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The Digital Index of Middle English Verse
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DIMEV 5198
IMEV 3306
NIMEV 3306
The ax was sharp the stock was hard
A couplet (or couplets) of warning based on the year 1381 — couplets
Subjects: historical poems
Versification: — four-line, two-line — aa



Manuscript Witnesses:
1.Source: Oxford, St John’s College 209, f. 57
Transcription:
The ax was sharpe the stokke was harde
in the xiiij yere of kyng Richarde
Note: Written as prose.
Editions:
Coxe, Henry Octavius. Catalogus codicum mss. qui in collegiis aulisque oxoniensibus…. Oxon: e Typographeo academico, 1852: 74.
Wright, Thomas, ed. Political Poems and Songs relating to English History, composed during the period From the Accession of Edward III to that of Richard III. 2 vols. Rolls Series 14 (1859, 1861); repr. Kraus, 1965: 1.278.
Sisam, Kenneth. Fourteenth Century Verse and Prose. Oxford: Clarendon, 1921: 161.
Robbins, Rossell Hope, ed. Historical Poems of the XIV and XV Centuries. New York: Columbia UP, 1959: 273.
Arnold, Thomas, ed. Memorials of St. Edmund’s Abbey. 3 vols. Rolls Series 96 (1890-96); repr. Kraus, 1965): 3.295.
Dickins, Bruce, and Richard M. Wilson. Early Middle English Texts. Cambridge: at the University Press, 1951: 10.
Wilson, Richard Middlewood. The Lost Literature of Medieval England. London: Methuen, 1952: 192.
Kinney, Thomas L. “The Temper of Fourteenth-Century English Verse of Complaint.” Annuale Mediaevale 7 (1966): 74-89: 74.
Bad Key: Dobson1970: 305.
Sisam, Celia, and Kenneth Sisam, eds. The Oxford Book of Medieval English Verse. Oxford: Clarendon, 1970: 558.
2.Source: Cambridge UK, Cambridge University Library Dd.14.2, f. 312
Transcription:
Man be war and be no fool
þenke apon þe ax and of þe stool
þe stool was hard þe ax was scharp
þe iiij ȝere of kyng Richard
Note: Variant version.
Editions:
Robbins, Rossell Hope, ed. Historical Poems of the XIV and XV Centuries. New York: Columbia UP, 1959: 54.
Bad Key: Dobson1970: 305.
3.Source: London, British Library Cotton Cleopatra C.VIII, f. 134
Transcription:
þe ex was scharp þe stok was hard
þe fowrt y ȝere of kyng rychard
Editions:
Wenzel, Siegfried. “Unrecorded Middle-English Verses.” Anglia 92 (1974): 55-78: 70.
4.Source: Beaminster, Dorset, J. Stevens Cox [olim Harmsworth; Sotheby Sale, Oct., 1945, lot 1956], now privately owned
Editions:
Cox, James Stevens. Literary Repository 4 (1957): 1.