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to both compositions, while the same identity prevails in their whole structure. The exordium of the Poem conveys exactly the same thought as the Hymn cited by Beda, and clothed very nearly in the same mode of expression.
Few, if any, who have read the poem in the original, and have given it the close study that its intrinsic merits deserve, will refuse to accord to the monk of Whitby the possession of high poetic gifts; while some few will not hesitate to accept, even in this nineteenth century, the estimate of Beda, "Et quidem et alii post illum in gente Anglorum religiosa poemata facere tentabant, sed nullus ei æquiparari potuit. Namque ipse non ab hominibus, neque per hominem institutus, canendi artem didicit, sed divinitus adjutus gratis canendi donum accepit."
"Others after him in the English nation were wont to attempt to compose religious poems, but none could compare with him, for he did not learn the art of poetry by man, neither through man, but was divinely aided, and through God's grace received the gift of song."
Analysis of Cædmon's "Fall of Man."
'HE poem which we are about to analyse, is the earliest strain of sacred song that has come down to us from the distant past of England's poetic records.
It has been the fashion to style this famous relic of Anglo-Saxon literature a Scripture Paraphrase, but such a title is both inadequate and misleading. It is inadequate, since Cædmon's work though in the main based, as we shall subsequently see, on certain statements in the Hebrew Scriptures, on Biblical hints and Oriental imagery, is, nevertheless, in the form in which we have received it, virtually an original production, incorporating Rabbinical fancies, glosses, and comments, but still adorned. with such innumerable touches of the poet's own imagination as to constitute it a distinct and independent version. Moreover, to designate it a Paraphrase is misleading, inasmuch as in the most highly finished portion of the work the author shows him
self to be no mere paraphrast, but a man endowed with the soul and fire of the born poet.
But while this is true, not only of that part of the poem which treats of the "Fall of Man," but also of other portions where the expression, the versification and the rhythm evince careful elaboration, and the imagery is at its highest point of perfection, still, other portions of the work are comparatively so inferior to the major part of the poem, as to lend countenance to the commonly accepted title of "Paraphrase." Indeed, from a mere casual reading of the original, one is apt to form the opinion that the poem is the work of more than one writer; and this, from the very unevenness of the style; but a closer study shows conclusively that it is the work of a single mind, though written under differing conditions, some parts having been more carefully elaborated and more highly finished than others.
Whether that part of Cædmon's poem which relates to the "Fall of Man," can justly be entitled an epic, may be open to question. If an epic is a "metrical romance," no matter whether it be founded on history, on mythology, on theomachy, or on the purely imaginative creations of the poet, then it would be difficult to deny, to this part of Cadmon's poem, the lofty title of epic. It is a
romance or narrative based on Hebrew mythology, interspersed with folk-lore on matters supermundane, mundane, and inframundane; on Bible hints and ecclesiastical imaginings; but still, a connected story of the traditionally received version of the Fall. It differs from the Iliad, the Eneid, and the Arthurian story, inasmuch as it is not a mere national epic, or an epic of purely national events. It is not a story of one planet alone, or even of the whole Starry Universe. In this, it differs from other prominent types of the Epic. Its field of action is infinite space, and its heroes are not human warriors, or even conventional demi-gods, but supernatural beings who can defy all the known laws of gravity, and can assume at will any form whatsoever, be it "toad" or "stripling cherub."
The central figure of the romance is an almighty Being, supposed to represent the Deity, who, in a burst of terrestrial anger, hurls from the Empyrean the angels who attempt to oppose His will, and subsequently suffers His newly created Man, who knows nothing of Sin, and less of Satan, to be exposed to the machinations of a criminal Archangel, whose colossal intelligence had made him the most conspicuous figure in the Empyrean, next to the epic Deity himself. This being is the true hero of the plot,-a Fiend who is bent on the most demon
like scheme of revenge that archangelic ingenuity could conceive.
Now, what does all this mean? It cannot be denied that, at the present day, Milton's poetic narrative of the Creation and Fall, are in possession of the imagination of the average amateur theologian; and of the intellectually immature masses of England, of America, and of the Englishspeaking races generally. It is not taken as a Talmud or commentary, or even as a supplementary Bible. It is the only narrative generally known; and if the tiny, authentic Scripture " original," which, in the course of centuries has grown into the modern fully developed Epic of the Fall of Man, were to be excerpted from the canonical Scriptures, as all that the Bible had to say on the subject, and this were to be presented, in its unconnected entirety, the result would not only cause a vacant stare of astonishment on the face of the average Protestant, but would be likely to arouse a suspicion that someone had tampered with the Bible, and had suppressed the larger part of a fine, oldfashioned Bible story.
What a distinguished writer has said of Milton's epic, we can apply with equal truth to Cædmon's poem: "In so far as Paradise Lost is an expression of Milton's habitual mode of thought, respecting Man and History, in relation to an eternal and un