Pearl, The


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Pearl, The,

one of four Middle English alliterative poems, all contained in a manuscript of c.1400, composed in the West Midland dialect, almost certainly by the same anonymous author, who flourished c.1370–1390. The Pearl is usually explained as an elegy for the poet's young daughter; in an allegorical vision of singular beauty he sees her as a maiden in paradise and becomes reconciled to her death. The second and third poems, Cleanness (or Purity) and Patience, are homiletic poems on those virtues. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the fourth poem, which relates a fabulous adventure of GawainGawain, Sir
, one of the most popular heroes of Arthurian legend; nephew of King Arthur. He was regarded, particularly in the early romances, as the model of chivalry—pure, brave, and courteous.
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, is perhaps the most brilliantly conceived of all Arthurian romances. If single authorship is accepted, the artistry displayed in this poem and in The Pearl make the so-called Pearl-poet in some respects a rival to Chaucer. A fifth poem, St. Erkenwald, is attributed by some authorities to the same anonymous author.

Bibliography

For translations of the first, fourth, and fifth poems and for bibliography, see R. S. Loomis and R. Willard, ed., Medieval English Verse and Prose (1948); studies by I. Bishop (1968) and A. C. Spearing (1976).

References in periodicals archive ?
The larger the pearl, the more rare and costly it tends to be.
Just as the seashell takes a year to produce a pearl, the Ohrid pearl takes a patient hand, and a great deal of attention and precision.
Back in the day before cultured pearls cornered the market, scores of Emirati pearl divers would spend weeks aboard a dhow at sea and up to 300 divers per day would explore the depths of the sea in search of the elusive pink pearl, the most expensive of a range of colours, including the infamous black pearl, he said.