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The relatively rare word neven "to name" almost invariably rimes with heven , steven "voice" , and seven.


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In addition to stock rimes such as these, the poet frequently uses imperfect rimes. In lines , for example, the word life rimes with swithe , kithe , and blithe.

The Alliterative Morte Arthure A Reassessment of the Poem by Goller & Karl Heinz | Fruugo

This is not due to carelessness, for the same group of rimes appears several times in the poem. Nor does it seem to be due simply to including assonance within his definition of rime, since he also frequently rimes vowel sounds that are not exactly the same; he makes no clear distinction between open and closed vowel sounds and he is willing to rime words such as dere and were , as in the opening lines of the poem. Such a use of rime has a definite advantage, not only for the poet but for the reader, since it helps to de-emphasize the rimes and to keep them from intruding too often upon the consciousness of the audience.

As the reader will discover, the rimes remain well in the background and do not impede the narrative. That is not always the case in Middle English romance. The sound texture of the Stanzaic Morte Arthur owes almost as much to alliteration as to rime.

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This fondness for alliteration and the frequent use of alliterative formulas such as wo and wele is not unusual among the authors of the riming romances, but the man who wrote the Stanzaic Morte Arthur seems particularly fond of the alliterative style, and one suspects that he could have cast his poem in the alliterative meter if he had so chosen. In purely alliterative poems, such as the Alliterative Morte Arthure , there is no rime at the ends of the lines.

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Instead, each line falls into two half-lines which are united by alliteration - the identity or near identity of the initial sound of stressed syllables. In the first half-line most often two, but sometimes three, words will alliterate. In the second half-line usually only one word will alliterate. The alliteration always falls on a word that bears metrical stress; there are two sometimes three stressed words in the first half-line, and two almost never three in the second half-line.

The number of unstressed syllables can vary considerably: Now g rete g lorious G od through g race of Himselven And the p recious p rayer of His p ris Moder S held us fro s hamesdeede and s inful workes, And g ive us g race to g uie and g overn us here In this w retched w orld, through v irtuous living That we may k aire til his c ourt, the k ingdom of heven.

As shown by the lines above, the poet can take certain liberties with the alliterating sounds. Sh - can sometimes alliterate with s - and w - with v - though these sounds may have been closer to one another than in Modern English. Moreover, it is a convention of this verse that any vowel sound can alliterate with any other vowel sound: Ye that l ust has to l ithe or l oves for to here Of e lders of o lde time and of their a wke deedes.

The word "of" in the second line has no part in the alliterative scheme. Words like "of" or "to" in the first line above are not ordinarily stressed in speech, and such words are therefore not ordinarily stressed in alliterative poetry. That is why a reader can not go far wrong in getting the stress right by simply reading the lines with attention to the sense.

One characteristic of the alliteration of the Alliterative Morte Arthure is the author's fondness for carrying one alliterating sound through several lines in a kind of tour de force : But they fit them fair, these frek bernes, Fewters in freely on feraunt steedes, Foines full felly with flishand speres, Fretten off orfrayes fast upon sheldes; So fele fay is in fight upon the feld leved That ech a furth on the firth of red blood runnes.

The alliterative style affects more than the meter. The poets of the Alliterative Revival used the traditional line of Anglo-Saxon poetry, which had disappeared from written records about two centuries before and was revived by a number of poets mainly living in the West and North of England in the fourteenth century. Evidently the style of alliterative poetry had been preserved by popular, unlettered poets who continued to compose and transmit poems by oral, non-written means from Anglo-Saxon times until well into the fourteenth century.

A Provisional Bibliography of The Alliterative Morte Arthure

Verse composed in this manner depends on a heavily formulaic language and a fixed, archaic poetic vocabulary. Even the casual reader of the Alliterative Morte Arthure will soon recognize how much of this old, formulaic style is preserved in the poems of the Alliterative Revival. Half-lines especially second half-lines tend to be used over and over in identical or nearly identical forms, and the poet makes frequent use of the specialized vocabulary characteristic of alliterative poetry, with its many synonyms for "man" renk , bern , lede , freke , gome , shalk , etc.

Much of the difficulty in a first reading of an alliterative poem is its use of this special poetic diction, consisting largely of words that are seldom encountered outside alliterative verse. Although the ultimate background of the alliterative style is a popular, non-literary tradition, poems such as the Alliterative Morte Arthure are sophisticated works that were probably addressed to rather limited audiences that prized the verbal dexterity these poems display.

The language was difficult even for the average listener in Middle English times, and the poets tended to prefer description and analysis to rapidly moving plot such as we associate with more popular poetry. The Stanzaic Morte Arthur , with its emphasis on action, has a popular appeal quite different from that of the Alliterative Morte Arthure , in which the careful attention to the texture of events, to the description of armor and dress, to the niceties of feasting, to fine points of heraldry, and to the exact details of military campaigns reveals the interests of a leisured and aristocratic audience.

However, Chretien had created a great problem for the Mort Artu author by adding Lancelot to the legend. Lancelot was so popular, he was the primary character in the cycle the Mort Artu was meant to complete, so he could not be omitted from the plot. If Guinevere faithfully loved Lancelot, she could not be in love with Mordred. First, the author changed the relationship between Arthur and Mordred. Although Arthur is unaware that he sleeps with his own sister, he still commits a sin of lust that must be punished.

In earlier works, Arthur is on a campaign against Rome.

In the Mort Artu , Arthur instead goes overseas to fight Lancelot who has committed adultery with Guinevere, and because Gawain desires revenge for the deaths of his brothers, Gareth and Agrivaine, who were slain when Lancelot rescued the queen. During the war, Lancelot returns Guinevere to Arthur, and she is sent back to England. Once Guinevere returns to England, Mordred begans to solicit her affections.


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Furthermore, if Guinevere truly loved Lancelot, she would not be unfaithful to him by sinning with Mordred. In the Mort Artu , Guinevere clearly has no romantic feelings for Mordred when she is left in his safekeeping. Mordred may even be considered sympathetic in his inability to control his love for Guinevere.

He attempts to trick her into marriage by forging a letter from Arthur which says the king is dying. Guinevere and the court believe the letter to be true. Labor then helps Guinevere escape to London Tower. The queen, hoping Arthur is not yet dead, then sends a messenger to him on the continent. Of course, Arthur returns, and Mordred and Arthur slay each other in battle.

Guinevere besieged by Mordred in the Tower of London.

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The author is the first English writer more interested in creating a romance than a chronicle, a sign that even in England the French romantic tradition was becoming accepted as the proper way to tell the Arthurian legend. The Alliterative Morte Arthure , unlike the slightly earlier Stanzaic Morte Arthur , rejected French additions by returning to the plot of Guinevere willingly marrying Mordred.

The author of the Alliterative Morte Arthure was familiar with the French texts, but he chose to ignore them because he wanted to tell a structured history which had no room for romance Matthews The poet first deleted the French romantic additions. The Alliterative Morte Arthure poet, in deleting French romantic additions, primarily reversed the work of the Mort Artu author.

However, one might also argue that the poet is again showing, as he did by introducing Lancelot into the poem, that he knows the French romance tradition, but he is refuting it in this work. Despite the focus on history rather than romance, as in Wace, Mordred is in love with Guinevere, and she returns his love. Unlike in the Roman de Brut , however, the reader does not immediately know Guinevere loves Mordred although it is clear she respects him.

However, when Mordred denies a desire for power in the Alliterative Morte Arthure , he appears less suspicious than in earlier works. Nor does the author accuse Mordred of secretly wanting power despite his words, as Layamon alleges by condemning Mordred at the first mention of him.

Arthuriana

Fries overlooks that these sons are also mentioned in Geoffrey of Monmouth, where they are slain by Constantine Later, when Mordred warns Guinevere to flee with their children to Ireland because Arthur has returned to England line , it is because of his concern for Guinevere, but also a concern that his heirs will succeed him to create a dynasty. Alliterative Morte Arthure. The labyrinthine ways: teaching the Arthurian tradition Fries, Maureen.

Materials Fries, Maureen. The impotent potion: on the minimization of the love theme in the "Tristan en prose" and Malory's "Morte Darthur" Fries, Maureen.

The Loneliness of Kings in the Alliterative Morte Arthure

Woman and sexuality in the Old Irish sagas Fries, Maureen. Indiscreet objects of desire: Malory's Tristram and the necessity of deceit Fries, Maureen. Margery Kempe Fries, Maureen. Medieval concepts of the female and their satire in the poetry of William Dunbar Fries, Maureen. The poem in the tradition of Arthurian literature Fries, Maureen. Tragic pattern in Malory's "Morte darthur": medieval narrative as literary myth Fries, Maureen.