- alliterative verse
- All poetry written in Old Germanic languages uses a system of alliterative verse, the best examples of which can be found in the OLD ENGLISH poetic corpus. This form of meter doubtlessly originates among oral poets or SCOPS, who would have recited or sung the verse with the accompaniment of a harp. In Old English poetry, each line is divided by a strong caesura into two half-lines or hemistichs. Each hemistich contains two stressed words or syllables and a varying number of unstressed syllables. Thus each line of Anglo-Saxon poetry contains four stressed syllables. The two half-lines are united by alliteration, the repetition of initial sounds.The key to the alliteration in each line is the first accented syllable of the second hemistich. The second stressed syllable of the second hemistich never alliterated with the first. But at least one and sometimes both of the stressed syllables in the first halfline always alliterated with that initial sound of the second half line. Thus there were three chief types of line in Old English poetry,which might be illustrated by these lines from Beowulf:geongum ond ealdum, swylc him God sealde(his God-given goodsto young and old)(Heaney 2000, 6–7; l. 72)Here the first stressed syllable (of geongum) alliterates with the first stressed syllable of the second hemistich (God)—a line that might be diagrammed as ab:ac. Two lines later in Beowulf occurs the linewuldres Wealdend, worold-āre forgeaf(the glorious Almighty,made this manrenowned)(Heaney 2000, 2–3; l. 17)This time, both accented syllables in the first halfline alliterate, so that the line could be diagrammed aa:ac. The third common type of line can be seen in another line from Beowulf:Ne hyrde ic cymlīcorcēol gegyrwan(I never heard beforeof a ship so wellfurbished)(Heaney 2000, 4–5; l. 38)Here the line follows a ba:ac pattern, where only the second stressed syllable of the first hemistich alliterates.Poetic lines could use vowels for alliterative purposes as well as consonants, and when that occurred, any vowel could alliterate with any other vowel. Old English verse was virtually never rhymed, nor were poems arranged into stanzas. The accents in Old English lines were grammatical— that is, there were no artificially stressed syllables used for the sake of alliteration; rather, the stresses fell on the syllables that would naturally be accented in a word or phrase.There are significantly more complex rules for classical Old English poetry, but there is a good deal of scholarly controversy about them. The strict rules of Anglo-Saxon poetry seem to have remained relatively unchanged from the earliest written poetry until the Norman Conquest. Very late in the Old English period, however, there seems to have been a relaxing of the rules with some poets, so that in a very late composition like The BATTLE OFMALDON, some of the strict rules are broken—for example, on some occasions the final stressed syllable of the second hemistich alliterates. The alliterative tradition disappeared in written verse after 1066, but the tradition was revived— though with much looser rules—in some late 14th-century MIDDLE ENGLISH poetry during a movement called the ALLITERATIVE REVIVAL.Bibliography■ Beowulf: A New Verse Translation. Translated by Seamus Heaney.New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000.■ Cable, Thomas. The Meter and Melody of Beowulf. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1974.■ Fulk, Robert Dennis. A History of Old English Meter. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992.■ Hoover, David L. A New Theory of Old English Meter. New York: P. Lang, 1985.■ Pope, John Collins. The Rhythm of Beowulf: An Interpretation of the Normal and Hypermetric Verse-Forms in Old English Poetry. Rev. ed. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1966.■ Russom, Geoffrey. Old English Meter and Linguistic Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
Encyclopedia of medieval literature. 2013.
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Alliterative verse — The Old English epic poem Beowulf is written in alliterative verse. In prosody, alliterative verse is a form of verse that uses alliteration as the principal structuring device to unify lines of poetry, as opposed to other devices such as rhyme.… … Wikipedia
alliterative verse — ▪ literature early verse of the Germanic languages in which alliteration, the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words or stressed syllables, is a basic structural principle rather than an occasional embellishment. Although… … Universalium
alliterative verse — noun : verse usually unrhymed having alliteration as a structural element Old English alliterative verse … Useful english dictionary
alliterative revival — The term alliterative revival refers to a renewal of interest in ALLITERATIVE VERSE among late 14th century MIDDLE ENGLISH poets.OLD ENGLISH verse had been governed by strict rules of stress and alliteration, but after the Norman Conquest of… … Encyclopedia of medieval literature
Alliterative Morte Arthure — The Alliterative Morte Arthure is a 4346 line Middle English poem, retelling the latter part of the legend of King Arthur. The poem is one of the most significant works in the short lived revival of alliterative verse in the 14th century. History … Wikipedia
alliterative — alliteratively, adv. alliterativeness, n. /euh lit euh ray tiv, euhr euh tiv/, adj. pertaining to or characterized by alliteration: alliterative verse. [1755 65; ALLITERAT(ION) + IVE] * * * … Universalium
alliterative prose — ▪ literature prose that uses alliteration and some of the techniques of alliterative verse. Notable examples are from Old English and Middle English, including works by the Anglo Saxon writer Aelfric and the so called Katherine Group of… … Universalium
alliterative — /əˈlɪtərətɪv/ (say uh lituhruhtiv) adjective relating to or characterised by alliteration: alliterative verse. –alliteratively, adverb –alliterativeness, noun … Australian English dictionary
alliterative — adjective having the same consonant at the beginning of each stressed syllable alliterative verse • Similar to: ↑rhymed, ↑rhyming, ↑riming • Derivationally related forms: ↑alliterate … Useful english dictionary
Alliterative Morte Arthure — (ca. 1400–1402) This masterpiece of the ALLITERATIVE REVIVAL survives in a single manuscript, Lincoln Cathedral Library 91, compiled ca. 1440 by the scribe Robert Thornton. Although the date of composition is uncertain (with some scholars… … Encyclopedia of medieval literature