- Slides: 9
Medieval British Literature NOTES AND POETRY
Medieval Poetry Medieval English Poetry was not written. They were passed on by mouth from generation to generation by travelling musicians called troubadours and minstrels. These aristocratic men were poets who were originally from the southern part of France. They were also referred to as Trouveres.
Medieval Poetry Poems during the medieval period were perpetually linked with music, even the legendary tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable were said to have originated from the music and poetry of the English and Welsh Bards, which eventually were included in the lyrics of these travelling musicians. It must be noted however, that Latin and French were the distinct languages for literature during these times. It was only until King Henry IV that English was adopted as a language in England as it was for the royalty at that time.
‘Of every kinnë tre’ a simple song or medieval poem about desire. A rough (and inferior) paraphrase is: ‘Every kind of tree, the hawthorn blossoms sweetest; she shall be my lover, the fairest of every kind. ’
‘Of every kinnë tre’ Of every kinnë tre, The hawthorn blowëth swetest, Of every kinnë tre. My lemman she shal be, The fairest of every kinnë, My lemman she shal be.
‘Say me, wight in the brom’ perhaps something of a controversial poem – it effectively features a woman asking a mysterious figure (or ‘wight’) how she can get her husband to love her, only to be told, ‘hold your tongue, and you’ll get what you want. ’ Charming.
‘Say me, wight in the brom’ Say me, wight in the brom, Teche me how I shal don That min housëbondë Me lovien woldë. ’ ‘Hold thine tongë stillë And have al thine willë. ’
‘Ich am of Irlande’ a famous song, perhaps one of the most famous medieval English lyric poems. Its meaning is pretty self-explanatory, so we’ll let the anonymous poet speak for himself (and for his homeland)
‘Ich am of Irlande’ Ich am of Irlande And of the holy lande Of Irlande. Good sir, pray Ich thee, For of saynte charité Come and daunce with me In Irlande.