A history of English poetry for any other period would by have produced a fair assembly of named poets, and would no doubt have organised its discussion, partly at any rate, around what was known of their lives and careers. MS Harley 2253 is one MS which needs no such preamble, which demands consideration in its own right, as a unique record of the state of English poetry during the early years of the fourteenth century. With Cotton Nero A.x, it is the most important single MS of Middle English poetry. The richness and range of the Harley MS, essentially an anthology, provides a contrasting background for some simpler collections, in which the occurrence of English verse is determined by more severely practical considerations. All forms of religious writing are represented, at the end of the century, in the monumental collection known as the Vernon MS.