Pearl of Great Price: A Literary Translation of the Middle English Pearl
The Middle English poem Pearl is an elegy on the death of a child, written to provide consolation for the loss of a loved one through instruction in Christian theology. The mourning father’s faith in God has been shaken by his daughter’s death. Having fainted away on his daughter’s grave, he is transported in a dream vision to an earthy paradise where he sees his daughter across a stream, transfigured and clothed in garments set with pearls. She explains to him her exalted status as a bride of Christ and shows him a vision of the New Jerusalem. Ravished with his vision, he attempts to cross the stream to join his Pearl, only to be woken from his dream of paradise. This translation of the poem is accompanied by a preface on the translation, a reproduction of the poem in its original orthography, a transcription of the manuscript, a glossary, and instructions on how to read the manuscript hand.
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Transcription of the Manuscript
How to Read the Manuscript Hand
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abbreviations alliteration alliterative alphabet benne bliss blyffe burg comp conj cortayfe delight delyt deme dere deuyfe doun emend fayde fayre fchal fene fongen fpeche fyrft gemme gentyl glente God’s Gordon glosses grace gret hert heuen hymfelf hyre Ierusalem imper sing innoghe Iohan iuele Iueler J.R.R. Tolkien Jerusalem jeweller kryft kynde Lamb language Late OE letter literary translation lombe lorde loue ly 3t macron Majuscules manuscript reading Middle English Modern English mote mydde myst neuer nober oper original poem perle playn plur prep pres pret pron pronounced pronunciation quen quod quyt reader rhyme scheme ry3t ryche scribal error shone sing subj sound spot stanza stroke subst Vantuono vche vowel vpon vyne W"Outen watg wern whyt wolde wony word word-finally wyfe wyfte wyth yogh