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Re: The Ruin
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...looking at a relic that's looking at a relic.

I like that - hadn't thought about it in that way before :-)

Remember first coming across The Ruin some forty years ago (talk about relics ;-) while wandering round a bookshop in central Kyoto - a bookshop that had an excellent English literature section. Fortunately it was Michael Alexander's book that I picked up that day, and it sparked and interest in Anglo-Saxon culture that's stayed with me ever since; his renderings of this and other Anglo-Saxon poems still remain my favourite out of all the many 'translations' now available; in fact I'd go as far as to say that his Beowulf is even better than Seamus Heaney's - and that takes some beating! Michael Alexander has this to say about The Ruin -

"The description of a deserted Roman city, written on two leaves badly scarred by fire, may well stand at the gate of a selection Anglo-Saxon poems. The Romans had held this province for four centuries before the Angles came; and they had been gone three centuries when this poem was written. It was to be another three hundred years before the Normans reintroduced the art of massive construction in stone to these islands. The Anglo-Saxons usually referred to Roman ruins as 'the work of giants'.

"It is probable that the city of the poem is Aquae Sulis, the Roman Bath, and we may imagine the anonymous author walking about the overgrown streets... If we wish to tie in this unique poem to the corpus of Anglo-Saxon literature, we may think of it as the first of many English meditations on old stones."*

How true, and I hope this thread has gone a little way to illustrate what a wealth of poems we have in English on the theme of 'old stones'. The following (and thanks to moss for sending me this about a year ago) is an excellent website for viewing The Ruin, and other Anglo-Saxon poems, in their original Old English - There are a couple of renderings of the poem on that website into modern English but unfortunately not the one by Michael Alexander. The Ruin has also been mentioned on TMA at least once before under a separate thread but I'm damned if I can find it - eek! it might even be somewhere on this thread!

* The Earliest English Poems by Michael Alexander. ISBN 0-14-044594-3. Page 1.

PS This sub-thread is beginning to drift into the medieval, so unless it can be shown that there's a strong link between Stonehenge and the Anglo-Saxon poem The Ruin it might be best to draw a line under it here.

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Posted by Littlestone
5th August 2008ce

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Re: The Ruin (gjrk)

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