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"Christis kirk of the green"; an exmination of the poem, and a study of its generic descendents in Scottish vernacular literature from the fifteenth century to the twentieth. Macaree, David

Abstract

In this paper, I first examine the Middle Scots poem, "Christis Kirk of the Green" (referred to as "Christ's Kirk"), and then study the poems in the Scottish vernacular which have been influenced by it. "Christ's Kirk", which may have been composed in the fifteenth century, has popular merry-making for its theme, and its creator has used a distinctive stanzaic form in his depiction of the sights of a rural fair. In my investigation, I have considered first the structural and thematic antecedents of "Christ's Kirk". My next step has been to examine its bibliographical and literary history. Thereafter, I have studied other poems of the same genre composed before the year 1560: "Peblis to the Play", "Sym and his brudir", and "The Justing and Debait at the Drum". The employment of the "Christ's Kirk" stanza — or a modified form thereof — for satirical accounts of social gatherings in eighteenth-century Scotland is the theme of Chapter 5, and its use by a modern poet describing the Edinburgh International Festival is examined in the final chapter of this thesis. By a study of these poems, drawn from five centuries of Scottish vernacular literature, I have demonstrated that the tradition established by "Christ's Kirk" has continued to be useful up to the twentieth century as one literary method of chronicling, in a satiric fashion, the actions of people at popular gatherings.

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