The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).>br>Volume I. From the Beginnings to the Cycles of Romance.

III. Early National Poetry

§ 12. The Ruin

The Ruin follows The Husband’s Message in the Exeter Book and suffers from the same rent. It differs somewhat in character from the rest of these poems in that the misfortunes which it tells of are those not of a person but of a place. First the poet describes an ancient building, or rather group of buildings, deserted, roofless and tottering. Then he goes on to reflect that these buildings were once richly adorned, full of proud warriors and gay with feasting–until the day came when their defenders were annihilated. As it is clearly stated that the buildings were of stone, and stress is laid on the marvellous skill shown in their construction, there can be little doubt that the subject is drawn from one of the Roman cities or castles in Britain. The reference to many banqueting halls in 1. 24 seems to point to a place of considerable size; and, from the mention of hot baths in 11. 39 ff., several scholars have inferred that Bath is intended. But, unfortunately, so much of the text is lost that the description cannot clearly be made out.