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The Old English Poem Seasons for Fasting

A Critical Edition

Mary P. Richards

Publication Year: 2014

Seasons for Fasting, a late Old English poem probably composed in the early eleventh century, focuses on proper fasting observances in England. This poem, composed in eight-line stanzas, survives only in a sixteenth-century transcript made by the antiquary Laurence Nowell. With its topics, vocabulary, sources, and style derived from those of contemporary ecclesiastical prose, it belongs to a school of late tenth/early eleventh century poetry that only now is coming to be recognized and defined.

The Old English Poem Seasons for Fasting: A Critical Edition provides a new text and translation of the poem, accompanied by an extensive introduction, commentary, and glossary. The introduction includes analyses of the poem’s manuscript origins, sources, language, meter, style, and structure. The text is collated with all previous editions. The commentary elucidates points of grammar and style, and justifies all editorial decisions. The glossary covers every instance of each word in the poem.

Since its discovery among the papers of Laurence Nowell in 1934, the poem has had only four editions, two of the text with basic notes, and two in doctoral theses with more commentary and analysis. This new edition brings the latest resources on manuscript study, lexicon (through the Concordance and Dictionary of Old English A-G), poetics, and cultural milieu to bear on this fascinating poem. The apparatus, including the glossary, will allow fellow scholars to extend these findings through links to their own work.

Published by: West Virginia University Press



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Title Page, Other Works in the Series, Copyright

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pp. vii-viii

This edition began almost thirty years ago as the dissertation project of Chadwick B. Hilton Jr. at the University of Tennessee, where I served as his advisor. Chad and his wife, B. Jane Stanfield, who also worked with me, participated in research projects of mutual interest that led to several publications. They now have completed successful careers...

Short Titles and Other Abbreviations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. 1-86

Seasons for Fasting is a stanzaic poem composed in Old English probably in the early eleventh century by an anonymous poet. Its language, style, metrics, and sources place SF in the company of late Old English ecclesiastical poetry and prose, especially poetry translated from the Latin, such as Creed and Judgment Day II.
As implied by its modern title, the...

Seasons for Fasting

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pp. 87-102

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Seasons for Fasting Translation

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pp. 103-110

Note: This is a literal translation of the poem, tied to the Glossary and scholarly interpretations of difficult passages. Clarifications are included within parentheses as necessary.

I. (ll. 1–8)
In former days the people of Israel were, by Moses the famous teacher, enlightened and taught just as the Lord of Life, high King of the heavens, here in life by his own word...

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pp. 111-136

1. Israhela: Nw israheala This is the first of four readings in lines 1–7a emended to agree with Wanley’s transcription of the passage, following the arguments of Sisam, “Seasons of Fasting” (59 and n 1) and Heyworth (358–59) for Wanley’s superiority as a copyist. The ultimate source of stanza I is Exodus 3:7–9.
2. þurh Moysen: Per Dobbie’s note, 194–95, Moysen is declined in the...

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Preface to Glossary

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pp. 137-137

The glossary presents an alphabetized list comprising every occurrence of each word in Seasons for Fasting. Headwords indicate the nominative singular form of most nouns, exceptions being those nouns found only in plural form. Verbs are listed by the infinitive form. Pronouns are grouped under the nominative singular form for each person, demonstrative, or...

List of Abbreviations in Glossary

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pp. 138-138

Seasons for Fasting Glossary

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pp. 139-158


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pp. 159-177

Index to Manuscripts

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pp. 178-178

General Index

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pp. 179-181

About the Author, Back Cover

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p. 182

E-ISBN-13: 9781938228445
E-ISBN-10: 1938228448
Print-ISBN-13: 9781938228438
Print-ISBN-10: 193822843X

Page Count: 220
Publication Year: 2014

Series Editor Byline: John Smith, Will Wordsworth See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 889644692
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Old English Poem Seasons for Fasting