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What is the significance of the digressions in the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf?  

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It is unfortunate that Beowulf is our only true example of Anglo-Saxon poetry of this length, as it is likely that scops or bards of the ninth century would have known several heroic epics which, for various reasons, were not simply chronological narrations of a single story. The digressions we see in the context of Beowulf, a poem from an oral tradition, are in many ways precursors to the very careful arrangements found in slightly later collections of works like The Exeter Book, where the placement of each work tells the reader something about the works to either side of it. The Anglo-Saxon poem "The Wife's Lament," for example, has been hugely debated because of its placement in The Exeter Book, which may suggest that it is not only a lament but a gnomic poem or riddle. In the same way, one purpose of the digressions in Beowulf is to make the listener reconsider the main narrative of the poem in the context of what is contained in the digression

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