This is the first Old English grammar I studied, nearly 25 years ago, and it remains perhaps the best one-volume introduction to Old English around. Concise, simple, and accessible, this text has both a reader and a grammar in one cover, containing selections from the major Old English poems and prose works.
The prose works include 'The Voyages of Ohthere and Wulfstan', selections from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and the preface by Alfred the Great to the medieval work on Pastoral Care by Pope Gregory. There are relatively few Old English prose works that have survived into the present day; there are even fewer authentically Old English pieces, as many Old English prose works are in fact translations of Latin pieces, and for some reason adapted their grammar to the Latin original rather than the Old English natural pattern.
The poetry exhibits the paired-verse pattern (although the translations accompanying them do not strive to keep the metrical pattern). The poetry include majors works such as Caedmon's Hymn, The Battle of Brunanburg, The Battle of Maldon, The Wanderer, The Seafarer, maxims, riddles, and other poems. There is no Beowulf contained here, nor any other heroic poems (such as Deor), as Diamond states that these are the most likely follow-up readings after one gains a grounding in Old English, and the poems contained here are often overlooked by students save for the most dedicated of scholars.
The texts here are normalised to Early West Saxon dialect, with a grammar very simplified; concepts are introduced that are directly useful for the texts contained herein. The glossary is similarly normalised, and cross-referenced for various verb forms and other vocabulary links such as prefixes and alternatives. In a remarkable insight on how students use texts, Diamond states that, for the purposes of this introductory text, notes have been eliminated, as students rarely refer to them anyway. The section on metrics introduces the five principle types of verses, as well as some minor variations.
Diamond includes a brief bibliography with dictionaries, grammars, commentaries and more; this is now somewhat out of date, but also shows the slow pace at which some aspects of Old English scholarship proceed, with references going back to volumes published in the late 1800s.
A very useful and fun text from which to learn!