If hosen and shoon thou ne'er gav'st nane

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at indigo.ie
Sat May 3 08:35:51 EDT 2003

>  > This time I saw far more versions giving the line as 'fire and sleet
>>  and candle-leet', which is confusing now that we've sorted it out as
>>  meaning three basic human necessities.
>>  Hallie.
>In some hands s and f can look very similar. The Irish hand, notably; but
>cf. the long s's that look like fs even in early printed books. How many old
>MSS are there with the Lyke-wake dirge? Examining them may well establish
>that soemone miscopied the word and it turned to sleet in subsequent
>As I recall (please tell me if I'm wrong) the f-like s is used at the
>beginning of words and in the middle, and the ordinary s at the end
>(businesf; fhould; the real long s has no dash across it, I just used f
>because it was easier than looking for the symbol to insert). Likewise, in
>Greek, the letter sigma has two forms, one occurring at ends of words, the
>other elsewhere.
>I vote for miscopying. I'd say it's extremely likely. (credentials: my PhD
>involved comparing MS versions of a tale, noting just such inconsistencies
>and extrapolating from the data)

It's certainly a likely proposition, and I'm definitely not 
challenging your credentials!  OOH, there are a lot of varients of 
the L-WD, at least from what I saw on a cursory search last night, 
and surely it would make some difference that the MS would have been 
of a song, rather than a tale?   Just my 2 cent's worth question.


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