Reference > Cambridge History > The End of the Middle Ages > Transition English Song Collections > Miscellaneous Songs
  Pre-Christian Festivals and May Poems  


The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume II. The End of the Middle Ages.

XVI. Transition English Song Collections.

§ 10. Miscellaneous Songs.

A few songs that do not come under any of the above classes at least deserve to be mentioned. Thus there are a few riddles, which perpetuate a style of poem popular in the Old English period; 86  a poem in light-foot verse descriptive of a market-day or a fair, where there is a bewilderment of goods for sale, a multitude running here and there, a fisticuff, a swaggering drunkard and a noisy auctioneer; 87  a fragment of a spinning or knitting song (?); 88  a pedlar’s song; 89  and a swaggering soldier’s song. 90    75
  Such, in brief outline, are the types of songs that constitute these late Transition collections. These songs are all but unknown to readers of English verse, and they have as yet been all but ignored by scholars; yet they constitute an important chapter in the history of our literature. When they are made more accessible, they can hardly fail of appreciation, for they will be enjoyed for what they are, and the students of literary movements will recognise in them one of the two great streams that unite to form the Elizabethan lyric.   76

Note 86Ibid. f. 104 b—Neuenglisches Lesebuch, 159. [ back ]
Note 87MS. Balliol 354, f. 218 b—Anglia, XXVI, 228; MS. Sloane 2593, f. II a—Warton Club, IV, 33. [ back ]
Note 88Harleian MS.. 7578, f. 106 a—Herrig’s Archiv, CVII, 59. [ back ]
Note 89Ibid. 109 b—Herrig’s Archiv, CVII, 61. [ back ]
Note 90Bodleian MS, Eng. Poet. E. I. f. 26 a—Warton Club, IV 76. [ back ]

  Pre-Christian Festivals and May Poems  

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