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Hisperic Style in the Old English "Rhyming Poem"
James W. Earl
Vol. 102, No. 2 (Mar., 1987), pp. 187-196
Published by: Modern Language Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/462547
Page Count: 10
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The "Rhyming Poem" is a bizarre verse experiment combining a rhyme scheme common in Latin hymnody with a stringent use of Old English alliterative meter. It has been thought that the poet, in his unsuccessful effort to carry out his self-appointed metrical task, strained his language to the breaking point, producing a poem crackpot, incompetent, and quickly corrupted. It is more likely, however, that the poet was being linguistically inventive in the manner of many such experiments in Carolingian and Hiberno-Latin poetry. Such obscurantism only exaggerates a quality already present in much Old English verse, notably in the latter part of The Exeter Book, where the "Rhyming Poem" is found, and also in much Norse and Irish verse. Considering the several poetic traditions coexisting in Anglo-Saxon England, it is surprising that the "Rhyming Poem" is the only example of the genre in Old English.
PMLA © 1987 Modern Language Association