Where it all began… During the 5th century, Germanic tribes people known as Angles, Saxons and Jutes began to settle in the British Isles. The Anglo-Saxon period lasted for 600 years and, in that time, the language, culture and politics of the British Isles were completely transformed. Anglo Saxon dialect words form the basis of the language we now call Old English, and approximately one third of Anglo-Saxon vocabulary still survives into modern English. Describe some characteristics of rap music. What makes it “rap?” Think of some of the things you had to learn as a small child. How did your parents and/or teachers help you remember those things? Since written word and literate people were very rare in the Anglo-Saxon times, travelling poets called scops or bards would entertain townspeople with epic poems. The poems were very rhythmical and rhymed so they would be easy to remember and recite. About 400 Anglo Saxon texts live on from this era, including many beautiful poems. Many of these tell of wild battles and heroic journeys. The famous poem Beowulf tells the story of a bloodthirsty monster called Grendel. Beowulf is much admired for the richness of its poetry - for the beautiful sounds of the words and the imaginative quality of the description. http://youtu.be/TGlSAtb-SDw http://youtu.be/uMN6rRS2qhs Hie dygellond land warigeath, wulfhleoþu, windige næssas, wolf ... windy frecnefen-gelad, fen (marsh) ... stream ðær fyrgen-stream under næssa genipu niþer gewiteð, under flod under foldan. Nis þæt feor heonon flood under ... that mil-gemearces, þæt se mere standeð miles ... lake ... stands ofer þæm hongiað hrinde bearwas, over ... hangs wudu wyrtum fæst wæter oferhelmað. wood ... water þær mæg nihta gehwæm nið-wundor seon, may (at) night ...wonder fyr on flode. No þæs frod leofað fire on flood gumena bearna þæt þone grund wite bairn (child), ground (bottom of lake) ðeah þe hæð-stapa hundum geswenced, hounds heorot hornum trum holtwudu sece, horn wood feorran geflymed, ær he feorh seleð, aldor on ofre, ær he in wille will hafelan (hydan). Nis þæt heoru stow: hide ... place þonon yð-geblond up astigeð up won to wolcnum, þonne wind styreþ wind stirs (stireth) lað gewidru, oð þæt lyft drysmaþ, roderas reotað. Nu is se ræd gelang Now eft æt þe anum. Eard git ne const, yet frecne stowe, ðær þu findan miht stow = place, there thou might find mms://audio.bl.uk/media/education/beowulf.w ma About a third of the words in Beowulf are words known as kennings. Kennings are words that are in themselves metaphorical descriptions, and were a typical feature of Anglo Saxon poetry. Kennings combine two words to create an evocative and imaginative alternative word. By linking words in this way, the poets were able to play and experiment with the rhythm, sounds and imagery of the poetry. Beowulf contains over a thousand kennings. In off the moors, down through the mist-bands God-cursed Grendel came greedily loping. The bane of the race of men roamed forth, hunting for a prey in the high hall. Under the cloud-murk he moved towards it until it shone above him, a sheer keep of fortified gold. Nor was that the first time he had scouted the grounds of Hrothgar's dwelling although never in his life, before or since, did he find harder fortune or hall-defenders. Spurned and joyless, he journeyed on ahead and arrived at the bawn. The iron-braced door turned on its hinge when his hands touched it. From Seamus Heaney’s translation of ‘Beowulf’ Some well-known Anglo-Saxon kennings include: bone-house (banhus ) - the human body battle-light (beadoleoma) - sword wave-floater (wægflota) – ship Descriptions of the sea included: whale road (hronrad) fish home (fiscesethel) seal bath (seolbæp) Try to create some kennings. See if you can describe yourself or your home or school using this technique. Consider: How do the kennings help you describe what you're trying to say? Do they affect the rhythm and the sound of the language? Do you find this technique easier/ more creative/ harder/ more confusing or more powerful than using everyday words? Write your own kenning style poem, selecting an animal, insect, fish, bird, or a creature of your own imagination and write a poem about it in the style of ‘Whalesong’.