The Gawain-Poet: Studies in His Personality and Background

The Gawain-Poet: Studies in His Personality and Background

The Gawain-Poet: Studies in His Personality and Background

The Gawain-Poet: Studies in His Personality and Background

Excerpt

The chief reason that has hitherto kept the Gawain- (or Pearl-) poet from enjoying the fame which has been the lot of his more popular contemporary, Geoffrey Chaucer, has been his deliberate use of the verse medium of his native region--the poetic line which his fathers had used, a line of subtle rhythm and telling alliterative effect, written out in the dialect of Lancashire, or that of the adjacent district of Craven in the Yorkshire West Riding, a region whose local idiom was not destined to grow, like Chaucer's dialect, the Southeast Midland, into the standard speech we use and write and hear today. His "yoke" and "thorn" letters, the glottal and aspiratory sounds of his Scandinavianized vocabulary have frightened off more than one potential critic whose words might have enlightened us. So his vigorous and artistic speech, once so current and so splendidly alive, was destined to sink into a dialect that one hears now only in remote dales of Northwest England and on the trackways that connect them. I well remember that learned and sensitive medievalist, the late Oswald Barron, remarking, as he held open a copy of Sir Gawain, "but he's a North of England, and I'm a Southern man."

There are, of course, other reasons why the Gawain-poet is less read than Chaucer. His interest in the varieties and eccentricities of human character is less broad, though some . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.