Owl and the Nightingale

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An early Middle English poem of 1,794 lines of octosyllabic couplets, probably from the beginning of the 13th cent. It is a debate between the grave owl and the gay nightingale as to the benefits each confers on mankind. It touches with light, scholastic legalism on many matters of serious contemporary interest: foreknowledge, music, confession, papal missions, and so on. It is a learned work, highly accomplished in its style and in its humorous tone, which reaches no definite conclusion. The debate is to be submitted at the end to the judgement of one Nicholas of Guildford (probably the author); a certain John of Guildford (fl. c.1255) has also been proposed as author.

Subjects: Literature.

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