The Digital Index of Middle English Verse
DIMEV 2084
IMEV 1259
NIMEV 1259
How mankind doth begin / Is wonder for to scrive so
’The Myrrour of Mankind’ — eighty-two 8-line stanzas (abababab)
Note: ’The Myrrour of Mankind’
Subjects: ages of man’s life
Versification: — eight-line — abababab

Manuscript Witnesses:
1.Source: Oxford, Balliol College 354, pp. 407-417
First Lines:
How that Mankynd doth be gynne
Yt ys a wonder for to discrye soo
In game he ys getyn In syne
The child ys the moders Dedely foo…
Last Lines:
…My redy speche may not last
ffor my tothes they fall me fro
Note: Ends imperfectly at line 488.
Early Manuscripts at Oxford University: Facsimile of Oxford, Balliol MS 354. (
2.Source: Cambridge UK, Cambridge University Library Ff.2.38, ff. 20vb-21vb
First Lines:
How mankinde doiþ bigynne
ys wondre to dyscrye soo
In game he ys begeten with synne
Þe chylde ys þe modurs deedly foo…
Last Lines:
…Quod largesse in almesdede
Couetyse counseylyth þe an [ ]…
Note: 186 lines; ends imperfectly; ff. 22-27 missing.
Attributed Title: Here…begynneþ þe mirrour of vices & of vertues which also ys clepid þe seuene ages (f. 20v)
McSparran, Frances, and Pamela R. Robinson. “Introduction.” Cambridge University Library MS Ff.2.38. London: Scolar Press, 1979.
3.Source: Cambridge UK, Magdalene College Pepys 2125, ff. 60v-65
First Lines:
Howe mankynde doþ begynne
Is wonder to discryue so…
Last Lines:
…Withoute synne þider to wende
With loue to se his faire face
Note: Written two lines of verse per line of MS.
Attributed Title: Here bygynneþ materes of ȝouþe & of age And of vertues & of vices Wyþ her kyndely condicions (f. 60v)
4.Source: London, British Library Addit. 36983 [olim Bedford Public Library], ff. 298-305
First Lines:
How þat mankynde doth begynne
It is meruayle to telle it so…
Last Lines:
…Þat we mow entre hevyne withinne
And dwell with þat prince in fere
Note: Abbreviated variant of 63 stanzas (484 lines).
Attributed Title: Hic Incipit Gubernacio hominis (f. 298); Explicit Gubernacio Hominis (f. 305)
Lee, B. S. “Gubernacio Hominis: A Fifteenth-Century Allegorical Poem.” Medium Ævum 50 (1981): 230-58: 231-48.
5.Source: London, British Library Addit. 37492 [olim Fillingham], ff. 90v-92v
First Lines:
How mankynde doth by gynne
It ys mervayle to scryuen it so…
Last Lines:
…Who dar bydde the let be
Be he bolde wykeþ or lyȝt
Note: Lines 1-142 only.
6.Source: London, Lambeth Palace Library 853, pp. 120-150
First Lines:
HOw mankinde dooþ bigynne
is wondir for to scryue so
In game he is bigoten in synne
Þe child is þe modris deedli foo…
Last Lines:
…To marie modir maiden free
As sche bare a childe
Counforte to us
On þat soule haue pitee
If þe wille be
of crist ihesu Amen
Note: Written as prose.
Furnivall, Frederick James, ed. Hymns to the Virgin and Christ…and other religious poems. EETS o.s. 24 (1867); repr. 1973: 58-78.
7.Source: San Marino, CA, Henry Huntington Library HM 135 [olim Phillipps 8980], ff. 83-86v
First Lines:
…Go from me & make the a frere
Myn age ys nowe in xl ȝere…
Last Lines:
…Wyth outen synne thedyr to wende
Wyth loue to sen that fayre face
Note: Begins imperfectly at line 288; ends ‘Amen’ after last line above, then below the colophon, ‘Here ys wryten how mankynde dothe wende / Wanne the lyf ys browȝt to the ende’ (f. 86v), then ‘Explicit totu’.
8.Source: New Haven, Yale University, Beinecke Library, Takamiya Deposit 94 [olim Astor, sold Sotheby’s 21 June 1988, lot 57], ff. 194-208v
First Lines:
How man kynde dothe be gynne
Is wondre for to skrye so…
Last Lines:
…On his soule to have pite
Yf the wille be of crist ihesus
Amen Pater noster