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An Analysis of the Epic Poem, Beowulf - Poetic Devices in Beowulf

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Poetic Devices in Beowulf

 
    There are a small variety of poetic devices employed in the composition of the poem Beowulf, and they are repeated numerous times.

 

The Old English poetry of Beowulf is distinguished primarily by its heavy use of  allliteration, or the repetition of the initial sounds of words. In the original manuscript version of the poem, alliteration is employed in almost every line (or two half-lines); in modern translations of the poem this is not so. In lines 4 and 5 of the poem we find:

 

Oft Scyld Scefing                               sceapena preatum

monegum maegpum                           meodo-setla ofteah

 

The repetition of the “s” sound in line 4 and of the “m” sound in line 5 illustrate alliteration, and this occurs throughout the poem, providing to the listener what the rhyme of modern-day poetry provides – an aesthetic sense of  rightness or pleasure. The Old English poet would “tie” the two half-lines together by their stressed alliteration (Chickering 4). Each line of poetry ideally contains four principal stress...


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...chor Books, 1977.

 

Donaldson, E. Talbot. “Old English Prosody and Caedmon’s Hymn.” Beowulf: The Donaldson Translation, edited by Joseph F. Tuso. New York, W.W.Norton and Co.: 1975.

 

Magoun, Frances P. “Oral-Formulaic Character of Anglo-Saxon Narrative Poetry.”  In TheBeowulf Poet, edited by Donald K. Fry. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.

 

Tharaud, Barry. “Anglo-Saxon Language and Traditions in Beowulf.” In Readings on Beowulf, edited by Stephen P. Thompson. San Diego: Greenhaven Press,1998.

 

 

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