Patience


Patience
(ca. 1375)
   Patience is one of four major narrative poems preserved in a single manuscript (British Museum Cotton Nero A.x ) by the late 14th-century author known as the “Gawain poet” or the “Pearl poet.” Like the other poems in the manuscript (SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT, PEARL, and CLEANNESS), Patience is written in a northern West Midland dialect. It is structured in stanzas of four alliterative lines—like all of the poems of the Gawain poet, Patience is part of the ALLITERATIVE REVIVAL of the later 14th century. Patience is a MIDDLE ENGLISH verse retelling, in 531 lines, of the Old Testament story of Jonah. It begins with a 60-line passage extolling the virtue of patience, and then offers Jonah’s story as an illustration of human impatience contrasted with the patience of God. The poet’s conception of patience is far more complex and varied than a modern reader is likely to suspect. In a vivid and detailed narrative, the poet considers patience as endurance of misfortune, but also as self-control in all circumstances— essentially it is obedience to truth or to ultimate reality, to the will of God. The Jonah story follows the chronology of the biblical narrative, though the poet adds a good deal of concrete detail. The belly of the whale, which the poet compares with hell, is so slimy that Jonah must stumble about, looking for a clean nook to lodge in while praying to God for three days. After the whale has spit him up on dry land, the poet mentions how badly his clothes need washing. When God spares the city of Nineveh after Jonah’s preaching, the prophet is angry and blames God for his “courtesy”—a word with profound significance for all of the poems in the Cotton Nero A.x manuscript. Courtesy is behavior in accordance with charity: By the end of the poem God’s courtesy includes his mercy and patience that preserves human beings in the world. In effect the poem is organized like a medieval sermon, specifically a sermon on the eighth beatitude (“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” Mt. 5.10), to which the poet alludes in the prologue. Thus like a sermon, it begins with a statement of the theme followed by an illustration of the theme with a detailed exemplum (not unlike The PARDONER’S TALE by the Gawain poet’s contemporary Geoffrey CHAUCER). The author’s source was, of course, chiefly the book of Jonah in the Vulgate Bible, but he may also have known a hymn on Jonah by the late Latin poet PRUDENTIUS, as well as another Latin poem, De Jona et Ninive, attributed to the early Christian theologian Tertullian. Still the depiction of Jonah in Patience owes little to any earlier source. None of the traditional exegetic interpretations of the Jonah story (Jonah as an allegorical type of Christ, for instance) occur in the poem, and the poet is unique in applying the notion of patience to Jonah ’s story. Also unusual is the poet’s playing up the comic aspects of Jonah and his encounters with God. It is certainly one of the most entertaining and effective scriptural paraphrases in medieval English, and is more tightly crafted than the Gawain poet’s most similar poem, Cleanness.
   Bibliography
   ■ Bowers, R. H. The Legend of Jonah. The Hague: Nijhoff, 1971.
   ■ Brewer, Derek, and Jonathan Gibson, ed. A Companion to the Gawain-poet. Woodbridge, U.K.: D. S. Brewer, 1997.
   ■ The Complete Works of the Pearl Poet. Translated with an introduction by Casey Finch; Middle English texts edited by Malcolm Andrew, Ronald Waldron, and Clifford Peterson. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.
   ■ Gardner, John, trans. The Complete Works of the Gawain-poet.Woodcuts by Fritz Kredel. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965.
   ■ Schleusner, Jay. “History and Action in Patience,” PMLA 86 (1971): 959–965.
   ■ Williams, David J. “The Point of Patience,” Modern Philology 68 (1970–71): 127–136.

Encyclopedia of medieval literature. 2013.

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  • patience — 1. (pa si an s ) s. f. 1°   Vertu qui fait supporter avec modération et sans murmure. •   Il [le prince qui se laisse dominer par un favori] ne saurait exercer une plus lâche patience, ni être malheureux plus honteusement, BALZ. De la cour, 7e… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • patience — Patience. s. f. Vertu par laquelle on souffre les adversitez, les douleurs, les injures, les incommoditez, &c. avec moderation, & sans murmurer. Grande patience. Il faut avoir une merveilleuse patience pour souffrir cela. il faut avoir une… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Patience — (ˈpā shənz) is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances. This can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without becoming annoyed or upset; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer… …   Wikipedia

  • Patience — Pa tience (p[=a] shens), n. [F. patience, fr. L. patientia. See {Patient}.] 1. The state or quality of being patient; the power of suffering with fortitude; uncomplaining endurance of evils or wrongs, as toil, pain, poverty, insult, oppression,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • patience — patience, long suffering, longanimity, forbearance, resignation can all mean the power to endure or a capacity for enduring without complaint something which is disagreeable or requires effort. Patience stresses calmness or composure, not only… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Patience — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Patience puede hacer referencia a: Patience, álbum de George Michael . Patience , canción de la banda Guns n Roses. Patience, un dulce de la gastronomía de Alemania. Obtenido de Patience Categoría:… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Patience — Sf (ein Kartenspiel) per. Wortschatz fach. (18. Jh.) Entlehnung. Entlehnt aus frz. patience (eigentlich Geduld ), dieses aus l. patientia Geduld, Erleiden, Erdulden , zu l. patiēns erdulden, geduldig , dem adjektivischen PPräs. von l. patī… …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

  • patience — (n.) c.1200, quality of being patient in suffering, from O.Fr. pacience, from L. patientia patience, endurance, from patientem (nom. patiens), prp. of pati to suffer, endure, from PIE root *pei to damage, injure, hurt (see PASSION (Cf. passion)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • patience — [pā′shəns] n. [ME pacience < OFr < L patientia < pati, to suffer: see PASSION] 1. the state, quality, or fact of being patient; specif., a) the will or ability to wait or endure without complaint b) steadiness, endurance, or perseverance …   English World dictionary

  • Patience [1] — Patience (fr., spr. Pasiangs), 1) Geduld; 2) Spiel, welches unter zwei Personen gespielt wird, von welchen abwechselnd nur eine spielt u. die nicht spielende gegen die andere wettet, daß die Karten nicht aufgehen werden. Man spielt es auch allein …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Patience [2] — Patience, 1) Meerbusen u. 2) Vorgebirge ander Küste der Insel Sachalin (Ostasien) …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon


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