At this point I pass out the boasts to students. I've put these on notecards but have them in a document for ease of use here: Beowulf's Boasts quotes. The boasts are from the Burton Raffel translation and the Kennedy translation of Beowulf, although I use the Seamus Heaney translation. This is one way I can expose students to the various translations of the epic.
When I have leftover cards, I ask some students to take more than one.
Before having students work w/ their boasts, I get out some props (hats from the dollar store) and put one on. Then I "boast," using one of the boasts I've distributed to students.
Next, I ask students to walk around the room and share their boasts w/ one another. As they do, I check to see if anyone needs help w/ pronunciations of words. I can do this informally so that the students aren't embarrassed when they present the boasts to the class.
After a few minutes of sharing with one another, I have students return to their desks.
I remind the class that when they present the boasts, they are no longer themselves; they are each Beowulf. Then we take turns boasting using the lines from Beowulf. Beowulf Boasting: Student PerformanceAfter each student boasts, we clap three times.
When all have finished, I ask: "What information did you get from the boasting? What did you learn about Beowulf?" Some of the student answers included:
"What his accomplishments are."
"Who his father is."
"What he can do."
When student struggle, I ask: "How do you communicate?" Students eagerly offer:
No one says "reputation." I ask, "How did Anglo-Saxons communicate?"
Someone responded: "Writing." That gave me the opportunity to tell the class that Beowulf is an oral story and that monks wrote it down. The Anglo-Saxons did not have writing as an option. This revelation sparked students to realize that word-of-mouth is the only way the Anglo-Saxons had to communicate.
We finish talking about the purpose of boasting for the Anglo-Saxons:
- Reveal one's reputation.
- Identify oneself as friend.
- Identify one's family lineage.
- Tell what one will do.
Now the class is ready for the task of composing their own boasts, which I explain in the next section.
Anglo-Saxon Boast Assignment
Download Printable Copy Anglo-Saxon Boast Assignment HERE
The Anglo-Saxon hero was celebrated in poetry and song, and he was expected to tell of his exploits and adventures. These tales were his boasts. Beowulf boasts of his prowess in lines 141-169 of Beowulf. Using these lines as models, write your own “Anglo-Saxon” boast which meets the following criteria:
v It must explain three of your past accomplishments and boast of one future accomplishment.
v It must be 20 lines long.
v It must imitate the Anglo-Saxon poetic form with four accented beats per line, no end rhyme, and a caesura in each line.
v It needs to contain four kennings, multi-word metaphors which re-name people, places, or things.
v It needs to have three examples of alliteration.
v It must be on a piece of paper or construction/poster paper no smaller than 8 ½ by 11 inches, and it must be appropriately decorated in keeping with the accomplishments mentioned in the boast.
Each of these elements must be highlighted and labeled.
Higlac is my cousin and my king; the days
Of my youth have been filled with glory. Now Grendel’s
Name has echoed in our land: sailors
Have brought us stories of Herot, the best
Of all mead-halls, deserted and useless when the moon
Hangs in skies the sun had lit,
Light and life fleeing together.
My people have said, the wisest, most knowing
And best of them, that my duty was to go to the Danes’
Great king. They have seen my strength for themselves,
Have watched me rise from the darkness of war,
Dripping with my enemies’ blood. I drove
Five great giants into chains, chased
All of that race from the earth. I swam
In the blackness of night, hunting monsters
Out of the ocean, and killing them one
By one; death was my errand and the fate
They had earned. Now Grendel and I are called
Together, and I’ve come. Grant me, then,
Lord and protector of this noble place,
A single request! I have come so far,
Oh shelterer of warriors and your people’s loved friend,
That this one favor you should not refuse me—
That I, alone, and with the help of my men,
May purge all evil from this hall.
YELLOW = kennings
BLUE = past accomplishments
GREEN = future accomplishment
RED = four accented beats
PURPLE = caesura
I am Jana, daughter of TK and Lenore,
Affectionately nicknamed ReidZilla and Cruella De Reid,
Known, far and wide, as the strict English teacher.
Many have been my triumphs, many my accomplishments.
Valedictorian of the class of 1980, I graduated with honors
From the Land of the Bears, .
Flinging my green and gold afar, I traveled to Granbury,
Home of the Pirates, to fight ignorance and bring the light of
To students, the hope of the future. My greatest goal
Has always been to help students learn to think.
Once here, I experienced many challenges,
Many successes and many defeats. Named Teacher of the Year
In both 2003 and 2005 and Educator of the Year in 2000,
Some have honored me for my abilities. But the greatest honor
Comes when a student thanks me, when a student
Understands a concept, when a student asks me to be his or her
On Facebook and tells me how I helped him in college
Or her in class, then I know that I have made a difference,
I have achieved my ultimate goal: to change the world,
One person at a time.
YELLOW = kennings, 4 examples
BLUE = past accomplishments, 3 examples
GREEN = future accomplishment, 1 example
RED = four accented beats, 1 example
PURPLE = caesura, 1 example
TURQUOISE = alliteration, 3 examples
Anglo-Saxon Boast Rubric
Presentation 20 points __________
Appropriate length 10 points __________
Diction 10 points __________
Content (three present accomplishments, one future) 20 points __________
Conventions of Anglo-Saxon poetry 20 points __________
No end rhyme
Four beats per line (one line)
Caesura (one line)
Kenning(four examples) 10 points __________
Alliteration (3 examples) 10 points __________