Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Brunanburh at Starbucks

by J J Cohen

I was early to campus this morning in order to prep for my Chaucer class and get some paperwork off my desk. Because I'd been up late last night at a farewell dinner (for the Scots-Asian writer and polymath Suhayl Saadi, who has been in residence at GW this month), and because the day is dark and the rain cold, I stopped to get coffee before heading across H St to my office. As I was sleepily wiping drips from my overfilled cup, a young man raced over and said "Professor Cohen, do your remember me from Myths of Britain?"

I did.

"I've been up all night," he declared "reading translations of the Battle of Brunanburh."

"Wow. You're hardcore." Then it hit me. "We didn't read Brunanburh in that class."

"I know. But I've been kind of obsessed with Old English since we read Beowulf. Look, I've been writing my own poetry about it."

He showed me a notebook page filled with alliterative rumination on the weight of history and the work of art. "You made my day," I told him. "You really made my day."


rika said...

He's mad, I tell you! Mad!

Myra Seaman said...

For once, a reward for going to Starbucks! I love this story, Jeffrey.

Erynn said...

There are those of us who are not, strictly speaking, academics but who love medieval texts and even dabble in the original languages and do our own translations. Sometimes we even get a chance to thank those who inspired us.

I'm glad you had a chance to run into someone who was inspired.

Jeffrey Cohen said...

He is mad. But in a good way. Later in the day he stopped by to present me with the poem, typed and printed.

Myra: I almost never go to Starbucks (he types disdainfully) but in this case am very glad I did.

Happy you enjoyed the story; it desired to be shared.

Steve Muhlberger said...

Came close to making my day, too.