Anglo Saxon Christian Poetry

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Anglo Saxon Christian Poetry

By | June 2012
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ANGLO SAXON CHRISTIAN POETRY

In the old English period, religious poetry seems to a flourished in northern England throughout the 8th century. Though, most of it has survived only in West-Saxon transcription of the 10 century. Old epic models no longer sweated the changed spirit of the age, new models were sought after. In the Christian poetry, we have variety of subjective note, as in “THE DREAM OF THE RUDE”. Prayer and praise of the lord, as we find in Caedmon, and the love for quite beauty and pleasant natural scenery, as in the “PHONIX”, are some unique features of those poems. Another curious feature is the advert of female heroines in the new poems like, “JULIANA” and “JUDITH”. Unfortunately, though we could have expected the names of the poets to be religiously preserved, in such cases, only 2 names have come down to us- Caedmon and Cynewulf. Caedmon is taken as the first Christian English poet, the pioneer of Christian poetry in English. Very little is definitely known about his life and activities. It is supposed that he was a worker in a monastery of Whidbey; he was a simple, unlettered man, whose main function was to look after the property of a monastery.

The Anglo-Saxon Christian poetry does not break away completely from the earlier tradition. Style is adopted to the Christian themes. The junius manuscript contents 4 Caedmonian poems of which, the 1st 3 are based on, “THE OLD TESTAMENT STORIES”. The 1st and longest of these is “GENESIS”, a poem of nearly 3000 lines, which after a brief premelinary account of Satan’s rebellion, God’s anger, His ejections of Satan and his followers, goes on to describe the theme of “GENESIS”. The works in “Caedmonian school” are: Genesis A and Genesis B, Exodus, Daniel, Christ and Satan. Genesis A opens with the story of the fall of the angels and ends with Isaac. Genesis B is of a later death, and fills the gap left in the narrative of Genesis A. it is a long narrative of three thousand lines. It sings in praise...
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