The Earliest English Poems

The Earliest English Poems Review

Anglo-Saxon poetry was produced between 700 and 1000 AD for an audience that delighted in technical accomplishment, and the durable works of Old English verse spring from the source of the English language.

Michael Alexander has translated the best of the Old English poetry into modern English and into a verse form that retains the qualities of Anglo-Saxon metre and alliteration. Included in this selection are the "heroic poems" such as Widsith, Deor, Brunanburh and Maldon, and passages from Beowulf; some of the famous 'riddles' from The Exeter Book; all the "elegies," including The Ruin, The Wanderer, The Seafarer, The Wife's Complaint and The Husband's Message, in which the virtu of Old English is found in its purest and most concentrated form; together with the great Christian poem The Dream of the Rood.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Title:The Earliest English Poems
Edition Language:English

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    The Earliest English Poems Reviews

  • Tin

    the commentary was delightfully informative. my copy has a little orange sticker on the cover, hailing the anglo-saxon poetry within as tolkien's inspiration for lotr/the hobbit. while i can see that,...

  • Ben Loory

    Great book, though I can't solve a riddle to save my life ...

  • Chris Schaeffer

    I remember lying on my coach reading the gnomic poems in this collection, waiting for a friend of mine to arrive. It was a few days after a heavy snowstorm, so his coming over was a pretty charitable ...

  • Jordan

    A collection I’ve returned to again and again over the years. (Amazon informs me that I ordered this at the beginning of 2007!) Good translations, and a good variety of selections from the corpus of...

  • Matthew

    This anthology of poems from the Anglo-Saxons stands as testament to the artistic achievement of the Germanic people. I find that the translator, Michael Alexander, was correct in his belief that mode...

  • Robert

    Alexander makes accessible poems that cannot be understood by native speakers of modern English without significant time and effort. Poems that nevertheless form the foundation of poetry in English an...

  • Lotte

    Very interesting collection of translated Anglo-Saxon poetry. The introductions and the general 'about this poem' sections are good and thorough, but boy, I so often didn't understand a word the write...

  • Jaycee

    Read Beowulf, The Wanderer, and The Seafarer for school...

  • Joshua

    Brilliant collection of Anglo Saxon lore, legend, and fragments of what might-have-been. So much of this world is irrecoverably lost, yet enough remains to tease us into the awareness of a powerful li...

  • Mark

    How do you review a book of Anglo-Saxon poetry? The poems are what they are, as long as the translations are more or less readable. The quality of the book comes down to the supporting materials (intr...