Lecture 1 The Anglo- Saxon Period, The Anglo- Norman Period Part I Introduction to the appreciation of Poetry 1. Types of poetry 1. Types of poetry Narrative poetry Lyric poetry Narrative poetry Narrative poetry epic Ballad romance • Epics are long narrative poems that record the adventures of a hero whose exploits are important to the history of a nation. Typically they chronicle the origins of a civilization and embody its central beliefs and values. Epics tend to be larger than life as they recount heroic deeds enacted in vast landscapes. The style of epic is as grand as the action; the conventions require that the epic be formal, complex, and serious--suitable to its important subjects • Ballads originally were meant to be sung or recited. • Folk ballads (or popular ballads sometimes called) were passed on orally, only to be written down much later. • literary ballads of known authorship. Literary ballads imitate the folk ballad by adhering to its basic conventions— • repeated lines and stanzas in a refrain, swift action with occasional surprise endings, extraordinary events evoked in direct, simple language. • Romance was a long composition, sometimes in verse, sometimes in prose, describing the life and adventures of a noble hero. • The central character of romances was the knight, riding forth to seek adventures, taking part in tournaments, devoted to the church and the king. • The code of manners and morals of a knight is known as chivalry. Lyric poetry • In lyric poetry, however, story is subordinated to song, and action to emotion. • subjective poems that express the feelings and thoughts of a single speaker . • Lyric poetry is typically characterized by brevity, melody, and emotional intensity. major forms of lyrics • Epigram,a brief witty poem,often satirical • Elegy, a lament for the dead • Ode, a long stately poem in stanzas of varied length, meter, and form. • Aubade, a love lyric expressing complaint • Sonnet, a poem of fourteen lines, an expression of emotion or an articulation of idea Elements of poetry • Voice: speaker and tone. When we read or hear a poem, we hear a speaker's voice. The voice conveys the poem's tone, its implied attitude toward its subject, e.g. ironic tone of voice. • Diction, Poets choose a particular word. Its appropriateness is a function of both its denotation and its connotation, the best words in the best order. • Imagery, an image is a concrete representation of a sense impression, a feeling, or an idea. • Figures of speech. hyperbole or exaggeration, understatement, synecdoche or using a part to signify the whole, metonymy or substituting an attribute of a thing for the thing itself, personification, simile and metaphor, "saying one thing and meaning another, saying one thing in terms of another". • Symbolism, any object or action that means more than itself, any object or action that represents something beyond itself. • Syntax, grammatical structure of words in sentences and the development of sentences throughout the poem. • Sound: rhyme, alliteration and assonance • Rhythm and meter • Rhythm is the pulse or beat we feel in a phrase of music or a line of poetry. Rhythm refers to the regular recurrence of the accent or stress in poem or song. • Meter is a count of the stresses we feel in the poem's rhythm. The unit of poetic meter in English is the foot, a unit of measure consisting of stressed and unstressed syllables. Foot Meter Example • Rising feet iamb iambic prevent anapest anapestic comprehend • Falling feet trochee trochaic football dactyl dactylic cheerfully • Substitute feet spondee spondaic knick-knack pyrrhic pyrrhic (light) of the (world) • Duple meters: two syllables per foot: iambic and trochaic • Triple meters: three syllables per foot: anapestic and dactylic . • Number of feet per line • One foot Monometer • Two feet Dimeter • Three feet Trimeter • Four feet Tetrameter • Five feet Pentameter • Six feet Hexameter • Seven feet Heptameter • Eight feet Octameter Part II. The Anglo-Saxon Period(449-1066) （Old English literature, 5th-11th centuries） • The Britons, early inhabitants in the island, a tribe of Celts. Britain, the land of Britons. • The Roman Conquest, in 55 B.C., Britain was invaded by Julius Caesar, the Roman conqueror; in 410 A.D, all the Roman troops went back to the continent and never returned. Thus ended the Roman occupation in Britain. • The English Conquest • At the same time Britain was invaded by swarms of pirates, three tribes from "Northern” Europe: the Angles, Saxons and Jutes, by the 7th century these small kingdoms were combined into a united kingdom called England, or, the land of Angles. And the three dialects spoken by them naturally grew into a single language called Anglo-Saxon or Old English, which is quite different from the English that we know today. Part III "Beowulf” • I. Anglo-Saxon Poetry: English literature began with the Anglo-Saxon settlement in England. Of Old English literature, five relics are still preserved. All of them are poems, or, songs by the Anglo-Saxon minstrels who sang of the heroic deeds of old time to the chiefs and warriors in the feasting-hall. There is one long poem of over 3,000 lines. It is "Beowulf”, the national epic of the English people. II. The Story of " Beowulf” • Beowulf is the nephew of Hygelac King of the Geats, a people in Denmark. • News reaches him that Hrothgar, king of the Danes has built a great hall. But a terrible monster, Grendel, visits the hall from night to night and carries the warriors away. • Beowulf sails for Denmark with fourteen companions and offers to fight the monster. • he cuts off the head of the she-monster. There, too, he finds the body of Grendel . • he becomes king and reigns over his people for fifty years. • The fire dragon is killed at last, but Beowulf is hopelessly wounded and dead later. III. Analysis of Its Content • "Beowulf" is a folk legend brought to England by Anglo- Saxons from their continental homes. Its main stories ( the fights with monsters are evidently folk legends of primitive Northern tribes. They had to struggle against the forces of nature, which remained mysterious and unknown to them. They were brave but superstitious. Such is the background of the marvellous stories in “Beowulf”. • Beowulf is a grand hero. He is faithful to his people. He goes alone, in a strange land, to rescue his people. He forgets himself in face of death, thinking only that it profits others. Though the poem was written in the tenth century, its hero was no doubt mainly the product of a primitive, tribal society on the continent. IV. Features of "Beowulf" • The most striking feature is the use of alliteration. • the use of metaphors." Ring-giver" is used for king, "hearth-companions" for his attendant warriors, "swan’s bath"or “whale”s road" for sea, "sea-wood” for ship. • the use of understatements, "not troublesome” for very welcome, "need not praise" for a right to condemn, give an impression of reserve and at time a tinge of ironical humour. Part IV Exercise • Answer the following questions. 1. What are the main incidents of the poem “Beowulf”? 2. What are the main characteristics of Anglo- Saxon literature? Keys 1.Main incidents of Beowulf ①. Beowulf’s fight with the monster Grendel in Hrothgar’s hall. ②. Beowulf’s slaying of Grendel’s mother in her lair. ③. Beowulf’s return in glory to his uncle, and his succession to the throne. ④. Beowulf’s victory in death, 50 years later, over the fire dragon. 2. Main Characteristics of Anglo-Saxon literature (old English Literature) ①. a verse literature in oral form. ②. the creators for the most part are unknown. ③. two groups of English poetry: pagan poetry represented by Beowulf and religious poetry by Caedmon and Cynewulf. ④. in the 8th century, Anglo-Saxon prose appeared represented by Venerable Bede and Alfred the Great Part V The Anglo-Norman Period(1066-1350) • I. The Danish invasions: • About 787, the English began to be troubled by hands of Danish vikings. King Alfred the Great(849-901) succeeded in driving the Danes off with force. King Alfred set himself to the task of encouraging education and literature. He translated some works from Latin himself. More important as a literary work is the Anglo-Saxon " Chronicle", which begins with Caesar's conquest and is a monument of Old English prose. • II. The Norman Conquest: • The French-speaking Normans under Duke William came in 1066. After defeating the English at Hastings, William was crowned as King of England. It was called the Norman Conquest. • William the Conqueror ruled England with a high hand. He confiscated the lands of the English lords and, regarding whole England as his own. bestowed large patches of land to his Norman barons. The Norman barons in turn divided their lands among their own knights. The Norman Conquest marks the established of feudalism in England. • III. The Influence of the Norman Conquest on the English Language: • After the Norman Conquest, the general relation of Normans and Saxons was that of master and servant. The Norman lords spoke French, while their English subjects retained their old tongue: For a long time the scholar wrote in Latin and the courtier in French. There was almost no written literature in English for a time, Chronicles and religious poems were in Latin. Romances, the prominent kind of literature in the Anglo-Norman period, were at first all in French. • By the end of the fourteenth century, when Normans and English intermingled, English was once more the dominant speech in the country. But now it became something different from the old Anglo- Saxon. The structure of the language remained English, and the common words were almost all retained, though often somewhat modified in form. But many terms employed by the Normans were adopted into the English language. The situation is typified by the use of the English "calf", "swine" and "sheep” for the animals when tended by the Saxon herdsmen, and of the French "veal", "pork" and "mutton" for the flesh served at the noble's table. • Part VI The Romance • I. The Content of Romance: • The most prevailing kind of literature in feudal England was the romance. It was a long composition, sometimes in verse, sometimes in prose, describing the life and adventures of a noble hero. The central character of romances was the knight, a man of noble birth skilled in the use of weapons. He was commonly described as riding forth to seek adventures, taking part in tournaments, or fighting for his lord in battle. He was devoted to the church and the king. The code of manners and morals of a knight is known as chivalry. One who wanted to be a knight should serve an apprenticeship as a squire until he was admitted to the knighthood with solemn ceremony and the swearing of oaths. • II. The Romance Cycles: The great majority of the romances fall into groups or cycles, as the" matters of Britain" (adventures of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table), and the "matters of France” (Emperor Charlemagne and his peers), and the matters of Rome" (Alexander the Great and so forth). The romance of King Arthur is comparatively the more important for the history of English literature. It has its origin in Celtic legends, its beginning in Geoffrey of Monmouth's "History of the Kings of Britain" and Layamon's "Brut “, its culmination in “ Sir Gawain and the Green Knight", and its summing up in Thomas Malory”s "Mort D’Arthur"(in English prose). • The theme of loyalty to king and lord was repeatedly emphasized in romances. The romances had nothing to do with the common people. They were composed for the noble, of the noble, and in most cases by the poets patronized by the noble. • Part VII "Piers the Plowman" • Amid the darkness and barrenness of the Middle Ages, there was one work which shows the existence, of English popular literature. It was "Piers the Plowman", a long poem of over 7,000 lines, written by William Langland (1332-1400). It was written in the old alliterative verse: each line contained three alliterative words, two of which were placed in the first half, and the third in the second half. • Piers is a peasant, whose simple, honest, and straight-forward character. • Piers the Plowman "is one of the greatest of English poems. It is written in the form of a dream vision, and the author, tells his story under the guise of having dreamed it. This was a usual method in medieval literature. The poem is also an allegory which uses symbolism to relate truth. But, in the main," Piers the Plowman" is a realistic picture of medieval England. Its artistic merit may be shown by its portraits of the Seven Deadly Sins: Pride, Lechery, Envy, Wrath, Avarice, Sloth, Glutton. • Part VIII Outline of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight contains four “fits” or sections. In the first fit, King Arthur is holding at Camelot his Christmas feast of 15 days with all his knights of the Round Table. The second fit begins with a lengthy description of the passing of the four seasons, from spring through summer and autumn and back to winter again, and Arthur makes a feast to send Gawain off on his journey. The third fit tells of the three days of Gawain’s sojourn at the castle. The fourth fit begins with a description of the stormy snow weather on the New Year’s Day as Gawain gets ready to go to the Green Chapel. • Though there are no descriptions of battles or jousts, the two main motifs in the story, the tests of faith, courage and purity and the human weakness for self- preservation, that point to the nobility as well as the humanness of the hero, provide the poem with unmistakable traits of chivalric romances, plus some strong Christian colouring. • However, the heroic adventures of sir Gawain and King Arthur as related in the poem were sought after and carried out rather for adventures’ sake than any truly worthy cause, and in this sense the romance in its true significance falls short of a poem like Beowulf where the heroic deeds were performed to help the hero’s kinsfolk out of their distress or to protect them from disaster. • Part IX Exercises 1. Fill the following blanks. 1. In the year 1066, the Normans defeated the Anglo-Saxons at the battle of __________. Hastings 2. In the 14th century, the two most important writers are ______________ and Langland. Chaucer 3. Today Chaucer is acclaimed not only as “the father of English Poetry” but also as “the father of English fiction”. His masterpiece is ___________. The Canterbury Tales 4. The fifteenth century has been described as the barren age in English literature. But it is the spring tide of English ________. ballads 5. In the 15th century, there is only one important prose writer whose name is _____. He wrote an important work called Morte D’Arthur. Thomas Malory 2. Choose the best answer for each statement. 1. In 1066, _______ led the Norman army to invade and defeat England. • a. William the Conqueror b. Julius Caesar • c. Alfred the Great d. Claudius 2. In the 14th century, the most important writer is _______. • a. Langland b. Wyclif • c. Gower d. Chaucer 3. The prevailing form of Medieval English literature is the ________. • a. French b. Latin • c. romance d. science 4. The story of “ ____________” is the culmination of the Arthurian romances. a. sir Gawain and the Green Knight b. The story of Beowulf c. Piers the plowman d. The Canterbury Tales 5. William Langland’s “__________” is written in the form of a dream vision. • a. Kubla Khan b. Piers the Plowman • c. The Dream of John Bull d. Morte D’Arthur 3. Answer the following Questions. 1. What is the influence of the Norman Conquest upon English Language and literature? 2. What are the essential features of romance in the Medieval English literature? 3. Make comments on the romance “ Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”. • Keys: 1. the influence of the Norman Conquest upon English Language and literature: • ①. chivalry was introduced into England • ②. three languages existed in England. The Normans spoke French, the lower class spoke English, and the scholars and clergymen used Latin. • ③. the literature was varied in interest and extensive in range. • ④. the prevailing form of literature is Romance. 2. the essential features of romance in the Medieval English literature: • It was a long composition, sometimes in verse, sometimes in prose, describing the life and adventures of a noble hero. • ①.The central character of romances was the knight, a man of noble birth skilled in the use of weapons. • ②. it exaggerates the vices of human nature and idealizes the virtues. • ③. it contains adventures far from ordinary life. • ④. it emphasizes devotion to a lady. 3. Make comments on the romance “ Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”. • ①. Romance was a long composition, sometimes in verse, sometimes in prose, describing the life and adventures of a noble hero. • A.The central character of romances was the knight, a man of noble birth skilled in the use of weapons. • B. it exaggerates the vices of human nature and idealizes the virtues. • C. it contains adventures far from ordinary life. • D. it emphasizes devotion to a lady. • ②. derived from Celtic legend, in form, the combination of French and Saxon element; • ③. written in stanza combining meter and alliteration • ④. at the end of each stanza, a rimed refrain. • ⑤. two motifs, the testing of faith, courage, and purity; proving of human weaknesses for self-preserving. • ⑥. the heroic adventures of sir Gawain and King Arthur as related in the poem were sought after and carried out rather for adventures’ sake than any truly worthy cause. The language is simple and straightforward. Excerpt of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight • Since the siege and the assault was ceased at Troy, • 2) The walls breached and burnt down to brands and ashes, • 3) The knight that had knotted the nets of deceit • 4) Was impeached for his perfidy, proven most true, • 5) It was high-born Aeneas and his haughty race • 6) That since prevailed over the provinces, and proudly reigned • 7) Over well-nigh all the wealth of the West Isles. • 8) Great Romulus to Rome repairs in haste; • 9) With boast and with bravery builds he that city • 10) And names it with his own name, that it now bears. • 11) Ticius to Tuscany, and towers raises, • 12) Langobard in Lombardy lays out homes, • 13) And far over the French Sea, Felix Brutus • 14) On many broad hills and high Britain he sets, • 15) Most fair. • 16) Where war and wrack and wonder • 17) By shifts have sojourned there, • 18) And bliss by turns with blunder • 19) In that land's lot had share. • And since this Britain was built by this baron great, / • Bold boys bred there, in broils delighting, / • That did in their day many a deed most dire. / • More marvels have happened in this merry land / • Than in any other I know, since that olden time, / • But of those that here built, of British kings, / • King Arthur was counted most courteous of all.