English, Old and New
DARRELL SUTTON celebrates the scholarship of Medievalist, Fred C. Robinson (Sep 23, 1930-May 5, 2016), Douglas Tracy Smith Professor Emeritus of English at Yale
is that the English of old,
Yet spoken in modern times?
It is the language of times long ago,
prefacing Beowulf’s lines.
Those days are gone,
their times are past; but Chaucer’s Tales
yet sail the ages with its ship’s mast
In fact, the English we know and love
From Shakespeare to Slang:
Says, “Et Tu, Brute?” or “naw lil bro,’ you cain’t hang!”
Holding the Bible captive, and
Cradling European lore.
Our English tongues
are ever gluttonous: yes,
forever craving more.
Decades before, when times were dark;
Mitchell and Robinson then
hailed a new day. So
Old English textbooks got a new start,
And OE shan’t see shades of The Grave,
for English will never lay dead
in The Tomb of Beowulf.
Darrell Sutton is rector of the Tabernacle in Red Cloud, Nebraska, a small village in the Great Plains. He also teaches Semitic languages and edits an academic bulletin entitled ‘The DS Commentary on Books’