Anonymous: Cleanness

(504 words)
  • Ad Putter (University of Bristol)

This poem is extant in a single manuscript (British Library, Cotton Nero A.x.), where it follows Pearl (q.v.) and precedes Patience (q.v.) and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (q.v.). All four works are believed to have been written by the same poet. The first word of the poem, clannesse, gives the work its modern title, although the poem is also known as Purity. The alternative editorial titles pick out different aspects from the wide range of meanings united in the poet’s concept of cleanness, which encapsulates standards of hygiene (e.g. clean hands and clothes), sexual practices (homosexuality is unclean) as well as moral virtues (such as proper respect for sacred objects). As in Patience, the …

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are a member (student of staff) of a subscribing institution (see List), you should be able to access the LE on campus directly (without the need to log in), and off-campus either via the institutional log in we offer, or via your institution's remote access facilities, or by creating a personal user account with your institutional email address. If you are not a member of a subscribing institution, you will need to purchase a personal subscription. For more information on how to subscribe as an individual user, please see under Individual Subcriptions.

Putter, Ad. "Cleanness". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 30 March 2001
[, accessed 27 September 2016.]