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Pearl

Pearl by The Gawain Poet
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Written in the 14th century by the Gawain poet, 'Pearl' is an elegiac poem reflecting on the death of a young daughter, pictured as a pearl lost in a garden. It is considered a masterpiece of Middle English verse, incorporating both the older tradition of alliterative poetry as well as rhyme, centered around the development of an intricately structured image. Sophie Jewett's translation from the Northern dialect of the original renders much of the poem's liveliness and beauty accessible to modern readers, whilst encouraging them to pursue their reading further, to read the original itself.

This recording is dedicated to the memory of Pearl Jean Shearman, 1914-2012.

First Page:

THE PEARL

A MIDDLE ENGLISH POEM

A MODERN VERSION IN THE METRE OF THE ORIGINAL

BY

SOPHIE JEWETT

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH LITERATURE IN WELLESLEY COLLEGE

1908

To KATHARINE LEE BATES

THE TRANSLATOR TO THE AUTHOR

Poet of beauty, pardon me If touch of mine have tarnish├Ęd Thy Pearl's pure luster, loved by thee; Or dimmed thy vision of the dead Alive in light and gaiety. Thy life is like a shadow fled; Thy place we know not nor degree, The stock that bore thee, school that bred; Yet shall thy fame be sung and said. Poet of wonder, pain, and peace, Hold high thy nameless, laurelled head Where Dante dwells with Beatrice.

PREFACE

Among the treasures of the British Museum is a manuscript which contains four anonymous poems, apparently of common authorship: "The Pearl," "Cleanness," "Patience," "Sir Gawayne and the Green Knight." From the language of the writer, it seems clear that he was a native of some Northwestern district of England, and that he lived in the second half of the Fourteenth Century... Continue reading book >>


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