The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).>br>Volume I. From the Beginnings to the Cycles of Romance.

XI. Early Transition English

§ 11. The Luve Ron

Erotic mysticism is best represented by the Luve Ron of Thomas de Hales, a delightful lyric in eight-line stanzas, written in the earlier portion of the reign of Henry III, and probably before 1240 judging from the allusion in 11. 97 ff. The writer was a native of Hales (Gloucester), who, after a career at Paris and Oxford, attained considerable distinction as a scholar. The main theme of the work is the perfect love which abides with Christ and the joy and peace of mystic union with Him. The poem is full of lofty devotion and passionate yearning; its deep seriousness is conveyed through a medium tender and refined, and it is, in short, one of the most attractive and impassioned works of the time, as the following extracts suggest:

  • Mayde her [char]u myht biholde,
  • [char]is worldes luue nys bute o res,
  • And is by-set so fele-volde,
  • Vikel and frakel and wok and les.
  • [char]os [char]eines [char]at her weren bolde Beo[char] aglyden, so wyndes bles:
  • Under molde he ligge[char] colde,
  • And falewe[char] so do[char] medewe gres.
  • Hwer is Paris and Heleyne
  • [char]at weren so bryht and feyre on bleo:
  • Amadas, Tristram, and Dideyne Yseud[char] and all[char] [char]eo:
  • Ector wi[char] his scharp[char] meyne And Cesar riche of wor [1] des feo?
  • Heo beo[char] iglyden ut of [char]e reyne,
  • So [char]e schef is of e cleo.
  • The three prose prayers, The Wohung of ure Lauerd, On Lofsong of ure Louerde and On Ureisun of ure Louerde belong to the same category as the Luve Ron. They are written in alliterative prose, which aimed at obtaining the emphatic movement of Old English verse, and is most effective in recitation, though the absence of metrical rules brings about a looser structure. All three prayers consist of pasionate entreaties for closer communion with Christ, and the personal feeling revealed in them illustrates the use of the love motive in the service of religion. But to interpret the love terminology literally and to connect these prayers solely with the devotions of nuns, as one critic suggests, seems to involve a misapprehension of their tone, for it infuses into their being an earthliness quite out of keeping with their rarefied sentiment. Further, these works have some points in common, occasionally literal agreement, with the Ancren Riwle and Hali Meidenhad, but in all probabilty it is in the works of Anselm and Hugo de St. Victor that the sources must be sought, in which case all these English works are distinct and separate borrowings from the same Latin originals.