How Free was the "Beowulf" Poet?

  title={How Free was the "Beowulf" Poet?},
  author={Thomas Gardner},
  journal={Modern Philology},
  pages={111 - 127}
Since F. P. Magoun so emphatically pointed out the "oral-formulaic character" of Old English poetry, scholars have tended to doubt the sensitivity of the Beowulf poet to his language.' They allow him a certain "freedom to choose, but not greatly to change, formulas."2 They are in general agreement that he "was relatively free as regards the larger parts of his composition,"3 but they consider him, at best, a skillful, calculating manipulator of clich6s rather than a passionate seeker of le mot… 
4 Citations

Beowulf ’s Poetics of Absorption: Narrative Syntax and the Illusion of Stability in the Fight with Grendel’s Mother

In Beowulf, the last survivor stands before the barrow in which he has just interred his kin (lines 2236–2246).1 Absorbed in grief, he then speaks his famous lament for his lost people. The poem

Oral—Formulaic Research in Old English Studies: II

The present study consists of nine sections, of which the first four appear in this issue. Section I, "Oral and Written," considers the questions of whether Old English poetry was composed orally or

Formulaic Research in Old English Studies : II


Ne frin pu aefter salum! Sorh is geniwod Denigea leodum

  • Dead is AEschere, Yrmenlafes yldra bropor min runwita ond min redbora, eaxlgestealla, ponne we on orlege hafelan weredon.' [1321-27a] 118 Modern Philology
  • 1973