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Here’s a riddle for you: what hangs down by the thigh of a man, under his cloak, yet is stiff and hard? This is one of a number of riddles found in the , one of the jewels in the crown of Anglo-Saxon literature. At just 53 lines, this is one of the shortest works of Anglo-Saxon literature included in this list.

When the man pulls up his robe, he puts the head of this hanging thing into that familiar hole of matching length which he has filled many times before. It’s a cry of despair and grief, told from the perspective of a wife whose husband has been exiled.

After the original Chronicle was compiled, copies were made and distributed to various monasteries.

Additional copies were made, for further distribution or to replace lost manuscripts, and some copies were updated independently of each other.

Almost all of the material in the Chronicle is in the form of annals, by year; the earliest are dated at 60 BC (the annals' date for Caesar's invasions of Britain), and historical material follows up to the year in which the chronicle was written, at which point contemporary records begin.

These manuscripts collectively are known as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

This appears to place the composition of the chronicle at no later than 892; further evidence is provided by Bishop Asser's use of a version of the Chronicle in his work Life of King Alfred, known to have been composed in 893.Anonymous, contains accounts of the two battles of 1066, Stamford Bridge and Hastings. Another early work of Anglo-Saxon literature, ‘The Dream of the Rood’ is an early work of English Christian verse and an example of the dream poem, which would later become a staple of medieval verse thanks to the -century Ruthwell Cross in Scotland; it’s been speculated that the cross, and the poem, were used to convert people to Christianity. This poem is unusual in that it commemorates not a glorious victory but a crushing defeat: in 991 the Anglo-Saxon army failed to ward off the Vikings near the town of Maldon in Essex. It’s also not exactly out-and-out propaganda for the English (even though it’s an example of history being written by the victims rather than victors): several members of the English army are described fleeing the battlefield, for instance. Perfect fireside reading, and an archetypal work of English literature, composed when the notion of ‘England’ itself was only just beginning to emerge.Recommended edition: now sadly out of print, but available second-hand, this Norton Critical Edition includes Seamus Heaney’s acclaimed translation of the poem along with invaluable background information and a selection of critical essays on the poem: Beowulf: Verse Translation: A Verse Translation (Norton Critical Editions) by Heaney, Seamus New edition (2002). This 124-line poem is often considered an elegy, since it appears to be spoken by an old sailor looking back on his life and preparing for death.

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