Definition of Alliterative Verse

1157 WordsDec 21, 20125 Pages
Definition of Alliterative Verse Old English literature encompasses writings in Anglo-Saxon England during its conversion to Christianity in the 7th century up until the Norman Conquest in 1066. The roots of Anglo-Saxon poetry were based on Germanic tradition that was mainly in the form of alliterative verse (Greenblatt). When comparing to other forms of poetry, there are 6 key characteristics that define alliterative verse: four-beat lines, medial caesuras, enjambments, half-line alliteration, kennings and litotes. In addition to Beowulf and “Caedmon’s Hymn”, examples will also be taken from my alliterative verse translation of the nursery rhyme “Little Jack Horner”. Jack the Horner By Student Jack the Horner, not gigantic was he.…show more content…
If there are two pairs of different alliterative sounds, each pair does not have to be in the same half-line. For example in line 5 from Beowulf, “a wrecker of mead-benches, rampaging among foes” there is repetition of both r and m-sounds. In the first line of “Caedmon’s Hymn”, “Sing prayers, and sound praises of” (1), half-line alliteration is seen in the s and p-sounds. There are not pairs of half-line alliteration in Jack the Horner. However, in the last line there are three alliterative stress syllables that are linked by the p-sound, “Gleefully pulling a purple plum”. A kenning is a metaphoric, two-term or “compound expression used in place of a name or noun” (“kenning”). In Beowulf, the term “whale-road” in line 10 is a kenning for the ocean. In “Caedmon’s Hymn”, “Wonder-Father” also means God. In my poem, “Santa’s big day” is meant to be a kenning for Christmas. A litote is an “understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by negating its opposite” (“litote”). In Beowulf one of many litotes is seen lines 43-44, “they decked his body no less bountifully”, where “no less” just means more, so that his body was actually more bountifully decked (Heaney) In the first line of my alliterative verse poem, I used a litote. “Jack the Horner, not gigantic was he.” “Not gigantic” is the litote in that it describes Jack as little. Anglo-Saxon alliterative verse is defined by its structuring of stress

More about Definition of Alliterative Verse

Open Document