Anonymous: Pearl

(739 words)
  • Ad Putter (University of Bristol)

Pearl is the first work in British Library, Cotton Nero A.x (c. 1400), which also contains Cleanness (q.v.), Patience (q.v.) and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (q.v.). All four poems are very probably by the same poet. Technically, Pearl is an astounding work of art. The poem, which conatins much ornamental alliteration, is written in octosyllabic lines in loose iambic tetrameter; the lines are grouped into stanzas rhyming ababababbcbc. In their turn, the stanzas are organised into twenty sections of five stanzas each (except for section XV which contains six stanzas); all five (or six) stanzas within each section end on the same refrain word. In addition, the first line of each stanza repeats a key …

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Putter, Ad. "Pearl". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 30 March 2001
[, accessed 08 October 2015.]