Definition of Alliterative Verse Essay
Old English literature encompasses writings in Anglo-Saxon England during its conversion to Christianity in the 7th century up until the Norman Conquest in 1066. The roots of Anglo-Saxon poetry were based on Germanic tradition that was mainly in the form of alliterative verse (Greenblatt). When comparing to other forms of poetry, there are 6 key characteristics that define alliterative verse: four-beat lines, medial caesuras, enjambments, half-line alliteration, kennings and litotes. In addition to Beowulf and “Caedmon’s Hymn”, examples will also be taken from my alliterative verse translation of the nursery rhyme “Little Jack Horner”.
Jack the Horner
Jack the Horner, not gigantic was he. …show more content…
Alliteration is the “the repetition of usually initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words or syllables” (“alliteration”) A simple example is the name of the character Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit, because of the repetition of b-sounds. Alliteration could be thought of as a quasi-substitute for rhyming, which does not occur in alliterative verse poetry. Similar examples of alliteration occur in Beowulf and “Caedmon’s Hymn”. In Beowulf, the name “Shield Sheafson” appears in line 4, the alliteration is in the s-sounds of his name. In “Caedmon’s Hymn”, line 5 mentions “The Guardian of Glory, again, alliteration is in the g-sounds.
When a medial caesura separates a line, there will be two or three syllables of alliteration in each half-line