Middle English
Poetics Glossary

These posts represent a work-in-progress, a glossary of terms used to discuss Middle English poetics and versification. Click on any of the terms below for a short definition and discussion of the term.  Terms in red are terms which are used in Middle English to discuss elements of poetry written in English in the medieval period. Terms in blue are terms which are used in Modern English to discuss elements of medieval poetry written in English but which are NOT found in Middle English. Terms in purple are terms used in other fields (for example music) or terms used in the other languages of medieval England. Terms in green are terms which might be mistaken for or have been mistaken for technical terms of poetics in Middle English, but which don’t in fact refer to the technicalities of versification.

I hope the glossary is helpful as a useful online reference source — please get in touch if you have any queries, corrections or additions.  I will be providing fuller details of the evidence and reasoning which lie behind these definitions, along with citations of usage, in the glossary chapters of the book on which I am working.  I have started with terms for units and subdivisions within poetry, and will be dealing with terms for rhyme, alliteration, and metre as my research progresses.

abece

acrostic

ballade

ballade royale

bastoun

burden

cadence

caesura

carol

chanson

complainte (see also nine-line stanzas)

concatenation

couple, copill

couwe

dit, dit(i)e, ditee

enterlace

fitt

geste (n), gesten (vb.)

internal rhyme I, internal rhyme II

iteration

lai

lenvoy

line

Monk’s Tale stanza

nine-line stanzas

octave

octet

poesie, see also poyse

poetrie

raf(f)(e)

refrain, see refreit

refreit

roundel

staff, also staves

stanza-linking

tail-rhyme

verse

virelai

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