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Metre can be roughly described as the rhythm used in recitation. More exactly, metre comprises the patterns of stressed (or emphasised) and unstressed syllables, which are inherent in spoken language, but take on a more regulated form in poetry. The Rhythm of Beowulf: an interpretation of the normal and hypermetric verse-forms in Old English poetry.

One of the more interesting, and empirically-sound, clues to the date of composition of Beowulf lies in a consideration of certain aspects of the metre of the poem.

Etymology is the study of the origin of words and how the meaning has changed throughout history.

Anyone interested in English language etymology, soon finds that the expert in this field is an unlikely man.

On this basis, it is possible to draw conclusions about the probable dialect origins of much verse, to delineate the characteristics of at least four discrete periods in the development of Old English meter, and with some probability to assign to them many of the longer poems, such as Genesis A, Beowulf, and the works of Cynewulf.

A History of Old English Meter will be of interest to scholars of Anglo-Saxon, historians of the English language, Germanic philologists, and historical linguists.

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