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Unread 03-21-2002, 11:13 AM
ewrgall ewrgall is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Portland Oregon USA
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ANTE HOC ERGO PROPTER HOC

In TWO EARLY RENAISANCE BIRD POEMS (1984) the editor, Malcolm Andrew, guesses that The Parlyament Of Byrdes was written between 1487 and 1520. He identifies the publisher of the poem as Wynhyn de Worde who died around 1535. Unfortunagetly he does not explain where the 1520 date comes from nor why publication is attributed to Wynhyn de Worde. I have seen a copy of the earliest version of this poem on micro-film and the first part and end of the poem are missing. It does not show any type of a title page or indicate it is part of a larger book. Where then did Prof. Andrew get his information?

Prof. Andrew's opinion of the artistic quality of the poem is not high and he is uncertain why many of the birds mentioned in the text have their place. He suggests that the poem "was not written to comment on particular comtemporary events." He also edits some words he does not understand resulting in altered meanings that the original author never intended.

When I read this poem I see it as written after 1540. I read the poem as commentary on the political problems caused by Henry VIII lack of an heir and the resulting English Reformation. I specifically identify the hawk as the Duke of Norfolk, the crow as Thomas Cromwell and the eagle as Henry VIII.

I originally worked on this poem a few years ago and put it aside being unable (with the resources available to me) to resolve the problem between my reading and the dating information given by Prof. Andrew. I had absolutely no evidence, except by own reading, to support my conclusions. Then as fate would have it, on the internet, while glancing through a site on "Banned Books", I came across a short history on the subject of banned literature that mentioned the names of some books and "two trifles" banned by Henry VIII. One of those "two trifles" was The Parlyament Of Byrdes. I smiled when I saw that but continued about my business intending to come back later. Well, days turned into weeks and when I did go back I could not find the site again. Using what library sources are available to me I sought to find the original proclamation of banning but came up empty (probably due to my own inadequate library skills).

So Henry VIII banned this poem? Did he ban it after 1540 or early in his reign? I need a banning date after 1540 to lend some credence to my interpertaion of the poem and cast doubt on the date of composition proposed by Prof. Andrew. Does this interest anyone on the Sphere?

Interperting poems by long dead unknown authors is a risky business but I have put this poem up on the board to see if somebody can help out on it and prove me either a complete fool (I will have "egg" on my face) or modestly right. And, anyway, whatever the poem is about, it is a much better poem than Prof. Andrew thinks it is. Even if he turns out to be right about the dating---the man still lacks taste.

P.S. We have all heard of "deconstruction criticism". If it turns out that this poem actually was written BEFORE the events occurred which I assume it is talking about---then I have created a whole new genre in literature----"ante-construction criticism"! Why who knows what it could lead to? Prehaps "Feminist" readings of Shakespeare's plays? Or "Freudian" interpertations of the Greek classics?. No! No! I dare not even speculate. It boggles the mind.


"During the reign of Henry VIII the power of the Crown reached its height and though he ruled theoretically through Parliament, the legislature became, in reality, nothing more than the insturment of the King's will. The two major developments in the parliamentary history of his reign were the emergence of the House of Commons as the stronger of the two houses and the total destruction of the parliamentary influence of the Church."

Alleged to Lord Darcy, rebel---"Before this last parliament [1536] it was accustomed amonst the lords the first they always communed of after the mass of the Holy Ghost, was to affirm and allow the first chapter of Magna Carta touching the rights and liberties of the Church and it was not so now."


The Parliament of Birds

1) This is the parlyament of bydes,
For hye and lowe and them amyddes,
To ordayne a meane: how it is best
To keepe among them peace and rest,
For muche noyse is on euery syde
Agaynst the hauke so full of pride.
Therfore they shall in bylles bryng
Theyr complaints to the egle, theyr kyng;
And by the kynge in parlyament
Shall be sette in lawful iudgement.

Our modern ears have trouble with this poem---it is accentual. Also the author seems to pronounce almost all his vowels (thus "king" would be pronounced as one syllable but "kinge" would be two. Here is my understanding of how the first stanza should be read. (Pretend your Scottish)

THIS is the PAR-ly-a-MENT of BYR-des
for HY-e and LO-we and THEM a-MYD-des
to or-DAY-ne a MEA-ne HOW it is BEST
to KE-ep a-MONG them PEA-ce and REST
for MU-che NOY-se is on EV-er-y SI-de
a-GAIN-st the HAU-ke so FUL-l(double L's are both pronounced) of PRI-de
ther-FOR-e they SHAL-l in BYL-les BRING
THE-yr com-PLAINTS to the EA-gle their KING
and BY the KING-e in PAR-ly-a-MENT
shal-l be SET-te in LAW-ful JUD-ge-MENT

I also feel that a lot of the birds may be speaking in regional dialects but that is beyond my ability to comment on.

If anyone disagrees with the above, well, you are right, I probably don't know what I am talking about.


2) The great grype was the fyrst that spake,
And sayd, "Owne is owne, who can it take.
For thyne and myne make much debate
Wyth great and small in euery estate."

grype=vulture-----This parliament of birds opens without any mention of God or God's laws. A vulture is the first speaker. He amusingly proposes a form of "natural law" for the parliament. All will be well if each bird acts according to its own nature. (As an eater of carrion he will, of course, have few contenders for his niche.)

3) "I synge," sayd the cuckowe, "euer one song,
That the weake taketh euer the wrong,
For he that hath wyth vs most myght
Taketh his wyll, as reason is ryght."

Cuckowe=Cookoo-----The cookoo lays its eggs in the nests of other smaller birds. When the cookoo chick hatches it pushes the other smaller chicks out of the nest and recieves all the attention of its "adopted" parents. The law expounded here is "Might makes right."

Proverb---the cuchoo can sing but one song


4) Than answered the fawcon to that saw:
"That pleaseth a prynce is iust and law;
And he that can no song but one,
What he hath song his wytte is gone."

fawcon=falcon----The falcon, in heraldry, is the symbol of nobility. Here the falcon states how this parliament will really be run. The law will be as the Eagle (the King) wills it.

5) Than all the byrdes that could speake
Said, "The hauke doth vs great wreake:
Of them so many diuers there be
That no foule nor byrde may from them fle."

so many diverse there be---There are any number of different kinds of hawks named for their primary prey, ie, Partridge hawk, lark hawk, duck hawk, etc.

At the beginning of the poem the hawk represents the great lords in general and is the target of the complaints the commons have against all the lords. Magna Carta guareenteed the rights and powers of the great lords in their own fiefs and deminished the central authority of the king. A few hundred years later, the commons have come to believe that they would suffer less under a strong central government then under the system of arbitrary local authority that Magna Carta evolved into.


6) The hauke answered the prating pye:
"Where is many wordes the trouth goeth by;
And better it were to seace of language sone,
Than speake and repent whan thou hast done."

Hawk----the hawk is the swiftest of all birds and in this poem will prove to have the quickest reply to all that is said.
Pye=magpie----the house of commons AS A WHOLE is being called a magpie, a bird that makes a lot of useless noise.

The magpie speaks and the hawk answers that those who talk a lot actually obscure the truth (Parliaments were often long-winded affairs). Also he issues a threat.


7) Than sayd the sterlynge: "Verament,
Who sayth soth shal be shent;
No man maye now speke of trouthe
But his heed be broke, and that is routhe."

Sterlynge=starling, in myth the starling represented reality--such a bird must feel himself in particular danger.
verament=truly (and how else should such a bird as the starling begin his speech?)
soth=what is so, who speaks of the way things actually are.
shent=reproved, punished
routhe=pitiful, very sad, a great sorrow


8) The hawke swore by his heed of graye:
All sothes be not for to saye:
It is better some be lefte by reason,
Than trouhte to be spoken out of season."

Head of gray=age and wisdom were associated. The hawk's grey head supposes that he is wise.

The hawke rebukes the starling. Also we are given a lesson in how we must read parts of this poem. The truth can't be stated openly so we will have to reason it out.


9) Than spake the popinge Iay of paradyse:
"Who saythe lytell, he is wyse,
For lytell money is sone spende,
And fewe wordes are sone amende."

popyngeiay of paradyse=parrot---A parrot speaks only the few words that he has been taught (he repeats back what he has been told to say). Like a good minion he seconds the hawk's reply to the starling.

10) The hawke bade: "For drede of payne
Speke not to moche of thy souerayne,
For who that wyll forge tales newe
Whan he weneth leest his tale may rewe."

Now we get down to one of the basics--this parliament will not criticize the king. In 1517 Erasamus wrote "The Education Of A Christian Prince" and sent a copy to Henry VIII. In one part he says---"Even the Emperor Hadrian, a pagan and not to be classed among the good princes, would never listen to a charge of lese-majeste, and not even that cruel monster Nero gave much heed to secret accusations on that charge." Erasamus was the greatest scholar of his age and his books were widely read. Readers of this poem would have had little difficulty getting the point. Henry VIII was worse than a pagan (he was a heritic).

In particular, the subject of Henry VIII's problems with his wives was not to be discussed.


11) Than desyred they grete and small
To mewe the hawke for good and all:
"A place alone we wolde he had,
For his counseyll to vs was neuer glad."

mewe=from falconry, to cage during molting. The hawk is to be caged as it loses feathers (power and privileges).

12) The hawke answered: "Ye fayle all wyt;
It is not tyme to mewe hawkes yet.
Comyns of hawkes can but lytell skyll:
They shall not reule them as they wyll."

Comyns=commons
skyll=skill, teach


13) Anone than sange the nyghtyngale,
With notes many grete and smale:
"The byrde that can well speke and synge
Shall be cherysshed with quene and kynge."

Anone=soon, next

Of all birds the nightingale has the most beautiful song. Royality was suppose to cherish learning and the arts.


14) The hawke answered with grete fury,
"The songe is nought that is not mery,
And whoso no better songe can
Maketh lytell chere to ony man."

Unfortunately the nightingale's song is a sad song and the hawk says that no sad songs will be allowed. The nightingale had better learn to sing a happy song or else.

15) Then rombled the douue for her lot:
"Folke may be mery and synge not;
And whoso hath no good boyce
Must make mery with lytell noyse."

boyce=voice

The dove, the symbol of loyality, does not sing (as the poem says, it sort of rumbles) and here claims that not singing does not indicate dissent or disloyality. Under the Treason Act as recodified in 1534 silence was not punished.


16) Whan this reason was forth shewed,
"Lerne," quod the hawke, "or be lewed:
For the byrde that cannot speke ne synge
Shall to the kechyn to serue the kynge."



lewed=an anglo-saxon suffix added to nouns or names meaning "hurt". Thus Smithlew meant Smith was injured. To be "lewed" thus meant to be beaten or killed or imprisoned. Here the dove is threatened with being served for dinner. The political situation is such that remaining silent is not enough, one must actively speak out in favor of the kings rule. (Thomas Moore tried to remain silent but still went to the block in 1535)


17) Thon crowed the fesaunt in the wode:
"Domme men," he saythe, "geteth lytell good,
Wode, ne water, ne other food:
It fleteth from hym as dothe the flode."

fesaunt in the wode=woodcock---the woodcock was a gamebird easily caught in a snare. It name came to mean "simpleton".

Domme men=Dumb men---The woodcock is referring back to the dove who has "no good voice", but a "dumb" bird like the woodcock only makes itself look foolish using such a phrase.

Ne=also, and

It fletheth from him as dothe the flood----The saying being inaccurately referred to is "Wealth ebbes and flows as the flood" but the woodcock, a simpleton misapplies it, taking only half the thought. What he manages to say reflects back on himself, it being the equivilent of "A fool and his money are soon parted". The woodcock gets caught in the snare of his own words.


18) The hawke sayd: "When all is sought,
Grete crowers were neuer nought;
For I swere the by my foly,
He is not moost wyse that is moost ioly."

When all is sought----when hunters are not seeking any particular type of game but will kill any target of opportunity. In the sense of the poem--when all, whatever their position in society are placed in danger. During the reign of Henry VIII both high and low were condemned for treason and heresy.

nought=nothing---"great crowers" draw the attention of the hunters
the=thee
by my folly----An appropriate way to take an oath when one is talking to a simpleton.

He is not most wise that is most jolly----this is a restatement of the old saying--"A fool is ever laughing".

Wise men will recognize danger while simpletons who can't control their tongues will be the first snared.


19) Than crowed agayne the morecocke:
"The hawke bryngeth moche thynge out of nocke."
The osyll wysteleth and byrdes blake:
"He must have ado that ado dothe make."

agayne=against, in reply
morecocke=red grouse local to Scotland and northern England
nocke=night, obscurity, a northern or Scottish word

The osyll wysteleth and byredes blake:----Proverb-"As the ouzel whistles so answers the thrush." The ouzel is a black colored bird (though not as black as the blackbird) with a white patch on the underside of it neck. The ouzel and blackbird are both in the thrush family. The proverb implies that the thrushes all sing the same song. It should be noted that what the hawk brings out of "nocke" (obscurity, blackness) is revealed by (comes out of) "black" birds.

The black birds say the hawk should be judged by the hawk's own standards--he is making trouble for other birds therefore he should have trouble heaped on him.


20) "I must," sayd the hawke, "by all my belles,
Saye for myselfe whan none wyll elles:
He is not gretely to repreue
That speketh with his souerayns leue."

Belles---hunting hawks were eqipped with bells to make them easier to find on the ground

The hawk, who is certainly making a lot of noise, says that he speaks with the king's permission. All others have no such permission.


21) Then blussed the bottore in the fenne,
The cote, the dobchyk, and the waterhenne:
"The hawke, that dothe vs all this dere
We wolde he were sowsed in the mere."

blussed=gushed, flowed---very appropriate for these water birds--("blus" is in "The Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue)
bottore=bittern, a loud cryer
cote=coot
dobchyk=dabchick
waterhenne=moorhen (gallinula chlorpus)---NOT the female red grouse (lagopus agopus) commonly called a moorhen. The grouse is not a waterbird.
dere=hurt, harm or injury

All the waterbirds loudly exclaim against the hawk asking (in character) that he be drowned.


22) The hawke sayd: "Wysshers want on wyll,
Whether they speke loude or styll;
Whan all this done was, sayd and lafte,
Euery man must lyue by his crafte."

The hawk calls these birds "wishers" rather than "doers".
done was=has been done
sayd and lafte=spoken and left, done and over with, when parliament is ended and they all go home
Lyue by his craft=the hawk reminds these waterbirds that his craft is war. He is a predator and they are not. After parliament is over the common birds will have to face the wrath of the lords.


23) Than creked the malarde and the gose:
"They may best fle that are lose;
He is well that is at large,
That nedeth not the kynges grete charge."

The mallard and the goose are domesticated birds but are also plentiful in the wild. In the feudal system the king gave the use of his lands to those lords who swore loyalty and agreed to fight for him. But many towns and lands were independent of the king and his vassals, the lords. Not under the "king's great charge".

24) The hawke sayd: "Thoughe they fle lose
They muste obey, they may not chose;
Who hathe a mayster or a make,
He is tyed faste by the stake."

make=mate, wife

The hawk says all people will obey the king, even those not feudally beholden to him. Other type of laws (marriage laws, apprenticesip laws, etc.) make them dependent on the king. There is no escape.

tyed faste by the stake---geese and ducks for sale, instead being caged, were tied with cord to a stake in the ground.


25) Than creked the heron and the crane:
"Grete trouble make wyttes lame;
He is well auysed that can bere hym lowe,
And suffre euery wynde to ouerblowe."

The heron and the crane represent "old age". (The crane was also said to represent "prudence") When a storm comes these birds land on the ground and huddle close to it, making themselves as small as possible. The heron and crane example how to live to a ripe old age during the reign of Henry VIII---keep your head down.

26) The hawke sayd: "Who can blowe to plese
Longe neckkes done grete ese;
For the comyns that haue no rest
Meneth not euer with the best."

The hawk says that the commons should not stir up trouble

Meneth (meaneth) not ever with the best=the commons do not speak with the best of intentions, specifically they demand that the hawk be brought low.



27) The pertryche, quayle, and larke in felde
Sayd: "Here may not auayle but spere and shelde:
The hawke with vs maketh grete batayle
In euery countre where he maye auayle."

not=nothing
he maye auayle=he may avail, wherever it is possible

These are of course field birds. "Field" also meant "the field of war".


28) The hawke sayd: "Whoso wylfully wyll fyght
May make hym wronge sone of his ryght.
Lawe is best, I vnderstonde,
To ryght all thynge in euery lounde."

sone=soon

The hawk says that those who take up arms to defend themselves (however just their cause) quickly will be labeled rebels and guilty of treason. But the courts were corrupt. And the Lords could only be tried by their "peers" in the House of Lords. The hawk mocks the commons saying they have no recourse. The advice he gives them is as empty as the threat they make.


29)Than chyde the robyn and the wrenne
And all small byrdes that bereth pen:
"Ayenst the hawke the comunes must aryse
And helpe themselfe on theyr best wyse."

The European Robins and Wrens were "songbirds". Pens were feathers. Feathers (quills) were used to write. The reference here (I believe) is to those who write books and broadsides. The author of this poem is just such a bird. (At the end of the poem he gives a little advice to writers.)

30) The hawke made the wrenne his answere:
"Small power maye lytell dere;
And who wyll lyue in rest longe
Maye not be besy with his tonge."

This is a very plain warning to the songbirds. This is why the author of this poem has chosen to write about "birds" instead of "real people".

31)Than prayed all the comyn house
That some myght the hawke sous,
"For foule ne byrde, by water ne londe,
He was destroyed and he may stonde.
In his nest may none abyde
In countre where he dothe glyde:
Theyr fethers he plucketh many a folde
And leueth them naked in full grete colde.
We unthynketh therfore the reason good
To destroye the hawke and all his blode."

ne=also, and
was=has been
stonde=stound, to attack, also to stun as with a blow.
He was destroyed and he may stonde---He (each kind of fowl or bird) has been destroyed and he (the hawk) may attack again. The hawk strikes it prey in midair, the stunning force of its strike often killing outright.

we unthynketh=we [as] one thinketh---"one" was pronouced "un". (In all probability the compositor who set the type for this poem was working by ear, having the text read to him.)


32) The kynge and his lordes answered anone:
"States may not the hawke forgone,
Nor by no lawe his kynde destroye,
Nor deme hymselfe for to dye,
Nor put hym to none other dystresse,
but kepe hym in a payre of gesse,
That he fle not to no byrde aboute
But his keper let hym out."

forgone=exile

gesse=jesses, leather straps on the legs of a hawk that are used to prevent escape---the restrictions placed on the hawks benefit the king and nothing has been done to address the complaints of the commons. During the reigns of both Henry VII and Henry VIII laws were passed restricting the number of "retainers" the lords could keep---there would be no more privite armies.


33) Than sayd the Cornysshe dawe:
"Lytell money, lytell lawe;
For here is nought elles with frende ne fo
But 'Go bet, peny, go bet, go.' "

The Cornish spoke the most difficult dialect in England. Others had trouble understanding them. They were also the poorest group.

Cornysshe dawe=chough, a bird of low repute.
ne=also, and
bet=better, abet, aid
peny=penny, money

some similar adages---"Penny makes right of wrong" and "Money makes wrong right"


34) "Thou Cornysshe," quod the hawke, "by thy will,
Say well or holde the styll,
For thou haste herde of many a man
A tonge breketh bone and itselfe hath none."

by thy will=the cornish is told to think before he speaks.
the=thee
The cornish daw is rebuted for his poor speech, both his dialect and what he said. He is given a warning--that his loose tongue may get his bones broken.


35) Than asked ye kynge of ye byrdes by rowe:
"Why cometh not to the parlyament the crowe?
For good counseyll reformeth euery mysse,
And it betokeneth where it is."

rowe=rove, roving--the term comes from archery, a type of shooting where the target is shot at once then a new target designated, requiring the archer to continually adjust for distance. Here it means that the king quickly changes the subject.

Some myths say the crow is wise.

At this point, with the interduction of the crow, our generic hawk starts to take on an individual identity. When written, the readers of this poem would begin to recognise the hawk as Thomas Howard, the 3rd Duke of Norfolk. The crow would be recognized as Thomas Cromwell, son of a blacksmith, who served in the Parliament of 1523 and through 1529-1536 acted as the king's agent in Commons before being made a peer. He became the second most powerful man in England after the King and was beheaded in 1540. Norfolk had most to do with Cromwell's fall. The eagle clearly becomes King Henry VIII.


36) The hawke sayd: "It is no lesse:
Counseyll is good in warre and pese;
But the crowe hath no brayne
For to gyue counseyll but of the rayne."

Pliny says that by watching the behavior of crows rain can be predicted. In most literature the crow is a theiving peasant. The hawk, a noble bird, heaps scorn upon the idea of a peasant serving in parliament.

37) Then sayd the hyghwalle with his heed gay:
"He shameth vs with his parlyament araye;
It is a terme with Iohan and Iacke,
'Broken sleue draweth arme abacke.'"

hyghwalle=green woodpecker which has a bright red crest.
Iohan and Iacke=Yohan and Jack, two generic peasant of proverbial fame

Broken sleve draweth arm back---Reaching out your arm exposes the cuff of the coat, the part that wears the quickest. A person with worn cuffs is exposed as a poor man. The meaning is that a poor man lacks the resources to win the respect of the people he must work with in parliament. He cannot deal with them as an equal. He will always be standing in the background and ignored---and scorned if he does push himself forward.

Commons was not composed of poor men. Its delegates were lawyers, rich burgess and lesser nobles. Commons had interests distinctly different from the "great" Lords of the Uppper House but also shared many of the same concerns.

The Hyghwalle claims that even the peasants recognize that a peasant would be a poor representitive for them.


38) The hawke sayd, "He shall thryue full late
That loketh to kepe a grete estate,
And cannot with all his wysdome
Gete hymselfe an hole gowne."

The hawk mocks the crow for not having the sense to seek advancment in the church ("holy" gown) where his presence would be aceptable.
Cardinal Wolsey was the son of a butcher and rose through the church to become richer than the king and the second most powerful man in England. (He was eventually charged with treason and escaped beheading by dying first.) Cromwell, who was not a priest, was in Wolsey's service before switching allegiance to the king. The Duke of Norfolk had the most to do with Wolsey's fall.


39) Than sayd the pecoke and the swanne:
"Who no good hath no good canne;
And lytell is his wytte sette by
That hathe not to bere out company."

bere out company=maintain a large household and entertain the kingdom's powerful men lavishly

The peacock and the swan, whose fine feathers mark them as rich and noble birds, say that no one listens to a poor man. This is another reason why a crow has no place in parliament.


40) The hawke sayd: "He is worse than wode
That maketh hym fresshe with other mennes good,
Or ought wyll borowe and neuer paye,
Or with wronge geteth galaunt araye."

wode=void, nothing---

The hawk (Norfolk was born to wealth) condemns those who gain wealth by stealing it. Cromwell, while serving the king, quickly acquired great wealth for himself.

This section is also a veiled indictment of Henry VIII who attempted to raise money by exorbinent fines and foreitures, forced loans (never repaid) and debasing the currency (among other things).


41) Than in his hole sayd the specke:
"I wolde the hawke brake his necke
Or brought into myscheuous dale,
for of euery byrde he telleth a tale."

specke=greater spotted woodpecker---considering how a woodpecker beat his head against a tree it seems appropriate that he should wish a broken neck on the hawke.

dale=business or social interaction---the specke asks that the hawk have financial or political problems.


42) The hawke sayd: "Thoughe thy castell be in ye tre,
Buylde not aboue thy degre,
For whoso heweth ouer hye,
The chyppes wyll fall in his eye."

The hawk makes it plain that common birds, though they may sit in parliament (some even having acquired great wealth which they may have used to purchase great estates) are overreaching themselves when they struggle against the great lords. The Lords represent long entrenched power. They had better remember their place or suffer the consequences.

43) Than sayd the kynge: "It is our entente
To mende the crowes rayment."
And all the byrdes sayd anone:
"Of eche of our feders he shall haue one."

Cromwell, before he re-entered Parliament in 1529, made inquiries that went through the Duke of Norfolk up the the King and was told that the King was "very well contented ye should be a burgees". Thus Cromwell re-entered parliament with the blessing of the King, the blessing of the Duke of Norfolk and with the support of the disgraced Cardinal Wolsey's still powerful church allies. All helped Cromwell.

44) The hawke sayd: "He may sone come to honeste
That euery man helpeth in his poste,
For, as techeth vs the lerned clerke,
Many handes maketh lyght werke."

come to honeste---this has a double meaning of "speak in parliament" and "become honest".
helpeth in his poste---help to travel swiftly and help get a government post
lerned clerke---some wise man unknown to me
Many handes maketh lyght werke---Cromwell re-entered parliament with the backing of all parties and rose swiftly to the acme of power (11 years later all parties were to connive in his downfall).


45) "I saye," quod the tydyffre, "we Kentysshe men,
We maye not gyue the crowe a pen,
For with them that are not sober and good,
A byrde in hande is worhte two in the wood."

tydyffre=titmouse---the least abashed of all birds here representing imprudence. They alone refuse to help the crow.

we Kentysshe men---these birds represent merchants, the new rich, who at the time of this poem were buying up estates for themselves in Kent. (In a later reprint of this poem [I guess about 20 years later] a new editor changed Kent to Norfolk because by that time Norfolk had become the area that the new rich were buying into.) The increasing wealth of the merchants was feared and dispised by the Lords.

These merchants will not waste a feather on the crow. They recognise him as a bad investment (Cromwell did turn out to be a bad investment for those who originally supported him, advancing himself at their expense, soon overshadowing the Earl of Norfolk.



46) The hawke sayd: "I take me to my crede:
Whoso wyll spende with you he maye spede;
Lytell ye gyve, but ye wote why
Yae make the blynde ete many a flye."

spende----for all practical purposes it means "invest" but it is an old word and had more the sense of the sharing of produced goods through the pooling of resources.
spede=benefit
The hawk gives the titmouse a backhanded complement (the nobles looked down on merchants). The hawk says the titmouse is expert in a low profession who can justify to himself the economic advantage he takes of helpless consumers (In the "ideal" fuedal society the middleman did not exist.) Parliament and the King were continually passing laws that specified the price and quality of goods to be sold and merchants were continually thinking up new ways to get around those laws.


47) Then ye crowe was put in his araye:
"I am not now as I was yesterdaye;
I am able without offence
To speke in the kynges presence."

The crow, a peasant, finds himself relieved of his low position in society. Cromwell (the son of a blacksmith) became the king's chief agent in dealing with commons and close contact with the king brought Cromwell ever greater opportunities for advancement.


48) The hawke sayd to the comyns bydene:
"Enuye and priyde wolde fayne be sene;
He worthy none audyence to haue
That cannot say but 'Knaue, knaue.'"

bydene=together, spoke to them as a group

The hawk begins to speak out against the crow. Cromwell soon overtook the Duke of Norfolk in the king's favor.


49) Than asked the byrdes by aduysement:
"Who is that taketh to vs no tente?
He presumeth before vs all to fle
To the kynges hygh maieste."

aduysement=the act of looking into something, in this case, seeing the results of their action.
tente=intent, notice, heed---the crow begins to treat the other birds as his inferiors.

Cromwell became the direct servant of the King and had greater access than all others.


50) The hawke answered to the whyte semowe:
"He is the sory blacke crowe,
And for hym fareth no man the better:
Lette hym crowe therfore neuer the gretter."

whyte semowe=seagull, known for its plantive cry---the parliament, AS A WHOLE, is being called a white semowe because as one it now laments its action in raising up the crow.

51) Than sayd the lordes euerychone:
"We wyll aske of the kynge anone
That euery byrde shall resume
Agayne his fether and his plume,
And make the crowe agayne a knaue,
For he that nought hathe nought shall haue."

"The first group [of charges against Cromwell] relates to the inordinate power which he had arrogated to himself despite his birth 'of as poor and low degree as few be within this realm' (one can almost hear the blue-blooded Norfolk sneering!): Cromwell had obtained great wealth, treating noblemen with dirision; 'elated and full of pride' he ignored the King and took regal powers upon himself 'contrary to his most bounden duty'....." THE LATER PARLIAMENTS OF HENRY VIII 1536-1547

52) Than sayd the hawke: "As some men sayne
'Borrowed ware wyll home agayne.'
And who wyll herken what all men doos
May go helpe to sho the goos."

doos=doth, do
The hawk has his high position by right of birth and it cannot be taken from him--the crow's position can and has been taken back. A knave who tries to imitate his betters is only a fool. (The uppper classes believed that society was stratified by God's will and the lower classes had no right to seek to be more than what they had been born to be.


53) For the crowe spake the cormoraunt,
And of his rule made grete auaunt:
"Such worshyp is reason that euery man haue,
As the kynges hyghnes vouchesaue."

cormoraunt----the greediest of birds.

The cormoraunt (the greediest of birds) says that greed is justified by the king's own behavior. Henry VIII had a lavish court and had set himself above the pope. He looted the monestaries and debased the currency. How can it be wrong for others to seek to better themselves with the king setting this example?


54) "Hit is sothe," quod ye hawke, "that thou doost say,
Whan all turneth to sporte and playe;
Thou mayst leest speke for the crowes pelfe,
For all thynge loueth that is lyke ytselfe."

Throughout the middle ages sport and play were adamantly proclaimed to be devorced from realtiy. (In all ages actors require from their audiences a "suspension of belief" but in the middle ages the actors also required a suspension from prosecution. In the middle ages, to impersonate a lord or a king was treason, to impersonate Christ, hearsy.) Laws designated what clothes each class could wear, even what and how many types of food were allowed to be served at dinner. Crossing class boundaries was a major crime. Such behaviors, except in "sport and play", were prosecuted.

The hawk then says both the cormoraunt and the crow are greedy thieves and "birds of a feather flock together". (But, of course, we must remember that originally it was the king who spoke for the crow's pelf and by comparing the cormoraunt to the crow the idea is planted that the king is also like the cormoraunt.)


55) Then prayed the hole parlyamente
To the kynge with one assent,
That euery byrde her feder myght
Take frome that proude knyght.

Both the commons and the lords have asked that the crow be made a peasant again. The bill of attainer has been passed and Cromwell convicted of treason. It now goes to the king for his approval.

56) The kynge sayd: "Ye shall leue haue;
A knyght shoulde neuer come of a knaue;
All thynge wyll shewe frome whense it come,
Where is his place, and his home."

The king agrees.

57) "Now trwely;" sayd the hawke then,
"It is grete comforte to all men,
Of the kynges grete prosperyte
Whan the kynge ruleth well his comynalte."

Erasmus in "The Education Of A Christian Prince" said--"The prince who has been instructed in the teachings of Christ and in protecting wisdom will consider nothing dearer (or rather nothing dear at all) than the prosperity of his people"----note that the hawk says that when the king rules his commons properly THE KING is the one who prospers. This is the complete opposite of Christian teaching.

58) Than was plucked fro the crowe anone
All his feders by one and by one,
And lefte in blacke instede of reed,
And called hym a page of the fyrste heed.

reed=red, the color of knighthood.
page of the first head=the lowest of the low in any line of service. Cromwell was the King's secratary, a position he turned into great power but still that of a servant.


59) Quod ye hawke: "Ye crowe is now as he shold be--
A kynde knaue in his degre;
And he that weneth that no byrde is hym lyke,
Whan his feders are plucked he may huym go pyke."

A kynde knave=a natural born knave

The hawk warns the commons that they can be plucked just like the crow.

go pike---pikes were highways---become a wandering begger.

But it should be pointed out that the heads of traitors were put on pikes and displayed from the walls of London.


60) Than made the comyns grete noyse,
And asked of the lordes with one voyce
That they woulde the hawke exyle
Oute of this londe many a myle,
Neuer to come agayne hyther
But the kynge sende for hym thyder.
"Hym to trust we haue no cheson,
For it is preued in truste is treason;
And sythe ye saye he shall not dye
Plaucke of his hokes and let huym flye."

cheson=reason
trust is treason---an old axiom saying that those you trust have the greatest opportunity to betray you and often do.
hokes=talons, weapons


61) To that sayd the lordes: "We pretende
This statue and other to amende,
So in this that ye accorde
To put all in our souerayne lorde."

The house of lords amends these statues giving the king the right to alter them as he sees fit. The king will decide what the laws will actually say.

62) The comynes sayd: "It is grete skyll
All thynge to be at the kyngs wyll
And under the hande of hys grete myght,
By grace his people to ske his ryght."

The commons accepts the amendments of the Lords and without a fight both houses abrogate all their hard won powers to the king who will decide the right and wrong of all things.

63) Then sayde the hawke: "Now to, now fro,
Now labur, now rest, now com, now goo,
Now leeff, now loth, now frynd, now foo:
Thus goeth the worlde, in well and wo."

The hawk comments that all things go back and forth--once men took to the field and fought the king to limit his power, to obtain the rights which parliament now so easily gives up.

64) Than sayd the kynge in his maieste,
"We wyll dyssyuer this grete semble."
He commaunded his chauncelere
The best statutes to rede that he myght here.

chauncelere=chanticleer, rooster, great crower

"The king being seated on the throne of majesty in the presence of the lords and also the whole people from the commons...all the acts done in the resent parliaminet, as is customary, were read in order by titles by the clerk of the crown, and the reply to each according to the royal pleasure, endorsed there on."


65) Thus the fynall iugement
He redde of the byrdes parlyament:
"Wheder they be whyte or blake,
None shall others feders take;
Nor the rauyn plucke the peacockes tayle
To make hym fresshe for his auayle;
Nor the comyns feders wante,
For with some they be ryght skante."

rauyn=raven---in heraldy symbol of a selfish man

The above starts out as the ideal description of a feudal society wherein each man is in his place and desires no other, and each man recieves sufficient according to his condition. This is being pronounced in the great voice of the rooster.


66) Thus sayeth the cownselle of the iaye,

Suddenly the chauncelere is interrupted by the jay. The jay is a gaudy multi-colored bird and an impertinent scornful chatter. (He is the fool and the persona the author chooses for himself to make his final summary.) And for the next eighteen lines the jay will restate and enlarge (by means of old common proverbs) what the chauncelere has just said.

66) Thus sayeth the cownselle of the iaye,
That none shall vse others araye,
For whoso mounteth wyth egle an hye
Shall fayle fethers when he woulde flye.
Be not gredy glede to gader,
For good fadeth as foules fether;
And though thy fether be not gaye,
Have none enuye at the Swannes aray.
For thoughe an astryche may eate a nayle,
Wrath wyll plucke his winge and tayle;
And yf thou lye in swalowes nest,
Let not slouth in thy fethers rest.
Be trewe as turtyll in thy kynde,
For lust wyll part as fethers in wynde;
And he that is a glotonous gull,
Death wyll soone his fethers pull.

glede=fire, gold, wealth

Old adage about the jay----The jay can say watte [quoth] as well as the Pope. (chaucer uses it in the Prolouge To The Canterbury Tales to mock the drunken, unlearned Summoner who, to impress people, quotes the few Latin phrases that he knows. But our author gives the saying a twist. By having the jay repeat the chauncelere, the author of the poem says that even a fool who knows only the common wisdom of proverbs can tell you what needs to be done. The old feudal order must be restored. (Read that as---Up with the Pope and Down with King Henry that "glotonnous gull")


Thoughe thou be hasty as a wype,
And thy fethers flyght-rype,
Loke thy fethers and wrytyng bedene---
What they saye and what they mene.
For here is none other thynge
But fowles, fethers, and wrytyng:
Thus endeth the byrdes parlyment,
By theyr kynges commaundement.

wype=lapwing----the newly hatched lapwing was said to run around with it head still in its shell.
bedene=are one, together, match, fit

The author then gives a little cautionary advice (remember what the starling had to say and the hawk's reply). He aims it specifically at those who write. He says to keep tropes and imagery consistent with meaning as he does having each of his birds speak consistent with its nature. And do not speak directly by alude to your real meaning. By being careful of what you write, you will always be able to defend it, as he can, claiming next that he has written about nothing "but fowls, feathers and writing". And then he brings this hot political poem to an end.





[This message has been edited by ewrgall (edited May 01, 2002).]
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Unread 04-11-2002, 03:08 PM
ewrgall ewrgall is offline
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I have been so long composing this that it has slipped off the visible page. Forgive me for booting it back to the top. I am sure it will fall and disappear quickly again.

ewrgall
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Unread 04-12-2002, 03:46 AM
Solan Solan is offline
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Could you post it below here without comments as well, just as it would appear in an anthology? Thank you for the history lesson that came with it, btw. Banned literature always gets a little more attention from me than it would otherwise have. Satanic verses being a case in point.


------------------

Svein Olav

.. another life
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Unread 04-12-2002, 10:03 AM
ewrgall ewrgall is offline
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As requested by Solon here is the poem au naturel.

The Parliament of Birds

1) This is the parlyament of bydes,
For hye and lowe and them amyddes,
To ordayne a meane: how it is best
To keepe among them peace and rest,
For muche noyse is on euery syde
Agaynst the hauke so full of pride.
Therfore they shall in bylles bryng
Theyr complaints to the egle, theyr kyng;
And by the kynge in parlyament
Shall be sette in lawful iudgement.

2) The great grype was the fyrst that spake,
And sayd, "Owne is owne, who can it take.
For thyne and myne make much debate
Wyth great and small in euery estate."

3) "I synge," sayd the cuckowe, "euer one song,
That the weake taketh euer the wrong,
For he that hath wyth vs most myght
Taketh his wyll, as reason is ryght."

4) Than answered the fawcon to that saw:
"That pleaseth a prynce is iust and law;
And he that can no song but one,
What he hath song his wytte is gone."

5) Than all the byrdes that could speake
Said, "The hauke doth vs great wreake:
Of them so many diuers there be
That no foule nor byrde may from them fle."

6) The hauke answered the prating pye:
"Where is many wordes the trouth goeth by;
And better it were to seace of language sone,
Than speake and repent whan thou hast done."

7) Than sayd the sterlynge: "Verament,
Who sayth soth shal be shent;
No man maye now speke of trouthe
But his heed be broke, and that is routhe."

8) The hawke swore by his heed of graye:
All sothes be not for to saye:
It is better some be lefte by reason,
Than trouhte to be spoken out of season."

9) Than spake the popinge Iay of paradyse:
"Who saythe lytell, he is wyse,
For lytell money is sone spende,
And fewe wordes are sone amende."

10) The hawke bade: "For drede of payne
Speke not to moche of thy souerayne,
For who that wyll forge tales newe
Whan he weneth leest his tale may rewe."

11) Than desyred they grete and small
To mewe the hawke for good and all:
"A place alone we wolde he had,
For his counseyll to vs was neuer glad."

12) The hawke answered: "Ye fayle all wyt;
It is not tyme to mewe hawkes yet.
Comyns of hawkes can but lytell skyll:
They shall not reule them as they wyll."

13) Anone than sange the nyghtyngale,
With notes many grete and smale:
"The byrde that can well speke and synge
Shall be cherysshed with quene and kynge."

14) The hawke answered with grete fury,
"The songe is nought that is not mery,
And whoso no better songe can
Maketh lytell chere to ony man."

15) Then rombled the douue for her lot:
"Folke may be mery and synge not;
And whoso hath no good boyce
Must make mery with lytell noyse."

16) Whan this reason was forth shewed,
"Lerne," quod the hawke, "or be lewed:
For the byrde that cannot speke ne synge
Shall to the kechyn to serue the kynge."

17) Thon crowed the fesaunt in the wode:
"Domme men," he saythe, "geteth lytell good,
Wode, ne water, ne other food:
It fleteth from hym as dothe the flode."

18) The hawke sayd: "When all is sought,
Grete crowers were neuer nought;
For I swere the by my foly,
He is not moost wyse that is moost ioly."

19) Than crowed agayne the morecocke:
"The hawke bryngeth moche thynge out of nocke."
The osyll wysteleth and byrdes blake:
"He must have ado that ado dothe make."

20) "I must," sayd the hawke, "by all my belles,
Saye for myselfe whan none wyll elles:
He is not gretely to repreue
That speketh with his souerayns leue."

22) The hawke sayd: "Wysshers want on wyll,
Whether they speke loude or styll;
Whan all this done was, sayd and lafte,
Euery man must lyue by his crafte."

23) Than creked the malarde and the gose:
"They may best fle that are lose;
He is well that is at large,
That nedeth not the kynges grete charge."

24) The hawke sayd: "Thoughe they fle lose
They muste obey, they may not chose;
Who hathe a mayster or a make,
He is tyed faste by the stake."

25) Than creked the heron and the crane:
"Grete trouble make wyttes lame;
He is well auysed that can bere hym lowe,
And suffre euery wynde to ouerblowe."

26) The hawke sayd: "Who can blowe to plese
Longe neckkes done grete ese;
For the comyns that haue no rest
Meneth not euer with the best."

27) The pertryche, quayle, and larke in felde
Sayd: "Here may not auayle but spere and shelde:
The hawke with vs maketh grete batayle
In euery countre where he maye auayle."

28) The hawke sayd: "Whoso wylfully wyll fyght
May make hym wronge sone of his ryght.
Lawe is best, I vnderstonde,
To ryght all thynge in euery lounde."

29)Than chyde the robyn and the wrenne
And all small byrdes that bereth pen:
"Ayenst the hawke the comunes must aryse
And helpe themselfe on theyr best wyse."

30) The hawke made the wrenne his answere:
"Small power maye lytell dere;
And who wyll lyue in rest longe
Maye not be besy with his tonge."

31)Than prayed all the comyn house
That some myght the hawke sous,
"For foule ne byrde, by water ne londe,
He was destroyed and he may stonde.
In his nest may none abyde
In countre where he dothe glyde:
Theyr fethers he plucketh many a folde
And leueth them naked in full grete colde.
We unthynketh therfore the reason good
To destroye the hawke and all his blode."

32) The kynge and his lordes answered anone:
"States may not the hawke forgone,
Nor by no lawe his kynde destroye,
Nor deme hymselfe for to dye,
Nor put hym to none other dystresse,
but kepe hym in a payre of gesse,
That he fle not to no byrde aboute
But his keper let hym out."

33) Than sayd the Cornysshe dawe:
"Lytell money, lytell lawe;
For here is nought elles with frende ne fo
But 'Go bet, peny, go bet, go.' "

34) "Thou Cornysshe," quod the hawke, "by thy will,
Say well or holde the styll,
For thou haste herde of many a man
A tonge breketh bone and itselfe hath none."

35) Than asked ye kynge of ye byrdes by rowe:
"Why cometh not to the parlyament the crowe?
For good counseyll reformeth euery mysse,
And it betokeneth where it is."

36) The hawke sayd: "It is no lesse:
Counseyll is good in warre and pese;
But the crowe hath no brayne
For to gyue counseyll but of the rayne."

37) Then sayd the hyghwalle with his heed gay:
"He shameth vs with his parlyament araye;
It is a terme with Iohan and Iacke,
'Broken sleue draweth arme abacke.'"

38) The hawke sayd, "He shall thryue full late
That loketh to kepe a grete estate,
And cannot with all his wysdome
Gete hymselfe an hole gowne."

39) Than sayd the pecoke and the swanne:
"Who no good hath no good canne;
And lytell is his wytte sette by
That hathe not to bere out company."

40) The hawke sayd: "He is worse than wode
That maketh hym fresshe with other mennes good,
Or ought wyll borowe and neuer paye,
Or with wronge geteth galaunt araye."

41) Than in his hole sayd the specke:
"I wolde the hawke brake his necke
Or brought into myscheuous dale,
for of euery byrde he telleth a tale."

42) The hawke sayd: "Thoughe thy castell be in ye tre,
Buylde not aboue thy degre,
For whoso heweth ouer hye,
The chyppes wyll fall in his eye."

43) Than sayd the kynge: "It is our entente
To mende the crowes rayment."
And all the byrdes sayd anone:
"Of eche of our feders he shall haue one."

44) The hawke sayd: "He may sone come to honeste
That euery man helpeth in his poste,
For, as techeth vs the lerned clerke,
Many handes maketh lyght werke."

45) "I saye," quod the tydyffre, "we Kentysshe men,
We maye not gyue the crowe a pen,
For with them that are not sober and good,
A byrde in hande is worhte two in the wood."

46) The hawke sayd: "I take me to my crede:
Whoso wyll spende with you he maye spede;
Lytell ye gyve, but ye wote why
Yae make the blynde ete many a flye."

47) Then ye crowe was put in his araye:
"I am not now as I was yesterdaye;
I am able without offence
To speke in the kynges presence."

48) The hawke sayd to the comyns bydene:
"Enuye and priyde wolde fayne be sene;
He worthy none audyence to haue
That cannot say but 'Knaue, knaue.'"

49) Than asked the byrdes by aduysement:
"Who is that taketh to vs no tente?
He presumeth before vs all to fle
To the kynges hygh maieste."

50) The hawke answered to the whyte semowe:
"He is the sory blacke crowe,
And for hym fareth no man the better:
Lette hym crowe therfore neuer the gretter."

51) Than sayd the lordes euerychone:
"We wyll aske of the kynge anone
That euery byrde shall resume
Agayne his fether and his plume,
And make the crowe agayne a knaue,
For he that nought hathe nought shall haue."

52) Than sayd the hawke: "As some men sayne
'Borrowed ware wyll home agayne.'
And who wyll herken what all men doos
May go helpe to sho the goos."

53) For the crowe spake the cormoraunt,
And of his rule made grete auaunt:
"Such worshyp is reason that euery man haue,
As the kynges hyghnes vouchesaue."

54) "Hit is sothe," quod ye hawke, "that thou doost say,
Whan all turneth to sporte and playe;
Thou mayst leest speke for the crowes pelfe,
For all thynge loueth that is lyke ytselfe."

55) Then prayed the hole parlyamente
To the kynge with one assent,
That euery byrde her feder myght
Take frome that proude knyght.

56) The kynge sayd: "Ye shall leue haue;
A knyght shoulde neuer come of a knaue;
All thynge wyll shewe frome whense it come,
Where is his place, and his home."

57) "Now trwely;" sayd the hawke then,
"It is grete comforte to all men,
Of the kynges grete prosperyte
Whan the kynge ruleth well his comynalte."

58) Than was plucked fro the crowe anone
All his feders by one and by one,
And lefte in blacke instede of reed,
And called hym a page of the fyrste heed.

59) Quod ye hawke: "Ye crowe is now as he shold be--
A kynde knaue in his degre;
And he that weneth that no byrde is hym lyke,
Whan his deders are plucked he may huym go pyke."

60) Than made the comyns grete noyse,
And asked of the lordes with one voyce
That they woulde the hawke exyle
Oute of this londe many a myle,
Neuer to come agayne hyther
But the kynge sende for hym thyder.
"Hym to trust we haue no cheson,
For it is preued in truste is treason;
And sythe ye saye he shall not dye
Plaucke of his hokes and let huym flye."

61) To that sayd the lordes: "We pretende
This statue and other to amende,
So in this that ye accorde
To put all in our souerayne lorde."

62) The comynes sayd: "It is grete skyll
All thynge to be at the kyngs wyll
And under the hande of hys grete myght,
By grace his people to ske theyr ryght."

63) Then sayde the hawke: "Now to, now fro,
Now labur, now rest, now com, now goo,
Now leeff, now loth, now frynd, now foo:
Thus goeth the worlde, in well and wo."

64) Than sayd the kynge in his maieste,
"We wyll dyssyuer this grete semble."
He commaunded his chauncelere
The best statutes to rede that he myght here.

65) Thus the fynall iugement
He redde of the byrdes parlyament:
"Wheder they be whyte or blake,
None shall others feders take;
Nor the rauyn plucke the peacockes tayle
To make hym fresshe for his auayle;
Nor the comyns feders wante,
For with some they be ryght skante."

66) Thus sayeth the cownselle of the iaye,
That none shall vse others araye,
For whoso mounteth wyth egle an hye
Shall fayle fethers when he woulde flye.
Be not gredy glede to gader,
For good fadeth as foules fether;
And though thy fether be not gaye,
Have none enuye at the Swannes aray.
For thoughe an astryche may eate a nayle,
Wrath wyll plucke his winge and tayle;
And yf thou lye in swalowes nest,
Let not slouth in thy fethers rest.
Be trewe as turtyll in thy kynde,
For lust wyll part as fethers in wynde;
And he that is a glotonous gull,
Death wyll soone his fethers pull.
Thoughe thou be hasty as a wype,
And thy fethers flyght-rype,
Loke thy fethers and wrytyng bedene---
What they saye and what they mene.
For here is none other thynge
But fowles, fethers, and wrytyng:
Thus endeth the byrdes parlyment,
By theyr kynges commaundement.


[This message has been edited by ewrgall (edited April 12, 2002).]
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  #5  
Unread 04-12-2002, 10:11 AM
graywyvern graywyvern is offline
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darn, i thought this was going to be about Attar
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  #6  
Unread 04-12-2002, 03:05 PM
David Anthony David Anthony is offline
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Ewrgall, I love these analyses of yours.
I don't doubt that it's a satire on the Reformation, and therefore must be much later than 1520.
Funny, but I vaguely remember the title as being The Parlyament of Foules, being a play on fowls and fools--perhaps an alternative version?--or am I cross-remembering Chaucer?--and is this poem alluding to Chaucer?
If I get the chance I'll do a little digging; but it needs time, and I'm short of that at the moment.
Regards,
David

[This message has been edited by David Anthony (edited April 12, 2002).]
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  #7  
Unread 04-12-2002, 04:14 PM
ewrgall ewrgall is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by David Anthony:
Ewrgall, I love these analyses of yours.
I don't doubt that it's a satire on the Reformation, and therefore must be much later than 1520.
Funny, but I vaguely remember the title as being The Parlyament of Foules, being a play on fowls and fools--perhaps an alternative version?--or am I cross-remembering Chaucer?-- yeah, Chaucer wrote The Parliament of Fowls and is this poem alluding to Chaucer? not directly in anyway I can tell. Or perhaps I should say--In name only--
If I get the chance I'll do a little digging; but it needs time, and I'm short of that at the moment. would appreciate any help. thanks.
Regards,
David

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Unread 05-21-2013, 10:06 PM
Diana Manister Diana Manister is offline
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I loved reading the poem and the commentary. I have a passion for the evolution of the English language.
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Unread 05-21-2013, 10:30 PM
Michael Cantor Michael Cantor is offline
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In the throes of your passion, did you happen to notice that the thread you dragged up to inform us of your passion is eleven years old?

Last edited by Michael Cantor; 05-21-2013 at 10:34 PM.
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  #10  
Unread 05-23-2013, 10:57 PM
David Rosenthal David Rosenthal is offline
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Best. Thread. Ever.
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