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Art. 53, When Y se blosmes springe: Introduction

ABBREVIATIONS: AND: Anglo-Norman Dictionary; ANL: Anglo-Norman Literature: A Guide to Texts and Manuscripts (R. Dean and Boulton); BL: British Library (London); Bodl.: Bodleian Library (Oxford); CCC: Corpus Christi College (Cambridge); CUL: Cambridge University Library (Cambridge); IMEV: The Index of Middle English Verse (Brown and Robbins); IMEV Suppl.: Supplement to the Index of Middle English Verse (Robbins and Cutler); MED: Middle English Dictionary; MWME: A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 1050–1500 (Severs et al.); NIMEV: A New Index of Middle English Verse (Boffey and Edwards); NLS: National Library of Scotland (Edinburgh).

In the mode of a secular lyric, the narrator of A Spring Song on the Passion suffers the pain of “suete” love-longing and delays revealing his beloved’s identity until the second stanza, where it is disclosed gradually by an image of Christ on the cross. Stung to the quick by viewing flowers burst into bloom and hearing birds erupt with song, the poet expresses a lyrical sweetness and sadness. The method suggests, as in A Winter Song (art. 52), an origin or influence in meditational piety. Two texts of the poem survive: the 5-stanza Harley version and a 6-stanza version in an earlier manuscript. The extra stanza falls between Harley stanzas 1 and 2. On how the scribe has situated this poem above two others on the same page, both of which deal with passion for a lady, see the explanatory note for While You Play in Flowers (art. 55). For commentary, see the bibliography in MWME 11:4343–44; Kinch, pp. 142–43; and Durling, pp. 280–81.

[Fol. 76r. IMEV, NIMEV 3963. MWME 11:4191 [18]. Scribe: B (Ludlow scribe). Quire: 8. Meter: Five 10-line isometric stanzas, ababccbddb3. Layout: No columns; written as prose. Editions: Wright 1842, pp. 61–63 (no. 21); Böddeker, pp. 196–98; Brook, pp. 54–55 (no. 18); Millett, online edition. Other MS: London, BL MS Royal 2.F.8, fol. 1v (ed. Brown 1932, pp. 120–22 [no. 63]).]

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