Kittredge of Harvard and other notable 19th-century scholarsnwere impressed by the maxim attributed to JakobnGrimm: Das Volk dichtet (“The folk make poetry”). Perhapsnso, we may now say, but only if Chaucer, Will Shakespeare,neven Jack Donne may also be admitted on occasionnto the sacred company of “the folk.”nIt is not easy to appreciate the lyric of tradition for what itnreally is. We are a bookish people. We find Englishnmedieval lyrics jammed in somewhere near the beginning ofna large anthology or textbook that soon hastens on to Wyatt,nSidney, and Shakespeare and so along the regular historicalnline to Pope, Wordsworth and Coleridge, Keats, and Tennyson,nwith T.S. Eliot and W.B. Yeats at the book’s end,nsurrounded by a scattering galaxy of moderns to constitutenthe rear guard that turns out to be a vanguard. The naturalninclination then is to try to “read” a 13th-century lyric as wenwould “read” the later poetry. But what if the 13th-centurynlyric was intended to be sung, not read at all — though justnpossibly it might be read aloud, or memorized and spoken?nIt will be impossible to use a biographical approach, sincenthe authors’ names are rarely attached to a medieval lyric.nNo one will ever know whether the unidentified poet of thenfollowing 12th-century (or possibly 13th-century) lyric wasnunhappily married or was out of favor at Court or wasnmerely suffering from an attack of gout;nMirie it is while sumer ilastnWith fugheles song;nOc nu necheth windes blastnAnd weder strong.nEi, ei, what this nicht is long!nAnd ich with wel michel wrongnSoregh and murne and fast.n(Merry it is while summer can lastnWith birds’ song;nBut now nigheth wind’s blastnAnd weather strong.nOh, oh, how this night is long!nAnd I with many a wrongnSorrow and mourn and fast.)nWe shall never know this or any other English medieval lyricnfor what it really is if we look at it only with the eyes and hearnit only with the ears that are adjusted to the entirely literarynstandards and taste of the 20th century. Or, for that matter,nof the 19th or 18th century, or any time subsequent to andate that might be fixed, say, in the later part of the 17thncentury. My choice would be for 1688, the year of thenGlorious Revolution. In that year English Whigs and Toriesnagreed on the interesting fiction, suddenly developed as adnhoc political theory, that King James II, not they, was innrebellion against constituted authority. Whereupon theynbrought in William of Orange from the Netherlands, withnan invading army, to throw out King James. From thatnmoment the advent of literary modernism was guaranteed,nno matter how lithely Pope might dribble couplets ornSamuel Johnson thunder against the Chesterfields ornMacPhersons. But the date might be set still earlier, even asnearly as the accession of Elizabeth in 1558. One must allowna century or more for the clock of tradition to runn18/CHRONICLESndown — in good English style — from simply not being anynlonger wolind up.nA word of caution is needed here about the word lyric.nThe great medieval scholars — E.K. Chambers, CarietonnBrown, R.H. Robbins, and others — entitle their collectionsnEarly English Lyrics, Religious Lyrics, Secular Lyrics, andnthe like. But the medieval manuscripts or early printed booksnfrom which these editors drew their material do not use thenterm lyric. Apparently it was unknown to the authors of thenpoems, and it was not used by the learned or at least literatenmonks and friars to whose devotion we owe many importantnmanuscripts of early English verse of various kinds. ThenOxford English Dictionary cites Sir Philip Sidney’s use ofnlyric in 1581 as the earliest appearance of the word innEnglish. In The Defense of Poesy Sidney says, for example,nthat he found “in the Earie of Surrey’s Liricks, manie thingsntastting of a noble birth and worthie of a noble mind.” Thenrhetoricians Webbe (in 1586) and Puttenham (in 1589) alsonuse the word. But Richard Tottel, who published in 1557nthe first printed anthology of English lyrics, entitles hisnhistoric collection Songes and Sonettes Written by the RyhtnHonorable Lorde Henry Haward late Earle of Surrey, andnOther. Tottel does not refer to these poems as “lyrics.” Innhis admirably concise preface Tottel uses a homely phrase:n”That to have written wel in verse, yea and in smallnparcelles, deserveth great praise, the workes of diversnLatines, Italians, and other, doe prove sufficiendy.”nIt is therefore an anachronism to apply the term lyric tonthe songs, complaints, ballades and “balets,” roundels,nepigrams, and other kinds of non-narrative poems originatingnduring the Middle Ages or perhaps during at least thenfirst half of the 16th century. The term lyric, as applied tonsuch poems, owes its currency to the understandablenenthusiasm of the Renaissance Humanists to imitate whatnthey rather foggily conceived to be the Greek practice ofnsinging poems to the accompaniment of the lyre. SincenRenaissance musicians had no lyres — and would not havenknown how to tune lyres in true Greek fashion if they hadnhad any—the lute had to serve as an equivalent. Ronsard innFrance urged a revival of “I’usage de la lire aujourduinresucitee en Italic” and boasted that he was responsible fornthe fashion of accompanying “odes” with the lute. Baif, hisnconfrere in the Pleiade group, founded an Academy devotednspecially to the unity of poetry and music in termsnconceived to be derived from the Greek example. Thesenearly Academicians wished to explore the miraculous powernof music when joined with poetry and pondered the Greeknmyths of how Orpheus moved beasts and even trees, as wellnas men, and how Amphion waltzed stones into place tonform the walls of Thebes, all by the power of voice and lyre.nShakespeare, remembering such myths, provided Orpheusnwith a lute in his song for Henry VIII:nOrpheus with his lute made treesnAnd the mountaintops that freezenBow themselves when he did sing.nnnPoets and singers of the Middle Ages not only did not haventhe lyre; they did not have the lute, either. It became anpopular instrument in the 16th century. Yet custom makesnlyric an inescapable term. To ban it from this discussionnwould be as odd and inappropriate as to insist on calling ann