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Anglo-Saxon Literature

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  1. Anglo-Saxon Literature

  2. Anglo-Saxon Literature Anglo-Saxons created their oral literature using certain conventions. Let’s examine those characteristics for ourselves. The first characteristic that the reader can recognize is the four major beats per line.

  3. Example • “I war with the wind; with the waves I wrestle.” • Notice: The four major beats are “war” and “wind”; “waves” and “wrestle”

  4. 2nd Characteristic • The second characteristic of their poetry is called a “caesura.” A caesura is simply a pause in the middle of the line. • This offered a musical break.

  5. Example • Can you locate the caesura in the following line? • “I war with the wind; with the waves I wrestle.” • The caesura comes between the words “wind” and “with”.

  6. 3rd Characteristic • A third characteristic is the use of alliteration. • Today, alliteration is the repetition of the same beginning consonant sound. • Anglo-Saxon alliteration was the repetition of any sound whether consonant or vowel.

  7. Anglo-Saxon Alliteration • In the first half of a line, two words alliterate; in the second half, one word alliterates with the two from the first half. • Sometimes only one word alliterates with one word in the second half.

  8. Example • “Grim and greedy, the gruesome monster came.” • Notice: the two “g” words in the first half alliterate with the one “g” word in the second half. • “Now Grendel came, from his crags of mist” • Notice: the word “came” in the first half alliterates with the word “crags” in the second half.

  9. More Examples • “The gold-hall of heroes, the gaily adorned.” • Notice: the “o” sounds follows the same pattern as the consonant sounds. • Two “o” sounds in the first half and one “o” sound in the second half.

  10. 4th Characteristic • The 4th characteristic is the use of kennings. • A kenning is usually a hyphenated compound word formed of two nouns. • In later Anglo-Saxon forms, two adjectives were used. • In the original language, no hyphen or space was used between these words.

  11. Uses of Kennings • Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon languages were very limited. • The scops, or bards, coined kennings in order to offer more choices of language. • Once a kenning was created, the poets used them over and over.

  12. Examples • Earliest form: “skycandle”, “battledew” • Later form: “sky-candle” and “battle-dew” • “Sky-candle” was the sun, and “battle-dew” was blood. • Adjective form: “foamy-necked plunger” for ship • Prepositional form: “giver of rings” for kings/lords

  13. Anglo-Saxon Riddle “I heard of a wonder, of words moth-eaten: That is a strange thing, I thought, weird That a man’s song be swallowed by a worm, His binded sentences, his bedside stand-by Rustled in the night—and the robber-guest Not one whit the wiser for the words he had mumbled.” Notice: “robber-guest” Notice: “o”, “w”, “t”, “s”, “r”, and “w”. Answer: on next slide

  14. What’s Next? • Find at least five riddles from the following website, and try your hand at answering them. Remember the answers and the number of the riddle. • http://technozen.com/exeter/index.htm