I really enjoy the story of Beowulf. I read it with my Year 9 students in English, and we explore the ways in which the poetry and storytelling are similar or different to the ways in which things are done now.
That’s why I was excited to learn of the existence of The Seafarer, another AngloSaxon poem of similar vintage, which was almost lost to history for all time.
It, too, is written in Old English, and uses similar devices of imagery and poetic narrative to those found in Beowulf, such as kennings and alliteration. This poem, though, reads more like a dramatic monologue than an epic heroic adventure, and is far more religious and deeply spiritual than the secular, wildly fantastic and, at times, quite superstitious story of Beowulf.
What treasures these stories and poems are – snippets of the past that have survived the centuries despite the best efforts of warring tribes and religious authorities alike to destroy everything that stood between them and the power they sought over Britain and her people.
You can read a translation of the poem in today’s English at The Anglo-Saxon Narrative Poetry Project website.
You can read Dr Oliver Tearle’s thoughts on the poems at the Interesting Literature blog. It is to this blog that I owe my thanks for drawing my attention to the poem.
This post via the Interesting Literature blog caught my attention because I love a good sonnet. A well-written sonnet is a thing of beauty.
Sonnets are hard to write. There are rhyme and rhythm patterns that one must observe and maintain, which force the poet to refine and craft their words meticulously so that no nuances of meaning are lost in the interests of obeying the rules.
I have written one sonnet
of which I am very proud.
I have also written several others which are pretty rubbish, and therefore will never publish them. I firmly believe that their value lies in the learning and the practice, rather than in the reading. Failure can, after all, be a most effective instructor.
I hope you enjoy the poems this post has to offer, and find yourself more informed about the beauty and complexity of the sonnet when you leave it than when you arrived.
10 Classic Examples of the Sonnet Form via Interesting Literature
The sonnet form is one of the oldest and most popular poetic forms in European literature, having been invented in the thirteenth century and used since by poets as varied as Petrarch, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti, Tony Harrison, Carol Ann Duffy, and Simon Armitage. Below, we offer […]
Source: 10 Classic Examples of the Sonnet Form – Interesting Literature
I really enjoy the Interesting Literature blog.
It’s well organised and curated, and has lots of excellent posts about all sorts of different literature. There are collections of poems or novels by theme, and various authors’ and poets’ “best of” lists.
If you liked my Poetry Month or Classic Novels posts, you may well appreciate their posts as much as I do. (If you missed them, you can find them easily by clicking on those tags on this post.)
This post about Maya Angelou’s poetry is a great example of the excellent content you’ll find at Interesting Literature.
A sonnet is a poem of fourteen lines with strict patterns of rhythm and rhyme that give it both formality and musicality.
I have read and studied many sonnets, and have written two that I love and one very poor one that shall never see the light of day, let alone be published. Let’s call that third one an important exercise in keeping the poet humble!
This sonnet by Charles Best, a contemporary of Shakespeare, is beautifully evocative, bringing to mind images of moonlight on the water and the movement of the tides before transforming, as sonnets often do, into a declaration of love and devotion.
Sonnet of the Moon
Look how the pale queen of the silent night
Doth cause the ocean to attend upon her,
And he, as long as she is in his sight,
With her full tide is ready her to honor.
But when the silver waggon of the moon
Is mounted up so high he cannot follow,
The sea calls home his crystal waves to moan,
And with low ebb doth manifest his sorrow.
So you that are the sovereign of my heart
Have all my joys attending on your will;
My joys low-ebbing when you do depart,
When you return their tide my heart doth fill.
So as you come and as you do depart,
Joys ebb and flow within my tender heart.