Academic journal article Medium Aevum

John of Howden: Rossignos

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

John of Howden: Rossignos

Article excerpt

John of Howden: Rossignos, ed. Glynn Hesketh, Anglo-Norman Text Society, Anglo Norman Texts 63 (for 2005) (London: Anglo-Norman Text Society, 2006). x + 270 pp. ISBN 0-905474-46-5. Not for sale; free to members. This is the first complete edition of the single extant copy (Cambridge, Corpus Christi College MS 471) of John of Howden's late thirteenth-century Rossigaos, which he dedicated to Eleanor of Provence, consort to Henry III and mother to Henry I. Consisting of 5,272 mostly octosyllabic lines organized in monorhymed quatrains, the poem presents not a translation, as has sometimes been assumed, but a substantial and unique reworking of the poet's own Latin Philomena, The unifying thread of the work is the life of Christ, with a particular focus on his last days, framed by evocations and invocations of Mary; the narrative segments are punctuated by devotional, often lyrical sections of varying length which dwell on a specific aspect of material covered (e.g. the Virgin's breast). Although occasional sections of the poem tend towards the workmanlike, most probably because of the limitations of the metrical form employed, much of it is technically accomplished and often engaging, such as the lengthy reflection on the Passion, punctuated by anaphoric repetition of Tu moers' at the beginning of many quatrains (lines 1761-2304). …

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