Mighty Anglo-Saxon Hog Uprising (The)

Anonymous, (c. early 7th cent.)

The Mighty Anglo-Saxon Uprising

  1. Yorkshire, Hampshire,Berkshire and Duroc,
  2. pigs all afile,brave boars together.
  3. Battle-hard Sidney,their swinely swift liege pig
  4. to his war-porkers spoke,to his stout horde began:
  5. “Famed shield-hogs,offspring of ealdors,
  6. fierce battle-timesin yore-days many
  7. have we abidedthe ringing of hand-swords,
  8. the crashing of heirlooms,adorned battle-blades,
  9. now to us is comeour renowned victory-time.
  10. Endure it we mustthe shedding of boar blood
  11. for kinsmen, our brothers,alone in the ground;
  12. better to avengeone warrior well
  13. than sadly to mournten thousand a lifetime
  14. without battle-sweat.”
  15. Thus from afarcould their loathed-one see
  16. these pig-troops assembled,the war-ready bands.
  17. From barrows and burgsthey watched hog-hordes heave high
  18. bright banners and ash-spears,gold shields and bold blades
  19. and stout battle-weeds;they heard grunting and squealing,
  20. with reason they trembled,with swine-fear they dreaded
  21. the resolute boar lords,the hog-rush to come.
  22. Then as I have heardin the gabled sty-hall
  23. spoke the famed of the battle-shoats,the high-minded Lothar
  24. the choicest of trough-lads:“Hear now my mind-thoughts,
  25. valor-clad war-hogs,for the gem of the heavens
  26. now nears the hilltops;not longer may we
  27. abide here in peace.Sidney our liege lord
  28. has need of our brave deeds,glory-work in warfare
  29. with the two-footed foe.He it was who gave us,
  30. the high-sitting pork lord,these morsels for munching
  31. and burnished gold nose rings.Now has the time come
  32. when our corn-giver goodhas need of our swine strength,
  33. kin-pigs together.Now will we barter
  34. loaned-life for glory,win fame for the far-herds
  35. and acorns for rooting.”
  36. Then were the swift ones
  37. warlike to see thereeager for battle.
  38. Straight-way the terrorwas made known to the pork-foes,
  39. the wretched ones,as I have heard;
  40. throughout the middle-yardwas told to all
  41. of proud-marching boar-bands,the war-ready swine,
  42. of Chester White, Landrace,Poland China and Hereford,
  43. of Large Black and Tamworth,breeders and porkers,
  44. all shining in war-gear.Not as in yore-days
  45. when hog-hearts were humbled,but stepping with snouts high
  46. they went westward and eastward,amid forests and walled-burgs,
  47. near nesses and high-hallsand farm dwellings many.
  48. With vengeance and hot irethey broke loose the pen-bonds,
  49. marched through the wide plainsand righted old wrongs.
  50. Those were good pigswho quick comfort gave
  51. to Sidney their leader,the wise lord of oinkers,
  52. and Lothar the young shoatwho good counsel gave.
  53. Grim were the trough-friends,scathers to keepers,
  54. hard to the hog-foeswho fled from the land.

from: Hedgepeth, William. The Hog Book. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1978.

Editor’s Note:

This poem was brought to the attention of modern aficionados of porcine poetry by Hatcher, John Southall, Ph. D., a porcine poet himself, and specialist in Old and Middle English literature and linguistics who teaches at the University of South Florida. Dr. Hatcher’s notes on the poem included the following:

The poem designated as ‘The Mighty Anglo-Saxon Hog Uprising’ is actually a titleless manuscript whose history is as interesting as the poem itself. The manuscript was found in York in the late part of the sixteenth century by a wine merchant who brought it to the attention of the authorities. One of the few Old English poems to be left out of the Exeter Book, Vercelli Book and Junius Manuscript, this poem probably dates back to the early seventh century when these events actually occurred.

According to the merchant who discovered the work [a John de Hamtoun], there was originally a note attached to the poem which read:

If my readers cannot believe what I herein depict in the tradition of my fathers before me, I can only say that I actually saw the massed pigs trampling over the land taking control of the country without regard to the sentiments or intentions of their victims, and so what I write here is but a portion of the story that could be told, and that someday must be told if there is to be any hope whatsoever.

I have translated and edited this poem as best I could to capture the richness of the Anglo-Saxon imagery and the emotional impact of the poem. I only hope the message of the work is as clear as the lines are beauteous.

  — John Southall Hatcher

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