Anonymous: The Ruin

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

The Ruin is an Old English poem of just under fifty lines preserved in the Exeter Book, a large manuscript of mostly Christian verse. It occurs near the end of the manuscript on two sides of a leaf (plus one line at the end of the previous page) that is among those affected by a large diagonal hole caused by some kind of brand burning through the material of the closing two gatherings of the book. The result is that the text of The Ruin has been damaged near the beginning and at the end (seven lines being significantly affected in each instance) and has thus itself become an eloquent image of the theme of mutability with which the poem is concerned.

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Magennis, Hugh. "The Ruin". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 28 June 2006
[, accessed 26 September 2016.]