A kenning is a figure of speech that uses an inventive combination of words to create a new name or description for something. Kennings are often used in poetry and other forms of literature as a way to add richness and depth to the language.
Beowulf is one of the most famous examples of Old English literature, and it makes use of many different kennings throughout the poem. In Beowulf, kennings are often used to describe seemingly impossible or dangerous things, such as monsters or dragons. This creates a sense of suspense and wonder for the reader, as well as making the story more exciting.
Some common kennings that are used in Beowulf include: “whale-road” (the sea), “ewe of the waves” (a ship), “wave-traveler” (a sailor), and “gold-giver” (the sun). As you can see, kennings can be quite creative and can add a lot of interest to a piece of writing. What Is Kennings In Beowulf: Know In Detail. If you’re interested in learning more about kennings, or if you’re looking for some examples to help you create your own, check out this below.
Kennings In Beowulf Examples
The Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse languages feature a form of compound metaphor known as a kenning. The etymology of the term “kenning” suggests how these commonplace phrases were utilized: it derives from the Old Norse word “kenna,” which meant “to understand.” This phrase, which is cognate with words such as “cunning” and “canny,” survives in modern English as “beyond our knowledge,” meaning beyond our comprehension. The message is, a kenning was something the reader was expected to be familiar with and identify, even if it didn’t outright describe anything. Most kennings would have been used so frequently that they would instantly recall what they meant.
The examples in Beowulf include the famous “whale-road” in line ten, as well as “hronráde” in Anglo-Saxon. This refers to the sea, meaning a road traveled by whales.
“Béaga bryttan” or “giver of rings,” for example, is another excellent example that has been utilized several times. This refers to a lord and helps us to understand the ceremonial connection between lord and vassal in Anglo-Saxon culture, which was solemnized by the donation of a ring. This was intended to symbolize the lord’s duty to financially support his vassal.
Later, we see another fascinating kenning, “beorht beacen godes,” which refers to the sun. This is a literal translation of the phrase that means “bright beacon of God.” Because it contributes to the discussion about Beowulf’s Christianity and whether Christian elements were added later, this kenning is intriguing. The Anglo-Saxon language, at least, continued to develop new kennings long after Christianization.