Dusty Phrases

Hi! Welcome to “Dusty Phrases.” You will find below an ancient phrase in one language or another, along with its English translation. You may also find the power to inspire your friends or provoke dread among your enemies.

For other examples, visit HERE:


Old English:

Hwæt. We Gardena in geardagum,

Modern English:

So. The Spear-Danes in days gone by

Thus begins one of the most famous epic poems ever composed – Beowulf.

I found a really excellent website which translated the story from Old English into modern English, line by line… HERE. In case you are not familiar with the ancient poem though, you can read more from wiki (excerpt below):

Beowulf (/ˈbeɪəwʊlf/; Old EnglishBēowulf [ˈbeːowuɫf]) is an Old English epic poem in the tradition of Germanic heroic legend consisting of 3,182 alliterative lines. It is one of the most important and most often translated works of Old English literature. The date of composition is a matter of contention among scholars; the only certain dating is for the manuscript, which was produced between 975 and 1025. Scholars call the anonymous author the “Beowulf poet”. The story is set in pagan Scandinavia in the 6th century. Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, comes to the aid of Hrothgar, the king of the Danes, whose mead hall in Heorot has been under attack by the monster Grendel. After Beowulf slays him, Grendel’s mother attacks the hall and is then defeated. Victorious, Beowulf goes home to Geatland and becomes king of the Geats. Fifty years later, Beowulf defeats a dragon, but is mortally wounded in the battle. After his death, his attendants cremate his body and erect a barrow on a headland in his memory.

Scholars have debated whether Beowulf was transmitted orally, affecting its interpretation: if it was composed early, in pagan times, then the paganism is central and the Christian elements were added later, whereas if it was composed later, in writing, by a Christian, then the pagan elements could be decorative archaising; some scholars also hold an intermediate position. Beowulf is written mostly in the Late West Saxon dialect of Old English, but many other dialectal forms are present, suggesting that the poem may have had a long and complex transmission throughout the dialect areas of England.

Lastly, to hear a recitation of Beowulf, in Old English, let me direct you to the video below. It’s awesome and I encourage you to listen at least for a minute, but you’ll need to wait about 90 seconds before the performance starts.

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