Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Middle-earth, Holy Island, upside down boats

Today at low tide we crossed to St Aidan's island mission priory Lindisfarne, Holy Island, where Celtic Christian missionaries spread the gospel in the 7th century and beyond. At nearby Whitby an illiterate cowherd composed the first English poem, Caedmon's Hymn. Anne Gaspard recited it for a Cadbury bar. It is likely where Tolkien, an Anglo-Saxon scholar, got the name middle-earth.

Nu scylun hergan hefaenricaes uard
metudæs maecti end his modgidanc
uerc uuldurfadur sue he uundra gihuaes
eci dryctin or astelidæ
he aerist scop aelda barnum
heben til hrofe haleg scepen.
tha middungeard moncynnæs uard
eci dryctin æfter tiadæ
firum foldu frea allmectigprimo cantauit Cædmon istud carmen.


Now let me praise the keeper of Heaven's kingdom, 
The might of the Creator, and his thought, 
The work of the Father of glory, how each of wonders
The Eternal Lord established in the beginning.
He first created for the sons of men
Heaven as a roof, the holy Creator, 
Then Middle-earth the keeper of mankind, 
The Eternal Lord, afterwards made, 
The earth for men, the Almighty Lord.

Readers of my 8th century Anglo-Saxon historical fiction novel Hand of Vengeance (my first crime fiction) will recognize Cynwulf's inverted boat bothy house, set here at Lindisfarne. 

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