An overlooked excerpt

My note, “An Overlooked Excerpt from Thomas of Erceldoune,” appears in Notes & Queries. This note describes a previously unknown text of a Middle English prophetic quatrain and identifies this quatrain as an excerpt from a longer Middle English verse prophecy attributed to Thomas of Erceldoune. Here’s the opening paragraph:

The New Index of Middle English Verse (NIMEV) 23.5 is a cross-rhymed prophetic quatrain, beginning ‘A bastar [sic] schall come owt of the west.’ To date, this text has been identified in Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, MS Peniarth 26 (olim Hengwrt 133), 117, and Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, MS Llanstephan 53 (olim Sherburn E.1), 513. Peniarth 26 is a large collection of prophecies in English, Latin, and Welsh; the bulk of the manuscript can be dated to 1456 on the basis of an inscription written on p. 83 in that year. Llanstephan 53 is a large collection of mostly Welsh poetry copied (and in many cases composed) by poet James Dwnn of Montgomeryshire, Wales, c. 1647; the text of “A bastar schall come. . .” near the end of this manuscript, in a portion copied by one “Tho[mas] P.,” was recorded by John Gwenogvryn Evans in his catalog entry but is not noted at NIMEV 23.5. In this note I describe a third text of NIMEV 23.5 and then identify this quatrain as an excerpt from a much longer cross-rhymed poem in three fitts, known as Thomas of Erceldoune (NIMEV 365).

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