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Selected Poetry of The Venerable Bede (673-735)


from Representative Poetry On-line
Prepared by members of the Department of English at the University of Toronto
from 1912 to the present and published by the University of Toronto Press from 1912 to 1967.
RPO Edited by Ian Lancashire
A UTEL (University of Toronto English Library) Edition
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries
© 2005, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto

Index to poems

  1. Bede's Death Song


Notes on Life and Works

Born in 673 and sent at seven years old by his parents to the monastery of St. Peter in Monkwearmouth, Bede moved to the abbey at Jarrow in 682, where he lived as a monk until his death on May 25, 735. For thirty years from his entrance into the priesthood about 703, Bede collected extracts from the church fathers and developed materials that would come out in his Lives of the Abbots and Ecclesiastical History, our best sources for the early history of the Anglo-Saxons. Cuthbert, one of Bede's students, wrote a letter to his friend Cuthbert that described Bede's death. In this Cuthbert tells us that

Being well-versed in our native songs, he described to us the dread departure of the soul from the body by a verse in our own tongue, which translated means: `Before setting forth on that inevitable journey, none is wiser than the man who considers -- before his soul departs hence -- what good or evil he has done, and what judgement his soul will receive after its passing.'" (A History of the English Church and People, trans. Leo Shirley-Price [Penguin Books, 1955]: 19).

Biographical information

Given name: The Venerable
Family name: Bede
Birth date: 673
Death date: 26 May 735
Occupation: Monk
Residences
          St. Paul's Church. Jarrow
          St. Peter's Church, Monkwearmouth
Buried at: Jarrow, and the Durham Cathedral (Galilee Chapel)