The ”Parlement of Foules” (also known as the ”Parliament of Foules”, ”Parlement of Briddes”, ”Assembly of Fowls”, ”Assemble of Foules”, or ”The Parliament of Birds”) is a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer (1343–1400) made up of approximately 700 lines. The poem is in the form of a dream vision in rhyme royal stanza and is the first reference to the idea that St. Valentine’s Day is a special day for lovers. The poem begins with the narrator reading Cicero’s Somnium Scipionis in the hope of learning some ”certeyn thing”. When he falls asleep Scipio Africanus the Elder appears and guides him up through the celestial spheres to a gate promising both a ”welle of grace” and a stream that ”ledeth to the sorweful were/ Ther as a fissh in prison is al drye” (reminiscent of the famous grimly inscribed gates in Dante’s Inferno). After some deliberation at the gate, the narrator enters and passes through Venus’s dark temple with its friezes of doomed lovers and out into the bright sunlight. Here Nature is convening a parliament at which the birds will all choose their mates. The three tercel (male) eagles make their case for the hand of a formel (female) eagle until the birds of the lower estates begin to protest and launch into a comic parliamentary debate, which Nature herself finally ends. None of the tercels wins the formel, for at her request Nature allows her to put off her decision for another year (indeed, female birds of prey often become sexually mature at one year of age, males only at two years). Nature, as the ruling figure, in allowing the formel the right to choose not to choose, is acknowledging the importance of free will, which is ultimately the foundation of a key theme in the poem, that of common profit. Nature allows the other birds, however, to pair off. The dream ends with a song welcoming the new spring. The dreamer awakes, still unsatisfied, and returns to his books, hoping still to learn the thing for which he seeks.