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Old English Poetry

 

 The Use of Kennings

 
  • Old English poetry is characterised by the use of a wide range of synonymous words and phrases to express a particular notion, such as 'sea', 'ship', or 'warrior'

 
  • A ship might be described straightforwardly as a scip or ceol 'keel'

 
  • Or by using a variety of short phrases or compound words wægflota 'wave floater', sævgenga 'sea goer', brimwudu 'water wood', merehus 'sea-house', sæhengest 'sea steed', yþmearh 'wave horse'

 
  • The human body is described as a banhus or bancofa 'bone-house, bone-chamber'

 
  • A sword is a beadoleoma 'battle-light'

 
  • Thunder is wolcna sweg 'sound of the clouds'

 
  • The eye is a heafodgim 'head-gem'

 
  • The descriptive phrases are so distinctive that a term from Old Norse poetic treatises, kenning, has been used to describe them

 

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OLD ENGLISH POETRY

  The Old English Poetic Line

  The Use of Kennings

  An Extract from Beowulf

  Explaining the Rules of OE Poetry

OLD ENGLISH

  The Origins of Old English

  Main Influences on Old English

  The Lord's Prayer in Old English

  Beowulf Home

  More

 

 
 
 
 

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