Patience (poem)

From Academic Kids

Patience is a Middle English alliterative poem written in the late 14th century. Its unknown author, designated the Pearl poet or Gawain poet, also appears, on the basis of dialect and stylistic evidence, to be the author of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Cleanness and may have composed St. Erkenwald.

The manuscript, Cotton Nero A.x is in the British Museum. The first modern edition was begun by J.R.R. Tolkien and E.V. Gordon in the 1920s, but remained unpublished until 1953.

Contents

Genre and poetics

A didactic, homiletic poem, “Patience” consists of 530 lines. Alliteration is used consistently throughout the poem, usually with three alliterating words per line. The unidentified narrator speaks in the first person throughout the work.

Narrative

The narrator/homilist begins by praising patience, setting it among eight virtues (which he calls blessings), closely associating it with poverty, and closing with an admonition not to grumble or fight one’s fate. (ll. 1 - 56). The remainder of the work utilizes the story of Jonah as an exemplum which illustrates and justifies the admonition to accept the will of God patiently.

Style

Although most of the work is a paraphrase of the biblical Book of Jonah, the poet has expanded upon the text in many places. The chief characteristics of his expansions are a colloquial tone, esp. in Jonah’s prayers and his conversations with God, and the concrete descriptions which are used throughout.

References

Editions

  • Vantuono, William, ed. (1984) The Pearl Poems : an omnibus edition New York: Garland Pub. ISBN 0824054504 (v. 1) ISBN 0-824054512 (v. 2) Text in both Middle English and Modern English
  • Andrew, Malcolm and Waldron, Ronald. 2002. The Poems of the Pearl Manuscript Berkeley: University of California Press. (4th ed.) ISBN 0859895149.

Translations

  • Finch, Casey. “The Complete Works of the Pearl Poet” 1993. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-07871-3.

Commentary and criticism

  • Berlin, Normand, (1961). “”Patience:” A Study in Poetic Elaboration.” Studia Neophilologica 33: 80 -85.
  • Diekstra, F. N. M. 1974. “Jonah and “Patience”: The Psychology of a Prophet.” English Studies 55: 205 - 217.
  • Friedman, John B. 1981. “Figural Typology in the Middle English “Patience.” In “The Alliterative Tradition in the Fourteenth Century,” edited by Bernard S. Levy and Paul E. Szarmach. Kent, Ohio.
  • Hill, Ordelle G. 1967. “The Late-Latin “De Jona” as a Source for “Patience.” Journal of English and Germanic Philology 66: 21 - 25,


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