Anglo-Saxon Poetry

Anglo-Saxon Poetry

Anglo-Saxon Poetry What to FORGET Forget that you read poetry Anglo-Saxon audiences listened to a bard (or scop) recite or sing the poetry. Anglo-Saxon poetry was oral/aural. Forget that nations are rather large entities now. Anglo-Saxon world was tribal Different way of seeing where they lived; different laws and ways of life The Basic Rules

Alliteration: central organizing poetic device in Anglo-Saxon poetry The basic formal unit in A-S poetry is the single line, not a stanza or a couple of lines (couplets, quatrains, etc.). Alliteration Alliteration is The repetition of consonant sounds in words that are close to one another (Elements

1259). It is the use of words with similar sounding beginnings (Great, big gobs of greasy, grimy, gopher guts . . . ) Alliteration linked the two halves of a line of poetry. The line was divided by a caesura, which is . . . Caesura . . . Caesura is A pause or break within a line of poetry, usually dictated by the natural rhythm of language (Elements 1260).

In Anglo-Saxon, the Caesura occurs in the middle of the line. Words in one half of the line were stressed one way, while words in the second half could be stressed another. The stresses, the alliteration, and the caesura are tied together in a rather complex way . . . An Example: The best way to understand Anglo-Saxon poetry is to see an example: Alliteration of /sc/ sounds; further alliteration in

/b/ sound Oft Scyld Scefing Stresses in first half sceaena reatum Stresses in second half Caesura This is the fourth line of Beowulf. Kennings Simple definition: A kenning is a compound word More precise definition (from Elements):

The Kenning, a specialized metaphor made of compound words, is unique to the Old Germanic languages, and is especially prominent in Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon literature. The earliest and simplest kennings are compound words formed of two common nouns: sky-candle for the sun, battle-dew for blood, and whaleroad for the sea. Later, kennings grew more elaborate, and compound adjectives joined the compound nouns. A ship became a foamy-throated ship, then a foamy-throated sea-stallion, and finally a foamy-throated stallion of the whale-road (40).

Why did poets use kennings? Scholars believe that kennings filled three needs for these early bards: (Elements 40) 1. Alliterations centrality to the poetry creates a need for words with certain sounds, so the bards created new words 2. Bards needed to memorize the poetry (remember, it was oral/aural), and kennings helped them remember parts of the poem

3. Audiences would have liked the elaborate coining of the phrases. Tone You will notice that the tone of Beowulf is somber, or dark. There are a few reasons for this (my own reasoning): The poet is reminiscing about the good ol days and the code of honor which is dying The poem itself is about lossloss of innocence, loss of life, loss of ones lords, friends, etc. It is about loss through death. The peoples in the poem lived in constant fear

of the elements and their human predators The Use of Digressions The term digression has a rather negative connotation, but as Seamus Heaney argues, when the Beowulf poet gets off topic (off of the central story-line), it appears almost always to be for a very good reason. Ultimately, the poem is very complex, and certainly not rambling, or as we say today, random. The digressions almost always shed light on the characters, their

actions, and the Anglo-Saxon & Scandinavian worlds. The Major Digressions Apart from minor moves in and out of the central story line, there are two major digressions. Each is an example of a story-within-a-story (in this case, a song within a song): 1. 883-914: the story of Siegemunds victory over a dragon 2. 1070-1158: The Finnsburg Episode

There are other digressions, too: Unferths challenge (Unferth tells one version of the story (brief and defamatory), and Beowulf tells another (honorable) Other Minor Literary/Poetic Devices Used in Beowulf Synecdoche: a part used for the whole Keel used for ship Iron used for sword Variation: the use of parallel and appositive

expressions which gives the verse a highly structured and musical quality (Norton Introduction 6) Irony: achieved through indirection, sometimes understatement (litotes = a classical rhetorical term which means ironic understatement). Irony is not just used as a figure of speech, it is used as a mode of perception (Beowulf when young contrasted with older Hrothgar and even older version of Beowulf) (Norton Intro. 6) Review of Important Terms Alliteration (the most important

term) Caesura Kenning Tone Digression Story-within-a-story Bibliography Abrams, M. H., and Stephen Greenblatt, Eds.

Introduction. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, seventh ed., vol. 1. New York: W.W. Norton, 2000. 1-22, 29-32. Anderson, Robert, et al. Eds. Elements of Literature, Sixth Course, Literature of Britain. Austin: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1993. 2-42. Burrow, J. A. Old and Middle English Literature, c. 700-1485. The Oxford Illustrated History of English Literature. Ed. Pat Rogers. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1987. Heaney, Seamus. Introduction. Beowulf. Trans. Seamus Heaney. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2000. ix-xxx.

Recently Viewed Presentations

  • Advantages of Digital Format - College of Engineering and ...

    Advantages of Digital Format - College of Engineering and ...

    When you speak into a cell phone, the sound enters the microphone as a sound wave. Because analog sound waves need to be digitized (that is, converted into a sequence of 1s and 0s that the cell phone's processor can...
  • Never Get Lost Again: earn to Navigate and

    Never Get Lost Again: earn to Navigate and

    Trimble. Navigator. Waze. Voice-guided nav for driving, biking, or walking. Live traffic conditions with automatic rerouting. Tells which lane to be in for a turn. Street view. Community-based traffic and navigation app. Live routing based on user reports. Finds cheapest...
  • The Subsidy for Adopting Conservation Tillage: Estimation from

    The Subsidy for Adopting Conservation Tillage: Estimation from

    The Subsidy for Adopting Conservation Tillage: Estimation from Observed Behavior Lyubov Kurkalova, Catherine Kling, and Jinhua Zhao CARD, Department of Economics Iowa State University Paper presented at the AAEA Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, August 2001 Introduction and Objectives What does...
  • Preliminary Seminar 1A Law and Anthropology

    Preliminary Seminar 1A Law and Anthropology

    The prevailing view was that people obey the law because there are sanctions. Law is connected to the idea of . punishment. The State has the monopoly of the coercitive mechanism. But people who live in societies without this mechansim...
  • moem.org.uk

    moem.org.uk

    Even if a Christian couple has committed to not having sex before marriage often times our ideas of modern dating put Christian couples in very tempting positions with little to no safe guards against sex before marriage. But there is...
  • Grundlagen von XML - HTWK Leipzig
  • Collaboration between Local Governments in Thailand: Lessons from

    Collaboration between Local Governments in Thailand: Lessons from

    In Thailand, there are a number of small local governments which lack capacity to deal with financial constraint and wicked issues. Collaboration has been introduced as a potential mechanism to increase the capacities of local government in providing efficient services...
  • voor dia serie SNS-Utrecth/'t Gooi

    voor dia serie SNS-Utrecth/'t Gooi

    Better correlation with final result min-cut bets a lot on 1st cut other objectives (e.g., timing) are meaningless in strict top-down Simplification of constraints (vs. flat) Enables "Search" More than most Analytical Methods Moves (later) More Global Than Traditional Search...