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New Member

I'm reading Beowulf, and I have found this word:

"[...]treacherous keshes, where cold streams
pour down the mountain and disappear
under mist and moorland"

Could anybody explain me what is the meaning?

Thank you!

  • Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    On the other hand, when it came to telling where the monsters dwelt, on 'windswept crags / and treacherous keshes, where cold streams / pour clown the mountain', the word 'kesh', meaning a causeway or log bridge...

    Online article: Seamus Heaney — Beowulf - author of article not stated.

    I don't know how authoritative this is but at least it's a start.


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Not a word I've seen before. It looks Irish, so you're presumably using the Seamus Heaney translation, and he's presumably throwing in a dialectal word. The OED has two possibilities, an alternative spelling of kex, meaning umbelliferous plants like cow-parsley - possible I suppose by a riverside - and an alternative spelling of kish, anglicized form of an Irish word for "large wickerwork basket". In particular, kishes were used to make bridges by weighing them down with stones to sink them. So I suppose this is the more likely of those two, but letter K in the OED hasn't been updated for over a century.


    Senior Member
    English - US
    I'm reading Beowulf, and I have found this word:

    "[...]treacherous keshes, where cold streams
    You are reading a translation of Beowulf. It might be helpful to know which one.

    The first bit of Beowulf in the original language (Old English) is: Hwæt! wē Gār-Dena in geār-dagum þēod-cyninga þrym gefrūnon, ...
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