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"Down the road. And sometimes a proud old soldier who had heard songs of the ancient...

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reedcapps | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 2) Honors

Posted September 22, 2013 at 1:43 AM via web

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"Down the road. And sometimes a proud old soldier who had heard songs of the ancient heros and could sing them all through, story after story, would weave a net of words for Beowulf's victory, tying the knot of his verses smoothly, swiftly, into place with a poet's quick skill, singing his new song aloud while he shaped it, and the old songs as well..."

In what ways does this description from Beowulf reflect the techniques used by the Anglo-Saxon poets? Cite details.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 22, 2013 at 5:19 AM (Answer #1)

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One of the reasons why this text is such an enduring classic and is studied even today, so long after it was first uttered and memorised, is the way that it is such an excellent demonstration of Anglo-Saxon literature. There are two aspects that are typical of Anglo-Saxon literature which are modelled in the above quote, and they are alliteration and the use of imagery. Alliteration can be seen in "smoothly, swiftly" and also "would weave a net of words." This last example is also an excellent piece of imagery that helps add colour and description to the act of storytelling. The text contains various references to the act of telling stories, which, before the writing down of this text, would have been done orally alone. Consider the following example:

Meanwhile, a thane
of the king's household, a carrier of tales,
a traditional singer deeply schooled
in the lore of the past, linked a new theme
to a strict metre. The man started
to recite with skill, rehearsing Beowulf's
triumphs and feats in well-fashioned lines,
entwining his words.

Both of these quote witness to the way in which storytelling was a real skill in Anglo-Saxon times, and how stories were not fixed and static, but changed according to each storyteller as they added their own words and flourishes to the descriptions of his exploits. Oral literature therefore is viewed as a dynamic form of storytelling, incredibly rich in its approach.  


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