All Art is Theft

I thought these lyrics were great to read at the beginning of the semester, as they offered us a brief but still enjoyable immersion into Middle English. Though the topics of the lyrics ranged from the death of Jesus to chanting for beer, the lyric that stood out most to me was Betwene Mersh and Averil (250). Maybe it is because I am particularly fond of early British literature, but this lyric reminded me so much of the lamenting love sonnets of Sir Thomas Wyatt during the Tudor reign, and to go further back, to the sonnets of Petrarch in Italy. I was shocked by the similarities in the mindset of the speaker – incredibly in love with a women that (I presume) does not return his affections, and willing to suffer and long for her through poetry rather than attempt any sort of emotional journey of getting over her. Also, like Wyatt and Petrarch, these love poems seemingly focus on the beloved, but are actually much more focused on the feelings and woes of the speaker – making him the true subject! For example, the speaker laments, “Bote he me wolle to hire take, / For to ben hire owen make, / Longe to liven ichulle forsake, / and feye fallen adoun” (250-251). The dramatic woes are lovely andĀ give me deja vu, even though this was written before the poetry I am used to reading. Having studied Wyatt and Petrarch at length, these similarities were striking to me. Especially because Petrarch was writing during the Italian Renaissance, which came right after the Medieval Period – perhaps he was inspired by lyrics like these when writing his love sonnets? All art is theft, after all!

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