Home  »  Volume V: English THE DRAMA TO 1642 Part One  »  § 6. Cantilenae

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IV. Prose and Poetry: Sir Thomas North to Michael Drayton.

II. Secular Influences on the Early English Drama

§ 6. Cantilenae

On the literary side, the connection is very slight. The folk had their cantilenae, or songs celebrating mythological or historical heroes; but epic poetry owes more to these than does the drama. The people had, also, their festival songs, sung in procession or during the dance round the sacred fire or tree, of which Sumer is i-cumen in is a sophisticated remnant; and in these songs the growth of the amoebaean form shown in the existence of the burden implies the same seed of drama which grew in Greece to the pre-Aeschylean tragedy, with its protagonist and chorus, but had no corresponding development in England.