J. J. Anderson
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The Lord hath given, the Lord hath taken away
in Language and imagination in the Gawain-poems
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Patience is a poem that combines discussion of a moral quality with biblical narrative, in the case of Patience, one narrative only, the story of Jonah. It is reader-friendly and engaging. In both poems human beings are at odds with God, but the outcomes are very different. Patience sets out to explore the meaning of the virtue of its title. Through its God, the poem exemplifies and explains a more spiritual view of patience which the narrator gives no sign of understanding. The reader is led to suspect that his total lack of comment on Jonah's second lesson indicates that he is not only out of sympathy with Jonah but himself does not understand God's forgiveness of the Ninevites. Patience does not end with a prayer, a confirming sign, perhaps, that its narrator is meant to be seen as not attuned to spiritual matters.

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