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Bob-and-Wheel

The bob-and-wheel is a structural device common in the Pearl Poet's poetry. The example below comes from the first stanza of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The bob appears in red, and the wheel appears in blue. Alliterative components are in bold print, and rhyming components are in italic print.

Sithen the sege and the assut was sesed at Troye,
The borgh brittened and brent to brondes and askes,
The tulk that the trammes of tresoun ther wroght
Was tried for his tricherie, the trewest on erthe--
Hit was Ennias the athel and highe kynde,
That sithen depreced provinces and patrounes bicome
Welneghe of al the wele in the west iles.
Fro riche Romulus to Rome ricchis hym swythe,
With gret bobbaunce that burghe he biges upon fyrst,
And nevenes hit his aune nome, as hit now hat.
Ticius to Tuskan and teldes bigynnes,
Langaberde in Lumbardie lyftes up homes,
And fer over the French flod Felix Brutus
On mony bonkkes ful brode Bretayn he settes with wynne,
Where werre and wrake and wonder
Bi sythes has wont therinne,
And oft bothe blysse and blunder
Ful skete has skyfted synne.

The final five rhymes--wynne, wonder, therinne, blunder, synne--have an ABABA rhyme pattern. The phrase with wynne is the bob; it bridges the alliterative section and moves the poem into the final rhyming section in each stanza. The bob-and-wheel structure is not common in the poetry of Chaucer, though even he uses it for parody in Sir Thopas.

 

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