Old and Middle English: Personal and Religious Voices and Historical Texts

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Personal and Religious Voices

First Fragment of Literature- Caedmon՚s Hymn

  • Setting- monastery of Whitby
  • Plot- Caedmon was a lay worker in the monastery and finds the voice of god

Doer՚s Lament

  • First poem in history about unemployment
  • The seafarer and the wanderer: important texts about travelling.

Historical Texts

Venerable Bede՚s Ecclesiastical History of the English People

Written in Latin

The Dream of the Rood

About Christ and His Cross (Rood)

Long Poems


  • Setting: Germanic or the Baltic kingdoms
  • Generation of heroes, warriors and kings
  • Monster- Grendel
  • Beowulf՚s companion: Wiglaf
  • Rewritten in modern English by scot Edwin Morgan and Seamus Heaney

The Battle of Malden

Documentary of a battle of 991

Layamon՚s Brut

  • First national epic in English
  • Tells the story of king Arthur and his knights
  • Traced the foundation of Britain back to Brutus, the hero of the trojan wars

Love Poems

Le Roman De La Rose (The Romance of the Rose)

  • Values of chastity
  • Rose symbolizes the lady՚s love: pure and earthy

Lord Randal

  • Form: ballad and question answer dialogue
  • Ends in lord Randal՚s death

Alliterative Revival

  • Great presence of alliteration or alliterative verse
  • 1350 to early fifteenth century
  • Texts: winner and waster, pearl. Patience (all anonymous)

Winner and Waster

  • Debate form
  • Criticism of pope and priests


Biblical story of Jonah and the whale


  • Dream-vision-narrator sees his dead daughter in a dream
  • The daughter now has perfect knowledge which the living doesn՚t


Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

  • Sir Gawain is one of the knights of the round table, the followers of king Arthur
  • He is saved by his magic belt


Learning Questions
Learning Questions
Learning Questions
Learning Questions