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?’).
Here’s a wonderful short poem (scroll down for text and translation) by the Middle Scots poet William Dunbar (born ?1460, died ?1513) which gives us a late medieval account of a migraine. Dunbar was a cleric, poet and courtier in the service of James IV of Scotland. I’ve been skimming through his works recently, partly for tutorials on late medieval poetry and partly because he uses so many different verse forms and stanza forms in his poems (which makes him a good subject of research for my book).