Anonymous: Widsith

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

The Old English poem Widsith is preserved in the Exeter Book. It consists largely of direct speech, framed by two short third person passages, the first of which attributes the speech to a poet named Widsith, while the closing passage talks more generally about the lifestyle of itinerant poets. The name Widsith means “wide journey”, and it is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that his speech details his wanderings all over the world, and the receptions that he received among various peoples and at various courts. The list of peoples and courts involved is considerable, and includes both historical figures and figures who are probably legendary. From a modern point of view, the impression is of a man engaged in a boast at …

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Shaw, Philip A.. "Widsith". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 20 November 2002
[, accessed 25 September 2016.]