Gower Bibliography

Le Songe Vert: Its occasion of writing and its author

Seaton, Ethel. "Le Songe Vert: Its occasion of writing and its author." Medium AEvum 19 (1950), pp. 1-16.


"Le Songe Vert" is a dream vision poem extant in two manuscripts – one in France and one in the Spalding MS that belonged to Henry Despenser, the crusading bishop of Norwich. In its focus on a grieving lover who must learn to love again, "Le Songe Vert" has some similarities with Chaucer's "Book of the Duchess." Seaton argues that it was likely written for Richard II, after his wife Anne of Bohemia died in 1394. It may have been written by Froissart, who arrived in England in 1395, but Seaton feels that Gower is a slightly more probable candidate for authorship. Seaton suggests that Gower, as "a poet of talent rather than of genius" (9), was likely to recycle poetic material, and so she lists a number of passages in Gower's known works that mirror (or invert) "Le Songe Vert." Seaton also feels that Gower's easy and graceful octosyllabic couplet perfected in the CA is stylistically similar to the French poem: "the light swift turn of dialogue, the unaffected handling of situations without overemphasis, these are common to both poems" (12). The fact that the poem survives in so few MSS is likely due to Gower's later change in allegiance from Richard II to Henry IV. [CvD]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Style, Rhetoric, and Versification
Manuscripts and Textual Studies

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