Imágenes de páginas

ing that in the illustrations as well as in the text, the manuscript was left unfinished. In the whole series of fifty-three plates, the colouring of but one has been completed ; the others being drawn simply in black and white, with a view, apparently, of being coloured later by the illuminator. Where colours have been introduced they are simply outlines in brown, vermilion, and green.

Junius, in the preface to the edition of this manuscript, which he published at Amsterdam 1655, does not hesitate to pronounce it a copy of the long lost poem of Cædmon described by Beda in his Historia ; and he does so, and doubtless correctly, on the ground of the correspondence which exists between the Ussher manuscript and Beda's description, no less than from the structure and general characteristics of the language.

It is true that the opening lines of the Junian manuscript do not correspond verbally either with the Latin of Beda or with the Anglo-Saxon of King Alfred; but as we have before stated, Beda did not pretend to give more than the sense of the passage, and Alfred avowedly copied from the original of Beda. Hence, it is not strange, but only what we might have expected a priori, that the manuscript of the poem, if ever discovered, although it might not agree verbatim, would agree substantially, with

the passage as given by Beda and his translator, King Alfred. And this proves to be the case with regard to the Junian manuscript as the following comparison will conclusively show:


Nu we sceolan herian
Heofon-ríces weard
Metodes mihte
And his mód-gethonc
Wera wuldor-fæder
Swá he wundra gehwas
Éce Dryhten
Oord onstealde
He aérest gesceop
Eorthan bearnum
Heofon to hrófe
Hálig scyppend
Thá middangeard
Mancynnes weard
Éce Dryhten
Æfter téode
Firum foldan
-Fréa ælmihtig.

Us is riht micel
Thæt we ródera weard
Wereda wuldor-cining
Wordum herigen
Módum lufien
He is magna spéd
Heofod ealra
Fréa ælmihtig
Næs hin fruma defre
Ór geworden
Ne nu ende cymth
Écean Dryhtnes.

In this fragment, consisting of but eighteen short lines, we have the following epithets of the Deity, all of frequent occurrence in the so-called Paraphrase :-Heofon rices weard; Éce Dryhten ; Hálig Scippend; Mancynnes weard; Fréa Ælmihtig; and there is scarcely a single phrase that is not common

to both compositions, while the same identity prevails in their whole structure. The exordium of the Poem conveys exactly the same thought as the Hymn cited by Beda, and clothed very nearly in the same mode of expression.

Few, if any, who have read the poem in the original, and have given it the close study that its intrinsic merits deserve, will refuse to accord to the monk of Whitby the possession of high poetic gifts; while some few will not hesitate to accept, even in this nineteenth century, the estimate of Beda, “ Et quidem et alii post illum in gente Anglorum religiosa poemata facere tentabant, sed nullus ei æquiparari potuit. Namque ipse non ab hominibus, neque per hominem institutus, canendi artem didicit, sed divinitus adjutus gratis canendi donum accepit.

“Others after him in the English nation were wont to attempt to compose religious poems, but none could compare with him, for he did not learn the art of poetry by man, neither through man, but was divinely aided, and through God's grace received the gift of song."


Analysis of Cædmon's “ Fall of Man."


HE poem which we are about to analyse, is the

earliest strain of sacred song that has come down to us from the distant past of England's poetic records.

It has been the fashion to style this famous relic of Anglo-Saxon literature a Scripture Paraphrase, but such a title is both inadequate and misleading. It is inadequate, since Cædmon's work though in the main based, as we shall subsequently see, on, certain statements in the Hebrew Scriptures, on Biblical hints and Oriental imagery, is, nevertheless, in the form in which we have received it, virtually an original production, incorporating Rabbinical fancies, glosses, and comments, but still adorned with such innumerable touches of the poet's own imagination as to constitute it a distinct and independent version. Moreover, to designate it a Paraphrase is misleading, inasmuch as in the most highly finished portion of the work the author shows him

self to be no mere paraphrast, but a man endowed with the soul and fire of the born poet.

But while this is true, not only of that part of the poem which treats of the “Fall of Man," but also of other portions where the expression, the versification and the rhythm evince careful elaboration, and the imagery is at its highest point of perfection, still, other portions of the work are comparatively so inferior to the major part of the poem, as to lend countenance to the commonly accepted title of “Paraphrase.” Indeed, from a mere casual reading of the original, one is apt to form the opinion that the poem is the work of more than one writer; and this, from the very unevenness of the style ; but a closer study shows conclusively that it is the work of a single mind, though written under differing conditions, some parts having been more fully elaborated and more highly finished than others.

Whether that part of Cædmon's poem which relates to the “Fall of Man,” can justly be entitled an epic, may be open to question. If an epic is a “metrical romance," no matter whether it be founded on history, on mythology, on theomachy, or on the purely imaginative creations of the poet, then it would be difficult to deny, to this part of Cædmon's poem, the lofty title of epic. It is a


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