Anglo Saxon

Click the play arrow on the player below to hear the poem.Try to read along as you listen.

Come þa to Heorote, ðær Hring-Dene
geond þæt sæld swæfun. þa ðæ sona wearð
edhwyrft eorlum siþðan inne fealh
Grendles modor. Wæs se gryre læssa
efne swa micle, swa bið mægþa cræft,
wig-gryre wifes, be wæpned-men
þonne heoru bunden, hamere geþuren,
sweord swate fah swin ofer helme,
ecgum dyhttig, andweard scireð.
Da wæs on healle heard-ecg togen,
sweord ofer setlum, sid-rand manig
hafen handa fæst; helm ne gemunde,
byrnan side, þa hine se broga angeat.
....Heo wæs on ofste, wolde ut þanon,
feore beorgan, þa heo onfunden wæs
Hraðe heo æþelinga anne hæfde
fæte befangen, þa heo to fenne gang.
Se wæs Hroþgare hæleþa leofost
on gesiðes had be sæm tweonum,
rice rand-wiga, þone ðe heo on ræste abreat,
blæd-fætne beorn.

Can you guess what 'Com þa to Heorote...Grendles modor' means?
Does it help if you know that þ = th and þa means 'then'?

This is what a page of the original 'Beowulf' looks like (click the picture to see a larger version):

the original beowulf

For hundreds of years only one copy of the poem existed. It was kept by a man called Sir Robert Cotton who lived four hundred years ago. He collected old books and looked after them in his library.

In 1731 there was a fire in Cotton's library and the only copy of Beowulf was very nearly lost. Luckily the Beowulf book was not burnt, just a little damaged. Later some more copies were made to keep the poem for the future.

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