In modern, written poetry, we often judge the excellence of the creator by the use of unusual but appropriate imagery. The more original the poem is, the better. The bards who performed in the oral-formulaic tradition, however, were evaluated for the skill with which they could weave together familiar phrases in that poetic tradition in order to tell a story that was either already known to the audience or that was an extemporaneous effort by the scop (a traveling bard). The poet's apprenticeship would have included learning certain traditional themes, popular stories, names of various characters, and the formulas through which the bard eventually performed the tales or created his own stories. We might expect a performer to be able to fit the theme of the piece, and even the length, to a particular occasion, as Hrothgar's scop does in
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This note was uploaded on 11/29/2011 for the course ENG 1320 taught by Professor Bost during the Fall '09 term at Texas State.