Anonymous: Patience

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

This alliterative poem, numbering 531 lines in the manuscript copy, was in all likelihood composed in the second half of the fourteenth century by the same anonymous poet who also wrote Pearl (q.v.), Cleanness (q.v.) and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Patience is the third work in the only surviving manuscript of the Gawain-poet’s works, British Library, Cotton Nero A.x., and opens with the line “Pacience is a poynt, thagh hit displese ofte”. This opening line sums up the poet’s theme and his worldy-wise attitude to patience (the word means both “suffering” and “patience” in Middle English): being patient is wise but not usually pleasant.

In a prologue …

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Putter, Ad. "Patience". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 30 March 2001
[, accessed 05 July 2015.]