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To be frank, I don't really know if there is any connection between Lund in Sweden and London in England. Nor does anyone else. I do know there are many scoffers who will tell me there is not. The fact is, very few people know anything at all about the relationship of Scandinavia to what is called Ancient Britain. The more one reads, the greater the sense of confusion and loose speculation in these areas. I am reasonably certain that a number of Angles came to Britain from Angelholm, in Scedenig, Scedeland, Scania, Scandza, or Skåne. As they migrated from Skania to Anglia in Britain, the Anglians evidently lingered for a while in Jylland, Jutland or Gotland, long enough to found a town called Lund, in memory of their origin. This is apparent from the map below. Lund, Skåne, is a centre of learning and distinction. The word also means "grove".

from The Times Atlas of Past Worlds

Before pausing to take stock of my twenty year peregrination in the wake of the seafarer, I find myself devoting this page, mainly, in tribute to Professor O.S.Arngart, 1905-1997. As I tried to say in my letter to him of 1995, it is from his article in 1937 that all rational understanding of the Anglo-Saxon poem flows. His postscript in 1979 further simplifies his understanding of the poem's structure.

Arngart presumably changed his name because his father, a sea-captain, was called Olof Anderson. Amusing to note that his wife, Wanda, was surnamed Robertsson. Had she been born in Iceland she would doubtless have been surnamed Robertsdottir.

G.V.Smithers, in 1957, added to Anderson's elucidation.

15 Nottingham Place; London W1M 3FF
phone/fax: 0171 486 2816

Professor O.S.Arngart
Sankt Laurentiigatan 2
Lund S 22221
28 August 1995

Dear Professor Arngart,

Your work has been familiar to me since 17th July this year, when I acquired a copy of the article you wrote, as O.S.Anderson, entitled "The Seafarer: An Interpretation", in the Vetensskapssamfundets i Lunds Årsberättelse of 1937, which happens to be the year of my birth in Lund. It is my clear understanding that all modern criticism of "The Seafarer" stems from this article.
For the past six weeks I have been making a fairly intensive study of the literature on this poem, which I translated into modern English verse in April 1994, long before I was aware of this now somewhat daunting exegesis. The study is in preparation for a paper to be delivered at Liverpool University on 15th September; and I enclose a copy of my abstract.
The paper will be quite short; but I have produced a considerably longer back-up analysis, touching on both the interpretation and structure of the poem, and have felt a strong need to discuss its substance with an authority.
I was today in touch with Jan Mårtensson, of Sydsvenska Dagbladet, who gave me your address and said he had spoken to Gillis Kristensson, who felt that you would not mind if I approached you directly in this connection. I will telephone you towards the end of the week, and hope that the subject may be of interest to you, and that we may be able to have a conversation about it.

Yours sincerely,

Charles Harrison-Wallace

Olof S Arngart Lund
0046 46 2 11 52 60

15 Nottingham Place; London W1M 3FF
phone/fax: 0171 486 2816

Professor O.S.Arngart
Sankt Laurentiigatan 2
Lund S 22221
23 September 1995

Dear Professor Arngart,

It was a great pleasure to speak to you on the telephone recently, and I am grateful to you for your expression of interest in "The Seafarer".
I delivered my paper on the meaning of the poem at the University of Liverpool last Saturday. As it will be some time before the proceedings are published, I thought I would send you a copy of this paper immediately. I have tried to support the correctness and accuracy of your original interpretation by my comment on page 4.

With very good wishes,

Yours sincerely,

Charles Harrison-Wallace



15 Nottingham Place; London W1M 3FF
phone/fax: 0171 486 2816

21 October 1995

Dear Professor Arngart,

Thank you very much for your recent letter, and for taking the trouble to read and comment on my essay on the central lines of The Seafarer.
I understand that you do not really agree with my reading of these lines, but nevertheless I believe that time will show my argument to be correct. Similarly, I believe that it will also eventually prove to be a solid reinforcement of your original article, which showed the poem to be an incontestable unity in theme and structure.
The paper has now been fully revised and further clarified, and put into a form more suitable for publication, and when it is published I will of course send you an off-print.
No doubt you have no great wish to enter into an extended discussion of the lines in question, but I would like to remark briefly that although I accept that the concept of the "free soul" is indeed suggested in the passage encompassed by lines 58-63, my feeling is that this suggestion is mainly effected by use of the word hyge ("håg"), whereas the predominant meaning of "anfloga" can be rendered in Swedish by "anflygare". In spite of my inadequate Swedish I am tempted to risk the following translation of the ten words of ll.62b-64a:

                                       galer anflygaren
skärps på valvägen       själen ovärne
över havets lagrar                              

I feel rather worried about "ovärne"!

But, in any case, my very best wishes; and, with great respect,

Yours sincerely

So, I discovered that Arngart, born 15th April, 1905, was 90 years old when I spoke with him and wrote to him, and that he had only another year to live.The thought that he'd had 46 years to reflect on the demented item, not to say inexplicably insulting affront, reproduced below, staggers my imagination. It compels whatever tribute to him I can achieve.

I can think of one good thing to say about Professor Magoun, which is that he joined the Royal Flying Corps in World War I. Otherwise, on the evidence of the above comment, excerpted from a review he wrote, in Speculum 1949, of a book by Alarik Rynell, I would say he must have been completely off his rocker. Or did he think he was being funny ?

Above is an excerpt from Arngart's second brief article, 1979, on The Seafarer. These two sentences constitute a perfect summary of what the poem is about: straightforward, accurate, and totally uncomplicated. This is a simple poem. It is incredible that so much academic treblespeak could have been spun from it. Its message is re-cycled in Tennyson's Crossing the Bar, Masefield's I must down to the Seas again, and Abba's I have a Dream. I might be thought as guilty as the rest of the gaggle of word-spinners, were I not engaged in the struggle to refute and expose their endless blather.

Inadequate, faintly condescending and dismissive comment by T.A.Shippey, in The Year's Work in English Studies, 1979. Horgan, one of the few interpreters of the poem to have understood that its author is talking about the death-way, is accorded the same witty, though witless treatment. So many former readings can indeed have been so very, very wrong.

Try the Rev. Frederick Metcalfe: The Englishman and The Scandinavian; or, A Comparison of Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse Literature, 1880. At least he doesn't say "Old English" literature, but unfortunately he misleads by calling the Old Scandinavian language Old Norse. Doggerland didn't stretch from Britain to Scandinavia --- it stretched from Skåne to Anglia. Anglo-Saxonists have immense difficulty acceptng that basic fact.

On page 416 of his opus The Origins of the British: a genetic detective story, 2006, Stephen Oppenheimer throws out this fascinating remark. "The evidence against a Dark Ages root of English goes deeper than (an early "Norse" influence). In terms of vocabulary, English is nowhere near any of the West Germanic languages it has traditionally been associated with. It actually roots closer to Scandinavian than to Beowulf, the earliest "Old English" poem and probably written in the elite court of the Swedish Wuffing dynasty of East Anglia. One study suggests that, on this lexical evidence, English forms a fourth Germanic branch dating to before AD 350 and probably after 3,600 BC."

This strikes me as a truly jaw-dropping assertion. What lexical evidence does its originator have in mind, pre-350 AD, and post-3,600 BC ? I'd like to see some literature from, say, 3,500 BC. Moreover, Beowulf is much, much closer to Modern Scandinavian than to Modern English, or Modern German. It is written in Anglo-Saxon, a language which evolved from Old Scandinavian. Varieties of Old English were spoken by Chaucer, Piers Plowman, and the Gawain poet. What is the point of calling the language spoken in Britain, pre-Beowulf, English of any kind ?

Why have I produced by far the most faithful and accurate translation of the Anglo-Saxon poem The Seafarer ? The answer, my friend, is not blowing in the wind, although it is invisible to the back-scratching monoglots that infest Kalamazoo, who seem virtually totally unfamiliar with Scandinavian languages. It is firmly rooted in the self-evident fact that Modern English is securely based on Old Scandinavian, and not on that profoundly comical and retrograde concept, Old English.


Scandinavians find it much easier to speak English, than Americo-Anglos find it to speak Scandinavian. It's a question of what Stephen Pinker would call language instinct, which needs to be thoroughly activated well before puberty. Left: site author, aged nine.

That is what happened to me, in two directions: Modern Anglo-Scottish, and Modern Swedish. I am the only person that I know of, speaking English and Scandinavian, to whom this has happened. Something similar happened to Vladiimir Nabokov. For him it was Russian and English. But he didn't speak English spontaneously well.

My text from a previous page, written several years ago, was "Didn't the Angles come from Scandinavia ?"

See map heading this page.

Map from The Origins of Britain, p 204, modified to show Old Scandinavians also coming from Ängelholm, Skåne.

David Burns noted: "historians seem to dismiss, or not wish to pursue"
the link between Swedish and Anglo-Saxon.

André Gide once noted that everything worth saying has already been said;
but since no-one was listening, it has to be said again.

Sceaf (as is reported) was driven when a youth upon a certain island of Germany called Scandza, which is mentioned by Jordanes, the historian of the Goths; he arrived sleeping in a ship, but with no rowers, and a sheaf of corn was placed at his head; hence his name Sceaf. The natives of the district received him as if he had been miraculously sent to them, and trained him up carefully; and when he came to manhood he reigned in the town then called Slaswic, but now Haitheby. The country is called Old Angeln, and from it the Angles came into Britain; and it is situated between the Saxons and the Goths.

From: A History of the Church of Durham by Simeon of Durham; translated from the original Latin by Joseph Stevenson MA. First published 1855 by Seeleys of London in the series "The Church Historians of England". Facsimile reprint 1993: Llanerch Publishers, Felinfach.

Simeon's Chronicles of the Angles: Vol III. (Early 1100s). p.757.

Simeon notes that the Angles came from Old Angeln, which lies "between the Saxons and the Goths". This would therefore include all Scania, and the town of Angelholm. Subsequent writers have failed to include Scania as part of Old Angeln.

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Just remember, in etymology, consonants have little significance, and vowels none at all.

© Charles Harrison-Wallace 2015
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Lud in Wight