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The Rhyming Poem, also written as The Riming Poem, is a poem of 87 lines found in the Exeter Book, a tenth-century collection of Old English poetry . It is remarkable for being no later than the 10th century, in Old English, and written in rhyming couplets. Rhyme is otherwise virtually unknown among Anglo-Saxon literature, which used alliterative verse instead.

The poemEdit

Me līfes onlāh  sē þis leoht onwrāh,
ond þæt torhte geteoh,  tillice onwrāh.
Glæd wæs ic glīwum,  glenged hīwum,
blissa blēoum,  blōstma hīwum.
Secgas mec sēgon,  symbel ne alēgon,
feohgiefe gefēgon;  frætwed wǣgon
wicg ofer wongum  wennan gongum,
lisse mid longum  lēoma gehongum.
Þā wæs wæstmum aweaht,  world onspreht,
under roderum areaht,  rǣdmægne oferþeaht.
Giestas gengdon,  gērscype mengdon,
lisse lengdon,  lustum glengdon.
Scrifen scrād glād  þurh gescād in brād,
wæs on lagustrēame lad,  þǣr me leoþu ne biglād.
Hæfde ic hēanne hād,  ne wæs me in healle gād,
þæt þǣr rōf weord rād.  Oft þǣr rinc gebād,
þæt hē in sele sǣge  sincgewǣge,
þegnum geþyhte.  Þenden wæs me mægen,
horsce mec heredon,  hilde generedon,
fægre feredon,  feondon biweredon.
Swā mec hyhtgiefu heold,  hygedryht befeold,
staþolǣhtum steold,  stēpegongum weold
swylce eorþe ōl,  āhte ic ealdorstōl,
galdorwordum gōl.  Gomen sibbe ne ofōll,
āc wæs gefest gēar,  gellende snēr,
wuniendo wǣr  wilbec bescǣr.
Scealcas wǣron scearpe,  scyl wæs hearpe,
hlūde hlynede,  hlēoþor dynede,
sweglrād swinsade,  swīþe ne minsade.
Burgsele beofode,  beorht hlifade,
ellen ēacnade,  ēad bēacnade,
frēaum frōdade,  fromum gōdade,
mōd mægnade,  mine fægnade,
trēow telgade,  tīr welgade,
blæd blissade,  
gold gearwade,  gim hwearfade,
sinc searwade,  sib nearwade.
From ic wæs in frætwum,  frēolic in geatwum;
wæs mīn drēam dryhtlic,  drohtað hyhtlic.
Foldan ic frēoþode,  folcum ic lēoþode,
līf wæs mīn longe,  lēodum in gemonge,
tīrum getonge,  teala gehonge.
Nū mīn hreþer is hrēoh,  hēofsīþum scēoh,
nȳdbysgum nēah;  gewīteð nihtes in flēah
se ǣr in dæge wæs dȳre.  Scrīþeð nū dēop in fēore
brondhord geblōwen,  brēostum in forgrōwen,
flyhtum tōflōwen.  Flāh is geblōwen
miclum in gemynde;  mōdes gecynde
grēteð ungrynde  grorn efenpynde,
bealofūs byrneð,  bittre tōyrneð.
Werig winneð,  widsið onginneð,
sar ne sinniþ,  sorgum cinnið,
blæd his blinnið,  blisse linnið,
listum linneð,  lustum ne tinneð.
Dreamas swa her gedreosað,  dryhtscype gehreosað,
lif her men forleosað,  leahtras oft geceosað;
treowþrag is to trag,  seo untrume genag,
steapum eatole misþah,  ond eal stund genag.
Swa nu world wendeþ,  wyrde sendeþ,
ond hetes henteð,  hæleþe scyndeð.
Wercyn gewiteð,  wælgar sliteð,
flahmah fliteþ,  flan mon hwiteð,
borgsorg biteð,  bald ald þwiteþ,
wræcfæc wriþað,  wraþ að smiteþ,
singryn sidað,  searofearo glideþ,
gromtorn græfeþ,  græft hafað,
searohwit solaþ,  sumurhat colað,
foldwela fealleð,  feondscipe wealleð,
eorðmægen ealdaþ,  ellen colað.
Me þæt wyrd gewæf,  ond gewyrht forgeaf,
þæt ic grofe græf,  ond þæt grimme græf
flean flæsce ne mæg,  þonne flanhred dæg
nydgrapum nimeþ,  þonne seo neaht becymeð
seo me eðles ofonn  ond mec her eardes onconn.
Þonne lichoma ligeð,  lima wyrm friteþ,
ac him wenne gewigeð  ond þa wist geþygeð,
oþþæt beoþ þa ban  an,
ond æt nyhstan nan  nefne se neda tan
balawun her gehloten.  Ne biþ se hlisa adroren.
Ær þæt eadig geþenceð,  he hine þe oftor swenceð,
byrgeð him þa bitran synne,  hogaþ to þære betran wynne,
gemon morþa lisse,  þær sindon miltsa blisse
hyhtlice in heofona rice.  Uton nu halgum gelice
scyldum biscyrede  scyndan generede,
wommum biwerede,  wuldre generede,
þær moncyn mot  for meotude rot
soðne god geseon,  ond aa in sibbe gefean.

AboutEdit

The poem is found on folios 94r-95v, in the third booklet of the Exeter Book, which may, or may not, be an indication of composition. Many scholarly attempts have been made to decipher the collation of the Exeter Book and to determine if works were placed in the manuscript by date or theme. Unlike the Monstrarum Librum of the Beowulf manuscript, the Exeter Book appears to be a self-consciously archival collection.

The poem concerns the troubles and transience of life. It contrasts the life of a ruler, from the time of his birth to his prosperous rule and life at court (lines 1-42), with his life after his fall, the subsequent rise of hostilities (lines 43-69) and his death (lines 70-79), ending with a reflection on the eternal glories of Heaven and the necessity of penance (lines 80-87). The poet may have taken Book of Job, chapters 29 and 30, as its inspiration.

ReferencesEdit

  • The Rhyming Poem
    • Macrae-Gibson, O.D. (ed. and tr.). The Old English Riming Poem. Cambridge, 1983. With introduction.
    • Lehmann, Ruth P.M. (ed. and tr.). "The Old English Riming Poem: Interpretation, Text and Translation." Journal of English and Germanic Philology 69 (1970): 437-49.
    • Krapp, G. and E.V.K. Dobbie (eds.). The Exeter Book. Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records vol 3. New York, 1936. 166-9.
  • Abram, Christopher. "The Errors in The Rhyming Poem." The Review of English Studies 58 (2007). 1-9.
  • Klinck, Anne. "The Riming Poem: Design and Interpretation." Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 89 (1988): 266-79.
  • Olsen, Alexandra H. "Subtractive Rectification in the Old English Riming Poem." In Geardagum 24 (2003): 57-66.
  • Olsen, Alexandra H. "The Heroic World: Icelandic Sagas and the Old English Riming Poem." Pacific Coast Philology 14 (1979): 51-8.
  • Wentersdorf, Karl. "The Old English Ryming Poem: A Ruler’s Lament." Studies in Philology 82 (1985): 265-94.

External linksEdit

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