The Anglo-Saxon Waste Land: The Anonymous Poem ‘The Ruin’

In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle analyses a minor classic of Anglo-Saxon poetry

It’s a sobering thought that all of the Anglo-Saxon poetry that has survived is found in just four manuscripts which escaped the ravages of time, the pillaging of the Vikings, and the censorship of the Church: the Cotton manuscript (which is our sole source for the long heroic narrative poem Beowulf), the Vercelli book, a collection of manuscripts of the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and the Exeter Book. Of these, the Anglo-Saxon poetry found in half of these, the Vercelli and Bodleian manuscripts, is exclusively religious:

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