In Helen Barr's new edition, the 24 short lyrics of Oxford Bodleian MS Digby 102 are freshly transcribed and edited. The critical apparatus includes a full introduction, extensive annotation to each poem, and a new glossary. New evidence shows that this sequence of poems was written in the early years of Henry V's reign (c.1413-14), and most probably by a Benedictine monk eager to add his support for the Henrician new dawn. There is strong support for war against France and for the proper conduct of parliamentary business. The poems are rigorous in their call for orthodox reform from within the Church. Throughout, the concerns of Church and State are inseparable from a fierce call for penitence, both collective and individual. The sequence contains some harrowing devotional writing; the poet makes especially agile use of demanding stanza forms to ensure that human beings are left in no doubt as to their failings. Barr's extensive annotation brings out not just the political significance of the poems but also their place in the tradition of devotional writing.
Helen Barr is Fellow and Tutor in English at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. She has edited and written on the Piers Plowman tradition, is author of Socioliterary Practice in Late Medieval England (2001), and co-edited Text and Controversy from Wyclif to Bale (2005) with Ann M. Hutchison
Acknowledgements Introduction 1. The manuscript 2. Previous editions of Digby lyrics 3. Critical reception 4. Date 5. Religious sensibilities 6. Social temper 7. Poetics 8. Provenance Appendix: Parallels between the Digby lyrics and the Macaronic sermons in MS Bodley 649 Abbreviations and select bibliography The lyrics from MS Digby 102 1. Loue God and drede 2. Mede and muche thank 3. Treuth, reste and pes 4. Lerne say wele, say litel, or say no3t 5. Wyt and Wille 6. To lyf bodyly is perylous 7. Man, knowe thy self, and lerne to dye 8. A good makynge of iour delaye 9. With God of loue and pes 3e trete 10. A good steryng to heuenward 11. God & man ben made atte on 12. God kepe oure kyng and saue the croune 13. Dede is worchyng 14. Man be warre er the be woo 15. The descryung of mannes membres 16. A remembraunce of Lij folyes 17. Loue that God loueth 18. The declarying of religioun 19. Untitled 20. Untitled 21. A lernyng to good leynge 22. Knowe thy self and thy God 23. Of the sacrament of the altere 24. The Lessouns of the Dirige Glossary Index of proper names