Usually nouns and adverbs are the alliterating words, and the on-verse has one or two alliterating words, but the off-verse only one. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1981 (2nd ed., 1997). We may broadly classify the verse patterns used in Old English (and thus in Beowulf) into the following types (based largely on Sievers' classification): Though a vast number of verses in Beowulf (and other Old English poems) do not conform exactly to any of these 'basic' types, we find that most verses are equivalent to one or other of the above types. This additonal condition rules out, for instance, verses of type 2C2 (e.g. Despite Kaluza's claims, his law does not apply regularly in Types B and E (see Fulk §172). provides an exhausting listing and details about all verses in Beowulf to which Kaluza's law applies. Without going into fine detail, which does not concern our primary purpose of dating here, we may observe that in Beowulf Kaluza's Law applies regularly under secondary stress in Bliss's verse types 2A3a(ii), 2A4, 1D3 and 3E3 (see Bliss, Metre of Beowulf, §§34-7 & Fulk, History, §§170-183) and verse-finally under primary stress in Bliss's verse types 2A1b, 2A3b, a1 (Hutcheson, 3. This section may be somewhat technical for some readers. Old English literature is largely preserved in manuscripts of the late tenth, eleventh and twelfth centuries, and Beowulf is no exception, surviving in a late 10th- or early 11th-c. Based on external evidence such as historical references or authorship, some poetry, like Cædmon's Hymn, can be dated as early as the 7th-c., whilst other poems, like The Death of Edgar, can be dated as late as the mid-eleventh century.
In Old English (and Old Germanic in general), a vowels alliterates with any other vowel (more correctly, any onsetless syllable alliterates with any other onsetless syllable) -- otherwise strict identity is maintained.
Historically heavy syllables in this case are those 'long' inflectional endings which end in a consonant (such as the masculine a- stem genitive singular ending -es) or once carried a 'circumflex' intonation ( Schleifton in German) in an earlier stage of the language (such as the ó- stem nominative plural ending -a from Proto-Germanic *-ô(z) from Proto-Indo-European *-âs ).
The 'short' inflectional endings are the remainder (such as the masculine i-stem nominative singular -e from Proto-Germanic *-iz ) [see further Appendix D. This condition on resolution is known as Kaluza's Law (see Appendix C. Additionally, the law is restricted to only such cases in which the resolvable syllables and the immediately preceding lift (=stressed syllable) stand in the same foot.
One of the most common verse-forms in Beowulf is exemplified by wéox under wolcnum (8a) [ / x x / x ], in other words Type A with an 'extra' unstressed syllable in the first foot.
In general one may observe that in all of the types we find four positions - in fact in the basic types, these four positions map perfectly onto four syllables.