Alliterative Poetry

Tori, Kristen, Mallory, and Julianna
 Modern Alliterative Poetry:
 Alliteration: The repetition of
similar sounds in a series of
words or phrases
 Assonance
 Ex. On a proud round
cloud in white high night
 Consonance
 Ex. Peter Piper picked a
pickled pepper
Anglo Saxon Alliterative Poetry:
 uses alliteration as the main
structuring device to join lines of
 unlike other devices that uses
 Forming of this Alliterative
 Any of the stressed syllables
may alliterate except the last
For example:
Lade ne letton. Leoht eastan com.
 The line has two verses divided
by a boundary called a caesura.
 Each of the two halves contain
two stressed syllables, called
lifts, and two or more groups of
unstressed syllables, called
 An alliterative pattern must be
carried over across the caesura
 Has a distinctive set of
rhetorical devices
 most common is kenning
Examples of drops and lifts
 Germanic languages
 Some poetry that uses
alliteration include:
 Muspilli
 Heliand
 Poetic Edda
 Also found in other
languages as well:
 Kalevala
 Kalevipoeg
 J.R.R. Tolkien- “Turin Turambar”,
“Song of the Mounds of
Mundberg”, “The Lord of the
 He majored in Anglo Saxon and
Middle English
 Style unknown in modern
English literature
 This style dominated English
literature from Chaucer’s
time until early 20th century
 “Song of the Mounds of Mundburg”:
We heard of the horns in the hills ringing,
the swords shining in the South-kingdom.
Steeds went striding to the Stoningland
as wind in the morning. War was kindled.
 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
 Written during “Alliterative Revival -14th century
 Followed the alliterative verse style
 Except made a few changes called bob and wheel
ful clene
for wonder of his hwe men hade
set in his semblaunt sene
he ferde as freke were fade
and oueral enker grene
full clean.
Great wonder of the knight
Folk had in hall, I ween,
Full fierce he was to sight,
And over all bright green.
 Germanic Anglo-Saxon Poetry
 Old English language
 Alliterative Poetry used instead
of usual rhyme schemes
 Usually three alliterations in
every line
 Ex. Now Beowulf bode in the
burg of the Scyldings
 Kennings (epithets) are also
used to enhance the poetry
 “mail shirt” for armor
 “dwelling place” for residence
 In the translation by Seamus
Heaney alliteration is sometimes
only in half the line
 These are examples of proper
 The fortunes of war/ favoured
Hrothgar (l.64)
 The highest in the land/
would lend advice (l.172)
 And find friendship/ in the
Father’s embrace (l.188)
 Heaney tries to use many
analogies like the original
 Lord of the nation could be:
 “ring-giver”
 “treasure-giver”
 “his people’s shield”
 “shepherd”