Middle English Debate Poetry and the Aesthetics of Irresolution
Pp. 261-93: WW is a poem of recreational irresolution, much like The Owl and the Nightingale and Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls. Although it speaks to the concerns of fourteenth-century royal and parliamentary conduct, and contains an extraordinary vein of experiential realism, its movement is consistently away from serious satire toward humor and placation, in which the arbiter’s decision not to decide between the evenly balanced disputants represents a benevolent accommodation rather than an irresponsible neglect of duty. WW shares a number of attributes with poetic disputes between the seasons, youth and age, water and wine, men and women.