Dusty old literature


Here’s one for all you chuckleheads who thought, “Why study dusty old English literature?  I’ll never use it in real life …”

It’s a segment from Metrical Charm 1: For Unfruitful Land:


Hal wes þu, folde, fira modor!

Beo þu growende on godes fæþme,

fodre gefylled firum to nytte.


I first ran across this in a Norton Anthologies textbook in high school. It has been translated various ways, but I remember it as:


Hail Earth, mother of man!

Be Thou fruitful in the god’s embrace,

Filled with food for the good of men.


I’ve often used it for a grace when pressed, or when I’m planting, to encourage things along.  When I say it, I imagine it sounds as magnificient as when Michael Drout, Prentice Professor of English at Wheaton College in Norton, MA says it.  But really, it sounds like this:

Professor Drout reads the whole charm, which sets forth a ritual for restoring unfruitful land, with this segment hitting at 5:13.  In case you don’t happen to speak indeterminate Anglo Saxon, here it is, as translated into English by Gavin Chappell.

And, if your fields are aready bearing like crazy, there’s always Metrical Charm 4: To Stop a Stabbing Pain (“For a Sudden Stitch”)!




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Filed under Crooks and Straights, To the Old Ones

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