Thursday, November 26, 2015

"The Maidens Came"



And for today just one more…. [Allen continues with his survey for his class at the Naropa Institute, in July 1980, on early English poetry]

AG: Now William Dunbar (next), page seventy-two….  (but),  let’s see, is there anything I should.. .Yeah, there’s one little thing (possibly) – Yeah, there’s a funny little thing before we get to Dunbar, there’s a funny little poem that isn’t in the Norton (anthology) (and) that is in the Auden anthology called "The Maidens Came". It has a line that (T.S.) Eliot repeats somewhere in The Waste Land, or paraphrases, and somehow it’s entered, that one line has entered into..modern poetic mentality. 
So I’ll just read that one poem  

[Allen begins the poem and then restarts] - I’m sorry, I’ll start again, because it’s just one perfect piece of rhythm
 – “The maidens came when I was in my mother’s bower/I had all that I would/. The bailey beareth the bell away/The lily, the rose, the rose I lay/ The silver is white, red is the gold./The robes they lay in fold./ The bailey beareth the bell away/The lily, the rose, the rose I lay/ And through the glass window shines the sun/How should I love and I so young/ The bailey beareth the bell away/The lily, the rose, the rose I lay".

It’s just very pretty – almost nonsensical, I mean, I don’t understand what he’s talking about – "The bailey beareth the bell away" is..  the bailiff carries the prize away. In ballads  the bailey is used often for carrying off, taking the prize – “For to report it were now tedius;/ We will therefor now sing no more/ Of the game joyus./ Right mighty and famus/ Elizabeth, our quin princis/ Prepotent and eke victorius,/Virtuous and bening/ Lett us  pray all/To Christ Eternall,/ Which is the hevenly King/ After ther liff grant them/ A place eternally to sing. Amen" - . That’s the end of it – it’s just that   "The bailey beareth the bell away/The lily, the rose, the rose I lay/ The silver is white, red is the gold./The robes they lay in fold"… [ Allen pauses - no, I haven’t got it)- "The silver is white, red is the gold./The robes they lay in fold./ The bailey beareth the bell away/The lily, the rose, the rose I lay/ And through the glass window shines the sun".." - "The robes they lay in fold"/" shines the sun" (some parallel rhythms there) - okay...


Okay – We’ll get on to William Dunbar – "Lament for the Makers" and check out Dunbar and John Skelton, page  seventy-five,  Dunbar  page seventy-two, seventy-five to seventy-seven,  Skelton – and then maybe read on through ballads, there’s a whole bunch of ballads in there, so check through the ballads section. And the homework is write a poem that is paralleling "I Sing of A Maid that is makless" or the  "Lyke Wake Dirge"

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately seventy-six-and-a-half minutes in and concluding at the end of the tape]

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