CAEDMON. b. 7th century; d. ca. 670-680. What little is known of Caedmon’s life is found in Bede*’s Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (finished 731), where he describes Caedmon as a lay brother and herdsman at Whitby Abbey during the time of St Hilda as abbess (657-680). According to Bede’s story, the monks were singing one evening, and Caedmon left the gathering and went to the stable because he knew no songs (the Anglo-Saxon gloss to Bede’s Historia adds that Caedmon left ‘for shame’). He then had a dream in which he was invited to sing about the creation. He did so, adding more lines the next morning; he took them to the abbess, who asked him (perhaps as a test) to write more poems...

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