Abstract

abstract:

Recent scholarship on the meter of fourteenth-century English alliterative verse demonstrates that lines end with a trochaic constituent. Piers Plowman is a recognized anomaly, yet there is disagreement about the extent of the differences. In this article, I examine long final dips, the vocalic quality of syllables in the final dip, and the placement of word divisions. Throughout, my focus is on the B version of the poem. I make a survey of lines with a word division after the final lift and of lines ending in -ly adverbs, compounds in -man, compounds in -nesse, nouns in -(i)oun, and gerunds. I compare the frequency of each sequence at the close of the a-verse and b-verse, observing that many individual items skew towards the norms of usage observed in other alliterative poems. Yet, more than other alliterative poets, Langland allows semantic and expository priorities to override prosodic form.

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