Response to Literature for Caedmon’s Hymn

Response to Literature for Caedmon’s Hymn

Caedmon's Hymn was a poem written by the ancient poet Caedmon. This is known as the oldest poem by a known author in the English language.

Original Text

Nu sculon herigean heofonrices weard,
meotodes meahte and his modgeþanc
weorc wuldorfæder, swa he wundra gehwæs
ece drihten, or onstealde.

He ærest sceop eorðan bearnum
heofon to hrofe, halig scyppend;
þa middangeard moncynnes weard
ece drihten, æfter teode
firum foldan, frea ælmihtig


Now [we] must honour the guardian of heaven, the might of the architect,
and His purpose, the work of the father of glory as he, the eternal lord,
established the beginning of wonders.

He, the holy creator, first created heaven as a roof for the children of men.
Then the guardian of mankind, the eternal lord, the lord almighty,
afterwards appointed the middle earth, the lands, for men.

This poem is about God, who is referred to as "the guardian of heaven", "the architect", "the father of glory", etc. It deals with the creation of the world and heaven.

Interesting note: the earth is referred to as "the middle earth". In "The Lord of the Rings", the earth is also referred to as Middle-earth. In Norse mythology, on which "The Lord of the Rings" is partly based, the earth on which humans live is called "Midgard". This theme probably stems from the fact that Heaven is usually portrayed as above the Earth and Hell is portrayed as below the Earth, so where we live is "the middle earth", as Caedmon puts it.

The mood of the poem is reverent, or contemplative, as this is a hymn, or a poem dedicated to God, talking about his majesty and his works.

A literary device used in this poem and in many other medieval Nordic and Anglo-Saxon poems is the kenning ("the holy creator", "the guardian of heaven"). The poem is a lyric poem.

This poem portrays God as a creator who made the Earth for men to live on. Caedmon's poem tallies up with the account of creation in Genesis, where God in essence made the Earth, animals, and man, and entrusted man to take care of it.