The Role of the Poet in Early Societies

The Role of the Poet in Early Societies

Morton W. Bloomfield, Charles W. Dunn


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Bloomfield and Dunn describe the varying roles which "poets" have historically filled within society, whether ancient, medieval, or pre-modern and identify the key functions of the poet figure. He (or sometimes she) supports the ruler and is in turn rewarded for a central service to the tribe; he exercises his authority by an apparently magical understanding of the past, present, and future; and, whenever called upon to perform an official rite, he knows how to wield the appropriate traditional, esoteric utterances.
In order to illustrate the ways in which this kind of poetic function can be seen to have been exercised in early Irish literature, pre-modern Scottish Gaelic, early Welsh, early Norse and Old English the authors draw on a wide-range of texts. The study concludes with an examination of the implications of their findings for twentieth century readers exploring the utterances of poets remote from them in time or space.

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2 black and white illustrations
176 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Paperback, 9780859913478, April 1992
Hardback, 9780859912792, August 1989
Library eBook
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