Thomas Hoccleve’s Complaint: Extracts From A Free Verse Translation

Thomas Hoccleve’s Complaint: Extracts From A Free Verse Translation

By Carl James Grindley

Glasgow Review, Issue 4

Introduction: The following vers libre translation or version of Thomas Hoccleve’s Complaint is based on two editions of the text: Frederick J. Furnivall’s (EETS ex 61, 1892); and John Burrow’s in English Verse 1300-1500 (Longman, 1977, pp.265-80).

The overall objective of this translation was to provide a skeletal reading of The Complaint which would serve as both an introduction to the text and as a separate gloss of the original’s sometimes opaque content. It was not designed as a completely scholarly exercise, or as a replacement for any possible reading of the original, but merely as an introduction to and an augmentation of Hoccleve’s text.

Certain decisions were made regarding the structure of Hoccleve’s work, primarily with regard to the poem’s narrative temporality. Some possibly deliberate textual ambiguities have been simplified or condensed. For example, from the text, it is unclear whether the sense of lines 120-133 apply to past third party descriptions of the narrator’s mania, or are opinions encountered during one particular outing. Where such occasions arose, simplicity was favoured over deliberate ambiguity, and Hoccleve’s narrator was forced into adopting basic present tense timeline for his commentary.

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