Reference > Cambridge History > The End of the Middle Ages > The English Chaucerians > The Cuckoo and the Nightingale
  La Belle Dame sans Merci The Assembly of Ladies  

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

VIII. The English Chaucerians.

§ 12. The Cuckoo and the Nightingale.


Very much better is The Cuckoo and the Nightingale, sometimes also called The Book of Cupid god of Love, which, as a MS. has the quasi-signature of “explicit Clanvowe,” is assigned to a certain Sir Thomas Clanvowe, a Herefordshire gentleman, of whom we find mention in the very year after Chaucer’s death (1401), as well as seven years earlier and three later. It is, therefore, practically Chaucerian in date if not in authorship, being the only one of these pieces which can be brought so close to him. And it is, accordingly, very noteworthy as showing that all writers of the time did not adopt the severe rime system attributed to Chaucer himself in the matter of the final -e, while Clanvowe’s use of that suffix within the line is also different. The poem is one of great attractiveness—quite independently of the fact that Milton evidently refers to it in an early sonnet. It is written in an unusual metre—a quintet of decasyllables of rimed aabba—which has no small harmony; and, numerous as are the pieces which deal with May mornings and bird-songs, it may keep its place with the best of them, while it has an additional hold on literary history as suggesting one of the earliest of possibly original Middle English poems—The Owl and the Nightingale. There is some idea that it may have been written in connection with the marriage of Henry IV to Joan of Navarre.   41

CONTENTS · VOLUME CONTENTS · INDEX OF ALL CHAPTERS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  La Belle Dame sans Merci The Assembly of Ladies  
 
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