The diction of the Old English poem 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. Beowulf uses alliteration [my italics] and accent to achieve the poetic effect which Modern English poetry achieves through the use of poetic feet, each having the same number of syllables and the same pattern of accent (Wilkie 1271). 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 an aesthetic sense of rightness or pleasure. In 1958 two language scholars, Lehmann nd Tabusa, produced an alphabetized list of every alliterated word in Beowulf. One translator, Kevin Crossley-Holland, in his rendition of the poem in Literature of the Western World, actually includes considerable alliteration, but less than the original version of the poem (Wilkie 1271). The Old English poet would “tie” the two half-lines together by their stressed alliteration (Chickering 4).
The first half-line is called the on-verse, which is followed by the off-verse. Each line of poetry ideally contains four principal stresses, two on each side of a strong medial caesura, or pause, and a variable number of less-heavily stressed or unstressed ones. “At least one of the two stresse...
... middle of paper ...
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.
Renoir, Alain. “Point of View and Design for Terror in Beowulf.” In TheBeowulf Poet, edited by Donald K. Fry. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.
Stockwell, Robert. P. and Donka Minkova. “Prosody” In A Beowulf Handbook, edited by Robert Bjork and John D. Niles. Lincoln, Nebraska: Uiversity of Nebraska Press, 1997.
Tharaud, Barry. “Anglo-Saxon Language and Traditions in Beowulf.” In Readings on Beowulf, edited by Stephen P. Thompson. San Diego: Greenhaven Press,1998.
Wilkie, Brian. “Beowulf.” Literature of the Western World, edited by Brian Wilkie and James Hurt. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1984.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Beowulf is an epic poem symbolizing and describing the Anglo-Saxon culture. Beowulf embodies the nobility of the Anglo-Saxon culture and beliefs. Beowulf impeccably symbolizes and describes the Anglo-Saxon culture and sets the stage for all poems after it in the area of Britain. Beowulf has many heroic traits such as strength and excellent leadership skills. Beowulf emerges as the Anglo-Saxon warrior who risks his life for the well being of others.The literary devices used throughout this poem are broad which makes the poem known as the “mother poem”.... [tags: Beowulf, Epic poetry, Alliteration, Grendel]
755 words (2.2 pages)
- Beowulf is a unique epic poem written around 700 A.D. by an unknown Anglo-Saxon poet. I am extremely glad I chose Beowulf to study for this project. I had already read Beowulf in high school, so I could spend more time reading and analyzing the text in detail while reading it this time. Through preparing and delivering my colloquium project, I learned a lot regarding the context of Beowulf, ocean currents and sea features, and a touched briefly on Beowulf’s “immortality.” Although Beowulf was first written around 700 A.D., the first printed copy was not in circulation until 1815.... [tags: Beowulf, Epic poetry, Old English]
719 words (2.1 pages)
- Beowulf Beowulf is the single greatest story of Old English literature and one of the greatest epics of all time. Ironically, no one can lay claim to being the author of this amazing example of literature. The creator of this poem was said to be alive around 600 A.D. and the story was, since then, been passed down orally from generation to generation. When the first English monks heard the story, they took it upon themselves to write it down and add a bit of their own thoughts. Thus, a great epic and the beginning to English literature was born.... [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essays]
683 words (2 pages)
- Poetry is the oldest literary genre written in verse. It has the purpose of producing an illusion on the imagination of the reader, it uses different figures of speech and takes different poems forms. An epic is one of this poem forms and it is “an extended narrative poem recounting actions, travels, adventures, and heroic episodes where the action, often in battle, reveals the more-than-human strength of the heroes as they engage in acts of courage” and they embody the set of values of their nations.... [tags: Epic of Beowulf 2014]
780 words (2.2 pages)
- Prosody of Beowulf The prosody of Beowulf is the art of Old English versification, made to be chanted orally, not read silently. Therefore it uses alliteration and accent to achieve the poetic effect which Modern English poetry achieves through the use of poetic feet, each having the same number of syllables and the same pattern of accent (Wilkie 1271). Theory on the prosody of Beowulf is evolving. In the manuscript version of the poem, alliteration is employed in almost every line (or two half-lines); in most modern translations of the poem this is not so.... [tags: Epic Beowulf essays]
1223 words (3.5 pages)
- The Depiction of Anglo-Saxon Society in Beowulf The Old-English or Anglo-Saxon era extends from about 450 to 1066. The Germanic tribes from the Continent who overran England in the fifth century, after the Roman withdrawal, brought with them a language that is the basis of modern English, a specific poetic tradition, and a relatively advanced society. All of these qualities and spirit are exemplified in the eighth-century epic poem Beowulf. To begin with, much of the Old English poetry was probably intended to be chanted, with harp accompaniment, by the Anglo-Saxon scop.... [tags: Epic Beowulf essays]
751 words (2.1 pages)
- 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... [tags: Epic Beowulf essays]
992 words (2.8 pages)
- The Author/Poet of Beowulf 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).... [tags: Epic Beowulf essays]
1488 words (4.3 pages)
- Beowulf and Its Formulas The making of Beowulf involved the choosing of formulas mostly, from a common body of narrative, rather than individual words, and largely on the basis of alliterative needs. In his esay, “The Pessimism of Many Germanic Stories,” A. Kent Hieatt says: The Germanic peoples seem to have inherited a common body of narrative, which is a key to understanding the often incomplete and puzzling allusions and interpolated stories forming a large part of Beowulf” (45).... [tags: Epic Beowulf essays]
1133 words (3.2 pages)
- Beowulf The poem Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney, is largely based around the monstrousness of Grendel and his mother. It was a difficult task for Heaney to translate the poem into Modern English while maintaining the beauty of the language and capturing the horror of the monsters. He utilises devices such as structure, literary devices and characterisation to emphasise the fear apparent in the text. Though Heaney’s writing is effective, it is impossible to use the incidents in the poem that relate to events which took place centuries ago to instil fear into the story.... [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essay]
923 words (2.6 pages)
- The Ghost in Shakespeare's Hamlet
- An Analysis of Ode to the West Wind
- The Mythical, Marvelous and Fantastic in the Epic of Beowulf
- Essay Comparing Glass Menagerie and Streetcar Named Desire
- Essay on Art in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
- Failure in a Success Oriented Society in Death of a Salesman