1. The Owl and the Nightingale

The Owl and the Nightingale

Parlindungan Pardede

Universitas Kristen Indonesia


The Owl and the Nightingale is a debate poem of 1794 lines in octosyllabic couplets, probably written between 1186 and 1216 by an unknown author. It has come down to us in two different manuscripts of the second half of the 13th century (Holtei, 2002).

The narrator overhears a debate between a serious owl and a gay nightingale during a summer night. The debate follows the rules of the scholastic disputations, as they were held in the law schools and universities. Both contestants use every device of medieval rhetoric to prove that they are of the highest use to mankind. During the debate they touch upon nearly every topic of contemporary interest: hygienic habits, looks, prognostication, the proper modes of worship, music, confession, papal missions, ethics and morals, happy marriage and adultery, and so on. The nightingale stands for the joyous aspects of life, the owl for the somber; there is no clear winner. In the end, when the owl is about to lose her temper and physically threatens her opponent, they decide to go off to state their cases to one Nicholas of Guildford living in Portesham, Dorset, whom some modern critics believe to be the author of the poem.

The Owl and the Nightingale reflects rapid changes taking place in England in the beginning of the Middle English Era. The changes, mainly caused by the arrival of the Norman soon after the Norman Conquest. Many French came and lived in England. They introduced England to French, better architecture, progress in painting and music, and development in education (as indicated by the fact that not long after the Norman Conquest, the University of Cambridge and Oxford were established). Whether the English people liked it or not, the new way of life brought by the Norman affected the English people’s way of life. The owl represents those who preferred to keep the old way of life, and nightingale stands for those who welcome the new way of life.


Pardede, Parlindungan. (2008). An Introduction to poetry analysis. Jakarta: FKIP-UKI

Holtei, Rainer (Ed.). (2002). The owl and the nightingale. Retrieved on March 2, 2011 from http://user.phil-fak.uni-duesseldorf.de/~holteir/companion/Navigation/Anonymous_Texts/Owl_and_the_Nightingale/owl_and_the_nightingale.html


18 thoughts on “1. The Owl and the Nightingale”

  1. Mario Ramos said:

    Thanks a lot… it was areally helpful for me.. Ramos Mario

  2. tulus manulang said:

    The Owl described of England that they wanted to keep the old way of life. They thought that their life is the best but in the same time they didn’t know the condition around of England, like the Owl showed somber face and couldn’t give the beautiful sound, so it’s reflected to England which they felt growing but really they need more thing to improve their nations. The Nightingale described of France. France has some superior than England ie. education, architecture, progress in painting and music like the Nightingale has beautiful sound better the sound that the Owl produce. In the story the Nightingale want to learning the Owl how to improve himself and produced more thing. Life must move and grow as the France showed to England to get new life.

  3. stevy melva rosa said:

    thanks a lot sir,, for your information.
    this sample can help me to do my presentation.

  4. Monica Septiani said:

    ok sir,,
    thanks for your information..
    i will try do it..
    God bless..:-)

  5. indah silitonga said:

    okay sir, thanks for the information
    I will do try.Gbu

  6. Maria Ruth said:

    thank you sir, for your information.
    i will do the summary and correlation between the work’s content.
    God Bless sir. 🙂

  7. Daniel Mitra Sanjaya said:

    Although it is not easy but I believe I can do it accompanied with prayer and hard work.
    Me and my group will do our best
    🙂 Thank you, GB

  8. okay sir,.. Thanks for the sample.
    i will tried to do as your paper.

  9. DJ.Mutiara said:

    Dear sir,
    After reading the summary, we should be able to write our work well. Your summary example is short enough, so we will make like yours, won’t we? (It is only about one page)
    Thank you for helping us to make us easier doing our work.

  10. Eko Reinhard Gultom said:

    okay Sir.
    thanks very much for your information.
    I will do it .

  11. Meilan Priskawati Sihombing said:

    Thank you sir…

    Okay Sir, I am still confused but I will do it….
    Sir, When the collected duties?
    What size paper to the top right bottom left?
    What font and font size paper sir?


  12. Meilan Priskawati Sihombing said:

    Thank you sir…

    Okay Sir, I am still confused but I will do it….
    Sir, When the collected duties?
    What size paper to the top right bottom left?
    What font and font size paper sir?


    • Dear Meilan,
      The paper is to be presented based on each group schedule.
      Margin= Left & Top: 4 cm; and Right & Bottom: 3 cm
      Font= Times New Roman 12″, Double spaces.
      Good Luck!

  13. Riris Herdiana said:

    okay sir, i will try to analysis this article. thank you 🙂

  14. yoseph hermawan said:

    Okay sir, How many pages for the paper ???

    • Dear Yoseph,
      The length of the paper depends on the depth of your analysis. However, if you write in 500 to 1000 words, I think it will be good enough.
      Happy discussing and writing with your group mates.

  15. Dear all attendees of Literature III,
    The article above is a sample of paper each should present in the class. Please note that your paper should include (1) a summary of the assigned literary work and (2) correlation between the work’s content and one or more cultural, religious, sociological, educational, and economical background of the era in which the work was created. Good luck!

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