My last post looked at Chaucer’s experiments with internal rhyme in Anelida’s Complaint. Though we think of it as an unfinished minor work, Anelida and Arcite survives in plenty of manuscripts and was printed by Caxton in 1477. Poets could thus easily borrow Chaucer’s technique of subdividing a pentameter into three units of 4, 4 and 2 syllables, with the first two units of four rhyming (i.e. ‘My swete foo, why do ye so, for shame?’).
This is the first of two or three posts on internal rhyme in later medieval English and Scottish verse. There is a small craze for internal rhyming in later Middle English and Middle Scots poetry. In the last few weeks (well, when not swamped by teaching and revision), I’ve been trying to untangle the various threads and traditions involved.