Between Languages: The Uncooperative Text in Early Welsh and Old English Nature Poetry

By Sarah Lynn Higley | Go to book overview

3
Metrical and Stylistic Analyses

a gwedy elwch tawelwch vu. ("And after rejoicing there was silence.") -- The Gododdin

Before we can come to any new conclusions about the connection of ideas in these poems, a discussion of the metrical and grammatical styles of Old English and Early Welsh poetry is called for. Both languages are IndoEuropean, and presumably their poetic traditions have an origin in the IndoEuropean "long" and "short" line that we find in Greek, Sanskrit, and Slavic traditions.1 Both feature alliteration, and it has been recently shown that the distinct syllabic stress characteristic of Early Welsh poetry might have devel-

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1
See Calvert Watkins, "Indo-European Metrics and Archaic Irish Verse", Studia Celtica 6 ( 1963), 194-249; also James Travis, Early Celtic Versecraft: Origin, Development, Diffusion ( Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1973), 2, 13. The matter of Welsh origins in Indo-European poetry has been a polemical topic, with the "nativists" arguing for the indigenous development of Old Welsh poetic forms and the "Indo-Europeanists" arguing for its development in pre-Celtic tradition. For the former, see Ifor Williams, Canu Aneirin ( Caerdydd: Gwasg Prifysgol Cymru, 1938, 1970); for the latter see Kathryn Klar, Brendan O Hehir, and Eve E. Sweetser, "Welsh Poetics in the IndoEuropean Tradition: The Case of the Book of Aneirin", Studia Celtica 18/19 ( 1983-84), 30-51.

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