Vermont Poet Edits Anthology of Anglo-Saxon Poems

12/18/10 8:35AM By Peter Biello
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Peter Biello/VPR
Greg Delanty, co-editor of The Word Exchange.

A St. Michael’s College poet is among scholars who want to share lessons for our modern world that they believe can be found in the words of Old English poetry. But first, they had to translate the words from the Anglo-Saxon language.

When we think of Old English poetry, we may think of Beowulf, the epic poem in which the hero Beowulf proves his strength by repelling the attacks of the evil Grendel and a fire-breathing dragon.

But Beowulf alone is not representative of the whole body of surviving Old English poetry. To be clear: it’s not all about battles between knights and dragons. Rather, it speaks to the same issues we grapple with today—war and peace, love and longing, anger and regret.

This poetry has been newly translated and it’s out in a collection called The Word Exchange: Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation. Modern poets were asked to give a new voice to these centuries-old poems. Greg Delanty is a distinguished poet, professor and Artist-in-Residence at St. Michael’s College and he co-edited the book. We spoke recently about the diversity of subjects and translators in this new collection.

Hear some of the poems in The Word Exchange read aloud.

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