Anglo Saxon Literature

3107 words, 13 pages

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Since the Roman conquest the English soil has been invaded a number of times by peoples of different ethnic origins. It was not during the Roman rule that English people began to nourish a sense of nationalism. The Anglo-Saxon period, rather, was the time when such practice began. The invasion of the land by the Teutonic tribes as Angles, Saxons and Jutes marks the beginning of the Anglo-Saxon period. These tribes overcame the old settlers, Celts and Britons of the land and the land became as it were the homeland of these restless peoples. It may not be worthwhile to identify an exact date of the beginning of English literature, but the Anglo-Saxon period was the time when the literature of the land began to achieve a common... View More »

Body Sample...



The major part of Anglo-Saxon literature is in verse. The muscular strength of the language became a prominent element in Anglo-Saxon poetry. The Anglo-Saxon words possessed a vigorous predominance of consonants. For example, the Anglo-Saxon word for English strength was strengthu in which an extra consonant was present. The initial consonant was given a strong accent and that threw the root syllable into relief. This made the recurrence of the same vowel sound in case of alliteration immaterial. About the alliterative lines Legouis observes:
“The normal line is made up of an undetermined number of syllables divided into two sections, in each of which there should be two rhythmic accents. The recurrence of the same consonant or group of consonants, to introduce the two accentuated syllables of the first section, and that of the first accentuated syllable of the second section, give the alliteration, as follows:
steap stanlitho—stige nearwe (Beowulf).”2

Thus the lines of Anglo-Saxon poetry were based on accent combined with alliteration and both of them depended upon the predominating value of consonants.

The extant remains of old English poetry which were preserved in manuscripts, were unknown till the 16th century. Moreover, these manuscripts were written and compiled by the ‘clerks’, or churchmen three hundred years after the composition of the poems. So it is not unnatural that many things have been eliminated, clashed with Christian ideas, which tended to creep into the texts. It was pagan conventions, still, that constituted the stem of the early ...

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