THESE two half-lines appear in the manuscript and in editions of The Dream of the Rood as feala ealra gebad / langunghwila, which can be literally translated as ‘endured many of all hours of longing’1 or ‘experienced many of all times of longing’;2 a similarly literal translation is implied by the glossary to Sweet’s Anglo-Saxon Reader,3 and is fairly standard among editors and translators. But ealra interpreted literally as ‘of all’ remains hard to understand: the juxtaposed concepts of ‘many’ and ‘all’ clash strangely. How one might envisage or attain to a totality of ‘hours of longing’ is difficult to conceive. Some scholars sidestep the problem to a greater or lesser extent. Bernard Huppé translates feala ealra freely as ‘full many’.4 Sometimes ealra is simply ignored: thus Barbara Raw translates as ‘I suffered many hours of longing’.5 Albert S. Cook notes the genitive plural form of ealra without clarifying the meaning in context.6 Some other renderings are completely free: R. K. Gordon has ‘I felt many yearnings within me’7 and S. A. J. Bradley ‘my spirit … experienced many longings’.8 Other scholars have resorted to glossing ealra as ‘in all’.9 Pope remarks that this is ‘a meaning well attested when ealles or eallra accompanies a numeral. Here the idiom seems to be extended to indefinite fela, which then governs langung-hwīla separately.’10 But this attempted solution runs up against the difficulty that, contrary to Pope’s statement above, the sub-sense of eall assumed for this purpose is attested solely in the case of singular ealles, not plural ealra.11 To be noted from the citations in the Dictionary of Old English, moreover, is that ealles in the required sense is seen solely in combination with specific numerals, analogous to modern ‘five in all, a dozen in all’. Representative of this usage is wæs þæs londes ealles hundtwelftig hida12 (‘there was of this land in all one hundred and twenty hides’). Another count against this solution is that it entails construing the genitive case of ealra as functioning independently, in syntactic terms, from that of -hwila, which is governed by feala. While not impossible, such a relationship seems counterintuitive. In the circumstances we may well question whether some garbling of the original text has occurred. The text of the poem in its unique manuscript, the Vercelli Book, although on the whole evidently good and sound, has consistently been suspected of other errors. For instance, the avowedly conservative Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records edition, along with many others, endorses emendation in lines 2a, 17b, 47b, 59a, 71b, and 142a.13 Emendation in line 59a, essential for sense, is supported by the corresponding line in the Ruthwell Crucifixion Poem.14 Other well-supported, though not necessarily conclusive, emendations have been proposed for lines 9b, 17b, 47b, 70a, 117b, and 146b.15 On folio 106r, where lines 125b–126a occur, the scribe’s performance is demonstrably erratic. Celia Sisam notes three erasures.16 Of these, especially interesting is that of ‘þro’ in wrongly written ‘þrowode’, combined with insertion of ‘l’ above the line so as to yield the desired reading ‘wolde’ (line 113): here the scribe may have been led into error by the repeated use of ‘þrowode’ elsewhere in the poem (preceded by lines 84 and 98 and followed by 145). Additionally, an accidental omission is signalled by the insertion of ‘ic’ above the line, with caret mark (line 127). In Donald Scragg’s summation, just ‘one scribe wrote all 135 original folios’ of the Vercelli Book17 and throughout the manuscript he ‘made a great many errors, probably reducing still further the intelligibility of material that was often already corrupt’;18 numerous other texts within this compilation have attracted emendations. One frequent category of error is the omission of medial and final ‘m’, probably reflecting omission of the mark of abbreviation.19 With these points in mind, the solution I propose to the problem of lines 125b–126a is emendation of ealra to earmra: thus feala earmra gebad / langunghwila ‘endured many miserable hours of longing’ (strictly ‘miserable longing-hours’). The emendation presupposes loss of medial -m- as described above. The required sense of earm is ‘attended with misery, grievous’,20 which is also attested for the compounds earmfull21 and earmlic.22 The adjective earm is admittedly not attested in collocation with hwil in Old English. In fact, collocations of hwil with qualitative adjectives (i.e. not quantitative adjectives such as ‘long’, ‘little’, and ‘good’) are rare; the single occurrence registered in the Dictionary of Old English,23 also from the Vercelli Book, is Ne næniges mannes lif ne bið to þan lange þæt on sceortre & on sarigre hwile ne geendige (‘No man’s life is so long that it does not end in a brief and painful hour’). Remarkably, however, the cognates of earm and hwil, namely arm and hwil / whil-, are twice attested in collocation in Middle English in the text Hali Meiðhad (‘holy maidenhood’).24 This is an editorially entitled sermon written between ca 1190 and 1220, ‘probably later rather than earlier in this period’.25 Two attestations of the phrase earm hwile ‘time of sadness, weary hour’26 occur uniquely here, both in passages that catalogue the woes attendant on having children: In þe burðerne þrof, is heuinesse, heard sar, eauer umbe stunde; In his iborenesse, alre stiche strengest, & deað oðer hwiles; in his fostrunge forð, moni earm-hwile. (‘In the carrying thereof [of the foetus] is sadness, sharp pain, constantly hour after hour; in its delivery the severest of all pains and sometimes death; in its upbringing many wretched hours.’)27 If the emendation to The Dream of the Rood line 125 I have proposed is correct, this would be a remarkable parallel, and particularly in light of the apparent absence of examples elsewhere at either stage of the language. How to account for it is not entirely clear. The absence of further verbal parallels between the two texts militates against the notion that the writer of Hali Meiðhad could have been directly indebted to The Dream of the Rood. From long since, scholars have regarded the connections of Hali Meiðhad with Old English homiletic prose (and perhaps a fortiori homiletic verse) as less strong than those of the saints’ lives of the Katherine Group).28 More probably the correspondence of *earmra -hwila to earm hwile, if real, should be accounted for by positing a sparsely attested Old English idiom that has persisted into Middle English. A possible parallel to this, occurring in the same passage of Hali Meiðhad, is eauer umbe stunde (‘constantly hour after hour’), which closely replicates the Old English idiom æfre ymbe hwile / stunde ‘every now and again, every so often’,29 familiar from The Battle of Maldon (line 270). Within Old English poetry the lexical elements earm and yrm / ierm- enter into a well-attested set of collocations relating to durance vile upon this earth or in hell, often in proximity to or collocation with the verb (ge)bidan.30 The compound langunghwil, uniquely attested in The Dream of the Rood, is for its part explained by Swanton as ‘time of yearning or longing’.31 The ‘longing’ could be for heaven or for the deceased friends mentioned by the speaker or of course a combination of the two, since these friends presumptively are already in heaven and awaiting reunion with the speaker in that heofonlicne ham ‘heavenly home’ (line 148).32 The Dreamer, by implication, is comparable to the Wanderer as an earm anhaga ‘wretched solitary man’,33 who naturally would be enduring ‘many miserable hours of longing’. On the conjecture proposed above, the word earm- would appear three times within The Dream of the Rood, namely at line 19: earmra ærgewin (‘ancient struggle of miserable beings’); line 68: earme on þa æfentide (‘miserable people in the eventide’); and now line 125. This would be consistent with repeated uses of other words in the poem. The words gebidan / gebad and fela (spelt feala) are both also attested three times and hwil seven times (twice in the form hwilum), to name no other examples. Commentators have frequently remarked on the extraordinary amount of lexical repetition this poem contains34 and speculated upon its possible rhetorical or structural significance. The postulated earmra in line 25 would provide a further instance of a word that, like sige- / sigora, appears in each of the three main sections of the poem. Footnotes 1 Peter S. Baker, Introduction to Old English, 3rd edn (Chichester, 2012), 250. 2 Thomas D. Hill, ‘The Cross as Psychopomp: The Dream of the Rood, Lines 135–44’, Anglia, cxxviii (2010), 21–7, at 22. 3 Sweet’s Anglo-Saxon reader in prose and verse, 15th edn, rev. Dorothy Whitelock (London, 1967), 322. 4 Bernard F. Huppé, The Web of Words: Structural analyses of the Old English poems: Vainglory, the Wonder of creation, the Dream of the rood, and Judith (Albany, NY, 1970), 73. 5 Barbara C. Raw, The Art and Background of Old English Poetry (London, 1978), 130. 6 Albert S. Cook (ed.), The Dream of the Rood: An Old English Poem Attributed to Cynewulf (Oxford, 1905), at 43, 57. 7 R. K. Gordon, Anglo-Saxon Poetry, rev. edn (London, 1954), 237. 8 S. A. J. Bradley, Anglo-Saxon Poetry. An Anthology of Old English Poems in Prose Translation (London, 1982), 163. 9 Bruce Dickins and Alan S. C. Ross (eds), The Dream of the Rood (London, 1966), 43; Michael J. Swanton (ed.), The Dream of the Rood (Manchester, 1970), 138; Bruce Mitchell and Fred C. Robinson A Guide to Old English, 4th edn (Oxford, 1986), 246; John C. Pope (ed.), Eight Old English Poems, 3rd edn R. D. Fulk (New York, 2001), 74. 10 Pope, Eight Old English Poems, 74. 11 Angus Cameron, Ashley Crandell Amos, Antonette diPaolo Healey et al., (eds), Dictionary of Old English: A to H online (Toronto: Dictionary of Old English Project, 2016): eall, C.1.c. with a numeral: in all, all told. http://tapor.library.utoronto.ca/doe/ (accessed 23 March 2018). 12 Dictionary of Old English online, ad loc., citing Bede 3 18.236.27. http://tapor.library.utoronto.ca/doe/ (accessed 23 March 2018) 13 G. P. Krapp (ed.), The Vercelli Book, Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records, 3 (New York, 1932), 131–2. 14 Swanton, Dream of the Rood, 121. 15 Cf. the edition in Sweet’s Anglo-Saxon Reader, 153–9. For a useful exposition of the broader issues of emendation in relation to the much-disputed line 9b see Paul Cavill, ‘ “Engel Dryhtnes” in The Dream of the Rood: 9b Again’, Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, xciii (1992), 287–92. 16 Celia Sisam (ed.), The Vercelli Book. A Late Tenth-Century Manuscript Containing Prose and Verse, Vercelli Capitolare CXVII (Copenhagen, 1976), 57. 17 Donald G. Scragg (ed.), The Vercelli Homilies and Related Texts, EETS (London, 1992), xxiii; cf. Sisam, The Vercelli Book, 44. 18 Scragg, The Vercelli Homilies, lxxiii; for intentional substitutions of readings see Robert R. Getz, ‘Homiletic Fragment I, lines 40–42: a new reading and interpretation’, Anglia, cxxx (2012), 207–17, at 217. 19 Scragg, The Vercelli Homilies, lvii. 20 Dictionary of Old English online, s. earm A.2. http://tapor.library.utoronto.ca/doe/ (accessed 23 March 2018). 21 Dictionary of Old English online, s. earmfull 1. http://tapor.library.utoronto.ca/doe/ (accessed 23 March 2018). 22 Dictionary of Old English online, s. earmlic A.1. http://tapor.library.utoronto.ca/doe/ (accessed 23 March 2018). 23 Dictionary of Old English online, s. hwil, citing HomU 7 (Scragg Verc 22) B3.4.7 [0043 (71)]. http://tapor.library.utoronto.ca/doe/ (accessed 23 March 2018). 24 The Electronic Middle English Dictionary s. arm (adj.) (c) ∼ whil, unhappy time, weary hour: c1225 (?c1200) HMaid. (Bod 34) 30/492 and 32/538: moni earm hwile ‘many a wretched hour’. http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/m/mec/med-idx?type=id&id=MED2260 (accessed 23 March 2018). 25 Bella Millett (ed.), Hali Meiðhad, EETS 284 (London, 1982), xvii. 26 Millett, Hali Meiðhad, 62. 27 Millett, Hali Meiðhad, 17, cf. 18. 28 Dorothy Bethurum, ‘The Connection of the Katherine Group with Old English Prose’, JEGP, xxxiv (1935), 553–64. 29 Dictionary of Old English online, s. æfre A.2.a.i. http://tapor.library.utoronto.ca/doe/ (accessed 23 March 2018). 30 E.g. Christ A, line 70; The Wife’s Lament, line 3. 31 Swanton, Dream of the Rood, 132; cf. the very similar explanations summarized by Cook, The Dream of the Rood, 43. 32 Anita R. Riedinger, ‘ “Home” in Old English Poetry’, Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, xcvi (1995), 51–60, at 52–3. 33 Cf. John Fleming, ‘The Dream of the Rood and Anglo-Saxon Monasticism’, Traditio, xxii (1966), 43–72, at 45. 34 Robert B. Burlin, ‘The Ruthwell Cross, The Dream of the Rood, and the Vita Contemplativa’, Studies in Philology, lxv (1968), 23–43, at 27; cf. Eugene R. Kintgen, ‘Echoic Repetition in Old English Poetry, Especially The Dream of the Rood’, Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, lxxv (1974), 202–23, at 223. © The Author(s) (2018). Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: email@example.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
Notes and Queries – Oxford University Press
Published: Apr 6, 2018
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