The Edgar poems and the poetics of failure in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

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The two poems dedicated to King Edgar in Anglo-Saxon Chronicle manuscripts ABC can be dated with some precision. This essay consequently reads the Edgar poems as contemporary products of two very different historical moments during the Benedictine reform. Written from a distinctly monastic perspective, the poem for 973 was one of many ideological texts and events from late in Edgar's reign committed to affirming the king's divinely-sanctioned sovereignty. The 973 poem realigns the function of verse in the Chronicle, adopting dynastic praise poetry to more ecclesiastical concerns. The poem for 975, however, breaks with the Chronicle precedent of panegyric verse and instead offers a critical complaint against the attacks on monastic landholdings in the wake of Edgar's death. The two Edgar poems can be best appreciated as historically-situated verse productions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-137
Number of pages33
JournalAnglo-Saxon England
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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