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Owl and the Nightingale, The

The Owl and the Nightingale, Middle English poem written probably by Nicholas de Guildford of Dorsetshire about the beginning of the 13th cent. Written in 2,000 lines of octosyllabic couplets, it describes a debate between the sober owl and the merry nightingale as to their respective merits. The allegory may represent the argument between asceticism and pleasure, philosophy and art, or the older didactic poetry and the newer secular love poetry. Conversational diction, humor, and dramatic touches make this poem one of the best of the period.

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