Beowulf and Old Germanic Metre by Geoffrey Russom

Beowulf and Old Germanic Metre by Geoffrey Russom

By Geoffrey Russom

It is a transparent and obtainable account of early Germanic alliterative verse that explains how such verse used to be handled by way of the Beowulf poet. There are ameliorations of poetic sort among Beowulf and the differently comparable verse of historical Scandinavia and continental Europe. Such differences have intrigued students for over a century, yet Russom is the 1st to supply a scientific rationalization of outdated English, previous Norse, previous Saxon and previous excessive German alliterative meters. Russom's effects may still curiosity students of outdated English and similar Germanic languages, in addition to linguists and people involved in poetic meter.

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Extra resources for Beowulf and Old Germanic Metre

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According to Kuhn, variants with a word group in the Ssx segment occur so rarely that they might have been regarded as lapses. 50 E X T RAME T R I C A L W O R D S Sievers assigns syllables with zero stress to an undifferentiated thesis, which may contain two or more such syllables. Within the theory proposed here, on the other hand, each unstressed syllable normally occupies its own distinct x position. The only exceptions are for cases of elision or resolution sanctioned by labelling rule Rlb, which allows two syllables to occupy one metrical position under special conditions.

53 The frequency of S/Ssx (type Da) does not rise, however. In Beowulf, this pattern accounts for 6 per cent of total verses, but the figure actually falls slightly in the Norse corpus, to 5 per cent. The more severe restriction on the frequency of the Norse Sxs foot is accompanied by an i ndependent restriction on heavy verses generally. The word-foot theory posits a distinct Da pattern S/Sxx with standard weight. As expected, this is immune to the Norse bias against heavy verses, holding at slightly more than 2 per cent in the Norse corpus, as compared with slightly less than 2 per cent in Beowulf.

TYPE D Although they are less concerned than Old English poets about the substandard weight of verses with a light foot and a normal foot, Old Norse poets adhere more scrupulously to the 'vice versa' provision of R4b, which promotes employment of a light foot to offset the extra weight of a heavy foot. Recall that the decline in the frequency of type B (x/Sxs, xx/ Sxs) is accompanied by a rise in the frequency of type C (x/Ssx, xx/Ssx). On this analogy, we might expect the frequency of S/Ssx verses to rise if there is a decline in the frequency of S/Sxs verses.

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