No of pages: 208
Other Editions: Hardback
The Testament of Cresseid & Seven Fables
The greatest of the late medieval Scots
, Robert Henryson was influenced by their vision of the frailty and pathos of human life, and by the inherited poetic example of Geoffrey Chaucer. His finest poem, and one of the rhetorical masterpieces of Scots literature, is the narrative
Testament of Cresseid
. Set in the aftermath of the Trojan war, the
completes the story of Chaucer’s
Troilus and Criseyde
, offering a tragic account of its faithless heroine’s rejection by her lover Diomede, and of her subsequent decline into prostitution and leprosy. Written in Lowland Scots, a distinctive northern version of English, the
has been translated by Seamus Heaney into a confident but faithful idiom which matches the original verse-form and honours the poem’s unique blend of detachment and compassion.
A master of high narrative, Henryson was also a comic master of the verse fable, and his burlesques of human weakness in the guise of animal wisdom are delicately pointed with irony. Seven of the Fables are here sparklingly translated by Seamus Heaney, their freshness rendered to the last claw and feather. Altogether, The Testament of Cresseid & Seven Fables provides a rich and wide-ranging encounter between two poets across six centuries.
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