Tag Archives: Oliver Pickering

Frozen and Free

This week’s poem (scroll down for text and translation) is a medieval version of constraint writing, in which a writer constrains themselves to comply with an arbitrary rule or pattern.  In this tiny poem, almost every word begins with the letter f.  It seems likely that the poet was inspired by similar experiments in medieval Latin poetry.  For example, eighteen lines on Saint Peter the Martyr (d. 1252) with each word beginning, fittingly, with p, or Hucbald of St Amand’s tenth-century Ecloga de clavis, a poem in praise of bald men, dedicated to the emperor Charles the Bald, 146 lines in which all words begin with c, a letter choice which, perhaps, represents the ring of hair remaining around a bald pate.

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