Old English 1: “What is Our Life? A Play of Passion.”

Artwork: Quaint Woodcuts* | Origins of Some Old English Sayings | Excerpt from an Old English Poem

What is Our Life? A Play of Passion.

The Origin of Old English Sayings

Achilles Heel

In Greek mythology, Thetis dipped her son Achilles in the mythical River Styx. Anyone who was immersed in the river became invulnerable. However, Thetis held Achilles by his heel. Since her hand covered this part of his body the water did not touch it and so it remained vulnerable. Achilles was eventually killed when Paris of Troy fired an arrow at him and it hit his heel.

Old English Poetry

Our mirth the music of division;
Our mothers’ wombs the tiring-houses be,
Where we are dressed for this short comedy.
Heaven the judicious sharp spectator is,
That sits and marks still who doth act amiss;
Our graves that hide us from the searching sun
Are like drawn curtains when the play is done.
Thus march we, playing, to our latest rest,
Only we die in earnest – that’s no jest.

The woodcuts are from the book “Pictorial Archive of Quaint Woodcuts in the Chap Book Style” by Joseph Crawhall. A “chapbook is a small book containing poems, stories, ballads or religious tracts. The origin of terms is from the “Local Histories” website and the poem excerpts are from various sources.