Fourteenth Century Verse & Prose

By Kenneth Sisam | Go to book overview
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Dialect: North-East Midland of Lincolnshire.


VERB: pres. ind. 2 sg. hast 131. 3 sg. stondeþ 8. 3 pl. calle 32, seye 254; beside dos 157 (see note).

imper. pl. comeþ 80, doþ 82. pres. p. karoland (in rime) 117, 150, 222. strong pp. wryte 37, fal 195, gone 161.

PRONOUN 3 PERS. : fem. nom. she 48; pl. nom. bey 32; poss. here 37; obj. hem 39.

The inflexions are very much simplified as compared with those of the Kentish Ayenbyte (III), but the verse shows that final unaccented -e was better preserved in the original than in our late MS., e.g.

And specyal, at hygh 〈ė〉 tymės 13.
For to see þys hard〈ė〉 dome 173.
And at þe þre〈ė〉 day〈ė〉s endė 198.
þat nonė myʒt〈ė〉 leye yn grauė 217.

Sounds: ǭ is regular for OE. ā: lothe 9, wroth 10, &c.; but the only decisive rime is also (OE. alswā): to (OE. tō) 35-6, where ǭ after (s)w has become close + ̄; see Appendix § 8. ii, note.

Syntax: the loose constructions, e.g. 11. 15 ff. (note), 134-5, 138-9, 216-19, are characteristic of the period.

The history of this legend is traced by E. Schröder, Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte, vol. xvii, 1896, pp. 94 ff., and, more summarily, by Gaston Paris, Les Danseurs maudits, Paris 1900. The circumstances from which it sprang appear to belong to the year 1021. Kölbigk, in Anhalt, Saxony, was the scene of the dance. In 1074 it is referred to as 'famous' by a German chronicler, who records the healing of one of the dancers in 1038 through the miraculous powers of St. Wigbert.

Mendicants who suffered from or could simulate nervous diseases like St. Vitus's dance, were quick to realize their opportunity, and two letters telling the story were circulated


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