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Language that communicates meaning beyond the
literal meanings of the
Old English metaphorical
descriptions used to replace a noun
(Ex: “whale road” is a kenning for
the sea.)
Alliteration- Repetition of initial
consonant sounds (Ex: the bloody
battle began)
Caesura- In old English poetry, the
space at the end of or in the middle
of lines used to indicate a pause for
effect of meaning.
Extreme exaggeration
(Ex: “He was stronger than a
thousand horses.”)
Personification- Giving human traits
to inhuman things (Ex: The waves
grasped at the boat as the wind
screamed its threat against the
Onomatopoeia- Words that sound
like the meaning they convey (Ex:
buzz, whisper, gargle, murmur)
When an author uses words
that appeal vividly to the senses (Ex:
“The only sound was the roaring sea,
the freezing waves.”)
Metaphor- A direct comparison
between two things (Ex: “Her coffin
was a shadow of death in my
Simile- A comparison using like or as
(Ex: “His anger clouded the hearts
of men like smoke.”)
in secret sessions” (87-88)
“fastened those claws in his fists till
they cracked, clutched Grendel
closer” (284)
“Grendel will carry our bloody/Flesh
to the moors, crunch on our
“His mind was flooded with fear”
of their days” (331-332)
“…sorrow heaped at his door” (58)
“Hate had triumphed” (58)
“death was my errand and the fate
they had earned” (158)
“agony hung on king and people
alike” (106-107)
“hammer-forged blades and boarheaded helmets” (404)
1.) Complete the Poetry Sheet for Beowulf by
identifying at least TWO of each poetic device listed.
For “other,” you must include one kenning and one
epithet. For ALL devices, list the quote from the text,
the line numbers, and the effect or purpose of the
poetic device.
Ex: Alliteration - “fastened those claws in his fists till
they cracked, clutched Grendel closer” (284) – the
alliteration is used to emphasize the sound of the
bones cracking.
2.) Create FIVE ORIGINAL KENNINGS. They may be
for something related to Beowulf or something modern.
Beside each, list what the kenning is naming. Ex: “a
prison-house for students” - school
Work with your group to identify the figurative
language in the section you’ve been assigned.
 Create a presentation with the text that
highlights, underlines or identifies the figurative
language there by color. You will present your
section to the class and TEACH about the
figurative language present.
 Create a large poster with an image that shows
the major event in your section. You can draw,
paint, create a collage, etc. Make sure it has
color and can be seen from the back of the
room. Due next Monday Oct. 16th.
1: Lines 1- 104
Group 2: Lines 105-232
Group 3: Lines 233-397
Group 4: Lines 398-449
Group 5: Lines 450-605
Epic Poetry- focuses upon
bravery of central hero (Ex.
Beowulf) (Note: The Iliad is also an
epic but originates in Greece)
Elegiac Lyric Poetry- Expresses
mourning due to the passing of
better times, death, or other losses;
dark mood & bleak fatalism are
characteristic of Anglo-Saxon times
(Ex: “Seafarer”)
Anglo- Saxons enjoyed the
playful and intellectual challenge of
riddles, which described familiar
objects in ways that forced the
audience to guess their identity.
Kennings were often used in riddles,
which were written in verse.
manuscript of miscellaneous AngloSaxon poems dating from around A.D
It’s “songs” are our chief source os
Anglo-Saxon Poetry
Elegiac poems include
 “The Seafarer”
 “The Wanderer”
 “The Wife’s Lament”
90-96 riddles are contained in
the Exeter
The manuscript survived numerous
raids and fires, but was not well
cared for: used as a chopping board;
pages marked my beer stains; some
pages partially burned.
The Exeter Book is preserved at
Exeter Cathedral in England
of the riddles unknown
Probably short pieces used by scops
while audiences were getting settled
or as filler between sets during
performances of longer epic works,
such as Beowulf.
Some written in Latin or translations
of Latin, suggesting they were
strictly written genre
riddles used “runes,” implying a
sense of mystery or magic
Test the reader’s or hearer’s
Riddles offer a glimpse of Anglo-Saxon
life and beliefs not found elsewhere:
 Everything
in the world is part of a
continuum… living creatures with
 Creatures of the riddles often have to
experience pain in the present
 The creature or observer accepts this pain
as natural order or Christian patience
“I saw a wonderful
thing…” or “I am a marvel…”
Half-lines- Poet probably wished to
“measure out” his clues in a specific
order and at a specific rate
Alliteration is often used throughout
~The scribe who wrote out the riddles
did NOT include solutions! Answers
are based on the best conjectures
of scholars.~
 “lost
in the night, as you never had
lived” (94)
 “kneeling as though he still sat
enthroned” (42)
 “sharing my bread with sorrow” (29)
 “These rocky slopes are beaten by
storms, this earth pinned down by
driving snow” (99-100)
 “storm- beaten blocks besmeared with
frost” (75)
 “The
world’s honor ages and
shrinks, bent like the man who
mold it” (89-90)
 “the cuckoo sings in his murmuring
voice” ( 154)
 “our thoughts should turn toward
where our home is… the hope of
Heaven” (88)
 “I
“Wife’s Lament”
make this song
about me full
sadly” (1)
 “this den in the earth” (28)