Abstract

This article maintains that John Lydgate's Testament is not a rejection of his secular career but a literary palinode that attempts to impress a sense of coherence onto a diverse body of work. As the language of conversion, the repetitive litaneutical code at the end of the poem is vindicated by the earlier performance of poetic bravado. Lydgate's textual piety, which I show to be indebted to the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, is paradoxically sustained by the displacement of prior secular forms. In a central gesture, the kneeling monk-poet presents his life's work to God, who acts as his patron. Finally, I demonstrate that manuscript illuminations depicting a kneeling Lydgate confirm the reception of such a pose as simultaneously pious yet secular.

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