This rich and lively anthology offers a broad selection of Middle English poetry from about 1200 to 1500 C.E., including more than 150 secular and religious lyrics and nine complete or extracted longer works, all translated into Modern English verse that closely resembles the original forms. Five complete satires and narratives illustrate important conventions of the period: Athelston, a historical romance; The Cock and the Fox, a beast fable by Robert Henryson; Sir Orfeo, a Breton lai ; Saint Erkenwald, an alliterative saint's life; and The Land of Cockayne, a fantasy. The book concludes with substantial excerpts from longer narratives such as Piers Plowman and Confessio Amantis. The poems are accompanied by introductions, notes, marginal glosses, source notes, and appendixes, including a bibliography and a list to help readers locate the lyrics in current original-language editions.
Joseph Glaser is Professor Emeritus of English, Western Kentucky University.