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Medieval poetry

Medieval poetry was often preserved by mere happenstance. Because most of what we have was written down by clerics, much of extant medieval poetry is religious. Old English religious poetry includes the poem Christ by Cynewulf, and the poem The Dream of the Rood, preserved in both manuscript and on the Ruthwell Cross. We do have some secular poetry, in fact a great deal of medieval literature was written in poetry, including the Old English epic Beowulf. Scholars are fairly sure, based on a few fragments and on references in historic texts that much lost secular poetry was set to music, and was spread by traveling minstrels, or bards, across Europe. Thus, the few poems written eventually became ballads or lays, and never made it to being recited without song or other music.

See also: Medieval literature

Table of contents
1 MediŠval Latin literature
2 Romance languages
3 Germanic languages
4 Medieval Celtic poetry

MediŠval Latin literature

In mediŠval Latin, while verse in the old quantitative metres continued to be written, a new more popular form called the sequence arose, which was based on accentual metres in which metrical feet were based on stressed syllables rather than vowel length. These metres were associated with Christian hymnody.


Medieval Latin poets

Romance languages

Old French

The Matter of France

The Matter of Britain





Germanic languages

Alliterative verse

Medieval English poetry

Medieval German poetry

Medieval Celtic poetry