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When Y se blosmes springe: introduction
London, British Library, Harley MS 2253, f. 76r

A meditative poem on the love of Christ. Another version survives in British Library, MS Royal 2.F. viii, edited in Brown (1932), no. 63, pp. 120-2, with an additional verse after stanza 1 (see Notes) identifying Christ explicitly as the subject of the poem, and stanzas 4 and 5 in reverse order. For a full list of textual variants, see Brown (1932), pp. 214-6.

The poem uses the traditional image of the crucified Christ found elsewhere in ME religious poetry (cf. I syke when Y sing), but also borrows the spring opening and the terminology of secular love-poetry (cf. Bytuene Mersh ant Aueril). The speaker begins by assuming the persona of a lover, but ohte ('ought') 18 signals that this is an emotion which should be felt, rather than one which comes naturally to fallen humanity, and the poem increasingly shifts to the mode of prayer rather than self-expression. The Harley version also includes an element of exhortation, emphasizing the links of the speaker with humanity in general by the use of the first-person plural pronoun in the second half of the poem (30, 34, 37, 40, 48, 49, 50);  but in all but one of these cases (40) the Royal version has the singular form.

Set up by Bella Millett, enm@soton.ac.uk. Last updated 31 July 2003 .