While we await reports from bloggers on the ground, I hope to get an honest-to-goodness conversation going on here. As I go through the Beowulf exercise, two trends have captured my curiosity:
- The preponderance of three-word alliterative clusters in Beowulf. There's a boatload of these, and I'm just surprised that I never noticed them before. Here's a sample from fitt 15:
haten hreþe heort (line 991)Surely, these clusters have been discussed (and have a cool name), but I don't know any references offhand. It's a terrific feature of the verse. As I think more about it, I am not sure why I should be surprised. Perhaps it's the three-in-a-row feature that strikes me: this just seems hard to do for an extended period of time, yet it's everywhere.
folmum gefrætwod fela (992)
fyrendædum fag on fleam (1001)
medoful manig magas (1015)
beforan beorn beran beowulf (1024)
helmes hrof heafodbeorge (1030)
stod sadol searwum (1037-8)
hordweard hæleþa heaþoræsas (1047)
- The word hilde (usu. war or battle). In fitts 14 and 15, we had strange things happening about this word. In 14, the word comes at the end of one sheet and again at the top (line 986 in most editions). Is this an inadvertent repeat, a scribal error? OK, but then why would one instance not have been erased? Is there any plausible, sensible reading for double hilde? In fitt 15 (at line 1039 in editions), hilde seems to be the the first part of a compound, hildesetl, but there's a point right after the hilde. I don't recall ever before in the poem seeing a point between two elements that could be joined into a word. Is there something unique about hilde, or are we merely noticing some screw-ups around a common word?
Information? Leads? Shall we converse? I realize that I should be doing my own homework on this, and I will. Nevertheless, it would be nice to know if others thought these things were as cool as I do.