The Ruin

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"The Ruin" is an 8th-century Old English poem from the Exeter Book by an unknown author. The Exeter Book is a large book of mostly Christian verse, which contains about one-third of the extant Old English poems. The poem's subject is ancient Roman ruins, built of stone and having hot water, assumed to be the ruins of Aquae Sulis at modern Bath, Somerset, and the powerful fate (Weird or Wyrd) that has reduced to ruins a once-lively community and its sturdy stone buildings.

The manuscript

Part of the poem has been lost due the pages being damaged by fire. "The Ruin" is somewhat ambiguously positioned in the Exeter Book between "Husband's Message" and 34 preceding riddles. The poem itself is written near the end of the manuscript, written on both sides of a leaf with the end of the poem continuing on to the next page. The manuscript with "The Ruin" included in it has a large diagonal burn from a kind of branding in the center of the page. The burn rendered many parts of the script illegible.

The poem and a version in modern English

Origins of the work

Although the poem shows no overt signs of Christianity, it could be the work of an early Anglo-Saxon Christian. The poet, however, does make several references to Wyrd, an element of North-Germanic pagan mythology.

Modern literary criticism

Although the poem appears a straightforward description of the visual appearance of the site, the author's non-Roman assumptions about the......

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