Talk:Alliterative Revival

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Wynnere and Wastoure[edit]

The strictures on the "loose" alliterative style of this selection seem to me to be somewhat erroneous:

Whylome were lordes in londe that loved in thaire hertis
To here makers of myrthes that matirs couthe fynde,
And now es no frenchipe in fere bot fayntnesse of hert,
Wyse wordes withinn that wroghte were never,
Ne redde in no romance that ever renke herde.

The misinterpretation seems to follow from a misunderstanding of the nature of the alliterative pattern. Alliteration involves only words bearing a primary stress, of which there are normally two in each half-line, typically nouns, adjectives (except some quantifiers), and verbs (except for copulæ and auxiliaries, which are unstressed), rarely adverbs, very rarely pronouns, almost never, articles, prepositions or conjunctions, as is seen in this example: nouns: lordes, londe, makers, myrthes, matirs, frenchipe, fere ("companionship"), fayntnesse, wordes, romance, renke; adjective wyse; verbs loved, wroghte, redde. The adverb withinn does not participate in the alliteration, and it is essentially accidental that it happens to begin with the same letter as wyse wordes. The four words and now es no are all weak and unstressed (conjunction and, adverb now, copula es, quantifying adjective no) and the seeming alliteration of now and no is illusory. Similar clusters of unstressed words at line-beginnings occur frequently in Anglo-Saxon poetry, e.g. se þe his wordes geweald wide hæfde (Beowulf 79); forþon nu min hyge hweorfeþ ofer hreðer-locan (Seafarer 58); se þe nu fram þys wig-plegan wendan þenceþ (Maldon 316); ne sceal na to hat-heort ne to hræd-wyrde (Wanderer 66). As can be seen, the last line shows the same sort of apparent, but spurious, alliteration as in Wynnere and Wastoure; the true alliteration is of hat, heort, and hræd. The unstressed ne and na are not counted at all.

For this reason I've deleted some remarks that I consider misleading; in fact, the five lines above are not particularly "loose" at all.