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Analysis

Since it's structured around alliteration, or matching first sounds of words, most Anglo-Saxon poetry, including "The Husband's Message" sounds a lot like a tongue-twister. "She sells seashells down by the seashore"? Yeah, kind of like that, but way cooler – and in Old English.

The alliteration is meant to accentuate important words, like nouns and the subject of the sentence. This rising and falling accentuation – which, unlike regular metered poetry, is slightly unpredictable – gives Anglo-Saxon poetry the feel of a drive on a really hilly road, where you're constantly going up and down through the peaks and troughs of the variable-stressed alliterative line.

Want to learn more about alliteration in "The Husband's Message"? Check out "Form and Meter."

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