Ormulum, Lyrics, and Robert Manning of Brunne.—Selections may be found in P. & S.; Bronson, I.; Oxford (lyrics, pp. 1-10); Manly, I.; Morris’s Specimens of Early English. Among the lyrics, read specially, “Sumer is i-cumen in,” “Alysoun,” “Lenten ys come with love to toune,” and “Blow, Northern Wind.”
What was the purpose of the Ormulum? What is its subject matter? Does it show much French influence?
What new appreciation of nature do the thirteenth-century lyrics show? Point out at least twelve definite concrete references to nature in “Lenten ys come with love to toune.” How many such references are there in the Cuckoo Song?
What difference do you note between the form of Robert Manning of Brunne’s Handling Synne and Anglo-Saxon poetry? Can you find an increasing number of words of French derivation in his work?
Prose.—Manly’s English Prose, Morris’s Specimens of Early English, Parts I. and II., Chambers, I., Craik, I., contain specimens of the best prose, including Mandeville and Wycliffe. Mandeville’s Travels may be found in modern English in Cassell’s National Library (15c). Bosworth and Waring’s edition of the Gospels contains the Anglo-Saxon text, together with the translations of Wycliffe and Tyndale. No. 107 of Maynard’s English Classics contains selections from both Wycliffe’s Bible and Mandeville’s Travels.
What is the subject matter of the Ancren Riwle? What is the keynote of the work? Mention some words of French origin found in it. What is the character of Mandeville’s Travels? Why was it so popular?
In what does Wycliffe’s literary importance consist? Compare some verses of his translation of the Bible with the 1611 version.
Piers Plowman and Gower.—Selections are given in P. & S.; Bronson, I.; Ward, I.; Chambers, I.; and Manly, I. Skeat has edited a small edition of Piers the Plowman ("B” text) and also a larger edition, entitled The Vision of William concerning Piers the Plowman, in Three Parallel Texts. G.C. Macaulay has a good volume of selections from Gower’s Confessio Amantis.
What is the difference between the form of the verse in Piers Plowman and Handling Synne? Who is Piers? Who are some of the other characters in the poem? What type of life is specially described? In what sort of work are the laborers engaged? Why may the author of Piers Plowman be called a reformer?
Why was Gower undecided in what language to write? What is the subject matter of the Confessio Amantis?
Chaucer.—Read the Prologue and if possible also the Knightes Tale (Liddell’s, or Morris-Skeat’s, or Van Dyke’s, or Mather’s edition). Good selections may be found in Bronson, I.; Ward, I.; P. and S., and Oxford Treasury, I. Skeat’s Complete Works, 6 vols., is the best edition. Skeat’s Oxford Chaucer in one volume has the same text. The Globe Edition of Chaucer, edited by Pollard, is also a satisfactory single volume edition. Root’s The Poetry of Chaucer, 292 pp., is a good reference work in connection with the actual study of the poetry.