The History of Early English Literature: Being the History of English Poetry from Its Beginnings to the Accession of King Aelfred

The History of Early English Literature: Being the History of English Poetry from Its Beginnings to the Accession of King Aelfred

Read FREE!

The History of Early English Literature: Being the History of English Poetry from Its Beginnings to the Accession of King Aelfred

The History of Early English Literature: Being the History of English Poetry from Its Beginnings to the Accession of King Aelfred

Read FREE!

Excerpt

This book is the history of the beginnings of English Poetry. It is the beginning also of a history of that poetry which, I hope, with perhaps too bold an ambition, to finish in the years to come. Life gives too short a time now for a long work, but it is a pleasure to have at least brought to an end this tale of the origins of English verse.

It begins in the older England over the sea. It ends with the accession of Ælfred. When he came to the throne in 871, literature, both Latin and English, had perished, after a career of two hundred years. The final home of both had been Northumbria. A few years after his accession the last unplundered seats of learning were destroyed. All the Muses were now silent. But before after Ælfred a new English literature had begun, and in a new land, and the King was himself its origin. What had been was poetry; this was prose. The country of English poetry had been Northumbria; the country of English prose was Wessex. At this date, then, the curtain naturally falls on the first act of this history. At this date, in the intervals of Ælfred's wars, it will naturally rise on the beginning of the second act.

The English literature of this period is entirely poetry, and this book is mainly dedicated to that poetry. I have not put aside the life of the people, the Latin literature, or the political history of England; but I have only spoken of them so far as they bore upon the poetry or illustrated it. That poetry is certainly not of a very fine quality, but it is frequently remarkable. It has its own special qualities, and with the ex-

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.