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The Experience of PoetryFrom Homer's Listeners to Shakespeare's Readers$
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Derek Attridge

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198833154

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198833154.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 18 January 2022

Early Medieval Poetry

Early Medieval Poetry

Vernacular Versifying

(p.147) 7Early Medieval Poetry
The Experience of Poetry

Derek Attridge

Oxford University Press

This, the first of four chapters on the Middle Ages, explores the rise of vernacular verse from the fifth to eleventh centuries. There is a little surviving evidence for oral poetry in the vernacular languages prior to the fifth century, and the first written example comes from the beginning of that century. The story of Caedmon’s inspired poetry is examined, as is Bede’s ‘death song’ and other evidence for poetic activity in England in the seventh and eighth centuries. Several Old High German poems of the ninth century are considered, as well as Alfred the Great’s interest in poetry. Beowulf, dated somewhere between the late seventh and the eleventh century, includes scenes of poetic performance and may be itself an example of the kind of poem it depicts in performance. Also discussed are the Old English poems Deor and Widsith and the Viking and Viking-influenced poems of the tenth century.

Keywords:   Gallehus, Caedmon, Venerable Bede, alliterative verse, Alfred the Great, Old English, Old High German, Beowulf, scop, gleeman

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