Cædmon kădˈmən [key], fl. 670, English poet. He was reputed by Bede to be the author of early English versions of various Old Testament stories. According to Bede, Cædmon was an ignorant herder who received his poetic powers through a vision. During his later years he became a lay brother in the abbey of Whitby. In 1655, Franciscus Junius, a French scholar, published the text of several Old English poems, including “Exodus” and “Daniel,” and ascribed them to Cædmon; modern scholars dispute this conclusion.

See E. V. K. Dobbie, Cædmon's Hymn and Bede's Death Song (1937); study by S. H. Gurteen (1896, repr. 1969).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: English Literature to 1499: Biographies