Old English Poetry Essays On Style

The decisive stage in the history of western culture, when the literate mind began at last to purge itself of residual orality, may have been the Romantic era; on this point, see The applicability of Parry's criteria in their totality to Old English poetry needs to be reappraised in any case; for a discussion of problems of formulaic comparability in view of disparities in poetic metres, see Berkley Peabody reviews the three Parry-Lord tests for orality (the formulaic, enjambment, and thematic) and adds to them two more of his own (the phonemic and song tests) in what constitutes the most developed version of this method set forth to date; see More recently Lord has described the survival of oral tradition even into modern times and its interactions with literary culture in Dalmatia and Montenegro, in ‘The Merging of Two Worlds: Oral and Written Poetry as Carriers of Ancient Values’, Oral Tradition in Literature, ed. Renoir's study typifies a recent redirection of effort away from mere demonstrations that poems were or were not composed orally in favour of a more sophisticated treatment of aesthetic presuppositions within works. Dobbie (New York, 1931–1953); my citations from Instructions for Cbristians, a poem not in ASPR, refer to and Christ 78–9, also illustrate this principle.Rumble correctly points out the ‘appeal to the authority of legendary tradition’ (p. He also claims that they serve to create suspense in passages of description. Judas's statement, El 656–61, is somewhat more ambiguous.Only if his mind were well stocked with phrases of metrical shape – if, in short, he had learned his poetic language well – could an oral poet fluently tell his tale in the form of traditional verse.: ‘How shall we account for the not infrequent cases of carelessness and imprecision in Homer, set as they are against others where he demonstrates mastery of detail, conceptual penetration and architectural design?The ruling theory of the day (oral poetry) explains only half.And such digressions would not therefore be properly considered stylistic flaws to the poem.The poetic conventions used by this poet include two half-lines in each verse, separated by a caesura or pause.Quotations from Vuk, with the exception of examples cited directly from the manuscripts, are taken from the edition of Vladan Nedić (Belgrade, 1969).

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Most changes involved lesser matters, such as spelling, dialect forms and morphology, as explained below.

the actual allusion is to ‘learning’, not treasure, borne across the seas; yet in the context of many passages in Old English that describe ships loaded with treasure of various sorts, this ‘learning’ should be construed as a kind of treasure figuratively transformed in the context of Christian thinking. Thus it is not directly the poet's own narratorial act that these descriptions allude to.

A shorter version of this paper was presented at the Old English Language and Literature divisional meeting at the annual convention of the Modern Language Association, 29 December 1984.

He is able to evaluate his “action” directly, by exhibiting the parts in their aesthetic and moral relation (Blomfield 64).

Therefore those passages which have been construed sometimes as digressive moralizing, should properly be regarded not as digressions but as an integral part of the subject.

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