Title Background

Haue Mercy of Me (Psalm 51): An Unedited Alliterative Poem from the London Thornton Manuscript.

Haue Mercy of Me (Psalm 51): An Unedited Alliterative Poem from the London Thornton Manuscript.

The editio princeps of a fragmentary alliterative paraphrase of Psalm 51, in Northern dialect and dated by the editor c. 1400. The poem is written in twelve-line stanzas generally rhyming ababababcdcd, with concatenatio linking the eighth and ninth lines of each stanza where the rhyme changes, and with each stanza ending on the refrain, “God, ├×ou haue mercy on me.” The poem partakes of the tradition of biblical paraphrase exemplified by the northern Metrical Old Testament (also in twelve-line stanzas) and the Pety Job which, like this poem, prefaces each stanza with a scriptural verse, translates the verse loosely in the first two quatrains, and concludes the stanza with a refrain. The main influence on the poet was the Vulgate text, though he may have known Rolle’s English Psalter.

Volume

MP 86 (1989): 223-41.

Author

Fein, Susanna Greer.