Last week ended on a bit of a cliffhanger (like Sylvester Stallone in the movie Cliffhanger, possibly) with the prestigious, very specific title of The Best Text I’ve Studied in the Second Year of an English Degree at the University of Leicester waiting to be announced. In my eyes, they’re all winners. But so as not to devalue the actual meaning of this highly sought-after award, I declare the winner to be…
Well how about that!
And the Old English crowd goes wild! Alexander Pope cries softly into his frilly sleeves, John Milton takes up wearing a monocle solely so that he can drop it in surprise, Roland Barthes angrily shouts something about ‘la petite bourgeoisie‘, and Geoffrey Chaucer complains about the absolute lack of ‘gentillesse‘. But there’s no going back now, the decision is made. Against all the odds the winner is an Old English poem known to us through a single manuscript. Its marvellous pathos, crystalline imagery, and stony dignity have secured it the win.
If you haven’t heard of this poem, and I wouldn’t blame you for that, check out the link and see what you think. It’s not very long, and it’s fantastic. But if I hadn’t taken English, I’d probably never have heard of it. I probably wouldn’t have read a lot of things. That’s the moral for the day. Please make a note of it. Now that is in no way denigrating the proud Resident Evil novelisations. Not my intention. But if you’re a prospective student, ask yourself this: if I don’t take English, will I get around to reading to reading even a tiny portion of the greatest books written in the language? Whether that sentence means anything to you might help to determine whether or not English is where your wandering will lead you.