Title Background

<i>Studies in the Metre of Alliterative Verse</i>

Studies in the Metre of Alliterative Verse

This book provides a comprehensive study of the metre of the unrhymed poems of the Alliterative Revival (with the exception of the idiosyncratic PPl). The introduction sets out the authors’ general procedure and the problems of establishing the corpus. Chapter 1 concerns the alliterative line ending, addressing the questions: are feminine line endings preferred or obligatory? And, was final –e pronounced at line ending? It shows that final –e at line ending occurs only under those conditions where it would have been operative in Middle English prosody. Chapter 2 argues that in infinitives, inflectional –e was alive and well, and regularly sounded by alliterative poets, and that the –lyche ending was deliberately used by alliterative poets as a metrical variant for monosyllabic –ly. Chapter 3 looks into the question of the authenticity (or otherwise) of statistically abnormal patterns (eg aa/bb or aa/xa patterns), showing reasons for suspecting their authorial nature in single-manuscript poems. The final two chapters are on the a-verse. The authors argue that so-called extended a-verses are a myth: the theory that stress will fall on most major-category words is an oversimplication. Having argued for a two-beat a-verse, the authors in the final chapter specify the minimum conditions of metricality for the a-verse: its syllabic structure must be different from that of the b-verse; it must contain a long dip; and it normally has a long initial and long medial dip, or, if not, contains either an extra-long dip or a long or heavy final dip.

Rev. by: 
  • Thomas A. Bredehoft, Review of English Studies, 60 (2009), 802-04; 
  • Thomas Cable, YLS, 23 (2009), 243-64; 
  • Susanna Fein, Speculum, 85 (2010), 457-58;
  • Macklin Smith, Medium Ævum, 80 (2011), 131-33.


(Oxford: Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature, 2007).


Putter, Ad, Judith Jefferson, and Myra Stokes