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260
ORTHOMETRY.
about twenty thousand lines, there are a few newly introduced Latin ecclesiastical terms, but not more than five French words, and the arrangement of the words is not very unlike the English of to-day.
(iii) Piers Plowman's Vision, 1362, alluded to above, is an allegory of deep religious feeling and sentiment, which produced a profound impression at the time, as it appeared while the country was devastated by the terrible " Black Death." There are a large number of French words in its thirty thousand lines, but it adheres to the Anglo-Saxon inflections, which had already begun to give way, and preserves the old alliterative form of verse. It is the earliest great original poem that we possess in English.
Besides these three important poems of the period, important mainly from a philological point of view, there were numerous translations from the French romantic poetry which dealt chiefly with the legends of King Arthur and Charlemagne. In these we find plainly discernible the influence of the speech of the upper classes upon the vernacular. Many of the harsh-sounding Saxon words began to drop out of use, and more euphonious Romance words took their place. Alliteration gradually gave way to the sweetness of rhyme, and as this required words with accent at the end, French words took the place of Saxon ones that bore the accent on the earlier syllables. In translating these French romances the rhyming words were ready to hand, and on this account alone, hundreds of Romance words were grafted upon the Teutonic framework






E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III