All written records are to some degree uncooperative. The written utterance does not present the advantages of a spoken utterance and its immediate exchanges. Its voice is silent, it is deaf to our responses. If it is an ancient text, its author has died centuries ago along with the informing discussions that surrounded its original recitation, including a familiar and usable language. The difficult ancient text adds an extra layer to its native uncooperativeness: to all the problems cited above we must add faulty scribal transmission, contextual ellipses, hapax legomena, generic anomalies, and (in the case of the hermetic text) the nearly impenetrable ramparts of esoterica and private discourse. We have countered with the machinery of critical scholarship, and though deeply aware of its limitations I will attempt a discussion of certain difficult Old English and Early Welsh nature poems, wisdom poems, and enigmata.
A comparative study of early English and Welsh poetry invokes a host of interpretive problems, not the least of which is how we are to read these texts,