Old English Poetic Form

(1586 words)
  • Robert Fulk (Indiana University)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

I. Alliteration and rhyme.

A poetic line comprises two verses linked by alliteration, i.e. by repetition of initial sounds. Normally a single consonant alliterates with a single consonant, but the sounds represented by sp, st, and sc alliterate only with identical sounds. Any vowel or diphthong alliterates with any other vowel or diphthong, and in fact the poets generally seem to have avoided alliterating identical vowel sounds, an avoidance that Snorri Sturlusson (d. 1241) tells us Old Icelandic poets practised. The first fully stressed syllable in the on-verse (or a-verse, the first half of the line) should alliterate with the first fully stressed syllable in the off-verse (or b-verse)…

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are a member (student of staff) of a subscribing institution (see List), you should be able to access the LE on campus directly (without the need to log in), and off-campus either via the institutional log in we offer, or via your institution's remote access facilities, or by creating a personal user account with your institutional email address. If you are not a member of a subscribing institution, you will need to purchase a personal subscription. For more information on how to subscribe as an individual user, please see under Individual Subcriptions.

Fulk, Robert. "Old English Poetic Form". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 22 March 2003
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=1268, accessed 29 September 2016.]