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Art. 59, Une petite parole: Introduction

ABBREVIATIONS: AND: Anglo-Norman Dictionary; ANL: Anglo-Norman Literature: A Guide to Texts and Manuscripts (R. Dean and Boulton); BL: British Library (London); Bodl.: Bodleian Library (Oxford); CCC: Corpus Christi College (Cambridge); CUL: Cambridge University Library (Cambridge); IMEV: The Index of Middle English Verse (Brown and Robbins); IMEV Suppl.: Supplement to the Index of Middle English Verse (Robbins and Cutler); MED: Middle English Dictionary; MWME: A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 1050–1500 (Severs et al.); NIMEV: A New Index of Middle English Verse (Boffey and Edwards); NLS: National Library of Scotland (Edinburgh).

This wide-ranging verse sermon, covering Creation to Doomsday, delivers with such direct simplicity its lessons on basic doctrine that it seems best suited for children. After a 5-line prologue, the speaker moves with broad strokes from Adam’s creation and Eve’s sin to Christ’s expiation for human sinning upon the cross. Then an account of the seven sins leads to the example of Lucifer’s fall for pride. The lesson next turns to the sin of avarice, preaching an economic pragmatism similar in kind to that of the courtesy texts found later in MS Harley 2253 (arts. 79, 89, 94). Here, though, the warning remains moralistic and religious. Virtue means never taking anything wrongfully and striving before you die to return what you ought not possess, so as to ensure that you have squared all accounts before the final reckoning. For recent commentary on this item, see Durling, pp. 286–87.

[Fols. 78vb–79rb. ANL 608. Sinclair 1988, no. 6802. Vising §148. Scribe: B (Ludlow scribe). Quire: 9. Meter: This poem has 120 lines, basically octosyllabic but with irregularities, rhyming sometimes by couplets but often with three, four, or more lines on the same rhyme. Layout: Columns. Editions: Wright 1842, pp. 76–80 (no. 26); Dove 1969, pp. 292–94. Other MSS: None. Translations: None.]

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