Little is known about the poet who wrote Beowulf; we have only what information we can deduce from logically reasoning from whatever evidence scholars find in the poem itself.
First of all, consistency of style suggests that the poem was written by one person only (Thompson 14). There is no appreciable variation from uniform linguistic and metrical characteristics. Antithesis is a strong feature of the style:“This tendency to antithesis, frequently verging on paradox, and the constant play of irony are but stylistic manifestations of those movements of the poet’s thought which shape the very stuff of the poem” (Blomfield 58). There is the reference to the burning of Heorot woven into the description of its first glories, and the prediction of family strife while yet all is well in Hrothgar’s court. The writer’s style includes depth and vibrancy, and “a high degree of abstraction and formalism” (Blomfield 64). There are many digressions in the poem: “the poet’s digressive, revaluative style” (Tripp 64). The author is omniscient: “The poet reserves the right to say what people are thinking” (Shippey 39).
Secondly, the employment of several conventional poetic devices suggests that the author was an educated person. Beowulf is distinguished primarily by its heavy use of allliteration, or the repetition of the initial sounds of words. 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 stresses, two on each side of a strong medial caesura, or pause. “At least one of the two stressed swords in the first half-line, and usually both of them, begin with the same sound as...
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...raki, translated by Jesse L. Byock. New York: Penguin Books, 1998.
Shippey, T.A.. “The World of the Poem.” In Beowulf – Modern Critical Interpretations, edited by Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.
Tharaud, Barry. “Anglo-Saxon Language and Traditions in Beowulf.” In Readings on Beowulf, edited by Stephen P. Thompson. San Diego: Greenhaven Press,1998.
Thompson, Stephen P. “The Beowulf poet and His World.” In Readings on Beowulf, edited by Stephen P. Thompson. San Diego: Greenhaven Press,1998.
Tripp, Raymond P. “Digressive Revaluation(s).” In Beowulf – Modern Critical Interpretations, edited by Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.
Ward & Trent, et al. The Cambridge History of English and American Literature. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1907–21; New York: Bartleby.com, 2000
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