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Homer, among the Eastern
Daeth is sio sothe
We magon singan
Swyle butan lease.
Greeks, was erst
The best of bards in all that country-side;
And Homer often greatly praised the sun,
He to the people sang her praises due.
Yet can she not shine out, tho' clear and bright,
But the Almighty Lord of worldly things,
That is the true Sun, whom we rightly may
Alfred is here commonly accused of an anachronism: but really without any cause. Was not Homer in spirit the friend and teacher of the Roman Epic Poet? if the Iliad had never existed, should we ever have heard of the Eneid ?-No:-let us vindicate
the self-taught Anglo-Saxon even here; and not cease further to admire how he brings all his knowledge to the footstool of his God.
Yet more, thou mayst know,
If it list thee to mind,
That many things go
In shape as in hue.
Known or unknown
Some forms of them all
On earth lying prone
Earth they must eat.
Its going wellknows,
Thaet se mod-sefa
And thaet neb upweard.
Yet to this earth
Is everything bound, Bowed from its birth
Down to the ground, Looking on clay
And leaning to dust, Some as they may
And some as they must. Man alone goes
Of all things upright,Whereby he shows
That his mind and his might
Ever should rise
Up to the skies.
Unless like the beast
His mind is intent Downwards to feast,It cannot be meant That any man
So far should sink
Upwards to scan
Yet-downwards to think!
This ends the list of the metrical paraphrases of Boethius, as given by King Alfred. A few of the odes were omitted by him,— probably from want of leisure to set them to music: but in the prose version of Boethius we shall probably find all such deficiencies supplied. Meanwhile, to make an end. The writer is more humbly aware than the severest possible critic would wish to make him, how little light he, for his part, has been able to throw upon Anglo-Saxon Metre in general. The fact seems to him to be, that there must have been supplied a running harp accompaniment which, with vocal adlibita also, made up the rhythm and possibly now and then the echoing rhyme, of the words as downwritten. Take any modern oratorio, and judge how little we can guess its melodies from the mere words. There would be naturally very little to guide us in words alone, if we remember that poetry in those early times of our tongue was far more the harper's craft than the scribe's. At the same time the present writer has so varied his measures (more often than Boethius) that, even be it but by chance, he may have lighted now and then on some approximation in English to the ancient poetry of the Anglo-Saxons.
PARLIAMENT AT SHIFFORD,
A METRICAL FRAGMENT FROM THE ANGLO-Saxon.
At Shifford many thanes were set;
• We have to add the interesting fragment here appended: the authorship is disputable; but there is no doubt that it is a genuine echo of the words of Alfred, especially the latter part, the beautiful pathos of which, as addressed by the dying Alfred to his son and successor
There too England's own darling,
Alfred, England's king and clerk,
Thus quoth Alfred, England's love,
Meekly, O mine own dear friend,
"Under Christ, who is not fill'd
"With book lore, in law wellskill'd;
"Letters he must understand,
"And know by what he holds his land."
Edward the Elder, is truly affecting. The Anglo-Saxon of this fragment has come down to us in a much more modern form, and is therefore not given here. The antiquary will hereafter find it among the original texts.
Thus quoth Alfred; "To the knight;
""Tis his wisdom and his right
"To lighten the land
"By the mower's hand
"Of harvest and of heregongs;
"To him it well belongs
"That the Church have peace
"And the churl be at ease
"His seeds to sow,
"His meads to mow,
"His ploughs to drive afield
"To look that these well fare."
Thus quoth Alfred: "Wealth is but a curse, "If wisdom be not added to the purse.
"Though a man hold an hundred and threescore "Acres of tilth, with gold all covered o'er "Like growing corn,-it all is nothing worth, "Unless it prove his Friend, not Foe, on earth. "For wherein, saving for good use alone,
Does gold-ore differ from a simple stone?"
Thus quoth Alfred: "Never let the young
Despair of good, nor give himself to wrong,