The Digital Index of Middle English Verse
DIMEV 4420
IMEV 2784
NIMEV 2784
Problems of old likeness and figures
John Lydgate, ‘The Chorle and the Birde’ — fifty-four stanzas rhyme royal including 2-stanza envoy, plus one 8-line ‘Verba translatoris’ (ababbcbc)
Author(s): John Lydgate
Title(s): ‘Chorle and the Birde’
Subjects: birds, as narrators; fabliaux; advice, moral; envoys
Versification: — seven-line, eight-line — ababbcbc, ababbcc

Manuscript Witnesses:
1.Source: Oxford, Balliol College 354, pp. 353-360
First Lines:
Problemes of olde lyknes & fygvres
Which preved ben fructuovs of sentence…
Last Lines:
…All thyynges ys sayd vnder correccoun
With supportacion of hys benyngnyte
Note: Probably a transcript of Lydgate, John, [The chorle and the birde], [Westminster: W. Caxton, 1477?] ; missing stanzas 49 and 50.
Attributed Title: Þe chorle & þe byrde (p. 353); Here endith þe chorle & the byrde (p. 360)
Early Manuscripts at Oxford University: Facsimile of Oxford, Balliol MS 354. (
2.Source: Oxford, Christ Church 152, ff. 277-291v
First Lines:
Lerne the secound groundyd vpon scripture
desyre þou neuyr in no condicoun…
Last Lines:
…For alle ys seyde vndyr correccoun
With supportacoun of your benygnyte
Note: Missing lines 274-34; f. 274 misbound, should follow f. 277.
Attributed Title: Here endyth the tale of the Churle and hys bryd (at the end)
3.Source: Cambridge UK, Cambridge University Library Hh.4.12, ff. 77v-84
First Lines:
Problemys liknes and signes
Whiche proued ben fructuose of sentence…
Last Lines:
…all thyng is said vndyr correccion
With supportacion of ȝowre benignite
4.Source: Cambridge UK, Cambridge University Library Kk.1.6, ff. 208v-214v
First Lines:
Problemus lykenessus & ffygurys
Whiche prued byn ffructuous of sentensse…
Last Lines:
…In other tymes sche hath no ffantesy
Thus euery thyng as Clerkes spesyfye…
Note: Ends imperfectly.
5.Source: Cambridge UK, Trinity College R.3.19 (599), ff. 9ra-11vb
First Lines:
[P]roblems of olde lykenes & figures
Whyche are prouyd fructuos of sentence
And haue auctoryte groundyd in scripture
By resemblance of notable apparence…
Last Lines:
…All þyng ys seyde vnder correccion
With supportacion of your benygnyte
Attributed Title: The tale of þe byrde and the Chorle of thre notable & gret wysdoms groundyd vppon these ii verses folowyng that ys to wete Ne nimis omissa doleas nec omne quod audis Credas nec optas is quod habere nequis (f. 9ra)
Fletcher, Bradford Y. “Introduction.” Manuscript Trinity R.3.19. A Facsimile. Norman, OK: Pilgrim, 1987.
6.Source: London, British Library Cotton Caligula A.II, ff. 17-22
First Lines:
PRoblemys of old lyknesse & fygures
Whyche preuyd ben fructuous of sentense…
Last Lines:
…All thyng ys seyd vndyr correccion
With supportacion of yowr benygnite
Note: Transcript by Bp. Percy, London, British Library Addit. 39547, f. 90. ‘Explicit’ in lower margin f. 22, by scribe.
Attributed Title: The Chorle (by scribe as RT, verso leaves); The chorle & þe Byrd printed (added by later hand to upper margin, f. 17); Another old poeme intitled the Chorle (f. 1, sixteenth-century list of contents)
7.Source: London, British Library Harley 116, fd. 146v-152
First Lines:
PRoblemys of olde liknese and figures
Which proued been fructuous of sentence…
Last Lines:
…Al thing is saide vndir correctioun
With supportacion of your benignite
Attributed Title: Explicit tractatus de Aue & Carlabunde (f. 152)
Halliwell-Phillipps, James Orchard, ed. A Selection from the Minor Poems of Don John Lydgate. Percy Society 2. London: T. Richard, 1840: 179-93.
Neilson, William Allan, and Kenneth Grant Tremaye Webster. Chief British Poets of the 14th and 15th Centuries London: Dent; and New York: Dutton, 1916: 208-13.
Tyroller, Franz. “Die Fabel von dem Mann und dem Vogel in ihrer Verbreitung in der Weltliterature.” Litterarhistorische Forschungen 51 (Berlin, 1912): 176.
8.Source: London, British Library Harley 2407, f. 76
Note: 66 stanzas.
Bowers, Robert Hood. “Lydgate’s ‘The Churl and the Bird’ MS Harley 2407 and Elias Ashmole.” Modern Language Notes 49 (1934): 90-94: 91-3 (8 stanzas only).
9.Source: London, British Library Lansdowne 699, ff. 28-34v
First Lines:
PRoblemys liknessis & ffigures
Which previd been fructuous of sentence…
Last Lines:
…All thyng is seide vndir correccion
With supportation of your benygnyte
Note: Folio number reflects the most recent foliation.
Attributed Title: Incipit de Aue & Rustico (f. 27v); Explicit Fabula de Ave & Rustico (f. 34v)
MacCracken, Henry Noble, ed. John Lydgate: The Minor Poems, Vol. II: Secular Poems. EETS o.s. 192 (1934); repr. 1961: 468-85.
10.Source: Lincoln, Lincoln Cathedral Library 129, ff. 68-74v
First Lines:
…Mid the gardyn stood a fressh laurer
theron a brid syngyng bothe day & nyht
with sonnyssh fethers brihter than gold wer
which with hir song makith heuy hertis liht…
Last Lines:
…all thyng is seyd vndir correccioun
with supportacioun of your benygnyte
Note: Begins imperfectly; text begins f. 68 but most of this folio torn out; can see decorated initial ‘P’ and very beginnings of lines 4-7, ends of lines on f. 68v
Attributed Author: Auth Joan. Lydgate (added by later hand, f. 74v)
Attributed Title: Explicit fabula de Aue & Rustico (f. 74v)
MacCracken, Henry Noble, ed. John Lydgate: The Minor Poems, Vol. II: Secular Poems. EETS o.s. 192 (1934); repr. 1961: 468-85.
11.Source: Longleat, Marquess of Bath MS 258, ff. 137-147
First Lines:
[P]roblemes of olde likenes and figures
Whiche proued ben ful fructuous of sentence…
Last Lines:
…Alle thing is saide vndre correcioun
With supportacion of his benyngnyte
Note: Lines 337-78 lost.
Attributed Title: Here endith the / Chorle and þe bridde (f. 147)
Hammond, Eleanor Prescott. English Verse between Chaucer and Surrey. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1927: 104-10.
12.Source: Austin, University of Texas, Humanities Research Center HRC Pre-1700 MS 143 [olim Deene Park; post Cardigan-Brudenell, sold Sotheby’s, Feb. 1959], ff. 304-308v
First Lines:
Nobleness of olde likenes and figures
Which provid ben fructuous of sentens…
Last Lines:
…And remembre you where that euere ne gone
That a Churlis Cheke [sic] is allway wo begone…
Note: Ends imperfectly due to loss of leaves at l. 371; catchwords for following line: ‘vnto the purpos’.
Attributed Title: Et incipit / ffabula Rustici & Auis (f. 304)
Lovell, Robert Earl, ed. “John Lydgate’s Siege of Thebes and Churl and Bird: Edited from the Cardigan-Brudenell Manuscript.” Diss. University of Texas at Austin, 1969: 215-34.
13.Source: Boston, MA, Boston Public Library med. 92 (1519) [olim Gurney], ff. 187-189
First Lines:
…Sumtyme þer was In a smal villarge
As myn Auctour maketh rehersayle
A chorle which had lust & gret corage
With In hym self by dilligent trauayle…
Last Lines:
…haue ofte sythe grete sorow & myschaunce
who þat hath fredom he hath suffisaunce
Better is fredom with lytel in gladnesse
Þan to be thrall with all wordely rychesse
Note: 48 stanzas rhyme royal; missing stanzas 1-6; MS written in Calais c. 1470 by scribe, V.C. Moris and another hand; owned by ‘William Caston’ and given by him to ‘William Sonnyng’ in 1471; coat of arms of Thomas Wall on f. 1.
14.Source: San Marino, CA, Henry Huntington Library HM 144 [olim Huth 7], ff. 135v-144
First Lines:
PRoblemys of olde likenesses and figures
Whiche prouyd been fructuose of sentence…
Last Lines:
…All thyng is sayde vnder correccioun
With supportacion of your benynghnyte
Attributed Author: Lenvoy Explicit Lydgate (f. 141)
Attributed Title: Here begynnyth the Tale of the Chorle and the Byrde (f. 135v); Cherle & Byrde (RT)
15.Source: Leiden, Leiden University Library Vossius Germ. Gall. Q.9, f. 42

Print Witnesses:
1.Source: STC 17008. Lydgate, John, [The chorle and the birde], [Westminster: W. Caxton, 1477?]
Jenkinson, Francis. “Introduction.” Lytell Treatyse of the Horse, the Sheep, and the Ghoos, Westminster: de Worde, 1495. Cambridge: University Press, 1906; facsimile of John Lydgate (STC 17020).
2.Source: STC 17009. Lydgate, John, Explicit the chorle and the birde, [Westminster: W. Caxton, 1476?]
Sykes, Sir Mark Masterman, ed. The Chorle and the Birde; The hors, the shepe & the ghoos. Roxburghe Club 16, 36. London: Shakspeare Press, 1818, 1822.
3.Source: STC 17010. Lydgate, John, Problemys of olde siknesse and figures Whiche p[ro]uyd been fructuous of sentens and haue auctorities grounded on scripture by resemblance of notable apperannce [sic] with moralities concludynge on prudence, [London]: [Emprentyt by me Richard Pinson], [1493]
4.Source: STC 17011. Lydgate, John, Here begynneth the chorle [and] the byrde, [London]: [Emprentyt by me Richard Pinson], [1493]
5.Source: STC 17012. Lydgate, John, Here begynneth the chorle and the byrde, [Enprynted at London: In the Flete strete in the sygne of the sonne by Wynkyn de Worde, [1510?]]
6.Source: STC 17013. Lydgate, John, Here foloweth the churle and the byrde, [Emprynted att Westmynstre: In Caxtons house by Wynken de worde, 1497?]
7.Source: STC 17014. Lydgate, John, The churle and the byrde, [Imprented at London: In Lothburi ouer against Sainct Margarytes church by me Wyllam Copland, [ca. 1565]]
Note: Edition from unascribed early print: Ashmole1652, 213-26.