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He builds a tower with some of it, but when people find the stones are older than the tower, they pull it down "to look for hidden carvings and inscriptions". Tolkien notes that Ker's opinion had been a powerful influence in favour of a paradoxical contrast between the poem's supposed defect in speaking of monsters, and (in Tolkien's words) its agreed "dignity, loftiness in converse, and well-wrought finish".Tolkien cites other critics, such as Raymond Wilson Chambers and Ritchie Girvan, who objected to the poem's "wilderness of dragons" and its unworthy choice of theme.
This naturally encouraged a pre-existent tendency to square the poem with what else was known of the 'serious' levels of Anglo-Saxon thought - chiefly the Latin scholarship of the Church.
Secondly, Tolkien went far towards vindicating the structure of the poem by arguing that it was a balance of contrasting and interlocking halves.
He points out that the poem's theme is a serious one, mortality, and that the poem is in two parts: the first on Beowulf as a young man, defeating Grendel and his mother; the second on Beowulf in old age, going to his death fighting the dragon.
The work has been praised by critics including the poet and Beowulf translator Seamus Heaney. Drout called it the most important article ever written about the poem.
Tolkien argues that the original poem has almost been lost under the weight of the scholarship on it; that Beowulf must be seen as a poem, not just as a historical document; and that the quality of its verse and its structure give it a powerful effect.
He rebuts suggestions that the poem is an epic or exciting narrative, likening it instead to a strong masonry structure built of blocks that fit together.In its simplest terms it is a contrasted description of two moments in a great life, rising and setting; an elaboration of the ancient and intensely moving contrast between youth and age, first achievement and final death." A secondary division of the poem occurs, Tolkien writes, at line 1887, after which all the earlier story is summarized, so a complete account of Beowulf's tragedy is given between 1888 and the end, but without the account of the gloomy court of Heorot, or of the contrast between the young Beowulf and the old Hrothgar.The poem's metre, too, is founded on a balance of two halves to each line, "more like masonry than music"..pass_color_to_child_links a.u-inline.u-margin-left--xs.u-margin-right--sm.u-padding-left--xs.u-padding-right--xs.u-absolute.u-absolute--center.u-width--100.u-flex-align-self--center.u-flex-justify--between.u-serif-font-main--regular.js-wf-loaded .u-serif-font-main--regular.amp-page .u-serif-font-main--regular.u-border-radius--ellipse.u-hover-bg--black-transparent.web_page .u-hover-bg--black-transparent:hover. Content Header .feed_item_answer_user.js-wf-loaded . Tolkien argues that the poem is not meant to be an exciting narrative, nor a romantic story, but a word-picture, "a method and structure that ... It is a composition not a tune."It is not an 'epic', nor even a magnified 'lay'.No terms borrowed from Greek or other literatures exactly fit: there is no reason why they should.Similarly, he dismisses notions that the poem is primitive: it is instead a late poem, using materials left over from a vanished age: When new Beowulf was already antiquarian, in a good sense, and it now produces a singular effect. The scholar and translator Roy Liuzza commented that Tolkien's essay "is usually credited with re-establishing the fabulous elements and heroic combats at the center of the modern reader's appreciation of the poem." Liuzza at once went on to write, however, that "the separation of the poem into 'mythical' and 'historical' elements is a false dichotomy".For it is now to us itself ancient; and yet its maker was telling of things already old and weighted with regret, and he expended his art in making keen that touch upon the heart which sorrows have that are both poignant and remote. He argues that if myth can condense and hold the deepest sources of tension between self and the social order, and dramatises current ideologies by projecting them into the past, then even the hero Beowulf's mythic fights are at the same time throwing light on society and history.If the funeral of Beowulf moved once like the echo of an ancient dirge, far-off and hopeless, it is to us as a memory brought over the hills, an echo of an echo. control the fundamental assumptions of Old English scholarship for the next fifty years." R. Fulk commented that "No one denies the historical importance of this lecture. opening the way to the formalist principles that played such a vital role in the subsequent development of further Beowulf scholarship. The historian Patrick Wormald wrote of the essay: "it would be no exaggeration to describe [it] as one of the most influential works of literary criticism of that century, and since which nothing in Beowulf studies has been quite the same." However, Wormald continues: "The arguments of Tolkien's paper were not universally accepted, and some of its effects would perhaps have been disowned by the author, but its general impact could be summarized by saying that most critics have learnt to take the Beowulf poet a great deal more seriously".There is not much poetry in the world like this;has still essential kinship with our own, it was made in this land, and moves in our northern world beneath our northern sky, and for those who are native to that tongue and land, it must ever call with a profound appeal – until the dragon comes. Lee wrote that "Tolkien's manifesto and interpretation have had more influence on readers than any other single study, even though it has been challenged on just about every one of its major points." Seth Lerer wrote that the essay "may well be the originary piece of modern Beowulf criticism. Tolkien argued powerfully that, for the Germanic mentality that gave birth to the myth of Ragnarök, the monsters of the poem were the only appropriate enemies for a great hero, and thus shifted Beowulf from the irrelevant fringes to the very centre of the Anglo-Saxon thought world.