Under this head are grouped a number of short poems, representing forms of composition that survive only by fortunate chance.
A is a curious little song, which has been printed from Hale MS. 135 in Modern Language Review, vol. iv, p. 236, and reconstructed by Skeat at vol. v, p. 105. For a related French poem see H. E. Sandison, The Chanson d' Aventure in M.E., 1913, p. 47.
B and C are the best-known lyrics of the important collection edited by Böddeker, Altenglische Dichtungen des MS. Harley 2253. Berlin 1878. They are literary and rather artificial in form.
D and E are minstrels' songs found, among other popular snatches, on a fly-leaf of Bodleian MS. Rawlinson D. 913, and edited by Heuser in Anglia, vol. xxx, p. 173. In E ll. 14-16 and ll. 17-19 are to be expanded on the model of ll. 7-13. For a Latin Nativity poem to this tune see R. L. Greene, Speculum, xxvii ( 1952), pp. 504 ff.
All these songs are early, and have a lightness and gaiety that become rare as the fourteenth century advances.
F is one of several English scraps (ed. Furnivall in Political,
Religious, and Love Poems, E.E.T.S., pp. 249 ff.) that are found
scattered through the Latin text of MS. Harley 7322. Most of
the English pieces are without poetical merit, but in this one poem
the writer has attained a perfect simplicity.
G, printed in Wright and Halliwell Reliquiae Antiquae, 1845, vol. i, p. 144, has been recognized as the first of the English ballads. It is the only example before 1400 of the swift and dramatic movement, the sudden transitions, and the restrained expression, characteristic of the ballad style.
H, first printed in Reliquiae Antiquae, vol. i, p. 240, is the latest of the short pieces. With onomatopoeic effects it gives a vivid if unfriendly picture of a blacksmith's forge on a busy night.
I is a charm edited by Furnivall at p. 43 of the E.E.T.S. volume in which F appears.