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By Fletcher, R.H.

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Extra resources for A History of English Literature

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An hendy hap ichabbe ybent; lehot from hevene it is me sent; From alle wymmen mi love is lent Ant lyht on Alysoun. Between March and April, When the sprout begins to spring, The little bird has her desire In her tongue to sing. I live in love-longing For the fairest of all things; She may bring me bliss; I a m at her mercy. A lucky lot I have secured; I think from heaven it is sent me; From all women my love is turned And is lighted on Alysoun. There were also political and satirical songs and miscellaneous poems of various sorts, among them certain 'Bestiaries,' accounts of the supposed habits of animals, generally drawn originally from classical tradition, and most of them highly fantastic and allegorized in the interests of morality and religion.

This last-named quality, the use of metaphors, is perhaps the most conspicuous one in the style, of the Anglo-Saxon poetry. The language, compared to that of our own vastly more complex time, was undeveloped; but for use in poetry, especially, there were a great number of periphrastic but vividly picturesque metaphorical synonyms (technically called kennings). ' These kennings add much imaginative suggestiveness to the otherwise over-terse style, and often contribute to the grim irony which is another outstanding trait.

The people, though still sturdy, seem to have become somewhat dull from inbreeding and to have required a n infusion of altogether different blood from without. This necessary renovation was to be violently forced upon them, for in 1066 Duke William of Normandy landed at Pevensey with his army of adventurers and his ill­ founded claim to the crown, and before him at Hastings fell the gallant Harold and his nobles. By the fortune of this single fight, followed only by stern suppression of spasmodic outbreaks, William established himself and his vassals as masters of the land.

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