Also known as Purity. A late 14th-century poem in alliterative verse usually ascribed to the Pearl-poet, because it is preserved in the same manuscript (Ms. Cotton Nero A x) as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Patience and Pearl.
The poem's main theme is the sovereign value of spiritual purity and God's rejection of the impure. The cleanness here described is not only chastity but rather the exemption from all vices, i.e. a spotless soul. To illustrate his theme the poet uses biblical narratives, e.g. the parable of the Guest without a Wedding Garment, the Flood, the Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and finally Belshazar's Feast.
In order to enliven these narratives, they are described very vividly and are put into a medieval English setting. Thus, the rather solemn theme is enriched by gentle humour, sincere faith and tenderness, resulting in a powerful and dynamic poem. This is the only one of the four poems where the poet draws some of his material from the Apocrypha (i.e. books included in the Septuagint and Vulgate but excluded from the Jewish and Protestant canons of the Old Testament) and from some secular works as well (e.g. Jeun de Meun's part of the Roman de la Rose and an early version of Sir Mandeville's Travels).