on 8/8/01 8:53 AM, Michael Snider at [log in to unmask] wrote:

> It's hard for me to read anything more than about 50 lines in
> alliterative meter without getting restless -- it does thump along.  M&S
> have taken more frequent liberties than the original, allowing  almost
> any pattern that alliterates 3 of 4 stresses (there are exceptions, but
> in the original it's almost always 2 in the first and 1 in the second
> hemistitch), occasional alliteration on unstressed syllables, and very
> occasional cross-alliteration in a line.

    Yes, that 2-stress alliteration in the first half-line that's hit once
more in the second is the classic OE oral-poetic pattern, and all the
literate poets who later used it in written composition overdid it and
rarely made the mistakes (such as "lines" falling one alliteration short of
perfection, most typically) that were inevitable under oral-composition
conditions, including their sheer speed. What M&S seem to have done is to
take the over-the-top alliteration of the Middle English Alliterative
Revival literary uses of the device and introduce it _back_ into its
oral-trad source, which is so weird as to boggle the medievalist mind(set)!

I've got five bucks says they'll get thrashed for it in reviews too--if
you'd care to make a little wager....