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Art. 58, Dulcis Jesu memoria: 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).

Like Sweet Jesus, King of Bliss (art. 50), this religious lyric is a hymn of praise on the name of Jesus. The scribe supplies the underlined title Dulcis Jesu memoria in the upper margin, a title that associates it with a well-known Latin hymn ascribed to Bernard of Clairvaux (Daniel 1:227). One editor notes that the poem “has just 50 stanzas, so it was probably meant to form a rosary” (Horstmann 1896, 2:11), but this count is not correct: the Harley poem has forty-eight and a half stanzas (lines 49–50 are lost or never existed). In the Ludlow scribe’s arrangement of matter, Mary, Mother of the Savior (art. 57) serves as prelude to this poem. Jesus, Sweet Is the Love of You belongs to a cluster of related English lyrics in the same 4-line meter that names Jesus at the head of each stanza. Stanzas from these deeply devotional lyrics were freely extracted, blended, and multiplied. Elsewhere, this lyric is yoked to Sweet Jesus, King of Bliss to make a long poem that survives in Vernon and other manuscripts (IMEV, NIMEV 3238; ed. Furnivall, pp. 449–62). On the affiliation of these malleable lyrics with the school of Richard Rolle, see the explanatory note to art. 50. For recent commentary on this item, see Durling, pp. 285–86.

[Fols. 77vb–78va. IMEV, NIMEV 1747 (compare NIMEV 3238). Compare MWME 9:3061–63 [12], 11:4340 [15, Version C]. Scribe: B (Ludlow scribe). Quires: 8–9 (fol. 78 opens quire 9). Meter: Forty-nine monorhymed quatrains, aaaa4, each stanza beginning Jesu. Stanza 13, written at the base of a column, lacks two lines (lines 49–50, here numbered). Layout: Double columns; title is provided and underlined by the scribe. Editions: Wright 1842, pp. 68–76 (no. 25); Böddeker, pp. 198–205; Horstmann 1896, 2:11–24. Other MSS: Three other MSS contain versions of this lyric; see NIMEV 1747.]

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