automobile a “horseless carriage.” If the Middle Ages didnnot have lyre or lute, they had other instruments and sangnoften — much more often than we do — and with gusto ornpiety as the occasion invited.nThe term lyric will serve well enough if we properlynqualify its reference to the medieval lyric. To qualify itnproperly is to define the lyric of tradition as a kind of poem,nnot primarily narrative, that was commonly sung or recited,nor at least read aloud — and in certain instances danced to,nas well as sung. These uses strongly affect its diction, itsnstructure, its total rhetoric, and easily distinguish it from thenmore literary poetry which we call modern, the poetry that isnintended to be read in silence by the secluded individual. Anpoetry that is sung calls for listeners — who of course join innsinging when the occasion becomes social, whether in thencourtly hall, the tavern, or the village green. It was trulynfunctional or applied art, intended for performance onnrecognized occasions — the liturgical or nonliturgical uses ofnthe Church, public ceremonies, festivals; or in a less publicnsense, to lighten work, to influence conduct, to serve variousnpractical needs of guildsmen, sailors, farmers. This kind ofnpoem has a specific purpose in view: to compliment and ifnpossible win the lady, according to the etiquette of courtlynlove; to mourn the dead; to praise the victor; to pass the timenaway in mirth or festivity; but above all to worship God, as inna hymn or sacred carol.nSuch lyrics, most often by unknown authors, do not setnout to be works of art. Nonetheless they turn out to be art,nand when at their best—the art that William Butier Yeatsnpraised and desired, in which, he said, “We cannot distinguishnthe handiwork of Scopas from that of Praxiteles . . .nan art where the artist’s handiwork would hide as undernthose half-anonymous chisels or as we find it in some oldnScots ballad, or in some twelfth- or thirteenth-centurynArthurian Romance.”nIf old Anglo-Saxon custom had dominated rather thannthe conquering Norman — that is, if some of the medievalnpoems that we call medieval lyrics were sung or chanted tonthe sound of the harp — then medieval England would inntruth have had, and maybe did have, something close to ornparalleling the Greek lyric as performed in ancient times. Itnwould not have been anything that the Renaissance Humanistnwould have admired—though Sidney did once go sonfar as declare that he was moved by the performance ofnsome “blinde crowder” singing “the old song of Percy andnDouglas.” The “crowd” or “Grouth” (Welsh “Crwth”) wasna relative of the lyre or harp, and Sidney heard what was inneffect a “lyric” rendering of a traditional ballad.nThe professional minstrel with his harp is no merenromantic fancy of Bishop Percy and Walter Scott. InnEngland the harper survived well into the 16th century, andnthe sturdy prevalence of “Harper” as an occupationalnsurname in America today perhaps suggests how firmly thenancient profession was planted in the mother country beforenthe New Music came in along with the New Poetry. [Ansampling of surnames in the telephone directory of a city ofnabout 200,000 reveals 125 Harpers as compared with 49nShepherds (Shepards), 49 Carpenters, and 26 Joinersn(Joyners). The Smiths and Cooks are of course much morennumerous.] Harpers were retained by royalty and nobility asnCor Ne Editonby William M. GalbraithnVoracious dragonfliesnconsume their afterparts.nThe hoop snake triesnand tries with fits and startsnto eat from tail to earsnuntil it disappears.nOf what things that are fairnand of a goodliness,npartake of them; carenthat beauty be never lessnbut, taken, becomes morenthan ever was before.nThis is a good hunger. . .nBut whet upon the tonguenno taste for being youngernas when you walked alongnglad boulevards of art.nEat not your matter of custom, but more out of inertia than preference,nwe may suspect. A blind harper named More was chiefnharper under four sovereigns of England, including HenrynVIII. The rhetorician Puttenham records that, even in thentime of Elizabeth, romances were recited to the strummingnof the harp. He himself had composed a “historical ditty . . .nto be more commodiously songe to the harpe in places ofnassembly, where the company shall be desirous to heare ofnold adventures and valiaunces of noble knights in timesnpast.”nWe get a lively picture of harp-playing for lesser folk in an15th-century carol of the convivial type. The “gossips” —nwaiting until their husbands are safely out of the house —ngather at a tavern. Each one brings a dish—some of “flesh,”nsome of “fish.” Then Margery makes a wish: “I wold thatnFrankelyne the harper were here.” Suddenly, by remarkablencoincidence, he is:nShe hade notte so sone the word isaydnBut in come Frankelyn at a brayd;n”God save you, masteres,” he sayde;n”I come to make youe some chere.”nAnon he began to draw out his harpe;nThen the gossyppes began to starte;nThey callyd the tawyrner to fyll the quartenAnd lette note for no coste.nThen seyd the gossyppes all in fere,nnnDECEMBER 1989/19n