THE ALLITERATIVE TRADITION IN EARLY MIDDLE ENGLISH POETRY: Political Complaint and Social Analysis in the Song of the Husbandman and Beyond

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An appraisal of some of the most socially informed poems of the early fourteenth


“…a fresh approach to the most puzzling and often most neglected issues of medieval English literary and social history.”-Dr. T. A. Shippey, St. Louis University

“a nuanced and thorough survey of the social and political forces in fourteenth century England which shaped an entire “school” of poets who employed alliterative metre for their art...”-Prof. Stefan Thomas Hall, University of Wisconsin

“…Professor Nagy’s notable book has broader implications as well in its perspective on Fourteenth-Century culture…”-Prof. E. L. Risden, St. Norbet College

Table of Contents



Chapter I. The "Song of the Husbandman" in Context

i. Scribal

ii. Historical


Chapter II. Graft and the "Grene Wax:" Oppression and Illiteracy in the "Song of the Husbandman"

i. Structure

ii. Genre

iii. Date

iv. Speakers in the Poem

v. Linguistic Difficulties

vi. Thematic Concerns

Chapter III. Towards Establishing an External Corpus

i. "The Simonie"

ii. "The Simonie:" Form and Genre

iii. Dating "The Simonie"

iv. Previous Critical Approaches

v. "The Simonie" and the "Song of the Husbandman"

vi. "Papelard Priest"

Chapter IV. Rhymed and Unrhymed Alliterative Poetry, or Where the Twain Shall Meet

i. Wynnere and Wastoure

ii. Parlement of the Thre Ages

Chapter V. Piers Plowman and the "Song of the Husbandman:"

A Confluence of Traditions

i. The Consensus from Skeat to Chambers

ii. The Challenge to the Consensus: The Z-Text

iii. The Merits of the Z-Text

iv. The Alliterative Revival

v. Piers Plowman and the "Song of the Husbandman"

vi. Conclusions

Chapter VI. Revising the Alliterative Revival

Works Cited

Other Literature - English Books