The Anglo-Saxon Sonnet: Rewriting Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130

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The Anglo-Saxon Sonnet: Rewriting a Shakespeare’s Sonnet “130” Through the Eyes of the Author of Beowulf
My woman’s sight-seers shine like the sun;
Her kiss-givers grant a great fiery glow;
Her bone-house is a rare beast made to stun;
The hairs on her head hang as soft as snow.
Like a pollen-producer gleams garnet,
Her cheeks blush, blinding any early man;
Unlike a slimy serpent’s foul sweat,
Her scent smells of fresh gold, or better than.
Her voice flows like the whale-road, that I’m sure,
My love quickens when I hear her murmur;
She strolls above the ground, I can assure,
For my toes touch the terrain more firmer.
My fondness for her, rapid in my heart,
Will keep us together, never to part.

William Shakespeare is regarded by some readers as the greatest writer in the English language. He developed and quickly trended the Shakespearean sonnet which is devised of fourteen lines, iambic pentameter, and a strict, certain rhyme scheme. It may be believed that it is nearly impossible to recreate any of Shakespeare’s beloved works, yet I attempted to rewrite Shakespeare’s sonnet “130” as if I were the author of Beowulf. Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon epic poem whose author is unknown. This anonymity did not alter the poem’s fame though; it is widely known as a model for Old English writing. Shakespeare and the author of Beowulf are known for very different types of writing styles which left me with no doubt that a revision of a Shakespearean sonnet by the Beowulf author would be very fascinating. Shakespeare writes with a romantic voice; a vast majority of his works holds the topic of love for a man or a woman. On the other hand, the author of Beowulf composes not about love, but rather fighting, journeys, and heroes. The poem above is written in Shakespeare’s sonnet form and still retains his original focus and ideas, yet forms of the writing of the author of Beowulf are employed to modify the poem. To rewrite William Shakespeare’s sonnet “130” as if it were written by the author of Beowulf, I incorporated the theme of praising, gruesome details, alliteration, kennings, and imagery, to portray of the author of Beowulf’s writing style.

First of all, Beowulf is a poem that describes the life and journey of a young hero. In this piece of writing the author does not forget to express praise and respect to the young man, Beowulf. In Shakespeare’s original sonnet “130,” he does not embrace standard comparisons to describe the woman, who’s the subject of his poem. Shakespeare follows real life descriptions rather than clichés; he doesn’t make any artificial comparisons to define her by things that she isn’t. Since the author of Beowulf shows praise and admiration, a significant amount more than Shakespeare in this sonnet, in my poem I made sure to amend the compliments that are given. Rather than saying, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” (Shakespeare ll. 1), I state, “My woman’s sight-seers shine like the sun.” Even though Shakespeare writes of realistic descriptions, my portrayal is not realistic; it’s a simile. A set of eyes that actually shines as bright as the sun is something that is not feasible, yet this simile confirms to what great extent the speaker of the poem respects this woman. Another example of this difference of acclaim is Shakespeare’s sonnet “130” states, “If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head,” (ll. 4) yet in comparison to this my poem says, “The hairs on her head hang as soft as snow.” Rather than accurately stating what this woman’s hair may appear as, I know the author of Beowulf would write more in the manner of exaggerating features while using drastic metaphors. This praise of the woman, essentially making the woman take the role of a hero in the speaker’s eyes, thoroughly grasps the speaker’s feelings towards her.

Gruesome descriptions and themes are commonly found in Beowulf. The author depicts fight scenes and death in a very...
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