Thus Zimmer's earlier narrative poem easily becomes his most significant contribution to the 20th-century alliterative revival
In chapter 4, the focus turns to the metrical diversity of the poems of the "Alliterative Revival
," as seen in the contrast between poems of the "high style" such as Gawain and poems of the "plain style" such as Piers Plowman B.
. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
England experienced a period known as the Alliterative Revival
in the late 14th century, when a series of alliterative poems appeared.
The question of what WF is has usually been answered, when answered at all, by hurried and dismissive references to it as an alliterative stepping stone, if an unsteady one, from Old English verse to the alliterative revival
. But seeing WF in the way suggested here leads to a new and higher evaluation of the work's merits.
(21) For a reassessment of the place of alliterative verse in the Middle English Lyric, together with broader reflections on the critical question of the "alliterative revival
," see John Scattergood, The Lost Tradition: Essays on Middle English Alliterative Poetry (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2000).
"In short, this poet adhered to what is now known as the Alliterative Revival
of the fourteenth century, the attempt to use the old native metre and style long rusticated for high and serious writing; and he paid the penalty for its failure, for alliterative verse was not in the event revived" (Gawain 3).