Anglo-Saxon Word of the Week: Wadan

sea-ice-off-arctic-refuge-coastal-plain_w725_h477Happy December, all! The season of many holidays is upon us, and I’m preparing to do something that I haven’t done for nearly two years now: I’m going home. I haven’t seen my family since April of 2013, and while I do love it here, it will be nice to not have an ocean between me and all the people I left behind, just for a little while.

So! In honour of the trains-planes-and-automobiles trek I’m about to take, this month’s entries will be centred around travel, and each will feature a different poem.

To start us of this week, something else I haven’t done in a while – a strong verb! Words of the Week entries have been pretty noun-heavy for a while, as I’ve been sitting around writing away for most hours of most days,and I thought the sudden flurry of activity was a good enough reason to shake things up a bit.

This week’s word is wadan, a strong verb – which means it undergoes a stem change when conjugated. This is still easily observable in English verbs today. For example, ‘sing’ is a strong verb (I sing, I sang, I have sung, etc.), but ‘walk’ is a weak one (I walk, I walked, I have walked, etc) because it has an added ending instead of a stem change. Wadan conjugates thusly:

Present indicative:                                                                              Past indicative:

ic i wædee                                                                                         ic i wód

þu you wædeest                                                                               þu you wóde

he/hit/heo he/it/she wædeeþ                                                            he/hit/heo he/it/she wód

we/ge/hie we/ye/they wædeaþ                                                         we/ge/hie we/ye/they wódon

Present participle: (….ing) – wædeende                                        Past participle: (…ed) – gewaden

Wadan means to go, to advance, to travel, and is the verb from whence the contemporary English words invade, pervade, evade, and wade come from. Tolkien also borrowed the word to name Entwade, the guarded ford in the river Entwash joining east and west Rohan. (Entincidentally, is a word for giant in Old English, and is related to the Old Norse jǫtunn.)

There are many verbs that mean some version of go, wander, travel, or journey in Anglo-Saxon, but I chose this one specifically because it is used in one of my favourite Old English poems, The Wanderer. The poem, found in the 10th century Exeter book (though the poem itself may have been composed earlier), is the lament of a solitary exile who wander the cold seas far from the comrades in arms, loyal lord, and warm mead hall he has left behind. The narrator speaks vividly of his loneliness and yearning for days past, though he knows that his prior happiness is a place to which he can no longer return.

The poem also contains the lines that inspired Tolkien’s Lament for the Rohirrim, sung by Aragorn in The Two Towers, but adapted for the film version as a speech delivered by Théoden on the eve of battle:

You can read a side-by-side translation of the poem here, but I also encourage you to see out Greg Delanty’s and Jane Holland’s updated translations as well.

And if you’d like a little more light holiday reading, try Coleridge next – this poem never fails to put me in mind of his Ancient Mariner.

Good Friday

The tables were turned this morning: John got to stay snuggly and warm in the bed while I got up early, scraped ice off my car, and schlepped myself to work to get blood drawn. It’s amazing, I got the bloodwork done at 7:45 this morning, and I already have my restults back. Granted it was just cholesterol/metabolic stuff. My first every cholesterol test, I’m glad everything looks so good.

This cold weather is absolute madness, but I’m going to take advantage of it. Tonight we’re going to turn out the lights, make popcorn, don some comfy pajamas, and watch Something Wicked This Way Comes, which I’ve never seen. And tomorrow there is talk of pumpkin carving.

meine liede…

Cold. Coldcoldcold. The exam was supposed to last from 8-10; I was done before 9. Which is good, because it gave me time to realize I’d forgotten my thesis paper, panic, realize that I had numerous copies saved to my email and could easily print thing from any computer anywhere on campus and be fine, and nearly passed out from the wave of calm and relief that I would not have to drive home, get the thing, and come all the way back. Whew.

(What’s funny is that printing it here was my original plan anyway, I just printed yesterday because I thought it would make things easier. Ha.)

So now I have to wait around for an hour, go sing for a room full of professors, turn in the paper, and haul my frozen self home. Looking very much forward to Doctor Who and food with friends tonight. Someone mentioned a few weeks ago wanting to see a fifth doctor episode and I have been raving Peter Davison and his crazy cricket gear ever since.

Tummy is starting to remind me that I did not eat breakfast. Maybe I can dig up some cocoa along the way…

winter chill

Alone again, but the solitude it self-imposed and therefore far more welcome. This whole day, it’s been just one obstacle after another in the way of me getting things done; now I’ve got at least one project finally moving in the right direction.

Outside, there is chilly wind and persistent, icy rain. In here, I’ve got warm pajamas, Ghiradelli double chocolate cocoa with cream, a Lone Gunmen episode with commentary, and an embroidery project. Cue contented sigh.