Caaedmon's Hymn Sparknotes

Decent Essays
“Caedmon’s Hymn” (c. 657-680), written by Bede (c. 673-735), shows a complicated relationship with earthly and heavenly matters. On the surface, it appears that earthly matters are vilified, but the hymn itself attributes earthly qualities to God.
Bede feels that the earthly should be looked at in contempt, as evident with his view of Caedmon’s poetry in relation to poetry by others. From the onset, the narrator – likely Bede himself – notes that Caedmon “was never able to compose any vain and idle song but only such as dealt with religion and were proper for his religious tongue to utter” and that “his songs kindled a contempt for this world and a longing for the life of Heaven in the hearts of many men” (Bede 30). In Bede’s view, any song
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However, this notion is complicated when considering the hymn itself. Caedmon notes that people must praise “the Measurer’s might / and his mind-plans.” (Bede 30). God is certainly all-powerful in this song, but Caedmon seems to attribute earthly qualities on to God and his actions. “Measurer” combined with “mind-plans” gives rise to images of some sort of construction with a blueprint in mind. This is even more pertinent when considering the lines, “He first created / for men’s sons / heaven as a roof” (Bede 31). Caedmon is describing the creation by God, but he is doing so in earthly terms – heaven, after all, is compared to a roof. This is surprising when considering the stories seemingly negative attitude toward what is earthly. Even more surprising is Caedmon’s conclusion: “eternal Lord, / afterwards made– / for men earth / Master almighty” (Bede 31). The penultimate clause notes that God made the earth for men, which has interesting implications for Bede’s statement that Caedmon’s poetry “kindled a contempt for this world.” After all, God would likely not take too kindly to the fact that Caedmon is kindling contempt for the place that God designed for…show more content…
Before Caedmon falls asleep, it is mentioned that “he went to the cattle shed, which he had been assigned the duty of guarding that night” (30). Caedmon is in, of all places, a barn. Granted, the idea of Caedmon being in a barn brings its own religious imagery, but it still calls back to the fact that he is in a common, unreligious place – entirely attached to the earthly, so to speak. Caedmon does not fall asleep in a church or some other heavenly place; he falls asleep in a place connected with the world his listeners will come to have “contempt”
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