old-english

An Old English word for library was “bōchord”, which literally means “book hoard”, and honestly I really think we should go back to saying that because not only does it sound really fucking cool, but it also sort of implies that librarians are dragons.

How to Tell if You are in an Old English Poem

By Samantha Finley, originally posted on The Toast

You are a man: a worthy warrior, a hard-hearted hero, a mighty mail-warrior, a sturdy spear-bearer, a resolute retainer, an eager earl, a fierce-minded fighter, a stalwart soldier…

You deliver both insults and speeches exclusively in tight alliterative verse.

You are a pagan, and this is very sad.

You are a Christian, but in a suitably Germanic way.

You are the last survivor of your people.

No one understands your suffering.

You bury gold with your dear ones. You cover your people with earth. You conceal treasure under the ground.

Your favorite sport is ill-advised wrestling.

You drink mead from a mead-cup while sitting on a mead-bench in a mead-hall at a mead-party.

It is unclear whether you are in need of a lord or the Lord.

The case system is collapsing around your ears. Grammatical gender is disintegrating. The dual number is only for special occasions.

Most of your problems have probably been caused by prideful boasting or Vikings.

Indeed, Vikings are your most hateful enemy, but you reserve your real ire for Jewish people. Also, you have never met a Jewish person.

The grey wolf, greedy for gore, and the dark, dewy-feathered crow are waiting for the battle to end.

You are a Biblical figure, but your version of the Bible story is much cooler than the canonical one.

Your entire economy is based on gold rings, precious gifts, from your lord, the giver of treasures.

You have an encyclopedic knowledge of the local seabirds because they are your only companions.

You have a dream vision. There is absolutely no symbolism involved. The central figure of the vision tells you directly what the theological takeaway is.

Suitable prizes to claim from a battle include your enemy’s rings and other treasures. In the absence of treasure, you take an arm instead.

Your sword is either beautifully decorated or stained with blood.

You are tricked by the Vikings, which is to say they ask politely for a more advantageous position on the battlefield and you give it to them.

Your fate is inexorable.

You are geographically separated from your spouse, so you may as well sit in a hole until you can be together again.

Your name alliterates with your father’s, your brothers’, and all your immediate male relatives’.

You are the subject of a riddle. You are either genitalia or some innocuous household object. This is hilarious.

Roman ruins are the most existentially distressing things in the world to you.

Your corpse-pole is ash. Your battle-bill is iron. Your war-board is linden.

You die for your lord. This may or may not be anachronistic.

You brought your sword and chainmail shirt to a swimming contest. They came in handy.

You are doomed. Your people are doomed. Your world is doomed.

Your weapon breaks in battle. This proves to be less of a problem than it might at first seem.

Your heart, mind, and spirit only grow stronger as your comrades fall in battle. You still lose.

Whether you go to Heaven or Hell, it is ultimately due to the faults or virtues of your body, the life-house.

You use incredibly artful metaphors in your speech, but have never even heard of an analogy.

You have never run out of synonyms. If you ever run low on synonyms, you can create a new metaphor.

When you behead a man, your greatest concern is how to transport the head home. Fortunately, you planned ahead and brought a bag and a handmaiden for the purpose.

The apocalypse is coming. The apocalypse is coming. The apocalypse is coming.

You will say that it’s easier for a Dane to study English than for a Spanish-speaking person to learn English or an Englishman Spanish; but I don’t think this is true, because English is a Latin language as well as a Germanic one. At least half the English vocabulary is Latin. Remember that in English there are two words for every idea: one Saxon and one Latin. You can say ‘Holy Ghost’ or ‘Holy Spirit,’ ‘sacred’ or ‘holy.’ There’s always a slight difference, but one that’s very important for poetry, the difference between ‘dark’ and ‘obscure’ for instance, or ‘regal’ and ‘kingly,’ or ‘fraternal’ and ‘brotherly.’ In the English language almost al words representing abstract ideas come from Latin, and those for concrete ideas from Saxon, but there aren’t so many concrete ideas.
—  Jorge Luis Borges
Beowulf

In honor of the Carleton College Beowulf-a-thon.

Beowulf goes up to the counter.
“Hear ye,” he cries, with fervent tongue,
I have come to vanquish this beast in your midst,
for I am the greatest warrior in this vicinity,
and I must prove to you my masculinity
lest you get any ideas about me being
unable to vanquish other beasts
should this ever come up again.”
The barista asks for his order.
“Give me whatever’s the manliest,” he shouts,
and hearing him the other customers fall silent.
“Can you please leave?” the manager calls out,
but Beowulf ignores him entirely.
“I am the strongest out of all of you.
I have several tattoos that I got
when I was studying abroad in Norway.
Want to see them?”
The barista says no, so Beowulf takes off his tunic.
“Do you see my glistening biceps?
Do you see them? I can take down any monster,
even if it’s the scariest one anyone’s ever seen.”
Hearing this, the barista opens the back door
and a small chihuahua runs into the shop.
Beowulf screams and sprints out the door and onto the street.
“Did you guys see how I avoided using violence just then,
when that enormous bloodhound was
threatening my life and the lives of others?
Really, when you think about it,
pacifism is the manliest thing of all.”

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