"Widsith" is an Old English poem of 144 lines that appears to date from the 9th century, drawing on earlier oral traditions of Anglo-Saxon tale singing. The only text of the fragment is copied in the Exeter Book, a manuscript of Old English poetry compiled in the late 10th century. The poem is for the most part a survey of the peoples, kings, and heroes of Europe in the Heroic Age of Northern Europe: see Tribes of Widsith. Excluding the introduction of the "scop" Widsith, the closing, and brief interpolated comments, the poem is divided into three 'catalogues', called in Old English "þulas" (Old Norse "þula", see e.g. "Rígþula"). The first "þula" runs through a list of the various kings of renown, both contemporary and ancient ("Caesar ruled the Greeks"), the model being '(name of a king) ruled (name of a tribe)'. The second "þula" contains the names of the peoples the narrator visited, the model being 'With the (name of a tribe) I was, and with the (name of another tribe).' In the third and final "þula", the narrator lists the heroes of myth and legend that he has visited, with the model '(Hero's name) I sought and (hero's name) and (hero's name).'

The poem contains the first mention of the Vikings by name (lines 47, 59, 80). It closes with a brief comment on the importance and fame offered by poets like Widsith, with many pointed reminders of the munificent generosity offered to tale-singers by patrons "discerning of songs."

The widely-travelled poet Widsith (his name simply means "far journey") claims himself to be of the house of the Myrgings, who had first set out in the retinue of "Ealhild, the beloved weaver of peace, from the east out of Angeln to the home of the king of the glorious Goths, Eormanric, the cruel troth-breaker." The Ostrogoth Eormanric was defeated by the Huns in the 5th century. It is moot whether Widsith literally intends himself, or poetically means his lineage, either as a Myrging or as a poet, as when "the fictive speaker Deor uses the rhetoric of first-person address to insert himself into the same legendary world that he evokes in the earlier parts of the poem through his allusions to Weland the smith, Theodoric the Goth, Eormanric the Goth, and other legendary figures of the Germanic past" (Niles 2003, p 10). In a similar vein, "I was with the Lidwicingas, the Leonas and the Langobards," Widsith boasts,::"with the Haethenas and the Haelethas and with the Hundingas.::I was with the Israelites and with the Assyrians,::with the Hebrews and the Indians and with the Egyptians..."

The poem that is now similarly titled "Deor", also from the Exeter Book, draws on similar material.


*"Anglo-Saxon poetry: an anthology of Old English poems" tr. S. A. J. Bradley. London: Dent, 1982 (translation into English prose).

ee also

*Tribes of Widsith

External links

* [http://www.georgetown.edu/faculty/ballc/oe/widsith-trans.html A Verse Translation by Douglas B. Killings]
* [http://www.georgetown.edu/labyrinth/library/oe/texts/a3.11.html The original text of the verse.]
* [http://www.soton.ac.uk/~enm/widsith.htm A translation by Bella Millett]
* [http://www.wwnorton.com/nael/middleages/topic_4/widsith.htm Norton Anthology of English Literature on-line:] "The linguistic and literary contexts of "Beowulf"
*John D. Niles, 1999, "Widsith and the Anthropology of the Past", Philological Quarterly.
*John D. Niles, 2003. "The myth of the Anglo-Saxon oral poet" ( [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3732/is_200301/ai_n9331889/pg_10 on-line text] )

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Widsith — es un poema en inglés antiguo de 144 líneas que data del siglo IX, se basa en las primeras tradiciones orales de la trova anglo sajóna. El poema cuenta sobre lasos en inglés antiguo þulas. La primera þula recorre la historia de varios reyes… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Widsith — ist eine bedeutende Dichtung von 144 Zeilen in Altenglischer Sprache. Sie stammt aus dem 6. oder 7. Jahrhundert und ist in ältester Überlieferung im Exeter Buch erhalten. Von der heutigen Literaturwissenschaft wird es als das bedeutendste Gedicht …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Widsith — (seventh century)    Widsith is a 142 line OLD ENGLISH heroic poem preserved in the late 10th century manuscript called the EXETER BOOK.Most scholars believe that the poem predates the manuscript by hundreds of years, and is probably the oldest… …   Encyclopedia of medieval literature

  • Widsith — ▪ Old English literature Modern English  Far Traveler        Old English poem, probably from the 7th century, that is preserved in the Exeter Book, a 10th century collection of Old English poetry. “Widsith” is an idealized self portrait of a scop …   Universalium

  • Tribes of Widsith — In Widsith, there is a long recital of people, clans and tribes who were known in the Germanic world of the 6th century. Here follow many excerpts from this poem with a translation and links to the tribes and people which have articles in… …   Wikipedia

  • Видсид — Widsith В …   Википедия

  • Hroðgar — s Det svenska rikets uppkomst (1925) (in Swedish). For presentations of the archaeological findings, see e.g. Elisabeth Klingmark s Gamla Uppsala, Svenska kulturminnen 59 , Riksantikvarieämbetet (in Swedish), or [http://www.raa.se/cms/extern/se… …   Wikipedia

  • Ingeld — for|other people with the same name|IngeldazIngeld (AS) or Ingjald (ON) was a legendary warrior who appears in early Anglo Saxon and Norse legends. Ingeld was so well known that, in 797, Alcuin wrote a letter to Bishop Higbald of Lindisfarne… …   Wikipedia

  • Myrging — The Myrgings were a clan and peoples of Saxon origin who, together with their king Eadgils, are only mentioned in the Old English poem Widsith. They are mentioned as the people of the scop Widsith. They appear to have been the neighbours of the… …   Wikipedia

  • Hrólfr Kraki — Hrólfr Kraki, Hroðulf, Rolfo, Roluo, Rolf Krage fue un legendario rey vikingo de Dinamarca de principios del siglo VI. La fecha nunca ha sido cuestionada o ha sido motivo de controversia y que se deduce de las propias fuentes primarias y la fecha …   Wikipedia Español

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.