Poetry Guide: Anglo-Saxon
Eduard Sievers developed a theory of the meter of Anglo-Saxon Alliterative verse. This most likely would have been the theory of Anglo-Saxon prosody that Ezra Pound would have been familiar with.
A line of Anglo-Saxon verse is made up to two half-lines. Each of these half-lines contains two main stresses (or 'lifts'). Sievers categorized three basic types of half-line that were used. Here a stressed syllable is represented by the symbol '/' and an unstressed syllable by the symbol 'x'.
|Type||Description||Example 1||Example 2|
|Type A||Falling||/ x / x||/ x x x / x|
|Type B||Rising||x / x /||x x x / x x /|
|Type C||Rising / Falling||x / / x||x x x / / x x|
He also noted that three possible types of half-line were not used:
- / x x /
- / / x x
- x x / /
However the first two of these can be used if one of the 'dips' is changed into a half-stress (or 'half lift' ... notated here 'x́'):
|Type D||Two stresses at start||/ / x́ x||/ / x x́|
|Type E||Falling / Rising||/ x x́ /||/ x́ x /|
- ^ Brooke-Rose, Christine, A ZBC of Ezra Pound, Faber and Faber, 1971. ISBN 0-571-091350 (page 88)
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