Final -e and the Rhythmic Structure of the B-Verse in Middle English Alliterative Poetry.
Formulates more precisely than before rules seen to govern the composition of the b-verse: (1) There are two stressed syllables (lifts). The first requires alliteration, and the second may carry alliteration, though with the exception of PPl, examples of this are rare except when alliteration is on vowels. (2) The lifts may be flanked by dips. Two “strong” dips (of two or more unstressed syllables) cannot occur in the same verse. (3) The third dip may be null or weak. Concludes the likely existence of doublet forms of monosyllabic adjectives in which a “petrified” final -e remained for weak and plural adjectives and perhaps for a few ja-stems. Another set of doublet forms with final or medial etymological unstressed -e’s survives or develops in words like ech(e), both(e), and semely, and may also have occurred in present participles. Final -e may possibly have been retained on line-terminal nouns serving as objects of prepositions or verbs. “Final -e on dissyllabic adjectives is almost certainly not pronounced in any of the dialects in which the poems were composed. . . “
MP 86 (1988): 119-45.
Duggan, Hoyt N.