Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Caedmon's poem

This is a 19th century carved Celtic Cross, it is dedicated to Caedmon the first Christian poet. The cross itself is beautifully carved with runes on one side and the pictorial element of David, Hild and Caedmon on the side above. There is also the latin inscription with birds and flowers on the left hand side. It stands in the graveyard of the church next to Whitby Abbey.

Praise now to the keeper of the kingdom of heaven,
the power of the creator, the profound mind
of the glorious father, who fashioned the beginning
of every wonder, the eternal lord.
For the children of men he made first
heaven as a roof, the holy creator.
Then the lord of mankind the everlasting shepherd,
ordained in the midst as a dwelling place,
almighty lord, the earth for men.

Caedmon's tale was told by Bede, and the elderly lay monk lived in the time of St.Hild at the abbey, who died in 680 ad, so Caedmon must have lived through the 7th century. The first text was recorded in Early Northumbrian in 749 ad, but the text below is late 11th century Saxon.

Nu we sculan herian / heofonrices Weard,
Metodes mihte / and his modgepone,
weore Wulderfaeder; / swa he wundra gehwaes,
ece Dryhten. / ord onstealde.
He aerest gesceop. / eordan bearnum
heofen to hrofe, / halig Scyppend;
oa middongeard / moneynnes Weard,
ece Dryhten, / aefter teode
firum foldan, / frea aelmihtig.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, memories of Whitby, though my husband (who visited as a child) was cross about the Abbey being ringed in by that stone wall now, so you have to pay to enter. Because of this, he refused to go in, so I've not seen that beautiful Celtic Cross - it reminded me of Bewcastle, Sandbach and the Ruthwell Cross.

    The words in Saxon are strangely haunting and I can hear a gruff voice reading them . . .