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Regnal and divine epithets in the metrical Psalms and Metres of Boethius Anyone examining Grein-Kohler's Sprachschatz* closely is struck by the restriction of many of its entries to the metrical Psalms of the Paris Psalter and Metres of Boethius2 though they appear at fhst sight to the casual reader to be the word be worde and the andgiet be andgite respectively of Old English verse translation. They are both long poems, both prosaic in comparison with the rest of the verse corpus, though neither approaches the relatively loose construction of rhythmic prose, and it is possible that their length, the pastoral texts, and perhaps regional or otherwise specialized vocabulary3 could exaggerate their undoubted lexical similarities. But even after such allowances are made, a large and intriguing lexical overlap remains. Perhaps in part because of the work of Janet Bately and A.J. Frantzen in tentatively attributing authorship of the prose Psalms of the Paris Psalter to King Alfred^ and the view that the prose^ and I am indebted to the Department of English, University of Cape Town, for the opportunity to pursue this problem in a preliminary seminar during a post-doctoral fellowship, and to the University of Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria, for the opportunity to begin a more detailed investigation of the metrical Psalms. I am particularly indebted to the Department of Linguistics and Centre for Applied Language Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa, for affording m e the time to explore the subject fully during research assistantships there. A shorter version of this paper was delivered at the 25th International Congress for Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo, Michigan, in May, 1990. * Sprachschatz der angelsachsischen Dichter, ed. J.J. Kohler, Heidelberg, 191214 . 2 The Paris Psalter and the Meters of Boethius, ed. George Philip Krapp, The Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records (ASPR) 5, N e w York and London, 1932. 3 The sophisticated translator of the Metres may in fact have relied on the Remigius or related antecedent commentaries. Kurt Otten (Konig Alfreds Boethius, Tubingen, 1964, pp. 119ff.) and W.F. Bolton ('How Boethian is Alfred's Boethius?' in Studies in Earlier Old English Prose: sixteen original contributions, ed. Paul E. Szarmach, Albany, N Y , 1986, pp. 153-58) show that an apparent obscurity in the Metres was sometimes derived from the Latin commentary. John Tinkler (Vocabulary and Syntax of the Old English Version in the Paris Psalter: a critical commentary. The Hague, 1971) has also, at times in desperation, suggested Remigius or a similar commentary as a source of some of the aberrant readings in his text: ' . . . (96,1,3-4) That an island is out in the sea is not knowledge beyond the grasp of the versifier, but if he had seen a comment such as Remigius makes on laetentur insulae multae: sicut insulae circumdatae sunt mari his inclination to use ut on garsxge might have been reinforced.' (p. 83) * Janet Bately, in 'Lexical Evidence for the Authorship of the Prose Psalms in the Paris Psalter', Anglo-Saxon England 10 (1982), 69-95, and more recently in 'Old English Prose before and during the reign of Alfred', Anglo-Saxon England 17 (1988), at 97 and note; A.J. Frantzen, King Alfred, Boston, 1986. See also J. Wichmann, 'Konig iElfred's angelsachsische Obertragung der Psalmen I-LI excl.', 2 P. Bethel verse Old English translations of the De consolatione philosophiae are not inconsistent with single authorship, as well as because of the lexical, stylistic and metrical similarities that exist between the two poems,6 there may be a temptation to ascribe common authorship to both metrical Psalms and Metres.1 Both poems also exhibit a number of metrical peculiarities (even in comparison with late Old English verse and with Genesis B), especially in the proportion of A-types in the fhst and second half-lines; despite some metrical drift in both in comparison with the bulk of the verse corpus, the poems exhibit marked and consistent metrical differences requiring explanation if they are to be attributed to a single hand. See Figure 1. Figure 1 Metrical Types in Old English Poems: number and proportion Beowulf 1st Half-Line Type no. A 1411 B 257 C 87 D 400 E...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1832-8334
Print ISSN
0313-6221
Pages
pp. 1-41
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-03
Open Access
No
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