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Types of records: Poetic and prose

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King Alfred is called the founder of English prose.


8th: Glosses (very few of them)

9th: much more,

10th -11th: the majority. The King himself translated: Cura Pastoralis (papa Gregory I, 6th) – Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Angorum (Bede 8th), World History (monk Orosius 5th). In his translation Alfred made omissions and some additions of his own; Consolation of Philosophy (Boethius 6th) one of the most famous books of the Middle Ages. Alfred also caused a record to be compiled of the important events of English history, past and present, and this, as continued for more than two centuries after his death, is the well-known Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

In the tongue of many poetic records dialectical peculiarities are both of Wessex and of English dialects, this can be explained by the fact that first the records were written in Northumbria, and only in 10th-11th they were rewritten in Wessex. But also there exist another theory which assert that at that time common literary language of Old English poetry existed and it was different from prosaic, it combined several dialectal features.

Beowulf - a poem of some 3,000 lines belonging to the type known as the folk epic the end of 10th. For a long time this poem existed only in oral expression, it describes the time when Jutes, Angles and Saxons lived in the continent, customs, rituals and believes of old germans of pre-Christian epoch are depicted in the poem, but in the main plot of the story we can observe later episodes reflecting Christian religion influence.

Anglo-Saxon poetry, just like the versification of other Germanic people, was written by the means of alliteration ; rhyme is absent, rhythm was built at the basis of stress. Figurativeness and metaphor were characteristic features for Anglo-Saxon poetry. To express different notions there existed dozens of synonymic words phrases, and sustained metaphors

Recedes muth = the mouth of the house= the door

Segl-rad = the road of sails = sea

Hond-ge-mot = hand meeting = fight

About 800 an Anglian poet named Cynewulf wrote at least four poems on religious subjects, into which he ingeniously wove his name by means of runes. Two of these, Juliana and Elene, tell well-known legends of saints. A third, Christ deals with Advent, the Ascension, and the Last Judgment. The fourth, The Fates of the Apostles, touches briefly on where and how the various apostles died. There are other religious poems besides those mentioned by Cynewulf he was probably a Mercian writer of early 9th , such as the Andreas, two poems on the life of St. Guthlac, a fine poem on the story of Judith in the Apocrypha; The Phoenix, in which the bird is taken as a symbol of the Christian life; and Christ and Satan, which treats the expulsion of Satan from Paradise together with the Harrowing of Hell and Satan’s tempting of Christ. All of these poems have their counterparts in other literatures of the Middle Ages. They show England in its cultural contact with Rome and being drawn into the general current of ideas on the continent, no longer simply Germanic, but cosmopolitan.

Deor, a poem about a minstrel, is the lament of a scop who for years has been in the service of his lord and now finds himself thrust out by a younger man. But he strong man, he doesn’t whine . Life is like that. Age will be displaced by youth. He has his day. Deor is one of the most human of Old English poems. The Wanderer is a tragedy in the medieval sense, the story of a man who once enjoyed a high place and has fallen upon evil times. His lord is dead and he has become a wanderer in strange courts, alone, without any friends. The Seafarer is a monologue in which the speaker alternately describes the perils and hardships of the sea and the eager desire to dare again its dangers. In The Ruin the poet reflects on a ruined city, once prosperous and imposing with its towers and halls, its stone courts and baths, which is now nothing but the tragic shadow of what it once was.

Another literature monuments written in wessex dialect are Anglo-Saxon Chronicle – the oldest chronicles of the country by Wulfstan, whose Sermon to the English is an impassioned plea for moral and political reform (beginning 11th ), and one more founder of english prose – Aelfic - the author of two books of homilies (проповедь) and grammar of Old English and glossary.



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