A Flower in the Snow: The Journals and Poems of Another Overcomer


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SNOW WHITE DARKNESS

Drunken Episodes. Andrea M. Rachel Militello. Street Poetry. Rose Padilla. Enlarge My Territory.

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Jane Moore. My First Nadira Persaud. Oxygen Sisters. Unfinished Business. Jennifer Jones. Inspriational Realness Poetry. Agnes Phillips. The Marks on My Skin. Sherille Williams. Straight out of Hell. Antonette Smith. Latoya Marshall. Neverending Nightmare. Nick Federico. Carolyn Pendleton. Catrice Amegan. Why Women Weep. Alfreada Brown-Kelly. Breathtaking Poems. Cindy Christmas. Mary Aggie. Unfinished Musical. The Steve. Why Am I Not Insane?! Claudia Phillips. A Peace of Me. Craig Green. An Open Diary of My Life.

Brenda Marrie Cole. The Determination of I. CaSaundra W. Enter the Djinn. The Truth Is Monique Antoinette. A Broken Vow. Taaji Rauf. Like Unto a Kaleidoscope. A Broken Seashell. Damaged but Not Destroyed. Sonya Badger. For Better or for Verse. Tom Gusky. It only needed that the tongue itself should be developed a stage further and made reliable. For in poetry, and in lyric poetry especially, while an indestructible innocence of thought is a precious thing, too innocent a speech may cause trouble.

If the words are unfixed, changeable of sound and shaky of accent, they are like keys out of tune ; and the player who in this case is the lyrist has no security in his playing. He tries over his melody at a venture, and cannot trust to the keyboard even for a single transposition of his dominant motive or phrase. Hence, as James I. Thus anything in the nature of a refrain, or iterative phrase like a monochord, that gave steadiness to a tumbling rhythm and regularised the cadence, was a godsend to these song- writers of the transition ; and music itself was a distinct aid to them.

We may say of them as M. Jeanroy said of the lay-writers in France when they were in face of two possible ways of shaping their verse, it was music that settled their doubts, " la phrase musicale " that finally guided their choice. Some of the Spell-verses in Old English, like that of Garmund's God Thegn verses which have survived almost up to our own day in mutilated forms and child-rhymes, show traces of it. And now the antiphonic songs of the Church and the fashion of adding Latin and French tags to English verse gave it new effect, as a natural expedient for heightening the melodic colour.

Indeed one has only to pick out some of the most marked refrains of this time to recognise at once their hold on the ear. Another, of immemorial ancestry, is that of the Earth Song, which in its Mid-English form Richard Rolle set or adapted. It occurs, even in this form, with a hundred and one slight variations.

Then shall Earth fro' the Earth suffer May's showers. And smart. Man, amend thee betimc ; thy life is but a start. In the Lambeth MS. Turns agen! Tuntf agen, man, I thee pray, And thinke hertili what thou hast ben ; Of thi livynge bethinke thee ryfe. In open and in privite, That thou may come to everlastinge lyfe, Take to thi mynde, Revertere!

That lappid me loveli with liking song The last verse reminds us of the Genesis and Exodus of the Exeter Book and sounds, too, like a far-off anticipation of the triple rhythms of another northern poet who learnt from the south A. The use of the full refrain grew more and more common in the Church songs at this period ; as in the song only five staves long into which the whole gospel story is wrought with the refrain, Redemptoris Mater " As I lay upon a night My thought was on a herd ' so bright That men clepen Marye full of might, Redemptoris Mater.

They must have gone on repeating charms and songs of their forbears, adapting Welsh and Irish songs, and by the usual incidence of invention making up some odd verses of their own. That in the latter these may have been patched with odd words stolen from the church script, or from the psalter itself, does not affect the contention. The point is, that the people, being human, vocal and fond of music, needed an expression of their own and found it. Gaston Paris, an authority on the Norman literary invasion of England, said in one of his lectures that during the twelfth century the literature of England was French, and in another page, that it was French for two centuries.

This is largely, but not wholly, true. Else what would become of Layamon, and Orm, and of trifles like the Proverbs of Hendyng. In the mixing of the tongues, and in the search of the poet who wished to make a song conforming to the new fashion, but in English, for ingredients that should readily assimilate with 1 burde, maiden. The origin of the repetend probably lies hidden in some early dance-song, or " shanty " of concerted labour, where there was an pntiphonic balance to be maintained between men and women or leader and chorus.

Then, when verse-craft came it was much too tuneful a device to be thrown aside. Originally, one supposes, it was. To this day the refrain bears the sign of that origin. But when the folk-song became the popular song, that is song deliberately devised for the people by an Autolycus, and not created impulsively all hot out of the unconscious ferment of the folk lore, it was the man who took over the art. It is not easy to get a folk-song in England of the primitive, instinctive note, of which we can be quite sure, however usually it has been touched at one access or another by some literary reagent.

The nearest approach to it is in old ditties like the earliest setting of the Holly and Ivy Carol. In the Harleian version, which has a refrain, " Nay, my nay, hyt shall not be, I wys," the third stanza has the line " Ivy and hur maydyns, they wepyn and they wryng," which again points to the woman's side. The custom on which the song is based was reported in Kent as late as There, according to " Kitty Curious," who reported it to Sylvanus Urban, the girls of a small village burnt at Shrovetide an uncouth image or effigy which they called a " holly boy," while at the same time the boys, in another spot, burnt an " ivy girl.

Nedes mpstou wepe Hit was iyarkid the yore Ever to lib in sorrow And sich and mourne evere, As thine eldren did er this Whil hi alwes were. Lollai, lollai, litil child, Child, lolai lullow Into uncouth world I commen so ertow. This is very like some of the Welsh proverb-songs and Hendyng may be, as supposed, a corruption of Welsh hfn, old ; dyn, man.

It is but natural to think from this and other evidences that we must have lost many of the rhymes and snatches of folk-song, which, had they lasted, would have helped to show us the working of the old English leaven in French verse. The period when they most needed to be sustained and set down, when the minstrel was supplanting the folk-singer, was, as we have seen, one when English fell into contempt ; and the writing folk and the men who convert rustic into literary stuff, were prejudiced against English things.

The refrain in one duodecade runs " Of Women cometh this worldes Weal " Note the change from weal to wctte in the last line, proving the ductility of the medium " In worschupe of that Mayden swete, Mylde Marie, Moder and May, Alle god wimmen wol I grete Tliat god fende hem from vch afray ; With muche menske mote their mete And wel worthe alle wymmen ay! All vr Bale thei may beete Serteynliche, I dar wel say ; And hose blameth hem niht or day With Hale mot hcore tonge belle I preuc hit wol, ho-euer seith nay ; Of wimmen cometh this worldes welle.

Change the measure and you have another adaptation of the two musics " A wayle whyt as walles bon, A grein in golde that godly shon, A tortle that min herte is on In tounes trewe : Hire gladshipe nes never gone Whil y may glewe. When heo is glad Of al this world namore y bad Then beo -with hire myn one bistad With-oute strif: The care that ich am yn y brad, Y wyte a wyf. Written with most innocent art, they have an exquisite freshness, as of the word not too much used, the thought not too much turned over ; like the freshness of the grass before the sun has drawn off the dew.

The rhyme-word springs out of the thought, and, if it should be humoured a little, and a vowel dropt or indulged, that does not spoil the tune. And ich with wel michel wrong Sorcgh and murnc and fast. Their adoption of the southern melody shows, moreover, that it was congenial to them, as indeed their whole growth and racial history in this island, under Saxon, Celtic, Norse, French influence, was in favour of their lyric survival. In the new music, the northern idiom was plainly heard " Wynter wakeneth al my care, Nou this leves waxeth bare ; Ofte y sike ant mourne sare When hit cometh in my thoht Of this worldes joie, how hit goth al to noht.

Now hit is, ant now hit nys. Also hit ner nere y wys. That moni mon seith soth hit ys. Al goth bote Codes wille Alle we shule deye, that us like ylle. But its accent survived ; and when a minstrel of English blood in the first rally of the tongue after the Norman came, listened to a reverdie or an cstrij, he was able to relate it to a spring song in Leicestershire or Northumberland.

Straightway he grafted the foreign slip on the English stock ; and the result was the exquisite offshoot of the twelfth and thirteenth century found in the Harleian and other collections. After Layamon he is the first clearly individualised poet with whom the spoilt ear of the modern reader, puzzled over the old spelling and the accentual differences of the verse from our own, is likely to strike up any acquaintanceship.

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His Pricke of Conscience is the only one of his writings that has become proverbial ; and it is that which least counts to us here. Going back to his pages as collected by Mr Horstmann in the volumes of we are aided in getting on terms with him and his unusual pitch of voice and highly emotional verse, by the poet's own account of himself. He was born at Thornton, near Pickering, in Yorkshire, towards the end of the thirteenth century, about the time when the war tax was pressing hard on the common folk, and the churchmen were growing bold enough to fling in the teeth of Edward the First the Bull of Pope Boniface the Eighth.

He went to Oxford, but like Shelley long afterwards, if for a different reason, never completed his terms there. What- ever other results the schoolmen and their philosophy had upon him, they could not alter his radical impulse, which was that of a passionist and quietist in one, and a born poet " For the right way to that bliss, That leadeth man thither, that is this. He cut the sleeves off the grey, and took a hood of his father's for head-dress. His sister did not like either his strange attire or the way it was procured. Indeed she thought he had gone mad, and loudly protested as much, and possibly her outcry helped to drive him from home.

Some friends, the Dalton's, had a house not far away, and to them he betook himself. It was the Eve of the Assumption, and the family were at church, and the strange boyish apparition in grey-and-white made its way into their pew. They received him, thanks to the understanding of Lady Dalton, with the one form of hospitality which mattered to him. He had been quite satisfied to hide himself in an outhouse ; and a cell or lodging was assigned to him ; and when the spirit moved him, the boyish hermit was even allowed to go up into the pulpit and preach, and he did so with a fervour that told his grace was from Heaven.

There is an impulsiveness about these first adventures of Richard Rolle, which one finds reflected in his hymns and songs, written with quickening beat and at times with almost excessive fervour. It stamps Rolle of Hampole at once as a continuer of the northern tradition, and a writer with an ear finely susceptible to the new music. For further comparison take two stanzas of a poem, which 1 Won ; won through, in the north-country sense.

Till I comm til my kyng. The writer's use of north-country dialect helps to knit up the tradition, as we find it perpetuated in him ; and his evident relish for some of the old phonological effects of the north-country, as they may be still heard in parts of Yorkshire, gives a deeper tint of individual colour to his writing. He was much influenced by earlier religious poets, including the Franciscan monk, Thomas de Hales, whose Love Rune was quoted in another page ; and he was born in a time con- genial to his phantasy. He was an original, nevertheless, as originality goes in poetry.


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What he borrowed from others, he made as Coleridge did intrinsically his own, the minister to his ecstasy. He presently moved from his early retreat to another abode within the shire, and finally to Hampole from which he takes his name near Doncaster. While at the Dalton's he made acquaintance with Margaret Kirkby, a recluse who lived at Anderby. For her he wrote a short religious manual The boke maad of Rycharde hampole to an ankeresse, with pieces of prose in English ; to which we may add a part of his most impassioned verse. She gave him freely the most valuable thing one soul can give to another : spiritual com- panionship, and the demand upon the mind arising from it.

In his autobiography, scattered in his remains, Latin and 1 MS. Cambridge Dd. The Canor in especial is his inevitable theme, and he dwells with rapture on the Musica Spiritualis, the melody of the Choir Invisible, and the Sonus Ccelestis.


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In his Latin tractate, De Incendio Amoris, he has a passage about the descent of the lyrical inspiration, which is, though written in prose, itself a song of ecstasy : a lyric fragment of unmistakeable quality : " I was in a chapel, delighting in the sweetness of prayer or meditation, and felt in me, suddenly, an unwonted and blissful ardour.

After I had long wavered, doubting whence it was, I learnt it was from the Creator and not from any creature. It burned sensibly, and with unspeakable sweetness, a half-year, three months and some weeks, to the inflowing and the perceiving of the Celestial sound and Spiritual Music ; that which belongs alone to the Eternal Hymn of Praise and to the sweetness of the unearthly Melody. For it cannot either be sung or heard save by them that have first received it, and they must be made clean, and withdrawn from the world.

And while I was in the same chapel, on Easter Eve, and sang there as I could, lo, a sound of playing the psaltery, or rather of those who sang above me. And while I prayed in my longing to those Heavenly Ones, I felt, I know not how, in myself a wondrous concord, and received a most delicious Harmony from Heaven, which tarried with me. And thereafter my thought was continually changed into the music of song, and my meditation into hymns ; and in prayers and in psalmodies, I gave out the same sound from me.

Furthermore, that ardour of which I have before told you broke forth from the very affluence of sweetness into song, sung in secret, only before my Creator. This was unknown to them with whom I lived ; and indeed, had they known, they had honoured me overmuch ; and I should have lost the most beautiful part of that grace, and fallen into desolation. It drives us to his psalmody and spiritual songs, born of those moods and ardours, the heaven-sent melody of the Canor, with a wondering, if slightly incredulous, sense of his powers, like to the hesitation he himself felt in the chapel.

But his rarer notes are still to be heard, making good his childlike innocence of belief, and his declaration, often repeated in his pages " A there is grete myrthe, as I saied ore, and melodic that never shal wone. But the best of it is so rare, so inexplicable, that it seems to have fairly dropt from Heaven. Such is the strangely beautiful melody, in which he attained at a stroke rhythmical effects that eluded his followers in the melic art for some five centuries " My trewest tresowre sa trayturly taken, So bytterly bondyn wyth bytand bandes : How sone of thi servandes was thou forsaken, And lathly for my lufc hurld with thair handes.

My hope of my hele sa hyed to be hanged, Sa charged with thi crosce, and corond with thorne, Ful sare to thi hert thi steppes tha stanged Me thynk thi bak burd breke, it bendes for-borne. I heile the with herte and thout ; I heil the with mouth and eize. Pray thi sone, that us deare bouht Graunt us grace for his pite, Though synnes have us thorwh-souht, Bring us to thi blis that ever schal be ; Amen.

No doubt there is a temptation to make too much of Rolle of Hampole, as of a wonderful single apparition starting out of the darkness. But, in fact, he too was a child of his time, and he drank in eagerly the accent and rhythm of his time, before he added to it his new note. To relate him to his own day, you have many odd fragments and popular rhymes, over and above the church phrases and the liturgical allusions that abound in his verse, that show his poetical lien. Sometimes he plays upon an old proverb " When Adam dalfe and Eve spane, go spire if thou may spede : Where was thane the pride of mane, that now merres his mede?

This " best book of all," as it describes itself, The Course of the World, was one of those old stock-books of poetry which devoured many others and helped to inspire many more ; and its effects, cither directly borrowed or much revised, can be traced in poets as far apart as the writer of the second Shepherds' play and Spenser. Enough here to give an illustration of its simple fashion of accelerating its narrative beat, as in an occasional couplet which suggests a ballad-movement " The mickle light that he sagh thar A brennand fire he wend it ware.

They move with an innocent fluidity that helps to explain the new modulation of Chaucer's Tales. The Cursor Mundi had indeed a melody of its own whose echoes may be heard in many unsuspected places, lingering long after its day. Him thoght than at the thrid sight That to the sky it raght the toppej A new-born barn lay in the croppe, Bondon wit a suethee band Thar him thoght it lay suelland. He was al ferd wen he that sei And to the rotte he kest his he Him thoght it raght fra erth til helle.

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Under it, he sees Abel " In his soul he saw him there," and as for the bairn, wailing in the crop of the tree in its swaddle-bands, that is God's own Son. A new-born bairn lay in the crop Bounded with a swaddle-band. There he thought it lay suelland. The writer roved freely over mediaeval Church lore, Latin, French and English ; he dipped even into Celtic.

He certainly drew upon Grosseteste and Wace, Peter Comestor and Isidore de Sevilla, adding, on occasion, much as Layamon did, material at first hand out of the floating legendry that surrounded every kirk door in that day. From his faculty, his wit and real learning, his bible-lore and folklore, his sense, above all, of the English folk and their needs, we get an idea of the kind of man who was the typical English poet of the early fourteenth century.

Take away the abstruser part of him, and heighten his feeling for an audience that wanted everything put into terms of scriptural plainness, and you have the writer of the miracle plays who has the market-crowd and Everyman before him " Peace I I bid every wight : Stand as still as stone in wall, Whiles ye are present in my sight. That none of ye clatter nor call Why art thou hid from me? Who bid thee to my child to gang?

All black thou mak'st his ble. For pierced is his side. Hail, young child! Hail, offspring, as I mean. Of a maiden so mild! Thou hast warded off, I ween, The warlock so wild The false guiler of teen, Now goes he beguiled. But enough has been drawn from this early dramatic literature to show that, like in later plays, it abounded in true lyric and depended not a little on musical relief in its dialogue. Its effect upon the growth of song in English cannot indeed be overlooked.

Further, there was in the romances the kindred element that waits to start to life in a phrase or a single evocation ; the element which tends to produce what has elsewhere been called " interspersed melody. The romances, whether in verse or prose, offered continual lyric openings which were very necessary to form the right mood in the hearer ; and they used either invocation, or melodious association, to procure the desired effect " There was myrth and melody With harp, cytron and sautry With rote, ribible and Clokarde With pypes, organs and bombarde With other mynstrelles them amonge With sytolphe and with sautry songe.

There the lightening of the medium and the quickening of the recitative by invoca- tion and interjected music are, plainly, a recognised part of the tale-telling. Chaucer, in the Rime of Sir Topas, speaks of the story of the Squire of Low Degree who loved a King's daughter, and that romance, quoted by Ritson l 1 From the quarto edition of the romance printed by Wyllyam Copland.

The King of Hungary is comforting his daughter for the loss of her lover " When you come home your menie amonge Ye shah, have revel! Your sensours shal be of golde, Your quere nor organ songe shall want With countre note and dyscaunt The other half on orgayns playing With yong chyldren full fayn synging.

Then shall you, daughter, aske the wyne With spices that be gode and fyne, Gentyll pottes with genger grene Wyth dates and deynties you betweene. Fortie torches brenynge bright At your brydges to bring you lyght. Into youre chamber they shall you brynge Wyth much myrthe and more lykynge. Innumerable examples of the use of melody in these old tales in verse may be given. One is the early morning passage in " Sir Gawaine and the Grene Knight " where the familiar device of window and love-chamber is turned to effect.

In this scene, Sir Gawaine lies at the castle, " the comeliest knight ever ouned. Then he is visited by the lady of the Castle, who has thrown a fur mantle about her so as to enhance the loveli- ness of her bare neck and throat, and the azure stones clustered in her tresses. She opens the window to the early morning air " Ah. This morning is so clear. He was in drowsing, deep ; But therewith did her hear. In the romance of Blauncheflour, the lines that describe the magic orchard, the " fairest of all middelard " A.

But this and her curious interest as interpreter of Breton and Celtic legend lie outside this history " Les contes ke jeo sai verrais Dunt li Bretun ont fait les lais, Vus conterai asey brief ment,". As briefly as you please ; yet she had time for many exquisite dilatations of her themes, as in the lovely song-passage at the opening of Ywonec. The English version in recalling the old legend, and making an atmosphere for it, as in Marie de France's original, gets into its lines something of the melody of the one poem in modern English, which brings the narrative and the lyrical modes together perfectly infused Coleridge's Christabd.

These lays, says the romancer, preluding, were to be sung to the harp, and they touched on all manner of themes ; war and woe, "joy and mirth also," treachery and guile ; bourdes and ribaudry ; and " many there beth of fairy," But " Of all thinges that men seth, Most of love, forsooth, there beth. Soon after, she gan in hcark Cockcs crow, and dogs bark She arose and thither wold ; Near and nearer she gan behold Walls and houses fele she seigh ; A church, with steeple fair and high ; Then n'as there nother street no toun But an house of religion :.

There an order of nuns served God day and night, and the maiden goes to the church door, and kneels, " weepand her orisoun " " ' O Lord,' she said, ' Jesu Christ That sinful mannes bedes hearst, Underfong this present And help this sefi innocent That it mote y-christened be For Maine's love, thy mother free. With that it gan to dawe light.

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The fowles up, and sung on bough And acre-men yede to the plough : " And leaving the child there in the hollowed ash, the maiden returns on her way. In these lays and rhymed romances, we surprise the echoes of the enchanted close of the Middle Ages within which the rude folk-song of the rustic lover suffered its lyric change. Their pages, too, anticipate the ballad on both its lyric and narrative side ; in them we come upon the very phrases and adjurations that went to supply the ballad-monger's repertory.

Ladies strew their bowers With red roses and lily flowers. Great joy is in frith and lake Beast and bird plays with his make ; The damiseles lead dance. And then he said. Gawaine, Gawainc. For I have great doubt that my true fellowship shall never meet here more again. Ah, said Sir Launcelot, comfort yourself, for it shall be unto us as a great honour, and much more than if we died in any other places, for of death we be sure. Ah, Launcelot. When the queen, ladies, and gentlewomen wist these tidings, they had such sorrow and heaviness that there might no tongue tell it, for those knights had holden them in honour and charity.

But among all other queen Guenever made great sorrow. But the noblest of the Morle laments is that to be found at the close, Ector's lament for Launcelot " And now. I dare say, thou Sir Launcelot, there thou liest that that were never matched of earthly knight's hand. And thou were the courtliest knight that ever bare shield ; and thou were the truest friend to any lover that ever bestrode horse ; and thou were the truest lover of a sinful man that ever loved woman ; and thou were the kindest man that ever strake with sword ; and thou were the goodliest person ever came among press of knights ; and thou was the meekest man and the gentlest that ever ate in hall among ladies; and thou were the sternest knight to thy mortal foe that ever put spear in the rest.

Then there was weeping and dolour out of measure. It was in the nature of romance in its early stages to invoke music ; for the idea of song was always at hand ; and from dealing in its congenial effects in story the narrator inevitably passed to the lyrical heightening of his page, whether over a death song, or a spring episode, or a love scene.

It is at the close of the eighteenth book and forms a complete chapter in itself " How true love is likened to summer. For it giveth unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May, in some thing to constrain him to some manner of thing, more in that month than in any other month, for divers causes. For then all herbs and trees renew a man and woman, and in likewise lovers call again to their mind old gentleness and old service, and many kind deeds that were forgotten by negligence.

For like as winter rasure doth always arase and deface green summer, so fareth it by unstable love in man and woman. For in many persons there is no stability, for we may see all day, for a little blast of winter's rasure, anon we shall deface and lay apart true love for little or nought, that cost much thing. No need to complete the chapter. Taken to pieces its love-litany in movement and detail rather suggests an anti- phonic origin, and the praise of love sung by two shepherds or lovers in alternate staves. A modern verse-writer has attempted to translate its terms into the lyric form a reconversion, which may serve in passing to illustrate the adaptation of reverdie and love-song motives by these old romancers " Like as herb and tree in May Flourish from the root, Every lusty heart must rise And start to love and fare likewise Flower first, then fruit.

However far such a break in continuity is warranted in the case of English poetry at large, and there is no doubt it is a great convenience to use Chaucer in that way with lyric verse it is different. There the new developments, even when the tests are those of the changing value of words and the advance of prosody, were gradual. The older innocence of speech, so far as it affected English song and gave it freshness but no sure control of line and metre, was taught the grammar of verse by slow degrees, through Celtic, Latin, French, Italian influences.

And instead of a single great reformer we have an intermittent and per- plexing line of small and inconclusive modifiers, and we follow its erratic advance in a Rolle of Hampole or in the work of anonymous song-writers, and gradually outline a pedigree stretching from " Summer is y-cumen in " to " When daisies pied. Much of Chaucer's quality as a verse-writer comes of his mixed artlessness and particularity. He was the most delicately syllabic verseman who ever wrote in English, so that, reading him after the later poets whose fashion is more like our own, we are impressed as by the clear but unusual enunciation of a child that tries to make every accent, slurred in common speech, individual and distinct.

It was impossible that English should go on being spoken in that way ; but it was of 79 CHAUCER 77 immense service to have it at this time passed over the tongue of a poet born and made. He used the privilege of genius in bringing the innocence as of a child in time to an unexpected mastery of the instrument, without dulling his freshness of utterance. What then was Chaucer's virtue, as a continuer of the tale- writers who enlarged, too, the singing scale. We do not usually think of him as a lyric poet at all. Yet if the sheer gratifica- tion afforded by his Tales be examined, a very considerable share of it may be traced to his habit of " breaking the epic " whenever his invention suggests it.

The sense of music is present to him as it was to the verse romancers before him. And in his first period, before he had artistically found himself, he experimented in the French forms as in the three roundels first printed by Percy in his Reliques and rediscovered by Dr Skeat in Rawlinson, Poet, The first may be quoted " Your yen two wol slee me sodenly I may the beaute of hem nor susteyn So woundeth hit throughout my herte kene.

Seynt Valentyn, that art full hy in lofte, Thus singen smale foules for thy sake ' Now welcome somer with thy sonne softe That hast this wintres weders over-shake. In the Boke oj the Ducheste the thought of May crosses the page, and in morning dream the small fowl sing up the sleeper " Thorgh noysc and swctnesse of her songe And as me mctte, they sate amonge Upon my chambre roof wythoute Upon the tyles al aboute ; And songcn everych in hys wyse The moste solempne servise By noote.

Some critics have even declared it began in English with his translation of the Romaunt of the Rose. It went back in fact to days long before the French poem, or the English version, appeared. But again, in Troylus and Criseyde, the song of "here wommanhede " and " here beaute " has the note in it of the heavenly concord.

It forms part of a lyric interlude in the fable, exquisitely paraphrased from Boethius, where the given tune is elaborated into a figure of eight the first instance in English of the Grand Lyric " Love, that of erth and se hath governaunce Love, that with an holsom alliaunce Hath peples joyned, as dyd list hem gye! Love, that knetteth law and compaignye And couples both in vertu for to dweUe Bynd this accorde, that I have told and telle.

Many instances might be given ; one will do, most deliberately contrived ; but there are others which are not less effective. It is to be found in the Prioresse Tab, and the motive word is supplied by the hymn " O Alma Redemptoris " l 1 Seech, vi. He ' O alma redemptoris ' nerde synge. As children lerned her antiphonere, And as he durst, he drough him ner and neere And herkned ever the words and the note Til he the first vers couthe al by rote. A delicious instance is that lyric remark about the Yong Squyer in the Prologue " He sleep no more than doth a nightingale.

Add to this the all but " ballade " in the Legende of Goodc Women with the refrain of " My lady cometh " " Hyde, Absalon, thy gilte tresses clere ; Ester, ley thou thy mekenesse al adown ; Hyde, Jonathas, al thy frendly manere ; Penelopee, and Marcia Catoun, Make of your wifhode no comparysoun ; Hyde ye your beautes, Ysoude and Eleyne, My lady comith, that al this may disteyne. What said the Pardoner again?

As for lyric poetry, while he did not deliberately turn song-writer, he put the instrument ready, unstiffened its pegs, increased its vibration and made it capable of arresting all the rhythms that the heart, mind and ear of Europe had discovered and brought into the common stock. He was one of those " makers," like Homer, Virgil, Dante before him, who resolve the essential music that waits in nature and human nature for the true poet who shall put them into intelligible art.

The ruling bent in him was toward narrative, and not to lyric. But he kept in nearly all he wrote an ear for every melodious opening. He sang in his Tales, " loud and yerne," full pitch " broking " like Absolon, or under his breath. Take away the lyric exuberance from the Nonne Priestes 1 Tale, or from any other page that is not the plain telling of character and episode, and what is there left? Something which would be excellent as plain prose fiction, but which b not poetry. Something which is not Chaucer. By the side of Chaucer we have a second poet who might be called his under-study ; for indeed it almost looks as though the Muse devised two instruments for her office, at certain critical passages of history, in case one should fail her.

In this instance it proved, as it has proved at other times before and since, that the second was in willingness and pliability, but not in grace, the mate of the first. The second poet was Gower, a scholarly verseman and an artistic adapter of French forms, who wrote almost equally well in French, Latin and English, and having congenial influences to widen his oppor- tunity, gained a remarkable contemporary fame which affected even Chaucer himself. I wrote and read in different genres going back to when I learned how to write and read.

Words are my faithful buddy, just in general. Does your writing initially come quickly, or is it a slow process? Do first drafts appear looking close to their final shape, or does your work come out of copious notes? The first draft of my second book, In a Dream, I Dance by Myself, and I Collapse, vomited itself out of me within the span of a few months, almost entirely in notebooks. Are you an author of short pieces that end up combining into a larger project, or are you working on a "book" from the very beginning?

It shows up and asks me to write it, and to just to start somewhere, anywhere, and it asks me to pay attention. Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings? Their expertise is writing, not performance. What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are? What is trauma? What are bodies? Does anyone, any human or nonhuman, have a linear, clear body? What does it mean to be personally or socially or spiritually shattered—or not shattered? What are the different roles of both linear versus fragmented texts?

Do we all have a basic core neurosis that forms our personal selves and the selves of our texts? When it comes to getting ourselves to not be such dicks, does art play a role? What do you think the role of the writer should be? Overcomer of ego? Compassionate contrarian? Truth speaker? Purposeful failure? Decoder ring?

A Flower in the Snow: The Journals and Poems of Another Overcomer A Flower in the Snow: The Journals and Poems of Another Overcomer
A Flower in the Snow: The Journals and Poems of Another Overcomer A Flower in the Snow: The Journals and Poems of Another Overcomer
A Flower in the Snow: The Journals and Poems of Another Overcomer A Flower in the Snow: The Journals and Poems of Another Overcomer
A Flower in the Snow: The Journals and Poems of Another Overcomer A Flower in the Snow: The Journals and Poems of Another Overcomer
A Flower in the Snow: The Journals and Poems of Another Overcomer A Flower in the Snow: The Journals and Poems of Another Overcomer
A Flower in the Snow: The Journals and Poems of Another Overcomer A Flower in the Snow: The Journals and Poems of Another Overcomer
A Flower in the Snow: The Journals and Poems of Another Overcomer A Flower in the Snow: The Journals and Poems of Another Overcomer
A Flower in the Snow: The Journals and Poems of Another Overcomer A Flower in the Snow: The Journals and Poems of Another Overcomer

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