Aldhelm ; translated by Michael Lapidge and James L. Rosier ; with an appendix by Neil Wright
Aldhelm was the first Latin poet of Europe who was not a native speaker of Latin. The ingenuity and originality which he brought to the task of composing Latin poetry ensured that his poems would be widely read everywhere, but they were studied especially in England during the early medieval period. Aldhelm's poetic corpus includes the "Carmina Ecclesiastica", a series of dedicatory poems which contain a wealth of detail about early Anglo-Saxon churches; the "Carmen de Virginitate", a verse counterpart to his earlier prose "De Virginitate", but which includes an extensive passage describing an allegorical battle of the vices and virtues; a collection of 100 riddles or Enigmata, which are an imaginative investigation of the structure of the natural world; and a brief rhythmical poem describing the effects of a mighty storm in southwest England. In each of the poetic genres he essayed, Aldhelm found a host of later imitators, and it is not an exaggeration to say that he was the most influential Latin poet whose works were studied in Anglo-Saxon England; indeed, many surviving Old English poems are simple translations or adaptations of Latin poems by Aldhelm.
The translations are presented here with an introduction outlining what is known of Aldhelm's life and writings, and an appendix by Neil Wright contains a translation of Aldhelm's "De Metris", a technical treatise on the composition of Latin verse.