Langland’s Prosody: The State of Study
The computer, with its ability to sort, store and test hypotheses, will serve as a valuable tool for answering questions regarding the prosody of WL and other alliterative poets. (Which metrical constraints do the poets accept? What evidence – manuscript readings or edited texts – will best serve the study? Are there continuities of practice from earlier times? Are stress and alliteration the main components of WL’s prosody?) There is a need for (1) a precise definition of the body of poetry under investigation and rigorous definition of each item under scrutiny; (2) use of the scientific method, with controls, minimalization of variables, etc.; and (3) presentation of evidence that can be assessed by others. Critiques are presented of the work of Oakden, Waldron, Lawrence, Duggan, Turville-Petre, Kane and Donaldson, Sapora, Schmidt, and Cable.