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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Cædmon’s Inspiration
Anglo-Saxon Literature
 
Alfred’s ‘Bede’: Translation of Robert Sharp

HE [Cædmon] had remained in the secular life until the time when he was of advanced age, and he had never learned any song. For that reason oftentimes, when it was decided at a feasting that all should sing in turn to the accompaniment of the harp for the sake of entertainment, he would arise for shame from the banquet when he saw the harp approaching him, and would go home to his house. When he on a certain occasion had done this, and had left the house of feasting, and had gone to the stable of the cattle, which had been intrusted to his care for that night; and when he there, after a reasonable time, had arranged his limbs for rest, he fell asleep. And a man stood by him in a dream, and hailed him, and greeted him, and called him by name, and said: “Cædmon, sing something for me.” Then he answered and said: “I cannot sing; I went out from the feast and came hither because I could not sing.” Again said the one who was speaking with him: “Nevertheless, thou canst sing for me.” Said Cædmon, “What shall I sing?” Said he, “Sing to me of creation.”  1
  When Cædmon received this answer, then began he soon to sing in glorification of God the Creator, verses and words that he had never before heard.
*        *        *        *        *
  2
  Then he arose from sleep and he had fast in his memory all those things he had sung in his sleep; and to these words he soon added many other words of song of the same measure, worthy for God.  3
  Then came he in the morning to the town-reeve, who was his aldorman, and told him of the gift he had received. And the reeve soon led him to the abbess, and made that known to her and told her. Then bade she assemble all the very learned men, and the learners, and bade him tell the dream in their presence, and sing the song, so that by the judgment of them all it might be determined what it was, and whence it had come. Then it was seen by them all, just as it was, that the heavenly gift had been given him by the Lord himself.  4
 
 
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