Tag Archives: ideophones

The Sounds of Old Age

One of the delights of starting work on this book has been the search for particularly distinctive examples of Middle English poetics in practice.  In particular, I have been skim-reading lots of editions in a rough chronological survey looking for conscious poetic experiments.  London, British Library MS Harley 913 has provided a rich source of pre-Chaucerian stylistic innovation.  MS Harley 913 is a trilingual anthology of poetry and prose, copied by a Franciscan friar living in Waterford in the south of Ireland.  Parts of the manuscript can be dated  1338 to 1342 (See Alan J. Fletcher, ‘The Date Of London, British Library, Harley MS 913 (The “Kildare Poems”)’, Medium Ævum, 79:2 (2010), 306–10), though the volume as a whole may have been copied over a longer period.  Many of the pieces in the manuscript seem to have been chosen by a compiler interested in parody and wordplay.  (See Neil Cartlidge, ‘Festivity, Order, and Community in Fourteenth-Century Ireland: The Composition and Contexts of BL MS Harley 913’, Yearbook of English Studies, 33 (2003), 33–52).

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