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The Bird with Four Feathers: Introduction


1 The associations must have been commonplace to an audience closely familiar with the Nine Lessons from Job found in the Dirge (the source for the refrain here and for Pety Job). Walter Skirlaw, bishop of Durham (1370-1410), prefixed to his will a typical lamentation that "all knowledge and glory, like flowers in the field, was [sic] destined to die and . . . all rational creatures, after the flowing of the course of their lives, come back to the sad thought of fearful death" (paraphrased by Jonathan Hughes, Pastors and Visionaries: Religion and Secular Life in Late Medieval Yorkshire [Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell, 1988], p. 268).

2 The Mirror of the Periods of Man's Life, ed. F. J. Furnivall, Hymns to the Virgin and Christ, EETS o.s. 24 (1868; rpt. New York: Greenwood, 1969), pp. 58-78.

3 See A. C. Spearing, "Central and Displaced Sovereignty in Three Medieval Poems," Review of English Studies, n.s. 33 (1982), 247-61; for the form in Renaissance works, see Alistair Fowler, Triumphal Forms: Structural Patterns in Elizabethan Poetry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970).

4 The naming of God's power and mercy occurs at either end of the "middle" section of 88 lines. The first one accompanies the bird's description of her second feather, Beauty (line 91). The second reference to God's "Myghtes Most" comes, appropriately, in the discussion on Strength (line 153); the additional mention of mercy (line 159) implies a strength greater than brute power.

5 The poet's structural use of the number eight might also participate in this naming of God; see Peck, pp. 9-21.

6 The pairing of Bird and Pety Job may have come about through William Baron, who is associated with two manuscripts. The Baron arms appear on the present first leaf of Bodley 596 (the earliest manuscript of Bird), added there apparently after it had lost its opening 127 folios. William Baron was a feoffee of John Shirley in 1444, and his granddaughter was professed into the nunnery at Dartford in 1478. Sometime between then and his death in 1484 William bestowed Douce 322 to Dartford for her use. (I am grateful to Doyle for providing this information.) A discussion of the cultural setting for Douce 322, Harley 1706, and Trinity R.3.21 appears in the Introduction to Pety Job.

7 Praising its "pithy phrase and vigorous description," Brown places The Bird with Four Feathers in an anthology of fourteenth-century verse, beside the Vernon series, and comments that, despite the poem's allegorical quality, "its refrain and its moral observations relate it . . . closely to many of the Vernon poems" (p. xxi).

8 The monk may have had before him a complete version that had been edited into 12-line stanzas; the fragment preserved in Bodl. Lat. misc. e 85 C which appears to derive from the same version C ends imperfectly, but for what it has, it includes the stanzas omitted in the commonplace book. Rigg comments that the abridgement in the Trinity O.2.38 copy "may have been intentional, but the omission of [lines] 121-32 [the account of the third feather] . . . was certainly a mistake" ([1968], p. 53).

9 The text of a late sixteen-line lyric (Parce mihi O Lord Moste Excellent) suggests that one's hope in repeating the refrain is to see God's hidden face. Job does in fact see it in the illustrations to Pety Job (Plates 5 and 6). Compare the gloss by Chaucer's Parson, CT X(1) 183-84 (Riverside Chaucer, p. 291).
Many Middle English moral lyrics open with an ambling narrator. Strolling in an outdoor place, unconfined by the walls of constructed dwellings, this person sets aside his daily affairs and momentarily locates the sacramental in the midst of a leafy "church," with an architrave of tree branches and a choir of birdsong. The man who is responsive will learn something here that the hubbub of human commerce normally obscures from understanding. He will listen to the language of birds, and properly attuned to its chirpy, cryptic repetitions, his heart will absorb and retain sacred truths.

Such a premise underlies The Bird with Four Feathers. The sound pattern of the Latin refrain "Parce michi, Domine!" mimics a birdsong tweeted to the auditor at regular intervals. As a sound different from English, the Latin words of penance C at the heart of the poet's message C can masquerade as chirps from an avian plaintiff. Upon hearing the words uttered in a mournful fashion, the auditor is curious: who has harmed the bird by plucking her four feathers, and why does she sing this song? The bird's response insists that the answer cannot be a simple verbal translation of the song; it may be uttered only with heartfelt pain, and the auditor must likewise feel the pain in order to comprehend the meaning. The words represent a deeply experienced condition, and one's utterance of them requires devotion and sensient understanding.

A penitential poem, The Bird with Four Feathers is designed to stir Christian contrition in a reader who will use it to meditate upon mankind's need of God's mercy. The bird, who is female in the fictional prologue, becomes an entirely human male in its sad, moralized account of four lost feathers. The bird's tale allows the poet to teach behind an avian mask, while the narrator taking his outdoor stroll becomes a figure for the reader. The bracketed structure of [narrator {bird} narrator] puts the heart of the painful experience at some distance from the reader, that is, within the life of the bird, but the process of reading and understanding the unfolding, ever-deepening meaning of parce is intended to bring the message home to the reader, who will see that he intimately shares the condition of the everyman bird.

Compared to the bird, the narrator projects a consciousness barren of experience, a naïveté in the natural world that must be informed so that a newly acquired knowledge of his own life, death, and sinfulness will henceforth guide his self-conscious actions. He too will lose his four worldly attributes C youth, beauty, strength, and riches. Possessing them, he is distracted from true self-knowledge; only in losing them will he finally understand that they kept him from God. The poet asks that the reader consider this fact in advance, lest it take him unawares. The poet assumes, too, that every bearer of such wisdom will perforce sing the charm-like incantation "Parce mihi, Domine!" C "Spare me, Lord!" The song is taken to be the spontaneous reflex of a Christian awareness of one's primal condition, that is, of knowing one exists not just in the moment but as part of an expansive and purposeful plan.

The author of The Bird with Four Feathers assumes that emotions have the power to effect spiritual change. The bird is reluctant to reveal her inner pain because verbal expression will renew it. But she agrees to speak if the listener promises to absorb the message inwardly. An understanding of pathos that is both aesthetic and psychological is in evidence here. Words serve merely as vehicles to transport emotion from speaker to listener. They are not therapy for the speaker so much as for the hearer, who is expected to consume inwardly the content. The words are efficacious and healing in the most literal sense. It is quite clear, moreover, that the human capacity to respond emotionally C which is central to the redemptive process C derives ultimately from God. The first epithet for the Deity is, significantly, "Kyng of Pytee" (line 13), and the poet's penultimate line expresses the point of "parce" C to win divine pity. The speaker's sincerity is designed to move not just human listeners, but also God, the source of all compassion.

Outdoors, away from human society, the narrator learns about his true inner nature. His forested surroundings suggest the primal quality of this experience, and even his listening pose foreshadows the message he will hear. Supine amidst the flowers, he hears the cry of the featherless bird, and the lesson turns out to be about man's likeness to the ephemeral spring flower (stanza 19). The poem circles from the physical floral landscape engulfing the narrator to a moral symbolism of each individual withering like a blossom. 1 The supine narrator is both man refreshed by life and man doomed to die and return to the earth. In the only two illustrations of the poem found in manuscripts, the narrator's reclining pose is prominent (Plates 3 and 4).

In its lyric and religious conception The Bird with Four Feathers is carefully crafted, and its technical aspects display a similar artistic precision. As a refrain poem its stanzas of varying length (eight, twelve, sixteen, and twenty lines) are unusual. Overall there are twenty stanzas, an interesting round number; the bird's disquisition centers upon the number four; and the poem totals 240 lines. One might well suspect numerological ordering within the poem, or, at the least, some degree of symmetrical construction. The end of stanza 10 clearly marks a midpoint that is both numerical and rhetorical: at 120 lines the bird has described two feathers and begins an account of the third one. A. Kent Hieatt and Constance Hieatt have proposed a full numerical structure (pp. 24-25), suggesting that the poem is organized into two "wings" with symmetrical bipartite structures (stanzas 1-7 and 14-20). The structure of each "two-feathered" wing, in terms of stanzaic line lengths, is: 12,8,8 / 12,12, 12,12; and 12,12,12,12 / 12,8,8. By this analysis the remaining central section consists of 88 lines (stanzas 8-13). The numerical arrangement of lines is, then, 28:48:88: 48:28, four feathers on two wings, one on either side of a central "body" of text.

What meaning the poet may have intended by these symmetries remains an open question. He apparently expected the poetry to "embody" the woeful bird and her lost feathers. Symmetrical structures are not uncommon in medieval verse, and often there is a real correspondence of verbal shape to the content, as, for example, in an allegorical poem on the periods of human life. The eighty-two-stanza poem seems loosely composed as it rambles through "mankind's" successive stages, foibles, and temptations over a lifespan of one hundred yeras. Nonetheless, his fiftieth year occurs percisely at stanza 41, midway in the poem. 2 A central depiction of kingship also not uncommon at the middle of poems with symmetries of structure. 3 In such works the poet invites a reader to see the midpoint as a sovereign moment, a pinnacle of power, human or divine. In two other works appearing here, The Four Leaves of the Truelove and The Dispute between Mary and the Cross, the strophic arrangement of ideas seems designed to recreate the shape of the Cross, with Christ's redemptives powers made manifest at the central point. Both of these poems, unlike The Bird with Four Feathers, are explicitly about the Crucifixion.Nonetheless, the similarities between The Bird with Four Feathers and The Four Leaves of the Truelove are many: both pieces are chansons d'aventure with loquacious birds and meditative sermons upon a four-fold idea. Both develop a structure of two bilateral parts that straddle a middle section, leading one to surmise that, in each instance, a central metaphor is being physically "worded" out C four feathers on a bird's body or four leaves on a stem. For both visualized metaphors the typological source would be the shape of the Cross, or its correspondent, Christ's wounded body. It may be that the general set-up of a bird in a tree prepares a devout medieval reader for a christological meaning and pattern. Even though the bird here is primarily a figure for mankind struck down by age and fortune, her suffering in four extremities and her added heartache would recall in faint outline the wounds of Christ.

This meaning exists as a shadow behind the bird's lament over her loss of four worldly attributes to the ravages of time and fortune. The complaint maintains a mournful, entirely human perspective. There is, however, buried in the bird's words of devotion to God, a deeper pattern that seems to complement the structural symmetries. Just as the first reference to God, "Kyng of Pytee," is especially meaningful, subsequent calls to God allude to the four mourned attributes as understood in divine terms, and together they sequentially construct Christ's life as a man and role as Savior. Lamenting her lost Youth, the bird appeals to Christ incarnate as human infant, "Hym . . . that Marie bare" (line 63). Bracketing this appeal at the other end of the complaint, when the bird mourns lost Riches, she appeals to Christ's rich gift to mankind C "Jhesu, for Thi precious blood" (line 187). The theme is Christ's Incarnation, the demonstration of God's mercy that forms the basis of the penitent's hopeful petition, "Parce michi, Domine!"

These calls to God occur at symmetrical points, the one to Jesus as Infant in stanza 6, the other to Jesus as Crucified in stanza 15. These stanzas each occur six in from the endpoints. Counting in two more stanzas in each direction (stanzas 8 and 13), one finds God initially called upon in His might, an attribute that is softened in the second reference to include God's mercy. 4 Again there is a sequence, from Might, to Might and Mercy, the change wrought by Christ's living as a man.

Moving inward again, to the two central stanzas (10 and 11), one discovers a midpoint exemplum on sovereignty: Solomon was a fair and worthy king (lines 105-08), but as any mortal will, he eventually fell (in his case, to concupiscence); the narrating everyman bird was also at one time "a man of mochel myght" (line 123), but he too fell away from God; God alone is the ultimate "Kyng, corowned in hevenne blys" (line 131).

The various terms for God, always strategically placed in an appropriate context, create a composite portrait of God in the sequential roles adopted by Christ: King of Pity, Son of Mary, God of Might, King of Heaven, God of Mercy, Crucified Man. These hidden signs complement the "winged" shape of the poem: Divine Kingship in the middle, flanked by Divine Power and the Incarnation on one side, Divine Mercy and the Crucifixion on the other. Framing the whole is a conception of God as font of "pytee," ever responsive to a heartfelt cry of "parce." Ultimately, the poem C if read repeatedly, learned by heart, or meditated upon devoutly C would come to reveal an emanation of the divine within its lines. The well-attuned meditant would experience something approaching a fulfillment of the pious petition in the last lines:
And parce geteth Godis pyté,
And scheweth to us His blessed face. (lines 239-40)
God's "face" is enigmatically present to be discovered by the literate meditant whose search for God's "pytee" is earnestly pursued. 5

By the end of the poem the guise of an innocent narrator gives way to a tone of newfound sagacity. Lee Patterson observes that, in general, penitential lyrics tend to dilute the personal pain of a confession by shifting, in the end, to a conventional didactic stance:
. . . possessed of his bitter wisdom, he [the speaker] is self-evidently no longer the man he once was, and in the very course of the poem he is transformed from penitent into sage, directing his words to an audience that has not yet learned the lesson he knows so well. He becomes, in effect, an agent of the institutional authority from which he was originally alienated, and his assumption of these familiar tones marks his assimilation into the body of the saved. (p. 389)
Patterson observes that the typical movement from needing to repent to preaching the need to repent "is bought at the price of what seems to be a self-alienation. . . . Penitential feelings . . . are thus simply set aside in favor of a consoling self-righteousness" (p. 389).

However, looked at in light of Patterson's views, The Bird with Four Feathers appears not to settle, finally, into comfortable self-complacency. The narrator's initial naïveté is born of his careless youth, and listening to the penitential bird is at first a casual, curious diversion. But the words will, in actuality, penetrate his soul, as the bird advises in stanza 4. His final stance is that of a penitent, while, interestingly, the bird herself seems stuck in a mood of complaint. Despite the example of Job's patient piety, the bird's final words express nothing more than the universal fact of death:
Alle that lyveth, bothe powre and ryche,
Shall deye unknowyng of her day. (lines 231-32)
The bird's pain remains the pain of a simple bird whose feathers are plucked; her lament is over what she has lost. The embedded signs of God seem to lie outside her perception. The bird without reason is ultimately excluded, while the wit-endowed narrator learns a valuable lesson about the human condition. His last words to the reader are to heed the lesson he has newly absorbed, to sing with inner comprehension "parce," and to seek the godly vision that is implicit in the verses sung by the bird. Penitential aventure is both "bale and bote" (painful effect and remedy; line 236), an ongoing experience of sorrow, reward, and sorrow renewed.

The pairing of The Bird with Four Feathers with Pety Job in three manuscripts was the logical inspiration of some fifteenth-century compiler. Sharing the same refrain, the two long, penitential lyric complaints are both products of serious poets. All three volumes are from the London area, as is a fourth one, Bodley 596 (used for the copy-text here), connected with Westminster Abbey. 6 Hope Emily Allen mentions that several works appearing in manuscript with Pety Job, such as The Bird with Four Feathers, "resemble each other in style, metre, and cadence, and they probably all emanate from the same source" (p. 370), and she refers specifically to the French literary fashions current in the capital in the mid-fifteenth century, which is about when Pety Job was written. While The Bird with Four Feathers would have similarly appealed to cosmopolitan readers with cultivated, devotional tastes, its time of composition preceded that of Pety Job by many years. Its relationship to lyrics in the Vernon series and to the alliterative Four Leaves of the Truelove points to the period 1390-1410, 7 a date allowing sufficient time for several variant texts C altered or abridged C to crop up in manuscripts of the mid-fifteenth century and later.

These doctored texts reveal that not every fifteenth-century reader was alert to the niceties of form matched to meaning, since several editors felt free to obliterate the poem's artistic, devotional structure in preference for a tighter narrative or for stanzas of uniform length. The least drastic alteration occurs in Royal 18 A.x, where an editor decided that the poem should end with the exemplum on Job, the biblical

author of the refrain. This person simply left out the last two stanzas, removing the bird and narrator's final words and creating a situation in which the principal protagonists have vanished from the poem. Two other variants were much more destructive: zealous revisers attempted at least twice to give the poem the metrical uniformity of either eight-line stanzas or twelve-line stanzas. Moreover, in the revised copies that survive many whole stanzas have been excised or inadvertently omitted, leaving the original argument blurred beyond recognition. These revisers and copyists were evidently blind to the carefully numbered, shaped structure and the embedded namings of God that are to be found in the original poem. One compiler, a Glastonbury monk of about 1450, shows a collector's taste for proverbs and moral chansons d'aventure in his commonplace book. To judge from the garbled form of his redaction of Bird, he was attracted to the poem for its sententious wisdom C expounded in its refrain and moral exemplums C without much attention paid to the narrative logic of the bird's lament. His careless transcription entirely omits the third feather. 8 The editor of the eight-line stanzaic version (found in Harley 2380) has substituted a rather pedestrian structure; after a five-stanza prologue, the laments for individual feathers fall in place methodically: Feather One in stanza 6; Feather Two in stanza 8; Feather Three in stanza 10; and Feather Four in stanza 12. By the conclusion in stanza 13 the narrator has been forgotten, but nonetheless the penultimate line seems a gloss designed to provide the hidden name of God, who "ys Fader and Sun and the Holy Gast." 9

There remained, however, an audience for the poem in its original form, readers who were undeterred, apparently, by the stanzas of irregular length and who would have wanted to grasp the appeal from bird to "Man!" as a serious poeticized message in touch with the sacred realm. The continued copying of the twenty-stanza poem in London through the later fifteenth century, next to other serious devotional texts, indicates a respect for the poet's effort to supply an innovative aid for readers in their private meditations. In particular, one may note the neat layout of the piece in Harley 1706, which helps to showcase the poem's symmetry. Copied in six even columns of forty lines, the midpoint occurs, appropriately, at the top of the fourth column.

If there had not been readers who understood the method of the verse, its survival fully intact in several copies of a generation or two later would be remarkable. A well-educated, very pious, aristocratic society, customers of the booktrade in London with close ties through family and patronage to several religious houses, appears to have promoted a demand for texts that promised both moral edification and mental challenge. The Bird with Four Feathers is the kind of text that asks one to meditate upon it, offering the reward of hidden truths. Since the densely structured poem appealed to the tastes of this audience, it seems very likely that at least some readers knew the work to contain secret patterns, and that a pleasure in working out the hidden mystery in this and similar works fostered an art of meditational reading in a self-consciously literate culture.

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Select Bibliography


Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Bodley 596, fols. 21b-24b. London, c. 1421-22. [Base text; connected to Westminster Abbey; owned by Baron family.]

Stonyhurst, Stonyhurst College MS 23, fols. 60b-63b. C. 1450. [Ends imperfectly at line 218.]

Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Douce 322, fols. 15a-16b. London, c. 1475. [Apparently given to Dartford Priory by William Baron.]

Cambridge, Trinity College MS R.3.21, fols. 34a-37b. London, c. 1475. [Associated with Shirleian booktrade of St. Bartholomew's Close.]

London, British Library MS Harley 1706, fols. 16a-17a. London, c. 1500. [A copy of Douce 322 or from the same exemplar.]

Abridged Version

London, British Library MS Royal 18 A.x, fols. 119b-123a. C. 1450. [Ends with Job exemplum; lacks stanzas 19-20.]

Version in Twelve-Line Stanzas

Cambridge, Trinity College MS O.9.38, fols. 24a-25a. Glastonbury, c. 1450. [Monk's commonplace book; rhymes ababcdcdefef; lacks stanzas 2, 6, 11, 13-14, 16-17; third stanza has 8 lines.]

Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Lat. misc. e 85, fols. 79a-81a. C. 1550. [Contains Easter sermons and anti-Protestant verse; ends imperfectly at line 122; lacks stanzas 10, 12-20.]

Version in Eight-Line Stanzas

London, British Library MS Harley 2380, fols. 72b-74a. Northern, c. 1500. [Rhymes ababbcbc imperfectly, with variant ending; lacks stanzas 9, 12-13, 17-20.]


San Marino, Huntington Library HM 906, fol. 60v. C. 1400-50. [Imperfect, possibly prosaicized version of vv. 1-3.]


Brown, Carleton, ed. Religious Lyrics of the XIVth Century. Second ed. Rev. G. V. Smithers. Oxford: Clarendon, 1957. Pp. xxi, 208-15, 283. [Bodley 596.]

Hanna, Ralph, III, ed. "The Index of Middle English Verse and Huntington Library Collections: a Checklist of Addenda." Papers of the Bibliograpical Society of America 74 (1980), 241. [Huntington 906 fragment.]

Kail, J., ed. Twenty-Six Political and Other Poems. EETS o.s. 124. London, 1904. Pp. 143-49. [Douce 322.]

Rigg, A. G., ed. An Edition of a Fifteenth-Century Commonplace Book (Trinity College, Cambridge, MS. O.9.38). 2 vols. D.Phil. Thesis (unpublished), Oxford, 1966. Pp. 1.38-43, 2.259-65. [Trinity O.9.38.]

Related Middle English Works

The Abbey of the Holy Ghost. Ed. N. F. Blake. In Middle English Religious Prose. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1972. Pp. 88-102. [Allegorical text preceding Bird in Stonyhurst 23.]

Chansons d'aventure with birdsong refrains:

Asay Thi Frend or Thou Haf Nede. Ed. R. Dyboski. In Songs, Carols and Other Miscellaneous Poems from the Balliol MS. 354. EETS e.s. 101. Oxford, 1907. P. 3.

Do for Thyself While That Thou Art Here. Ed. Sandison (see below, under "Criticism"). Pp. 113-15.

Fortis ut mors dileccio. Ed. R. Dyboski. In Songs, Carols and Other Miscellaneous Poems from the Balliol MS. 354. EETS e.s. 101. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1907. Pp. 84-85.

Lydgate, John. To Find a Frend at Nede. Ed. H. N. MacCracken. In The Minor Poems of John Lydgate. Part 2. EETS o.s. 192. 1934; rpt. London: Oxford University Press, 1961. Pp. 755-59.

Mercy Passes All Things. Ed. Carleton Brown. In Religious Lyrics of the XIVth Century. Second ed. Rev. G. V. Smithers. Oxford: Clarendon, 1957. Pp. 125-31.

Make Amends. Ed. Carleton Brown. In Religious Lyrics of the XIVth Century. Second ed. Rev. G. V. Smithers. Oxford: Clarendon, 1957. Pp. 196-99.

Timor mortis conturbat me. Ed. R. Dyboski. In Songs, Carols and Other Miscellaneous Poems from the Balliol MS. 354. EETS e.s. 101. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1907. Pp. 88-89.

Welfare Hath No Sikernes. Ed. R. Dyboski. In Songs, Carols and Other Miscellaneous Poems from the Balliol MS. 354. EETS e.s. 101. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1907. Pp. 47-48.

The Dispute between Mary and the Cross. Printed in this edition. [Bird-in-tree image is Christ borne of Mary and Cross; appears in Royal 18 A.x.]

Fader and Sone and Holy Gost. Ed. Carleton Brown. Religious Lyrics of the XVth Century. Oxford: Clarendon, 1939. Pp. 210-11, 336. [Lyric with some refrain.]

Forma confitendi. Ed. Carl Horstmann. In Yorkshire Writers. Vol. 2. London: Swan Sonnenschein, 1896. Pp. 340-45. [Prose confession that ends with a list of the Four Principal Virtues (righteousness, temperance, prudence, strength); appears in Bodley 596; similar, but abbreviated confession follows Bird in Douce 322 and Harley 1706.]

The Four Leaves of the Truelove. Printed in this edition. [Chanson d'aventure with bird sermon; structural use of number four.]

The Lamentacion of Oure Lady. Ed. Carl Horstmann. Archiv fhr das Studien der Neueren Sprachen und Litteraturen 79 (1897), 454-59. [Prose complaint; precedes Bird in Bodley 596.]

Parce mihi O Lord Moste Excellent. Ed. Edward Bliss Reed. "The Sixteenth Century Lyrics in Add. MS. 18,752." Anglia 33 (1910), 353.

Pety Job. Printed in this edition. [Same refrain; precedes Bird in Douce 322 and Harley 1706; follows Bird in Trinity R.3.21.]

Revertere. Ed. R. Dyboski. In Songs, Carols and Other Miscellaneous Poems from the Balliol MS. 354. EETS e.s. 101. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1907. P. 80. [Chanson d'aventure on sins of youth; cryptic refrain written on briar leaves; appears in Trinity O.9.38.]

The Seven Deadly Sins. Ed. Nita Scudder Baugh. In A Worcestershire Miscellany Compiled by John Northwood, c. 1400, edited from British Musuem MS. Add. 37,787. Philadelphia: no publ., 1956. Pp. 87-95.

Syng We to the Trinite. Ed. Richard Leighton Greene. In The Early English Carols. Second ed. Oxford: Clarendon, 1977. Pp. 214, 439. [Carol with some refrain.]

Criticism of The Bird with Four Feathers

Hieatt, A. Kent, and Constance Hiaett. "'The Bird with Four Feathers': Numerical Analysis of a Fourteenth-Century Poem." Papers on Language and Literature 6 (1970), 18-35.

Louis Cameron. "Proverbs, Precepts, and Monitory Pieces." In A Manual of Writings in Middle English, 1050-1500. Ed. Albert E. Hartung. Vol. 9. New Haven: Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1993. Pp. 3009, 3379.

Sandison, Helen Estabrook. The "Chanson d'Aventure" in Middle English. Bryn Mawr College Monograph 12. Bryn Mawr: Bryn Mawr College, 1913. Pp. 84-85.

Related Studies

Alford, John. "A Note on Piers Plowman B.xviii.390: 'Til parce it hote."' Modern Philology 69 (1971-72), 323-25.

Allen, Hope Emily. Writings Ascribed to Richard Rolle, Hermit of Hampole. New York: Heath, 1927. Pp. 369-70.

Fein, Susanna Greer. "Twelve-Line Stanza Forms in Middle English and the Date of Pearl." Speculum 72 (1997), 388-90, 392, 397.

Gray, Douglas. Themes and Images in the Medieval English Religious Lyric. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972. Pp. 171-75.

Keiser, George R. "'Noght How Lang Man Lifs; Bot How Wele': The Laity and the Ladder of Perfection." In De Cella in Seculum: Religious and Secular Life and Devotion in Medieval England. Ed. Michael G. Sargent. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1989. Pp. 145-59.

Patterson, Lee. "The Subject of Confession." In Chaucer and the Subject of History. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1991. Pp. 367-94.

Peck, Russell A. "Number Structure in St. Erkenwald." Annuale Mediaevale 14 (1973), 9-21.

Rigg, A. G. "'Gregory's Garden': A Latin Dream-Allegory [in TCC O.9.38]." Medium Evum 35 (1966), 29-37.

——. A Glastonbury Miscellany of the Fifteenth Century: A Descriptive Index of Trinity College, Cambridge, MS. O.9.38. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968. Pp. 53-54.