Old English Graded Reader #2. Matthew 12:18–21
The second in a series of beginner-level readings in Old English.
The following text is lightly adapted from Sweet's reader,1 a collection of Old English texts for learners now in the public domain. This is one of the easiest texts in that collection and is a good place to start for students of Old English who are interested in beginning to read.
As this is a beginner-level text, I have glossed all the words and all grammar points that might be tricky to a beginner. Happy reading!
Today's reading is from the Gospel of Matthew.2 Here is the complete text.
Ǣlċ þǣra þe þās mīne word ġehȳrþ, and þā wyrcþ, biþ ġelīċ þām wīsan were, se his hūs ofer stān ġetimbrode. Þā cōm þǣr rēn and myċel flōd, and þǣr blēowon windas, and āhruron on þæt hūs, and hit nā ne fēoll: sōþlīċe hit wæs ofer stān ġetimbrod. And ǣlċ þǣra þe ġehȳrþ þās mīne word, and þā ne wyrcþ, se biþ ġelīċ þām dysiġan menn, þe ġetimbrode his hūs ofer sandċeosel. Þā rīnde hit, and þǣr cōm flōd, and blēowon windas, and āhruron on þæt hūs, and þæt hūs fēoll; and his hryre wæs myċel.
Let's break it down into more manageable parts.
Ǣlċ þǣra þe þās mīne word3 ġehȳrþ, and þā wyrcþ, biþ ġelīċ þām wīsan were,
Each of them that hears these words of mine, and works them, is like the wise man,
se his hūs ofer stān ġetimbrode.4
who built his house on stone.
Þā cōm þǣr rēn and myċel flōd, and þǣr blēowon windas, and āhruron on þæt hūs, and hit nā ne fēoll:
Then there came rain and a great flood and there blew winds, and fell upon the house, and it did not fall down at all:
sōþlīċe hit wæs ofer stān ġetimbrod.
For it was built on stone.
And ǣlċ þǣra þe ġehȳrþ þās mīne word, and þā ne wyrcþ, se biþ ġelīċ þām dysiġan menn, þe ġetimbrode his hūs ofer sandċeosel.
And each of them that hears these words of mine, and does not work them, he is like the foolish man, who built his house on sand.
Þā rīnde hit, and þǣr cōm flōd, and blēowon windas, and āhruron on þæt hūs, and þæt hūs fēoll;
Then it rained and there came a flood and the winds blew, and rushed into the house, and the house fell;
and his hryre wæs myċel.
and its destruction was great.
Sweet (1879: 51). The adaptations include marking the palatal pronunciations of <g> and <c> using the over-dot notation: <ġ> and <ċ>, marking long vowels with a macron <ā> rather than an acute accent <á>, and marking the dental fricative with <þ>. ↩
The translation dates to the early 11th century but has been normalized for teaching purposes by Sweet (1879). ↩
þās mīne word. Lit. these my words. Unlike in most forms of Present-Day English, possessive pronouns and demonstratives can occur together. You can translate this idiomatically as these words of mine. ↩
ofer stān ġetimbrode. Usually ofer takes the accusative only with verbs of motion, with the meaning onto, across but here we have an exception. ↩
Dysiġ foolish gives us, after a semantic shift, the Present-Day English word dizzy. ↩
The primary sense of mann was person (i.e. a human being), but it could also refer more specifically to adult males as the modern form man has tended to do. Here I have glossed it as man because it is contrasting with wer man, and both are translating the Latin vir man. ↩
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