence for both Irish and English in continuous use in the middle of the seventh century. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:24, 15 February 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Lead image[edit]

Since Stbalbach's admirable rewrite of this article last June, the article has featured this lovely image. However, on closer examination, I have come to the conclusion that this image is not apropiate for this page. The manuscript from which this image comes, BL Additional 33241, is not listed at List of illuminated Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, which to my certain knowledge contains every Anglo-Saxon manuscript which contains a miniature. The BL catalogue entry describes the text contained in this manuscript as:

"GESTA CNUTONIS"; printed by Duchesne (Historiæ Normannorum Scriptores) with the title "Emmæ Anglorum Reginæ, Richard I. Ducis Normannorum filiæ, Encomium."

Elsewhere on the BL site, the manuscript is given the title Encomium of Queen Emma, and described as being produced in "Normandy, mid 11th century".

Although S.D. Keynes, who set up the website from which this image was taken is a respected Anglo-Saxon historian, I believe that the identification of this manuscript as Anglo-Saxon is mistaken. Although I am not familiar with the text, its title "Gesta Cnutonis" or "Encomium Emmae Reginae" do not seem to indicate that it is written in Anglo-Saxon, nor is likely that a manuscript produced in Normandy was written in Anglo-Saxon. My best guess is that is a piece of Norman literature, which was produced as a propaganda piece by William of Normandy in the decades prior to the Norman invasion, since his relationship to Emma was the fig leaf behind which he claimed the throne of England. So, sadly, I would have to say that this image should be replaced Dsmdgold 23:24, 24 December 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That's great research. Lets replace it with something representative. I remember not being able to find a lot of choices, but perhaps was not looking at the right sources for pics. How about this one from the Benedictional of St. Æthelwold, or the one allready uploaded? --Stbalbach 03:59, 26 December 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well the problem with the Benedictional, is that its text is in Latin, so it's not really Anglo-Saxon Literature (if and when I, or someone else, gets around to writing the article on Anglo-Saxon illumination, images from the Benedictional will feature prominently. Looking over the List of illuminated Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, I realize that I should have included the language of the primary text, but in any case the majority are in Latin. I think that the Caedmon manuscript illumination from later in the article is our best bet, right now. I'll spend the day rummaging around to see if I can find anything better. Dsmdgold 12:50, 26 December 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm sorry it took me so long to get back to this. I found a few usable images of manuscripts from the BL (see here), all from manuscripts with Anglo-Saxon translations. However, we also this image from the Peterborough Chronicle. Although the manuscript itself is post-conquest, I think this is our best choice for a lead image. It is attractive and it illustrates one of the major sources for the Anglo-Saxon chronicle, which is mentioned in the intro. Although the Peterborough Chronicle has Middle English portions, I believe this image is of a section in Anglo-Saxon. If there is no objection, I will make the change early next week. (Or someone else can be bold and do it before then.) Dsmdgold 16:39, 19 January 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes I agree the Peterborough is more representative for literature. I'll do it, feel free to change the caption text. --Stbalbach 17:21, 19 January 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Years later.....the Encomium is a text written in Latin, but commissioned by the double queen of England, Emma c. 1041-2. She was married first to Aethelraed, and when he died, she married Cnut the Great. The image that once figured on this page depicted Emma and two of her sons, Harthacnut (king of England) and Edward the Confessor (king of England). While not produced in England, and while not in English, such an image in honor of such a person surely has some claim on an English literature page? Peterborough Chronicle is ok, but how about images of any of a number of actual Anglo-Saxon era manuscripts written in Old English? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:34, 15 February 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The Psalter Psalms 51-150 are preserved, following a prose version of the first 50 Psalms. It is believed there was once a complete psalter based on evidence, but only the first 150 have survived. - "the first 150"? Could anybody explain this? I always thought, that there are only 150 Psalm in the western tradition. Shmuel haBalshan 16:16, 1 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Some changes[edit]

I added some changes to the Specific Features page. Hope they go over well.

—Preceding unsigned comment added by MadMaxBeyondThunderdome (talkcontribs) 04:25, 5 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wrong internal links[edit]

Somebody should check the internal links as there are several errors, take this: "There are five shorter poems: capture of the Five Boroughs (942); coronation of King Edgar (973); death of King Edgar (975); death of Prince Alfred (1036); and death of King Edward the Confessor (1065)." The Five Boroughs goes to New York, and Prince Alfred goes to Alfred the Great. There are some other errors too. --FinnWiki (talk) 22:49, 13 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I was surprised to find no mention of the different dialects and languages of Old English within this section. Anglian was very different to Saxon and so forth. The two and others apparently merged into English. However it is not clear what languages each of the Old English scripts (Bede, the chronicles, Alfred, Caedmon etc) are written in. This is becoming more and more important as people question how it was possible that the almost unintelligble language of Anglo Saxon miraculously somehow changed into mideaval English in just a generation after the tiny Elite of Normans arrived. Chaucer can be understood by children, and yet Beowulf can not be understood by University graduates unless they speak Scandinavian. This Section could help clarify. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:56, 14 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

GA Reassessment[edit]

This discussion is transcluded from Talk:Anglo-Saxon literature/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the reassessment.

A good article is—

Well written: (a) the prose is clear and the spelling and grammar are correct; and (b) it complies with the manual of style guidelines for lead sections, layout, jargon, words to avoid, fiction, and list incorporation.[1]

Factually accurate and verifiable: (a) it provides references to all sources of information, and at minimum contains a section dedicated to the attribution of those sources in accordance with the guide to layout;[2] (b) at minimum, it provides in-line citations from reliable sources for direct quotations, statistics, published opinion, counter-intuitive or controversial statements that are challenged or likely to be challenged, and contentious material relating to living persons;[2] and (c) it contains no original research.

Broad in its coverage: (a) it addresses the main aspects of the topic;[3] and (b) it stays focused on the topic without going into unnecessary detail (see summary style).

Neutral: it represents viewpoints fairly and without bias. Stable: it does not change significantly from day-to-day because of an ongoing edit war or content dispute.[4] Illustrated, if possible, by images:[5] (a) images are tagged with their copyright status, and valid fair use rationales are provided for non-free content; and (b) images are relevant to the topic, and have suitable captions.[6]

I think this article obviously fails 2 a) and b), with the vast majority of paragraphs not cited at all, inlcuding quotes. Hence there is no way to know if it passes 2 c).

Also i don't think it is sufficiently broad in it's coverage (see talk), with many paragraphs simply stating that an anglo-saxon work exists, but giving no criitical or historical evaluation of importance.

So i plan to delist this as a good article soon, as the the work to source all this would require a lot of work.Yobmod (talk) 09:10, 16 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I feel there should be a full section on the Riddles from the Exeter Book, as they form a significant part of OE literature. Does anyone agree? Girlwithgreeneyes (talk) 22:11, 31 March 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Love it! Wish I had time. You? WP:Be Bold. DavidOaks (talk)
I generally read Wikipedia more than I edit it, but I guess I could find time, and it's quite a rich subject area, so could be fun. Girlwithgreeneyes (talk) 17:40, 2 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Waiting for a book to arrive. Girlwithgreeneyes (talk) 10:14, 11 May 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Extant Manuscripts: confusing[edit]

Hello! I came across this article from Nowell Codex; into the Extant Manuscripts subsection; in that subsection it refers to 1st 189 major manuscripts, and then 4 major manuscripts. This is extremely confusing, just how many major manuscripts are there? are the 4 listed in the bulleted list exceptionally major? Are they just considered the major sources of prose? Does the 189 include the 4? The difference between the listed 4 and the other 189(5?) really needs to be clarified by someone familiar with the material. (talk) 06:28, 25 November 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hail seeker; this article really needs to be reworked: far too many errors and misleading statements. There are 4 major codices that contain the vast majority of surviving poetry in Old English: the Exeter Book, the Vercelli Book, the Junius Codex (aka the Caedmon mss), and Cotton Vitellius A.xv, aka the Beowulf Manuscript. The Nowell manuscript article is likewise wrong. Cotton Vitellius A.xv, the Beowulf mss, is currently two different manuscripts that were combined by then owner Robert Cotton in the 16th century. One codex is called the Southwick Codex; the other is called the Nowell Codex. Both these articles are unclear on the essentials. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:39, 15 February 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This Page Needs Help[edit]

This article on Old English Literature needs major revision. There are a large number of infelicities of fact, lack of clarity, and simple errors. It is clear that the author(s) were not familiar with the field, but tried their best. But now it really does need to be redone. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:42, 15 February 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You are very correct. However, the only way for a revision to happen is if someone Bes Bold and does the research and makes the revision. If you have interest or experience with the subject, I highly encourage you to WP:Contribute, Sadads (talk) 10:19, 16 February 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't have time. I won't have time until summer. If someone else wants to do it in the meantime, I'll be glad to give it a read over. If not, perhaps a banner could be placed at the top giving some warning? If I end up doing it, I'd propose splitting into three articles, or at least 3 sections: OE Poetry, OE Prose, Anglo-Latin texts of the period. The article(s) would also need to tie in other articles on language, manuscripts, etc. My .02 for now.

Okay, well I have put the tags on. If you see any errors that are misleading or wrong feel free to add {{fact}} after the incorrect statement or delete it. Bad content needs to be removed if it is incorrect, or people need to be aware that it is doubtful. If you decide to come back to clean it up, I watching this page, and would be more than interested in mentoring you through the editing process if you would like. Also if you want, you can me about questions about Wikipedia, Sadads (talk) 17:24, 17 February 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Disagree with the top-hat tags based on the above comments, article isn't that bad (and could be improved). No specific concerns have been raised, just generalizations. The article is a huge topic, a survey of 100s of years of English literature, some sections are better than others, concerns need to be more specific instead of writing off the entire article as original research, it sends the wrong message to readers. Also the article was written a long time ago, before Wikipedia had the ability to do in-line citations, but that doesn't mean it's unsourced or inaccurate, for example most of the material outside the poetry section can be sourced to:

Angus Cameron (1982). "Anglo-Saxon Literature". Dictionary of the Middle Ages. ISBN 0-684-16760-3

..mentioned in the "Sources" section. The article could be split, but we still need a top-level article dealing with "OE Literature" in general to fit with ME Literature and all the other literature survey articles. Green Cardamom (talk) 07:56, 26 February 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've read through the article and don't see Original Research. If there is OR, I would like to fix it right away, and not wait until "summer". In order to fix it, I need to know what it is that needs fixing, because I don't see the problem. Please don't add an OR tag to the article until you've given me a few days(?), and what it is you disagree with in the article, so that it can be properly sourced. Thank you for your courtesy and help. Green Cardamom (talk) 16:50, 26 February 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Agree with Green Cardamom. The attention-from-an-expert and inline-citation tags are enough. If something is recognized as OR (or just inaccurate), it should be removed (preferably with explanation) or tagged as such within the body of the article. /ninly(talk) 20:45, 26 February 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

To Green Cardmom: The article is that bad. Speaking as a holder of a PhD in Anglo-Saxon Language and Literature and holding a faculty position in a university to teach same, the article is indeed that bad. As the original commenter above stated, it was written awhile ago by someone not really expert in the field and the article shows that. If you folks behind the Wiki want to have your articles appear as if done by undergrads who took an introductory course, that's fine, but I thought you wanted to be better than that. (This reminds of an article I had the devil of a time correcting a few years ago on an Anglo-Saxon person where the information was just dead wrong, and I not only changed it, but sourced all the changes to several sources, and was asked by the person responsible for the article "Why does it matter?" It matters if you want to have some claim to respectability and accuracy. If not, don't bother.) The claim that an inaccurate article is "not that bad" is why I don't allow students to use Wikipedia.

On a related note, nothing in the unsigned poster's comments said anything about Original Research. The writer complained,"There are a large number of infelicities of fact, lack of clarity, and simple errors." That is a lot different than claiming that there was "Original Research" in the article....was there a tag stating that there was OR?

What needs fixing? The whole thing. This isn't really a go in and make a few corrections kind of thing. If you really want an accurate article written by an informed person in your encyclopedia, rather than material cobbled together from someone not familiar with the field and pulling out this and that from a few sources, then this isn't a "put a band aid and all it well" sort of process.

Angus Cameron was a great lexicographer. But probably not the best source for discussion of literature; I've often wondered why he was asked to do the Dictionary article. Anyway, one example, and here the fault rests the method of culling from Cameron, dividing prose into "Christian" and "Secular"; those who wrote the "secular" prose were Christians! Ok, they treat of non-religious topics, and it is customary now to refer to "Religious Prose" and "Secular Prose" and "Religious Poetry" and "Secular Poetry". Further though, it is better to my mind to refer to the various subgenres of "Secular Prose" for example and discuss each genre rather than merely take a snippet from Cameron: for example to talk about the kinds of medical texts rather than "a few interesting ones" and quickly naming them. The current article in this section is very staccato style rather than a cohesive treatment.

I've been slowly working on an encyclopedia style article for my students covering Anglo-Saxon literature, shorter than a book, more accessible than an encyclopedia, more detailed too. I'd be happy to share it with you chaps when complete. Needless to say, it takes time even to write an overview, and length (just look at Cameron's article cited here: 14 printed pages in the Dictionary....should Wikipedia, with no such length requirements or concerns about printing costs, give a more facile treatment to the subject?

A few examples of things I spot:

The beginning sentence informs us that OE lit and A-S lit are the same....but there is no discussion of Anglo-Latin lit, which is also Anglo-Saxon lit illustrating a problem.

The first sentence also tells us that OE lit ends at 1066...yet more than once in the article citing Cameron tells us that OE continues to be read and written into the 12th century (see Parker Chronicle for example).

The claim that Caedmon's Hymn is the oldest surviving Old English literature is problematic on several levels and depends greatly on how one answers certain questions (such as whether the marginal Old English in the Moore ms. of Bede's Historia is a back translation or represents a separate OE text from the Latin in Bede's work, and other issues). Further, the oldest example of the Hymn is Bede's Latin, whereas the oldest example of written OE is probably the inscription on the Ruthwell Cross, contemporary with Caedmon, but no doubts of the inscription being Old English, or a back translation, or of relationships among the versions etc. Not to mention another potentially problematic text, Aethelberht's Law Code, early seventh century.

I would disagree that the focus of the field is *now* on paleography and codicology. These have long been part of the process, and while these subfields are vitally important to the study of Anglo-Saxon literature, they certainly are not the focus of the field.

What does this mean: "in both Latin and the vernacular. Old English literature began, in written form, as a practical necessity in the aftermath of the Danish invasions..." So OLD ENGLISH literature was written in both Latin and the vernacular? Really?

Church officials were concerned in the ninth century with the lack of Latin literacy? Really? Who? Those associated with Alfred, though even that is problematic in that there has been some question as to how hyperbolic Alfred is being in his preface.

Can the relationship between Alfred's "palace" school and the survival of Old English literature be established? No. I would also challenge the statement that most of what survives in Old English are "teaching" texts or "student oriented." The paragraph bounces from the "bulk of prose" to the Dissolution (a mere matter of 5 centuries), to Queen Elizabeth, that doesn't make a lot of sense, so not inaccurate in fact, but rather confusing to the unfamiliar reading the article. And why would this be matter for an "overview", shouldn't it be part of a discussion on what survives and maybe at the top of the discussion about manuscripts?

Ok, so that's the first two sections, the top of the article and the "Overview." I could go on to discuss a number of other, as the OP put it, infelicities, inaccuracies, and other unclear statements. There is simply too much throughout the piece to post and do quick fixes: the article needs to be rewritten by someone who knows what he or she is doing. Heck, I'll even do it. It will take awhile. It takes time to do accurate articles and source them all. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Forkbeard (talkcontribs) 23:11, 7 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Forkbeard - first, please type four tildes ~~~~ (on the upper left of the keyboard) to sign your posts. You've added some interesting information here, but I think what we need would be a good list of sources and considering your background you'd be a good person to provide them. If you'd have time, would you mind placing a manageable list of the best sources here on the talkpage? Authors and titles would be enough to get going. I wouldn't mind taking a stab at this but it's very much out of my area of expertise (American lit.) so I need to do a lot of reading. Honestly I don't think it's something I'd get to immediately. The organizational issues are easily resolved, I think, though I'd want to have another look at the page to see how to go about reorganizing. Thanks. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 22:30, 8 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

As it stands, this article needs a lot of work. Since the last serious discussions on updating it seem to be now a bit dated, I've decided to give it a good run through myself, and fix up the referencing and outdated facts. I'm new to editing Wikipedia though, so please bear with me. I also agree that it should be split into three different articles (OE prose, OE poetry and Anglo-Latin) with a single OE lit overview.Winter tale (talk) 07:40, 26 December 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Questionable Translations[edit]

Can someone with some knowledge of Old English please look at the line-by-line translations. I have enough OE to be able to see that the translations don't line up at all well. For example, Hē ǣrest gesceōp / eorðan bearnum is translated as "First He created heaven as a roof", yet "heaven as a roof, holy maker (heofon tō hrōfe, / hālig Scyppend) appears in the next line and is translated as "The holy Maker, for the sons of men". This is confusing, and this phrase not even difficult to translate directly. These lines should be translated as:

Hē ǣrest gesceōp / eorðan bearnum - He first shaped / for Earth's children

heofon tō hrōfe / hālig Scyppend- Heaven as a roof / Holy Maker

Surely it's much easier to see the relationship to modern English if we have a line-by-line, and (as much as possible) a word-for-word translation. Ianbrettcooper (talk) 15:19, 27 June 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've done a quick literal word-for-word translation of Caedmon's Hymn:

Now we shall honor heaven’s Guardian,

The Creator’s might and his purpose,

The work of the father of glory, as He, of every wonder,

Eternal Lord, established the beginning.

He first shaped, for Earth's children,

Heaven as a roof, holy Maker;

Then middle-earth, mankind's Guardian

The eternal Lord, thereafter created

The land for men, God almighty.

Maybe this could form the basis of a better translation of this part. Ianbrettcooper (talk) 16:04, 27 June 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Variation is still common[edit]

The Variation section says that this style is no longer popular, but I'd disagree and point to Elegant variation. There's even a joke in the UK media that a journo can mention the word "carrots" twice but the third time there's a tendency to reach for "long orange vegetable" or some other horrendous euphemism. Hence I'd question the claim that variation has gone out of fashion. Is alive and kicking in English. Malick78 (talk) 19:54, 7 December 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Could someone verify?[edit]

The article appears to be mostly derived from a text by Cameron in 1983, however, it doesn't state which text? I presume either Angus Cameron's Old English word studies or his later dictionary of OE are referenced, would I be correct? The referencing system used is somewhat imprecise...

If so, would it be helpful to bring in content from other sources (eg. Baker, Mitchell & Robinson, Fulk & Cain, Magennis) to update the article a little? I am just aware of the pitfalls of relying on the one source for most of an article. Wasechun tashunka (talk) 19:21, 15 April 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Sounds great—aside from that, anyone with access to Cameron (seems like it's the dictionary, as the pages line up), should split that SFN up into separate page numbers, rather than continually citing the whole thing for specific details. --Akhenaten0 (talk) 20:11, 17 April 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I couldn't wait, so I got access to the book in question. As a matter of interest, it was his section, "Anglo-Saxon Literature" in the 1982 (not 1983) Dictionary of the Middle Ages, vol. 1. It appears that most of the article was lifted directly from this entry and shuffled around, and while updating the page numbers, I spotted a few misinterpretations that I've corrected. I'll see about bringing in material from other sources shortly. Wasechun tashunka (talk) 19:57, 18 April 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Text of Cædmon's Hymn in Named Poets section[edit]

Having seen the recent edits, I've gone back to the sources cited for this section (and updated the Sweet source to the 13th edition, as it can be read online), and can vouch for the fact that the transcriptions given here match those in the cited texts. Therefore, unless someone has a preference for a different source or edition, the text should be left as-is. Sweet uses 'W'/'w' instead of 'Ƿ'/'ƿ', the 'U'/'u' in the Northumbrian is intentional, not a typo, and the capitalisation is as the authors have chosen it to be. Wasechun tashunkaHOWLTRACK 19:39, 23 November 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Did Bede say that?[edit]

According to Bede, the 7th century work Cædmon's Hymn is considered as the oldest surviving poem in English.

I'm not sure how to word that better.--Jack Upland (talk) 07:51, 3 September 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Old english literature[edit]

English (talk) 07:20, 5 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]