Speculum Vitae

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Speculum Vitae is a Middle English poem possibly by William of Nassyngton, written in the middle or late 14th century. However, the exact date has not been established and there is also debate about whether Nassyngton was the author or not. The title translates as Mirror of Life.


In English tonge I schall you telle,
yif ye with me so longe wil dwelle.
No Latyn wil I speke no waste,
But Englisch, that men vse mast,
That can ech man vnderstonde,
That is born in Ingelande.
For that langage is most chewyd,
Os wel among lered as lewyd.
Latyn, as I trowe, can nane
But tho, that haueth it in scol tane.
And somme can frenssche and no Latyn,
That vsed hav cowrt and dwellen therein.
And somme can of Latyn a party,
That can of Frensche but febly.
And somme vnderstonde wel Englysch,
That can nother Laty nor Frankys.
Bothe lered and lewed, olde and yonge,
Alle vnderstonden english tonge.
(Speculum Vitae, 61–78)


  • William of Nassington (2008). Speculum vitae. Early English Text Society (Series), no. 331-332. Ed. Ralph Hanna and Venetia Somerset. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.