Tag Archives: Wisdom

Good and Bad Stanzas

Some medieval English playwrights use different types of stanza for different types of characters.  In the fifteenth-century morality play Mankind, the personification Mercy begins the play speaking in stanzas which are often called octaves, rhyming ababbcbc (also sometimes called eight-line ballade stanzas, or Monk’s Tale stanzas following their use by Chaucer).  This stanza form is often used for moral or educational writing in later Middle English poetry.  This is a good fit for Mercy’s character, as he begins the play in priestly guise, reminding the audience to persevere in good works and to avoid sin.

Continue reading