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DIMEV 5373
IMEV 3412
NIMEV 3412
The life so short the craft so long to learn
Geoffrey Chaucer, Parlement of Foules — 98 stanzas rhyme royal
Note: The roundel inserted between stanzas 97-98 occurs only in MSS. Oxford, Bodleian Library Digby 181 (SC 1782), Oxford, St John’s College 57 and Cambridge UK, Cambridge University Library Gg.4.27 (Part 1a), and in Geoffrey Chaucer, Workes, Thynne, 1532 ; see 3815. For extract see 6722.
Author(s): Geoffrey Chaucer
Title(s): Parlement of Foules
Subjects: dream poems; birds, as speakers/narrators
Versification: — seven-line — ababbcc



Manuscript Witnesses:
1.Source: Oxford, Bodleian Library Arch. Selden. B. 24 (SC 3354), ff. 142-152
First Lines:
…Off a sage olde quhat for loue quhat for lore
On bokis red I oft as I ȝou told…
Last Lines:
…The lyf so schort the craft so long to lere
To full connyng I can nocht cum suppose I rede all ȝere
Note: Lacks lines 1-14; has a unique ending.
Attributed Author: Quod Glafride Chaucere (f. 152)
Attributed Title: Here endis the Parliament of foules Quod Galfride Chaucere (f. 152)
Facsimiles:
Boffey, Julia, and A. S. G. Edwards, eds. Chaucer, Works. Bodleian Library MS Arch Selden B.24: Facsimile Edition. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1995.
Editions:
Furnivall, Frederick James, ed. A Supplementary Parallel-Text Edition of Chaucer’s Minor Poems. 2 vols. Chaucer Society 1st ser. 22, 59. London: Trübner, n.d.; repr. New York and London: Johnson, 1967.
2.Source: Oxford, Bodleian Library Bodley 638 (SC 2078), ff. 96-110
First Lines:
…Cometh al this new corne fro yere to yere
And out of olde bokys in good feyth…
Last Lines:
…That I shall mete som thinge for to fare
The bet & thus to rede I will not spare
Note: Begins at line 23 of Prologue.
Attributed Title: [The Parlement] Of ffowlys (f. 96, RT); Explicit tractatus de congregacione volucra die Sancti Valentini (f. 110)
Facsimiles:
Robinson, Pamela. “Introduction.” Manuscript Bodley 638: A Facsimile. Norman, OK: Pilgrim, and Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 1982.
3.Source: Oxford, Bodleian Library Digby 181 (SC 1782), ff. 44-52
First Lines:
The life so short the crafte so longe to lerne
The assay so harde so sharp the conqueryng…
Last Lines:
…That I shall mete some thyng for to fare
The bettir and thus to rede I woll not spare
Attributed Title: the parlement of ffowlis (f. 44), Explicit. Here endith the parlement of ffowlis (at the end)
Editions:
Furnivall, Frederick James, ed. A Supplementary Parallel-Text Edition of Chaucer’s Minor Poems. 2 vols. Chaucer Society 1st ser. 22, 59. London: Trübner, n.d.; repr. New York and London: Johnson, 1967.
4.Source: Oxford, Bodleian Library Fairfax 16 (SC 3896), ff. 120-129v
First Lines:
THe lyf so short the crafte so longe to lerne
Thassay so harde so sharpe the conquerynge…
Last Lines:
…That I shal mete somme thyng for to fare
The bet and thus to rede I wol not spare
Attributed Title: The parlement of Briddes (f. 120); The parlement of Briddes (RT); Explicit tractatus de congregacione volucrum die sancti Valentini (f. 129v)
Facsimiles:
Norton-Smith, John. “Introduction.” Bodleian Library MS Fairfax 16. London: Scolar Press, 1979.
Editions:
Furnivall, Frederick James, ed. A Supplementary Parallel-Text Edition of Chaucer’s Minor Poems. 2 vols. Chaucer Society 1st ser. 22, 59. London: Trübner, n.d.; repr. New York and London: Johnson, 1967.
Skeat, Walter William, ed. The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. 7 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1894-7: 1.335-59.
5.Source: Oxford, Bodleian Library Laud misc. 416 (SC 1479), ff. 288-289v
First Lines:
the lyf so short the craft so long to lerne
Theassay so sharp so hard þe conqueryng…
Last Lines:
…Thise versis of gold and blak ywretyn were
The which I gan Astonyed to be hold
Note: Lines 1-142 only.
Editions:
Furnivall, Frederick James, ed. Odd Texts of the Minor Poems. 2 vols. Chaucer Society 1st ser. 23, 60. London: Trübner, 1868, 1880; repr. New York and London: Johnson, 1967.
6.Source: Oxford, Bodleian Library Tanner 346 (SC 10173), ff. 120-131
First Lines:
The lif so short the craft so long to lerne
The assay so hard so sharp the conqueryng…
Last Lines:
…That I shal meete som thyng for to fare
The bette and thus to rede I hyl not spare
Attributed Title: The Assembly of Fowles (added seventeenth century, f. 120); explicit tractatus de Congregacione volucrum die Sancti valentini (by scribe, f. 131)
Facsimiles:
Robinson, Pamela. “Introduction.” Manuscript Tanner 346: A Facsimile. Norman, OK: Pilgrim, and Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 1980.
7.Source: Oxford, St John’s College 57, ff. 224-236
First Lines:
The lyff so short the crafft so long to lern
Thassay so sharpp so hard the conqueryng…
Last Lines:
…That I shall mete som thing for to fare
The bett and thus to rede I woll nat spare Explicit
Note: Stanzas 2 and 3 of Roundel only.
Editions:
Furnivall, Frederick James, ed. A Parallel-Text Edition of Chaucer’s Minor Poems. 3 vols. Chaucer Society 1st. ser. 21, 57, 58. London: Trübner, n.d. repr. New York and London: Johnson, 1967.
8.Source: Cambridge UK, Cambridge University Library Ff.1.6 [Findern MS], ff. 29-42v
First Lines:
The lyfe so schorte the crafte so long to lerne
Thassaye so scharpe so harde þe conquerygn
The dredfull Ioye allwey þat slydeth ȝern
Al this men I be loue þat my felygn…
Last Lines:
…That I shall meete some thyng for to fare
The bet and thus to reed I nyl not spare
Note: Signed by scribe? ‘Amen Quod W. Caluerley’ (f. 42v).
Attributed Title: Chaucers Parliament of Birds (added by later hand, f. 29); Explicit Parliamente Amen Quod W Caluerley (by scribe, f. 42v)
Facsimiles:
Beadle, Richard, and Alfred E. B. Owen. The Findern Manuscript: Cambridge University Library MS. F.1.6. London: Scolar Press, 1977.
Editions:
Furnivall, Frederick James, ed. A Parallel-Text Edition of Chaucer’s Minor Poems. 3 vols. Chaucer Society 1st. ser. 21, 57, 58. London: Trübner, n.d. repr. New York and London: Johnson, 1967.
9.Source: Cambridge UK, Cambridge University Library Gg.4.27 (Part 1a), ff. 481-490v
First Lines:
The lyf so short the craft so longe to lerne
Thassay so sharp so hard the conquerynge…
Last Lines:
…That I shal mete sum thyng for to fare
The bet & thus to rede I nele nat spare
Note: Nineteenth-century transcript in Cambridge UK, Cambridge University Library Addit. 2794, pp. 3-22.
Attributed Title: Here begynyth the parlement of ffoulys (f. 480v); Explicit parliamentum Auium In die sancti valentini tentum secundum Galfridum Chaucer deo gracias (f. 490v)
Facsimiles:
Parkes, Malcolm B., and Richard Beadle. “Introduction.” Poetical Works. Geoffrey Chaucer. A Facsimile of Cambridge University Library MS Gg.4.27. 3 vols Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1979 (vol. 1); 1980 (vols. 2-3).
Editions:
Brewer, Derek Stanley, ed. The Parliament of Fowls. Cambridge, 1960.
Furnivall, Frederick James, ed. A Parallel-Text Edition of Chaucer’s Minor Poems. 3 vols. Chaucer Society 1st. ser. 21, 57, 58. London: Trübner, n.d. repr. New York and London: Johnson, 1967.
Furnivall, Frederick James, ed. A One-Text Print of the Minor Poems. 2 pts. London: Trübner, 1871, 1880; repr. New York and London: Johnson, 1967.
Robinson, F. N., ed. The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. Oxford: Clarendon, 1933; 2nd ed. 1957: 362-72; 1957, 309-18.
Benson, Larry Dean, ed. The Riverside Chaucer. 3rd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987: 385-94.
10.Source: Cambridge UK, Cambridge University Library Hh.4.12, ff. 97-102v
First Lines:
The lyfe so short the craft so long to lerne
The assay so hard so sharp the conqueryng…
Last Lines:
…The I thrustell old and the frosty feldfare
What shuld I say of fowlys eny kynnd…
Note: Lines 1-365 only.
Editions:
Furnivall, Frederick James, ed. Odd Texts of the Minor Poems. 2 vols. Chaucer Society 1st ser. 23, 60. London: Trübner, 1868, 1880; repr. New York and London: Johnson, 1967.
11.Source: Cambridge UK, Magdalene College Pepys 2006, pp. 127-142
First Lines:
[t]he lif so short the craft so long to lurne
The assay so harde so sharpe the conqueryng…
Last Lines:
…And whann this werk is brought to an ende
To euery fowle nature yaf his make…
Note: Ends at line 667.
Attributed Title: The parlament of fowles (p. 127)
Facsimiles:
Edwards, A. S. G. “Introduction.” Manuscript Pepys 2006: A Facsimile. Magdalen College, Cambridge. Norman, OK: Pilgrim, and [Woodbridge, Suffolk]: Boydell and Brewer, 1985.
Editions:
Furnivall, Frederick James, ed. Odd Texts of the Minor Poems. 2 vols. Chaucer Society 1st ser. 23, 60. London: Trübner, 1868, 1880; repr. New York and London: Johnson, 1967.
12.Source: Cambridge UK, Trinity College R.3.19 (599), ff. 17-25
First Lines:
so short þe lyfe þe craft so long to lerne
The assay so hard so sharpe the conqueryng
The dredeful ioy all wey that fleeth so yerne
All thys mene I be loue that my felyng…
Last Lines:
…That I shall fynde somthyng for to fare
The bet and thus to rede I wyll nat spare
Master Geffray Chausers that now lyth in graue
The nobyll Rethoricioun and poet of gret bretayne
That worthy was the lawrer of poetry haue
ffor thys hys labour and the palme atteyne
Note: With four-line tribute to Chaucer at end.
Attributed Author: by Chaucer (added by lated hand, ff. 17, 25)
Attributed Title: here foloweth the parlement of Burdes reducyd to loue et cetera (f. 17)
Facsimiles:
Fletcher, Bradford Y. “Introduction.” Manuscript Trinity R.3.19. A Facsimile. Norman, OK: Pilgrim, 1987.
Editions:
Furnivall, Frederick James, ed. A Parallel-Text Edition of Chaucer’s Minor Poems. 3 vols. Chaucer Society 1st. ser. 21, 57, 58. London: Trübner, n.d. repr. New York and London: Johnson, 1967.
13.Source: London, British Library Harley 7333, ff. 129vv-132vb
First Lines:
THe lyff so schort the crafte so longe to lerne
þe assay so hard so scharpe þe conquerynge…
Last Lines:
The wordes were suche as yee may here fynde
The next vers as I now have in mynde
Note: Text ends at l. 679.
Attributed Title: The Parlament of ffoules (f. 126vb, rubric)
Editions:
Furnivall, Frederick James, ed. A Parallel-Text Edition of Chaucer’s Minor Poems. 3 vols. Chaucer Society 1st. ser. 21, 57, 58. London: Trübner, n.d. repr. New York and London: Johnson, 1967.
14.Source: Longleat, Marquess of Bath MS 258, ff. 85-101
First Lines:
[T]he lif so short the craft so long to lere
The assay so herde so sharpe the conqueryng…
Last Lines:
…That I shal mete sume thing for to fare
The bette and thus to Rede I wol not spare
Attributed Title: Here endith the Parlement of foules (f. 101)



Print Witnesses:
1.Source: STC 5091. Chaucer, Geoffrey, The Temple of Bras, or Assembly or Parliament of Fowls, Caxton, 1477? , sigs. a.i-c.i
First Lines:
The lyf so schort the craft so loge to lerne
Thassaye so hard so sharp the conqueryng…
Last Lines:
…That I shal mete somme thinge for to fare
The better and thus to rede I wil not spare
Note: CUL shelfmark, Inc. 5. J. 1. 1. (3485).
Attributed Title: Explicit the temple of bras (sig. c.i)
Editions:
Furnivall, Frederick James, ed. A Parallel-Text Edition of Chaucer’s Minor Poems. 3 vols. Chaucer Society 1st. ser. 21, 57, 58. London: Trübner, n.d. repr. New York and London: Johnson, 1967.
2.Source: STC 5088. Chaucer, Geoffrey, The Boke of Fame...with dyuers other of hid workes, Pynson, [1526?] , sigs. c.ivra-d.iirb
First Lines:
The lyfe so short þe craft so long to lerne
Thassay so harde so sharpe the conqueryng…
Last Lines:
…That I shall mete some thyng for to fare
The better & thus to rede I wyll nat spare
Attributed Title: The assemble of Foules (sig. c.iv and RT); Thus endeth the assemble of Foules other wyse called saynt Valentynes day compyled by the famous clerke Geffray Chaucer (sig. d.iirb)
3.Source: STC 5092. Chaucer, Geoffrey, The assemblie of foules Here foloweth the assemble of foules veray pleasaunt and compendyous to rede or here compyled by the preclared and famous clerke Geffray Chaucer, [Imprynted in london: In Flete strete at the sygne of the Sonne agaynste the condyte, by me Wynkyn de Worde, The. xxiiij. day of Ianuary, in the yere of our lorde. M.CCCCC. amp; xxx. (1530)] , sigs. a.ii-b.vi
First Lines:
The lyfe so shorte the crafte so longe to lerne
The assay so hard so sharpe þe conquerynge…
Last Lines:
…That I shall mete some thynge for to fare
The better and thus to rede I wyll not spare
Note: Huntington R. B. 31325, ff. 1-13.
Attributed Author: compyled by the preclared and famous clerke Geffray Chaucer (sig. a.i)
Attributed Title: The assemble of foules (sig. a.i); Here foloweth the assemble of foules veray pleasaunt and compendyous to rede or here compyled by the preclared and famous clerke Geffray Chaucer (sig. a.i); Explicit tractatus de congregatione volucrum die sancte Vnlentini (sig. b.vi); Thus endeth the congregacyon of foules on saynt Valentynes day (sig. b.vi)
Editions:
Furnivall, Frederick James. Trial Forwards. Chaucer Society 2nd ser. 18 (1871): 117.
4.Source: Geoffrey Chaucer, Workes, Thynne, 1532 , ff. 279ra-283rb
First Lines:
The lyfe so short þe craft so long to lerne
Thassay so harde so sharp the conquering…
Last Lines:
…That I shal mete some thyng for to fare
The bet and thus to rede I nyl not spare
Attributed Title: The assemble of Foules (f. 279ra)
Editions:
Stowe, John, ed. The Workes of Geffrey Chaucer…with diuers addicions, with the Siege of Thebes, compiled by J. Lidgate. London, J. Kyngston for J. Wight, 1561 (STC 5075).