Study Guide

Caedmon's Hymn Rules and Order

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Rules and Order

"Caedmon's Hymn" is full of order, from the strict rules governing line structure in Anglo-Saxon poetry (see "Form and Meter" for the lowdown) to God's sensible organization of his universe throughout the poem. This guy is no slob. He's got his "mind-plans" drawn and is ready to make order out of chaos. Caedmon is also not slouching around with the rules of his game. His lines deliver the goods: 4 stresses, 2 or more alliterations, and all the big spaces you could ever desire.

Questions About Rules and Order

  1. What is the relationship between the Hymn's structure and its subject matter?
  2. What kinds of order is God establishing in this hymn? 
  3. How are these types of order expressed in the various titles given to God?

Chew on This

The highly-ordered structure of Anglo-Saxon poetry reflects the larger order imposed by God on the universe he is creating.

The six separate, glorifying titles given to God emphasize the powerful and protective order he generates in the universe.

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