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Anglo-Saxon or Old English verse - an intro


One of the most famous texts written in Anglo-Saxon or Old English verse is Beowulf, which once reviewed/explained in detail (along with Sir Gawain) at Guys Lit Wire.

As I noted there, Anglo-Saxons used poetic lines that basically split in half in the middle, forming two hemistich, each of which contains two stressed syllables. Anglo-Saxons also used a lot of alliteration, or repetition of sounds (and, in particular, of the sounds starting words in the line). Here's an example of what I'm talking about, from lines 442-445 of the translation done by Seamus Heaney:

If Grendel wins, it will be a gruesome day;
he will glut himself on the Geats in the war-hall,
swoop without fear on that flower of manhood

Stressed syllables are underlined; alliteration within a line is bolded.

I plan on going into this in far more detail tomorrow, with more examples, as I find the entire thing fascinating, no doubt because of my ancient Anglo-Saxon roots (you should see my family tree, yo - it's all sorts of Anglo-Saxon and little else once you get back far enough). Or perhaps because I am a huge nerd and this is the sort of thing I luuuurve. But I digress.



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Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Mary Lee Hahn
Apr. 18th, 2016 11:13 pm (UTC)
I'll come along for the ride!
kellyrfineman
Apr. 19th, 2016 12:45 am (UTC)
I'm so glad! Although seeing your later comment, I worry I didn't explain things well today!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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