Performing Medieval Narrative Today

A Video Showcase

Wife’s Lament: She tells of her sorrow

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About the scene and clip:
The performer speaks this moving lament.

About the work:
The “Wife’s Lament” from the famous Anglo-Saxon Exeter Book is a short poem in which a woman speaks of her many sorrows and her despair: she is abandoned, betrayed, surrounded by hostile forces. Many narrative details remain obscure and have received diverse interpretations—but the poignant tones are clear and powerful.

About the genre:
Many works of the medieval period (indeed, throughout history) are laments or elegies—expressions of sorrow over the death of a great leader or a loved one, or over some deep personal grief.

About the edition/translation:
Modern English trans.: R.M. Liuzza, in Broadview Anthology of British Literature, Vol. I, gen.ed. Joseph Black, Peterborough, Ont./ Orchard Park, NY, Broadview Press, 2006, p. 21. Original: Muir, Bernard J. Muir (ed.), The Exeter anthology of Old English poetry: An Edition of Exeter Dean and Chapter MS 3501, 2nd ed., Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2000.

About the performer/ensemble:
Emily Leonard is a student of Dramatic Literature and Journalism in the College of Arts and Science at New York University (2009).

About the production:
This performance was created for “Acting Medieval Literature,” taught by Prof. Timmie (E.B.) Vitz in spring 2009. It was videoed in the classroom by a fellow student.