Summary and Analysis of the poem Waldhere, Anglo Saxon heroic poem

Waldhere is a heroic poem which is a fragment of two leaves (containing 32 and 31 lines = 63 lines in toto) preserved in the Royal Library of Copenhagen. Through this poem, we have a glimpse of the Anglo-Saxon or proto-Germanic socio-economic life, not a total but a fragmented one. This heroic poem is mainly about the story of Waldhere (Walter of Aquitaine) and his betrothed bride Hiltgund, who were hostages at the court of Atilla. They escaped with a fabulous treasure and in crossing the hills were attacked by Gunther and his soldiers, one of whom was Walter’s former comrade Hagen. He resists them and escapes.

The same story was written in Latin in the 10th century and is also part of the extant German Nibelungenlied; first of the two deals with the Harangue of Hildeguthe exhorting fight with Guthere who has unjustly attacked them and declined to offer sword and treasure. The second manuscript is occupied by an altercation between Cuthere and Waldhere, in which the former praises his sword and the latter his coat mail. Waldhere states that the king had tried to get Hagena to attack him first.Victory however comes to the faithful from above.”

Long has said that though the saga did not originate with the Anglo-Saxon, their version of it is the oldest that has come down to us. The fragment of the saga is significant to us in so far as it gives us to understand that the proto-Germanic people had had some knowledge about the legends and poetry of other Germanic people. Anyway, the poem has the vigour and power. It is regrettable that only scrappy fragments are extant. According to Albert, had it been preserved in toto it might have been one of the finest heroic poems of the forefathers of the English.

Also read; Summary and critical analysis on the Anglo Saxon poem The Phoenix