By W. A. Davenport

Ranging from the idea taht 'Pearl', 'Purity', 'Patience' and 'Sir Gawain and the fairway knight' are by means of one poet, W.A. Davenport seeks to outline the character of his artwork. He makes a detailed research of every poem, contemplating the 4 now not quite a bit of their

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For much of the time Pearl is written in heightened poetic language, with devices of sound and imagery used to elaborate the expression of feeling. The combination of simple but evocative words, alliterative patterning and traditional lyrical rhetoric in the third stanza is a good example: That spot of spysez mot nedez sprede, Ther such rychez to rot is runne; Blomez blayke and blwe and rede Ther schynez ful schyr agayn the sunne. Flor and fryte may not[bot] fede13 Ther hit doun drof in moldez dunne, For uch gresse mot grow of graynez dede No whete were ellez to wonez wonne.

So the process of education is completed; he has learnt to accept his loss, to turn his eyes away from self and the world, to recognise the other nature of the eternal life. But, true to the personal feeling from which the poem began, the poet leaves us in no doubt that his blessing of and yielding of the child to God remains in a context of sadness and 'pyty of my perle'; the world remains a 'doekdoungoun* in which we may at best be 'homly hyne', even if potentially we may be precious pearls. So, as one reads through the poem, one's initial impression of Pearl as an evocative and emotional poem becomes qualified.

Critics who have placed emphasis on the doctrine of the Maiden's speeches and on the idea of debate between the two speakers and, indeed, on the whole theological aspect of the poem seem to me to have their priorities wrong. There is, in these two speeches of the Maiden, a discourse and a sequence of thought but no real argus ment; rather one sees a series of pictures identifying ideas, arranged to fit into the poem's movement towards its second moment of revelation. The question of the disruption one may feel in the 'characterisax tion' is one which I wish to postpone for the moment, since it involves reviewing one's whole sense of what the Dreamer and the Maiden represent, but certainly, if one reads the dream assuming, as I have done so far, that the Dreamer is the same character as the T of the first section, then there comes a point when the characterisa' tion no longer firmly holds, and one suspects the poet of adjusting his figures to become functions of his theme.

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