The metre of classical Old English poetry

The resources here are clunky early stages in getting an all-singing all-dancing website together on this. Please be understanding of their clunkinesses! But Alaric also hopes (and sort of believes) that the material here will be useful in helping you to understand how Old English poetry works.

This page makes no sense without the PDF document here. This page provides draft online interactive exercises which go with the PDF.

This material was created by Alaric Hall and Sheryl McDonald; Sheryl's participation in this ongoing project was paid for by a Leeds University Teaching Fellowship awarded to Alaric in 2008-9.

Section 2: stress, exercise 1

Which syllables are the most heavily stressed?

Which syllables are the most heavily stressed? Which syllables are the most heavily stressed? Which syllables are the most heavily stressed? Which syllables are the most heavily stressed?

Section 2: stress, exercise 2

Which syllables are the most heavily stressed?

Which syllables are the most heavily stressed? Which syllables are the most heavily stressed? Which syllables are the most heavily stressed? Which syllables are the most heavily stressed? Which syllables are the most heavily stressed? Which syllables are the most heavily stressed? Which syllables are the most heavily stressed? Which syllables are the most heavily stressed? Which syllables are the most heavily stressed? Which syllables are the most heavily stressed? Which syllables are the most heavily stressed?

Section 3: metre rule 1 (each line falls into two halves, known as half-lines or verses)

Where does it seem like the a-verse ends and the b-verse begins?

Where does it seem like the a-verse ends and the b-verse begins? Where does it seem like the a-verse ends and the b-verse begins? Where does it seem like the a-verse ends and the b-verse begins?

Section 3: metre rule 2 (each half-line contains four syllables)

Now that you know that the a-verse and b-verse of a line of poetry each contain four syllables, identify the syllables and divide these lines into their half-lines.

Where does it seem like the a-verse ends and the b-verse begins? Where does it seem like the a-verse ends and the b-verse begins? Where does it seem like the a-verse ends and the b-verse begins? Where does it seem like the a-verse ends and the b-verse begins? Where does it seem like the a-verse ends and the b-verse begins? Where does it seem like the a-verse ends and the b-verse begins?

Section 3: metre rule 3 (resolution)

Click on the words with resolution in the following lines:

Click on the words with resolution. Click on the words with resolution. Click on the words with resolution. Click on the words with resolution. Click on the words with resolution. Click on the words with resolution. Click on the words with resolution.

Section 3: metre rule 4 (expansion)

Sorry, I'm not clever enough to make an electronic version of this one yet! You'll just have to do it on paper, or in your head...

:-(

Section 4: alliteration

Click on the first alliterating sound of the first half-line, followed by the first alliterating sound of the second half-line.

Click on the first alliterating sound of the first half-line, followed by the first alliterating sound of the second half-line. Click on the first alliterating sound of the first half-line, followed by the first alliterating sound of the second half-line. Click on the first alliterating sound of the first half-line, followed by the first alliterating sound of the second half-line. Click on the first alliterating sound of the first half-line, followed by the first alliterating sound of the second half-line. Click on the first alliterating sound of the first half-line, followed by the first alliterating sound of the second half-line. Click on the first alliterating sound of the first half-line, followed by the first alliterating sound of the second half-line. Click on the first alliterating sound of the first half-line, followed by the first alliterating sound of the second half-line. Click on the first alliterating sound of the first half-line, followed by the first alliterating sound of the second half-line. Click on the first alliterating sound of the first half-line, followed by the first alliterating sound of the second half-line. Click on the first alliterating sound of the first half-line, followed by the first alliterating sound of the second half-line.

Woo, well done! You now (hopefully) understand Old English metre!