Dennis Wise deposited Antiquarianism Underground: The Twentieth-century Alliterative Revival in American Genre Poetry in the group Speculative and Science Fiction on Humanities Commons 1 year, 6 months ago
Although alliterative poetry—a medieval Germanic meter based on similar-sounding initial stressed syllables—first flourished in Old English and Old Norse literature, a resurgence of the meter has appeared within the twentieth century. The most famous modern practitioners have been J. R. R. Tolkien, Ezra Pound, and W. H. Auden, but a wholly neglected subset of the alliterative revival involves American genre poets working in fantasy, horror, and science fiction. After the 1954 publications of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword, alliterative genre poetry began to exist “underground” in fanzines like Amra and within the Society for Creative Anachronism. By and large, a sense of semi-scholarly antiquarianism has inspired these poets. Although this revival of alliterative metrics never reached the same “critical mass” of the fourteenth-century alliterative revival, it nonetheless shows how a non-professional antiquarian interest in medieval literature can foment a niche—yet surprisingly robust—body of genre poetry.