Bosworth Toller's


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  • noun [ masculine ]
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Cynewulf, es; m.
An Anglo-Saxon poet, who has preserved his name in Runes, in his poem on Elene's Recovery of the Cross. Mr. Kemble will best describe his own discovery. - In the Vercelli MS. is contained a long poem on the finding of the Cross by the Empress Helena [ = Elene]. After the close of the poem, and apparently intended as a tail-piece to the whole book, comes a poetical passage, in which the author principally refers to himself, and after a reference to his own increasing age and the change from the strength and joyousness of youth, he breaks out, in the 15th Canto, into a moralizing strain, in which he concludes his work. The following thirty lines, containing Runes, form a portion of this Canto:
    Archæologia, vol. xxviii. 1840, by Kemble, pp. 327-372.
The Reverend Jn. Earle, M. A. etc. Rector of Swanswick, with some pertinent remarks, supposes Cynewulf to be the same person as Cyneweard. v. Chr. Erl. Introduction, pp. xx-xxii.
Á wæs sæc óþ-ðæt, Ever was contest till then, cnyssed cearwelmum with waves of sorrow tossed ᚳ [cén] drúsende, C [the torch] sinking, ðeáh he, in medohealle though he, in meadhall máþmas, þege treasures, handled æplede gold, appled gold, ᛃ [yr] gnornode, Y [sorrow] he mourned, ᚾ [nýd] geféra, N [need] his consort, nearu sorge dreáh, narrow sorrow he suffered, enge rúne, a close rune, ðær him ᛖ [éh] fóre where E [the horse] before him mílpaðas mæt, measured the mile paths, módig þrægde proudly hastened wírum gewlenced. with wires adorned. ᚹ [wén] is geswíþrad, W [hope] is overpowered, gomen æfter gearum, my joy in my old age, geógoþ is gecyrred youth is turned back ald onmedla. my old pride. ᚢ [úr] wæs geára U I was of old geógoþhádes glǽm, a gleam of youth, nú synt geárdagas now are the days of my life æfter fyrstmearce after the appointed space forþgewitene, departed, lífwynne geliden, the joy of life flowed away, swá ᛚ [lagu] toglídeþ, as L [lake or water] glideth, flódas gefýsde. the floods that hasten. ᚠ [feoh] ǽghwam biþ F [wealth] will be for every man lǽne under lyfte, failing under the heaven, landes frætwe the ornament of the land gewítaþ under wolcnum. will depart under the welkin. Elen. Kmbl. 2512-2541; El. 1257-1272. The extreme rudeness and abruptness of these lines, and the apparent uselessness of the Runes, led me to suspect that there was more in them than merely met the eye. This I found to be the case; for, on taking the Runes out of the context, using them as single letters and uniting them in one word, they supplied me with the name CYNEWULF, undoubtedly no other than the author of the poems. I cannot here bestow space upon a long argument to shew who this Cynewulf was. I believe him to have been the Abbot of Peterborough of that name, who flourished in the beginning of the eleventh century, who was accounted in his own day a celebrated poet, both in Latin and Anglo-Saxon, whose works have long been lost, but whose childish ingenuity has now enabled us with some probability to assign to him the authorship of the Vercelli and Exeter Codices,
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  • Cynewulf, n.