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ENGLISH POEMS Edited by WALTER C. BRONSON
OLD ENGLISH AND MIDDLE
ENGLISH PEI DS
THE ELIZABETHAN AGE AND
THE RESTORATION AND THE
THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
Each volume, $1.50 net, $7.66 postpaid
THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS
SELECTED AND EDITED WITH
WALTER C. BRONSON, LITT.D
Professor of English Literature
OLD ENGLISH AND MIDDLE
UG 5 1912
COPYRIGHT 1910 By
Published June 1910
Composed and Printed By
Chicago, Illinois, U. S. A.
This volume is the first in order, although the last to appear, in a series of four volumes of English Poems, intended especially for use with college classes. The aim and method of the series as a whole have been set forth in the prefaces to the other volumes and need not be repeated here, the less because the present volume differs considerably from the rest. It cannot well be used separately, as the later volumes can, but derives its chief value from its connection with the series : for the thorough study of Old English and Middle English poetry it is quite inadequate, but in an introductory survey course in English literature it may serve a useful end. To increase the value of the book for this purpose, some specimens of the early drama are given, although plays are elsewhere excluded from the series and some of those here included exceed the strict chronological limits of the period.
In a book of this character it was necessary to turn the Old English poems into modern English. In the present translation, made by Elsie Straffin Bronson, A.M., the aim has been to reproduce the effect as well as the sense of the original, and something of smoothness and ease has therefore been sacrificed, when necessary, in the effort to keep to an Anglo-Saxon vocabulary and preserve the directness and rugged strength of the Old English; an incidental result is the retention of much of the alliteration which is so marked a feature of the verse and which is usually lost when words of foreign origin replace native words. In the case of Middle English, translation was not absolutely necessary; and it has seemed best to abstain also from modernizing the text except by substituting "th" for “p” and by following present usage in regard to "u” and
"V,” capitalization, and punctuation. By the aid of glossary and notes even the untrained student can get the meaning of Middle English without great difficulty, and by working thus through a few pages of the original he will come into closer touch with the spirit of the literature than by reading many pages in translation.
The sources of the texts are indicated in the notes. In preparation of the notes and glossary I have used freely the material in the standard editions of the authors and works represented, and acknowledge especially my indebtedness to the publications of the Early English Text Society, the Chaucer Society, and the Scottish Text Society, to Skeat's editions of Langland and Chaucer, to Gollancz's and Osgood's editions of “The Pearl," and to Wells's edition of "The Owl and the Nightingale." I am also glad to express my obligations to the authorities of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, particularly for access to a rare edition of “The Foure PP"; and to my colleague, Professor A. K. Potter, for the privilege of using his rotographs of the first edition of Hawes and for aid in interpreting the text. To my wife I am indebted for preparing the copy, the table of contents, and the indices, for aid in writing notes and making the glossary, and most of all for translating the Old English poems.
W. C. B. BROWN UNIVERSITY
May 9, 1910