Title Background

The Diversity of Middle English Alliterative Poetry.

The Diversity of Middle English Alliterative Poetry.

Surveys a range of critical/literary historical questions regarding where alliterative poetry was written, for whom, by whom copied, and so on; emphasizes plural traditions, “in multiple texts passing through multiple centres and revealing diverse and variant patterns of composition and circulation.” Suggests that circumstances of copying may not always be vastly removed from circumstances of composition, and that a South-West Midland complex be considered along with the North-West Midland nexus of copying, composition and audience. Suggests Oxford, where Bodley 851 was copied, as a crucially important center of circulation and production, along with Gloucester, Hereford, and Worcester. Notes that before 1425 an audience for ME alliterative poetry distinct from that for all other English literary works need not be assumed; and since the audience of alliterative poetry was not homogeneous or distinct, the same consideration may be applied to the poetry itself. Concludes with a descriptive paleographical and metrical study of The Disputation Between Mary and the Cross, Susannah, the Marian penitential poem Quatrefoil of Love, York Plays 36 and 45, and various memento mori poems, one of which, Poem 2 in John Audelay’s manuscript, is clearly indebted to PPl.


LSE ns 20 (1989): 143-72.


Lawton, David A.