Anglo-Saxon Studies: Metrical Footprinting and the Exeter Book

Metrical Fingerprinting and Conner’s Exeter Booklet Theory
NOW: Metrical Footprinting (in honor of the story below) and Conner’s Exeter Booklet Theory
Thomas A. Bredehoft, West Virginia Univ.

works in literacy and poetics and OE meter…

Opening with Conner introduction.
Conner began telling a story: “Used to be a teacher here who was in chemistry or one of the sciences, but was wrangling a class in ornithology. He brought in a stuffed dead bird, covered with a cloth. Only his feet were visible. Students didn’t like it. One student left. Grew flustered. ‘Give me your name.’ Student tugged up his pants and showed his ankles. ‘Everything you need to know to identify me is here.’ And the student walked out.”

Conner’s paleographical work argues that the Exeter Book was actually three booklets.

OE metric was varied. Various poems use three different hypermetric types, different types of rhyme, single and double alliteration differentiation, statistical variations… Other changes.

Consider single alliteration allowed, if there are two examples in a poem or part of a poem and is 30% of the poem. (?)

Those with single alliteration include: Guthlac B, Guthlac A, Christ III.

Only Type 1 Hypermetric lines appear in Booklet 3 and no single alliteration.
These appear to be conservative features, inherited from Old Saxon (German) works.
One hesitates to equate conservative to antiquated to 8th C, but…. Clearly they are different.

1-59 shows metrical variation
Riddles 61-91 Type E in Booklet 3

15-17 hypermetric and double alliteration and Type E
31-36 double alliteration in Type E
single alliteration in Type A

Metrical diversity in the first group of riddles encourages us to think they came from different sources.

Juliana, Christ II, Guthlac B do not match in all areas. Is it statistically significant?

Exeter Poems are, as a group, sufficiently diverse to indicate that it is an anthology, though the three booklets are supported by diversity indications within the three groups of poems.

Act or acts of collection will be interesting.
Look at metrical feet of a poem might tell us more than we have thought previously.

We try to trace these “exeter birds” from their tracks. (Riddle 50?)

The Riming Poem as the Key to the Exeter Book
Susan E. Deskis, Northern Illinois Univ.

Learned from his work, but learned from the meta-lecture.
Interesting fact, new information, then argue. Then a less relevant fact with an application that is more or less accurate. And then keeps going to spin….

Too few handouts, so I don’t have the information.

Apocalyptic topoi
(Note: Use of word topoi is mine.)
“Bright whiteness becomes soiled…”
is similar to the Latin-English proverb: Heat grows cold; white is soiled… Everything that is not eternal grows cold.
Also used in “Judgement Day I.”

“Heat grows cold” is the core of the proverb. Now return to OE…

Apocalypse is described as heat growing cold; there will only be a tumult of water.
This is not what the book of Revelation describes.

37b-40a do not seem well-integrated.
Poet has inserted a bit of another poem. –suggestion

Riming Poem is not an eschatological poem.
l. 55-69 seems to include eschatological references.
images in this passage are apocalyptic
Poem returns to first-person voice right after this section.

Apocalyptic connotation to this passage:
ME (Owl and Nightingale) is eschatological
“heat grows cold” is the most common

Heat turned upside down is an English proverb, not a Latin proverb. Latin-English proverb has been used for an OE understanding of Latin rhetoric. But this indicates that the proverb was primarily English and was translated from OE to Latin and not the other way around.

The most striking feature of the Riming Poem is the end rhyme, probably introduced from Latin poetry. (OE features are the alliteration.)
Some scholar says the author was trying to highlight the Latin rhyming scheme.
So the meter is Latin and is put into the Riming Poem.

Riming Poem is similar to OE elegies.
Most compared to The Wanderer and The Seafarer.
“a contrast between past happiness and present misery” Wintersdorf
“microcosm to macrocosm”
Klink –structurally the poem two halves, great past and not great present

Architect of the author as a person who attempts to synthesize Christian/Latin and native/OE ideas, style, and information.

Exeter Poems:
no Christian:
all Christian: Christ I, II, III; Judgment Day I, etc

secular and Latin: The Riddles, Guthlac A & B (servant sea journey in Guthlac A)

Maxim I (gnomic poem) has a coherent structure. Proverb. Cross-cultural form. Plainly mixed secular and Latin.

Most elegies have little or no Christian elements.
The Wanderer and The Seafarer address secular and sacred.

Conner argues that the elegies would have made performances at the guild (monastic capital).
Secular and religious culture is connected.

Guild or reformed monastery? Which is more important? Don’t know.

But the importance goes beyond the wisdom poems, but the very process of mixing secular and Latin shows interest in synthesis.

Riming Poem, in meter and genre and theme, is a synthesis and is, thus, the most complete synthesis.

Ardor frigesscit, nitor squalescit,

amor abolescit, lux obtenebrescit.

Hat acolaþ, hwit asolaþ,

leof alaþaþ, leoht aþystraþ.

Senescunt omnia que terna non sunt.

Æghwæt forealdaþ þæs þe ece ne byþ.

(Heat grows cold, white becomes dirty, the beloved becomes hated, light becomes dark. Everything which is not eternal decays with age.)

These lines become:

Nis nout so hot þat hit nacoleþ,

Ne nogt so hwit þat hit ne soleþ,

Ne nogt so leof þat hit ne aloþeþ,

Ne nogt so glad þat hit ne awroþeþ:

Ah eauere euh þing þat eche nis

Agon schal, & al þis worldes blis. (1275—80)

(There is nothing so hot it does not grow cold, nothing so white it does not become dirty, nothing so loved it does not become hated, nothing so cheerful it does not get angry. But everything that is not eternal shall pass away, and all this world’s joy.)

Interestingly, these lines are about the very process of change that they illustrate.

A last example of change appears in the use of a late Old English proverb in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, under the year1130:

man seiþ to biworde, hæge sitteþ þa aceres dæleth.

(people say as a proverb, ‘the hedge remains that divides fields’.)

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