ANDREAS

[The ultimate source of this poem is the Greek Acts of Andrew and Matthias, but probably the English poet worked from a Latin version. Andreas, if not by Cynewulf, belongs to his school. Like Elene, it is a romantic poem, consciously artistic, in which setting is of more importance than story or characters. Andrew and Matthew are not memorable as Beowulf and Hrothgar are. The poet misses no chance to expand his source. The description of the storm, elaborated with all the devices of rhetoric, not for its importance in the story but as an incidental beauty, is typical of the poem as a whole.]


I

Lo! we have heard in distant days of twelve glorious heroes, servants of the Lord, under the stars. Their majesty failed not in fight when banners clashed together, after they had disbanded, even as God Himself, the great King of heaven, laid their duty upon them. They were men renowned on earth, eager leaders and active in war, bold warriors, when on the field of battle, the place of war, shield and hand guarded the helmet. Matthew was one of them, who by wondrous power first began among the Jews to write the gospel in. words; holy God appointed him his lot out on that island,1 where as yet no stranger could enjoy the happiness of home. Often the hand of murderers did him grievous harm on the battle-field. That country, the land of men, the abode of heroes, was completely encompassed with crime, with the devil's treachery. There was no bread in the place to feed men, nor a drink of water to enjoy, but throughout the land they feasted on the blood and flesh, on the bodies of men, of those who came from afar. Such was their custom, that when they lacked meat they made food of all strangers who sought that island from elsewhere. Such was the savage nature of the people, the violence of the wicked, that they, fierce foemen, destroyed in their cruelty with the points of spears the sight of the eyes, the jewels of the head. Afterwards magicians by sorcery stirred together in hatred a murderous draught, which

____________________
1
This apparently means a land bordering on the water and to be reached by travelling over the sea, rather than an island in the strict sense. Mermedonia is perhaps Scythia.

-181-

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Anglo-Saxon Poetry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction v
  • Contents xiii
  • Beowulf 1
  • Finnesburh 63
  • Waldhere 65
  • Widsith 67
  • Deor 71
  • The Wanderer 73
  • The Seafarer 76
  • The Wife's Lament 79
  • The Husband's Message 81
  • Wulf and Eadwacer 83
  • The Ruin 84
  • Charms 85
  • Genesis 95
  • Exodus 112
  • Daniel 121
  • Christ and Satan 127
  • Juliana 165
  • The Fates of the Apostles 178
  • Andreas 181
  • Elene 211
  • The Dream of the Rood 235
  • The Phoenix 239
  • Physiologus 252
  • Guthlac 256
  • The Soul's Address to the Body 280
  • Doomsday 284
  • Riddles 289
  • Gnomic Poetry 309
  • The Arts of Men 316
  • The Fates of Men 318
  • Judith 320
  • The Battle of Brunanburh 327
  • The Battle of Maldon 329
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