The Prosody of the Middle Scots Alliterative Poems

J. Derrick McClure

Abstract


The four-beat alliterative line remained productive well beyond the Old English period in both England and Scotland; but whereas in England it had virtually disappeared by the end of the fourteenth century, Scottish poets were still making effective use of it as late as the reign of James VI. The article assesses the highly inventive variations on the basic form illustrated throughout the Middle Scots period, in the three long poems The Buke of the Howlat, Golagros and Gawane, and Rauf Coilyear and several shorter works, and demonstrates the manner of the verse-form’s final disappearance through assimilation to a homomorphic pattern.

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