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DEVELOPMENT OF VERSIFICATION. 259
much as it greatly contributed to the blending of the two races. It may, however, with certainty be said that by the middle of the fourteenth century the various causes that had long been at work in fostering a common interest, had succeeded in amalgamating the conquerors and the conquered into one great nation, speaking that marvellous composite English tongue that is now the medium of communication in every part of the civilised world.*
During this semi-Saxon period, 1066—1400, a time of unrest and turmoil, there was a dearth of poetic composition, but such of it as there was is native born, and is marked by all the characteristics mentioned above ; the foreign influences that were at work hardly affected it at all. The chief poems of this time are—
(i) Layamon's "Brut" written about A.D. 1200. Although it is a metrical adaptation from the French of Wace, a Norman trouvere of the legendary history of the early British kings, it has not more than sixty non-Saxon words in all its thirty thousand short lines. It is in the old alliterative metre, with four accents and occasional rhymes.
(ii) The Ormulumy a metrical version of parts of the Gospels, written about 1215 in seven-accent metre, unrhymed. In the portion of it that exists,
* This is not the place to enter into details respecting the growth and development of the Queen's English. During the transition period we are now considering, our native tongue became differentiated into three clearly marked dialects, the Northern, the Southern, and the Midland, while the upper classes spoke and wrote in Latin and French. These operated in a variety of ways upon the harsh, uncouth vernacular, and when in the long run the masters were obliged to adopt the speech of their serfs, it was the Midland dialect that they assisted in polishing into modern English. (See Oliphant's Stemd»rd English.)