"Of the seuen ages": An Unknown Analogue of The Castle of Perseverance


Alan H. Nelson


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

"Of the seuen ages," a poem in Middle English which is still virtually unknown, bears several noteworthy correspondences to The Castle of Perseverance and to other English morality plays. The poem occurs in British Museum MS. Add. 37049, fols. 28v-29. According to The Index of Middle English Verse, the poem is unique to this manuscript.1 The poem's concern with the Ages of Man, however, is not unique: the Index lists four additional poems on the topic, while Hans Walther's Alphabetisches Verzeichnis der Versanfänge mittellateinischer Dichtungen lists some thirteen analogous poems in Latin.2 Similar concerns are found in English morality plays, particularly in The Castle of Perseverance and Mundus et Infans; and in medieval art, most notably in British Museum MS. Arundel 83, fol. 126.3

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