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Anglo Saxon Poem The Battle Of Brunanburh: Critical Analysis

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The Battle of Brunanburh is one of the many Anglo Saxon poems that was written in an old heroic tone combined with history. It is a 73-line poem and it is a historical record of the Battle of Brunanburh, which was fought in 937 between the English army and a combined army of Scots, Vikings and Britons. Composed in Old English verse, this panegyric poem uses the full extent of traditional and classical heroic techniques. For example, the use of epithets in the Battle of Brunanburh give the text a richer meaning by intensifying the description of the characters. The use of the epithet ‘grey-haired’ in the pre-modified noun phrase ‘grey-haired warrior’ depicts to us the old age of Constantinus. However, since noble and heroic warriors were said to live to extremely old ages and were still portrayed as valiant and brave, the use of the epithet highlights in particular his age linked to vulnerability and weakness, instead of strong and heroic.

The difference between the heroic tone of this poem in comparison to other Anglo-Saxon poetry is that in older heroic poetry, the individual hero’s geographical origin was of little to no importance, as after committing heroic acts they were claimed by the people of the country they were in, and the value was placed on the individual and their actions. This is different to classical epic poetry, as geographical origin was of a big importance; without your connections to your homeland you are but a lost stranger, a wanderer, and xenophobia was widely common. For example, in The Odyssey, Odysseus is known as ‘Odysseus of Ithaca’ and a sense of pride is laid on his hometown, as well as his whole journey being based on his homecoming. There is less of a national prejudice in Anglo-Saxon poetry and the sense of pride is derived from being welcomed by others and the heroic actions they commit.

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Anglo Saxon literature is plentiful in epic and heroic poetry, in fact most of their literature is made up of narrative poems which detail the accomplishments of noble figures who defeated vital challenges in the quest of objectives that were considered honourable by the ideals of the time. Beowulf himself speaks to the Anglo-Saxon heroic ideal in view of his accomplishments, quality, and mettle, yet additionally as a result of his knowledge and honour. Beowulf is positive about his quality and solid in his respect. When he initially goes through the night in Heorot hanging tight for Grendel, he declines to keep a weapon. His quality and bravery are unparalleled, and he is considerably more unassuming (and fair) than huge numbers of the degenerate warriors around him. Beowulf shows his extraordinary quality on numerous occasions. Regardless of whether he is battling ocean beasts, Grendel’s mom, or an awful flame breathing monster, Beowulf demonstrates that his fearlessness and quality ought to be a motivation to all saints.

In the same way, the Battle of Brunanburh praises the brave deeds of the West-Saxon ruler Athelstan and his sibling Edmund: their triumph against the joined powers of Vikings and Scots further merged the political case of the place of Wessex to sway over the entire of England. The lyric thusly is a brave commendation melody which remembers a magnificent military triumph, engenders the notoriety of the West-Saxon pioneers, and acclaims the satisfaction of their regal obligations: the ruler and his sibling have splendidly protected ‘the land, the fortune crowd, and the homes’

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Anglo Saxon Poem The Battle Of Brunanburh: Critical Analysis. (2022, March 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 29, 2023, from
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