File BXB/1/1/ADC/2 - The Virgin & the Nightingale: Medieval Latin Poems

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The Virgin & the Nightingale: Medieval Latin Poems


  • 1983 (Creation)

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7 items

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Fleur Adcock writes about men and women, childhood, identity, roots and rootlessness, memory and loss, animals and dreams, as well as our interactions with nature and place. Her poised, ironic poems are remarkable for their wry wit, conversational tone and psychological insight, unmasking the deceptions of love or unravelling family lives.

Born in New Zealand in 1934, she spent the war years in England, returning with her family to New Zealand in 1947. She emigrated to Britain in 1963, working as a librarian in London until 1979. In 1977-78 she was writer-in-residence at Charlotte Mason College of Education, Ambleside. She was Northern Arts Literary Fellow in 1979-81, living in Newcastle, becoming a freelance writer after her return to London. She received an OBE in 1996, and the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2006 for Poems 1960-2000 (Bloodaxe, 2000).

Fleur Adcock published three pamphlets with Bloodaxe: Below Loughrigg (1979), Hotspur (1986) and Meeting the Comet (1988), as well as her translations of medieval Latin lyrics, The Virgin & the Nightingale (1983). All her collections were then published by Oxford University Press until they shut down their poetry list in 1999, after which Bloodaxe published her collected poems Poems 1960-2000 (2000), followed by Dragon Talk (2010) and Glass Wings (2013). Poems 1960-2000 is a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation and Glass Wings is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

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Consists of letters and manuscripts relating to the The Virgin & the Nightingale: Medieval Latin Poems by Fleur Adcock.
These poems are about birds - particularly the nightingale - and young women. Most are by monks or clerics, and most are rather rude.

Several are by Peter of Blois, a scholar and diplomat who turned to religion in his later years and disclaimed the brilliant erotic verses of his youth. The middle section of the book presents a selection of poems by this highly accomplished and entertaining writer - who was political secretary to Henry II and later to his widow Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Many of the poems were rhymed, unlike classical Latin poetry, and wherever possible Fleur Adcock has attempted to reproduce the form and rhyme-scheme of the original. In these ratty and lively translations Fleur Adcock combines classical scholarship with her own poetic flair and technical skill. The Latin poems are printed alongside her verse translations.

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For correspondence please see BXB/1/1/ADC/1/3

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