English Poetry Before Chaucer
By M.J. Swanton
Subjects: Medieval Studies
A new and completely revised edition of this authoritative work, intended to encourage personal appreciation and independent appraisal by students of English. This is a stimulating introduction to the poetry composed in an age that witnessed fundamental cultural developments: the emergence of the English from among the warring tribes of Europe, their conversion to Christianity, the development of feudalism and the chivalric myth, the military adventure of the Crusades, and the growth of a vigorous citizen class in the burgeoning towns of England.
Preface, vii; 1 Introduction: Anxiety and Assertion, 1; 2 Until the Dragon Comes Widsith, Deor, Waldere, The Fight at Finnsburh and Beowulf, 33; 3 Verbum de Verbo Caedmon's Creation-Hymn, Genesis A, Exodus and The Dream of the Rood, 75; 4 The Ruin of Time The Wanderer, The Seafarer, The Ruin and The Phoenix, 112; 5 A Certain Heroism Guthlac A, Judith, The Battle of Maldon and Layamon's Brut, 150; 6 Things That Falleth to Ribaudrie Havelok, Sir Tristrem, Floris and Blauncheflur and Madam Sirith and the Weeping Bitch, 209; 7 Song and Singer Foweles in pe Frith, Lenten is Come with Love to Town, The Fair Maid of Ribblesdale, Thomas of Hales' Love-Song, Gabriel's Greeting to the Virgin Mary, Ubi Sount Qui Ante Nos Fuerount, The Follies of Fashion, A Song of Lewes, The Thrush and the Nightingale and The Owl and the Nightingale, 253. Epilogue: The Equal Hour, 304; Appendix: Early English Prosody, 309; Chronology, 314; Further Reading, 324; Writers, their Works and Sources, 338; (i) Writers and writings in English, 338; (ii) Writers and writings in languages other than English, 352; Index, 368.
‘English Poetry Before Chaucer is interesting and thought-provoking. It is a fine guide to re-reading – not so much a handbook to early English literature as a true ‘companion’, one who enjoys showing you all his favourite haunts. […] Learned, insightful, sometimes eclectic, Swanton’s English Poetry Before Chaucer offers a wealth of specific reading on some important, and often-taught, poems.’ (English Poetry Before Chaucer, The Medieval Review Online, 26 March 2003, Susan Yager.) ‘These strategies of pedagogy are as important as the scholarship and Swanton has written that rare hybrid, the textbook that can surprise the teacher, the monograph that the student can read without constant recourse to a dictionary of literary terms.’ (Dr Chris Jones, TOEBI Newsletter)
Michael Swanton is Professor of Medieval Studies at the University of Exeter