Literal Sense: Desiring the Beloved
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Is the exquisitely beautiful, fourteenth-century, Middle English dream-vision poem Pearl an elegy? In 1864, the first editor of the poem, Richard Morris, said that it was. In his introduction to the Early English Text Society edition, he wrote: “the author evidently gives expression to his own sorrow for the loss of his infant child, a girl of two years old.”1 This view, that the poem elegiacally represents the relationship between the Dreamer and the PearlMaiden as one between a father and a daughter, was at first accepted and then hotly debated by literary critics.