The four heroic poems edited here give tantalising insights into
the world of Old English heroic poetry: its ideals of behaviour,
the role of the poet in establishing heroic reputation, and the
rich array of legends which made up a powerful world of the
imagination set in the creative ethnicity of a Germanic past.
Widsið and Deor, with their focus on the role of the poet and
his command of Germanic legend-cycles, and the two fragmentary
survivals of Waldere and the Finnsburh Fragment, with their focus
on heroic behaviour, complement the more famous Beowulf, the only
Old English heroic epic to survive complete. Together, as this
edition makes clear, these unique survivals have the distinction of
providing a small window onto a very large world.