Page:Bright's Anglo-Saxon Reader.djvu/315

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placed the adverbs, which are, as a class, accented in the sentence and are, therefore, usually in the arsis. As to the verb, in its finite forms, it has normally a weak accent in the principal clause, but is more or less strongly accented in the subordinate clause. This distinction is to some extent reflected in the gradations of the rhythmic stress. Although the verb of the principal clause is not excluded from an emphatic arsis (with alliteration), it is very frequently placed in an arsis of weaker stress (such as the last arsis of the line); and it is often relegated to the thesis. The remaining grammatical categories are subject to the usual exigencies of sentence-accent, rhythm, or emphasis. An ictus on a personal or demonstrative pronoun, or on a preposition, for example, must be warranted by special conditions.


The structure of the half-line, the primary structural unit in Anglo- Saxon versification, is represented in the following five types:

1. Type A.   × | ×

In type A the rhythm, in its simplest form, is trochaic:

stīðum worduin, Gen. 2848a, × ×
heorðgenēatas, M. 204a, × ×
wundorlice, Ph. 359b, × ×

With resolved stress:

eaforan þīnne, Gen. 2915a, ᴗ́͜× × ×
feorh genęrede, Br. 36b, × ᴗ́͜× ×
hæleða mǫnegum, Ph. 170b, ᴗ́͜× × ᴗ́͜× ×

The second (or final) thesis (as also in type C) never exceeds one

syllable. However, the first thesis (as in B and C) admits a varying

  1. In the following paragraphs the symbol _́ denotes the long syllable of an arsis ; × a syllable of the thesis, of which the ‘quantity’ is disregarded; and ᴗ́͜× a resolved stress. A secondary word-accent is indicated by the usual symbol (`), but when it is raised to the function of a primary rhythmic stress it is represented accordingly (´).

    The abbreviations employed are: B. (Beowulf); Br. (Battle of Brunanburh); Gen. (Genesis); M. (Battle of Maldon); Ph. (Phœnix); W. (Wanderer). The numerals refer to the continuous numbering of the lines of the poems; and the superior letters, a and b, attached to the numerals, denote, respectively, the first and the second half-lines.