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Caedmon's <em>Hymn</em>

Caedmon's Hymn


by Caedmon

Line 2 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Line 2

the Measurer's might                     and his mind-plans,

  • Caedmon continues his praising with this descriptive appositive, a noun phrase following another word or phrase that continues to describe or identify it. For example, if you were to say, "Harry Potter, the boy-wizard," it's clear that "boy-wizard" is a further description or appositive of the first word, "Harry Potter." In this case, line 2 is continuing the description of "heaven-kingdom's Guardian" in the first line.
  • Caedmon describes God in another metaphor as a kind of architect, a "Measurer" whose power is exercised through something called "mind-plans." These might just be "thoughts," but the addition of "plans" in this kenning makes them seem more architectural, like God is doodling with a compass in his head, figuring out the circumference of the world, the depths of the oceanic basins, the height of the sky—you know, the easy stuff.
  • There sure are a lot of M's here. What's the effect of putting three M-sounds in a single line? For Anglo-Saxon poets, alliteration was a way of organizing the line around its four stresses and that big space in the middle. For more on how alliteration became a calling card for all major Anglo-Saxon poetry, see "Form and Meter." And look out for more alliterating words below!

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