Home  »  Volume II: English THE END OF THE MIDDLE AGES  »  § 15. Didactic and Religious Verse

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume II. The End of the Middle Ages.

XI. The Middle Scots Anthologies: Anonymous Verse and Early Prose

§ 15. Didactic and Religious Verse

Finally, there is the didactic and religious verse of the collections. Little of this is, however, anonymous; and rarely, if ever, may it be described as “popular.” Engrained as the ethical habit appears to be in Scottish literature—so deeply, indeed, as often to convey the impression of unrelieved seriousness—it is not in any strict sense an idiosyncrasy of pre-reformation verse. In her reflections on life’s pains and aspirations, Scotland but conformed to the taste of her neighbours. If she appears, after the sixteenth century, to ponder more upon these things—or, let us say, less upon others—she does so under stress of a combination of special circumstances, rather than in indulgence of an old habit or incurable liking.