The collocation of words for treasure in Old English verse
This thesis uses a study of the collocation of words for treasure to address the question of the relationship between the conventionality and originality of Old English verse. Collocation will be defined as the tendency for words to appear together. Such a definition allows for the examination of patterns of repetition beyond the half-line while also including the half-line formula thereby including stylistic features which have been considered, negatively, as constraints and restrictions on the freedom of the Old English poet, as well as other stylistic features which have been considered positively, as evidence of the rhetorical skill of the Old English poet. Rather than restrict the number of poems which I study, I have chosen to restrict the number of words to five words (mađm, hord, gestreon, sinc and frætwe) for treasure. This restriction allows for a wide spectrum of Old English verse to be examined since the words appear widely throughout the corpus. I hope thus to avoid the tendency common in scholarship to study not the whole of Old English poetry but to focus on Beowulf and verse at one time thought to be at least partly heroic. With few exceptions, the study of the style of Old English verse has largely ignored meaning. The restriction of this study to five words will allow for comments on stylistic features to be drawn with reference not only to the needs of verse form but with careful attention to the subtlety of the semantic fields of the words involved. In Chapter One, I review past scholarship on the lexis and style of Old English Verse with particular emphasis on the question of conventionality and originality. Chapter Two examines the place of treasure in Old English verse. Chapter Three focuses on the semantic analysis of the five words for treasure. I devote attention to the referents of each word and also include an account of such semantic aspects as nuance, connotation and themes associated with each word. Chapter Four consists of a study of the lexical collocations associated with each of these five words for treasure. Chapter Five considers the implications of the collocations of words for treasure for the conventionality and originality of the style and lexis of Old English verse. The conclusion attempts to comment on the style and quality of individual Old English poems. Lexical collocation is an aspect of lexis and style which has been largely ignored and which offers a new vantage point from which to consider Old English poetics further.