Starry Nights

We have had some stunning night skies recently. A starry (tunglen) sky always makes me think of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors, who had many words for the skies and the stars, and were often accomplished astrologers (steorgleaw - clever at astrology).

"Ic eom tungolwitega ond ic seo þæt tungolgim"

 ("I'm an astrologer/star prophet and I behold that bright star")

The wonderful Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote of the stars and included an Anglo-Saxon construction (a kenning) of his own - "fire-folk":

Look at the stars! look, look up at the skies!
O look at all the fire-folk sitting in the air!
The bright boroughs, the circle-citadels there!
Down in dim woods the diamond delves! the elves’-eyes!
The grey lawns cold where gold, where quickgold lies!
Wind-beat whitebeam! airy abeles set on a flare!
Flake-doves sent floating forth at a farmyard scare!
Ah well! it is all a purchase, all is a prize …