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The Digital Index of Middle English Verse
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DIMEV 6266
IMEV 3922
NIMEV 3922
When Adam delved and Eve span
A proverbial saying employed by John Ball in the Wat Tyler insurrection (1381); also found in German, Dutch, etc. Cf. 1596, lines 98-99; 3921, lines 1-4; also many early chronicles. For further references, cf. Meech (1940), 130.
Note: Printed in Walsingham, Historia breuis, Binneman, 1574 (STC 25004) and Stow, Annales (STC 23334-23340; editions without indication of source include Riley (1863), 2.32; Thompson (1874), 321; Owst (1933), 291; Smith (1935), 571; Meech (1940), 121; Eberhard (1917), 24; Robbins (1960), 202.
Subjects: proverbs; Adam and Eve
Versification: — two-line — aa



Manuscript Witnesses:
1.Source: Oxford, Bodleian Library Rawlinson D.328 (SC 15444), f. 142v
Transcription:
Whanne Adam dalfe & eue spanne
ho was þo a gentelman
Note: Translating roughly, ‘Cum vauga quadam…’, which follows; English portion all written on one line.
Editions:
Wright, Thomas, ed. Songs and Carols. Warton Club 4. London: Richards, 1856: 103.
Sisam, Kenneth. Fourteenth Century Verse and Prose. Oxford: Clarendon, 1921: 152.
Sisam, Celia, and Kenneth Sisam, eds. The Oxford Book of Medieval English Verse. Oxford: Clarendon, 1970: 558.
2.Source: Oxford, Balliol College 354, p. 42001
Transcription:
Whan Adam delffid & eve span
who was than a Ientilman
Note: In a collection of 55 proverbs in Latin and English; translating ‘Cum vanga quadam tellurem foderat Adam…’, which follows.
Facsimiles:
Early Manuscripts at Oxford University: Facsimile of Oxford, Balliol MS 354. (http://image.ox.ac.uk/show?collection=balliol&manuscript=ms354).
Editions:
Dyboski, R., ed. Songs, Carols and Other Miscellaneous Poems from Balliol MS. 354, Richard Hill’s Commonplace Book. EETS e.s. 101 (1908); repr. 1984: 131.
3.Source: London, British Library Harley 3352, f. 5