A type of poetry characterized by its four strong beats per line, caesura between the second and third beats, and alliteration for at least three of the beats of each line. Its formal verse made it be a form of oral poetry that audiences could remember and repeat. Sylvia Plath and other Modern English writers have used the form; generally, the Anglo-Saxon form of poetry is used in conjuring a base, gutteral emotion or thought because of its ancient roots and forceful lines.

Anglo-Saxon history is generally described throughout three centuries: the fifth century, when Christian missionaries converted and partially colonized Ireland; the sixth century, when Anglo-Saxon invaders destroyed Celtic traditions in Wales and Britain; and the seventh century, when Gregory the Great sent missionaries to convert the Anglo-Saxons. In each case, native cultures were overthrown by an invading force, either political or military, while literature flourished and changed.

In Ireland, Christian missionaries of the fifth century encountered the survivors of the old pagan culture, including the file, poets who served as the kings' counselors. Many Irish legends and stories were already old, going back to the invasion of the Celts in the first centuries. The scribes in monasteries recorded the literature of Ireland in the sixth and seventh centuries, intending to mix it in with Christianity. Those monasteries were sacked during the Danish invasion in the ninth century.

Two centuries after the Anglo-Saxons first waged war against the Celtic inhabitants of Britain, their own culture came into contact with the Christian missionaries. A great amount of Old English literature was saved from destruction thanks to the efforts of some of the monasteries and people like Alfred the Great. King Alfred the Great ordered the literature to be restored in approximately A.D. 890, and generations of anonymous scribes added to the restoration until the 12th century. The original language was Old English, but entries in later centuries were in early forms of Middle English. (See: Beowulf, Battle of Brunanburh, Bede's Death Song, and http://ftp.std.com/obi/Anglo-Saxon/aspr/contents.html for a list of more in Old English)


An"glo-Sax"on (#), n. [L. Angli-Saxones English Saxons.]


A Saxon of Britain, that is, an English Saxon, or one the Saxons who settled in England, as distinguished from a continental (or "Old") Saxon.

2. pl.

The Teutonic people (Angles, Saxons, Jutes) of England, or the English people, collectively, before the Norman Conquest.

It is quite correct to call Aethelstan "King of the Anglo-Saxons," but to call this or that subject of Aethelstan "an Anglo-Saxon" is simply nonsense. E. A. Freeman.


The language of the English people before the Conquest (sometimes called Old English). See Saxon.


One of the race or people who claim descent from the Saxons, Angles, or other Teutonic tribes who settled in England; a person of English descent in its broadest sense.


© Webster 1913.

An"glo-Sax"on, a.

Of or pertaining to the Anglo-Saxons or their language.


© Webster 1913.

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