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Unit 1 The Seafarer, The Wanderer, The Wife's Lament
THE SEAFARER, THE WANDERER, THE WIFE’S LAMENT Anglo-Saxon Culture
- The Anglo-Saxons were expert seafarers who sailed the ocean to raid or settle other lands
- After the Anglo-Saxons settled England in the 500s, many converted to Christianity. They retained, though, a pagan conviction in the power of fate, and retold Germanic and Scandinavian tales of heroes and monsters.
- Men dominated Anglo-Saxon society and women had few rights.
- A lyric poem expresses the thoughts and feelings of a single speaker. Anglo-Saxon lyrics were composed for easy memorization and recitation.
- Anglo-Saxon lyrics contained the following literary elements:
- Lines with regular rhythms, usually with four strong beats
- Caesuras, rhythmic breaks in the middle of lines, where the reciter could pause for a breath
- Kennings, two-word poetic renaming of people, places, and things, such as the kenning whale’s home for the sea
- Assonance, the repetition of vowel sounds in unrhymed, stressed syllables (for example, “batter these ramparts”)
- Alliteration, the repetition of initial consonant sound in accented syllables (for example, “Peter Piper picked a peck”)
- Elegy - each of the lyrics (The Seafarer l The Wanderer l The Wife’s Lament) is an elegy, a lyric poem mourning the loss of someone or something. Though their circumstances vary greatly, each speaker may be said to have lost a home.
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