Homework Prompt: Anglo-Norman and Middle English
This homework prompt prepares students for a class discussion that will undertake a close-reading of a macaronic poem.
Students read a brief explication of lexical fields; then they read and investigate one of the Harley Lyrics, “Mayden, Moder Milde.”
-Read Curzan & Adams, “Lexical Fields” (PDF on Blackboard)
-Read “Mayden, moder milde."
-Prepare a set of notes on the poem (1-2 pg).
-Compare the poem structurally to the Old English elegies.
Consider the poem’s use of rhyme, its line lengths, and how
and where the poem uses alliteration.
-Pick a stanza and do some research on its rhyme words.
Using the OED and/or Wiktionary, find a Modern English word
related to each end word.
The prompt provides students with background knowledge about lexical fields, and it asks them to research the poem’s rhyme words. In class, students will apply this knowledge. They will discuss how the poem’s Anglo-Norman words and its Middle English words belong to distinct lexical fields, and how this supplies evidence for the argument that Anglo-Norman and Middle English belonged to different social classes.
The prompt also prepares students to discuss the poem’s formal features. Students will note that the English lines retain features of Old English poetry, while French features determine the overall structure.
In class, students will develop these insights into a fuller reading of the ways in which the poem maneuvers between languages, lexical fields, and poetic styles, as an aesthetic correlative to its meditation upon the Incarnation.