“The Order of the World”: an odd lyric from the Exeter Book, it seems to unite poetic composition, offering to initiate a neophyte into its mysteries, and in doing so, explores the creation principles of the universe. Its vision of creation is more spiritual than religious, missing many things these sorts of accounts often feature (the days of creation for instance, as you can see in Genesis A).

My translation identifies an enabling pun: a common epithet for God in OE poetry is “Meotud.” Usually this is just rendered as “God” and no one ever thinks twice about it. Occasionally you will come across something a bit better, like Bradley’s “Ordaining Lord.” That’s a start: the word seems to be related to the OE verb “metan” and would suggest a connection to measuring (and Bosworth see a connection to pre-Christian terms for deity). I always used “Measurer.” A synonym for “to measure” is “to mete” as in “mete out justice”. Next step: a “meter” as in “poetic meter” is a count that measures the space of speech and its organization. So why not make it the name for the divine in a poem about the godly nature of poetry? The “Meter”. The “Maker”. Poetry is a pulse of nature, uniting all its creatures, and so forth…

Comments

  • I love the connectiond you make between words that o er time have perhaps slid away from their original usage and from eachother so that we are mostly unconscious of the links. Finding the links makes each word mor powerful than it is in isolation.

    I use this in my own poetry. And just as extra, my oldest favourite poem is The dream of the Rood. It, along with my writing and reading about land, will influence my poem The Dream of the Land.

    Now that I have discovered your site, I will follow you.

    Nita Nicholson
    PS My webiste needs updating

    • Hello, thank you for the kind words. I’m so happy that my work & passion has been helpful to you. That sense of “significant excess” is key to translation & theory more generally. I wish you all the luck & enjoyment of your endeavors & I would be glad to talk to you further about the “Dream of the Rood” as it relates to your ideas.

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