This Norton Critical Edition offers one of the largest collections of Middle English lyrics ever made available to the college student.
It is the only anthology which includes all thirty-one English lyrics from MS Harley 2253, all the verses by Friar Herebert printed in Brown XIV, and all the important poems given in Robbins' Secular Lyrics.
In all there are 245 lyrics, arranged thematically.
To make these delightful poems accessible to the modern reader, the editors have removed many of the orthographic impediments inherent in Middle English verse and have modernized punctuation, capitalization, and obsolete letters while scrupulously seeking to retain the substantive integrity of the poems.
"Critical and Historical Backgrounds" are provided in essays by Peter Dronke, Stephen Manning, Raymond Oliver, and Rosemary Woolf. In a special section, six poems are singled out for critical comment by A. K. Moore, Edmund Reiss, D. W. Robertson, Jr., E. T. Donaldson, John Speirs, Thomas Jemielity, D. G. Halliburton, Leo Spitzer, and others.
Two of these lyrics, "Maiden in the mor lay" and "I sing of a maiden," are discussed by four different scholars. In all, twenty-five poems are discussed in the essays.
The volume also includes a list of Abbreviations, a Table of Textual Sources and Dates, a Select Bibliography, and an Index of First Lines.