Monday, August 9, 2010


Cædmon was an Anglo-Saxon poet who died between 670 and 680 AD. He is the earliest English poet who can be identified by name. According to the historian Bede, Cædmon worked as a herdsman at the monastery, located at today's Whitby Abbey.

The story of how he came to be a poet, as recorded by Bede, has inspired many poets. To learn the story, follow this link to my tribute to Cædmon, which is the first poem in my book Poiema Here also is a link to Denise Levertov’s version of the story.

The authorship of many surviving poems, that had once been attributed to him, is now questioned. Here is a modern English translation of the one poem which is uncontested as being written by Cædmon.

Cædmon’s Hymn

Now must we hymn heaven’s Guardian,
Might of the Maker and his mind’s wisdom,
Work of the glorious Father; how he, eternal Lord,
Made the beginning of every wonder.
He made first, for the sons of men,
Heaven overhead, holy Creator.
Then the mid-earth mankind’s Guardian —
Eternal Lord, Almighty God —
Made for man’s dwelling.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: