Beowulf is a traditional heroic epic poem in Old English alliterative verse. At 3182 lines, it is far more substantial than any similar work in the language, representing about 10% of the extant Anglo-Saxon corpus.

It is sometimes claimed to be the oldest surviving piece of text in what is an identifiable form of the English language, but this is highly disputable. The surviving manuscript dates to about AD 1000. The poem itself is certainly older, but there is only circumstantial evidence for the date of its composition. Some experts suggest circa AD 800 on linguistic grounds. If that date is correct, there are older English texts.

[from Wikipedia]

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