Bede's Death Song

Original Text: 
"Epistola Cuthberti de Obitu Bedae," in St. Gall MS. 254, p. 253, fol. 127, edited in Elliott Van Kirk Dobbie, The Manuscripts of Cædmon's Hymn and Bede's Death Song (New York: Columbia University Press, 1937): 51. Cf. Henry Sweet, "Northumbrian Fragments," A Second Anglo-Saxon Reader: Archaic and Dialectal, 2nd edn., revised by T. F. Hoad (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978): 106.
2thoncsnotturra than him tharf sie
3to ymbhycggannae aer his hiniongae
4huaet his gastae godaes aeththa yflaes
5aefter deothdaege doemid uueorthae.
               Before the unavoidable journey there, no one becomes
               wiser in thought than him who, by need,
               ponders, before his going hence,
               what good and evil within his soul,
               after his day of death, will be judged.]


1] The English translation is modified from that in A Literary History of England, edited by Albert C. Baugh (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1948): 44. Dobbie argues reasonably that the abbreviation in this line should be expanded as "there" rather than "them" (53). Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
(9th cent. MS)
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.