A summary of one of the first great English poems
A man overhears two birds, an owl and a nightingale, engaging in a heated debate about a range of topics, arguing over their respective songs, each other’s appearance, the follies and weaknesses of humankind, even the lack of toilet training skills evinced by the owl. This might almost be a modern children’s story – an obscure work of nonsense literature by a forgotten contemporary of Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll perhaps – but in fact it’s a short summary of an 800-year-old poem, and one of the first great poems to be written in English. This post is a brief introduction to the poem in question: The Owl and the Nightingale, an anonymous medieval poem written in octosyllabic couplets and comprising nearly 1,800 lines, dating from around AD 1200.
That final claim – that The Owl and the Nightingale
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