Elisa G. Pastorello 20th May 2009 LONGING FOR LOVE in Old English Poetry
Wulf and Eadwacer The Wife’s Lament two love poems in the whole corpus of Old English poetry – two elegies
Thomas Gray, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard 13Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree’s shade Where heaves the turf in many a mould’ring heap, Each in his narrow cell forever laid, The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep. 33The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow’r, And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave, Awaits alike th’ inevitable hour: The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Greek elegy – VII sec. BC: fleeting youth; horror for the oncoming old age which means cares and women’s contempt; passing of time and of love; lament for a lost past Latin elegy – I sec BC: love – celebration of the poet’s love, which is everlasting; suffering for love – the woman is unfaithful
Oxford English Dictionary: elegy Lat. elegia, Gr. ἐλεγεία from ἒλεγος a mournful poem 1. A song of lamentation, esp. a funeral song or lament for the dead. 2. a. Poetry, or a poem, written in elegiac metre. b. An elegiac distich. elegiac 1. Prosody. Appropriate to elegies. Usually applied to the metre so called in Greek and Latin, which consists of a (dactylic) hexameter and pentameter, forming the elegiac distich. 2. Of the nature of an elegy; pertaining to elegies; hence, mournful, melancholy, plaintive.
Old English Elegy themes: exile loss of loved ones desolation of the world transience of worldly joys
Exeter Book – Codex Exoniensis Exeter Cathedral Library, 3501. - Compiled 965-975. - Donated to the Cathedral by Leofric, bishop of Exeter from 1050 to 1072. - One of the four extant OE poetical manuscripts i mycel englisc boc be gehwilcum þingum on leoðwisan geworht (list of Leofric’s donations) first poetic anthology of OE literature
Wulf and Eadwacer separation 4 Wulf is on iege ic on oþerre 18a tosliteð longing 9b wenum dogode 13b wena sorrow 10b reotogu saet 15a murnende mod
The Wife’s Lament sorrow 1b geomorre 7b uhtceare 37a sittam 38a wepan 40a modceare love 6a hlaford 33a frean 49a wine 21b beotedan
longing 14b mec longade 29b oflongad 41a longaþes 53a langoþe separation 12b todælden 13a gewidost 25b feor