The second week in the series, time to sharpen that pencil again.



So what was Anglo-Saxon poetry all about? It wasn’t all ‘Beowulf’. Here’s a sort of list.

(i) battles (usually heroic defeats, but lots of violence and rallying-round) – look up ‘The Battle of Maldon’

(ii) heroes (often different from lords and loyal retainers by being a bit Super) – ‘Beowulf’ the best.

(iii) lords & retainers (the ingredients for the glue of Anglo-Saxon upper-society : the retainers swear oaths to the lords, and the lords provide gifts, food, security etc. in return) – in all battle poems, and most others.

(iv) loss of the same (the biggest tragedy that can happen to a person ; cast out from fire, gold, gifts into the big, cold, monster-infested world) – see ‘The Wanderer’

(v) Death and the passing of all things (a real Saxon theme, but neatly fitted-out with Christian ‘despair on being out of God’s favour’ in most cases) – ‘The Wanderer’, ‘The Seafarer’.

(vi) riddles (entertainment for fireside drinking, eating, merriments and reciting/singing, fun and games) – whole books of these available, some unsolved!

(vii) Christian Saints’ lives (often ‘hero-ized’ so that they appeal to the old pagan ways and show Christ and Saints as warriors – but not always!). Lots of these. Easily adapted : lord = TheLord, retainers = believers, outlawry = despair away from Lord etc.


Right, your turn. 1st go.

(i) look at these 7 things in (A). Write ONE alliterative sentence (don’t worry about half-lines yet) about each one. Say 3 alliterations in each. You can double-alliterate if you want to be super-clever (see examples below). Also don’t worry about historical stuff – your lines can be any time, period, country, people.

example : for (i) – Battles – ‘At the battle of Borchester Big Harold had his helmet bashed in’. (alliterates ‘B’ and’ H’).

for (iv) – Loss of house & home – ‘the wind wails in the treetops and I trudge west away from the treasure of my lord’ (‘W’ and ‘T’)

You’re on the way. Easy huh? Next week, Week 3 : Writing some Wriddles haha.

Remember to send any work that you would like looked at to John at