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Monday, August 23, 2021

Short notes on The Nut Brown Maid


Short notes on The Nut Brown Maid,popular songs in middle english period

Short notes on The Nut Brown Maid

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From Oxford Companion to English Literature:

'Nut-Brown Maid, The', a 15th-century poem in praise of woman's fidelity. The lover, to prove the Maid, tells her that he must to the greenwood go, 'alone, a banyshed man' and live the life of an outlaw. She declares her intention of accompanying him, nor can be dissuaded by the prospect of hardships and humiliations. The lover finally reveals his deceit and that he is an earl's son 'and not a banyshed man'. The poem is included in Percy's * Reliques. It is the foundation of *Prior's 'Henry and Emma'.



Another popular and successful poem of the time is The Nut Brown Maid. This is not strictly a ballad of the Border and differs much from Chevy Chase. The theme here is altogether different - not rivalry but love. It is all about the story of a nut-brown maid, a baron's daughter, and her devoted love for a squire. She follows, with utmost constancy, her beloved man who tries to avoid her. Ultimately, the steady maid gets her reward and the squire, who is actually a noble lord in disguise, agrees to marry her. The end is happy, unlike the sad ending of Chevy Chase.


The Nut Brown Maid, as stated already, is a song of love, and not a tale of fighting, like Chevy Chase. This is also much more intricate in versification than the other poem. It is rather enlivened with a courtly and cultivated approach and spontaneity of expression. The work bears all through a dramatic interest. The very pattern of presentation is quite novel, too. The whole tale is related through the lyrical dialogue of a lady and a gentleman, who are shown engaged in the discussion of the charge of inconstancy against women, often brought by men.

Popular English ballads are no grand works of art, but they are also no verbose artifice. Their mode is simple and appeals, straight. They are not primitive, but essentially native in inspiration. Their tales are well told, and they bear the freshness of the open air, with wind and sunshine playing through them. They are found to enrich English poetry definitely and to pave the ground for the emergence of Renaissance poetry.

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