© 2006

Lonesome Words

The Vocal Poetics of the Old English Lament and the African-American Blues Song

  • Authors

Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. M. G. McGeachy
    Pages 9-25
  3. M. G. McGeachy
    Pages 27-60
  4. M. G. McGeachy
    Pages 99-115
  5. M. G. McGeachy
    Pages 117-120
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 121-182

About this book


The tenth-century Old English lament and twentieth-century blues song each speak the language of a distinct poetic tradition, yet the voices are remarkably similar in their emotive expression of loneliness. This innovative study juxtaposes the texts of each corpus to explore the features that characterize their vocal poetics


Africa African America corpus English language music Old English performance poetics recording tradition

About the authors

MARGARET G. MCGEACHY is Assistant Professor of English at D'Youville College in New York, USA.

Bibliographic information


'Lonesome Words makes a strong contribution to comparative poetics in the typological rather than the genetic sense. McGeachy successfully explores a hierarchy of comparisons from verbal formulæ to social and historical contexts for production in the Old English lament and the African-American blues song. In both corpora she examines themes of wandering, of exile and imprisonment, and of a lost but happier past, and the conclusions she draws from these comparisons are salient and comprehensive.' John Lewis, Associate Professor of English, Southern Methodist University