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The Digital Index of Middle English Verse
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DIMEV 759
IMEV 465.5
NIMEV 465.5
Be it better be it worse
A proverbial couplet
Note: Ringler Jr. (1992), TM 237; cf. also Watson (1867); Tilley (1950) P 646.
Subjects: proverbs
Versification: — two-line — aa



Manuscript Witnesses:
1.Source: Oxford, Bodleian Library Douce 52 (SC 21626), f. 22v
Transcription:
Do thow better do thow worse
do after hym that beryth the purse
Editions:
Förster, Max. “Die Mittelenglische Sprichwörtersammlung in Douce 52.” Festschrift zum XII Deutschen Neuphilolgentage in München 1906. E. Stollreither, ed. Erlangen (1906): 40-64: 49.
2.Source: Oxford, Bodleian Library Douce 52 (SC 21626), f. 141v
Transcription:
Be hit beter be hit worse
folo him þat berit þe pursse
Note: Translating ‘Siue bene siue male…’, which follows; English portion all written on one line.
Editions:
Meech, Sanford Brown. “A Collection of Proverbs in Rawlinson MS D 328.” Modern Philology 38 (1940-41): 113-32: 120.
Sisam, Celia, and Kenneth Sisam, eds. The Oxford Book of Medieval English Verse. Oxford: Clarendon, 1970: 560.
3.Source: Oxford, Balliol College 354, p. 4193
Transcription:
Be it better be it worse
do after hym þat berith þe purse
Note: In a collection of 55 proverbs in English and Latin; translating ‘Seu bene sine male…’, 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:
Flügel, Ewald. “Liedersammlungen des XVI Jahrhunderts….” Anglia 26 (1903): 94-285: 202.
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: 130.
4.Source: London, British Library Addit. 37075, f. 70v
Transcription:
Be hytt better be hyt worse
folow hym þat beryth þe purse
Note: In a collection of 55 proverbs in English and Latin; translating ‘Seu bene sine male…’, which follows. Two verse lines per manuscript line.
Editions:
Flügel, Ewald. “Liedersammlungen des XVI Jahrhunderts….” Anglia 26 (1903): 94-285: 202.
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: 130.