Ubi Sunt

As the Pens must face another game without our fallen warrior JStaal, I thought this would be a very apt time to continue the program we began last playoffs, Learn Old English Poetry with Jordan Staal.

Today’s very topical lesson will be the Ubi Sunt theme as it occurs in Anglo-Saxon verse.

“Ubi Sunt”  (literally “where are…”) is a phrase taken from the Latin “Ubi sunt qui ante nos fuerunt?”, meaning “Where are those who were before us?” Ubi nunc…?, “where now?”, is a common variant.

Ubi sunt poems look back upon something that has been lost, whether it be a golden age, a fallen king, the friendships of warriors in the mead hall, or a stunningly awesome defensive/offensive forward, and mournfully ask “Where has it gone..?” The tone is generally one of bleak despair.  The poems of many nations, cultures, and time-periods have relied upon this sentimental theme, but “ubi sunt” may have been used to its most poignant and memorable effect in poems of the Anglo-Saxon era.

A general feeling of ubi sunt radiates from the text of Beowulf. The Anglo-Saxons, at the point in their cultural evolution in which Beowulf was written, experienced an inescapable feeling of doom, symptomatic of ubi sunt yearning. By conquering the Romanized Britons, they were faced with massive stone works and elaborate Celtic designs that seemed to come from a lost era of glory.

Prominent ubi sunt Anglo-Saxon poems are The Wanderer, Deor, The Ruin and The SeafarerThe Wanderer most exemplifies Ubi sunt poetry in its use of erotema (the rhetorical question):

Where is the horse gone?
Where the rider?
Where the giver of treasure?
Where are the seats at the feast?
Where are the revels in the hall?

For his fantasy novel The Lord of The Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote a similar poem, composed by his fictional people of Rohan, who are partially modelled after the Anglo-Saxons.

Partially?! The Rohirrim are Vikings on horses, everyone acknowledges this.  At any rate, I want the following up on the Jumbo-Tron at tonight’s game.  Do it for JStaal.

3 Responses to “Ubi Sunt”

  1. whistler Says:

    I learned something new today.

  2. Mrs. Hdawg Says:

    Brilliant, Cheryl! They should have you on at half time.

  3. Boy Wonder Says:

    FYI Staal skated this morning….. but not in full gear.

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