The things I learn from playing Trivial Pursuit.
During a recent game of trivia with my husband (a bonus to our lockdown situation I might add). A particular question involving literature caught my attention.
Aimed at me, for a pie no less this was the question.
‘What is Widseth, written in the 6th century, England’s first known version of?
Well, I had no idea at all and as my husband smugly announced the answer, ‘A Poem’, I vowed to myself that this was one piece of trivia that I was going to investigate.
As a lover of poetry and the author of my own collection, how could I not be intrigued about Widseth.
The following day my old friend and teacher Google directed me to a mass of information which it is my pleasure to share with those who are interested.
I soon discovered the true spelling is Widsith.
Apparently, it is the title of an old English poem probably from the 7th century, although the trivia answer says the 6th. Whoever wrote this answer was probably playing safe because the content of the poem suggests the protagonist, a minstrel makes a number of claims pertaining to have occurred between the 4th and 6th century.
Interestingly the modern English meaning of Widsith is far traveler.
Could this minstrel have traveled in the Tardis?
Even more fascinating is that this poem is preserved in the oldest book of English Literature in the world. The Exeter Book.
Now have I got your attention, my fellow book lovers?
Widsith is a wanderer of far and wide. He tells of his travels and speaks of the feudal halls he sings in. He tells of how the men loved his songs and gave him gifts. He sings of war and of the art of telling stories through his songs.
The Exeter Book a 10th-century anthology of poetry is a literary manuscript of international importance secured in the Exeter Cathedral Library.
Also known as the Exeter Dean and Chapter Manuscript 3501 what adds to this remarkable story is that it was written down by a single scribe, most likely a Monk. Even more fascinating is the fact, that this monk chose to scribe in Anglo – Saxon (Old English) as opposed to the more traditional Latin.
So now I have learned a little more poetic knowledge I can go forward with confidence that in the unlikely event that this question will pop up when I sit in the millionaire chair and answer that final question. I won’t have to worry about selling any more books.