A mesnevi is a poem written in rhyming couplets, and is usually narrative in subject.
Such couplets were called shi to distinguish them from the pure Japanese eta or lanka.
The Pricke of Conscience is a long religious poem, in rhyming couplets, dealing with the beginning of man's life, the instability of the world, why death is to be dreaded, of doomsday, of the pains of hell, and the joys of heaven, the two latter subjects being treated with uncompromising realism.
His poem is rather lyrical than narrative, which may account for some obscurities in the connexion of thought; but his alphabetic scheme proves that he designed twenty-two stanzas, not sixty-six detached couplets.
The 172 lines that follow are written inrhyme couplets in the style of the popular ballads common to the period.