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Poetry And History

Poetry dates back to the time where words were not written down. Instead stories, laws and histories were told orally in the poetic style. Many tales, whether true or not, were memorized by reciting the almost lyrical verse. There are tales such as Gilgamesh, Beowulf, The Iliad and the Odyssey and so many others. These poems told of the wondrous feats of mighty warriors to the way they met their death. In the Native American culture reciting history in the poetic form was also the common thing. One such poem is The Song of Hiawatha, written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I really enjoyed reading this tale written in a poem. Another I can name would be Marmion by Sir Walter Scott. Marmion and Beowulf are two of my favorites. They both tell tales of the deeds of two different men. In Marmion one of the main characters is the knight whose name is Marmion, he is a hero in the eyes of many but to two young women he is a cruel villian. One young woman left her home, a convent where she was to take her vows and join the church, just to be with him. She disguised herself as a boy and passed herself off as his servant, and Marmion knew all of this. He also knew that both deeds, a woman dressing as a boy and a woman breaking her vows to join the church, were punishable by death. He didn't care though and turned her over to the church so that he could force marriage on another young woman whose lover he had ensured was exiled from the land for life. This man was no hero. However, in Beowulf the main character, whose name is Beowulf, fights the horrid monster that is slaughtering the people of a certain land. He is noble and ends up dying as he fights for those who are weak. So, poems have played a large part in history by preserving the histories and legends at a time when people did not have the written word.



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