The Pearl: A Middle English Poem

The Pearl: A Middle English Poem

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The Pearl: A Middle English Poem

The Pearl: A Middle English Poem

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Excerpt

In its external loveliness, and even more in its deeper spiritual beauty and truth, lies sufficient reason for most patient and devoted study of The Pearl; yet the poem has hitherto found little fame or real appreciation. This is easily accounted for by the remoteness of its dialect, the obscurity of its language and literary relations, and its somewhat unworldly, and at present uncongenial, content. Two editions only have appeared -- the first being little more than a diplomatic reproduction of the manuscript, and the second incomplete in apparatus; both are expensive, and not in common circulation.

My object has therefore been twofold -- to bring the poem to a greater number of readers, and to furnish it with such setting and explanation as may help to release its pure and noble influences as a work of art. To this end distinctions of meaning in the glossary are more elaborate than is usually necessary in the study of a Middle English text; and many citations are made in the notes as partial evidence that the poem is not an isolated creation, but is closely allied, both through its general characteristics and many details, with the literature of various kinds under whose inspiration it was written.

The text I have derived from the manuscript through photographs of it made for me at the British Museum. I have thus been able to correct errors of detail in both previous editions, and to pass judgment upon Fick's notes on the text and the manuscript. Certain difficulties, however, still remain, which I hope may engage skill greater than mine, and thus in due time be cleared away. For the sake . . .

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