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Hear the Beginning to Beowulf

I think we’re all pretty familiar with the epic poem Beowulf. It’s been liberally mined for centuries and science fiction has no problem using the ideas, characters and even the story line for it’s own purposes. But have you ever actually heard the poem? You know, the way it used to be told before there were such things as ‘paper’ or ‘books’ or even this ‘internet’ thing. Way back before all those things, stories were memorized and story tellers would recite, from memory, the story in front of legions of enthralled listeners. Okay, maybe some of you have. But have you heard it in the original Old English?

Benjamin Bagby has been performing Beowulf for many years, reciting it live, on stage, in it’s original tongue and accompanying himself on an Anglo-Saxon harp. Here are the opening lines:


Wow, who knew the Old English sounded like Scots?

Who doesn’t want more? Here’s a battle scene:

I can’t understand anything but this is certainly entertaining. To wrap things up, Benjamin explains the music he uses in his performance:

The DVD of Beowulf can be ordered from the British DVD Collection web site. I like the fact they say there are subtitles in English.

About JP Frantz (2323 Articles)
Has nothing interesting to say so in the interest of time, will get on with not saying it.

3 Comments on Hear the Beginning to Beowulf

  1. You can listen to the whole thing recited in it’s original language here:

    http://faculty.virginia.edu/OldEnglish/Beowulf.Readings/Beowulf.Readings.html

    It not the same performer, though.

  2. Fascinating and fun, thanks for the post.

  3. I actually have heard much of Beowulf in Old English. I took a class on Old English Literature in college and my professor recited huge chunks of the poem for us. She was amazing!

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