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Langland Versificator

Langland Versificator

The starting point is Anima’s complaint that teachers nowadays cannot ‘versifie faire’ in Latin, with its implication that L himself was taught in school so to do. The essay has three parts: first, a gathering of the evidence, both from England and elsewhere in Europe, that verse-writing was regularly taught in medieval schools; second, a discussion of the schoolbook in Rylands MS Latin 394, arguing that its proverbs, all in verse and arranged in alphabetical order of key words, many offering multiple version of the same proverb, were models to be mined by schoolboys assigned to write verses; and finally, a survey of the quantitative verses in PPl, pointing out that the ends of hexameters and the ends of alliterative long lines have similar features, and arguing that the verses unfound elsewhere—and especially the Latin verses in the Prologue—were composed by L. In the second part frequent reference is made to Christopher Cannon’s article, ‘Langland’s Ars grammatica‘, YLS, 22 (2008), 1-35 [see link below], in which the relevance of Rylands 394 to PPl was first signaled, in order to extend and deepen Cannon’s argument by focusing on the verse form of the proverbs. Four appendixes treat further aspects of the subject, including two other schoolbooks, Bodleian MS Douce 52 and Yale MS 3.38. Proverbs are cited from both Douce 52 and Rylands 394 that seem reflected in PPl (e.g. ‘Do welle and have welle’, ‘Disce, doce’) and in Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale. (TL)


YLS, 25 (2011), 37-76.


Lawler, Traugott