What is an example from lines 1–126 of Beowulf that contains kennings written as possessives? (ex: "Hell’s captive" refers to Grendel being captured in Beowulf’s arm.)

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The kenning is one of the defining features of Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse poetry. It is a rhetorical device which is essentially a form of metaphor but relies to a certain extent upon social convention and collective understanding. Many kennings, such as "whale-road" to indicate the sea, are found across multiple poems, which tells us that the metaphor was very commonly used, even though it refers to the sea only indirectly. In the same way, "béaggyfan" or "ring-giver" refers to one's lord, the person to whom allegiance is owed, but some understanding of Anglo-Saxon culture is necessary for this kenning to make sense.

One way of creating a kenning is through the use of a possessive like the one you describe in your question. In the first 126 lines of Beowulf , there aren't any very good examples of this sort of kenning. We can find a few arguable ones—"brimes faroðe" or "the sea's surf" in line 28, meaning the shoreline, could be an example, although it isn't very indirect. In line 104,...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 744 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team