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Compare Lindsay's Dreme, line 16, and Crying of ane Play, line 14.
177-92 These stanzas contain Dunbar's depiction of Kennedy as a tall, thin scarecrow of a man; they provide a sharp contrast to Kennedy's later depiction of Dunbar as a tiny dwarf of a man.
179 Hard hurcheoun hirpland, hippit as ane harrow.
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But what Dunbar appears to be doing in this pair of verses is juxtaposing the monk's contradictory qualities - his hot complexion and his devout mind - to create the kind of humorous non sequitur that Chaucer sometimes used.
In other words, we should worship the Creator, not His creation.
65-72 With an ingenuity worthy of the Wife of Bath, here the merle interprets the biblical admonition to "love your neighbor" (Christ's second great commandment - Matthew 22:39 and Mark 12:31) as an open invitation to love the women who happen to live nearby.
81-87 Descriptions of the ennobling power of love are common; compare, e.g., lines 151-60 in The Cuckoo and the Nightingale and TC 1.1079-85.
89 Trew is the contrary.
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The lamb, in crying for the Lady's protection, is momentarily playing hard to get, as is expected of her, even in a work that is more fabliau than romance; compare Alison's initial rebuff of Nicholas in The Miller's Tale (CT I[A]3284-86).
15-18 The brutishness of the fox is here emphasized, presumably to create a striking contrast with the smallness of the lamb.
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The term blak in line 2 could be used for a woman of dark complexion; but as the poem develops, it becomes clear that the poet is describing an African.
5-6 Contrast Chaucer's Prioress, whose mouth is "ful smal, and therto softe and reed" (CT I[A]153).
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Compare CT I(A)3772 and II(B1)93, and Whiting B82-92.
63-92 In the last five stanzas the speaker celebrates the love of Christ.
81-84 These verses are very reminiscent of lines 1842-48 in Book 5 of Chaucer's TC.
87-90 I.e., "No one in his youth can understand this, except through the grace of God, because this false, deceiving world exerts such great control over the young."
90 in flouris grene.
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Variance probably implies the desire to pursue new lovers, what Chaucer often terms new-fangelnesse - novelty.
7 In Henryson's Garmont of Gud Ladies, line 15, "continuance" is one of woman's personified virtues (Bw 2.394).
9-12 Discretion and consideration are two virtues that love has no control over, and therefore if they were to be found in an amorous relationship, they would not remain for long.
11-12 The short duration of love and the pleasures of love is a medieval commonplace; compare Whiting L524.
13-14 Love is quick to pursue new acquaintances and quick to abandon old ones.
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The nightingale's refrain, in contrast to the merle's, reflects the traditional Christian principle that love has no value unless it is a reflection of man's love of God.
20-23 Compare these sentiments with those sung by the lark in "The Thistle and the Rose" (Poem 30), lines 13-14.