Anonymous: The Seasons for Fasting

(601 words)
  • Hugh Magennis (Queen's University Belfast)

The Seasons for Fasting, an Old English poem consisting of 229 and a half lines (it is incomplete), in twenty-nine stanzas mostly of eight lines each, was discovered only in the twentieth century, in a transcript made by the sixteenth-century antiquarian Laurence Nowell before the original manuscript was destroyed by fire. It is a religious poem the main topic of which is to specify the correct dates on which the traditional “Ember” fasts should be observed, though the poet interestingly changes direction towards the end. The Seasons for Fasting has received little attention from critics in its own right but is regarded as formally interesting as the longest regularly stanzaic piece in Old English.

The poem …

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Magennis, Hugh. "The Seasons for Fasting". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 28 June 2006
[, accessed 25 September 2016.]