Anonymous: Vainglory

(352 words)
  • Philip A. Shaw (The University of Leicester)

Vainglory is a short piece of religious verse preserved in the Exeter Book. It purports to repeat the information provided to the narrator long ago by a wise man. The narrator intrudes little into the poem, seeming to exist only to allow the motif of the dispenser of wisdom to appear. Even this figure, however, plays only a minor rôle in the poem, appearing only briefly at the beginning and speaking fifteen lines of direct speech, around three quarters of the way through the poem. Vainglory is structured around a basic opposition of two examples of human conduct; on the one hand, the proud man, who “biþ feondes bearn / flæsce bifongen” (“is the devil's child, enwreathed in flesh”), and,…

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Shaw, Philip A.. "Vainglory". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 22 March 2003
[, accessed 05 July 2015.]