History of English Literature: Part-3

about 1140 Geoffrey of Monmouth a Benedictine monk seemingly a Welsh descent who lived at the court of Henry the first and became afterward Bishop of st. Asaph produced in Latin a so-called historia brat onnum in which it was told how Brutus the great-grandson of Aeneas came to Britain and founded there his kingdom called after him and his city of new Troy Troy Noland on the site of the later London an air of historic gravity was given to this tissue of Welsh legends by an exact chronology and the genealogy of the British Kings and the author referred as his authority to an imaginary Welsh book given him as he said by a certain Walter Archdeacon of Oxford here appeared that line of fabulous British princes which has become so familiar to modern readers in the plays of Shakespeare and the poems of Tennyson Lear and his three daughters Cymbeline Barbra Duke the subject of the earliest regular English tragedy composed by Sackville and acted in 1562 Loughran and his Queen Gwendolyn and his daughter Sabrina who gave her name to the River Severn was made immortal by an exquisite song in Milton’s combers and became a heroine of the tragedy of block rain once attributed to Shakespeare and above all Arthur the son of Uther Pendragon and the founder of the table round in 1155 Waits the author of the romanza who turns Geoffrey’s work into a French poem entitled glutton motive brute being a Welsh word meaning Chronicle about the year 1200 wases poem was English by Liam on a priest of arlier agus on the board of stream of seven lemons Brut is in 30,000 lines partly alliterative and partly rhymed but written in pure Saxon English with hardly any French words the style is rude but vigorous and at times highly imaginative waste said amplified Geoffrey’s chronicle somewhat but laymen made much larger editions there I’ve no doubt from legends current on the Welsh border in particular the story of Arthur grew in his hands into something like fullness he tells of the enchantments of Merlin the wizard the unfaithfulness of Arthur’s Queen Guinevere and the treachery of his nephew Madrid his narration of the last great battle between Arthur and Madrid of the wounding of the king fifteen fiend lis wounds he had one might and released three gloves thrust and of the little boat with two women there in wonderly died which came to bear him away to Avalon and the Queen argon – she missed of all elves whence he shall come again according to Merlin’s prophecy to rule the Britons all this left little in essentials for Tennyson to add in his death of Arthur this new material for fiction was eagerly seized upon by the Norman romancers the story of Arthur drew to itself other stories which were afloat Walter map a gentlemen of the court of Henry the second in two French prose romances connected with it the church legend of the sangria or holy cup from which Christ had drunk at his Last Supper and which joseph of arimathea had afterward brought to england then it miraculously disappeared and became thence forth the occasion of Knightly quest the mystic symbol of the object of the souls desire an adventure only be achieved by the maiden Knight Galahad the son of the great Lancelot who in the romances had taken the place of Madrid in Geoffrey’s history as the paramour of Queen Guinevere in like manner the love story of Tristan and Isolde was joined by other Rome answers to the Arthur saga this came probably from Brittany or Cornwall thus there grew up a great epic cycle of Arthurian romance with a fixed shape and a unity and vitality which have prolonged it to our own day and rendered it capable of a deeper and more spiritual treatment and a more artistic handling by such modern English poets as Tennyson in his idols of a king by Matthew Arnold Swinburne and many others there were innumerable Arthur romances in prose and verse in England Ormond and continental French dialects in English in German and in other tongues but the final form which the saga took in medieval England was the prose martyr of Sir Thomas Malory composed at the close of the 15th century this was a digest of the earlier romances and is Tennyson’s main authority beside the literature of the night was the literature of the cloister there is a considerable body of religious writing in early English consisting of homilies and prose and verse books of devotion like the anchor and root of the rule of anchor is’s 1225 the a and bit of intimate remorse of conscience 1340 both in prose the handloom xena 1303 the coarser Mundi 1320 and the prick of conscience 1340 in verse metrical renderings of the Psalter the paja Noster the creed and the ten commandments the gospels for the day such as the or moon or book of armed 12:05 legends and miracles of saints poems and praise a virginity on the contempt of the world on the five joys of aversion the five wounds of Christ eleven pains of Hell seven deadly sins the 15 tokens of the coming judgement and dialogues between the soul and the body these were the work not only of the monks but also of the begging friars and in smaller part of the secular or parish clergy they are full of the ascetic piety and superstition of the middle age the childish belief in the marvelous the allegorical interpretation of the scripture texts the grotesque material horrors of hell with its grisly fiends the vileness of the human body and the loathsome details of its corruption after death now and then a single poem rises above the tedious and hideous barbarism of the general level of this monkish literature either from a more intensely personal feeling in the poet or from an occasional grace or beauty in his verse a poem so distinguished for example a Louisville Ron a love counsel by the minor right friar Thomas de Hales one stands up which recalls the French poet vos Ballad of dead ladies with its refrain may you Solon edged ontong where the snows of yesteryear where is Paris and Ellen that weren’t so bright and favorably a modest Tristan and Aiden Ezard and olive a Hector with his sharp ermine and sees a rich in world’s faith they bet the Glidden out of the rain as the shaft is of the day a few early English poems on secular subjects are also worthy of mention among others the owl and the nightingale generally assigned to the brain of Henry the 3rd 1216 to 1272 an ester for dispute in which though al represents the aesthetic and the nightingale the aesthetic view of life the debate is conducted with much animation and a spirited use of proverbial wisdom the land of calcaneus is an amusing little poem of some 200 lines belonging to the class of 5 Leo short humorous tales or satirical pieces in verse it describes a lubber land or fool’s paradise where the geese fly down all roasted on the spit bringing garlic in the bills for the dressing and where there is a nunnery upon a river of sweet milk and an abbey of white monks and gray whose walls like the Hall of little King Pepin are of pie crusts and pastry crust was Florin cakes for the shingles and fat puddings for the pins there are a few songs dating from about 1300 and mostly found in the single collection Caro manuscript 2253 which are almost the only English verse before Chaucer that has any sweetness to a modern ear they are written in French strophic forms in the southern dialect and sometimes have an inter mixture of French and Latin lines they are musical fresh simple and many of them are very pretty they celebrate the gladness of spring with its cuckoos and throstle its daisies and Woodruff when the nightingale sings the woods wax and green leaf and grass and blossoms spring in April I ween and love is to be my heart’s gone with a spear so keen night and day my blood drinks my heart doth Mateen others our love plates to Alison or some other lady whose name is in a note of the nightingale whose eyes are as gray as glass and her skin as red as Rose on wrists some employ a burden or refrain Blow northern wind blow them me my Sweden blow northern wind blow blow blow others are touched with a light melancholy at the coming of winter winter waken a–the all my care now these leave is wax if bear off dice I and more nasarah when it cometh in my thought of this world’s joy how it go with all to naught some of these poems are love songs to Christ or the Virgin composed in the warm language of earthly passion the sentiment of chivalry United with The Ecstatic reveries of the cloister had produced Mariola tree and the imagery of the Song of Solomon in which Christ was the soul and made his this feeling of divine love familiar toward the end of the 13th century a collection of lives of saints sort of English golden legend was prepared at the great Abbey of Gloucester for use on saints days the legends were chosen partly from the a geology of the church Catholic as the lives of Margaret Christopher and Michael partly from the calendar of the English church as the lies of st. Thomas of Canterbury of the anglo-saxons Dunson swithin who was mentioned by Shakespeare and kennel whose life is quoted by Chaucer in the known oppressed of tale the verse was clumsy in the style monotonous but an imaginative touch here and there has furnished and hint to later poets thus the legend of Saint Brandon’s search for the earthly paradise has been treated by Matthew Arnold and William Morris you

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