Monað modes lust mæla gehƿylce ferð to feran.

The Seafarer - I.L. Gordon This is one of my favourite Old English poems, full of that melancholy wanderlust that characterises so much of Anglo-Saxon art. Some of the lines in here have become part of who I am and give me shivers of pleasure whenever I read them:

Monað modes lust mæla gehƿylce
ferð to feran, þæt ic feor heonan
elþeodigra eard gesece…

Which means roughly

My heart's desires urge me time and again
to travel forth, that I might seek out
strange lands far from here…

This is one of those wonderful scholarly editions where you turn the page and see about two lines of the poem, with the rest of the page taken up by footnotes. Yum. The spelling is original, except for wynns, which have been silently amended to Ws. It still seems incredibly powerful to me – it makes me feel itchy and restless, and reminds me yet again that the ‘original’ English were just travellers, living hard lives, lost, on a remote island….

Currently reading

Emir Abd El-Kader: Hero and Saint of Islam
Gustavo Polit, Eric Geoffroy, Ahmed Bouyerdene
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