Anglo-Saxon Literature

January 13, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Social Science, Anthropology, Mythology
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Lyric Poetry


◦ A classification or category of a literary form

Dramatic poem

◦ Involves more than one speaker

Narrative poem

◦ Tells a complete story

Lyric poem

◦ Expresses the observations and feelings of a single speaker ◦ Presents an experience or single effect (does not tell a full story) ◦ (orig.) A song accompanied by a lyre


◦ Who is the voice of the poem—the character who tells the poem?

Subject (story)

◦ What is the speaker telling about—what’s going on in this poem? (where? When? What?—if supplied)


◦ What is the speaker’s attitude about the subject/story?


◦ What is the poem’s atmosphere—what the audience feels?


◦ What message about life, about the human experience, does the poem present?


◦ A solemn and formal lyric poem about death ◦ Mourns the passing away of an individual person or reflects on a tragic theme, such as the passing of youth, beauty, or a way of life ◦ (adj.) elegaic


◦ Medieval literary genre ◦ Means “complaint” ◦ Distinguished from elegy—

 Fictional speaker  Mourns a loss other than death

Exile: separation or banishment from one’s native country, region, or home ◦ Expressed with memorable sadness and pain ◦ Wraecca—wretch, stranger, unhappy man, and wanderer

Allegiance: pledging loyalty to a particular lord or king (hlaford –“lord”) ◦ Source of sustenance (hlafweard—“guardian of the loaf”) ◦ Dispenser of wealth ◦ Guarantor of the security of his followers in a dangerous and uncertain world

Longing for home and comfort ◦ Mead hall ◦ The lord and his followers shared the warmth of a fire, the comfort of food and drink (mead), and the pleasures of recited poetry (scops)

Kenning ◦ An appositive phrase (renames something or someone) ◦ Often a colorful metaphor ◦ Examples:  The ocean, “the whale’s home”  “Beowulf,/A prince of the Geats”  Grendel, “shepherd of evil, guardian of crime”


◦ A natural break/mid-line pause in the middle of a line of Anglo-Saxon poetry ◦ Divides each four-stress line in half ◦ Essential to the rhythm (meter) of the poem ◦ Example: 

. . . My feet were cast In icy bands, bound with frost With frozen chains, and hardship groaned Around my heart. Hunger tore At my sea-weary soul.

Alliteration ◦ Repetition of initial consonant sounds ◦ Examples:  “I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.”  “This tale is true, and mine. It tells . . .”

◦ Anglo-Saxon convention (tradition) is to use alliteration with a heavy hand (a bit overused)

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