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A wayle whyt as whalles bon: introduction
London, British Library, Harley MS 2253, f. 67r

A wayle whyt as whalles bonThe combination of romantic idealisation, erotic longing, and emotional frustration in this poem is fairly conventional, as is the imagery used to express it.

Its structure offers some problems, perhaps caused partly by remoteness from the original text (see note on line 48). Its basic unit is a six-line stanza, rhyming aaabab; the stanzas are also linked in most cases by the repetition in their first line of a keyword taken from the end of the previous stanza (e.g. gladschipe (5) . . . glad (7), wyf (12, 13), eyen (24) . . . heye (25). However, neither the stanza-structure nor the linking is wholly consistent. There are two extra lines (37-8) following the sixth stanza  which do not seem to belong there, and the final stanza is missing a line; although the first line of most of the stanzas has four stresses, line 7 seems to have two and line 19 three; and there is no apparent linking (unless lystne 38 and herkneth 39 count) between the last four stanzas.

Set up by Bella Millett, enm@soton.ac.uk. Last updated 24 July 2003 . London, British Library, Harley MS 2253 f. 67r, reproduced by permission of the British Library; no further reproduction permitted.