Audio of Old English and Modern English “A Journey Galdor”

For anyone wondering what a magico-protective prayer for journeys from the eleventh-century sounded like (who isn’t?!), I’ve recorded a reading of the original Old English version and my translation published in Trinity House Review.

This poem/prayer was written in the margins of an eleventh-century copy of the Old English version of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History. The book was one of those given by Bishop Leofric to Exeter Cathedral.

You can hear it immediately below, and below the audio is further description from my earlier post when the translation was published.

–From earlier post: My translation of the Old English “A Journey Galdor” (usually called “A Journey Charm” by editors) appears in the issue. The galdru are a strange “genre” of poetic and prose texts in Old English: half-prayer, half-magic, half-recipe. (!) They are a relic of a time when the self was more porous than moderns tend to think of it.

“A Journey Galdor” is one of my favorites of the genre, because it is a prayer for protection (and so, very practical) and because of its vague mentioning of various kinds of early Germanic “terrors”. This is a world in which elves and dragons and other wights are still very much a live option and need to be defended against. It’s a hoot, and deadly earnest.

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