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Featured Poem: Wordes Unto Adam His Own Scriveyne

Written by Chris Routledge, 4th August 2008

Writers often wish a plague of scabs (and worse) on their editors and Chaucer's poem about his copyist or scribe, revealed a few years ago as Adam Pinkhurst, is one of the most famous literary outbursts against them. Chaucer's poem is concise and to the point. Giles Coren came over all medieval in a long email to his subs at The Times and was rather less economical. Adam Pinkhurst, it turns out, worked on many of Chaucer's best-known manuscripts, and was a 'favoured scribe'. That makes the following all the more significant:

Wordes Unto Adam His Own Scriveyne

Adam scrivener, if ever thee befall

Boece or Troilus for to write new,

Under thy longe locks thow maist have the scall(1),

But after my makinge thou write mor trew,

So oft a day I mot thy werke renewe

It to correct, and eke to rubbe and scrape,

And all is thorowe thy necligence and rape(2).

1. scab

2. haste

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