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Old English Studies in Honour of John C. Pope

Old English Studies in Honour of John C. Pope

Series: Heritage
Copyright Date: 1974
Pages: 330
  • Book Info
    Old English Studies in Honour of John C. Pope
    Book Description:

    As a tribute to the superb teaching and exemplary literary criticism of this eminent Yale scholar, the majority of these essays deal with thematic, textual, and prosodic issues in Old English poetry.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-3271-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. The discovery of darkness in northern literature
    (pp. 1-14)

    In 1674 Thomas Rymer adapted the Renaissance practice of comparing set pieces by discussing various treatments of night in ancient and modern authors. ‘Amongst the common places, …’ writes Rymer, ‘none has been more generally, and more happily handled, and in none have the Noblest wits bothancientandmodernmore contended with each other for victory, than in thedescription of the night.’¹ He goes on to cite Apollonius of Rhodes, Virgil, Ariosto, Tasso, Marino, Chapelain, Le Moyne, and, finally, having, as he says, exposed our English to the like impartial censure, he awards the palm to Dryden.²


  5. Three aspects of Wyrd in Beowulf
    (pp. 15-36)

    ‘Wyrd,’ like ‘God,’ is a word out of the language of our pagan past and names one of the forces determining man’s destiny in the universe. An assessment of the meaning of ‘Wyrd’ causes us more trouble than ‘God,’ in part because ‘Wyrd’ has not survived as an abstract noun in modern English, in part because the experience it describes cannot be conveniently contained by personification as ‘God’ can. The modern English derivatives, however, provide what seems to be the image basic to the concept. The adjective ‘weird’ and the noun slang term ‘weirdo’ describe an event or person whose...

  6. Social structure as doom: the limits of heroism in Beowulf
    (pp. 37-80)

    This essay is less a full-scale interpretation ofBeowulfthan a qualifying and occasionally critical extension of some recent readings of the poem to which our approach is heavily indebted. Our view ofBeowulfowes much to Edward B. Irving, Jr’s fine studies,A Reading of ‘Beowulf’andIntroduction to ‘Beowulf,’with an assist from John Halverson’s essay, ‘The World ofBeowulf.’ We propose to navigate along a line of inquiry somewhere between those struck by Irving and Halverson, for in significant ways these two interpretations contradict each other and can therefore be made to complement each other. We shall...

  7. Inner weather and interlace: a note on the semantic value of structure in Beowulf
    (pp. 81-90)

    In these lines from the Finn episode ofBeowulfwe find the Old English poet in obviously brilliant command of his resources. To mark the temporal transition which leads to the climax of this terse and allusive narrative, he selects judiciously from his repertoire of formulae and with a notable change of pace evokes tellingly the change of the seasons and the ‘inner weather’² of the protagonist as well. ‘Winter locked in the waves with a bond of ice’ (1132b-3a) recalls the image of binding, as analyzed by Edward Irving in theWanderer,³ metaphorically extended from the external landscape to...

  8. Homage to Caedmon and others: a Beowulfian praise song
    (pp. 91-106)

    Old English secular panegyrics in verse are scarce and late, so let us imagine an early one: Caedmon’s Hymn secularized as a Beowulfian panegyric. We may do so not as sacrilege but for inquiry, somewhat as Friedrich Klaeber provided trial openings for the Beowulfian lays of Sigemund and Heremod,¹ or as Kemp Malone recomposed the first thula ofWidsithto include King Hygelac;² in any case we need not linger long up on the medley itself. In homage to Caedmon, to the poet ofBeowulf, and to John Collins Pope, who has told us so many useful things about them...

  9. ‘Gifstol’ and goldhoard in Beowulf
    (pp. 107-118)

    As a tribute to John Collins Pope it would be satisfying to be able to offer something as substantial and persuasive of general acceptance as his own contributions to the study of Old English literature have been. I cannot aspire to such substantiality and definitiveness, however; still I hope the following observations on the meaning of the dragon’s hoard inBeowulfmay be deemed not unworthy as a ‘hygeweorðung’ for the distinguished scholar this volume seeks to honour.

    Attempts at valuation of the hoard have been many, and its wildly fluctuating critical market suggests it has not yet been pegged...

  10. Elements of the marvellous in the characterization of Beowulf: a reconsideration of the textual evidence
    (pp. 119-138)

    Elements of the marvellous are not uncommon inBeowulf. A fire-breathing dragon, sea monsters, and magically protected ogres from the race of Cain are but some of the fabulous wonders that the poet has admitted to his story. But in general the wonders are carefully restricted to the devil’s party. Against these superhuman (as well as many human) adversaries the hero Beowulf can pit only his man’s strength and his man’s courage.¹ True, he is not an average man — ‘se þe manna wæs mægene strengest / on þæm dæge þysses lifes’ (789-90)² — but he isonlya strong...

  11. Some observations on the A3 lines in Beowulf
    (pp. 139-164)

    Where such reapers as Sievers, Hans Kuhn, A.J. Bliss, and John Pope himself¹ have been harvesting it is presumptuous to hope for gleanings: when they have reached no certainty, certainty may not be attainable. Every analysis of versification, however, takes a different line from a different point of departure. Mine began with multisyllabic initial dips in the half-lines ofBeowulf, with Kuhn’s great article as a theoretical and practical basis; but it soon became apparent that even such a very limited survey, confined to, in Sievers’s terminology, a3, b and c lines (as well as a small number of others),...

  12. The rhythm of Deor
    (pp. 165-170)

    Admiration often begets imitation and this paper may be summed up as a try at doing forDeorwhat our jubilarian did so well forBeowulf. Both Pope and I have editedDes Sängers Trost(as the Germans call it), but neither included in his edition a full study of the poem’s rhythmical features: Pope commented on verses 2b, 30b, and 39b¹ and I dealt briefly with 4a and 8a;² otherwise, we took up no particular cases and I contented myself with the general statement that ‘theDeorpoet wrote his verses in the conventional or standard Old English measure.’³...

  13. The prosodic terminology of Anglo-Saxon scholars
    (pp. 171-202)

    This is one of a series of articles¹ in which the terminology of scholarly writings on Anglo-Saxon language and literature will be presented in a historical manner after the style of the oed. It is based on a reading² of a large number of books and articles on the subject written in English from the eighteenth century to the present day. It seemed appropriate to select the prosodic terms on this occasion since the scholar to whom this volume is offered has himself made a distinguished contribution to the subject.

    The systematic reading of sources for the oed was largely...

  14. Exodus retraced
    (pp. 203-224)

    The recent reprinting of my edition of the Old English poemExodus¹ must be the occasion of a little embarrassment to an editor reflecting on its many still unamended deficiencies. While I have already published a set of textual notes dealing with line-by-line problems,² such a format hardly permits any reconsideration of larger questions in the light of two decades of subsequent research. Hence this present essay may be regarded as a supplement to the original introduction to the 1953 edition, and will be organized under its headings.

    There is unfortunately little new to add under this category; apart from...

  15. On Wulf and Eadwacer
    (pp. 225-234)

    Attempts to interpretWulf and Eadwacerhave taken two radically different courses, the one necessarily endeavouring to clarify the obscurities in the poem and the other merely trying to justify them. Scholars who have pursued the latter course are not compelled to explain all the obscurities there, for, however inexplicable some of them may be, they are justifiable nonetheless as characteristic of certain genres, most notably riddles or charms. In riddles obscurities are intentional, constituting the very essence of the genre; in charms they provide a suggestion of mystery or magic, the quality which is the most distinctive feature of...

  16. Mainly on philology and the interpretative criticism of Maldon
    (pp. 235-254)
    J.E. CROSS

    Philology, as I wish to interpret it, means care for words and precision about words. It is a necessity to the interpretative critic who listens receptively and explains with intellectual argument what the poet is saying and meaning. Philological precision, however, does not imply rigidity nor, necessarily, definitiveness of interpretation since words in context are malleable. They are shaped by pressures, of meanings in other contexts which establish an area of meaning in the language of the period, of the immediate context of the poetic phrase (viewed, in Old English poetry, against the corpus of poetic phrases), of the syntactical...

  17. The ‘fuglas scyne’ of The Phoenix, line 591
    (pp. 255-262)

    The words ‘fuglas scyne’ in line 591b of this passage have long caused difficulty to interpreters ofThe Phoenix. Ettmüller suggested reading ‘fiðrum scyne,’ Emerson explained that the phoenix was Christ and that the ‘fuglas scyne,’ which he equated to the birds which follow the phoenix (see 158-67), were ‘the throngs of blessed souls which follow the Lord,’ while Dobbie noted that ‘the reference here seems to be to angels, but the poet may simply have become confused by his Phoenix-symbolism.’¹ Blake accepts Emerson’s explanation of lines 591-4a but sees a ‘shift in the allegory,’ in that in lines 583-90...

  18. The list of chapter-headings in the Old English Bede
    (pp. 263-284)

    There are five manuscripts of the Old English translation of Bede’sEcclesiastical History of the English Nation:¹ Bodleian Library, ms Tanner 10, cited as t, of the first half of the tenth century; British Museum, Cotton ms Otho b.xi, cited as c, written in a mid tenth-century hand to the end of book v, with Bede’s account of his life and writings added some fifty years later; Corpus Christi College, Oxford, ms 279, part ii, cited as o, of the early eleventh century; Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, ms 41, cited as b, of the first half of the eleventh century;...

  19. The common origin of Ælfric fragments at New Haven, Oxford, Cambridge, and Bloomington
    (pp. 285-326)

    In recent years, seven fragments of Anglo-Saxon parchment have come to light which, although in four widely separated places today, were probably parts of the same manuscript originally. Dated by their script to the beginning of the eleventh century, they contain portions of homilies and lives of saints by Ælfric, whose quality as a writer of late Old English prose Professor Pope has done so much to elucidate. The kinship of these fragments establishes that the manuscript (or just possibly manuscripts) of which they were a part had important features which no other surviving manuscript of Ælfric’s works possesses. The...

  20. John Collins Pope: a bibliography
    (pp. 327-330)