Tuesday, October 26, 2010

King Alfred the Great

Alfred the Great died on this day in 899. His biographer, Bishop Asser, claims that he had a keen interest in literature from an early age and that his mother gave him a volume of poetry as a prize after he'd managed to memorise it. In later life, stressed by fighting off the Vikings, he found refuge in books and went on to translate various philosophical writings from Latin into English. One was Boethius' Consolation of Philiosophy and contains these lines:

"Thus Alfred told us an old story,
the King of West Saxons showed off his craft,
his skill of verse-making.
His wish was wide-reaching,
that to these people he should pass on poetry,
and be delighted by men using his phrases
so that dreariness might not overwhelm
those self-absorbed characters,
who only attend
to their own whinging.
But I must speak
to make common philosophy fashionable
and tell it to the high-minded.
Heed it, who will!"


Blogger Ellee Seymour said...

I had no idea about this. I would love to be a biographer and research the life of an inspirational famous person. I contacted Stephen Hawkings' secretary, and she told me they had a very distinguished biographer lined up who had written about Air Vice Marshall Sir .....

9:33 am  
Blogger Eurodog said...

Multitasking - writing poetry and fighting the Vikings - is a gift!

7:43 am  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

How disappointing, Elle, but I think you're writing another one?

Definitely, ED!

8:53 am  

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