This is so cool. This week I stumbled upon these videos of a live performance of Beowulf in the original Old English, accompanied by Anglo Saxon harp! (With subtitles in modern English.) It is so cool. This is the way Beowulf was meant to be experienced. Not a text read in a book but an entertainment. Benjamin Bagby, who does it has a great voice and really acts out the drama. His musical accompaniment is wonderful too.

Opening Lines:

Grendel’s Ambush:


An interview with Benjamin Bagby:

The website for the Beowulf performance is here with a lot of background information about the project. Evidently he hasn’t developed a performance of the entire epic to music, only parts of it. At some point he hopes to do an entire 5 hour performance.

You can buy a video of the whole performance for about $30. I’m thinking it will probably be finding its way into our library at some point.

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  • Oh, happiness. I get back online and you’re blogging the Wasteland.

    “Memory and desire” brings up the idea of the components of the soul (memory, intellect and will, desire being a function rooted in all three). The enjambment makes use of words that are creation oriented. These two things point to the theme of man’s frustrating search for his own dignity-he’s both too content, too dull, too J. Alfred Prufrocky, and at the same time knows he could possibly be stirred and awakened.

    Thanks for doing this-my literary analysis skills are a little rusty!

  • Lydia, I am so happy to have you commenting again. You have been missed. And I’m so glad you are going to come join in the discussion. I hope as this goes on there will be more discussion.

    I think you’re onto something with the memory and desire. There is certainly more to be teased out there about the idea of the soul. I wish I had a better memory of my philosophical reading because I suspect Eliot is getting at something quite specific here. I agree that there is something very Prufrocky about The Waste Land, the narrator who suspects his own dullness and fears awakening.

  • When I think of memory, the first thing I think of is St. Augustine’s confessions. He has a whole chapter on memory, but I won’t say anything about it since it has been so long since I read it.

    The language is beautiful though. Thanks for the exposition!

  • Katherine, That’s interesting and might be worth chasing down, there could be a conscious allusion to Augustine here. I know there is a very explicit allusion to the Confession in Part 3 of The Waste Land.

  • Here’s a thought on the enjambment.  It’s not just the enmjambment that is interesting but that he leaves the gerund hanging on its own and fragmenting the verbal phrase.  It’s an aesthetic respresentation of the fragmentation theme, if that makes sense.

  • Manny,

    “an aesthetic respresentation of the fragmentation theme” I like that! It makes perfect sense.