In literature, what is the Old English period?
For historical background, Old English is one of the many precursors to the Modern English language, and was spoken and written between the 5th and 12th centuries C.E. (Wikipedia). It originated with the entrance of Germanic Anglo-Saxons. Latin influence left from the Roman Britain period is not clearly discernible (OED). Old English was a non-standardized collection of regional dialects, so there is no single dictionary for translation as there was no single language.
The Old English literary Period started sometime in the 5th century, but there are no surviving documents from that time to serve as examples (runic texts and carvings allow the generalization of the time-frame). The fluxtuating dialect emphases continued throughout the centuries until the 11th century, when it began to change into Middle English based on the London dialect. Middle English held dominance until the standardization of Modern English in the 16th and 17th centuries (the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries like Spenser and Philips are considered the first properly documented works of Modern English). Therefore, the Old English Period would start sometime in the 5th century and last until the end of the 11th century, when Old English became obsolete.
The most famous work written in Old English is the epic poem Beowulf, of unknown author, which is still translated and performed today. The oldest surviving Old English document is Cædmon's Hymn, from the 7th century, which was originally a verbal poem and was never written down by the author. The last surviving document in Old English is a historical record, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle dated 1154, and shows the beginning influence of Middle English. Middle English was Chaucer's period.
The glee—wood rang, a song uprose
When Hrothgar’s scop gave the hall good cheer.