wordum wrixlan

Together with alliteration and formulaic phrasing, Old English poetry used patterns of repetition, echo, and interlacement to create powerfully resonant blocks of verse. There is an aesthetic quality to this poetry, a quality of intricate word weaving that moves the reader, or the listener, through the narrative or descriptive moment. In fact, one of the expressions used for making poetry in Old English was wordum wrixlan—to weave together words. There was a fabric of language for the Anglo-Saxons, a patterning of sounds and sense that matched the intricate patterning of their visual arts: serpentine designs and complex interlocking geometric form in manuscript illumination or in metalwork are the visual equivalent of the interlocking patterns of the verse.

—Seth Lerer, “Caedmon Learns to Sing,” Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language (Columbia University Press, 2007)

No comments:

Post a Comment