CADMON: The first Christian poet of England and, with the exception of Cynewulf, the only Anglo-Saxon versifier whose name is known; d. about 680. All information concerning him comes from Bede, who states (Hist. eccl., iv. 24) that he was a brother in Hilda's monastery at Streanæshalch (see HILDA, SAINT) and learned the art of song, not from men, but from God. Till well advanced in years he lived a secular life, and he often left a merry company where all were called on to sing in turn, feeling his inability to comply. On one such occasion he went from the hall to the stable, it being his duty that night to watch the animals, and in his sleep he saw some one standing before him and commanding him to sing of the Creationwhich he thereupon was enabled to do, reciting an original poem, which Bede gives in Latin translation.1 1 On awaking Cædmon remembered the poetry of his dream, and proceeded to add more of the same purport. Being brought before the abbess Hilda, he related his vision, and, at the request of the learned men there present, put passages of Scripture which they repeated to him into excellent verse. Thereupon he was received into the monastery and instructed in the Biblical stories, large portions of which he subsequently versified. Among these were the creation of the world, the origin of man, and the whole history of Genesis; the departure of the children
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Besides the edition of Junius, the poems of the Bodleian manuscript have been published by the Society of Antiquaries of LondonCdmon's Metrical Paraphrase of Parts of the Holy Scripture in Anglo-Saxon, with an English Translation, Notes, and a verbal Index by B. Thorpe, London, 1832. The same society also published in their Archologia, xxiv. (1832), fifty-two plates illustrative of the manuscript, including the illuminations, reissued separately London, 1833. Later editions are by K. W. Bouterwek, 2 vols., Gütersloh, 1849-54, and C. W. M. Grein, in his Bibliothek der angelsächsischen Poesie, ii, 316-562, new ed. by R. Wülker, Leipsic, 1894. Grein has also furnished a German translation in alliterative verse in Dichtungen der Angelsachsen stabreimend übersetzt, Göttingen, 1863. Consult further: Sir Francis Palgrave, in Archologia, xxiv. (1832) 341-343, reprinted by Cook, pp. 12-13 (see below); W. H. F. Bosanquet, The Fall of Man or Paradise Lost of Cdmon Translated in Verse, London, 1860; E. Sievers, Der Heliand und die angelsächsische Genesis, Halle, 1875; R. S. Watson, Cdmon, the First English Poet, London, 1875; B. ten Brink, Geschichte der englischen Litteratur, i., 2d ed., Strasburg, 1899, Eng. transl., London, 1883; J. Earle, Anglo-Saxon Literature, London, 1884; R. Wülker, Grundriss zur Geschichte der angelsächsischen Litteratur, Leipsic, 1885; idem, Geschichte der englischen Litteratur, Leipsic, 1896; A. Ebert, Allgemeine Geschichte der Litteratur des Mittelalters vol. iii., Leipsic, 1887; A. S. Cook, in the Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, vol. vi., part 1, pp. 9-28, Baltimore, 1891; Plummer's Bede, ii, 248-258, Oxford, 1896; W. Bright, Early English Church History, pp. 311-316, Oxford, 1897; R. T. Gaskin, Cdmon, the First English Poet, London, 1902. For the striking resemblance between parts of the Genesis and Milton's Paradise Lost, consult I. Disraeli, Amenities of Literature, pp. 37-50, ed. B. Disraeli, London, 1875; S. H. Gurteen, The Epic of the Fall of Man, a Comparative Study of Cdmon, Dante, and Milton, London, 1896 (gives reduced facsimiles of the illuminations of the Bodleian manuscript).
1 1"Now ought we to praise the founder of the heavenly kingdom, the power of the Creator, and his wisdom, the deeds of the Father of Glory; how he, since he is God eternal, is the author of all things wonderful, and the one who first created the heaven as a roof for the sons of men, then the earththe almighty guardian of the human race." Bede explains that he gives the sense, not the order of words, and wisely remarks that no verses can be transferred verbatim from one language to another, no matter how well it may be done, without losing much of their beauty and power.
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