Saturday, 4 April 2020

Major Anglo-Saxon poetry analysis and summary

Following poems are the 7 major poems of Anglo-Saxon

The Ruined Burg or The Ruin

The Ruined or the Ruined Burg is usually claimed as one of the Memorable productions of the Anglo-Saxon poetic inspiration. Stands out as a most representative piece of Anglo-Saxon elegies with a clear and pointed elegiac note of course the character of the poem, as elegy differs from what is seen in other elegies ,it mourns not the misfortunes of a person , but of a place not for the death of a person loved, but for the ruin of a place that has a nostalgic ardour .

The subject-matter of the poem is the lamentation of the unknown Anglo-Saxon poet for the vanished glory of a great city the ruins of which stand before him. The city referred to , is very probably the roman built city of Bath. The Anglo-Saxon poet of "The Ruin" laments impulsively over the end of the glorious city of the past. First, he describes the ancient gorgeous buildings , now deserted and turned roofless the tottering, next he goes to muse on their great past, when they were richly adorned and crowded with noble princess and proud warriors. Finally, he makes out the sad contrast from the awful decline of the ruined city, he mourns deeply for the loss of its pomp and splendor, crowd and noise attraction and business. All those are gone forever. There is left nothing but the sad mutability of grandeur and splendor , gory and color , so ruthlessly changed by the ravages of times.
The elegy ends with a plaintive note of reflection on the unkindness of fate to that populous and prosperous city of a remote past. The ruin or the Ruined burg need be ranked with the first pieces of Anglo-Saxon poetry. It significance is noted in several ways .

In the first place , it is an impressive elegy , and echoes the modern elegiac note that muses on the way of the world and its tragedy.
In the second place, the ruin stands out prominently as a piece of personal poetry.

In the third place thoroughly rich in descriptive details. In institutes graphic comparison between the past glory and present degeneration of a renowned city .

The Wanderer

The work of an unknown Anglo-Saxon poet is one of the earliest Anglo-Saxon elegies rather of a considerable length of about 115 lines. It is of course , less popular and admired than the Seafarer or The Ruin . Nevertheless, as an Example of the Earliest English elegies , it has no insignificant position in the history of Anglo-Saxon literature . It is found to achieved a superb synthesis of dry realism, Emotional intensity and spiritual peace.
The subject matter of this is the lamentation of a young man for his dead master . The mourner at one time a thane in the service of a generous lord is now turned into a weary Wanderer , bereft of his dear lord and adrift on a frozen and wide sea. The wanderer travels in a ship, alone and friendless , seeking a home for peace and perfection. His fervent love for his dead lords leads him to dream in sleep of his union with him. He seems to go back to the days when his lord was still alive to bestow honor and gifts on him in the great mead hall. He dreams to place once again his head and hands on his Lord's knee to pledge his loyality to him as in days gone by. But to his utter astonishing and despair The Wanderer wakes up on a cold and lonely sea and finds himself still haunted with the pang of his separation from his Kind Lord. He looks before and after and hears us word of greetings or love to quieten or gladden his heart. The poem , however , concludes with a social consolation drawn from the vicissitudes of human life and all around destruction that has inevitably overtaken the world.

".... Those days are long spend
In the Night of the past as if they never had been"

The Wanderer, along with the Ruin, is a piece of personal elegy. The Poet's lamentation is impulsive and genuine out a truly, subjective note, which is always the chief trait of out a lyrical poetry. Again an essentially elegiac spirit is forcefully echoed in it, and may well be likened to the grief of Lord Tennyson in his immortal elegy in Memoriam. The philosophie aspect of the poem has a likeness with Tennyson's memorable elegy .
Of course, in descriptive details. The Poem lags behind the Seafarer or the Ruin . Nevertheless . The picturesque aspect of Anglo-Saxon poetry is not missed in this work. Morever as a poem on the sea and sealife. The Wanderer Stands just beneath the Seafarer . In fact , of the poem which have rich contribution of the making of Anglo-Saxon elegiac poetry. The Wanderer articulary , a name to be reckoned with.


The place of the earliest known Anglo-Saxon poem is attributed to Widsith. The works rather of a pagan tradition but it remains quite interesting for a modern reader. The unknown Anglo-Saxon Poet of Widsith has definately displayed the very nature as well as outlook of Pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon poetry .
 Widsith is a short poem rather a song , it records the experience and sensations of a traveller who has wanderer Widsith or the far wanderer has travelled widely among different tribes and race and come across different tribal chiefs and princely rulers . The Wanderer gives a list of the tribal princess with whom he was acquainted and who had given him rich presents. Some of these princess like king of the Goths, King of the Huns and Albon, kings of the Lombards and Theodrik, King of Franks are historical figures references, are also made to Hrothgar and Hrothwulf and their victory over Ingel, an incident mentioned in Beowulf the poet also describes the rituals and the social manners and customs of different primitive people, it further contains some details about the Wandering ministrels of Primitive times. In short, Widsith is a record of remote teutonic world .
 Widsith is a valuable piece of the social documents of primitive life and times in Britain . It has no doubt , a historical and legendry character . But the historical elements , recorded in it , are Seldom accurates Widsith, in fact is plainly no historical work , but a typical document of primitive socities and social life. The importance of the poem mainly lies in its social aspects. The work contains too much of the rites and customs , habits and manners of the teutonic people of the past .
Widsith is also rich in descriptive details and may be characterized as the first parent of the descriptive English poems, like Byran's Childe Harold's pilgrimage. In its enumeration of different primitive princess and lords , the poem , though not an Epic itself , contains much matter common with Epic poetry. Yet, Widsith bears a deal of lyrical notes in the poets subjective description and rejections. Morever the unknown poet's concluding glorification of his craft is strongly personal and at the same time, synthesizes individuality and universality. All these are definately lyrical features .


one of the earliest lays of the Anglo-Saxon period is the complaint of Deor. This is like Widsith poet by bord of course unlike the wandering bord , Widsith but it is much shorter , only for 52 lines and in its general tone strikes a short contrast .
The complaint of Deor has a theme different from Widsith. It is all about the complaint of a bord who had a lovish lord who loved him and enriched him with gold and lands. Deor , however has fortune and he is ousted from the favour of hid lord by rival poet. The poem is the poets complaint of his fortune and a wrong dismissal from his Lord's court. The poem , however ends with the consolatory message derived by Deor from thought of the habitual unkindness of fate and his belief that adversity will wear off in course of time .
Along with Widsith, the complaint of Deor indicate the degree of advancement of old English Poetry in a sense , the poem is an advancement upon Widsith. Widsith is mainly descriptive though it has come subjective touches, particularly at the End Deor's complaint is mainly subjective and reflective and in his respect , it may well be taken as the earliest of English lyrical poetry.
The Complaint of Deor belongs essentially to the heathenic world. Though it seems to contain christian interpolation here and there , as in the stowal surrender to the unkindness of fate it remains plainly heathenic in sentiment  .


Anglo-Saxon poetry , as it is found today, contains a collection of Riddles, ninety-five in all. These riddles stand out apart from the other specimen to Anglo-Saxon poetry. They are generally attributed to Cynewulf , although there is hardly any convincing evidence in support of such a conjecture it is supposed that those riddles , found in Exter book , were inspired by a similar collection of Latin riddles by sympohsius. Aldheim was the first English writer to a climatise Latin riddles in English.
Riddles are intellectual exercises to exhibit as well as test wit and sagacity . They are intended only to provoke attention and sharpen wit . They are of a short length. The Anglo-Saxon riddles are , however , different from the conventional Latin riddles. They are not the poetic bits of wits and intellegence. They are rather the true poems of varying and occasionally considerable length, they lack the courtly percussion of the conventional lyric and cannot technically called lyrics.
The Anglo-Saxon riddles are the pieces of poetry rather of an uneven length and of an unequal quality. They deal with a number of subjects animals, especially domestic animals natural phenomena astronomical bodies , different tools and instruments and weapons. Customs and so on. Some of these riddles describe the animals and the birds and their bodily features the Nightiangle , the swan , the bull etc .
The Anglo-Saxon riddles as they are found hardly original . They have been made rather christian by their christian editors .
The Riddles are often found obscure and vague and their effect in some cases becomes worrisome .


The seafarer is an ellegiac poem found in the exeter book. The poem is composed in the form of a monologue uttered by an old sailor who narrated the hardships and the lonely fascination that the sea has for the sailors. The poem appears to be structured in distinct sections, they cursed revealing hardship of ocean life and the second suggesting the subtle attraction of the sea. The second sections appeals to be an allegory which symbolically presents troubles of the seamen , representing  the hardship of life . The fascination of the Sea is suggested of the desire of the soul to respond to the call of God. The soul desires to go on its way to its way to its true home kingdom of God.
It is however uncertain whether the last section was appended by a christian monk or whether a sea-loving christian composed it some critics believed that the two sections of the poem can be read together and as  a dialogue between an old sailor and an over enthusiastic young Mariner. The old sailor emphasis upon the hardship of the sea facing life against the strong arguement of the young men who is anxious to launch on a sailor carrier . The young man is fascinated by the hardship associated with this way of the poem can be interpreted both from the religious as well as secular point of view . The shifting moods of the poem becomes more impressive if taken as the alternation of weariness and fascination in the same person . The poem concludes with the conventional religious sentiments exhibiting a strong element of regret self pity and melancholy born out of an understanding and realisation what life is ephemeral.

The Dream of the Rood

The dream of the rood belongs to the Cynewulf school of religious poetry and was probably composed in the late nineteen century it is remarkable for being didactic devotional and mystical in tone and style . It is the oldest surviving English poem in the form of a dream or vision. The dreamer describes this vision of the bright cross which was brilliantly adorned with gems. he then proceeds to recount the speech the cross or the rood narrates its origin in the forest its removal and its subsequent transformation into a cross for Christ it tells of its horrors at the role it had to play and determination to stand fast because that was God's command. The suffering of Christ is narrated as he ascends the loss for the redemption mankind . The entire narration is done using verse charged with simple eloquence religious passion and wonder . The speech concludes by exhorting every soul to seek the king of god through the cross. The poem concludes with the dreamer giving an account of his own religious hopes.

Friday, 3 April 2020

Give an account of the old English heroic poetry. Mentioning all the major and minor war poems ?

Old English Heroic poetry , wiki , Examples  Old English Literature notes

The Germanic forefather of the Saxon , described by Tacitus lived in caves or primitive huts, and lived on hunting and robbing of more civilized neighbours. The fierce love for war and bloodshed in a barbaric manner, as recorded in Icelandic and Scandinavian Nibelungenlied, is much softened due to infusion of Christian spirit in the edited manuscripts of Anglo-Saxon war poems like , The Battle of Maldon and Battle of Brunanburh.



The Epical Beowulf is definitely the greatest specimen of heroic poetry in old English . The poem relates the deeds of Beowulf , a valiant warrior of the people of Geats in southern Sweden, who sails from his homeland in Sweden to help Hrothgar , the king of the Danes , whose royal hall , Heorot is being regularly ravaged by a murderous cannibalistic human monster named Grendel, this is overcome by Beowulf in a memorable encounter but he escapes only to die from his grievous injuries in his mother’s cave dwelling under the water of a lake .Grendel’s mother carries on the depredations . Beowulf pursues her to her den. The another fierce fight Beowulf kills this monster . Then he return home to Sweden and is proclaimed king of the Geats. After a glorious reign of 50 years. Beowulf has to wage another heroic fight against a fire breathing dragon that had been devastating the countryside . He is successful in killing this menace and assuring happiness to his countrymen. But in the process he received a fatal wound , he meets the worthy ends of the a genuine hero .The poem ends with the burning of Beowulf's body the treasures he recovers from the dragon’s cave , on a funeral pure on a head-land , amid the lamentations of his people’s , a monumental borrow is built to perpetuate his memory. Beowulf character to built on large simple lines his passion for glory , his honest boasting as a warrior , his role of a disinterested crusader and purger of society.

Finnsburg and Waldere are two epic fragments the first , consisting of only 51 lines is conjectured to have been composed about AD 700 Finn, the son of a Frisian king , Treacherously attacked the Danes he himself had hosted.

Waldere is found in two fragments of 31 lines, each in the first part a woman called Hildegard is found encouraging Waldere to fight with his pursuers. Waldere and Hagen were teamed together ,but Hagena fled to the camp of Guthhere in the final battle, Guthhere lost a leg , Waldere his right hand and Hagena an eye.

Battle of Brunanburh & Maldon
A taste of the traditional heroic poetry of the Anglo-Saxon is found in two poems. The Battle of Brunanburh and The Battle of Maldon. The first 73 lines occurs in the Anglo-Saxon chronicles. It allows us a glimpse into the primitive barbaric mood of the people. The poet celebrates a victory won by king Aethelred and his brother. Prince Edmund with patriotic pride the poet sings this victory over the combined forces of the Seots and the Danes. The fragmentary “The Battle of Maldon” is one of the most important Anglo-Saxon poems , because it deals with his historical persons.

The Battle took place in the late summer of 991 between Norwegian invaders under tryggnason and the Anglo-saxon defenders under earl Brythoth of essex . The poem has a stirring dramatic language and noble elegia style of a characteristic Germanic epic. It is infact a small scale counter part of Beowulf. The language full as it is of moral exhortation is direct and forceful. The poet must have had eye-witness account of the battle, but did not himself take part in it.

The ethics of the “comitatus” priniciple in “The Battle of Maldon” have been criticized by several mean the bond of loyality between aristocratic leader and his men. The poem may be interpreted as an indictment by implication of the policy of buying off the Danes and also against Englishmen , lacked loyality to their leaders in these times .


Anglo-Saxon Poetry Characteristics Anglo-Saxon Literature notes

 Caedmon and Cynewulf as religious poets of old english literature

Caedmon and Cynewulf as religious poets old english literature
Caedmon & Cynewulf as a religious poets|Old English Literature

Caedmon and Cynewulf are found to represent the two distinct schools of English poetry, fostered by the people. Both these schools are Christian in thought and inspiration and not rarely muwkish in approach. Both the makers of these schools are found to belongs absolutely to their own age and bear palpably a pagan outlook on life something of Beowulf seems to permit them all through as the typical products  of a fierce and fatalistic age. Yet, they are to be acknowledged as the innovation of a new trend in old English poetry.

 Difference between Caedmon And Cynewulf

The contribution of both Caedmonian and Cynewulf to the growth of Anglo-Saxon Christian poetry is in fact undeniable. Yet these two poets as their works indicate are not of the same order or type one is a native poet with a spontaneous inspiration while the other is an artist, with scholarly acquirement and artistic imagination whereas Caedmonian poetry may be Characterised as old Christian poetry, Cynewulf stands as the new Caedmon represent a groups of poems earlier in tone and feelings than that which is generally attributed to Cynewulf.

The distinctions between these two classes of Christian poetry however is clearly discernible In Caedmonian poetry , the representation is of the Bible in the old form, as the old testament is Caedmon’s materials in Cynewulf, the representation of Christ and the account of his suffering and triumph are made with a sort of epical grandeur. The new testament is the materials for his works.

Cynewulfian poetry marks definitely an advance upon the Caedmonian school. Caedmon’s poetry is a sort of hymns in praise of the creator and his creation, whereas Cynewulf is the self-ravelation of a soul in the pursuit of spiritual life . In Cynewulfian poetry, the inspiration of Christianity , are not simply Christ. The poet is found here mainly concerned with the stories of saints and martyrs of the inspiration of the new testament. Christ is celebrated in new poetry as a savior and the poetic spirit here is rather elegiac than epical . Again, Caedmonian poetry is narrative and relates the story of creation and other biblical accounts. But cynewulfian poetry is reflective and as indicated in the Dream of the Rood, lyrical. The advance of the latter group is also frequently marked in the description of nature. There is seen the spiritual vision of nature in Cynewulf , but this is very rare in Caedmon. It is the poetry of future, and not of the past and present only .

There is also the distinction between the two in regard to the poetic style. Caedmon’s natural poetry is simple, straight forward and definitely easily convincing. But Cynewulf is a poetic artist and his poetry is rich in artistic graces. In variety profundity and sonority , cynewulfian poetry is definitely superior to caedmonian . 

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Who were the University Wits ? How did their contribution enrich the art of Shakespeare ?

Short notes , essay on university wits of english literature
University Wits 


The term University wits refer to a group of young dramatist of the early Elizabethan period who were associated with the universities of Cambridge and oxford. University Wits consisted of writers like John Lyly , George peel , Robert Green , Thomas Nash , Thomas Lodge , Thomas Kyd and Christopher Marlowe. These young men had certain things in common all of them were qualified with universities degrees. All were actors and playwrights. They knew the stage and understood the attitude of the audience which craved for stories of love and brave spectacles. The university wits often worked together and collaborated to produce plays. This practice was chiefly adopted either to revive old plays or to create new ones. Apart from these literary characteristics these writers also shared a romantic attitude to life which was manifested in their bohemian attitude . In short these playwrights represented the true spirit of Renaissance both in their art and in their personal lives.


The following are the names of University wits Member
 They were called as University Wits in English Literature because they all had certain things in common all of them were qualified with University Degrees . All of them were actors and playwrights

Contribution Of University Wits to English Literature

The university Wits contributed greatly to the formation of romantic comedy which later culminated in the hands of William Shakespeare


It was John Lyly a courtier who made notable contribution to the development of English comedy. This comedian are romantics as well as witty. Some of this romantic plays are Endymian, Midas, Love’s Metamorphoses etc.

George peel was another university wit who wrote comedies plays are both humorous and satirical in style. Among his play mention can be made of Battle of Alcazar, The arrangement of Paris etc.


Robert Green was another University Wit who contributed to the development of English Comedy. In his plays like Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay, These is an exquisite connexion of diverse moods and surroundings. They creates a world where princess meet with clown and fairies with artisans.
The university wits however had not mastered the art of plot construction. Their plots were often used but they could harmonize the different of their stories into a whole which somehow held in the advancement of plot from this point of view Robert Green was a pioneer and he was later successfully followed by Shakespeare skill in Constructing plot particularly in the Merchant of Venice. A midsummer’s night dream.


Thomas Nash, Another prominent university wit was a singer of Saints John college Cambridge. He is noted to have written summer’s last will and Taskeman which was acted in 1592 and perhaps he too also contributed some part to Marlowe’s Dido Queen of carthage , and to a last play called the Eyle of Dogs. Nash is however more famous as a Pampheter and a story writer particularly. The unfortunate Traveller.


Thomas Lodge wrote a chronicle play called the wounds of Civil War. This play perhaps influenced Shakespeare later Chronicle plays. Lodge also wrote another play called a looking glass for London and England.


 The two most famous university wits were Kyd and Marlowe. Both of them developed tragedy which gradually became the most popular poem of the time. Thomas Kyd is famous for the Spanish tragedy, which turned out to be a landmark in the history of English drama because it firmly established the genre of revenge tragedy. He inspired Shakespear’s Hamlet and the later Jacobean cult of Revenge plays particularly these of Webster.

The most important university dramatist among the university wits were undoubtedly Christopher Marlowe, he enriched the Elizabethan plays not only by his great tragedies like Tamburlaine Doctor Faustus, Jew of Malta etc but also by introducing the Blank verse as a powerful media. Marlowe demonstrated that if used effectively. The Blank Verse could became an appropriate medium for tragedies .
It was for Marlowe also paved the way for the later historical plays of Shakespeare particularly Edward III And Henry IV in a way all the university wits certain helped in the development of the drama in the some way or the others they also enriched the art of Shakespeare by creating a longinial literary environment for him to follow and build upon.

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Anglo-Saxon Poetry Characteristics             Anglo-Saxon Literature notes

 Who were called Cavalier and Caroline poets , age , major poets name , features of Caroline poets

Who were called Cavalier and caroline poets , age , major poets name , features of caroline poets
Cavalier and Caroline poets, poems, features

 Who were Called Cavalier and Caroline poets ?

The cavalier or the Caroline poets were group of poets of the Mid Seventeenth century who sided with King Charles I , against the parliament. Robert Herrick , Thomas Carew , Sir John Suckling and Richard Lovelace are the Caroline poets. These poets were the followers of Ben Johnson and they were popularly called as “ Son’s Of Ben ”. However, some of them were also followers of John Donne. Cavalier and Caroline poets were also called as "Sons Of Ben" . Read Metaphysical poetry of John Donne

Major Cavalier and Caroline age Poets

 The following are the major Cavalier and Caroline poets -
They had their learning towards the King and the court party as against the Puritans and the Parliament but they did not use their poetry as a means of propaganda against the enemies of the King. They were basically lyrical poets and dealt with Love , beauty and war as they derived from Ben Johnson the clarity and Lucidity of expression control of emotions, flexibility of phrases and sophistication of tone. Some of the name of the poet of their schools are Herrick , Carew , Lovelace , and Suckling .

Features Of Caroline Poets

 The following are the Features of Caroline Poets -

(i)                  The Cavalier poets mirrored the mood and temper of the age . Its presented the theme of licentious and indescency. Thus reflecting the coarseness and corruption of the royal court and the courtly circles to which most of the poets of this school belonged to .

(ii)                The poets belonging to this school also wrote poems on nature. They showed a love for natural scenes and sights and wrote about birds, trees, plants and flowers they also wrote poems celebrating the beauty of their beloved which were known as love poems .

(iii)               The Caroline lyrics are rhythmic and charming but there is also something trivial about them may be these was a reason behind it as their writing reflected triviality of their times .

(iv)              The Cavalier poets revealed lyrical power of a high order. They were very observers of light and nature and described everything minutely and with emotions. They show a love for natural scenes and sights and wrote about birds, trees, plants and flowers. The forces of nature are abound in their lyrics.

(v)                Their poems were basically mashed with more attention to polish and elegance and often achieved the calm of perfection. Though it resembled its predecessor. The Elizabethan lyric it lacked in spontaneity and elegance.

The Caroline poets wrote lyrics similar to the Elizabethan lyrics and were publish in Miscellaneous and Anthologies .

What Did Cavalier poets wrote about? Qualities of Cavalier poets , Major works of Cavalier and Caroline Poets

 Major Caroline poet's name and works ,Contribution to English poetry

Following are the name of major Caroline poets and their famous works and qualities


Robert Herrick was one of the greatest of the Caroline lyricists. He was the chief of those who called themselves Son’s of Ben. His two volumes of poem are Noble Numbers and Hesperides ,which were published in 1647 and 1648 respectively. Both are collection of short poems sacred and profane. He is well known for his lyrics , freshness , passion , felicity , Herrick was strongly influenced by Johnson and the classics. Among the best known of his shorter piece are To Anthea, To Julia and Cherry Ripe the poem of Herrick fall into three divisions –

(i)                  The amatory

(ii)                The religious verse and

(iii)               A number of epigrams.

Among these the religious poems are much better. In the poem called the The litany, religious poem we see now even his gay and sensuous nature descended at times that dark shadow of religious terror which later found its final and appealing expression in

“The Grace Abounding of John Bunyan“. His lyrics of love are delightful and lucid. He takes leisure in describing purely physical beauty. However , Herrick had sincere love of the country. He even admired the town life. He was nature lover too. He love flower and particularly he devoted his lyrics to Daffodils , Tulips and violets etc.

Thomas Carew Poems and Works

Thomas Carew , may be called the inventor of Cavalier love poetry. He was known as a courtly and polished love poet. Due to the peculiar combination of the sensual and the religious which marked most of the Minor poets of the 17th Century. He is frankly sensuous ,ardour and some warmth of imagination in his writings. He was far more a mere poet than Herrick far more Lucid than Donne and far less classic than Johnson. In a nutshell he stands next to Herrick among the Cavalier poets on account of felicity of phrase and tone fuchess of verse .


Anglo-Saxon Poetry Characteristics  Anglo-Saxon Literature notes


Major theme of old english literature notes






The Earliest English literature is unwritten. It consists of songs and legends, heroic and stirring character sung to the harp by the Minstrel and Gleeman and handed down from one generation to another by the words of mouth .

It is not until much later that these old stories were down , and the blend of Christian and pagan sentiment is due to the fact that may were first written down after the introduction of Christianity , when the monks who took them in hand wish to infuse religious sentiments into the rough heathen saga. The circling seasons , the alternate reign of day and night, fade their imagination and found expression in many natural myths that served as their Early religious. Then, on to these myths became crafted stories of the great man who had done mighty deeds.


Beowulf, the epic poem written by an unknown author in the old English has a heroic theme, the theme centers around the heroic story about the adventure of a brave man. It shows the fierce fights and brave actions. The speeches of the leaders and the suffering of their men are told in the poem. The poem describes their hard life.  


Many Old English Poems existed with religious themes. The Christian poems Genesis-A and Genesios-B are among them . There are concerned with the Genesis or origin of the world as given in the Bible. Another poem taken from Bible is Exodus, which describe, “How the Israelites left Egypt”. Daniel and Christian Satan are other poems which are based on the Bible stories .

Caedmon and Cynewulf were two poets of Old English Caedmon’s poems don’t exist anymore. Four poems of Cynewulf still exist. They include Juliana , the fates of the Apostles , Crist , Elene , These poems are all religious in the second half of eighth century.


There are many old English lyrics, mostly with an Elegy theme. They were originally meant to be sung and the expressed the poets thoughts and feelings. Old English lyrics poems include Deor’s Lament , the husband’s message, The wanderer and the Wife’s Complain. Some of these poems have an elegiac theme, lamenting the loss of a loved one whether it be a husband as in the wife’s complain. 


There are some old English poems with the themes of war, such as the Battle of Maldon etc. The well known war poems of the period and this war was fought against the Danes. It is an inspiring poem particularly noteworthy for the world of courage. Which the English uses. Translated from the old English. It stills evokes a Grand Vision of Human courage .

“ The mind must be firmer, the heart must be braver ,
The courage must be greater, as over strength growless”.

The old English literature comprises prose as well prose came later than the old English verse(Poetry) the oldest prose was called the Laws, they were written at the beginning of 7th century. Some of them are very interesting if a man splits someone’s ear , he had to pay a fine , but these(Law’s) were not really literature, for they had to pay a fine , but these (Laws) were not really literature, for they had little structure or style.

The most interesting prose work is the Anglo-Saxon chronicle ,its theme is a historical work. It comprise several historian belonging to different English terms. There works too had little literary quality.

One of the most important prose writer of old English period was King Alfred. He had a great influence on the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. It was first Alfred who brought the different chronicles into historical order. He also translated many Latin into old English .Read Here Contribution of Alfred , Aelfric to Anglo-Saxon prose

Another important Prose writer of the Age was Aelfric, His works were Saints lives, Grammer Diselane , His elegance etc. His works were mostly religious in theme and subject matter and his style is perhabs based on the old English literature .


Anglo-Saxon Poetry Characteristics Anglo-Saxon Literature notes

Wednesday, 1 April 2020


Aelfric , Alfred , Wulfstan contribution to Anglo-Saxon prose , English literature notes

Contribution of Aelfric to Anglo-saxon prose

of the makers of Anglo-Saxon prose , the name of Aelfric comes next to that of Alfred . A solid foundation for Anglo-Saxon Prose was laid by Alfred , and Aelfric added to it perfection and force . While Alfred gave it strength and durability, Aelfric enriched it with grace and lucidity . His contribution to growth of English prose was really remarkable . Aelfric as he himself has admitted , was a pupil of the monastic school, founded by Aethelwold at Abingdon. The exact year of his birth is not known , but , from his own account , his association with the Cathedral at Winchester is well evident he was a scholar , and had a religious training but Alfred had no such scholarship or training. Consequently , Aelfric style was much more impressive and learned than Alfred's .

Of the exact nature of Aelfric's work , little is actually known. It is supposed that he wrote in the first year the eleventh century. Of his writing colloquium and catholic homilies deserves particular mention , and they have established his name as one of architects of Anglo-Saxon prose .
Colloquium of Aelfric is meant for teaching atin by conservation. This is conceived in quite interesting way . The conversation is between the teacher , a novice and a number of persons Representating different trades and occupations. Catholic homilies consists of the compilation and translations made by him from the works of the celebrated churchmen. It comprises 120 homilies in three groups of forty , meant for those men to read who do not know Latin. The three series of forty Sermons each and the commemorations of various saints, venerated by the catholic church from the whole work. These homilies exhibit Aelfric style in it maturity his rhythmic and alliterative expression , no doubt, cause Monotory in their excesses, but they closely akin to the ballad verse were very attractive to lay audience. To Aelfric credit may be given also for the compilation of Vocabulary which is a crude of Latin-English Dictionary.

Aelfric , Alfred , Wulfstan contribution to Anglo-Saxon prose , English literature notes

Aelfric contribution to Anglo-Saxon prose is manifest mainly in two ways.

 In the first place it is expressed through his attempt to instruct Latin to his people , His Colloquium and Latin-English dictionary are indeed, notable efforts in this direction. 

In the second place, Aelfric is found to have immensely enriched the style of of Anglo-Saxon prose. In this connection the prose style of Aelfric need to be mentioned and assessed.

Aelfric prose unlike Alfred's is intended for speaking, Naturally it has a conversational style, full of impulse and sonority. Its character is different from the prose of the translation of Bede's work. Aelfric prose is essentially poetic more or less balanced and frequently alliterative giving them the swing of metrical.
The poetic prose of Aelfric is definately a gem in Anglo-Saxon literature. It marks a great advance on the English prose which Alfred had brought into existance. It is remarkably clear, pointed and lucid. There is much less awkwardness or obscurity in Aelfric writings which attain a very great extent, beauty spontaniety and harmony.
Aelfric is generally taken as the greatest prose writer of Anglo-Saxon period. He is also honoured as the most distinguished thelogian prose writer. He deserves a high admiration for his simple yet forceful mode of instructing christian percepts. His influence on English prose is found to last long even after his death, probably in 1020 .


 In the political history of the Anglo-Saxon, Alfred is a renowned name. He was a national hero who first unified the English nation and inspired in them a feelings of Nationalism. Alfred is also a great name in the history of Anglo-Saxon literature. No other single name of that remote period has so much contribution to the development of Anglo-Saxon literature. It is to him that English prose owes its origin and stupendous success. It is due to his untiring efforts that the loose, detached , unformed prose of the period became a solid, robust and graceful edifice. After his victory against the Danes, Alfred, a wise king as he was , set himself to the task of reanimating and reconstructing his people who had sunk into the depths of barbarism and ignorance, orderly , disciplined and cultured, he devoted himself who heartedly to improve their literary ideal and intellectual and cultural standard of course , Alfred name is mainly connected with Anglo-Saxon prose ,and his contribution to its growth is beyond any exaggeration. 

Alfred contribution to the development of Anglo-Saxon prose is marked in a three fold ways-

First, he helped the development of the Anglo-Saxon chronicle or simply the chronicle which was the first true specimen of the Anglo-Saxon prose.

Second, he initiated and encouraged the English translation of certain great Latin work .

Third , he himself wrote and thereby contributed to the growth of Anglo-Saxon prose.

Before Alfred, The Anglo-Saxon chronicle was nothing but a loose and detached record of the birth of certain king and the history of their warfare.
It was Alfred's sincere efforts and spontaneous enthusiasm that immensely contributed to the growth of the Anglo-Saxon chronicle as the first monumental work of English prose. Alfred was supposed to have written some portions of the chronicles , but what more to did was to raise the formless chronicles to the immortality of the first national history of a western nation in its own language. The considerable part that Alfred played in the literary movement of the time is most singularly marked in his landable enterprise to translate their classical works  which seemed to him apt to civilize and improve his people . Bede a great scholar of the age traced the history of the religious development of England in religious literature of all ages , his importance is an admitted fact. By bringing out the translation of Bede's work Alfred tried to instill into his ignorant people the truly christian morality.


Anglo-Saxon prose had its solid basic under the pioneering achievement of the great English King. It had further development and received an artistic growth at the hand of Aelfric a great artist in the Anglo-Saxon prose style. Aelfric followed by another prose writer. He was Wulfstan a churchman who like Aelfric was a scholar and possessed of a rich and impetuous prose style.

Wulfstan like Aelfric , was an artist and he added to the growth of the forceful impulsive English prose style. His letter addressed to the English is acclaimed still now as  a remarkable specimen of Anglo-Saxon prose . These reveals his patriotic zeal as well as impulsive mode of writing . The letter is a passionate and patriotic exhortation to the English nation to stand against the aggression of the savage Danes , Wulfstan's another remarkable work is Homilies, which contains like Aelfric ,rich instructive , sermons given out in a telling manner that easily impresses and convinces the audience .

Wulfstan was an inspired author-a christian as well as patriot. He is found to have a style, vigorous and penetrative and here he may well be placed by the side of Aelfric . His style masked with both Sincerity and Impulsiveness. Of course, Wulfstan has not the all pervasive magnificance of Aelfric ,as a prose writer and stand inferior to him in this respect. But his mighty of Presenting matters , vigorously and impressively remains an asset in the history of Anglo-Saxon prose , indeed , in the making of Anglo-Saxon prose, Wulfstan contribution must not be at all ignored.


Anglo-Saxon Poetry Characteristics   Anglo-Saxon Literature notes