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Nou skrinketh rose ant lylie-flour: introduction
London, British Library, Harley MS 2253, f. 80rb

This lyric to the Virgin Mary both borrows and questions the conventions of secular love-lyric. The seasonal opening is set in autumn rather than the more usual spring, emphasizing the transience of earthly beauty and earthly pleasure; the Virgin is described in terms normally used of secular women (e.g. gent ant smal  line 45; see note), but offers more permanent healing and more accessible mercy; and the speaker moves from contemplation of his own troubles to exhortation of a wider audience.

The mention of Peterborough (line 11) suggests an East Anglian origin, and the phrase 'from Caithness to Dublin'  some Scandinavian influence (see note on line 34).

The poem follows a demanding rhyme-scheme (aabaabcbc), which has been slightly impaired in the course of transmission; there is a missing (though easily restored) rhyme-word in line 58 (see note), and probably also a missing line in the final stanza, which runs aababab[a]b.

Set up by Bella Millett, enm@soton.ac.uk. Last updated 30 July 2003 .