From the beainninas to Milton

Revised Edition

A Critical History

EngtiIh Literature



A Critical History of
English Literature




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FiISI published inCreat Britain, 19&1 by Martin Sec.l<er& WarbLOrg Limi led Revised edi liol'! published 1969
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Tms lS.AN !lGE of specialist scholars, and for one man. to attempt a complete history ·I)f English literature is n.ow both rash and unusual. I cannot claim to be a specialist in all the periods on which I have written, nor, in spite of my best at~empts. have I been able to keep abreast of .an Dew dev,elopments .m ElJlg:lishstudies. But I have been readiog English literature ronoouously and close'!), ever since I began my studies at Edinburgh University in 1930, and I have long felt the urge to describe the whole scene as I see it. This:, therefore. is oseman's history of Eng'!iID litera'Une; n is il:ltellded les5 as a work of referen,ce than asa work of descrtption, explanation. and critical int'erpret:ati[>TI .. It is not meant tobe looked up. but to be read. r have givenmyseH genemus space I'll dealillg with major HglllTessuch as Shakespeare aed Milton,. witboutbotherillg wh.ether. in strict 'temi1S of relative gteahless, they deserve so much more !lian 1. have given to wme othee writers. Iadeed, the chapters on Shakespeare and Milton oon perhaps stand as mdepeadent critical. studies, capaitde of extracted frem the rest of the History and read as short books em their wn Nevertlhe2ess, though the word "critical" in my title is .. important,. I hlwe tried never to lose sight of the fact that this is a history,. Dot a series of separate critic-a.1 studies, and liIe appropriate kinds of hIstorical generalizations and the proper contiilluity ofnasratlve hav.e:, I hope, been maintained t.hroughout. I may sometimes ha .... treated. a mino'r Miter who mterest5 me pamcul!a.rly :ilt greater e length tha.tI he deserves .•er rather ba:ielly smnmariz.edi som.ethimg important alld well known .. But I have tried to see my subject steadily and see it whol.e; and I ba,ve med fo write in;erestingly,. less as the impeT!>on al seholae rOC'Ordillg facts thallEtS. the interested reader shar·


his Irnowleclge and


On. matters of pure scholarship, I have, of course, olten had to de. pend all. the jesearehes of others. On questions of emphasis and

1960 5 Tm lEND OF THE MIDDLE EIlRLY TU. As a rule .M 3 4. Art is IOllg and! life is short.'isE' I ~ave modernized it.CLE 6 Tm:: "1 146 165 SPENSER DRAMA 8 9 ]0 Pu YS TO MAIRLOWE 208 246 SHAKESPEARE DRAMA. which lose too much by such modernization. I have found that.viii PREFACE assessment I' have done so as little as possible. Mll>DLE ·ENCLlSH Lrn:RATURE: ALLEGORY.. thoug:h not ill MiddleEl1glish texts. In sixteenth-. although occasionally even the most conscientious critical historian must be content to take the word. Cambridge February. PIERS PLOWMAN ACES Jesus CoUege. BALl_AD C:a.U'CER. and eighteenth-century texts r have retained the original spelLiing where it is important as giving a penod lavor or indicating some hi.OOR SCENE M"D K1S TIME. seveneeenth-. however.ralu quotafiowl from the works under disi cussion than is usual for a literary historian.I.storical aspects of the language Or of literary ecnvention.OITIONS IN THE SIXTEENTH ANiII SEVENTEEN'tH CEmuruEs 458 12 14 Mn.I have modemized s'pe!]Jng and punctuation. LYRIC. My principle in this and other matters has been maximum ease of reading compatible with sound scholarship and intellectual responsibility.TON SCOTIlSH LrI'ERltTURE '!110 390 1700 504 . I hope. of n ~ympad)etic expert about the value of an odd minor work to which he himself bas never devoted a great deal of careful attention.. and one cannot always be wholly original in everything.N PHYSICAL r·I!. from which I have l1rIyself profited but which are not literary history in the sense that IMs book is intended to be. FROM JONSON TO mE CLQS1NC OF THE THEATERS AND TKE META- 309 346 H 13 Pmmn: PROSE AFrER SPENSER: THE JONSONll!. the critical side of the work demands this. I have been more IDibe. FlIOl'-{ THE MiRA. Contents VOLUME CIUP'fER PAGE LITERATURE: 1 2 ANGLO-SAXON 3 MIDDLE ENGLISH PROSE Ai'll) THE DEVELOPMENi OF VERSE 31 FllBLlJIU. DREJI.. atherv. I have been deliberately inconsistent in the texts of my quotations. that the pattern which a sing. 6B 89 128 DAvm Dillie-RES GOWER.le mind imposes 011 this vast materia] will make my account more lively and suggestive ~han the conscientious composite works of reference by teams of experts.

tain in the latter part of the firth century A_D. Some four' hundred years before they arrived In Britain. were the Iounders of what w -e can properly call English culture ami lEng. 856 Z2 23 THE ROMANTIC POETS H: S01E:LI_EY. with their primitive vigor and alien ways of thought. Precisely who the invaders were whom we have Ior so lOfl~ caned "Anglo-Saxon" is not of primary importance to the student of ~iterature.: DEFOE.-. RICHlIJIDSON 1"0 J AN. H!lMS....oSOPHICAL. CHlTICAL. the Roman historian Tacitus had given his aeccunt of the Germanic peoples and how they looked to his civilized Roman eyes.. both the political structure of the Empire and the ideological structure of Crecc-Roman thought.OTT THE ROMANTIC POETS ]: COLEAlDCE Au.lIsh literature. AND BYRON PROSE OF mE 905.POPE POE"rnV THE 537 590 17 18 19 20 21 FROM THOMSON TO CW . and though we can see that Tacttus' Germania idealizes the barbarians in order to hold up the noble savage as all example to decadent Rome. i. After the Roman Empire had become Christianized. AND WORDSWQR"m:. They gave England its name. That they belonged to the group of Teutonic peoples to which we 'can appropriately give Tacitus' name of Cermanla is clear. SWIFT.'llEX 1179 a . whose world they threatened and finally overcame.E AUSTEN HISTORlCAL WRITING A nglo-Sason.'\ucusn. and its links with "Germanin.£ England two hUH- LITERATURE FROM S{.. who came to Bri. fOJ the farmer were heathen and their life and their SOCiety reflected heroic ideals far removed fm-om Roman Christian theory or practice.NO SCOlTlSH 766 809 THE ANGLO-SAXON INVADERS.:1'<7I1JRY II'. the contrast between barbarian and Roman WOliS even more striking." appearing out of nowhere to endanger.N AGI.AN BLAKE." that gre:lt body of Teutonic peoples whose rnigmtions disrupted the Homan Empire and utterly changed the face of Europe.. To the Romans. 935 961 991'3 1049 FAMnUR. we can nevertheless trace in his account somethin:g of the qualities of these people as they emerge out of the mists of history and legend at a later period. and eventually established their kingdoms there. According 10 Bede.nON THE . KEATS. its language.y 24 25 26 27 CENTURi VICTOIUAN PROSE: ]OHN HEI"lRY NEWMAI'f MORRIS THE VICTOWAN POETS THE VICTORIAN NOVEL DRAMA FR.:IE CHA!I"'TER 11 PACE CHAPTEl{ ONE 15 16 THE RESTORt..y TO WAl-TEJI. they were "barbarians. wTitJnghh eeelesiastical history 0. Literature EICHTEENTH-CENTImY Pmr.OM THE BEGINmNG OF' THE: TO WILLIAM EJClITEENl"H C~NTlJl'IY 28 29 TWENTJETH-CEN"nJRY 1094 POETRY NOVEL U22 1]52- THE Twu'TIE'Tli-O. Yet the history of much or Europe in the so-called "Dark Ages" uS the story of the gradllal fusion of these two ways of life and thought. BE S 652 700 AND 'NOVEL I'<lIOM. !WD MlSCELLAN"E{)US A.NO MmDLE NIN'ETEENTH Ellflt. the gwwing together of barbarian and Christian and the grounding of bath in an approprlately modified phase of the Creco-Roman tradttion.VOLU~. MISCELLANEOUS CRITICAL PROSE.

and significant oifl. which is essentially the' English language in an 'earljer stage of its development.. and m a sense it is. southeast. who appear to have come hOIill1 the low country south of Denmark and east of Holland. and does not appear IIlTItlllong after the Anglo-Saxon period.." We know something abeut the Saxons. tbat the Arl:hurian 'romances began to 5 appear. withdrew from :England in .") But a 'literal translation helps to bring out its relation to modem English.desperately trying ronald their empire together against barbarian invaders. Salt secg monig sorgum gebunden. therefore. that which brings us most closely into contact with the Cermanic origins of the invadersis the heroic ptletry.p~"th. they came "from three very powerful nations of the Germans: that is.. Angli. ANGLO-SAXON LITERATURE A. Burgulildians" Lombards. they soon found themselves more seriously threatened by the invaders from across the North Sea. which s1iU bears traces not only of the pre-Christian heroic society of the eoattuental Saxons and others. each line contai'nwng four stressed synabIes and a varyililg number disposition. There is a deGnite pause (caesura) between the two halves of each line. ohen wis:himg that his kingdom were overcome. and while it is true that it was an Engl'ishman. . was really a historical Cambro-British character from .XON L rTSR "'''UR E: dred years and more after their arrival. amd others. the modern Holstein. a relatively smallvocabulary from which mallY words have since been lost (though some which are lost to standard English remain in altered fonn ill Scots and in regional English dialects)." that loosely associated group of peoples who included Goths. This is written in the language we know as Old Engli. tOl conSidering his metamorphosts into a hero of medieval romance and a focus for a host of "'Arthurman" stories as any part of a direct and continuous heritage from Celtic Britain into later times. not being the cogent argument it might appe'ar 10' the modem ear). continuously preserved their langllage and their traditions. with twO'stresses in eaeh half.r themselves when the Romans. wyscte . wean on wenan. the Anglo-French develO'pment of the materia] is very far removed from any Celtic origins. without rhyme. Whalever the origins of the Arthurian story. their eontribution to specifically Eng. withinfiections w~ich have since disappeared. Anglian kingdoms (in the 'east. The cultural dHlerellcesbelweel'lthe t'llree groups are of comparatively littJe moment. (The letter . from the Saxones.D. eertain warrior. 410.. to whom they were an alien ~e<lple known as ''WeJsh. We have learned of Ecrmanric's wollis. To the superficial eye this looks !leI)" far removed Irom modem English. while the Jutes. and W]lO had a common set c£ heroes who might beiong to anyone O'fthese. perhaps carne Iroen the eeuntry east of the lower Rhine and perhaps. their lmgllage was essentially the same. while brave. ahre wide folc Cotena rices. The verse is alliterative and stressed.lhougb. .this period-and we have no rnencion of him before the ninth century except for a passing remark by an eady seventh-cenrury 'Welsh poet that 2. anticipatin. though wi~h important dlaleetlcal difi'eleru:esj and they all considered themselves fart of "Cermania..orn" -has the sound of "th. who plays such an importarit part in Mi. whose origin is the most obscure of the three. who 6rst elaborated the Arthllrian story (in his Hmaria Regr~m BI"i!anniae) to provide rich material for these romances.jving Ang[o-Saxon ~iteratuTe. A prey to the ruder Piets and Scots in the north. .lis!l literature is sporadic and oblique. 'Or or We gesscodon Eonnel. ~ret W8!lS grim cynillg. Many <Ie man sat hound in sorrows. Geoffrey of MonmO'uth.g woe..ddle English romance. "was JIOr Arthur" -there is still no reason. north.geneail1he pet PIeS (:JIlIe~i0eS ofereumen wrere. but also of that community subject which linked these eady English with tbe wider civilization of Cermama.bD>m Jutland.n which was simpIDythe Germanic peoples name for foreigners who were nC)1 part of Germania.probably (the apparent similarity of names.lrices wyffenlile ge~ht. for example. Only in Wales have these Cambro-Britons.erences between.. they were left to' fend (o. if Arthur. It was 'tmt unnl the hveHth century.tiGn from the French. The Angles appear ~O'have lived in modem Jutland and the neighboring islandsbefO're they appeared in Britain. . less. when English hterature sought :its inspira. we are justified in beginning the history of English literature with the Anglo-Saxons. the West Saxon dialect of the south and the Anglian dialect o~'North· umbria.That was a cruel king. In Anglo-Saxon England there were Saxon kingdoms (in the south and southwest). and rmdlands). and the futile. A Celtic people who had been taken in'o the Roman Empire. and the Jutish Idllgdom of Kent in the.. Of the Romani'zed Britons wllom the invading Anglo-Saxons pushed lllto western comers of England the historian of English titerature has lmle to o-rAnglo-Saxon.. he held wide dominion in the realm of the Goths .NCLOSA.

been held ill lale S. made for certain difFicultir. 011 fhe whole. seop. contaills Andrea.n ~ul1l1J~ III.>-some of the Iines seem to be later interpolations-but the core of the work finely reflects the heroic attitude to the bard's function and gives us a Iasdnating glimpse of the Cermanic world as it appeared to the imagination of the Anglo.!'. and is thus tenth-century and in the West Saxon dialect. The poem 35.• Bnn three prose works. Bede dates it 564" but he bcllJiru hj~ year in S~ptember.erer.r.E. Addrcu of 11'l! Soul 1'0 Ihe B"du. though iEthelbe'rht.~ A XV In the British Museum.ember Of e early O~!ober. or . Unfortunately. the itinerant minstrel 'who frequented the halls of kings and chlels and sometimes found continuous service with one master. this ""'oold mean 6fI. That AngloSaxon heroic poetry.. The' Se"flJrt:r. which meant the disappearance of the Christian Church in Ncrthumbna until its re-establishment by Aidan and his followers from Iona. can. any extant poetry Of. (4) Thl' V"rcelli Book. J . .tby in 663.' and we have no. and these were not resolved until the Synod of Whi.~ In our dOling. Tile stressed alliterative verse of AngloSaxon poetry is clearly the product of an oral court minstrelsy. in 632. the poem-which must have been originally composed in Northurnlbria-dales fmm the late seventh air early eighth century. thDllgh much is known in genel'al about the mythology of the Germanic and tile Norse peoples. which had sponsored A11-' .sn heroic SOCiety and in soclal tome and general mood bears evidence of its origins. modified hy a relatively sophisticated Latin culture-not only by Christian sentiment but. and mllny other short pieces. The fetes 01 tl. wbkb ccntaim CrnMs.e '\PM'II<lr.ul Siltlln. we have it is probably not homogeneou.IS Cotton V. reason to believe tbat the older. king of Kent. (2J The Iunius !lh'UlWtipl in the Bodleian . but tell us nothing of the ~arger patterns 01 aUitude and beltef which are of the' most relevance For a study of the literature. it was intended to be' reciled by the scop.. Dcor. he had been sent by Gregory the Great with a band of monks in order to achieve this missionary task But. If even the external ecclesiastteal organizatiOTIi was thus unstable ill the early centuries.n literature of the Heroic Age of Cermania.. But debate OLl the degree to which Beowldf. was duly eonverted to Christianity and AIIj{Usline was sllon able to establish the seat of his bishopne at Canterbury. Difference'S between the customs and practices of the Irish Church-which had remained somewhat iso~ lated from Horae=and the Rom[lTJChurcb.analogies between what we know o~ Scandinavian heathendom and whatwe snrmise of its Old E:ngiish equivalent.. as is mdiUon. preserved. nOrl1'eitigioLls poetry that survives is more thon a casually preserved fragment of what was written.lel Book.. The text we have of the poem is in the Exeter Book. 3nd Elene. The Wurld. for example.-adm.>$ between those English ecclesiastics who 10nked to Rome and those who looked to Iona and to Ireland..rd !MS BOOleia. li"nn. Though there are difficulties in pladng the earliest extant AMl~]oSaxon poetry in its cultural context. is the autobiogYaphica] record of such a. the other Germanic literatures -of Old Hi. at the hands of the pagan Penda. col1!ainil1iil Cllrin. it is not difficult to see how traces or ragan thougbt ill varying kinds of relation to Christianity persisted Forsome tlrne after the nominal conversion of the English..the English peoples began with the arrival of AugusHne in Kent in Sffl.ANCLO-SAXON LITERATURE: ANGLO-SAXOIIJ LITERATURE 7 Some thirty thousand! lines of Anglo-Sa:>!oD poetry' have survived. we have it. gI'ileD bl' Bishop Leofrie 100IExeter Carhcdral. king of Mercia.lly held. hardly be disputed. even ru. and BS the 5)1.lIY.] The E. /Ilnnl ... Llbr. is of earlier date than. whicb contains' B(!OI£lJlj..00 C'f!nbe shown 10 hn . but the heroic poetry which eormeets more directiy with the Germanic origins of the AnglDt-Saxons eonld not be expected to' arouse any special ecdesiaslic~1 interest even when i( had been superflcially purged of Its pagan feeling and ill some degree Christianized in thought. the permanent esta'blishment of Chrmstianity throughout England proved a milch lengthier task and one which required the active intervention of Celtic missionaries lrom Ireland and Scotland.first centurv and more. Dlllnkt and CJ••W a.epl. fragmentary though it is and an arbitrary sample though it mtly be. One of the earliest sUJviving AngloSaxon poems. has been.. by a Virgilian tradition=cannot be resolved without knowledge of more details than it seems likely we shalt ever possess about prunnive Ang!o-Sax:onbeliefs. Anglo-Saxon heroic poetry is the nearest we can get to the oral (laga. I. in tbO!~lhed. is the product of a'pag. for example. OlllQ. Tile D~t:am 01 tl.. Old English place names give some indication pl'e-ChrLstian activity assoG'iated with certain localities in Anglo-Saxoll England. \I'idrilli.Saxons.. :t Not 664. with certain notable setbacks such as the defeat and death of the Christian Edwin. it would seem likely that Bewm![ and such other remains of early Ellg'lish heroic poetry as survive are closer to theil" pagan origins in mood and purpose than is sometimes believed. Specifically religious poetry might be expected to have earned: ecclesiastical care and preservanon.ilelli. the Iaet remains that the common origin of the two was already far in the past by the time we find the Anglo-Saxons: in England.gustine's mission. we can take some comfort from the knowledge that what has survived! of Anglo-Saxon poetry. king of Northumhrie.~ but it is sufficient for the historian of literature to note that the development of EnglJisn Chrisp3r:Jiity was not continuous but sporadic Inr the. as has been claimed. hid. The conversion of . Though we can draw . we llavevery linle definite infomnaHoliI about the heathen backgroulld of Old English culture.']."01 Ilbmr~ 111 Vcroelli. I Tht"W lin": II) !.e Rood. lin nnrthem Itnly'.gll German or Old Norse. Widsilh. nearly al] of it contained ill four manuscripts.

He was. . "IEtla [AUilaJ ruled the. nephew of King Hygelac of the Ceats (the Ceats probably occupied what is now southern Sweden).'~an)'0{ the characters he mentionsfigure in other poems-in Beoll>llll.on his~ol"y). the "Iar wanderer.eowulf survives in a single manuscript.lllmbrian . kmg of the Lornbards. NG." teUs of his travels dmmghout rbe Cermanic world arid mentions the many rulers he has visited. to save his country from the dragon's ravages.!: literature as a whole--beceuseit is the o'nly com- AN'CLO-SAXON UTEnATURl. Future scllolars may welli return to this [atter view. most fordbl!y is its catholicity: praise is meted out IIl11lpartlaUy Huns. the lalest character to be mentioned ill any Gennani~ herOIC poem).on epic or simlJply an Anglo·Saxon epic (though it should be mentioned that modern opinion Incliaes to the belief that It was the only poem of its kind composed in Anglo-Saxon times). . Olla ruled Angem.rst deals with the visit of Beowulf. O bard of t~e seventh century drawtng on the traditions of ~is people.fl. though a powerful case has been made out Eorits haVing been eompesed orally by a heathen oonsiderably earlier. lIe tells us elsewhere in the poem.eatiMl$ monster. tho Roman Empire-is here sketched out.and when Grendel's mother comes to take . but ~e.iew of Germamc hIstory and geographr as it appeare~ L a. H it is impossible to determine eouelusively whether it was the Anglo-Sa:.ell here a bud s . The princes he claims to have VISIted cover VlrtllilJly the whole Germanic world and their lifetimes extend over two hundred years..ey on his warriors. and in at sense was absorbed by. remarkably successful iill rendering that combination of heroic idealism and somber fatalism which seems to have been part of the Germanic temper. Beowulf holds a special po. and GefwuU the Jutes. the £IDem as we have jt is generally agreed to be the work of a single author writing in the first helf of the eighth century.toriCfl] foundations of heroic poetry and reminds 'Usof the nature and estent of that wide world of Cermania~hidl th:e aut~ol" of BeotD1Jif was ~'CllualI1 t~e fOIi gran~ed to as iam~har to hiS audfenee and thus as suitable material fOIi allusion and OOLa~ogy. ~Vhat ~tnkes us.O-SAXON UTF. hut the fact remains that B. for Beowulf. s?m~tlung much more imleresting than that: it is a v.King Hrothgar of Denmark.. with the Christian references (.ang. !I. has been. however.nst a background which reveals to us the culture and society of the Heroic Age of the Cermanic peoples. Nortl. the orchestration.and: behmd the poem probably lies a variety of popular lays. and . Fin Folcwald&ng the face of the Frisians.evenge Ior the death of her son he follows her to her underwater home and alter a desperate struggle slays her too.~ obards. .rs later. with Eorma~ric (the I?ot~ic king who died about 370). Widsith. 3.e m~n. who came regllliuly to 'the king's great hall of Heorotto pr. which have not survived" is a question wbich may well be debated forever. to Angles.sith may be pdmitive stuff as poetry-indeed. Swedes. the first catalogue of ~lers in the poem is cast in the form of a very early type of genealogIcal verse and may well date from the beginning of the Sixth century or even from before the coming of the Anglo-SaKons to Britain-but. undertakes to nght it. which was damaged by fire before it was ever studi.y the monster that Beowulf carne to Denmark He fights with andmortally wounds Orendel j9 Heorot. Saxons. A dragon. and. ~e arc: gtv. laden with honors and presents from the Danish king. he tells us. • .S folklore does. Wends. Thyle the Rondings.iElfwine IS Alboin. Goths.e]y ~he two central episodes and the many digressions which make up the whole..rue autobiography. In its ccmhination of historical memories and heroie tradluons it shows us something of the his.8 ANGl. The second part takes place lift}' ye3i. Beowulf and his companions then leave for home.evision or rnterp()lahol'ls.llbject matter 'of Germann!' Ilerolcpoetry.m older Germani. AJewih the Danes. Danes. Oswlne ruled the Eowan. TI~e poem thus cannot be t. when Beowulf has long: been king of the Ceats. in a sense destroyed.. Beowulf. going out 'to wreak daughter throughout the land. . and we are remmded that file heroes of that poetry were not regional or DB Iional but common to all Gennani a. for example.. to the court of . who died about 572 (and who is incid. Grendel. Huns. Breoca the BTOllLdings. yet structurally weak and providing insufficient unity of tone or organization to hold together eHectiv. . the Wremas. The aging Hrothgar had long been plagued by a man. 'fholLlgh the ultimate origin of the story is folldore (workillg. And that woddprovides. and though he succeeds in slaying it he is rums-eli l'lDIortally wounded in tne . Wlcl. GiBe-a toe Burgulldians. Beeea the Barmings. . "likewlse I was in ~taly w~th ~If""'me. did not excel Olla in hls mighty eeds. Eorrnanrie ~he Goths. it can at least be said that it ls a poem technically impressive in its handling at mmrative verse.entally.eye vie. lBurgundians. he was the most couraeous all thes. Billing.of the s.}'others.. it is this very primitive quality wl:dch is of most interest. here else isa traditional theme ~harndledin along narratfve poem agai. The whole 'world of barbarian wanderings and conquests-the world which collided with.RATlJiRE tho~lgh pill'ts of it must be o'lde!"even 'than that. ama it was 10 sla. BeowfJlf falls into two mainparts. IDld.ed or transcribed. has been disturbed.of which there are about seventy) representing later r. Franks. and ill the fragme~:ar)' stortes o~ Finn and WaMhere. The . It is. as it were.W . Whether there were in fact other Anglo-Saxon epics.. Theodric ruled the Franks.: 9 a ! plete extant epic of its kind in an anetent Germanic language. guarding a h081'd (If treasure.siUon in Anglo-Saxon literature-indeed.

nation. and.e.ory Sind!the folk imagination. Beowulf is a heroic poem. told on a different scale. The poem ends with an account of Beowulf's funeral. for they are concerned with large elemental fads such as God s creation and govemanc. though the civilization it releels is primilive enough. . Other stories a:re referred to in BeotIJ1.wledge of at whole body oj storles concerning Cermanie heroes. through neither the larger epic conception ()f the Odysseg nor the Hne poIDim. Seectend swreJoll. ealle buton aEum.of the shortness of and the passing away of all things except the fame a man leaves behind. . .ed by Christian elements. the shadowy prowler.glo-Saxon lay. however. it harks bad: totbe period of Germanic history before t1Je Al1glo. Then: Com on wanre niht senti' an Sceaclllo3Cl"i33.jade. Part of the minstrel's recital is given at considerablelength in Beowulf. DII oom of more under mist-hleopum 0 3. The Hgh! at Filln..ity of the poem that fal1s most impressively OR modem ears. But BeDwulf is also a record of marvels rather different in kind from those encountered by Ulysses in his adventures. \Ve can in some degree reconstruct the sequence of events with the hdp of a fragmen.a:s the SOWJ:d of "~. If the general atmosphere of Beowulf can be called seriously pagan.·ITERATURE n struggle. and his. In the feast at Heoret celebrating Beowulf's victory over Grendel we are told how the minstrel recited 'the story .. We are given an account ()If Beowulf's reception at Heoret. And und. with its emphasis on solemn courtesy. in eombinaticn with a variety of marvelous is certamlj not uncivilized. The warriors slept who were to hold the antlered hall. but it can have had little meaning to anyone without a knowledge of the whale story. . He comforts himself by f.HD is the CIIplW (orm. andrefereeces. and in its mere elegiac mo-ods. through the poem.em-lyingall is ~he sense . with the serieusness deepened and tbepagaIli heroic ideal enlarg. cl ~. There are historical elements in Beowulf.too among his readers (01" audttors) kno.sburh. and emerging briefly from the background are a number of figures whom we also meet in Scandinavian tradinoa and in the poetry and legends of a variety of Teutonic peoples.e of the world and such Old Testament stories as that of Cain's murder of Abel. all but oce. scoldon. Dear.lmt the poem is at its most effective in its Eloments of slow terror or suspense. he bore Cod's anger_ . It h.. endurance. • . an interesting poem of Jerry-two lilies.Tk night gliding.ionswhich make it clear that the author is taking for graQ.h.tary An.. It reflects !lie ideals of that state o~ sodety we call the. and Swedes occl!2py the foreground of the narrative. for fame through the achievement of deeds of courage and. as the Aeneid.• The tone is not unifonn. and part of its interest ties in the thread of Cermanie story thai runs. There is a genuine ideal of nobility uaderlying its adventure stories. (he thirst. . Danes. the interest in genealogies and pride In a noble heredity-all these things are to be found in both poems. There are also numerous digu'~ssiam and! aUIllS.. Thotlgh it is an Anglo-Saxon poem.10 ANGLO-SAXON LITER. But it is an lmpressive.reJlldel30n)u. rITe bser.. which appears to deal with other events. after years of service to his lord. fidelity.of Hnsef's death at the hands of the sons of Finn and tile subsequent vengeance taken on Firm by the Danes. There is little else SUIV iving of Anglo-Saxon literature which makes .ATUIRE ANGLO-SAXO~ l!. his body is burned on an elaborate funeral pyre. is Itlle complaint of a mmstrel who. It is the splendid gnlv. Came OIL the da. The grave courtesywith which men of rank are received and dismissed. celebrating the' exploits of a great warrior whose character and actions are held tip as a model of aristocratic virtu. confident words before his warriors lay themselves down to sleep'. direct contact with the older 'heroic view of Me. ~a ~1Et hom-n:cedl beaMan. seriously weaken thepagan atmos- phere of the poem. carrying IlS sllccessfully into the AngloSaxon hemic imagi. composed in England. Heroie Age. Then from the m~OT under the misty cliffs came Grendel ma. and sheer endueance. aaalogies. Sometimes in a single llae the paem conveys atmosphere and mood to perfectien. i uneven. the generosity o~ rulers and the loyalty of retainers. " . tbough th. the solemn boasting of warriors before arid after performanoe.ey are seen thltough the folk men. On the surface. amid the lamentations of his warriors. generosity. nval. Heorrenda. me J .rclring. whose leader Hn~f had been.n elements which do not. and its resemblance to the Odyssey in this :respect bas often been noted.ecoWltillg the trials of Cermanic • 11. further.Saxotl invasion and shows 110 bias toward Englishheroeso Ceats. perfoemanee. like ~. of a "secondary" epic such. its Anglo-Saxon gravity is reinforced by the introduction of Christla.I1f more casually. has been supplanted by' a.. in the same story.

Ekkenard's Waltharius. and Chri:stiallil Europe ill tllm had its contactswith the classical civilizatilln of Greece and Home.ea. kin.e the glllarn:i:11l. poets .-throughout the eighth century.C00UOt of ~he poet's first jn~piratio~. . elegiac note.o Anglo·Saxon under Xing Alfred). e..e abbess Hilda died ill 680. Here we see die Anglo-Saxons break:mg loose from their pagan origins and.rtical History of the English P'eopk how in the monastery of toe abbess Hilda at.Saxons had more far-reaching elects O. N'eotodes meahse ond his of An.heTe were not disoovered lInt. • • Now let us JI1lIJis.atul:eof ~Ile e.e tedmiqlle5 of Anglo-SaxDI!il hero. and describes the attack on Hilrefs hall bylhe followers of Fhm (the Beowulf passage being a parap~rase of III handling at. nat was surmounted.:te. the Latin epic of Wal'thari. Bede.. Two hagments make up the remainder of what we have of older Anglo-Sa:t'O:fl.t of the poem bas beef! preserved: NlJ.uly English shows them in touchwith the new European civi.glo-Suon.Sall.on verse.teT.[USE heroes.dition of Christian elements to hel'c}~cpoems. the great English ecclesiastical historian 3I1ldscholar who lived f~om 673 t~73.SaxoD. a story wen!mown on.~ely in one of the manuscripts of the work the originaJ Northumhrian te:x. The Creator's might and His purpOiSe.rmanric !be Oerth. heodoric !:he Ostrcgoth. though . Bede wrote his Ecclesiastical Hist01'y in Latin (though it was b"anslatedint. (The diff'ellence between Nor'thumbriarn and West SU:O:IlI call be seen at a gImce. an of which were eventually everceme. andlile fact that beth were discovered by accident ilillsha11f:S: arbi~rariDess as well as the Incempleteness the of tile extant boo}' of Anglo-Sa.Whitby a. religiOUS poetry be6cJ<rethat date. li. It b Cbri.(il.anc:.dl of subject lnaUer Wltn a personal. uere '. !lot common LlilAnglo. as He . esm~IiBhed the beginning.. repr:esentmg a quite new development. It is pa.As th.bjects for t!leir poetry in the herOic themes commoo to old Gemumi.. the oontinmt and preserved in j~s most complete form in.ANGLO-SAXON LITERA . EnglandNorthwnbria.. By the . instead oj seeking su. The AnglO-Saxon fragmelltwhicb.b.D their literature thu the B. It also. The Christian. :sbows evidence of a Christian edltmg of whiclil tile Latin poem gives liUle sign-iS geaerally known as. The Christianizing' of the Anglo-. with the result tJlIat we bave 21 substantial bOOr of Anglo-Saxon religiOUS poetry. Alter eachreference to the trembles (lIf some famous character there occmsthe wmaiD Pm5: cfereode. and its chief interest is in offering rurt:her evidenceof the popularity of stories o£ eontinental Cermaaic heroes ~ong the Anglo .ellsefy in The Wandere:r and The Seafaru. .ved only in West Saxon transcrlpticns of the late tenth century. We get fasc:lIilat:ing glimpses of figures famo'lls in Cennanic !egeIl:Oi~ WefaIld~he STrllith. heroic poetry. WDO Iived i. in praise of God the Creator verses wh.£ccle.e troubles tbey suHeroo orcaosed. The work of the Father of glory.endom and thos found allever Ellrope.. but fortllml. T and ethers-and of'th.~the poem lies in its combination (J.~ all wonders. ReligiOUS poetry seems tohave fioUlrished in northern. 'The rust isa fragment of fif~y lines. Uard. end hi's modgidanc..u we put beside tile Ncrthumbrtan version" quoted above. Anglo. The only poem we have which is 'cerl:aJinlyby C1eOOJonis the nineline poem quoted by Bede in his 3. the following Iater W'esl SSXQIl version. The two leaves of manuscript which con .:ia.'I"Y W. law tbe fragment:9. tells i. Gall. eel DryetiD. incomplete both at the beginning and the end.. suehe uundr .a.f t1. Nil seulon berigeall he@faarloes WeIIl'd.d.sllixOlls.d.le ~e~ were_ bemg 'a. ~o work on bi bUea! story and se <connected them with tlJe Hebrew imagination. this puts the begrnrun. though found even more int.uS' Oily Ekkeharo of St. or astelid.-.fuming. scylun hergan Meluda:-s mrect~ p:isses SWI mlfg:. . E:~rnaJ Lord. WaUhere:it consists of two separate part!! of aooull!llirty Iffillese~c:b. so may 'this be.Iwldurbdlir. bu~ the main interest o. tfuough there are difEicuJI· 'ties inl'eoondlillg it Wlth tbefl"agment). • .£ the same general subject. ]8 into touch with Chri5tian Europe.lization as wen as with the aDci~n~ classical war Id. to be drseussed later. im English literature. to £ace the new world af Latin Christianity.m the btter part of the teath . gihures. dealing With the same Finll story which we hear of in Beowulf. . mudt greater length 0. thoog:h most of it bas sUTvi.of 'Heaven'.stianity that brougmt the Anglu-Suons hefre:aricres.eighth cerrt:my tb. part oj an Anglo-Saxon treatment of the Walt:harius story..rli'er thILl]. The second.0 do with dassical civilization and tllat part 'Whose i~spi[aliorl i5.rt of a lay. traditions that had nothing 1..'on poetry.pplied ~o purely Christian themes.5 ki'llgdom.lowly lay brother named Cooclmon suddenly and miraculously received the gift of s(mg al!ld"a't once began to sing. Latin and which represents an EngHsh treatment of Illemes and attitudes commau tomughout Cbrist.5.icli he had ueve:r heard before .a1d.century.rIi his . W'e must thus distinguish between thaI: part of Anglo--Saxon literature which sought nourishment hom "barbarjan"

which dates from the oinlll century. after II brief preHminary account ()£ Satan's rebellion. but wrote in Old Sascn on the continent. Genesis B cannot be earlier than its ?1d Saxon original. 11. but the author has drawn also en patristic commentary and Christian legend.. about the incarnmiou. about the exodus of Israel from Egypt and their entrance into the promised ~~~. The Rrst..m is a rudimentary Paradise Lost and. wh. an abilIty to give vigorous new life to a traditional character.i." There are Anglo·Smwn poems on manyof these is so much more brieBy dealt with in the introduction to Genesis A The poetic vigor and dramatic detail of Genesis B is remarkable. Drthren or onstealde .'1. There is also a relnarl!· able interpolation of over six hundred lines. _ Wl:ly should I wait UpOD His favo.goes on to narrate the substance 01 the :first twenty-two chapters of Genesis. As the ]umus manuscrlpt.te though still regarded as belonging to the "Csedmonlan school.:s aline techll.. in consider·nh able detail. The original author oE Genesis B was not EngHsh.ersi~caHon shov. which is far the larger work. the temptation of Adam and Eve and their faU and. emerges as the '"gloriOUS hero" leading a warlike r . in which the poem is found.• tive verve. Bede tells 1I~ tllllt Csedmen went on to s:ing "'ubout the creation of t~le world and the origin of mankind and thewhole stnry of Genesis. but it had tong been part of Chrislian tradition. different in language and style from the bod)' of Ihe poemand dearly comi~g: from another work. indeed.l'is.•• 1IIOW it. swa he wundra gehw~. then I wlith this host-l But around roe Iie iron bonds.erefore. His casting out of Satan and! his crew. .• I look nol 10 behokl that light agaiIU which he Ihinh long 10 enjoy.6. Moses.f movement (though it is true that nine lines do not give much basis for comparison). lacks the' IHgher Imagl. passkm. poetl)' is even more vividly demonstrated In tbe Anglo~Sa:<~n ExoduS. the poem 35 we have it in Anglo-Saxon must have been produced between the end of the ninth and the end of the ten. kingdom. wlule his second and longer sl?eec~. and the longest. or th:'tt \.. known as the Vulgate. rot!: L. Satan's Grsf speech ("Why should I toil? I need have no master. NGLO-SAXON LU'ERATVIIE ) ANCLO-SAXON' LITiEBAT\lRE 15 weorc ""~I1dorrieder. from it Ihe SOil'> of men. bow before Him with such homage? I can be Cod as weU as He.. but the . with Satan's rebellion.r. For one winter hour. of these is Cenesis" II poem ofnearly three thousand lines which. we shan never gain Sohenin~ of Almighty Goo's anger.. tJr. has somelbing of the true Mdtolllcllng: loh.VI! may not have them 10 forsake !lis u. have been a "clerk"-i.") has tremendous: it primw- That heaven'!). clearly (>'lIol'1 h. and His decision to "establish agail~ the gloriOUScr. had 1 hut the strength afmy'hand5 And could far one hour win out 0. Thjls shows." The Junius manuseript" contains four "Csedmonlan' poems.14 eoe . Imown as Gel'lesis A) deals . and ascension into Heaven of the Lord. God"s anger.. inthebihlical ease and the adaptation of the conventtons of ~eTOIc p~etry to blb1:cal narrative is done with real skill.eafion .e... to distinguish it from the rest of the poem. work as ma'Nly wonders with my hands.. 'to religiolls verse of the style ~nd conventions 0' heroic. He must. the A:n~loSaxon poem which we have is a 'translation of an Old Saxon ongmal of which only portions have been found.aative quality of Genesis 13. the vocabulary of praise which! the 9 earlier seop had applit·ulo Wlislord now being applied to God.s B.1 here. the poe.and Dsnier. and 101" long time these were held to be Ceedmon's. That happhne'ss' wiLh his host of tmg:el:s. Let us ~lI. ' The retter's cLaim rides on me . about many other stories from Holy Writ. This runterpolated passage (generally known as Genesi.](:1 departed from heavenon hij!:~. dates from the late tenth or early eleventh century. See above.adaptatIon 'The . 1 can. of which the first three are based on Old Testament story. a churchman of some kind-for no one else could at' thal period haee had the requisite education.. and the poems once attributed to Csedmon are now thought to be later in da. lead Satan's rhetoric in Genesis 8 is the primitive rhetoric of the heroic age compared with the subtler parJiamentary rhetoric of 1'. E:rodl~S. of COUiSe. Genesis A. about the coming of the Holy Ghost and tile teaching of the apostles. which show greater vanetyand ease o. m~~ alter be has been cast into Hell. its finest passages can bear comparison wnbparts of Milton's eptc. when His boastful foes 11. The story of the faU of Satan is not. The manuscript is LII'IIperfect and there are several gaps in the text.. But the a relative stiffness the nine lines quoted by Bede seems to represent an earlier stage in the development of AnglO-Saxon religious poetry than that represented by such poems as Gene. It was probably written i~ Northll~bria cady in the eighlh century.. but there is real poetic imaginatLon at work"s Satan.llegj~nce To transgress whathe bade them with his word . The seriptura] narrative is followed less closely than In Genesis A. and gives some iudicatiull I)f how the heroic style could be adapted to hfblleal sl1bjt:c~s. Its source IS essentlallj' Jerome s standard Latin translation of the Bible.

O-$A.0w genera]]y called Christ. under IDs influence" The most remarkable of these is The Dream 01 the Rood. The seas reared up. Julwl'lD.' B lmt as a lost.him ~. lod blodgewod. sad m spirit.lItON LITERATURE 17 people to freedom and viictmy. baking in born far3lDd wide. )'udgmO:lIIt whicb 'they oau. Four of Cynewulfs poems are extant. The m!~rpolati~n see~sto d..h1'W.t~ of the Apv·. the Credm. we return to Satan lD his frustration.·o parts t"e~' eenslder 10 be &epllrste poems. and the mysUc. . The author is here meditating on the adventures of the various apost]es after they dispersed to spread the Gospel..5:axon bib]jcaJ: poems. besides. The . . . t~e maui . I made this song. .16 ANGl.olls~deli. thdr chance of return vanished At the sea's end . and Daniel. The laUer part of the poem concentrates O.>Q-S. The wall of !b. lw only this part contains Cline> wulfs name bD fUnk was pulled down. but its inte. '" Witb Cynewul.vell into the.d".t .. This shows an Anglo-Saxon poet working Dot directly frembibllcal sources bul ~lioma va~i~ty of Christian ~raditjons. Its opening shows an interesting ml..· have the name of Cyne\vuJf worked' iIlito them in aercstic ~Orn1 are Christ.l)'. poem) ...f.of r~osSJ~ msl: ~en mnic letters WID. 'C}"re switirooe sores<et ende.e hom a ~eparatefoem dating fmIn.ElIch is 1:1. Sir-eaml!!s St:OOGII. and. Modige swuleon. gathe.T}' in such a poem as Exodus.stles. The other tv.~s gnrel1l se~erallipee.Fates af the Ap.. Lingrustic evidence suggests that EllodWi is dm oldest of the Anglo.pari 0 Dalliel was probably composed m Northwnbna early ill the elghth century. A. . (If bow the brig'lilt and g~orious: heroes showed forth their courage.gnilicant d6viatioD. too.nst.JlI B respecti". blood spread through the waters. and Satan. there is Found also an untitled religiom: poem \'V. The description of the drow:niDg IOf the Egyptian host in the Red Sea is done with great verve: • . is by Cynewulf.ronte. aU sLOWing IlL more self-conscious ctaftsmans:bip than is fou:nd in. The four Al'ldo-Saxol'l Chl . Doomsd.• following its Latin prose source without any si. so s!llccessfuUy transplanted from the older poet. the d. Anglo-Saxon religiOUS poetry moves beyond biblical paraphrase into the didactic.IS _exclus~onfrom the joys o.f the discovery of the !:rue cross by St. but it handles its subject-the Advent.. He. the middle 01: ~ate. Elene. ~th ~e apocrrPbal prayer of Azariah Interpelated' in tbe middle.f:i-with an intenSity allits O'Wll. after an account of Satan's ~emplaHOI] of chnst In the wilderness.ristian poems whiCil..ltation of the heroic mto the personal elegiaC sixain: "Lo. 50?! lameMiitil'ilg blUerly h.d . which n follows inth.e~. the earliest extant dramatic passage in English literature. breve men pe:rish ed. .ot !IS ~e de6an~ spil"it of GSIl6SW.ewulf.onder of it allI and a relish for the romantic suggestions of distant scenes and places. ches.. Helena. herewopa malSl.TI Ch. Here we get a picture of Satan In HeUw!'uch represents . ~o~gh at th"e very end..each with c. told with a keen sense of the \\'.ron rofene.1~dJl'll'l'. with much less dramatic quality and a more ~o:nethroughout I~ is a p. rodor swipode meredeafia mat. ID which the)" g.onian poems and suggestmg ill style an. then And·. fragments of which are to be found inscribed fll1'lllnic letters on the Ruthwell CI"IJ. qningas on COl. Iuliano is a more C(tnventi<mal work. Er~d~.IH.arsphmse ?f the five chapters (I the blbhca. mother of OonstaotiJlle. by the school of GyneWI.e. storm up gewat heah 10 hecfonum.It apptlars 11) the Vulgate. and is.. . In the same manuscript that contains the two Genesis poems. The story of Ch'ns!: as told In the !IDem of that title maws on a variety of eeelesiastiea] and patristiC sources. Randbyrig WIE.inth century and who is tile lirst Ang)o-S. the author IS dearly concerned to emphasize the differenc~ between He~ven and and the diHerent resalts of EoUowing Christ ~nd followmg Sa. DOO!1'IIdo. Christ and Satan seems 10 have been for the· modem reader lles largely in the personal passages. Daniel is_ less interesting.l book of Dame! as .mplation whic~ sOlJ1eti~-:=s rises to a high lev~1 of religiol.l!B)" Js: by Cyn.a poet who may have ilfourished eaily In then. faT The Fates at the Apostles contalns the mnic Signature). The foe cried out (the air above grew dark) With doomed voices. veil.eelmg (01: the dramatic si~uatioll.o~ Chmt A) amd LIa" o!:hl!l: the title Df D'o~ C (Dr chnr« C" grouping ilOOg"ther with two Diller poems on tile L&st. elegiac eloquence. These qualities are also exhibited by mllLDy of the religiOUS poems whicb seem to nave been written.eriv.axonpoet to sign his work (by means . tbe Ascension. scourged the sky The greatest of water-deaths. weary of wandering. . is. freg1iJill stefnum. !he title elf Ths ~Dn (or C.. and Tlw FtI. and it perhaps dates from the beginning of the eIghth century.evotiollaI.d structure the mfluenee of elassiea] models. silows a real f. and :in its place we passll:m. The heroic strain.ewulf. a typical saint's life.nmth cen. a more meditative and contemplative tone.AJ[ON LITERATURE ANGt.tsre.f Hea. Kil!lgsin their pride.e manuscript: if so.SS in Dum~ Some scbol!all'S: JTlJllobl" that IlnlJl the .tlJ.. part. brief though it is.. Iyfl up gmvearc. giving one lhelitle of Ths Adoenl (or NotfPl'l' the great clamor of an ann. "lJlestorm uprll'Se High 10 the heavens. Ja:l5ecyrmdon.m·lIl. and the Last Judgmen. . The dialogue between Maty and Joseph in the first. while Elene is the story o. All] these poems possess both a high degree of literary craftsmanship and a note of mystica].ostres is a short poem of one buadredand twelilty-two Ilnes (and may be the concluding part of Andreas.

wonder. to Lactantius. whieh derives ultimately from a Gree'koriginal is ~Ilc?mpJ. Cuililac. Originally applied.m may date from the end DC the ninth century or possibly even Iater. of which only the concluding sections survive.' lived for a. Judah possesses a fierce energy in desc~ibing the de[lth . poet of the school of CyneWUllf.of St. nest. -rhere is.18 ANGLO-SAXON Lr:rERA." its horror at the role it had to play but its determination to. tl..en concludes with tOe dreamer's account of his own reUgioushopes. bnUi.farer are the: most similar to each other. 'file tone of the complete version 3S we have it suggests tha. gl'oup of Anglo·-SsJ(ol1poems ill which a mood of lyricw ele:gy predominates. done with a plan-· e poe. btl1.qual1ti:es of a~imals are given a morel applieation. Thcugh some of the Allglo·Saxol'l :reHgiol.TURE Iriesshlre.jch belongs to the popular me~beval literary Iorm of bea.ex:ploitatioll of the rhetoncal devtces of Anglo-Saxon poetry (~e source of tlle poeea ls Iii Latin rendering of tbe :apocryphal Greek Ali7.t the earlier version had been nfterward adapted oy a.. The SelJ!a.rtf Hclofernes and the defeat of the Ass~'rialls.stand fast because til. arnd-. The w~ale . vo:hi1ethes~lld half takes the phoenix as an allegory both of the life of the vUtuoU. ill."where are the snows of yesteryearr -that was to become such a far". use of the ubi s!mf? e tbeme. It has. blot the main part of file elegy . the consternation of the Assyrians on discovering Holcfernes' headless body. of which the first part. die. the pa~lnd~e. the suffering of "the young Hero"whCl ascends the cross lJ"CSol1!1tely in order to redeem malllkind-all this is done mv. poems on the Life(If the En. lind Jmuth·s hi1l. The speech ends witb an exhortation to each soul to "seek through tile 'ClOSS the kingdom which is far from earth. which 'teUs Df the adventures.e jllhilation. Andrew. ill which tile old sailor urges t.isan impressi .ali history Is equally fabulous.orite in medieval literature. sufferings. . The poem ends with some ecnveneional moraliZing. the rout of the Assyrians by the Hebrews. of a life at sea ". Some critics take It to be a dia!o<gue.m m the form of a dream or viston-a form whiclJ was later to be used for such a variety of purposes. and be re~rn. Other puems associated with the school of Cynew~Uare Andreas.eighth century version. and these stand somewhat apart from the poetry we have already discussed. in the same manuscript that contains Beowulf. in which It tells of its origiu in the fo. and the extant portion tells. Physl()logw. Neither ~he heroic OO·r the religious poetry of the AngloSaKOi! tends toward the lyric.eryphal book of Judith. (probably an early . The dreamer tells 'how he sawa vision of Ihe bright CI'OSS." and tne poem th. while tile complete p<lem exists in the VerceLli Book. il!Dli! mneh later version (probahy late nil1~h century). 8 note of pruitiv. The PhoenIX.foilowing The P1wenb.. gH)u& paSSion and. to t. the HuC'- .PhoenlC8. which is quite different hom anything in the older heroic poetry.·hileat the same time aware of its :lascjnatiol1l.1:1 given the charming name ol F'astitccaloD-s oon:uptiaDI 0. expTe~. to have been written primadl)' lor the purpo'!le of exploring persona] emotion..lspoems. bee rallying of 'the Hebrews 10 attack ~he Assyrians. deriving from the Latin poem De Ave . attributed. none of them C!l11 be said to be really lyrical in character o..lrtIe.he hardships of the seafaring life against the argWllents of an eager young mall anxious to take to the sea and atlrac!ed by the dLm~ culties. tone of reminiscence and an elecU . The speech of the cross. to the·build a its. ~o..antly adorned with gems.ere fans to be mentioned among sigmfica:nt: AngloSnarl religious poems the fragmentary JlIil' personel devotional :feeljng. Of these The Wanderer and The S·ea. is the monologue of an old sailor who recalls the loneliness and hardships. lament for departedjoys.erse. Scot~:md. and the.lmphand praise to Cod. which has the same melancholy tone. removal to be made inte a ernss fl)J "the Master of mankind. The lVa~derer is the lament: of 3 solitary man who had once been happy in the service of a loved lord but who now. The poem is' a version of the Vulgate textGf !he was Goo's command. describes an ear~lypar~diSle i? the East. freCynewu.o'~n thj~ world and the next and as a symbol of Christ. has become a wanderer journeying the paths of exile across the icy sea. the w~ale and. where real or (more often~ imaginary. with deliberateemphasis on the wOl1derfulan~ tIle p]~turesque. evangelical suooesses.lf). a Iljgh Dote of rel. n is the oldest surviving Eng~sh poe.ete.£ Aspldochelone. however.ell ~he s:peech that he heard it utter.. 8. it:. vigorous and rapidly movililg verse of Judith's beheading of the drunken HoloIernesalter bis confident feasting. and! a perhaps exeesslve .gUsh hermit St. long after his lord's death and the passing away of that earlier time of happiness and friendship. it is rarely developed fol' its own sake. ln the Exeter Bookill poem ~UUe~ Phys101ogrts or Bestiary wJt.: and deals with the panther.: the beau~y of the phoe~'ixl ·its Hight to SYTla. aad the poem can indeed be read in tills way. allegories.i. :inoompletely. and rts natut. erhaps ~ven by CynewlIH himself. especially some of those by Cynewulf and hi'~ school. In fluidity of movement the verse form shows itself to be bidy late. the sa~e lushness of descriptive style that is (oundln T~e ~hoeTllx. the same mingling ()if regret and self-pity. and goes on. and though Be note of somber elegy· is sometimes struck.ts f Andrew o and Matthew). Finally. charged w~th a simple eloquence and :rustainlng. fter It fIla.

in aJll the intensity {If their original utterance. it has not survived in the incomplete version which alone is extant) and t'he mood is somberly fatalistie. WM'chi· ever way we read it. How many poems in a similar style may have been lost it is impossible 10 tell. against her will. expresses an intense romantic passion in a way quite uncharacteristic of AnglO!Saxon poetry as it has come down to us. but these passiuuate rendermgs of personal emotion. It was my sorrowlul heart. which ends. re-emerges finely in two poems dealing with eontemporary histDry. and Wulf and . the curse On the enemy responsjble for her presene plight-rings out 'with remarkable clarity. The Husband's Message. to fifth-century Latin writer Sympbositls.lnburh appears ill the AngloSaxon Chronicle under tile date 9-31: it rete hrates the victory ·0£ . kind of poetrywas written. Tile date of both these poelTlS is uncertain: they may be almost as old as Beowld f.en the "title of The Wife's Ltllllent. It is dHficul~to follow the precise situation t[l~ speaker is describing. my Wulf. tells her that he has been driven from her by a Ieud.of what was once li'llely and beautiFul is conveyed with impressivr. for all fhe obscenity of the situatien described. it is the elegiac element that stands out from among the sometimes obscure sequence of moods. and the note of personal passion-the love and longtllgror the absent husband.Battle of 8runt. if he has. must have appealed to a taste one is not accustomed to tbinking of as at all prevalent in the AngloSaxon period of Englisb culture. min wulf.QKOn England and the folk beliefs of the time. mile.eter Book. ~Ine seldcymas murnende mod. emotion comes througlnt first tells the wjfe its ~wl"llife story and tlle. the eentral .el1l as the' alternation of weariness and fascination in the same person.of either heroic atmosphere or religious leaching. Wulf and Eaduieee« is another dramatic monologue" existing oilly in a fmgmel'lt . devoid .axou poem Willi.ll goes on t~' speak the message now canted on It.· an elegiac tone. the SeJ1ISIe or passionate regret at the passing away . hut 3llp:uentEy the wife has been separated from her husband and forced to dwell jn a cave in the forest by the plottil'llgs of his kinsmen. Theil" chief interest today lies in tile incidental glim{lNcs they give us o~ the daily Wife of Anglo-S. particularly . nor is . Another poem ill the: Exeter Book. Ib.ncompaiible in feeling with much of BefJWUlf. We know 10' what taste the Anglo-Saxon heroic poet catered. The husband remiads the wife of her earlier vows. Wulf is the woman's outlawed lover and Eadwacer her bated husband. they reBe<:t lilIe manners and opinions 011 the peasantry of the period.£.mn descrtptive passage. which. The passionate ~~ . Wul!. Bet h are found [11 the EJ. This form of literary amusement has little appeal for the modern reader. though many of Tile Riddles-which are in reg'll[ar Anglo~Saxon verse form-show considerable Eiterary skill. my longings Jor thee Have made me sfck. nales meteHsteWulI. are of mterest to the social historian as the only grou P of existin g Anglo-Saxon poems which are not 0(1 the whole aristocratic in origin. It is a sad picture of desolation and decay set against an account 0. the so-caned "Gnomic Verses. The Exet. and MIme in a British Museummanuscripr. No elencal improver has tagged a religious moral on to it (or. with a conventional reugious sentiment. wena me pine seeee gedydon. can also be considered as belonging 1'0 this grollp of elegiac monologues. Toward the end of the Ang1o-Sax.e Tile W«ndeTiCT. not want of 1000- l11ighthe Iseult calling for Tristan as conceived by some nineteenthcentury romantic peet. book contains nearly a hundred Anglo-Saxon riddles. but :bave survived. The . found in the Exeter Book..RATURE 21 lua"ting m(}ods of the poem seem more impressive if tak. and we can understand the appeal of the (eligiolls poetry of the age. and we can see from it bow in Anglo-Sa::m-npoetry one kind of elegiac mood was thereverse of the medal whose obverse was heroic. however. easy to see for what kind of an audience this. The Wife's Lament. The Ruin IS mot i. There is one other interesting Anglo-S. so long unheard. it is: a description of a ruined city (perhaps Bath) in about flfty lines.20 ANGLO-SAXON LITERATURE ANCLO-SAXO!ll L[TE. with Ithei'r generalizations about rnorajs and experience and the properties of objects encountered.of nineteen lines in the Exeter Book. In spite of the comparative obscurity of ~l1e this poem i~ The Husbantfs Message.gillals composed in England by clerics of the seventh and eigl1th century and some derived. or alt least the man with 'whom.of which are alsom the Exeter Book.. some of which seem til' have been translated from Latin m'i." some .Eadwacer represent aU we ha. Similar in many ~ays . in daily of Anglo-Saxon love poetry. from the fourth.on period the old heroic note. which is generaUy giv.y rare visits. she is forced to live. Here the speaker is the piece of wood 011 which the letter is carved. Simi]arly. though the texi is impedect. which has its own stem sense of fate. They have not been tampered with by derks allllXiow> give to a moralalld religiolls twist to tbe end.£ the earlier prosperity of the place. and bids her join him across the sea.

delivered by seven different speakers. heart the keener. the two princes appear nat as heroes in their own right so much as champions of their nation. But The Battle (}f Bmnanburh sbows strong patriotle sentiment. his: brother. Constantine. however. It is. as the poetry does: it takes place wholly in England. Latin might have stifled a native prose altogether. gnomian selle nu fTllm ~is wigplegan wendan pence~. The vidory lS regarded as a. l:ae. and the Britons of Strathelyde. ealdormen of Esselt.. of course. so dear. but there can be little doubt that it applies 10 the Anglo-Saxons. and Welsh enemies. fram ic ne wille. With the Cermanic peoples. deal with historical events that had only just occurred. victory of the English forces against None. of iEtheIstan llind Eadmund ~s celebrated. The Baffle of Maldvn appears in the Anglo-Saron Chronicle under the date 991. bll!t the need lor prose was only felt by barbarian chieftains after they had come into contact and had been deeply affected by the civilization they threatened. the passionate loyal~y o£retainers to their chief is eloquently presented. 3 native poetry was necess::Jry and. god OD groote. mod seeal :pe mare. Or that English prose begins in the reign of King Alfred ill an attempt by the King and his associates to bring within range of the people the most' significantaspects of earlier thought. as our might lessens. There is an important difference. ever rna.ANGLO-SAXON LITERATUI'IE ANGLO-SAXO N . fou~ht and diecll in a 'recklessly C()urageou~ attempt to stem the Danes. . Herbti me ealdor eall Foroeawe1ll. The development o(Old English prose does not therefore go back to earlier Cermanfe origins.3 disastrous English defeat: Byrhtmolfl.5 a result of the Christianizatlon of England. of course.twee~ the hemic tone of this poem and that of the older Anglo-Saxon poetry.e most perceptive historians of early Englisb prose has put it. 0. The AnglO-Saxon invaders of Britain brought with them their own poetry. boone!Je cenre. In the older heroic poetry. 10'culminate after the death of ByrntIlOth in the final words his old retainer Byrhtwold: Here Hes OIU lord. l'nollghtshalil be the Ilurder. king of Soots.LITERA TUliIE 23 AUhelstan of Wessex and Eadmuod. as one el th. purpose to lie. and though the heroism. IIcgan ~ence. for the primal urge to artistle expression is bound to be poetic. and largely 3. own legends. indeed inevitable. and that civilization could easily supply the need of which it made them aware.-ar-play lllinhto tum. the delay in the development of prose was emphasized by thetr contact with the old and mature Creco-Homan civilization. The good man in the dust.. in this high strain. and the tone of desperate courage against hopeless odds becomes mote and more in~ tense as the poem proceeds. as we have noted. just as its prestige and availability had earlier hampered the devefopment of a formal TIS. did they show any trace of national patriotic feeling. and an essential tool in clerical education.11 hewn down. It deals in the older epic manner with one of the many clashes between E:nglish and Danes that resulted from the laUer's attacks on England.he lament Who 1l0W from this . CoullIge 5balil be the more. Ic eom {rod l:eores. he . lam old In years: from here I will not go.iterarure. which culminated in. But I by the side or my lord. the conquest of tme 00\10try by Cnut (Canute) in who Ied the English forces. and his national origins were of little fmportance=he was one of the heroes: of Cermania and as such claimed the admiration of all the Gemlanic peoples without any national plejrud. against the comhined forces of Olaf the Norseman. emphasis was laid on the individual hero. Dy the mar. But. "when Cregory the Great sent his missionaries to England. not surprising that prose developed later than poetry: that is the normal thing ill the history of any !. but there is no evidence of their having possessed! any Iliterary prose tradition.tive prose among many of the Germanic peoples. Latin civiljz~hOI! reached a land which was so remote hom Rome that Latin or Hig~ sceal !le heardra. Anglo-Saxon heroic poetry comes to an end. mostly of eshertation and encouragement to the English forces. perhups if England had been geographically 'Closer to Rome. There were exceptions to this generalization. The older heroic poems did not. which supplied clerks ready to act as secretariesto their leaders and a sophisticated Greek or Latin prose more than capable of making any formal communications 01" keeping any legal or historical records which mighl be required. jJe ura m:egenlytlati. II. while the proper maturing of the more utilitarian prose medium of communication follows the emergence of later political and cultural needs. It is the story of . m.. For the celebration of their 'own heroes and the perpetuation of tilei. Latin was. Yet The Bnttle oj Maldon is remarkably similar in spidt to the older heroic poetry. And. 11'1: il: tile be healfe minum hlaklroe.swa Ieofan men. The poem contains nine speeches. many of the English warriors are mentioned by name (thougb not one of the Danes is so singled out). nor. the language of the Christian Church.

. more important. King A1fred of Wessex. "When I remembered how Latin learning has already decayed throughout England.g of teachers-who would all. the military strategist. to(!. y and litera. but concentrated 011 later Latin works in which. Ch"moers.slori.nifold cares of this kingdom. and whose t.LO-SA.ed's own. Throughout iii reign troubled by milltary problems of desperate mgency. for Alfred was late in 1eaming Latin and depended on a number of helpers of whom seven are known to us by name. English . and the patriot. give this translation its present value. These lively aecounts of foreigll lands and peoples. though many can read English writing. Thus Gregory's C".ccurac.a Ecclesiastics (Ecclesiastical History of the English People) associated with Alfredl's name is a !. then he immediately proceeds to answer ~he last question by saying that those earlier scholars can never have supposed that a knowledge of the original languages should have declined '10 such a degree. That of the De Consolatiane Philosophiae (The Consoll. It is on the whole a literal rendermg.storiae aduersam Paganos of the fifth-century Latin writer Paulus Orosiu. a work written under the inllluence of St. Innis preface to his translation of the CU1'a Pastoralis (PastQrClI Care) of Pope Gregory the Great he tells of his COI1cern at the dearth of scholars in Englaed at the time of his accession to the throne (in 871) and at the destruction of churches and books by the Danes. The translation of the Cum Pastoral'is was done by Alfred with the assistance of scholars who expla. Fortunately. as he believed. but it Ilows easily and there is little indication of the forcing of one language into the idiom of another sm:1:1 we might expect :. he added two entirely new narratives."s and when tl'Ie laws of Kent were amended to introduce new Christian notions" the new clauses were written not In Latin but in English. and Latil1 sources. Chambers. and those who wished to proceed to the priestboodwould.e. regarded as a manual of a parish priest's duties.Jited by Elsie Yaughan of English Prose.lilot all of which had been resolved by the time of his death in 899. J\.itera] rendering of the Latin.. young men of England'" and to see those means ill large measure achieved. the acceptance of his overlordship by-in the words of the Ang.ry gra~. Oreek. of course. sailing round the North Cape as far as the White Sea. among many C)ther varied and ma. But he realized that Christian culture had lts roots In Hebrew. and it is. and that if these were to be made available to the people an ambitious program of translation into the vernacular would have to be undertaken.RA. Norweg'ian who had explored from his home within the Arctic Circle.. I began. 1932.eaching would be religious-as his choice of this work indicates.ssary as a (irst step both for priest and layman." Alfred's program of translation did 1I10t include direct translations from the original sources or Christian culture. is even more nnportant in the history of English education find the history Qf English literature.XON LITERATURE could influel1ce the mative !anguage without depressing H. Alfred treated his orig£nd rather freely. and the prose is certainly Alfr. add~ng his own illustrations and omitting much propaganda.ANGLO-SAXON LITE. Life (JI London. go on to Latin. a wOlrk describing the duties and responsiblltttes of a bishop which had come to be &R W. Orosius chronicles the calamities of mankind from the Fall of man to the fall of nome with an equal disregard for hlstorlcal a.ined the meaning to him "sometimes word by word. II. one told him by Ohthere. be clerics. Alh"cd's ~wo final translatiens were of more philosophical works. \Y.. Alfred's next work was a translation of the Hi.S a pioneer translation. was the only world hlslory available to Altred. i. shepherd's book.ltion of Philosoph!:!) of Boethius. after learning English. 'The Continuily Sir TI'QmtIS More.. to translate into Eng~ish the book which is called in Latin PasfoTaUs and In English 'Hierde-boc' (herd's book. sometimes sense by sense".a pily that this shoddy preduetior. late 6ftb and early 8.NG.s. made avail- ." in H(JrJJS1icld'~ Httcbcoek and R.h:th centuries.:m Postor'alis. Thetranslatsm of Bede's Hi. Page.ltJ:. and his wonder why earlier English scholars had not translated any of those books into the vernacular. TtlRE.ges of Ohthere and! Wulfstan are justly celebrated as among the high spots of Anglo-Sason prose. The voya. perhaps Mt done by Alfred himself though certainly inspired by him. All the free-born English youth should be able to read English.stula. came mll'St on his Jist: he must have been attracted by Gregory's emphasis on the bishop's duty to teach the laity. kn01iVII in political history ror his achievement in stemming the Danish conquest of England.lo-SaxGIl ChronicleNan the English people except those who were under the power of the Danes" and the consequent advance of the peoples of the various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms toward an awareness of their political unity as Englishmen.vas:nece. Augustine in order to prove that the introduction of Christianity had not made the world worse than it had been before. a Roman philosopher and statesman of the. much of the ancient wisdona was distilled. pastoral). he yet found the time and the energy to meditate on the means' of bringing the Fnllb of Western culture fa "all the free-born. Alfred was especially concerned with the·trainin. the other told him hy a voyager named Wulfstan who had sailed the Baltic from Schleswig to the mouth of the Vi.etl1er with Alfred's additions to Oroslus drawn from his own knowledge and experience. and for his remarkable combination of the statesman.

Un.that of the Icelandle prose sagas." but the medieval mind found them more helpful. gives a vivid account of the conflicts witb the Danes in the reign of Ethelred the Unready (978-1016). the 'tradition did 110t wholly dry up. appealed to Christian thought. while another manuscript. later translated by Chaucer. and EngliSh. ]n his preface AHred compares himself in his literary endeavors to a man collecting wood in a vast forest which contains plenty of materials for aU kinds of bllil. which ends in 1006. and ttsdifferent manuscripts are of prime importance for the student of the English IlWguage. John from Latin mto English. and probably did translate the first six chapters.rose: it can serve as a stlmmin~ up of Alfred's literary pllrposes. inparticuJar. while the author was . and the question of Cod's foreknowledge of man's free wi!!. dropping considerably in the middle of the tenth century (whi. 'File Laws. are prefaced by a translation of chapt. seemed to be dwindling away into the rustic speech of a handful of "uplandlsh men. though there is no specific reference to Christianity anywhere in the work and the general Woe of the work derives frorm Greek and Boman ethical th{lught rather than ircm Christian teaching... and the work of Boethius-cwritren in prison.!y. English as alfterary language seemed about 10 disappear and EnglishhistoricaJprose appeared to have come ~o all end. as we shall see.Lo-SAXoN LITERATURE ANGLO-SAXO~ LlTEBATUlil. followed til' the passage from the fifteenth chapter 0'£ Acts describing the enactment 0'£ the council of Jerusalem and the relation of the Mosalc law to the new djspensation. I'lITthat was a period of stabili. so is surprising. replaced at co uc~ by Norman .to 2. By this time. Alfred mn his later years had left history and googranhy to medrtate on prefounder philcsophlcal themes. result of the Norms» Conquest ami what followed. remain outside the purview of the historian of literature.3 of Exodus. 1"0 the eighteenth-century Cibbon "such topics of consolat. ]t was probably in King Allred's time that the great Anglo-Sll:I:on Chronicle was !regUln. though of great importance 10 the political historian must.fifteenth century. each of which was kept and continued at a different locality. The analogy is apt enough. By this ·time the English language had developed from the st?ige we call Anglo-Saxon or Old English into Middle English. when the second greSit wave of D~nish invasions was tearing the country apart. which represent the earliest extant El1glish biblic. French since 1066. and anxious to find a wider and a calmer perspective from whicb to contemplate human vicissitudes. and expressed in a fine piece of Anglo-Saxon p. like the laws of other Anglo-Saxon kings and Like Ang]oSaxon charters and similar nonliterary prose works. the nature of true happiness. The level is far from consisfen. or so abstruse. occurring under the 5urpnslngly early date of 155. the English language eventually conquered the language of the Norman 'conquerors.' full and lively ptcture of the relations between England and Scandinavia in the reign of Edward the Confessor (1043-66) and a most important account of the Norman iJ)vaS~Olil and subsequent events. good and evil.ty and prosperity) and . however. a series of annals which commence with an outline of English Mstory from JuLius Caesar's mvasion to the middle of the fifth cenmrv and continues (iill one of its: seven manuscripts) to 1154.ion. even though OU.ANG.Anglo-Sax01J Chronicle wereuot the onJy writers.. its high idealism and. one ofth. so obvious. it is for the year 1154. are ineffectual to subdue the feelin~s of human nature.tiJ well into the fourteenth century. ALlgusline but with Freely interspersed original comments and illustrations .brillg up mto some vivid de:scri:piUonsat the end of the tenth and the beginning of the eleventh 'centuries." But.\'e translated the Gospel of St.E 27 able in Anglo-Saxon one of the most popular philosophical works of the Dark and Middle Ages. which shows that at least one English writer of the middJe of the eighth century had at his command a prose style comparable 10 . The different manuscripts. Alfred's associates . The conoolllit"of English prose from the Old English (or Anglo-SalCon) period to the Middle English period is demonstrated by the ChronicU more dearly than anywhere else.ers20. prose rose to new life in the . The ChfOtlide includes some flne examples of Frase narrative.aJ translations ex'cept for some ~teral renderings of the Psalms.Bede (who died in 735) was said to ba. Alfred and the writers who kept tip the . t~e story (I. diverge considerably after die heginuingof ~he tenth century. Alfred's Laws. G. Iike the charters" have considerable irsterest for the student of the development of English prose. The latest entry is in a manuscnpt that was continued at Peterborough. tell of the givin~ of the law 10 Moses (lIlc1uding the Ten Commandments and oilier civil and crimina] laws).sophy) with the fundaments] problems of God's government of the world. of Anglo-SaKon prose .. English.awai'ling execution-had a particnlar appeal to' a man and to IUl age familiar with sudden reversals oJ fortune. which. it was to emerge agam triumphant three hundred years after the Conquest. Alfred's last work was a book of "Blossoms" derived ior the most part from tile Soliloqllies of St.t. Themanuscript known as D gtves :>. too.f Cynewlll and Cyneheard.e most Datable being. but the work has not survived. often including material of especial local interest. its reconciliation of Cod's perfection with the apparently imperfect state of His world. as a.ding.. It deals (in the loren of a dialogue between the author and Philo.

) interest lIS today because of the lively glimpses they give us of the daily life oJ tbe time. which msmarkedly diJIerelll( from IEUric'slline. The Latin literature of the Anglo~Saxon period is much greater in bulk than t~at ~rittell in the ~ernacula. while Alfred's translations represented :31.. and science. it was mot until the middl·e and latter part of the tenth century that a rea] revival of religious learning took place in England. violence..mtianity all culture was eceleslasttcal culture and all ecclesiastlcal culture was based Or! Latin. Wulfstan. and UIC histiHY of Angto-SuO'I'l learning IS more extensive and In many ways more remarkable than the history of Anglo-Saxon literature. the teacher and a fisnem:lan. The most notable of all Anglo-Saxon writers was iEHric. .. all the other arts. WuIfstan's prose. It would indude the story of the relations between scholars who looked to . and of Archbishop Wulfstan. the great Englishscbola. abbot of Eynsham.. alter a lUe devoted to monastic reform. plowman..sed.Ireland and those who looked to Rome. the art of illuminating manuscripts and of handwriting-and. The ravages of the Danes at the end of the ninth century . "perhaps the most Iearned man of h. These dialogues (between the teacher and a monk.lic Ho'milies-HomiliDe Cat'lolicae-and the third as Lives 0/ the Saints-Passiol'les Sanctum. of . of eloquence breaking out through its own force.r. .ahead). most popular oftElfric's works wirh the modem reader is ~ set of sl~ple Latin dialogues (the day in Europe". it WQS not because they or . author of numerous works of Biblical lnterpretatien. CLO-SAXON N LITERATm\fE 29 were also responsible fer transiatiollS.Anglo-Saxon prose.impression of breathmess passion. the teacher and a. of Oswald of Worcester and tElhelwo·ld of Winchester. That revival was. The main thing was to keep up the standam-d of Latin scholardlip among the clergy. ClOp failures. though he. and we 'knGw that Blshop Wrerlerth of Woreester translated the Dialogues of Gregory the Great. all1d of Bede (673-735). was delivered in 1014: in it Wulfstan paints a vivld picture of the horrors brought about by the Danish invasions-a picture of wrongdoing. wbo f~ullded the two famous Benedictine rnonastenes of Weannouth and Jurow. To iii tenth-century cleric.n by Dunstan. uses alliteration and antilhesis. Archb!s.that with the triumph of .r of the Benedictine reforrnatlon of the tenth century. of Bonifa?e. and it would tell of the part played by English c.had wr<lught havoc wmth the organization of the EngJish church and. but rather because the vitality 'Of the movement of which they were a part carried over Into this field. }ElIne also produced a somewhat abbrevieted version ill Anglo-SalioD of the first seven books of the Old Testament (the Heptateucll) done with suffici"ent skill to enable us to ca]] him the first English Bihle translator to have gone a considerable way towardachi:e"lng an appropriate literary prose style for biblical translation. His famous Se"nnol'llto the English.a?oration of style but whose Latin wntmgs have thelr ow~ ulidivldual power and charm. his career as advfser to Charlemagne and head of his palace school. including architecture-is a rich and noble one.ory of the conversion of Engla~d and the d~el~pment of its ecclesiastical institutions from the landing IIf Augustme In Kent in 591 through the Synod of Whitby to the tenth-century reformation. . treachery. .us .any ecclesiastic of the time were primarily interested in vernacular literature. thus p~aying an important part iu the European cultural movement known as the CaroljIlg~an Renaissance: as well as of the tenth-century wl"iters who have been .ly chiseled urbanity. gives all.Elfric's ColloqlJy reminds .Mcuin of York (735.--B?4)~ho ended.." lJ )Eline and Wlilhlan extended the range of effective . w~~ lacked Aldhe~m's ov~r-el. who carried further the monastic reviva] begu. betrayal. but)for )Eliric they were means to a very important end. the work of the great churchman Dunstan who.though their subject matter is not as dearly distinguished as these litleswould suggest) with their careful balance and prose rhythm display a line virtuosity. etc. murder. and concessions to the unleamed in the form of translations were achievements of minor importance. indeed.hurch- . hom the opemi1!lg statement that "thls world is in haste and approaches its end" to the powerful "Cod help usl" of the conclusion. of Benedict Biseop ?f Northumbria. remarkable attempt till improve the state of educatioa.e and earn "the glory and Ute foy that Cod has prepared for those that do His will on earth. Biscop's great pupil. Latin was the language of learning and o.?"yl intended to teach Latin to boys Ii[l a monastic school. civil w. hiography. immoraUty of every kind-eand uses n as a means of hammering home to his audience the necessity of amendment i1 they are to avoid hellfir. of iEthelwold's pupil IElfric.f literature. the teacher and a shepherd. Beside the carefully balanced sentences of JEIEric we can set the more fiery eloquence of his contemporary.Ch.ANGLO-.SAXON LITE:SATURE . was transl. d[scw. who led the literary movement. who S'pent his life as a monk af Janow and is one of the really great scholars of England and of Europe. The. It would include the names of Aldhelm.ated to the See of Canterbury in 900. }EUnc's friend for whom he mote some '0£ his famous "Pastoeal Letters. which includes the story of English Latin culture. like lElft-ic. whose sermons in the vernacular (the first two series !mown as the Catho.bop of York from 1002 to 1023. and thespeeial contributions of each. entitled in the manuscript Senno Lupi ael ." A desperate sense of the immille'nce of doomsday [pervades: the whole sermon..Anglos. The sl.

rench developed as the lite[arylanguage of the highest social classes and Anglo-Saxon (now r::Ipidly developing into that stage of the English language known as Middle English) "lias for a period! relegated to the lower classes. which remained the language of the vast majority of the peQple.30 ANGLO-SAXON LITERATURE men as missionaries in Frisia and Cermany and Scandinavia. Literature as such. alter the achievements ox the Alfredian translators. . The Norman Conquest imposed iii French-speaking luling castle on Englaad. whether political. or cultural. All this is important. that divide up his subject almost too neatly. The man of culture belonged 6rst of all to the church. and by the beginning of the fourteenth century its vic lory was clearly evident. eventually won out over French. it was to do later. tile [curteeneh century. The English which :finally ousted French as the language of the literature of England was a language changed in many important respects-it had lost the Anglo-Saxon ir&ections and had greatly enriched Its vocabulary From French-but it had not wholly lost touch with its traditions. Andl the English tradition in prose. was much mere 31 .smitting the cultural tradition that.t emphasizes the role of the clerics in carrying on the cultural tIadUioD in this period. to resist. and there is a greater CODtinuity between Anglo-Saxon and Middle English literature tl1an the casual reader of both might imagine. and the impressive claims of secular Iiterature had not yet begun to be asserted. even in Latin. because i. particularly from the Benaissanee (In. social. It is true that in English poetry the. which. The temptalion to take 1066 as the dividing line between theold Anglo-Saxon England and the new Anglo-Nonnan England is indeed difficrut. though there was a rernarkabje revival of alliterative verse im. and of course it should not be altogether resisted.of JElhic and Wuifstan.lIJId tile homiletic traditioa . with the result that Anglo-F. English. did not yet play the central part in embodying and tran. rhymed verse of French soon replaced the Anglo-Saxon alliterative tradition. CHAFTER TWO The Development English of Middle Prose and Verse THE NORMAN CoNQTJEST of England in 1006 provides one of those convenient landmarks for !:he historian. Yet it is not strictly a part of the history of Eng]jsfu Iiterature. but its re-establlshment as a polite literary language after the period of Anglo-Freneh ascendancy did not mean that n was starting altogether anew without awareness of' its Anglo-Saxon roots.

and . written by the lower clergy with the object of illlstructing the common people in biblical story and the duties reqnired by their ] I am using the term ·'English·' to refer II) tlle whele field (Ii literature d'sC'Ulssed In this book. while li'lerature ln English was either rough and popular (much of it oral. The Norman Conquest did no! bring this feudal organization to rhyme instead of alliteration to Englisnpoetry and restricted the range of Englisb prose. migrations. more hereafter.n" emphasizing the continuity...3 Christian ci\fi~tion. Yet. did not prevent French influence from ma~g verse the medium of much Middle English historical and miscellaneous writing for wbich prose would have been (and. some of the most ieterestingworks in the whole of Middle ERghsh literature. 10 the well.]~SaxoD period: it probably represented a popular oral tradition which was less likely to be aHected by the displacement of polite Engljsh literature by French.e as an integra1 pn:rl of the Enghisb literary tradition. no Norman Conquest.s. wClrd ~Ellglio.oy important respects the beir of its Anglo-Sax.]. the regular languag.ghsh. and stress the evidence that points to the use or at least the knowledge of English. fot· example.ISH PJIOSE AND VERSE M..:. this popula:r tr. was to disrupt the course of English' literature considerably. amo:ng the upper classes outside the immediate circle of the Com~.d to language was enough to ensure that. We are entering the period of French cultural domination of Europe. of course.. with. Of these romances. with 'their sterner note of heroic endeavor-they include the verse tales of Cbarlemagne and his peers-to the Al"lhurial'l romances. Man}. ~ ~ wmet'me. its own.e of the upper classes for more than two and a half centuries after the Conql.ed the older view which held that French was. which is a much more signi6cant phenomenon-even for English literature-than William the Conqueror's !Victory in 1066. and becoming metncaUy regular. by the be~inning of the tweHtb century this new Europe had de6ned its relation to the Roman rast.. and Modrtn ~nglj. Middle English literatulie-English literature between the early twelfth and the late fifteenUl censuries-Js In ma. The herolc age was gone.Iluence of the French rhyrned coupler..t'io:: til refer. IIOW o:Io"e. and it was certainly a kind of verse which was more susceptible to the 00.. and new kmds of courtly sophistication replaced the heroic ideal in manners. The other somehow made contact with the pUTer and stricter allmterative tradition and emerrged ito the so-called "AUireraHv.erm to use for Anglo-Saxon for anyone with Ihis jiIOint (If view wiluld! be "Old English:· which gives us the neat tripartite di"isiolll ol the English 13ngu3~e lnlo Oli! [ . the fact remains that for over two centuries the Ilterature produeed under courtly or aristocratic patronage was French both in tone and in la:nguage. at tbe moment we note merely that the old beroic note was dying away throughout Europe. though French influeJilce broug. There are.ISH Pl\QSE A'ND VERS. p The Norman Conquest was itself the las~ of those many accentual. honor.32 MIDDLE t:'NCl. Middle Englisb. . than the stricter Iorm of the Ang. kind of literary patronage. bad established itself as . because the new Europe of the Middle Ages was mot a heroic society In the strict historical sense but a feudal society with its own eenventions of service. in the Anglo~Saxol!lperiod.lest. what is:more important'tCl the iterary historian. Even though modem scholars tend to regard as exaggerat.h. oeb"y.xon. more simp. as. the same eaonet be said for the hemic note of AJoglG-Sa. I regard lite Anglo-Suon phas. it had been developing in late Angle-Saxon times. ill western and northern parts of the country where national Engliish feeling had remained strongest. being. 'their steess on courtly behavior and new ideals of love and sentiment. But' if some aspect.immedi- it most sharply hom Anglo-Saxon literature are those which might well have flowed into it in the normal course of international cultural influence.En. and so lost). and expeditions.. and obligation."d leern~ ) But if the long-term development of English literature was less affected by the Norman Conquest than migb~ at nrst Sight be imagined. The influence o£ French literary methods and French literary attitudes was felt all over Europe. and we can trace the movement from the ChansOFI& de ge. . there can be no doubt that the immediate effect of the Conquest. and its own social conditions breeding its own view of the relation between the sexes.gland more . or simply didactic.e Old £ngii~h Chronicle. hiell had ended the Roman Emptre and brought a new Europe into." the commo. the long alliterative line breaking into two. modem !iCOOhl~do this"yel "Arnglo-S:mm" remains the older-established IIn<l better-knewr. invasions.S advanced than anything in French prose. and would have been felt in England even if there had been.I niligioo.~ I1lOW!I A "81. it brnugbt . One moves .. The immediate form in wwchAnglo-Saxon alliterative verse survived was less teclmically subtle. indeed. tenn. bul.IDDLE ENGl. which produced.e Revival" of the fourteenth century. of the Anglo-Saxon verse tradltion liingered 011. and the elements which distingui. and though the French language affected both the vocabulary and the prommciatten of English. was) the appropriate vehicle. acquiring rhyme. Ilnks between the new Europe and the old. distinguish two lines oJ developme~t of the old Anglo-Saxon alliterative verse. Olle might. it certainly hastened the process and.had become suHiciiently stable culturally to fonn its own norms of politeness both in We and in letters. The position with rregar.m CJ\1'<I'nlc!<> as t. . The logirnl t.aditiolJ la toward the rhymed couplets of the French.on ancestry. toward which it moved.

a skill. The reader of Conq_lLIesl: is tbe story' o:f what the late seventeenth. brought the achievements of the new Frencbclllrue mare rapidly and more forcibly to the attention of Englishmen.MIllDLE ENCLISH PR03:E AND VERSE ate'!y roto eoataet 'with conttnental civilization and especially with tile new ffowerillg of French culture which was to' change the pattern o.gUsh literature of ~his period is struck by the numbet of diHe. a polishwbicb would enable it to hold. with reference to the acbievemen~ of their own poets.n. as a result of the Conquest. This also explains why.h were the descendants of !:heir Anglo-Saxon aaeestors.o centuries and a. therefore simila. Wi~hlle Court and lirLstocratic circles 'using French. so. brian dialect of Anglo~Sa'xon split up lnto Scots and Northern Eng~ Ilsb. ahe heig:Jl_tof theirpro~erity. when.. developing jndependently of polne standards. 1l1l'l.. the eclipse of Wes:se:t and the loss of the standardizing power of its language pmdueed by the Neeman Conquest and the emergence of French as the courtly language led M. These regional dialects of Middle lElllgUs.tioo and word structure which any language undergoes with the passJ. . rise again :slowly ill the social seale. the poSSibility or a new standcl. as anyone looking at the English literary scene about the year 1050 Migh~ have predicted. so writer:s in English used the language of their O'Ml1 region. the generation ~e:fl)re the Conq uest. hav. and split Scots up into the series of local. which ts of eourse wily a popular literature.ent Middle English dialects: it was not until toward the end of~he Middle English period that ~:he East Midland dialect became more 01'Ies5 the standard literary language. were kI call.ucel-co!i11cides in date with the final re-establishment of English as theuniversa] nationallamguage.rly lost. theie was no :force: making for the . .ing come undee many inflllle:nces in addition to IIm:llergoll'lg those chan. the union of t'he crowns of England and Scotland in 1603 and the union of the parliaments of the two countries in [707 made English the standard polite language of Scotland.le. For example.ges in pmcttncia. oJ both Court and the end oJ the Middle English period. BlIt it was the legitimate descendant O'f its Anglo." Foreed back to its more popular elements.supremacy of anyone Middle Eng.f aU medieval European literatures. and the A. split up :mto regional dialects after the Middle Ages. 'fhe stOlry ofEnglishliteratu:re during the tw. half after the Norm. its ownw:i~hFrench. the dialect cf London.LI 'OUl' own time. and Kentish became the basis oJ the dialects of Ute Southeast. an (ID itsdialect. The London dialect had orig~na[]y been a Southern dialect.rd fOM of literary Ellglish grew steadily. and that it was DOt until 1000 that relationsbetween Englalld and the CQ·ntmentdeveloped. Wessex los!: its political and cultutalimpa)rtance.g them of the English language. There were in Iaet powerful Norman influences working in En. as in American Folk song to this day. it must be remembered thai the Norman Conquest did 110t.iddle: E. Mercian developed into East Midland and West Midland.gland m.e there is no central standard of polite usage. with the result that standard modern English derives from East Midland and Dot. The full and triumphmt achievement DE this new ease and skiU and polish-in the work of Clla. both written. grndually acquiring an ease. the speech. by imposing III French-speaking rulmg caste on Eng.O'ugnta More immed.Hclland in eharaeter. Again. which had establlshed its supremacy as:the fiterary language. and royal decrees in both England and France in 1224 making: i:! illegal for any one to hold land in both countries.m. and English moved sloiwly up in the social scale.•and. Scotland more and more adopted standard EllgHs:h as il::.3 branch of Norlhumbrian English and later. We.e.est SaxOIl. Just as. represent-as did the invasions of the Saxonsand the . reig:rned sllpreme. its prestig. as a result of increaSing association with Enghmd. split up Into regional dialects. 'file reason EOI" the Dumber of Middle Engllih Literary dialec~s was dlat.lisb dlaleer over tile others.ti·onship with the 'continent .As French receded. but by Chaucer's time it had become mainly East f. Scots. as a result of its me by the Middle Scots poets. dialects which it has remained. now the dominant city of Engla. very different language now from that of BeCH:VIJlf or of II:tfric. must have helped to make the descendants or the Normans in Ellgland consider themselves bound purely to England and encouraged the growth amon.g time. literary language and thus lost its s!andard for polite Scots.nd. WheJ'.nglish to relapse into. Iii language will always. will tend to use the language of its own regio.had mall)' amI slgomca[ll: European contacts.celltury into the Southwestern and Central-Southern dialects.iate" a mereaetive. at. a fully developed ltterary language in its OWll right. Besides. The kiss of Normandy by the English "in 1~04. originally . English literature soon began to. with its characteristics largely Southeastern. the Northum-· r. It was a.even among the tipper classes. when the movement of contemporary poets to create a synthetic Scots literary language is at la:st trying to reverse this trend. w. But the Norman Conqcest 1)!£.st. until. West Saxon div. and spokea. of Saxon parent. and. aseries of dialects even as a written lanJ!:uage.nglo~Sa:::onkmgdoms. "the relillement of our lliIIwnbers. and a more continuous rela. we must not imagine t~a'f Anglo-Saxon England had been isolated from the con~inent. Saxon.

that of Hem~' VI. as we shall see.()D leff to the En. to the use of Anglo-Saxon in serious didactic literature (we saw earlier how King Alf[ed's pro~ram of transjation was. Ang.who mauied! Constance. a mayster of gramcie. DCVH lived to be King of France. so that French ~ass=i. translating Higdell's work from the Latin in 1385. but Ihing5 have change-d now. and ttJTOughout the late Middle English period English kings regarded themselves as the rightful kings of France (3 claim wbJdl produced the Hundred Years War.1 conlinu0U5 since l. caused by his: fear that Latin had declined throughout. even HE'llI)' V.. though this intimate contact with France kept the influence of French culture very much alive in England.1tiOnl') fu!ing resolted in Ihe dirivillg 1m! . and BriUamy through hts SOD Geoffrey •. changed the method of leaching in scbool and made lhij$ pupils translate (rom French i. By 1453. Trevisa. a not uncommon phenomenon in the history of culture.Iaw t"CUTiI:s IQr . forced to leave their native language and do everything in French. the tradition did survive.m all the gnmuRe. The classic document on the rehabilitation of English in educated. the polite as well as thepopulaI language of England. we can see why the social and cultural rehabilitation oz EnglIsh can be said to have been achieved in the first half of the fourteenth century.lie 'nil:1~h ! year of the reign of King Blcherd and construceioa or Frenseh into Englysch.~r. ns did ether men of Penerych... circles is a paragraph in John af Trevisa's translation of the .e nntil it became again. It is true that Henry II (ll54-HB9).. and some of these were mercenaries who returned aCf05S the Channelafter the subjugation of England was completed illll07Q. who liftEr hl:!r"oIIcttll')' at AginooLln:: 10 ·1415 :md !tis triumphant entry Inlel Pa:ri:5had himself named Ihe heir to the French throne. • . n could not prevent the steady rise of the English languag. but had the Danish invasions not produced a.leI 01 Parliament ' of that I'em ord~red that ali pleas ~hould be conducted in English.. so ~at now.tll of lime:. This sets the dale of the change hom French to English as the means of inst'ruction in schools failly precisely.36 MIDDLE ENCL1Sf{ P~OSE I'I.!:lish was Ihe port of CaJ:ak This was the general cu510m ·oefore the nrst plague [the Blac-k Death af 1349]. i. nobility.S moehe y-vslld to£o~e ~e flir:5le mQreyn.and far more advanced than French prose.. English life went on very much 35 usual. in all j:>c gramcl"!ilooles of Engelood children leue~ Frensch. it would never have developed as it did. Ihe En!l~isb never estnbllshed t:hdr ~IRim. and construep and lumep an Englysch .oo longv. the . extending from the Channel to the Pyrenees (having inherited Normandy and Maine from his mother.ib knowledge was a polite accomplishmeerrather than a native endowment. and H was Dllll)' the dearth of good Latjnists in England thai led. With the Larin literature. The army brought to England by WilHam. had stated.r schools 01 England children have abandoned French 31:1d translate and do their lessons in English. the o. ·when the Hundred YearsWnr (whiCh bad been fa~ £<00'1.. Besides Frenchand English there was Latin.for :my leng. an .:Fl the Engli~h. For John Cornwall.'1 and English was used for the first time in the opening of parliament in 1363. and that the eluldren of gentlemen were taught to speak French frOfiTI mfancy. a. but in r'8.. Anglo-Saxon Literary prose was among tile best de v eloped in Europe. in the Iourteentlr century. the work 'O[ Chaucer came in the immediately f. though 1110 ODe who wishes to understand the m . decay o. for the masses of Englishmen had spoken English all aiong. of ~e secunde kyng Rtdlanldter ~ Conquest nyne. writing aooU't 1350. This illustrates very dearly how ignorance-of a kind-e. heiress of that province).nd rua:hlTd Pencryeh learned that way of leOlching hom him. possessed vast realms in France.". that ever since the Normans came to England Englishmen had been.llto English. Duke of Nonnandy.. and Anjou and Touraine from his father. been the learned langll1age in Anglo-Saxon times.5 Crecv and Pa1tiers 1lS411 and 135!l respecll velyl. and )15 se]lthe somdel ychaunged. the learned language of Christian <Civilization. a school teacher. The ecclesiastical reforms introduced into England by the Normans restored Latin as the language of serfous didactic works and thus did grave harm to the tradition of El'lg[jsh literaryprose= though. and when we realize that forma] educational methods are always conservative and are: slow to reflect public opinion.lo-Farench-the development of Norman French in England-was giving way in England to Parisian French. Englisb was lntreduced into the law courts in lOr the . ~ In st'ile or some impre:<sive vidories over the' Frencb Itlt'h 1!.CI French rem. the standard French of France. the revival of French n.Latin had also. Iangu..ondted fOlue sro:e all. By this time.3:l8) came to "fl ·e"d. which began in 1338. and ober men of Pencrych. consisted of [10 more than about six thousand 'e~wourage the gro1llltb of a vernacular literature. but underneath. Hut. chayngede ~ lore in gram.allowing decades.e JIiI.f Latin learning.. pe 3er of oure Lord a bousnnd . and in Ithe follClwing reign. 1I At least. and: !Richard Penerych Iuruede pat manere tech}'li!g of hym. adds his own comment on Higden's statement: f>ys manere WIl. William gave English estates to his followers and made them into a small ruling class which replaced! the Anglo-Saxon.Polycfmmicon ot Ralph Higden. audacquiring Poitou.noo Iho.[). which mdieated that . of medieval Englal1d we ar-e net concerned in this history. the country). of course.2).:! fyue.ND VERSE Danes--a national migration. to re-emerge impressively later. Cuienne. 1585 . Higden. For Iohaa Cornwal. too. and Gascon)! by his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine.first of the Plantagel"let kiIilgs..

most significant £OJ the reader of English literature . learning and a critical judgment. rather than a great symbolic figure in the background. and a great deal of poetry. including the Welsh historians Gildas and Nenni1!ls. most important of all.M'lIch 'of it is religiOUS and didactic-and we rnus! never forget that by far the largest number of medieva] works in alilY language are religious and didactic-of which only a few ba . amorous.alon..sll1g. among whom. with sweet harmon).How many of these poems.. witty observations. and sometimes indecent-which belong Ito the medieval Coliardic tradition. It contains anecdotes.atil1historians as WiUiam of Malmesbury. and its existence is a reminder thai medieval Latin was not the language only of solemn works. represents a chapter of European poetry of the greatest interest tc anyone conceme~ with a~y of the European literatures. who keeps the center of the picture: we heaJi nothing yet of Laneelot or Tristan. MIDDLE ENGLISn lPBOSE AND 'VERSE MlDDLE ENGLiSH PROSE AND VERSE literary culture of the Middle Ages ean ignore it. Here we Erst find the stories of Lear asd Cymbehne and G. Arthur is a great hero to Geoffrey.. Brendan. The De Nugis Curialium ("Courtiers' Trifles") of Wa:lter Map is another twelfth-century Latin work likely to interest the reader of medieval English literature. He gives us a pieture of the AngloSaxcn Invasions seen through the eyes of the reheating Britons. (Anglo-French remained the official legal language of Englalld until173L} Perhaps the most interesting Latin prose works produced in England in the early Middle English period were the histories.erel1Jt. bishop of Lincoln. The cleat 'voice of the dismterested Iyris:t comes to us from the Middle Ages more often than we reallae in the Latin words of some impoverished but singing scholar. Musa venit carmine. by far the. But the d. provided a mine of material which was later to be fruitfuUy employed by Foets and romancers.steau d'AmQur by the brilliant and learned Robert Grosseteste. where praise of the Vkgin and many aspects of Christian theo~ogy are presented througlil an elaborate allegory of a castle and its defenders. and Ma'lthew Paris. any strictly literary poem Leo Cha. Ceo. and we have the final bearing of the mortally wounded Arthur to A.lre was to use as a grand backcloth for innumerable individu. Map htmself wrote is not known: but CoUardtic poetry. the rolliCking secular protest against official Ch::islendam's focusing on the next world .rj.isloyalty of Mordred and of Guinevere recalls rum.•• The Muse comes with !lOng.ffrey has Arthur successfol ill' war against enemdes both at home and abroad. rather than his knights. The movement from classical Latin quantitative verse to the rhymed accentual Latin verse of medieval hymns and O. l1esets out to conquer Rome itself.we have. Such Al1glo-l. Geoffrey was a.! these Oohardic poems represents a major shift in th_e nature of the European ear for poetry. it was also the language of science..0 become famO\lS in . and drew on old British traditions. with its secular moods and its frequent metrical skill. whose histories of England show both. H. e among them the allegoric.of Geolhey of Monmouth. are of more interest to students of historiography than to those concerned primari]y with hterature.with its rich collection of marvelous adventures. folk tales.imaginative scholars.. philosophy. It Is a lively col- lection of the most miscellaneous material.. is another Anglo-French poem of some lil:erary interest ~oday" There are also many Anglo-French chroniclers. but the Hi. written in the third decade of the twelfth the greatest of the twelfth-century Englisb hisrorians.38. one might almost 5<1y.ature. Walter Map was long credited with many o~ those lively Latin lyrics-satirical. we get (he mslt full-dress story of the exploits of Xing Arthur. amusing stories. and so the story goes to Ute last great battle and the journey to Avalon.itf any. 'Letus.a~ Incidents. the treachery of Arthur's nephew Mordred and the disloyalty of Ouanhumara (Guinevere). and his pages are filled wtth figures which were 1. rather than epitomes of oourtly virtues. as he was later to become. history.of the wanderi.orboduc. dulce modulamine: pariter earuemus .Welshman. iTl"ev. Here is the outline o~ the stOfY tl1at so much later medieval ]iterah. and it can be studied more happily than elsewhere inthe faS'dnating literature of the wandering scholars. and similar entertaining matter. rejecting Rome's demand for tribuie. There was also an Important Anglo-Freucb literature in ElIlglalld ill the twelfth and thirteenth centu. Latin was also used for all officiaJ documents. pieces of invective. The ~i ely and metrically v interesting Voyage of St .is Artbul: himself. though for very diHerent reasons from those which lead hun to Geoffrey of Monmouth. and tile krughts by whom he is surrounded are loyal feudal retainers. haechanaliau. loosely organized in the form of a satire on contemporary abuses.. Latin was not only the language of theological and didactic works. and was the legal laoguage of NDffilan England until it wasreplaced by Anglo~FreDch In the}ria Begum Britanniae . and here. too. but we have Uther Pendragon and Me'rliOl. the tradition .. until.

mention the Round Table. a Nu beep opere leoden pee l. whose translation of Geoffrey of 'Monmouth's Histori. But wbal. in the middle of the. twelfth century. Of the 'romances we shall speak in greater detail hater. their lnterest .ebale b~!ween the BodylJl1d the Soul which follows it IS 0. N u is peo leore forlelO':I'l nd pel: {ole is Iorleren. A startling break with any tradition is the curious Omllu!um. as they used to be in Anglo-Saxon times by the great Angll1'·Sa1'(OllSflints and scholars.a Bean important stage in the transmission of the Arthurian legend... attitudes. 'Ihey spoke almost the same Celtic tongue .and is the . they represent one of the . though looser than ill classical Anglo-Saxon poetry.r. ·called because they consist of the remnants of a manuscript 'which had been cut up a:oo pasted togethem-to make the covers of a book in the library of Wvrcester Cathedral) pres:erve. though there is little else that Is so dose t·CI the AngloSaxon tradition. to the Britons of Wales and CO. was settled by fugitives from Britain after the Anglo-Suon invasions. whether written in that form of Frencn. who wasapparently born in France but wrote in England and dedicated her Lai8I.ll-Saxon heroic ]l10·1d.Ieole of if'! additlon to portions of JElmc·s Grammar (in West Saxon). so that both teachers and people are damned togethe. NO'"" is thi~. eloprnent can be traced further in much religiIJus and didadic literature (including paraphros'es .p ad pet f"k forp mid.Eruglish period and moved it fal"away from the Angl.sufficient to indicate that the Anglo-Saxon alliterative line was continued. But neither this foem northe fragmental). ofthe wider stream of French literature which.. And . We sbaIlbave to. It is with the translatlon of Ware'.le year. D. simple translation of Ceolihey of MOlmlouth:.1" Orn1in. as ohen happened.1f"ian stories . tcachrn.g Abandoned . Amd ma. see tile increasingi:llJjlilem:e oJ French models. wr:ilten probably about the year 1200 by an AllgtJstinian canon 'l:DIamed Orm 0. or written [I} England in the French of Paris. since King johlil's loss 0. but are left in ignorance by foreign teachers.f medieval secular literature and require separate treatment. both ~I'l: speech and in tradttlons.and some shorter verse narratives. We soon begfn to. he also includes Arthl. and seems to have derived both from Welsh and Breton sources. (Brittany.hyrne of the French nor . Works ill French written in England during this period also include a number of romances.ny of die teachers Me damned and the people as well. which. look more closely.most Important branches o.Iies in their illustration of the de"..!l)wall. done wlthvlvacity and a j'eeling for dramatic incident that strike the imagi[]ation more forcibly than the straightforward historical narrative of Geoffrey of Monmouth. had been develcpillg In its own way in Eng~and. a short poem lamenting that the people are no. is more than a.from other sources.erlilj"lure role.he verse he used employed neither the [. so that the Bretons were very closely akin. and subject matter which it introduced. partly because of tbe Norman Conquest bat more fundamentally because of the extraordmary efflorescenee of French Iitcrature m the twelfth century. it will be remembered. IDn~er taught in English. as his work is generally called. The illJ ls of Celtic origin.fOrstactually to..} The best known author of WtS was Marie de France. there is little extant ~!l' show precisely what. The de .e~ lorpeil1les los ire. verse stories written purely Ior entertainment. The WOfCL?s!·er Fragmenrs (So.!comists of Bfteeu thcwand Hiles of verse.of partsaf the Bible).:> ROln6n de Brut by Layamoll early in the thirteenth century that the Arthurian story first appears in English. but !. The R01iUiri de Bm. generally bas-ed OD folllore and olten dea~ng with the supematura].es thai teach our people.40 is' cherished alike the A:rthurian and other Celtic British legends. the Middle :Englisll work was itseU a translation I:r01lll the FrCIiLc'b. Now il ls men other I~ngu~g. translticnal between AnglO-Saxon and l\ndldle English and is nearer to the Language of £lfric than lie tllaf of Chaucer.dopment o[ ~he language and of the "use rOmlS of the Anglo~Saxons ill the twelfth century.J[Y scribe (abolllt 1180) transcribing into his OWll West Midland dialect a poem originally written in W·esl Saxon soon after the Conquest The ~a:ngl1age is. or The language here is early Middle English. The verse form is still the AngloSaxon alhterative line.. was part. though his references to it seem to indicate that it was already known to his readers. Wace's Roman de Brut. an influence particularly noticeable where.o King Henry [1. Orrn's intentien was to translate in!{) Elllglish verse the Gospels that were read ln the Muss duri.and the peoplets ~OSI. to which the name Breton lais has long been given. and probably represents a late twelfth <"e! the wha..indeed. Ang!o·French litecratu.£ any general literary llllterest. was gum Br:itanniae.meaIlHme. represented MIDl)LE ENGLISH PROSE AND VERSE 41 happening in the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries. swept into English literature in the Middle . was happening to !he native_ Anglo-Saxon t:rawtion? In poeery. therefore. We have some fragments of reHgious and didactic poetry which are . !'hough in a looser and more popular form.£ Normandyfn 1204. at French literature and the techniques.

It can be best illmlrated by quoting. It is a good introduetion to' the medieval view of world history and of milch else. the honors of Hell.1le1l. Once the Middle Ellglish writers had learned rhyme. and none of them ran to ten thousand lines. but with more :8exibility and employing rhyme. It urges the 'Vanity andtransience of earthly love and advocates instead the love . And. arm might have' done better '1'0 accept theFrench rhyming Iashion. This is the first of the ten thousand estant lines . A:Ild 00 kind to Barbara Alian.6m coanqu.s the opening of the Cursar Mund'l.e:r~u.. AI:!! is: a phonetic spelling. W For to were )Je ronde ta. didactic writer 01' long-winded romancer given his head in II. adieu. and even the most stereetypedrehgleus subject could 'be made fresh and moving with the proper lilt and the proper imagery. The was with hl~ dea1in.Idgmenl.dea. and there is nothing!o vary the intolerable monotony.of the poem ( :terolilquer~ur. because Orm made it. Come fClrt 11into the I ighl 01 th illgs. AmI romans red lin milne!'eS sere. How he for here be-eorn It 501. interestillg til' philologists but of more than usual tedium to the genera] reader. Wordsworth was partial to it : And hark] ~O'" blithe the !hrostle singsl He. llotlJing wuld stop them. dippety". aad a. the Last ]l. Pal' aunters sere 1 here of tell. each has precisely the same rnetrieal pattern.ide his line into two we get the standard ballad measure: He turned hls face unto l'til:ewall.fth-century Love . Let Nature be your Teneher.gand Rawand faght. " .'eTY short vowel except when the vowel is in an open syllahle. o Toned: lind: OO'·Ysambrase. Wil: sarazins wald ~a:i aa saghl. is encyclopedic in scope"ana is earrled along through its varied suhject matter by its author's determined and not: unskillful rhyming. o pe D fJl'J1~)"spat Ilry~bythes Iel. is n-omean preacher.. whtch dates from the last qu.lIables and a "Iemmine" ending. o Ydolne and of Amadase. Cai and oper stalrel.eration. Whatever hisreason fOT doing '!his (and! it has.ulal'ity..itl Wlohhtii This book is called Orrmulurn..g: ~'Adieu. Oml'S meter is Dot in Itself unusual-jf we (liv.ENGLISH PROSE AND'Ii'!ERSE Amglo-Saxon anit. rhyme.d:e'llelop-t:be Middle Engl1sh poet was able to achieve something far removed from anything possible to' his Anglo-S:axon predecessor. The four-hundred line POMW Mora:le OJ' Moral Poem is a late twelfth-century versified sermon written in the' same meter as the Otrnmium. OctosyJl]abic couplets could go on £01' ever: Men Joioernes rimes fnr 10 here. an enormous poem.eligiDus poems ln Middle English is the tw'el.D '''!EliSE MIDDLE . One of tbe earliest suceesslol r.-but the note ofeamest conviction which comes duotlg:h saves it from being the purely mechanical rehearsal of commonplaces . my de-ar Friends all.lI's3IJ:no.r ollngbnd: o K:yng J!. . with a double consonant after €!.Q great \lariety of moral and rellglous topics. took a 10l1g 'time to .NGL:lS:H PROSE line: l:>i~~ OOCiss nemrnnedd Orrmulum Iorrpi patt Ormm . bern bald of hand. depending stmply and wholly all strict syllabic reg. 1 Of lul'l Cesae emp8rOUXj Creee and TIl)}." Of .Rune by Thomas of Hales. the joys oi' Heaven. Quam none ill hy~. which was now beginning to come into Middle English religiolls and didadic verse. the PO!lma Morale has a certain vigor and rome signs o~ personal h~eling tbat are wholly lacldng in the Omnultlm. With properly varied rhymes and metrical s-ki11-wruc"ll. o Trirtrem and hys lei! Y5(li~e.£. But 'Wordswmth and the ballad writers at least had thevariety of This j. the strangstrijf: li>ere many thosand lesis their lijf. . Though hardly the most exciting of [poems. with fifteen s). been much debated) he produced a very odd-looking text. I>e. and serves to' remmd us onee again of the didactic purpose of so much medieval writing. . 0' iB'l"IIllthat.arter of the UUrteeDth century.wm: was like. of somet:hirt)' thousand lines which deals wil:haJI the ImpOltant mcidents of both Old and New Testament stcry and. It deals wi~h the usual medjeval religJous commcnplaees-ilost opporhmities in this life.o!.. too. Dilly about one-eighth of the w:nole survives).e. the open. Orrn's spelling is also original: .clop meter was 'l/e11'hard to stop. the call to repentance. and each 0'£ the other lines is of exactly the same length.rthlllH pat was so rike. How Charles k}'ll.42 MIDD'L).

. in his rendering. and who knows where they be? . it is clear that the author delighted In the dramatic quality of ·tbe poem and that his main interest lay in giving life and spirit to a '0011. in France.. But whatever the allegorical intention. "Wber..53T.44. Boethius had asked: Ubi nu!rl~ fiddis 00l5a Fa.e are now the bones of the famous and wms:e smith WaYland.. Est. and the di.aut rigidus Caito? W1:ie:e now I. a note sounded first (as far as tbe Middle Ages knew) by the late fifth. a change in the Europeanear. met. century later.~ It isperhaps a simpler note than . written probably .of Matthew &noM's "Dover Beacb.and! early sixth-century Roman phi]osophel'Boethius. or for two kinds of poetry. purpos'es. suootitutes for the remote classical character Il:gtITcsnearer home. The new rb)TIle and. The verse debate had beeeme a Iitererv convention i. ne Thais.uound 1200. [As 'the s·ileaf is from '!'il. B'lItthese exceptional instances of accomplished early Middle English poems must not be allowed to obscure the Faet that the re~ove. 1mThe Owl and Jlie Nightingale the two birds. riche 0. though the conHict is unresolved by the end 'of the poem. and eou Id serve a great maIly diHereJil~.1~e rerne wOI]d I So pe schef is of ~e· it with that special kind oi lyric Iih. it is feund in a variety of works.orn. translated both by King Allred and by Chauoer. apart Irom its use ill 'romances. fa belle Bomrnaine.. Ec~!}r.e de"i'e. but that corresponded to a deeper change-achangeill Emopean sensIbility. And Ce. even in the early Middle English period. QlIi fuf sa eousine l5ermaine. Anglo-Saxon all:iterative verse was an effective medium for the older herole poetry. I1t is equalily far removed from Ai:schyilis' stem sense of Fate. Who'l nowIs Brul:li<l or uprtght Cilloi' King Mfred.uter the Norman Conquest was a . and Item the civilized. nor has. One of the earliest ap~ pearances of this verse :form 'in Eng~jsll is one of themost successful -In the vivacious The: Ow! and the Nightingale. i~anything of the thoughtful intr. of life. Yseude and aile pee. [led hounds and carried hawks] And hadd eon feld: and .1 Flllbno::iw. the monastic-and. bur Hew kinds of sensibility demanded a lighter and more Bexible mode of expres·. bandied. and ltcemes impressively into medieval: literature only after UJ.E ENGLI. almost self-indulgent sadness of Virgil. and medieval writers developed their own kind of· cadence for its expression.ventional form. the seculnr. long-winded didactic writers. one o£ the most popular writers in the Midd]e Ages. ·rl.. fmm the chastened melancholy of Sophocles. [tfua'i were 'be!:orc us] Houndes ladden and havd.bcicil manent. Theeetesyllabie 'couplet.iethe bones of the fatlhfu. Thenightingale is the more sympathetic eharecter to modern readers. the didactic and the amorous. Tristram." A late thirteenth-cenlury English 1yrist asked the same question: Were be they ]Jill biforen tlS weren.e hillslde {J7 beren. An::hipiada. but.1 hruyt on m.SI3! PROSE "'NO ·V:El'\. as we have said.5:0Di les neiges d'E!I1tan? A sense of transience of earthly life pressed !bard 'on the Middle Ages. Ec-ho" ?Elrlanl qua.el: that the French brought to Emope meant. . qu idl Brutus . Villa]] was to ask: Di~es may not always.sE 45 blec [face]. who p~rsue thei~ altercation witlh great spirit and with all the legal tricks ofa twelfth-eentury lawsuit.hook 1 r This SOUl1ru the true note of medieval plangency.s the shea:E is (ctltl by the .aJogue succeeds mpaintillg with great vividness not .only the characters 'M the two speakers (the respectable owl and the hedonistic nightingale) but also aspects of the dally life of the period. w~ich English Ieamed born French. presumably stand allegorically for two ways. Oil ]dlDDL.ooe? [field and rorest J And II. the first example ln English of the debaf.nboth Latin and French. The narrative is handled with an accomplished ease. n'ea qwel pays.lopmeltlJt !l\f rhyme and meter had made it possible Ier medievalpoets to e'''pre.qu'humsrinei' -Mais rnJ. QUi 'bealli'tll et trop plu:s. the contest ill verse between two or more speakers. the owl would appear to have won on points.any or these.rlvie!e OU sus esran. and! asks. of Cnrist-The traditional theme oJ ubi Stint qui ante nO$ {OO1'e?where are those who lived before uS?-rillgs out with a new confidence: Hwer is lE'3lrisanC: Heleyne Pat weren so bryht and [eyre Ame dis and ldeyne.Elime Dessus . by determined and. sian.ry of an English poetic style .ospection .cl!pimg.Wi~ l!uis searpe meyne.1WOJGes feo [wealth]? Heo bee p iglp:teD vt 0.

then-cas with such other arts as manuscript illumination. metal work.fourteenth century. and English religious prose prospered side by side with the new French verse renderings of similar ltreratnre.s.o-SaxQn hadit. and didactic. it is easier to' trace the continuity of the Anglo-Saxon tradition. one of the most interesting and s:km£ut religiol!ls poems of the Middle Ages. Sax-on poe. 'The fact that Wulfstan. in its more popular form. The Norman clerics who took over the local and. This was tile end of the In homiletic and devotional prase. the tradition 1.'e Hevival" are three which are found ira the same manuscript as Sir GallA/in. and it is between the language of Illi!>" nal scribe B and that of his predecesser who brought the narranve Ill' to 1132 that scholars have drawn ~hemaeoessarily somewhat arbitrary lime between Anglo~SaxG[I (Old Englisb) and Middle English. Some of the early Middle English poems we have quoted above wiJ] show how the native Anglo-Saxon tradition gave way to the new rhymjng fashion. bishop of Worcester. in the southeast Frendl seems. the possibHi~ies ror rhyme would have been very restricted. and among the romances is the remarkable Sir Gawain and ." and his lines bave become purely accentual in rhyt. but the mass ofhomiletic literature in the West Mid~and dialect of fhis period carried English reUgilOusprose safely through the dang-eli period to provide continuity with the prose of Tudor times. and was not generally accomplished until the . Without the French element. The substitution of rhyme and meter for the Anglo-Saxon alliterative' verse was not the result of a revolution in taste and attitude.nglo-. in Middle English vocabulary.glo-Saxon homiletic tradi'lion-carrying on the work of JElric with modernizing of and additiolls to his sermons-ecnttnued to . while in the Anglo-Sa. In prose. in Layamon's Brut'. In the last group is the well-known Piers Plowman. and satiriea] and allegorical works. There were individual successful poems before the fourteenth century. standard literary prose impossible.nglish writers to tum to rhymed verse rather than prose for htstorical and! other kinds ofwriti:ng which had been prose in Anglo-Saxon times. These include romances. TILliS t. such as some literary historians have seen in the Romantic Movement. l'ElOS. We can see it. devotional. in spite of handicaps. Its variety and! liveliness had made Anglo.. Layamon's verse lacks the careful parallelism of Anglo-Saxon verse as we!! as such A. of which the ~rst is a homily on tihe virtues of patience illustraeed by an effective recounting of the story of Jonah. and England now loses its lead ill the development of vernacular historical writi.e tradition in the it was a slow process of .nglish language itself centinually gmwmg in vocabulary and In f:texibiUty until it reached the point where "it could handle the new verse form with con6dence and variety. This was especially true in the west 'of Engl. Purity. More impressive testim(Jny to the survival and even development of the Angio-Suoll alliterative tradition is tlle group of aceoerplished alliteraeive poems which suddenly appear i[. to have predommated even in th~s field early in the thirteenth century. national administrative positions in England after the Conquest introduced Latin as the language of officia] cornmunieanon and historical record.:x:o!1l Cllronlcle a tradition of historical prose was maintained for centuries.. Here the fall from supremacy of the West Saxon literary language in favor of different local dialects was less sig~ilicant . it is sig:ni:ficant that after his .-SaXOiR prose remarkable among European literatures ofthe period: translations.H PROSE AND VERSE MIDDLE ENGLISH. and Pearl . but the alliterative tradition was not altogether dead. however. whilethe increase of dialectical dilJeren. and jewelry-the Norman Conquest put the clock back. Ihey are Pa tie nee. to be discussed IDater. and Informative works of many kinds were to be Iound in prose. the work of instructing the people in the vernacular went on after the Conquest.imitation or and adaptation from the French."3S not 105'[. the last entty was made in the Peterborough Chronicle in the middle of the twelfth century. Ior mstructton of the common people could in any case be most effectively done in their own dialect. after a gap caused! probably by the confusions of King Stephen's reign. retained llis see after the Conquest until his death in 1095 must have helped to encourage this vernacular pt'o. Copying of Anglo-Saxon prose.E AND ''I'EBSe 47 slow 'business.46 MIDmJLE ENCL1S.tic devices as Ihe "kenning.he An. and EllglJsh historical prose did not emerge again until the time of the Tudors. homilies.tll'e'Creen.ion of hlstoricalprose. one of Ihe most brilliant or all Middle English allegorical tales of adventure and of the marvelous. Among thereT~giolJs poems or the so-called UAlIiterati. and the last i~ both an elegy on the poet's dead daughter and an allegory of Chrishan faith. works went on assiduously in monasteries after the Conquest. At the same time French inlluence was leading E. written in alliterative blank verse each paragraph of which concludes with fOUT short lmes having alternate rhyme. in Middle English helped to make a.and.. As far as Engli~h historical prose was concerned. but he uses alliteretlon and no rhyme.l the fourteenth century. 'but no great English poet. re!igiollS poems. a metrical history of Britain based on Wace's Roman de Brut and written some time in the late twelfth century. and the CIITonicle was continued.ces. with the E.Aourish. Knight.

and a prose homily 00.MIDDLE ENGLIS. in a conscious literary prose. phl~. It was written probably about 1200 in the West Midland dialect.ectioR. a manual of instruction intended for three young girls who had decided to become anehoresses.ers)alJst. They helped to keep a slanda. 1340. character sketch. the . date is kno~ precisely.. The sermons. (This is the 'work whose title haunts Stephen Dedalus in Joyce's Ulgsses. was parI: of the natural progress. fa. partly because he tends to reduce the inllectioos as in modern English. of Nortbgate s A!fenbyte of lnwyt (Prick of Conscietlce) a translation of a thirt. How unreadable . saints' lives. translations. and re:distic detail. of the language and its hterature. was .~ of gu. deal' that It was finished: on Oeteber 2:1.hymed: verse Is technicaUy less distinguished.tryls ~temeT in mood. Enghs~" The WycW Bible was certainiy not all translated by WycHf.xon homilies to such writers as Richard Ro[]e of Hampole.Sa. In addition to the usual devotional and didactic material.s I)of viliginj~y.. not even accurately. and other devotional and didactic works in which this prose tr. and for the clarity and cogency of his prose (which is in the northern dialect of Yorkshire).te versions have neither the strength nor theldlomahc How of Rolle's prose. v:-hen th~ . There is a modem ring to Rolle's prose style.i1twiLh reference to his mother. his fellowers resp. and the autho!. Of RoUe"s followers. and nence£ort. a note at the end of the maausonpt makmg. as. a treatise pointing out the discomforts of marriage and the advam. The earliest writings of this kind after the Conquest are those known as the Kathenne Group. Margaret. the fourteenth-cenhuy mystical and devotionalwri~er. The Wyclifi.rom the world" while Wyclif.a~. which he founded. and claans to deal ''''Ith the exploits of Deroes who have had some rca] place i~ l~istory.olle gr. is another imp<lrtallt diocwnellt in the Jirlstory 'of Englisl1. sport.. !iCllJtherille.ous \\Tltin.oup. but also for th~ first complete translation of the Bible mto.f English proiSe style.mcreasing use of English prose in both secular and rehg.adition manifests itself are of tittle literary interest. fer It IS written In the pure KenlCish dialed (If Canterbury and its.e can be seen in Michael. as was the AnCl"el\Riwle. His r.Saxon Iiterature lies in the realm of' verse narrative.. T~e translation is done hom the Latin text of the Vulgate and It has little grace 01" life.clan. Walter Hilton (who. and Will. and Juliana. a Worcester monk.) Its importance has ~e~Dm~gnlfi~d by philologists. the marvelous IS Introouced for .escapist and.emperam ent ~n~ s:aug~1 to withdr. and his prose work Tile Scale of Perf. a very different figure from any member of the R. and its inflluence and popularity were enormous .tage. great treasure. both among those responsible for the continuity of English prose born Al1glo-Saxon to modem times and as pioneers o. DE t~e Church. and not always ~n'lelligibl}'. anecdote. One of the most striking differences between Mruddle Enghsh and Anglo. which debates the respective claims of the active and the contemplative life.£ollrtee~~la-c~llt~ry religiOUS treatises could be when devoid of any persQ?aI msprratlon or stylistic gra(.H PROSE AND VEBSE MIDDLE ENGLIS'H PROSE AND VERSE 49 death lrisbiograpby was written . RoUe is important both for the movement.n~e marks a Significant change in taste and sensibil~ty.h the development of Englislit prose. ocmtrov. though the later version is better in this respect than ~e . symboHzing his fee~.b mistress.eenth-<eetlltnry didactic work done with an infuriating meehanscal dullness.rUIg. more realistic in treatment. £.l1ished between 1382 and 1384) and John Purvey the Iater (finished! soon after 13.earlie~. . They were addressed to a female audience. and include tile l!ives of three virgin saints.. the Ancrefl Riwle contains much lively il1cidental material by way of illustration.simple directness of his word order. He. hut more signilkantly beesose of the . These works are written.. ravel.. however uneven.. died in ]39~) is:the most interesting. to whom it is a.which Wit. poiitJ. among other aspects-makes the work t an important and illlterestJng historical document as wen asp.88).in English by Coleman.rd of English 'PTOse alive unti] the late fifteenth century.'suse of proverb. well as his numerous references to matters of dailyllfe-domest"ic aHairs. with use (especially in the three saints' lives) of alliteration and deliberate rhythmic effects. though they are of importance to the philologist and 1:0 ilie historian !}f thought and! society. the fO(llis.role poe. for RolJe was a contemplative mystic by t. appear struggling (amid a. but It was done under his inspiration. . the informed master. Nicholas of Hereford seems to have done part of the earlier of the two versions (6.'10'manee is more frankly . great nernber of aUegorical figures) for control of the soel. Conoemporary with Walter Hilton is JDhn Wydif. with its ascetic biasamlllyrkal development of persona] feeling in religious matters. and reformer.osopher. and scholars today are inclined to put Rolle and Hilton farabm'e Wyc1if.[ovidiog it with a human interest which the modem reader appreciates so much more than the conventional didaetic elemear.g meant that the danger was over. The replacement of the older hemic poetry by the ve~se l'om9. of devottonal :piefy. and his fol1G1~'IIer Walter Hilton. prose style.rn.onsible not only for attacks on illl some important claims and practices.Its influence on the religious prose ()f the thirteenth and Fourteenth centuries was largely Instrumental in ensuring the transmission of the prose badition of the Anglo.

As the' cycle gre. in the romance.. engaged in for scmespeeific purpose.. for they already show something of the interest in idea[~zed character and in purely imaginative elaboratlon which was to be the mark of the fully developed romance." The first of these groups was file earliest to be developed. The former. t. that the new elements of sentiment and courtly love came to produce a wholly new kind of romantic story. and even the most valiant hero is liable 10 lose if he fights against heavy odds. We shall discuss later the ideal of courtly love which so affected the tone of medieval romance and indeed had an incalculable eHect 01'1 all subsequent love Iirerature. dealing with Cermanlc heroes. divided the subject mailer of medieval romance into three categories. but it is no direct part ot the history of Eng]is)l literature. Fighting in heroic poetry is a grim affair. it bred the characteristic medieval Iorm of literary entertainraent. or indeed with any kind of adventure which in the process of time became attached to the .EIISE N lIUD'DLl:. just as ill the Arthmiall cycle of romance the tnterestsbifted from Arthur to his knights. and the process was fraught with the most far-reaching consequences. This was one of the results of the breakdown of Latin UDder the in!3. But the chall:SMiSde gest~ are also early :n:llnanoes. D 'V. The meter was regular and syllabic. ending with the hero's death. let us 6TSt look at the subject matter . in an oft-ell quoted couplet. unaffected by the courtly and sentimental ideals of the south. and i~ hasbeen'sllggested that these.. were mostly produced in northern France. ot wngue d'ail. in the lyric poetry of the troubadours." the "Matter of Britain. The driving moral force behind the earlier romances of the "Matterof France" cycle is the sense of Christendom pushing: back the infidel Saracen invaders of Europe. The point that chiefly concerns the historian of English literature in dealing with the Middle English period is that Englisb well as late heroic poems. it deals with the activities of Charlemagn'e and his knights. and the romance' as it was modified by the new Provencal sophistication. as a stylized sport rather than a desperate necessity.1 France. both tone and technique from anything hitherto known in Europe.ay to.ghte. was written in the northern dialect of France. which tells a desperate story of a courageous fight agai~st hopeless odds. it was from the south. Influenced by the southern love lyric.zed by elaborate techniques of service.:t de gesfe. where both love and war are rituali.H:ctly . The late tweUth-century trollvere Jean Bedel.r than on the odds against which he is fighting.loeres (northern equivalent of the troubadours. and rhyme was used. existed in Anglo·Saxon England: perhaps The Battle oj Bnmtmoorn and TM Battle of MaldGfl are lone survivors of this sort of thing. The transition from classical Latin quantitative metrtcs to' rhymed verse can be traced ira lat. the "Mauer 0. ENCLISH PROSE AND VERSE 51 its own sake. In the tenth century the Provencal dialedFrench in its southern fonn. Other romances in this group are eoncerned with the stmggle of individual heroes against the Emperor's tyranny. Provence had already developed. a remarkable new literary form. These poems are ~ealIy short heroic epics. and" as we have seen. romances were encouraged or even produced by monks of the rnonasteeies on the pilgrim routes who thou~bt in this w. produeing sophisticated Jove lyricS' diHerent in. where the devoted knight overcomes fabulous obstacles by virtue of the strictness of his honor and the strength of his passion. especially Provence.he outcome depends more on the character of the B. the interest turned more and more away from the eharacter of Charlemagne to eoncentrate on the eKploits oJ indjvidual members of the' group of warri(}rs that surrounded him." and the "Matter IQf Rome the Creat. the product of the trol. i~ is one of the ~ost fascinating stories in literary history. identify their founder with one of Charlemagne's heroes and so attract patronage. and its tone is nearer that of heroic poetry.50 MIDDLE ENGLISH PROS!:: . The transition between herele poetry and medi. and it is not improbable that similar poems. of which the Chanson de Hoidnd is the best known'Blnt to any account of what was happening in Eogli!lh. was in the French cultural OI"bit and that therefore what French literature had become by this time is di. The rise of Proven~allanguage and literature in the tenth and eleventh centuries represents one of the most prcfcund-sand still one (If the most mysterious-movements in European culture. often without any specillc object.uence of the languages of the barbarians.. as it were. These meroic tales of actlon.evaJ romance can be seen in the French chamolls de geste. the romance in which loyalty to one's king is no greater force than loyalty to one's lady. it finds its greatest expression in the Chanson de Roland.v. and the whole thing is done rirualistically. This transitional kind of poetry flourished in France from the ninth to the twelfth centuries.. the langue d'oc-began toO prevail over others as the literary language O'J southern Europe. professional minstrels who went 31!ound entertajning in the halls of the great houses). bore some resemblance to the earlier heroic poetry. One might distinguish between the narrative r~mance of action. like most of the European literatures 301:: this time.e Latin hymns. the chamon.of these works. or as a matter of fashlen. characters fight on principle. About noo a host of Provencal poets arose with remarkable suddenness.

:not romance'.el"en~stages and kinds 00= civilizatio».s~!i"oe. but a clHiC:1'I1Sly medievahzedandent world derived from SOI. A.. of Thebes. Virgll'~ Dido. AND VERSE MIDDLE ENGLISH PROSE A. These romances. which so haunted the medieval imagination.ry dearly in Chaucer's Knight's Tale. and mole also MiiII~:11"5 ~!'tHud. ~he Rum"" d'. 10 be used S'O eHeetively by later English wrners. . have sprung.extraordinary Elaboration the practice and ideals of courtly love. The medieval mind playing with the fragments of a lost elassical eivilizaticn is a. .rough which Christianity would COme to Europe. de I1olllTld: they have lost the old heroic note completely and t~eat 'with . ~r full treatment of the Trojan war which is to be the standard medleea] way of look ing at to be carried thence to Britlany by Welshmen who ..1.. not the earlier Republic. development or the.emigrated there in the ninth century.ifl'ey wrote his history.ving from the elaborate conventlonsof courtly love which began in the love lyrics of Provenee. dl. what we would today consider the mainstream of c1assice] culture. whose work :first brings the material together to make it accessible to later medieval story. If the Aeneid was the original source of the Troy story as the Middle Ages knew it. the latter deri. Dol Virgil'~.' it was the work of Dictys and Dares which developed the tradition. The idea of [)onl1ly love proved to he one of the most far-reachingand oae of the most revelutionary in ~ WlI:n the revival of inle<est in H.. as 110"Middle Ages 'knew it.. its organization had euabled Christianity to establish itself throughollt Europe oncethe Emperor himself had been converted. indeed.. thAn n great· 'poe!. The French romances dellIling with tlse "MaUer of Eritain" and the "Matter of Rome" combined adveutureand was imm the Breton legends rather than from the Englhh chroniclers. Greece. and . Dall1tepllt Brutus and Casslus. The A'mrld ".enolf. of Alexandler the Creat. that most of the later Arthwrian romances seem to.rthllrian legends wh. Contrast S!iakesp~ilIre"s IIttitud".n the Christianar.e"oos. but also the story of Troilus and Cressida.a~ m:u. was.. of Julius Caesar al1l~ol'lg others.h 1I. that the Middle Ages admired. ''i The "Matter 'of Rome"' included nut only stories..'s Reroidas. and was seen less as a period of history than . "Duke" Theseus.5 (J. ellen to Chaucer. Rome (also founded by a Trojan) was closer to them: its la.~ and "11.:ld the Homan world.lTC€S and traditions far removed from.. The medieval view or the civilizafion of Greece and Rome can be: clearly seen []'I the "Matter of Rome" romances. Ibe as than ti'Je E." ill spite of the fact that tile polttical entity so designated may ba\!'lC been Ileithel' holy no!' Roman nor an empir.1 aillItl)1' .e"ha:d real meaning to medieval minds in terms oE historical continuity betwee.SQIJ. came the His!'orill DestrucU. dealing with theadventures of iDdividua1 knights of the Round Table.1Ihe.mpir.:!1 basle . who claimed to have bcenacttlally at the siege and 'laid the story as eyewitnesses" Dictys on the Grec. nil! sense at all of di1f. a Full Latin version of 'the same material. But both Geoffrey and Layamen conceived themselves to be wriling hiloOtOry. its roads and aqueducts were often still III use and still admired.for UJ.. medieval Troy tradition is Benoit de Saint Maur. are fat rernoved jn tone frollit the GlurrJ.\ras the Roman Empire. A century after the Haman !if! Troie. fwm were treated 3. maIlY countries of Western Europe tracedtheir origfns from 'froja!] aneestoes. loW! poel3l.O!'[kedup in the late twelfth-century French romance.tory. 1(1. The story of Troy. they got not hom Homer but from the fourth-century Latin writer Dictys Cretensis (Dictys of Crete) and the somewhat later Dares Phrygitls (Dares of I'hrygja). Brutus w:ith Dante's.lich were cemmon long before Geo.l)'. which we have seen beginning in Geoffrey of Monmouth and Layamen's Brut. the Arthwian romances derive rather hom the French A. and. But ti. no ability 10 coneetve a radically different political." who conspired agamst thepotential founder of theemptre. medieval Europe was on the side of Troy. of course.. The "Matter of Britain" is coneemed with the Airthurian stories.islo:ry. fascinating aspect of the hIstory o( culture. <I French mmenee. and the term "'Holy Roman Empire. to be ". heroine.nguage was the internattonal learned language of thei.52 MIDDLE ENGLISH PROSE.e ID RGm~l!I t. The stories ofa historical Homane-Bdtjsh Or CambroBdtish leader of his people against the Anglo-Saxonin'lladers may well have been handed down in \Val. hut other stories of the ancient world..3 group of legends concerning Greek historical and mythological figures who were COI]>ceived of as feudal lords with their retainers: we can see this ve..ian side and Dares Oonthe Trcjan. more remote.s far as the Trojan war was concerned. the Homan de Troie by Benoit de Saint Maure. of the siege of Troy. Jlep . The "Matter of Rome the Great" represented another great popular kind of subject matter-the aneient classical! world" as seen tb:rough medieval eyes.OI11s Troi!':l!? by Cuido delle Colonne. ill the lowest circle of Hell. .e.r: thaI was admired.. Yet with all this there was no real! historical knowledge or historical perspective.rgil was mown in the Middle Ages.e :Roman Empire was the diVinely ordained machinery th.e Tool' . was essentially a medieval feudal lord. W. or econonue organization thau jheir 'own. This is Dot the world of Homer 'Or of Pericles or of Virgil. blk rather O"'.. like the Medea of O"td's Met"mGml.1' ~he IiML. here we god Dot only a 4 V." Stoic Lrilditi()'~ 1" !ll" Ile"'" i. il . The maJor figure in tbe.iND VEIlSE name of Charlemagne or one of his heroes. IMLlgh poPllbrly as It "wh"rd" ~.omo·"tie love sl(l("ies 'by the "tedi.d.

these: humble enrertainers-« who were soclally among.rt1y in scclal conditions. where central g.al1jllg in love. pages. the lowest of the castle aervants=often took on the function of court poet. That is a role 1:{1 be taken by someone else. always ready to defend them. always prepered to succor damsels in distress. Amol1g his retainers and hangers-l!)D there would be a greatv... When the aewProvencal poetry began to develop. jongleurs.Ibtlepoints of conduct: by these rules every lover was bound. This is not a relation between husband and wife: indeed. Thus service and. The slighlest favor the lady chooses to bestow UPOIl her servant is sufficient reward for the greatest hardship hemal' undergo for her sake. it spread rapidly ~roughout Europe.r conduct in love affairs. in theory if !lot in 'practice. The courtly love tradition implies. while far above the laud-tilling peasant. at first merely primitive mummers or aerobets. hi 'lledieval courtly love.ct. if at all. and involverl many sl. he must never think of ceasing to be the servant of her whom he has originally chosen.h adjudicated on subtle points of honor and the prope.e her uses language that is scarcely. to woman as the Virgin Mary. throughollt most of this literature it is taken as a matte!' of course that a husband cannot be the lover of his own wife. Perhaps the genealogy of the COUl:rtly poet also throws some light on the ideals of humility and! sen-ice so bound up with the new romantic attitude.ich be was the guardian. The knight serves the lady of his choice.54 MIDDl. commends himself to her when he goes into battle. l:ik. fantastic to see In the stress on service ill courtly love poetry some trace of the humble position of the original . And tl:io~gh the troubadours rapidly rose in the social scale unttl they included in tbeir number many of the lords themselves. would look up 10 their master and mistressas their feudal superiors.. He is he]" hurn~le vassal. poet oilers love to a lady he does not bother about her husband at all: his real rival is anyone who seeks to be alover of the lady ill the same way as himself The lover's conduct must coriforru at all pomts to a strict eode of honor. suffers any and every kind of indignity for her sake. Before the real troubadour poetry began. and she is his ljege . wherever the spirit of tile Romance litemhues ~ouched.ry who supported the whole group by their labor outside the walls of the castle or manor. in addition to the service of his lady he must dedicate himself to the cause of 'women in a general of this influential new conception of love between the sexes must be sought pa. when a. all idealization of adultery. penetratillg both lyTical and narrative literature from the Mediterranean to the Nortb Sea.Ii: form of aHecl]on (but le.ethat of a slave to :his master excepl that 'it is not based on outside compulsion. The ooncept 01 £. were nevertheless weriol!' to the lord of the manor and his lady: adventurers. and. B_nd ·if modern romanli. The lady would become the source and arbiter of courtesy within the community. superior to all without exeeptien. or as . He must.lSH PROSlE AND VERSE the history of European sensibility. There were. Love is service. Vllooing. Hitherto. it was the common practice Jor the lord to have about him for his personal entertainment minstrels. however flopeless of 'winning his lady's favor.!! love ls 3utomatical1y linked to marTia~e that is because the sixteenth· and seventeenth-century poets delibe!rate1.artly in a religious attitude which shifted attention from woman as Ev.eurs and beooming troubadours. if he were away a.t the Crusades or on some other aclveflhrre. the lever rm:. distinguishable hom that used in religious poems with reference till the Virgin Mary (and mdeed there is a. the pattem 01 ideal maidenhood. thinks only 01 her.Ist not swerve in his allegiance iF it does not rome. love between the sexes had been regarded simply as physteal passion. its own reward. squires. the origin ef all our human woes. or as a kind of madness. andi~ any of the men of the community were to love her. The rules of knightly behavior were carefully deified. as it were. "Courts ef Love.w·erthan that between man and man). One must remember that feudal civilization (especially on the continent. it is not. In the poetry ·of the troubadours a 'mew conception of love first appea:rs. the love would have to be expressed in a context of service and with his lady in a lillie. The . cleer reeiprocal Influence between the cult or tile Virgin Mary and the oourtly love traditton). tor it is better to· be in love' than to have no liege lady to serve. nucleus of civiJffizationof wh. p. courtesy were her rights anyway. and in referring t. the lord I'll the manor !iv.for two centuries. ceasillg to be m:ere." whic.dition while deriving from e that tradition. which has been one of the staple themes of fiction .e. and. however he may sigh and moan because of unrequited leve. trn.ongl. he loyal to her for life.lady. in fa. landless knights. though a more concrete reward is desired and sometimes obtained.ariety of male I)'Pes who. partly in the way in which such Latin writers on love as Ovid were interpreted in the Middle Ages. Dr as a combination of any of these three elements. Love is. However desperate he is. however she may trea~ Iliim. superior in rank to all except the lord hfmself.and marrying.y grahed the Idea of' cOllrtly love onto the domestic ideal of married happiness.ND VERSE MIDDLE: ENCl:.E 'ENGLUR PROSE A. represents a medification or the medieval cOllTtly lo .ovemment was generally less effiectille than in !England) tended to resolve itself into separate islands of social liJe.

The lady 'Wasmistress (in a literal sense) but neve.ture of England was French. How far this attitude was a mere convention and how far it bad a realistic basis is very diffi. eitlJer imported or domestically pro~uced. The courtly lover did not even wish to marry his lady.with Gawain serving as a (oil to Ywain and ~hetSgl. a eonvention. Mamage. and if 'the.ilil ba.oo:in. who were merely glorified downs.cnltl to say. who were more interested in the story than in the refined speculations about love and honor so charactertsne of the courtly love tradiuon. From every point 01 view the difference between cou. Of course to some the convention was just . the idea often seems to have been. are cut in the txanslatioill_ Those in.e relation between the sexes was not regarded by religion as' a virtue under !lilly circumstances. wife. The "MaUeli . It is clear. and after many valorous deeds becomes ]"f!Uinited'With mter. Romalltic passion in th.a:n opporhmity to discowse subtly 0111 the psychology of love"and it is to be noted that the psychological treatment Oof romantic love. would spoil everythililg.MIDDLE EN'GLliS.tra~sl~tions . and Gawain (3.B PROSe AND VERSE MIDDLE :ENGLISH FROSE AND VERSE troubadours. Such romances were produced in England as well as i:lIl France.of adventure. England wllo were courtly and sophisticated enough to. never achieved the popularity among the English that he had in France and Cermany. Lordship of land being the very basis of the system. and often . 'JJ:. though he sought a consummation of his love outside marriage. expected their literature to be in French: the English translations were for theirruder compatriots. who speoialized in what a. An even more cogent reason Eor courtfy love remaining outside marriage was that in feudal times marriage was so 'bound up wifn the inl:Jeritallce and transmission of property that questions oJ love could not be allowed to enter into it. We must see these Engllsh romances against the larg. TIlls.alization of the attitude 'Of the high-placed feudal servant rohts lord's wife. Nor was the teaching of medieval religion calculated to drive Ole new conception of love iI1to legal channels..of France. is separated from her. French was the language of the English upper class from the Conquest ~til the fourteenth century. There must have been something real behind it all. designed to illustrate the psychl)logy 0.had to be courted secretly (this explains mucb that is otherwise puzzling ~n the relations between Troi. the long speeches." deriving origillaMy bom Celtic traditions of Arthur . telling of the adventures 'of a knight caned Ywain who marries the widow of a conquered foe.of her husband's male followers. begtms with the medieval allegories of courtly love.e French romances combined sentfment with adventure.£ the speaker and the CoOUIt!:y conventions under \\l1wchboth thought and action develops. for. Marriage. The one English romance known to have been translated from Chretien is dille early fifteenth century YI. Sometimes the wllole bustness was nothing but a polite game. OtI. Iater age was to call "the language of the Ileart.~ora much less sophisticated audience.le ClwooJiBr. as we have seen. seatimental French literature .of French romances into EngUsh give us an mtereshng indication of the difference in social polish between the audience for works in the French Janguage in England and that for WO~~ written in. and during this period the "polite" litera. Tille Engli:sbmmances were thus on the whole shorter.rtly love and the relations between man and wife was emphasized. The English translators were adapting a Sophlshcated. would be out of the question between the lady and either the tronbedour or one . It was only later that the romantic ideal of'ove was linked with marriage and the passion was regarded as virtuous provided that it had marriage in view. mything connected with the disposal ali acqwsition of estates was a purely businessmatter into which sentiment must not intrude. This was condensed . of course. but we bow that life often limitates art and the emctlnnalpattera laid clown m a 'literary convention Is oHen spon~ taneously followed in leal experience. the' English translators as a rule left out the sentiment and stuck to the adventure. cruder.ckgrOI. then. lord bims:eH was awSi}' at the Crusades there was aU the more scope for the courtly lover." with its echoes of the conflict between Christian and Saraceni :in El. the "Matter of Britain.lrus and Criseyde in Chaucer's poem).English. Such a popll]ar French romancer as the fwe1fth-centmy Chretien de Trojes. It was. apl?1ecia~e the nmer points of courtesy and Wales . and more of a straight "story" than the French. therefore. and there was no encouragement by the Church to graft the new feeling onto any conveational vjew of domestic happtness.lfe of Arthu:r presidil1g dimly in the background). eharacteristic "Matter of Britain" story. was the kind of sentiment with which the medieval French romances surrounded their action. so eommontn European literature. at its slmplest. providing one great focus fDr the medieval Lion of Chretien.giDated among the aristocracy and had Li~tlerelation to the everyday lives of humbler men and women.lrope. that thls conception of courtly love that swept over Europe and penetrated its literature was one that orl. attracting to itself and to its presiding figure Cha:rlemagne folk legends and miscellaneous tales .from the much longer l'wail'l." ill the psychology of col1l'tly to understand what they reilly were. The .

Most m~eTest. which is one of the g:reat literary productions of the }.UoTlis mugh.ue~ dating from the first half of the fourteenth century. is the S"ubjecl fOJ a book in itself. for example. a strange symbolic fusion of Chr:isfiall ideals.Rome. I~ is written in the popular fhtrteen-Ilne stanza. jogging along with lmle polish.lch de handle it.m.' the palace. a.y few sutvIvillg English Charlemagne romances Is the northern R. of which the :lUst nine ames are long. who is the true: hem oJ .d perfect knight who eventually attains tile Grail (.lse he was writing for a less courtly audience (and i~is audience rather than readers. popular in England. and !:he combat between him and Roland. who wrote 'in French. romance.end. Or recited aloud to a! group). the only one to become tile hero of a whole cycle of romances. The versifica.ting him lalerat. e. .ing of the relative!. and lf he often abbreviated and simplified his French or"igina[Sbecal. the combat between Lancelot and Arthur.te example of its'krnd. the disco'l'ery of the love cf Laneelot and Cumevere. tthough he is the hero Q·f the admirable late' fourteenthcentury Eng~ish romance Le M 006 Artliure. those that deal with the Holy Gra. TIle surviving EngHsh "Matter of Britain" romances are a more varied and more interesting lot. to understand the materials with which the medieval romancer worked. or Tristan" which im .ArthWiian romance. e the collier learns who his guest was and is knighted by him. figure in the E.ue. erotic fashion.ail CoilyeGl1'. The English romancer was part o~ this wodd of medieval romance. The subject was popular and was treated more than once In Eruglish.<11'D1spect of the Arthur story not much handled in a English before Malor)" though Joseph of Ari:mathie. the doom of Troy" the pathos . it is one of those deriving [mm a French group dea~:ing with Roland's warfare against the Saracens and deals with II! duel fought between Roland and the Saracen Otuel.Middle English . written in Scotland and possessinga dlstmct ScO'ttish backgmumd. with Arthur's youth. It is perhaps misleading to look at surviving English remanee and .i.leprinted version of 1572.. 3JJJd Sir" Gawain arid the Green Knigllthaving impressive qualities as literature. hut of a comer..mag~natioll.Asrolot.d the Perceval leg.later times became perhaps the most popular of all. bnJ~we know that. but the story has humor and vivacity and immense gusto" "The story isa wklespread folk tale which bas been grafted on to the Charlemagne background: it tells o£ how Charlemagne seeks shelter i~ the finesl. and there are references in contemporary lite'rarure to the pepulariry of these romances. The rarnificationsof the Arthur story. the "MaUer of .ArthlJl" tllla Merlin.y. for these 'romances would as a rule be read.ISH PROSE AND YElISE 59 and StTathclyde and CornwalJ and romances as in the' French. an. all we can note here is that the romances can be grouped into those tha. mean that he thought of himself as in anyway livi:ng nn B diHerent world than that of fellow romancers.:j: and Gawo'i1l and l'wain and CIii'wtlin are able and interesting. represent-ed in El'lglish by a single romance.w:ith its sense of a lost world of herces. provtdmg a mold imto wMcb new notions of courtesy and honor could be poured. with tile development of its difEerent phases. Saracen.ll Middle English. kiog of Alexa. whic~ Is involved with the eharacter oE Merlin (Ie.of which tlse alltteranve A-Iorle Arthul". those that deal with Gawain. one of' the two English romances '!.gnity of Theseus=to see all this. ei~her ill France. More popular still was the story of Firurnbras.e is easily the finest).ally. is to get closer to the minds of medieval people tilall any pOlitical or philosophical history could take us. especially the last. feudal eonventioa. of~he survivmg manuscripi:s 'Of the Chanson de Ro'wnd (and the best) was ''Written in England. The oldest surviving English romance dealing with "Matter of France" is the dull Of. Fin. those concerned. and the passing of Arthur. the late fnurteenth-century Sir Firombms is one (If II nu:rnller dealing with this material. came by devious ways into the medieval i.conclude that that gives a representative picture of what the Eng:lish produced ilJJ that field during the Middle Ages. the grandeur of Alexander.nilii. who entertains him rudely but lavisllly w:itnout being aware of his iOientit.e af GaUes. the tweUth century." showing how the ancient classical hist. eleven in all.a. the .. and a deep underlying sense 1]£ change and fate.t deal with the whole story of Arthurs life (.g. Sir PercYDElI.{iddle Ages.entury and extant io a umqni. thed. a popular alld widespread folk ~ale whiclil became grafted on to' the Arthulian story in.).it is this Perceval who is Wagner's Parsifal). or in England. 'With <LIly' thing from five to sevea stresses. never as popular for one ofthe earliest. and the 1m!: four are shorter with three Oil' four stresses. of which Sir Gawain lind the Green Knight is the m[}st remarkable aad Ga!agl1J.of Dido. There is little really interesting "Matter ·of France" material surviving in English. composed in the last quarter of the fifteenth c. where he is lhe hero of an immense and widely popular proS'e romance. though more fully treated by {1:ieFrench romancers who developed him from a type IO'f the Simple innocent to the ide3i~ U1. there is the stOI'}' of Tristram. this does not. these that deal witb Laneelot. Tiil:is remance is 9. the Chulemagne cycle was.oricaLly mteresting as being ODe of the earliest alliterative peems: i.MIDDLE ENCl. la.lre' which deals with the Maid of . the romance entitled Le Marie Arthl.ndat least three of them-the alhterative Morte Artll1.

but the Gr'ee'll Kni.erprceted in the light ofa. He says Ilot:l:tingof this girdle to the lord. is Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. that a.iIl." The . but again he turns away the biow.ive him mv.'R5E :MIDDLE ENCLISH PROSE AND VEnSE Artburian stories. about the obscure .ferocity audreve. On his return 10 Arthur's court Gawain tells the whole story.ain'!.alshimseH as the lord of the castle: the slight wound on Gawain's neck is for the girdle which he took from bis lady ill order to preserve his !ife. but we must pass these matters by arid concentrate OD the literatwe as we have it. year and. high . but oaly wounds Gawain slightly on one side of the neck. He taunts Gaw. but the CreeD Knlght absolves him and tells. year and a day lates thekoigbt would come 2nd receive a. Gawain stays in the castle.f marvels is mt.UDDLE ENCLISH PROSE AND Y:E.2 volunteer from among the Knigh~s of the Round Table 10' strike him a blow witb the heavy axe be would provide. e strikes all the Green Knight's head.-night. Cawain and the lord. Hestrikes a second time. and others. There is real technical accomplishment Intbe hlild~ng or this difficult. buthe goes (10 further thanallewing her to kiss him.of the thir~eelltbcelltuJ)'" Of the oirigins of the stories of !be different i. The love of Tristram and. A story o. Each rooming the ~ord giles ofil to lnmt. and sophisticated work. day later to suifer a.wain. model of courtesy. Gawain" Lancelot. written at the end! . has great: skill in setting a scene and a lyrical. Its greatest document.t the Green Chapel. Sir Tristram. steps in and gives the 1:J. The story clearly has deep mots in folkloee the movement of the seasoas reflected in the dlanging face of natnre. dv~Hzed.simll:JJrMow from him. The story opens with the appearance at Arthur's court of the strange and menacwg Green iKnight~ who asks for . An. Then Ga'waill leaves to find ~he Green Chapel. and Cawain replies that he will not Hinch ag.falli!lg from the tree.age and courtesy is illustrated in Cawam's behavior. stanza. admits his weakness and reproaches rum. nobility. him to. have promised to exchange' with each other whatever they gain during the day" and ill accordauce with this bargaiD the lord gives Gawain the animals he bas killed in the hunt and Gawain gives the lord the !kisses. for the technical skill of the versilicatkm. humiliated. and Artbur comforts rum and .lrian . the first having ODe stress and Ute remaiIliBg. Gawain now say. and there has been much discussion.s'. which turns out to be I?I grassy mound nearby.s another of those independent stories which eventually became associated wi~b the . The third lime the axe lands. A year passes" and we see the earth cha~gjng from..ili. an unusually accomplished English 1'0mancer could male out of one It:lf the Arthurian stories when the particular tradition represented by that story had reached just the proper stage. castle and Ishandsomely entertained there by the 10m and l:ady. who strikes him with his huge axe. but def!. for the brilliant detail of ~he hunting scenes. and his bunting is described wi~h lively detail. the: knights agree to wear a green belt for Gawa'in's sake'. In the New Yeae Gawain sets out to look for the C. but.!e:rability. fom having leach three. 'With angry winds and leaves . and is tempted by the lady who wants him to make 'love to herr.1I in the description of the chill winter mornil1g when Gawain leaves the castle to keep his appointment a. But on the last day the lady presses Gawain to accept a memento of her.2. and he: accepts a: green . not as a. then to autumn. each oE which eontains a number of long a:Jliterative lines followed by Ilve: short lines rhyming alternately (ababa). and it shows Chapel.girdle which she says will g.ght g{lod-Ila~uredly laughs at his . . But it illterests the reader today for the grace and liveliness with which the narrative is presented. for the simple moving way in which the rdeal of corn. Knight.are amazed and and complicated development of the Grail leg:end.lish is remarkable enough.Ji.self bitterly. embodied perhaps best of a. s..s that Ile llas fulfiUed his bargain and demands a chance at a fair fig_ht.ects the blow as Gawain fljnches. Ca. similar blow. Gawa:w. heroic exploit but as an example of moral failure. Gawain Temainillg steady. winter to spring. and Artllllr himself' ffis driven 10 volunteer.Arthl. then to summer. Tristram.aiD Em Dincbing. much has been written. and finally to winter again. and above all Ior the feeling for nature and the movement of the seasons.530 lines of this poem are arranged U:I stanzas of unequal length. It is a.esyand at the ~See p. on the understanding. and courage.ail. too. The kl1ights . the genial humor of the Green Knight's last CODversatfon with Gawa. 46" same time repulsing her advances. hut the IKnigh~ H simply picks his head up and rides cB. Isoude {I5'eu1t) is older ill its: of"j~nsthan that of Laaeelot and Guillevere and i.keep the girdle.aill.. which he will require in. feeling in . is capable of many kinds of allegorical interpretation. fur the charm and conviction of Gaw.cycle. He meets the Crean Knight:. 'conversation wit~ the lady and. teUing Gawain to keep his bargain and appear at the Green Chapel a. He has a di:ffictllt time retaining his perfect C6ul"t. it is represented in English by a single northern romance. his encounter with the Creen.1ow. On the way he seeks she!terat a.{ithe Artlm:rian romance literature in Eng. the author also. one of four notable poems w~iUen in the Northwest Midland dialect in the late fourteenth century and presumably by the same author. as we have remarked.

The story trots oa from incident to incident: He fond bl be stronde. More tmporeant for English ]Dteratw:·ewas a fourth category' of which Jean HoOe! says tJOth. related to contemporary French and AngloFrench verse. who after his father's death at the bands of pirates is set adrift and comes ashore al Westemess. before he was ousted from his supremacy by Lancelot. and eventually reached the AnglO-French romancers who turned: them ~nto French verse narratives. regains h. celebrating popular English heroes such as Atllelstan. (Evidently the EngHsiJ romancers did not feel that a populer emu tradition about an romancers: this seems to be the on. the love element is not dwelt on. who goes to Ireland where he does knightly deeds. Jean Bedel's third category.Matter or Rome the Great.AngloSaxon. hero was worth the dignity of being turned il1~o a written romance ·tm1essit had aIread)'ilJttracted the or Anglo-Fren. Some of the most popular of the "Matter of England" subjects dealt with in Eng~isb romance seem to.8 essennally naive.. imaginaUon than fOI: 131. must be stretched to include a very miscellaneous collection of stories.OS:E AND VERSE ideal of physical and moral courage. the polish of the French. English though these stones are in origm and subject.. The vigor of the Anglo-Saxon. He returns in disguis·e to Westemess in time to prevent Rimenhild's marriage to another prince. the earliest of the extant romances in the English group.comp1etely replaced Gawain (even in England. . where Gawain remained the great hero longer than in F11Ince}as the central heroic figure the Arthurian cycle. and a certain declamatory tone which indicates that it was intended to be spoken. stories of these English heroes must have eome dO\i\'11 orally. as of Tennysen. enough tenn. and Hereward the Wake: we know of these oral traditions because they are referred to by the histerians Wmiam of Malmsbury and Henry of Huntingdon. the subject matter of these romances has been called the "Matter of England. and comage but an altogether debased figure. the fde i. who in later Arthuri:an romance . HC)m slays his rival. tells the story of Hom. and themagical folk strain of I:he Celtic combine successfully ill the poem. Hom. Elements from . verse accounts of the destruction of JerusaJem. Only Chaucer amollg medieval poets could achieve this kind of synthesis. only those of them which have French originals or parallels appear in English romanee. the shifts In the fortunes.That part of the "Matter of England" which achieved permanence in written romance must bave represented but a small portion of the oral legends.MUIDLiE ENCLISH PROSE ANI) VERSE MIDDLE 'ENCLISH PIl. and French combine in a remarkable way: . derive from traditions associated with the Viking raids on England. as the author of Sir Gawain appears to have been. . The Cawain we see here ~s the true heroic Gawain. and of course Chaucer's Knight"s Tale. eventually departs to prove his knighfllood Slid returns after destroying a pirate crew . of the protagonists. King Horn is a good example of the way ill which the English romancers left out the courtly elements of the French. Kil'lg Rom. The audience envisaged is ..'. poems on the Siege of Troy (of which the fourteenth-century West Midland alliterative poem. with Arilmr presiding over bis knights at Camelot at C~ristmas time and the spotMght on the Indi""idual adventure of one of them. so a Northwestern poet. after further complications whlchalmest duplicate earher parts of the story. while the ArdlUrian legends were centered in the West. son of the king of Sudene. There are lives of Alexander mnboth verse and prose.Iy explanation of the ract that. Sir Gawain IJnd the Green Knight splendidly preserves the older. Norman. and does so in a typical Artburian context. courtesy. The short rhyming lines give the story rapidity o~ movement.King Aylmar of Westerness finds Hom and his daughter embracing.i:ng. witlJ the interest deriving wholly £rom the sequence of incidents and. and.. aher living with the kings household.01 special !.ap· parently the AnglO-Saxon alliterative tradition survived ~n modified form in the north. Is father's kingdom. Only after they had been rendered in French did they appear in English. the .s is a convenient. wn. l1e'roic Cawain. The Gest Historiaie of the Destruction of Troy is the liveliest).) On the analogy of Jean Bedel's classification. Earl Godwin. londe. OHa. III it the E:oglish romance achieves full literary stature.ere Himenhild the kings dauglll_6r falls in love with him.for it is peculiarly English. The poem is interesting for its meter. aa elaborate and polished verse narratlve by II master. sometimes as translations and sometimes as liendcnngs of the version currently popular in England. and makes RimenMld his qU!een. Arl1!led on his. these romances are more important for the light they throw 01'1 the medieval. it is in short rhyming couplets wlljch perhaps show the old al1iterative line giving way before French influence or may be more directl. Apart from the las~ of these which is a special case. Scl:upes6:l:tene.itera:ry achievement. The Oawain of Malory. is no longer the model of virtue. This is a gmup of romances draWing their material from English 'history. was in a good position for uniting Anglo-SaxolJ arid Celtic traditions." and !:hi. and banishes Horn." . and the emphasis is on action and adventure.clearly a simple one. Eadric the Wild.

Ami ~e!elue 1'!3t anon. The s'tor). pbysique.111 henne gon. and with h[s wife takes him and his own live . A Psyn hit of herde And hym weI sone answa rede. Havelok and his two sisters. Bod wasful pat he herde "bermen' caUl'. Ne scholty 100. when Welsh. and skill at games and in arms. and there are several ballad v ersions. Havelok it herde.MIDDLE ENGLISH P80SE AND VERSE M. and Ang!o-Saxon traditions mingled in England. The story itself. GodriCh.FurtlJe:r adventures bring them to Denmark where Havelok destroys Goddard and regains his ancestral throne before returning to England to malice an end of Gooridl and gain the English crown as well. with its folk elements of the returned eldle and the reuni'ling of lovers. Norman. I>e erles mete ~.lDOLlE ENGLISH PHOSE AND VERSE 160 Will sarazlns kene. known as Horn ChiMe. There is also an early fourteenth-century North Midland version of the story in twelve. The thirteenth century. and impresses everybody by his beauty.line stanzas. and thus confirm his own possession of the throne. and kalde ·oft: [second kept watch ~or also] [very eagerly] [lyi:ngl [called] 'Bermen. And bi him ml)1lii 6sne!l ligge. when mental traffic between east and west had been stimulated by the Crnsades and by the journeys of merchants and scholars and pilgrims: who took advantage of the relatively long pertod of internal peace in Western Europe. where Coldebore learns from a mysterious light issuing from Havelok's mouth that he is really of noble blood and. who in the end is: so moved by 'the hibwatioms of the lovers that he f(lrgives them and has Ihem married. a story of Iove trtumphant. at the same time. where he founds the town of Crimsby. He forces the reluctant pair to marry. seizes power himself and imprisons Coldeboru. shows how a legend originally deriving from history can be overlaid by folk materia] to become an unsophisticated romance. m£lue:nced each other's storyte1li:ng. and they return to Crimsby." plans to marry him to Coldeboru. opens with the death of King At. ~pilend folk we schulle slon AlId alle at Crist.change from the constal1t Il. The story moves a~ong ill rapid octosyllabic couplets. luue vpoa. hide swi»el' Aile made he hem dun Fane l>at in his gate yeden and stode Wei sixtene laddes gOode. The scenes describing Havelok's activities as a scullion bave alively realism. one of the most success'fIJI) of the simple tales of advent lire in Middle English verse narrative. The mid-thirteeeth-century Floris an~a Bkmc. lIa\. The plot is one of many that came into Europe from the East through the Crusades bringing a syecial kind of imaginatioll with them.ati. [!he: central plot isa eommon folk tale which. It is.on"and brings a refreshing . cheers bel" immensely and Ilit enee puts the relation between the pair on 3. future: tMs. Another "Matter of England" romance which apparently derives from events of the Viking period but which also has been overlaid with much folk material (indeed. and there are accounts of popular sports and a sense of the ()rdinal')' people of England at work which give this romance a.helwold and the appclntment of Earl God:rich as guardian of his infant daughter Coldeboru. when Bretons and Frenclt. was Iii greatcentlJry of literary crcss-Iertiltaation.s~fe:ttifu. an angers voice announces Havelok's royal parentage and glorious.gblmg and courtly . with Floris following his H1am:heflour to the harem of the Emil" of Babylon. A brief quotation may give some indication of the speed and vigor of the narrative: this ls from the section descrihlng Havelok's life as a scullloa: pet o~er day hekepte ok Swipe yeme ]x erles kok. special interest and vitality. saves Havelok. became 3ttached to a particular hero late in its history) is HfWe1~k the Dane.i~e.'Ivede be bouht Of ComW3.children to England. blipe [qmckly'l [thcmJl [way went stood] In addition to the romances of these four "matters. but God rich. kills the daughters" and hands Havelok over to Grim the fisherman with orders that \1e is to he drowned. • . bermen. Til!>Clt he s-aw him on~e brigge." there are a number of mlseellaneousremances dealing with independent subjects. as so often happens.. But Grim. Havelok eventually takes a job as scullion to Earl Cod rich's cook. . Goddard takes over the kingdom been appointed guardian of the children of King Birkebayn. made aware by a supernatural sign of Havelok's royal birth. where Earl Goddard phil'S a similar role to that of Godrich. Then we are taken to Denmark. proper footing .~ This simple movement of verse narrative is a: pretty fair sample of the w.heflour is a pleasing rendering in rhymed couplets of a popular legend of eastern origin. He axede what iso3te OjJeT' to londe brojte. like King HGm it concentrates on the physical adventures and plays down the love mterest. thinking that Havelok is "some churl's son and no more.ay the ordinary folk of thirteenth-century England liked to have their stories told. Floris MIa Blanchefl&tlF' is a product of such cms.

the . but the stanza itself is not suitable for narrative verse. the earlier of the two verne renderings is by . which shews a diHerent kind of cross-Iertfllzation: here the elassical story of Orpheus and Eurydice has been treated as a 'Breton and in the process bas been changed into a light-hearted fairy story far removed in tone from the stern Greek myth of Hades. w. to show what ron be done in the medieval art of narrative. all the physical and psychological gObilgS-'OIl that the medieval audience so de]jghted in. In Flaundres.far Ihe better. Blancheflour is the daughter of a French widow carried off to Spain by a Saracen king. disguises. The simple.66 MIDDLE ENCLISH PROSE "-ND VERSE MIDDLE ENGLISH PROSE AND V£RS·g love-making of the typica.of metrical competence in couplets. though unlike the later. At Pop-eryng. wi The verse forms of the English romances are not always the happiest fOI" narrative. of course. Ker has said of Sir Or/eo that "one may refer to it as a standard. Another of the unclassified medieval romanees is the fresh and charming Sir Orieo. and the whole seHing of the romance Js Saracen. lively trot of Havelok or Sir Orfeorepresellts favorably the level . simple without being dull. Sir Orfeo was probably translated from a French original in the South or South Midlands of England SOOD after 1300. 81biyonde the see.f stanzas Is reasonably admit. the analysis of emotion. the tournaments. Ihey v3ry hom short rhyming eouplets to the complicated stanza of Sir Gawain lind the Gr:een Knight. As it was Coddes grace. His fader was a manful free. The four·· teenth-century Ipomadan is an especially interesting example of those dealing with stock courtly situations: a translation of an Anglo~ French romance. it provides all the standard material of the typical French romantic stOl'y-tbe noble knight falling m love with a lady he has never seen. There are two verse versions and one in prose. There was dearly a lot of experiment in versification going on among the English romancers. EngHsh in the French manner and trying out different kinds 'Of stanzas. Sometimes the handling (I. P. some combining history and folklore in one way or another. in the place. Sir Oneo regains his Dame Herodis=tbere is nothing about his not Iookrng back-and the story ends happily.1 romance and from the treatment of the Saracens as cenventional infidels which we get iII most of the "Matter of France" romances-for Floris is a Saracen (though he becomes S! Christian in the end). The setting is medieval. And lord he was tOf thaI contree. naive in tone but with the Incidents well manipulated and the story well constructed. . some dealing with stock courtly situations. with the Simplest elements and smallest amount of decoration. whose monotony Chaucer illustrated (in a six-line stanza of exactly the same kind) in his parody of Sir Thopas: Ybom he was in fer eontree." There are other unclassifiable Middle English romances on a grea~ variety of themes. The story trips along ill four-stressed rhyming couplets. it subsdtutes ~or the French rhyming eouplets one of the favorite and most wearisome of the English romancer's stanzas-the twelve-line stanza with rime COllee or tail rhyme. And all the time Mlddle Engllsh verse is learning to beoome as supple and assured and polisbed as the French: with Chaucer it more than achieves this. Floris' father. and the English translator has cut less of the passages of sentiment than he usually did. They were ]eam~ng how to rhyme in.faithful service. with nothing Greek about it: it is a rninstrel tale of a rescue from fairyland through the power of music. some dealmg with the patience and constancy of an abused woman.

to conelude that while the future lies With the former ~e laHer is more attractive and its loss iii bitter price to pay for materia] advancement.w indiVidual fabUaux.class which had no :plllce mit.conomy out of a natural economy.. iike the Roman~ Henan cycle. gradually took away the very basis of the feudal system by encouraging the growth of a. the knightly hero as fool. realistic. of which we have an early fifteentb-century English version.bey apparently originated in Nortllem France. . had grven way to the feudal age. also generally bumorous and satmc in tone. by courtly notions of love and honer than the more coaservatlve :feudal landowners. the Ge$l~ Boma. the h_ero as prudeDti~J merchant who." for the use oJ represents 'the Brst real cha~lenge. satiric tales nf intrigue.. is a collection of such exernpla.6cal!lt movement in the history of European culture. here we 'pause ~o remark only that the fabli. others a1!:ai!ll.e.o e:tempfa" "examples.REE Middle English Literature: Fa bliau. 1t. sometimes (as in many of tile Arthurian stories) oddly combined with more specifically Christian virtues: and when it was rendered into English much of the oourtfiness was lost and interest centered 011 the physical adventures." Prudentfal morality is examined ironically (as in 'Fielding or Thackeray) or is rductantly conceded to he !II condition Df progress by a novelist such as SC(lU who in his best novels weighs the competing claims of commereial progres5. were less impressed. a reaction sets in. The only English fablwl) 'fhat has survived by itself is Dame Sinfh.e are approachmg Don Quu:ot. tbey spon sored a boisterous.. reflected in Oermarue epic. the antitype of the idea~izing vision of cou:rtly knight or piOUS: eh urchman. realistic. sa. This new class. Iconoclastic. and heroic tradition. and that ehellenge can be traced in Us inBuentiial course hom Cervantes to Evelyn Wauglil. The fabliau is associated with the mew middle classes who slowly grew in importance as the feudalsystem developed only tOI decay. even when cast away on s. spends his time recreating as best be can the urban buslness wodd ~e left ~ehlad him.!!iUDDLB ENGLISH LITElIATUBE . town dwellers who 'carried OD commercia] .from France also came a type of short narrative poem. . often coarse. and Don Qub!0te. are anima] stories. of B~illie . Fabliaux are found in France in the twelfth and thirteentheenbuies' but are rare in England before 1400.ts ideals partly from feudal notions of service and honor.. .activlty of one kind or another. with. fabli'au is the product of the class which was eventually to destroy Ieudalism. its own concept of the hero. there are very fl'. W. H romance begins In FY3nCeas the entertainment oE a feudal aristocracy. Ballad THE COURTLY French romance.norom. When prudence and sell-interest become the duel motive power of the hero. though French literature abounds ill them. iii low tale of how 3. Dream Allegory. There ate many types:: some are indecent stories ef tOWDI life whose only point is: their indecency. The fate of the hero in Engli. This middIe-class challenge of the knlglltly Ideal was but one phase of a s'igni. known as the jablwfJ. desert Island. 'humorous. . others are humorous. when a more commercial civilization develops."hm~l.89 CHAPTER TH. priding themselves on bowing life as it really is and on refusing to look at it through the rose-colored spectacles of 68 sentimental idealists.s life. and fablio. Not all medieval French narrative was "polite. m European liteu:-ature to the notlon of heroic idealism as iii way of life.u and romance existed side by side. In M. the whole possibility ~f heroism ~ the modem 'World is re-examined. traders and. hastened !bolli by the commutation of different kinds of feudal service to money-payments and the growth of towns with their trading communities. is' a sign ~n the road which. artisans who lilO longer lived on the land but who obftailloo their food and their raw materials by selling to the peasants the gonds they manufactured. Some are made into a:wfUJ! warnings or otherwise turned lilrenture win emerge more clearly in subsequent pages of this history. drew i. The heroic age. led by those who deplore the loss of the "crowded hour ofg]oriou. who though It f~l is also in an oblique way admirable.. moralized tales For tlhe enlivening of sermons (such as Chaucer's Pardoner's Tale). as we have seen. Lyric. The deveJopment of 3i money e.~ Enghmd comes at last to Robinson Crusoe.tirlcal kicd of narrative which was.ever:. as it were.NIcol Jarvie and Rob Roy.idd1e Enl!lish llterature straMl~ely enough. mer- .

there are only three Middle English e:o::bmtrepreS'enlatives of that cycle of animal tales sometimes called the "beast epic. We de find the fabliau. but it provides an interesting window onto the medieval mind. with a moral application made at the end. A whole' cycle of the beast stories developed. except in their moralized fonn. I>e lisses in pe Bod. the presentation ()f men asantmels being itself all implicit criticism of man's claim to superiority over the brutes. The tone ofM iddle English lyrics. behave in such a way as to Illustrate a.. A rather different kind of interest in animals shows itself in !:be medieval bestiary. satirical tone of so many of these animal stories cannot have made them welcome in monastic libraries. ~red ~eik on the margin or a blank leaf of a manU5lcript . :fi. The coar-se. simple moral. which came to . the Miller. being: a popular rather than a courtly form of literature. fonn-indeed. was meant to be sung. 3S part of 8 lon$er work (two. others again are simply enterta:i. The fable IS a short story In which animals. The Fox and the Wolf is a lively. but there are only a handful of extant English fables from before Chaucer. like the ballads. Beast. one of the most popular of ~hese collections was the French Raman de Henart. is Middle English lyrical poetry.clergy would bave had no interest in !:hem. though it seems fairly certaio that there were other such stories which have not. the sofar unpublishedFer 81~d Geese. reminding IJS that so much ea-rly lyric poetry. Indeed. survived. much of which reaches across the ages: with a." and these are The For and the Wolf. and more readily appreciated by the modem reader.oo sorw [ walke with For beste of bon and blod. Beast: tales represent a \'cry widespread kind of popular literature. The . the Shipman. especi. elephant. and dove are dealt with in seven hundred rather crude rhyming lines: of varying ]ength. acting more or less as human beings. shrewd charactertzalion and a general lightness 0 touch: the story appears to have been translated from the French.c In ~e frith. i'! is in. lin Chaucer. In spite of the popularity o~ the fable ill medieval England. fOT example. of which no Middle English translation (if it was made) has survived. with Sfirited dialogue. eagle. tales were also adapted for satirical purposes: by haVing animals: act as men it was easy' to satirize human follies and vices. Whelher the Anglo-Saxons had any body of short lyrical poems is doubtful. turtledove. and Chaucer's Nun's Priest's Tale. Books of fables in French and Latin survive. panther. adder. Another popular medieval literar). and the fable develops' out of the beast tale In much tile same way as the exempt11m develops out of the fio. And I mon W3XC wod. the [iOIl. none has survived at any rate. presumably.10 MJDDL~ !ENCLISH LITEBATURE MIDDLE ENCLUH LlTEl'IATUl't£ 71 chant's wife is persuaded by a trick to allow a clerk to make love to her in her husband's absence.e Fables of the fifteenth·centlJry Scottish poet Robert in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. ant. D. and. they were not often written down. and each of these is found.the Middle Ages from both Greek and Indian sources. the clergy were the guardians of the written word Ihmugholll the Middle Ages. fox. humurous tale in rhymed octosyllabic couplets. in The Ow~ and ti2€ Nightingale). Yet reference 'to (and warnings against) such stories in contemporary rdigious literature make it clear that they were common tn medieval England. and moralizing. apopular form in most ages and civilizations-:-js the fable. These stories about animals varied eensiderably in tone: some are substantially j(Jbliauf: with the characters animals instead of men. The bestiary i:sa series of aecounts of animals. however. others are more pure1y satires. then the "signi6cacio" or moral meaning. "The Owl and the Falcon" and "The Fox and tIne Cat. the Beeve. however. their qualities and of the legends associated with them. spider.rstthere is the description. with its mixture of pseudoscientific descrtption. More congenial to the modem mind. hi the Middle English Besnary. the true custodians of Iiterature in the Middle Ages. And when we realize how accidental has been the preservation of those secular Middle English lyrtes which we have-often scribbled by 3. and the Summoner in his Canterbury Tales. with Reynard the FOll1 as the principal hero (or viUain).bLuw. Mul. who puts stories of this kind into the mouths of the Merchant. The work is of little interest as literature. is far removed from the more meditative elegiac strain of tbese few Anglo-Salron poems which can perhaps be called lyrical-The W~mdefer 01 The Seafarer. [must: grow mad) This passionate stanza survives in a manuscript with its musical annotation. ]]0 Middle English collection of fables exists. mermaid. the RomiHI de Renllrl and was told again in th. even when it is one of sorrow or complaint as in the poem [ust quoted. weader.£ animals. and it provided a seorehouse of antmal lsre which continued to be used In literature long after the bestiary was forgotten. a literary folllt which prohably originated in Egypt in the second century A. freshness and directaess that sometimes positively startle: or Fowle. hart.rung stories about the cunning or resourcefulness or misadvenlures 0. and comes from the Creek through the Latin mto medieval literature.

or the danced folk song arising from pU!re play and recreation. On a blank leaf of a manuscript in the Bodleian Library. In. Middle English lyric is found in the . Roweth enltes noer the land.King Canute rowed thereby." This proves at least that there was a song of this kind known in the twelfth century and regarded then as a carole (a song with a yehain sung by a chain of dancers.erved ln that species of chanson d' aventure whcre the troovere reports what he has overheard a woman singing). knights. writing his Gemma. Giraldus Carnbrensis.WeDe was .epe primerole ant !he. dllin srs" ("'Sweet mistress. The first record that we n.• Much of the Middle English seeelar lyric that we have consists of casually preserved scraps. The carole comes at th. Eccl.aiden in the mer lay. For of saynte ella rile. pe. the mOT lay.nt1y masculine III ongm and point of view. Welle was hire mete. .15 accompaniment to work or play. intoned at Mass not Dominus oobi. We get ollr first gllinpse of written French poetry when this process has just been completed. careful produc~ of a conscious art predmmna. Tho Cnut ching reu ther by. the end of the tw:el!fth century . Ant of tile holy Ionde "Row. develop~ in.n inspiration (fur the women 'Would do most of the 'WOJl"k . folk love poetry tends to give the woman's view. In.fol' which rhythmiC singing was a suitable accompaniment. And here we the:! Muneches Sleng.1 fulle.B t~e.esia$t1C1l (a series of saints' lives) at.hire mete. he himself composed a song in English of which the Chronicler gives the first four lmes: Merle sungen the Munekes binnen Ely. Its ancestry may wen include pre-Christian seasonal celebrations./lTUI\E 73 dealing with some quite different subject-we· can see now dangerous it is to generalize from extant Middle English ltterabne. presumably as a resule of French inillcnce.. as in the Hebrideaa wauking songs t~day). Maid. near the land And bear we the singing of these monks. though it does not prove that Canute was in fact t:1:uefirst Englisb lyrist.e of 8.orth. B. while the love lyrics of the tTQU1JerC8 present the ccurtly love attitude of the man langUishing for love of the woman.a. Oxford. The new development is recent enough for it. Seuenistes . even in French Iiterature.h a leader singing the stanzas and the whole groU!? Joining ill !lie refrain). th. being pres. unable to get the refrain of their song out of his head.e twelfth century. pleased with their sing. to be worked up by W.e!!l in the mar lay. Yeats many centuries later: kham of ITIa.01. There is no extant Englisll lyric poehy from before. Its movement from folk rut to the professional craftsmanship of the minstre] brought with if not only sophistication ot technique but some significant shifts ~nattitude-for example. it was certainly popular in England soon after due Conquest. some one noted down a tantalizing liule rhyme. •. ~ OlIrlande. rommunal work songs sung to the rhythms of spinning or threshing OJ rowing among other activines. tells the story of a colIlpany of dancers singing and dancing all night in a churchyard in Worcestershi:re with the result that the following moming the priest. the mOT Lay. have mercy".eml)' sang the monks ofE. who teUs us that when Canute (died 1035) was rowlngnear I'he Isle of Ely he heard the monks singilIlg and.lfistoria EHenris of t:betwelfth-oentn!)' chronicler' Thomas of Ely. seuenist fulle. Code sire. still to bear marks of its origin (the woman's potnt of view for example.e end of a long tradition of development whirib cannot be certainly traced.r the carole existed in Anglo-Saxon England we cannot tell. wit.eas of courtly love to provide most of the conventlons. pray fell In Irlaunde. M.scum but "Swde The chronicler adds that this and "other verses which follow are to this day SlUlg publicly in dances and remembered in proverbs.72 MIDDLE ENGLI'SH LITERA TUBE MlDDLE BNGLIS.unde. largely feminine i. W~t was mre mete? Peprlmerole antthe. Seuenys.fulle <lnt a d.av.ward through France .ly When . Come ant daunee wyt me And on the same bl::ml page we find another fragment: M. Wat was hire mete?The primerole Bnt the violet. y. yet the process of sophistication is sufficiently '£al' advanced fOT the new id. Wbethc. What begins as a spontane. The courtly love lpic :from Provence traveled Il.

sprillg.alt mceat-thE'se were the aeeompanlments of the medieval winter. excitement .. FJOm aile wyrnmeu my lowe is leDI And ligilt On A.0 sing.[mmJerindoors or found at way of {.ap ichahbe yhent..>e'prestelcoc him prel. of ab. Let and gras aod blosme springes Averil. together 'With a.gland at last and Inlluenee English poetry_ TbisFrencb Influence in~em:li[i!g!edwlitb that of Latin hymns. Ven foul SoOng sing'ep_ J.An hendy h. thech . we can see the whole picture more dearly in France than in England.~hJi 5'.l He m ily me b Iisse whosemistress is cold to him. sent thoo me my suclyogl .inj The hailing of SiI'rmg is often-as in the French lyric-the prelude to (he description of the woes (lithe I01l'.ber_ ~f Engl~s? lyriCS. Iele. which were written in that aeeentual Latin verse whicb derived orginally hom popular songs 3. pis Ioules si[Jge~ fer!.". but the welcome of spring fO.u. III am at h!.varieties of lyric or a more popular kind representing a development halfway between the Ielk song and the fully professlcnal ecrnposttioa.ence. I live ill love-'Ionging semlokest of aile thing. there is the Qtlbe. northeme 'Ivynd. Lhud Il !iTlg C1J C!:CU. mi nd when we read sud!.n the British MusEllln.. H 2253 i.ip b. l both popular and courtly varieties: ami other kinds. Igraciaus go! ] [I know] Another ·0£ the Harleian poems has the refrain : Blow..• (Refra.m.11:0 soldier songs of Bome.'.poems as: Lenten ys come wip loue I'QI.f ils own sake is also an important theme. 'fIle nightingaJe.s it i clear that the tradition of Iyncal poetry In English had by this time been well established and confirms other evidence that much has been 100stThe well-known "Sumer is icumen in" is fOllnd in a manuscript.raJ ~i.hall$Ol'I de mal mariee gIves a woman's complaint against married life overheard! by the poet (another example <of the older folk point of view-the woman's-surviving in these more poplilar though no longer foil lyrics). Nlile~ suete of n)l'hlegales.ngat dawn. Jehot fromheaven it is me se~l. Awayi! huere wynter WO. IJ·al.! Growe sed and blowe med And spring' ~e w.erily ~ Between March a:l!ldAveril. fairly elaborate mllsicalsetting: the refrain indicates the CQmle ancestry of !:be poem..ges the wades waxen grelle. .n-ddes roune. a diet at best of s.• ']I Or R similar theme heated wllit 11grea tel"mel rica] de:d.eeding cattle adequate'ly .at the return of the growing season after the bleak medieval 'winter wnhout adequate heat or light or food. Wh~n spray beginnet:h 10~pring. And 10v. dance song with refrain.74 dmillg the winter.5t. Irlli'resl. There is. The little f'Owl hath their wil Oil their Iud 1. wlrile the theme was a common one III medieval Europe: SumerIs lcurnen in. I>at a! be wode ryngep..E IENCL[SH LI1"EIU .. Ant wlytep ell huere wynter wele. an expression of genuine. iin their own IR'ngo "Ce?1. IJRE T MIDDLE ENGLIS H LITER . It contains a finevariety of lyrical poems.. gniticant n.1:l e traced. The manuscript was probably wntten at Leominster and dales from the first quarter of the fourteenth century.. b It is no! until well into the thirteenth century thai: we find any s.1ll in her bnundoun. As so ohenin medieval literature. could come together as well as how the technique of rhymed accentual Latin verse iduenced both French IlJndEnglish versiflcation. but different layers of llopl1istication C3.ouIIe.'TURE 75 to reach En. in which mueh of the best extant l\'liddle English lyricpnetry has been preserved.spring was no . song of lovers pari i. is to myn harte gone with cne ~pel'e so kene.. I wene. iII addilioon to the sophisticated lyrical courtly love.t 1240. Dayesajes in !J. cold.ou. Joy in .. the chanson d'allenIUl'e.Rlld love make their usual conjunction ill one typical poem: '!''hen the nyhtegEile :rin.1scHI de cllfoie. Yl'hen wonderoue spri ngep. There. where the poet tells of what happened to him when he went abread one morl'lling. !wend rous m~ny [warble} J This jO'yful hail to spring is found in the gre<3:t arleian l\b. Darkness. The goUa.inS cuecel .mere collvention in the Middle nu. when men had not yet learned te make themselves an artificial ~j. The more popular kinds of ~oetry cannot always be sharply distinguished born the more courtly.ep 00.' hryngep. ami we must bear them in. thec.' dispom1l rOt S. Wip blosmensnd .rdic poems of the "wandenng scholars" sbow c1eariybow these influ. th~ugh th~ir quality m~ke. we Find.

l:SH LITE.mans stella. and Eve span. the only one of .16 MIDDLE. ThaI ie mote come to the. including the merely . between these extremes we can find m. !. the couplet which the radical priest John Ball used in preaching his equalitarian doctriMle at the time of the Peasants' Revol~in 1381: When Adam dslJ. hi the xi iii re.d mari. Brj.among surviving medieval lyrical poetry.bah thou be ever mchard.ltplaining more eloquently thanal1). De. my child. Between thepurely conventional colllrtly IOVEI.s 81e1!o. A m:aid a oradell kepe." maier a/mo. springing from particular events or situations. messed mol sehe bel Atquc semper ui'rgo..olls lyric and the medieval Larin hymn can be seen most c1ea'r'ty in t~10se "rnacarontc" poems where Latin and E~gljsh are used together. 1i3t. natllrally. folk tradition. Earl. Sometimes the words of an actual hymn are worked into a macaronie poem: Ave . the King's SOil. the fourteenth century. thu sa to me.y men turned against Richard II: The all was sharpe. who is regarded as a trickster respcnsible ror misleading Edward. Trioclen shalt ~hou nevermorel (trick~!erJ [deceive] varyfng degrees. Mario. who fllustraeed the growing national feeling of England iIII his political poems: attacking the French and the Scots and eelebl"ating English victories over them. When it does appear in English it clearly owes the usual debt to Latin hymns and French lyrics as far as versification goes. Pray thy sane for me. of Cornwall. the slokke wa:s harde.ISH LITERATURE 77 blow. \Witten chiefly in Latin or French in England before the Iourteenrh century. F elb:: celi poria.any kmds of use of religious material." a mocking poemaddressed by the trturnphant followers of Simon de Montfort after the battle of Lewes (1264) to Richard. and the. for reHgiOl.flected in an tnereasingnumber of political songs and. historialll wh.U TtlBB MIDDLE Ii:N(. Secular literature is expanding its scope. with the catchy refrain: Richard. Spring and love are still the dominant themes-and with the sweep of the Petrarehan tradition oyer Europe is to be confirmed as a dominant theme tor another three hundred ycanr-alnOl"lg secular lyrics. That I. Leuedy. And ever s~e s[). Who was then the gentleman? (delved (dug)] The fourteentll century . flortheme wynd. I«m pia.lcr than the dRyi!. as In many Christmas carols and in songs of Mary and the holy child: This endris night I saw a sight.i"'itjes.I. purelynahve. too. Of on that is so fayr and brijt 001r.Blso produced the patriotic versifier Laurence Minot. But o. lyrics and the' simple and heartfelt poUtical pieces can be found every stage of sophistication. poems. blou! blcu! bloul A rather unexpected poem is at swinging. I _ In.. nd certainly the a briefest. is employed: for religious themes. an age when clerics were in ch~r~e of h?th aCI. too.ide range of subjects witli But secular themes and techniques soon begin to influence religious po~tr)'. humorous lyric addressed.. but its inspiration is. the king's brother. the fourteenth-century lyric lias become capable of handling iii relat~'Yely w.!lg Elnd said . and. it has a narrative basis.its killd . of stvlizatlon and polish. We know. preye thi sene for me.IS p~ems would be most likely to have been transcribed and preserved In. parens etpllclla.ellgl. The sterre on the see.~he relat~on between the Middle English . of which perhaps the most ~mpil"es:sive. is the grim little couplet summing up the year 1390-91 and E'. ENCl.III). end slepe: Tll~ medieval religious 1pic ranges from the simply moral to the devononal and even mystical. The poHtical lvric was another medieval form.r course tl~e commonest theme among sllrviving Middle English Iynes-especmlly amon~ those of the earlier Middle English period-sis rel~~iol\s.among [other] 'Lul. rre8ecting an increasing number of aspects ·0£ the life and thought of the time. but there is' also "cecasional" poetry. to the man ill the moon. popular interest in social and polilica~ matters isre.e of K yllg Rleharde.may eorne 10 thee. The only political poem in English which has survived in complete form (il also is in Harley 2253) is the "Song rof Lewes. Ie erie 10 the. .

in which even such an unpromis. tbough by no means so de6nitely. Some!hing of !he same distinction may be drawn in the Middle English religious lyric. Bishop Richard! de Ledrede composed Latin songs for the minor clergy of his cathedralt'ne go:.n a more subdued! way Is the Crucifixion di. dew 1:111 ApryUe that fc. ora deo sanettficata polluantur cantilenis teatral.ulle ye. but a litill braid. "Quiaamore la. reflects .is hEll:. For' be WJ:L5 a gud berdes boy. .i'lGLISa L1'irEII.• The note of Simple dellotion is effectively sounded Jnsome lyrics 0'0 the Virgin: I I nas never 0 tile stude thet me The evel spec. Blythe moder rnyht t. am I th. an attempt whleh was part of the Church's perpetual warfare against "song is of lecherie." . ne. with disgraceful and secular minstrel sollgs") and they WEn~ SEt '10 the tunes of well-known secular lYl"k·s. dem~liltsfrom Christian story are ~eated in a dmma~c :fashwn wlueh reminds one of the ballads.ethlng that was happening .ving John represent man and the WOOEr God: though these are Protestant poems. to awed celebrations of the' Nativity: there are religiOUS poems wherea secular CMns01l.eomplex and highly.). are eemmon In ~he fourteenth century.alts.etl!? Ic am ~oounant lsold troay for ouee mete. Clearly something similar has happened to this poem. turpibus et seeularibus" ("'so that they should not pollute their throats and mouths..1r. bowudyn in a bond. 01"' describing her sorrows..tttimJ. UpeD a blU he [short coat] !fie. UJe Latin refrain.3 communal emotion and is both less complex and less iiJdividual. and Iris lIagal.TUR. Iudas: "Lord. .as we get it.ividuallyrical poem while 1E1e latter.righ~ through the Middle Ages.l!." "Sene.8 rel. A.y sene witll glllde mode. in John DOnne Of' George Herbert) and the hymn (such as those of Isaac 'W.d TW}'Dt!i1" . 'lhst is makeles of the [peerless] . His tcrbox.eligious.stvlle IIIer his 'modeJ was. his pipe.en the: . Hi's name wns called Jill)' laly Wal. Lyrics in praise of Mary.!lyt . :s.: The shepard 79 II! .. • . illtEl'nded for the singing of a congregation. say. with a strung anti-Papal bias.nn som.u sbu. they repreSEnt in an extreme fO. ne shepherd But 'Cleria For ill his pipe he rnade so much joy.!! context" as in one with. III later phases of English literature we d.n KiIlg of a1lt kymges to here sone ehe ehes. Byholt I. model'.hou 'bel. in exeelsis' was 10 him said. The picture is complieated by the continuous elerioal attempt to tum secular emotion into r.LE E. as in this remarkable little piece: Adam lay t-bowndyn. • • • 'S~metjm~s:. as Ul the famous t:hir~ teenth-eentury ]. as Mlpestles selen '"'Woo :selUeye.poolles.alogue preserved in . (lime1 Fat im ~ :pipe he made so much u~ hoy! ~O)".tbU3 eorum poem as "John come kiss me now" is given a religious meaning oy h1l.MS Buley 2253: ~Slond wel.. As dew ill Aprylle lb!!t fulIyt on the g. the fonner heing a.. TURE descriptive and anecdotal.!de :If blithe sto:llde? Y se thin fE'!." metl£:: [place] Dramatic i.llolJl'!>.ngueo": there is oocllJSionaIlya deft treatment of the theme of orlglna15in and the Christian scheme of' redemptio'n.Loocl gon.TWI.istinguish between the religious poem !. .g tohis gird ell WEllS taid. Y se'!:hi n hoade Hayler! to the harde tre. sanctified to God.allat'i$of the mid-sixteenth century. His d(!. The most extreme case of the deliberate adaptation of SEcular poetry to l"eHgious pLlTFoses ls the Scottish Cude and GodUe B.tul""f! has been adapted 10 . ocmvoking her. carols in the modem sense of Chrlsbnas carols range from pagan celebrattons of' the lolly and the ivy and the boar's bead. FOWTI!l thlYM'aJ]." Up SIOO him. IOf balailis and of Icsyngis.ind.ganl He cam abo styUI! 10 'till: modCfes bowr. ." Some time in the fourteenth century. personal handling of religious experience so as to produce a.Re cam a!s:o. He hod not slepl.ot wi . ani wi nule ye ete? Wou sitte ye.78 MIDD. In him rom U1 .ng 01' a may(le.. Utnayl upon a 11m was laid. d'Ilven.E MIDDLE :EN'CLUH LITER ." which some have seenas tiLe ea1[~iestextant EnglishbaDad. 'Under't': He Illid on him his 'Iab:a:rd and h.

alld produced a body of allegorical Wl"iting which is of central impOTtam~e [1lJ European literature.6cial and. 'In tbat menard thele was :I 1r1l~1I. and the Avalon ('"He bare.enough. the wounded knight is the Maimed Knight.lI:ilities that produced them..IS:H L'I:rEiRATURE 81 I:howt he lUI 1101' !Clong.8Ilce. hym up'.ifferent way.t W~5' hanged with purpill and pall And in that 111111 was a bede.llglein mallY d. memories. tJi. Sometimes. there me.s. the keeper of the Grail.. and individmd sensibility. H'e bare hym into an orchard brown. as in the Corpus Christi poem found in an early sixteenth-century manuscript commonplace book-in the library of Balllol College. most a. a poem can achieve an unexpected effect. vary:ing degrees of sophistication.~ the medteval writer sometimes de.itl. Alld evil turn to good: .rity.. Thus the medieval poet. he bare bym UOlWTI. very different in tone but similar in general idea to the view Mill~ollexpr. ·11)!ght. of w' singer could have known.esses in Paradise Lost. which he had collected in the crail. where Adam. and the new introspective teadeney ~ha~ ChJflstlanity encDu:raged. Eliot employed in The 'Wasile l. often been pointed out.1 symbolic meanings w'hieh 1'.s fyndyn wretym i~ here book.en Ihereo n. Behind this ties a pre-Christiau symbolism.ning went far deeper than either the compiler oJ the: lBalliom manuscript or the modem fo.gical situations. as m the secular lyric. Indeed. slam have been found in modern times in the ora] traditions oEboth Britain and America. ston.s is essentlally a folk song.Alleg3'Tical illtewpretation of parts of Scripture ~ad already a long history in both Jewish and ChrisUanoibHca] commentary.ompact account 1)£ what modern critics: call "the 'parado:c of the fortunate fall. late Latin poetry tended to' use the old Roman gods as pet'So~i6catiOD!s of abstract qualities arid pSyd1Olo." and hag'ments of pwe·Christian paganism ..agin.doRI: He bam hy:m up. ther Hit was' hanged with guM so rede. with themes deriving from a variety of other traditions. overtones of meaning to his poetry. after bearing of the Christian plan of redemphon from lVUchael. Ne badde 'never our lady Ii ben hevene ltI""ell. By the lime courtly love appean on the scene the allegorical mode is ready to be its medium. the..e appil take ben. o. The origins of the medievalallegorical mode are oomple. mown syngyn e Deo grocim. Blyssid be ehe ryme [J -:n:ru.. in many respects the most .t and day.edymg day and. It a ppil !hat he tok. Lrn:-liI.ation of the Middle EngH~b poor and to give unexpected.rti. the classicalworld.. This is III skiLrfully wepeth both nigh.. whose hall is the Castle of the Cmil. on stained-glass windows. mingling themes of diHerent origins and at ditfferent levels. and so on. inte'restingly . Thewhole poem is based on the same set '0.hy t~a! heddes side ther stondeth e "'iH"-I' eh ristl wr. exclaims: o good"~s infinite. U9. and so at length we nave the a:l1egoricallJcm. In the medieval r. the medieval mlnd worked! naturally in allegory m a way that we seem to have lost.e.changed i:n strange ways in the process of oral transmission-these helped to condition the mind and the IDI. And ..E MI.M IDULE EN'GLISR. obhque1y re6ected through late Lana writers and a mass of megend:s a~d traditions. as ]13..DDL·g ENCI.I. he also dealt often in eonseious and deliberate allegorywho. induced men to objectjly thei:r mental and spiritual stmggles hy pers>c:miJytrng their desires and aims. The central symbolism of the poeol appears to derive from t~e Grail legend: Joseph of Arimarhea bore Chdst's blood.and. S.5.x. The Christian tradition.eligiotls lyric Chl"istiaTII themes mi. some oE the ways in which :religion entered men's i'maginaticm in the Middle Ages. was often wcnking with richer materials than he guessed. goodness Immense! That all this good of evil shall produce. the appetites and q. in coalescing with pre-Chnstian material whkh readied back into a dimly remembered world of symbolrsm.e was. Church worship. as mediated througb sermons." rendered in terms of lyric slmpliC'ity. By that bedes "ide mer kneletha may. its mell. that bed ther Iytln: :Et knygbt. I.. sometimes with startling da. ver- thai appll ".jgmificallcc he was unaware. Hl5 'WQ'Illnde bl.fR. These Iyries iIlu:stral.'). Therfore . & derki. And al was for am meaniffilg he knew perfectly well. Ne hadde the a ppll lake ben. And ill.ATI. And. of techntcal accomplishment.aHwitb materials of whose symbobe . Eo~k notions.

Polite. even with the . sophisticated love story and the Simple tale of derring-do. into the country. .making IS treated WIth great subtlety and effectIveness. with the birds singing and nafure looking her best. but l1e is out of sympathy wlth it.. the garden-these are the characteristic features of this type of literature. and the aJlegQ~ical romance-the alle. satiric.• however. is cast in the (onn or a dream: the poet falls asleep in an arbor on an. at least i~ part. There is a strong satiric strain in his writing which is quite absent hom the earlier part cf the poem: [ean sometimes gives the impression that he is utterly contemptuous of tile courtly love tradition and takes: every oppor'llIl1ity to leave the story and digrESS at ililordinate length cnphllosophic. The whole background of the story is courtly hfe. is the Homan de la Rose. and it showsliUle ability to handle the allegorical method with relatively late in com!n~ into English literature: it is seen in Chaucer and ln the poets that follow him.82 MIDElLI!: ENCLISH LITl'RATURE MIDDl. where there is Dothin~ to do hut dance and sing and make love. or mytholog!cal subjects. and the fine allegoricel fabric of Guillaume de Lorris comes to pieces in his hands. the hero is aided by such personified qualities as the heroine's natllra] kindliness and courtesy (bialaco~l. where the new psy~hoIogy of love.. The late fourteenth-century poem The Pearl. The lnfluenee of the .y work is quite fonnless beside the well-eonstructed earljer portion. Jean de Meun is still working withill the courtly tra:dHion. The inOuence of the Roman de la Rose. Tile most noteworthy allegorical romance of the Middle Ages" tlle most elaborate specimen of its kind and the most influential on subsequent literature. Of the three major kinds of literature we consider mn this and the previous chapter-the narrative romance. There is growing up a taste [01" somerhlng different both from the sentimental.urtl)' love. [ean's buU.s 'besides. but Jean is a clumsier and more realistic writer.abollt Eorty years later is quite differeJ:lltin aim and nature. a lite of leisure and good breed~ng. and the second. ami tile only One which underwent no development from popular '10 sophisticated. and the eonclusion wrirtea by Jean de Meuo . The poem was translated all over Europe.atioll. and mts characters and conventions are to be met with again and again throllgholll later literature. he awakes at the conclusion. May morning. and thehero's encounter with the lady in her different moods-m some of whieh she encourages and in others of which she repels his suit-is described as an attempt to obtain the "rose" ('slanding for the lady's love) which is enclosed within a hedge in a ~arden whicb is the scene of the action. The 'Story opens 011 3."fair welcome") and! hindered by. The May mo'(1I'I-' ing.erentkinds of literature produced in the Middle Ages. of which the first part (over four thousand lines in short couplets) was composed by Guillaume de Louis about 1227. especially of the Ilirst part. de la Rose . for which it proved an inexhaustible quarry.gorical romance was the last to appear. by Chaucer . The . courtesy. yet in many ways he has something of the same temper and illustrates the same movement born a courtly to a bourgeois tradition. Guillaume de Lorris' share represents the t. philosophic. the wandering. an upper-class audience cut off from the simple routines of labor that fanned so lmpnrtant a part of the life of the peasant and the yeoman and ICUI! 01 likewise from many ()f the oral folk traditions that Simpler folk perpetuated in their daily work. The ellegory in the first part is done with real skill and finesse.ue ~neg~ry or co. the dream allegory represented a HterntllTe of self-conscious sensibility. fear. In his attempt. Qualities of the heroine. The dream allegory is literature produced for a leisured audience. the falling asleep and dreaming. The story is told by the narrator in the [orm of a dream. We see in his altitude something of the temper of the rising class of realistic writers which the flew bourgeois element was producing at this time.rhyme: and allite:. an elegy in some twelve hundred lines arranged in groups of twelve-line stanzas. satiric. courtly literature is no longer sufficient 10 satisfy tbe reading (or listening) puhlic. scientific. for example. was enormous. and this dream fOI111 Is copied by later writers.story as Guillaume de Lorris planned it is unfinished. kno\:lln as the dream allegory. such as shame. and lots of other thing. Using both . religious. etc" are personified. Even more ~han the sophisricated French narrative romance of courlly love. more of a serious didactic purp<Jse.GIl'lal'l.stock property in later medteval hterature. He has more leamillig and philosophy. nero enters the garden through a wicket gate: tbts scene becomes a. The scene at the begu:mmg of the Roman de 14 Rose is a riverbank outside a walled gardem. His purpose is not to tell a subtle love story so much as to produce a piece of work: which is at once didactic. The dream allegory is sometimes used for very different pllTpOSeS from those which either of the authors of the Roman de 10 Rose had in mind. {ear and shame. the lyric. kindliness. if it was netvery "polite" in its earliest.earl has little else in common with l1Ie R. hom which. In England i~ w~s translated. was wr:itten by Jean de Meui1lin the vears 1268-77. than the Iypical fablitlu writer shows. and the.Romal1 de la Rose . August (not the usual May) morning and has tile dream which forms !:he substance of the poem.leas I learned. This was essentially a "polite"literatrue from the beginning: OI.alternative or simple narrative romances of wonder and marvelous action.E ENCLISH LITERATU1\E influential and tenadous of the diUI. The '. over twenty-two thousand lines. gennillal stages" it was at. .

mood.alp!? lO.of Ch~5t. date. the hero. The dating. a llhmmg maldea messed in white Wlith ornaments of pearl Sbe is the lost chiM. Scandl1L3Vla as well as Bn~am. Oral transmission is the very essence of balladry. cross fue river.Spain. also Sir Gat. In .al)' form as used to be thougllt: it is far :removed from the heroic epic. aU four poems are of the same date 'and are lIiI tlhe seme West. . the affairs of that group. elegy and sometimes in wonder.stori~~16gure: there isevidenoe ofthe existence of l)'ffies of Bebtn Hood In the :fourteenth century. . He cannot. and some of them deal with specific hlstorical events which too~ place m the' sixteenth century and late!".11. he falls asleep. something must be . I~an.he :Ei£teentb century and the others are known on~y in sixteeath-century ~~ts. they are sometimes asSigned to the same alltl:Jor. are technically . develops in the late MiddleAges. inde. breadsjdes and. There ~s 110 h'ace of the ballad anywhere in Europe until after the great mIgration 1> had long been eompleted.The: Robin Hood balads date from long after the period to which.MIDDLE EN'GLlSU: .guage 'Was being exercised" developing its literary potentiialitie5. b. whole.~tel:S . two are of .inand the Green Kmght. the grea.priate bibliCilil stories. and Cleann.~akes to find himseH ag~m 1.of the Robin Hood ballads that we have. ecstasy of joy aad hmging thepoet agam. the arbor.wd about another kind of it is the product anonymous literature which was~o have such 3. class . of ballads is therefore not easy: we can say in general that ballads. PatiefilC€.?f 8. He grieves at diis. From the mid-eighteenth century onward.lIt he a. The poet shows real de:cterH:yin lland1in. resIgn himself to God's will and but .lling ..thougI'l this is mere . ness. Some oJ the most impressrv. The ballad.e many more handle t1JeiI tongme'with cunmng and fleDhl1ity. who wed before she was ~o yelliI'So'id.and he is speec:hless with wonder and fear. which celebrates III hero of the whole race.of versmcatiO:ll. is a yeoman hero. but the moot anesliDg qwility is the' rtehness of eeler and theprofuslon of _imagery.ero~ and. more beautiful.ictme in GermaIIIY. and Bnallyhe sees Ler in a procession ofvi:rgin brides .t :mafority of the ballads which we have am not medieval. attempts to cross. Lookmg in vain for his precious pearl williout 8. whatever the origin of the ballad-sand the older view that it was the spentaneous communa] ereatiou of "the folk" is Dot now maintadned in its primal soo. 8Ild in a marvelous dreaen finds himself in a land of great beauty WIth a bright river running by. or witb historical ar semihisterica] events. which are orally transmitted IDm'ati'vepoem. the EOgllshlan. e~ly h altered and "improved" the texts which they got from oral recitation Or wriUen sources. in most of the versions whi.s hUl therive[ can only be.iollspoel:ry for .oo. and.collll.ore we leave the v.em€.and early seventeenth century was the p~riodJ produetive ~ most of ~e ~~Mads ~ which we have 'record. but she warns him that this callnot yet be: since AdOOll'. cro~edl in death. but there caD be no doubt that the !ballad flourlshed in the late Middle Ages. and. but is told to be pa1j. She speaks to hmt. led by the Lamb.. to be complete: here 'is a m'aster who can handle it in verse as the ablest Freilich poets handled their language. and if. Nevertheless.njecture.e&s (i.o in~ernation.tryis even. Midland dialect. being still at this stage a purely oral literature.. asa rule. they are-supposed to refer and have little if amy historical has:is: Robin Hood. of sensilbiruity which makes The Pear se Impres.ish as a Htera:ry languag.its sustained emotional qua~Jty an!Cll:ec.•not fol. allSwe.LI:'!1"EIIATURB MIDDLE ENGL[SH L·ITER. purity). seventeenth century. ~he ballads.?sion.sive. }i'l"mlce. ~ut sees o~ ~h. In the. IS not so pnmlbve a hte:r. fu ad.rmg his questions in detail. and sevent~Dth centuries and later.e. it is the product of a settled group and deals MDl)' of anonymous medieval writers to dwell on the first great kno~ poet of Middle Engllih. C:O~bined with a wide emotiOOlw ra. in fact. and so has not survived in its earlier forms. it was not hkeljto be written do'WID.omlcde theology W. and emotional: eHect The: we now have.:. interest in the recording and oo]Jectilllg of balladsproceeds apace. the 'rfV~ to be with Uris glOriOUS . All this while. songbooksmak. sad yet l'esagmed~o the will of God.g a difficuJt rhyme scheme and in arra:nging a cornplc'X pattern :in the poem 8. to:ne. were 'known ill. W..ATORE 85 of that .ere learning . great effect on Eng.e have. however" and explains beT position in the New [erusalem. where the .e' six~eell:lth.k song or with themes derived fil'om the romances. the fourteenth century and popular tn the fifteenth. or with popular Class heroes.cl6.Pati.e. frem Ute sixteenth.. the rehabilitaticn of Engl. but the early coUectol"S. .5 a.pr0duced. Crean. Tile poet IS IsmeiU1ting the toss of a . She then tells him much aboot the means of salvatlon.· lish writing centuries later-the baJJad. we cllln see that the ballad.e other side. not more than a total of fourteen 'ballads survlvmg in marsnscripts or printedtellts' earlier than 1600. became.blll'icalmastery..eMil stands alone. but .:e E~ok at the balla~ p. which discuss these moral virtues and ilJustrateth~m by re:te. ~d English . The Pearl stand. even th(]o:ne in Middle English relig.lIittle~irl. WIth Chaucer.s dealing either with themes common ~.nge which enables . ~e poet attempts to cross the river to be with herr. . · lack the speciallldnd.alliterative revival (01: surv'ival) which .plicity -the~r original life was that oJ sung poems whieh were sometimes improved and sometimes eornrpted by generations of singers..Bllt bef.e ballads ded ~th fo& themes cora- .Ium tod. while dt.

art has pomted out.strelsy of the Scottish Border accounts similarly for the belief that most Scottish ballads come from the Borders: the majority. The ballads are often thought of as peculiarly Scottish. When word came 10 thecarline w~c That her sons she'd never sec. Sat at the king's richt !mee: nSiJ-Patr. "The Wife of Usher's Well" of the third.86 MIDDLE ENC. as in the well-known «Lord Randal" and "Edward. And signed .essing the personality of thenarrator. dear. And sent it to Sir Patrick Spens Was walkilJg on the 513i1ld. betrayed lovers." or deal with deeeptton. Alid I'U come back arid enmJort thee. Dunlermline Spens Is the best saiJru That sails upon the sea.lIoJ" To sall this ship Il'£ininei' In these last two lines the sudden shift to a picture of Sir Patrick Spens :-valking on the sand-comparable.LlSB UTERATURE MU)DLE ENCLISH LrTEBATtl. The ballads are narrative poems which.tepping in." ilie latter.d but one true-love. when Mellelaus gets. either real events in national history or reeojlections of local events which have often been modified by some fall( theme. Hodg. the old man of the sea. "Haud )lour longue.. week from her. J. in fact. series oE terrifying transfonnations Itlus old fo]k theme is found in the Odyssey. my doehter Let all ymu mourning. because the enthusiasm of Scottish collectors gath. where ii is .ely ane. C8Inny cam he s. Or the baUadmignt create an atmosphere of violence or tragedy or honor lor its own sake."hen ward came back to the earline wife Tha! h:e:rthree SOilS were gane. . information from Proteus. Another important category 'of ballads deals with historical events. and "The Unquiet Crave" with its plaintive openiillgThe wind doth 'blow today. <I They ha. M. been A week but oo. my low. (The popularity of Scott's Min. completely sUpPI". my docbter dear. to the motion picture technique of "montage -is characteristic of the ballad method." for example. Drinking the blood-red wine: whalll wr"U I get a guid $3.RE Up and spak an eldem knicht. real or imagmed.. . IflU)ld glave she was lBill- of the fourth. these g. A week but ba. they have been found in all parts of England as w'en as elsewhere in Europe." The repetition of the questions in "Lord Randal" shows the same ~Ort of thing worked up to an extraordinary pitch of tension. as NIT. "The Battle of Otterburn" and "Chevy Chase" represent the fonnel and "Sir Patrick Speas. • 87 mon to many nations. [moan] '111C3>ry' Ihe dead cotp5i1!to the day. Repetitions often have something of an incantatory effect in the ballads: Th.) Some of the: best extant ballads deal with events In Scottish history. I never fla.rst. holds him fast tllroughout a. What need ye mak sic heavy mene? "Haud your tORgUe. but. good example of the: li.ered so many Scottish examples. foUowing.rely th roe. his Instructions. be." The ki. "The Twa Sisters" of the second.clm. by holding. And a few small drops of has written a braid letter. with transformations and witcbcraft and the intrusion lnte human affairs. In the dialogue 'in "Lord Randal" and "Edward" the lack of background explanation enhances immeasurably the dramatic effect. fast to him throughout his many transformations). the hem has been carried oII by the fairies and is redeemed when the heroine. C. but what makes them ballads is the treatment rather than tbe provenance. Other dievices used in the ballads to increase dramatic effect: indude "incremental repetitjon. the repetition of one line from the preceding stanza with an addition leadil1g closer to the climax: JD and oome her la~her dear. o The stanza is generrally the simple "ballad meter" of alternate fourand three-stressed lines.erterally deal with a single sUuation involving revenge or jealousy or a ret:umf:rom the grave or simply the finality of loss" "Lamkin" is a. of the world of faery: in "Tarn Lin. come from Aberdeenshfre. '.ey hsdna been a week from her. Says. though sometimes (as in "Lord Randal"] all the limes are fow-stressed: the music of the ballads." that with his hand. Some deal with the supernatural. or the testing of love. tell a story dramatieaily by movmg-<ohen without any specific indication of the tTamHjon-from one incident!o the next: The king sits in. in fact.

together with the good fortune to have opportunities of knOwing men inall ranks of society. It was a happy accident that the man who had the tedinical brilliance in fhe metrical handling .bellgb. Piers Plourman GEOFFREY CRAtlCEII. Bill al the gates 0 Paradise.rlin wi re'$ lruee sons came bame.Ilelfibility. and the urban life of . &! . in [act. they can make contact with deep-seated folk themes with quiet power.ritanicaUy censorious either about popular corruptions OJ literary polishing-both fates are part of the destiny of the ballad. his visits to France andlltaly on Government service gave rum an opportunity of comiog Intn direct contact..' affair) and so helped to fertilize Romantic and later poetry. with French andItalian men of letters and enriching his knowledge of Ute literature of those countries.. of French or Italian: he bad the Earopeae conscfousness.1 once the equal. 89 . the English language and English literature grew up .affairs. He had the relaxed. The ImcaIll1Y power of the best of them remains something to WOIllder at. and largen. it is the .ffects of rhythm and e. to enable him to render in El'IglJsh the dominant themes and attitudes of European literature and d the same time the English national consciousness 'to allow him 'to present the EI1J. the int€rests. that simple statement about the birk to say that it is an oblique way of saying that the returned sons were iu fact dead. irony. and a polish which made it a. a rouch crude]. the most widely ranging.Many of the extant ballads are pretty iOugb affairs. and indeed one of the most skillful and attractive of English writers of any period.ew in ~ke nor clitch. as aliterary language. The ballad at its best can do this with extraordinary . not earher. only more continuously and arrestingly. of elementary verse Imm and mastery of some subtle e. and the Dlost ualversally appealwng of medieval Englisll writers. or Scott. When nights are llUIg and. The second stanza of "The Wife of Osher's Well" is a good example of this controlled suggestiveness: It Iell about the Martinrnass. Nor yet in any s. The ca. since il emerged after the Conquest in lough popular render~Dgs of French romances was now complete.. He had the metrical craftsmanship to handle English with a subtlety.1islu scene as it had never been peesented before. the mixture of Simplicity and cltHmill.'The gradual process of recovery and refinement which the English language had been undergoing. That bille grew faim' eneugh.g. gination of later poets such as Coleridge (not Wordsworth.. and amusement.of langllage also had the 'breadth IOf view.88 MIDDLE ENCLISH L'ITiERATIlRE known. With Chaucer. And. milk. who wasborn illl the early 1340's: and dmed in 1400.! oj' It is not enough to explain the jriss. Though its deve~opment belongs to' the later Middle Ages and. the diplomatic me. And theis bnts were G the hick.Iast ilitetary species to draw nousisbment from what might be called tbe anthropological past: it was this element in :it that stirred the. he was trained in the courtly (If a. and there is no point in heing pu. He was. liUed by both natural geniuS"and the circumstances of his lire to become the most technically accomplished.rience of life. marks the brilliant culmination of Middle English literature. but ballads are by nature subject to change.x. others have been unduly relined by such collectors as Bishop Perc). OT to explaia the magical OJ other signIficance of the birk (the earliest of English trees to come out in full spring green): the touch of quiet horror derives from the balladist's baying made contact with some deep stratum of human feu. like some of the lyrics we discussed earlier.pressioR. quizzical attitude that let him contemplate thevaneties of human nature with a combination of sympathy. Itneither gr.on that the reader gets fr.. thekaowledge. who looked to the printed broadside ballad. [stream] [trench) CHAPTER F' 0 U B. too. is a better gwde to the stresses than some of the printed telds. kind we rarely get in "art" poetry. tile ellpe. Chaucer" Gower.

where 111esleeper wanders into a garden on a May morning. of which neither the fresh vision of Guillaume de Lorris rim: the encyclopedic and more cynical mind of Jean de Meun was capable. the psychological and social world of his time.t him into contact with the work of Dante. Lucan's Pharsal'ia. and Petrarch. G. he knew as well as: a layman could. vj]lainies.h. translated) the Romance oj the Rose.e~dsthan the formal garden of Cuillaume de Lorris. The waking dream. popular beliefs to produce an attltude to man and the world which is still an important part of the Western traditiol1l. Jean Froissart. to say nothing of the Vulgate. P 11:1\S. As he developed.simpl)' an Indication that Chaucer Is working In 3.f Italian poetry. religiOUS.air . l theology. astrology. in turn. presented in narrative frameworks and with picturesque detail which owe a eonsiderahle amount to Machant and others. Pope Innocent Ill's De Contemptu !'I>h. philosophy.l1CE. its literature -Chaucer knew.nation. gay with blossoming flowers and the s:illgillg of birds. with its emphasis on "gentilesse" and "franchise" (llobi1ity and generosity of character). to embody his great secular vision of his fellow men m brilliant literary form. and he was thoroughly familiar with (and. and this widened and deepened his literary resources and encouraged him to seek wider 6. the Midd1e Ages knew of tIle classical world-its history. ElIiusSyrak'" (author (If Eeclesiasrlens] and "this Jew. brough. From an early stage he was free' of a wider wodd of books than is suggested by any of these categories. vanities.itefshm~.and in 1378. derives from the Romance of the of Cicero. whieh turns out to be also the world of our own and e. he was to draw on more and more aspects of that tradition and to make a more and more spedfically English use of it. with vividness and cunning. The ritual dance of an idealized courtEy life. its curiously transmuted image mingli. ahsurdiUes.• That he that wroot the Rom anoe oJ the' ilose Ne koude of it the beautes weI devyse- and quote to each o~her "[hesns. gives way to larger concern with the fundamentals of human character and behavior and this.B. 'to present a great concrete embodiment of the moral and tbeologicaJ universe in which medieval man lived.OWEP." "Italian. Boccaecio. the Tl"Oy stories of Dares Phrygius and Dtctys Cretensis and of later writers. must be remembered.g works.. Classical myth . His visits 10 Italy ill 1372-73.ions.. ference to his "French.e in Chaucer's early poetry. with heraldic colors and shapes ami a highly wrought surface'ls. He knew and drew on the poetry of Cutllaume de Machaut." and ··Englislr" e period". but is nnw treated with a sophistteanoa. conventionally symbolized by r. Kin. Beethios' De Const1LatJoTie Phiwsopldae (whkh lie translated). its mythology.I:ronomy. 'This assorted reading blended! in his mind.mcli (which he . European tradition. to produce a world of the imagIDDaHon in which uP~t1toand his: queelile.. moves into eontemplatien {both deligbted and iromeal) of the fo:ibles. He used the intellectual and imaginative resources of the M iddle Ages. Proserpina. But the debt is . as Dante di. and Eustace Deschamps. and there encounters the characters who tell him their 10'118 aHairs or lament their misfortunes in love or act out their story. the source of so much fourteenth-century French poetry and especially of Machaut's sophlsticated exercises in 'the conventions of coortly love. ii. scholastic categories. Guillaume's briglllly pictured characters dancing in the garden and Jean's learned misogynistic digressions ming). Chaucer-to whom. in the latter part of his poetic career.. The dream allegory had by now become the standard method of entering into a :poem. at least in part. But it would be a gross sim. with patds. later French developments of it before moving Ito the deeper seriousness o.pre. and civil servant (Iot Chaucer was a bourgeOiS with courtly connections and thus bad the freedom of at 'least two social worlds) brought him into contact with people of all ranks and professions to provide increasing opportunities for his clear-eyed observation of his fellowmen. GOWER..very other time. as it did in the minds of his contemporaries. the everyday vtrtues and vices. so were Virgil's Aeneid. If the liom:ance of the RO:l'e and the poetry of Machallt and Froissert and Deschamps were important to him. this Salmon" (Le. and much patristic !. not. and it is not tbe least testimony to his gen. of men as he' knew them. a formal manipulation of standard properties. and a mlscellaneeus assortment of medieval scientific.plification of Chaucer's literary career to trace i~merely from an imitative formalism through a greater seriousness SInd Bexlbillty to subtle and realistic psychologic-al observation. French was: a language as Familiar as English-early absorbed the courtly love tradition as represented by the somewhat overstylized French poets of his own time.thol!lght.d.ius that his poetry gi'ves us the richest picture m English of how the ancient wodd of Greece and Rome appeared to the medieval imagi.tiC. what it knew 01 a. the Latin Liturgy of the Church" vast numbers of medieval romances.apparently also translated). the color. and al hire faye rye" can meet in a walled garden made by a merchant-a garden So [.90 CHAUGER. Maerobius" commentary OEi the Soml1!um Scipwn. but to bring alive. And all the lime his career as courtier man of affairs. PLOWMAN CBA. and exuberance. PJl!!RS PLOWMAN '91 sympathy to enable him. vltality. Chaucer was thus brought up OD the Bose tradition and OD.g Solomon). What..historical. and entertail'lin. medicine. Statius" Thebaid. Ovtd's Herofdes and Mefamorphoses.









I'L,OW·M ..\1\f


transposed .m.tQ' the k,ey of medieval foMore and seen. ag~sta background of biblical story and In all ethical COllte,,:t wJ'lIch includes the courtly notion oJ "genl::ilesse," Christian. ideals; of virtue, and. a robust acceptance human weakness and ahsmdJi.t>: t?e fabliati . trad ition-tllis is typical of Chaucer and! of the civillzation for whieh he spoke. In this sense Chaucer is fourteenth century, and his "wor~ gives us a vivid insight into the fourteenth-century w~lild; ~ut III his art he transcended the hounds of his time, so that he illuminates his background rather than allows his b.ackground (if we have Iearaed it) 10 illuminate him. We need make no historical allowenees for Chaucer at all, for he fully jllstifies his picture 'of the world by the literary uses to which he [ntis it. He i.s perhaps the .first English poet blown by [lam e for whom this claim ean he made nmesen.redl!. " Chaucer's first, narrative poem, The Book of the DUI::Iies;i., IS In the dream allegory convemier, and draws considerably on Macbaut. It was written at the end Oil 1369 on the death of Blanche, Duchess of Lancaster, to celebrate the dead woman and console the bereaved Dulte:' in a dream the poet sees "a man in bla.k"'ill a wood, who tells him C)f his courtship of his beautiful lady and ends by revealing that h.i.'i present m Olinlin.g. is for her death. This iIDgeni.O us adapla.ti~n of .. the dream allegory fGr the twin purposes of eulogy and .elegy IS ~lready strnining out of its cenventkmal Iramework: the mterest lies lessin the celebration of the dead duchess than in the life given to the poem by the current of psychological cliriosity that runs throu~h it The octosyllabic couplets move easily enough, t~'()ugh w.ithO?t the combination of control and 'variety that characterizes Chaucer's maturer verse, and they begin by preseClttl1tg' a picture of the poet suffering horn insomnia. reading the story of Ceyx and .Alciooe ~in Ovid} to while away [his sleepless night. He tells the stO'IY, wl~h speed and economy, lingering only 011 an occasional detail that will add vividness, as wbeD J~no's mes~el'lger comes to Morphew, the god of sleep:



He finall.y falls a:sleep,and dreams that he waJ~es to find ~self in bed on a. May morning with llie birds siIlging sweetly. The windows of his room attract his attention :
FM hoUl' al the swry o.rTmye Was in the glasyoge ywr>oght I:D.llS, OJ Ector and ot Ir:_lmg :l"rialnus. Of Ach.illes 311.d Larneden, And eke of Medea andof Iason, Of PariJ, .E1eyne, and of La.vyne. And aile I:hewe.l1es wil:h1 colones !)me Were peynted, both 'rex!: 81Ildglese, Of al the R!lmJl:uoce of the Rose.

This is the world in which the poem moves, 'The poet goos:eutside, mt:o a.wood, and finds a; hunt ill pmgress. 001 inquiril1g from a huntsman woo, is hunting here, be is told:
"Syr, th'emper,oW" Octorye:n:

somehow appmpriate in the traneelike atmosphere ot the dream, with its stylized" heraldic scenerr- The hurtt. is forgotten when the poet comes upon tbe black kmght: whose lamentations leave the poet rather st1lpidly puzzled as to thel1 ceuse, Chaucer-and lois was t'lI, be a frequent device with him-makes himself out to be somewhat ohtuse, and even when the knight goes on to a description of his cOl.lrtship of his lady he does not. realize that it is the loss of the lady that now causes his grief. After the aceeunt of his wooing and. winning his love, done with agra'l'e and fo~,a] beauty in spite of ils use of the conventional courtly lo~e pro-rerhe:s, the poet asks where the lady is IDG<W, the. kn.ight.bills into lamenand tation again" Still the poet is puzzled. an answer which seems ~AII:e.,sir, how?' ",'hat moyth:;Jt ber "She ys dedi" "'Nayl" "Yis, be my trGlIth.el" ~.Is t.hat youre 'Ios? Be Cod, bJit )'5 routhe I"

This messenger rom 8eynge faste And cried, "'0, hoillwa:ke anoon]" Hil was lor noght- there heme hym nO'!1. "Awakel~ quod he, "whoo ys lyth there?" And blew his born ryght )1) here eere, And cried .,AwakelM~ wonder hye.

Ha ltin g told the story, he goes on to describe how h e sen led doWTI to sleep, hopiI.lg that "thilk,e Morphp-us,li?r hys goddesse! dame Juno I Or 50m ",.;ght elle.s, 1 ne lioghte who would send hnn sleep, and offering Mmpheus .8 feather bed "Vjf he wol make me slepe a IYle_"

.At thlS moment the hunt returns, the nearby casele bell strikes twelve, and th e poet awakes to .find the book with ~h~ sto~y of Ceyx ~nd Aldone bv his side. Chaucer has succeeded .111 lllfwmg some shgh~ element of psychologicaJ and dramatic l.iv~liness:l!l't~ this Fo~nal. vi-. siouary elegy, But the world of the poom IS trancelske and Its fol'1Tls and colors heraldic. With. The House of FlIme, which is probably Chaucer's next work, we move out of the world of trance, t~<[)l!Igh framework !s still tbe the dream" The influence of Dante's Ditlina CQmmed:ia is clear in the







second and third oE the three parts, but the mood of the poem is ,fat from Dantesque. Book 1 opens with a discussion of dreams (8. subject on which Chaucer was much given to speculation) and proceeds to describe a dream in which he found himself in a temple of glass"Hyt was of Venus redely, /The temple":-oll whos~ walls was e~graved the story of the Aeneid, with special emphasis (as alwa)' •. In the-medieval treatment of the Ael'leid) on the Dicloepisode, wInch Chaucer tells in a hundred and forty Iilles; this leads him to give a ,ool1ventional list of faithless: lovers (Ovidinn in origin) before continlling the story Up' to Aeneas' marriage with Lavinla, The lnci~ents are presented as a series of pictures, introduced by ide formula Tho saugh 1" ("Then saw Coming out of the temple doors he sees a f!(olden eagle shining in the sky. At t.he openin,g of Book n .t~e eagle, having descended, seizes the poet in its 'Claws and b~~rs him aloft. With this, the mood of the poem changes from the vtslonary to the lively, humorous: and eolloquial. The poet describes his fright. the eagle's liea~suring words and subsequent conversation. The eagle explains 'to Chaucer that he is taking :him. to the ~OIlS~ of Fame, for the poet is a dun fellow who knows tJoth~TlgOf~l$ nelghlbors. There he willleam of love tidings and of all tile jealousies. fears, and hypocrisies of men. The ea!iile lectu:,es the l.mhappy man ~v.:.hom. e a~h dresses familiarly as 'Ce£hey ) on acousticS,. explamlng 110 all ..... speech eventually reaches the House of Fame, and prides bimseU 0111 his ability to explain difficult scientific matters simply to. an ign.orant man. The foet replies in placatory monosyllables. Nothmg ca~slop the £low 0' the eagle's didactic talk, which continues until he lands the poet on the steep slope below the House of Fame. B~k. n.t beginning with an ililvocatio~ to "Cod of science and. of lygbt l~lta~ed from Book I of Dante's Paradiso, goes on to deserfbe the poet s dlLfficult ascent toothe House of FaJIl1e,which was situated om a high rock of clear ice. The names of many famous people were engraved on this rock, but some letters' of every name !lad melted away, Oil the other side he saw names of famOlDs persons of antiquity, and they were still as fresh as ever, The castle Itself is made of beryl stone, and Chaucer's account of what he saw there is a crowded collection of deliberately lncongruous deta:il, presented with 3D air of naive wonder. In the ha]1 he saw statues of Josephus. Statius, Homer, Dares Phrygius, Dietys Critensis, Guido dena Colonne, Ceoffrey of Monmouth. Virgil, Ovid ("Venus elerk");: Lucan, Claud ian (who WlI"otethe De Rllplu Proserpinae), among others; and! then a large company of people swarmed in, beseeching the Ooddess of Fame to IP'a:nt them her favor:

And somme of hem she 8,!"IIUJ11ted S'OJ1e, And somme she werned w.el and £aire, And some she graented the contnlire Of her axyng oUllterly. But thus I seye 'ow, Irewely, W1:JBI her cause was, Y' uyste.

[I know natl


Another group ask lor good fame and gel' the reverse; a ·.thirdask for it and receive it; a fomt:h group of w,dl-doers do not wish for fame, and receive the ,oblivion: they seek; a ruth group with a simllar request receive immortal fame; a sixth group, of idlers, seek the good fame of active heroes and receive it, a seventh, in Ii similar position, are refused it; a group of people guilty of treachery ask Ear good fame and are denied it; finally, a group of cheerful and self-satisfied evildoers ask for fame as evildoers, which is granted them. All this is done with soun ding Of trumpets, crying of heralds, and much Jively ceremonial Chaucer, though he is sHU in the world of medieval dream allegory, is beginning to enjoy himself in a new way. After Fame has dispmed of the final, group, ,8 mall. turns to the poet and ash:
Frend, what Is thy lIamei' Art!)w rome hid6 1.0!lan

Chaucer hastily disclaims any such intention, and says he is there to learn some new tidIngs. The man takes him out of the House of Fame to the House of Rumor. a building of twigs more strangely wrought than the famous Labyrinth built by Daedalus. This cage like building, full of holes to let the sound out. seethes with the noise of rumors of all kinds. As the poet wonders at the strange place, he sees his eagle perched on a stone neerhyA.nd I. gar; streghte 1.0 h.)'RI gon, And seyde thus: "1' preye the
Than thou 8. whiDe abide me. For Goddb love, nnd lete me seen \VhatwQl1d.res in thiis place been ..


"Petrel that is mya entente," Quod he eo me.

"Precisely why I am here," in fact, and the eagle takes him up toa window, where he hears people reporting gmisip to each other, Each man tells his neighbor, and so the tidings grow and spread until they go 0111. by the holes in the house, to come to Fame, who determines their future duration. The poem ends: abruptly, unfinished, witn the poet's discerning, aman whn











seemed for to be A man of gret euetonte.

With these words the poem ends. Presumably, the man of grea~ authol"ity was to announce some important tld'ings, whicll mayor may not have been the norninal r;aison !l'~fre of the poem. A strange melang,e of a poem. The dream and the aUegoriocalliig. ures belong to a hackneyed emmg.h convention, but the poem stro-es notes ~hat had not before been struck ill English. The canversation of the eagle in Book n, with its qUizzical humor, the poet laughing both at himself and at the loquacious and self-important bird, and some of tile detail of action and conversation in the crowded Book HI, let a fresh wind into the medieval garden of' poetry. Echoes of Dante add occasional overtones of high seriousness, but the comic tone. predominates, even though the poet toeches now and again on some of the most profound of human problems. The versil],ealiom has n sureness and fi.eltibility that The Book 01 the Duchess: lacks. while the handling of dialogue would itself justify the claim ,that The House of Fame is one of the imporllant tmnsil"iol'la'ipoems in English, PQLl.luing forward to far-readlilllg developments in the presentation of character and conversation in .fiction:
With that this egle gan to erye, "La! be," quod he" «,thy Iantasyel Wilt tI10u lere of srerres a.ught?" "Nay, eerteynly," quod y. "rygllt oa.nght. "Ana why"" "Fer ~'iIID now to old." "EIle> r wolde the have told," Quod he, "the sterres names, 10, [began]

ASlonyetb with his wonderful werkynge So-sore iwis, tha'l when J on hym thynlce, Nat WGt I wel wher that I 8ete or synke,

He goes on to say-and this is typical of Chaucer's combination of gmvity with i:rOI1Y-. tl1nt he himself knows love not from eKperienoe hut from books. He had been reading, he sayS",the SQl1lnilJ.11I Scipionis' (as tnterpreted by Maerobius), which he proceeds to sumraarize, after a comment on the :significance of old books wbich give's IlS a vivid i'l1sight into Chaucer's attitude toward his reading:
For out of olde,Els men seyth, Cometh al this newe eorn from 10 yere. And out ,of olde hokes, in good Ieyth, Cometh al this newe science that men 'ere.

Old books and personal observatlon-J'expenence" and "auctontee" to use Chau-::er's terms-are the 'two sources of knowledge and under:sta.nd~ng, and for Chaucer character was largely determined by the use an individual makes of each. :Fol' the Wife of Barb, experience was to be enoughExperience, t1ulUgh noon auetoritee Were i.n I.his world, is righl yoough for me:


And :11the hevenes sygnes therto, t\1:1d whic:b they bell." "No fors," quod y. "Yis. pardeel" quod he; ~wostow wIryi' ... "

The ParliGlm,ent of fowlS is probably Chaucer's next major poem, It, too, is in the dream convention, but elements from both Dante and Bcccaceto now enrich the style and ~he content. The verse form is: the seven-line stanza (rhyming ababbcc), known as "'rhyme royal" because of its [ater use by lames I of Scotland in his King's: Q!ltlir (if James j realiy was the author), and Chaucer handles it with a poise and a liquid Ilow of language that is something new in Middle Eng· lish:
The lyf so shOd:" the cralt so long 10 Ierne,

,enough at [east to tell her all she needed to know about marriage, though the lady was not averse to reinforcing her conclusions with copious reference to authorities. In Chaucer's own literary career the relation between literary sources and personal observation keeps shifting. H is not that he moves from the fonner to the latter-sno writeI'" moves simply from litesature to life, however much more simply derivative his earlier work may be than his later-hut Ile ~nds more ol"igil"laland richer ways of ,combining the No'O elements and al10willlg each ~o illuminate the other. Like The ,House of Fame, The Pal'!'i(!men! of Fowls imposes the author's personahty on conventional material, A graver utterance from Dante and picturesque descriptions from Bocoaccio's Teseide (whi'cb he was to draw an mere extenstvely in the Knight's Tale) are part of the flew literary materials he assimilates in the Parliament, which in its narrative au dille and its 'theme are wholly conventional Af~et reading the Somnium Sdpwnis, the poet goes to bed. as day· light is failing:
The day ga" f:.}'le~. and the derke 11y,gbt. That re"eth bestes frnrn here '6€'synesse, Berafte me my bok for 1 11Il!! ~ygbl _ . , a

Th'assay S!) hard, SG sharp and conquerynge, The dredf1!l1 joy!!" alwey that slit so yeme; Al this mene I by Lo,'IIe, that my felynge









This echo-es Dante's
1.0 glorno se n'Bn,aIiiV&. II< I'aere bruno topievlii Ii 2Infmai ehe sono in leITB dalle faticbe lorn,

and there are several other sueD echoes throughout the 'poem. They are all subdued to the mood of the poem. and the mood itself is defl!y modulated through several diflierent keys. Sleep proouces its, dream [('1 which, after 3i Dantesque journey with SCipio Africamus as his guide ("Can not I seyn if that the cause were !For I hadde red of Affrican byforn, /That made me to mete [dream 1 that he stod there"), he comes to a garden by a river, with the usual bu-ds singing, and the usual a.Llegorica.l characters disporting themselv,es. Cupid, Pleasaunee, Curtey.sie'. Delyt, Centilesse. Bente, Youthe, Flaterye, Des)", and others. It is yet another picture of the ubiquitous gard.en of the Rose tradition. but described freshly enough (oralil that He sees the temple of Venus, too, with its appropriate characters, and comes at last to a beautiful soft green place, where the goddess Nature, on a h.iTlof flowers, was presiding over a great congress of birds. This was Saint Valentine's Day, and the birds had assembled to choose their mates In accordance wltb Nature's rule. Three noble eagles claim the hand of the beautfful Iormel eagle perched on the: goddess's wrist, and each of the three (in descending order of rank) claims the Iormel eagle as his briclein proper courtly-love terms, Then the mass of birds take up the debate: many o~ them have little patience wi,th the niceties ()f courtly love, tile goose in particular laugmng at the notion of constancy to a beloved who does not Jove In retura=
Sut she wol love hjm, 1at hym love another,

sig;n:i1i:canceof the poem, which is a deftly handled "oecastonal" pi~, shOwi~g Chaucer's growing mutery of his medium, his ability to lDlpose IllS 0"'1"1tone on convenrional material. The mood shifts easil~ hom one of quiet gravity through an occasional Bash of irony t? a li'llely and humorous realism, to end on a note of happy celebration,

The spaI1'GWhawk in tum scorns the goose's vulgar artitude, "1.0, here a parSt reseun of a goosl" he exclaims coctemptuously, The turtledove defends constancy, and the argument grows into a magniGcent hubbub until Nature silences them all and gives her verdict •. tbat after waiting a year the Iormel eagle should make her choice. Then the birds sing a roundel for Saint Valentine's Day, "to don to Nature monow and plesaunce" before Hying: a,way. and the poet wakes. The Pa,riament of Fowls lS thus a poem if! celebration of Saint Valentine's Day, using the convention of the dream allegory and the demande d'amour. It may also have been prompted by some speeiliic royal eourtship, and scholars have spilt much ink in debating which one . .Rut any contemporary reference is irrelevant to the true

Troilus and C,iseyde. written probably in the middle 1380's, rusa major work in which tlle full zemus of Chaucer as metrical tech. nician, as storyteller, and as st~dent of human character is 'triumphantly displayed. ,It is in ~ sense the first real novel in Engllsh: it t~!Js a love .story With a delicacy of psy,cholGgicll.lawareness, a brilliant handlm.g of ~etail, a finn sense of structure, and a mastery oE con~roUed dlg~ess!on ~he verse-whi~h is the rhyme royal stanza agal~-~da~IS ~Ise~feasily to the. changmg demands of the narrative" and In Its liquid Row seems to mcrease the sense of tale and ineyi,~Rbility wh~c~ hane:~ over the action throughout. Its immediate source IS Boccaccl~ s l.l ~ll08,trato, but, while taking the main action and m.anv specl.fic incidents from Boecaccio, he expands the simple, hlgWy~~ol""ed" fast-moving Italian story of love and betrayal into a multidimensional work. subtler in psychology, more varied in detail, and richer in moral overtones. Behind the Fllostrato lies the cllTi~us; and cl'l~Tacteristically medieval transmutation of a couple of minor Homeric characters, who originany have no connection with each other at a~!!,into the familiar story (If Troilus' love for Cressida, his winning' of her, and her eventual desertion of him for the Gieek D.iornede. Homer's Briseis and Chryseis were Trojan captives whose d,sposa~ helped to produce the wrath of Achilles. Dares FhryeilllSwhose I~porta~ce for the medieval view of the Troy story we have noted-glv,es brief character sketches of Treilus, Diomede, and Briseis, b;lt does not. bring them together in a stcry. Benoit de Sainte!\fame s.. Roman de Troie makes. Brisejda the daughter of Calchas, the T~lan seer who deserted to the Greeks on foreseeing their ultimate VICtory, and makes T~ojjus in ~ov~ with her, but the only part of the story he dwells on IS the- wmnmg of her love by Diomede after she has been sent to join her father among the Creeks. Cujdo della Colonne in his Historw Tra,lana follo\'ol'5 Benoit. Briseis and Chryseis eventually coalesce as Cnseida (later Cressida), and Boecaeeto is the first to tell the story of Troilus and Cressida now so familiar. Boccacoio dedicates his poem to the lady whom he loves and :-:,ho h~s left him, as a memorial ~of your worth and of m:v sadDes-S,. and It has a personal, lyrical, youthful tone throughout. He first lntraduees Pandarus; whom he makes the brother of Criseida and contempmary of Troi]us, a young m.30 who brings his sister and










his friend together out of his friendsh]p for the Jatter. Chaucer's Paudare is Boccaeeio's Pandaro in function but not in character or behavior: he is Criseyde's uncle as well as Troilus' friend, evidently an older man, much given to quoting proverbs aad precedents: a shrewd" good-natured, worldly-wise, affectionate man. who shows infinite resource in :bringing the lovel's toge1her but who is helpless in the face of the final tragedy, Chaucer's Troflus Is the par~it. gentii knight, not snbstantlally different from Boceaecio's Troilo, But Chaucer's Criseyde is drawn wiUl, a psychologica] sLlbtIDety that makes her into awholly new character: she is the nl"St truly complex: heroine in post-classical European literature. This development of a story which grew up within the framework of the Troy story thWW5 interesting light not only em the medi'lwal perspective on the classical world but also on Chaucer's methods and on the way i.1'I which his imagination worked. The Middle Ages had Bol the sense of literary property that we now have, and there was nothing impro,per ,in Chaucer's taking Boecaecio's story as a basis for his own-he had done that sort of thing before and was to do it again. On that story Chaucel" brought tn, bear both "experience" and "auctontee," his own knowledge of human nature, and his wide readtng. The conception of the wheel of Iornme, ever turning so that the individual is now up. now down, and the whole problem of fate and free will as discussed hy Boetmus, pervade the poem. Boethius is more than onceparaphrased at length; Dante, Petrareh, and Ovid are drawn O.D fOT lines or images or situations; indeed, a whole world of reading is domiciled in the richly textured narrative .. And Chaucer's own insight and humor and irony and' sympathy play over all. The Trojan war is the background. A medtevallaed Troy is presented to lIS in varied detail, with the classical properties somehow made to fit a medieval way of Iife; sallies out from the city walls against the besieging Greeks are daily occurrences, a constant opportunity for the performance of knightly deeds. We see Troilus first, the gay young knight scornful of' love. and then Criseyde, the demure young Widow, standing in the temple at a relijaious festival in her black habit. Troilus sees her there and is suddenly smittenhe has Fallen in love in church, as it were. Criseyde .is the very perfection of womanhood:
She nas nat with the leste of hire stature, Bllt alle hire Iymes so wel ['I1'IS\'.'ery'nge
Werl'1l to wcrnrnanhood, II·hat creature w"s nevere lasse rnnnnyssh ill semyoge. And ,.,k Ine [lure wi3e of hjre mevynge

Shewed w~l that men

in lUre gesse Honour, estat, and womma.nly noblesse.

To Troilus right wende; wei with alJe Can for to like hire mevynge and bire ehere, Which somdel deignous was, fm she let falle
Hi!e look Ascsunces,

Ute aslde ln ~eh enanere, "Whad may I nat stondea herei'"


Troilus at once feels all the woes of the courtly lover. He automati~all'y assumes that Ilis beloved is unattainable" infinitely superior to him m every way. The cheerful, bllstling, proverb-quottng Pandare finds him lamenting in bed. and after much vivid talk-it is remarkable how Chaucer can give the very accent of coaversation tnverse-gets his secret hom him, When It tUTl1S out that Troilas is in Jove, and with Pandare's niece, Pandare has no doubt that all can be managed. This is cOll!rtlylove, and. it must be secret and outside marriage. free from scandal and the breath of wicked tongues (the contradiction lilt the heart of the courtly love notion, that love is supremely hooorable yet the lady's reputation is injllTed if it be known. <comesout cleall'~y in ~he poem). More is involved !ha'l1 the wmnmg of Cnseyde's Jove: she must Grst be br,ought to lay aside her tears for Iler replltation and be reassured that everything can be done with discretion, Those ~ears are particularly sirong in Crlseyde's case, for she is rill a difficult position as weU as fearful by nature. Her father is a traitor who has deserted to the other side. and she therefore must be espedany careful in her behavior. Pandare has his work cut out. Meanwhile Trcilus, reassured by Pandare, rouses himself and perIorms deeds of great valor against the Greeks, For courtly Jove ennobles' the character and makes the heart more brave and generolls.:
FOT I'le bicom the hendlie$!e wighle, The!, and e1: the mooste fre, The thriflie!t and. eon the bene kn yght,

ThatIn his tyme was or myghte be. D ede were his [apes and hi!! ern ella. His heighe pori snd his manere estraunge. And eech 0 f tho gao '!,ora very ch :lunge.

Purgat01io, Chaucer begms:



<opens on a: note of hope. Echoi,l1g the opening of the
Owt of tl:use blake wawes lor ~l) saj-lle, o wynd, 0 wynd. the weder gyrmelh elere: . . •

concern for appearances. out ·of his wits because he has heard thai Criseyde has been haVing an affair wit'h someone else. He visits his njece and. me' ne list this sely womrnan chyde Forrher dum ahe storve "'01 devvse.! when she yielded to him she said to herself pathetically: But 51'rI! se ther is no betrre way.I were IUlW naught heerel wm u . and the fifth book moves hom 'Ircilas to Criseyde showing the state of mind of each. she was "slydynge of carage". She fears scandal. To Diomede lllgllte TWill betrwe.bed and ~Her fU.B. Troilus proposes that they steal away together. Of course Troilus is there-he is supposed to have arrived suddenly. That to klr'eself $'heseyde. Pandare will die 100. ill return for Antenor. with theremark thaI: it iSI:]''t good fOI" sick folks' 'eyes. th. friendless and bewildered. the heavy rain prev.D)' such relationsbip because it mean adventuring out of her aeeustomed and comfortable single existence. and taking the line of least resistance. The question of the genuineness oJ Criseyde's reluctance can still arotlsehealeQ argument . The mornimg follows.. after a bantering conversation '10 pu! her in a good mood. The story of this breaking down-too long to be satisfactorily summarized-Is & brillial'l! piece or psychological fictiorn.e lacked willpower.eyde's .COWE.mauellverim~ l~aves him to be restored: by CIIseyde. . she reprcaches him fm them so violently that he (aiMs'. COWER" PlEBS I'LOW'1¥lJl. Troilus' bitter speculations on fate. She reacts unfavorably at. . Hire name.. N.l\I CHAUCER. but long enougb to allow Trcilus to offer and Griseyde to accept him with the amhigllous proviso "myn honour sauf. 6rsL She is:afraid of scandal She is afraid 'of losing her independent way of life as a widow. sh. In Troy the line of least resistance Iud been to remain in her single wedded state. Criseyde IS now caught-or . Pandare heaves him tnto Cris. taking theeandle with him. Then Pandare. She repulses Diomede's first attempt with a"not yet. in the Creek camp. that she can hal'dlywait to hear it. Criseyde is. She is afraid. PIERS PLOWM'. and the aubade.~!is punysshed 50 wide. dange.. glad 10 ha ve hts protection to fall back Oil.. fearful among strangers. And when Troilus.s of the return to Troy. in the Creek camp. the song of I01. brillg. eventually rousing' her to such a pilch 0'£ stlspen.15 It TrmluSf Alld a nigh~ of passion follows. she concedes 'little at first. And that 10 !:lle is !'IO\\' lor me to rewe.. But of course she does not come. Criseyde is let! to tile Creek camp hy Diomede" handsome. which tells of the exchange of prisoners and the decision to send Criseyde to her father. unscrupulous. excited. window amid the cheers of the crowd.asy way.102 CHAU'CER.S them togelher briefly. It appears.among the critics. The distress of the lovers. Pandare hril:lgs Trcilus to Criseyde's bedside and he €1!plains his fears. unable to face Ilte." Finally. bu~ Cr'iseyde dismisses the plan as dangerous and Impracticable. :1]J1l.ngenious device. "Who yaf me d'I'}'Nkei'"' But the Siege is fat" :from over. 'Ihis brings us to t]le beginning of Book IV. rides by he. )"ivi~. their final nigh~ toge'lnel" with their railings on Fale lind! . And Criseyde--when Trnilus calls on her to yield at last. T~at lor hire gat it 0 ~gl'l )'rlo.. both of which covel' a genui[le excitement about Troilus. of committing herself to a. For all her goad quallties. she answers passionately in his arms: Ne hadde 'I er now. and continue to love secretly and llapplly until Fortune's wheel turns again. lTe!lh from 11 victorious encounter with the' Creeks.l\en reluctantly p:uting at: dawn. saying that be asks only thai she tale pity en the yOllng man and be nke to him." which already shows that the game Is up.enls her from gOing bome and he gives her a bed in his bouse. in fact.ygh suffis8. He lays Siege to her at once. Ant. She promises tbal she will contrive to gel back to Troyan the tenth day after her departure. accepts him as her lover. which is suffici'ent testlmony l[Jl Chaucer's skill in character drawing. "Kaa he wei speke of love?" she eventually asks her uncle. With a subtle combination of real reluctance and. an experienced lady's man. my swete herte deere.Pa!ldue invites Criseyde to dinner when nin is expected. who then "a lite! gam to smyle.11her. he begins to warm up to his news. self-confident. First she is persuaded to receive-and too answer-a letter from Troilus. described by Chaucer vividly but net coarsely His account of the lovers' wonder in each other is done with a nne psrhologic::d realism. But she is interested and" in spite of hersellf.. she looks out and sees: his handsome and knightly Ilgmealld his modest bearing F'andare is gone.e first character in English literature whose character is argued over as!haugh she were a rea! person.AN 103 -rills book is ~aken up with the maneevertngs of Pandare. Ben yold. and has to have her defenses broken down one by one.5 of eternal constancy take up most of 0 the beek. for he knew the llirst round was won. by an j. He then tells her of Troilw'love. and she. acceptance of Diomede'{s the e.. And if Troilus dies.And leet jt sa solte lnb~e berte spike. else he will die of love. Thus Troilus and Criseyde become lovers.

. the moral and philosophical overtones. by his cl. somewhat tiresome collection of accounts of loving and faithful women-including Cleopatra.ainst love's law.he stones of faithful women betrayed by false men. or Jounde it writ an. making excuses far her delay. The appearance in the meadow of the god of love and his queen Alceste occurs in the dream which he has after falling asleep in the OpE-fl_ The I!:od reproaches him for his heresies against love. Bul as' he Ilath herd seyd. £ind that it is "a fare-carte" (traveling cart).nning distribution of pauses and emphasis. The task.isl1 literature.en her lord's anger. PfEIlS PLOWMAN CHAUCER. The picture of him waiting day after day. thinking he sees her in the distance only to. Lucrece. and the result is that he is ¢ven the penance of writing t. by {lie limpid flow. Bill. ""Imll Ibal the ~onlh May Is comen. until dusk. however. I wolde excuse hite yd 'for routhe. At last he writes. this Troilus for love! Swych f)ln hath all his grete wnrthynessel Swycb :I)ffi hath false worldes brolellles5~l . end particularly for having drawn the character of a fauttMe. By his choice of i~. yl be seldom on the. and thAt I here the Ioules synge. natheles.ving by Achilles.exibilily of 111esteadily mo.y of MI noon OJ the r weye5 wilen.kethme 1'0 gaon.ages. Ne ma. the poet himself reverences them 5'0 liIertely. Save.sswoman in TmUu3 lind Criseyde. yet wot. I wis. Swych ryo hath. or the couplets. PIERS PLOWMAN 105 ADd if I myghle excuse hire anywise. is one of the mcstpctgnant and perfectly wrought things in Engl. literary fashion of his time and the passage celebrating the daisy is based on a noern bv Deschamns. We must trust old books in matters of which nobody has direct experience. that Iller is game noon Thai ho my bakes m . The English prosenovel was well advanced before anything comparahle was to appear in EngHsh literature. holvdav. the subHe discernment of character in aU its phases. GOWER. It has more dimensions than anything that had hitherto appeared in English. . 10. Farewel my bok. • • [such end) that common medieval ~onn. [11 TIm Legimd of Good Wom. Ariadne.n the conversation of Pandal"e. at the city gates.w·hich exists in two Interestingly different versions-has a charm and liveliness that the body of the work lacks . But the prologue !e The Legend of Good Women-. constructed on the :lm'llog" of or And rhea Chaucer turns to a description of the conventlonal May morning of the Hose tradition. and he knows for certain what he had for some time suspected. IIl'Id my dcvocioun! The emil of the poem is religious. The literary greatness and historical Significance of Troilu:s and Cr!seyd. The poem concludes with :lI picture' of "fl'Oilus'spirll looking down from above at this tiny world. This freshness and sense of personal delight in the world DE J!rowing things which we find in the prologue is all Ihe more remarkablewhen we consider that not only is the setting conventional. was one which Chaucer's genius bad outgrown. Some of the moslimportant effects are lost in a summary-the touches of humorous realism . That eythee hath in hevene or helle ybe. The legends themselves. and others-which Chaucer explains was required of him as a penance bv the god of love FOT l1aviDllg written heresies ag. the legendary 01" collection of sa. And that the floures gyn'l1en [01: 10 spr:ynge". seem to hallie been wriUen without allY great enthusiasm.104 CHAUCER. and laughing at tile shabby human scene with its distracting emotions. divine love.I weI also That the. eerteynly. with a sonorous devotional stanza hom the Paradiso to conclude.e ~ie in the way Chaucer has presented and enriched the narrative. Chaucer gives new life and conviction to tills traditional material. the adroit use of his reading to achieve these overtones: and the How and 8. suspleiously evasive answer. and finally he finds en a cloak taken from Diomede in fight the brooch that he himsell had given to Cl"is'eyde. . Philomela. the 8a~hes of amused 01" ironic perception. and there is nothing in them appro-aching the art of the Troi!us. BlIl. but it is done with a freshness and a sprightly charm that raises it far above most of the hundreds ef other suet! descriptions in medieval literature. It opens with a sprightly discussion of the re'lation between book knowledge and experience: A thousand Iym~s have I herd men telle ThOlt ther )0'5 joy ill hevene and peyne in 'helle. Alceste defends him and seeks to snft..ints' lives. and is eventually sla. . . Far sbe so wry Wa:5 for hire untrouthe. And I aeeorde wei thai it )'S S'O.en Chaucer returns 10 the love-vision for his framework This unfinished work ls a. particularly in his talk with his niece. COWER. and receives a loving but. Medea. bll~ the theme which he goes on 10 elaborate-the worship of the daisy-is itself bound up with a. an appeal from human love to. nis noon dweHyng in this contree. With nothing to live for he becomes bold and cruel in batt le. Troilus waits for her return in vain.

'But Chaucer's work is unique in.. wonyngeIer by weste..IC more relaxed and self-revealmg than they would otherwise be. which describes them one by one.for example (the legend of Saint Cecilia is early" as are the "tragedies" used in the Monk's Tale. a wan!owlleand merye."Y.prelsa!. of which perhaps the closest is the .• TIle color or the Monk's horse comes il11 casually at the end of his description. It is doubtful Whether Chaucer knew Boccaccio's DecamerOll. S. I<or bl:l11kmanger" that made he . EI A Frere ther was. who was a tenant Iarmer ami not a lied laborer). and persona] J'di:ios). told by different people was not unknown in earlier medieval.affects and is aHected by the I. and the Knight's Tale.e3" tha~ ma.. a reworking of Boecaeeio's fe-seide probably done about the same time as the T'foilus. to give Chaucer the oppcrtuntty of welding his observation of men with his literal)' knowledge. then remarks But greet harm was it. as thcmgh the author had just noticed it. A grol1p of linked tales.onal bias.gue".. too. of the scheme was. literature.. and scholars haveoome up with v arieus parallels. to' while away the hours of journeying. They are on holiday. as II thtlllghle me.imslldls all the tales. Thus the nrs11ine of the Shipman's descriptkm follows immediately 011 tht:1a!it line of the description of the Cook: . He was nat pale as a forp)'nea goest. The scheme was thus not SlO much a literary form in itself as a. we discever . and that pl. followed by that of the Friar. it seems. The GeneroIProlo. Ig:rowlh] of The Ca~terbtJt!l The afterthought about the "blankmaager" (an elaborate creamed dish) gives an air of absolute naturalness 10 the description. What more perfect wed- He must nav'e he-en already thinking. A Shipman was tiler . and frying. Oldy on a pii~rima~e could such a heterogeneous collection of people of difIerent social status be bmught Nothing could be more' perfectly done than the description of file Prioress: it is mere innncent observation. assumed for purposes of iTO. The account oi the Monk concludes: Now ~r!ainlr he was a faiT .• This again gives an air of naturalness and] spGcbneity.. bow more than onee he begins a new description on the second line of a couplet.gruficent unfinished opus in whlch he 6:naUy drew the various strands of his genius together.its ~ndjvidualizing of the narrators and in the whole sense of the ceutemporary sorial scene which he brings to the reader. that made he . 'the ProiOgli6.. most familiar ideas.lrpase could be achieved without the completion of the total plan. device for giving new life 10 ether literary forms.. gdlHng. tOasting.m the Kn·ight lower than the Plowman. he was of Derremouthe . He hril1gs together at the Tabard Inn at Scuthwark representatives 0'£ ellery class in the England of his day (except.. he describes the Cook's skit] in boiling. fully realized individual nnd a representative of his class 01" his profession. or His palfrey WEIS asbroun as is a berye.PIERS PLOWMAN ding of "auctoritee" and "experience.:nmi Sercarnhi. than a collection of true-to-life pilgrims drawn from every class of contemporary Englishman who.. For blonkmanger. . where the s·ettilllg is also a pilgj"imaJl. the very highest and the very lowest.. A good example of both these devices is in the description of the Monk. there is roo one' higher th."ith the beste.100 CHA. Each 'Pilgrim is at once a. which establishes the characters and sets the scene. That on l1is shyne a mormal hadde he. ha'Yior. But the real purpo. . so thai the).elling of the tales. probably dales from the lace 1380's. and the whole scherne=two stories hom each pilgrim en the outward journey. Further. not at their daily labors." of books and life. their prejuciices"profesS"i. . Chaucer's naivete as observer IS. For' alight I WOOl. lakes up the details that would strike the eye of a fellow traveler..Novelle of Giov. The characters move "between the inn and the shrine. But their daily lives" their normal habits of TeJ/. For example. it should be noted. until. tell tales drawn from whatever literary or folk source seems most appropriate to the lndtvidualcharaeter? Some of the tales 'bad been written before the plan to link them thro1lgh the pilgrimage device had been thought of: the Second Nun's Tale. thmn~h the autbor himself (one of the pilgr. . and then the Friar is introd ueed in the sam e couplet. They are more than a framework: their conduct .UClEm. There is a deliberately contrived dlserder in the way in . It is worth noting..ith the beste . A fat swan loved 'he' best of any roost.llcr3siescome out in tJleir conversation and their he~. snd this air of innocent observaIicn-Ule author as fellow pilgrim na'ively noting what he sees Or learns about the others in the casual order whleh occurs to him-can be put to most ·effeclive Irenic uses when Chaucer 50 desbes. 'GOWEF.•. hich the fads abouc each character are b(ough~ to our attention.of me plan 101 thinking. the !'wo places where different classes areIlkely to mingle. and two each again on the It"etumwas far from complete when Chaucer died.e.

len'lyne'. When the Black: Prince tool. English commerce depended l~l'gel}l em the maintenance of E~g. Ful rem. CH:II. obtaining that kind of amusement in theirunic yet srm. as almost ideal 6gul'es. were able to set their own price on their labor. That of her ~myltng WOIS f.lm" Eg. Frens . pathetiC ebservatloa of his fellows which yields itselif only to the a. Nor can we ignore h~s dear attack 00 corruptien in the Church. kindness and eeurtesy.. Church.. In 1317 the. who.n hi. Ne wette hlr EJlugre-s in hiT ~IU'-'f' depe: S" e carie II morsel and ".I.mel fetidy. Every kimd of magrnIioence was to be seen in the state of the small. hardworking. Ami she was cleped m:uJ.l nJ1uchcl hir lest.ts. the glory of Creey and Polters had departed and-worst of an-the COUllltry was Ileillg taxed almost out of existence in a vain endeavor 10 win backthe lost power and glory. \'II e 1 koude .108 !hat the details add up to an amused picture of a..After the sccle of Slmlford atte Bowe...-. "(Lv~ [u] seI11~ly. Ful weel she 5XlQ'"g the service dy"yne.] ~tnrle aud coy. .PMERSP.sea-power.. Enlulle-O j.0 pi'iy in VoI. Is the . f!]. England was being governed by a selfish andcornrpt clique.0 were in the town with exaggerated. Change was in the ail:. whe . and the results of the Black Death in depopulating the countryside put the laborers in a.r was no ferlhyng sene Of greee. to offer their servlees to the highezt bidder.led througho:ut the eountryside. the Parson. she drcsken hadde bi~ draughte.. Black Prince died. drope ne iii!!! upon hire brest.. there were many other causes iQ~ general dissatisfaction in the last yean 'of .eel be~avior: Tiller wm also a Nonne.rtist's file period in which he lived was a time of rapid change and even of confusion. It is: wortbremembering=wbat would net be guessed hom a study ef Chaucer's writil"lgs-th. would be hard to find in the age of the Peasants" :Revoh and the Statute of Laborers.lIlt that they are all something like anachronisms by Chaucer's 'time.!e.ges what was asked.aud the Plowman are ueated 'without any touch of irony at al'l. corruption was I. and perhaps Chaucer meant them as such. portrayed! wi~h that relish for huma:n behavior and human weakness that we find so often in Shakespeare. The social and econornic bac~ground.alTld to a conlemporary it might well have seemed to be decay.. and the Plowmanseem like Ilostalgicidealizatiolls.g of 1JJDJreoogD1ized forces .-3. goodhearted. leftt small in number by the ravages of the plague.the poor Parson. was no accident.haucer's. though here agam the attaek is done obliquely through tbe presentation ofinclividlllal eharaeters.h of Parys 'lVil s to hire unknowe.tcuce of knighthood bad degenerated into a stupid pageantry: the old order was breaking up.'Slipping away from her control and her supremacy at sea being stecadily destroyed. The growing tendency f[ir the eernmutation of labor service £0'[ money-paymeu! combined with the results of the Black Death 10 cause the decay of villeinage and to increase the independence of the laborers. but the behavior oJ the latter two. the power. Chivalry had beeomea farce.I tIe.I kepe That no. yet he treatedithe few knights ".. is transmuted through human character into individual examples of se']f-interest OJ: rascality.ll the citizens. The clock could not be put back. but the spirit exemplified in his action of 137(1 prevailed now more than ever.And.owhicll they were legally bound..: Limoges in 13700lJe massacred a.ely after hir mete she raoghte . The Knigh~ 'represe[Jils the highest ideals of chivalry and eourtesv. These perhaps nostalgic porlrai. The State bad grown lopSided. hundreds of WOMen and ehtldren. the poo~' Parson's genuinely Christian behavior is implicitl~' ecntraated with thar of the other representanves of the church. and the revival of French might by land and sea was more than a military question.Edward nI's roeignand the beginning of Richard U's.eaping.. and the se!: lu.. She leet no mor s cI from hir llppes fu!. Hire gretteste ot)fh W.LOWMAN [09 And Frenssh she >polk lui f. For foe rest.ljr~ . Villeins slipped away From tine land I.. A highproportiolil of his pilgrimS me rascals. In eurteisie . as some crities have tended to do.slop the lire in laborers' wages by statutes of laborers.11.Amid this general discontent the Peasants' Revolt breke out in 1381. and ~heoC)nneerson of the priest John BaH with the rebdHollS' peasants.he takes men as he Hulls them.UCER. AI mete wd yt. wilh its confusions and upheavals. however much Wydif may have disapproved. The Monk and the Friar arid the Summoner are amusing enough characters as Chaucer describes them. honest. laudowners were forced 1. mmority wlla wielded. Against such 11 backgruund the characters of the Knight. WycliI was a portentons symbol. including. too.lll ght W:lS she ""i til . which he never overtly discusses.hsh . play down Chaucer's iron}".Jl5 but by Seinte Loy.. In addition to the unrest produced by this problem. m the. . In vain the governing class tried to . With harvests rotting for lack of workers. But 'We must net. France was .n extremely favorable positlon. . esent C. while disease and mise'ry prevai. hriltiantly presented andmagnrficently comic though it is. withe all the usual symptoms produced by the workm. an unpleasant harvest. The pl". and it is signilic. GO'W'EJII. Hi:r over-Hppe wyped she so elene Tho t in hir corp!': the.• Only the Knight. il Pricresse. nun whose real interest in life was to affec~ gent.. :rep. oblique comr ment on the troubles of his time. and Chaucer knows that they are.

urking with supreme efflciency. And eek to bryngen wyv~s in swich fame. He gives us a collection 1)( individuals who also represent the different social and prefessional strata of the England of his day. in Stat ius' Thebaid and the Roman de Thebes. '" "By Goddeli soule. the saint's legend {the Second Nun's and Prioress' Tales). independent cut lower down in the social scale.!:R. the Merehantrepresents the well-to-do middle classes. "he Knight's Tale is a shorter and more rapidly moving version of Boecaceio's Teseide. but everybody has Ihe characteristics necessary to take bim through bis assigned part with dignity and spirit. but even if this could be done it adds nathang to mJT view of Chaucer's achievement. are for the most part suited to both their occupations and their characters. my leeve brother. "Tel on. highly colored picturesque deralls are brought in to provide appropriate pames ill the narrative. Thou mayst ynogb of others tbynges scyn. altogether. For I \Vol speke. Attemrts have been made 10 i. for the world of chivalric action and courtly 1001.'s Tale).rims wilh htstonca characters. "that wei nat I. But irony always has moral implications.also middle class." qaod he. Robyn.· [injun!! Bet the Miller persists. I you prey. the beast fable {Nun's Priest's Tale). Chaucer'snarrative art IS seen w. Emelye.· quad the Millete.8 medieval mode. Abyd. so on. and." The Reeve (whose duties apparently also involved carpentering) too\( offence.e does l'iot demand suehJndlvtduallzatjcn. Chaucer's point of view is secular tht"oughout-ja spite OI evidence of his genuine religious feeling and of the Iamous "Retraction" which follows the Parson's Tale in the manuscnpts--and he is intrigued rather than shocked by the weaknesses of human nature. the Knight and his son the Squire representing the upper classes (but no( the high aristocracy).1 wol telJ~ a l~gende ftm~ :0 .1)11 Bath o! a earpenter and of his wvf.l!ISendeth Palamon and. who cuckolded him 1o'rrii:h an ingenious and personable young clerk The company laugh.I devil we)'! Thou art a. fIlow that a clerk hal. and. one of the stories quarried by the Middle Ages out of the material about Thebes found. Wyte It the ale of Southwerk.ogh thai he was dronke 'of ale. "alle and some. PIERS PLOWMAN C. the world of the chivalric romance lives here with a brightness and a charm rarely found in other examples of the species. lig:hten a potentiaLly lr. Tales). The Church.lit1u (MjJJer's and Reeve'. professions I men such as the Sergeam oJ the Law and the Doctor of PhYSiC: eseeotive 01" rnunagerial characters such as the Manciple (who pm:cba.. and tells hi!i coarse and rollieling fah/jall about a credulous carpenter and his pretty wife. implies a whole world of moral hypocrisy . '''Ahyd.. GOWER. Bot first] make II protestacioun That I am dronke.e.ceful exercise rn . with its many representattves (for the Church was the dominant profession in the Middle Ages).HAUC.lm's Tale). Far . The tales they tell. and protested Violently at the It. the fab. The characters are not highly indiVidualized. And therfore if that I mysspe!ce or sere. These tales together ~ive an almost complete conspectus of medieval literary forms. and Chaucer in The Ct1l1terbtny Toles was not enIronist for nothing. the preacher's exemplum [Pardoner's Tale).~ Oure Hooste answerde. the Breton lay (Frank. Almost all have more characteristics than their representative capacities demand. This is Chaucer at his liveliest and most characteristic: Our Hoosre ~. Sllm bettre man shal telle U5 firsl aaother. . and the five members of trade g1l1ilds.dentiEy some of the pllg. the Yooman. though Chaucer did not have lime to fit all the tales to suitable tellers. or hym defame. And Cod save 81 th is' Iaire oompaignyd- Is [ollewed by the drunken Miller's insistence on telling his tale next. perfectly executed.tiller's "lewed dronken harlotrye: " It is a synne and eek a greet fol)le To apeyren any man. I knowe it by my SOUll. including the courtly romance (Knight's Tale).n set the wrigh. an undertone of gravity is properly subdued to tbe surface polish 0·£ the tale.fool. glimpses of irony peep out eccaslen- ally to. incident is handled with vigor and vividness. a nonaristocratic landowner. The formal eeurtesy and gravity of the ending of the Knight's TaleTh.110 CHAUCER. while the Pardoner.tes cappe. The rhymed decasyllabic couplets move smoothly and llIexibly forward." *Now herkneth. the Franklin.sed frovisions {o~ an inn of court) and the Reeve (asslstant manager 0 an estate). and the incidents in which they become involved. In this tale of Pal amon and Arcite and their jOint love for Emily. And reyde. and so on down to the Plowman. COWEll. thy wit is overeome. PIERS PLOWMAN 111 behavior of petty blackguards. perhaps Chaucer's greatest masterpiece of character dr:nvil1g. the sermon (Parron. and I'll: us werken thriftily.agic inCident. or elles go my wey. The Knight's Tale has Ilot the depth or the modemity 'of the Tmilus: it is a formal and gra.

>trye to the wife. ?rolflISieS to p~t himself under her "wise govemal!lce. that sitteth . who have been s~oi]ing ~or a q_uarrel since they interrupted the Wife of Bath's autobIOf!. including the second part of The Romance of .lIHltmUrn and Walter Map S Epr. for the Wilfe Bath believed in love and romance. Both stories are little masterpieces and show a bnU." she quote au~horities.l. character at once highly Individualized and the first. against chastity as a practicable ideal. and "Osewold the Reeve" who "was of carpenteris crait" felt somewhat annoyed. ~J1d her final delivery from woe alter a series of tribulations sufficient (as in the case of patient Oriselda of the Clerk's Tale) to drive most people out of their minds. . as weEI as for aspects of the Wife's own character. variety of sources. the story of the 'loathJy lady" who turns out to 'be young a~d beauh!ul wh. • But he finds the energy to requite the Miller with another coarse tale of the fabltau variety. whom she has acqueed by.d t..doing 111m a_ service wElI~~ he has promised to repay III ally way she asks.~ The tale. The picture given in this tale of the Friar's visit to a sick man. and he begins .-ale oE his own. The Snmmoner replies with a coarse story Qf a off .::rasp~n~ Friur ~hose rapacity Iands him in a comically htlmi]iatin~ situation. and the Summoner's Tale. COWEIR. uninhibited relish of but also to insLs~.discourse with ~utlJaUy offensive remarks. The eharacler creates herself as she talks.o Hell. it is a sym· bolic story of the manifold misfortunes of Constance.. . Another fragment contains the Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale.. anon Deeth drough the tappe of lyE and leet it gon. With a sudden yet wholly appropraate ebsnge of mood Chaucer has the Reeve burst into an eloquent seU-p.itymg account of his growing old.han I was bore.anl handJlIflg ~etail The Friar tens of a rascally Summoner who meets t~e devil JrI the disguise of a yeoman and whose dishom~51 hehavtoe finally puts him into the devd's power. Nicholas Trivet's Afl{. He couldrequire the MiHer with a bawdy story of <1:Jleryng of 3 proud mil1eres ye.(o. highly sexed. the Friar·s Talc.perfeC'tly ~elded Into a splendid 'oriigina1 character portrait. Chaucer drew on a great. For the antif. Jerome's. humorous. Ep. The Man of Law's Tale comes in the manuscripts after the unfinished Cook's Tale. her defense of human frailty and argument!. so' that he is C"all'ne. ~f a type that has had many successors jn English fiction. preceded by "the wordes of the Hoost to the compaignye" and followed by further talk. it is clearly a separate fragment of the whole work...eminist arg'U~ents which the Wife puts inle the mouth of one of her former husbands. The whole thing has the dream quality of so much medieval pseudo-history (its source is.) .HZ CHA:'UCER.uies.T:lphlcaID. his hypocritical words of comfort and advtce. m!i. the gusto and vigor and.heighe in magestee. opinionated.stofn Valerii ad Rufilttun ~e non I?u(xmda UXOf'e (Valerius' Letter to fiupnus about not Mm'ryIng a Wile): seldom has such a variety of material-which includes the most important antifeminist literature known to the Middle Ages -been so .c couplets. and her tale'.:<tant.ld Ii. PIERS PLOWMAN US. COWER. and may well be an earlier work. 'For sikerly. al. lIsing the images appropriate to his da:ilywork: •. frank. the Rqse~ ~eschamps' Miwir de. The theme IS not pursued Immediately.~'myn In the actes and l" Fruyt of mariage- "se The Reeve's tale sends the Cook into roars of laughter. This is perfectly IQ character. Told in rhyme royal. The characters are figures in a tapestry. of how a crooked miller had his wife and daughter seduced by a couple of Cambridge students. told m ~ecasyUab. combines magic with touches of shrewd realism. PIERS PLOWMAN CI:(A'UCEft. his infllristingly or U 0: f~_ . hi spite of her appeal to "experience" rather than "auctoritee. T~e Wlf~ of Bath IS concerned not only to defend the active lise of sex in marna ge- "<Ill. as far as we can tell (rom t the sidy lines of it that alone are I\dveTsus }OI. .en the husband. present a. strong-\l'illed. Save al fhis compaignye." but he is getting old. ~er talk. daughter of a Roman Emperor. and masterful. "". ~1Q~age. The VViFe~f Bath's Prologue is one of the high points of The Can!erbury T. series of stories which deal with ~he qLl~tion of "maistrye ill marriage. proceed to tell their stones at each other s expense as soon as the Wife's tale has be~e~ cOlldud~.both literary and folk traditien.eldsthe.The Wife o~ Bath's Tale is the first of Ii. and his days ![If play are over. grete end smalel Thus have 1 qu)'1 the MLliere in my tale. U IS. for the Friar and the Summoner.wHh the best. This tale is: in quite different vein from that of the Miller's or the Reeve's. ADd ever sllihe hath so the mppe yronne Til that almoort al empty is the tonne. and while the lale has a certain formal beauty itlacks complexity and life. b~t ma~ried happiness is only possible ff the hust band y~. J <vo!bistl)'llle the BOllr of s. ls designed to prove her pomt. Her account of her five husbands. based On a story fo~nd In .Nonnarl Clmmic1e). tone of romantic delicacy emerges at the end. evidently in similar vein. His conclusion shows his satisfaction: And Cod. though On her own terms.










p3lt))Onizillg sententiousness, ~s one 01 the finest pieces of realistic elching Chencer ever did. Tbe dramatic exchanges betwee~ the F:riar and tbe Summoaer before and beeween the tares provIde a setting and a "human interest" thalt make the whole episode a work of art in itself. The Clerk's Tale, which begins another fragment. takes up the maniage question a~ain. He tells of patient Griselda. a tapestry tale like the Man of Law's, presented in rhyme royal, based (as the Clerk ackno,wledges) on a Latin story by Petrarch, Itself a ,reodp.ring of a story from Boccacclo's Decamer01I. This picture of Wifely meekness and obedience carried to an outrageous extreme is too much for Chaucer himself, who intervenes at. the end with his OWDI comment:
Cri.sildeds deed, and

promise. The young man, when the lady presents herself to him and tells him in blttergriei that she is pmpared to gOl through with it, releases her from her promise. and he in turn, who is indebted to a learned man for the means of having the lady put in his power, is released from payment o£ the large sum which he was to be char~ed fOI the service. Courtesy and "franchise" prevail. and "maistrye' gives way to "gentilesse:· Tbis is the Enal answer 1:0 thee problem of who is to have the "malstrye" in marriage:
Love wol uat been oonstreyaed by.maistrye. Whan maistrie comth, the Cod of Love anon Beteth wynges. and [arewel, he is gool

,eek bire


And bethe atones 'buried ill Yl.aille: For which I erie in open audience, No wedded man so hardy be, t'ass:aille His wyve5 pacience in trust to fynde Crlsildis, for in cerlei,n be 5bal fa.'lle. Lat
D noble wyves, h.ll of heigh pru.dem:e, noDO humylitee youre tcnge 11a.illa, Ne mat no clerk have cause or dili.gence To write of yow II storie of swich meIvaiEle

Tlse husband, the lover, and the "clerk" in the end all vie with each other in courteous and "free" behavinr, and the Franklin ceocludes by asking his audience: "Which was the mooste Ire, as thynketh yow?~ Another fragment begins with the Fhysician's Tale, the doleful story of Appius and Virginia, in which the daughter is killed by her father rather than be yielded to the lust of a oormpt judge. It is probably an earlier story of Chaucer and does not read like his maturer work. The Host is upset by the story and-thinking he knows his man-turns to the Pardoner for a merry tale:
" .•• Thou beel nmy, thou Pardoner," he saycle, "Telle us some rnyethe or j:lpl:s Tiglll anon."

.kJ of Crislldi.s paclent aad kynde. • . .

The Merchant follows with tile story o£ Jalluary aad May-of an old husband and a young wife, who hooowInks him with her young lover, A curious but effective mixture of antifeminist satire Aiild magic, the story, told. in decasyllabic couplets, makes skillful use of a great variety of !literary sources, 'file Merchant's Tale ends this, and anoth. er fragment begins with, th: Squire:s lale, an 1I11lllnished story of wonder and romance, set 10 . Sarray, m the land of Tartarye," It has the naive enjoyment of wonders appr'opr"iate to the young squire, and its Arabian Nights atmosphere still has a certaw appeal. Milton referred to it in his "L' Allegro" as the
Story zyj" ajnbuscan C
hnlf told bold,

Toe Franklia's Tale, which follows in this fragment, continues the marriage debate. It is a gentle and charming tale of a loving wHe who, through no Iault of her own, becomes involved in a promise to yield herself to another lover. Her husband, recoglllizIng that promiSiRS must be kept, advises, his wil,e, ill tears, that she must ,fulfill her

The Pardoner demands a drink fi'5t, and then=somewhat the worse for liqnor, for he has had more than one drink of "corny ale" that day-he begins. What he says eonstirutes perhaps the most brilliant single passage in all of Chaucer's work Somewhat affronted by the Host's assumption that he is capable only of "8 myrie tale." he begins by t:elHng hisaudience of his skill and virtuosity as a Pardoner. But he is sa anxious to displ3)' his cleverness (and his natural caution has been dissipated by drink) that he reveals himself as an unscrupulous trickster who uses false relics and every kind of dishonest cunning to wring money out of even the pomesf people. He tells how he preaches, how he blackmails the congregation into giving him money, how he impresses, bullies, frightens, and overwhelms his hearers. It is a picture of extraordinary virluosity, whose motive is whoUy evil. Havmg thus vindicated his cleverness at the expense of his character he proceeds to his story-which is 0.0,1 a merry t"le, but another example of his professional skiml,an e:remplum, a story wnh a moral to move and impress his heaters. His lale of the three rioters who set out to lilld Death and lind him unknowingly in a, heap of







treasure--For sole possession of which eacb heachewu.sly kilJls the otnerS-Lfi per£eclly done. Beginning with overt moralizmg. which rises to an eloquent attack 011 drunkenness, he proceeds t.o paint a vivid picture of the riotous, blasphemous, and avaricious yaung men at the tavern. The story then moves with somber speed to its violent canelusion, I t is a professional performance of the very llighest ql.laUjiy. Having completed the story. the Pardoner, either led by the momentum of his own eloquence 'Ordeceiving himsel.£ into believing that his eloquence and narrative skin have eHaced tile effect of his earlier self-reoelarion, o~ers to sell the company pardons;
l'!lraventure ther may f.allen 000 or two [)OUD of his hers, and breke lIis nekke ama. Locke which a seuretee is i! to you aile


The Host then turns to Challcer 'hiimself,
And sayde thus, "What man mow?" quod he; "ThOD lookest as tbOIl woldest fynd.e an hare, For evere upon the gD'Gl!l00 see' thee stare. • __ I


"Cheer up." says the Host to the timid and humble Chaucer of "elvyssh coatenaunce,"
"Tells us 9 tale of myrthe Il.lld that anon." "Hooste," quod I, "ne beth nat yvele a.pard. For oother tale eertes kan I noon, But of 8, rym W femed longe agoon,"

Thai I ann in YOllre iellawesbipeyhlle. That I may assoin~ yow, bothe moore' and Iasse, \!"Jilan tlIw.l the &aule s:IHdfro the boa)' puse. Lrede !hal cure Hoost heere shal bigynne. 1':or he is moost enveloped i.1'I sy:nne. Com forth, sire Hoost, and olhe RrsE anon,
.ADd thou $Mlt kisse the reltkes everyehon, 'fe. for a grate! Ullbo!cele lin on tllly pUT'S.

This invitation to kiss (for a lee) relics which he has already confessed are pigs' bones naturally outrages the Host, who repHes with eloquent coarseness, The pr'Ofessional virtuosity of his tale clearly was not enough to pull the wool over the eye.c; of a tough-miinded character like Harry Bailly. The Pardoner is enraged by his Teply to his s~ggestion, and the Knight has to intervene to restore order. Another fragmeliltbegins with the Shipman's Tale, all amusing fobliau with a folk source: there is some evidence 'that it was originally intended lor the Wife of Balll and was transferred! to the Sbipmall after Chaucer had decided to give the Wife another story j1;lstead, Itt is another tale of the. wife and her lover fooli~g the husband. The Prioress' Tale, which follows, is a "miracle of OUlI" Lady," the storv of little Saint Hugh of Lincoln murdered. by "cursed Jewes for singing a bymn. to the Virgin as be walked Ihrougb the Jews' quader. It would of course be unrealistic and anaehrcmstlc to imagine that Chaucer or any of his centempoearies would have seen the fantastic and cruel Iibel perpetrated by such as!ory; there were no Jews in England in Chaucer's day, and tlley were knowa to Englishmen of the >ime soJely in terms of anti-Semltsc fotklore. If we forget the implications, the story' has a na.i've charm which reflects s>omelhing of the character of its teller. It is told. in rhyme' royal, and represents one of Chaucer's most assured ha.ndlings of this stanza.

So the ~uthor The Can.terbury Tale3, rep,resenting himself as the least s,kd:!edof all the narrators (this lind of humor was characteristic of him: we remember his respectf.',d monosyllables before. llie eagle in The Hoose Fame), embavks on "Sir Thopas," that briJliant parody of the metrical romance, In the steady plod of the meter, in Ithe TJ1echanicaEpih~g UP. of detail, in t~e long cat3!ogues of obiects,~ll the. lall,guage,'~lt~atll)n. and tone, ~ir Thopas blJIlesq~es all ~e main eharaetenstlcs of .run-of-the·mill popular romance in Engbsll verse. We have quoted from it in Chapter 2, but two more stanzas, illustrating the catalogue of tt.e knight's physical attrilmtes will giv,e some idea of the burlesque element: •



SiTe Thopas wu a doght,. swaj'1ll,; Whit was IUs face es a payndema}'lll, Hie lippets rose, His rode .is lyk scarlet in gwaro, And.l yow telle in gQOd ce:N]'JI, He hadde a seme]y nose, His heee, his herd was 1)11;; saliroum,
Tha_t to his grrdel ra.ughte adoun; Hi.!ishoon of oordewane. Of llrugges were hi$ hosen broun,

His ·rGM was of syli:latooo, That coste m... ny II jane.

The Host shuts him up after some thirty stanzas:
NNamoo're 01 tiJis, For Coddes dig:nitee, ~ Quod oure Hooste •.Nfor thou makest me So wel)' of ,thy vemly lewed nesse Tht, also wisly Goo lI"Iy soule blesse, Myne eres aken of thy drasty speehe. Now swich a rym the devel I bttechel

Thismay wei he rym.d.oge:re1,~ quod he.









Chaucer then offers· to teU "3]ReI 'lhyl1g ira prose," which. turns out to be the long, tedious moralizing tale of Melibee, translated from I:he French. Whether Chaucer meant d:U:s to sound as it. does to modem ears: is aot quite clear: he may n~t have been aware of bow lacking in artistry his prose was, compared to. his; verse. At allY rate, the Host approved of the tale, and expressed the wish that his wife had the patience advocated and practiced by Melibeus' wifePrudeuce, The Host then calls on the MOllk to leLl a, tale, assuming-as he had done witb the Pardoner-ahat this secular-minded cleric will tell something livd.y. He addresses Ihe 'Monk ill a tone 'of cheerful agl"ooment with his ass!m1ecl opmien that clerical celtbacywas a bad~hillg. But the Mllnk'S professional dignity is offended, and he tells <Ii series of trngedies-"De Casihus Vim:nJim Illustrium." 'Tragedy" to the medieval mind was a st.ory of reversal of fortune hom high to low. As the Monk says: is 10 seyn Q. certeyn storie, As olde bookes mllken us mernorle, Of h~ t:h~1 5100d In greet prosperitee, And is yfallen out of heigh degree ]1'110 myserie, and e'ade1la wreeehedly.

This is presumably an earlier work of Chaucer's, It: tells, in eight~ined stanzas rhyming Ilbabhcbc, of the fa.!ls of Lacller, Adam, Samson, Hercules, "Nabugodonosor," Balthasar, Cenobia, P,ooro, king of Castille. Peter, king of C)'plfl.lS, lBernabo Visconti. Ugolillc (see Dante's inferno, Canto XXHI.· which was presumably Chaucer's source), Nero, Holofernes, Antioehus, Alexander, julius Caesar, and Croesus. before he is interrupted by the Knighl, who can stand: no more .of these dr.eal'Y stories:
"Hool" quod the Knyght, "goad sire,llamOOI£ That )'e han s:eyd is righ't ynQ1Jgh.ywi~. AI1.dmuchel moore; lor lite! luwynesse Is righl Yl100gh 10 muehe folk, I ge~e" of lhisl

"Sire Mcmk, namoore 01 thts, so C:ocl yow blessel Youre tn le anoyeth al this compaignye."

He asks the Monlt for a. 5iOI"},ofhul1tiTIIg, but the Man! replies sullenly tbat he doesn't want 10 play. TIle Nun's Priest is now called upon The Nun's Priest's Tale of Chaun'tecleer and Pertelote is perhaps the best known of all Chaucer's 'Works, and. jmlly S,tl, fo!' it repre-

sents Chaucel" at ahsolute!), the lop of his form. The quiet. realistie opening describing the poor widow and. her way of life, the account of the rock and the hen with its superb satire Oil human marital relationships,. the use of leamil1g in . the discussion of the causes and mellf'L'ing of dreams with the deFtly drawn differences of approach between Chaunteeleer and Pertelote, !he irenic elect achieved by the application of hillman psychology to the behavior (If the birds-all this has been discussed and praised often enough. Drawing 0[1 material from the medieval beast epic and on medieval notions of medicine. astwlogy, and psyChology, Chaucer has produced a. siory so aerated. with wi'l, so cunnimlgly wr.Qught at all polnts, 5.0 artfully blended of mockery and sympatby, of imny and understanding, that the traditional nature of the materials is lost sight of in the brilli,mt:linish of the perfonnance. But there ls much of medieval thoug'bl and attitude in the tale, which in bet rnekes one of the handiest windcws onto lfIe Middle AgesfoT anybody who wishes to enter directly into that world. Yet the' story is permanently modern, 'kept alive by artistry, wit, and insigh~ into human (presented as animal) weakness. J\rnother fragmellt begins with the Second N1JJl's Prologue and Tale, These are conventional religiOUS performances, pmbaMy written by Chaucer considerably earlier. The Prologue contains an mvoeation to ~he Virgin I'.lary, drawing on a variety of source.') induding the Paradiso and several Latin hymns, and: the tale itself is an account in rh)'me royal of t~e life and martyrdom of Saint Cecilia" The company are ~hen enlil!ened by the appearance of a Canon and his Yeoman, who join them. after hard. riding. The Canon is, an alchemist, and the Yeoman tells the complJny something of his master's methods fa:r tricking people out of their n:mney. which so enrages and shames (he Canon that he tides off again. The Yeoman then tells his tale, which d.i(fersfrom aI'ltite others in. that. it is represented as 80mething in which he was recently involved. It is the story of an elaborare plot 'on his master's part to obtain money halldwendy from credulous people· who illlagilledi that :his, alchemy could cbtatn riches for them. The theme was, common. enough in Chaucer's time, but it is told here with an immediacy and a freshness that eorrespond perfectly to the sltuation out of which it is made to arise. Another fragment contains the Mancip'le's PHI,logue and Tale. The Prologue contains a lively quarrel between the Manciple and the Cook. the latter o:f whom is dnrak. The Manciple's brief tale is of the telltale crow who tells thehusband of his wife's infidelity: it was a story eommon illl one Ierm Or another throughout E1!ll'O~eand 'the Orient. Fmally, tihere is in another fragment the Parson s; Pro-










logue and Tale .• which follows direct1)' after the Mam:ip,le'SoTale, for it begins with a reference to its baving just ended. The Host asks the Parson for a story, and the Parson replies tbathe will tell DO story but a sermon. Why sholde I sowen draf out o.fmy rest,
Whao 1 may sowen whele. iF thaI' me lest? , ' . Buttrysteth wel, I am a. S[JiI~hren man, I kanul geeste 'rum, ram, ref, 'l::!y lettre, N e, God Wool, tyro holde J but mel bell:re; • . .

He does Dot hold with the aliliter3ltive poetr), of the North, or with rhyme. He will ~el~his tale in prose, "to knytte up al this Ieeste, and make an ende. He then deliv,ers a long sermon on. penitence, which includes a treatise on the seven deadly sins. The prose is somewhat featureless, and rhe work is more iDteresting to students of medieval prea.ching than to the literary critic. After it, in all the manuscripts which contain !:he complete tale, is Chaucer's "Retraction," a conventionally pious renrmciation of his works "of worldly vaniteas," Illcluding the T1'oilm, Tile H811se of Fame, The Legend of Good WOm£rt, TJLe Par!ialnenl 01 FoWls, and those of The Canterbury Tales "that SOW1leDJ. into synne," Neo-mt:hodoxy llails this as a commendable turning from this world 10' eternity, but it is difficult to be satis'ed with a point of view which so bHthely renounces wtiat bas made a man immortal. The conclusion is self-evident, With Chaucer, the English language and English literature grew at a bound to full maturity, No other Middle Eng~ish writer has his sl<m, his range, his complexity, his ~arge humane outlook. Unfortunately, the English !language (as Chau~r .foresaw in a stanza. at Ilhe end of Troilus and Criseyde) was still in the process of rapid change, and major shifts in pronunciation and aeeeetuatios were to occur in the following century and~ half. This meant that Chaucer's achievement in es:tablishmg English as- a fully developed literary language could nOit be adequatelyexploiled by his immedlate successors. It was; Dot long before r~aders were unable to scan him properly. This fact helps to ernphasize Chaucer's loneliness. His followers lode bothhis technical brilliance and !lis breadth of vision, leaving him the one undisputed master in medieval English literature'. Not until Shakespeare fs there an !English wrrter with Chaucer's combination of technique and insight and his ability to put each at the 'service of the other, and Shakespeare's genius, which was the greater, ran in diHe£ent channels. But no other EngHsh narrative poet is his equal, The large canvas ort which The Can.ferbury Tales are painted, ttJ.e ""aned view of humanity in action which Chaucer gives us, were

later to. become characteristic qualities of Englisb literature, liepresented III both the drama and, later, the novel. The often quoted phrase of Dryden's, "Here is Cod's plenty," referring to The Canterb;~r!l T'ales, can be applied to. much in Shakespeare, Fielding. and, to name only a few. However much attention is ps. id to the ~nDclpal chara.cter or ch.,aractel"'S .m the 1000cgrmmd.English dramstl~ts and novelists ba~e had a fondness for filling ill the background w:tth a large rauge oJ characters diminishing in subtlety, but not in life, the furthe·c ill the background they are. Men tend to be seen ~g~iTlsl the co~orfulJHlltern of a stratified sex:. ely I"13lthe.fOHm onl.'I. in i intimate relanon With the select few in contact with whom their destiny is determined. This is not, of ('(IUJse, always true, and less true of tragedies than oJ other kinds of work (compare Othello with Henry lV, for example or jonson's Rartllolomeu; Fair with his Sejanus), but on 'the whole the crowded canvas, with the eharaeters shading off from fully realized ~ndividua1s to types and oddities, seems to be a preference of the English literary gen:ius. Chaucer, however. does not go in ror JOllsonian "humours" (tJ-.o'llghhe knows a~d uses the psycholOgical theory behilld them) or Dickensian eecentncs, vision, if ironic, is central; his tone, if often comic, is never merely funny; and each of his characters represents some essential troth abouf men. If Chaucer's work helped to make the lEast Midl;md dialed of Middl,e English into the English literary lallguage. we are reminded by the work of his contemporary, John Gower (died 1408). who wrote in French and! in Latin as well as in English, that the claims of the other two languages were stiU .stl--ong.French, however, was rap,idly giving w~y !O English, and it is Significant that of hts three malar works-Mu--Oif de fRomme, Vox Clanumtis. and COllle,~$i() ~lI1a:ruis-t~e fint is in. French (in its Anglo--Norman variety) and tffi1elast, ,:,",Tltte~ towar~ the end a~ his career with Chaucer's example before h;m, 'g,s In Engb5h. Gowem- reputation has been eclipsed by s ~hauc~er s, but he was. popular in !lis awn day and was still read by the Elizabethans, He IS III moretypteal representative of his a~e and class than Chaucer could! claim to be: conservative. morabsttc, draWing with considerable technical skill but without allY great o~jgina]jty 'Gf per()eption or liveliness ol imagination on the tradihonal materials that were available to him. His long French poem is a manual of sins and sinners, a detailed and glOOl'llyaccount of the prevalence of vice springing from man's corrupt nature. Repentance is, ~f course, t~e remedy. The ,Vtn: Clamnntis, a dream allegory Jn Latin, de~1s WIth t~e Peasants Revol~ of 1381. giving a sQ'If,agely gloomy ,pacture of VLOJ,eIlCC and! disorder and of the general oon-up--











t~on of th'e age ..The Con!,!!s~iO Amantis is a collection oftales in EJlglish octosyllabic couplets Imked! by a riot very helpful framework. The poet announces, with a certain reluctance, that he will leave morality for love, for readers prefer the latter. He then descrfbes the coaventiunal May morning. wilh himself going eut into a wood and meeting Venus, the Queenl or Love, who advises him to make his eoufessionto Genius, her priest. Genius considers it necessary to discuss the seven deadJy s~ns,with tile numerous sub-sins in each category, and he proceeds to illustrate each one by a stm:y; it is these stories which make up the m<l!iR material of the poem. The relation between the story and the siu i~ is rneant to illustrate is oft.el1 foreed and sometimes preposterous, and it would have been bette!' if Gower had rid hoos,el£ allogether (JFthis cumbrous machinery. But the 12lles themselves are told with a quiet skill. Gower lacks aHogether Chaucer's vivacity mild hum.or: he tends to be merely Iluent. Here, for example. is part o~ his de..5c~i~<t[ol1l the eave ?f. sleep from .his tale of of Ceyx: and .AlcHme (which Chaucer told In The B,ook of the


Under anhell !here :is 8, eave, [hill) Which (Jf the sonne mal nogbt have, So that nomsn mai knowe ariht The: poin~ between the dai and nyht; Ther is nc' Iyr, there isno sparke, Their is IIO dore, whic.h mai ma~ke. [creak] Whereof all yheseholde unsehette, [an eyssh.ould open] So that inward, there is no lette, . • .

The stories are interspersed with digressions on a gred varlety of subiects. His views are always the coovennonel views of 'There is: DO !lriginii.lity in his imagination orin his ideas. The' constant moralizing wearies, and though many of the tales hold themterest, the smaoth flow of over thirty thousand .Iines becomes iminitely tiresome. "Moral Cower," as Chaucer called him in the dedication of the Tro.uus. is one of the most interesting examples in medieval English lilerature of verse craftsmanship without genills; he is an excellent mirror of bis age; he is more disturbed by the upheavals in. ecnbemporary society than Chaucer ever ,shows himself 10 be; but he is a dull fellow, lacking the ~JUe spark, and we cannot read him for any length of time with.out making historlJ::'.alallowances, MO'ral in a more passionate and personal way aad more deeply cancerned with the religious, social, and economic problems of his time is the ,author of P':i.ersPlownwn. an impressive allegorieal :poem (or series of related poems) written in the old alliterative meteriD tlu~

IRtter part of the fourteenth century, The author is traditionally taken to be William L.·mgl:md,and he certainly refers to himself as Will in tlrie poem; but. the attribution is uncertain, and in anycllIse it is possible that the Intel' Iw,o of the three m~in versions of the peem ..,.hich exist represent revisions and alterntlons by one or more other writers. The !Pmlog:ue deseribes h.ow the author fell asleep ona May moming on the Mahtem Hills and saw in :rt dream "at fail"e felde ful of Iolke," with plDuglllTilell, wasters, hermjts, merchants, ,iesters, beggars,. pi]grirns, and friars, each going about his business; the lis!: closes with a pardoner with his pnpa! bulls oAering to "assotl" the people. and neglectful prlests deserting ""lIeir Boch foli' an easy Ilme in London. A king appeaH', and! an angelic voice admonishes him run Latin to follow [ustice and mercy; then-with that dream klglC where one scene suddenly transforms itself into another=we find a group of nils and mice deciding to put a hell on the cat se that they can hall,e warning 01 his npprcaeh, then finding none of them willing to tie the hell 011 to the cat, and. Iln3Hy being warned tbat t]mt ls not hc,w 10 handle the problem of a dangerous ruler. The Prologue ends with another crowded picture of the social scene, with barons, ~Imrgesse:s. tradesmen, and artisans of differenl kinds, laborers, and ,ffinnkee,pers cryi ng "H ot piesl" af the doors of their taverns, We can see at onee that this is; a new use of the dream allegory. The g,ellile movement of the traditiollal variety of love vision, generally told in rhymed couplets, has here given way to the more vigornus rhythms of the oldle,r alliterative line, obviously handled by someone who had !ong been Iamtliar with it There is a rap!dity and a bustling quality about toe verse, 3. sense of men at work. tha~ is neteasily pnalle~ed in medie'val E'Dglish Hterature.
A fo.ire fe!de (1:1]0:1 !:olks Ionde I: !:here bytwene., or alle rnaner 01 men the mane and the riehe, W~m:hyil:lg and w;)todryng as 'Ihe world'e ,!lSlr:etlJ. Some putten hem 00 'the plow pleyed lui sel de. In ~lI!ttyingand in sOW)ll'lg s..... onken Iul harde, And wormen thSlI W;)~tClU'S with gtotlJ.m),s destruyeth, AmI some putten hem ro, pru.ycIe, a,p<l,ml~edhemthereafter,
In ecnrenaunce of d(l-thyng comer. djsgked. In prayers and in. P€lloUl.ce putlen hem manye,

Al !-or loueaf OWe.' lorde lyueclen!u l ~treyt'e. In hope fort~ ha)ue heueneriehe Mine .... There p..eched a. Pardon ere as he a prest were, 'Brougbte forrh <I 'bulle with btshopes seles, AE'J,dseid !hat hym-se!f mygh!e ,a:ssoile:n hem aile Of JIl.Islled of fastyng 'Ill vowes ybro1ren..









The vision then develops into an allegorioa] interpretation of life, The ,first "passus" (the name given to the divisions of the poem) intraduced Hoty Church. a fair lady who expounds the way of salvation to the dreamer. In the second, Lady Merle (reward, bribery) appears, richly dressed, and is to be married to Falsehood; but Theology objects and the various characters: proceed to London to have the rnattee decided by the King. The Kil1g threatens punishment to Falsehood and the other figures sarroundlng Lady Merle (Flattery, Cuile), who run off and leave Merle alone to face the court .. In the third passu:., Mede tries her tricks on the justices. Sine confesses to a friar and is shriven, and makes a good impression by promisiog to pay for new windows in a church (which leads the author to utter a warning against those who hope to attain heaven by having their names engraved as benefactors on church windows; that is not the way to salvation). She recommends the acceptance of bribes to mayors and justices. The King, is fooled, and propose. s a. marriage between Mede and Conscience. but Conscience objects and delivers; a fo·,e indictment of the lady. Some lively al'gument follows, in the course of wluiCh.Ccnscienee gives an eloquent account of a time ,coming when
Shal na mere Made Ae 'love and lowenesse Thise shal be malstres be maistre, as she is nouthe,
and Ie....te log.ede:res"

garthian realism: Gluttony's fellow drinkers are not perwnifications. but rea] people:
Cesse the souteresse
WEIHe the warner

sat on the benche,

[female shoemaker)

and h}'! wyf bothe, Tymme the tynkere and tw\eyme of his prends,

HEkkethe Ilal:eneymlln aod hughe the nedeler, Clarice of cokkeslaaeand the ci:e£keof the eherehe, Dawe tlJe dykere aad a doocine other. . . .


The level o,EUJe aUegrny is not consistent. GluUooy [s 3 gluttonous person, who does DOt repent until he has made himself drunk and awakes two days later w-ith a hangover" Sloth appears to be a selfindulgent and lazy priest who prefers to read "rymes Df Robyn hood" to'performing nis priestly duties, The repentant ,company then determine to journey in search of Truth, but 'they do not know the way. It is at this pOLnt that Plers Plowman first appears on the scene. The company have vainly in'1uirea of a returned pilgrim if he knows where a.samt called Truth is to be .found. Then
"Peter]" quod 8. plowman Sindput forth his bed, ".1 kn owe hyrn as kynd!ely ,~5 clerke doth his bokes, CoI1$ci.el!lceand kynde witre ken ned me to his place. ~

[lo)'al1)') [,elll1h]


treuthe to


= nalum]]

Passus IV develops the a.rgmnent, with Wit, Wisdom, Peace, Reason, and Wliong taking part: die King is oonvmeed by Reason in the end, and asks him to stay with him! always. In Passus V the poet awakes briefly, then falls asleep agai.n "and thanne saw I moche more," He sees tbe same field Full of EoMk, and! describes first Reason preaching 1:0 the people tha~ recent plagues and tempests were pUiuishment Ior sin. T],e Seven. Deadly Sins hear Reason's call to repentance" and are moved 10 repent. This introduces one of the lfvellestand mostinterestiog sections of the Jloe-m. Pride, Lunny. Envy, Wrath, Ava.rlce, Gllllttooy. and Sloth, each perS'Onii'ied,give accounts of themselves before their repentance, and some of these accounts, taken together with the author's description, amount to brilllianUy drawn portraits. There is of course no more individualization tlJan is necessary to make the particular vice clear and to illuminate the behavior which it implies, but within these limits the eharacter drawing is vivid lind skim!!\. The most a~tJealing is the picture of Gluttony in the tavern, wbere he stops on his: way to. ehueeh, The lotenO.r of a mediev:a1 tavern is described with HG-

Pters takes over tile moral leadership of the company and te.11s them the way to Truth in Bunyanesque allego.ricaI geography. This passus ends with a pardoner deciding that he cannot go without his papa. bulls and [etters ofindUllgence. and a eommon woman telling Piers sirn ply that she will follow him, Passus VI ccnttoues the story ..Piers says he will act as guide to the ~ompaOJyafter he has ploughed Hs half-acre. He gives further moral advice to IDe company, ill pa.;:ticllIlar t.O a knight, who recognizes his duty to protect the, chuseb and the ,commOD people,Piers directs everybody to hard work, and those who shirk are diSciplined by Hunger. .A discussion of labor, wages, and similar economic factors, which fllustrates the author's conservative view of such matters (he is ]ooking bade to an ideal stability before the present discontents) concludes this passus. In Passus VII, Truth sends Piers a pardon intended fo:r all (though ~awyers and. merchants are eligible only with reservations), and a priest argues against its validity. Tile priest says that he can find no pardon there, but {July a statemens that those who dO' well shall find salva!ion and these wl10 do ,evil shall not. The ensuing argument awakens the dreamer, and the pasSlIS con-

of bitter satire and tenderness. the meeting of Truth and Mercy. outbursts. the search for the good life.t lacks artistic unity and the author shows oilly sporadic control over his material. the author of Piers Plowman made use of traditional material. Pi.isling onty in the two later versions=centains the vision uf Dowel (Do WeH). with Christ's descent into Hell and his vict. and II sad picture of corruption and decay on the earth succeeds. content. . Underlying al] the digres. as a symbol of Christ bimself. vehicle for carrying both a satirical and a religiOUS. Ii the two later versions represent the work of other vlrriters. Like Chaucer. proceeds and the lives of Dowel.ations about the spirit of an age to consider that the same age produced Piers Plowman and The Canterbury Tales'. which was exploited by those similarly troubled. o. Dobet. and cha. The poet wakes to hear the joyous peating ~ Eas~er bells. moral indignation. culminating in charity.l:'iers Plowrnan is the work of a :religious idealist who is genuinejy distressed by the social and moral ermdition of England and who is endeavoring to create a large and cumulative vision of what is wrong and where we must look for improvement. But in the ~s~ting account of Dobest we see Antichnst tal. hope. for truth. and Dobest unfold with ill the digressions and excursions. PIers Plowman is a remarkable work. we gel a picture of the 6ght agaw. There is something of the popular imagination as well as of the individual vlsioa in Piers Plowman. and lively contempomry references. preaching.EIIS PLOWMAN 121 dudes with the poet's passionate remarks on the superiority of good works to indulgences and papal bulls as means of pardon.imseH to seek in pilgrimage for Piers Plowman m his new symbolic meaning. they ~ol]ow from one another. and wilh Conscience finally [. the fight against false relIgIOn. with its alternation. of Light over Darkness. ·F. As the pot>m. This search can be conducted on dilferent levels and described from different points of view. GOWEll. of vivid description of contemporary Me and the strin. then it seems clear that the original author succeeded in ereatlng a traditioe. And the hal1dling of the atliterauve line is always easy and confident. and the poet awakes in tears. B.sions. The account of Dowel concludes with a triwnphant description of the vic'tory of Life over Death. With a pictme '(If a hard fought psycilOmachio.and in Piers himself he creates a symbol who eventually united the ideal of the common man with the ideal of God made man.fGoo qll8S11 homo and of Coo's grace vouchsafed to aIDl men.. PI!E'RS P["OWMAN 'CHAUCER. There is none of Chaucer's relish.ory over Satan. . The remainder of Pie. and it is a a salutary check to hasty genera~iz.lowing IUs mora] views and his religiolJlsemotioll to ddect the poem at Hny p{llrrt. grand moments of religiollS passion.rity constitute the way. Pl. the dream concludes.ousing agajmt corruptiou in the Ch!llren. both peTS'. prophecies. st evil carried on simultaneously em different planes: the fight for the spirit against the dead letter.el"SPlowman now reappears. the . and flat didactic -passages jostle each other.. as Dober follows Dowel to culminate in Dobest. the author is always thinking of the people •. It is difficult to follow the somewhat rambling eourse of the prologlles and ten passlJs of this extension of the poem. of Peace and Righteousness. of social realism and religious vision.6. But the main design is nevertheless visible. and Dobest. for salvation. the vices pressing the virtues hard.126 CHAUCER. and almost anything that men can do or think or Ieel 01' imagine isrelevant to it.Onal nd social.en able to subdue his material to an adequate literary form. Dober (Do Belter).aith. and fOT God.~ Plowman-most of it ex. and they both draw on the facts of contemporary society: but what diHerent pictures they present! The diJIerence is one of attitude. of the humanscene as a human scene" nor of his joy in his verbal artistry. The author does not seem to have be. COWEll. the author seems to be al. even in its: most visionary moments it is never private. and visions is the notion of the que. symbolic inddents. Though i.allg control aller Christ s together of Latin tags.

ate [espec. He had !Ii g. his tmagmatio[l.. eesnptled from a variety of sources.Hceeleve's work th. fader in st:ienee • • . though they seem to reflect B genuine' piety" for all b15 love of taverns.of Humanism was beg~m]lng to a.La BeUe Dame . . giving a new twist to the handling of tapestry £.. than Lydg.aP:l?arel1:dy knew tmel1llastel"pe:rsonally.iall}i [pll!lrchasingl I Am:! Ie1"B.. ~o Wher was !I grel:'!er maisler eek (bam y 0. [ p:)'Ilchld oat.aditio[lal materialwith reverent. bel aqueynlicl al'We:stmynslre ).s. a connoisseur of LoD~O:tli might life and a tavern bunter. The H£feenth help to enliven It fOJ" us.l~lIe t:radiU?n.vemeres 'l:Lli. or his understanding of men. The Assembly of Ladies tells in heavy a1Iegoncal detail of pleadings before the Lady Loyalty. is happy if he has the requisite lTIumber of stresses and does not seem.m. perpetually in need of menej. His Mille Regle teUs the story of his misspent life and ends with an sppeal~o the Lord Treasurer to pay Irimh1s overdue ·pension. the idle and the faithful) though there is liule choose between the two on grounds of poetjc merit (or lade of il:). the victory of Englisll over French.A PTE 1\ FIVE The End of the M£ddle Agles THE ENGLJ'SH LITEft. His lo:o~er works are mechanical and tedious. mtrodueed into the Regemen~ 01 l'tincesstanzas. the new move'as ment.ARY SCEl'o'E after the dead of Chaucer Is not ~spi:dng. and social and economle changes were bringing about 1the transformation of the feudal system into a freer society based en. MIDDLE AGES C H .e. playing mo attention to how they are stressed (wbil. We see here Thomas Hocc1eve aad [ohn Lydgate are fue best bOWD of Chaucer's followers in England. leaf. yet they' seem to. ~o care how .a money reoonomy: but it 'was some time before these changes were reflected in any important new movement of the mind or Ute spirit .enuine admjratton for Chaucer.l:oes.Jhjs technical brillianee.END OF THE. of the long reign 'of Henry VI and ofthe Wars of the Roses whk:h followed it Sig:nifi:cantnew forces were indeed working in the nationa] culture. o lUaiV'Sr.!lle Among the t:o. if he produces the requisite number of syllables in the line. pleading in vam with a lady whosematte:r-of-fact .rly or la. Alld. Theyindllde many translations. slowly developing. Ftfteenth-eentury courtly poet..vy 'sometimes uses the old modes witll a certain fresbness: The Flowel"tilnd the Leaf" long wrongly attributed to Chaucer. each other wi~ gentlefri~dlinessi an~ other works oj the CbucerApocrypha have their OVfl:l! appeal. The Cucko(l and the Nightingale lsa debat using fam. Technically. rus verse is ertraordinari'ly unac('ompl:ished. for. but he 15 the more mterestmg'. age '. His re!!igious and didactic works have little \!'alu~ as ilterature.iTly vivid touches: . and. verse letters.iliar properties. their lives overlapped Chaucer's. though it saw a: significant increase 11'1 lay literacy and marked a~ important stage in the rise (If the middle class" suffered from the confusions and demmalizatiol1.t. there is tl!:Iewell-kaown Line E. and there was none who could combine theoourtly and the bourgeOis tradition as Chaucer had diolle. . a tradition working itself out.indiHerenc~ to his love abnost 'breaks: out of the whole ~n:Jrtly.te.gures 'of allegorical sigru:ficaneeby havh~g the narratora woman and by havimg the hwl opposing sets 'Of characters (worshipers of the flower and of the. And cooltesi' \N'hEin I rem.iffer'ellt. J:elong 110 a d. Hoccleve wrote less.i:s!~can~ autobiographical to~hes ~n. om tile other hand..At the be'g:lnllmg of the fifteenth century it was clear that none of Chaucer's rollowers had.ellt of Princes.mIlS Mere! (which gave Keats a title) has a love.many or wbat land of unstressed syllables he has). s'eekmg noble patrons and Wiiting them beggmg. 'veJT:llYgenii] 'man yholdc. He was a mmorclvll servant.eI Ehewhere he halls him as The :G11!i1:e of Irudu01iJS endendement. theee are real.e at bc~de' hath leyd his klly1 'with me.mely . There are some fa.: he is content. My 'PlaysleT Chaucer lIm1r of eloquence. 128 . ee. uses b'. WherlOle I was the welcomer a]g.e Lydgate. though none is as fresll as: rue FlOwer . was now clea:r and complele. ~t hem ill mym 8CE!te.and the Leaf. a !lew dass of readers . among them the flege. in praise of him: o mayster MinOl!E deer and fad. fll<tillldereo1 oW"e fake langage.walkell English interest. and Hoccleve .

A good example is [lis tale. MIDDLE'. and in those where 'he demands of the narrative compel him to some liveliness of detail (and it might be added that hls feeling for small children has been noted in Ilis favor). too. they are mostly polysyllabic words from Latin OT French. child. The professions of literary incompetence made by so mally of these 'IHteellth-cenllJry' poets represent doubtless a mere fashion.y have been. Unlike Hoccleve. a long allegorical." f.hhis reading and his experience to li." "credulity.. The churl has caught the bird.' "yiff I shall not lye..~he formula somewhat and speaks In livelier ill Eng!andhe had nothing of Chaucer's gift of turnil~g OOt. the pale Pirus saw' I never also ne wist J neverwhere the muses dwelle .• . king. to express itself ill dldactic or proverbial form.i6c3nce in medieval thought and art of the period: Death the leveller. and though he has occasional felicitous touches there is !ittle reason to disagree witt. frlnr.Over one hundred ely Eorlv-f:jve t1JOU5. and hermit. Pope. alrnost universally written off as a bore. begins . 'II~rjes . such as "inexcusable.l'llg & (If wy!. became a leg'end SOOI1 nfter his death.tal. and put it in "a F. I rernernbre a pmverbe said of aide. Lydgate's were the routine didactic interests or the unadventureus spirits of his time. Defaut a! langage & of eloquence. but this does not mean that any of his English admirers had the ability to follow in his footsteps. Stephen Hawes). cardinal. He contributed something. say." and "ado!escence. ne dranlce r nevar at Pegsses welle. points the grim moral oE a common mo:rtality which is found so often stressed in the fifteenth century . whose translation of Boethius into Englis:hver. His Dance Macabre introduced. And though my cage forged were of gold And the penaeles of byral ced cri<.!!iUl"vhri. Among the little . The anonymous author 0'( The Court of Sapience (he ma. vers~ of Be~e~ct ~lJTgh is a short poem of com~liment to Lydgate whlch begies ID.. lind many miscellaneous shorter poems. But even emotion .raty lite] cage".edievllilJeaming. didactic poem in two parts." But what the reader is most eonselous of ls his frequent use of rag pt. Lydgate is. for the library at the Benedictine Abbey at Bury was one of the best. but they spoke more truly than they shows better metrical control than most of his. ACES E!l:D' OF THE "'IDO. . and Truth conce'ming the fate of man and the second a conducted ~Otl~ of. His Fall 01 Princes is the first lull-dress collection of "tragedies" (in the medieval sense of stories of falls from high to low estate) of the many that were to influence English thought arid literature up to Shakespeare's Richard HI. He asks alO to forge my tonge to glad myn audytoW'S.130 END OF TIn. 6fteenth-ceI'ltury eontempcrari es. several lives of saints (done for diHerellt patrons). Emperor. it is dear. together with a syntacticallooscness.• ." "ther nis namor ill SlIbject. Songe and prison. both to the themes of English literatnre and to the vocabulary of English." "tolerance. mostly at Bury St. clerk.a~ least console ourselves with the thought that his work illustrates the early Bfteenth-eentury English mind.rofes5ing his own deIi. Edmunds" and 'hough this did not prevent him (rom managing to see a good deal of men and aHairs-::md cert:linly did not prevent bim from reading widely.LE ACES 131 p Chaucer. Peace." "as to myn intent. including: the mammoth Fair of Princes (from a French prose version of Boeeaccio's De Casibus lllustrium Vjrorom). and we can .s fredorne in !ai!h 'he les:itb al.llilS cornmen self-deprecatory verne Nat dremyd J in the mown! of :PemBISD. severa I 'translations from the French. Lyd:gate added many new words to the English vocabulary. both secular and religio\. JohnWa]ton. and so 011 dOWTI the seale to laborer. in Lydgate.ensitivity or poetic force. For J h~d lever upan ~ brnnche smal Merely to sing arnonge the wades gune Theone in a cage of stlvee bright and shene." rendered . han !l00. Lydgale is at his best in his shorter poems. to Englund (hom the French) a theme of greaf sign.from the French. account in his awn writing. who addresses in turn all classes of men. which makes the reading of his longer didactic worksa severe fenance.. . "The Clmrl and the Bird. Thes work fro me schuld have wilhholden}'it Insuffisha\lnoe or •.. There is a deadening lameness in his versilieation. the bird speaks: . the almost equally Iengthy Troy-Boak (from Ciudo delle Colonne's Historia TrnitllW). Who I:esi!h h. Trowest thou I wolsynge in prisoun? Songe procedith of ioye and of pleasaunoe And prisQn causlth deth and dlstructioun . this verdict. Lydgate led a cloistered [ile as a monk. the first dealing with the dispute 'between Mercy.his pro 10gue in similar strain: CUlllll.rases"sothly 10 telle. m. though he rarely employed them with much s." et cetera.1I'ld lines of his verse survive.

The' religiolls lyriC. And. was brief. . I shan blowe out a fume To hyde my mynde. encouraged by Fame (a lady) and. 'With even Iess 'Dation of the true nature of allegory than his. there was no new source of idealism to rEvivify the increasingly uninspired and conventional didactic a'!lesory. Augustine's ini![uentiaJi statement in nrc Cfly of God that "the study of wisdom is either concerning action or conremplation. The hero. the lasl are-LIp of ch. didactic.irlgs of th!ePhilosophl1rs.nmer 0'( knightly ideals In the earlier rnnnner. immediate predecessors: The light or truoth.I Europe. I dare not to presuiRe Nor hyde ffiYll1atter. Caxton. though influential. Yet IDllICh that. It is a curious view indeed that thefunction of allegory is to obscure Yet this "smokey. That the fifl.. Tlte Pas!irl'le of P. and rellgious wriling: these were the three mam categories of fifteenth-century E:nglish litera lure. ?ut In theme il represents the uninspired development or the allegoncal didactic tradition. borne in the partes WlDer m)' m.~e lI~e th~1 printing came m. ". active and! eentemplauve.ting 00 his return [0 England. most or what has been said of the Fourteenth-century lyric applies to the fjfte~nth century also. who had been in Burgundy witnessing tins revival at the French-speaking court of the Duke of Burgundy..~ dates from about H70~ It is more vigorous in expression and competent in metries .!e&(Ire. topical. It seems as though the simple story rcmance." Tbe knight and the clerk are united in Graullde Amour.E MiDDLE ACES :I:N. followillg St. telling (in . Stephen Hawes' alJegorical romance. and the third is the largest. occurred at the: sa. England (Caxtoo's translation of Raoul de Fevre's Le Receui[ des Histoires de Troye. moralistic. the gradual impact on English thoug'ht of the Humanism or the Renaissance. the hero's love for La Bell Pucell rus chaste and Christian and leads to marriage-something quite impossible in the earlier courtly I01o'e tratruth. clothe SO sore eensume Yet as I may.ivalry. the first book printed in England). 01 Tmye at Bruges in 1474. a last Indian slIx. and the contemplative in penetrating into the al'lstruse causes of nature. which had hitherto been sharply distinguished in medieval tllOugbt. and p. Craunde Amour.artly by the growmg !bourgeoIs taste for a more realistic.irI :II artes."lnmyrag 10 cloke. satirical. indeed. and political verse of little litemry merit but of considerable historical interes:t. The revival of Interest m the duvalnc story romance which accompanied chivalry's final Ding was just in time to take advantage of Caxtcn'simpcrted art. and thence assumes two several names.I) OF THE MJDD'LE AGES 133 1 kncwe my scU meost naked . William Casten's introdllction of pr~oting into fl. The Wars of the Roses. we see for the most part Simply the progressive eshaustion of earlier medieval modes. however. picaresque kind of is mocst eorrupt. My eomune vulgare eke moos! internpte. brought with him (born the ~w a:lU~lhics) t~e art of prin. accompanied by Covemannee and Grace (rwo greyhounds). and the nature of divil'lity." didactic. of La Ben Pucell shows some interesting new featul'es. sight merely to exhibit tbis exhaustirm can be seen Oil a closer view to be illJhlenced in some degree by new ways of lhinkinp:. the active consisting in t$}epractice of morality in one's life.ignificant marks of cbllillge. proleste~ ag~inst idle stories ~f ~hi". was the fiirst print. dedicated to Henry VU in 1506. nouris~cd c1lHin~ the period. with Roger Asch~m. I Iacke (. This revival of interest in romance. it was killed in the sixteenth century partly by the new movement of Humanism.than alll)'thillg by Lydgate. had been pushed out by allegory and didacticism. appears at Gut. undemeth II fable By covert eoloure. representing 2J new ideal of la~ educatmn: further.• Tile Court of Sapicl1c. which in England in its early phase took a narrow view of romantic tales and. well and pccmble.first pe[son narrative) of the pursuit and eventual attail1ment by the hero. In the literature 'Of the period.ed oookpubHs'bed ill English" and his return to London in 1475 was foUowed by his: printing in 1477 of Dicte» arId Say.132 END Of' T:t.ruptc .'st works printed in England were ehfvslne stories of the older kind. w:ith a oriSI)' smoke My rudenes cunnyng.storie. The attenuated courtly tradition. And wytn must wndl")' longcs myxt '" . But Ily a fm:itful coind~ellC'e. ~~'ith '~hedecay of feudalism find the slow but ~teady rise of a realistic al'ld iconoclastic bourgeoisie.:nlry. in the courts 0.'ty{ hmgll. And I eonversaunte &. continues the lame versification and the mechanical allegoriZing of Lydgate. following the types discussed in Chapter 3. the establishment of the Tudor monarchy in 1485-these are obvious and the nobility destroyed each other and the nnddle class rose steadily.eenl. which accounts f?r t~e hct that some oi the fi. though new themes and attitudes begin to make their appe~l'" anee as the centmy advanced. . allegorical remance. and will bediscussed later. printed by him as Recuyel of the Iii. so popular with an earlier gCllerlltiol1i of Englishmen. Here we have the union of the active life and the contemplative life. To drawe a curtayne. receives an elaborate education in the Tower of Doctnne before engaging on the knightly adventures which culminate in his marriage to La Bell PuceJlJ.h century was :I period 01 transilioon in England is obvious enough 10 the poliLic:11 and economic historten.

The la. as we have seen.!l$I.nd with II gender is deelmall.. somtyme 8J rnyght)' knyg):lt. thet II. annesed ptoprelye 1"0 every speaehe. all play their pad in the final pageant.r all Ms ph)'lo~opnJl 5: Iogykel' Thismtolerable doggerel is representative of Siwhole area of late: medieval Ellglish didactic verse.dlade rDyall. .! pa:!1t·es generaJ] in Are Iatyn wordes. describing the hero's • education in grammar at the nan(lls' of Dame Doctrine: •. Satire. on you for no call Me for 1(1ayde.134 'END Of" THE.s. And at the end.1stande wlthout helpe ~I iUl . and Langland have each his own satirical vein. m}'ght.a development of the older handliTllg of the seven deadly sins. cl pI)' movement. and Brant's idea oi p\cltt~ng them all in a ooats:ailing off to Narragonia gave a new liveliness to the whole conception . the ft:lblillU tradition. Chaucer.tyne woroe.lrehave its moments of perception and even of eloquence. and Lydgate (m that order) as 1:1:15 maste:r.• To whom sheanswered. and the relation of the aetrve 'to the oontemplative lile which foreshadows both the courtesy books of the Renaissance and the' use or romance !Dade by Spenser . '1}. Time.e Ages. himself (like Caxtcn) a translator and dabbler rn letters. yw mil)" beholde and se .l!lge.f being positivetycomk-Ihe verse can become is illtlstrate& by the f~llowiDg passage. Chaucer. especially praised [or. Copland. the most dulcet spryng Of famous reLlmryke.Hawes saw himself.Eldlie mentions Cower.ltiDIl [rom moral evil to intellectual folly is si~nifkant of a new temper in European civilization. The chefs original! (If my ~e. Nowhere is the popular medieval ubi stint theme handled so Rally: Where k~ToU)'.E AC:ES END OF THE :II-IIC·J)LE ACES 135 clition.. The Sellen.How.. and the shift of a!ter. and Jean de Meun.e retho ryke? Where be aU the foure [loa-lotus of 0 yvynytei' \'l'here lS Arystotyll fg. Tille ende of JDye . . Tr~e EX12lrtple of Virtue.eldject}'ve. is short-er and less interesting" and few other late medieval exercises in this mode have any special appeal. Hls Ship of Foals (1500) provlded a new metaphor [or English satire. The Ship of Fools looks forward to Erasmus' fraise of Fo!. but Barclay's own comments expand the poem to manlY times the length oE his his COlU5e and. MI'lJO·I. Jt is: a rendering of the Nt:lrrenscbitf of the German Seba .. WI"ll ."yp:l]yte OIiU all oratour s in parl)'l. education. eeclesiastjcs.ergh. and Fame.gure of some impartance.!y as much 35 it looks backward to the theme of the seven deadly sins.iyng as iii pioneer. William Nevill's Ca~e1l oj PlcI1st1re {ISIS) is worth mentioning only because its printer. Sythen your llodye is now wrapte in chest. A£ter the day there cometh the derke !l)'ght.Olli' soule good tel t. a collection of fools-caurHers. aJ Swi:S:S. wyth b. ncwein especial]. ~. Robert. It is .. ngbl gently agayne. How dismal-to the point o.stian Brant through the Latin translation of Locher. whiehe is substantlall For a nowne suhstantlve is well a. which shows a certain grandeur of COIlception in spite iOf the technical madequaey of the verse. Hawes' other allegorical-didactie romance. of course.dgate. For tbough !:he day be never 51) lon. Barclay's rhyme royal stanzas SITepedestrian enough. The interese-cae might say the obsession-with education ls characteristic of the age. it sinks to probably record deplhs nf dullness. lI. Its interest is morein the contemporary social scene than with moral types. was not unknown in the AI. and because. after the hero has married and lived bappily ever alter.. introduces a dialogue between the printer and the author at the beginning of the poem.ddle Ages. and Lydgate is. nowne snhstantyve M j. !3 st the belles ryngetk to ef'VI!Il5c. whiche In. however. 1475-1552) is a ttansi. it ~Si also a work of conslderablehtsrortcel lmportanee ill that n ilhistrates an attitude toward love. the ccmbination ·of the didactic romance with the romance of knjghtly adventure in a context ofeducation l-ooks forward to Spenser's Faerie QlJeel1e". and merchants alike-seems !o have become popular in the later Middl. he addresses the reader from the gralle in the one mernora ble sta nza of the poem: o mortall folk.lional li.listing the major works of the latter tWD. Deadly Sins.folly provides some vivid glimpses of the . The conception of the important people of tile world as. o master L). is hugely satirical. and! this again marks all important development. as a follo~er rather . He seems utterly UIlaware of Chaucer's superiority to' the other two. scholars. fm: to speake :Iormally. Ye~not omly does The Pastime of Ple.. in its mechanical use of the allegiJrica~ formulas.his elcquenee: Alexam:ller Barclay (ca. but the self-cberacteeizanoa of the representatives of dill"erent kinds of .1 rr~)' Coo 10 gi ve ).llye here.leth it. and Eternity.HI d: BJI prosperire Is dethe at lasl throug. So all the . whiche that is referred Unto a thing.. SJ.

Skelton attacks the abuses of cOlUtIy Me. Thus a new breath hom classical literature comes. of the "new" English poetry. the poet speaks thrcngh the birrl in <I characteristic mixture of bitterness and downing.teenth and seventeenth centuries.and early sixteenth-century Italian poet. transitional poets and beh. Mrspa:rody of the Office for the Dead and other aspects of 'the Latin liturgy of the Church is done with a cheerful recklessness reruiniscent of Ille ~oliflrdi'c literAture of Ihe Middle Ages.De p1'Q-fr. the hi. A. Phyp. the characters being sometimes allegorical persOllage. The satiric stream widcna and deepens after Barclay. the r~ckle5~ '1jl~Hty of these plooes make them uUerly unlike anythmgthat Eng!lsb llteratnre had yet produced.fir:5~ . But Coli. Less tmdilionai in 101m and con'en!. \\11111 Ihem stimulated conservabve minds to angry satire.ns) from • the Mis:erae Curialium of Pope Pim II (Aeneas Sylvius Picenlorniui) and! hro horn the late fifteenth. known as MantlJan in England where he was much admired for his Latin pastorals: in fhe :!l. whic. deliberately discursive in pJ1ogression. attacks on Humanism. are sprinkled he-ely among the wild find whirling verses.gainst eeelesiastical abuses" is begillning. The verse here is that short two-beat line which has become 'known as "Skeltenics". with Skelton's Bowge {)f Cou:rt and Speak.ES 13. The changes which Benaissance Court life and the .. highly personal in tone. ecclesiastical corruption. Hewolde 8~'eLIt I. :al1gry conservatives have always produced the gl·. a bubbling saurieal pieee mostly in rhyme royal but with some paris in atber meters. urban lile. already common in Italy.Hl-dis c!1I-mlil·vf. the first of very maTlY such. so. Cower.• ~-qlij-h'l·!e. Parrot concentrating all the contemporary scene.. Parrot.he Hfe. 3S we shan see.eatest satire.136 END OF 'THE MIDDL:E: ACES END OF TilE MIDDLE ". other novelties are made by angry conservatlves. The verse itself is crudely accentuab-whether it derives frorn the breakup of a I()n~er line or from medieval Latin poetry or from another source cannot ~e p!'ecisely determined=but it moves wItb extraordinary speed and vi. Irorn Artstephanes to Swift.hat And prytely he wold pallLl Whan he saw an ant: Lorde. while ecnsldering themselves in the lraditiol1 of Chaucer. That Phillyp is gone me rrol Si I. ] was evyU lit easel .. the 5pirit~. how he wolde pry Ahf'r the bll uerlly! Lo. as wen as to discuss literary questions. And IIIk8 me by Ihelyp.Ollle bop ' AHer the gressopl And whan I sayd. three translated (with man)' expansio. ls Speak.". and ends with Skelton's own tribute to the girl's charm and beauty. established itself early in the Baptista Mantuanns.of English poets. it "". 'Than be wold lepe aad skyp. long directed a.gor: Sam etyrne he wolde gaspe Wh. In The Book of Phiflp Sparrow he uses iii similar technique to lament the loss: of a young gmri's pel sp:rtrrow: the lament is put into the mouth of the girl. As a satirist. Latin tagsandl even whole passages in rhymed Latin couplets.. AI:IS.11 me 5] o.a"Vior. is in some sense both the manifesto anti the first-fnlit. l3a:rday is the first English writer to use a device. new fashlens in thought. turn to widerlhemes. echoes Dr parodies of the Church litmg. T. millgling fierce abuse.s. how he . Whan I sawe my spsI'f. And as The Shepherd'S Galendal'.satire of Court life in the b:adWonallFhyme royal stanaa.!e the attack on foUy is itself . and Lydgate.. including life at Court (increasingly important with the establishment of the new national state with lis: centralized monarchy) and intellectual fashions. andbltter lmny. society of the hme.s .efifects of Renaissance Humanism hroul!. 1460-l529) is the most interesting and. The useof the pastoral for satire of Court life. original of all the. John Skelton (ca. as well as on. it cernes to rer!ace the dream as the commonest kind of rnachinery for satirical as well as many other purposes" Barclay produced five eclogues.v or of ~llfr arguments of the schoolmen.lx. and whi. the pastoral tradition is clearly of prime importance in Englis'll ltteralure. Indeed. the poems move with breathless abandon f roll'! point to polat. and aspects of the contemporary scene which he f01UlLdi annoying. was to be developed signjficantly by succeeding generations .-de.'lnhe snwe 1'1 W.3 Hnrnanist theme.r.• Alas. Phyp.11 Clolft and Why come ye Rol to Court reeresent his most characteristic and original satlrical vein.tempormry scene. looking both toward the rnedieval past and to the Renaissance fuhue. fly 'lr it gnal'.d semetlmes lively representatives of the oo:n. and other abuses of the time. and while neither Barclay nor Skelton can be regarded as a great satirist they do share the great.E}we dye! . combining traditional mecliev. we shall have to look at it more closely later. The pastoral also becomes at this time a vehicle for satire in English. to. thongh indirectly.jrotably by Spenser in his Shepherd's: Calendar. The Brnvge of Court is a. satirist's sense of nutrage at what contemporary man is making of hi:mseH. Soots.a'iallegorical figures: with the ship of fools diev. into English llterature. clowning humor.pel"sonalene~ies. are in fact [anus-faced.).l~pe.

The Oowre' of gOO<l.l1re SiO prominently in ililis'French sources. H. Skelton moved in a Humanist atmosphere without funy realizing it: his attire was conservative in intention but in fact revoluttonary n unconscious implication. and finall)ll"edeemed by Goodhop~. It is aimed at Wo~sey. Meanwhile..~f n~b1e ladjes.34of the Winchester MS of Malory's stories makes it clear that "Le Morte Darthur" is Cadon's title for the whole. and Pope's verdict of "beastly Skelton" has in rl:'(:t'llt times been enthusiastically reversed. And also tkeyr fete HlIrdely lull unswete: W). Erlv find bte.\'Ilge: She leneth them 01 tbE' same. an~ fiercely ll. bis attacks Wylh. Malor}" who appears to have been a rmd-Bfteenth-century kni~ht of lawless behavior who wrote his stories in prison. Ilis bitter feuds with so many of his contemporaries. \l\lyll1 I}'Ue<r5 am! hillers. turned. His lively and unpolished verse and his violently personal manner attracted English poets in the 1.sis was on action and motive rather than On sentiment or doctrine. Torre and Pe]]}'I'I0r. much about Merlin. Thcyr smeckes .iugged.ntll casks. The first (tboug. Magn. which are explicitly linked .138 E:-:D Of' '..gery Wentworth: With mllrge .h apparently the second in order of writing) is the comprehensive "Tale of Xing Arthur": it begins with the death of Uther Pendragon and A. his strange mtxtures of . not ~bloTy's. paradoxi.. of prophetic elevation and low abuse.lyhede. mak~ a lanrelwreath with which to crown him. 'vigGT which Ile infused into his rOl1g'l1l3:ccentual erse.ragged.. The incidental lyrics addressed to these ladies are in a new vein of lyrical tenderness. Gawain. C}'~ly.heyr l. and Lydgate hail him.E ACES 139 The calor and life of Sk('llol1's most ch:uad·el'islic verse is perhaps best seen in The Tunning' of EliJiorRumming. Fyll the c:up. Cower. of self-conceit and moral indignatiol'l. \Vylk al] theYT myght nHlnynge To Elynour Rummynge. with which his Originals 50 often presented him.ificence is a morality play with aUegorica] ~arndeTS. B!)·nge dvsshes tmt! rl:II'!t'rs.11 To EIYl1ou[ 01'1 the hyll.lyll. nd Sare. Th~'lhe r comet h Kate. the 1 TunniIli: pulling 01 bees j.. Chaucer.rthur's accesslon. the stories of Ba]in. fitted together in pieces like a Chinese puzale. cally but understandably.11 to. show a highly individual temperament coping in a strongly mdividua] way with some of 'he bewildering crosscurrents in the civilization of his day. MaJory's work is in eight tales or groups of tales. The discovery in 19. a remarkable description of all alewife and the gOings-on in her alehouse: Come who so ". to use Caxton's term. produced ill the prose Arlhmian tales of Sir Thomas Malory the greatest of all its monuments. but also has i·ts general applicatiOn.S.ldividntJaltemperament. except for the sixtb and seventh. the revival o( interest in feudal ideals theyr heles dagged. first the English alliterative romance known as Morte ArI'imre. His Garla'ld of Laure! is an elaborate set piece in praise of himselL Fame and Pallas discuss his qualifications.anger and tenderness..GES END OF TH:E MIDDL. And thus 'begynneth the g"me. "reduced" his materia! to a coherent group of related stories in which incidents followed each other with less interruption and the empha. To have of her tunn. gi\lin~ it a false unity by applying the title of the last group of stories-"Tlle Morte Arthme Sauuz Gwerdon" -to the whole collection. And sy! there by S!~'lI. and tells of Artbur's victoriolls wars against rebels and hosti.ain jenlyli.. Caxtoa published the work in l48. showing how Mngl1lHic-ence deceived and undone by vices.o's and 1930's who were looking for a style in which to express similar reactions.). a With t. both on Church abuses and on radical reformers like Wyclif and Luther. accompanied the final decay of feudalism in England. a group . notably that addressed to Mar.'HE MtODL.denhede . the plottings of . Theyr kyrtelies alllo. conquered is by Adversily.gges bare. and.92. each grollp or:ig.le neigl:JboTS. into a series of tales of Arthur and his knights in which the ideals of practical chivalry replaced the sentimental and doctrinal elements which fig.ina[Jywritten separately as an independent work. his ambiguous v relation With the courts of Henry VII and Henry VlIl. Enbrowdred the ma n tilJ Is of your m:l).E A. variety of French romances: about Arthur's knights. He cut his way through the tangle of complexly interw~ven tales. and then Malory's colophon to tile sixth.

of Sir Tnstram tie Lyflnes 1'5 the lifth. and the two books again show Malory's ehaTacteri5ticmlni~iz. hut too late to prevent h1!." was apparently the ~rst . The Boo~.s. these two caivahic loyalries are Incompatible. of a questmg kmght who ("h:t~pions a scornful lady." The underlying rhythms provide a quiet emotional ground swell to the narrative. Here.eH at the end happily in Joy nus Card. adds weight and precision and. oul of love and despair rather than from a. He begins by capturing something of the rhythms. Lnneelnt IS less ~he repentant sinner of the French original than the Fermer hero of the R." "but.o\JlgloSaxon times to the Tudor and Elizabethan translations of the Bible. the pure devotional note.: ~A. The sec?TI. ~nd is divided into seventeen parts-easilr. E. And thou were th e godelyesl persolle tJllll ever cam amol1ge prees knyght:es'. 'The result of it all is an impressive summing lip of the "Matter 01 Britain" as seen through the perspective of the Indian summer of the Age of Chivalry. "The Tale ot the Sankgreal is Malory s firtb boo!:. "The Most Piteous Tale of the Morte Arthur Saunz Gwerdon (based partly 00 the Mort Artl' and partly on the EngHsh stanzaic MoTte Arthur). '"The Tal. it i.ed. Lancelot decides to forsake the world too. a conversational flow.e of Sir Gareth of Orkney" follC)w. amid thou were the sternes I kn)'ght II) thy mortal foo Un. and Sir Ector speaks his obituary. and thou was the mekest man and the jenty]lest thai ever ete in halle amange ladyes. and using same of the alliterative devices.lhul" to Sir Laneelet. not as the lover of Guinevere. his original "The Book of Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere IS partly l:D'Bsedn the French Mod Arlu.d now I dare say: sayd syr Ector.oulld Table whose ehlvalric ideels are neve)" made to appear as baslcaIDly inimiea] to the truly religiou. and a group of adveDtllre~ engaged in by Gawain. . the dia. 1'~.s. he desolation. IS nOf easily placed in the history of English prose.l ever put spere in the reeste. and thou were the trewest lover of a . rnents as a K[iight of the Round Table e emphasiz.y separate adventures. moves w ith a simple cogency always perfectly adapted tu the narrative line which he is developing. the accounts of action rise and Iall with a restrained epic movement which has quiet gravity without magniJ~uence. who la. and thou wete the kvndest man that ever strake w\·th swerde. turns for Its hero' from i\. With the Grall material omitted. ~ven books." of or It ends . the love of Tristram (Tr~stan) and bode (msold~) treated with emotional gusts and with no sense of doom. but as." " rdigious impulse. who appears here.. tbe final branch of the prose o Arthurian Cycle. and the lovers l. Guinevere dies repeIIDtant. Ane! thou were !:IJe curtest byght Ihl\l ever bare sheldel And thou were the truest Irende to thy lover Iha! eve" bestrade hers.a char~cterislic storv from an unknown French source. and Ma]ory gives us the . version of the French prose Romllnce oj Tristan.fer comes to a~mire him.IICES 141 Morgan Ie Fay.marry!~g h. marked by such conjunctions as "and.ells of Arthur:. Arthur s triumph and coronation as Emperor .'i'lm.~este.E AGES END OF 'THE MIDDLE .. "thou were hede of aJ Crynen Imyghtes'! An.m Rome. Malory plays down the basic dichotomy between Carbuuee and Camelot. indeed. at the same time. Launceloti" he sayd. Ywain. the sense of doom rises. This goes together with the 611a~. Tristram s adventures and achie .'en so.d! group. and ill the end they destroy him.s). excessive sentiment.kDgue Is lively and often captures the individual quality of a character. He learns as he writes.s life. Malory's prose style. He is outside the tradition of English devotional prose which continues from . that thoo were never mill:t':hed of erthe1y kl1J1ghtrs hande. and Madla~t. .." and "therefore. Lynet. Lancelot becomes involved in battle against those he loves. but e~phasiz.Lanoelot follows soon after. with no comfort but memory 'I'lf knightly deeds once done. an active and gallant knight who IJr~:ceeds from adventure to adventure before returning to King Arlhur s court where the knights: whom he bas overcome testify to his prowess.140 END OF THE M (DDE.r hts Hands. and Guinevere retired tc a nunnery.?~. It is D{Jt the clash between courtly love and heavenly love so much 1'115 the dash between courtly love and feudal loyally that interests Malory.t the claims of Rome.. and over-abundant narrative cnmplicatlon are equally pruned away.his DlJ:5tress and his king." "then.. and in the end. so Important ill the Q. at the expense the reli~iot's. there tho .e third '''][he Noble Tale of Sir Launcelot du Lake. st. and the later books show a fine ease in dialogue together with a dignity and eloquence which derive at least iEl part from the heroic element in the Morte ArthlJre.. The now is simple enough. Arthur "burt to the death" in the linal battle in wlueh the treaeberous Mordred is slain.Slst~r L~onesse.: It IS translated from the French QI{csle del Saini' Gmil'.hough of course something of it does come th~ugh fr. The Tale of the Noble King Arthur that was Emperour Himself thr~ugh the Digl!1ity [J. "thou sir Launcelot.uggle with the Round Table destroyed. It is made "P of man.of ~e religiOUSin favor of the chivair~'c m~l'a1.t? be wJltte~ and derives from the alliterative Mane what might be called chivalric humanism as the uJli~erl)lU"~gthiea] pate . Arthur's hal!f sister.rliEied n~d reduced. La~ceiot l~ve5 l1oth. t. the longe.t of Ma] It IS a . tightens up. of MiddIe Englisb alliterative verse as rrepresented by the verse romance l'o-1ort·cArtlw. It I. Iyest. Malorv's "Book of Sir Tristram" is far from being a single tnl~. which.~hebattle betwe~-n Arthur and Lucius.nfut man that ever loved woman.

to approach the clTi. .eat Dutch Humanist Erasmus was for the study of Greek. more splendid.s. the language. and that the great GennanHumanist Reuchlm was even more important for the development of Hehrew studies in Europe than the gr. If pre-Protestant I"efarming thougbt demanded vemacU!larBihle translation. that l:he"New Leamtng. thollgh its rnansfestatiens were not as sudden nOI" its causes as Simple as was once 'thought The world of med.dwhere it had to with both old pagan and new barbarian. cause is known as a cause by its effect. encouraged the study of Hebrew as well as of Latin and Creek. The work of Barclay and Hawes showed both old medieval modes and! new Humanist influences. who brought the aft of printing to England. Humanism ilseU was one element in that complex movement we call the Renaissance." Haly had known this movement since the fourteenth century.oomp~()mise. and B this in turn encouraged the Ilvant gatde to tum to the secular thought of the classical world for guidance and . Histery is continuous: "movements" are a. and long before it reached England it had exertedjts influence on Italian literature. whose reality has recently been questioned but which certainly was real.£ elassteal culture directly. set against the militant Moslem..f ~hristian il1s.gil'lal sources 0. The shift Erom the view of the Roman Empire as wvine:iy ordained machinery fQr the Christianizing of the Western world ~o a view 'Of the pagan culture of Greece and Rome as something more civilized. The writing of history is impossible without making generalizations. but signmcant changes do oe- cur. should have been so interested in chivalry and old romance. bad a YgrDilicant religiOUS and cultural unlIormity. too. the old order does give place to the ~e~1o'. where a prospering "gentry" were en. we know." as it was often called in the sixteenth century.rmfug.ieval Christendom. were essential tools in any new approach to the Bible. Thus Humanism in spite of itself was drawn into new religiousmovemenlS. that movement which represented the desire to' recover the purest ideals of Greek and Latin expression and to assimilate the most civiHzed aspects of classical thought. a new upper class of merchants and professional men jOined . And wruJe it woeld be WIr'Qng see this to shift as simply the rapidresuk of the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453. if looked at by itsdf it Is simply an Isolatedphenomenon. and if looked at with reference to pret:eding events it becomes itself an effect. soon swelled to an angry and bitter chorus. touched with the moral earnestness of Christian ~r~t~tagainsta~llses o. it look Over what it could from the Roman wod~.142 END OP' THE M~DDLE ACES END OF THE MIDDLE AGES 143 Arlhurian stories set to an uucomplieated chivalric morality. and achieved a synthesiS in which the thought and ins~auti()ms of the classical world played a certajn limited part. it was the new scholarship of the Humanists that eventually made that translation possible from the original SOurces.hands with the landowners in the country. the defects of the code are manifest in the actions which are based on it. more fully Ilhrstratrve of what man can make of himself by cultivation of the arts andsciences than any subsequent phase of history. The ambitious and ubiquitous machmery of the medieval Church was ceasing to Iuncrlon effectively. In the towns.rbitrary categories of thelllfs!orian.c1osing common land in the interests of sbeep b. That secular thought.titutions. Humanism. and it is unposstble tomake generalizations uuress one deliberately cultivates the proper perspective. with the consequent emigraHolll of Greek-speaki:ng Chrisbarrs hom the Eastern Empire 10 Italy-for it was a slow process that bad been going 'On since long before 1453-it would be ridleulous to assert that because the movement was gradual it did not take place. But the epic [late does not really belong to' these nostalgic stories of a lost way of life. and in the end the heroic key is modulated into elegy. world. represented a real revolution in thought. . ~roduced a school of Christlan Humamsts which was to include reformers who remamed within the Roman Catholic fold as well as Protestants It must be remembered. A. a movement. ~he poet rendering his vision of Fast and present through notions of order-and sigllificance eornmon to the whole of medieval Europe. It is paradoxical that William Caxton. to. amusedly til"Onical nChaucer. was.s of the Old and New Testaments respectively. but the ideal represented a view of history and of society that lay behind most (If the sU!f!er:6dally diHering attitudes which intelligent men in the Middle Ages expressed. wnich bounded it on the south and east.enlightenment. attitudes do alter radically. the scholar moving within the limits of "Latinitas. Hebrew and Greek. not through the medium of clerical "Latentas. North o~ the Alps the Humanist movement bec~~e more dire?ti~ involved i~ religious and moral question.. its intellectual and imaghrative boundaries were limited. Medieval Christendom established itself in 'the chaos that followed the collapse of the Roman Empire. The Holy Boman Empire. never more than an ideal. We hII'Ve already noted the changes in tile economic bases of SOciety that were bringing about the end of feudalism." the philosopher and the scientist 'working deductively 011 truths taken from authority. satire of clerical abuses. And tlrle Renaissance is not a fictioTl of the histol"ian·s imaginatIOn. But the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century was a transitional period iM1 whic&l all sorts of paradoxteal !lUngs were likely to happen. was essennally an attempt 'to get behind the medieval synthesis.

~rofessi?~~l n:an~ gentry. sun more.e latter part ot tl:Je fifteenth century and returned with Latin manuscripts which they left to Oxford college Iibranes. were so regarded because they blocked the light of classical culture. his suppression of Ute monastenes and the consequent destruction . with the achievements or dassi·cal cultare and thi. and his assumption of the supreme headship lJ. but these early manlfestahens left no penn3nent mark. Paul's 10. the Church. re-establishing a medieval monarchy. bring the "New Learrung" into. for the Modem world were earlier heirs of Greek thought. Henry VII thought of himself as at medieval ]JI}oJlarcn.eprescnted all that was best in the new Ideal of culture. John Free of llal1iol College. William roil Groeyn (who. pul Greek studies on a firm foatJ. the new movernent and its cOT:nseqnences for literature. whose accession to the throne in 1485 after his victory over Richard III brought to an end the Wars of the Boses and ushered in the new Tudor despotism.s in turn meant not only new ideals in literary style but new concepts of civilization and a sense that the Middle Ages had represented a vast deflect jon of progress ol the arts and sciences oil their true COurse. In the Middle Ages. the Humanists in England had thelr chance. Indi\lidu. . he was appolnted reader in Greek. He was succeeded by Slr Thomas Smith. More. who had studied in Paris and Italy and was a friend of Erasmus. political theorist (the idea] commonwealth described in his Latin work Utopia represeots a Humanist rather than a Christian conception of the state).movement. In the ne. His piety led him to seek to purify. Richard Croke. scholar.END OF THE. when Henry's insistence on divorce from Cath~e of Aragon. muc~ Creek philo/sophy) was o~~y aV8ilabl~ in fmgmenlary and often distorted form through Latin translations from the Arabic.3 pohttcsl stabIlity In the conntry o~ ":. MIDDLE AGES END OF THE M1DDLE A. Smith got 'that of civfllaw.of so many English art treasures. whose ex:ecnlion for high treason in 1535 marks the end of Henry's al!Uance with the most attractive elements of contemporary Humanism and arrested the Humanist . of Greek leamillig .f the English Church lost him the approva] 01 such 2M moderate CatboHc Humanist as Sir Thomas Morc. indeed. endowed the Cathedral school of St.and the early years of his reign were years of promise and e~citement for English culture. who had studied Greek at Oxford with Groc)'n and then studied at Paris and Jectured at several eonttnental universities. But this survey has taken IlS well beyond the transitional period. and in 1540. the early and middle eighteenth century could see in the Middle Ages. Tbomas Ltaacre. while Sir John Cbeke became professor of Greek. and patron of !:he arts.mize." which was all the seventeenth and. far too litt1e realized=rneant that Renaissance science could! begin where Greek science had left off. wllile at Cambridge the teaching of Greek by Erasmus from 1510 to 1513 gave a great impetus to Creek studies. in some detail. returned from Italy In 14S()ito teach Greek at Osford)..l". where. secondary education. Earl of Worcester. !lOW it became freely and directly available. W:illiam. But with the accession of He1l1)' VIII in 1500. He was no friend to Humanists. The history of scholarship becomes important for the history of literature at this time because the new classical scholarshipmeant tile establishment of direct contact. The scene chamged in the latter part IOf Henry's reign. enabled him to win the loyalty ~!m~rchant.. like Erasmus. and ~obi~ty alike and so tomsmtam . he wished to remove corruption withollt chaDg~ng theo~ogica] doctrine or ecclesiastical structure. The ages of "Gothic superstition.144 . then Dean of Sf. his break with Rome. The "New Learning" had made itseH lett in England! as early as the fifteenth century. Astronomy. The political genius of Henry enthusiasm fllr classiea] scholarship was aroused.e in search of work. John Tiptoh. physics. the following ycar. rather than radicaliJy to reorg. and at his death to leave a secure throne to his SOD. No wonder that Renaissance thinkers carne to regard the Middle Ages simply as an obstacle standing between them and the pllre knowledge of the classical world. He remains the glory and the tragedy of Henry YIIl's reign.GES 145 the distress of the peasants who were thus deprived of the oppor-' tlIDity of tilliDg the and forced to roam the countrysid. and did not see the implications of his own reign. Oxford.into England that a more perma.ed in practtcel af. Greek science (and. john Colet. and Wi!liat1ll Latimer. :but unlike the Dutch Humanist he became iovolv.~ England for a generatioo.. But it was not until the intraducHon.£aU-s to his own undOing. Further. and he remained devoted to papal supremacy.'Ctchapter we shall examine. Paul's. Grey (later lliShop of E]y). . Cheke (bailed by Mihan in one of his sonnets as' naving "taught Cambridge and King Edward Creek") 13ter became tll~or to the young King Edward VI: he dld more than any other stngle person to make Greek studies popular in England. and medicine profited by this renewed contact with Greek thought: the scientific discoveries of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were made possible by the work of the fifteenth-eeliltllll)' Humanists. when five new regius chairswere founded by HeliH)'.a~ism asserted itself in economte as in lither at Oxford. statesman.illCh it was in desperate need. the recovery of Creek seience-cwhreh was one of the grea! achievements of Humanism. and J ohn ~unthorpe (later Dean of Wells) all visited Italy in th. lectured on the New Testament at Oxford at 'the tum of the century and in 15:llO. dlp1omat. returned to Cambridge in 1518.

but not antireligiOUS. and Cnpernicus was fn:rstled to eonsider such . The element of Ii. and the cattle were killed in ~he winter because no winte. and enriched and illuminated by the arts. the Renalssance affected men's minds and imllginatiom_ But in a history of literature one must resist the temptation to dwell at too great length on the intellectual background.r cattle-feed was yet knOWD_ So the complex chain of cause ami effect keeps on expanding. the stylistic. The 5U. Yet have I.CEN. expressed die effed on manymen's minds ofthe new astronomy: .single 'typical representative m England.0fl. _ How blest am ( in thus discovering thee! It was Donne" too'. and the voyagers them. and let the works of literature tell their own story. and spices were necessary in order to preserve tile cattle killed in the wmter.E 141 CHAPTER SIX The Eat'l) Tudor Scene TUE HISTDmAN of influential in England.h to Ilite age were never mentioned. man and his potentialities. It would be difficult to find a writer who was influenced by all these aspects of Humanism slmultaneously. justifying in the prologue to the second book of The Faerie Queene his setting the scene in "that happy land of Faery.. in chen-quoted lines.THE EARLY TUDOR :ij. the replacement of a theocentric universe by one based on. yet the attitude was 146 sixteenth-centure English culture is liable tI" Ailld [ohn Donne addresses his mistress with o my America! my new-found-land. For it. and what might be called the positively secular. uniknown shan show .om wisest age~ hid den been: And 1(lle:r times things man. who. though it is. when no man did them 'know. and no man's wil Can well direct &:fIJI where to look. essayist Mcntaigne=secular-mmded. concerned with elassieal shetoric and iiter:uy criticism and their application to an improved vernacular literature. Whic. \IVe have already said something of the new Interest d isplayed by the Humanists in the cultural monuments of Creece and Rome.s lost. . by it and had ~oreckon with it. the ethical. Humanism had many aspects: the scholarly. Tbat 01 the world least part 'III !IS is read: And d3jly how through lIardy enferpds.'hich could be combined with or modlfied by Christian teaching).c . It was an attitude which Iound no such. Many great regions are quite put out. The nonon that the earth is a planet :revolYing round the Sun had been put forward by the Greek astronomer Anstarchus of Sames ill the third centmy a.vigational needs of Ih.for a new route to the spices of the East . important and fascinating.ei' O~·fmlt1ulest Virginia who did ever view? Vet all these were.. .selves began by seelHl'Ig. The inOuence of the new geographical djscoYcries on men's imag'inations (though it developed later than ollie might have expected) is one of the more obvsous paints to be noted. but the sixteenthcentury French.e voyagers. many of the most active Humanists were pedantic and! narrow in their view of classical "purity" and ill their exaltation of Ciceronian Latin.e. Interpreted in the light of the best thought of antiquity.• lind himself devoting all 1115 space to chmtLlIg the different ways in which that vast complex of movements which we call. The new astronomy was made necessary by tlre na..•.11l i. Who ever heard of th" Indian Peruf Orwho in venturous vessel measured The Ama:7. Further. Spenser can speak for that when. it was in the air.' earth.'shuge river now found In.tfter the land route had been blocked by the fall of Constantinople. and I). and people were touched. in doubt.nd new pbjlosaphy ealls all. concerned with the highest ideals of Greek and Roman Ihollght (v. concerned with the recovery 01 reconstitution of accurate texis of the classics." he observes: Bu] 11l1' that man ""ith better sense advise. curious about ami tolerant of human foibles and attitudes: continually fascinated by the problems posed both by his (l1N11 psychological and physical self and by the external world-could perhaps be taken as a typical representative of the humanist attitude in the broadest sense of that term. the acceptance of human 1He and human values as of permanent Significance if 01'dered and controlled by a sense of proporlion. the new astronomy dependecll on the work of the Humanists.

so that it might be said that printing made the [Jew ideas socially important at a speed unprecedented in earlier history. England's Helicon. took over the patronage of the arts.. and for that cause may jl.enry Howard' late EarlE 01 Surrey. Some I)f Wyatt's most inleresting-Ihough not his most successful -po. and had visited Italy among other countries.l$ Gallery of Gallant IAoontlo.ivers€ ways throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.uagement and criticism.crept out of the schools of Dante. treating a conventional subject matter over and over again in their attempts to hammer out a disciplined yet Bedble poetic style.r ruins.editing find translating (into Latin) of Greek ~cienti. The new ideal of the gentleman. they greatly polished our rude and homely manner of vulgar poesle from that it had been before..and ~ngltmas Pamassus. They cireulated their 'WorKin manuscript (publication during the poet's lifetime was not atthis time common) and engag. English language to make it suitable for graceful poetic expresston. some crude and mechanical.e Paradise of Dainty Devices. written by the ryght honorable Lorde H.11~ny m~te ~ollectlons of songs and poems followed in Qlleen mlzabetl::i s re~gn (1558-16{J3). philosophical. A Hlmdfur of Pleasant Delights. Other new ideas reached less far down the social seale. be set against this background call be traced more adequately if we go back and iuquire about the state of pcetrym the reign of Henry VIII. which was a s?mewbat belated ~anifesto of the new poetry. TIle Arbor of Amorous Deuices. of whom Sir Thomas Wyatt the elder and Henry Earl of Suney were the two chieftains. The religions controversies that raged '. They bOHOWOO. Ollihe accession of Henry VlII ill 1509. was even more limited in its influence. of peace and war. A BORqlle! of Dainty Conceits.~ Queen Elizabeth's court. the scene was set for a remarkabla efflorescence of nationel culture.. wasreHec!ed in the Italian "courtesy books" (of which the most infliuential. Many of the poems in these collections are little more than esercises: some are over-ingenious. Looks proliferated and reached! an ever wider public. And with the establishment .1. he had been sent Oil diplomahc mISSlOllS abroad. a century during w h ieh the ra ptd shift from that stage of the Imguage we call Middle English to the stage we call Modem EngHsl:I had wrought havoc with the polished and controlled Chaucerian line. of course. which were so often built with their wealth and even fwnl tllt'i.561)and other works of education that appeared all over Europe '10 teach-in the words of Mllton's vpamphlet on education-Zall the' arts. tells us ill that work that in the latter part of Henry VIn's reign (1509-47) "spung up a new company of courtly makers [poets].l. The literary pattern to. and had they Dot clone so their ultimate achievement would. have been less. and in one sense it can be said that with him modem English poetry begins. who having travelled into Italy ~nd Iher~ tasted ~e sweet and stately measuresand style of the Italian poes. but by and ]arge they demonstrate the immense success with which the earlier poets of the century had flexed the muscles of his sonnets. George Puttenlsam. and 'the grm. Is te S-implify.ems . Sonnettes. The new concept of the natioual state was helping 1. Castiglione's 11 Cortegiano. combining the alternative medieval choices of the life of action and the life of contemplation.V TUDOR SCENE TflEEAIILY TUDOR S'CIENE 149 a view by reading in ~ work attributed to Phitareh that the Pythago· reans had taught it. All this.le as novices newly . and after the suppression of the monasteries the greal country houses. astronomical.·hrollgllOut Europe were hastened and exaeerbated by the printing press..D Wyatt (also spelled Wyat and Wiat) was the older of the two. He and Ule "courtly makers" who followed him exercised the language by translating from foreign models and experimenting with a great variety of lyric measures. was translated by Sir Thomas Hoby in . 1l.0 alter the medieval view of Clnistendom. New geographical. and religiQus notions boil up and mingle in the most d. both public and private. the Elizabethan critic whose Art of ErigUsh Poesie appeared in l589.RS. imitated. Religious and pohtical questions were debated in multitudes or polemical pamphlets. living from 1503 to 1542.c works provides the bridge between Humanism and science Illl the Renaissance. and translated hom Italian and French poets as well as from one another.en. Like Chaucer.ed in mutual encol. generally known as Toueis Miscellany. and other. The . III 1557 (after the deaeh of both Wyatt and Surrey) Ole printer Richard Tottel put Ollt a colleetion of poetry by the "courtly makerswttbthe title SOAges and.e (as so many poets in Italy and France bad already done) ." The Baconlan view of 'the Function of knowledge as "the relief of mail's estate.148 THE: EAIU . bot it was nevertheless part of the in tellectu a) climate . to restore to Englisb me tries the combination of fleXibility and :r'eguhuity which they had lost in the century follOWing Chaucer. . They were thus essentially craftsmen. Wilh the art of printing flollTishing. beaTing such attractive fitles as Th. with its mystique of the Virgin Que. to OODl. the Court became the center of Inshion and culture. A Gorgeol.lstly be said the first reformers of Our English metre and style. Ariosto and Petrarch. its patriotic selfconfidence culminating III 1588 with the defeat of the Spanish Armada." as control over nature rcther than abstract metaphysical insight. sense of pride in the vemaeular and its illg potentlallties.

he balanced it on a final couplet of rhyming ~ines-but the paUem most common in Italy employed two quatrains with a single pair of' rhymes.e accent falls in a given word.craftsman's eye.. as swift it is in parting_ it is often to prejudge the question of pronunciation. and subsequent sonneteers Ior the most par-t kept it there. Wyatt. of fourteen lines with a cerlain rhyme scheme: the lines were deftJybaJam:ed. was in Iour parts=two of four lines each (qullirains) and two of three lines each (tcreels). "Uncertain" in the second line is accented 011 the Bnal syllable.erse after a period of linguistic change during which pronunciarion had altered and metrical patterns had g()l1e to pieces. because to modernize pentameter line..g of r. relation between the poet and his beloved became conventionalized in terms of an idealized courtly-love attitude which Petrarch manifested toward Laura in his love sonnets. In such a scheme the four parts of the sonnet really resolve themselves into two. It was mot oaly the sonnet form that later poets got from Petrareh. a b b 0. followed by 'two tercets in anyone of a variety of arrangemcnts-c d c. The third llne here has ten syllables but in no other way resembles an iambic Wyatt's own speJlillg has been retained. In the lighter lyrical measures he was also helped by the rhythm of Jute music. fourth rhyming and the two middle iint':s rhyming (as in Tennyson's In. The metrical tradition established by Chaucer had lost its usefulness because of changes In the bnguage. or cdc. o pairs of four v lines (the octave:) and the second of two pairs of three lines (the sestet). so necessary in this kind of formal utterance.150 TH. whose sonnets celebrllting his ideal love of Laura were immensely inAnemtlal and represent the most important s. WyaU's . the first collsistin. or other r. c d e. a form which challenged the poet to mold his thought with wit and aptness to the precise shape of those fourteen balanced Jines. the verbal ". M. cdc. and Wyatt's sonnets represent one of the most interesfing movements toward metrical dtscrpline to be ~ound in English literary his tory. as the humble servant of the often cruel frur" wounded by a gHanoe of her in most Itahan sonnets. d c d. ideal plane of his own. That leve in or wayt il deeth me like pain. the great master of the sonnet of idealized love" The sonnet" one of the most popular verse forms not only of Elizabethan literature in England but of Benaiss . the first and. they seriouslvhandicapped him in wriling the heavier liind of line de.. my" hope uneertaia. Petrareh moved this courtly love to a high. ce European literatnre m a 5 a whole. turned to the Italian sonnet for help. a b b a. There were many other ways of paUeminJ!. the links and pallses between them creating a movement which. with a. The Petrarchan sonnet thus provided the English poet with both a conventional fonn and eenventfenal sentiments._ mandecl by the" ending is apparently accented at the end of the first and fourth Jines. (It should be added that innumerable Italian and French snnneteers after Petrarch had helped to conventionalize both form and content by tile time the English sonneteers beg:m wrilil1g. by Petrarch.hyming of verbal end- .roUpillgS. fac'ing the problem of restoring gravity and cogency of utterance to English . Francesco Petrarca (Petrarcb)..ingJ. Here was a highly conventional verse Iorm. is derived from the medieval view of courtly love which we have discussed in an earlier chapter. Wyatt's problem was to handle the tell-syllabled iambic Iine with gravity in the individual line and at the same time to achieve a Significant unity in the poem as a whole. a form \lVhich demanded discipline and craftsmanship on the poet's part.E EARLY TUDOR SCENE THE EARLY TUDOR SCENE 1Sl under the spel] of the fourteenth-century Italian poet.e:-ommyng.emori.he meaning. but the pattern jnstdeserfbed was thatmost frequently used. While these changes (which bl'Ought with them a certain flexjbility in accentuation during a transitional period) made it possible for Wyatt to experiment freely and effectively iu numerous short-line stanzas where the sustained gra\·ity of regular metrical utterance throughout a series of long lines was not required. nor is be always able to keep before the reader's ear the basic swell of the metrical design. The sonnet form met this need fOl English poets in the sixteenth century. tempest-tossed in seas of despair when his love is rejected. developed first in Ita~y in the twelfth century before passing into France and then into England. and prevent them from merely splashing about in language that has not been tempered to meet the precise curve of . 'the fourteen lines. As a result.) The difficulties Wyatt found in handling the iambic pentameter line in the sonnet can be Illustrated by the opening line of the foUo\ll'ing sonnet (from Petrarch]: Ever my" happe is slack and slo in . changing 'in mood according to tile presence or absence of his beloved. Desir enereslng. There are periods in the history of any literature when what poets need most is a formal c:onvcn!ion which will enable them to study the demands of the medium quite objectively. And Tigre-llke. There were other ways of balancing the sonnet-such as Shakespeare's. The scnnet was not simply a stanza.e influence on Iater love sonnets throughont Europe. his sonnets are less good than his lighter lyrics: he is not always quite sure where tI. c d e. This notion of the love. the whole nature of the.

- shows how fa. yet never moved.'" and Tonel had to change it to "unkindly. F'orget nDt yet wlilen first began The we-ary Me ye know. Or is this line meant to be scanned as an iambic pentameterf One is tempted to scan it The llinge love. awake!" Labour My lute. which are so apparent when Wya. But more than metrical changes have taken place. "deeth" is a monosyl1able. as Chatlcer pronounced it. With !:lishardines taketh disV~e:JSur. "Reason" is appan~r:Jt1y pronounced like the modem "reason. Tilis is neat and regular. meaning "'In such lIJ fashion. so gladly spellt. The same serene control ean be. what hath she now desenrroi' 153 it certamly was by Shakespeare's Ume." yet it mighl jllst as easily he pro· nounced with the accent on the final syllable. awake] perform It~e last tlil<:I~ thou and . or on the second syllable. and mows much awkwardness. since wh3in The suit. Jerget not this." tbOllgh no doubt Wyatt could pro· nounce it in the Chaucerian way if it suited the line .di on the second sylla hie. Sometimes we &d In Wyatt remarkable effects of metrical subtlety achieved through cunning irregularity: but we can never be sere whether the irregularity really is the product of CUIJning or whether the effect was nol intended-or whether. F. I woold f. Al'Id willes that my trust and lustes negHgence Be rayned by reSIH1. 1:&:1.ain knowe whal she hath deserved. In a line such as Which holdeth the divine parle of nature it is uncertaln whether "nature" 1. "Displeasur" is accente. WyaU scanned the passage as we do. indeed. the service none lell CIlI'l.Iy helps us to decide. Forget not thts. How long ago b:llh beea. The: pronllnciation of English was changing even as WyaU wrote." thus gi'lling a quite diff. meant a_s. one assumes.I shall waste. it had also beccmeimpossible to construe "so kyndely" ill the sense that Wyatt had iotended.5 accented on the first syUabl~. since that I unkindly 50 111mserved: How nke ylIU this. The mind IIml neve. There is nothing tentative or awkward about this (one can safely modernize the spelling 1iI0W): Forget nol )tet the tried rnle:Jllt Of StIch Ii truth as I have meant. that in my 11u6ught d(E'!h harbar with perhaps the "e" of '1onge" pronounced.152 THE EARLY TUDOR DOUIl SCENE endings such as "-ness" and "oaunre" is a common habit. These difficulties. shame ." not like the Chaneerian "resoun." But Tottel. Fcrget oot. In the twenty or thirty yea!":. . printing the poem in 1557. aad is.oDlle~&om Petl'3J"chThe lODge love. Fo~get no! "el'. since Wyatt wrote.orget not yet. The rllyming of "harbar" with "baner' (banner) leaves the accentuation of both words still in doubt. But did Wyau: mean doth harMr? Or something between these two? Either way.. rhyming (if it can be called a rhyme) with "sulfre.lR1d" and "·eth" and THE EARL'" TUDOR SCENE This SCIIDS regumarly u we pronounce the "eO> "kyndely" and (which in Wyatt surely did not do) in "knowe. seen in such lyrics as "Marvel ne more" and "My lute. thine OW1IIa. then. as ings such as ~. Forget M!yel ••. 'IIlIitb{presumably) the help of musical accompaniment.erent force to the line. emended these lines to 'Out. My gn:at travai].pproved'. The rbyming of "nature" with "master» ~ll. The lling love. Or the operung of another s. And what are we to make of such a quatrain as this (from the same sonnet)? She thar me lemeth to love and suffre. ' . not only had it become impO'5Sible to pronounce ~kyndelyn as three syllables.1 in my wrote the iambic pentameter line. At the end of the remarkable poem beginlling "The}' fIe from me that sometyme did me seke" occur the lines: But syns tnat I so kyndfJly arne served. Forget not yet.rd.r from the iambic 'beat Wyatt could get. tbat in my tbought docthharba:. though it is apparently disyllabic in ot!1er poems. W'hose steadfnst faith. The which 50 lang hath thee 51) loved. seem tc have largely disappeared when he wrote in lighter lyric meters.

SUlTey never achieves the streJlgtn and subtlety of Wyatt at his best. cruel mistress. content to ~ppeaJ in the eenventional guise as the hopeless lover of a. And she me caught to her arms i.h. But since that I so kin. aaenymous smgers were keeping a smnother kind. for example. end that I have . Wilh naked Ioot slalldng in my chamber. and now they range.. And J have leave to gd. virtuosity of ~ater Tudor poetry. [sehene: beautiful] erate abandonment of metrical polish in favor of a wug. accentual measure. 00 handes. of her geodness. love them wele. women do co:mpla.hen the origin'" JpeUing Is necessary icr' reasons 0.. tame and meek.. ho . To. • • • II was no dream. Yet every no . The Middle English lyrical tradition :Bowsdirectly into the Tudor song tradition. A ""'.Sellewfll ngleness. these men among em. . Than ked be lortnne it hath been and small. bul:once ill special. agaiJle.2) shows aU the.s is mr>demizeQ e)(cepl .g is sung and past.spent in valne. and rendered into impressive art. Ther fllltrst trew lover than Laboureth for begun. Wyatt's mostperfect poems are not. Into a sbange fashion 01 iorst:lking.. And 50flly said.!n11lDEIlII bare O1JJ. delib- The variations from the I'egulu iambic line.and again he handles the heavier line with a force and splendor that mark him as a jJioneering original poet of extraordinary strength. Only a complete poem can illustrate tIDS: They !lee Irom me thai sometime did me seek.1lI. sa)' nay!" Yet these poems do Dot represent any startling new development in the Engrjshmyric: their verse-forms and rhyme-schemes are often to be found in medieval l.. III subject matter.1 meIer cr 01 poetic SU!!:geslj~n"'~.... and from hes.aNI1j!Kletry and in . no." "Say nay. and the whole poem has the air of having caught. its interna] rhyming is handled with great artfulness: Se U right.. like you thisr Witnesse on Marie.OW are wild" and do no! remem ber That some-lime they have put themselves ill dange. The revrith 0]1 sweetely did me kiss. Yet £f a newe to them pursue. Twenty times better. Is how. but while Skelton wrote. 'Vime5iSe 011 Made. I have seen Ihem gentle. "Iorget mot yet. AlIerming this.•• The refrain seems to help Wyatt.. we are iii toe period 01 "modem" English.t This .a banlsshed mllin'. on her lour.!Ipirited dialogue between "Squire" and "Puella" (lIns IOn for thirty li. I:htlrou.. The fir.. l lay br?ad waking: But atl is fur!led. the very essence of an emeriona] situation. Of ail thb world Mmmao is :Oour. For when this son. he' is as a rule even less original. My lute be $till. I)J' wrong. and rOice elene: Wimmeo mfl)' no beter bene." It seems clear that the sung Iync was not alIected b)' the changes in the language that seems to have caused the iambic decasyllabic line to disjlltegrate... . For let It man do what he can" Ther ravour to 8Ua~oe.th01llght .154 THE EARLY 'rUDOR SC£'Ni£ THB EARLY TUDOR SCENE 155 And. A flfteenthcentury is. ..r To take bread at my hand.and fiftee'nth-century myrics.. if ellectiv. Inal. each concluding with the phrase "banlsshed ely man. BUSily seeking with a. "Dear heart. .e Savioll~. Wyatt occasionally doesthis ellen in those sonnets where the handling of the meter seems to be a hit-or-miss affair. This is the exact stanza form of "Forget not yet" The lively movementand metrical assurance IOf "The Nutbrown Maid" (Ihst printed about 150. of 'VeI:5'e alive so that. That Il. When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall. the !peliing "f quototion.Middlle English lyrical poetry 'too. eonttnual change.rations. In tbin army." "Blame not my lute. it could be transmitted to later gene. betfu gentel.ine. then.. W. after a pleasantgutse.EorL heve done.del}' am served.. and the reader who comes from fourteenth. "Skehomcs" may represent 8. And she also fl) Il. has the rallowing poem: Wimmell beth bothe goud and schene. fele. have a freshness and a conversationa] tone which please in a dffferentway.. how that it is Ii.e.stbegins 'From this pcint en. Wyatt's three "sanres. to the songs of Wyatt is conscious of no break." thollgh derived from Horace (two) and the Itallaa poel Alamaorli (one). fOE' never II dele They Iofe a 1nQ. 1 would [aiD know what she hath deserved. here are strangely my genllclless. his most original in form. and his best songs are those balanced on the concluding short-line refrain.

The hart bath bung his old head en tbe pale. and )let my sorrow springs. • • and. be prolongs the description of spring for twelve lines. and SlIrrey seems to have settled on it asthe most convenient. for every spro)' DOW springs. Rather than to live thrail. the prol(lgu~ are in ottal)(J. But on the whole Wyatt's Psalms can be classed among the Tudor exercisings of the vernacular. Wyatt is a grearerpoet. Earl 0. It relieves fue poet From the necessity of running the same rhymes right through {which i:s easier in ltalililn than in English) and se gives him . The poet IS remembenng his happy boyhood. Like the competent and grac.!iQtnelooes D song or the 11e!d mouse. which he :-wore on his . successful.Zeliro toma. His execution in 1. [make. . bal couplet: This IJaDdling of the sennet form wI1h the lines rhyming .en' bale.e the English poetic tongue in translations and adaptations from Italian and Latin and in varla~ions on conventional themes. The adder all her slough away she sli[l~.IWn Jolm Balru. amll. An.. put am end to one of the most spirited and promising careers of the time: Surrey was born into.£ Surrey.. wrappid within my cloak. More interesting are his autobiographical pieces. he was sensitive to the literary fashions tha. . The 51'Stthirty-sill: poems in Totters Mi. Surre.. like Petrareh. . under the awe o. And even where his sonnets are not. abba cddc effe gg. but he lacks Wyatt's moving and surprising touches. Winter is worn Illa. _ .Y rUDO'J\ S. preferred five rhymes to the "Shakespearesn" sevenj he. his sonnets run with greater metrical smoothness than Wyau's. whose poetic disciple he both the English and French courts. The saole s:eason that bud end bloom .d thus I gee iIDIong these pleasant thing! Each. .butit5 grouping of three quatTains and a final couplet is char. mare] The turtle to her make hath told bel tale: Summer is rome. The metrical ccntrol is clear in llie follOWing: TIle swift swll1low purmeth !:be' Illes smale.obab abah abab IJ6 is unusual in having only tworhymes. .tt.forth briog.he mings.tempora~y imprisonment in Windsor in 1545. but Suney's nature imagery is livelier and more English than Petrareb's finely stylized picture. Mlich of Surrey's verse handles the traditianal Petrarehan theme of love. &iDeeya deJjght. .s With g. wben he was barely thirty. unlike Petrareh. wieldinz a Jess perfect instrument. the only one of the "courtly makers" whose name appeared oa Totters: title page.acterist. This last is the "Sbakespearean" form.'t had invaded much of Europe from Italy.Wyatt. The fishes float with new repaired scale. couplet. in brake his wiote:!.r lordly looks. ended Iris sonnets with a. And Dee tbe press or courts where so they go. his few really remarkaMe pioneering poems in heavier meters flas'h o~1 from a mass of uncertainly 'handled traditional material. to know The cause why tbat bomewud I me ruliW. and Iour more are inCluded later in the book The difference between Wyatt and Surrey call be summed up ill a phrase: Surrey has Iess strength and more poolish.t was the sew and spin They &allg .CENE TilE EARLY '[ODOR SCENE 151 Mime I. and like him he endeavored to.reen hath clad tl!Je hill and eke the Yale. the majority of them beillg m. . Surrey also uses the forms abab obob a'bah ee. to turnsuddenly en 8. care detays.eful craftsman. The bU5)' bee her hon'llf nllW . Hemy Howard. the Duke of Richmolild: So cruel prisOia how could betide.Ip charge of treason. His most consistently good poems are his song lyrics. coathe flings. He is more consistently successful than Wyatt in Ilttjng the metrical accent to the normal accentuation of the word and stress of the spoken ~anguage. though unevenly. In a consciously aristocratic tradition. ona trumped 1. in alternately rhyming iambic pentameter lines. [smale: sma1Il1 [mmgs : mingles] This is a rendering of a sonnet of Petrarca's: . The buck. His version of the seven penltentia] rsahs (deriving from Aretiuo's prose paraphrase) has Its impressive of Surrey and was to become a mark of the English form of the sonnet. exercise and enlarg.547. As proud Wlfldsor? WI1 ere T in lust and joy Wilh a kfng's son my childtsh years did pass In greater !ea. too.. The rughfuJg:dewitbfeatheB new she $ing. the ferm abba abba cddc ee. was some fourteen years younger than Wya.rima and the psalms themselves in terza r~ma. e 1bel tempe rlmena. and sbab cdcd efef gg. at Windsor with the kings iJ)egifimate son. they de represent tile :first English aUempt (D·f the age at this verse Iorm. both of which forms Wyatt handles with some skiU. whe'l'lIh'6}l' d. ahs.<!celltmy are by Surrey.sllhan Priam's sons of Troy..more freedom . the second My motJileJi"s maids. one of the nobles! families of England and educated. such as the poem.156 nIB EARL.

"reeach c.. John Harmg~on. and epigram~ matte as wellas cenventienally amorous. deserveth great praise. Wb.light..576. He could be didactic.. With words nnd looks that ti.e each sweet. ~d poems of proverbial philosophy. Sir Anthony St. divers stroke. 1~(j)lIg tales of great delight. and one which had great inBuence on the subsequent course of English poetry.• Among the verse forms with which Surrey experimented was the so-called. was hils use of blank verse In his traasletion of the second and Iourth books c. togetheT with his aristocratic ldeahsm of mind.gers could but rue.e with froward. sometimes HI pentameter lmes and once il1 cctosyllables. the honorable style of the noble Earl of Suney. John Heywood. and nine sonnets. These renderings." a curious jog-trot which bec3m~ very popular in the sixteenth century: it consists of lines of twelve and fourteen syllables alternating: Sucll wa yWlud ways hath love. Thomas Norton. moralizing pooms. 1'. a variety of stanza forms. and other. Sir Thomas Bryan and Thomas CllUrd:lyard are a~ong the poets whose names have been associated with Tottel's M13ceUany but whose poems have not been identilied.ggested to him by an Italian version of book lour which appeared in 1534. my' true love is to me . SIiCr. William are love poems. variety . poems translated hom the Latin of the sixteenth-century French Calvinist theologian Theodore Beza. Sir John Cheke. ~hough most of Vaux' Identdiable work appeared 1m a larger miscellany. do prove sufficiently_ That our tongue is able in that kind to do as praise\\ll'orthy as the rest. trans laticn was apparell tl. SOme of which are in b1all~ verse and some brief epigrams.e). Here is clearly a case where the historical Importance outweighs the intrinsic worth. Italians. ~ouel's ~ilJl . published by Tottel as a separate book in 1557. poems of cempliments i.ISS THE EARLY TUDOR SCEN. Lord Vaux. the Indies bright .. bas been praised for its speed and Vlgor. Other authors who have been probably or certal~ly ~deiilLllied are: J. That.£ uscdid plead the other's right •. has been identified. both octosyllabic and decasyllabic. Deceit Is his de. and his technical curiosity about his craft enabled him 011 occasion to write poetry of grace and eloquence. This. but the end-stopped lines soon prove wearisome anill f:he '. as Tottel prirrts . wh~le h~s a wooden quality. The verse forms include couplets. The first is a love poem in Poulter's Measure: br What sweet rellel the showers to thirsty plants we see. CIS f(l~k draw jn love. place returns 3 THE EARL. to have well written.of hue. Perhaps the most obvious pioneering achievement of Sun.enetd (~II rhymed couplets} by Gavin Douglas. 'Mat dear delight the brooms to bees. satirical. The only other author named in Tottel tS Nicholas Gdmald: after thirty-six P?ems Surrer and ninety-one by Wyatt. ottaoo rima. And easy sfgils. historically important achievement. Surrey was partial to this measure.. And to wm-iteEnglish poetry of grace and eloquencela the SIst half of the sisteenth century was a.. "Flee from the pr:ese and dwel~ with sothfastnes") pr~bably taken from one of the slxteenth-centuryedltiens printed by William Thynne.f Vi rgil's A erlGid. and by the Itallan version of the filjrstsix books which appeared in 1540: lie presumably thought of blank verse {IS his medium because that ~as the English eq~iv. which is interesting only as ~n exercising :gJDund fol' Tudor poetry. whereby oar hearts bUI seldom doth aeeord. Leger. These uncertain a~thors play variations on the themes set by Wyatt and Surrey.. Sand. Our wjlls do stand. infused often withpersonal feeling-bave their own kind of eloquence. and the weightiness' of the deepwitted Sir Thomas .and early six- There a.of subjects.Q seven-foot Iambic couplets. The dances short.!. poel:mS ofcc:m:. y su. iambic hexameters.:which are adaptations. The Paradise of nain~!J D~vice~. elegies. moralistic. as well as from other sources.other love poems in iambic pentameter couplets. Surrer w~s also lnfluenced by the important translation of the A. and an unknown D. Surrey Wf\S al~ accomplished versifier whose responsiveness to the cultural movements of his time. Surrey"s translation.~s indicated in his introductory note to Ihe reader whioh begms. the works of divers There are no outstanding poems in this seetien.. He causeth hearts to rage with golden bumilng dart. reminiscent. Oddly enough.CENE 159 taste full soun 10 The large green courts wJiaerewe were wont hove With eyes cas' up Into the maidens' tower. yeaand in small parcels. tlila! most put in disrord'.B \Vbe./~rse on the. and a variety oE short stanzas. 1. Tottel prints fortyby Gnmald. ami to beguile and mock The Simple hearts which he doth stril. the late fifteenth.Y TUDOR S. He usedterze rima.tah~l)' seats. in a vanety of styles and on iii. and rendered passage's from Ecclesiastes and some of the Psalms in It. among t!he poems by uncertain authors is included at short lyric by Chaucer (beginning." among whom !$ent of his Ital~an models.• teenth-eentury Scottish poet. And doth allll)' with leaden cold again the tether's heart . GrimaJd's poems are followed by mnery-four attributed to "uncertain authors. his quickness of wit. All in all.• .. "Poulter's Measure. The s. Canand.

Maatuan we of less mterest as poetry they at least show him helping to exercise the language by translation. Amd mad'~II:mperfecl words with childi~h I:nip~ Half unpronounc't.!'.ere. 15ZO-l<OO4) and George Ga S"coigne (ca.. but is remembered ..izahethaTi eolleettens show the easller Tudor lyricaltrad.Chw-chy. with a great deal of mecbanical jingling and milch use of the jog. deserve mention.ullabJ they.. acted al: Gray's bn in 1566. once achieved.:i:l:he earliest: extantoomedy in Etligffiish.J:'Idif his translations from O~id and. • .'s lDnge'vity :lind ver:S3:liHty won him some reputation by the end of the century: Spenser referred to him in 1591 as "o!d falemon .1. (Dolce's.100 TB'E J£A'I'lLY' TU[)OB SCENE TO:E EA'RLY TIJDOB.s of Spenser and. Afld if I be mIt much begu]led!.Didsl move my that by sinews weak to :!irst: endellV"llll1JiIl. with the coU". in:flexible arithmetical correctness.·n two parts. Wbe.pprDadl the classical tongues of ancient Greece aIDa Rome.chy:!.cl\ the best known '(eitberbecallse or in sp~te of most readers' lacll: of' awareness. which helped to [DIm the ambition. . l\'~etrical reg. . apio'lleer cribcal essay en English pmsody.~ Gascoigne is.g luUllby.. we must mention Edward de V. Where he h. but there is. in crude enough verse which. remarkable good sense. primitiv. Among his.hQW abundantly. dO' Driving dum.resting poet. The work was pub~shed: as TO't1!e1 oes on to say" "to' the honor 0.'Ve. There w~asno real progress in the latter part of Henry VIII's reigD and in the short reigns of his successors. and ms bLmlk verse tragedy Jo.e of lite historian he seems rather . Epigf'IJlI1s. prose. Edward VI and Ma. and. Song..graces in sundry . with sever~} . 161 WyaU the Elder"s verse. rd.nd Cass:andri!>l..ce. were im.'>play The Supposes.~Elldish writers. hanslated hom the Italian of Ludovieo Dolce's Giooastll.ooratiO'IlIJ of Franeis iKlnwelmerrsh. And lullab}'Clull ring 100 As womanly as can IDe best. Of individual poets. Earl of Oxford (155(). '001 its sexual theme) is ~Gascoigne's Luli1aby": Sin. SI collection of meditative poems. tDgether with a prose verston of the same story. Frna[]y. This . which Gascoigne at least uses rarher more Hexibly than Surrey.ed equally to the IIllterest in. Hi.627theyQullg Millon broke off from a Latin vacatiO'n exercmse to dedicate himself to' writing poetry in Elliglisb CQuld :BttiD:g~y speak fDt' these Tudor experimenters: Hall native Langllage." 'While the miscellanies that followed Tottel's (of which The' Pamaise of . a fdend of Gascoigne's and usually coupled with mutely sat two Jlears before: Here I :salute thee. him at the head of tile courtly poets of his day.portant motives in shleffllUt-centwyEngtish poetry. but to 'the retrespecdve ey. a more rote. as women do.ehieBy for his unaeted play l. was a prose tmnsla.u~arity.ard. 1544-81). The Epitaphs. tile handling of the variDIl!S lyric and other measures with which the poets of ~he time experimented.casta. Mndeed. provided the plot for Shakespeare's i'tfeawre tor Me"lISUre.1004). Wilih l..1. seEN']!. sllde thr.ry. editions introdud!lg new poems.g lon. an oecasionaj happy lyric in his eollection called Churchyard's ChipR {m575). varied other 'i'i'ork are Cen:!J1fi Notes: of lr:wtn. George Whetstone (ca. was also prese£lted in 1566.e enougbbnt sbowiilg. PnTm08 a. wrote a eonslderable amount ef miscellaneous verse m the styles O'f the time.i!d.riwto sufficient evidence of the popularily of 'the "eourtly makers.trotPouJter's Measure. play was an adaptation of the P#Wenisaae Df Emipides.mgh my infant lip~.sbill the ch.. morelisticprose pamphlets. was the mose popular) test:i6.Dainty DelJices.tion of a comedy by Full mOOlYwanton babes have ] Which must be stilled wit:b lullaby . Chu r. most Df them little more than mechanical exercises.b silence lrom the pori'll door.ewith or surpass Italian or evea a. who began writing in the reign of Edward VI (1541-5:l) if (Jot of Henry ViII" produced a great many poems ill the styles of the day. who were WTiting in the mid"si:deenth century. It provided Iiurtberrexet'CMs:e for the developilllg EnglIsh form Il£ blw verse.lctlo-n Coocemilllg the Making of VetB(3 o:r Rhyme in English (1575). or elegies. .gue speak. lS2&-77). whose poems :ka Tfie P:!u:adise of Dainty Deoices and :in (}t~erEl. ~ut the versifying went on.mdl.nce: ~e versi1icatioll is: dogged rather lha1ll elfecti.tewith they bring their babes 10 rest. that sung so lang until quite hoarse he gf. but.ew. later. 1576. Thomas Churchyard (ca.L:u! (lS76) preseets a picture of the failures of the different orders of society with '['hat medieval sense of hierarchy and function in SOciety· which was carried undrmmed into 'the Ren8liss:a.llIIIn!f went intolline editions between 1557 and 1581." Nat-irmal pride in the vernacular" and the desire 't'o improve it to' the point where it eould oompet. .£ the English tongue and for g :pro6t of the studious of English eloquence.Mi8ce. 8..itiolim carried successfully into Elizabethn court poerry: contemporaries placed. the words with which in . number of a'tl:Jac!cive lyrics Df wbi.A. later stil~ of Miltoo. was apt to fall intO' the wearisome cadence of l'epetitio1Jsand..) His blank verse satire The Sh?e~ G. and SOllne-1s (1567) O'f George Turbep/ille 'coRtains some pieres of genuine lyrical gra. TQtte!'s ..

of B1!lclcingharn"preceded! by an "Iaductlon' which remains the best known part of the Mirror'. the ethical and political ideas underlying them. as in a mirror. in dofferin!t degrees {Edward Hall had it mueh more than Baphael Hclinshed). from the Impressive elegiac cadences of Sackville's "Induction" to reminiscences of the old alliterative measure and V&T10US kinds of jog. It embodies the Renaissance interest iI!iI the didactic aspect of history.3 series of medieval "tragedies~ after Lydgate. And the idea of selected episodes of history constituting a mirror in which the consequences of good and bad government can be seen. were expanded to nineteen and published separately in 1559. originally published as a supplement to an edition of Tile Falls of Princes. The printer J.s emphasizes the political didacticlsm of the work. Tille notion of history as the great teacher was common in the Benaissanee and is to be found again and again in Sixteenth-century European literature. and Fulke Greville. with the ways in which divine retribution overtakes human crimes. thus showing themselves concerned both with the technical problems of ~heir craft and with the Intellectual curren Is of their time. and Churchyard effectively lntmduces the note of passion in his account of Jane Shore. These seven stories. Thomas Phaer (who translated the Aeneid). in the {ann of imaginary monologues spoke . who remained popular in Ithe sixteenth century.. Ralegh. SackviJIe and Churchyard. in a study of the past as the proper education of a prince.. hut Sackville possesses a Vir~iHan p. Baldwin sought collaborators. Thomas Churchyard's "Shore's Wife" also appeared in the 1:}63 edition. however. 311delfect in human affairs. and Francis Seager. The' authors are concerned with the nature of order and of justice." The Tudor historians from whom Shakespeare drew the material fOT his history plays shared.E EA RL \' TUDOR SCENE 163 to constitute a bridge between Tottel's courtly makers and such Elizabethan poet-courtiers as Sidney. a eomposite didactic work intended orlginnUy as a continuation of Lydgate's Falls of Princes (itself derived from. A . Wayland suggested such a sequel to William Ba!r.Minror for Magistr:ates. with the reasons: for human suffering. are discussed in a later chapter. for the proper instruction o( those who govern. Other editions appeared in 1578 and I5S? Besides Baldwin. and this concern with political didacticism arose hom the concern of the age with the whole question of the education Df the prince as weU as from the specifically English interest in the moral of the Wan of the Roses and the possibilities of malntaining a unified and stable government with(Jut reverting to the bad old days. " The most ambitious single poetic achievement of the mid-sixteenth century was not. of civil war. by the ghosts of eminent men who had! suRered drastic reversals of fortune. to the edition of 1563 befog Thomas Sackville's "Complaint of Henry Duke. In moralizing history. even though it was begun as a sequel to Lydgate.lw:in. Writers of the age looked to history and biography to help them show. Queen Elisabeth's being unmarried and thus hav. still vividly iH men's minds.en new stories from English history. Thomas Chaloner. in which they exchange views about the significance of the stories tirley ten. The title A Mtrror for Magi. who had already turned the biblical Song of Songs into EI'I~lish verse and written a prose Treafise 0/ MOTlIl Philosophy.ravity and handles imagery with a fine original [lower." It was _. the authors (who have Dot all been identified) included George Ferrets.trot. The poetic quality of much of the work is low indeed. succession. the truth about human affairs with special reference to the relationship between power and virtue and between crime and suffering. the most actable addition. this Renaissance view of the erlucatiOllal function of history: the most eloquent expression of this view in English is to be found in Sir Walter Ralegh's preface to his History of the Wmlll (l614).. teaching him by example what to follow and what to '00 direct heir increased English preoccupation with the problem of government. was a commonplace in Elizabethan England.OI project the moral and educational meaning of history. A Mirto! fOT Magistrates contains monologues written in rhyme with varying degrees of metrical facility and different kinds of rhythmic movement. the work of those who "wrote well in small parcels. and with cause. and the most effective ways of presenting them. and between them they produced set. who. Boccaccto's De Casibus Virorum ll!a&trium). Tbey are concerned with the proper behavior of a prince and the proper relation between ruler and! ruled. The stories are linked by prose discussions among the authors. John Dolman.kiirTor for Magistrates thus reinterpreted the medieval concept of the whee] of fortune and unpredictahle fate to show the political and etbical hackground of those spectacular falls· from high estate which tile Middle Ages saw as "tragedy. . For A Mirror for Magistrates is not merely . dIe Renaissance made it moraamenable not only to treatment by philosopher'S hut also to handling hy poets and dramatists. In taking characters rram English history from the time of Richard 11 to that of Henry vm and making them speak of their fortunes. Later editions included new stories and other changes. and order. An understanding of the true relation of history . Ihe authors were seeking t.stratc.162 TFUl: 'EARLV TUDOR SCENE TU.

and HUITIrmist.mong the prodaotlon of poets between WyaH and Spenser we. had been ?~era. and the poet who could! tum out a clef!:song at one mOlllen~ might very well fall. and who would he slrnultanecusly Elizahethan and European. Henry IV. and in the triple conjunction ofpolJtks. It is true that a.uity. moved both by the new Protestant gravity and hy the Cnthollc sense of the unity 'Of Western culture.1M THE EA. re-establish contact with the great medieval master of English verse. politics and morality will help aprtnee Ito govern wisely and m subj'ect to realtze his duty. The greatest genIlIs that Eng- 165 .Hng ~n Tudor verse. em another occasion. by new currents in religious and phaosoph[cal thought.AFTER Spenser and His Time LOOKING BACK on the poetry of the sixteenth century wit~ the hlstortan's perspective. as well as by the . we can see clearly enough !hait the endeavor to establish English as a poetic language at least the equal oE Italian and French prompted much of the experimentatlon and exercising that went on in Tudor verse. who could at the sasae time look back to Chaucer and. Shakespeare's CorioumTJs.erne craftsman with a great :synthesizin!"t imaginatioll-such was tile poet the limes nnw required if the full riches of Elizabethan Ellgkmd were to finu adequate expresslon ill poetry.m. dviliZ<'lti011 Classical.i~g Oil. but when we begin to look for the working out ofbis.a. seE·NE .glisb language that. IDorahty. who could profit by Henaissanee Lattaists. England awai~€d the poet who ~ould pull tcg.f labored reglll. into the crudest jog-trot or tile most wooden kil"ld o. YI'aS the. had been gO.ether the di.exercising of the EIil. inspired equally by the new Puritan ideaiismaml by the reawakened interest in Platonic fhougM. d!'. by classical example. frmt of that coajunctica. but am ail' of uncertalnty still hung over everything. by Italian and French developments in !:be vernacular. and psycho'log)' the dramattst can find unhmil:edlscope. do find some accom· plisbed lyrics and an occasional sueeess in longer and graver kinds of verse. while absorbing and benefiting from all the new currents.verse elements that.a'\Ying mspirution both fron] rile national excitement of his own time and country and from the larger movements 'Of the mind and the i. supr. rnedteval.gination which were agitating the whole of 'Wes~em.torical laws on the fate of individuals we are brol!1ght into the realm of psychology. no less than his R~chard lIt and.RLY TUDO!!. by new ideas aboutthe function and prestige of the pOd.

Spenser was working oon. The Renaissance poets. COllteyning twelve Aeglogues proportionab.166 SJ"iENSE. both classical and Humanist. it also includes the el~~nt of guardianship. It was Edmund Spenser (155'2. and pastoral poetl}' (i. makes pastoral poetry an appreprtate vehicle for the presentatiolll of tlle more elemental Im~an emotions.but laudable nevertheless and especlaUy appropriate for a poet beginning his poetic career. The title. deriving more often from the eclogues of Virgil thalli directly from the Greel pastoralists.tic poetry was . today except by specialists and students.. In a formula that goes back to the Greek pastornlists.deavOI. E.equendy used in an allegorical manner' for moral and satirical purposes.sclloolb. E.erSIOI:lS if he ne~ded help with the original)." wbo was probably Edw~rd KirK. And the work of the shepherd is not only an obvious example of rustic labor. the world with all introduc~on and commentary by "E. or ideal shepherds) was established as an accepted poetic form. uneven work to modem eyes. the Latin eclogues offetTarch: Boccacelo. rallking below epic OT heroic poetry. Philip Sidney." The eclogee. excited at. Spenser sent The ShephcTd's Calendar int.alting.shed... of human life could be presented tbro!!!lgh the elemeeta] activities of shepherds. poetry dealing with shepherds. Pastoral anegory was thus an establi. as . ill Spenser's (or his printer's) spelling is worth recording: 'The Shepheardes Calendar. or pastoral dialogue (spelled "aeglogue" by Spenser and many of his contemporaries because of a false derivation from the Creek word.i\ AND HJS TIME land produced at this-and at any-time did not tum direetly to ~is s~lbesizin~ task ~lIlt used aU this material with careless brilliance III the dramatic exploration of the relation between the moral and emoticnal aspects of man: Shakespeare was not the New Poet the Elizabethans were looking for. not milch read. with the result that it i~ now lieg~nmed as one of the most faded of literary forms. in t~e role of the New' Poet who was tc draw the threads together and mark both a culmination and a new beginning in English poetry. Entitled to the Noble and Vertuous Gentleman most worthy of all titles both of learning and ehevalrie M. Virgi~ had started with eclogues and moved on at last to his great epic: the proper eeurse for all ambitious l1ew poet was clear.le to the T. And by mak~J'Dg his shepherds compete in singing matches. the potentialities of the literary use of the pastoral exploited it to the point of exhaustion.e.ookthroughout EU. K's Jt ~ays been an ?b'liousprototype . his genius was too large and too unself-conscious for him to see himself as contributing to any spec~6c historical end. could make claims for Spenser thd the poet was too modest to make himse!£ but which nevertheless must bave [airly represented Spenser s own view of Ins fUDction and asnbittons.'l"hich makes it easy to discuss etther political rulers Or spi. he was enabled to i~troduce into his pastoral framework a diversity of lyri~ cal poems 11] different styles. the primal human activity. note. An unpretentious and. and who certainly bad been briefed carefully by Spenser about his intentions in producing the poem .und of _pastoral activity also. Rural wo()tkhas: al- SPENSER AND ms TIME 167 of aU hU.. w. K.C. whose tell Latin eclogues on moral and 'religious themes were used a~ 3J. such as love or grief.fidemtly in a. Almost any aspect. and below tragedy. Spenser was the gr. The publication of Tile S/lepherd's Calendar in 1579 marked Spenser 5 £'ormal entry as the New Poet. The poet wbo inlluenced him most in his a~legorjcal use of the pastoral was the G:fteenth·century Italian. backgro. which he imitated in his November and December poe£?~. 10 short. Bion. But Spenser also ~ew Theoeritus and Blon (and fnere were Latin and French IjI'. and Jaoopo Sannazaro. .e. and Moschus. wnich was also an explanation of a new kind of workby someone wbo had had the benefit of talks with the author about its meaning and purpose. One L!l reminded of Stuart Gilbert's commentary On James Joyce's Ulysses. Spenser found a. Greek Sicilian poets of the third century B. European synthesizer for whom English uondrama.rope. known in literature as Mantuanus or en. being".'Ce than of permanent and intrinsic poetic interest. welve monethes. But for Spenser It was a richly promising medium. Toe elemental.. By the time Spenser was writing there were eclogues in Italian and French as well as in Re[laissanceLatill. as he was seen by his contemporaries.o. By varying the degree tp which his shepherds were allegorical. which was al the top of the poetic 1adder in Renaissance 'c~iticism. Baptista Spanuolj. h~~py way of combining unity with diversity" as well as of comblJlmg'ilie simple and rustic with the elaborate and sophisticated. be could vary the tone from the nnively pastoral to the elaborately ~ormaI.. it had also been h.-99) who saw himself.. Not only was the pastoral well estah]ished in Benaissanee poetry by Spenser's time. for goatherd) has its origin ill Sicilian folk song and comes first into literature in the work of Tbeoerims. who had been a fellow student iQf Spenser's at Cambndge.e:e.itua~ leaders in pastoral terms.lOn. Linking IDS eclogues together in a calendar. It was a form widely used in the Renaissance. and the two French eclogues of Clement Marot. and au obvious one for a maoifestc of the new poetry. K. The ShepheTli's Care1'ldaris the perfect example of a work of greater historical importan.

his due observing of decorum everywhere.m time shall be able to keep wing with the best.n) from Chaucer. hllS diSCOUrSes of pleasure so pleasantly. a hlU his i::. 80 Boceaccle. the knitting of them so short and intricate. !lis pastoral rudeness. [0 seasons.. whose footing this author everywhere followeth. his moral wiseness. the which of many Ith.t.. such good and natural English words as have been long tim. ]1'1 the January eclogue.d(lr from earlier Tudor poetry. as did befall. Then to. and the whole period and compass of speech so delig. or else some care he took. He begins with a quotation (o( rather.ty of handling his matter and framing his words. Spenser. So f'Binl theywoxe..l!." E. is "kni. the words themselves being SQ ancient. makes all the points necessary to empbanze the importance of the work. and also divers otner excellent both Italian and Frenchpeers.r work of a new English poet worthy 10 be ranked with them.ltion which Wilhout learning boast. So new Virgil.lltn his . "hath laboured to restore. W. for example.ell COGlh he rune iris pipe nnd frame hls style. pra. can trace him out. The stanza. I know will seem the stranges. he was all ready full fledged. Sanazarus. praises Spenser for preservinj. Spenser put all end to this sort of thing. It W. K. without judgment jan~le. age but also s. such as we find more than once in Tot.e out of use and almost dean disherited. .nks Spenser both with Chaucer and with Vir. the whj:le his sheep there fed. of II prime need of EngHsh poetry at this time.lI11d feeble lnthe Fold. has six lines. K. which Milton was later to call "the chief masterpiece to he observed. . Inat had becnlong ypent. ltI~ntng full Hedged.hoice of words and for. he eannot fail. as you may percei .my.inUng~ockhe led. his complaints of love so lovely.howing his awareness. the shepherd Colin Clout.ave for the strangen. the suiting of the style to the matter.estillg that 'The Shepherd's Calendar is the p'ionee. ~ Full oomd: I'.ess. the' English language and its potentialities. in matter.e1~. It yields rull hope and trust my strayed and wandering gbo~t ShaLl be received 81lcl held more dear than those were never l051.' So' Petrareh." Pride ill the vernacular eomes Ollt strongly in E. without reason." The emphasis all decorum is Significant: decorum meant propriety and Btness of tone and dlction and verse form. to be struck by the control and the assurance of Spenser's verse. who is Spenser himself (die name comes from an anticlerical satue of Skehan's). Led fO.e. and gen. but yet as that i.8 pastoral ~etting." That is poetry without decorum. and for all the .h. E. thnt pity lovers" pain (If 30Y gods the pain of lovers pity). in perS(lna~es. rage and foam. So £lew Mantuan. is comp~aining of his unrequited love for Rosalmd. K:sremaI~:s Of!. sugg.168 SPENSER A.etice nUHer. falrone~'s !mII. All as the sheep.tting of sentences." which lie calls "round without wughness and learned! without hardness.. Thnt now Ul1illethes their reet could tbem uphold. he says. i:f he comes to The Shepheras C1.enaissance poets. Spenser thuS' adapts a Petrarcbsn mood to . Biblical paraphrase in Poulter s Measnre. and Li..htsome for the roundness and so gl". 'the scholar and man _of letters Gabriel Harvey. May seem he ~O¥erl. .erally in all seemly sanplicj. such was the shepherd's look. the deliberate avoidence of anything disproportionate orincongruous. yet so' as few. and U5ing them appropriately. In eclogues) new Theocritus. For pale and wan he was (alas the while)." Though the modern reader may feel a certain anticlimax in coming from !his enthusiastic preface to the poems themselves. mlsquotalio. as not )'f't e wen feeling lis wings.. . his pithiness in uttering.compass of the speech. whose principals be scarce groWil1out.. as if some instinct of poetical spirit had newly ravished them above tile meanness of common capacitv.ND HIS." He classes him with the great classical and R. And thus him plained. rhymed ababcc: A shepherd's boy (no better do him caU) When winter's wasteful spile was almost spent All in a sunshine day. .giID. TIME SPENSER AND' HIS TIME 169 introdudiGn.e majority of the earlier Tudor poets.BDCk. ask Ilnd gJovel1 it is. And alllh. their rightful heritage. addressed to Spenser's friend. finally IDeth this our new Poet.te'fs Miscellt.)t: like to keep this eourse or merey shan not miss.ings which in MOIl be strange. So Marot. He praises Spenser both for his c. "So [t. as being not full somd.1S an important R~naj~sance estl1etic Ideal.. as ::I bird. the continuity of Endish poetry hy using a certain number of older words. but they be well scented. refers with contempt to' the Tudor versifiers as "the rakehelly rout of our ragged rhymers {for so themselves use to hunt the Jetter [Le. en I CHIIo mind how the one w:tnclenng sheep h t Did bring more lOYwith his return Ihan all 'the Rock did keep. For . Decorum was conspicuously lackirJg in th. So.. as 10 n "'Vegods of love. is a clear violation of decorum: Kn ock nnd it ~lJaII be heard. goes on to refer to Spenser's "wittiness in devi~ He lng. but. in speech. and in showing htmsell concerned with It Spenser is not only exhibi~il1lg a debt to the critical thought of his.

ndbew yOOJ' €'. June hrillgs another complaint. thou shepherttb' Cod. not tmdersland:ing the pmI:l1. an e elaborate verse-form from Petrareh.. is· . M.. '[he March eclogue gives the dial.0 blaze' Her worthy praise wu hi!Y l'Lo bonibl'll. T~ere is a careful chiming of vowels thmugh the song (which has I:Imteen. K:s "argument" tells us.. .v. Yeo. she can I:rj p it very we~l. and they exchanged shots. Wh.5'ugges'!~by Ho:nsard and his group. . Pel.syUabled lines.ogue of two shepherds in the old romance stanza that Cheueer had wed S!Q mockingly in Sir Thopa.170 Ij·P·ENSIE:·!I.. as E. Pity the pains·lha. hey no holid<ty. but in a dil£eren~ order. The v~~s:efo... i:n Joys remaln. and to the shame and dispraise of proud and ambitious pastors. "In the honour and commendation of good shepherds.e. ill my request. When .. the learned well. ease and assurance. I!. but .orrell (probably denoting John Elmer.. the wI! LIethe shepherdself di. 'Tittel] in a rougher aeeentual measure. ]I wn.than "the liUle goo. And eke )Iou virgill5 Ina. in a linepla. Wil. . The July eclogue :is another Protestant satire. is not clear. Archbishop of Canterbury and Puritan sympath. We see here the deliberate archaisms that Spenser was 'to e>lperiment with much more before be settled on the dictffiodl . .1 thou thyself dldsl plOye . bear wifness of my woe ' '\Vhtrein my plaints did oftenlimes resound. th:lot im Ihis blessed broo. alternately rhyming eight-syllabled and si~.. Willy: Per. deceit- the popu'lat tradition.w he saw Cupid in a bush. The February eclogue. The May edo~1Je.Ia Pleiade.line stanza. but It is dear that. that once didst love.d splll. 35 a style appropriate 10 the subject of this eclogue. TIle while: my Il~k did Jeed thereby. The sestina. rhyming aba. hey he the high hUl..lW I:be boDncing BeJHOOrie" Ye dainty nymphs. in an eight..nn.IISIe-Iulwoods. witb. Whi eh In yaur songs were went to mEilee B.1 on Pamasse d. and: worldlyHigh Cburc!:. where yat!.sing the same words to end the lines. Per. '["e careless brrds are privy to my cries. firsl' apparent.bbaba. stanzas) and cunning variations of tempo. Si ItiU'lg UJXlT1 a hill so ·iJ.. with eaeb stanza u. introduces a!. above. CoHn COUllplains not only of his lack of success ill love.ondon). whose fondness for elaborate ritual offended Spenser's Protestant idealism. bu:~the naturalistic pastoral setting makes the in~ident sound rather incol'lg:ruOl. who concludes by pl1lising Algrilll (i.V'hichIn hev sex doth all a dialogue between two shepherds in which. Spenser attacks idle.Be. after an introductory dialogue between Thellot and Hobbinol ill .:mciation of the final e. d. with a clumning roundelayby Perigo~ and Willy followed !by 8 much more formal sestina by Cuddfe..'.lIible decasyllabic quatmiIls. £1"11UpOIl a boll' eve. mow gi:nnelh this roundelay. August gives a singing match.. Edmund Cnndal.. the slory of the eak and the briar.of his lack of suecess in. Foreshadowing Spenser slater acblevernents 1'0sound and movement. through the obvIOUS pastoral disguise. or whether Spenser was trying to do some·thing resembling what Coleridge did ln Cit:ri'$tabef. . Whether this looser meter represents how Spenser and his eontemporaries read Chaucer.e rather . lS an mtereshng onglnal experiment: n we expect 3. The verse form hl. I'er.s: Thomalin tells Willy ho.. Tripping over the dale alone. Aru:l Pan. The April eclogue.:m unto my doleful ditt}.l:io!ylathero w01'I1 Ie !IbnI've} wu Per.tidty with fornna)jty. handled. the High Church bishop of l.e. pad." Look· ham. slow movilllg six-line stanza.izer) as aha tYIJc of the good The rouadelayis beshand artfu]}y artless: 'Perigo!.. is 11. wbil'll Spens:er seems to have considered 3 genuine English verse-form and one s1iIitabie for the handling 01' more deliberately rustte themes. .flcatio:ns of wmy'~liaes are handled with efliecli..ence 'Howeth Bel icon. He used it again ill the May and! Sept.' t~ough~rha~s .ng.k de bathe y(mr breast. ·N:D HIS 11'IME SPENSER "ND HIS 'TIME m .1 song In praise of Elizabeth. He~ p rne 1. variety. It opens: 01) This draws may be at. whieh tells.ergy. Wil. The slowmoving verse rises and fans..argues with the 'bumble and conscientious Thomalm. Spenser is trying to combine rw.ember eclogues. Spenser used this accentual verse deliberately. grouse ora par.ent cadence. I S." 'The proud shepherd. his poetry and his generally unsettled condition. but embodies more skill than The chiming repetitions and roodi. made. tndg. Fo·rsake your 'Watery ~!'S and hither look.Fot" The Faerie Queell.

. and even alDongst the most barbarous. whom he calleth Dido. by . As thou.vy hearse" and~O 'careful verse" are repeated as a refrain at the end of each staaza." runs the argmlment. . with "'.ill the handling of vow·el. the lament which Colin proceeds to singi£ an exercise .wfull] TIle sh'Ol"f lines "0 hea.en thy placei' I. "In Cuddie is set out the perfect pattern of a poet.whJl live we so!ongi'j WhDlie better d~ys death ha th shut lip llll woe? The fairest flower our .il'l.go lien toO by I~bour and leanl~l1g. with "~\I~rent~'" woes. resr.~ers. and pour. a! ~llrg. Now b time to die. .. and celestial iospiro tion..eeto these thai wield the a'Wfu~crown.tiler 00 art." "resound. .ed k. ~ongs or some jovU. Then·make t:heewiogs of thine aspiring.of his friend Pi.""'·soum:ld". specially hllvi ng been [I] a'll ages. when s"halll! please thee :si!llg.172 SPEN:SEIt ." "woe. Like the poem in Fn.rom Mantuan.~ . Spenser's) poem that Cuddie recites. but the Protestant <lo.. _ The strain 'Of lament here 'is co[![ventional.. "part. and being lndeedso worthy and. Ebborate though this is.~t~nza ~~"d.ys. And!. And helms unbrulsed wa~en dai. lind the causes therecf. The latter is "a shepherd. and loose living 0'[ Popish prelates.ediseourseth ." It is based! O[UJ a similar poem by Marot. ·augment.~' S'penser takes many suggestions here f. deliberate toU'r de force: it is CDlin's (i.. Tilm t·h. Lift up IhyseU Ollt of the iow~y dusl. w'neue is In. always of siin.e death .musie and variations in fempo: H The versehas a gravity suited to the sllbject~ Aba.." "cries. But into weeping tum )lour wanton Jla. Those of the tlW:d stanza end "sleep.. hearing Cuddie lament the present j.e: of the ~~:~'d .of thy verse..Ise is rnoreappropriete. wit. sing 110 moe "l"ne songs that Colilll made you II1 her rrni!re.ise of Elizabeth in the April ..alh.augment. and Pe:r:igot provides the applause afterward: o Colin..ecuvely. Piers breaks out decline of poetry: 011.o 'Ine "'~I bl'B certafn ivillcOOlOlJJ11"..!)" Renaissance ideal of poetry.]ble an . the hi.e. for it voices." Cuddie .!ond all among Is fi!lclled quite andinto dust ygoe.the shepherds' How [ admire dead. btl! adorned With ooth. Nay.~ Thou pleasant sprimg hast Iulled m~!D. Th. for the first time in Engljsfu. sleep.apart.Iltering wing. that in hope lof more gain drove Ilis sheep into a far country. The December eclogue ts an imitation of Marofs Eclogfll~ au .n·[ghts whose' woundless 11 rmour rusts... enes.1i o£~. tl:y back to heaven apaee.ce thou eamest. 'The abuses whereof. were 111'001.heavy hearse.. The IIrgument reads like a swnmary o:~ Sidney's "Defence of' Poetry.sleep . Spenser is bere perlonning a. the exhortations .gL:llaraccount and hoaoer.. dLvine :gift ~I'ld beavenly instinct .ye sh epherds" dElugh..of some malden of great blood. of jousts . less elabo:r:a~e ~ban the Petrarehan sestina." when the "mournful Ml.s:allcei" And Colin replies tffilat a joyfu] SOong is not seasonable in "sad Winter. time was long ygoe.• peerless poesie." "augment. The September eclogue is a dialogue between Hobbi"llo] and DiggorJ Davie. AmI sl:retch herself at large from East to West. ". "cries. Tbe lament is introduced as Ili SOlllg sung for pleasure rather than an expression of personal grief: the eclogue opens with Thenot askil1gColin: Cotnl] my dear. The November eclogue i~a lament fDr "iIlJ. part.occasion of Hobbinol's demand.ere may thy Muse display JH~r e:. CoI.AND HIS TIME SPENSER AND HIS T1ME ]73 !h. T~ d~ubl. as the auiliof hereof else "".ecl'Ogue.rndon 'them the 'base and viler clown.ed Inl..CIS sound the louder note.." And S10 'On. The October eclogue is in many ways the most important DEan.ft asleep ''Nh'l:lsestreems my liricl:l:i:nll tears di. and though the presentationof this: perfeet pattern is accompanied by Guddie's complaints that the age of great poetry .ntentis:his OWIll . is. w!nen.ith in poetry's mgh iJestin y li"ings out clearly above it.1To..'1'101' be .wO'e.. [doubted: fedoubted] 'W"hy do we longer live (. Sing nOW'.. ~mml! eernplaineth of the contempt .. o ." '['hose of the fourth.E nor in Princes palace thou do s:it (And yel: is Prince's palace the mostfitl Ne breast of baser birth doth thee €'uibrnee. tlte note (If fa. it." . o each I'llming .. be disooursethat large. • • And agaEn.hev·e. o careful verse. resound.of poetry.oy. [careful: sO. but a. And sing of bloody Mars. 0'1 wars.aTt: or !.

my summer bum! up qwlre.l than elegiac in terre and laments the decay of thearts and other abuses of the lime in a rather rnechanieal manner.s 'to h. Spenser was well.. .'ND JUS THj.of his OWIl very considerable scholarship. is not surprising.testanlism. his fai]ure to S~ a higher government position than !:hat of a: civil servant in Ireland.e of medieval English poetry. . which 'shows signs of b~. andl domiciling them happily in English mtter term. So nE)W he storms lVitli ma~y a sturdy steur.tcmic philosophy. D IllS N TIME SP:ENSER jI. as well aswitn broader issues. the verse is never out of eontrel. who was both Puritan and Humanist. and at and from the Henaissance literature of Italy :and France. ~o see all Spenser's earlier work ill the perspective provided by The Faerie Qlleefl!l.spent most of his Me from 1580 until his death ill 1599. his imaginative ~umdlillg . both by temperemera and education.r1y wOlk" More' int. The nrst three books or The Flleri.-iDg been put together in haste. a scholar with all the Renais:5ance enthusiasm for edneaH{m and for the new ideal of theperfeet gentleman.en diHel'e~t verse forms whi~h Spemer includes in the twelve ec.y harvest hastes to stir up winter stem. This contains "The Rliins of Time.G of them new to Enghsh verse and five Spenser's own invenuon) sbow what English verse craftsmanship was capable of ill 1579. Each of the. It is appropriate. A volume of marlin poems appeared in aspects of Elizabeth's compromise between the eztremes of Pretestantism and Cathohcism. and his high. Wne: SO [lOW my Y!!.owll high idealism responded immediately. entitled Complaints: Containing $tI:n:dr~$1!lall Poeln$ of the W. And much (If his "occasienal" writing deals.. nine Muses speaks her complatnt. But besides their importance far the craft of English verse. he regarded as the' beau ideal of knigllthood~I1d court. M. Spenser's combinancn of italian nee-Platonism with English Prn. So ends this vll. where he . and The Faerie Queene itself is an allegorical eornmenta!")' on the reHgiolis.esy. something 'af his neoPla. the foetreviewing Ithe change From the SJl'ringtime of his days 1.. "The Rllins of Time" is an lInevenpoem. "The Tears o.fl. rdlect the interaction of..citement of his age.. And bids him claim with rigl'JoTOttS rage Jini5 right.logue. to absorb and to handle creatively the moral and intelleciuRI currents aIMs wa. Spenser's frotestant also t\1~ notion fhat poeh-y can confer imrnort. and not merely a matter of hi storiea I 'convenience.. his responsiveness to the ehallengaand e!!. in which liIepoet tools: back over hi's poetic career. they are of the very grea'test interest: thel11irte.s (tw. Philip Sidlley. claims fOorpoetry.. ~hey are important for drawing wgethe'r traditions from the golden ag. liJut in the Interval he had written a variety 'Of other verse of varying de'grees of high seriousness . which is the cnlmination toward which Spenser was . whom. All of these elements were to combine later more richly and subtly in The Faerie Q!~ene. where he fG~ed a lasting hiendship with the sehelar and critic Gabriel Harvey.>an active participant in the most significant literary discussions of his time. court was hardly in aecordaneewtth his' OWJl concept of the perfect Christian gentleman. But he 'became a friend and admirer of Sir Philip Sidney. and they abo pOint Iorward to later developments. tao.{'\S 115 Roy. Sonow his blustring blast each roast doth scour.f the Muses" is the seclllll:ll of the CClIllp!lIinfS! written in a stanza rhyming ababcc. Spenser's confident entry as the New Poet with The Shepherd's .e Qlle~me were not published until 1590."'hi.ell Spenser tried out his genius and presented himself to the public as England's New Poet.rdra .174 SPENSER .a]it:y. or a more substantial govemmelll:al recognition '0£ his clahns than a pension of fifty pounds a yea!". of themes and inOuel1ce.. political" and social seene as well as a more general poetic exploratlon of the nature of virtue. and the whole apparatus: is somewhat old-fashioned for a New Poet: it probably repr. and Sir Francis WaJ:singham: there . with the contempcrary scene. My spritlg is spent. and there are passages of richly musical elegy.J"iedcollectian of eclogues in ". Techmcally. a. horn the Latin and Greek classics. together with S'O many of his contemporaries.a1w:ays moving and the great synthesis. his Puritanism led him to oppo. it is mere satirica.for place-seeking at Elizabeth s. and besides.his education and envirenrnent with his temperam~nt. he carne intll contact with the kind of scholarshlp and enthusiasms towhieh his.eresting is the third poem in the collection." and its theme combines: the general medieval ubi sm1-l motif with re'Oections on the deaths of the Earl of Leicester Si. either directly or indirectly.tlri{fs VGI'li. and books four 10 six appeared in 1500. Indeed. fiUed." all . H~ was neve!" the eomplete courtier.Calendar was not immediately followed up by anything spectacular.s which the Ellzabetban ag:e had been awaiting.0 the pJlesell11. At the Merchant Taylors school. It is suited to the time of the year. <.elegiac poem written ill slowmoving rhyme royal: its structure is borrowed hom du Bellay's "Antiquites de Rome. whe'fe they were to remain fer three centuries. We see here.eselll:iS fairly ea. henever withdrew hom 0Olltempornry religious and political controversies into an: unreal world of the imagination: he was always concerned with the problems ofhis day. then presided over by Richard Mulcaster... but.

This links the accents of Chaucer \l. then we must StlpPl)!se that the lady changed her mind yet book i. then relented and' returned his love. l'Q face.BIS TI. most personal. his marriage to whom.e'l'Je thou needs must learn 10 laugh. but a fuU . to Iie. mat return Sidney's love. who revelations. he celebrated in his "Epithalamtcn. but Spenser's style is more: rhetorleal and his verse more highly wroUl~. Chaucerjan in tene. (I. To..ce a was a formal handling of language which tested the skill and creftsmanshipcl the poet. as a result of some! unhappy incident. 'Unless tEiOl) canst one tOnjw:e by device. Thep. m some detail to Sidney's love for "Stella. Doughtegr and Heir of Henry Lord Howard.Me refen-ing. CII!5't a ligwre for a bishopric.. trbe eembination of the autobiographical and.of this story. 'happiest atMemp~sat synt. it may 01'" net have an a[jegorical meaning. Esquire'. ~hTOugh aJ simple and easily penetrated pastoral aUego1lY. atone paint logically worked out in every detsil and in another yieldiTlg to the p~ydlOlogi. The model . is one of the: freshest.all epyllion or little epic attributed. iii formal piece in a stanza which chimes: LI11erestingly in a rhyme scheme ababcbc.176 "'Vtrgil's Gnat.." traditionally identified with Penelope Devereux. But again we must remem bet the place of the sonnet seqllence in Elizabethan poetry and the place of eoeventlon fn Elizabethan art. Here is a very diMerellt." a llvelYFe:mdermgm ottaoa rima: of the Latin "'Cukt. It were but a school-tnck. poet from the aillhorof f'he Faerie Que. and permanently this time. so in 'Other phases or his work Spenser 'Was in the habit of . ecclesiastical.c:al realism of the characters. eceasional poems. this vigorou5 attack on abWle5 in economic. and most ateractive of Spenser'. A more interesting example of Spenser's handling of a. and iI was to. The premature death of Sir Philip Sidney at the battle of Zutphen im 1586 called forth the usual spate. while the fact that the poem is. To crouch 1:0 please.'s Come .graceEul Petrarehan exercise with a constantly shifting relationship to Ms personal experiETlee. occasionally the rhymes are 'repeated or otherwise . The same' year.ary English habit too naively. as it were." a skillful and spirited saUre all cem-temporary ai"airs in tbefonn of a beast fable.roblem reminds us of how purely formal the notion as well as the ha~dling (If courtly love could be in Elizabethan times (andpresumabiy earlier) and warns us against interpreting Spenser's allegO'Iiz.rlt:hthese Iound in the satires of Dryden and Pope.Yi:lIlg En a deliberately eenversattceal cadence.ppears to have. there he was graciously received by Queen Elizabet:I1.tto Spenser in Ireland nnd Spenser's Sll bsequent visit to London with Halegh. and 'Wife of Arthur Gorges.£ elegies. what extent these sonnets celebrate bis lovefor Elizabeth Boyle. SPENSER AND .." . to seoll. goverm:nent . the rustie witlL the artiliicial. The poem is decasyllubie quatrains with alternating thymes.H an uninspired performance im. to 800m or ·!'IIO~. For th. to forge. and he returned to Ireland.Iinked in.>. 'the wholly successful mbeture of the pastoral with the courtly. published fa 1595. who are given emotions and actions beyol'ld their aUegorical role.l!S DO'lJgtas JbJward. shows what Spenser cou:ld do when he kept his eye sharply on the confempor. with a bighly musical effeet. cow:f. SO mlly'5! thou chance mock out a Bene6ce. turned against him rhyming tlbabcc. rying the relation of his art 10 his life. be appreciated fo. of Sir Waller Raleg~'s v.r the poetic life kindled within it. It lells. eonventiore of his time is provided byhis and the channwg and sprightly ~Mtljopotomos.s "Mother Hubbard's Tale. love sonnets in the Petrarehan mode so dear ro jhe Elizabethans. The Complaints volume also contains some translations from Marot and du BeUay of IlOI great interest in themselves. Ami: there to hUllt aJ!ter the hoped prey.of the style. Thea musttheu thee dispose another way.E B~o['l's lament for Aclonls. (If The F'ale of the BetterBy. Lady !Rich."i:." a mnck-herole aceuunt in o~taoo rima of the capture and destruction of II! beautiful Imtterlly by a baleful spider. te Virgil. constitute Qilieof Spenser's. Is am il1terestjng commentary O~ the place of eonvention iin Eli'zabethan art. 0.hesis. A SOli net sequen. But by far the most ~nteres~ingpoem inli.:1 .!he Duchess. modeled Or. Spenser's sonnets may well have been . not for its autobiog:raphic. If the "Epithalamion" represenrs the true end . but realized that court life was nut for him. with the rhymed eoaplets mo. The ease and Row . and Spenser's eentributton was a pastoral el.aida: An ElegyupoTJ the Death of the Noble and VirtuQl. ~Sincerjt}'~ in art does not mean autobtographlca] accuracy.d. Spenser published Daphn. Just as in The Faerie Q!leene the allegory keeps shl£ting in perspective. That the death of so cherished a friend should have jillspired su.quatrains. Viscoun~ BYl1don. been Chaucer's Book of .M£ 117 And if one could.efle: B1J1 iI thee Jist un~o the Court to thro!lg. to company. the a highly con~nfiornal piece 0·£ work." is all ullpro£table question: they tell the slory oi the poet's wooing of a mistress who at 6rst rebulJedhim. Co!fn C!ou. 10 be a beet!e stoek Ollhy great master's wil]. poses a problem trl the relation between art and life that the modem mmd fUnds hard to solve. and 6nal1y.Home Aglli'n.egy entitled "A:strophel. successive . dedicated to Sidney's widow '"". and.

\fain man. in 1594) roused all Spenser's genius for enriching and trans.1Y answer and your echoring. and the dliming refrain subtly varied yet sufficiently the same to bind the poem 'together with its Incantatory repetition is something to marvel at.oetic imagina. rhyme-scheme is ababbcbccdcdee. then a summons h) I:he nymphs of the local woods. Clad all in white. said she. The best known of the sonnets of (he AtnorcW is a fair sample of the controlled How Spenser achieves i:n. and some of Tasso.I:I[S T[ME 119 and subtle exploitation of the artist's medium so that tbe poem as it I])DVeSits own world ef experience. And el!. Ne dare lifl up her couruenanee 100 bold. The narrative basis is Simply the story of the wedding day: fir. and hom classical traditio!). And In th e heavens wri te your glonccs name. abashed 10 behold So many gaze:. but ~'Ou shall Jive by ~. naturally. Thai all the woods m. these poems: ODe day! wrote her name upon !:be mand. So well i~her beseems ~hat ye 'Iwuldl ween Som. the mingling of elements from Catullus.rising forth 10 run her mighty race. There are. This celebration of his own wedding (which took place in Ireland. Not so. I_hat-do. and others. Bonsard.-s as on her do stare.. then an account of the preparation for the wedding and the bidding of the gUESts. Do like EI golden rnande her attire. SIdney's. With the bride's appenance the verse takes on a new richness and a new excitement: her progress is described in Language that echoes the Psalms: Lo where she comes along with portly pace. and lLlter llferenew. mast . Ihal 'seems R virgin best.tion and by the appropriate use of imagery and of rhythms. and it is testimony to the way In which the whole tradmon of European poetry had become part of Spenser's very personality that he should exploit that tradition most fully. Sprinkled with pearl.ND . And. Sofa. come let us kiss and part.. though they never rise to some overwhelming moment like Drayton's famous "Since there's no help.e Phoebe from her chamber of the East. Desportes. and one of Spenser's highest achievements. My versa you r virtues nile shan eternize.11let base. and most originally when he came to express one of the supreme moments of his own life . or Shakespeare's . the blending of descriptive details with tile celebratory mood. with the first twelve lines deftly linked by rhyme and movement and separated from the final couplet. The architectonic quality both of the individual stanza and of the poem as a whole is remarkable. The eighty-nine sonnets thai make up the Amorett/. 0 love which reaehest but to dust. whether Spenser's.• lI.r from being proud. We.llguring bare fact by p. then dawn and the awakening of the bride. Her long Joose ye 110wleeks like goldenw~e. subject. does have reference to and does: illurnlnate the real world of human experience. The "Epiilialamim:t is an ahogether more remarkable piece of work. and mountalns to bring garlru:lds for the bride and s!ng her praise. but not necessarily through a direct projection of the poet's autobiography. move with a limpid flow and show a remarkably consistent level of craftsmanship. 1NJlere." Sidney's "Leave me. But came the waves" and washed it away. Convention and personal feeling here findtheill' perfect meeting. though not invariable. shows original poetic genius in ecntrol of its richly diversified materials to a degree that English poetry had not y.. the use of the retrain. the adaptation of a lyrical poem to a narrative structure. from Irish ~etting.wen atween. and pearling tlc. Again I wrote It witb II second hand •• But came tl1e tide and made my pains his prey. (quoth .l1IWne. wheuaa dealn she 11al1 tile world SIl bdue..e my name be wi~.rne." or some of Shakespeare's. from Chaucer's Parlwment of Fowls. The elaborate verse paragraph derives from the Italian Cl. Om love shall live. English fondore'.st the poet's announcement 01 his. many echoes of Petrareh. should bear these obvious plJi1its in mind when we read the Elizabethan sonnet seen. Thatworld. happily..sf tn vain assay A mortal thing sO to immortalize. The usual. Upon the low'l)' ground n£lhed are. but the handling of the melody. Nnthless do ye still loud her prnises sing. out likewise.a. But bllllsh to hear neT praises sung so loud. Drayton's. Her modest eves. Here Is the New Poetry reaching to heights of complex I}'rical expression that were not before possible in English. For I myseH slil:8Ulike to this decay. Daniel's. Seem like some maiden Queen. UII.gel she had been.e Olll. of course. being crown&! wilh a glrland green.178 creates SPENSER . probabl). things devise To die in dust. streams.

invoked '10 bless the marriage.. time tile weddrng precession has reached the church" and the bride enters to the sound !If the organ: Open the temple gales unto my love. yet the per· sonal note is effectively blended with ~his. Open them wide that she may emte. That f:nuitfml issue may 10' you . his treatise on Plato's doetnne of immortality" and his commentary on Plato's Symposilllll. occasionaHy to a Bne rhetorical eloquence... both. And ma. the homecoming. this idea !being divine and I[S eontemplation beil'lg 81"eligiolls wbieb is I'IOt long: AM Wlbfltl will this lung we~ryd:ly have end. 10 Hemy Cuilfurd and Marsilio Ficino's Latin tTa!lsi.•.nt the blessing of fruitftllness. Degli Heroici Furori. set. This' is poetic celebration carried as far as It can ~o:it is Spenser a~ the . Jo)' m8JYYOIli have a 00 gende heart's conteut couplement.s. and. and Cbrlstiani. Medieval courtly love. ]Lmo and Ceniusare asked to g:u. in.£ the whole poem e could demonstrate to those who are not familiar with it its' extraordinary artistry. J1 Cortegicmo. Only quotatfon 0. ~a'th vil1t:ue: tl) remove There follow the ceremony. The moon ri!l:s :and looks ~ a~ ~I'he of early morning by the Thames to the ceremomous entry of the two swans who symbolize the two bri. Spenser had met it fit Cambridge find he had met it. ry height of its genius. The' Platnnlc doerrtne that one ascends Irem a sped'fie emhodirnent of heallty to a eontemplatlen .ione's essay on the perfect eenrtier. in Casli' . the adroitly varied Iine lellg1bs. in Ciordano Bruno's treatise Oil love. Within the Western loom .so£tiy.. Let endless 'peace yGU~'sle'lldrasl hearts aeeerd. 0 fairest planet. in honor of Love aed of Beauty. with a seven-line coda in which the poet commends Ilis: so'ng to his love.Faulty guile Fat' ever to' assoil. for. and in many other works. till I end my. These hymns have been a favorite study of those interested in tile Illfiuence of Platontsm en Spenser.ilfford. faiT Venus. 1:h3't is queen of Jove. the movement f:om a hushed pictu. daughters of the Earl of Worcester. they say. it has a tapestry quality.irornament.zed thall the "Epithalamion".. his shorter p!)ems. was elahorated by the Italian Platonists in a 'variety of ways. A11d leI. for each pad gaIns immensely by contributing tOI the tot~1 movement. grave stateliness unsurpassed in English poehy: Ye g. The renewed il1len'st ill Plato during ~he Beaaissance fs a eommonplace of nlntellectu""l history. in the works of the Italian .idly presented observer of the ceremonious sc:ene~The benedic!ioTI prononnced all the 5!NilIJ1IS by one of the nymphs has R.lmg 5'01'1.. for they reflect that in:$LiIence more e'Kplicitly and consistently thal1l any other of. whom thi~ h:lp'P1 huur In 15'96 Spenser pubHsbed his F01'lr Hymm. The bnde'sattendants are dismissed" nigbt descends..180 SPENSER AND ms TIME SPENSER AND H[S TUfB lSI The' bride's beauty.of the ldea of beauty as an end in your joys redound. and the po~m ends on a note of calm yet eloquent benediction. With her bend-q u:el. in honor DE Heavenly Love and of Heavenly Beauty. physical and spiritual" is now prats-ed. but equally bI"iIlialll in imagery and movement.fhst two. too. and the poet invokes pea:ce and blessing O~I Ills bride'.enlie bmls. being early works. And heaven's glory. and by this. Not quite so rich. Ami blessed plenly wait upon)"Om board. and she 100 is. And letid me leave 10 ceraeunte my IDve? How s!owly do the hours !heir numbers spend! How slawly does sad 'lime his !eathefli rnovel Haste Ih~. while displaying Spenser's usual control over his medium a:ndrisil1p. upon yO\l smile. Sweet. the .mid's £a. an almost heraldic lorne.'~ beauty to contemplation af beauty in others and then cf beauty m the abstract).l· linrn Petre ill 159ft Here again we have the massrve and musical stanza with its concluding refrain CSweet Thames" run softly" till I end! my liong").ed on to the medieval notien of courtly love fio \'I'hich at First Sight it appears so antithetical (for 110 medieval courtly lo v er would have considered it proper to move from contemplation of his rnistTess.. The "Prcthalamjon" is more deliberately styli. they do not exhibit allY new powers or outstanding poeticqu:dities. Whore smile. the end of day- t~e poet longing for AlIlO1'e's dislike. is the "Prothalarmoo. Thames. to thy home.ty were blended . translatedintQ En~lish by Sir Thomas Hoby in ]561. Platonism.sHnn of Plato. Wh i~hrn'Ely )I'C\I:r foes 'C>I!Infaund. and friendship's . tnH~ poet himself is the . 0'1' )'oW' lcve's Deth lead 'unto y09l' lo"el"S·blissful bower. tlJe ". Upon your bridal day. . be'ing written much later. It was also often graft. and the laner hila.." a wedding poem written for the double wedding or Lady Elizabeth and Lady Cntherme Somer. ~hey are nat otherwise of any great mrerest. A!!Idlet )'Sur bed with p'leaswres chaste abound.

For 01 the 5. the Ualiao epic. Its loftiness and exalting capacity. English tory. And therefore. His immediate. The Faerie Qu.oU] the body IOmJ dnth take: For rou~ is form and doth the body make. and the hymns are of more interest to the student of Renaissance thought than 10 the historian of Eng- lish poetry. In !:heIormer poem. and of the beauty and wis:dom of God which illifinitdy transcends anything visible on earth. ¥r Of Spenser's toying with the idea 0'£ writing English verse in classical quanlita.182 SPENSER AND IItS T1M'E SPENSER AND HIS TIME 183 many interesting ways by Renaissance writers. Beside.lh'e measure instead oJ in tradittenal English metrical forms. Lifting himself out of the lowly dust On golden plumes up 10 the purest 5ky Above the reach loathly. wherebv she is outwardlv known: as in trees. These poems illustrate how literary and intellectual fashions aHected Spenser's style and subject matter. and Spenser's combination of Protestant idealism. as there can be no circle without a centre. manner of divine Beauty. in which the beauty of the buds giveth a ielitimony of !he goodness the huiL IS . But Spenser needed rhyme. hieh had more fmitfLlI results than the interest ln classlcs] measures for it led to blank verse and. Malory. as be told Cabriel Harvey. as it is mcst pure. and native amorousness represented hi$ own version of a synthesis common enougb in)lls day. Spenser [ad dec. Aristotelian ethics. bu! Spenser's genius was not for explicitly philooopbicalpoetry. The sllsp'icion of rhyme as a barbarous nonclassical invention was another phase of the same Humanist anitude. Platonism. the PhaedTlJs. sini'ullu. led Milton to choose blank verse fOI his Paradise Lost. classical epic. in a context of ideal suggestion olf what it should be. and the necessarily IOrlgand arduous road to the enjoyment of true love. The Italian epic provided the m. and from the Italian nee-Platonists to present an account of the importance and significance of love. hu~ the physical reflection of something much more profound and universal. . and almost every current of European thought and expression aad convention which had reached the sixteenth century. and hLS classiciz. which is more than surface appearance.eel1e. one of tile few great inclusive atlempts made by an English poet to bring ~ogerher in one rich pattern all the various strands or civilization with which he was acquainted.iol!Jsforms. geography and folklore. on medieval romance. So it the Fa. the.irer doth prOC'LDre To habit in" and it more fairly dight With cheerful gmceand amiable sight. But like a moldwarp in the earth doth lie. as it were. Ami therefore is the' outwaril beaut)' Q true . in particular. expresses and beauty. mark or t. Protestant idealism. specifical1y Christian.slgn of the inward gooc:lnes~. Drawing on the medieval allegorical tradition in both its secularand relig.t hom Ariosto's and he lacks the Italian's comic exuberance and 9stonishiOig fertility of ]jve~y invention. Spenser's letters to Gabriel Harvey show the two writers e1(chal1ging views and experiments which had no effect on Spenser's poetic achievement.. Calvin's institutes and the Hebrew Wis<llom literature are influences here alongside more obvious Christian sources and the' Italian nee-Plato'!'lists. and in bodies this eomeliness is imprinlted more or less. which. be hoped to "avergo.r or In the hymns of Heavenly Love and Heavenly implicitly repudiates the Platonic notion of the regret for his earlier celebrations of earthly love speaks in a. Similarly. Renaissance Humanism. Elizabethan patriotism and political thougbt. fest by the career on earth of Whose base affect through cowardly dis!rust Of his weak wings date not to heaven fly.. Whereupon doth very seldom an ill soul ilwe~1 in a beautiful 00i1:-.o Furies-a. be declares: For Love is lard of truth and layalty. or And in the latter: So every sp! was a brief and transient phase oJ Ws poetic career.cometh of God and is like a circle. which he handled more richly and musically than any other English poet. he constructed his comprehensive poetic vision of la condition Jmmaine as it was. in the "Hymn in Honour of Beauty" he celebrates true beauty. In the "Hymn in Honour of Love" Spenser takes numerous ideas f!'Om the SympoS'iurn. no more can be~oty he without put the foHowing passage from Hoby's translalion of Castiglione: say that benuty . goodness whereof Ihe centre.l'lhlJnto which he callid pour his serious and complex vision: i rus- L- . Ior a. model was }\riosto's Orumd.." though llis tone is quite diJferen. and love made manl- AU Spenser's earlier poetry is in a sense but preparation and exercise for his unfinished epic. Plato and Italian neo-Platonism. and the tone is far ham Platonic ill spite of Platonic echoes.lle soul. this we mi~. all that need be said is that this interest iill the possibilities of wrihflg classical verse in English was an inevitable part of Humanist enthusiasm for the classics and for imitating tbe achievements of classical literature. the difference between true love and mere lust. And n:ll:h in it the moreef heavenly light.

I may be perhaps encouraged to frame the other part of politic virtues in his person.Holiness. The very opening of the first canto of Book Lstrikes the note of 0 bserved adve IIIture: A Celli tle Knigh! was pricking Or! the plain. .for thaI (lI~rilin~ ~ Aristotle and the rest) it Is the perfection of a. the which is the ptupose cE these Ilirsl twelve books.riththey (!he Alistoletian megillopsychiil> maglWolmi1a." The Faerie Queene is thus very far from complete.<i. the third of Britomartis.• He goes 00 to explain that he begins It! medias res in proper epic fashion. in whom J set forth Temperance." The letter continued: an In that Faery Queen I mean glory tn my general ill Faery land. ights are in these xii books severally handled and discoursed. and Tasso. 3S now befell. And yet in some places else I do otherwise shadow lI. amd !bat Ferryman Witb h. but in my par· fiC'UlarJ conceive the most excenent and g." Of' !he total plan 01 twenty-foul books" Spenser on[y completed SQ forth they pus.rm. and of . therefore in the whole course I mention the deeds Il:f Arthur IIPFb~able 10 tLal . where I devtse that the Faery Queen kept her annual feast xiI days. runwhom. before he was King. she spied Where Iar away one all in armour bright With hasty gallop towards her did ride. (he work as we have it is noble and i:mpressive. ." And 'he goes 011 to give a. and shores. in whom I express. perfected in the twelve private mOJal virtues. .. the image of iii brave 1m.l'iistory.nons. on root. upon which xii several days the occasions of the xii several adventures happened. UWlS has well put Sm?en. six. 'We wa~ch. pair.sti£l! oars djd brush !:hesea so 5 greatness of scull in pameulali'. as Aristotle hath devised. ten years after Spenser's as Professor C. and silver shield.-' pllll'latiom whleh be intended. and alllhe way they spent Discoursing of her d:readIullate distress •. which is the last.rtue which If write or in that book. picture Chastity.Uthe rest. the other 00: a most virtuous and beautiful Lady. a folio edition was published containing the Eirst six books and at bagment of book VII entitled "Two Cantos of Mutability. Virgil.lorious person of our soveraine the Queen. five. ..ser rote a letter to Sir Walter Ralegh (pli'dixedw the edition w of 1590) "expounding his whole illl~ention in the course (If this work. • So lo.nce which aI] readers since Spenser's time have preferred to ignore. published in J!590J contain Ihree.! other knigbls the patrons.BrltOO1art first started." and it is this surface whieh it shares 'N'ith the Italian epic.spy An :url'lllooJcmghl toward them gallop fast. with an optional alleg. :Y'-cI:1d in mighty a. AND HIS TlME SPENSIER AND IUS TIME 185 the vision itself was Spenser's own" for all his use of older traditions. •.ey pass. again in pf«}per epie fashion. . For oonsiaenng she bearetn two rpe. more than long enough to enable us to assess its quality and Significance-long .p. after that he carne to the kjng. "by example of which excellent Poets J !abou~ to [portray In Arthum-.84 SPENSER. _ .•. dens. indeed. the firsl of the knight of ~e Redcross. as characters approach and recede across this magic landscape. of such complex design incompleteness Is bound to present difficulties of 1I1lderstaildillg and interpretadon. and six in 1596_ In 1609. S. • So as they travelled. the SIlCo'nd Sir Cuyon.1. is still common enough to require ~orrectjng.1I find to be well accepted. but its greatness is of a rather special kind_ The notion that The Faerie Queene consists of an endless series of pictorial stanzas. The first three were published in 1500. a weD consorted So Iereh they row&i. (an C'![. of a lady knight. • . if it were to be told by an Historiographer.• of my . 10 lhey gao e. each slow moving and musrcal. . _ So in the pel"5. But of the xu other virtues I make :Ii. which virtue . xii severalh.JllIy oilier adventures are intermeddled. Alld "ll19. ' . of "Interlocked stories of cbivalrous adventure in a world of marvels. woods. ''The beginning. and books four. Ariosto. The background is an indeterminate world of plains.a. It remains one of the great poems of tbe English language..e." in which he declaFed that "the general end . ight. . 01 which these 'three hooks [i.rica~ signrn. to uno' fold in at suitable retrospect in a later book). and since only theee books are here presented he had better explain what. a deliberate dream world through which we watch the characters moveAnd faIth th. brief account of how the adventures of the Redcross KlIlight. this Q Jailer pact in some pla~ I do express ill Belpheebe. a mere fragment of an epic. which beillg undertaken by. as it were in a trance. and oo:ntamel~ In! It Ilbem ill. of the book is to fashion a gentleman or noble peursoll in virtuous a. Nevertheless. castles. and her kingd. . which i. . to have frightened off geoerattcns of readers who have been content to judge the work by brief exrracts or merely by replltation.o1l of Prince NithlU I sEit forth m:agnilirell. should be the twelfth book..enough. the one of a mBSt 1i'O)'ill Uleen or Empress. has happened before· the events there narrated. Thus as she hel" recornfcrted. of Sir Guyon. islands. the first three books. So forth he Eared. with pleasure forward led." He pointed out that he had le. The surface of the epic consists. And in a work.nd gentle discipline. . for the more variety of the history.amed from Homer. but rather as accidents than intendments.

This is vigorous and effective. DerormM rnonscers. as it were. each. But wilEDhis d"wnisb hands their tender wing5 He brusherh oft. Marks which do bite their has!). who is Truth. we call pick out ill a short space iii great variety of kinds of expression. There is the note of romantic adveature pme and simple: At Ingl:h Ilhey chaoced 10 meet upon l:heir wily A. and. whic" agaiml may vary in its degree of 'literalness.) The adventures. who is Holiness. the flene! perceived.. seemed.ory which mutates from simple pem-sonillcation to oblique suggestion in accordance with the needs of the narrative. Whose courage ..d full of vile disdain.. i~ long black weelh ydad. in tone in The Faerie Queene. filthy. and thoroughly "Spenserian" in the popular sense: the allegory is simple 00 the pOint of childishness.c'hiva'!:ric action on the one hand and the world of ethical and religious ideals on the other.t was harassed by the monster's "cursed spawn~: The same so sore 31l1i0yM has the IlIlIight. But the next stanza changes the tone: As gentle Shepherd in sweet eventide When ruddy Phoebus gins 10 welk in west. and bril1gIng ill many centemporary references. ~n t. as well as having me'aning on these levels.he midst of the 'ght. The Redcross Knight both represents a quality (hohness) and represents man in search of that quality. series of adventures which suggest (a. Spenser can shift tluough a much wider range of tones. skillful. "nil fair did sit. vomiting forth books and papers together WIth lumps of foul fleshand "loathly frogs and loads." The description is vigorous. At the same time the Redcross Knight ls also Everyman. This is 3. and ort doth mar their mcrmurings. becomes rnvolved in Il.jth Spenser.mB6 S. A cloud of cumbrous gnats do him molest. But this is unimportant.!d in which our ethical problems are to be encountered and solved. is described as "most loathsome. marks of mnny a bloody field. High on an hill. And him encumbered sere. supper best.ween the world of . His angry steed did chide his foaming M. Th".s: brings: ill a more normal human world and establishes. and so on . the interest of the characters and the degree to which the poet is approaching or OIIovmg away from a climactic moment in the unfolding of his complex ethieo-religious meaning-all this gives the poem variety and liveliness and! preveots that aimless drowsiness which somehow so many people have come to associate "". the deliberate alterations ill perspective and in levels of prllbability.llg with a cursed spawn of serpents lntoa shepherd brusbing off the Innocent but annoying ~at. but it humanizes it.. which the Hedcross Knight slays. Yet nrms till that 'time never did he wield.t a variety G'f levels) how man's pursuit of hoI mess can be hindered hy error. puttin~ the Protestant against the Catholic view of the good life.PENSER AND HIS TIME SPENSER "'NO IUS TIME 187 Whereim oM dints af deep wounds did remain. Because it is introduced as a simile it does not interrupt Oli spoil the Force of the i. hypocrfsy. As much disdaining to the curb to yield. SHU conflningourselves to Book I.esUveness.D aged Sire. [welk. . accompanied by Una. and reminds us of the everyday WQ. with its moral and religious and political allegorical signjDc8llce. to shrink hen. he can no longer 6ght. a middle term bet. striving to jn£ix theiT I":e-eblestings. 'ilJde] An The background of pastoral lire introduced here ill the simile is remmiscent of some of Milt-on's similes in Paradise Lost. fairly obvious example of a The cruel. foul and black as ink.t from their lloyamce he nowhere can rest." prolific of her poisoeeus young. false devotion. facing the ordinary temptations of this world. Foul an. As one for knightl)' jousts and Beree enecunters Jit. both Ule literal and the allegorical meanings are perfectly clear. She pounld forth out III her I1rl. just as the incidental characters mayor may not have human qualities which enrich the story psychologically and etbically as well as their more formal allegorical significance.ncident. The sudden and brief metamorphosis of the Redcross Knight battli. also have their owninterest and toek O'WJII ethical sugg. in tone and tempo. The sllifts. and above all the flexibility of the allef!. Then Spenser goes 0111 to describe how the knigJ. The monster Error. (Spenseris also talk~ng about religtous conditioru in England. the range from homely realism ~o liturgical solemnity or spiritual exaltation. but CO'Uldnot hurt at a]l. wherehe provides relief from the acrid atmosphere of he~1by a simile which invokes one of the simpler and more elemental activities of men in the £elds 011' on the sea. Full }olly kllighl he. his Sock 10 viewen wide. Ye!: the poem is not a sequence of pictorial scenes.lis'h sink Her fru!tful eu ~d spawn of serpen Is smaU. That wellnigh choked with the deadly stink His forces fil.. Which SW'anning all about his legs djd crawl. and needing the help of Grace (Prince Arthur) as well as Truth in order to lead the good life and attain holiness. Thus in Book I the Bedcross Knight.

That ·v '!I>nished hllo smoke and eloudes swift. In breve pursuit or ehlvalrous empnse.~kome hidden IIest s Of many Dr.avellly grlloe doth 'him uphold. djfferenr styles indefinitely.groan.SPENs:lU\ AND H:JS1"lMS SPENSER AND ars T1MlI!: 189 There is the pastoral: A ImJ!e 10.1isis shrewd comic realism. . and !. Did come 100 near There Is the lofty chivalrie: o goodl).him aul all. Ne dU1"$1' approach him make him dally fam Were not" l:n(. al the rascal ""any ran. it was. his fru ilful seed. There is the mythQlogical-romantic~ There Tethys.ed. The sight with idle Iear did them dism a. 10 touch.l h e. were the CIlSe Of men.dy child lind with his 'talons play. Bondforth his lire did hlen'!he. hud by a forest's side. A norher 53 [d thaJt illl h is eyes did rest Ylet spark]i ng lire.. HeapM logetheI i'lll rude rabblement. religiolls note: Ay me.tI hl'lIped meuntain lay.r sa:id. One thGI would wiser seem than illlthe rest W:.ittl~ babe reviled ga~sipiS gao in counsel say: I tell but that his !a. Awdn®ble minds of )'u:re IIllied were Bnlf dead And 10 her "How can Yet scratch SQ diversly White some. But when Ihey C1Ime Whe'ftllbat dead Dlago~ lay.IgQnets:.e1l. 5p:L'ead. some feared HIla wen illeign. his bellow breast.d in monstrous large utent. through lear be'lf l. me There is the poetie-proverbial (but it is worth remembering that these lines are spoken to entrap the Bedcress Kmight into despair and suieide): Sleep after toil.l. wherewith yfere The virtues Ii."earth Illin underneath Did . port . ly Downtn a dale.ike a..e so greal: load '10liFt. Or in his womb might: 1\iI. This is formal and stylized.. lor example. 10 measure him 'nigh smnd 'To pl'Ol'e how mClnyacres he did spread of laad. roll ing down.ziflg. O[le mother.y.1$ from heaven sent.YCtllmpassion of their evils move~ There is: else much mare wretched. There is the mOOllli. end bad thereof take heed: Allolbe. That mll. when. poise is from ll1e mainland dft And. So down he: . death alter life does gJready please. .. Perhaps the most effeetive display of Spenser's range is f01. more bold. To see the faee oE that victorious 1!I1!3f.dalb. &weill. startles by its dilerenee hom what bas gone before: And is there care in heave~? And i. over him her nillinlle Mac:k . ItS feebl. Ease aI!e!: war. 11. But after this eemss: And after.. Neptune do!:h dismay. So downhe fell. seas.. or SGrn e ~'Dng:eriJ1g within. as sa huge l"CJd. nd steadfast trurll acquit . Scm e feared and dllwWI he fell. There is the popular satirical: He told of Sain'!:s and Pares. when as her foolhar.::y eHrt.lld hnvard the end of Book I.orm). Hermnage. m&l1!l.asmay my son or rene! his lender hand]" themselves in v. very different indeed from Spenser's nigh remaatic strain. So down he' fen. The sudden que!>tioning with whicn.~there love In heavenly spitils 10 these creatures base. fue is. or once assay. Onecould multiply examples of Spenser's. than beasts.f.rm they fray. describing the Redcross I{IlJight"s slaying Glf the dragon: . Stretehed 011 the gTlHIll. golden chain. his wet: bed Doth ever wash. and evermore He strewed an A'De Mary after and before.lm. how many perils do enfold The righteous. ror yet perhaps remafned There Is the homely proverbial: A dram of sweet is worth a POiWlOof sour.1.Elffer sl.mlt~ EIlte in lovely wise.roed him not touch. he S. Whom all admired. and Cyn~bia still dmh sleep In s~lverdew his ever-drooping head. And glUed! upon Mlb ~piJ'lg w~nd~imt.."W hirQ. tbat th. he opens the eightb canto of Book II. WlilO<Slenlse fO'LInd"tion f With dreadful Wave5 ha'll£WMbed away. move his eyes indeed. While sad Night.. r i!.

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