Throughout Tolkien's professional career he dealt with a great number of texts that had varying views on the heroic, the romantic, the everyday world, and the role of Faerie. One consistent tendency among them, though, is to treat the past, and particularly Anglo-Saxon heritage, with a great deal of respect while trying to find ways to incorporate themes or ideas from that time into his own imaginative subcreations. Tolkien's use of alliterative verse serves to re-contextualize an ancient heroic ethos in a way that shows how heroism has changed, and must change, for the modern world. This paper examines Tolkien’s use of alliterative poetry in the climactic “Battle of Pelennor Fields” in Book V of The Lord of the Rings. It provides two important insights into Tolkien’s poetry: the fidelity that Tolkien has to traditional alliterative verse form and the impact that inclusion of this medieval poetry has on a modern audience.


This is a copy of the paper that I gave in 2018 at the Tolkien Seminar in Kalamazoo. It is a transitional piece between an older focus for me (linguistic analysis) and a newer focus (reader response) and is not a full dive into either field.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.