By Thomas G. Duncan
Winner of a call notable educational name Award the center English lyric occupies a spot of substantial value within the historical past of English literature. the following, for the 1st time in English, are came across many positive aspects of formal and thematic significance: they contain rhyme scheme, stanzaic shape, the carol style, love poetry within the demeanour of the troubadour poets, and devotional poems targeting the affection, soreness and compassion of Christ and the Virgin Mary. The essays during this quantity objective to supply either history info on and new checks of the lyric. by way of treating heart English lyrics bankruptcy by way of bankruptcy in accordance with their varieties - poems facing love, with spiritual devotion, with ethical, political and well known issues, and people linked to preaching - it presents the attention in their attribute cultural contexts and literary modalities valuable for an educated serious studying. complete account is taken of the scholarship upon which our wisdom of those lyrics rests, specially the phenomenal contributions of the previous couple of a long time and such fresh insights as these of gender feedback. additionally incorporated are special discussions of the precious details afforded by means of the generally various manuscript contexts during which heart English lyrics live to tell the tale and of the various matters enthusiastic about enhancing those texts. Separate chapters are dedicated to the carol, which got here to prominence within the 15th century, and to heart Scots lyrics which, on the finish of the center English lyric culture, current a few subtle productions of a wholly new order.BR> individuals: Julia Boffey, Thomas G. Duncan, John Scattergood, Vincent Gillespie, Christiania Whitehead, Douglas grey, Karl Reichl, Thorlac Turville-Petre, Alan J. Fletcher, Bernard O'Donoghue, Sarah Stanbury and Alasdair A. MacDonald.
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Extra resources for A Companion to the Middle English Lyric
Occasionally musical notation, or references to tunes suitable for the words, is also provided. One of the best known early lyrics, Sumer is icomen in (Brown XIII, No. 6), occurs in a collection of this sort, BL MS Harley 978 (on fol. 11v), where it is surrounded by liturgical pieces, the Fables and Lais of Marie de France, and some Latin goliardic poems. The manuscript’s contents were copied by a number of different hands, and probably over a number of years, in the first few decades of the thirteenth century; references in some of the texts suggest that the scribes were all in some way associated with Reading Abbey, a milieu in which the parallel Latin and English versions of Sumer is icumen in (the English words are written above Latin ones which begin Perspice, Christicola) would have been entirely appropriate (see Dobson and Harrison 1979, 143–5; Brown XIII, 168–9; Frankis 1986, 176–7; Taylor 2002, 76–136, with a facsimile on p.
A second assumption is that it is satisfactory to describe this verse simply in terms of the number of stressed syllables per line. An obvious disadvantage of this approach is that it is often unclear what is to count as a ‘stressed syllable’; is it a syllable carrying ‘natural’ 20 THOMAS G. DUNCAN stress, or perhaps ‘metrical’ or ‘rhetorical’ stress? A more serious disadvantage is that unstressed syllables are left out of account. 1 This may be true of some verse, but as a generalisation it is much too sweeping and may owe less to systematic analysis than to what seems more akin to a form of quaint nationalistic pride as found in George Saintsbury’s claim that Middle English verse by ‘the admission of extra unstressed syllables .
S. Lewis was prepared to allow. Into the fifteenth century one finds Hoccleve writing in the same manner. See Burrow 1999, xxviii: ‘There can be little doubt that the prime general metrical rule for Hoccleve, as for his French contemporaries, concerned the number of syllables, not the distribution of stresses’. Of course, the decasyllabic norm in Chaucer allows for variation – from a possible eleven syllables in lines with feminine rhymes to nine syllables in headless lines. It may also be that Chaucer tolerated trisyllabic feet; see Barney 1993, 98.
A Companion to the Middle English Lyric by Thomas G. Duncan