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Only two questions need to be satisfactorily answered in order to 
insure for Middle English literature a much larger place in college 
courses than it has hitherto occupied. These two questions are: Is 
the literature of this period worth reading? and, Can it be read 
without a learned apparatus so formidable as to constitute a serious 
deterrent? The first question I have endeavored to answer in the 
Introduction ; and to the second my affirmative reply is indicated 
in the whole method I have followed. 

This book, then, has been framed, not in the interest of grammar, 
or of dialectical study, or of lexicography, but of literary enjoyment 
and profit. It has been made somewhat copious, that those whc 
desire only easier selections may be able to avoid the harder, that it 
may be possible to examine certain species and ignore others, and yet 
that the more comprehensive student shall have before him a fairly 
full conspectus of the literature as a whole. If I have not failed in 
my attempt, the texts included ought not to be much harder to 
read than if they were Elizabethan, and those who read them will be 
acquainting themselves with an earlier and no less important age. 

Authorities vary with respect to the limits of the Middle English 
period, the variation as to the beginning being between uoo and 
1200, and as to the end between 1400 and 1500. Some scholars, 
such as Sweet, call the language between uoo and 1200 Transition 
Old English, and that between 1400 and 1500 Transition Middle 
English. In this book Middle English is assumed to cover noo- 
1500. In two instances, works only to be found in manuscripts 
of later date than 1500 are assigned, on what seem to the editor 
sufficient grounds, to the fifteenth century. 

The classification here observed is according to literary species, 
and not according to dialect or chronology. The species of litera 
ture are, however, not so clearly delimited in Middle English as in 


some other tongues, notably in Greek, so that the classification of 
certain pieces must be regarded as only approximative. 

No separate vocabulary has been provided, and no separate body 
of notes. On each page the reader will find, it is hoped, what is es 
sential for a sufficient understanding of that page ; if this has entailed 
a certain amount of repetition, or what to some minds may seem ex 
cess, in the defining of words, it must be borne in mind that he who 
is able to read while running is not obliged to pause. The general 
introduction has been made brief. The prefatory notes to the various 
selections are longer or shorter, according to circumstances. The list 
of helpful books will enable the student to extend his inquiries in a 
variety of directions. 

The editor has used his own judgment with respect to punctuation 
and capitalization, has normalized * and /, u and v, capitalized the 
first personal pronoun, and substituted 'Jesu' for the ordinary 'Jhesu' 
which is due to a misapprehension. In the constitution of certain 
texts he has emended somewhat freely, but has always endeavored to 
supply the means of restoring the manuscript readings or the text 
of an earlier editor ; where there is reason to suppose that the latter 
faithfully represents the manuscript, it has been referred to in the 
footnotes as 'MS.' 

An effort has been made to give due credit in each specific case 
of indebtedness ; if there has been any failure in this respect, it is 

If this book succeeds in making the Middle Ages seem more 
attractive, more clearly related to modern times, or more profoundly 
suggestive, the editor will be satisfied. To him Middle English 
literature helps to make England, not less real, but more visionary, 
in the sense of Kipling's lines: 

She is not any common Earth, 

Water or wood or air, 
But Merlin's Isle of Gramarye, 

Where you and I will fare. 










Lancelot and Elaine 2 

Tristram and Isolde : The Love-Drink 7 

The Quest of the Holy Grail : The Vow 8 

v ^.HIVT HORN. ii X 

^^ y TI 



Apollonius of Tyre .... . " I '. :>D ~ . s \ fo . ... 35 

Restoration to Youth 45 





-yBiR ORFEO 88 





DAME SIRITH ' ! 4 ! 











J ^^LAYAMON, BRUT 219* t 

Layamon's Account of Himself 219 

The Prophecy of Diana 220 

The Building of London . 223 

The Division of Lear's Kingdom 225 

Caesar's Battle with the Britons 229 

Cymbeline and the Birth of Christ 233 


(A.D. 1137) .,. . . . . . .' 235 


Sir James Douglas 238 

The Winning of Roxburgh Castle . . 240 

The Battle of Bannockburn (A.D. 1314) 244 



The Rebirth of the Phoenix 248 

The Paradise of the Old Man of the Mountain 250 

The Fountain of Youth 252 

St. Thomas and Indian Idolatry 253 

The Sultan of Egypt 255 

The Earth is Round 256 

The Terrestrial Paradise 259 

Sir John's Modesty 260 




The Love of God 266 

The Active and the Contemplative Life 267 




Anchoresses not to look out upon the World 270 & * 

The Beauty of Silence 272 

The Happiness of Anchoresses is like that of the Birds of Heaven 273 

The Kingly Wooer 274 

The Anchoress' Cat, her Clothing and Occupations .... 275 - 

The Anchoress' Health 277 -> 



The Character of a Priest 287 

Behavior in Church 288 

The Creed - ... 289 

The Vanities of the Flesh 290 

Sins of Carelessness 291 

The Pronouncing of Excommunication 291 

Form of Excommunication (I) 292 

Form of Excommunication (II) 292 


The Hours for Meals 294 

Daily Occupations 2 95 

Lenten Observance 2 9^ 

The Entertainment of Guests 297 

The Nun's Clothing 298 

The Porter '..... .'. . . 3 


The Proper Way of keeping Holy Days 3 O1 

The Evil of Tournaments 33 V<v 

Bishop Grosseteste of Lincoln 3 5 

Quiet in Church and Churchyard during the Time of Service 306 

The Tale of the Miner 37 


Prologue ..:..'.'. '. \' r ?-,,,- ...- 39 

The Story of the Magpie 3 11 

The Story of the Obedient Wife 3 12 

How St. Bernard's Sister was led away from Vanities . . . 3^ 





The Whale (Turtle) . 316 

The Panther ,....319 



Prologue - 335 

Meed the Maiden 339 

Gluttony 345 

Sloth the Parson .'"... 348 

Piers the Plowman 350 








STANS PUER AD MENSAM '. . . . 377 



A MEDLEVAL WILL ..." . . . 381 





The Joys of Spring . . *I . 390 

The River and the Garden 392 

The Picture of Old Age 393 


The Former Age 397 




Job 41. 20-28; 42.4-25 39 g 

John 17. 1-6 400 

Revelation 14 400 

VERSIONS OF PSALM 51. 1-3 402 


^-"" CUCKOO. SONG 406 

^^ SPRING 407 


s^" ALISON 410 




















E PEARL 44i 


Hymn to the Virgin 454 

Hymn of Burgwine, Godric's Sister 454 

Hymn to St. Nicholas 455 






As I RODE 462 






> JUDAS 470 












Mediaeval European literature at least if we except technical 
works and prose chronicles or histories is characterized, in contrast 
with the ancient classics, by a certain expansiveness, resulting at 
times in an approach to garrulity. The author is not bent upon 
treating the matter in hand with the utmost economy, in order with 
the fewest possible strokes to achieve the finest proportions, the 
utmost simplicity, the most telling effect. The mediaeval writer is 
more apt to be loose and desultory. At times he does not hesitate to 
be long-winded in description, discursive in the development of epi 
sodic reflection, tedious in the analysis of sentiment, or didactic in the 
enforcement of a moral. In all too few instances has he a sure sense 
of art avoiding superfluity and digressions, and making straight 
for his goal. He employs repetition for instance, in the refrain, 
or in the recurrent lines of the roundel ; and, for the sake of rhyme, 
or to fill out a line, he will introduce conventional, almost mean 
ingless, tags. 

Vernacular writing in the Middle Ages was primarily addressed to 
the laity to people who had not received the training of the 
schools, and who therefore were unaccustomed to strict sequences of 
thought, or to the measure and sobriety of perfect art. This may be 
clearly seen by the way in which translations are expanded always 
excepting prose versions of the Bible and of some theological trea 
tises. Chaucer, 1 in translating Boethius, uses three times as many 
words as the Latin verse, and more than twice as many as the Latin 
prose. The 38 words of Psalm 51. 1-3 2 in the Vulgate are con 
verted by a late Middle English paraphrast into 194. Such transla 
tions, being less compact than the originals, made fewer demands 

1 See pp. 394-5. 2 See pp. 402 ff. 


upon the reader ; he found them easier to follow, though his wits 
may have gone wandering before he reached the end. 

Such absence of restraint may, according to circumstances, affect 
readers of to-day variously. Some things mediaeval we may all find 
tedious, some things puerile ; some things, on the other hand, simple, 
direct, and sweet childlike, rather than childish. But take the 
pseudo-Mandeville, 1 for instance ; is it easy to dismiss him with an 
epithet to which we should all assent ? Is his book incredibly stupid 
as much of it is certainly incredible or is it always amusing? 
As easy to answer this, perhaps, as another question is the com 
piler naively credulous, or is he an astute romancer ? Perhaps neither 
the one nor the other, or rather both. Searching criticism reveals that 
some of his information rests on good authorities, and is true ; other 
things are truth magnified and embellished by a purple mist; and 
still others are ancient poetry or fiction regarded as contemporary 
fact. His book is rambling, incoherent, uninstructive, if you will; 
but to some minds it is charming. Piers Plowman leads us nowhither ; 
but on the road we drop in at a tavern, and the low life of England 
under the senile Edward or the adolescent Richard is as plain before 
us as that of Holland in a picture by Teniers or Jan Steen, so that 
we look and listen in spite of ourselves. 

All this is Gothic, both in the sense that we recognize, and in that 
which appealed to our ancestors of the eighteenth century. It lacks 
restraint ; it is flamboyant ; it sins by excess ; it seems to emphasize 
v the detail, and neglect the ensemble; its gargoyles grin, no less than 
its saints aspire ; it comprehends legend, poetry, and record of fact 
but who shall say where legend ends and fact begins ? On the 
other hand, it is rich, and varied, and alive ; not all the forms are 
noble or beautiful, but most are interesting ; and there is often a 
science of structure when least suspected, though sometimes instinc 
tive, sometimes empirical, and sometimes insufficient, like that which 
left the tower of Beauvais a heap of ruined stones. 

And as Gothic borrowed something from Byzantine art, so there 

/ are Oriental elements in mediaeval literature not only such as are 

derived from the Bible and the primitive liturgies, but those that 

i See pp. 248 ff. 


came in with pilgrim, merchant, and Crusader, visible more especially 
in tale and romance. 

The Gothic cathedrals of the consummated Middle Ages suc 
ceeded, and in some sense grew out of, the earlier Romanesque, with 
its obvious, if somewhat oppressive, structure and solidity. The 
Romanesque church embodies the classic principles illustrated by 
the Roman arch and the Roman basilica, just as Augustine and 
Bede continue the Roman literary tradition. The latter have more 
moderation, more severity, than a Bonaventura or a Richard Rolle. 
The cathedral is more florid, more airy, more gorgeous with flam 
ing color than the Romanesque church; but it is more crumbling, 
and tends more swiftly to decadence and overthrow. The simpler 
Gothic runs apace into the Flamboyant, and lo, before one can 
realize it, it has slid into the earlier Renaissance. So it is with 
literature ; so it is with society. Beauty flowers for a moment out 
of strength ; but pass by a few days later, and the blossom is faded, 
the glory departed. 

Thus far, however, we have been disregarding certain works 
which appear even in the high mediaeval period, but which differ 
notably from those that we have been attempting to characterize. 
They are works of measure and sobriety, like those of classic antiq 
uity, rigorously planned; in them every line is structural, and you 
must read every line in order to be impressed by the magnitude, the 
logic, or the splendor of the whole. Of these the supreme type is 
the Divine Comedy. True, the Divine Comedy has been compared to 
a cathedral, not without reason ; but the Gothic cathedral was never 
finished ; many accretions to its original design might have fallen out 
otherwise; it did not represent a basic style, out of which others 
might in due course proceed ; it was not, in the same sense as the 
Romanesque, grounded, massive, eternal. In all these respects 
Dante's poem might be compared to the earlier form. No one has 
been able to suggest an essential improvement in it; in itself, and 
through its outgrowths, it dominates all later European poetry of the 
chivalrous or ' romantic ' temper. The lineaments of Beatrice swim 
before every ardent Christian lover, and Stephen Phillips can still 
write of Paolo and Francesca. 


Why has Dante this power and this permanence ? Partly because 
he was Dante that is, a genius ; but also because, by his own 
avowal, he placed himself under the tutelage of Virgil, and hence 
of Homer. 

In a measure, the same thing is true of Boccaccio. His long- 
winded romances have not endured ; but the Decameron, written 
with classic restraint and finish, has not only survived, but is still a 
model of prose. If we meet with comparatively little of this sort in 
Middle English, it is because the Renaissance began to exert its 
power much earlier in Italy than in England, or even in France. 

But if we may expect few well-rounded wholes in Middle English 
literature, we must recognize that the poetic faculty, released from 
the strenuous and incessant task of watching over the complete 
organism at every step, is the more free to abandon itself at any 
moment to the full tide of occasional sentiment comic, pathetic, 
tender, or wistful. A piece otherwise marred by imperfections may 
thus have lovely or poignant bits, so irresistible as to suffuse a glow 
over the composition as a whole, and blind our eyes to the faults 
which readily disclose themselves to reflection. And since, speaking 
broadly, the demands that we may make upon Middle English liter 
ature are restricted by considerations of form, it is with peculiar satis 
faction that we now and then come upon a complete piece, as in 
Chaucer at his best, that endures the most searching trials, and yields 
unalloyed pleasure at every reperusal. But such encounters in Chaucer 
cause a deeper regret that so large a part of his writing is frag 
mentary, that his assignment of the several Canterbury tales to the 
personages of the pilgrimage is not always convincing, and that his 
greatest work, when viewed in the light of his own avowed plan, 
remains a torso. 

To begin, and never to end, or to end only by stopping when 
fatigue or caprice dictates ; to project what can never be compassed, 
or what is amorphous in its very conception ; to reveal beauty only 
in glimpses, anon to be swallowed in convention or dulness this it 
is to belong to the typical Middle Age, oppressed and glorified by its 
sense of the infinite, and seeing visions of starry brightness projected 
against a background of violence and fraud, of triumphant injustice 


and unbearable oppression. The Crusades, the Hundred Years' 
War, typify in the world of action some of the literary and architec 
tural phenomena that we have been attempting to describe doomed 
to be abortive from their very nature, uninspired in many, perhaps 
most, of their particulars, but illumined by flashes of heroism and of 
generous sentiment, too fine to be steadily realized in the even course 
of a workaday world. In this respect the classic ideal, both of life 
and art, is more compassable, because more modest. Horace accom 
plishes what he undertakes more evenly, more uniformly, than Chau 
cer yet shall I hesitate to say that some of us prefer Chaucer ? 

Whatever we may deny to our Middle English authors, in certain 
respects they are unrivaled. The wistfulness of regret for vanished 
glories, the sympathy with an outcast and bereaved wife, the mirthful 
interest in the mimic manhood of the barnyard, the joyous partici 
pation in the young life of the Maytime, the swift change by which 
the clowns and thieves of a Yorkshire moorside are transported to 
the Judean plains and the presence of the Divine Child in his sweet 
and touching innocence these things have a perennial savor, a 
persistent appeal, even as the sorrows of Lear, the maiden grace 
of Miranda, the humors of Falstaff, or the piteous pleadings of 


The letters are the same as in modern English (but see below), 
with the addition of 5 (^), J? (J>), and 3 (D). (from an old 
manuscript-form of g) is used for modern English gh (often before 
t) and for y (at the beginning or end of a syllable). J> (thorn) and 
<? (eth, as in weather) represent th, and are used interchangeably with 
th and each other. 

/ is represented in the manuscripts by i, and v by u ; so that, 
strictly speaking, j and v should be subtracted from the total number 
of letters. Y is very frequently used for i, and the two are virtually 
interchangeable as vowels. 


There are two possible ways of pronouncing Middle English 
one for quick understanding, the other for beauty. According to the 
first, one reads the text like so much modern English, at the same 
time converting the words, wherever possible, into their modern Eng 
lish forms. This answers sufficiently well in the case of prose, or 
of poetry written without much regard to metrical principles; but 
it should always be regarded as a makeshift, and, in the strict sense, 
as unscholarly. Perhaps the aptest apology for it would be found in 
our reading Shakespeare as modern English, in spite of the fact that 
to Shakespeare himself our modern pronunciation would, to a large 
degree, have seemed unintelligible or barbarous. 

The second mode of pronunciation, essential to the just rendering 
of artistic verse, takes account of two things strict metre, and the 
quite different values of certain letters, especially the vowels, from 
those of modern English. By attending to these, much Middle. 
English poetry may be made beautiful to the ear which otherwise 


would sound' commonplace or uncouth ; and this result is quite 
worth the trouble involved. 

The recognition of metrical technique in Middle English depends 
chiefly upon the pronunciation of final -e (besides -es, etc., in un 
stressed positions). As a rule, final -e is always to be regarded as 
forming a separate syllable ; but before vowels, the commonest words 
beginning with h, and occasionally elsewhere, it is silent. The sim 
plest rule is this : In verse, always pronounce final -e (-es, etc.) 
where it will conduce to the melody of the line, but suppress it in 
the comparatively rare instances where it does not. Such -e's are 
always to be pronounced like the -a in era or vista. The -e of -ed, 
-el, -en, -er is also to be suppressed when metre so requires. 

Besides the final unstressed -e, there is also a stressed -e often 
represented by -y in modern English ; thus, cite (i.e. cite*), city. 


Short vowels are pronounced about as in modern English, but a 
nearly as ah (never like a in hat} ; o always rounded (produced with 
rounded lips ; about like aw, but shorter), and never pronounced like a 
in modern ah u as in pull, not as in dull. From the normal o is to 
be distinguished an o which is equivalent to u, and originally was u ; 
it can be known by its always corresponding to the modern English o 
or u pronounced as u in sun : e.g. Middle English sonne, sone, love, 
etc. (OE. sunne, sunu, lufu, etc.), modern English sun, son, love, etc. 

Long vowels are never pronounced as in modern English, but 
as in the European pronunciation of Latin, or approximately as in 
Italian, French, or German, thus: 

a as in father o close as in blow 

e (ee) close as in they o open as in broad 

e (ee) open as in there u as in rule 
i as in pique 

Close and open e can only be discriminated by the student of Old 
English; close o is oo in modern English, open o being o, oa, etc. 
The double vowels, ee and oo, merely indicate long e and o, and are 
never to be pronounced as in modern English. 



The diphthongs ei and ui are to be pronounced like the first ele 
ment followed by the second, and with the first element stressed. 
The remaining diphthongs are thus pronounced: 

a i as in ais-le 

au (aw) as in house (Ger. Haus) 

eu (ew) as mfew 

iu (iw) as \nfew 

oi as in boil 

ou (ow) as in boor, when now pronounced as in out, cow 

ou (ow) as o + u (nearly as <?), in all cases but the preceding 


c pronounced as k or s, under the same circumstances as in modern 

English ; ci not = sh, but = si (modern Eng. see) 
ch as in modern English, except before /, when it was pronounced like 

the ch in Ger. ich after e, i, or y, and like ch in Ger. auch after the 

other vowels 

g as in gold, except occasionally as in gem ; ght like cht (see above) 
5 initial = y ; gt like cht 

h final sometimes like the ch of cht : sih, purh 
ht like cht 

kn never like , but = k + n 
s like z between vowels, as in modern English 
sch like sh 

si not = sh, but = modern Eng. see 
)?, 3 like th (both sounds) in modern English 
tu not = chu : na-tu-re 
Double consonants before a vowel are always pronounced twice : renne = 

ren + ne ; thridde = thrid + de 




The genitive singular and the plural regularly end in -(e)s (occa 
sionally -is, -us ; -(e)z) ; the dative in -e, or without ending. To such 
irregular plurals (identical with the singular) as occur in the Modern 
English sheep, swine, etc., add hors. Certain original feminines like 
lady, halle, sonne, sometimes retain the nominative form in the geni 
tive singular ; to these add the nouns of relationship, fader, brother, 
moder, etc., which, however, sometimes have -a. A few nouns of the 
Old English weak declension end in -n in the plural, like been, bees ; 
yen, eyes (modern poetic eyne) ; schoon, shoes (modern poetic shoori), 
and are occasionally followed by others which more normally would 
end in -s (see, for example, Layamon). 


The plural and the dative singular of adjectives ending in a con 
sonant are often formed by the addition of -e. When the adjective is 
preceded by the definite article, a demonstrative, or a possessive, -e 
is sometimes appended : the grete honour ; his white baner. 


The only forms which are not fairly self-explanatory are those of 
the feminine personal pronoun. The typical paradigm follows : 
SING. N. h(e)o ; s(c)ho, s(c)he 
^}hir(e),hui(e), her(e) 
A. hi(e), hir(e), hur(e), her(e) 

PLUR. N. h(i)e ; thei, thai 

G. her(e), h(e)or(e) ; their(e) 


f. Ll^L\^Jy *A^\/yVA\Y/ > *"\~V 

* jhe(o)m, hi(o)m; the(i)m, tha(i)m 

The plurals of the personal pronouns of all genders are identical 
with those of the feminine. The genitive and dative singular of hit, 
//, are the same as those of the masculine : his, him. 


Of the second person, yc is tmminaiiwy - yon, yw t dative 

Tbo and thOB(e) are independent demonstratives, each 



The normal rmfcigs of the verb (disregarding the subjunctive) are 
IXD. PRES. SIXG. i. -e 


PLUR, -e(m) 


IXD. PRET. SIXG. i. 3. -()de> -** 

2. -(e)dMt, -tert ^, 

PLCR. -<e>k(BX -*<) -() 


PLUR. -e, -ett, 

INFIX. -(n), ; occaskmaDy, -IB, -JB 

PRES. PART. -ing(e) ; -inde (eadr, -and) 

PAST PART. -(*, -t (of weak verbs; ; -(BX -B (of strong verbs; 

The ind. pres. 3 sing, of a stem ending in -t or -4 is often oon- 
densed to -t : dms, Bit = srtth (for modern sitteth >. 

The following are the more important irregular verbs. 
Conjugation of be(B), beo(n), be. 


PRES. SIXG. i. be(o) ; am, aeot ; neg. aam i. 2. 3. b(e)o, be, bi 

2. be(e)st ; Northern e, is, bese ; 

art, ert j with pers. pron. 
jrtBy Jiuiw j nfg, BBit 

3. betB,bee(tk); is,ys; Northern 

*(),; neg.Bi, BTS 

PLUR. beoCth), b(e)kk, be(oX Me) ; MB) 

Northern e, is; TBd(a); 
ar(eX en, are, ere 


PRET. SING. i. 3. was, watt ; neg. nas wer(e), war(e) 

a. were we xe 

PLT. were(n), ware(it) were(n) 

IMPER. SING. be(o) Ixnx. be(n), bene, beon 

PLL-R. be(o)th 
PRES. PART, beende, being(e) PAST PART. (i)be(o)n, (i)6e(o), bene 

Conjugation of habben, haye(n), ^ozr. 


PRES. SING. i. (k)*bbe, hare i. 2. 3. (h)abbe, haT 

2. kafest, ha(Te)st ; Northern 

haris, has(e), batz ; with pers. 
ffff^ kastow 

3. habbeth, hareth, hath ; North 

ern haris, has 

PLUR. habbeth, hareth, hare, han; hare(n) 

Northern haris, has(e) 

PRET. SKG. i. 3. hafede, hared(e), haedde, had(d> i. 2. 3. [Like Ind. i 
2. heredest, haddist ; Northern and 3] 


PLUR. haefden, hadde(n), hareden [Like Ind.] 

IMPER. SING. ha(f)e, hare INFIX. habben, haven, han 

PLUR. habbeth, haveth 

PRES. PART. haebbende, hafand, PAST PART. (i)haTed, (i)hafd, 

having(e) (i)had 

Conjugation of go(n), ga(n), go. 

IND. PRES. SING. i. go, ga; 2. goat, gast, gest; 3. goth, gath; 
Northern gxth, gaes; PLIR. goth, gath, go(n), ga(n). PRET. 
eode, xeode, yede, yode, wente. PAST PART. (i)gan, (i)go(n), 

Conjugation of cunne(n), conne(n), know, be able. 

IND, PRES. SING. i. 3. can(n), con(n); 2. canst, const; PLUR. 
cunne(n), conne(n), cunneth. PRET. c(o)uthe, cowthe, coude. 
PAST PART. c(o)uth. 


Conjugation of , may, must. 

PRES. SING. r. 3. mot; 2. most(e); PLUR. mote(n). PRET. SING. 
i. 3. most(e); 2. mostes(t); PLUR. moste(n). 

(By the early fifteenth century, at latest, the preterit forms were also 
used as present.) 

Conjugation of mujen, mowe(n), be able, be permitted. 

IND. PRES. SING. i. 3. mai(s), mey, may(e); 2. miht, maist; 
PLUR. mase(n), mawen, muse, muwe(n), mow, mowe(n). PRET. 
SING. i. 3. mihte, mo(u)ht(e), myst; 2. mihtes(t); PLUR. 

Conjugation of , shall. 

IND. PRES. SING. i. 3. s(h)al(l), schal(l); 2. s(c)halt; Northern 
sail ; with personal pronoun shaltow ; PLUR. s(c)hul(l)(en), 
sholen. PRET. s(c)holde, s(c)hulde ; PLUR. s(c)holden, s(c)hulden. 

Conjugation of willen, will. 

IND. PRES. SING. i. 3. wol(e), wulle, wil(l)(e); 2. wolt, wilt, 
wil(l) ; with personal pronoun woltow, wiltu ; PLUR. wol(le)n, 
wol(e), wile(n). PRET. wolde; PLUR.' wolde(n). PAST PART. 

Conjugation of wite(n), know. 

IND. PRES. SING. i. 3. wo(o)t; neg. not; 2. wo(o)st; with per 
sonal pronoun wostow ; PLUR. witen. PRET. wiste; PLUR. 
wisten. PAST PART. wist. 


Of is sometimes contracted to o, as in modern Eng. o'clock, and on 
to a, as in aboard = on board. 

The Northern til is equivalent to to. 
Th is assimilated to t in atte = at the. 



The dialects are Northern, Midland, and Southern, the first of 
these including also the language of the Scottish Lowlands. The 
most important dialect with reference to modern English is the East 
Midland, in whose district lay the two universities, and eventually 

M^,. | 

London. Examples of the various dialects in this book are : North 
ern : Barbour, The Bruce (pp. 238 ff.) ; Southern : Layamon, Brut 
(pp. 219 ff.); Midland: The Bestiary (pp. 316 ff.). 

Initial v for/J and z for s, are marks of the Southern dialect. 

One of the commoner marks of the Northern dialect is a for o 
in words like bald, bold ; gast, ghost ; wa, woe. Others are : initial 
s for sh ; k for ch (kirk, church). The Northern dialect has also a 
greater tendency to rid itself of inflectional endings and of final 
unstressed -e, has the present participle in -and(e) (Midland and 
Southern -inde, -ende, -inge), and to some extent has a peculiar 

For fuller information about the dialects, see Emerson, Middle 
English Reader, 2d ed., New York, 1915, and Skeat, English 
Dialects, Cambridge (Eng.), 1911. 



BALDWIN, Introduction to English Medieval Literature, New York and 

London, 1914. 
Cambridge History of English Literature, Vols. i and 2. Cambridge 

(Eng.) and New York, 1907, 1908. 
JUSSERAND, Literary History of the English People (ftotn the Origins to 

the Renaissance). New York and London, 1895. 
KER, English Literature : Medieval. London and New York, 1912. 
MORLEY, English Writers, Vols. 3-5. 2d ed. London and New York, 

SCHOFIELD, English Literature from the Norman Conquest to Chaucer. 

New York, 1906. 

TEN BRINK, Early English Literature (to Wyclif). New York, 1889. 
, History of English Literature ( Wyclif, Chaucer, Earliest Drama, 

Renaissance}. New York, 1893. 

-, History of English Literature (from the Fourteenth Century to 

the Death of Surrey). New York, 1 896. 
See also Wells, under Bibliographies. 


PANCOAST and SPAETH, Early English Poems. New York, 1911. 
RICKERT, Early English Romances in Verse. 2 vols. London, 1908. 
SHACKFORD, Legends and Satires from Mediceval Literature. Boston, 

WESTON, Romance, Visisn, and Satire. Boston, 1912. 

- , The Chief Middle English Poets : Selected Poems. Boston, 1914. 


HAMMOND, Chaucer: a Bibliographical Manual. New York, 1908. 
KITTREDGE, Chaucer and his Poetry. Cambridge, 1915. 


LEGOUIS, Geoffrey Chaucer. New York, 1911. 

ROOT, The Poetry of Chaucer. Boston, 1922. 

TEN BRINK, The Language and Versification of Chaucer. London, 1901. 

See also Wells, under Bibliographies. 


BATES, The English Religious Drama. New York and London, 1893. 
CHAMBERS, The Mediaval Stage. 2 vols. London, 1903. 
DAVIDSON, Studies in the English Mystery Plays. New Haven, 1892. 
GAYLEY, Plays of our Forefathers. New York, 1907. 
STODDARD, References for Students of Miracle Plays and Mysteries. 
Berkeley (California), 1887. 


EINENKEL, Streifziige durch die Mittelenglische Syntax. Miinster i. W., 


MORSBACH, Mittelenglische Grammatik, Vol. I. Halle, 1896. 
See also Ten Brink, under Chaucer. 


KALUZA, Short History of English Versification. London and New 

York, 1911. 

SCHIPPER, History of English Versification. Oxford, 1910. 
See also Ten Brink, under Chaucer. 


BRADLEY-STRATMANN, Old English [Middle English] Dictionary. 

London, 1891. 
MATZNER, Altenglische Sprachproben : Worterbuch : A Misbileven. 

Berlin, 1878-1900. 
MURRAY, New English Dictionary: A Unforeseeable, V Wash, 

X end. Oxford, 1888-1921. 


EDWARDES, Summary of the Literatures of Modern Europe. London, 

GASPARY-OELSNER, History of Early Italian Literature to the Death of 

Dante. London, 1901. 


GROBER, Grundriss der Romanischen Philologie. Strassburg, 1888-1902. 
JEANROY, Les Origines de la Potsie Lyrique en France au Moyen Age. 

2d ed. Paris, 1 904. 

PARIS, Litttrature Fran$aise au Moyen Age. 4th ed. Paris, 1 909. 
PETIT DE JULLEVILLE, Histoire de la Langue et de la Litte"rature 

Fran$aise, Vol. 2. Paris, 1896. 


ADAMS, Mont St. Michel and Chartres. Boston, 1913. 

MALE, L'Art Religieux du XIII' Siecle en France. 2d ed. Paris, 1902. 

, Religious Art in France, XIII Century. London and New York, 

1913. (Translation of the preceding.) 
, L'Art Religieux de la Fin du Moyen Age. Paris, 1908. 

Oxford History of Music, Vol. i. Oxford, 1901. 

TAYLOR, The Mediaval Mind. 2ded. 2vols. London and New York, 1914. 


WELLS, Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 1030-1400. New 

Haven, 1916. First Supplement. New Haven, 1919. 
This virtually supersedes all the following. In addition to the bibli 
ography, this work gives for each item its date, dialect, manuscripts, 
sources, etc., with abstracts of all the longer pieces. 

BILLINGS, Guide to the Middle English Metrical Romances dealing with 
English and Germanic Legends, and with the Cycles of Charlemagne 
and Arthur. New York, 1901. (Yale Studies in English, No. 9.) 

GROSS, Sources and Literature of English History, from the Earliest 
Times to about 1483. London and New York, 1900. 

Jahresbericht fur Germanische Philologie. Berlin, Leipzig, 1 879 ff. (Each 
annual volume contains a section on English.) 

KORTING, Grundriss der Geschichte der Englischen Literatur. 5th ed. 
Miinster i. W., 1910. 

PAUL, Grundriss der Germanischen Philologie, 2 1 . 609-718 (index, 
2 2 . 345-484). Strassburg, 1893. 

WARD, Catalogue of Romances. 3 vols. London, 1883-1910. 

See also Edwardes, under Kindred Literatures; Hammond, under Chau 
cer; and Stoddard, under Miracle Plays. 




Sir Thomas Malory, knight, completed his romance, according to his own 
statement, between March 4, 1469 and March 3, 1470 (the ninth year of 
Edward IV). His home was at Newbold Revel, near Coventry, and five and 
a half miles northwest of Rugby, where he succeeded his father in 1433 or 
1434. He was member of Parliament for Warwickshire in 1445, and died 
March 14, 1470 (according to Kittredge, Harvard Studies 5. 88 ff.). His book 
is mostly derived from a variety of French sources, though he occasionally 
adapts English poems. Whether the ultimate French originals had been di 
gested into a single work which served as Malory's source has not been 
determined. The Morte Darthur was published by Caxton in 1485, and it is 
from Sommer's literal reprint that our text is derived. 

For the characterization of this romance we may borrow a few sentences 
from Andrew Lang (Le Morte Darthur, ed. Sommer, pp. xiv-xxi) : ' There 
is no more strange fortune in literature than that which blended wild Celtic 
myths, and a monastic theory of the saintly life, with all of chivalrous adven 
ture, with all of courtesy and gentleness that the Middle Ages could conceive, 
and handed it on to be the delight of the changing ages. . . . Malory has 
penned the great and chief romance of his own age and of ours, the story 
that must endure and must move the lacrym<z rerum till man's nature is altered 
again. . . . The Celtic legends, passed through the French mind, and rendered 
in Malory's English, have, what Homer lacks, the charm of mystery and dis 
tance, the background of the unknown. . . . Malory's book is a very complete 
and composite picture of a strangely inherited ideal ; it is, indeed, " a jumble," 
but, of all jumbles, the most poetic and the most pathetic. . . . Malory is 
skilled " to teach men unto strange adventures," to instruct in all courage, 
chastity, endurance, and true love, nor can we estimate what his influence 
must have been in training the fathers of Elizabeth's Englishmen. . . . The 
style of Malory is, of course, based on the fresh and simple manner of his 
French originals. For an English style of his age, it is particularly fluent . . . 
Perhaps it is just because he does follow a French copy, and so is familiar 
with words derived from the Latin, that Malory possesses his fluency and 
facility. . . . The manner and matter of Malory make him the most generally 
known of all old authors, except, of course, the translators of the Bible.' 




Book 1 8, chaps. 18-20. Based upon the French prose romance of Lancelot 
(first half of the thirteenth century), and the fourteenth-century Morte 
Arthur contained in Harleian MS. 2252 of the British Museum (edited by 
Bruce for the E. E. T. S.; see also Hemingway's edition, Boston, 1912) ; but 
chapter 20 is almost wholly due to Malory. For details concerning the rela 
tion of our passage to the French Lancelot, see Sommer 3. 10, 222-8, 250; 
for the text of the OF. original, see Mort Artu, ed. Bruce, pp. 74 ff. For the 
general subject of Lancelot, see Jessie L. Weston's The Legend of Lancelot 
du Lac (London, 1901). 

Tennyson's Lady of Shalott and Lancelot and Elaine are founded on Malory. 

And so upon a morne they took their horses, and Elayne le Blank 
with them ; and whan they came to Astolat, there were they wel 
lodged, and had grete chere of Syre Bernard the old baron, and of 
Sir Tyrre his sone. And so t upon the morne, whan Syr Launcelot 

5 shold 1 departe, fayre Elayne broujt her fader with her, and Sir 
Lavayne and Sir Tyrre, and thus she said : ' My lord Syr Launcelot, 
now I see ye wylle departe, now, fayre knyghte and curtois knyghte, 
have mercy upon me, and suffer me not to dye for thy love.' ' What 
wold ye that I dyd ? ' said Syr Launcelot. ' I wold have you to my 

10 husbond,' sayd Elayne. ' Fair damoysel, I thanke yow.' sayd Syr 
Launcelot, ' but truly,' sayd he, ' I cast 2 me never to be wedded 
man.' ' Thenne, fair knyght,' said she, ' wylle ye be my peramour ? ' 8 
' Jesu defende me,' said Syr Launcelot, ' for thenne I rewarded 4 
your fader and your broder ful evylle for their grete goodenes.' 

15 'Alias,' sayd she, 'thenne must I dye for your love.' 'Ye shal not 
so,' said Syre Launcelot, ' for wete 5 ye wel, fayr mayden, I myght 
have ben maryed and 6 I had wolde, 7 but I never applyed me to be 
maryed yet. But by cause, 8 fair damoysel, that ye love me as ye 
saye ye doo, I wille, for your good wylle and kyndenes, shewe yow 

20 somme goodenes, and that is this: that w[h]eresomever ye wille 
beset' youre herte upon somme goode knyghte that wylle wedde 
yow, I shalle gyve yow togyders 10 a thousand pound yerely, to yow 

1 was to, was about to 5 w j t; know 9 se t, place 

intend (NED. 44. b) 6 if 10 together 

8 paramour, illicit lover 1 willed, wished 

4 should reward (subj.) 8 because 


and to your heyres. Thus moche will I gyve yow, faire madame, for 
your kyndenes, and alweyes whyle I lyve to be your owne knyghte.' 
' Of alle this,' saide the mayden, ' I wille none, for, but-yf * ye 
wille wedde me, or ellys be my peramour at the leest, wete yow wel, 
Sir Launcelot, my good dayes are done.' ' Fair damoysel/ sayd Sir 5 
Launcelot, ' of these two thynges ye must pardonne me.' Thenne 
she shryked 2 shyrly, 8 and felle doune in a swoune; and thenne 
wymmen bare her into her chamber, and there she made overmoche 
sorowe. And thenne Sir Launcelot wold departe ; and there he asked 
Sir Lavayn what he wold doo. ' What shold I doo,' said Syre Lavayne, 10 
' but folowe yow, but-yf ye dryve me from yow, or commaunde me 
to goo from yow ? ' . . . 

Thenne Sir Launcelot took his leve, and soo they departed, and 
came unto Wynchestre. And whan Arthur wyste 4 that Syr Launcelot 
was come, hole 6 and sound, the kynge maade grete joye of hym, and 15 
soo dyd Sir Gawayn, and all the knyjtes of the Round Table excepte 
Sir Agravayn and Sire Mordred. Also Quene Guenever was woode 6 
wrothe with Sir Launcelot, and wold by no meanes speke with hym, 
but enstraunged 7 herself from hym, and Sir Launcelot made alle the 
meanes that he myght for to speke with the quene, but hit wolde 20 
not be. 

Now speke we of the fayre mayden of Astolat, that made suche 
sorowe daye and nyght that she never slepte, etc, nor drank; and 
ever she made her complaynt unto Sir Launcelot. So when she had 
thus endured a ten dayes, that she febled so 8 that she must nedes 25 
passe out of thys world, thenne she shryved 9 her clene, and receyved 
her Creatoure. 10 And ever she complayned stylle upon Sire Launcelot. 
Thenne her ghoostly u fader bad her leve suche thoughtes. Thenne 
she sayd : ' Why shold I leve suche thoughtes ? Am I not an erthely 
woman ? And alle the whyle the brethe is in my body I may com- 30 
playne me, for my byleve is I doo none offence though I love an 
erthely man, and I take God to my record I loved none but Sir 
Launcelot du Lake, nor never shall ; and a clene mayden I am for 

1 unless 5 This is direct from OE. hal 9 confessed and received absolution 

2 shrieked 6 mad(ly) w the sacrament 
8 shrilly " estranged U spiritual 

4 knew 8 grew so weak 


hym and for alle other. And sythen * hit is the sufferaunce 2 of God 
that I shalle dye for the love of soo noble a knyghte, I byseche the 
hyghe Fader of heven to have mercy upon my sowle, and [that] myn 
innumerable paynes that I suffred may be allygeaunce 8 of parte of 

5 my synnes. For swete Lord Jesu,' sayd the fayre mayden, ' I take 
the to record, on the 4 I was never grete offenser ageynst thy lawes, 
but that I loved this noble knyght Sire Launcelot out of mesure, and 
of myself, good Lord, I myght not withstande the fervent love wher- 
for 6 1 have my dethe.' And thenne she called her fader Sire Bernard, 

10 and her broder Sir Tyrre, and hertely she praid her fader that her 
broder myght wryte a letter lyke as she did endyte hit ; and so her 
fader graunted her. And whan the letter was wryten word by word 
lyke as she devysed, thenne she prayd her fader that she myght be 
watched untyl she were dede. ' And whyle my body is hote, 6 lete this 

15 letter be putt in my ryght hand, and my hande bounde fast with the 
letter untyl that I be cold, and lete me be putte in a fayre bedde, with 
alle the rychest clothes that I have aboute me, and so lete my bedde 
and alle my rychest clothes be laide with me in a charyot unto the 
next place where Temse 7 is, and there lete me be putte within a 

20 barget, 8 and but one man with me, suche as ye trust to stere me 
thyder, and that my barget be covered with blak samyte, 9 over and 
over. Thus, fader, I byseche yow, lete hit be done.' Soo her fader 
graunted hit her feythfully, alle thynge shold be done lyke as she had 
devysed. Thenne her fader and her broder made grete dole, 10 for, 

25 when this was done, anone 11 she dyed. And soo whan she was dede, 
the corps, and the bedde, alle was ledde the next way unto Temse, 
and there a man, and the corps, and alle, were put into Temse, and 
soo the man sty red 11 the barget unto Westmynster, and there he 
rowed a grete whyle to and fro or 18 ony aspyed hit. 

30 Soo by fortune Kynge Arthur and the Quene Guenever were spek- 
ynge togyders at a wyndowe ; and soo as they loked into Temse, they 
aspyed this blak barget, and hadde merveylle what it mente. Thenne 

1 since (< sithens, 6 because of which w lamentation 

sithence) 6 hot, warm H immediately (in one, 

2 permission 7 Thames i.e. minute) 

3 alleviation 8 barge ^ steered 

4 toward thee samite, rich silk <- -' M ere, before- 


the kynge called Sire Kay, and shewed hit hym. ' Sir,' said Sir Kay, 
' wete you wel there is some newe tydynges.' ' Goo thyder,' sayd the 
kynge to Sir Kay, ' and take with yow Sire Brandyles and Agravayne, 
and brynge me redy word what is there.' Thenne these four knyghtes 
departed, and came to the barget, and wente in ; and there they fond 5 
the fayrest corps lyenge in a ryche bedde, and a poure man sittyng 
in the bargets ende, and no word wold he speke. Soo these foure 
knyghtes retorned unto the kyng ageyne, and told hym what they 
fond. ' That fayr corps wylle I see,' sayd the kynge. And soo thenne 
the kyng took the quene by the hand, and went thydder. Thenne the 10 
kynge made the barget to be holden fast ; and thenne the kyng and 
pe quene entred, with certayn knyjtes wyth them. And there he sawe 
the fayrest woman lye in a ryche bedde, coverd unto her myddel with 
many ryche clothes, and alle was of clothe of gold, and she lay as 
though she had smyled. Thenne the quene aspyed a letter in her 15 
ryght hand, and told it to the kynge. Thenne the kynge took it, and 
sayd : ' Now am I sure this letter wille telle what she was, and why 
she is come hydder.' Soo thenne the kynge and the quene wente 
oute of the barget, and soo commaunded a certayne l wayte upon the 
barget. And soo whan the kynge was come within his chamber, he 20 
called many knyghtes aboute hym, and saide that he wold wete openly 
what was wryten within that letter. Thenne the kynge brake it, and 
made a clerke 2 to rede hit ; and this was the entente 8 of the letter : 
' Moost noble knyghte, Sir Launcelot, now hath dethe made us two 
at debate for your love ; I was your lover, that men called the fayre 25 
mayden of Astolat ; therfor unto alle ladyes I make my mone ; yet 
praye for my soule, and bery me atte leest, and offre ye my masse- 
peny. 4 This is my last request. And a clene mayden I dyed, I take 
God to wytnes. Pray for my soule, Sir Launcelot, as thou art pierles. 6 ' 
This was alle the substance in the letter. And whan it was redde, the 30 
kyng, the quene, and alle the knyghtes wepte for pyte of the doleful 
complayntes. Thenne was Sire Launcelot sente for. And whan he 
was come, Kynge Arthur made the letter to be redde to hym ; and 
whanne Sire Launcelot herd hit word by word, he sayd : ' My lord 

1 certain person (or persons) 8 meaning, substance 6 peerless 

2 learned man, scholar (Lat. clericus) * funeral dues 


Arthur, wete ye wel I am ryghte hevy 1 of the dethe of this fair 
damoysel. God knoweth I was never causer of her dethe by my 
wyllynge, and that wille I reporte me 2 to her own broder; here he 
is, Sir Lavayne. I wille not saye nay,' sayd Syre Launcelot, ' but that 

5 she was bothe fayre and good, and moche I was beholden unto her ; 
but she loved me out of mesure.' ' Ye myght have shewed her,' sayd 
the quene, ' somme bounte and gentilnes, that myghte have preserved 
her lyf.' ' Madame,' sayd Sir Launcelot, ' she wold none other wayes 
be ansuerd, but that she wold be my wyf , outher 8 els my peramour, 

10 and of these two I wold not graunte her ; but I proferd her, for her 
good love that she shewed me, a thousand pound yerly to her and to 
her heyres, and to 4 wedde ony manere knyghte 5 that she coude fynde 
best to love in her herte. For, madame,' said Sir Launcelot, ' I love 
not to be constrayned to love ; for love muste aryse of the herte, and 

15 not by no constraynte.' 'That is trouth,' sayd the kynge, and many 

' knyghtes ; ' love is free in hymselfe, and never wille be bounden, for 

where he is bounden he looseth hymself.' Thenne sayd the kynge 

unto Sire Launcelot : ' Hit wyl be your worshyp 6 that ye oversee 7 

that she be entered 8 worshypfully.' ' Sire,' sayd Sire Launcelot, ' that 

20 shalle be done as I can best devyse.' And soo many knyghtes yede 9 

' thyder to behold that fayr mayden. And soo upon the morne she 

was entered rychely, and Sir Launcelot offryd her masse-peny, and 

all the knyjtes of the Table Round that were there at that tyme offryd 

with Syr Launcelot. And thenne the povre man wente ageyne with 

25 the barget. Thenne the quene sente for Syr Launcelot, and prayd 
hym of mercy, 10 for why u that she had ben wrothe with hym causeles. 
' This is not the fyrste tyme,' said Sir Launcelot, ' that ye have ben 
displeasyd with me causeles ; but, madame, ever I must suffre yow, 
but what sorowe I endure I take no force.' 12 

1 sorrowful 6 to your credit 10 besought his pardon 

2 refer (by way of appeal) 7 provide n because 

8 or 8 interred 12 1 do not mind 

4 that she might 9 went 

6 of knight (for an explanation see NED. s.v. kin, 6.b) 



Book 8, chaps. 23, 24. Based upon the O.F. thirteenth-century romance 
of Tristan, ' which has been printed oftener than any other romance ' ; see 
Sommer 3. 9, 286. 

Thenne Kynge Anguysshe and Syre Tristram toke theire leve, ande 
sailed into Irland with grete noblesse 1 and joye. Soo whanne they 
were in Irland, the kynge lete 2 make it knowen 8 thoroute alle the 
land, how and in what manere Syre Trystram had done for hym. 
Thenne the quene and alle that there were made the moost of hym 5 
that they myghte. But the joye that La Beale Isoud made of Syr 
Tristram there myghte no tonge telle, for of alle men erthely she 
loved hym moost. 

Thenne, upon a daye, Kynge Anguysshe asked Syr Tristram why 
he asked not his bone, 4 for whatsomever he had promysed hym he 10 
shold have hit withoute fayle. ' Syre,' sayd Sire Trystram, ' now is hit 
tyme ; this is alle that I wylle desyre, that ye wylle gyve me La Beale 
Isoud youre doughter, not for myself, but for myn unkel Kynge 
Marke, that shalle have her to wyf, for soo have I promysed hym.' 
' Alias,' said the kynge, ' I had lever 5 than alle the land that I have 15 
ye wold wedde her youreself.' ' Syre, and I dyd, than I were shamed 
for ever in this world, and fals of my promyse. Therefore,' said Sire 
Trystram, ' I praye you hold your promyse that ye promysed me, for 
this is my desyre, that ye wylle gyve me La Beale Isoud to goo with 
me into Cornewaile, for to be wedded to Kynge Marke, myn unkel.' 20 
' As for that,' sayd Kynge Anguysshe, ' ye shalle have her with you, 
to doo with her what it please you, that is for to saye yf that ye lyst 6 
to wedde her yourself, that is me levest 7 ; and yf ye wille gyve her 
unto Kynge Marke, youre unkel, that is in youre choyse.' 

Soo to make short conclusion, La Beale Isoud was made redy to 25 
goo with Syre Trystram, and Dame Bragwayne wente with her for 
her chyef gentylwoman, with many other. Thenne the quene, Isouds 
moder, gaf to her and Dame Bragwayne, her doughters gentilwoman, 

1 pomp 4 boon 6 wish 

2 let 6 rather 7 most pleasing 

3 caused it to be made known 


and unto Governaile, a drynke, and charged them that what day Kynge 
Marke shold wedde, that same daye they shold gyve hym that drynke, 
soo that Kynge Marke shold drynke to La Beale Isoud ; ' and thenne,' 
said the quene, ' I undertake eyther shalle love other the dayes of 

5 their lyf.' Soo this drynke was yeven unto Dame Bragwayne and 
unto Governaile. And thenne anone Syre Trystram tooke the see 
and La Beale Isoud ; and whan they were in theire caban, hit happed 
soo that they were thursty, and they sawe a lytyl flacke[t] * of gold 
stande by them, and hit semed by the coloure and the taste that it 

10 was noble wyn. Thenne Sire Trystram toke the flacke[t] in his hand, 
and sayd : ' Madame Isoud, here is the best drynke that ever ye drank, 
that Dame Bragwayne youre mayden, and Governayle my servaunt, 
have kepte for themself.' Thenne they lough and made good chere, 
and eyther dranke to other frely, and they thoughte never drynke 

15 that ever they dranke to other was soo swete nor soo good. But by 
that 2 theyr drynke was in their bodyes, they loved eyther other so 
wel that never theyr love departed, for wele neyther 8 for wo. And 
thus it happed the love fyrste betwixe Sire Tristram and La Beale 
Isoud, the whiche love never departed the dayes of their lyf. 


Book 13, chaps. 6-7. This comes from La Queste del Saint Graal (edited by 
Furnivall for the Roxburghe Club, London, 1864) ; see Sommer 3. 206, 209, 210. 

With the second and third paragraphs of this extract may be compared 
Tennyson, Holy Grail 182 ff., 314 ff. 

20 ' Now,' sayd the kyng, ' I am sure at this quest of the Sancgreal 
shalle alle ye of the Table Rounde departe, and never shalle I see yow 
ageyne hole togyders ; therfor I wille see yow alle hole togyders in 
the medowe of Camelot, to juste and to torneye, that after your dethe 
men maye speke of hit, that suche good knyghtes were holy 4 togyders 

25 suche a day.' As unto that counceyll, and at the kynges request, they 
accorded alle, and toke on their harneis 6 that longed 6 unto justynge. 

1 flask 8 nor 6 armor 

2 by the time * wholly 6 belonged 


But alle this mevynge l of the kyng was for this entent, for to see 
Galahalt preved, 2 for the kynge demed 8 he shold not lyghtly 4 come 
ageyne unto the courte after his departynge. So were they assembled 
in the medowe, bothe more and lasse. 6 Thenne Syr Galahalt, by the 
prayer of the kynge and the quene, dyd upon hym a noble jesseraunce, 5 
and also he dyd on 6 hys helme, but shelde wold he take none for no 
prayer of the kyng. And thenne Sir Gawayne and other knyghtes 
praid hym to take a spere. Ryghte soo he dyd ; and the quene was 
in a toure with alle her ladyes for to behold that turnement. Thenne 
Sir Galahalt dressid hym 7 in myddes 8 of the medowe, and began to 10 
breke speres merveyllously, that all men had wonder of hym, for he 
there surmounted 9 alle other knyjtes, for within a whyle he had de- 
fouled 10 many good knyghtes of the Table Round sauf 11 tweyne, 
that was Syr Launcelot and Sire Percyvale. 

Thenne the kyng, at the quenes request, made hym to alyghte and 1 5 
to unlace his helme, that the quene myjt see hym in the vysage. 
Whanne she beheld hym, she sayd : ' Sothely, 12 I dar wel say that 
Sir Launcelot begat hym, for never two men resembled more in 
lykenes, therfor it nys no merveyle though he be of grete prowesse.' 
So a lady that stode by the quene said : ' Madame, for Goddes sake, 20 
oughte he of ryghte to be so good a knyghte ? ' ' Ye, 18 forsothe,' 
said the quene, ' for he is of alle partyes 14 come of the best knyghtes 
of the world, and of the hyhest lygnage 15 ; for Sir Launcelot is come 
but of the eighth degre from oure Lord Jesu Cryst, and Syre Galahalt 
is of the nynthe degree from oure Lord Jesu Cryst; therfor I dar saye 25 
they be the grettest gentilmen of the world.' And thenne the kynge 

1 suggestion (moving) 6 put on ; cf. undo U save, except 

2 proved, tried '> made ready 12 in truth 
8 supposed s the midst 13 yea 

readily 9 surpassed M in all respects 

5 less 10 trodden down, overthrown 15 lineage 

5. jesseraunce: more correctly, jazeran t, a word of Saracenic origin (found 
in the name Algiers), occurring in OF. in the Chanson de Roland '; it signifies 
(NED.) : ' A light coat of armor, composed of splints or small plates of metal 
riveted to each other, or to a lining of some stout material.' Scott (Quentin 
Durward) calls it a ' flexible shirt of linked mail.' 

24. Cryst: 'the first true gentleman that ever breathed' (Dekker). The 
sentence, from ' for Sir Launcelot ' to ' world,' is original with Malory. 


and al estates l wente home unto Camelot, and soo wente to evensonge 
to the grete mynster. And soo after upon that to souper, and every 
knyjt sette in his owne place as they were toforehand. Thenne anone 
they herd crakynge and cryenge of thonder, that hem thought the 

5 place shold alle todryve. 2 In the myddes of this blast entred a sonne- 
beaume more clerer by seven tymes than ever they sawe daye, and al 
they were alyghted of the grace of the Holy Ghoost. Thenne beganne 
every knyghte to behold other, and eyther sawe other by theire semynge 
fayrer than ever they sawe afore. Not for thenne 3 there was no knyght 

10 myghte speke one word a grete whyle, and soo they loked every man 
[o]n other, as they had ben dome. 4 Thenne ther entred into the halle 
the Holy Graile, coverd with whyte samyte, but ther was none myghte 
see hit, nor who bare hit. And there was al the halle fulfylled 5 with 
good odoures, and every knyjt had suche metes and drynkes as he 

15 best loved in this world. And whan the Holy Grayle had be 6 borne 
thurgh the halle, thenne the holy vessel departed sodenly, that they 
wyste not where hit becam. 7 Thenne had they alle brethe to speke. 
And thenne the kynge y elded 8 thankynges to God of his good grace 
that he had sente them. ' Certes,' said the kynge, ' we oughte to 

20 thanke oure Lord Jesu gretely, for that he hath shewed us this daye, 
atte reverence of this hyhe feest of Pentecost.' ' Now,' said Sir Gawayn, 
' we have ben served this daye of what metes and drynkes we thoughte 
on, but one thynge begyled us we myght not see the Holy Grayle, 
it was soo precyously coverd ; wherf or I wil make here avowe 9 that 

25 to-morne, 10 withoute lenger 11 abydyng, 12 I shall laboure in the quest 
of the Sancgreal, that I shalle hold me oute a twelvemoneth and a 
day, or more yf nede be, and never shalle I retorne ageyne unto the 
courte tyl I have sene hit more openly than hit hath ben sene here ; 
and yf I may not spede, 18 I shall retorne ageyne, as he that maye not 

30 be ageynst the wil of our Lord Jesu Cryste.' Whan they of the 
Table Round herde Syr Gawayne saye so, they arose up the most 
party, 14 and maade suche avowes as Sire Gawayne had. made. 

1 ranks, degrees 6 been ll longer 

2 burst asunder 7 went 12 delay 

3 nevertheless 8 g av e M succeed 

* dumb 9 vow 1* most part, greater number 

6 filled 10 to-morrow 


Anone as Kynge Arthur herd this, he was gretely dyspleasyd, for 
he wyste wel they myghte not ageynesaye 1 theyre avowes. ' Alias ! ' 
said Kynge Arthur unto Sir Gawayn, ' ye have nyghe slayne me with 
the avowe and promesse that ye have made. For thurgh yow ye have 
beraf te 2 me the f ayrest felauship and the truest of knyghthode that 5 
ever were sene togyders in ony realme of the world. For whanne 
they departe from hens, I am sure they alle shalle never mete more 
in thys world, for they shalle dye many in the quest. And soo it 
forthynketh 8 me a lytel, for I have loved them as wel as my lyf.' 


The romance probably antedates 1250; the Cambridge manuscript (1530 
lines), here followed, may be dated about 1310. The best edition is by Joseph 
Hall (Oxford, 1901). 

The story is of a prince, who, set adrift by conquering Saracens, lands in 
Westernesse, is loved by the king's daughter of that country, is banished when 
his love is discovered, returns in time to save her from another marriage, wins 
her for himself, and finally becomes king of his native land. 

According to Hall (pp. liii-lvi) : ' King Horn is essentially English, a plain 
impersonal tale, picturing a simple state of society, and full of primitive 
touches centuries older than its language, written in a metre which is a natural 
development of Old English prosody. . . . [The] poem, as we have it, is a story 

!of the Danish raids on the south coast of England. It is, in the main, Teutonic 
in spirit and details : the names of the persons and places are mostly Teutonic, 
or assimilated to Teutonic forms. . . . Rimenhild and Aylmar, and his court 
on the banks of the Dorsetshire Stour, are English additions to the original 
story, and the real Westernesse is Ireland. Then all the localities and surround 
ings are Celtic. Murry ... is king of Suddene, the country of the Southern 
Damnonii, that is, of Cornwall. . . . The banished Horn finds shelter at the 
court of an Irish king ; with Irish troops, and accompanied by an Irish page, 
he recovers his father's kingdom. His rival is a Breton prince, Modi, king of 
Renns. These indications point to the conclusion that the story is originally 
'a British tradition, arising out of some temporary success in which the Cornish, 

i aided by the Irish, checked the westward progress of the English invader. It 
was annexed by some English poet, and recast to suit the similar position of 
his countrymen resisting the attacks of the Danes. Finally, it emerged at a 
much later date in the shape of the extant versions, under the impulse of the 
rising spirit of the English people recovering from the Norman Conquest, 
i which found its peculiar literary expression in a whole cycle of outlaw and 
exile stories in verse and prose. 

1 retract, break 2 bereft, deprived (with two accusatives) 8 grieves 


' The literary interest of A'ing Horn may be characterized in few words. It 
is probably the earliest of the English romances, but as a specimen of the 
purely narrative sort it has great merit. In swift succession of brief and 
incisive speeches it tells a simple story effectively, without distraction of elab 
orate description or reflective comment. But the characters are very simply 
conceived, the female element is slight, and lovemaking is quite subordinate 
to fighting. Although picturesque and even poetic situations, such as Horn's 
farewell to his boat, are not wanting, the language is bald and unimaginative. 

1A certain epic simplicity and energetic directness of expression, to which the 
short verse lends itself, are the main merits of its style.' 

Our extract runs from line 445 to line 586. The earlier course of the story 
is as follows : Saracens kill King Murry of Suddene, and set adrift the young 
prince, Horn, and his companions. The latter are carried over the water to 
Westernesse, where King Aylmar receives them kindly, and bids the steward 
Athelbrus teach Horn the arts of harping and song, and train him to serve the 
wine and carve at table. Horn is soon loved by all the court, but especially by 
the king's daughter, Rymenhild. She bids the steward bring him to her charri- 
ber, but Athelbrus, in dread of the king's anger, brings instead Horn's com 
panion, Athulf. To Athulf she gives her love, supposing him to be Horn, but 
Athulf finally explains the mistake, and she upbraids the steward. Athelbrus 
again promises to bring Horn, and this time really does so. Rymenhild de 
clares her love to Horn, and offers to marry him. He gently declines, on the 
ground that he is unworthy by birth for the honor, whereupon she swoons. 
Horn is moved by her grief, and suggests that marriage might be possible if 
he were a knight. 

Rymenhild, }>at swete bing, 
Wakede of hire swooning. 1 
' Horn,' qua)> 2 heo, 8 ' wel 4 sone 6 
J>at schal beon * idone 7 : 
J>u schalt beo 8 dubbed knijt 
Are 9 come seve 10 nijt. 
Have her u )>is cuppe, 
And ]>\s ryng peruppe 12 
To Aylbrus )>e 18 stuard, 
And se 14 he holde foreward. 

1 swoon 6 be H here 

* quoth, said 1 done (OE.geddn) thereupon, in addition 

* she be MS. & 

* very : MS. vel before " see (that) 

6 soon i" seven 1* keep his promise 

7. Have: the Harleian and Laud MSS. have here a word for 'take.' 


Seie l Ihc him biseche 

Wi|> loveliche 2 speche 

f>at he adun 8 falle 

Bifore |>e king in halle, 

And bidde |>e king arijte * 5 

Dubbe )>e to kniyte. 

VVij) selver and wi|> golde 

Hit wurj> 8 him wel ijolde.* 

Crist him lene 7 spede 8 

J>in erende 9 to bede.' 10 10 

Horn tok his leve, 
For hit was nej n eve. 
Abelbrus he sojte, 
And jaf ia him |>at 18 he brojte, 

And tolde him f ul jare w 1 5 

Hu 18 he hadde if are, 1 * 
And sede 17 him his nede, 
And bihet 18 him his mede. 19 

A]>elbrus also swibe w 

Wente to halle blive. 21 * 

' Kyng,' he sede, ' Jm leste M 
A tale mid |>e beste ; 
J>u schalt bere crime M 
To-moreye M in bis tune M ; 

To-moreye is )>i feste ** ; 2 S 

)?er ^ bihoveb a8 geste. 
Hit nere 80 noyt forloren 81 
For to kniyti 8 * Child 88 Horn, 

l say w gave 38 crown 

* loving, affectionate that which, what OE. a morgt* 

* down M readily, quickly . ** town 
as is right 16 how * feast 

6 shall be i fared (QK.gtfartn) 37 f or this 

requited w said, told ' is fitting 

I grant l* promised 39 entertainment, conspicuous act 
8 success 19 reward * would not be 

mission *> as fast as possible g i lost, thrown away, without value 
"make known (OE.MoJtm) 31 i n haste w knight 

II nearly 34 H s ten aspirant to knighthood 




2 5 

J>ine armes for to welde l ; 
God 2 knijt he schal jelde." 

J>e king sede sone : 
1 J>at is wel idone 
Horn me wel iquemef * ; 
God knijt him biseme)). 6 
He schal have mi dubbing, 
And afterward [be] mi derling ; 
And alle his feren 6 twelf 
He schal knijten himself : 
Alle he schal hem 7 knijte 
Bifore me j>is nijte.' 

Til }>e list of day sprang 
Ailmar him Jmjte 8 lang. 
J>e day bigan to springe ; 
Horn com 9 bivore fe kinge 
Mid his twelf yfere 10 
Sume hi u were lupere. 12 
Horn he dubbede to knijte, 
Wif swerd and spures brijte. 
He sette him on a stede 18 whit ; 
J>er nas no knijt hym ilik. 14 
He smot him a litel wijt, 16 
And bed 16 him beon a god kni^t. 

Ajmlf fel a 17 knes J>ar 18 
Bivore fe king Aylmar. 
1 King,' he sede, ' so kene, 19 
Grante me a bene m : 
Nu 21 is knijt Sire Horn 
J>at in Suddenne 22 was iboren m ; 

1 wield 

2 good, valorous 

8 turn out, become 
* pleases 
6 he seems 

6 companions (OE. geferari) 

7 them 

8 it seemed to Ailmar 

9 came 

10 See 1. 9 

11 some of them (some they) 

12 wicked 
is steed 

" like (OE. geRc) 

15 a little bit, gently 

16 bade 

is there 
l brave 

20 boon, request 

21 now 

22 See Intr., p. ii 

23 born (OE. geboren\ 


Lord he is of londe 

Over us fat bi him stonde l ; 

f>in armes he haf and scheld, 8 

To fijte wif upon f e feld ; 

Let him us alle knijte, 5 

For fat is ure 8 rijte.' 

Aylmar sede sone ywis * : 

' Do nu fat fi wille is.' 

Horn adun ligte, 8 

And makede 6 hem alle knijtes. 10 

Murie 7 was f e feste, 
Al of faire gestes ; 
Ac Rymenhild nas nogt fer, 
And fat hire f ujte 8 seve 9 jer. 10 
After Horn heo n sente, 1 5 

And he to bure 12 wente. 
Nolde he nogt go one 18 
Afulf was his mone. 14 

Rymenhild on flore stod 

(Homes come 15 hire f ujte god), 20 

And sede : ' Welcome, Sire Horn, 
And Afulf knijt fe biforn. 
Knijt, nu is fi time 
For to sitte bi me ; 

Do nu fat fu er 16 of spake : 25 

To f i wif f u me take ; 
Ef 17 f u art trewe of dedes, 
Do nu ase f u sedes 18 ; 
Nu f u hast wille fine, 
Unbind 19 me of my pine.' 20 3 

1 stand 1 merry, joyous 14 companion (OE. gemdna) 

2 shield seemed to her 15 coming 

3 our 9 seven 16 before 

4 certainly, indeed 10 years 17 if 

5 alighted, descended from n she 18 saidest 

horseback 12 bower, lady's chamber 19 set free 

6 made 13 alone 2 torment 


' Rymenhild,' qua}) he, ' beo stille 
Ihc wulle x don al ]>i wille. 
Also 2 hit mot 8 bitide,* 
Mid spere I schal 6 furst ride, 

5 And mi'knijthod prove, 

Ar 6 Ihc )>e ginne 7 to woje. 8 
We bej? 9 knijtes jonge, 
Of o 10 dai al isprunge, 11 
And of ure mestere 12 

10 So 18 is pe manere u : 

Wi)> sume of>ere knijte 
Wei for his lemman 16 fijte, 
Or 16 he eni n wif take ; 
For)>i 18 me stondep 19 )>e more rape. 20 

15 To-day, so Crist me blesse, 

Ihc wulle do pruesse 21 
For )>i luve in ]>e felde, 
Mid spere and mid schelde ; 
If Ihc come to lyve, 22 

20 Ihc schal )>e take to wyve.' 23 

' Kni^t,' quaf heo, ' trewe, 
Ihc wene 24 Ihc mai ]> e leve 2S ; 
Tak nu her fis gold ring, 
God him is ]>e dubbing 26 ; 

25 J>er is upon fe ringe 

Igrave 27 " Rymenhild }>e jonge. 28 " 
J>er nis non betere anonder 29 sunne, 
J>at eni man of telle cunne 80 ; 

1 will n having taken origin (OE. gesfrungen) 21 deeds of valor 

2 even so u profession 22 return alive 

8 must ls thus 2 s wife 
4 befall 14 custom 24 think 

6 am bound to 16 lady-love K believe, trust 

6 before 16 before 26 ornamentation 

^ begin 17 any 27 engraved 

s woo 18 wherefore 2 s Read singe (?) 

9 are 19 there exists for me 29 under 

1 one, the same 20 haste may be able 


For my luve Jm hit were, 

And on Jri finger Jm hit * here. 

J>e stones beoj> 2 of suche grace 8 

f>at Jm ne schalt in none place 

Of none duntes 4 beon ofdrad, 6 5 

Ne 6 on bataille beon amad, 7 

Ef Jm loke J>eran, 8 

And J>enke upon ]>i lemman. 

And Sire Ajmlf, Jn broker, 

He schal have anoper. 10 

Horn, Ihc pe biseche 

Wi}> loveliche speche, 

Crist jeve 9 god endinge, 10 

J>e ajen u to bringe.' 

f>e knigt hire gan 12 kesse, 15 

And heo him to blesse. 
Leve at 18 hire he nam, 1 * 
And into halle cam. 


Composed before 1300; the unique manuscript (3001 lines) is in the Bod 
leian Library at Oxford, and may be dated about 1310. The English poem is 
probably a translation of a lost French one. The best recent editions are 
those by Holthausen (London, 1901) and Skeat (Oxford, 1915). 

The story is of an exiled prince of Denmark, who becomes a servant at the 
English court, marries the princess of that country, and finally succeeds to the 
thrones of both Denmark and England. 

' The historical source of the name and fame, and perhaps of the story of 
Havelok, has been traced to the life of Olaf Sitricson [see Diet. Nat. Biog], 
a Danish prince, who, about the middle of the tenth century, reigned for a few 
years in Northumbria. . . . One of the strongest motives underlying the devel 
opment of the Havelok legend may well have been political or national, 
namely, the desire of the Danes to prove their right to sovereignty in England ' 
(Billings, pp. 18, 20). 

1 MS. him 6 nor u back again 

2 are 7 crazed, bewildered (Q~S.. gemadd) 12 began 
8 power, virtue 8 upon it w of 

4 blows 9 grant M took 

6 afraid 10 MS. erndinge 


The ancient town-seal of Great Grimsby, in Lincolnshire, embodies a mani 
fest allusion to our story. The seal is described at length by J. Hopkin, as 
quoted in Skeat's edition (pp. liv Ivi), from which the following extract is 
taken : ' On the right hand of Gryme stands his protigt Haveloc (" Habloc "), 
whom, during one of his mercantile excursions soon after his arrival in Lincoln 
shire, Gryme had the good fortune to save from imminent danger of ship 
wreck, and who proved to be the son of Gunter, King of Denmark, and who 
was therefore conveyed to the British court, where he subsequently received 
in marriage Goldburgh, the daughter of the British sovereign. Above Gryme 
is represented a hand, being emblematical of the hand of Providence by which 
Haveloc was preserved, and near the hand is the star which marks the point 
where the inscription begins and ends. Haveloc made such a favorable repre 
sentation of his preserver at the British and Danish courts that he procured 
for him many honors and privileges. From the British monarch Gryme, who 
had already realized an abundance of wealth, received a charter, and was made 
the chief governor of Grimsby ; and the Danish sovereign granted to the town 
an immunity (which is still possessed by the burgesses of Grimsby) from all 
tolls at the port of Elsineur. Gryme afterwards lived in Grimsby like a petty 
prince in his hereditary dominions. Above Haveloc is represented a crown, 
and in his right hand is a battle-axe, the favorite weapon of the Northmen, 
and in his [left] hand is a ring which he is presenting to the British princess 
Goldburgh (" Goldebvrgh "), who stands on the left side of Gryme, and whose 
right hand is held towards the ring. Over her head is a regal diadem, and in 
her left hand is a sceptre. Sir F. Madden states that it is certain that this seal 
is at least as old as the time of Edward I (and therefore contemporaneous with 
the MS.), as the legend is written in a character which after the year 1300 fell 
into disuse, and was succeeded by the black letter, or Gothic.' 

The mention of Elsinore (Elsineur) suggests the name of Hamlet; for the 
connection between his story and that of Havelok, see the introduction to 
Israel Gollancz's Hamlet in Iceland (London, 1898). 

Our extract embraces lines 862-1281. 

The earlier part of the story runs as follows : A good king of England, 
Athelwold, under whom the realm had been serenely peaceful and happy, lay 
at the point of death, with only an infant daughter, Goldborough, to succeed 
him. He called to him his lords and thanes, and bade them tell him to whom 
he might most safely entrust the kingdom until such time as his daughter could 
bear rule. They all declared that Earl Godrich was the man ; and to him the 
child and the regency of the country were accordingly committed. But love 
of power made this man false ; when Goldborough was twenty years old, he 
imprisoned her in a strong castle, and himself continued to rule. 

Meanwhile, a similar story had been enacted in Denmark. Its king, Birka- 
beyn, had before his death entrusted his young son and two small daughters 
to a supposedly faithful vassal, Godard. The latter with his own hands killed 
two of the children, and ordered a fisherman, Grim, to drown the boy Havelok 
by the light of the moon. Grim carried Havelok home in a sack ; but when he 


rose at midnight to drown the child, a bright and shining light streamed forth 
from the sack, and both Grim and his wife recognized this as a sign of royal 
blood in the boy. They fell on their knees before him, and promised faithful 

Soon after, Grim decided to flee from the country, and embarked in a boat 
with his wife, five children, and Havelok. Winds drove him to the coast of 
England, where he landed at the mouth of the Humber, and dwelt in a spot 
called, after him, Grimsby. Twelve years later, Havelok, now a well-grown 
youth, left the family of Grim to seek his fortune ; and at this point our selec 
tion begins. 

In the manuscript, th is frequently found for ht and for /; in such cases the 
change has been made without notice. 

To Lincolne barfot he 1 
Hwan 2 he kam J>e[r], he was ful wil, 8 
Ne havede 4 he no f rend to gangen 5 til 6 ; 
Two day_es per fastinde 7 he yede, 

J?at non 8 for his werk wolde 9 him fede ; 5 

fe fridde 10 day he herde calle : 
' Befmen, 11 bermen, hider 12 forth alle I ' 
[Povre 13 fat on fote yede] u 
Sprongen 15 forth so 16 sparke of 17 glede. 18 
Havelok shpf 19 dun 20 [wel] 21 nyne or ten 10 

Riht 22 amideward M )>e fen, 24 
And stirte 25 forth to ]>e kok, 26 
[J>er 27 the erles mete he tok] u 
f>at he bouhte 28 at )>e brigge ; 

J?e bermen let he alle ligge, 29 1 S 

And bar 80 }>e mete to J>e castel, 
And gat 81 him pere a f erping 82 wastel. 88 

1 went (OE. eode) 13 poor people 25 started, leaped 

2 w hen 14 Supplied by Skeat ** cook 

3 uncertain what to do 16 sprang 27 where 

4 had w as 28 bought 

5 go 17 from ; MS. on He 

6 to 18 burning coal 80 bore 
1 fasting 19 shoved, pushed 81 got 

8 no one 2 down ** farthing 

9 was willing 21 full ^ cake 

10 third 22 right 

11 porters w in the midst of 

12 hither 24 mu d 



J>et oper * day he kepte 2 ok 8 
Swipe yerne 4 pe erles kok, 
Til pat he saw 6 him on pe b[r]igge, 
And bi him mani fishes ligge. 6 
J>e erles 7 mete havede he bouht 
Of Comwaile, 8 and kalde 9 oft : 
' Bermen, bermen, hider swipe 10 1 ' 
Havelok it herde, and was ful blipe 
J>at he herde ' bermen ' calle ; 
Alle made he hem u dun falle 
J>at in his gate 12 yeden 18 and stode, 14 
Wei sixtene laddes gode. 
Als 16 he lep 16 pe kok [un-]til, 17 
He shof hem alle upon an hyl 18 ; 
Astirte 19 til him with his rippe, 20 
And bigan pe fish to kippe. 21 
He bar up wel a cartelode 
Of segges, 22 laxes, 23 of playces M brode, 26 
Of grete laumprees, 26 and of eles 27 ; 
Sparede he neyper tos ne heles 
Til pat he to pe castel cam, 
J>at men fro him his birpene 28 nam. 29 
f>an men haveden * holpen 81 him doun 
With pe birpene of his croun, 82 
J?e kok [bi] stod, and on him low, 88 
And pou[h]te him stalworpe man ynow, 84 
And seyde : ' Wiltu M ben wit[h] me ? 

1 second 

2 kept watch for ; MS. kepte he 
s also 

4 very eagerly 

5 MS. say 

6 lying (to lie) 
1 MS. herles 

8 MS. cornwalie 

9 called 
w quickly 

11 them 

12 way 

u went 
M stood 
is as 

16 leaped 

17 unto 

18 heap 

19 leaped 

20 fish-basket 

21 take up quickly 

22 cuttlefish 
28 salmon 
24 plaice 


26 broad 
28 lampreys 
28 burden 
2 took 
so had 

81 helped 

82 crown, head 
88 laughed 

84 enough 

85 wilt thou 


Gladlike 1 wile Ich feden fe ; 
Wei is set 2 be mete ]> u etes, 8 
And be hire fat }m getes.' 

' Goddot 4 ! ' quoth he, ' leve 5 sire, 

Bidde 6 Ich you non ober hire ; 5 

But yeveb 7 me inow to etc, 9 

Fir 8 and water Y wile you fete, 9 
J?e fir blowe, an[d] ful wele maken ; 
Stickes kan Ich breken and kraken, 10 
And kindlen [ek] n ful wel a fyr, 10 

And maken it to bregnen 12 shir 18 ; 
Ful wel kan Ich eleven 14 shides, 15 
Eles toturven 16 of here 17 hides : 


Ful wel kan Ich dishes swilen, 18 

And don al fat ye evere wilen. 19 ' 15 

6f>\r$ Quoth be kok : ' Wile I no more ; 
Go bu 20 yunder, and sit pore, 21 
And Y shal yeve be ful fair bred, 
And make \>e broys 22 in J>e led. 28 

Sit now doun and et 24 ful yeme 5-5^ ' 20 

Da)>eit hwo ^ fe mete werne 26 1 ' 
Havelok sette him dun anon m 
Also 28 stille als 28 a ston, 
Til he havede ful wefeten ; 

fo ^ havede Havelok fay re geten. 80 2 5 

Hwan he havede eten inow, 
He kam to ]>e welle, water updrow, 
And filde }>e[r] a michel 81 so 82 ; 

1 gladly 12 burn w caldron, kettle 

2 bestowed !8 brightly 24 eat 

* eatest K cleave 25 a curse upon him who 

* God wot ! MS. soddot 16 thin pieces of wood 26 denies 

5 dear 16 strip (NED. s.v. tirve) 27 straightway 

6 ask, pray 17 their 28 as 

7 give 18 wash M then 

8 fi r e 19 wish ^ done well 

9 fetch 2 thou 8l large 

10 crac k 21 there 82 tub 

11 also v* brewis, broth 


Bad he non ageyn * him go ; 

Bitwen 2 his hordes he bar it in, 

A[l] him one, 8 to J>e kichin. 

Bad he non him water to fete, 

Ne 4 fro b[r]igge to here pe mete. 

He bar )>e turves, 5 he bar J>e star, 6 

J>e wode fro the brigge he bar ; 

Al that evere shulde 7 he nytte, 8 

Al he drow, 9 and al he kitte 10 ; 
10 Wolde he nevere haven rest, 

More fan he were u a best. 12 

Of alle men was he mest 18 meke, 

Lauhwinde 14 ay, and blipe of speke 16 ; 

Evere he was glad and blife, 
1 5 His sorwe 16 he coupe " ful wel mij> e. 18 

It ne was 19 non so litel knave, 20 

For to leyken, 21 ne for to plawe, 32 

V .*v*'\ ' 

JL^ V 3 ^ ne ne w [l]de with him pleye 28 ; 

J>e children that y[e]den in fe weie 
20 Of him he 24 deden 25 al he[r] wille, 

And with him leykeden here 26 fille. 

Him loveden alle, stille and bolde, 

Knictes, children, yunge and olde 27 ; 

Alle him loveden fat him sowen, 28 
25 Bofen heye w men and lowe. 

Of him ful wide pe word sprong, 

Hu 80 he was mike[l], 81 hu 80 he was strong, 

Hu fayr man God him havede maked, 32 

1 opposite 12 beast 23 play 

2 MS. but bitwen 18 mos t 24 they 
8 alone 14 laughing & did 

4 nor 15 speech 26 their 

6 turf, peat 16 sorrow 27 MS. holde 

6 a kind of sedge or reed l ~ could 28 saw 

7 MS. shulden 18 conceal 29 high 

8 require for use 19 there was 8 how ; MS. hw 

9 drew 20 lad, boy 81 tall 

10 cut ; MS. citte 21 frolic 82 made 

11 if he were (subj.) 23 sport 



But-on pat 1 he was almest naked : 

For he ne havede nouht to shride 2 

But a kouel 3 f ul unnde, 4 

f>at [was] ful 5 and swipe wicke, 6 

Was it nouht worth a fir-sticke. 

f>e cok bigan of him to rewe, 7 

And bouhte 8 him elopes, al span-newe 9 ; 

He bouhte 8 him bope hosen and shon, 

And sone dide him don es on. 10 

Hwan he was eloped, [hjosed, and shod, 
Was non so fayr under God, 
J>at evere yete in erpe were, 11 
Non pat evere moder 12 bere 18 ; 
It 14 was nevere man pat yemede u 
In kineriche, 16 pat so wel semede 17 
King or cayser for to be ; 
]?an 18 he was shrid, 19 so semede * he ; 
For panne 18 he 21 weren alle samen 22 
At Lincolne, at pe gamen, 28 
And pe erles men woren ' 24 al[le] pore, 25 
J>an was Havelok bi pe shuldren more ** 
J>an pe meste 28 pat per kam ; 
In armes him no man [ne] nam 
f>at he doune sone ne caste ; 
Havelok stod over hem als a mast. 
Als he was heie, so ^ he was strong, 80 
He was bope stark 81 and long 82 ; 
In Engelond [was] non hise per 88 




1 except in one respect, that 

2 to clothe himself 
8 garment 

4 rough 

5 foul 

6 mean 

T have pity 

8 bought 

9 quite new 

1 made him put them on 
11 was 

12 mother 
is bore 
14 there 
16 governed 

16 kingdom ; 

17 W as fit 

18 when 

19 clothed 

20 seemed 

21 they 

22 together 

MS. kinneriche 

28 games 
M were 

25 there 

26 shoulders 

27 taller 

28 tallest 
w MS. al 

30 MS. long 

8 1 sturdy 

82 MS. strong 
** peer, equal 


Of strangle fat evere kam him net. 1 
Als he was strong, so was he softe 2 ; 
J>ey 8 a man him misdede 4 of te, 
Nevere more he him misseyde, 8 
Ne hond on him with yvele leyde. 
Of bodi was he mayden clene ; 
Nevere yete in garth, 6 ne in grene, 
Wit[h] hire 7 ne wolde [he] leyke ne lye, 
No more fan it were a strie. 8 

In fat time al Engelond 9 
f>erl 10 Godrich havede in his hond, 
And he gart n komen into f e tun 12 
Mani erl and mani barun ; 
And alle [men] fat lives 18 were 
In Eng[e]lond, panne wer fere, 
J>at fey haveden after sent 
To ben f er at f e parlement. 
With hem com mani champioun, 14 
Mani wiht 16 ladde, 16 blac, and brown ; 
An[d] fel 17 it so fat yunge men, 
Wei abouten nine or ten, 
Bigunnen fere 18 for to layke : 
J>ider komen bof e stronge and wayke w ; 
J>ider komen lesse and more, 
f>at in f e borw 20 f anne weren fore 21 ; 
Chaumpiouns, 22 and starke laddes, 
Bondemen, 28 with here 24 gaddes, 25 
Als he 26 'comen fro f e plow ; 
f>ere was sembling 27 inow ! 

1 near 10 the earl 

2 mild, gentle n made, had 
8 though 12 town 

* injured M alive 

6 reproached, spoke ill of ; MS. misdede 14 MS. chambioun 

6 garden, enclosure ; M S. game 16 stout 

7 her (a woman) W lad 

8 old hag l? happened 
MS. Hengelond i MS. )>e 


20 borough 

2 1 there 

22 MS. chaunpiouns 
28 husbandmen 

a* their 

25 goads 

26 they 

27 assembling 


For it 1 ne was non horse-knave, 2 
f>ou 8 pei sholden in honde have, 4 
f>at he ne kam pider, f e leyk 5 to se : 
Biforn here fet ]>anne lay a tre, 
And putten 6 with a mikel ston 
f>e starke laddes, ful god won. 7 
f>e ston was mikel, and ek 8 gret, 
And al so hevi so a net 9 ; 
Grundstalw[u]r)je 10 man he sholde n be 
J>at mouhte 12 liften it to his kne ; 
Was J>er neyper clerc ne prest 13 
J?at mihte 12 liften it to his brest : 
J>erwit[h] 14 putten the chaumpiouns 16 
J>at bider comen with ]>e barouns. 
Hwoso mihte putten bore 
Biforn anoper an inch or more, 
Wore 16 he yung, wore he old, 17 
He was for a kempe 18 told. 19 

Also 20 J>e[i] stoden, an[d] ofte stareden, 21 
fe chaumpiouns, 15 and ek the ladden M ; 
And he 28 maden mikel strout 24 
Abouten be atyerbeste 25 b[o]ut, 26 
Havelok stod, and lokede bertil 27 ; 
And of puttingge he was ful wil, 28 
For nevere yete ne saw he or w 
Putten the stone, or 29 banne \>or. 
Hise mayster bad him gon f>erto, 



1 there 

2 groom 
MS. J.o 

4 Though they (for he) should have [work] 

in hand 

5 game 

6 put ; MS. pulten 

' in considerable numbers (won plenty) 

8 also 

9 young ox 

10 extremely stalwart 2 as 

11 had need to 

12 could 
i 8 priest 

14 with this 

is MS. chaunpiouns 

16 were 

^ MS. hold 

18 knight, champion 

1 9 counted 

21 stared 

22 lads 

23 they 

24 contention 
26 best of all 

26 bout, throw 

27 thereto 

28 inexperienced 

29 before 

5. ston : for the history of the game, see note in Skeat's edition. 





Als he coupe l perwith do. 

J?o hise mayster it him bad, 

He was of him sore adrad ; 

J>erto he stirte 2 sone anon, 

And kipte 8 up fat hevi ston, 

J>at he sholde put[t]en wipe ; 

He putte, at pe firste sipe, 4 

Over 8 alle pat per wore, 

Twel[ve] fote, 6 and sumdel 7 more. 

fe chaumpiouns 8 pat [pat] put sowen,* 

Shuldreden he ilc oper, 10 and lowen u ; 

Wolden he no more to putting gange, 

But seyde : ' We dwellen her to 12 longe 1 ' 

J>is selkouth 18 mihte nouht ben hyd : 
Ful sone it was f ul loude kid H 
Of Havelok, hu 18 he warp 16 pe ston 
Over pe laddes everilkon " ; 
Hu 16 he was fayr, hu 18 he was long, 
Hu 16 he was wiht, 18 hu 16 he was strong ; 
J>orhut 19 England 'yede pe speke, 20 
Hu 16 he was strong, and ek [ful] meke ; 
In the castel, up in pe halle, 
J>e knihtes speken perof alle, 
So that Godrich it herde wel. 
J>e[i] speken of Havelok, everi del, 21 
Hu 15 he was strong man and hey, 
Hu 15 he was strong, and ek [ful] sley 22 ; 
And pouhte w Godrich : ' Joru 24 pis knave 
Shal Ich Engelond al have, 
And mi sone after me ; 

1 could 

2 leaped 

8 snatched 

* time 

6 beyond 


" somewhat 

8 MS. chaunpiouns 


10 one another 

11 laughed 

12 too 

18 wonder 
M made known 
18 MS. hw 
i threw 

17 every one 

is courageous 

l throughout ; MS. J>oruth 

20 speech ; MS. speche 

21 on every side (?) 

22 skilful ; MS. fri 
28 MS. )>outhte 

2* through 


For so I wile fat it be. 

King l Af elwald me dide 2 swere 

Upon al f e messe-gere 8 

J>at Y shu[l]de his doubter yive 4 

J>e hexte 8 [man] fat mihte live, 5 

J>e beste, ]> e fairest, f e strangest 6 ok ; ^ 

J>at gart 7 he me sweren on ]> e bok. 

Hwere mihte I finden ani so hey 

So Havelok is, or so sley ? 

J?ou[h] Y souhte hef en 8 into Ynde, 9 10 

So fayr, so strong, ne mihte Y finde. 

Havelok is fat ilke 10 knave 

J>at shal Goldeborw have.' 

J?is fouhte [he] with trechery, 

Wit[h] traysoun, and with felony; 15 

For he wende n fat Havelok wore la 

Sum cherles sone, and no more ; 

Ne shulde he haven of Engellond 

Onlepi 13 forw u in his bond 

With hire fat was ferof [fe] eyr, 18 20 

J>at bof e was god and swife fair. 

He wende fat Havelok wer a fral, 16 

J>erf oru 17 he wende haven al 

In Engelond, fat hire riht was ; 

He werse was 18 fan Sathanas 25 

f>at Jesu Crist in erf e shop 19 ; 

Hanged worfe 20 he on an hok 1 

After Goldebo[r]w sone he sende, 
Jat was bofe fayr and hende, 21 
And dide hire to Lincolne bringe ^ ; 30 

1 MS. the king 9 India 17 for this reason, by this means 

2 caused 1 very 18 MS. was werse 

3 utensils of the mass n supposed 19 shaped, created 

* MS. yeve 12 was w may he be 

6 highest, tallest 18 a single al gentle, courteous- 

6 strongest M furrow M and had her brought to Lincoln 

7 made 16 heir 

* hence w slave 


Belles dede he ageyn hire 1 ringen, 

And joie he made hire swij>e mikel, 

But nefeles 2 he was ful swikel. 8 

He seyde fat he sholde hire yive 4 
5 ]?e fayrest man that mihte live. 

She answerede and seyde anon, 

Bi [Jesu] Crist and bi Seint John, 6 

J>at hire sholde no man wedde, 

Ne no man bringen hire to 6 bedde, 
10 But 7 he were king or kinges eyr, 

Were he nevere man so fayr. 
Godrich )>e erl was swife wroth 

J>at she swor swilk 8 an oth, 

And seyde : ' Hwe|>er 9 fou wilt be 
1 5 Quen and levedi 10 over me ? 

J?ou shalt haven a gadeling, 11 

Ne shalt ]>ou haven non ofer king ; 

J>e shal spusen 12 mi cokes knave ; 

Shalt 13 fou non ofer loverd 14 have. 
20 Dafeit fat 18 J>e of er 16 yive 4 

Everemore hwil I live ! 

To-mo[r]we sholen 1T ye 18 ben weddet, 

And, maugre fin, 19 togidere beddet' 

Goldeborw gret, 20 and was hire ille 21 ; 
2 5 She wolde ben ded, bi hire wille. 

On fe morwen, hwan day was sprungen, 

And daybelle 22 at [fe] kirke m rungen, 

After Havelok sente fat Judas, 

f>at werse was f anne Sathanas, 

1 at her approach MS. hwor ir shall 

2 nevertheless K> lady 18 MS. ye sholen 
8 deceitful n vagabond, low fellow 19 in spite of thee 
4 MS. yeve 13 marry wept 

* MS. lohan is MS. ne shalt 21 it was ill for "her 
MS. to hire " lord a matin-bell 

" unless l* a curse upon him who ** church 

* such 16 another 



And seyde : ' Mayster, wiltu 1 wif a ? ' 
' Nay,' quoth Havelok, ' bi my lif ! 
Hwat sholde Ich with wive 8 do ? 
I ne may hire fede, ne clofe, ne sho. 
[HJwider sholde Ich wimman 4 bringe ? 
I ne have none kin[n]es 5 finge. 
I ne have hus, 6 Y ne have cote, 
I ne 7 have stikke, Y ne have sprote, 8 
I ne have neyfer bred ne sowel, 9 
Ne cloth, but of an old whit 10 couel. 11 
J>is 12 clones, fat Ich onne have, 
Aren fe kokes, and Ich his knave.' 

Godrich stirt 13 up, and on him dong w 
[With dintes 15 swife hard and strong], 1 ' 
And seyde : ' But 17 }>ou hire take 
J>at Y wole yeven fe to make, 18 
I shal hangen f e ful heye, 
Or Y shal f listen 19 ut fin eie. 20 ' 
Havelok was one, 21 and was adrad, 22 
And grauntede him al fat he bad. 
J>o n sende he after hire sone, 24 
J>e fayrest wymman under mone 28 ; 
And seyde til hire, [fals] 16 and slike, 26 
J>at wicke f ral, fat foule swike v : 
' But f u f is man understonde, 28 
I shal flemen M f e of ^ londe ; 
Or fou shal[t] to f e galwes 81 renne, 82 

1 wilt thou ; MS. wilte 

2 take a wife 
8MS. wif 

4 a woman 

5 of no kind 

6 MS. hws 

7 MS. ne i 

8 sprout, twig 

9 relish eaten with bread 
w MS. hold with 

11 garment 

12 these 
is started 
!* struck 

15 blows 

16 Supplied by Skeat 
l" unless 

18 mate, wife 
i thrust 
MS. heie 

21 alone 

22 MS. odrat 



2 then 

24 soon 

25 the moon 
28 smooth 

27 traitor 

28 receive 

29 banish 

80 from 

81 gallows 

82 run 



And per pou shalt in a fir brenne.' * 
Sho 2 was adrad, for he so prette, 8 
And durste 4 nouht pe spusing 8 lette ' ; 
But fey 7 hire likede 8 swipe ille, 
[Sho] J>ouhte it was Codes wille : 
God, pat makes to growen pe korn, 
Formede hire wimman to be born. 

Hwan he havede him don, 9 for drede, 
J>at he sholde hire spusen and fede, 
And pat she sholde til him holde, 
f>er weren penies 10 picke tolde, 11 
Mikel plente upon pe bok : 
He 12 ys 18 hire yaf, and she [e]s u tok. 
He w weren spused f ayre and wel : 
J>e messe he dede, 16 [and] everidel 17 
J?at fel 18 to spusing, a 19 god clefrjk, 20 
J>e Erchebishop ut of 21 Yerk, 
J?at kam to pe parlement, 
Als God him havede pider sent. 

Hwan he 22 togydere in Godes lawe 
Weren, 23 pat 24 folc >25 f ul wel it sawe, 
He ne wisten 26 hwat he mouhten, 27 
Ne he ne wisten [h]wat hem douhte 28 
J?er to dwellen, or penne to gonge. 
fer ne wolden he dwellen longe ; 
For he wisten, and ful wel sawe, 
Godrich ^ hem hatede, pe devel him awe 81 ! 
And yf he dwelleden per ouht 82 

1 burn 

12 Godrich 

2 she 

18 them 

8 threatened 

14 them ; MS. as 

* dared 

16 they 

6 marriage 

l 6 performed ; MS. 

6 hinder 

17 everything 

7 though 

18 pertained 

8 it pleased her 

19 MS. and 

9 caused ; MS. don him 

20 clergyman 

10 pennies 

21 out of, from 

11 counted in great number 

22 they 

28 Transposed from preceding 
line (weren togydere) 

24 MS. >at )>e 

25 people 
deden 26 knew 

27 could do 

28 availed them 

8 MS. J>at Godrich 

81 own, possess ; MS. hawe 

82 any space of time 


J>at fel Havelok ful wel on pouht 
Men sholde don his leman shame, ' 
Or elles bringen in wicke * blame ; 
J>at were him levere 2 to ben ded. 
Forpi 8 he 4 token anoper red, 5 
J?at pei sholden penne fle 6 
Til 7 Grim, and til 7 hise sones pre ; 
J>er wenden 8 he 4 alperbeste s to spede, 10 
Hem u for to elope, and for to fede. 
J>e lond he 4 token under fote, 12 
Ne wisten he 4 non oper bote,- 13 
And helden ay the rihte sti 14 
Til he 4 komen to Grimesby. 

J>anne M he 4 komen pere, panne was Grim ded, 
Of him ne haveden he 4 no red ; 
But hise children alle fyve 
Alle weren yet on live 16 ; 
J>at 1T ful fayre ayen 18 hem neme, 19 
Hwan he 4 wisten pat he 4 keme, 20 
And maden joie swipe mikel ; 
Ne weren he 4 nevere ayen hem fikel. 21 
On knes ful fayre he 4 hem setten, 
And Havelok swipe fayre gretten, 22 
And seyden : ' Welkome, loverd 28 dere, 
And welkome be pi fayre fere 24 1 
Blessed be pat ilke prawe 25 
J>at pou hire toke in Godes lawe ! 
Wel is us 26 we sen pe on lyve, ' 
J>ou mihte 27 us bope selle and yive 28 ; 

1 wicked n themselves 21 fickle 

2 liefer, rather 12 they walked 22 greeted 
8 therefore 13 remedy 28 i or d 

4 they 14 road 24 companion, wife 

5 counsel, help '& when 25 time, moment 

6 flee 16 in life = alive 26 to us ; MS. hus 
' to i7 who 2 " might 

8 thought 18 towards 28 MS. yeve 

best of all l fl went 

10 prosper 20 we re coming 



2 5 

f>ou mayt us bof e yive l and selle, 

With-f at z f ou wilt here dwelle. 

We haven, loverd, alle gode, 3 

Hors, 4 and net, 6 and ship on flode,* 

Gold, and silver, and michel auhte, 7 

J?at Grim ure fader us bitauhte 8 ; 

Gold, and silver, and of er fe 9 

Bad he us bitaken 10 fe. 

We haven shep, we haven swin, 

Bileve n her, loverd, and al be pin ! 

J?o[u] shalt ben loverd, fou shalt ben syre, 12 

And we sholen serven fe and hire ; 

And ure 18 sistres sholen do 

Al that evere biddes sho 14 ; 

He 18 sholen hire clones 16 washen and wringen, 

And to " hondes water bringen ; 

He 18 sholen bedden 18 hire and fe, 

For levedi wile we fat she be.' 

Hwan he 15 f is joie haveden maked, 

Sithen 19 stikes broken and kraked, 

And fe fir brouht on brenne, 20 

Ne was f er spared gos 21 ne henne, 

Ne fe ende, 22 ne fe drake, 

Mete he 15 deden plente make ; M 

Ne wantede fere no god mete ; 

Wyn and ale deden he 15 fete, 24 

And maden K hem glade and blif e, 

Wesseyl ledden 26 he fele sif e. 27 

1 MS. yeve 

2 provided that 

8 property, goods 
4 horses 
6 cattle 

6 sea 

7 possessions ; MS. auchte 

8 delivered, committed; MS.bitawchte 

9 property 

10 deliver, commit 

11 remain 

12 seignior, master 

13 our; MS. hure 

16 they 

16 MS. cloven 

17 for 

18 put to bed 

19 afterwards 
*> to burning 

21 goose 

22 duck ; MS. hende 

28 they had plenty of meats 

24 they caused to be brought 

25 MS. made 

26 they led wassails (drank 

2? many times 



On pe niht, as Goldeborw lay, 
Sory and sorwful was she ay, 
For she wende she were biswike, 1 
f>at she were 2 yeven 8 unkyndelike.* 
O niht 6 saw she perinne a liht, 6 
A swipe fayr, a swipe bryht, 
Al so briht, al so shir 7 
So 8 it were a blase 9 of fir. 
She lokede no[r]p, and ek south, 
And saw it comen ut of his mouth, 
}?at lay bi hire in pe bed 
No ferlike 10 pou[h] she were adred ! 
J>ouhte she : ' [HJwat may this bimene u ? 
He beth 12 heyman 13 yet, als Y wene 14 ; 
He beth heyman er he be 12 ded.' 
On hise shuldre, of gold red 
She saw a swipe noble croiz, 16 
Of an angel she herde a voyz le : 
' Goldeborw, lat pi sorwe be, 17 
For Havelok, pat havep spuset pe, 
Is 18 kinges sone and kinges eyr 19 ; 
J>at bikenneth 20 pat croiz so fayr. 
It bikenneth more pat he shal 
Denemark haven, and Englond al ; 
He shal ben king, strong and stark, 
Of Engelond and Denemark ; 
J>at shal[t] pu wit[h] pin eyne sen, 
And po[u] shalt quen and levedi ben.' 

f>anne 21 she havede herd the stevene 22 
Of pe angel ut of hevene, 

2 5 

1 cheated, deceived 

2 MS. shere (for she were) 
8 given 

4 beneath her rank 

5 in the night 

6 light 

7 shining 

8 as if 

9 blaze 
1 wonder 
n mean 
12 is 

is nobleman 
w think 

15 cross 

16 voice 

17 put aside thy sorrow 
is MS. he 
i heir 

20 betokens 

21 when 

22 voice 


She was so fele sij>es 1 blithe 
fat she ne mihte hire ioie mythe 2 - 
But Havelok sone anon she kiste ; 
And he slep, and nouht ne wiste * 
Hwat fat aungel havede seyd. 


John Gower 'moral Gower,' as Chaucer called him was born about 
1330, and died between August 15 and October 24, 1408. He was of a Kentish 
family, a layman, and a man of some wealth. For the most part, he probably 
resided in London, and was personally known to Richard II. While living 
in Southwark, he married one Agnes Groundolf on January 25, 1397/8, and 
perhaps had been married before. He lies buried in St. Saviour's, Southwark, 
formerly called St. Mary Overey. The effigy of the poet, beneath a three- 
arched canopy, exhibits his head resting upon three volumes, bearing the 
names of his three principal works Speculum Meditantis, Vox Clamantis, and 
Confessio Amantis. 

Of these the first, now known as the Mirour de FOmme {Speculum Hominis) 
has only recently been discovered. This is in French, the Vox Clamantis in 
Latin, and the Confessio Amantis in English. The French work was the earliest, 
the Latin work was produced about 1382, while the English work assumed its 
final form in 1393. The Confessio Amantis contains more than 33,000 lines, 
surpassing the Mirour de FOmme by above 4000 lines. Besides these three, 
Gower wrote several minor works. The whole has been critically edited in 
four volumes by G. C. Macaulay (Oxford, 1899-1902). In the French and the 
Latin poems, Gower's tendency is markedly didactic. In the English poem 
his general theme is love, which he illustrates by a series of 112 stories. 

Lowell said, in his essay on Chaucer : ' Gower has positively raised tedious- 
ness to the precision of a science.' A fairer judgment is that by Ker (English 
Literature, Mediaeval, pp. 225-226): 'Gower should always be remembered 
along with Chaucer ; he is what Chaucer might have been without genius and 
without his Italian reading, but with his critical tact, and much of his skill in 
verse and diction. The Confessio Amantis is monotonous, but it is not dull. 
Much of it at a time is wearisome, but as it is composed of a number of separate 
stories, it can be read in bits, and ought to be so read. Taken one at a time, 
the clear bright little passages come out with a meaning and a charm that may 
be lost when the book is read too perseveringly.' 

The Apollonius of Tyre, the first of our extracts, was first written in Greek 
(probably third century), and afterwards translated into Latin. Gower para 
phrased the Latin, and the Shakespearean (?) Pericles is, in turn, based upon 

1 so many times, so very a conceal 8 knew 


Gower. For further particulars concerning Apollonius, see my First Book in 
Old English, pp. 164-165. 

The ^Eson story is derived from Ovid's Metamorphoses (7. 162-293), ! 3 2 l mes 
of the original being expanded to 230. A portion of this Ovidian passage 
(Met. 7. 197 ff.), extremely condensed by Gower, reappears in Shakespeare's 
Tempest 5. i . 33-50. 


Of Tharsiens * his leve anon 
He 2 tok, and is to schipe gon. 
His cours he nam 8 with seil updrawe, 4 
Where as 8 Fortune doth 6 the lawe, 
And scheweth, as I schal reherse, 
How sche 7 was to this lord diverse, 8 " 
The which 9 upon the see sche ferketh. 10 
The wynd aros, the weder derketh, 11 
It blew and made such tempeste 
Non ancher mai the schip areste, 
Which hath tobroken al his gere 12 ; 
The schipmen stode in such a feere, 
Was non that myhte himself bestere, 1 * 
Bot evere awaite v upon the lere, 14 * 
Whan that thei scholde drenche 15 at ones. 
Ther was ynowh withinne wones 16 
Of wepinge and of sorghe 17 tho 18 ; 
This yonge king makth mochel wo 
So for to se the schip travaile 19 : 
Bot al that myhte him noght availe ; 
The mast tobrak, 20 the seil torof"; 
The schip upon the wawes drof, 

1 the people of Tarsus 8 contrary ls drown 

2 Apollonius 9 Apollonius 16 reach 
s took 1 conducts " sorrow 
4 drawn up u grows dark 18 then 

s wherever 12 tackle 19 labor 

6 makes, lays down ** bestir ^ snapped 

1 Fortune 1* destruction, shipwreck (OE. fyre) 21 was rent 


Til that thei sihe 1 a londes cooste. 

Tho made avou 2 the leste and moste, 

Be so 8 thei myhten come alonde * ; 

Bot he which hath the see on honde, 
5 Neptunus, wolde noght acorde, 

Bot altobroke 5 cable and corde ; 

Er thei to londe myhte aproche, 

The schip toclef 6 upon a roche, 

And al goth doun into the depe. 
10 Bot He that alle thing mai kepe 

Unto this lord was merciable, 

And broghte him sauf upon a table, 1 ^.w.v 

Which to the lond him hath upbore ; 

The remenant was al forlore, 8 
15 Whereof he made mochel mone. 9 

Thus was this yonge lord him one, 1 * 

Al naked in a povere plit u ; 

His colour, which whilom 12 was whyt, 

Was thanne of 18 water fade 14 and pale, 
20 And ek he was so sore 16 acale 16 

That he wiste 1T of himself no bote 18 : 

It halp 19 him nothing for to mote M 

To gete ayein that he hath lore. 21 

Bot sche which hath his deth forbore, 22 
25 Fortune, thogh sche wol noght yelpe, 28 

Al sodeinly hath sent him helpe, 

Whanne him thoghte alle grace aweie : 

Ther cam a fisshere in the weie, 

And sih 24 a man ther naked stonde ; 
30 And whan that he hath understonde 

1 saw 9 moan 17 knew 

2 promise 10 alone 18 remedy 
8 on condition that n plight 19 helped 

4 to land 12 aforetime 20 wish (unique in this sense) 

6 broke asunder n by reason of 21 lost 

6 clove asunder, split H pale 22 withheld 

7 plank 16 very 28 boast 

8 lost 16 acold, cold 24 S aw 



The cause, he hath of him gret routhe, 1 
And, onliche 2 of his povere trouthe, 8 
Of suche clothes as he hadde 
With gret pite this lord he cladde. 
And he him thonketh as he scholde, 
And seith him that it schal be yolde, 4 
If evere he gete his stat 8 ayein, 
And preide that he wolde him sein 6 
If nyh were eny toun for him. 
He seide : ' Yee, 7 Pentapolim, 
Wher bothe king and queene duellen.' 
Whanne he this tale herde tellen, 
He gladeth him, 8 and gan beseche 
That he the weie him wolde teche 9 ; 
And he him taghte ; and forth he wente, 
And preide God with good entente 10 
To sende him jpie after his sorwe. 

It was noght passed yit mid-morwe, 11 
Whan thiderward his weie he nam, 12 
Wher sone 18 upon the non 14 he cam. 
He eet such as he myhte gete, 
And forth anon, whan he hadde ete, 
He goth to se the toun aboute, 
And cam ther as 15 he fond a route 
Of yonge lusti men withalle ; 
And as it scholde tho befalle, 
That day was set of such assise 16 
That thei scholde, in the londes guise," 
As he herde of the poeple seie, 
Here 18 comun game thanne pleie ; 
And crid 19 was that thei scholden come 

1 ruth, pity 

2 only 

s loyalty 
* repaid 

5 state, dignity 

6 say 

7 yea 


8 himself 

9 point out, show 

10 intent 

11 mid-morning 

12 took 
18 soon 
l 4 noon 

15 where 

16 manner ; MS. assisse 

17 fashion 

18 their 
i cried 



2 5 


* games 

2 one and all 
8 active 

* nimble 
s feat 

6 same 
" required 

Unto the gamen l alle and some a 
Of hem that ben delivere 8 and wyhte, 4 
To do such maistrie 6 as thei myhte. 
Thei made hem naked as thei scholde, 
For so that ilke ' game wolde, 7 
As it was tho custume and us 8 ; 
Amonges hem was no refus. 9 
The flour of al the toun was there, 
And of the Qourt also ther were ; 
And that was in a large place 
Riht evene 10 afore the kinges face, 
Which Artestrathes " thanne hihte." 
The pley was pleid riht in his sihte, 
And who most worthi was of dede 
Receive he scholde a certein mede, 18 
And in the cite here a pris. 14 

Appolinus, which, war 15 and wys. 
Of every game couthe 16 an ende, 17 
He thoghte assaie, 18 hou so it wende, 19 
And fell among hem into game ; 
And there he wan him such a name, 
So as the king himself acompteth, 20 
That he alle othre men surmonteth, 
And bar the pris above hem alle. 
The king bad that into his halle 
At souper-time he schal be broght ; 
And he cam thanne, and lefte n it noght, 
Withoute cpmpaignie, alone. 
Was non so semlich ** of persone, 
Of visage and of limes * bothe, 

9 refusal 
1 directly 
J 1 Arcestrates 
12 was called 
J reward 
14 prize 
is wary 

w knew 

v an ende = pretty thoroughly 
is to try 

19 might turn out 

20 deems 

21 neglected 

22 seemly 



1 wear 

3 press, crowd 

3 bade 

to call 

5 marshal 

6 station 
" own 

8 to begin, sit at the head of 

If that he hadde what to cjpthe l ; 
At souper-time, natheles, 
The king amiddes al the pres* 
Let 3 clepe * him up among hem alle, 
And bad his mareschall 5 of halle 
To setten him in such degre * 
That he upon him myhte se. 
The king was sone set and served, 
And he, which hath his pris deserved 
After the kinges oghne 7 word, 
Was mad beginne 8 a middel bord,' 
That bothe king and queene him sihe. 10 
He sat and caste aboute his yhe, 
And sih the lordes in astat, 11 
And with himself wax 12 in debat, 
Thenkende l * what he hadde lore " ; 
And such a sorwe he tok therfore, 
That he sat evere stille and thoghte, 
As he which of no mete 15 roghte. 16 
The king behield his hevynesse, 17 
And, of his grete gentillesse, 
His doghter, which was fair and good, 
And ate 18 bord before him stod, 
As it was thilke 19 time usage, 29 
He bad to gon on his message, 
And f onde fl for to make him glad. 
And sche dede as hire fader bad, 
And goth to him the softe pas, 22 
And axeth whenne M and what he was, 
And preith he scholde his thoghtes leve. M 

might see 
i! state 
12 grew 
18 thinking 

M lost 

is food 

16 took account, recked 


i at the 
is that 
" custom 

21 attempt 

22 pace 

28 whence 
w abandon 



a called 
8 income 

4 honor 

5 goods 

6 committed 

1 along, down 

He seith : ' Madame, be l your leve, 
Mi name is hote 2 Appolinus ; 
And of mi richesse it is thus 
Upon the see I have it lore. 
The contre wher as I was bore, 
Wher that my lond is and mi rente, 8 
I lefte at Tyr, whan that I wente ; 
The worschipe 4 of this worldes aghte, 6 
Unto the god ther I betaghte. 6 ' 
And thus togedre as thei tuo speeke, 
The teres runne be 7 his cheeke. 

The king, which therof tok good kepe, 8 
Hath gret pite to sen him wepe, 
And for his doghter sende ayein, 
And preide hir faire, and gan to sein 9 
That sche no lengere wolde drecche, 10 
Bot that sche wolde anon forth fecche 
Hire harpe, and don al that sche can 
To glade with u that sory man. 
And sche, to don hir fader 12 heste, 18 
Hir harpe fette, 14 and, in the feste, 15 
Upon a chaier which thei fette 
Hirself next to this man sche sette ; 
With harpe bothe, and ek with mouthe, 
To him sche dede al that sche couthe 
To make him chiere 16 and evere he siketh 
And sche him axeth hou him liketh. 18 
' Madame, certes 19 wel,' he seide, 
' Bot, if ye the mesure pleide 
Which, if you list, I schal you Here, 20 
It were a glad thing for to hiere.' 

8 heed 

9 say 

10 delay 

11 with which to gladden 

12 father's 
l* command 
" fetched 

15 feast 

16 entertainment 
i" sighs 

i g it pleases him 
l 9 certainly 


' Ha, lieve sire, 1 ' tho 2 quod sche, 

' Now tak the harpe, and let me se 

Of what mesure that ye mene.' 

Tho preith the king, tho preith the queene, 

Forth with 8 the lordes alle arewe, 4 5 

That he som merthe wolde schewe ; 

He takth the harpe, and in his wise 

He tempreth, 5 and of such assise 6 

Singende he harpeth forth withal, 

That as a vois celestial 10 

Hem thoghte 7 it souneth in here ere, 

As thogh that he an angel were. 

Thei gladen of his melodic ; 

Bot, most of all the compainie, 

The kinges doghter, which it herde, 15 

And thoghte ek 8 hou that he ansuerde, 

Whan that he was of 9 hire opposed, 10 

Withinne hir herte hath wel supposed 

That he is of gret gentilesse. 

Hise dedes ben therof witnesse, 20 

Forth with the wisdom of his lore ; 

It nedeth noght to seche n more 

He myhte noght have such manere, 

Of gentil blod bot-if V1 he were. 

Whanne he hath harped al his fille, 25 

The kinges heste to fulfille, 

Awey goth dissh, awey goth cuppe, 

Doun goth the bord, the cloth was uppe, 

Thei risen and gon out of halle. >~ 

The king his chamberlein let cafle', 3 

And bad that he be alle weie 18 
A chambre for this man pourveie, 14 ' 

1 dear sir 6 in such manner u seek 

2 then 7 it seemed to them 12 unless 

3 together with 8 eke, also 18 without fail 

* successively (in a row) 9 by 14 purvey, provide 

* tunes 10 questioned 



2 S 

1 should be 

2 done 

8 make mention 
< those 
8 knows 

Which nyh his oghne chambre be. 1 
' It schal be do, 2 mi lord,' quod he. 
Appolinus, of whom I mene, 3 
Tho tok his leve of king and queene, 
And of the worthi maide also, 
Which preide unto hir fader tho 
That sche myjrte of that yonge man 
Of tho 4 sciences whiche he can 6 
His lore 6 have ; and in this wise 
The king hir granteth his aprise, 7 
So that himself therto assente. 
Thus was acorded, er thei wente, 
That he, with al that evere he may, 
This yonge faire freisshe may 8 
Of that he couthe scholde enforme ; 
And, full assented in this forme, 
Thei token leve as for that nyht. 

And, whanne it was amorwe 9 lyht, 
Unto this yonge man of Tyr 
Of clothes and of good atir, 
With gold and silver to despende, 10 
This worthi yonge lady sende ; 
And thus sche made him wel at ese ; 
And he, with al that he can plese, 
Hire serveth wel and faire n ayein. 
He tawhte hir til sche was certein 
Of harpe, of citole, 12 and of rote, 18 
With many a tun 14 and many a note 
Upon musique, upon mesure ; 
And of hire hajpe the temprure 15 
He tawhte hire ek, as he wel couthe. 

6 teaching 

7 instruction 

8 damsel 

9 in the morning 
10 spend 


12 dulcimer 

13 violin 
l* tune 
!5 tuning 



Bot, as men sein that f rele l is youthe, 
With leisir 2 and continuance 
This mayde fell upon a chance, 
That Love hath mad him 8 a qijerele * 
Ayein hire youthe freissh and frele, 
That malgre 5 wher 6 sche wole 7 or noght, 
Sche mot 8 with al hire hertes thoght 
To Love and to his lawe obeie ; Tf 
And that sche schal ful sore abeie, 9 
For sche wot 10 nevere what it is, 
Bot evere among n sche fieleth 12 this. 
Thenkende upon this man of Tyr, 
Hire herte is hot as eny fyr, 
And otherwhile it is acale ; 
Now is sche red, nou is sche pale, 
Riht after the condicion 
Of hire ymagmacion ; 
Bot evere among hire thoghtes alle, 
Sche thoghte, what so mai befalle, 

Or 18 that sche lawhe, 14 or that sche wepe, 

Sche wolde hire goode name kepe, 

For feere of wommanysshe 15 schame. 

Bot, what in _ernest and in game, 

Sche stant 16 for love in such a plit n 

That sche hath lost al appetit 

Of mete, of drinke, of nyhtes reste, 

As sche that not 18 what is the beste. 

Bot, for to thenken al hir fille, 

Sche hield 19 hire ofte times stille 

Withinne hir chambre, and goth noght oute ; 

1 frail 

2 leisure 

3 for himself 

4 attack 

5 in spite of 

6 whether 

8 must 

9 atone for 
1 knows 

11 in the course (of things) 

12 feels 

18 whether 
!* laugh 

is womanly 
l fi stands 
" plight 
is knows not 
19 held 


The king was of hire lif in doute, 
Which wiste nothing what it mente. 

Bot fell a time, as he out wente 
To walke, of princes sones thre 

5 Ther come and felle to his kne ; 

And ech of hem in sondri wise 
Besoghte and profreth his servise, 
So that he myhte his doghter have. 
The king, which wolde his honour save, 

10 Seith sche is sigk, 1 and of that speche 

Tho 2 was no time to beseche ; 
Bot ech of hem do make * a bille 4 
He bad, and wryte his oghne wille, 
His name, his fader, and his good 6 ; 

15 And whan sche wiste hou that it stod, 

And hadde here 6 billes oversein, 7 
The] scholden have ajisuere ayein. 
Of this conseil thei weren glad, 
And writen as the king hem bad ; 

20 And every man his oghne bok 

Into the kinges hond betok, 8 
And he it to his dowhter sende, 
Y\' And preide hir for to make an ende 
And wryte ayein hire oghne hond, 

25 Riht 9 as sche in hire herte fond. 

The billes weren wel received ; 
Bot sche hath alle here loves weyved, 10 
And thoghte tho was time and space 
To put hire in hir fader n grace, 

30 And wrot ayein, and thus sche saide : 

' The schame which is in a maide 
With speche dar noght ben unloke, 12 

1 sick 6 property & just 

a then their w put aside, rejected 

8 cause to make, have made 7 looked over u father's 

* memorandum * delivered M unlocked 



Bot in writinge it mai be spoke ; 

So wryte I to you, fader, thus : 

Bot-if I have Appolirus, 

Of al this world, what so betyde, 

I wol non other man abide ; 

And certes if I of him faile, 

I wot riht wel, withoute faile, 

Ye schulj for me be dowhterles.' 

This lettre cam, and ther was press 

Tofore 1 the king, ther as 2 he stod ; 

And whan that he it understod, 

He yaf 8 hem ansuer by and by * ; 

Bot that was do 6 so prively 

That non of othres conseil wiste. 

Thei toke her leve, and wher hem liste 8 

Thei wente forth upon here wgig. 


1 before 

2 where 

4 directly 

5 done 


Jason, which sih his fader old, 
Upon Medea made him ~ bold 
Of art magique, which sche couthe, 8 
And preith hire that his fader ' youthe 
Sche wolde make ayeinward 10 newe ; 
And sche, that was toward him trewe, 
Behihte u him that sche wolde it do, 
Whan that sche time sawh therto. 
Bot what sche dede in that matiere 1S 
It is a wonder thing to hiere ; 
Bot yit, for the novellerie, 18 
I thenke tellen a partie. 14 

6 it was pleasing to them 
" himself 

8 knew 

9 father's 

10 again 


H promised 
w matter 
11 novelty 
l part 


Thus it befell upon a nyht, 

Whan ther was noght hot sterreliht, 

Sche was vanyssht riht as hir liste, 1 

That no wyht hot hirself it wiste, 
5 And that was ate 2 mydnyht-tyde. 

The world was stille on every side ; 

With open hed and fot al bare, 

Hir her 8 tosprad, 4 sche gan to fare ; 

Upon hir clothes gert 6 sche was. 
10 Al specheles, 6 and on the gras, 

Sche glod 7 forth as an addre doth 

Non otherwise sche ne goth 

Til sche cam to the f reisshe flod ; 

And there a while sche with 8 stod. 
15 Thries sche torned hire aboute, 

And thries ek sche gan doun loute, 

And in the flod sche wette hir her ; 

And thries on the water ther 

Sche gaspeth with a drecchinge 9 onde, 10 
20 And tho sche tok hir speche on honde. 

Ferst sche began to clepe u and calle 

Upward unto the sterres alle ; 

To wynd, to air, to see, to lond, 

Sche preide, and ek hield up hir hond 
25 To Echates 12 and gan to crie 

Whiche is goddesse of sorcerie. 

Sche seide : ' Helpeth 18 at this nede, 

And, as ye maden me to spede 14 

Whan Jason cam the flees to seche, 
jo So help me nou, I you beseche.' 

With that sche loketh, and was war 

Doun fro the sky ther cam a char, 15 

1 pleased 6 Lat./w muta silentia noctis 12 Hecate 

2 at the 7 glided * help 

8 hair 8 by, near 14 succeed 

* spread abroad (Lat. midos humeris 9 troubled, agonizing 16 chariot 

infusa capillos) 10 breath 

6 girt (Lat. vestes indutd recinctas) n cry 


The which dragouns aboute drowe 1 ; 

And tho sche gan hir hed doun bowe, 

And up sche styh, 2 and faire and wel 

Sche drof 8 forth bothe char and whel * 

Above in th' air among the skyes. 5 

The lond of Crete and tho 5 parties ' 
Sche soughte, and faste gan hire hye, 7 
And there, upon the hulles s hyhe 
Of Othrin and Olimpe also, 

And ek of othre hulles mo, 9 10 

Sche fond 10 and gadreth herbes suote n ; 
Sche pulleth up som be the rote, 
And manye with a knyf sche scherth, 12 
And alle into hir char sche berth. 

Thus whan sche hath the hulles sought, 15 

The flodes ther foryat sche nought 18 
Eridian and Amphrisos, 
Peneie and ek Spercheidos ; 
To hem sche wente, and ther sche nom u 
Bothe of the water and the fom, 20 

The sond, and ek the smale stones 
Whiche as sche ches 15 out for the nones 16 ; 
And of the Rede See a part 
That was behovelich 17 to hire art 

1 drew 7 hie, hasten 18 not 

2 ascended 8 hills took 
8 drove 9 more w chose 
4 wheel 10 found 16 nonce 

6 those n sweet 17 needful 

6 parts 12 shears 

6. Crete : this reposes upon a corrupt reading of the Latin ; read perhaps 
' Thrace.' 

9. Othrin : Othrys ; Medea flies in a circuit about Thessaly. 

17. Eridian : not the Eridanus (Po), but the Apidanus, one of the tributaries 
of the Peneus, which flows through the vale of Tempe. Amphrisos: a small 
river flowing northeast into the modern Gulf of Volos. 

18. Spercheidos : the Spercheius is south of the preceding. 

23. Rede See : Macaulay suggests that Gower read ' rubrum ' for the ' refluum ' 
of Ovid's line 267. 

4 8 




Sche tok ; and, after that, aboute 
Sche soughte sondri sedes oute 
In feldes, and in many graves 1 ; 
And ek a part sche tok of leves ; 
Bot thing which mihte hire most availe 
Sche fond in Crete 2 and in Thessaile. 

In daies and in nyhtes nyne, 
With gret travaile and with gret pyne 8 
Sche was pourveid 4 of every piece, 
And torneth homward into Grece. 
Before the gates of Eson 
Hir char sche let awai to gon, 
And tok out ferst that was therinne ; 
For tho sche thoghte to beginne 
Such thing as semeth impossible, 
And made hirselven invisible, 
As sche that was with air enclosed, 
And mihte of no man be desclosed. 
Sche tok up turves of the lond, 
Withoute helpe of mannes hond, 
Al heled 5 with the grene gras, 
Of which an alter mad ther was 
Unto Echates the goddesse 
Of art magique and the maistresse, 
And eft another to Juvente, 6 
As sche which dede hir hole 7 entente. 
Tho tok sche fieldwode 8 and verveyne - 
Of herbes ben noght betre tueine 
Of which anon, withoute let, 9 
These alters ben aboute set. 

Tuo sondri puttes 10 faste u by 
Sche made, and with that hastely 

1 groves 

2 See note on 1. 6, p. 47 
8 MS. peyne 

* provided 
5 covered 

6 Youth (Hebe) 

7 whole 

8 woodland-growth ; Lat. 

sUva agresti, literally 

9 hindrance ; we still say with 
out let or hindrance 
1 pits 
u near 


A wether which was blak sche slouh, 1 

And out therof the blod sche drouh, 

And dede into the pettes 2 tuo ; 

Warm melk sche putte also therto, 

With hony meynd 3 ; and in such wise 5 

Sche gan to make hir sacrifice, 

And cride and preide forth withal 

To Pluto the god infernal, 

And to the queene Proserpine. 

And so sche soghte out al the line 10 

Of hem that longen 4 to that craft 

Behinde was no name laft 

And preide hem 5 alle, as sche wel couthe, 

To grante Eson his ferste youthe. 

This olde Eson broght forth was tho ; 15 

Awei sche bad alle othre 6 go 
Upon peril that mihte falle ; 
And with that word thei wenten alle, 
And leften there hem tuo alone. 

And tho sche gan to gaspe and gone, 7 20 

And made signes many on, 
And seide hir wordes therupon ; 
So that, with spellinge of hir charmes, 
Sche tok Eson in bothe hire armes, 

And made him for to slepe faste, 25 

And him upon hire herbes caste. 
The blake wether tho sche tok, 
And hiewh 8 the fleissh, as doth a cok ; 
On either alter part sche leide, 

And, with the charmes that sche seide, 30 

A fyr doun fro the sky alyhte, 
And made it for to brenne lyhte. 

1 slew 3 mingled 5 them 7 gape 

2 pits 4 belong 6 others * hewed 

20. The next fifty lines are for the most part original (Macaulay). 


Bot whan Medea sawh it brenne, 

Anon sche gan to sterte and renne 1 

The fyri aulters al aboute. 

Ther was no beste a which goth oute 
5 More wylde than sche semeth ther: 

Aboute hir schuldres hyng 8 hir her, 

As thogh sche were oute of hir mynde, 

And torned in another kynde.* 

Tho lay ther certein wode cleft, 
10 Of which the pieces nou and eft 6 

Sche made hem in the pettes wete, 6 

And put hem in the fyri hete, 

And tok the brond with al the blase, 

And thries sche began to rase 7 
15 Aboute Eson, ther as he slepte; 

And eft with water, which sche kepte, 

Sche made a cercle aboute him thries, 

And eft with fyr of sulphre twyes ; 

Ful many another thing sche dede, 
20 Which is noght writen in this stede. 8 

Bot tho sche ran so up and doun, 

Sche made many a wonder 9 soun, 10 

Somtime lich u unto the cock, 

Somtime unto the laverock, 12 
25 Somtime kacleth as a hen, 

Somtime spekth as don the men ; 

And riht so as hir jargoun strangeth, 18 

In sondri wise hir forme changeth. 

Sche semeth faie, 14 and no womman ; 
30 For, with the craftes that sche can, 

Sche was, as who seith, 15 a goddesse ; 

And what hir liste, more or lesse, 

1 run 6 wet n like 

2 beast 7 race u lark 

8 hung 8 place 18 grows strange 

4 turned to another nature 9 wonderful 14 fay, fairy 

6 again 10 sound 15 as one might say 


Sche dede, 1 in bokes as we finde, 
That passeth over marines kinde. 2 
Bot who that wole 8 of wondres hiere 
What thing sche wroghte in this matiere, 
To make an ende of that sche gan 
Such merveile herde nevere man. 

Apointed in the newe mone, 
Whan it was time for to done, 
Sche sette a caldron on the fyr, 
In which was al the hole atir 4 
Wheron the medicine stod 
Of jus, 6 of water, and of blod 
And let it buile 6 in such a plit, 7 
Til that sche sawh the spume 8 whyt ; 
And tho sche caste in rynde and rote, 9 
And sed and flour 10 that was for bote, 11 
With many an herbe and many a ston, 
Wherof sche hath ther many on. 
And ek Cimpheius the serpent 
To hire hath alle his scales lent ; 
Chelidre hire yaf his addres skin, 
And sche to builen caste hem in ; 
A part ek of the horned oule, 
The which men hiere on nyhtes houle ; 
And of a raven, which was told 12 
Of nyne hundred wynter old, 
Sche tok the hed with al the bile 18 ; 
And as the medicine it wile, 


2 surpasses human nature 


4 preparation 

6 juice 

6 boil 

7 manner 
s foam 

9 rind and root 



10 flower 

11 remedy 

12 reckoned 
is bill 

20. Here the Latin has nee defuit illic Squamea Cinyphii tennis membrana 
chelydri (Met. 7. 271-2), which King translates : ' skin membranous Of Afric's 
tortoise caught by Cinyps' banks'; Gower quite misunderstands. Cf. Shake 
speare's ' fillet of a fenny snake ' (Macb. 4. i. 12). 


Sche tok therafter the bouele 

Of the seewolf, 1 and for the hele 2 

Of Eson, with a thousand mo 

Of thinges that sche hadde tho, 
5 In that caldroun togedre, as blyve, 8 

Sche putte, and tok thanne of olyve 

A drie branche hem with to stere, 4 

The which anon gan floure 6 and bere> 

And waxe al freissh and grene ayein. 
10 Whan sche this vertu hadde sein, 6 

Sche let the leste drope of alle 

Upon the bare flor doun falle ; 

Anon ther sprang up flour and gras 

Where as the drope falle was, 
15 And wox anon al medwe-grene, 7 

So that it mihte wel be sene. 
Medea thanne knew and wiste 

Hir medicine is for to triste, 8 

And goth to Eson ther he lay, 
20 And tok a swerd was of assay, 9 

With which a wounde upon his side 

Sche made, that therout mai slyde 

The blod withinne, which was old 

And sek 10 and trouble n and fieble and cold. 
25 And tho sche tok unto his us 12 

Of herbes al the beste jus, 

And poured it into his wounde ; 

That made his veynes fulle and sounde. 

And tho sche made his wounde clos, 
30 And tok his hand, and up he ros ; 

1 shark ; Ovid means the werwolf 5 flower 9 proof, tried qualities 

2 recovery 6 seen 10 sick 

8 as quickly (as possible) J meadow-green n turbid 

* to stir them with 8 trust 12 use 

8. ' And lo ! the sere wood in the caldron's heat Grew sudden green, and 
clad itself with leaves Afresh, and heavy drooped with berried fruit ' (Ovid, 
tr. King). 


And tho sche yaf him drink a drauhte, 
Of which his youthe l ayein he cauhte, 2 
His hed, his herte, and his visage 
Lich unto twenty wynter age. 
Hise hore 8 heres 4 were away ; 
And lich unto the freisshe Maii, 
Whan passed ben the colde schoures, 8 
Riht so recovereth he his floures. 


Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (about 1380) has been called by Gaston 
Paris the jewel of English mediaeval literature (Hist. Lift, de la France 30. 73), 
and by Schofield (Eng. Lit. from the Conquest to Chaucer, p. 21 5) ' incomparably 
the best of the English romances, and one of the finest in any language.' Of 
the unknown author Schofield adds : ' Next to Chaucer his contemporary, he 
is perhaps the greatest of our mediaeval poets.' 

The romance has been edited by Madden (Syr Gawayne], 1839, and by 
Morris (E.E.T.S. No. 4), 1864 (revised by Gollancz, 1897). For general accounts 
of the author and his work, see Camb. Hist. Eng. Lit. i. 357-373 (Gollancz), and 
Osgood's edition of The Pearl, pp. xi, xlvii-lix. A good prose translation is that 
by K. G. T. Webster (Boston, 1916), and there is a humorous adaptation of the 
poem in modern verse by Charlton M. Lewis ( Gawayne and the Green Knight : 
a Fairy Tale}, Boston, 1903. 

The story is probably from a French or Anglo-Norman source ; for analogues, 
see Madden's edition, pp. 305-7 ; M. C. Thomas, Sir Gawayne and the Green 
Knight (Zurich, 1883), pp. 34-68; Gaston Paris, as above, 30. 75-7; Weston, pp. 
88-102 ; Kittredge, A Study of Gawain and the Green Knight (Cambridge, 1916). 

The incident of the beheading is found in the Fled Bricrend (translated in 
Irish Texts Soc., Vol. 2), an Irish tale at least as early as noo, in which the 
hero Cuchulinn undergoes the test (Gaston Paris, p. 77 ; Weston, pp. 92 ff.). 

It is an interesting fact that Richard de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick 
(1382-1439), a reputed descendant of the legendary Guy of Warwick, and 'a 
brave and chivalrous warrior in anage of chivalry,' entered the lists at Guines, 
near Calais, in the character of 'the grene knyght' on Jan. 6 (Twelfth Day) 
of either 1416 or 1417, and unhorsed a French knight, an exploit which he 
equaled on the two following days (Kittredge, Harvard Notes 5. 94~95)- A 
recent article, dealing with the connection between this poem and the Order 
of the Garter, by Isaac Jackson, will be found in Anglia 37. 393~4 2 3 '> this author 

1 youth 8 hoar 6 showers 

2 caught * hairs, hair 


believes the date to be 1362. Chambers sees in the Green Knight a form of 
the fertilization-spirit (The Mediceval Stage i. 117, 185-186). 

The language of our author presents peculiar difficulties, as does that of 
the whole school of alliterative poets which flourished during the second half 
of the fourteenth and the early years of the fifteenth centuries. Of this school 
Gollancz (p. 373) considers that he may well have been the master. 

The poem is long, and full of incident and description. Its story runs thus : 
While Arthur's court is feasting at Camelot on New Year's Day, a knight, 
all in green, and riding a green charger, rides into the hall. He challenges 
any knight present to give him a stroke with his battle-axe, on the understand 
ing that it is to be rendered back to him a year later. All shrink back but 
Arthur's nephew, Gawain, who smites off the knight's head, whereupon the 
latter rides away with the head in his hand. Toward the end of the year, 
Gawain sets out to find the knight, whom he eventually encounters. After 
various temptations, he endures the return-blow which, however, inflicts but 
a slight wound and later goes back to Arthur's court. (For more extended 
analyses, see J. L. Weston, Legend of Sir Gawain, pp. 86-88 ; Schofield, 
pp. 215-217 ; Camb. Hist. Eng. Lit. I. 364-365 : Morris' ed., pp. viii-xxi.) 

Morris has thus summarized the part of the poem which precedes our first 
^extract : ' Arthur, the greatest of Britain's kings, holds the Christmas festival 
at Camelot, surrounded by the celebrated knights of the Round Table, . . . and 
ladies the loveliest that ever had life. This noble company celebrate the New 
Year by a religious service, by the bestowal of gifts, and the most joyous mirth. 
Lords and ladies take their seats at the table Queen Guenever, the grey- 
eyed, gaily dressed, sits at the dais. . . . Arthur, in mood as joyful as a child, . . . 
declares that he will not eat nor sit long at the table until some adventurous 
thing has occurred to mark the return of the New Year. 

' The first course [is] announced with cracking of trumpets, with the noise 
of nakers and noble pipes.' 

Our extracts are lines 130-249, 2212-2478. The final z (for s) at the end of 
words is frequently represented in the MS. by 5 ; here it is uniformly printed as z. 

Now wyl I of hor 1 servise say yow no more, 

For uch 2 wyje 8 may wel wite 4 no wont 6 ]>at )>er were ; 

Anofer noyse ful newe nejed ' bilive, 7 

f>at ]>e lude 8 myjt haf leve liflode 9 to each. 10 

For unepe n watz 12 J>e noyce 18 not a whyle u sesed, 16 

And J>e fyrst cource in )>e court kyndely 16 served, 

1 their 1 on a sudden M noise (with which the first course 

2 each 8 people was announced) 
8 man 9 food M but just 

< know 10 take is ceased 

8 want , 11 scarcely 16 duly 

6 drew nigh 12 was 


]?er hales 1 in at f e halle-dor an aghlich 2 mayster, 8 
On 4 f e most 5 on f e molde 6 on mesure hyghe ; 
Fro f e swyre 7 to f e swange 8 so sware 9 and so f ik, 
And his lyndes 10 and his lymes so longe and so grete, 
Half etayn n in erde 12 1 hope 18 fat he were. 5 

Bot mon most I algate u mynn 15 hym to bene, 
And fat f e myriest 16 in his muckel " fat myjt ride ; 
For of bak and of brest al 18 were his bodi sturne, 19 
Bot 20 his wombe 21 and his wast were worthily smale, 
And alle his fetures 22 fol^ande, 23 in forme fat he hade, 10 

Ful clene 24 ; 

For wonder of his hue 25 men hade, 

Set in his semblaunt 26 sene 27 ; 

He ferde 28 as f reke were fade, 81 

And overal 82 enker-grene. 83 15 

Ande al grayf ed M in grene f is gome K and his wedes, 86 

A stray t 87 cote 88 f ul street, 89 fat stek on 40 his sides, 

A mere 41 mantile abof , mensked 42 withinne, 

With pelure 4S pured 44 apert 45 f e pane 46 ful clene, 47 

With blyf e 48 blaunner 49 ful bryjt, and his hod 50 bof e, 20 

J>at watz lajt 61 fro his lokkez, and layde on his schulderes ; 

Heme 52 wel haled, 83 hose of fat same grene, 

1 rushes 

19 stalwart 

87 tight-fitting 

2 terrible 

20 y et 

88 tunic 

3 lord 

21 belly 

89( ?) 

* one 

22 parts of his body 

40 clung to 

5 largest 

28 accordingly 

*l beautiful (OE. mare) 

6 mold, earth 

24 fine 

42 adorned 

" neck 

25 MS. hwe 

8 fur 

8 loins 

26 appearance 

44 shorn close, so as to show 

9 square 

27 plain, manifest 

only one color 

10 loins 

28 acted 

45 evidently 

11 giant (OE. eoten) 


4 6 cloth 

12 earth 

80 man 

4 ? fair 

13 believe 

81 vigorous 

48 gay 

14 nevertheless 

82 all over 

49 (white ?) fur 

is think 

88 dark (inky) green 

so hood 

16 most agreeable (?) 

34 arrayed 

si caught 

17 bigness 

85 man 

62 border 

18 though 

86 apparel 

63 trimmed (?) 


J?at spenet a on his sparlyr, 2 and clene spures under, 
Of bryjt golde upon silk hordes 8 barred ful ryche, 4 
And scholes 6 under schankes, 6 fere f e schalk 7 rides ; 
And alle his vesture verayly watz clene verdure, 8 

5 BoJ>e |>e barres of his belt and of er blyf e stones, 

J>at were richely rayled 9 in his aray clene, 
Aboutte hymself and his sadel, upon silk werkez. 10 
J>at were to tor n for to telle of tryfles f e halue, 12 
Jat were enbrauded 18 abof wyth bryddes and flyjes, 14 

10 With gay gaudi 15 grene, 16 fe golde ay in myddes. 

f>e pendauntes of his payttrure, 17 fe proude cropure, 18 
His molaynes, 19 and alle f e metail anamayld 20 was fenne ; 
J>e steropes fat he stod on stayned of fe same, 
And his arsounz 21 al after, and his af el 22 sturtes, 28 

1 5 J>at ever glemered u and glent 26 al of grene stones. 

]>e fole * fat he f erkkes 27 on, fyn 28 of fat ilke, 29 

Sertayn * ; 

A grene hors gret and f ikke, 
A stede ful stif to strayne, 81 

20 In brawden 82 brydel quik, 38 

To f e gome he watz ful gayn. 84 

Wei gay watz f is gome gered 86 in grene, 
And f e here of his hed of his hors swete 86 ; 
Fayre fannand 87 fax 88 umbefoldes " his schulderes ; 
25 A much 40 herd as a busk 41 over his brest henges, 

1 fastened is yellowish same (color) 

2 calf l MS. of grene certainly 
edges 17 poitrel, horse's breastplate 81 curb 

4 richly 18 crupper 82 embroidered 

5 (?) 19 bits 88 lively 

6 legs 20 enameled 84 obedient 
" man 21 saddle-bows 85 arrayed 

8 pure green 22 noble s 6 fine 

9 disposed 23 stirrups (?) 87 waving 
1 works 24 gleamed 8 hair 

u too tedious 25 sparkled 89 falls about 

12 half 26 foal, steed *> great 

is embroidered 27 pushes forward 4i bush 

14 flies 28 fine, choice 


]?at wyth his hijlich 1 here, fat of his hed reches, 
Watz evesed 2 al umbetorne, 3 abof his elbowes, 
J>at half his armes f erunder were halched 4 in f e wyse 
Of a kyngez capadbs, 6 fat closes 6 his swyre. 
f>e mane of fat mayn 7 hors much to hit lyke, 5 

Wei cresped 8 and cemmed 9 wyth knottes ful mony, 
Folden in wyth fildore 10 aboute f e f ayre grene, 
Ay a n herle 12 of fe here, anofer of golde ; 9 
)?e tayl and his toppyng 13 twynnen 14 of a sute, 18 
And bounden bofe wyth a bande of a brygt grene, 10 

Dubbed 16 wyth ful dere stonez, as f e dok lasted, 17 
Syf en 18 f rawen 19 wyth a f wong 20 a f warle 21 knot alof te, 
J>er mony bellez ful bryjt of brende 22 golde rungen. 
Such a fole upon folde, 28 ne freke fat hym rydes, 
Watz never sene in fat sale 24 wyth syjt er fat tyme, 1 5 

With yje 26 ; 

He loked as layt K so lyjt, 27 

So sayd al fat hym syje, 28 

Hit semed as no mon myjt 

Under his dynttez 29 dryje. 80 20 

Ne no pysan, 83 ne no plate fat pented 84 to armes, 
Ne no schafte, 85 ne no schelde, to schune 86 ne to smyte, 
Bot in his on 87 honde he hade a holyn bobbe, 38 
f>at is grattest 39 in grene when grevez 40 ar bare, 

1 splendid 

15 kind 

28 saw 

2 clipped 

16 adorned 

29 strokes 

3 around 

17 as far as the dock (fleshy 

> endure 

4 enlaced (with the hair) 

part) extended 

8' yet 

5 hood 

18 beyond that point 

8 2 neither 

6 encloses 

19 twisted 

83 gorget 

" great 

20 thong 

8 4 pertained 

8 crisped 

2 i tight (F) 

35 spear 

9 combed 

22 burnished 

36 protct ; MS. schwne 

10 gold thread 

28 earth 

87 one 

11 one 

24 hall 

88 holly-branch 

12 filament, hair 

25 eye 

89 most pronounced 

18 crest (mane) 

26 lightning 

40 groves 

14 matched 

27 bright 



And an ax in his ofer, a hoge 1 and unmete, 2 
A spetos 8 sparse 4 to expoun in spelle quoso myjt 6 ; 
f>e hede of an elnjerde, 6 pe large lenkfe 7 hade, 
f>e grayn 8 al of grene stele and of golde hewen, 
J>e bit 9 burnyst bryjt, with a brod egge, 10 
As wel schapen to schere u as scharp rasores ; 
pe stele 12 of a stif staf }>e sturne* 18 hit 14 bigrypte, 16 
f>at wate wounden 16 wyth ym to J>e wandez 17 ende, 
And al bigraven 18 with grene, in gracious 19 werkes M ; 
A lace 21 lapped aboute, fat louked 22 at \>e hede, 
And so after M fe halme 24 halched 26 ful ofte, 
Wyth tryed 26 tasselez perto 27 tacched 28 innoghe 29 
On 80 botounz 81 of }>e bryjt grene brayden 82 ful ryche. 
]?is hapel 88 heldez hym in, 84 and |>e halle entres, 
Drivande to ]>e heje dece, 86 dut 86 he no wofe, 87 
Haylsed 88 he never one, bot heje he overloked. 89 
J>e fyrst word fat he warp 40 : ' Wher is,' he sayd, 
' f>e governour of ]>is gyng 41 ? Gladly I wolde 
Se J>at segg 42 in syjt, and with hymself speke 


To knyjtez he kest 43 his yje, 

And reled 44 hym up and doun, 

He stemmed, 46 and con 48 studie 

Quo 47 wait ** )>er most renoun. 

1 huge 

17 wand's, handle's 

8* takes his way 

2 immense 

i g engraved 

86 dais 

8 cruel 

19 charming 

86 feared 

4 sparth, battle-axe 

20 devices 

87 injury 

6 whoever might try to make it 

21 cord 

88 saluted 

clear in speech 

22 had a fastening 

89 looked (loftily) 

6 ell (long) 

28 along 

40 flung 

7 length 

24 haulm, stalk (i.e. handle) 

4! company 

8 blade 

25 caught 

43 man 

9 cutting end 

26 choice 

48 cast 

w edge 

27 to the cord 

44 strode 

" shear 

28 attached 


12 handle 

29 sufficiently ; MS. innoghee 

4 6 began 

18 firmly 

80 by means of 

47 who 

" it (the axe-head) 

81 buttons 


16 gripped, clasped 

82 braided (i.e. the buttons) 

16 MS. waunden 

38 noble 



Ther watz lokyng on lenpe, 1 pe lude 2 to beholde, 
For uch mon had mervayle quat hit mene my$t, 
J>at a hapel and a horse myjt such a hue lach, 8 
As growe grene 4 as ]>e gres and grener hit semed, 
J>en 6 grene aumayl 6 on golde lowande 7 bryjter. 5 

Al studied fat per stod, and stalked hym nerre, 8 
Wyth al p e wonder of 9 pe worlde, what he worch 10 schulde. 
For fele n sellyez 12 had pay sen, hot such never are, 18 
Forpi u for f antoum and fayryje 15 pe folk per hit demed ; 
Jerfore to answare watz arje 16 mony apel 1T freke, 18 10 

And al stouned 19 at his steven, 20 and ston-stil seten 21 
In a swoghe 22 sylence purj pe sale 23 riche, 
As al were slypped upon 24 slepe so slaked ^ hor 26 lotez 27 

In hyje 28 ; 

I deme hit not 29 al for doute, 80 15 

Bot sum 81 for cortaysye 

Bot let 82 hym 83 pat al schulde loute 84 

Cast 85 unto pat wyje. 86 

When the time of the return visit approaches (see introductory note), 
Gawain sets out, and on Christmas Eve reaches a castle, where he is hospit 
ably received by its lord and lady. Here he learns that the Green Chapel, 
his destination, is only two miles distant, and accordingly accepts an invitation 
to stay till New Year's morning. During the host's hunting-expeditions, his 
wife makes love to Gawain, but is unsuccessful in her endeavors ; the kisses 
she bestows upon him are by him passed on to the host at nightfall. However, 
Gawain does accept from the lady a green girdle, which is to render him 
secure from every danger. On his resort to the Green Chapel, he hears the 
sound as of a blade sharpened on a grindstone. 

1 for a long time 

n wherefore 

26 their 

2 man 

15 enchantment 

27 features (or looks ; possibly 

3 obtain 

16 timid 

voices) . 

4 as to grow as green 

17 noble 

28 haste 

5 than 

18 knight 

29 was not 

6 enamel 

19 were astonished 

so fear 

7 shining 

20 voice 

81 but that some were silent 

8 nearer 

2 lsat 

32 but that they let 


22 impotent, dead 

88 Arthur 


23 hall 

34 reverence 

11 many 

as if all had slipped (slid) 

85 make advances (?) 

12 wonders 

into sleep 

86 champion 

13 before 

2*5 relaxed (or subdued) 

-tVxOS ^ 


Thenne f e knyjt con calle ful hyje l : 
' Who stijtlez 2 in fis sted, 8 me Steven 4 to holde ? 
For now is gode Gawayn goande 8 ryjt here ; 
If any wyje 6 051 7 wyl, wynne 8 hider fast, 

5 Ofer 9 now ofer 10 never, his nedez u to spede. 12 ' 

' Abyde,' quoth on on f e bonke, aboven over his hede, 
' And fou schal haf al in hast fat I fe hyjt 18 ones. 14 ' 
<^et he 18 rusched on 16 fat rurde " rapely 18 a f rowe, 19 
And wyth m quettyng 21 awharf , 22 er 28 he wolde lyjt 24 ; 

10 And syfen 26 he keverez 26 bi a cragge, and comez of 27 a hole. 

Whyrlande out of a wro, 28 wyth a f elle w weppen, 
A Denez 80 ax nwe 81 dyjt, 82 fe dynt with [t]o jelde. 88 
With a borelych 84 bytte, 86 bende 86 by fe halme, 
Fyled in a fylor, 87 fowre fote large 88 

15 Hit watz no lasse bi fat lace fat lemed 39 ful bryjt. 

And fe gome in fe grene, gered as fyrst 
Bof e fe lyre 40 and f e leggez, lokkez and berde 
Save fat fayre on his fote 41 he foundez 42 on fe erf e, 
Sette fe stele 48 to the stone, 44 and stalked bysyde. 

20 When he wan to 46 fe waiter, f er he wade nolde, 

He hypped 4 * over on hys ax, and orpedly 47 strydez, 
Bremly 48 brofe, 49 on a bent, 60 fat brode watz aboute, 

On snawe. 51 

l loudly 

18 forthwith 

85 edge 

2 dwells 

19 (for) a time 


3 place 

20 to 

87 filing instrument 

4 word, promise 

21 whetting 

88 broad 

6 walking 

22 turned aside 

89 gleamed 

6 man 

28 before 

40 face 

7 anything 

24 approach 

*l (instead of en horseback) 

8 let him win (speed) 

25 afterwards 

42 walks 


26 makes his way 

48 pole 

10 or 

27 out of 

44 (on which he walked) 

11 needs 

28 nook 

45 reached 

12 obtain 


4 leaped 

is promised 

80 Danish 

*1 boldly 

M once 

81 newly 

48 vehemently 

is the Green Knight 

82 made ready 

49 impetuous 

18 rushed back to 

88 bestow 

60 open field 

17 din (made by the grinding) 

8< stout 

61 snow 


Syr Gawayn pe knygt con mete, 
He ne lutte l hym nopyng lowe ; 
f>at oper sayde : ' Now, syr swete, 
Of steven 2 mon 3 may pe trowe. 4 ' 

' Gawayn,' quoth pat grene gome, ' God pe mot loke 5 ! 5 

Iwysse 6 pou art welcom, wyge, to my place, 

And ]>ou hatz tymed pi travayl 7 as true mon schulde ; 

And ]>ou knowez pe covenauntez kest 8 uus bytwene : 

At pis tyme twelmonyth pou toke fat 9 pe failed, 10 

And I schulde at pis nwe sere jeply n pe quyte. 12 10 

And we ar in pis valay, verayly oure one, 18 

Here ar no renkes u us to rydde, 15 rele 16 as uus likez ; 

Haf py 1T ]>y helme of 18 ]>y hede, and haf here ]>y pay ; 

Busk 19 no more debate pen I pe bede * penne, 

When pou wypped 21 of my hede at a wap one. 22 ' 15 

1 Nay, bi God,' quoth Gawayn, ' pat 23 me gost 24 lante, 25 

I schal gruch 26 pe no grwe, 27 for grem 28 pat fallez ; 

Bot styjtel w pe upon on strok, and I schal stonde stylle, 

And warp 30 pe no wernyng, 31 to worch as pe lykez, 

No whare.' 20 

He lened with pe nek, and lutte, 

And schewed pat schyre al bare, 

And lette 82 as 88 he nojt dutte, 84 

For drede he wolde not dare. 85 

1 bowed u men, knights 26 grudge 

2 promise 16 part, separate 27 particle, bit (NED. grue) 

3 one 16 rush about M harm 

4 believe 17 therefore (possibly ; but 29 resolve, settle 

5 keep, preserve perhaps delete) 80 utter 

6 surely 18 from off 81 protest 

7 journey 19 make ready 82 acted, behaved 

8 cast, made 2 offered ^ as though 

9 what 21 didst strike 34 doubted 

10 f e ii 22 O ne blow only M that he would not shrink 

H straightway 23 who 

12 requite 24 spirit, soul 

18 by ourselves K gave, has given 



Then fe gome in fe grene grayfed hym swy)>e, 
Gederez up hys grymme tole, 1 Gawayn to smyte ; 
With alle fe bur 2 in his body he ber hit on lofte, 8 
Munt 4 as majtyly as 8 marre hym he wolde ; 
Hade hit dryven adoun as drej ' as he atled, 7 
J>er hade 8 ben ded of his dynt pat 9 dojty watz ever. 
Bot Gawayn on fat giserne 10 glyfte " hym bysyde, 
As hit com glydande adoun, on glode 12 hym to schende, 18 
And schranke a lytel with }> e schulderes, for )>e scharp yme. 
)?at of er schalk 14 wyth a schunt 15 f e schene 16 wythhaldez, 
And f enne repreved he f e prynce with mony prowde wordez : 
' J>ou art not Gawayn,' quoth f e gome, ' fat is so goud 1T halden, 
J>at never arjed 18 for no here, 19 by hylle ne be vale, 
And now )>ou fles for f erde, 20 er f ou fele harmez n ; 
Such cowardise of fat knyjt cowfe 22 I never here. 
Nawf er fyked 28 I ne flaje, 24 freke, quen f ou myntest, 26 
Ne kest 2fl no kavelacoun 27 in kyngez hous Arthor, 28 
My hede flaj 29 to my fote, and jet flaj I never ; 
And fou, er any harme hent, 80 arjez in hert, 
Wherfore fe better burne me burde 81 be called 


Quoth Gawayn : ' I schunt 82 onez, 

And so wyl I no more ; 

Bot faj 88 my hede f alle on fe stonez, 

I con not hit restore. 84 

1 tool, weapon 

2 force 
8 aloft 

4 threatened 
6 as if 

6 straight 

7 aimed 

8 would have 

9 he who 
10 axe 

" looked 

12 jts passage (?) 

18 destroy 

H man 

16 slant 

is bright (blade) 

i" brave 

18 trembled 

19 host 

20 fear 

2 1 before thou art much hurt 

22 could 
28 flinched 

24 fled 

25 didst aim 

26 raised 

27 objection 

28 genitive case 

29 flew 
so seized 

si I ought to 

82 dodged 

88 though 

84 (as the Green Knight did) 


Bot busk, 1 burne, 2 bi fi fayth, and bryng me to fe poynt, 
Dele to me my destine, and do hit out of honde, 
For I schal stonde fe a strok, and start 8 no more, 
Til fyn ax have me hitte haf here my trawfe.' 
' Haf at fe fenne,' quoth fat ofer, and heves hit alofte, 5 

And waytez 4 as wrof ely as he wode were ; 
He myntez 6 at hym majtyly, 6 bot not f e mon ryvez, 7 
Withhelde heterly 8 h[i]s honde, er hit hurt myjt. 
Gawayn grayf ely 9 hit bydez, and glent 10 with no membre, 
Bot stode stylle as fe ston, ofer 11 a stubbe aufer, 12 10 

f>at raf eled 13 is in roche 14 grounde, with rotez a hundreth. 
J>en muryly ef te con 15 he mele, 16 f e mon in f e grene : 
' So now fou hatz fi hert holle, 17 hitte me bihov[e]s ; 
Halde f e now f e hyje 18 hode w fat Arf ur f e rajt, 20 
And kepe 21 fy kanel 22 at fis kest, 28 jif hit M kever 28 may.' 15 

Gawayn ful gryndelly 26 with greme " fenne sayde, 
1 Wy fresch on, fou fro 28 mon, f ou fretez to longe, 
I hope M fat f i hert arje 80 wyth fyn aw en selven.' 
' Forsofe,' quoth fat of er freke, 81 ' so felly 82 fou spekez, 
I wyl no lenger on ly te 83 lette 84 fin ernde " 20 

Rijte no we.' 

J>enne tas 86 he hym stryf e 8T to stryke, 

And frounses 38 bof e lyppe and browe. 

No mervayle f ag hym 89 myslyke, 

J>at hoped of no rescowe. 40 25 

1 make ready l fi did ^ suspect 

2 man 16 speak 80 grows cowardly 

3 flinch V whole 31 man 

4 attends 18 high 82 rudely 

s aims 19 hood ^ tarrying 

6 lustily 20 gave (reached) 4 delay 

" gashes 21 guard 85 business 

8 with a jerk 22 neck ** takes 

9 duly 28 blow 8 " stride (firm position on his feet) 
10 shrank 24 the hood 88 wrinkles 

H or 25 cover (the neck) ^ Gawain 

12 either 26 roughly * rescue 

18 twisted 27 anger 

14 rocky as fierce 


He h/ftes h/jtly his lome, 1 and let hit doun fayre,* 
With |e barfoe of |e bitte * bi |e bare nek ; 
J>aj he homered * heterly,* hurt hym no more, 
Bot snyrt ' hym on )at on syde, |at severed )e hyde ; 

5 )>e scharp T schrank * to Je flesche Jnirj |e schyre ' grece, 1 * 

)>at be schene u blod over his schukieres schot to |>e er|e ; 
And quen |>e burne sez ^e blode blenk 13 on Je snawe, 
He sprit M forth spenne-fote," more |>en a spere len|e, 
Hent u heterly * his helme, and on his hed cast, 

10 Schot " with his schulderez his fayre schelde under, 

Braydez 1T out a bryjt sworde, and bremely 1S he spekez ; 
Never syn |>at he watz burne borne of his moder, 
Watz he never in )is workle wyye n half so bly|e * : 
' Blynne, 21 burne, of |>y bur,* 3 bede M me no mo ; 

15 I haf a stroke in |is sted withoute stryf hent, 3 * 

And if |>ow rechez ** me any mo, I redyly schal quytt^* 
And jekle jederly * ayayn, and |>erto ye tryst," 

Bot on stroke here me fallez,** 

;r J>e covenaunt schap* 1 ryjt soo, 

[Sikered] ** in Ar|>urez hallez. 
And |erf ore hende now hoo ** ! ' 

The hapel ** heldet ** hym fro, and on his ax rested, 
Sette |e schaf t upon schore,* and to )e scharp lened, 
25 And loked to |>e leude " |at on | launde M jede, 
How |at do jty dredles dervely * |^r stondez, 


u swift-foot (?) 

*" promptly 



make up your mind 


16 slipped 


4 smote 

17 draws 

* is due 


M boldly 

i directed 

wounded (?) 

~ .IT. 

a ratified 


g bd 

* stop 



** knight 


24 onslaught 

** turned away 

* grease (fleshy part of the neck) 

a attempt 



~ accepted 

*" man 

M shine 

* dealest (handest me out) 

H 7 . ,\ : r. 

** stsrtcu 

requite, retaliate 

* bravely 


Aimed f ul a jlez * : in hert hit hym lykez. 
penn be mekz nraiyly, wyth a much Steven, 2 
And wyth a r[a]ykande * rarde * he to fe renk * sayde : 
' Bolde bume,* on fis bent 7 be not so giyndd*; 
No mon here unmaneriy ) mv-sboden* habbe, 5 

Ne kyd, 1 * bot as covenaunde," at kyngez kort " schaped B ; 
I hvjt " fe a strok, and fou hit hatz ; haJde fe wd payed ; 
I relece fe of fe remnaunt. of ryjtes aOe ofer ; 
^if I deliver u had bene, a boffet, paiaunter, 
I coufe wro^eloker 1 * haf waret. 17 [and] to fe haf wrojt anger. 10 
Fyrst I mansed" fe muryiy, with a mynt* one,* 
And rove fl fe wydi no rof ,** sore * with ryjt I fe prof ered, 
For fe forwarde fat we fest* in >e fyrst nyjt, 
And JKHI trystyh/ pe trawfe and trwiy me haldez, 
Al fe gayne fow me gef, as god mon schulde ; 15 

]>at ofer munt* for | morne. mon,* I >e profered, 
J>ou kyssedes my dere * wyf , fe cossez * me rajtez,* 
For hope two here* I pe bede bot two bare myntes, 

Boutescafe a ; 

Trwe mon ** trwe restore, ao 

)?enne far mon* drede no wafe*; 

At fe frid fou faykd Jwre,** 

And ferfor Jat tappe* ta ].* 

For bit is my wede r> fat fou werez, fat flke woven girdel, 

Myn owen wyf hit fe weved, I wot wd forsofe : 25 

Now know I wd fy cosses, and fy costes* ak,* 

U agreed npoo 



if earless 


3 rosfaing, load 

soand ff deJt * bodr of these two 

* knigbt -MiMjf^H widiaat injarv 

fierce, angry 

-" . ~crr ^ "^ r . r. r 



2 5 

And f e wowyng of my wyf , I wrojt it myselven ; 
I sende l hir to asay 2 f e, and, sothly me f ynkkez, 
On 8 J>e f autlest * f reke fat ever on f ote jede 6 ; 
As perle bi 6 f e quite 7 pese 8 is of prys more, 
So is Gawayn, in god fayth, bi o)>er gay knyjtez. 
Bot here yow lakked a lyttel, syr, and lewte * yow wonted, 10 
Bot pat watz for no wylyde u werke, ne wowyng nauf er, 
Bot for je lufud your lyf, f e lasse I yow blame.' 
J?at of er stif 12 mon in study stod a gret whyle ; 
So agreved for greme 18 he gryed 14 withinne, 
Alle f e blode of his brest blende 15 in his face, 
J>at al he schrank for schome, fat 16 f e schalk talked. 
J>e forme 17 worde upon folde 18 fat ]> e freke meled : 
' Corsed worth 19 cowarddyse and covetyse bof e 1 
In yow is vylany and vyse, fat vertue disstryez.' 
J>enne he kajt to 20 f e knot, and f e kest 21 lawsez, 22 
Brayde 2S brof ely ^ f e belt to f e burne selven : 
' Lo ! f er f e falssyng, 25 foule mot hit falle ! 26 
For care 27 of fy knokke, cowardyse me tajt 
To acorde me with covetyse, my kynde * to forsake, 
f>at is larges w and lewte, fat longez to 80 knyjtez. 
Now am I f awty; 81 and f alee, and f erde 82 haf been ever ; 
Of trecherye and untrawf e bof e bityde 88 sorje 84 

And care ! 

I biknowe yow, 86 knyjt, here stylle, 

Al fawty is my fare 86 ; 

1 sent 

2 try, tempt 
8 one 

4 the most faultless 

5 went (OE. code) 

6 compared with 

7 white 
* peas 


10 lacked 

11 wily, intriguing 

12 brave 

18 vexation, anger 
M was agitated 

15 blent, mingled 

1 6 while 

17 first 

18 earth 

19 be 

20 seized hold of 

21 twist 

22 looses 
28 threw 
24 angrily 

25 falsity 

26 may foul befall it 

27 fear 

28 nature 

29 generosity 
so befits 

si faulty 
32 afeared 

83 come 

84 sorrow 

85 confess to you 

86 conduct 


Letez me overtake l your wylle, 
And efte 2 I schal beware.' 

Thenn loje 8 fat of er leude, and luflyly 4 sayde, 
' I halde hit hardily 6 hole, 6 f e harme fat I hade ; 
f>ou art confessed so clene, beknowen of fy mysses, 7 5 

And hatz fe penaunce apert, 8 of 9 fe poynt of myn egge, 10 
I halde fe polysed n of fat plyjt, 12 and pured 13 as clene, 
As 14 f ou hadez never forfeted 15 syf en f ou watz fyrst borne. 
And I gif fe, syr, f e gurdel fat is golde hemmed ; 
For hit is grene as my goune, syr Gawayn, je maye ic 

J?enk upon f is ilke f repe, 16 f er " f ou forth f ryngez 18 
Among prynces of prys, and 19 f is a pure token 
Of f e chaunce 20 of f e grene chapel, at 21 chevalrous knyjtez ; 
And je schal in f is nwe jer ajayn 22 to my wonez, 28 
And we schyn 24 revel fe remnaunt of fis ryche fest, it 

Ful bene.' 

J>er laf ed 26 hym fast 2T f e lorde, 

And sayde : ' With my wyf, I wene, 

We schal yow wel acorde, 28 

J>at watz your enmy kene.' 20 

' Nay, forsof e,' quoth f e segge, 29 and sesed 80 hys helme, 

And hatz hit of 81 hendely, 82 and f e haf el M f onkkez : 

' I haf sojorned sadly, sele 84 yow bytyde, 

And He jelde 86 hit sow jare, 86 fat jarkkez 87 al menskes 88 1 

l understand 

"as if 

2 7 urgently 

2 afterwards 

15 sinned 

28 bring into friendly relations 

8 laughed 

16 reproof, rebuke 

< knight 

4 courteously 


80 seized 

6 assuredly 

18 dost crowd, press 

fl off 

6 cured 

19 and keep 

82 courteously 

" with avowal made of thy sins 

20 adventure 

88 warrior 

8 openly, manifestly 

2 l on the part of 

84 blessing, prosperity 

9 from 

22 come again 

85 may he reward you for it 

10 (edge of) axe 

28 dwelling 

86 soon 

n absolved 

24 shall 

87 bestows 

12 offense 

25 genially 

8s honors 

18 purged 

26 invited 


And comaundez l me to fat cortays, your eomlych 2 fere, 8 
Bofe pat on and fat ofer, myn honoured ladyez, 
J>at f us hor knyjt wyth hor kest 4 ban koyntly 5 bigyled. 
Bot hit is no ferly, 6 fa; a fole madde, 7 
5 And fur; wyles of wymmen be wonen to sorje ; 
For so watz Adam in erde 8 with one bygyled, 
And Salamon with fele sere, 9 and Samson eftsonez, 10 
Dalyda u dalt 12 hym hys wyrde, 18 and Davyth f eraf ter 
Watz blended u with Barsabe, 16 fat much bale 16 foled. 17 
10 Now fese were wrathed 18 wyth her wyles, hit were a wynne 19 huge 
To luf horn wel, and leve * hem not a leude fat couf e 21 - 
For fes wer forne 22 fe freest 28 fat foljed alle fe sele, 
Exellently of alle fyse of er 24 under hevenryche 

f>at mused ^ ; 

15 And alle fay were biwyled, 26 

With wymmen fat fay used 27 ; 
J>aj I be now bigyled, 
Me fink me burde 28 be excused.' 

' Bot your gordel,' quoth Gawayn ' God yow forjelde w ! 
20 J>at wyl I welde 80 wyth good wylle, not for f e wynne 81 golde, 
Ne fe saynt, 82 ne f e sylk, ne f e syde 88 pendaundes, 84 
For wele, 85 ne for worchyp, ne for fe wlonk 86 werkkez, 
Bot in syngne of my surf et 87 I serial se hit of te ; 
When I ride in renoun, remorde ** to myselven 
25 J>e faut and fe fayntyse 89 of fe flesche crabbed, 40 

1 commend 16 Bathsheba 29 requite 

2 comely 16 grief *" keep in possession 
s mate 17 suffered 81 goodly (?) 

4 stratagem 18 vexed ** samite 

5 cunningly 19 joy ffl long 

6 wonder 2 believe 84 pendants 

" grew mad 21 were a man but able K good fortune 

8 on earth 22 o f old M beautiful 

many different ones 28 noblest 8 ~ fault, sin 

w moreover, likewise 24 beyond (excelling) all others ** I shall blame 

" Delilah 25 indulged their fancies (?) & faintness, weakness 

12 deah 26 beguiled * perverse (?) 

18 fate, doom ^ dealt with 

i* mingled, wedded 28 jt is fitting for me 



How tender 1 hit is to entyse 2 teches 8 of fylpe 4 ; 
And pus, quen 6 pryde schal me pryk, for prowes of armes, 
f>e loke to 6 pis luf 7 lace schal lepe 8 my hert. 
Bot on 9 I wolde yow pray, displeses 10 yow never ; 
Syn n je be lorde of the jonder londe, per I haf lent 12 inne 
Wyth yow wyth worschyp pe Wyje 13 hit yow jelde 
J>at uphaldez pe heven, and on hyj 14 sittez ! 
How norne 15 je yowre ryjt nome, and penne no more ? ' 
' J>at schal I telle pe trwly,' quoth fat oper penne, 
' Bernlak de Hautdesert I hat 16 in pis londe, 
J>urj myjt of Morgne la Faye (pat in my hous lenges) 1T . , t 
And koyntyse 18 of clergye 19 bi craftes wel lerned, . 
J?e maystres of Merlyn mony hatz 20 taken ; 
For ho hatz dalt drwry 21 ful dere sum tyme 
With pat conable 22 klerk pat knowes alle your knyjtez 

At hame ; 

Morgne pe goddes, 

)?erfore hit is hir name ; 

Weldez 38 non so hyje hawtesse, 24 

J?at ho ne con make ful tame. 25 

Ho wayned 2e me upon pis wyse to your wynne 27 halle, 
For to assay pe surquidre, 28 jif hit soth were, 
)?at rennes 29 of pe grete renoun of pe Rounde Table ; 
Ho wayned me, pis wonder, your wyttez to reve, 80 
For to haf greved Gaynour, 81 and gart hir to dyje, 82 
With gopnyng 88 of pat ilke gomen, 84 pat gostlych speked, 
With his hede in his honde, bifore pe hy^e table. 

1 frail, weak 

2 acquire, catch 

8 spots, stains, blemishes 

4 foulness, sin 

5 when 

6 at 

" dear, precious 

8 soften 

9 one thing 

10 if it displease 

11 since 

12 dwelt 

18 Being 

w high 

15 say 

is am called 

" dwells 

l* (her) cunning 

i* learning 

20 MS. ho 

21 carried on amours 

22 competent 
28 possesses 

24 dignity, power 

25 submissive 

26 sent ' 

27 goodly (?) 
2 pride 

29 runs, is told 

80 take away 

8 1 Guinevere 
2 die 

84 laughing-stock 


J>at is ho fat is at home, f e auncian l lady ; 
Ho is even fyn aunt, Arf urez half suster, 
j?e duches dojter of Tyntagelle, 2 fat dere 8 liter * after 
Hade Arf ur upon, 5 fat af el 6 is nowfe. 7 
5 J>erfore I efe 8 ]> e, haf el, to com to fyn aunt, 

Make myry in my hous, my meny fe lovies, 
And I wol 9 ]> e as wel, wyje, bi my faythe, 
As any gome under God, for. fy grete traufe.' 
And he nikked hym naye, 10 he nolde bi no wayes. 
10 J?ay acolen n and kyssen, [bikennen] ayfer ofer 12 
To J>e Prynce of Paradise, and parten ryjt fere, 

On coolde 18 ; 

Gawayn on blonk 14 ful bene, 
To fe kyngez burg 15 buskez 16 bolde, 
15 And fe knyjt in f e enker 17 grene, 

Whiderwarde so ever he wolde. 


There was a Thomas Rimor (Rymour) of Erceldoune (modern Earlston) in 
the thirteenth century, a Scotchman who obtained in the following century the 
reputation of a prophet. He cannot, however, have been the author of our 
romance, which must have been composed after 1401, and is assigned by the 
New English Dictionary to about 1425. The romance consists of three cantos, 
of which the first is devoted to the fairy tale here following, and the second 
and third to prophecies, or what purport to be such. Child thought that the 
prophecies were by an inferior hand, but Murray believes the whole romance 
to have been the work of a single poet. Curiously enough, the story is told 
partly in the first person, and partly in the third. 

A ballad, founded on the romance (see Murray's edition, pp. Hi, liii), is 
No. 37 of Child's collection, of which the first stanza runs in one version : 

True Thomas lay oer yond grassy bank, 

And he beheld a ladie gay, 
A ladie that was brisk and bold, 

Come riding oer the fernie brae. 

1 ancient noble 12 commend each the othei 

2 the daughter of the Duch- 1 now 18 in the open (?) 

ess of Tintagel a sk, bid 14 steed (lit. white steed) 

* noble wish 15 fortress 

* Uther 10 refused him 16 hastens 

6 by 11 embrace v dark (inky) green 


Thomas still retains his power over the imaginations of men. Professor 
Dixon, of the University of Glasgow, has written a little play, called Thomas 
the Rhymer (Glasgow, 191 1), and Kipling's Last Rhyme of True Thomas (1893) 
is one of his most spirited poems. 

The scene of the poem is best described by Sir James Murray (pp. 1, li of 
his edition) : ' Eildon Tree, referred to in the Romance, and connected tradi 
tionally with Thomas's prophecies, stood on the declivity of the eastern of the 
three Eildon Hills. ... Its site is believed to be indicated by the Eildon Stone, 
" a rugged boulder of whinstone " standing on the edge of the road from 
Melrose to St Boswell's, about a mile south-east from the former town, and on 
the ridge of a spur of the hill. " The view from this point," says a correspon 
dent, " is unsurpassed ; on the north you have the vale of Leader almost up 
to Earlston, and Cowdenknowes with its ' Black Hill ' rising abruptly from 
the bed of the stream ; while downward to Tweed the undulating expanse of 
woody bank is so beautiful, that in the time of the ' bonny broom,' I am often 
tempted to bend my steps to the spot, and ' lie and watch the sight,' from a 
spot once 'underneath the Eildon Tree.' In the close vicinity is the 'Bogle 
Burn,' a stream which rises on the slope of the Eastern Eildon, and flows down 
a deep glen into the Tweed a little to the north of Newtown St Boswell's." . . . 
About half a mile to the west of the Eildon Stone, and on the slope of the 
same hill, we find the " Huntlee bankis " of the old romance. The spot lies a 
little above the North British Railway, at the point where it is crossed by the 
road to St Boswell's already referred to, about a quarter of a mile after leaving 
Melrose Station. The field next the road and railway at this point (No. 2405 
on the Ordnance Map) is called Monks 1 Meadow ; and higher up the hill above 
this are two fields (Nos. 2548 and 2408) which have preserved the name of 
Huntlie Brae.' 

The ordnance map in question is that of the Parish of Melrose (May, 1861), 
Sheet VIII. 5. The road leaves the market-place, and leads to Oakendean 
House ; it touches a corner of 2405 just after it crosses the railway and strikes 
a little southeast. No. 2408 is directly south of 2405, about 120 yards from the 
road, by way of a row of trees. No. 2548 is directly south of 2408, and about 
150 yards further. Directly east of 2548 is Corse Rig (2410), with a plantation 
of trees. 

Sir Walter Scott's enthusiasm for the story is best shown by a passage or 
two from Basil Hall's journal for Dec. 30, 1824, as quoted in Lockhart's life 
of Scott : ' This morning Major Stisted, my brother, and I, accompanied Sir 
Walter Scott on a walk over his grounds, a distance of five or six miles.. . . 
Occasionally he repeated snatches of songs, sometimes a whole ballad, and at 
other times he planted his staff in the ground and related some tale to us, 
which, though not in verse, came like a stream of poetry from his lips. Thus, 
about the middle of our walk, we had first to cross, and then to wind down the 
banks of the Huntly Burn, the scene of old Thomas the Rhymer's interview 
with the Queen of the Fairies. Before entering this little glen, he detained us 
on the heath above till he had related the whole of that romantic story, so that 


by the time we descended the path, our imaginations were so worked upon by 
the wild nature of the fiction, and still more by the animation of the narrator, 
that we felt ourselves treading upon classical ground ; and though the day was 
cold, the path muddy and scarcely passable, owing to the late floods, and the 
trees all bare, yet I do not remember ever to have seen any place so interest 
ing as -the skill of this mighty magician had rendered this narrow ravine, 
which in any other company would have seemed quite insignificant. ... In the 
evening, ... Sir Walter also read us, with the utmost delight, . . . the famous 
poem on Thomas the Rhymer's adventure with the Queen of the Fairies ; but 
I am at a loss to say which was the most interesting, or even I will say poeti 
cal his conversational account of it to us to-day on the very spot, Huntly 
Burn, or the highly characteristic ballad which he read to us in the evening.' 
On Scott's transfer of his supposititious ' Rhymer's Glen ' to the Abbotsford 
estate, see Murray's edition, p. lii. 

The complete romance exists in four manuscripts, of which the oldest and 
best, the Thornton MS. of Lincoln Cathedral, dates from 1430-1440. All were 
admirably edited by Dr. Murray in 1875 f r tne Early English Text Society 
(No. 61). Another edition, with a reconstructed text, is that by Professor 
Brandl (Berlin, 1880), with copious variants. The present text reposes upon 
the Thornton manuscript, as printed by Murray, but the spelling has been 
somewhat normalized, and an attempt has been made to eliminate certain 
manifest errors ; this, therefore, is a restored text, and can not be depended 
upon for the exact manuscript readings. The editions of Murray and Brandl 
can be relied upon for detailed information upon all matters of interest. 

Als I me 1 went pis endres 2 day, 

Full fast in mynd makand my mone, 

In a mery mornyng of May, 

By Huntlee bankes myself allone, 

5 I herd )>e jay and J>e frostell 3 ; 

The mavys 4 menyde hir 5 in hir song ; 
J>e wodewale 6 beryde 7 als 8 a bell, 
That all be wode abowt me rong. 

Allone in longyng als I lay, 
10 Undyrnethe a semely tree, 

Saw I whare a lady gay 

Came ridand over a lufly lee. 9 

1 by myself 6 bemoaned herself 7 rang out 

2 other 6 wood-lark (Murray) ; according to 8 aS; iik e 

8 throstle others, the yaffle, or green wood- lea, meadow 

4 song-thrush pecker 



If I solde sytt to Domesday, 

With my tonge to wrobbe and wrye, 1 
Certanely fat lady gay 

Never bese scho discryved 2 for mee. 

Hir palfray was a dappill-gray 
Swylk one ne sagh 3 I never none. 

Als dose f e sonne on someres day, 
J?at faire lady hirself scho schone. 

Hir selle 4 it was of roell bone 5 
Semely was fat syght to see ! 

Stefly sett with precyous stone, 
And compast all with crapotee, 6 


With stones of Oryent, grete plente. 

Hir hare abowt hir hede it hang. 
Scho rade over fat lufly lee ; 

A 7 whyl scho blew, anof er scho sang. 

Hir garthes 8 of nobyll sylk fay were, 
The bukylls were of berel 9 stone ; 

Hir steraps were of crystal clere, 
And all with perel 10 over bygone. 11 

Hir payetrel 12 was of irale 18 fyne ; 

Hir cropour was of orphare 14 ; 
Hir brydill was of golde fyne 

One aythir syde hang 15 bellys three. 

1 The meaning of these two 

verbs is very doubtful 

2 shall she be described 

3 saw 

4 saddle 

5 ivory (see NED. s.v. ruel- 


6 loadstone (cf. Shakespeare, 

A.Y.L. 2. i. 13) 

7 one 

8 girths 

9 beryl 
1 pearl 

11 covered 

12 horse's breastplate 


14 orphrey, rich embroid 
ery (esp. of gold) 
16 hung 


Scho led thre grewehundis 1 in a lesse, 4 
And seven raches 8 by hir ron ; 

Scho bare an horn abowt hir halse, 4 
And undir hir belt full many a flon. 6 

5 Thomas lay and saw fat syght, 

Undirnethe ane semely tree. 
He sayd : ' ^on 6 es Mary, most of myght, 
}?at bare fat Child fat dyede for mee. 

' Bot-if 7 I speke with jon lady bryght, 
10 I hope 8 myn herte will bryst 9 in three ; 

Now sail I go with all my myght, 
Hir for to mete at Eldoun tree.' 

Thomas rathely 10 up he rase, 

And ran over fat mountayn hye ; 
1 5 Gyff u it be als ]> e story says, 

He hir mette at Eldon tree. 

He knelyde down appon his knee, 
Undirnethe fat grenwode spray : 
' Lufly lady, rewe 12 on me, 
20 Qwene of heven, als 18 fou wel may ! ' 

Than spake fat lady milde of thoght : 
' Thomas, late swylke wordes be 1 

Qwene of heven ne am I noght, 
For I tuke 14 never so hegh degre ; 

25 Bote I am of anofer countree, 

If 15 I be payreld 16 most of pryse. 17 
I ryde af tyr this wylde fee 18 ; 

My raches rynnys at my devyse. 19 ' 

1 greyhounds 

2 leash 

8 hunting-dogs (hounds that follow by 
the scent, as the greyhound does 
by sight ; so Murray) 


* arrow 

6 yon 

7 unless 

8 believe 

9 burst 
10 quickly 

12 have pity 

," took 

15 even though 

is appareled 

17 price 

18 game, animals 
w command, will 


* If fou be pareld most of pryse, 

And rydis here in thy foly, 
Of lufe, lady, als fou erte wyse, 1 
f>ou gyffe me leve to lye the by ! ' 

Scho sayde : ' J>ou man, fat ware foly. 5 

I praye ]> e, Thomas, late me bee ; 
For I saye f e full sekirly, 2 

J>at synn wolde fordoo 8 all my beaute.' 

* Lufly lady, rewe on mee, 

And I will evermore with the duelle ; 10 

Here my trouth I plyght to the, 
Whethir fou will in heven or helle.' 

' Man of molde, fou will me merre,* 

Bot jit fou sail hafe all thy will ; 
Bot trowe ]> ou wele, fou chevys 5 f e werre, 6 1 5 

For alle my beaute fou will spyll.' 

Down fan lyghte J>at lady bryght, 

Undirnethe fat grenewode spray ; 
And, als fe story tellis full ryght, 

Seven sythis 7 by hir he lay. 20 

Scho sayd : ' Man, the lykes thy play ; 

What byrd 8 in boure 9 may dele 10 with the ? 
Thou merrys me all f is longe day ; 

I pray the, Thomas, late me bee ! ' 

Thomas stod up in fat stede, 11 25 

And he byheld fat lady gay : 
Hir hare it hang all over hir hede, 

Hir eghne semede out, fat were so gray, 

1 wise (Murray says that wise and pryse * mar 8 woman 

are pronounced as if wice and price) 6 succeedest, thrives 9 bower 

2 surely 6 worse 10 deal 

3 destroy 7 times u stead, place 


And all the rich clopyng was away, 

j?at he byfore saw in pat stede ; 
Hir a ' schanke 2 blake, hir oper gray, 

And all hir body lyke be lede. 8 

5 Jan said Thomas : ' Alias, alias ! 

In fayth, pis es a dullfull 4 syght ! 
How art pou fadyd in pe face, 

J>at schan byfore als pe sonne so bryght ! ' 

Sche sayd : ' Thomas, take leve at sonne and mone, 
10 And als 6 at lefe pat grewes on tree ; 

This twelmonth sail pou with me gone, 6 
And medill-erthe 7 sail pou not see.' 

' Alias,' he sayd, ' and wa es mee ! 

I trowe my dedis wyll wirk me care. 
15 My saule, Jesu, byteche 8 I the, 

Whedirsomever my banes sail fare.' 

Scho ledde hym in at Eldone Hill, 

Undirnethe a derne 9 lee, 
Whare it was dirk als mydnyght myrk, 10 
20 And ever pe water till his knee. 

The montenans u of dayes three, 

He herd bot swoghyng 12 of pe Mode ; 

At pe laste he sayd : ' Full wa 18 es mee 1 
Almast I dye for fawte 14 of fode.' 

1 one 6 go 11 amount, period 

2 leg 7 middle earth 12 roaring 
8 lead 8 commit is woe 

4 doleful secret u lack 

5 also 1 murk, murky 

9. Sche sayd. These two words are perhaps extra-metrical, and not to be read. 


Scho lede hym intill a faire herbere, 1 

Whare frute was growand gret plentee ; 
Pere and appill both rype fay were, 

The date, and als the damasee 2 ; 

J>e fygge, and also f e wyneberye 3 ; 5 

The nyghtgales byggande 4 on fair nest, 
J?e papejoyes 6 fast abowt gan 6 flye, 

And throstylls sang wolde hafe no rest. 

He pressede to pull frute with his hand, 

Als man 7 for fude 8 fat was nere faynt. 10 

Scho sayd : ' Thomas, foil late f am stand, 

Or ells fe fende the will atteynt. 

If fou it plokk, sothely to say, 

Thi saule gose to f e fyr of helle ; 
It commes never owte or 9 Domesday, 1 5 

Bot f er in payne ay for to duelle. 

Thomas, sothely I the hyght 10 : 

Come lygg thyn hede down on my knee, 
And fou sail se f e fayrest syght 

J>at ever saw man of thi con tree.' 20 

He did in hye n als scho hym badde : 

Appon hir knee his hede he layd, 
For hir to paye 12 he was full glade ; 

And fan fat lady to him sayd : 

' Seese fou now jon faire way, 25 

f>at lygges over jon hegh mountayn ? 
<?)0ne es fe waye to heven for ay, 

When synfull sawles are passede f er payn. 

1 garden, orchard 6 parrots 9 ere 

2 damson 6 did 10 bid 

8 grape 7 a man n haste 

4 dwelling 8 food 12 please 


Seese )>ou now jon o|>er way, 

fat lygges lawe l bynethe jon ryse * ? 

^on es J>e way, )>e sothe to say, 
Unto J>e joye of Paradyse. 

5 Seese J*>u jitt jon thirde way, 

J>at ligges undir jon grene playn ? 
^one es )>e way, with tene 8 and tray * 
Whare synfull saulis suffirris fair payn. 

Bot seese )x>u now jone ferthe way, 
10 )>at lygges over jon depe delle ? 

^one es Je way so waylaway 1 
Unto J>e birnand fyr of helle. 

Seese J>ou jitt jone faire castell, 

)?at standis over jon heghe hill ? 

! 5 Of towne and towre it beris )>e bell 6 ; 

In erthe es none lyke J>ertill. 

Forsothe, Thomas, jone es myn awen 

And )>e kynges ' of this countree ; 
Bot me ware lever 7 be hanged and drawen, 
20 Or 8 pat he wyste fou laye by me. 

When ]>ou commes to $one castell gay, 
I pray )>e curtase man to bee ; 

And whatso any man to ]>e say, 
Luke JHJU answere none bot mee. 

2 S My lorde es servede at ylk 9 a messe 10 

With thritty knyghtis faire and free ; 
I sail say, syttand at the desse, 11 
I tuke thi speche byjonde the see.' 

4 affliction 1 \ had rather 

8 spray 6 excels 8 ere 

* g"f ' king's 9 each 


Thomas still als stane he stude, 

And byheld pat lady gay ; 
Scho was agayn als 1 faire and gude, 

And also l ryche on hir palfray ; 

Hir grewehundis fillide 2 with dere blode, 5 

Hir raches couplede, by my fay 8 ; 
Scho blew hir horn with mayn 4 and mode, 6 

And to )>e castell scho tuke f e way. 

Into f e hall sothely scho went ; 

Thomas foloued at hir hand. 10 

Than ladyes come, both faire and gent, 6 

With curtasye to hir kneland. 

Harpe and f ethill 7 both fay fand, 

f>e getem, 8 and also )>e sawtrye, 9 
Lute and rybybe 10 bothe gangand, i^ 

And all manere of mynstralsye. 

J>e moste mervelle fat Thomas thoghte 

When fat he stode appon f e flore 
Fefty hertis in were broghte, 

f>at were bothe grete and store. 11 20 

Raches lay lapand in )>e blode ; 

Cokes come with dryssyng-knyfe 12 ; 
Thay bryttened u f e dere als 14 fey were wode u ; 

Revell amanges f am was full ryfe. 

Knyghtis dawnsede by three and three; 25 

There was revell, gamen, and playe ; 
Lufly ladyes faire and free 

Satt and sang in riche araye. 

1 as 6 we ll bred H mighty 

2 (were) filled 7 fiddle 12 dressing-knife 

3 faith 8 gittem (a kind of guitar) is cut U p 
* might 9 psaltery (a kind of zither) n as if 

5 spirit 10 rebeck (a three-stringed fiddle) is mad 


Thomas duellide in that solace 

More l fan I jow saye, parde, 2 
Till on a day so haf e I grace ! 

My lufly lady sayd to mee : 

5 ' Buske 8 the, Thomas, f e buse 4 agayn, 

For here fou may no lengar be ; 
Hye * the f aste with myght and mayn ; 
I sail the bryng till Eldone tree.' 

Thomas sayd fan with hevy chere : 
10 ' Lufly lady, now late me bee, 

For certaynly I hafe bene here 

Noght bot fe space of dayes three.' 

* Forsothe, Thomas, als I f e tell, 

J>ou hase bene here thre jere and more, 
15 And langer here fou may noght duell ; 

The skyll 6 I sail f e tell wharefore : 

To-mome of helle fe foule fende 

Amang this folk will feche his fee ; 
And f ou art mekill 7 man and hende 8 - 
20 I trow full wele he wil chese 9 the. 

For all fe gold fat ever may bee 

Fro hethyn 10 unto f e worldis ende, 
J>ou bese u never betrayed for mee ; 

J>erefore with me I rede 12 thou wende.' 

25 Scho broght hym agayn to Eldone tree, 

Undirnethe fat grenewode spray. 
In Huntlee bankes es mery to bee, 

Whare fowles synges both nyght and day. 

i longer 6 haste choose 

8 in truth (Fr. par Dieu) reason hence 

8 prepare ' large, robust " shalt be 

behooves (to return) 8 courtly W advise 



Amis and Amiloun (late thirteenth century) is ultimately derived from a 
Greek or Oriental source. The story represents the mediaeval notion of an 
ideal friendship, capable of attaining supreme heights of devotion. Amiloun 
risks his life to save the honor of Amis by maintaining his friend's perjured 
word in a trial by combat, and afterwards suffers for his generosity by becom 
ing a leper. As an outcast and beggar, with only one young page as com 
panion, he is at length recognized by Amis, and lovingly cared for and 
comforted. When an angel declares to Amis in a dream that only by means 
of the blood of his two children can Amiloun be cured, he meets even this 
demand upon his friendship and gratitude. Then a miracle takes place. Each 
friend has done what the other's need called for, and their sins are now fully 
atoned for by self-sacrifice. The two slaughtered children are found alive, 
happily playing together, and the story ends in cheer. 

There are versions in Old French, Latin, Old Norse, and Celtic. The 
English romance is closely related to an Anglo-Norman poem printed by 
Kolbing, who has elaborately edited the English text (Altenglische Bibliothek, 
Vol. 2, Heilbronn, 1884), closely following the Auchinleck manuscript. The 
language is Northeast Midland. For a good outline, see Ten Brink, Early 
Eng. Lit., pp. 250-2. 

Our extract covers lines 2245-2424. 

J>an foujt fe douk, 1 wifouten lesing, 2 
For to slen 8 his childer so jing 4 

It were a dedli sinne ; 
And fan foujt he, bi heven 5 King, 
His broker out of sorwe bring, 6 

For fat nold he noujt blinne. 7 
So it bifel on Cristes nijt, 
Swiche time as Jesu, ful of mijt, 

Was born to save mankinne, 8 
To chirche to wende, al fat f er wes, 9 
J>ai dijten 10 hem, wif outen les, 11 

Wif joie and worldes winne. 12 

1 duke 6 to bring 10 prepared 

2 deception ? to that end would he not cease n to tell the truth 
8 slay (his endeavors) & delight 

4 young 8 MS. -kunne 

5 heaven's 9 who were there 


f>an * fai were redi for to fare, 2 
J>e douke bad al fat per ware, 

To chirche fai schuld wende, 
Litel and michel, lasse and mare, 8 
5 J?at non bilef t * in chaumber are, 6 

As fai wald 6 ben his f rende 7 ; 
And seyd he wald himselve fat nijt 
Kepe 8 his broker, fat gentil knijt, 

}?at was so god and kende. 9 

10 J>an was f er non fat durst say nay : 

To chirche f ai went in her 10 way, 

At horn bileft fe u hende. 12 

J?e douke wel 18 fast gan aspie u 
]?e kays of fe noricerie, 15 
1 S Erf an le fai schuld gon ; 

And priveliche 17 he cast his eije, 18 
And aparceived ful witterlye 19 

Where fat fai hadde hem don. 20 
And when fai were to chirche went, 21 
20 J>an Sir Amis, verrament, 22 

Was bileft al on. 28 
He tok a candel fair and brijt, 
And to fe kays he went ful rijt, 
And tok hem oway ichon. 24 

25 Alon himself, wifouten mo, 28 

Into fe chaumber he gan to go, 
J>er fat his childer were, 

1 when 10 their clearly 

2 go 11 MS. }x> 20 p u t them 
greater 12 they left the noble one 21 gone 

left i* very 22 truly 

should be ; MS. fcare M began to look for 28 alone 

would is nursery 24 eacn one 

" friends i before 26 more, others 

8 watch over 17 secretly 

kind 18 eye 


And biheld hem bope to, 1 
Hou fair pai lay togider po, 

And slepe bope yf ere 2 ; 
pan seyd himselve : ' Bi Seyn Jon, 
It were gret rewepe 8 sou to slon, 

pat God hap boujt so dere ! ' 
His kniif he had drawen pat tide 4 ; 
For sorwe he sleynt 5 oway biside, 

And wepe wip reweful 6 chere. 7 

pan he hadde wopen 8 per he stode, 
Anon he turned ogam his mode, 9 

And sayd wipouten delay : 
' Mi broper was so kinde and gode, 
Wip grimly 10 wounde he schad n his blod 

For mi love opon a day ; 
Whi schuld Y pan mi childer spare, 
To bring mi broper out of care ? 

O, certes, 12 ' he sayd, ' nay ! 
To help mi broper now at pis nede, 
God graunt me per to wele 13 to spede, 14 

And Mari, pat best may w ! ' 

No lenger stint 16 he no stode, 17 
Bot hent 18 his kniif wip dreri mode, 

And tok his children po ; 
For he nold noujt spille her 19 blode, 
Over a bacine 20 fair and gode 

Her 19 protes he schar 21 atuo. 22 


1 both two, both 

2 together 
8 pity 

4 time 

6 slunk 

6 pitiful 

^ countenance 

8 wept 

9 changed his mind again 
w fearful 

11 shed 

12 truly 

18 well-being 
14 advance 
is can (help) 
16 forbore 

i^ nor stood still 
is seized 

19 their 

20 basin (OF. baciri) 

21 shore, cut 

22 in two, asunder 

8 4 


1 though, if 

2 were 

8 concealed 
4 nobody 
* with 
8 been 
" fastened 

And when he hadde hem boj>e slain, 
He laid hem in her bed ogain, 

No wonder J>ei 1 him wer 2 wo ! 
And hilde 8 hem, J>at no wijt * schuld se ; 
As no man hadde at 5 hem be, 6 

Out of chaumber he gan go. 

And when he was out of chaumber gon, 
J>e dore he steked 7 stille anon 

As fast as it was biforn ; 
J>e kays he hidde under a ston, 
And boujt J>ai schuld wene 8 ichon 

J?at |>ai hadde ben forlorn. 9 
To his brober he went him ban, 
And seyd to bat careful 10 man, 

Swiche time as God was born : 
1 Ich have be broujt mi childer n blod ; 
Ich hope it schal do ]>e gode, 

As be angel seyd biforn. ' 

' Brober,' Sir Amiloun gan to say, 
' Hastow 12 slayn bine children tuay l& ? 

Alias, whi de[de]stow 14 so? ' 
He wepe and seyd : ' Waileway ! 
Ich had lever 16 til Domesday 16 

Have lived in care and wo ! ' 
J>an seyd Sir Amis : ' Be now stille ; 
Jesu, when it is his wille, 

May sende me childer mo. 17 
For me 18 of blis bou art al bare 19 ; 
Ywis, mi liif wil Y noujt spare 

To help be now berfro. 20 ' 

8 suppose 


1 full of care, sad 

11 children's 

12 hast thou 
i two 

14 didst thou 

is rather 

16 Doomsday 

17 more 

18 on my account 

19 deprived of 

30 out of thy condition 


He tok fat blode, fat was so brijt, 
And alied l fat gentil knijt, 

J>at er 2 was hende 8 in hale 4 ; 
And seffen 6 in a bed him dijt, 6 
And wreije 7 him wel warm, aplijt, 8 

Wif clofes riche and fale. 9 
' Brofer,' he seyd, ' ly now stille, 
And falle on slepe furch Codes wille, 

As f e angel told in tale 10 ; 
And Ich hope wele, wifouten lesing, 
Jesu, fat is heven King, 

Schal bote 11 fe of fi bale. 12 ' 

Sir Amis lete ls him ly 14 alon, 
And into his chapel he went anon, 

In gest 15 as je may here ; 
And for his childer fat he hadde slon 
To God of heven he made his mon, 16 

And preyd wif rewely 17 chere 
[He] schuld save him fram schame fat day, 
And Mari, his moder, fat best may, 

J>at was him leve 18 and dere. 
And Jesu Crist, in fat stede, 19 
Ful wele he herd fat knijtes bede, 20 

And graunt 31 him his praiere. 

A morwe, 22 as tite ** as it was day, 
J>e levedi com horn, al wif play, 24 
Wif knijtes ten and five. 

1 anointed 

2 formerly 

8 courteous 

5 afterwards 

6 arranged 
" covered 

s in truth 

9 many 

10 his message 

11 cure 

J 2 suffering 
is left 

14 to lie, lying 

15 the story 

17 piteous 

18 dear, precious 

19 in that situation 

20 prayer 

21 granted .. 

22 on the morrow 
28 soon 

24 in merry mood 


fai soujt )>e kays )>er l )>ai lay ; 

J>ai founde hem noujt fai were oway ; 

Wei wo was hem o live. 2 
j?e douk bad al )>at |>er wes 
5 Jai schuld hold hem stille in pes, 8 

And stint * of her strive 6 ; 
And seyd he hadde fe keys nome 6 ; 
Schuld no man in }>e chaumber come 

Bot himself and his wive. 7 

10 Anon he tok his levedi fan, 

And seyd to hir : ' Leve leman, 

Be blij>e and glad of mode ; 
For, bi him ]>at )>is warld wan, 8 * 
Bo)>e mi childer Ich have slan,' 

15 J?at were so hende 10 and gode ; 

For me J>oujt in mi sweven u 
)>at an angel com fram heven, 

And seyd me, Jmrch her blode 12 
Mi broker schuld passe out of his wo ; 
20 perfore Y slouj hem bofe to, 

To hele pat frely fode. 18 ' 

J>an was J>e levedi ferly wo, 14 
And seije 16 hir lord was al so ; 

Sche comfort le him f ul jare. 17 
25 ' O lef 18 liif,' sche seyd )>o, 

' God may sende ous 19 childer mo, 

Of hem have pou no care ; 
^if it ware at min hert rote, 20 
For to bring )>i broker bote 21 
30 My lyf Y wold not spare. 

1 where 8 W0 n 16 saw 

2 woeful, indeed, were they in life 9 s iai n 16 comforted 

* peace 10 gentle 17 readily, soon 

* cease u dream 18 dear 
8 effort 12 by means of their blood i us 

* taken 1* noble man 20 m y heart's root 
7 wife M exceedingly sorrowful 21 remedy 


For no man shal oure children see, 
To-morow shal fey beryed be 
Rijt as fey faire 1 ded ware.' 

Al }>us fe lady faire and bryjt 
Comfort hur lord with al hur myjt, 

As je mow 2 understonde ; 
And seth 8 fey went bo]> ful ryjt 
To Sir Amylion, fat gentyl knyjt, 

]?at ere 4 was free 5 to fonde. 6 
And whan Sir Amylion wakyd foo, 
Al his fowlehed 7 was agoo, 8 

J>urch grace of Goddes sonde 9 ; 
And fan was he as feire a man 
As ever he was jet or fan, 10 

Sef he was born in londe. 

J>an were fey al blif : 

Her u joy couf no man kyth, 12 

And fonked God fat day. 
And fan, as 56 mow listen and lyth, 1 * 
To a chamber fey went swyf , 14 

J>ere f e children lay ; 
And, without wemme 15 and wound, 
Al hool 16 and sound f e children found, 

And layen togeder and play. 
For joye fey wept fere fey stood, 
And fonked God with myld mood ; 

Her care was al away. 


1 naturally 

2 must 

8 afterwards 

4 formerly, before 

6 noble 

6 to make trial of ; in trial 

7 disease 

8 gone 

9 messenger 

1 formerly or then 
" their 
12 declare 

is hearken 
14 quickly 
16 blemish 
18 whole 



Sir Orfeo (about 1320) is a classical fable metamorphosed into a fairy tale., 
told in the manner of a Breton lay. Orpheus, like the banished Duke in As 
You Like //, resorts to the fields and woods for a season, after Eurydice is 
borne away ; but she is restored to him, he regains his kingdom, and they live 
long afterwards. Ker says of the lay (English Literature : Medieval, p. 127; 
see also Camb. Hist. Eng. Lit. i. 328) : ' One may refer to it as a standard, to 
show what can be done in the mediaeval art of narrative, with the simplest 
elements and smallest amount of decoration. It is minstrel poetry, popular 
poetry the point is clear when King Orfeo excuses himself to the King of 
Faerie by the rules of his profession as a minstrel ; that was intended to produce 
a smile, and applause perhaps, among the audience. But though a minstrel's 
poem, it is far from rude, and it is quite free from the ordinary faults of ram 
bling and prosing, such as Chaucer ridiculed in his Geste of Sir Thopas. It is 
all in good compass, and coherent; nothing in it is meaningless or ill-placed.' 

A ballad on the theme is No. 19 of Child's collection. 

Our text follows Zielke's print (Breslau, 1880) of the Auchinleck manuscript 
(with lines 1-24, 33-46 supplied from Harl. MS. 3810), but the punctuation 
has been freely altered. Occasional variations from Zielke's readings are 

We redyn 1 ofte and fynde ywryte, 8 
As clerkes don us to wyte, 8 
J>e layes fat ben of harpyng 
Ben yfounde 4 of frely [ferly ?] J>ing. 6 
Sum ben of wele, and sum of wo, 
And sum of joy and mer|>e also, 
Sum of trechery, and sum of gyle, 
And sum of happes 6 ]>at fallen by whyle T ; 
. Sum of bourdys, 8 and sum of rybaudry, 
And sum )>er ben of pe feyrye. 9 
Off alle ping pat men may se, 
Moost o love 10 forsope )>ey be. 

In Brytain pis u layes arne 12 ywryte, 
Furst yfounde and forpe ygete, 18 

1 read e events 11 these -" -' 

a written 7 happen at times 12 are 

make us to know 8 mirth, jests 18 conceived 

4 composed magic, enchantment 

6 of noble matters i MS. lowe 

8 9 

Of aventures fat fillen 1 by dayes, 2 

Wherof Brytouns made her layes. 

When fey myght owher 8 heryn 

Of aventures fat f er weryn, 

J>ey toke her harpys wif game,* 5 

Maden layes, and jaf it 6 name. 

Of aventures fat han befalle 
Y can sum telle, but nought alle. 6 
Herken, lordyngs fat ben trewe, 
And Y wol jou telle of sir Orphewe. 10 

Orfeo was a king, 
In his time an heije lording, 
A stalworf man and hardi bo, 7 
Large, 8 curteys he was also. 

His fader was comen of King Pluto, 15 

And his moder of King Juno, 
]?at sum time were as godes yhold, 
For aventours fat fai dede and told. 

Orpheo most of ony fing 

Lovede f e gle of harpyng ; 20 

Syker g was every gode harpour 10 
Of hym to have moche honour. 
Hymself loved for to harpe, 
And layde fereon his wittes scharpe. 11 
He lernyd so, fer nofing was 25 

A better harper in no plas. 
In fe world was never man born 
J>at ever Orpheo sat biforn, 
And 12 he myjt of his harpyng her, 
He schulde f inke fat he wer 30 

In one of fe joys of Paradys, 
Suche joy and melody in his harpyng is. 

1 fell 6 them 9 sure 

2 once on a time 6 MS. all 10 MS. harpoure 

8 anywhere 7 both H and gave his keen mind to the matter 

4 joy, delight 8 generous 12 if 


\ J>is king sojurnd in Traciens, 1 

)?at was a cite of noble defens ; 

He hadde wib him a quen of priis, 8 

J>at was ycleped Dame Heurodis 
5 f>e fairest levedi, for be nones,* 

J>at mijt gon on bodi and bones, 

Ful of love and of godenisse, 

Ac * no man may telle hir fairnise. 

Bif el so in be comessing 6 of May, 
10 When miri and hot is ]>e day, 

Oway beb winter-schours, 

And everi feld is f ul of flours, 

And blosme breme 6 on everi bouj 

Overal 7 wexej> s miri anou^, 9 
15 J>is ich 10 quen, Dame Heurodis, 

Tok to " maidens of priis, 

And went in an undrentide 12 

To play bi an orchard-side, 

To se be floures sprede and spring, 
20 And to here be foules 18 sing. 

J>ai sett hem doun al bre 

Under a fair ympe-tre, 14 

And wel sone bis fair quene 

Fel on slepe 16 opon be grene. 
maidens durst hir noujt awake, 

Bot lete hir ligge 18 and rest take ; 

So sche slepe til afternone, 

]?at under[n]tide was al ydone. 

Ac so sone as sche gan awake, 
3 Sche crid and lobli bere 17 gan make : 

Sche froted 18 hir honden and hir fet, 

1 Thrace (/*/. Thracians) 7 everywhere M birds 

2 renown 8 grow H grafted tree 
at that time enough is asleep 

4 but 10 same 16 lie 

c beginning H two 17 unpleasing behavior 

6 bright 12 morning l g rubbed, wrung 


And crached 1 hir visage, it bled wete ; 

Hir riche robe sche 2 al torett, 3 

And was ravysed 4 out of hir witt. 

J?e two 5 maidens hir biside 

No durst wif hir no leng 6 abide, 5 

Bot ourn 7 to be palays ful rijt, 

And told bofe squier and knijt 

Jat her quen awede 8 wold, 

And bad hem go and hir athold. 9 

Knijtes um, 7 and levedis also, 10 

Damisels sexti and mo ; 

In )>e orchard to be quen hye 10 come, 

And her up in her u armes nome, 12 

And broujt hir to bed atte 13 last, 

And held hir fere fine 14 fast. 15 

Ac ever sche held 15 in o 16 cri, 

And wold up and owy. 17 

When Orfeo herd bat tiding, 
Never him nas 18 wers for 19 nojnng ; 
He come up wif> knijtes tene 20 

To chaumber rijt bifor be quene, 
And biheld, and seyd wib grete pite : 
' O lef liif, what is te, 21 
f>at ever jete hast ben so stille, 

And now gredest M wonder schille 23 ? 25 

J>i bodi, ]>at was so white ycore, 24 
Wib fine nailes is al totore. 25 
Alas ! ]>i rode, 26 fat was so red, 
Is as wan as ]>ou were ded, 

1 scratched 10 they 19 because of 

2 MS. hye " their 20 ten 

3 rent apart 12 took 21 what is ill with thee 
* ravished ; MS. reneyd 18 at the ^ dost cry 

5 MS. too 14 very ^ wondrous shrill (y) 

6 longer 16 continued 2* choicely 
l ran w one ^ rent 

8 go mad 17 away 26 complexion 

9 restrain M it was not 





1 two 

2 as 

8 put aside, cease 
4 what ails thee 
6 once 
* angry 

And also fine fingres smale 
Bep al blodi and al pale I 
Alias, pi lovesum eyjen to 1 
Lokep so 2 man dop on his fo 1 
A, dame, Ich biseche merci 1 
Lete ben 8 al pis rewef ul cri, 
And tel me what pe is * and hou, 
And what ping may pe help now.' 

j?o lay sche stille atte last, 
And gan to wepe swipe fast, 
And seyd pus pe king to : 
' Alias, mi lord, sir Orfeo 1 
Seppen we first togider were, 
Ones 6 wrop 6 never we nere 7 ; 
Bot ever Ich have yloved pe 
As mi liif, and so pou me. 
Ac now we mot delen ato 8 ; 
Do pi best, for y mot 9 go.' 
' Alias,' quap he, ' forlorn Ich am ! 
Whider willow go, and to wham ? 
Whider pou gost, Ichil 10 wip pe, 
And whider Y go, pou schalt wip me.' 
' Nay, nay, sir, pat noujt nis n ; 
Ichil pe telle al hou it is : 
As Ich lay pis undertide, 
And slepe under our orchard-side, 
J>er come to me to * fair knijtes, 
Wele y-armed 12 al to rijtes, 
And bad me comen on 18 heijing, 1 * 
And speke wip her u lord pe king. 
And Ich answerd at 16 wordes bold, 

7 were not 

8 separate (part in two) 

9 must 

10 I will 

11 that is in no way possible 

i MS. an 
H in haste 
is their 



1 nor would I 

2 rode hard 
8 hasten 

4 very quickly 

5 their garments 

6 chosen out 
1 but 

Y durst noujt, no Y nold. 1 

f>ai priked 2 ojain, as pai mijt drive 8 , 

]>o kom her king also blive, 4 

Wip an hundred knijtes and mo, 

And damisels an hundred also, 

Al on snowe-white stedes ; 

As white as milke were her wedes. 6 

Y no seije never jete bifore 

So fair creatours ycore. 6 

J>e king hadde a croun on hed ; 

It nas of silver, no of gold red, 

Ac 7 it was of a precious ston ; 

As brijt as pe sonne it schon. 

And as son as he to me cam, 

Wold Ich, nold Ich, 8 he me nam, 9 

And made me wip him ride 

Opon a palfray bi his side, 

And broujt me to his palays, 

Wele atird 10 in ich ways, 11 

And schewed me castels and tours, 

Rivers, forestes, frip 12 wij) flours, 

And his riche stedes 13 ichon ; 

And seppen me broujt o^ain hom 

Into our owhen 14 orchard ; 

And said to me pus afterward : 

" Loke, dame, to-morwe patow 16 be 

Rijt here under pis ympe-tre, 

And pan pou schalt wip ous 16 go, 

And live wip ous evermo ; 

And jif pou makest ous ylet, 17 

Whar 18 pou be, pou worst yfet, 19 

8 whether I was willing or not 

(would I, would I not) 

9 took 

1 adorned 
n in all ways 

12 glade 

13 places 



!* own 

16 that thou 

16 us 

17 delay 

18 wherever 

W shall be 'fetched 




1 though 

2 be 

shalt be 

4 carried away 

6 situation 

6 O woe 

7 give up 

And totore fine limes al, 
f>at nobing help be no schal ; 
And bei l \>ou best 2 so totorn, 
<?>ete bou worst 8 wib ous yborn. 4 " ' 

When king Orfeo herd bis cas, 6 
1 Owe 6 ! ' quab he, ' alias, alias 1 
Lever me were to lete 7 mi liif , 
J>an bus to lese 8 be quen mi wiif 1 ' 
He asked conseyl at 9 ich man, 
Ac no man him help no can. 
Amorwe 10 be undertide is come, 
And Orfeo hab his armes ynome, 11 
And wele ten hundred knijtes wib him, 
Ich y-armed stout and grim ; 
And wib be quen wenten he 12 
Rijt unto bat ympe-tre. 
J>ai made scheltrom 18 in icha side, 14 
And sayd bai wold bere abide, 
And dye her everichon, 
Er be quen schuld from hem gon. 
Ac jete amiddes hem f ul rijt 16 
J>e quen was oway ytwijt, 16 
Wib fain " forb ynome ; 
Men wist never wher sche was bicome. 18 

J>o was ber criing, wepe, and wo ; 
J>e king into his chaumber is go, 19 
And oft swoned opon be ston, 
And made swiche diol 20 and swiche mon 
J>at neije his liif was yspent 
J>er was no amendement. 
He cleped togider his barouns, 

8 lose 

9 from 

10 on the morrow 

11 taken 

12 they 

18 band, troop 
14 each side 

15 from amidst them 

16 snatched ; MS. ytvight 
i~ by witchcraft, magic 

18 what was become of her 
is gone 
20 dole 



1 renown 

2 rule 
8 lost 

* will not 
6 journey 

Erls, lordes of renouns x ; 

And when fai al yeomen were, 

' Lordinges,' he said, ' bifore gou here 

Ich ordainy min heije-steward 

To wite 2 mi kingdom afterward ; 

In mi stede ben he schal, 

To kepe mi londes over al. 

For, now Ichave mi quen ylore, 8 

]?e fairest levedi fat ever was bore, 

Never eft Y nil 4 no woman se ; 

Into wildernes Ichil te, 5 

And live fer evermore 

Wif wilde bestes in holtes 6 hore. 7 

And when je understand fat Y be spent, 8 

Make jou fan a parlement, 

And chese 5011 a newe king ; 

Now dof jour best wif al mi fing. 9 ' 

Ipo was fer wepeing in fe halle, 
And grete cri among hem alle ; 
Unnef e 10 mijt old or jong 
For wepeing speke a word wif tong. 
J>ai kneled adoun al yfere, 
And praid him, jif his wille were, 
pat he no schuld fram hem go ; 
' Do way,' quaf he, ' it schal be so.' 
Al his kingdom he forsoke, 
Bot a sclavin u on him he 12 toke 
He ne hadde kirtel no hode, 
Schert, [ne] non ofer gode. 
Bot his harp he tok, algate, 18 
And dede him barf ot out atte $ate ; 
No man most u wif him go. 

6 forests 

" gray (from lichens or bareness) 

8 dead 

9 property 

1 scarcely, with difficulty 


11 pilgrim's mantle 

12 MS. te 

i* notwithstanding 
14 was allowed 


Oway 1 what fer was wepe and wo, 

When he fat hadde ben king wif croun, 

Went so poverlich out of toun ! 

j?urch wode and over he)) 
5 Into f e wildernes he gef ; 

Noting he fint fat him is ays, 1 

Bot ever he live)) in gret malais. 2 

He fat hadde ywed 8 f e fowe * and griis, 6 

And on bed f e purper biis, 6 
10 Now on hard hefe he lif, 

Wi{> leves and gresse he him wri}>. 7 

He fat hadde had castels and tours, 

River, forest, Jrif wij) flours, 

Now, f ei 8 it comenci to snewe 9 and frese, 
1 5 J>is king mote make his bed in mese 10 ; 

He fat had yhad knijtes of priis 

Bifor him kneland, and levedis, 

Now sef he nofing fat him likef , 11 

Bot wilde wormes bi him strikef u ; 
20 He fat had yhad plente 

Of mete and drink, of ich deyhte, 

Now may he al day digge and wrote, 18 

Er he finde his fille of rote. 14 

In somer he livef bi 16 wild frut 
25 And berren 16 bot gode lut 1T ; 

In winter may he nofing finde 

Bot rote, grases, and fe rinde. 18 

Al his bodi was oway dwine 19 

For missays, 20 and al tochine. 21 
30 Lord ! who may telle f e sore w 

1 ease 9 snow 17 very few (good little) ; MS. lite 

2 distress, discomfort 10 moss i bark 

* worn 11 pleaseth 19 shrunk ; MS. dvine 

* variegated fur 12 slip, crawl *> discomfort 
gray fur 18 grub 21 chapped 

* fine linen (Lat. bysms) H roots 22 pai n 
1 covers ' 15 on 

* though is berries 


J>is king sufferd ten jere and more ? 
His here of his herd, blac and rowe, 1 
To his girdelstede was growe ; 
His harp, whereon was al his gle, 

He hidde in an holwe tre ; 5 

And, when fe weder was clere and brijt, 
He toke his harp to him wel rijt, 
And harped at his owhen wille ; 
Into alle ]>e wode ]>e soun gan schille, 2 
J>at alle J>e wilde bestes fat J>er be]) 10 

For joie abouten him )>ai tej>, 8 
And alle J>e f oules fat per were 
Come and sete on ich a brere, 4 
To here his harping afin, 5 

So miche melody was ]>erin ; 1 5 

And when he his harping lete 6 wold, 
No best bi him abide nold. 
He mijt se him bisides 
Oft in hot undertides 

J?e king o fairi, 7 wif his rout, 20 

Com to hunt him al about, ; 
Wif dun, 8 [with] cri and bloweing, 9 
And houndes also wi)> him berking ; 
Ac no best fai no nome, 10 

No never he nist 11 whider ]>ai bicome. 25 

And oj>er while he mijt him se 
As a gret ost bi him te 12 
Wele atourned 13 ten hundred knijtes, 
Ich y-armed to his ri^tes, 14 

Of contenaunce stout and fers, 3 

Wif mani desplaid baners, 

1 rough 6 s top u knew not 

2 did shrill "fairyland w come 

8 draw 8 din 18 appointed; fined out 

4 briar 9 blowing of horns 14 properly 

5 perfectly ; MS. afine 10 did they take 



And ich his swerd ydrawe hold, 1 

Ac never he nist whider pai wold. 
And oper while he seise oper \>'mg : 

Knijtes and levedis com daunceing, 
5 In queynt atire, gisely, 2 

[With] queynt[e] 8 pas and soft[e]ly ; 

Tabours and trumpes 4 jede hem bi, 

And al maner menstraci. 

And on a day he seije him biside 
10 Sexti levedis on hors ride, 

Gentil and jolif 6 as brid on ris 6 

Noujt o man amonges hem per nis ; 

And ich a faucoun on hond here, 7 

And riden on haukin[g] bi o rivere. 
1 5 Of game pai founde wel gode haunt 8 

Maulardes, 9 hayroun, 10 and cormeraunt. 

J?e foules of pe water arise)), 

Je faucouns hem wele devise}* u : 

Ich faucoun his pray slouj. 
20 )?at sei;$e Orfeo, and louj. 12 

' Parfay, 18 ' quap he, ' per is fair game, 

J>ider Ichil, bi Godes name ! 

Ich was ywon 14 swiche werk to se ' ; 

He arcs, and pider gan te. 
25 To a levedi he was ycome, 

Biheld, and hap wele undernome, 16 

And sep bi al })ing pat it is 

His owhen quen, Dam Heurodis. 

^ern 16 he biheld hir, and sche him eke, 
30 Ac noiper to oper a word no speke. 

For messais pat sche on him seije, 

1 held 6 spray, twig 12 laughed 

2 handsomely t inf. after sei^e, line 9 18 by (my) faith 

8 dainty * resort 14 wont, accustomed 

* drums "and trumpets ; MS. 8 mallards (wild ducks) 15 perceived 

trimpes 10 heron 16 eagerly, gladly 

6 merry ll make their plans well 


J>at had ben so riche and so heije, 1 

J>e teres fel out of her eije. 

J>e oper levedis f is yseije, 

And maked hir oway to ride 

Sche most wij> him no lenger abide. 5 

' Alias,' quap he, ' now me is wo 1 

Whi nil 2 de}> now me slo ? 

Alias, wreche, 3 fat Y no mijt 

Dye now after pis sijt ! 

Alias ! to 4 long last mi liif , 10 

When Y no dar noujt wi}> mi wiif, 

No hye a to me, o word speke. 

Alias ! whi nil min hert breke ? 

Parfay,' qua)? he, ' tide wat bitide, 6 

Whider so ]>is 7 levedis ride, 15 

J>e selve 8 way Ichil streche 9 ; 

Of liif no dej> me no reche. 10 ' 

His sclavain he dede n on, als he 12 spac, 18 
And henge his harp opon his bac, 

And had wel gode wil to gon 20 

He no spard noiper stub no ston. 
In at a roche fe leuedis ride]>, 
And he after, and noujt abide]). 
When he was in ]>e roche ygo 

Wele ]> re mile oj>er 14 mo, 25 

He com into a fair cuntray, 
As brijt so 1S sonne on somers day, 
Smofe and plain and al grene 
Hille no dale was per non ysene. 

Amidde )>e lond a castel he s[e]ije, 30 

Riche and real 16 and wonder heije. 

1 high, lofty 7 these spoke 

2 will not 8 same 14 or 
miserable that I am 9 go ls as 

4 too 10 I care not 16 royal 

6 nor she n put 

6 happen what may happen 12 MS. al so 


Al pe utmast wal 

Was clere and schine 1 as cristal , 

An hundred tours per were about, 

Degiselich 2 and bataild stout ; 
5; J>e butras com out of pe diche, 8 

Of rede gold y-arched 4 riche ; 

J?e bonsour 5 was anourned 6 al 

Of ich maner divers animal ; 

Wipin ]>er wer wide wones, 7 
10 Al of precious stones ; 

f>e werst piler on to biholde 8 

Was al of burnist gold. 

Al fat lond was ever li;$t : 

For when it schuld be perk 9 and nijt, 
15 J>e riche stones li^t gonne, 10 

As brijt as dop at none pe sonne. 

No man may telle, no penche in poujt, 

J?e riche werk fat per was wroujt ; 

Bi al ping him pink u pat it is 
20 }>e proude court of Paradis. 

In pis castel pe levedis alijt ; 

He wold in after, jif he mijt : 

Orfeo knokkep atte gate ; 

J>e porter was redi perate, 
25 And asked what he wold have ydo. 

' Parfay,' quap he, ' Ich am a minstrel, lo 1 

To solas pi lord wip mi gle, 

^if his suete wille be.' 

J>e porter undede pe jate anon, 
30 And lete him into pe castel gon. 

J>an he gan bihold about al, 

And seije f ul 12 liggeand 18 wipin pe wal 

1 bright, beautiful 6 adorned ; MS. avowed u it would seem to him 

2 elaborately ornamented 7 apartments 12 full many 
8 moat 8 to look on ; in appearance 18 lying 

< arched dark 

6 arch began to shine 



2 had not 
8 mad 
4 drowned 
* parched 

Of folk pat were ]> ider ybroujt, 

And poujt dede, and nere noujt. 

Sum stode wipouten hade, 1 

And sum non armes nade, 2 

And sum purch pe bodi hadde wounde, 5 

And sum lay wode, 3 ybounde, 

And sum, armed, on hors sete, 

And sum astrangled as pai etc, 

And sum were in water adreynt, 4 

And sum wip fire al forschreynt 5 10 

Wives per lay on childbedde, 

Sum ded, and sum awedde 6 ; 

And wonder fele per lay bisides, 

Rijt as ]>ai slepe her 7 undertides ; 

Eche was pus in pis warld ynome, 15 

Wip fairi 8 pider ycome. 

per he seije his owhen wiif, 

Dame Heurodis, his lef 9 liif , 

Slepe under an ympe-tre : 

Bi her elopes he knewe pat it was he. 10 20 

And when he hadde bihold pis n mervails alle, 
He went into pe kinges halle ; 
J>an seije he per a semly 12 sijt 
A tabernacle blisseful and brijt, 

J?erin her 7 maister king sete, 25 

And her quen fair and swete. 
Her 7 crounes, her 7 elopes schine so brijt, 
J>at unnepe 13 bihold he hem mijt. 

When he hadde biholden al pat ping, 
He kneled adoun bifor pe king. 30 

6 out of their minds 
1 their 

8 enchantment 

9 dear; MS. liif (see 91 23) 
10 she 

11 these 

12 comely 

18 with difficulty 

Cf. the enumeration in Chaucer,. Knighfs Tale 1137 ff. 




i shalt 
9 send for 
4 am only 
s seek 

' O lord,' he seyd, ' jif it )ri wille were, 

Mi menstraci }K>U schust 1 yhere.' 

J?e king answerd : ' What man artow, 

J>at art hider yeomen now ? 

Ich, no non )>at is wi)> me, 

No sent never after |>e ; 

SeJ>}>en }>at Ich here regni gan, 

Y no fond so folehardi man 

J>at hider to ous durst wende, 

Bot )>at Ichim wold ofsende. 2 ' 

' Lord,' qua} he, ' trowe * ful wel, 

Y nam hot 4 a pover menstrel ; 

And, sir, it is ]>e maner of ous 

To seche 5 mani a lordes hous ; 

J>ei we noujt welcom no be, 

<?)ete we mot 6 proferi for j> our gle. 7 ' 

Bifore )>e king he sat adoun, 
And tok his harp so miri of soun, 
And tempre)) 8 his harp, as he wele can. 
And blisseful notes he )>er gan, 
J>at al |>at in |>e palays were 
Com to him for to here, 
And ligge|> 9 adoun to 10 his fete 
Hem |>enke|> " his melody so swete. 
)?e king herkne|> and sitt ful stille, 
To here his gle he ha)> gode wille ; 
Code bourde l ' 2 he hadde of his gle, 
J>e riche quen also hadde he. 18 

When he hadde stint " his harping, 
J>an seyd to him )>e king : 
' Menstrel, me like)> wele ]>i gle ; 
Now aske of me what it be, 

6 must needs 
" song, music 
* tunes 

io a t 

11 to them seems 

13 amusement, enjoyment 

14 ceased 



Largelich l Ichil 2 pe pay. 

Now speke, and tow mijt asay. 8 ' 

' Sir,' he seyd, ' Ich biseche pe 

J?atow woldest jive me 

f>at ich 4 levedi, brijt on ble, 5 

J>at slepep under pe ympe-tre.' 

' Nay,' quap ]> e king, ' fat noujt nere 6 ! 

A sori couple of jou it were, 

For pou art lene, rowe, 7 and blac, 

And sche is lovesum, witpouten lac 8 ; 

A loplich 9 ping it were, forpi, 10 

To sen hir in pi compayni.' 

' O sir,' he seyd, ' gentil king, 

^ete were it a wele fouler ping 

To here a lesing u of 12 \>i moupe ; 

So, sir, as je seyd noupe, 13 

What I wold aski, have Y schold ; 

And nedes }>ou most Jn word hold. 14 ' 

J>e king seyd : ' Seffen it is so, 

Take hir bi ]>e hond, and go ; 

Of hir Ichil ]>atow 15 be blipe.' 

He knelyd adoun, and Bonked him swife ; 
His wiif he tok bi fe hond, 
And dede 16 him swipe out of pat lond, 
And went him out of pat pede " ; 
Rijt as he come, pe way he jede. 

So long he ha'p pe way ynome, 
To Traciens he is ycome, 
J?at was his owhen cite ; 
Ac no man knewe pat it was he. 
No forper pan pe tounes ende 


1 generously 

2 I will 

3 if thou canst make trial 

4 same 

6 of hue 

6 were not possible 

7 rough 

8 lack, fault 

9 loathsome, dreadful 
W therefore 

12 from 

18 now 
M keep 
!S that thou 
18 went 




For knoweleche 1 [he] ne durst wende ; 

Bot wip a begger ybilt 2 f ul narwe. 

J?er he tok his herbarwe 8 

To 4 him and to his owhen wiif 
5 As a minstrel of pover liif, 

And asked tidings of fat lond, 

And who )>e kingdom held in hond. 

J>e pover begger in his cote 6 

Told him everich a grot 6 
10 How her quen was stole owy, 

Ten jer gon, 7 wip 8 fairy ; 

And hou her 9 king in exile jede, 

Bot no 10 man nist in wiche pede ; 

And hou pe steward pe lond gan hold ; 
15 And oper mani Binges him told. 

Amorwe ojain none tide, 11 

He maked his wiif per abide ; 

]?e beggers elopes he borwed 12 anon, 

And heng his harp his rigge 18 opon, 
20 And went him into pat cite, 

J>at men mijt him bihold and se. 

Erls and barouns bold, 

Buriays 14 and levedis him gan bihold. 

' Lo,' pai seyd, ' swiche a man ! 
25 How long pe here hongep him opan 1 

Lo, hou his berd hongep to his kne ! 

He is yclongen 15 also a tre 1 ' 

And as he jede in pe strete, 

Wip his steward he gan mete, 
30 And loude he sett on him a crie : 

' Sir steward,' he seyd, ' merci ! 

Ich am an harpour of hepenisse 16 ; 

1 for fear of being recognized 1 ago 18 back 

2 lodged 8 by H burgesses, citizens 
8 shelter their is shrunk, withered 

4 for 10 MS. so 16 from heathendom 

6 cot 11 towards noon 

every little bit, every detail n borrowed ; MS. borved 


Help me now in pis destresse ! ' 

f>e steward seyd : ' Com wip me home l ; 

Of pat Ichave, pou schalt have some. 

Everich gode harpour is welcom me to, 

For mi lordes love, Sir Orfeo.' 5 

In pe castel pe steward sat atte mete, 
And many lording was bi him sete ; 
f>er were trompour[s] and tabourers, 
Harpours fele, and crouders. 2 

Miche melody pei maked alle ; 10 

And Orfeo sat stille in pe halle, 
And herknep. When pei ben al stille, 
He toke his harp and tempred schille * ; 
J?e blissefulest notes he harped pere 
f>at ever ani man yherd wip ere ; 15 

Ich man liked wele his gle. 

J>e steward biheld and gan yse, 
And knewe pe harp also 4 blive. 5 
' Menstrel,' he seyd, ' so mot )>ou prive, 6 
Where hadestow pis harp, and hou ? 20 

Y pray fat pou me telle now.' 
' Lord,' qua.]> he, ' in uncoupe 7 fede, 
f>urch a wildernes as Y jede, 
)?er Y founde, in a dale, 

Wi}> 8 lyouns a man to torn smale, 25 

And wolves him frete 9 wij> te]> so scharp. 
Bi him Y fond pis ich[a] 10 harp ; 
Wele ten gere it is ygo.' 
' O,' quap pe steward, ' now me is wo ! 
J?at was mi lord, Sir Orfeo. 30 

Alias, wreche, what schal Y do, 
J>at have swiche a lord ylore ? 
Away, 11 pat Ich was ybore ! 

1 MS. come < MS. als * by 

2 players on the crowd, an early 5 instantly 9 devoured 

Celtic form of the violin 6 mayst thou prosper 1 same 

8 shrilly 1 strange n woe 


J>at him was so hard grace x yjarked, 2 

And so vile dep ymarked 8 ! ' 

Adoun he fel aswon to groUnde. 

His barouns him toke up in fat stounde,* 
5 And tellep him hou it gep 

It is no hot 5 of manes dep. 
King Orfeo knewe wele bipan 

His steward was a trewe man ; 

And loved him, as he aujt to do, 
10 And stont up and seyS 6 pus : ' Lo, 

Steward, herkne now pis ping : 

^if Ich were Orfeo pe king, 

And hadde ysuffred ful jore 7 

In wildernisse miche sore ; 
15 And hadde ywon mi quen owy 

Out of pe lond of fairy ; 

And hadde ybroujt pe levedi hende 8 

Rijt here to pe tounes ende, 

And wip a begger her in ynome ; 
20 And were miself hider ycome 

Poverlich to pe, )ms stille, 

For to asay )>i gode wille ; 

And ich founde J>e J>us trewe, 

J>ou no schust it never rewe 9 : 
2 5 Sikerlich, 10 for love or ay, 11 

f>ou schust be king after mi day. 

^if 12 )>ou of mi de}> hadest ben blife, 

J>ou schust ben voided 18 also swipe. 14 ' 

f>o al }>o 16 pat perein sete 
3> f>at it was King Orfeo undelete, 16 

And pe steward him wele knewe. 

1 such misfortune 1 for a long time past 18 shouldst have been put out 

2 appointed 8 gentle, gracious u in all haste 

decreed 9 repent is then all those 

4 timc w truly 16 understood, perceived 

6 help " or fear 

MS. seyt 13 MS. and 5 if 


Over and over pe bord 1 he brewe, 

And f el adoun to his fet ; 

So dede everich lord fat J?er sete ; 

And al J>ai seyd at o criing : 

' <^e bep our lord, sir, and our king 1 ' 5 

Glad pai were of his live. 2 
To chaumber ]> ai ladde him also 8 blive, 4 
And baped him, and schaved his berd, 
And tired 5 him as a king apert 6 ; 

And seppen 7 wip gret processioun 10 

Jai broujt foe quen into fat toun, 
Wif al maner menstraci. 
Lord, per was grete melody ! 
For joie fai wepe wij> her ei^e, 

]?at hem so sounde 8 yeomen seije. 1 5 

Now king Orfeo newe coround is, 
And his quen Dame Heurodis, 
And lived long afterward ; 
And seppen was king ]>e steward. 

Harpours in Bretaine afterban 20 

Herd hou ]>is mervaile bigan, 
And made 9 a lay of gode likeing, - 
And nempned it after J>e king ; 
J>at lay ' Orfeo ' is yhote 10 
Gode is j?e lay, swete is J>e note. 25 

]?us com Sir Orfeo out of his care ; 
God graunt ous alle wele to fare. 

1 table 5 attired 9 MS. made hereof 

2 life 6 evident in his looks 1 called 
8 MS. als 7 afterwards 

4 as quickly as possible 8 well in body 



Sir Thopas is well characterized by Ker (English Literature: Medieval, 
pp. 129-31): 'Chaucer's burlesque is easily misunderstood. It is criticism, 
and it is ridicule ; it shows up the true character of the common minstrelsy 
the rambling narrative, the conventional stopgaps, the complacent childish 
vanity of the popular artist who has his audience in front of him, and knows 
all the easy tricks by which he can hold their attention. . . . Chaucer has made 
a good thing out of the rhyme doggerel, and expresses the pleasant old- 
fashioned quality of the minstrels' romances, as well as their absurdities. His 
parody touches on the want of plan and method and meaning in the popular 
rhymes of chivalry ; it is also intended as criticism of their verse. That verse 
... is technically called rime couie or " tail-rhyme." ... It very readily becomes 
monotonous and flat. . . . But it is a form of stanza which may be so used as to 
escape the besetting faults ; the fact that it has survived through all the 
changes of literary fashion, and has been used by poets in all the different 
centuries, is something to the credit of the minstrels, as against the rude 
.common-sense criticism of the Host of the Tabard when he stopped the Rime 
of Sir TTiopas.' Skeat also is tempted to break a lance in behalf of the poem 
(Chaucer, Works 3. 424) : ' I cannot quite resist the suspicion that Chaucer may 
himself, in his youth, have tried his hand at such romance-writing in all seri 
ousness, but lived to have a good-humored laugh even in some degree at his 
own expense ; and he seems as if endeavoring to make his readers feel that 
they could wish there was somewhat more of it.' 

For the parodies in detail, see Bennewitz' dissertation (Halle, 1879); Kolb- 
ing's article in Englische Studien, Vol. 1 1 ; and Skeat's notes. Our text in 
general follows Skeat. 

For Chaucer in general, see Root, The Poetry of Chaucer (Boston, 1922), 
Legouis, Geoffrey Chaucer (London, 1913), or Jusserand, Lit. Hist. Eng. People 
i. 267-343. To the investigator, Miss Hammond's Chaucer: a Bibliographical 
Manual (New York, 1908) is indispensable. 

Listeth, lordes, in good entent, 1 
And I wol telle verrayment 2 

Of mirthe and of solas 8 ; 
Al of a knyght was fair and gent * 
In bataille and in tourneyment 

His name was Sir Thopas. 

1 with good will 8 diversion 

3 verily 4 refined, noble 


Yborn he was in fer con tree, 
In Flaundres, al biyonde the see, 

At Popering, 1 in the place 2 ; 
His fader was a man ful free, 8 
And lord he was of that contree, 5 

As it was Goddes grace. 

Sir Thopas wex 4 a doghty 5 swayn ; 
Whyt was his face as payndemayn, 6 

His lippes rede as rose ; 

His rode 7 was 8 lyk scarlet in grayn, 9 I0 

And I yow telle in good certayn, 

He hadde a semely nose. 

His heer, his herd was lyk saffroun, 10 
That to his girdel raughte n adoun, 

His shoon 12 of Cordewane 13 ; 15 

Of Brugges u were his hosen 15 broun ; 
His robe was of ciclatoun 16 

That coste many a jane. 17 

He coude hunte at wilde deer, 

And ryde an hauking for riveer, 18 20 

With grey goshauk on honde ; 
Therto he was a good archeer ; 
Of wrastling was ther noon his peer, 

Ther 19 any ram 20 shal stonde. 

Ful many a mayde, bright in bour, 21 25 

They moorne for him, paramour, 22 
Whan hem were bet 23 to slepe ; 

1 a small town in the dis- 9 dyed with cochineal ; of l ~ small coin of Genoa, re- 

trict of Calais, south- a fast color ferred to in England as 

west of Ostend 10 yellow halfpence 

2 manor-house, chief house n reached 18 towards the river 

of a town or village 12 shoes 19 where 

8 noble 18 Cordovan leather 20 A ram was the usual prize 

4 grew to be 14 Bruges, in Belgium at a wrestling-match 

5 valiant 15 tight-fitting trousers, cov- 21 bower 

6 very fine white bread ering the feet 22 longingly 

" complexion (OE. rudu) 16 costly material, often em- 23 it were better for them 
8 MS is broidered with gold 




But he was chast and no lechour, 1 
And sweet as is the bremble-flour f 
That bereth the rede hepe. 8 

And so bifel upon a day, 
Forsothe, as I yow telle may, 

Sir Thopas wolde out ryde ; 
He worth upon * his stede gray, 
And in his honde a launcegay, 5 

A long swerd by his syde. 

He priketh 6 thurgh a fair forest, 
Therinne is many a wilde best, 

Ye, bothe bukke and hare ; 
And, as he priketh north and est, 
I telle it yow, him 7 hadde almest 

Bitid 8 a sory care. 9 

Ther springen herbes grete and smale, 
The lycorys 10 and cetewale, 11 

And many a clowe-gilof re 12 ; 
And notemuge 18 to put in ale, 
Whether it be moyste or stale, 

Or for to leye in cofre. 14 

The briddes 15 singe, it is no nay, 1 ' 
The sparhauk 1T and the papejay, 18 

That joye it was to here ; 
The thrustlecok 19 made eek his lay, 
The wodedowve 20 upon the spray 

She sang ful loude and clere. 

1 unchaste man, debauchee 

2 flower of the bramble (dog-rose) 
8 hip (fruit of the dog-rose) 

4 got upon 

6 a kind of lance, probably rather short 
8 rides hard 

7 to him 

8 happened 

9 a grievous misfortune 
1 licorice 

n zedoary (used in medicine 

as a stimulant) 
12 clove 
18 nutmeg 

a box 
is birds 
18 it cannot be denied 

1 7 sparrow-hawk 

18 parrot 

19 male thrush 

20 wood-dove 


Sir Thopas fil in * love-longinge 

Al whan he herde the thrustel singe, 

And priked as he were wood 2 ; 
His faire stede in his prikinge 
So swatte 8 that men mighte him wringe ; 5 

His sydes were al blood. 

Sir Thopas eek so wery was, 
For prikinge on the sof te gras 

So fiers 4 was his corage 

That doun he leyde him in that plas, 10 

To make his stede som solas, 

And yaf him good forage. 

'O Seinte Marie, ben' cite 6 \ 
What eyleth this love at me, 6 

To binde 7 me so sore ? 15 

Me dremed 8 al this night, pardee, 9 
An elf -queen shal my lemman be, 

And slepe under my gore. 10 

An elf-queen wol I love, ywis, 11 

For in this world no womman is 20 

Worthy to be my make, 12 

In toune 18 ; 

Alle othere wommen I forsake, 
And to an elf-queen I me take, 

By dale and eek by doune 14 1 ' 25 

Into his sadel he clamb anoon, 
And priketh over style 15 and stoon, 
An elf -queen for t' espye, 

1 fell into ? enthral is in the town, in the district 

2 as if he were mad 8 I dreamed (a mere verse-tag) 

3 sweat 9 Y.par Dieu 1* down, hill 
* fierce 1 garment 16 s til e 

5 benedicite, bless ye (the Lord) u certainly, truly 

6 with respect to me 12 mate 


Til he so longe had riden and goon 
That he fond, in a privee woon, 1 
The contree of Fairye 

So wilde ; 

5 For in that contree was ther noon 

That to him dorste ryde or goon, 2 
Neither wyf ne childe, 

Til that ther cam a greet geaunt, 8 
(His name was Sir Olifaunt 4 ), 
10 A perilous man of dede. 

He seyde : ' Child, 6 by Termagaunt, 6 
But-if 7 thou prike out of myn haunt, 
Anon I slee 8 thy stede 

With mace. 
15 Heer is the queen of Fayerye, 

With harpe and pype and simphonye, 9 
Dwelling in this place.' 

The childe seyde : ' Also mote I thee, 10 
To-morwe wol I mete thee, 
20 Whan I have myn armoure ; 

And yet I hope, par ma fay ^ 
That thou shalt with this launcegay 
Abyen it f ul soure 12 ; 

Thy mawe 18 
25 Shal I percen, if I may, 

Er it be fully pryme of day, 14 
For heer thou shalt be slawe. 1 * ' 

Sir Thopas drow abak 16 ful faste ; 
This geaunt at him stones caste 
30 Out of a fel " staf-slinge w ; 

1 secret retreat a Saracen idol maw, stomach 

2 This line is supplied from 1 unless 14 prime = 6-9 A.M. ; fully 

an inferior MS. 8 W JH s i a y prime = 9 A.M. 

8 giant 9 a kind of tabor " slain 

Elephant w as i may thrive " drew back 

title of a young squire or " by my faith " deadly 

knight 12 pay for it bitterly " sling fastened to a stick 


But faire escapeth Child Thopas, 
And al it was thurgh Goddes gras, 1 
And thurgh his fair beringe. 

Yet listeth, lordes, to my tale 

Merier than the nightingale, 5 

For now I wol yow roune 2 
How Sir Thopas, with sydes smale, 
Priking over hil and dale, 

Is come agayn to toune. 

His merie men comanded he I0 

To make him bothe game 8 and glee, 

For nedes moste he fighte 
With a geaunt with hevedes 4 three, 
For paramour 5 and jolitee 6 

Of oon 7 that shoon 8 f ul brighte. 1 5 

' Do 9 come,' he seyde, ' my min[i]strales 
And gestours, 10 for to tellen tales 

Anon, in n myn arminge ; 
Of romances that been royales, 
Of popes and of cardinales, 20 

And eek of love-lykinge.' 

They fette him first the swete wyn, 
And mede 12 eek in a maselyn, 18 

And royal spicerye 14 

Of gingebreed 15 that was ful fyn, 25 

And lycorys, and eek comyn, 16 

With sugre that is so trye. 17 

1 grace, favor " one 18 maple bowl 

2 relate (frof. whisper) 8 shone 14 mixture of spices 
8 sport 9 cause to 16 preserved ginger 
* heads 10 story-tellers 16 cumin 

5 love n during 1J choice 

6 amusement w mead 

5. Merier . . . nightingale : borrowed by Chaucer from Sir Bevis of Hampton. 



He dide * next his whyte lere 2 
Of clooth of lake 8 fyn and clere 

A breech * and eek a sherte ; 
And next his sherte an aketoun, 6 
And over that an habergeoun, 6 

For 7 percinge of his herte ; 

And over that a fyn hauberk 8 
Was al ywroght of Jewes werk, 

Ful strong it was of plate 9 ; 
And over that his cote-armour, 10 
As whyt as is a lily-flour, 

In which he wol debate. 11 

His sheeld was al of gold so reed, 
And therin was a bores heed, 

A charbocle 12 bisyde ; 
And there he swoor, on ale and breed, 
How that ' The geaunt shal be deed, 

Bityde what bityde 18 1 ' 

His jambeux 14 were of quirboilly, 15 
His swerdes shethe of yvory, 

His helm of laton 16 bright ; 
His sadel was of rewel-boon " ; 
His brydel as the sonne shoon, 

Or as the mone light. 

His spere was of fyn ciprees, 18 
That bodeth werre, and nothing 19 pees, 
The heed ful sharpe ygrounde ; 

1 put on 

2 flesh 
8 linen 

4 pair of breeches 

5 short, sleeveless tunic 

6 coat of mail 

7 as protection against 

8 hauberk, coat of mail 

9 breastplate on the front of 
the hauberk (?) 

10 a surcoat, not of metal 

11 combat 

12 carbuncle 

18 happen what may happen 
14 leg-pieces 

15 boiled leather, dried very 

hard (F. cuir bouilK) 

16 latten (metal compounded 

chiefly of copper and zinc) 

17 walrus-ivory 

1 8 cypress-wood (as associated 

with death) 

19 by no means 


His stede was al dappel-gray, 
It gooth an ambel l in the way, 
Ful softely and rounde 2 

In londe. 

Lo, lordes myne, heer is a fit 8 ! 
If ye wol any more of it, 
To telle it wol I fonde. 4 


Now hold your mouth, par charitee? 
Bothe knight and lady free, 

And herkneth to my spelle 6 ; 10 

Of bataille and of chivalry, 
And of ladyes love-drury, 7 

Anon I wol yow telle. 

Men speke of romances of prys,* 

Of Horn Child and of Ypotys, 15 

Of Bevis and Sir Gy, 
Of Sir Libeux and Pleyndamour ; 
But Sir Thopas, he bereth the flour 

Of royal chivalry. 

1 at an ambling pace 4 endeavor 7 courtship 

2 with an easy motion 5 for charity 8 renown 
8 a division of a song or poem 6 story 

15. The romance of Horn appears in two forms, King Horn (see p. n) 
and Horn Childe. Chaucer probably refers to Horn Childe. 

The romance of Sir Ypotis has not much in common with the others 
mentioned here ; in it the Emperor Adrian interrogates the child Ypotis as to 
matters of God's law. 

16. Sir Bevis of Hampton and Sir Guy of Warwick are two of the longest 
and dullest of mediaeval romances. 

17. Sir Libeux : a romance entitled Lybeaus Disconus (The Fair Unknown). 
Pleyndamour : no romance of this name is known ; the original must have 
been in French. 


His gode stede al he bistrood, 
And forth upon his wey he glood l 

As sparkle out of the bronde 2 ; 
Upon his crest he bar a tour, 8 
And therin stiked 4 a lily-flour ; 

God shilde his cors 5 fro shonde 8 ! 

And for he was a knight auntrous, 7 
He nolde 8 slepen in non hous, 

But liggen 9 in his hode 10 ; 
His brighte helm was his wonger, 11 
And by him baiteth 12 his dextrer 13 

Of 14 herbes fyne and gode. 

Himself drank water of the wel, 
As did the knight Sir Percivel, 

So worthy under wede, 16 
Til on a day 

1 glided 6 shame, disgrace ll pillow (cf. -wang, cheek) 

2 burning wood, brand 7 adventurous ^ feeds 

8 tower 8 would not ls courser 

* fixed 9 lie on 

6 body 10 hood ls well-looking in his armor 

13. A reference to the romance, Sir Perceval of Gallts. 



See the general references on Chaucer at the close of the introductory note 
to Sir Thopas, p. 108. 


O Lord our lord, thy name how merveillous 
Is in this large worlde ysprad l (quod she) ; 
For noght only thy laude precious 
Parfourned is by men of dignitee, 

But by the mouth of children thy bountee 5 

Parfourned 2 is, for on the brest soukinge 8 
Som tyme shewen they thyn heryinge. 4 

Wherfor in laude, as I best can or may, 

Of thee, and of the whyte lily-flour 

Which that thee bar, 5 and is a mayde alway, 10 

To telle a storie I wol do my labour ; 

Not that I may encresen hir honour ; 

For she hirself is honour, and the rote 

Of bountee, next hir Sone, and soules bote. 6 

O moder mayde ! O mayde moder free ! 1 5 

O bush unbrent, 7 brenninge in Moyses sighte, 

That ravisedest 8 doun fro the deitee, 

Thurgh thyn humblesse, the Goost 9 that in th' alighte, 

Of whos vertu, whan he thyn herte lighte, 

1 spread abroad * praise 7 unburnt (Exod. 3. 2) 

2 perfected (cf. Ps. 8. 2, Vulg. ; Matt. 21. 16) 6 bore 8 didst draw 

8 sucking 6 healing, salvation 9 Spirit (Matt. 1. 18) 

4. men of dignitee : such as monks or clergy in choirs. 



Conceived was the Fadres Sapience, 1 
Help me to telle it in thy reverence 1 

Lady ! thy bountee, thy magnificence, 

Thy vertu, and thy grete humilitee 
5 Ther may no tonge expresse in no science ; 

For somtyme, lady, er men praye to thee, 
Thou goost biforn, 2 of thy benignitee. 
And getest us the light, thurgh thy preyere, 
To gyden us unto thy Sone so dere. 

10 My conning is so wayk, o blisful quene, 

For to declare thy grete worthinesse, 

That I ne may the weighte nat sustene, 

But as a child of twelf monthe old, or lesse, 

That can unnethes 8 any word expresse, 
15 Right so fare I ; and therfor I yow preye, 

Gydeth my song that I shal of yow seye. 


Ther was in Asie, in a greet citee, 
Amonges Cristen folk, a Jewerye, 4 
Sustened by a lord of that contree 
20 For foule usure and lucre of vilanye, 

Hateful to Crist and to his companye ; 
And thurgh the strete men mighte ryde or wende, 
For it was free, and open at either ende. 

A litel scole of Cristen folk ther stood 
25 Doun at the f either ende, in which ther were 

Children an heep, 6 yeomen of Cristen blood, 

That lerned in that scole yeer by yere 

Swich maner doctrine 6 as men used there, 

This is to seyn, to singen and to rede, 
3 As smale children doon in hir childhede. 

1 Cf. i Cor. 1.24 8 w ith difficulty 5 number 

2 dost anticipate * ghetto, Jews' quarter kind of learning 


Among .thise children was a widwes sone, 

A litel clergeon, 1 seven yeer of age, 

That day by day to scole was his wone, 2 

And eek also, wheras 8 he saugh th' image 

Of Cristes moder, hadde he in usage, 5 

As him was taught, to knele adoun and seye 

His Ave Marie, as he goth by the weye. 

Thus hath this widwe hir litel sone ytaught 

Our blisful lady, Cristes moder dere, 

To worshipe ay, and he forgat it naught, 10 

For sely 4 child wol alday 6 sone lere 6 ; 

But ay, whan I remembre on this matere, 

Seint Nicholas stant ever in my presence, 

For he so yong to Crist did reverence. 

This litel child, his litel book lerninge, 15 

As he sat in the scole at his prymer, 7 

He Alma Redemptoris herde singe, 

As children lerned hir antiphoner 8 ; 

And, as he dorste, he drough him ner 9 and ner, 

And herkned ay the wordes and the note, 10 20 

Til he the firste vers coude n al by rote. 

Noght wiste he what this Latin was to seye, 

For he so yong and tendre was of age ; 

But on a day his felaw gan he preye 

T' expound en him this song in his langage, 25 

Or telle him why this song was in usage ; 

l choir-boy 6 always 8 anthem-book 

2 custom 6 learn ; the line is a proverb nearer 

3 where 1 small prayer-book, from which 10 tune 

4 good children were taught to read H knew 

17. The eleventh-century hymn 'Alma Redemptoris mater, quae pervia coeli,' 
one of four antiphons addressed to the Virgin. It is used from the first Sunday 
in Advent to the Feast of the Purification (February 2). It has been translated 
by Cardinal Newman and others. 

120 TALES 

This preyde he him to construe and declare 
Ful ofte tyme upon his knowes l bare. 

His felaw, which that elder was than he, 
Answerde him thus : ' This song, I have herd seye, 
5 Was maked of our blisful lady free, 

Hir to salue, 2 and eek hir for to preye 
To been our help and socour whan we deye. 
I can no more expounde in this matere ; 
I lerne song, I can 8 but smal grammere.' 

10 ' And is this song maked in reverence 

Of Cristes moder ? ' seyde this innocent ; 

' Now certes, I wol do my diligence 

To conne 4 it al, er Cristemasse is went ; 

Though that I for my prymer shal be shent, 6 
15 And shal be beten thryes in an houre, 

I wol it conne, our lady to honoure.' 

His felaw taughte him homward prively, 
Fro day to day, til he coude it by rote, 
And than he song it wel and boldely 
20 Fro word to word, acording with the note ; 

Twye's a day it passed thurgh his throte 
To scoleward * and homward whan he wente ; 
On Cristes moder set was his entente. 7 

As I have seyd, thurghout the Jewerye 
2 S This litel child, as he cam to and fro, 

Ful merily than wolde he singe, and crye 

O a/ma Redemptoris evermo. 8 

The swetnes hath his herte perced so 

Of Cristes moder, that, to hir to preye, 
3 He can nat stinte 9 of singing by the weye. 

1 knees * learn 7 thought, mind 

2 greet 6 disgraced 8 evermore 
know towards school 9 cease 


Our firste fo, the serpent Sathanas, 

That hath in Jewes herte his waspes nest, 

Up swal, 1 and seide : ' O Hebraik peple, alias ! 

Is this to yow a thing that is honest, 2 

That swich a boy shal walken as him lest 8 5 

In your despyt, and singe of swich sentence, 4 

Which is agayn your lawes 6 reverence ? ' 

Fro thennes forth the Jewes han 6 conspyred 

This innocent out of this world to chace ; 

An homicyde therto han they hyred, 10 

That in an aley 7 hadde a privee place ; 

And as the child gan forby for to pace, 

This cursed Jew him hente 8 and heeld him faste, 

And kitte' 9 his throte, and in a pit him caste. 

I seye that in a wardrobe 10 they him threwe 15 

Wheras these Jewes purgen hir entraille. 

O cursed folk of Herodes al newe, 11 

What may your yvel entente yow availle ? 

Mordre wol out, certein, it wol nat faille ; 

And namely ther 12 th' onour of God shal sprede, 20 

The blood out cryeth on your cursed dede. 

' O martir, souded to 18 virginitee ! 

Now maystou singen, folwing ever in oon 14 

The whyte Lamb celestial,' quod she, 

' Of which the grete evangelist, Seint John, 25 

In Pathmos wroot, which seith that they that goon 

Biforn this Lamb, and singe a song al newe, 

That never, fleshly, 15 wommen they ne knewe.' 

1 swelled 6 have u made up of new Herods 

2 honorable 7 alley ^ especially where 

3 it pleases 8 seized 18 confirmed in 

4 to such purport 9 cut 14 without ceasing ; cf. Rev. 14. 4 

5 due to your law 10 outhouse 15 carnally 

122 TALES , 

This povre widwe awaiteth al that night 
After hir litel child, but he cam noght ; 
For which, as sone as it was dayes light, 
With face pale of J drede and bisy thoght, 
5 She hath at scole and elleswher him soght, 

Til finally she gan so f er espye 2 
That he last seyn was in the Jewerye. 

With modres 8 pitee in hir brest enclosed, 
She gooth, as she were half out of hir minde ; 
10 To every place wher she hath supposed 

By lyklihede hir litel child to finde ; 
And ever on Cristes moder meke and kinde 
She cryde, and atte laste thus she wroghte 
Among the cursed Jewes she him soghte. 

1 5 She f rayneth 4 and she preyeth pitously 

To every Jew that dwelte in thilke 6 place, 
To telle hir if hir child wente oght forby. 6 
They seyde, ' Nay ' ; but Jesu, of his grace, 
Yaf 7 in hir thought, inwith 8 a litel space, 

20 That in that place after hir sone she cryde 

Wher he was casten in a pit bisyde. 

O grete God, that parfournest thy laude 
By mouth of innocents, lo heer 9 thy might 1 
This gemme of chastitee, this emeraude, 
2 5 And eek of martirdom the ruby bright, 

Ther 10 he with throte ycorven n lay upright, 
He Alma Redemptoris gan to singe 
So loude that al the place gan to ringe. 

The Cristen folk, that thurgh the strete wente, 
3 In coomen, for to wondre upon this thing, 

1 from 6 that 9 here 

2 find out 6 had chanced to go by 10 where 

mother's 7 gave 11 cut> slashed 

4 asks questions ( within 


And hastily they for the provost l sente ; 

He cam anon, withouten tarying, 

And herieth 2 Crist that is of heven King, 

And eek his moder, honour of mankinde ; 

And, after that, the Jewes leet he binde. 3 5 

This child with pitous lamentacioun 

Uptaken was, singing his song alway ; 

And with honour of greet processioun 

They carien him unto the nexte 4 abbay. 

His moder swowning by the bere lay ; 10 

Unnethe might the peple that was there 

This newe Rachel 5 bringe fro his bere. 

With torment and with shamful deth echon ' 

This provost dooth 7 thise Jewes for to sterve 8 

That of this mordre wiste, and that anon ; 15 

He nolde no swich cursednesse 9 observe. 10 

Yvel shal have, that yvel wol deserve ; 

Therfor with wilde hors n he dide hem drawe, 12 

And after that he heng hem 13 by the lawe. 

Upon his bere ay lyth 14 this innocent 20 

Biforn the chief auter, 15 whyl masse laste, 

And after that, the abbot with his covent 16 

Han sped hem for to burien him ful faste ; 

And whan they holy water on him caste, 

Yet spak this child, whan spreynd 17 was holy water, 25 

And song : O alma Redemptoris mater! 

This abbot, which that was an holy man 
As monkes been, or elles oghten be 

1 chief magistrate 7 causes 18 them 

2 praises 8 die H lies 
8 he caused to be bound 9 wickedness 15 altar 

4 nearest 10 favor 16 monks of the convent 

6 Cf. Matt. 2.18 u horses l" sprinkled 

6 each one u had them drawn 

124 TALES 

This yonge child to conjure he bigan, 
And seyde : ' O dere child, I halse * thee, 
In vertu of the holy Trinitee, 
Tel me what is thy cause for to singe, 
5 Sith that thy throte is cut, to my seminge 2 ? ' 

' My throte is cut unto my nekke-boon,' 
Seyde this child, ' and, as by wey of kinde, 8 
I sholde have deyed, ye, longe tyme agoon ; 
But Jesu Crist, as ye in bokes finde, 
10 Wil that his glorie laste and be in minde ; 

And, for the worship of his moder dere, 
Yet may I singe O alma loude and clere. 

This welle of mercy, Cristes moder swete, 
I lovede alwey, as after my conninge * ; 
1 5 And whan that I my lyf sholde 6 f orlete, 

To me she cam, and bad me for to singe 
This antem 6 verraily in my deyinge, 
As ye han herd ; and, whan that I had songe, 
Me thoughte she leyde a greyn upon my tonge. 

20 Wherfor I singe, and singe I moot 7 certeyn 

In honour of that blisful mayden free, 

Til fro my tonge oftaken is the greyn ; 

And afterward thus seyde she to me : 

" My litel child, now wol I fecche thee 
25 Whan that the greyn is fro thy tonge ytake ; 

Be nat agast, 8 I wol thee nat forsake." ' 

This holy monk this abbot, him mene I 
His tonge outcaughte, and took awey the greyn, 
And he yaf up the goost ful softely. 

1 implore 4 within the limits of my knowledge 7 mu st 

2 as it appears to me * ought to have 8 afraid 
nature 6 anthem 


And whan this abbot had this wonder seyn, 
His salte teres trikled doun as reyn, 
And gruf l he fil al plat 2 upon the grounde, 
And stille he lay as he had been ybounde. 

The covent eek lay on the pavement 5 

Weping, and herien Cristes moder dere ; 

And after that they ryse, and forth ben went, 

And toke awey this martir fro his bere, 

And in a tombe of marbul-stones clere 

Enclosen they his litel body swete ; 10 

Ther 8 he is now, God leve * us for to mete. 

O yonge Hugh of Lincoln, 6 slayn also 

With 6 cursed Jewes, as it is notable 

For it nis but a litel whyle ago 

Preye eek for us, we sinful folk unstable, 15 

That, of his mercy, God so merciable 

On us his grete mercy multiplye, 

For reverence of his moder Marye. 


The Seven Sages of Rome, from which this story is taken, is the European 
counterpart of the Oriental Book of Sindibdd, ultimately, according to general 
scholarly belief, of Indian origin. The Book of Sindibdd exists in a number of 
versions (Hebrew, Greek, Syriac, Persian, etc.), and the European Seven Sages 
in many more, the latter being found in one or more forms in almost every 
language of Europe. As late as 1892 a Lithuanian version was printed at 
Plymouth, Pennsylvania. 

How the Oriental outline of the story was carried westward is a matter of 
conjecture. Since only four of the fifteen tales in the European collection are 
similar to those in any Eastern versions, it has been supposed that the trans 
mission was probably oral, and a crusader returning from the Holy Land has 
been suggested as the possible transmitter. In any case, the most important 
element borrowed from the East is the frame or general plan of a series of tales 
told by seven wise men in defending a young prince against the accusations 

1 face downward, groveling 8 where 6 Cf. Skeat's note 

2 flat * grant by 

126 TALES 

of the queen, his stepmother, and the tales told by the queen in reply. Like the 
frames of The Arabian Nights, of Boccaccio's Decameron, of Chaucer's Canter 
bury Tales, and of more modern groups, down to Longfellow's Tales of a Wayside 
Inn, this serves not only as a device by which to unite a number of tales, but also 
to account in some measure for the general character of the tales themselves. 

The following selection is from the Cottonian manuscript of the Middle 
English version (British Museum Cotton Galba E. 9). This manuscript (appar 
ently copied from a lost earlier one) has been dated as of the first third of the 
fifteenth century. For a full discussion of dates and other details, and The 
Seven Sages of Rome in general, see the edition by Killis Campbell (Ginn, 1907), 
from which our text (including lines 3236-3726 of the poem), with certain 
emendations and changes of punctuation, is taken. 

Among the most interesting analogues and variants of our fnclusa-story 
(which is not one of those found in the Oriental versions) are Plautus, Miles 
Gloriosus (cf. Act 2); Boiardo, Orlando Innamorato 1.22; The Thousand 
and One Nights, ed. Habicht, 1 1 . 1 40 ; Campbell, Popular Tales of the West 
Highlands i. 281. 


In )>e kingdom of Hungary 
Wond 1 a nobil knyght whylom, 
A rightwis man and whise of dome. 2 
He dremyd )ms opon a nyght, 
J>at he lufed a lady bryght, 
Bot he ne wist in what contre 
J>at ]>e lady myght funden be. 
Him thoght he knew hir wele bi kinde, 
And wele he hopid he sold hir finde. 
J>at same time dremyd )>at ladi bright, 
And thoght fat sho sold luf a knight ; 
Bot sho wist noght of what land, 
Ne in whate stede 8 he was dweland, 4 
Ne his name knew sho nathing ; 
J>arfore made sho grete murnyng. 

Opon }>e morn, )>e stori sayse, 
J>e knight toke horses and hemays, 5 
And went to seke )>at lady bright 
J>at him dremyd of )>at nyght. 
pat jornay unto him was hard, / 

'dwelt 8 place 5 arm or 

2 judgment * dwelling 


For he wist noght whederward 

J>at he sold tak f e redy way ; 

f>arfore he drowped 1 night and day. 

So he traveld monethes thre, 

And no signe of hyr kowth he se ; 5 

Bot wele in hert he hoped ay 

J>at he sold hir se sum day. ) 

So fer f e knyght his way had nomen 
J>at into Hungeri es he cumen. 

J>are he findes a faire castele 10 

Bi f e se-syde, wroght ful wele ; 
J?arin stode a towre ful hee ; 
Fairer saw he never with ee. 
An erl wond in fat castele 

)?at aght 2 f e lordship ilka dele. 1 5 

With him he had a worthly wife, 
J>e fairest lady fat had lyfe. 
J>e erl was jeluse of fat lady ; 
He sperid 3 hir in ]> e toure forf i 4 ; 
Sho might noght out by day ne night, 20 

To speke with swier 5 ne with knight. 
In fat land was were 6 ful strang, 
Of kinges and lordes, fat lasted lang. 
J?are come ridand fat nobil knight, 
J>at so had soght fe lady bright ; 25 

He luked up unto fe toure, 
And saw f e lady, white so 7 flowre, 
Lig 8 in a window barred with stele. 
J>an in his hert he wist ful wele 

J>at f is lady was fe same 30 

J>at he had so dremyd of at hame. 
He luked up unto f e toure, 
And merily sang he of amowre. 9 

1 drooped 4 for that reason, therefore l as 

2 owned, possessed 5 squire 8 ij e 

8 bolted, locked 6 W ar 9 love 

128 TALES 

And when sho herd him so bigyn, 

Unnethes might fat ladi blyn l 

]?at sho ne had cald him hir unto ; 

Bot for hir lord sho durst noght do. 
5 He sat biside under a tre, 

At fe ches, 2 a knyght and he. 

J?is knyght percayved fe erl fare. 

Unto fe lady he mened 8 na mare ; 

Bot til 4 fe erl he rides f ul right, 
10 And of his palfray down he lyght. 

On his kne sone he him set, 

And f e erl ful f aire he gret ; 

' Sir Erl,' he said, ' I am a knight, 

Out of my cuntre cumen for fight ; 
15 peder ogayn dar I noght gane, 

For a knight fare have I slane; 

f>arfore, sir, if fi willes be, 

J>us am I cumen to dwel with fe. 

My famen er ful steren 6 and stout ; 
20 J>ai have destroyed my landes obout' 

J>e erl said : ' So mot I fe, 

Right so fares my famen with me ; 

So fat I have no socoure 

Bot f is castel and f is toure. 
25 JJarfore, sir, fou ert welkum here ; 

Of swilk a man have I mystere 6 ; 

And if fou wil me help trewly, 

I sal fe gif grete mede forthy.' 

' ,3is, sir,' he sayd, ' at my power, 
30 Ay whils I my armes bere.' 

With fe erl fus dwels fe knight, 

Al for luf of fe lady bryght. 

J>ar was na knight fat bare shelde 

J>at might so wele his wapen welde ; 

1 restrain herself * made moan 8 stern 

2 chess * to 6 need 


Thorgh strenkith of hand and Codes grace 

He overcome al fe erles fase. 1 

f>e erl him lufed and honord fan 

Mare fan any of er man ; 

He made hym steward of al his land, 5 

And bad fe men bow til hys hand. 

Sone efter fat, opon a day, 
J>e knyght allane went him to play, 
Under f e toure whare f e lady was ; 
J>are he made him grete solace. I0 

J>e lady in a wyndow lay, 
And saw fe knyght allane him play ; 
A letter sone sho kest hym tyll, 
Wharby he might wit 2 al hir will. 

J>e knight toke up fe parchemyne, 15 

And red fe Franche ful fay re and fyne ; 
And alsone als he red it had, 
Was he never in hert so glad ; 
By fat letter f e knight wele kend 

J>at his travayl was cumen till end. 20 

Ful sare him langed to hyr at 8 ga, 
Prevely, withowten ma ; 
And wele he saw fat, by na gyn, 4 
Allane to hir myght he noght wyn 6 ; 
J>ar was bot a dur and a way, 25 

And f arof bare f e erl fe kay. 

So on a day, with mylde worde, 
J>e knyght spekes unto hys lord, 
And said : ' Sir, of f i gude grace, 

I pray fe to gif me a place 30 

Bifore f is towre, fat I may big 6 
A litel place in for to lig, 
And fat I mai my wonyng have 
At myne ese if je vowchesave.' 

1 foes 8 to 5 succeed in going 

8 know 4 device 6 build 

1 30 TALES 

]?e erl answerd him f ul sone : 

' Sir, f i wil sal al be done ; 

Big fe a hows at J>i lykyng.' 

J>e knight him thanked of fat thing. 
5 J>e knight gat masons many ane, 

And gert l f am hew f ul f aire f restane ; 

A nobil hows fare gert he make 

Ful sone for f e lady sake. 

When it was wroght als it sold be, 
10 Bath of stane and als 2 of tre, 

j?an thoght he ever by whatkyn 8 gin 

J>at he moght to f e lady win. 
Biside fare, in anofer town, 

Was fare cumen a new masown 
15 ]?at soght had fra fer cuntre ; 

Sotiler man might none be. 

J>e knyght unto fat mason sent ; 

His messangers wigh[t]ly 4 war 5 went. 

J>ai broght him to f e knyght in hy ; 
20 He hailsed 6 him ful curtaysly. 

J>e knyght said : ' Mai I traist on f e, 

For to tel my prevete 

Jat I have aghteld 7 for to do ? ' 

J>e mason sware grete athes him to 
25 J?at he sold [do] whatsom he wolde, 

And never tel man on fis molde. 8 
He said : ' In fis toure, I tel fe, 

Wons a lady fat lufes me, 

And I luf hir wele at my might ; 
30 Bot I may, nowfer day ne night, 

Til hir win ne with hir speke ; 

Jarfore a hole behoves fe breke 

In fis towre ful prevely, 

J>at no man wit bot fou and I ; 

1 caused * speedily 7 purposed 

8 also s we re earth 

* what sort f saluted 


J>at I may cum in prevete 

Unto pe lady and sho to me.' 

' Sertes, sir,' said pe mason sone, 

' Als pou has said, it sal be done.' 

Hastily he takes hys tole, 1 5 

And in ]>e toure he made a hole, 

J>at pe knight might cum pe ladi untill, 

Night and day, at paire owyn will. 

When )>e lady wist of pis, 

Hir thoght hir hert was ful of blis. 10 

J>e knight quit 2 wele pe servise 

Of pe mason for his quayntyse 3 : 

He slogh him sone, }>at ilk[e] day, 

For f ered * fat he sold oght say. 

And efterward, ful sone onane, 5 15 

Into pe toure ]> e knight gan gane ; 
Thurgh pe hole gan he pas, 
Til he come whare pe lady was. 
Bitwene }>am was grete joy and blis ; 
In armes ful curtaysly pai kys. 20 

Wele sho wist it was fat knyght 
f>at sho had dremyd of anyght. 
Sho said : ' Sir, pou art welkum here.' 
He said : ' Gramercy, 6 lady dere.' 

To hir he talde of his dremeing, 25 

And sho him talde of f e same thing ; 
And when ]> ai wist it was sertayn, 
Ayther of oper was ful fayn. 
Sho lete him wirk fare al his will ; 

And sepen he said f e lady untyll : .30 

' Dame, I dar no lenger byde, 
For herein may pou me noght hide. 
And parfore, dame, have now goday ; 
I sal cum ogayn when I may.' 

1 tool 8 cunning, skill 6 at oncp 

2 repaid 4 fear 6 many thanx* 



}>e lady, at faire departyng, 1 
Gaf fe knight a gude gold ring, 
And said : ' Sir, I pray to fe, 
When fou sese fis, thinke on me.' 
5 At 2 fe lady fe ryng he tase, 

And graythly 8 til ]>e hole he gase ; 
J>e ring he put his fynger on, 
And doun ogayn he hied him sone 
Thurgh )>e hole was made of stane i 
10 A men man fe knight was ane. 

J>e knyght went unto ]>e hall, 
Unto ]>e erl and his menje 4 all ; 
Je erl gert him sit ful nere, 
And to hym made he men chere. 
1 5 Als fai spak of divers thing, 

J>e erl saw his whives ring 
Opon fe knyghtes fynger bare ; 
He had wonder how it was fare. 
He wist wele far was none slike, 6 

20 Ne fat none might be made so like ; 

And ever he thinkes in hert styll 
How ani man might come her till. 
Styl he held al in his thoght ; 
Unto fe knyght he sayd right noght, 
25 Bot up he rase bilyve onane ; 

Unto his whife he thoght to gane, 
For to wit whare hir ring was. 
J>e knight perzayved al f e case ; 
He hies als fast als he may 
30 Tite 6 until hys preve way. 

j?e erl hies to fe lady fre, 
Bot fe knyght come lang or 7 he ; 
Unto fe lady ]>e ring he cast, 

l parting, separation 4 retinue J before 

from 8 such 

quickly 6 quickly 


And doun ogayn he hies him fast. 

J>e lady has f e ring up hent ; 

Sho wist ful wele fan how it went ; 

Sho did it in hir purs in horde, 1 

And sone f arefter come hir lorde, 5 

And with gude chere he gan hir glade, 

And asked hyr what chere sho made. 

Sho said sho myght have no solace, 

So was sho presond in fat place 

Fra f e sight of alkins 2 men : 10 

' How may I any kumforth ken ? ' 

' Dame,' said fe erl ful sone, 

' For grete derenes es yt done, 

And for I wil nane change fi thoght.' 

J>e lady said : ' Sir, thinkes it noght ; 1 5 

J>ar es no knight in no cuntre 

J>at might change my luf fra fe ; 

And sen je wil fat it be Jms, 

At jowre lyking habide me bus, 8 

For ofer cumforth kepe 4 I nane 20 

Bot of God and of 50 w allane.' 

J>e erl thoght jit on ofer thing. 
' Dame,' he said, ' whare es fi ring 
f>at I f e gaf of gold ful fyne ? 

Lat me se it, leman myne.' 25 

J>e lady answerd hym unto : 
' Sir, what sal je f arwith do ? 
Wene 56 fat it be oway 

For 5 I were it noght ilk day ? . 

Nai, sir, dredes jow never a dele, 30 

For I sal jeme 6 it wonder wele.' 
* Dame,' he sayd, ' for luf of me, 
A sight f arof fat I might se ; 
And, sertes, I ask it for none ill.' 

1 hoard 8 it behooves me to abide 6 because 

2 of every kind < care for 6 ca re for 

1 34 TALES 

Sho said : ' Sir, gladly at jowre will.' 

Out of hir purs fe ring sho toke ; 

f>e lord gan graythly on hir loke. 

' Lo ! sir,' sho said, ' here is my ring.' 
5 J>e erl had mervail of fis thing, 

J>at it was [so] like, by syght, 

f>e ring fat he saw of his knight ; 

Bot wele he hopid l and weterly 2 

J>at nane might win to f e lady, 
10 Ne )>at hir ring was noght hir fra, 

Bot fat fai had bene like, fai twa. 
He was wele solast of fat sight, 

And fare he dwelled al fat night ; 

}?e lady bi hirself oft smyled, 
15 And thoght fat he was wele bigild. 

Opon fe morn fe knyght up rase, 

And to fe kirk graythly he gase, 

Goddes werkes fare for to wirk. 

Sef en com fe erl unto f e kyrk ; 
20 A mes 8 f ul sone fan gert he sing, 

In honowre of oure Hevyn-kyng. 

J>e erl sent fan hastily 

Efter f e knyght of Hungery ; 

J>e knyght come sone f e erl untill. 
25 J>e erl said : ' Sir, if [fat] fou will, 

J>ou sal wend to wod with me, 

At 4 hunt, and solace for to se.' 

J>e knyght answerd wordes hende 8 : 

' Sir, to wod may I noght wende, 
30 For me es cumen new tif and 6 

J>at makes me ful wele lykand, 7 

Fra my cuntre withowten lese 8 

J>at my frendes haves made mi pese 

1 thought 4 to T pleased 

2 surely 5 courteous 8 deception 
* mass 6 tidings 


For fat knight )>at T have slayn ; 

And of fir 1 tifandes am I fayn. .4 

And, sir, fir 2 tifandes es me broght 

Bi my leman, fat has me soght 

Heder out of myne awin cuntre. 5 

parfore, sir, if jowre wil be, 

J>is day I pray jow with me etc, 

And se my leman at fe mete, 

And for to make cumforth hir till.' 

Je erl said : ' Gladly I will 10 

Do al fe comforth fat I can 

Bath to f e and f i leman ; 

Whenso fou will, send efter me, 

And smertly 3 sal I cum to fe.' 

f>an went fe erl to his solace, 15 

Unto fe wod to mak his chace; 
And fe knight went sone onane, 
And ordand 4 mete and drink gud wane. 5 
His hows he dight 6 on gude aray ; 

And smertly fan he toke fe way 20 

Unto fe lady faire and bright,- 
And gert fat sho war gayly dyght 
In gold garmentes, richely wroght, 
And talde hir al how he has thoght 

J>at ilk day sho and hir lord 25 

Sold bath togeder et 7 of a bord, 
And how hir lord sold understand 
J>at sho war cumen out of fer land. 
Down he broght hir til his hows 

Hamely, 8 als sho war his spows ; 30 

Bot hir garmentes war al new, 
J>at no man in fat cuntre knew. 
Opon hir fingers gert he done 

1 these 4 ordered 7 C at 

2 MS. J>is 5 quantity * familiarly 
8 quickly ; MS. smeretly 6 fitted out 

1 36 TALES 

Gold ringes f ul many one ; 

Hir bed was gayly dubed l and dyght 

With gerlands al of gold ful bright ; 

So out of kenyng 2 he hir broght 
5 J>at hir lord fan knew hir noght. 

Fra hunting come f e erl in hi 8 ; 

J>e knyght him keped 4 ful curtaisly, 

And til his hows he led him J>an 

For to ett with his leman. 
10 Redy was ordaynd and dyght 

Mete and drink for mani a knight. 

Unto fe bord ]>e erl es set, 

And his .whif, with him to et. 

J>e knight said : ' ]?is es my leman ; 
15 Makes hir comforth if 56 can.' 

J?e erl bad sho sold be blith, 

And he biheld hir mony a syth 8 ; 

And wonder in his hert had he 

How fat it so myght be 
20 J>at any lady in ]> is life 

Might be so like his owin wyfe. 

J>e lady praied him blith to be, 

And ett gladly, par charite. 

)?e erl bad hir also be glad, 
25 And loked on hir als he war mad ; 

Bot he thoght fe towre was so strang 

J>at fare myght no man do him wrang, 

Ne fat his whif might noght cum doun ; 

J?arfore trowed he no tresowne. 
3 He thoght : ' Oft sythes bifalles slike, 6 

J>at mani wemen er ofer like, 

Als was f e ring of gold fyne 

Jat I wend wele had bene myne.' 

l decorated 8 haste 6 time 

* recognition * received happen such things 


}?us lp e erl left all his care ; 

Of fis mater he thinkes no mare. 

J>an said f e knight on fis manere 
Unto fe erl : ' Sir, mase l gude chere.' 
J>e erl said : ' Sir, I f e pray, 5 

f>e sertan soth fat fou me say 
Whef in 2 es fis faire lady 
f>at ]> ou has set at met me by ? ' 
J?e knight said : ' Sir, bi my lewte, 8 
Sho es cumen fra myne awyn cuntre ; 10 

Sho es my leman fat has me soght, 
And new tithandes sho haves me broght : 
Mi pese es made for evermare 
For f e knight fat I slogh fare, 

So fat I may wend hardily 15 

Hame ogayn my pese to cri ; 
And f arfore wil I with hir wende, 
For to speke with ilka frende.' 
' Sir, sekerly,' said fe erl fan, 
' Me think fou has a fay re leman.' 20 

Whan fai had etyn and dronken inoghe, 
J>ai toke up mete, and clathes drogh. 4 
When fe erl liked to gane, 
He toke leve at 8 f e knyghtes leman ; 
And hastily when he was went, 25 

J>e knight and f e lady gent 
Sone did of 6 f e riche aray 
J>at fai had done on 7 fat day ; 
Hir awyn robe sone did fai on, 

And dighted hir als sho was won. 8 30 

And fan sho toke fe preve sty 9 
Into fe toure ful hastily ; 

1 make * cleared the table 1 put on 

2 whence 5 of 8 accustomed 
8 loyalty 6 took off , ? ascent 

138 TALES 

J>e knight gan playnly with hir pas 

Until sho in hir chamber was. 

And unnethes was J>e knyght went out 

When }>e erl was gane obowt 1 ; 
5 Unto ]>e toure he takes }>e way 

Als hastily als ever he may ; 

J?are he findes his lady, 

Keped him ful curtaysely. 

J>an was fe erl in hert ful glad 
10 When he wist fat he hir had. 

Him thoght jit 2 sho was like fully 

To f e lady fat sat him by. 

]7are )>e erl dwelled al nyght, 

And laiked 8 him with his lady bright. 
1 5 J>at night f ai wroght what f aire wils ware ; 

And on fat wise 4 f ai met na mare. 

Herkens now, how it bifell : 

On pis maner stode fat castell, 

J?at f e se ran fast byside ; 
20 Many gode shippes gan fare bide. 

Whils fe erl of grete honowre 

Lay with fe lady in f e towre, 

J>e knight ordand a ship of sail, 

And gert bere ]>eder gude vetaille 5 ; 
25 Al his gode 6 )eder gert he bere, 

Gold and silver and o)>er gere. 
On ]>e morn ]>e erl forth gase, 

And left his lady in fat place. 

Until ]>e kirk fan went he sone 
30 And herd his mes als he was wone ; 

And when he to fe kirk was gane, 

J>e knyght went to fe towre onane, 

And down he broght fe fayre lady 

l had started to go 8 sported 5 provisions 

yet, nevertheless < in that manner 6 property 


Into his hows ful prevely. 

And of x f ai toke f e clathes sone 

J>at f e lady had hir on ; 

J>ai dight hir in f e garmentes gay 

J>at sho had on fat of er day ; 5 

With gerlandes and with gleterand 2 thing 

Was sho made out of knawyng. 

When al was done als it sold be, 
Unto fe erl, his lord, went he. 

' Sir,' he sayd, ' I wald fe pray 10 

Of a ded f is ilk day : 
f>at f ou wil gif me with f i hand 
My leman, or 8 I pas fi lond, 
J?at I mai wed hir to my whife ; 

For with hir wil I lede my lyfe.' 15 

He sayd he thoght to wed hir fan 
J>at had byfore ben his leman, 
For luf of God and als for drede, 
And for he sold ]> e better spede. 

J>e erl said : ' J>at es gude scill,* 20 

And als fou sais, syr, do I will.' 

Sone f e erl cals knightes twa, 
And bad f am sone fat f ai sold ga 
And feche ]>e lady unto fe kirk. 

J?ai war redy his wil to wirk ; 25 

To kirk fai led fat faire lady. 
A preste was revist 5 hastily. 
J>e erl come with meri chere, 
Omang al fat folk in fere. 6 

His owin lady he toke bylive 30 

And gaf f e knyght until his wive ; 
J>e prest fam weddes swith sone. 
And als tite als fe mes was done, 

1 off 3 ere & hurried thither 

2 glittering 4 reason 6 in company, together 

140 TALES 

]?an was fare made grete menestrelsy ; 

And ]>e knight and his lady 

Went pam forth with grete solas 

To fe ship whare his godes in was. 
5 J>e erl went with )>am fartill ; 

J>e knight went yn with ful gude will. 
Je lady stode still on fe sand ; 

J>e erl toke hir by pe hand, 

And bad }>e knyght sold hir take, 
10 Evermare to be his make. 

J>are )>e knyght toke ]>e lady, 

And said to |>e erl : ' Sir, gramercy 

Of 1 )>is and of 1 al o}>er grace.' 

J>us of )>e erl hys leve he tase ; 
15 J>e wind blew, )>ai went J>aire way. 

j?us lost J>e erl his whife for ay ; 

He gaf hir jms }>e knyght to wed ; 

J>arfore ful sari life he led. 

When J?e knight was went with f e lady, 
20 J>e erl wendes hame hastily ; 

Until J>e toure fe way he tase, 

To tel his lady how it was, 

And how he had his knyght cunvayd 2 ; 

He trowed noght how he was bitraid. 
2 5 Until his toure Jms wendes he right, 

For to speke with his lady bright. 

Into ]>e chamber 8 gan he ga, 

And loked obout, bath to and fra ; 

He saw no syght of his lady ; 
3 j?arfore sone he wex sary. 

Of hir cowth he nothing here ; 

f>an he wepid with sari chere. 

Unto himself he gan him mene * 

}?at al was soth als he had sene. 

1 for accompanied a MS. chameber 4 lament 


f>an wist he it was his lady 
J>at at ]>e mete was set him by. 
To wax wise }>an he bigan ; 
Jarfore blamed him moni a man. 


Dame Sirith is preserved in Digby MS. 86, which has been assigned to a 
date between 1272 and 1283, but by some as late as 1300. 

With respect to the introduction of such fabliaux into England, Jusserand 
says (Lit. Hist. Eng. People 1.225): '"Merry England" became acquainted 
with every form of French mirth ; she imitated French chansons, and gave a 
place in her literature to French fabliaux. Nothing could be less congenial 
to the Anglo-Saxon race than the spirit of the fabliaux. This spirit, however, 
was acclimatized in England ; and, like several other products of the French 
mind, was grafted on the original stock. The tree thus bore fruit which would 
never have ripened as it did, without the Conquest. Such are the works of 
Chaucer, of Swift perhaps, and of Sterne. The most comic and risque stories, 
those same stories meant to raise a laugh which we have seen old women tell 
at parlor windows, in order to cheer recluse anchoresses, were put into 
English verse, from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century. Thus we find 
under an English form such stories as the tale of " La Chienne qui pleure " 
[Dame Sirith'],'' etc. 

With respect to Dame Sirith, Ker says (English Literature : Medieval, 
p. 172): 'This is far above the ordinary level of such things; it is a shame 
ful practical joke, but there is more in it than this ; the character of Dame 
Sirith, in her machinations to help the distressed lover of his neighbour's 
wife, is such as belongs to comedy and to satire, not to the ordinary vulgar 
" merry tale." ' 

The germ of the story has been traced back to India, where a belief in 
metempsychosis is prevalent, and thence passes on to the Persian (Book of 
Sindibad), the Arabic (see Clouston's Book of Sindibad, pp. 162 ff.) and the 
Hebrew (Mischle Sindbad, tr. Cassel, pp. 268 ff.). About noo it is found 
in the Disciplina Clericalis of Petrus Alphonsus, a converted Spanish Jew, 
with which compare Gesta Romanorum, chap. 28 (of the Latin). The English 
version here printed bears a rather close resemblance to that in the Greek 
Syntipas (ed. Eberhard, Fabultz Romanenses Grace Conscripta, Leipzig, 1879). 
For other versions, and the transmission of the story in general, see Matzner, 
Altenglische Sprachproben 1.103-5; Eisner, Untersuchungen zu dem Mittel- 
englischen Fabliau 'Dame Siriz,' Berlin, 1877; McKnight, Middle English 
Humorous Tales in Verse (Boston, 1913), pp. xxi-xxxvii, 83-5. 

This tale has many points of resemblance with a fragmentary interlude 
printed below (pp 477-80). It has been conjectured that both have a common 



source in an interlude now lost (see Heuser, in Anglia, Vol. 30, and McKnight, 
pp. xxxviii-ix). 

The name of the old woman is sometimes found in the manuscript as Siriz 
(147 25, 148 4, 157 6, 8) and sometimes as Sirif> (150 7, 151 28, 153 1), but the 
rhymes show that the latter is undoubtedly correct (151 28 ; cf. 148 4) ; w if> 
is similarly written wiz (148 5). 

Ci comence le fablel et la cointise de Dame Siriz 

As I com bi an waie, a- 

Hof 1 on ich herde saie, *- 

Ful modi 2 mon and proud ; i- 

Wis he wes of lore, 

And gouplich 8 under gore, 4 , 

And eloped in fair sroud. 8 4r 

To lovien he bigon 

On 6 wedded wimmon 

J>erof he hevede wrong ; 
His herte hire 7 wes alon, 
pat reste nevede 8 he non, 

pe love wes so strong. 

Wei jerne 9 he him bipoute 10 
Hou he hire gete moute, 11 

In ani cunnes 12 wise. 18 
)?at befel on an day 
f>e loverd wend away 

Hon his marchaundise. 14 


2 haughty 
* goodly 
4 raiment 
6 apparel 
6 a 

He wente him to pen inne 

per lfi hoe 16 wonede inne, 

J>at wes riche won 17 ; 

7 to her 

8 had not 
8 intently 

10 considered 

11 might 

18 way 

14 trafficking 

18 where 

is she 

17 dwelling 



And com into ben halle, 
J>er hoe wes srud 1 wi)> palle, 2 
And Jnis he bigon : 

[ Wilekin] ' God almijtten be herinne ! ' 
\Margert\ ' Welcome, so ich ever bide winne 8 1 

Quod bis wif . 

' His hit 4 jn wille, com and site, 
And wat is bi wille let me wite, 
Mi leve lif. 

Bi houre Loverd, hevene King, 
If I mai don ani bing 

J>at be is lef, 

J>ou mijtt finden me f ul fre ; 
Fol blebeli will I don for b e, 

Wibhouten gref.' 

[ Wilekin] ' Dame, God be f orjelde 6 1 

Bote on fat 6 )>ou me nout bimelde, 7 

Ne make ]>e wro]>, 
Min hernde 8 will I to J>e bede 9 ; 
Bote wrafben 10 be for ani dede n 

Were me lo]>.' 

\Margeri\ ' Nai, iwis, Wilekin ! 

For nobing bat ever is min, 

J>au 12 bou hit jirne, 18 
Houncurteis w ne will I be ; 
Ne con 15 I nout on 16 vilte, 17 

Ne nout I nelle lerne. 

1 clothed 

2 rich cloth 

8 expect (eternal) happiness ; 

MS. wenne 
4 if it is 
$ repay 

6 on condition that 

7 betray 

8 errand 

9 make known 

10 anger 

11 in any way 

12 though 

is desire 

i* discourteous 

15 know 

16 of 

i^ churlishness 




J>ou mai[j]t saien al |>ine wille, 
And I shal herknen and sitten stille, 

J>at l }>ou have told. 
And if fat )?ou me tellest skil, 2 
I shal don after jn wil 

pat be }>ou bold. 8 

And }>au }>ou sale me ani same,* 
Ne shal I fe nouijt blame 

For ]>\ sawe. 6 ' 

[ Wilekin\ ' Nou Ich have wonne leve, 6 
^if pat I ]>e 7 shulde greve, 

Hit were hounlawe. 8 

Certes, dame, )x>u seist as hende, 9 
And I shal setten spel 10 on ende, 

And tellen J>e al 
Wat Ich wolde, and wi Ich com ; 
Ne con Ich saien non falsdom, 

Ne non I ne shal. 


Ich habbe iloved )>e moni jer, 
J>au Ich nabbe nout ben her 

Mi love to schowe. 
Wile \\ loverd is in toune, 
Ne mai no mon wi)> )>e holden roune u 

Wi}> no )>ewe. 12 

^urstendai l8 Ich herde saie, 
As Ich wende bi )>e waie, 
Of oure sire 14 ; 


3 what is reasonable 
* confident, certain 

4 shame 
6 speech 

8 gained permission 

7 MS. me 

8 wrong 

9 a courteous one 
1 discourse 

11 secret talk 

1 2 propriety 
18 yesterday 

I 4 lord, good man 


Me 1 tolde me pat he was gon 
To }>e feire of Botolfston 2 
In Lincolneschire. 

And for Ich weste 8 fat he wes * houte, 

]?arfore Ich am I igon aboute 5 

To speken wij> pe. 
Him burp 5 to liken wel his lif , 
fat mijtte welde 6 secc 7 a wif 8 

In privite. 

Dame, if hit is pi wille, 10 

Bop dernelike 9 and stille 

Ich wille J>e love.' 

\Margeri\ ' J>at wold I don for non pin[g], 
Bi houre Loverd, hevene King, 

f>at ous is bove 10 ! 15 

Ich habe mi loverd fat is mi spouse, 
J>at maiden broute me to house 

Mid menske n inou 12 ; 
He lovep me and Ich him wel, 
Oure love is also trewe as stel, 20 

Wiphouten wou. 18 

J>au he be from horn on his hernde, 
Ich were ounseli, 14 if Ich lernede 

To ben on 15 hore. 

lp at ne shal nevere be, 2 5 

J>at I shal don selk falsete, 

On bedde ne on flore ; 

1 one, they 6 possess M honor 

2 Boston (St. Botolph's town) 7 such 12 enow, enough 
8 knew 8 MS. vif 18 wrong 

4 MS. ves 9 secretly 14 wicked 

6 behooveth 1 above is a 



' Never more his lifwile, 1 
Thau he were on hondred mile 

Bijende Rome, 
For no Jnng ne shuld I take 
Mon on er)>e to ben mi make, 2 
Ar 8 his horn-come.' 


[ Wilekin\ ' Dame, dame, torn * )>i mod 5 ; 
)>i curteisi was ever god, 

And set shal be ; 

For )>e Loverd ]>at ous havej> wrout, 
Amend Jn mod, and torn \\ |>out, 

And rew 6 on me.' 

\Margen\ ' We, 7 we 1 [h]oldest ]>ou me a fol ? 

So Ich ever mote biden ^ol, 8 
15 J>ou art ounwis. 

Mi |>out ne shalt \>ou never 9 wende ; 
Mi loverd is curteis mon and hende, 
And mon of pris ; 

And Ich am wif bo}>e god and trewe ; 
20 Trewer womon mai 10 no mon cnowe 

pen Ich am. 

J?ilke time shal u never bitide 
J>at mon, for wouing ne )>oru prude, 12 
Shal do me scham.' 

25 [ Wilekin\ ' Swete levmon, 18 merci 1 

Same ne vilani 
Ne bede I )>e non ; 

1 lifetime 

2 mate 

4 change 
6 mind 

6 have compassion 
" alas 

8 Yule, Christmas 
MS. newer 
10 MS. ne mai 

MS. ne shal 

12 pride 

I* MS. lenmon, or leumon (?) 


Bote derne love I fe bede, 
As mon fat wolde of love spede, 
And fi[n]de won. 1 ' 

\Margeri~\ ' So bide Ich evere mete of er drinke, 

Her fou lesest al fi swinke. 2 5 

f>ou mijt gon horn, leve brofer, 

For [ne] wille Ich fe love, ne non ofer 

Bote mi wedde houssebonde ; 

To tellen hit f e ne wille Ich wonde. 8 ' 

[ Wilekiri\ ' Certes, dame, fat me forf inkef 4 ; 10 

An[d] wo is fe mon fa[t] muchel swinkef, 
And at f e laste lesef his sped ! 
To maken menis 5 his 6 him ned ; 
Bi 7 me I saie [hit] ful iwis, 

f>at love f e love fat I shal mis. 1 5 

An[d], dame, have nou godne dai ! 
And f ilke Loverd fat al welde 8 mai 
Leve 9 fat f i f out so tourne 
J>at Ich 10 for fe no leng 11 ne mourne.' 

Drerimod 12 he wente awai, 20 

And foute bofe nijt and dai 

Hire al for to wende. 
A f rend him radde 18 for to fare 
And leven al his muchele kare 

To Dame Sirif u fe hende. 25 

J?ider he wente him anon, 
So suife 15 so he mijtte gon, 
No mon he ni mette. 

1 joy 6 is u longer 

2 toil 7 about 12 sad in heart 
8 hesitate, fear 8 w i e ld is counseled 

4 I am sorry for that grant 1* MS. Siriz 

5 moans 10 MS. Ihc is quickly 




Ful he wes of tene l and treie 2 ; 
Mid wordes milde and eke sleie 8 
Faire he hire grette. 

[ Wikkin\ ' God )>e iblessi, Dame Siri|> 4 ! 

Ich am icom to speken )>e with, 6 

For ful muchele nede ; 
And 6 Ich mai have help of )>e, 
J>ou shalt have, }>at Jx>u shalt se, 

Ful riche mede.' 

\Sirith\ ' Welcomen art )>ou, leve sone ; 
And if Ich mai oper cone 7 
In eni wise for )>e do, 
I shal streng|>en me berto ; 
Forbi, 8 leve sone, tel bou me 
Wat |>ou woldest I dude for J>e.' 

[ Wilekiti] ' Bote, leve nelde, 9 ful evele I fare ; 
I lede mi lif wib tene and kare ; 

Wi)> muchel hounsele 10 ich lede mi lif, 
And pat is for on suete wif 

)?at heijtte Margeri. 
Ich have iloved hire moni dai, 
And of hire love hoe seiz me nai ; 

Hider Ich com for]>i. 

1 vexation 
8 shrewd 
MS. Siriz 
6 MS. wiz 

Bote-if u hoe wende hire mod, 
For serewe 12 mon 18 Ich wakese 5 

Ober miselve quelle. 15 
Ich hevede ibout miself to slo 16 ; 
Forben 17 radde 18 a frend me go 

To }>e, mi sereue telle. 

7 or know how to (caa) 

8 therefore 
old lady 

18 misfortune 
11 unless 
u sorrow 


18 must 

14 grow, wax 

15 destroy 

16 slay 

17 therefore 
is advised 


He saide me, wifhouten faille 

J?at fou me couf est helpe and vaile, 1 

And bringen me of wo, 
J>oru fine crafftes and pine dedes ; 
And Ich wile jeve fe riche mede[s], 5 

Wif fat 2 hit be so.' 

\SiritJi\ ' Benedicite be herinne 8 ! 

Her havest fou, sone, mikel sinne. 4 

Loverd, for his suete name, 5 

Lete fe ferfore haven no shame 6 ! 10 

f>ou servest affter Codes grame, 7 

Wen fou seist on me silk 8 blame ; 

For Ich am old and sek and lame ; 

Seknesse havef maked me ful tame. 

Blesse fe, blesse fe, leve knave, 9 15 

Leste fou mesaventer have 

For pis lesing 10 fat is founden n 

Oppon me, fat am harde ibo[u]nden ! 

Ich am on holi wimon, 

On wicchecrafft nout I ne con, 20 

Bote wif gode men[s] almesdede 

like dai mi lif I fede, 

And bidde mi Pater Noster and mi Crede, 

J>at Goed hem helpe at hore 12 nede 

J>at helpen me mi lif to lede, 25 

And leve fat hem mote wel spede. 

His lif and his soule worfe ishend 18 

f>at f e to me f is hernde havef send ; 

1 avail, assist 4 sin ; MS. senne 9 boy 

2 provided that 5 MS. nome 10 lie 

* blessing be herein = God 6 MS. shome 1: invented 

save us (an exclamation Danger; MS. grome M their 

of surprise) 8 such ls disgraced 

7. Fliigel (Matzke Mem. Vol., p. 95) prefers ' Benedicite ! be herinne ! ' 
understanding 'God' as the subject of (opt. or imp.) 'be.' 
9. Note the six rhyming lines, like the six below (21-26). 

! 5 o TALES 

And leve me to ben iwreken 1 

On him }>is shome me have)) speken.' 

[ Wilekin} ' Leve nelde, bilef 2 al Jris ; 

Me |>inke)> J>a[t] |>ou art onwis. 
5 J?e mon pat me to )>e taute, 8 

He weste fat jou hous * coupest saute. 6 

Help, Dame Siri)>, if |>ou maut, 6 

To make me wip )>e sueting saut, 

And Ich wille geve pe gift ful stark 7 : 
,o Moni a pound and moni a marke, 

Warme pilche 8 and warme shon, 

WiJ> |>at min hernde be wel don. 

Of muchel godlec 9 mi^t ]>ou jelpe, 10 

If hit be so fat )KU me helpe.' 

15 \Strith\ ' Lij me nout, Wilekin, bi }>i leute. 11 

Is hit fin hernest 12 fou tekest 18 me ? 
Lovest fou wel Dame Margeri ? ' 

[ Wilekin] ' e, nelde, witerli, 14 

Ich hire love ! Hit mot me spille " 
20 Bote ich gete hire to mi wille.' 

[SritK] ' Wat, god Wilekin, me rewe]> fi scafe 16 ; 
Houre Loverd sende ]> e help rape " 1 

Weste Hie hit mijtte ben forholen, 18 
Me wolde funche wel solen 19 
25 J>i wille for to fellen. 20 

Make me siker wif word on honde 

i avenged 8 fur garments 15 destroy, ruin 

* leave 9 goodness, benefit 16 harm 

* directed 10 boast v soon (early) 
4 us n loyalty 18 concealed 

6 reconcile, bring to terms 12 earnest 19 proper (solemn) 

6 canst 1S teachest MS. fullen 

l strong, large 14 truly, certainly 


J?at pou wolt Helen, 1 and I wile fonde 2 
If Ich mai hire tellen. 

For al pe world ne wold I nout 
]?at Ich were to chapitre 8 ibrout 

For none selke 4 werkes. 
Mi jugement were sone igiven 
To ben wip shome somer-driven 5 

Wip 6 prestes and with clarkes.' 

[ Wilekin\ ' Iwis, nelde, ne wold I 
f>at pou hevedest vilani 

Ne shame, for mi goed. 
Her I )>e mi troupe plijtte, 
Ich shal helen bi 7 mi mijtte, 

Bi pe holi roed 1 ' 

\SiritK\ ' Welcome, Wilekin, hiderward I 
Her havest imaked a foreward 8 

J>at pe mai ful wel like. 
J?ou maijt 9 blesse pilke sij>, 10 
For }>ou maijt make ]>e ful blip ; 

Dar 11 pou namore sike. 12 

To goderhele 18 ever come pou hider, 
For sone will I gange pider, 

And maken hire hounderstonde. 
I shal kenne 14 hire sulke a lore 
J>at hoe shal lovien pe mikel more 

J?en ani mon in londe.' 

[ Wilekin} ' Al so hav I Codes grip, 15 

Wel havest pou said, Dame Sirip, 
And goderhele shal ben pin. 

1 conceal (it) 

2 try 

8 ecclesiastical court 
4 such 

6 sumpter-driven (slung 
on a pack-animal) ? 

6 by 

7 according to 

8 agreement 

9 mayst 

10 this opportunity 

11 needest (= >ar, from OE. J>earf) 

12 sigh 

18 for good fortune 
14 make known, teach 
is peace 

152 TALES 

Have her twenti shiling : 
J>is Ich jeve fe to meding, 1 
To buggen 2 J>e sep 8 and swin.' 

[Sirith] ' So Ich evere brouke * hous ofer flet, 6 
5 Neren never penes ' beter biset 

f>en fes shulen ben. 
For I shal don a juperti, 7 
And a ferli 8 maistri ' ; 

J>at fou shalt ful wel sen. 

10 [To her dog] Pepir 10 nou shalt ]>ou ete, 11 

f>is mustart shal ben fi mete, 
And gar 12 fin eien to renne 18 ; 

I shal make a lesing 

Of fin heie-renning, 
15 Ich wot wel wer and wenne.' 

[ Wilekiri\ ' Wat 1 nou const fou no god ? 
Me finkef j>at fou art wod. 
Revest fo )>e welpe 14 mustard ? ' 

[SritX] ' Be stille, boinard " ! 
20 I shal mit 16 f is ilke gin " 

Gar hire love to ben al fin. 
Ne shal ich never have reste ne ro u 
Til ich have told hou fou shalt do. 
Abid me her til min horn-come.' 

25 [ Wtlekin} ' ^us, 19 bi fe somer blome, 20 

Hefen 21 null I ben binomen, 22 
Til fou be ajein comen.' 

1 reward trick 17 contrivance 

2 buy 10 MS. pepis 18 qu iet 
8 sheep 11 MS. eten i ye s 

4 enjoy 12 ma ke ao bloom 

5 hall (///. floor) 18 run ; MS. rene 21 hence 

6 PC" 1 * M whelp 22 taken away 

7 venture 15 fool 

8 wondrous l< with 


Dame Sirip bigon to go 

As a wrecche pat is wo, 

Jat 1 hoe come hire to pen inne 2 

J>er pis gode wif wes inne. 

J>o hoe to pe dore com, 5 

Swipe reuliche 8 hoe bigon : 

[Sirith~\ ' Loverd,' hoe seip, ' wo is holde 4 wives, 
J?at in poverte ledep ay [hore] 6 lives ; 
Not * no mon so muchel of pine 

As poure wif pat fallep in ansine 7 ; 10 

J>at mai ilke mon bi me wite, 
For mai I nouper gange ne site ; 
Ded wold I ben ful fain. 
Hounger and purst me havep nei slain ; 
Ich ne mai mine limes onwold, 8 1 5 

For mikel hounger and purst and cold. 
Warto liveth selke a wrecche ? 
Wi nul 9 Goed mi soule f ecche ? ' 

\Margeri\ ' Seli 10 wif, God pe hounbinde u 1 

To dai wille I pe mete finde, 20 

For love of Goed. 
Ich have reupe of pi wo, 
For evele icloped I se pe go, 

And evele ishoed ; 

Com herin, Ich wile pe fede.' 25 

[Sirith~] ' Goed almigtten do pe mede, 

And pe Loverd pat wes on rode idon, 12 

And faste fourti daus 13 to non, 14 

And hevene and erpe havep to welde, 

As pilke Loverd pe forgelde. 15 ' 30 

1 until 6 knows not U unbind, pardon 

2 dwelling 7 want 12 destroyed 
8 piteously 8 control 13 days 

4 old 9 will not w noon 

5 See 149 $* 10 good 15 requite 

I 5 4 TALES 

[Margeri] ' Have her fles 1 and eke bred, 

And make be glad, hit is mi red 2 ; 
And have her be coppe wib be drinke ; 
Goed do be mede for bi swinke.' 

5 fenne spac bat holde wif 

Crist awarie 8 hire lif ! 
[Sirith] ' Alas 1 alas I bat ever I live ! 

Al be sunne Ich wolde forgive 

]>e mon bat smite of 4 min heved 1 
10 Ich wolde mi lif me were bireved 1 ' 

[Margeri] ' Seli wif, what eilleb be ? ' 

[Srith] ' Bote ebe 6 mai I sori be : 

Ich hevede a douter feir and fre, 6 

Feiror ne mijtte no mon se. 
15 Hoe hevede a curteis hossebonde, 

Freour 7 mon mijtte no mon fonde. 8 

Mi douter lovede him al to wel ; 

Forbi 9 mak I sori del. 10 

Oppon a dai he was out wend, 
20 And barboru n wes mi douter shend. 

He hede on ernde out of toune ; 

And com a modi 12 clarc wijj croune, 18 

To mi douter his love beed, 

And hoe nolde nout folewe his red. 
25 He ne mijtte his wille have, 

For no bing he mijtte crave ; 

)?enne bigon be clerc to wiche, 14 

And shop 15 mi douter til a biche. 

]?is is mi douter bat Ich of speke ; 

1 flesh, meat noble " by this means, thereby 

2 advice J nobler 12 proud 

* curse 8 search out w tonsure 

4 off 9 on this account 14 use witchcraft 

6 easily W lament 15 transformed (shaped) 


For del of hire min herte breke. 

Loke hou hire heien greten, 1 

On hire cheken fe teres meten. 2 

Forf i, dame, were hit no wonder, 

f>au min herte burste assunder. 5 

A[nd] wose ever is gong houssewif, 

Ha 3 love]? ful luitel hire lif , 

And 4 eni clerc of love hire bede, 

Bote 5 hoe grante, and lete him spede.' 

\Margeri\ ' A, Loverd Crist ! wat mai [I] fenne do ? 10 

J>is enderdai 6 com a clarc me to, 
And bed 7 me love on his manere, 
And Ich him nolde nout ihere. 
Ich trouue he wolle me forsape. 8 
Hou troustu, 9 nelde, Ich moue ascape ? ' 15 

\_Strith~\ ' God almijtten be fin help 

J>at fou ne be noufer bicche ne welp ! 

Leve dame, if eni clerc 

Bedef fe fat love-were, 

Ich rede fat fou grante his bone, 10 20 

And bicom his lefmon sone. 

And if fat fou so ne dost, 

A worse red ]> ou ounderfost. 11 ' 

\Margen\ ' Loverd Crist, fat me is wo, 

J>at f e clarc me hede 12 fro 25 

Ar he me hevede biwonne ! 
Me were levere fen ani fe 18 
That he hevede enes u leien bi me, 

And efftsones 15 bigunne. 

1 shed tears 6 the other day n receivest, takest 

2 meet 7 offered ^ went 

8 she 8 transform 18 property 

* if 9 thinkest thou, believest thou 14 once 

5 unless 10 request (boon) 15 again 

8. of : the verb takes the genitive of the thing besought in OE. 

1 56 TALES 

Evermore, nelde, ich wille be fin, 
Wif fat 1 f ou feche me Willekin, 

J>e clarc of warn I telle ; 
Giftes will I geve fe 
S J>at fou maijt ever f e betere be, 

Bi Codes houne belle 1 ' 


[StritJi] ' Sofliche, mi swete dame, 

And if I mai wifhoute blame, 

Fain Ich wille ffonde ; 

10 And if Ich mai wif him mete 

Bi eni wei of er bi strete, 
Nout ne will I wonde. 2 

Have god dai, dame ! for}) will I go.' 
\Margeri~\ ' Allegate 8 loke fat fou do so 
1 5 As Ich f e bad ; 

Bote fat fou me Wilekin bringe, 
Ne mai [I] never lawe * ne singe, 
Ne be glad.' 

\Sirith\ ' Iwis, dame, if I mai, 
20 Ich wille bringen him jet to-dai, 

Bi mine mijtte.' 
Hoe wente hire to hire inne, 
Her hoe founde Wilekinne, 
Bi houre Drijtte 8 1 

25 \Sirith~\ ' Swete Wilekin, be fou nout dred, 

For of fin her[n]de Ich have wel sped. 
Swife com for[f] fider wif me, 
For hoe havef send affter f e ; 

1 provided that 8 j n every way, by all means 6 O ur Lord 

2 hesitate * laugh 

6 belle: sacring bell, used in the mass; see Seven Sares (Percy Soc 16), 
1. 2285 : ' By Goddis belle.' 


Iwis nou maijt fou ben above, 

For fou havest grantise 1 of hire love.' . 

[ Wilekin\ ' God ]>e forjelde, leve nelde, 

J>at hevene and erfe have]? to welde ! ' 

f>is modi mon bigon to gon 5 

Wif Sirij> 2 to his levemon 

In filke stounde. 3 
Dame Sirif 2 bigon to telle, 
And swor bi Codes ouene belle, 

Hoe hevede him founde. 10 

\Sirith~\ ' Dame, so have ich Wilekin sout, 
For nou have Ich him ibrout.' 

\_Margeri\ ' Welcome, Wilekin, swete Jnng, 
f>ou art welcomore fen fe king. 

Wilekin ]je swete, 15 

Mi love I ]>e bihete, 

To don al fine wille. 
Turnd Ich have mi fout, 
For I ne wolde nout 

J>at fou fe shuldest spille.' 20 

[ Wilekin} ' Dame, so Ich evere bide noen, 4 
And Ich am redi and iboen 6 

To don al fat fou saie. 
Nelde, par ma fai ! 6 
f>ou most gange awai, 25 

Wile Ich and hoe shulen plaie.' . . . 7 

1 grant * noon J One stanza omitted 

2 MS. Siriz 5 ready, prepared 
8 moment 6 by my faith 


[Sirith] ' And wose is onwis, 
And for non pris 

Ne con geten his levemon, 
I shal, for mi mede, 
Garen him to spede, 
For ful wel I con.' 


This poem, though unmistakably a ballad, tells a story, and is therefore 
here classed as a tale, though perhaps it has nearly equal claim to be called 
a romance. It is one of the few ballads of whose early date we are assured, 
the manuscript being of about 1450. It is No. 119 of Child's great collection 
(3.94-101) ; see also Sargent and Kittredge's edition in one volume, pp. 282-6. 
I omit stanzas 30-8, 53-66, both inclusive, and the end, stanzas 83-90. There 
is an unfortunate break after the first two lines of stanza 30, due to the loss 
of a sheet of the manuscript. 

What Gummere says of ballads in general (Camb. Hist. Eng. Lit. 2.474; 
the whole chapter should be read) is true of this in particular : ' They give a 
hint of primitive and unspoiled poetic sensation. . . . They can tell a good 
tale. They are fresh with the open air; wind and sunshine play through them.' 
For myself, I may add that the two opening stanzas of this ballad seem to me 
of peculiar loveliness. 

In somer, when J>e shawes 1 be sheyne, 2 

And leves be large and long, 
Hit is full mery in feyre foreste 
10 To here )>e foulys song ; 

To se ]>e dere draw to )>e dale, 

And leve ]>e hilles hee, 
And shadow hem in ]>e leves grene, 

Under the grenewode tre. 

15 Hit befel on Whitsontide, 

Erly in a May mornyng, 
The son up feyre can 8 shyne, 
And the briddis mery can syng. 

l thickets, groves a beautiful 8 did 


' This is a mery mornyng,' seid Litull John, 

' Be hym J>at dyed on tre ; 
A more mery man fen I am one 

Lyves not in Cristiante. 1 

Pluk up jn hert, my dere mayster,' 5 

Litull John can sey, 
' And thynk hit is a full fayre tyme 

In a mornyng of May.' 

' ^e, 2 on thyng greves me,' seid Robyn, 

' And does my hert mych woo ; 10 

J>at I may not no solem day 

To mas nor matyns goo. 

Hit is a fourtnet and more,' seid he, 

' Syn I my Savyour 8 see ; . 
To-day wil I to Notyngham,' seid Robyn, 15 

' With fe myght of mylde Marye.' 

Than spake Moche, 4 fe mylner 5 sun 

Ever more wel hym betyde ! 
' Take twelve of fi wyght 6 jemen, 7 

Well weppynd, be fi side. 20 

Such on wolde fiselfe slon, 

J>at twelve dar not abyde. 8 ' 

' Of all my mery men,' seid Robyn, 

' Be my feith I wil non have, 
But Litull John shall beyre my bow, 25 

Til fat me list to drawe.' 

1 Christendom 4 Much T yeomen 

2 yea 5 miller's 8 withstand 

3 consecrated wafer or host 6 sturdy 

160 TALES 

' Jou shall beyre bin own,' seid Litull Jo[h]n, 

' Maister, and I wyl beyre myne, 
And we well shete a peny, 1 ' seid Litull Jo[h]n, 

' Under be grenewode lyne. 2 ' 

5 ' I wil not shete a peny,' seyd Robyn Hode, 

' In feith, Litull John, with the, 
But ever for on as 8 bou shetis,' seide Robyn, 
1 In feith I holde be thre.' 

Thus shet bei forth, bese semen too, 
10 Bothe at buske * and brome, 5 

Til Litull John wan of his maister 
Five shillings to 6 hose and shone. 

A ferly 7 strife f el )>em betwene, 

As they went bi the wey ; 

15 Litull John seid he had won five shillings, 

And Robyn Hode seid schortly, ' Nay.' 

With bat Robyn Hode lyed Litul Jo[h]n, 

And smote hym with his hande ; 
Litul Jo[h]n waxed wroth berwith, 
20 And pulled out his bright bronde. 

' Were bou not my maister,' seid Litull John, 

' )?ou shuldis by 9 hit f ul sore ; 
Get be a man wher bou w[ilt], 

For bou getis me no more.' 

25 ]?en Robyn goes to Notyngham, 

Hymselfe mornyng 10 allone, 
And Litull John to mery Scherwode 
The pathes he knew ilkone. 

l shoot for a penny 6 broom 9 pay for 

* lime, linden * for 10 mourning 
that 7 fierce 

* bush gave the lie to 


Whan Robyn came to Notyngham, 

Sertenly withouten layn, 1 
He prayed to God and myld Mary 

To bryng hym out save 2 agayn. 

He gos into Seynt Mary chirch, 5 

And kneled down before the rode 8 ; 
Alle }>at ever were ]>e church within 

Beheld wel Robyn Hode. 

Beside hym stod a gret-hedid munke, 

I pray to God woo he be 1 10 

Fful sone he knew gode Robyn, 

As sone as he hym se. 

Out at fe durre he ran, 

Fful sone and anon ; 
Alle ]>e jatis of Notyngham 15 

He made to be sparred everychon. 

' Rise up,' he seid, ' )>ou prowde schereff, 

Buske 4 ]>e and make J>e bowne 6 ; 
I have spyed ]>e kynggis felon, 

Fforsothe he is in pis town. 20 

I have spyed fe false felon, 

As he stondis at his masse ; 
Hit is long of 6 ]>e,' seide ]>e munke, 

' And 7 ever he fro us passe. 

J>is traytur name is Robyn Hode, 25 

Under ]>e grenewode lynde 8 ; 
He robbyt me onys of a hundred pound, 

Hit shalle never out of my mynde.' 

1 lying 4 prepare T if 

2 safe 5 ready 8 linden 
8 cross e through, by means of 

1 62 TALES 

Up ]>en rose )>is prowde shereff, 

And radly l made hym jare * ; 
Many was )>e moder son 

To J>e kyrk with hym can fare. 

5 In at )>e durres )>ei throly 8 thrast, 4 

With staves ful gode wone 6 ; 

' Alas, alas ! ' seid Robyn Hode, 

' Now mysse I Litull John.' 

But Robyn toke out a too-hond sworde, 
10 pat hangit down be his kne ; 

J?er as )>e schereff and his men stode thyckust, 
Thejmrwarde wolde he. 

Thryes thorowout J>em he ran fen, 

Forsope, as I yow sey, 

15 And woundyt mony a moder son, 

And twelve he slew pat day. 

His sworde upon )>e schireff hed 

Sertanly he brake in too ; 
' f>e smyth )>at ]>e made,' seid Robyn, 
20 ' I pray God 6 wyrke hym woo ! 

Ffor now am I weppynlesse,' seid Robyn, 

' Alasse ! agayn my wylle ; 
But-if I may fle pese traytors fro, 

I wot }>ei wil me kyll.' 

There is a break in the manuscript two lines after this point, but it is evident 
from what follows that Robin Hood's men in some way learn of his capture. 
All of them are utterly distracted by this news save Little John, who feels sure 
that ' our Lady ' will care for her servant. He himself will see to the monk. 

1 quickly 8 stoutly & number 

a ready * thrust * MS. to God 


Litul John stode at a wyndow in pe mornyng, 

And lokid f orp at a stage ; 
He was war wher pe munke came ridying, 

And with hym a litul page. 

1 Be my feith,' seid Litul John to Moch, 5 

' I can pe tel tithyngus 1 gode ; 
I se wher pe munke cumys rydyng, 

I know hym be his wyde hode.' 

They went into the way, pese gemen hope, 

As curtes men and hende ; 10 

J?ei spyrred 2 tithyngus at pe munke, 
As they hade bene his frende. 

Ffro whens come je ? ' seid Litull Jo[h]n, 

' Tel us tithyngus, I yow pray, 
Off a false owtlay, [callid Robyn Hode,] 15 

Was takyn jisterday. 

He robbyt me and my felowes bope 

Of twenti marke in sertayn 8 ; 
If f>at false owtlay be takyn, 

Fforsope we wolde be fayn.' 20 

' So did he me/ seid pe munke, 

' Of a hundred pound and more ; 
I layde furst hande hym apon, 

^e may thonke me perfore.' 

' I pray God thanke you,' seid Litull John, 25 

' And we wil when we may ; 
We wil go with you, with your leve, 

And bryng yow on your way. 

? - tidings 2 asked * Mi. serten 

1 64 TALES 

Ffor Robyn Hode base many a wilde felow, 

I tell you in certayn 1 ; 
If pei wist je rode \>is way, 

In feith je shulde be slayn.' 

s As fei went talking be fe way, 

The munke and Litull John, 
John toke J?e munkis horse be J>e hede, 
Fful sone and anon. 

John 2 toke )>e munkis horse be J>e hed, 
10 Fforsobe, as I yow say ; 

So did Much, fe litull page, 

Ffor 8 he shulde not scape away. 

Be )>e golett * of J>e hode 

John pulled ]>e munke down ; 

15 John was nothyng of hym agast 

He lete hym falle on his crown. 

Litull John was so[re] agrevyd, 

And drew owt his swerde in hye 6 ; 
This munke saw he shulde be ded, 
20 Lowd ' mercy ! ' can * he crye. 

1 He was my maister,' seid Litull John, 

' pat )K)U hase browjt in bale 7 ; 
Shalle )>ou never cum at our kyng, 

Ffor to telle hym tale.' 

25 John smote of )>e munkis hed, 

No longer wolde he dwell 8 ; 
So did Moch )>e litull page, 

Ffor f erd 9 lest he wolde tell. . . . 

1 MS. certen 4 throat r trouble 

MS. Johne 6 haste 8 demy 

* that 6 did 9 fear 


Little John and Much then carry to the king the letters taken from the 
monk's body, conveying the tidings of Robin's capture. The king rejoices at 
this news, gives the men twenty pounds as a reward, and makes them yeomen 
of the crown. He then bids Little John bear his privy seal to the sheriff of 
Nottingham, commanding that Robin Hood be brought to him, alive and 

The scheref made John gode chere, 

And gaf hym wyne of the best ; 
At nyjt }>ei went to her bedde, 
And every man to his rest. 

When J>e scheref was on slepe, 1 5 

Dronken of wyne and ale, 
Litul John and Moch, forsof>e, 

Toke pe way unto f>e jale. 

Litul John callid up pe jayler, 

And bade hym rise anon ; 10 

He seyd Robyn Hode had brokyn prison, 

And out of hit was gon. 

The porter rose anon, sertan, 

As sone as he herd John calle ; 
Litul John was redy with a swerd, 15 

And bare hym to f>e walle. 

' Now wil I be porter,' seid Litul John, 

' And take fe keyes in honde ' ; 
He toke )>e way to Robyn Hode, 

And sone he hym unbonde. 20 

He gaf hym a gode swerd in his hond, 

His hed with for to kepe, 2 
And ther as J>e walle was lowyst 

Anon down can J>ei lepe. 

l asleep 2 to defend his head with 

1 66 TALES 

Be Jat }>e cok began to crow, 

The day began to spryng, 
The scheref fond )>e jaylier ded, 

The comyn bell made he ryng. 

5 He made a crye thoroout al }>e tow[n], 

Wheder he be joman or knave 
}?at cow]>e bryng hym Robyn Hode, 
His warison l he shuld have. 


' Ffor I dar never,' said }>e scheref, 
10 ' Cum before oure kyng ; 

Ffor if I do, I wot serten 
Fforsope he wil me heng.' 

The scheref made to seke Notyngham, 

Bothe be strete and stye, 2 

15 And Robyn was in mery Scherwode, 

As lijt as lef on lynde. 

Then bespake gode Litull John, 
To Robyn Hode can he say : 
' I have done \>e a gode turne for an evyll, 
20 Quyte }>e 8 whan JKU may. 

' I have done }>e a gode turne,' seid Litull John, 

' Fforsothe, as I yow say ; 
I have broujt ]>e under grenewode lyne ; 

Ffarewel, and have gode day.' 

25 ' Nay, be my trouth,' seid Robyn Hode, 

' So shall hit neuer be ; 
I make )>e maister,' seid Robyn Hode, 
' Off alle my men and me.' 

l reward 2 lane make return 


* Nay, be my trouth,' seid Litull John, 

' So shalle hit never be ; 
But lat me be a felow, 1 ' seid Litull John, 

' No noder kepe I be. 2 ' 

Thus John gate Robyn Hod[e] out of prison, 

Sertan withoutyn layn 8 ; 
Whan his men saw hym hoi and sounde, 

Fforsothe they were full fayne. 

They filled in wyne, and made hem glad, 

Under )>e levys smale, 
And jete 4 pastes of venyson, 

J?at gode was with ale. 

Eight stanzas remain. Word of the escape is carried to the king, who 
declares that, though Little John has beguiled both the sheriff and himself, 
he has been true to Robin Hood. 


This is the poem from which Longfellow drew the Sicilian's tale, in the 
first series of his Tales of a Wayside Inn. Leigh Hunt related the story in 
prose in his Jar of Honey from Mount Hybla (1848) ; a play was founded on 
it in the reign of Henry VII, and acted at Chester in 1529 (Ward, Hist. Eng. 
Dram. Lit. 1.93-4; Collier, Hist. Eng. Dram. Poetry, London, 1831, I. 113-5; 
2.128, 415; Hazlitt, Rem. Early Pop. Poetry, London, 1864, 1.264-88); 
and Rudolf Schmidt drew from it his drama, Den Forvandlede Konge, which 
appeared in 1876, and was several times played at Copenhagen. Closely allied 
to our Middle English poem is Jean de Conde's (fl. 1310-1340) Li Dis dou 
Magnificat (Dits et Contes de Baudouin de Condi et de son P "Us, Jean de Conde, 
ed. Scheler, Brussels, 1866, 2. 355-70, 455 ff.). The former, however, has 
been influenced by the romance of Robert the Devil (cf . Varnhagen, Longfellow's 
Tales of a Wayside Inn, Berlin, 1884, pp. 43-7), from which the king's name, 
Robert, may come, together with certain traits of his life as fool ; Robert the 
Devil, like the king, reaches Rome on Maundy Thursday. 

The tale appears in numerous versions, European and Asiatic. One set of 
the European versions derives from the story of Jovinian in the Gesta Roma- 
norum. Much earlier is the Jewish legend, which occurs in four versions (Jeru 
salem and Babylonian Talmuds, Kabbala, etc.), one of which connects the story 

1 comrade 2 no other I care to be 8 dissembling * ate 



with Jer. 9. 23, instead of with the Magnificat. On the Hebrew are founded an 
Arabic and a Turkish version, and the former, in turn, may have been influ 
enced by the Hindoo belief in metempsychosis (see Varnhagen, op. fit., and 
his Ein Indisches Afdrchen auf seiner Wanderung, Berlin, 1882). 

Our text (lines 90-199, 383-416) is taken from Horstmann, Sammlung 
Altenglischer Legenden (Heilbronn, 1878). The poem must be earlier than 
1370, the approximate date of the Vernon manuscript. 

The first part of the poem may be summarized as follows : King Robert of 
Sicily was brother to Pope Urban and Emperor Valmond (not historical), and 
was proud to think that he had no equal. On Midsummer Night (June 24) he 
went to vespers, and heard a verse of the Magnificat Deposuit potentes de 
side, et exaltavit humiles which he made a clerk translate to him, and then 
scoffed at it. In church he fell asleep, and when vespers were over was left 
there alone, his place with the court being taken by an angel who assumed his 
appearance. At length the king wakes, cries out for his men, and is roughly 
accosted by the sexton, who, finally, thinking him to be mad, opens the 

J>e kyng bigan to renne out faste ; 
As a man |>at was wod 
At his paleys-jate he stod, 
And het )>e porter gadelyng, 1 
And bad him come in hijyng, 2 
Anon J>e gates up 8 to do. 
J>e porter seide : ' Ho * clepe)> 6 so ? ' 
He answered rijt anon : 
' )?ou schalt witen, 6 ar I gon : 
J>i lord I am, J>ou schalt knowe ; 
In prison ]>ou schalt ligge 7 lowe, 
And ben honged and todrawe 8 
As a traytur, bi (>e lawe ; 
J>ou schalt wel wite I am kyng. 
Opene ]>e sates, gadelyng ! ' 

J>e porter seide : ' So mot 9 I ]>e, 10 
}?e kyng is mid his meyne " ; 
Wel I wot, wtyoute doute, 
]?e kyng nis noujt 12 now wi)x>ute.' 

1 knave 

2 haste 
8 open 

* who 

6 calleth 
6 know 
8 drawn 

9 may 

10 thrive, prosper 

11 court 

12 not 


J>e porter com into halle, 

Bifore f e newe kyng a l knes gan falle, 

And seide : ' J>er is atte 2 gate 

A nyce 8 f ol, ycome late ; 

He seif he is lord and kyng, 5 

And cleped me foule gadelyng. 

Lord, what wile je fat I do 

Lete him in, or lete him go ? ' 

J>e angel seide in haste : 

' Do him come in swif e 4 faste ; 10 

For mi fol I wile him make, 

Forte 6 he fe name of kyng forsake.' 

J>e porter com to f e gate, 
And him called in to late : 

He smot fe porter whan he com in, 15 

f>at blod brast out of mouf and chin. 
J?e porter jeld 6 him his travayle 
Him smot ajen, wifouten fayle, 
f>at nese and mouf brast a 7 blod. 

Jeanne he 8 semed almost wod. 20 

J>e porter and his men in haste 
Kyng Roberd in a podel 9 caste, 
Unsemely made his bodi fan, 
J>at he nas lik non ofer man, 

And broujt him bifore fe newe kyng, 23 

And seide : ' Lord, f>is gadelyng 
Me haf smite wif oute desert ; 
He sei]> he is oure kyng apert 10 ; 
f>is harlot n oujte for his sawe 12 

Ben yhonged and todrawe, 30 

For he seij> non of er word 
Bote fat he is bofe kyng and lord.' 

1 on 6 until 9 puddle 

2 at the 6 requited 10 clearly 

3 silly 1 with n rascal 

4 full 8 King Robert u saying 

1 70 TALES 

J>e angel seide to Kyng Roberd : 

' f>ou art a fol, |at art noujt ferd * 

Mi men to do such vileynye ; 

J>i gult \>ou most nede abye. 2 
5 What art JK>U ? ' seide ]>e angel. 

Qua)) Roberd : ' f>ou schalt wite wel : 

I am kyng, and kyng wil be ; 

Wip wronge 8 )>ou hast mi dignite. 

J>e Pope of Rome is mi broker, 
10 And |>e Emperour min o}>er ; 

j?ei wil me wreke, 4 forso)> to telle, 

I wot ]>ei nille noujt longe dwelle. 6 ' 

1 Jou art mi fol,' seide \>e angel ; 

' f>ou schalt be schore 6 everichdel 7 
15 Lich a fol, a fol to be 

Wher is now \>i dignite ? 

]?i counseyler schal ben an ape, 

And o 8 clopyng jou 9 worf 10 yschape u 

I schal him clopen as Jn broker, 
20 Of o clopyng hit nis non of>er ; 

He schal be ]>in owne fere 12 

Sum wit of him ]>ou mijt lere. 

Houndes, howso hit falle, 18 

Schulen etc wip |>e in halle ; 
25 Jou schalt eten on ]>e ground ; 

J>in assayour H schal ben an hound, 

To assaye )n mete bif ore }>e 

Wher is now pi dignite ? ' 

He het a barbur him bifore, 
3 J>at as a fol he schulde be schore 

Al around lich a frere, 16 

An hondebrede bove eiper ere, 

1 afraid 6 shorn u made 

2 expiate 7 in every respect 12 partner 
wrongfully 8 one , the same 18 befall 

4 avenge 9 f or you both M taster 

6 tarry JO s hall be 16 friar 


And on his croune make a crois. 

He gan crie and make nois : 

He swor )>ei schulde alle abye 

}?at him dude such vileynye, 

And ever he seide he was lord ; 5 

And eche man scorned him for )>at word, 

And eche man seide he was wod 

f>at proved wel he coupe no good. 

For he wende in none wise 

f>at God almijti coupe devise 10 

Him to bringe to lower stat ; 

Wi)> o draujt l he was chekmat. 

Wip houndes everich nijt he lay, 

And ofte he cried welaway 

pat he ever was ybore, 15 

For he was a man forlore. 

J>er nas in court grom ne page 

J>at of )>e kyng ne made rage, 2 

For no man ne mijte him knowe : 

He was defigured in a prowe. 8 20 

So lowe er fat was never kyng ; 
Alias, her was a delf ul 4 J>ing 
J?at him 6 scholde, for his pride, 
Such hap among his men bitide ! 

Hunger and Jmrst he hadde grete, 6 25 

For he ne moste 7 no mete ete, 
Bote houndes eten of his disch. 

The story continues thus : The new king gave Sicily an angelic govern 
ment for more than three years almost four, it would seem. At length 
in April it was he received a letter from Valmond, inviting him to Rome 
for Maundy Thursday. Thither the king went, and in his train the fool, the 
latter in a garment decorated with fox-tails, the angel in white samite set with 
pearls, and on a white steed. The deposed Robert appeals to his brothers in 

1 move * doleful 7 might, was allowed 

2 sport 5 MS. he 

3 trice great 


vain, and thereupon thinks of Nebuchadnezzar and Holofernes, and how their 
pride was brought low. With this he pours out his heart in prayer : ' Lord, on 
thy fool have thou pity ! ' At the end of five weeks the king returns to Sicily. 

f>e angel com to Cisyle, 

He and his men, in a while ; 

Whan he com into halle, 

J>e fol he bad for}) calle. 
5 He seide : ' Fol, artow kyng ? ' 

' Nay, sire,' quaj> he, ' wijwute lesyng.' * 

' What artow ? ' seide ]>e angel. 

' Sire, a fol, fat wot I wel, 

And more ]>an fol, jif hit may be : 
jo Kep 2 I non oj>er dignite.' 

J>e angel into chaumbre went ; 

After J>e fol anon he sent ; 

He bad his men out of chaumbre gon ; 

J>er lefte 8 no mo but he alon, 
15 And J>e fol )>at stod him bi. 

To him he seide : ' Jou hast merci. 

}?enk ]>ou were lowe pult, 4 

And al was for ]>in owne gult : 

A fol Jx>u were to hevene Kyng, 
20 ferfore )>ou art an underlyng. 

God ha)> forgive ]>i mysdede ; 

Ever herafter ]> ou him drede 1 

I am an angel of renoun, 

Sent to kepe ]>'\ regioun. 
25 More joye me schal falle 

In hevene among mi feren 5 alle 

In an oure of a day 

J>an in er)>e, I )>e say, 

In an hundred fousend jer, 
3 J>eij al fe world fer and ner 

remained companions 

4 placed 


Were min at mi likyng. 

I am an angel, ]>ou art kyng.' 

He went in twynklyng of an eje. 
No more of him fer nas seje. 1 


See the general references on Chaucer at the close of the introductory note 
to Sir Thopas, p. 108. 

Ther is at the west syde of Itaille, 5 

Doun at the rote of Vesulus 2 the colde, 

A lusty playne, habundant of vitaille, 

Wher many a tour and toun thou mayst biholde, 

That founded were in tyme of fadres olde, 

And many another delitable sighte ; 10 

And Saluces 3 this noble contree highte. 

A markis whylom lord was of that londe, 

As were his worthy eldres him bifore ; 

And obeisant and redy to his honde 

Were alle his liges, 4 bo the lasse and more. 15 

Thus in delyt he liveth, and hath don yore, 5 

Biloved and drad, thurgh favour of fortune, 

Bothe of his lordes and of his commune. 6 

Therwith he was, to speke as of linage, 

The gentilleste yborn of Lumbardye, 20 

A fair persone, and strong, and yong of age, 

And ful of honour and of curteisye ; 

Discreet ynogh his contree for to gye 7 

Save in somme thinges that he was to blame 

And Walter was this yonge lordes name. 25 

Lines 22-105 are here omitted. Walter's subjects urge him to marry, and 
he promises, conditionally, to do so. The next selection includes lines 106-19. 

1 seen * vassals V guide, rule 

2 Monte Viso 6 for a long time 

3 Saluzzo, southwest of Turin 6 common people, commons 

174 TALES 

' Lat me alone in chesinge of my wyf, 
That charge upon my bak I wol endure ; 
But I yow preye, and charge upon your lyf, 
That what wyf that I take, ye me assure 
5 To worshipe hir, whyl that hir lyf may dure, 

In word and werk, bothe here and everywhere, 
As she an emperoures doghter were. 

And forthermore, this shal ye swere, that ye 
Agayn * my choys shul neither grucche 2 ne stryve ; 
10 For sith I shal forgoon my libertee 

At your requeste, as ever moot I thryve, 
Ther as myn herte is set, ther wol I wyve ; 
And but ye wole assente in swich manere, 
I prey yow, speketh namore of this matere.' 

Lines 120-40 are here omitted. Walter names the wedding-day, and orders 
the wedding-feast. The next selection includes lines 141-343. 

15 Noght fer fro thilke paleys honurable, 

Ther as this markis shoop 8 his mariage, 
Ther stood a throp, 4 of site delitable, 5 
In which that povre folk of that village 
Hadden hir bestes and hir herbergage, 6 

20 And of hir labour took hir sustenance, 

After that th'erthe yaf hem habundance. 

Amonges thise povre folk ther dwelte a man 
Which that was holden povrest of hem alle 
(But hye God som tyme senden can 
2 5 His grace into a litel oxes stalle) ; 

Janicula men of that throp him calle. 

A doghter hadde he, fair ynogh to sighte, 

And Grisildis this yonge mayden highte. 

1 against 8 prepared for, planned * delightful 

2 murmur, grumble < thorp, small village * lodging 


But for to speke of vertuous beautee, 

Than was she oon the faireste under sonne ; 

For povreliche yfostred up was she, 

No likerous 1 lust was thurgh hir herte yronne ; 

Wei ofter of the welle than of the tonne 2 5 

She drank, and, for she wolde vertu plese, 

She knew wel labour, but non ydel ese. 

But thogh this mayde tendre were of age, 

Yet in the brest of hir virginitee 

Ther was enclosed rype and sad corage 8 ; 10 

And in greet reverence and charitee 

Hir olde povre fader fostred she ; 

A fewe sheep, spinning, on feeld she kepte, 

She wolde noght been ydel til she slepte. 

And whan she hoomward cam, she wolde bringe 15 

Wortes 4 or othere herbes, tymes ofte, 

The whiche she shredde and seeth 5 for hir livinge, 

And made hir bed ful harde, and nothing softe ; 

And ay she kepte hir fadres lyf onlofte 6 

With everich obeisaunce and diligence 20 

That child may doon to fadres reverence. 

Upon Grisilde, this povre creature, 

Ful ofte sythe this markis sette his ye, 

As he on hunting rood paraventure 7 ; 

And whan it fil that he mighte hir espye, 2 5 

He noght with wantoun loking of folye 

His yen caste on hir, but in sad wyse 

Upon hir chere 8 he wolde him ofte avyse, 9 

Commending in his herte hir wommanhede, 

And eek hir vertu, passing any wight 30 

Of so yong age, as wel in chere as dede. 

1 wanton < herbs 1 by chance 

2 tun, cask 5 boiled 8 f ace) countenance 
8 serious disposition 6 aloft (kept aloft = sustained) 9 take thought 

176 TALES 

For thogh the peple have no greet insight 
In vertu, he considered ful right 
Hir bountee, and disposed 1 that he wolde 
Wedde hir only, if ever he wedde sholde. 

5 The day of wedding cam, but no wight can 

Telle what womman that it sholde be ; 
For which merveille wondred many a man, 
And seyden, whan they were in privetee : 
* Wol nat our lord yet leve his vanitee ? 

10 Wol he nat wedde ? alias, alias the whyle ! 

Why wol he thus himself and us bigyle ? ' 

But natheles this markis hath don make 2 
Of gemmes, set in gold and in asure, 
Broches and ringes, for Grisildis sake, 
15 And of hir clothing took he the mesure 

By a mayde, lyk to hir [as of 8 ] stature, 
And eek of othere ornamentes alle 
That unto swich a wedding sholde falle. 

The tyme of undern 4 of the same day 
20 Approcheth, that this wedding sholde be ; 

And al the paleys put was in array, 
Bothe halle and chambres, ech in his degree ; 
Houses of office 6 stuffed with plentee, 
Ther maystow seen, of deyntevous 6 vitaille, 7 
25 That may be founde as fer as last 8 Itaille. 

This royal markis, richely arrayed, 
Lordes and ladyes in his companye, 
The whiche unto the feste were yprayed, 
And of his retenue the bachelrye, 9 
30 With many a soun of sondry melodye, 

1 planned < about 9 A.M. 1 food 

2 had made 6 servants' offices 8 farthest (part of) 

* in respect to dainty 9 company of young men 


Unto the village, of the which I tolde, 
In this array the righte wey han holde. 

Grisilde of this, God woot, ful innocent 

That for hir shapen was al this array, 

To fecchen water at a welle is went, 5 

And cometh hoom as sone as ever she may ; 

For wel she hadde herd seyd that thilke day 

The markis sholde wedde, and, if she mighte, 

She wolde fayn han seyn som of that sighte. 

She thoghte : ' I wol with othere maydens stonde 10 

That been my felawes, in our dore, and see 

The markisesse, and therfor wol I fonde * 

To doon at hoom, as sone as it may be, 

The labour which that longeth unto me ; 

And than I may at leyser hir biholde, 1 5 

If she this wey unto the castel holde.' 

And as she wolde over hir threshfold goon, 

The markis cam and gan hir for to calle ; 

And she set doun hir water-pot anoon 

Bisyde the threshfold, in an oxes stalle, 20 

And doun upon hir knees she gan to falle, 

And with sad contenance kneleth stille, 

Til she had herd what was the lordes wille. 

This thoghtful markis spak unto this mayde 

Ful sobrely, and seyde in this manere : 25 

' Wher is your fader, Grisildis ? ' he sayde. 

And she with reverence, in humble chere, 

Answerde : ' Lord, he is al redy here.' 

And in she gooth withouten lenger lette, 

And to the markis she hir fader fette. 30 

1 try, endeavor 

1 78 TALES 

He by the bond than took this olde man, 
And seyde thus, whan he him hadde asyde : 
' Janicula, I neither may ne can 
Lenger the plesance of myn herte hyde ; 
5 If that thou vouchesauf, whatso bityde, 

Thy doghter wol I take, er that I wende, 1 
As for my wyf, unto hir lyves ende. 

Thou lovest me, I woot it wel, certeyn, 
And art my feithful lige man ybore ; 
10 And al that lyketh 2 me, I dar wel seyn 

It lyketh thee, and specially therfore 
Tel me that poynt that I have seyd bifore 
If that thou wolt unto that purpos drawe 
To take me as for thy sone-in-lawe ? ' 

1 5 This sodeyn cas 8 this man astoned so 

That reed he wex, abayst, 4 and al quaking 
He stood ; unnethes seyde he wordes mo, 
But only thus : ' Lord,' quod he, ' my willing 
Is as ye wole, ne ayeines your lyking 

20 I wol nothing ; ye be my lord so dere ; 

Right as yow lust governeth 5 this matere.' 

* Yet wol I,' quod this markis softely, 
' That in thy chambre I and thou and she 
Have a collacion, 6 and wostow why ? 
25 For I wol axe if it hir wille be 

To be my wyf, and reule hir after me ; 
And al this shal be doon in thy presence 
I wol noght speke out of thyn audience.' 

And in the chambre whyl they were aboute 
30 Hir tretis, 7 which as ye shal after here, 

The peple cam unto the hous withoute, 

1 g 4 abashed, disconcerted 1 treaties, agreements 

2 pleaseth 6 arrange (imp. plur.) 
8 happening conference 


And wondred hem in how honest l manere 
And tentifly 2 she kepte hir fader dere. 
But outerly 8 Grisildis wondre mighte, 
For never erst ne saugh she swich a sighte. 

No wonder is thogh that she were astoned 5 

To seen so greet a gest come in that place ; 

She never was to swiche gestes woned, 4 

For which she loked with ful pale face. 

But shortly forth this tale for to chace, 

Thise arn the wordes that the markis sayde 10 

To this benigne verray feithful mayde. 

' Grisilde,' he seyde, ' ye shul wel understonde 

It lyketh to your fader and to me 

That I yow wedde, and eek it may so stonde, 

As I suppose ye wol that it so be. 15 

But thise demandes axe I first,' quod he, 

' That, sith it shal be doon in hastif wyse, 

Wol ye assente, or elles yow avyse 5 ? 

I seye this, be ye redy with good herte 

To al my lust, and that I frely may, 20 

As me best thinketh, do yow 6 laughe or smerte, 

And never ye to grucche it, night ne day ? 

And eek whan I sey " ye," ne 7 sey nat " nay," 

Neither by word ne frowning contenance ; 

Swer this, and here I swere our alliance.' 25 

Wondring upon this word, quaking for drede, 

She seyde : ' Lord, undigne 8 and unworthy 

Am I to thilke honour that ye* me bede, 9 

But as ye wol yourself, right so wol I ; 

And heer I swere that never willingly 30 

1 creditable, decent 4 accustomed 7 So MS. read; ye (?) 

" attentively, carefully 5 consider the matter (= refuse) 8 undeserving 

8 utterly * cause you to 9 offer 

l8o TALES 

In werk ne thoght I nil yow disobeye, 

For to be l deed, though me were looth to deye.' 

' This is ynogh, Grisilde myn ! ' quod he. 
And forth he gooth with a ful sobre chere 
5 Out at the dore, and after that cam she, 

And to the peple he seyde in this manere : 
' This is my wyf,' quod he, ' that standeth here. 
Honoureth hir and loveth hir, I preye, 
Whoso me loveth ; ther is namore to seye.' 

10 And for that nothing of hir olde gere 2 

She sholde bringe into his hous, he bad 
That wommen sholde dispoilen hir right there ; 
Of which thise ladyes were nat right glad 
To handle hir clothes wherin she was clad. 

1 5 But natheles this mayde, bright of hewe, 

Fro foot to heed they clothed han al newe. 

Hir heres han they kembd, that lay untressed 
Ful rudely, and with hir 8 fingres smale 
A corone on hir heed they han ydressed, 4 
20 And sette hir ful of nowches 5 grete and smale : 

Of hir array what sholde I make a tale ? 
Unnethe 6 the peple hir knew for hir faimesse, 
Whan she translated was in swich richesse. 

This markis hath hir spoused with a ring 
25 Broght for the same cause, and than hir sette 

Upon an hors, snow-whyt and wel ambling, 
And to his paleys, er he lenger lette, 7 
With joyful peple that hir ladde and mette, 
Conveyed hir, and thus the day they spende 
3 In revel, til the sonne gan descende. 

1 even if I were to be * placed, arranged ' delayed 

2 apparel 6 jewels 

8 their 6 scarcely, with difficulty 


And shortly forth this tale for to chace, 

I seye that to this newe markisesse 

God hath swich favour sent hir, of his grace, 

That it ne semed nat by lyklinesse 

That she was born and fed in rudenesse, 5 

As in a cote or in an oxe-stalle, 

But norished in an emperoures halle. 

Lines 344-441 are here omitted. A daughter is born to Griselda. Soon 
after, in order to try her patience, Walter tells her that his subjects grumble 
about her low birth, and announces that the child must be taken from her. 
The next selection embraces lines 442-518. 

Whan she had herd al this, she noght ameved, 1 

Neither in word, or chere, or countenaunce ; 

For, as it semed, she was nat agreved. 10 

She seyde : ' Lord, al lyth in your plesaunce ; 

My child and I with hertly obeisaunce 2 

Ben youres al, and ye mowe save or spille 8 

Your owene thing 4 ; werketh after your wille. 

Ther may nothing God so my soule save I 15 

Lyken to yow that may displese me ; 

Ne I desyre nothing for to have, 

Ne drede for to lese, save only ye ; 

This wil is in myn herte, and ay shal be. 

No lengthe of tyme or deeth may this deface, 20 

Ne chaunge my corage 5 to another place.' 

Glad was this markis of hir answering, 

But yet he feyned as he were nat so ; 

Al drery was his chere and his loking, 

Whan that he sholde out of the chambre go. 25 

Sone after this, a furlong wey or two, 

He prively hath told al his entente 

Unto a man, and to his wyf him sente. 

1 changed 8 destroy 5 m i n d, disposition 

2 hearty obedience 4 possession 


A maner l sergeant z was this privee man, 
The which that faithful ofte he founden hadde 
In thinges grete, and eek swich folk vvel can 8 
Don execucioun on thinges badde. 

5 The lord knew wel that he him loved and dradde : 

And whan this sergeant wiste his lordes wille, 
Into the chambre he stalked him ful stille. 

' Madame,' he seyde, ' ye mote foryeve it me, 
Thogh I do thing to which I am constreyned ; 
10 Ye ben so wys that ful wel knowe ye 

That lordes hestes mowe nat been yfeyned 4 ; 
They mowe wel ben biwailled or compleyned, 
But men mot nede unto her 5 lust obeye, 
And so wol I ; ther is namore to seye. 

1 5 This child I am comanded for to take ' ; 

And spak namore, but out the child he hente 6 
Despitously, and gan a chere 7 make 
As though he wolde han slayn it er he wente. 
Grisildis mot al suffren and consente ; 

20 And as a lamb she sitteth meke and stille, 

And leet this cruel sergeant doon his wille. 

Suspecious was the diffame 8 of this man, 
Suspect his face, suspect his word also ; 
Suspect the tyme in which he this bigan. 
25 Alias ! hir doghter that she lovede so, 

She wende he wolde han slawen it right tho. 
But natheless she neither weep ne syked, 9 
Consenting hir to that the markis lyked. 

But atte laste speken she bigan, 

3 And mekely she to the sergeant preyde, 

So as he was a worthy gentil man, 

1 sort of * evaded 7 behavior 

a officer 6 their 8 m report 

* know how to 6 seized 9 sighed 


That she moste l kisse hir child er that it deyde ; 
And in her barm 2 this litel child she leyde 
With ful sad face, and gan the child to kisse, 
And lulled it, and after gan it blisse. 3 

And thus she seyde in hir benigne voys : 5 

' Farweel, my child ; I shal thee never see ; 

But, sith I thee have marked with the croys, 

Of thilke Fader blessed mote thou be 

That for us deyde upon a croys of tree ! 

Thy soule, litel child, I him bitake, 4 10 

For this night shaltow dyen for my sake.' 

I trowe that to a notice 5 in this cas 

It had ben hard this rewthe for to se ; 

Wei mighte a mooder than han cryed ' Alias 1 ' 

But nathelees so sad stedf ast was she, 1 5 

That she endured all adversitee, 

And to the sergeant mekely she sayde : 

' Have heer agayn your litel yonge mayde. 

Goth now,' quod she, ' and dooth my lordes heste, 

But o thing wol I preye yow of your grace, 20 

That, but 6 my lord forbad yow, atte leste 

Burieth this litel body in som place, 

That bestes ne no briddes it torace. 7 ' 

But he no word wol to that purpos seye, 

But took the child, and wente upon his weye. 25 

Lines 519-756 are here omitted. The child is taken in safety to Boulogne 
to Walter's sister, the countess. After four years a boy is born, and, to try 
Griselda's patience yet further, this child, too, is taken from her, and similarly 
disposed of. As a last test, Walter tells her that she herself must leave (him, 
and return to her father's cottage, for his people demand that he take a high 
born wife. The next selection embraces lines 757-805. 

1 might * commit 7 tear to pieces 

2 lap & nurse 
8 bless 6 unless 

1 84 TALES 

And she answerde agayn in pacience : 
' My lord,' quod she, ' I woot, and wiste alway, 
How that bitwixen your magnificence 
And my poverte no wight [ne] can ne may 
5 Maken comparison ; it is no nay. 

I heeld * me never digne in no manere 
To be your wyf, no, ne your chamberere. 2 

And in this hous, ther ye me lady made 
The heighe God take I for my witnesse, 
10 And also wisly he my soule glade 8 - 

I never heeld me ladyne maistresse, 
But humble servant to your worthinesse, 
And ever shal, whyl that my lyf may dure, 
Aboven every worldly creature. 

15 That ye so longe of your benignitee 

Han holden me in honour and nobleye, 
Whereas I was noght worthy for to be, 
That thonke I God and yow, to whom I preye 
Foryelde * it yow ; there is namore to seye. 

20 Unto my fader gladly wol I wende, 

And with him dwelle unto my lyves ende. 

Ther I was fostred of a child ful smal, 
Til I be deed, my lyf ther wol I lede, 
A widwe clene, in body, herte, and al. 
25 For sith I yaf to yow my maydenhede, 

And am your trewe wyf, it is no drede, 
God shilde 5 swich a lordes wyf to take 
Another man to housbonde or to make. 

And of your newe wyf, God of his grace 
30 So graunte yow wele and prosperitee ! 

For I wol gladly yelden hir my place, 

1 MS. ne heeld comfort 5 forbid 

2 chambermaid * to requite 


In which that I was blisful wont to be ; 
For sith it lyketh yow, my lord,' quod she, 
' That whylom weren al myn hertes reste, 
That I shal goon, I wol gon whan yow leste. 

But ther as ye me profre swich dowaire S 

As I first broghte, it is wel in my minde 
It were my wrecched clothes, nothing faire, 
The which to me were hard now for to finde. 

gode God ! how gentil and how kinde 

Ye semed by your speche and your visage I0 

The day that maked was our mariage ! 

But sooth is seyd, algate l I finde it trewe 

For in effect it preved is on me 

Love is noght old as whan that it is newe. 

But certes, lord, for noon adversitee, 15 

To dyen in the cas, 2 it shal nat be 

That ever in word or werk I shal repente 

That I yow yaf myn herte in hool entente.' 

Lines 806-994 are here omitted. Griselda returns to her father's home, 
with but a single garment, and Walter's prospective marriage is announced. 
Soon he summons Griselda to prepare his house for the bride's coming, and 
she meekly obeys. When the bride and her brother appear, Griselda praises 
the maiden's beauty, and begs Walter to deal with her gently and kindly. The 
next selection embraces lines 995-1071. 

' This is ynogh, Grisilde myn,' quod he, 

' Be now namore agast ne yvel apayed 8 ; 20 

1 have thy feith and thy benignitee, 
As wel as ever womman was, assayed, 
In greet estaat, and povreliche arrayed. 

Now knowe I, dere wyf, thy stedfastnesse ' 

And hir in armes took, and gan hir kesse. 25 

1 at any rate 2 though death were the result 3 ill pleased 


And she for wonder took of it no keep l ; 
She herde nat what thing he to hir seyde ; 
She ferde 2 as she had stert out of a sleep, 
Til she out of hir masednesse abreyde. 8 
5 ' Grisilde,' quod he, ' by God that for us deyde, 

Thou art my wyf, ne noon other I have, 
Ne never hadde, as God my soule save ! 

This is thy doghter which thou hast supposed 
To be my wyf ; that other feithfully 
10 Shal be myn heir, as I have ay purposed ; 

Thou bare him in thy body trewely. 
At Boloigne have I kept hem 4 prively ; 
Tak hem agayn, for now maystow nat seye 
That thou hast lorn non of thy children tweye. 

15 And folk that otherweyes 8 han seyd of me, 

I warne hem wel that I have doon this dede 
For no malice ne for no crueltee, 
But for t' assaye in thee thy wommanhede, 
And nat to sleen my children God f orbede ! 

20 But for to kepe hem prively and stille, 

Til I thy purpos knewe and al thy wille.' 

Whan she this herde, aswowne doun she falleth 
For pitous joye, and after hir swowninge 
She bothe hir yonge children unto hir calleth, 
25 And in hir armes, pitously wepinge, 

Embraceth hem, and tendrely kissinge 

Ful lyk a mooder, with hir salte teres 

She batheth bothe hir 6 visage and hir heres. 

O, which a pitous thing it was to see 
3 Hir swowning, and hir humble voys to here ! 

' Graunt mercy, 7 lord 1 that thanke I yow,' quod she, 

4 them t best thanks 

a behaved 6 otherwise 

8 awoke their 



' That ye han saved me my children dere ! 
Now rekke I never to ben deed right here ; 
Sith I stonde in your love and in your grace, 
No fors of * deeth, ne whan my spirit pace ! 

O tendre, o dere, o yonge children myne, 

Your woful mooder wende 2 stedfastly 

That cruel houndes or som foul vermyne 

Hadde eten yow ; but God, of his mercy. 

And your benigne fader tendrely 

Hath doon yow kept 8 ' ; and in that same stounde 4 

Al sodeynly she swapte 8 adoun to grounde. 

And in her swough 6 so sadly holdeth she 
Hir children two, whan she gan hem t' embrace, 
That with greet sleighte 7 and greet difficultee 
The children from hir arm they gonne arace. 8 
O many a teer on many a pitous face 
Doun ran, of hem that stoden hir bisyde ; 
Unnethe 9 abouten hir mighte they abyde. 

Walter hir gladeth, 10 and hir sorwe slaketh u ; 
She ryseth up, abaysed, 12 from hir traunce, 
And every wight hir joye and feste maketh, 
Til she hath caught agayn hir contenaunce. 
Walter hir dooth so feithfully plesaunce 
That it was deyntee 18 for to seen the chere 
Bitwixe hem two, now they ben met yfere. 14 

Thise ladyes, whan that they hir tyme say, 16 
Han taken hir, and into chambre goon, 
And strepen hir out of hir rude array ; 


1 no matter for 

2 believed 

8 caused you to be saved 
* moment 
6 fell 

6 swoon 

7 dexterity 

8 tear away 

9 scarcely 
10 cheers 

l! assuages 
12 amazed 
is delightful 

14 together 

15 saw 

1 88 TALES 

And in a cloth of gold that brighte shoon, 
With a coroune of many a riche stoon 
Upon hir heed, they into halle hir broghte, 
And ther she was honoured as hir oghte. 

Thus hath this pitous day a blisful ende, 
For every man and womman dooth his might 
This day in murthe and revel to dispende, 
Til on the welkne x shoon the sterres light 
For more solempne in every mannes sight 
This feste was, and gretter of costage, 2 
Than was the revel of hir mariage. 


The Fox and the' Wolf is found in the same manuscript as Dame Sirith, and 
may therefore be assigned to the same date. It is a humorous beast-tale, a 


species of which this is the only English representative before the time of 
Chaucer. A version is to be found in Harris' Uncle Remus Stories, under the 
title, ' Old Mr. Rabbit, he 's a Good Fisherman.' For the bibliography of the 
subject, see McKnight, Middle English Humorous Tales in Verse (D. C. Heath 
& Co., 1913). 

Of the Roman de Renard, to which our poem is related, Jusserand says 
(i. 152) : ' Superb manuscripts were illustrated for the libraries of the nobles ; 
the incidents of this epic were represented in tapestry, sculptured on church 
stalls, painted on the margins of English missals. At the Renaissance, Caxton, 
with his Westminster presses, printed a Renard in prose.' 

The dialect is Southern vox for fox, etc. ; and v is sometimes represented 
by w. The misplacement of h, now a mark of Cockney speech, is frequent. 

A vox gon out of |>e wode go, 
Afingret 8 so ]>at him wes wo ; 
He nes nevere in none wise 
Afingret erour 4 half so swtye. 6 
He ne hoeld 6 nou)>er wey ne strete, 

1 welkin, heaven * ahungered 6 much 

a expense * before held, kept to 



For him wes lop men to mete ; 

Him were levere meten one hen 

J>en half an oundred 1 wimmen. 

He strok 2 swipe 8 overal, 4 

So paP he ofsef 6 ane wal ; 

Wipinne pe walle wes on 7 hous. 

The $ox wes pider 8 swipe wous, 9 

For he pouhte 10 his hounger aquenche, 11 

Oper mid mete, oper mid drenche. 12 

Abouten he biheld wel gerne 18 ; 

J>o erbjist 14 bigon pe vox to erne-i^-u^rv^w 

Al fort 16 he come to one walle ; 

And som perof wes afalle, 

And wes pe wal overal tobroke, 17 

And on'fcat. 18 per wes iloke. 19 

At fe furrrieste 20 bruche 21 j^at he fond, 

He lep in, and over he wond. 22 

f>o he wes inne, smere 28 he lou, 24 ^^^ 
And |>erof he hadde gome K inou ; 
For he com in wtyouten leve 
Bofen of haiward 26 and of reve. 27 
On hous )>er wes pe dore wes ope 
Hennen weren j>erinne icrope 28 
Five, fat make]? anne flok 
And mid hem sat on kok. 
J>e kok him wes flowen on hey, 
And two hennen him seten ney. 

' Wox,' quod pe kok, ' wat dest ]>ou pare ? 

1 a hundred 

2 went, passed (OE. strican) 

3 soon 

4 everywhere 

5 until 

6 observed 

(to go) thither 
9 ready (OE./us) 
1 thought; MS. j>ohute 

11 to appease 

12 MS. drunche 
is eagerly 

14 then first 
is run 

16 until 

1 7 broken to pieces 
is gate 

19 locked 
> first 

21 breach, opening 

22 went, wriggled (OE. windari) 
28 scornfully 

24 laughed 

25 sport 

26 hedge-ward (one who pro 

tected the crops within en 
closed fields) 

27 reeve (farm-overseer) 

28 crept (OE. creopan) 

190 TALES 

Go horn, Crist fe jeve kare ! 
Houre l hennen fou dest of te shome. 2 ' 
' Be stille, Ich hote, 8 a Godes nome ! ' 
Quaf f e wox : ' Sire Chauntecler, 
J?ou fle adoun, and com me ner. 

I nabbe * don her nout bote goed, 

I have leten fine hennen blod ; 

Hy weren seke ounder )>e ribe, 

J>at hy ne mijtte non lengour libe 6 

Bote 6 here heddre 7 were itake 8 ; 

J>at I do for almes sake. 

Ich have hem letten eddre 7 blod, 

And |>e, Chauntecler, hit wolde don goed. 

J>ou havest fat ilke ounder fe splen, 9 
15 ]?ou nestes 10 nevere daies ten ; 

For fine lif-dayes bef al ago, 

Bote fou bi mine rede n do ; 

I do fe lete blod ounder fe brest, 

Ofer sone axe after fe prest.' 
20 ' Go wei,' quod \ e kok, ' wo fe bigo 12 1 

J?ou havest don oure kunne 18 wo. 

Go mid w fan fat fou havest noufe 15 ; 

Accursed be fou of Godes moufe ! 

For were I adoun, bi Godes nome, 
25 Ich mijte ben siker of of re shome. 

Ac weste 16 hit houre cellerer 17 

J?at fou were icomen her, 

He wolde sone after f e jonge, 

Mid pikes, and stones, and staves stronge ; 
30 Alle fine bones he wolde tobreke ; 

J>ene we weren wel awreke. 18 ' 

1 our 1 vein (OE. Sdre) l kind, race 

2 shame, dishonor 8 opened (?) M with 
8 bid 9 spleen 15 now 

* have not dost build a nest ! if (our cellarer) knew 
8 live 11 counsel 17 cellarer 

unless 12 take possession of 18 avenged 



1 the fox 

2 became 

3 earlier, before 

4 went (OE. code) 

5 MS. sohute 

6 MS. wiit 

He l wes stille, ne spak namore, 
Ac he werp 2 apurst wel sore ; 
]>e purst him dede more wo 
}?en hevede raper 3 his hounger do. 
Overal tuPeoe 4 and souhte ; 8 
On aventure his witt 6 him brouhte 7 
To one putte 8 wes water inne 
J?at wes imaked mid grete ginne. 9 
Tuo boketes ]> er he founde : 
J>at oper 10 wende to pe grounde, 
f>at wen u me shulde pat on opwinde, 
J>at oper wolde adoun winde. 
He ne hounderstod nout of pe ginne ; 
He nom 12 pat boket, and lep perinne, 
For he hopede inou to drinke. 
J>is boket beginnep to sinke ; 
To late ]>e vox wes bipout, 18 - 
J>o he wes in ]>e ginne ibrout. 
Inou he gon him btyenche, 
Ac hit ne halp mid none wrenche 14 ; 
Adoun he moste, he wes J>erinne ; 
Ikaut he wes mid swikele 15 ginne. 
Hit mijte han iben wel his wille 
To lete J>at boket hongi stille. 
Vat 16 mid serewe 1T and mid drede 
Al his Jmrst him overhedeJ^- [** 
Al pus he com to )>e grounde, 
And water inou per he founde. 
J>o he fond water, jerne he dronk ; 
Him poute pat water pere stonk, 
For hit wes tojeines his wille. 

2 S 

7 MS. brohute 

8 pit, well 

9 clever contrivance 

10 second 

11 when 

12 took 

13 had bethought himself 

14 trick 

1 5 deceiving 

16 what 
l ? sorrow 

18 passed away (OE. afcreode) 

192 TALES 


* Wo worpe,' quap pe vox, ' lust and wille, 
}>at ne can * mep 2 to his mete ! 
<)ef ich nevede to muchel i-ete, 
j?is like shome nedd 8 I noupe, 

5 Nedde lust iben of mine moupe. 

Him is wo in euche londe, 
]?at is pef mid his honde. 
Ich am ikaut mid swikele ginne, 
O)>er soum devel me broute herinne. 

10 I was woned 4 to ben wiis, 

Ac nou of me idon hit hiis. 6 ' 
J>e vox wep, and reiitiche 8 bigan. 
J>er com a wolf gon after fan 
Out of pe depe wode blive, 7 

i $ For he wes afingret swipe. 

Noting he ne founde in al pe nijte, 
Wermide 8 his honger aquenche mijtte. 
He com to pe putte, pene vox iherde ; 
He him kneu wel bi his rerde, 9 

20 For hit wes his neijebore, 

And his gossip, of 10 children bore. 
Adoun bi }>e putte he sat. 

Quod pe wolf : ' Wat may ben pat 
pat Ich in pe putte ihere ? 

25 Hertou u Cristine, oper mi fere 12 ? 

Say me sop, ne gabbe 18 pou me nout, 
Wo 14 havep pe in pe putte ibrout ? ' 
J>e vox hine ikneu wel for his kun, 
And po eroust kom wiit to him ; 

3 For he poute mid soumme ginne 

Himself houpbringe, 15 pene wolf perinne. 

1 knows 6 sadly 11 art thou 

2 moderation 7 quickly 12 companion 
8 should not have had 8 wherewith 18 jest, lie 

* accustomed, wont 9 speech 14 w ho 

6 is (and now it is all up with me) 10 from the time they were ^ to bring up 


Quod fe vox : ' Wo is nou fere ? 
Ich wene hit is iSigrim fat Ich here.' 

' f>at is so]>,' fe wolf sede ; 
' Ac wat art ]>ou, so God f e rede ? ' 

' A ! ' quod f e vox, ' Ich wille f e telle ; 5 

On alpi 1 word Ich lie nelle. 2 
Ich am Reneuard, fi frend, 
And jif Ich pine "come 8 hevede iwend, 4 
Ich hedde so ibe3e 5 for ]> e, 
J>at J>ou sholdest comen to me.' 10 

* Mid f e ? ' quod ]>e wolf. ' War to ? 
Wat shulde Ich ine ]>e putte do ? ' 

Quod ]>e vox : ' f>ou art ounwiis, 
Her is ]>e blisse of paradiis ; 

Her Ich mai evere wel fare, 15 

Wif outen pine, 6 wifouten kare ; 
Her is mete, her is drinke, 
Her is blisse wif outen swinke 7 ; 
Her nis hounger never mo, 

Ne non of er kunnes 8 wo ; 20 

Of alle gode her is inou.' 

Mid f ilke wordes ]>e wolf 9 lou. 
'Art ]>ou ded, so God ]>e rede, 
Of er of f e worlde ? ' ]>e wolf sede. 

Quod ]>e wolf : ' Wenne storve 10 }>ou, 25 

And wat dest )>ou fere nou ? 
Ne bef nout jet }>re daies ago, 
J?at fou and fi wif also, 
And fine children, smale and grete, 
Alle togedere mid me hete. 11 ' 30 

' f>at is sof ,' quod f e vox, 
' Gode f onk, nou hit is f us, 
J>at Ihc am to Criste vend 12 ; 

1 single (OE. dnttpig) 6 prayed 9 MS. volf 

2 will not 6 pain, trouble 1" diedst 
8 coming 1 labor n ate 

4 thought of 8 of no other kind 12 = wend 



2 5 


Not l hit non of mine frend. 
I nolde, for al pe worldes goed, 
Ben ine pe worlde, per Ich hem fond ; 
Wat 2 shuld Ich ine pe worlde go, 
J>er 8 nis bote kare and wo, 
And livie in f ulpe * and in sunne ? 
Ac her bep joies fele cunne 5 ; 
Her bep hope shep and get. 6 ' 

j?e wolf have)? hounger swipe gret, 
For he nedde jare 7 i-ete ; 
And ]>o he herde speken of mete, 
He wolde blepeliche 8 ben fare. 
' A ! ' quod pe wolf, ' gode if ere, 9 
Moni goed mel pou havest me binome 10 ; 
Let me adoun to pe kome, 
And al Ich wole pe forjeve.' 

' ^e,' quod pe vox, ' were pou isrive, 11 
And sunnen hevedest al forsake, 
And to klene lif itake, 
Ich wolde so bidde for pe 
Ipat ]>ou sholdest comen to me.' 

' To worn shuld Ich,' fe wolfe seide, 
Ben iknowe of 12 mine misdede ? 
Her nis noting alive 
J>at me kouj'e her nou srive. 
}?ou havest ben ofte min ifere, 
Woltou nou mi srif t 18 ihere, 
And al mi liif I shal ]>e telle ? ' 

' Nay,' quod }>e vox, ' I nelle.' 

' Neltou 14 ? ' quod )>e wolf ; ' pin ore 16 1 
Ich am afingret swipe sore ; 
Ich wot to-nijt ich worpe ded 

1 knows not 6 goats 

2 why (what) " for a long time 
8 where 8 gladly 

4 filth, foulness 9 friend, companion ( 

6 many kinds 10 taken away from 

11 shriven 

12 confess 

13 shrift, confession 

14 wilt thou not 

is (grant) thy grace, favor (OE. 3r) 



Bote }>ou do me somne reed. 
For Cristes love, be mi prest.' 

f>e wolf bey l adoun his brest, 
And gon to siken 2 harde and stronge. 

1 Woltou,' quod J>e vox, ' srift ounderfonge, 8 
Tel fine sunnen on and on, 4 
]?at fer bneve 6 never on.' 

' Sone,' quod f e wolf, ' wel ifaie 6 ; 
Ich habbe ben qued 7 al mi lifdaie ; 
Ich habbe widewene 8 kors, 9 
f>erfore ich fare f e wors. 
A fousent shep ich habbe abiten, 
And mo, jef hy weren iwriten, 
Ac hit me offinkef 10 sore. 
Maister, shal I tellen more ? ' 

' ^e/ quod f e vox, ' al fou most sugge, 11 
Ofer elleswer ]>ou most abugge. 12 ' 

1 Gossip,' quod ]>e wolf, ' forjef hit me, 
Ich habbe ofte sehid qued bi 13 J>e. 
Men seide fat }>ou on fine live 
Misferdest u mid mine wive ; 
Ich ]>e aperseivede one stounde, 
And in bedde togedere ou 15 founde ; 
Icli wes ofte ou ful ney, 
And in bedde togedere ou sey. 16 
Ich wende, also opre dop, 
^U r J>at 17 Ich iseie were soj>, 

And \> erfore fou were me lof ; 

Gode gossip, ne be fou nouht 18 wrof.' 

' Wolf,' quod fe vox him ]>o, 
'Al J?at J>ou havest her bifore ido, 





1 bowed 

2 groan 

8 receive 

4 one by one 

6 remain 

6 gladly, fain ; MS. I fare 

7 evil 

8 of widows 

9 curse 

1 repents (it repents me = I repent) 

H say 

12 ma ke atonement 

18 sa id evil of 

u went astray, sinned 

is you 

16 saw ; MS. ley 

l" what 

18 MS. nohut 

196 TALES 

In fouht, 1 in speche, and in dede, 

In euche oferes kunnes 2 quede, 

Ich )>e forjeve at J>isse nede.' 

' Crist \>e forjelde I ' )>e wolf seide. 
5 ' Nou Ich am in clene live, 

Ne recche Ich of childe ne of wive. 

Ac sei me wat I shal do, 

And ou 8 Ich may comen J>e to.' 

' Do ? ' quod ]>e vox. ' Ich wille ]>e lere. 4 
10 Isiist fou a boket hongi fere ? 

J>ere is a bruche of hevene blisse. 6 

Lep ferinne, mid iwisse, 

And }>ou shalt comen to me sone.' 

Quod the wolf, ' J>at is lijt to done.' 
15 He lep in, and way 6 sumdel 7 

J>at weste s fe vox ful wel. 

J>e wolf gon sinke, ]>e vox arise ; 

J>o gon )>e wolf sore agrise. 9 

J>o he com amidde ]>e putte, 

20 J'e wolfe ]>ene vox opward 10 mette. 

' Gossip,' quod ]>e wolf, ' wat nou ? 

Wat havest fou imunt u ? weder wolt pou ? ' 
' Weder Ich wille ? ' ]>e vox sede. 

' Ich wille oup, so God me rede 1 
25 And nou go doun wi)> ]>i meel, 12 

J>i bijete 13 wor)> wel smal ; 

Ac Ich am )>erof glad and blife, 

J>at }>ou art nomen 14 in dene live. 

J>i soule-cnul 15 Ich wille do ringe, 
30 And masse for fine soule singe.' 

J>e wrecche binefe nofing ne vind 

Bote cold water, and hounger him bind ; 

1 MS. )>ohut 6 weighed n meant, intended 

2 of every other kind 7 somewhat 12 toward thy meal 
8 how 8 knew 18 getting, spoil 

* teach 9 to be alarmed 14 taken 

5 opening into (chance at) heaven's joy 10 on his way up ls soul-knell 


To colde gistninge l he wes ibede 2 ; 

Vroggen 8 havef his dou iknede. 4 

J>e wolf in fe putte stod, 

Afingret so fat he ves wod. 6 

Inou he cursede fat f ider him broute ; 5 

]?e vox ferof luitel route. 6 

J>e put him wes }>e house ney, 
f>er freren woneden swipe sley. 7 
J>o fat hit com to fe time 

\>ai hoe shulden arisen ine. 10 

j^ t^-i 

For to suggen here hdussong, 8 

O frere fere wes among, 

Of here slep hem shulde awecche, 

Wen hoe 9 shulden f idere recche. 10 

He seide: 'Arisef on and on, 15 

And komef to houssong hevereuch on.' 

f>is ilke frere heyte u Ailmer ; 

He wes hoere maister curtiler. 12 

He wes hof \> urst swife stronge ; 

Rijt amidward here houssonge, 20 

Alhone 18 to f e putte he hede, 14 

For he wende bete 15 his nede. 

He com to fe putte, and drou, 

And fe wolf wes hevi inou. 

J>e frere mid al his maine 16 tey 17 25 

So longe fat 18 he f ene wolf isey 1 

For he sei f ene wolf f er sitte, 

He gradde 19 : ' J?e devel is in f e putte 1 ' 

To f e putte hy gounnen gon, 

Alle mid pikes, and staves, and ston, 30 

Euch mon mid fat he hedde ; 

1 feast 8 matins (OE. iihtsong) 16 remedy, satisfy 

2 invited 9 they 16 strength (OE. nuegen cf. 
8 frogs ; MS. wroggen 1 go modern ' might and main ') 

4 dough kneaded n was named 17 pulled, tugged 

5 mad, crazed 12 gardener 18 until 

6 recked 18 alone 19 cried out 

7 shrewd M went 




Wo wes him J>at wepne nedde. 1 

Hy comen to ]>e putte, )>ene wolf opdrowe 2 ; 

J>o hede J>e wreche fomen inowe, 

Jat weren egre him to slete 8 

Mid grete houndes, and to bete. 

Wei and wrofe he wes iswonge 4 ; 

Mid staves and speres he wes istounge. 6 

Je wox bicharde 6 him, mid iwisse, 

For he ne fond nones kunnes blisse, 

Ne hof 7 duntes 8 f or jevenesse. 


See the general references on Chaucer at the close of the introductory 
note to Sir Tkopas, p. 108. 

A povre widwe, somdel stape 9 in age, 
Was whylom 10 dwelling in a narwe cotage, 
Bisyde a grove, stonding in a dale. 
This widwe, of which I telle yow my tale, 
Sin thilke day that she was last a wyf, 
In pacience ladde a ful simple lyf, 
For litel was hir catel n and hir rente 12 ; 
By housbondrye 18 of such as God hir sente, 
She found " hirself , and eek hir doghtren two. 
Three large sowes hadde she, and na mo, 15 
Three kyn, 16 and eek a sheep that highte Malle. 
Ful sooty was hir bour, 17 and eek hir halle, 
In which she eet ful many a sclendre meel. 
Of poynaunt sauce hir neded 18 never a deel 19 ; 

1 had not 

2 drew up 
8 tear 

4 beaten 

5 pierced 

6 deceived 
1 of 

8 blows 

10 once on a time 

11 property 

12 income 
18 economy 
14 supported 

16 no more 
w cows 

17 inner room, bedchamber 

18 was necessary for her 

19 not a bit 


No deyntee morsel passed thurgh hir throte ; 

Hir dyete was accordant l to hir cote 2 

Repleccioun ne made hir never syk ; 

Attempree 3 dyete was al hir phisyk, 

And exercyse, and hertes suffisaunce. 4 5 

The goute lette & hir nothing 6 for to daunce, 

N' apoplexye s'rfente 7 nat hir heed ; 

No wyn ne drank she, neither whyt ne reed ; 

Hir bora 8 was served most with whyt and blak, 

Milk and broun breed, in which she fond no lak, 10 

Seynd g bacoun, and somtyme an ey 10 or tweye, 

For she was as it were a rhaner n cleye. 12 aju^^r^o^- 

A yerd she hadde, enclosed al aboute 
With stikkes, and a drye dich withoute, 

In which she hadde a cok, hight 18 Chauntecleer. 15 

In al the land of crowing nas 14 his peer ; 
His vois was merier than the mery orgon 
On messe-dayes that in the chirche gon ; 
Wei sikerer 15 was his crowing in his logge 16 
Than is a clokke, or an abbey -orlogge. 17 20 

By nature knew he ech ascencioun 
Of equinoxial 18 in thilke toun ; 
For whan degrees fiftene were ascended, 19 
Thanne crew he, that it mighte nat ben amended. 
His comb was redder than the fyn coral, 25 

And batailed, 20 as it were a castel-wal ; 
l^i- _Hjs bile 21 was blak, and as the jeet 22 it shoon ; 
Lyk asur were his legges and his tbwi 23 ; 

1 in consonance with 8 table 16 lodge 

2 gown 9 singed, broiled V clock 

3 moderate, temperate 10 egg r l g the equinoctial circle 

4 a contented heart (heart's n kind of 19 when one hour was past 

satisfaction) 12 dairywoman 20 indented like a battlement 

5 prevented is called 21 bill 

6 not at all 14 there was not 22 j e t 

1 injured 15 more trustworthy 2 toes 

17. orgen : used here, as customarily at that time, in the plural. 

200 TALES 

His nayles whytter than the lilie-flour, 
And lyk the burned 1 gold was his colour. 
This gentil cok hadde in his governaunce 
Sevene hennes, for to doon al his plesaunce, 

5 Whiche were his sustres and his paramours, 

And wonder lyk to him, as of 2 colours ; 
Of whiche the faireste hewed on hir throte 
Was cleped faire Damoysele Pertelote. 
Curteys she was, discreet, and debonaire, 8 

10 And compaignable, 4 and bar hirself so faire, 

Sin thilke day that she was seven night old, 
That trewely she hath the herte in hold 5 
Of Chauntecleer, loken in every lith 6 ; 
He loved hir so, that wel was him therwith. 

15 But such a joye was it to here hem singe, 

Whan that the brighte sonne gan to springe, 
In swete accord, ' My lief is faren in londe.' 
For thilke tyme, as I have understonde, 
Bestes and briddes coude speke and singe. 

20 And so bifel that, in a daweninge, 7 

As Chauntecleer among his wyves alle 
Sat on his perche, that was in the halle, 
And next him sat this faire Pertelote, 
This Chauntecleer gan gronen in his throte, 

25 As man that in his dreem is drecched 8 sore. 

And whan that Pertelote thus herde him rore 
She was agast, and seyde : ' O herte dere, 
What eyleth yow, to grone in this manere ? 
Ye been a verray sleper, fy I for shame ! ' 

30 And he answerde and seyde thus : ' Madame, 

I pray yow that ye take it nat agrief 9 ; 

1 burnished * companionable 7 dawn 

2 as regards 6 in her possession 8 troubled 
8 well-mannered 6 locked in every limb 9 amiss 

17. My . . . londe : this is the first line of an old song, printed by Skeat in 
the Athenceum for October 24, 1896. 



By God, me mette * I was in swich meschief 
Right now, that yet myn herte is sore af right. 
Now God,' quod he, ' my swevene 2 recche 3 aright, 
And keep my body out of foul prisoun 1 
Me mette how that I romed up and doun 5 

Withinne our yerde, wheras 4 I saugh a beste, 
Was lyk an hound, and wolde han maad areste 8 
Upon my body, and wolde han had me deed. 
His colour was bitwixe yelwe and reed ; 

And tipped was his tail, and bothe his eres, 10 

With blak, unlyk the remenant of his heres , 
His snowte smal, with glowinge eyen tweye. 
Yet of his look for fere almost I deye ; 
This caused me my groning, doutelees.' 

i*^ ' Avoy 6 ! ' quod she, ' fy on'yow, hertelees ! 15 

Alias ! ' quod she, ' for, by that God above, 
Now han ye lost myn herte and al my love ; 
I can nat love a coward, by my feith I 
For certes, what so any womman seith, 

We alle desyren, if it mighte be, 20 

To han housbondes hardy, wyse, and free, 7 
And secree, 8 and no nigard, ne no fool, 
Ne him that is agast of every tool, 9 
Ne noon avauntour, 10 by that God above ! 
How dorste ye seyn for shame unto your love 25 

That any thing mighte make yow aferd ? 
Have ye no mannes herte, and han a berd ? 
Alias ! and conne ye been agast of swevenis ? 
Nothing, God wot, but vanitee in sweven is : 
Swevenes engendren of 11 replecciouns, 12 30 

And ofte of fume, 13 and of complecciouns, 14 

1 I dreamed G fi e (OF. avoi) 12 surfeits 

2 dream 7 generous is noxious vapor rising from 
8 bring to a good issue (lit. 8 trustworthy stomach to brain 

interpret) 9 instrument, weapon * 4 the combination of the 

4 where 1 boaster four humors of the body 

5 arrest u are produced by in certain proportions 

202 TALES 

Whan humours been to habundant in a wight. 

Certes this dreem, which ye han met 1 to-night, . 

Cometh of the grete superfluitee 

Of youre rede colera? pardee, 
5 Which causeth folk to dreden in here dremes 

Of arwes, 8 and of fyr with rede lemes, 4 

Of grete bestes, that they wol hem byte, 

Of contek, 5 and of whelpes 6 grete and lyte 7 ; 

Right as the humour of malencolye 
10 Causeth ful many a man, in sleep, to crye, 

For fere of blake beres, or boles 8 blake, 

Or elles blake develes wole hem take. 

Of othere humours coude I telle also, 

That werken many a man in sleep ful wo ; 
15 But I wol passe asMightly as I can. 

Lo Catoun, 9 which that was so wys a man, 

Seyde he nat thus, Ne do no fors of 10 dremes ? 

Now, sire,' quod she, ' whan we flee fro the bemes, 

For Goddes love, as tak u som laxatyf ; 
20 Up 12 peril of my soule and of my lyf , 

I counseille yow the beste I wol nat lye 

That bothe of colere and of malencolye 

Ye purge yow ; and, for 18 ye shul nat tarie, 

Though in this toun is noon apotecarie, 
25 I shal myself to herbes te'chen 14 yow, 

That shul ben for your hele 15 and for your prow 16 ; 

And in our yerd tho herbes shal I finde, 

The whiche han of hir propretee, by kinde," /-^ 

To purgen yow binethe, and eek above. 
30 Forget not this, for Goddes owene love ! 

Ye been ful colerik of compleccioun ; 

1 dreamed 1 small 12 on 

2 one of the four so-called humors 8 bulls 13 in order that 
8 arrows 9 Dionysii Catonis Disticha 14 direct 

4 flames de Moribus ad Filitim 15 healing 

5 strife, contest 1 pay no heed to 16 profit 
' dogs 11 pray take l 7 nature 


Ware 1 the sonne in his ascencioun 

Ne fynde yow nat repleet of humours hote ; 

And if it do, I dar wel leye a grote, 2 

That ye shul have a f evere terciane 8 

Or an agu, that may be youre bane. 5 

A day or two ye shul have digestyves 

Of wormes, er ye take your laxatyves, 

Of lauriol, 4 centaure, 5 and fumetere, 6 

Or elles of ellebor 7 that groweth there, 

Of catapuce s or of gaytres beryis, 9 10 

Of erbe yve, 10 growing in our yerd, ther mery is ; 

Pekke hem up right as they growe, and etc hem in. 

Be mery, housbond, for your fader n kin ! 

Dredeth no dreem ; I can say yow namore.' 

' Madame,' quod he, ' grlulnt mercy 12 of your lore 1 15 

But nathelees, as touching daun 13 Catoun, 
That hath of wisdom such a greet renoun, 
Though that he bad no dremes for to drede, 
By God, men may in olde bokes rede 

Of many a man, more of auctoritee 20 

Than ever Catoun was, so mote I thee, 14 
That al the reivers 15 seyn of his sentence, 18 *f? 
And han wel founden by experience 
That dremes ben significaciouns 

As wel of joye as tribulaciouns 25 

That folk enduren in this lyf present. 
Ther nedeth make of this noon argument ; 
The verray preve " sheweth it in dede. 
Oon of the gretteste auctours 18 that men rede 
Seith thus, that whylom two felawes wente 30 

On pilgrimage, in a ful good entente ; 

1 beware lest 8 lesser spurge (caper spurge) 18 lord, sir (Lat. dominus) 

2 groat 9 dogwood berries (some- 14 so may I prosper 

3 tertian times those of other ls opposite 

4 spurge-laurel similar shrubs) 16 opinion 

5 centaury 10 herb ivy (ground pine ?) 17 proof 

6 fumitory U father's 18 Cicero, in his De 

7 hellebore l 2 great thanks (gramercy) tione 

204 TALES 

And happed so, thay come into a toun 

Wheras ther was swich congregacioun l 

Of peple, and 2 eek so streit 8 of herbergage, 4 

That they ne founde as muche as o 6 cotage 
5 In which they bothe mighte ylogged * be. 

Wherfor thay mosten, of necessitee, 

As for that night, departen 7 compaignye ; 

And ech of hem goth to his hostelrye, 

And took his logging as it wolde falle. 8 
10 That oon of hem was logged in a stalle, 

Fer in a yerd, with oxen of the plough ; 

That other man was logged wel ynough, 

As was his aventure, 9 or his fortune, 

That us governeth alle as in commune. 10 
15 And so bifel that, longe er it were day, 

This man mette in his bed, ther as n he lay, 

How that his felawe gan upon him calle, 

And seyde : " Alias ! for in an oxes stalle 

This night I shal be mordred ther I lye. 
20 Now help me, dere brother, er I dye ; 

In alle haste com to me," he sayde. 

This man out of his sleep for fere abrayde 12 ; 

But whan that he was wakned of his sleep, 

He turned him, and took of this no keep 18 ; 
2 5 Him thoughte 14 his dreem nas but a vanitee. 16 

Thus twye's in his sleping dremed he ; 

And atte thridde tyme yet his felawe 

Cam, as him thoughte, and seide : " I am now slawe 16 ; 

Bihold my blody woundes, depe and wyde ! 
3 Arys up erly in the morwe-tyde, 17 

And at the west gate of the toun," quod he, 

1 concourse, gathering 7 part M notice, heed 

2 supply which was 8 happen M it seemed to him that 
scanty 9 chance i delusion 

4 lodgings 10 general is slain 

6 ne 11 where " morning 

8 lodged 12 started up 


" A carte ful of dong : ther shaltow see, 

In which my body is hid fifi prively ; 

Do 2 thilke carte aresten 3 boldely. 

My gold caused my mordre, sooth to sayn ; " 

And tolde him every poynt how he was slayn, 5 

With a ful pitous face, pale of hewe. 

And truste wel, his dreem he fond ful trewe ; 

For on the morwe, as sone as it was day, 

To his felawes in 4 he took the way ; 

And whan that he cam to this oxes stalle, 10 

After his felawe he bigan to calle. 

The hostiler 5 answerde him anon, 

And seyde : " Sire, your felawe is agon ; 

As sone as day he wente out of the toun." 

This man gan fallen in suspecioun, 1 5 

Remembring on his dremes that he mette, 

And forth he goth, no lenger wolde he lette, 6 

Unto the west gate of the toun, and fond 

A dong-carte, as it were to donge 7 lond, 

That was arrayed in the same wyse 20 

As ye han herd the dede man devyse 8 ; 

And with an hardy herte he gan to crye 

Vengeaunce and justice of 9 this felonye : 

" My felawe mordred is this same night, 

And in this carte he lyth 10 gapinge upright 11 25 

I crye out on the ministres," quod he, 

" That sholden kepe 12 and reulen 13 this citee ; 

Harrow 14 ! alias ! her lyth my felawe slayn ! " 

What sholde I more unto this tale sayn ? 

The peple outsterte, 15 and caste the cart to grounde, 30 

And in the middel of the dong they founde 

1 dung 6 delay n on his back 

2 cause 7 cover with manure 12 watch over 
8 to be stopped 8 relate l8 rule 

4 inn 9 for 14 a cry of distress 

6 innkeeper 10 lieth 15 started out 

206 TALES 

The dede man, that mordred was al newe. 1 

O blisful God, that art so just and trewe ! 

Lo, how that thou biwreyest 2 mordre alway ! 

Mordre wol out that see we day by day. 
5 Mordre is so wlatsom 8 and abhominable 

To God, that is so just and resonable, 

That he ne wol nat suffre it heled * be ; 

Though it abyde a yeer, or two, or three, 

Mordre wol out this 's my conclusioun. 
10 And right anoon, ministres of that toun 

Han hent 5 the carter, and so sore him pyned, 6 

And eek the hostiler so sore engyned, 7 

That thay biknewe 8 hir wikkednesse anoon, 

And were anhanged by the nekke-boon. 
15 Here may men seen that dremes been to drede. 

And certes, in the same book I rede, 

Right in the nexte chapitre after this 

I gabbe * nat, so have I joye or blis 

Two men that wolde han passed over see, 
20 For certeyn cause, into a fer contree, 

If that the wind ne hadde been contrarie, 

That made hem in a citee for to tarie, 

That stood ful mery upon an haven-syde. 

But on a day, agayn 10 the eventyde, 
25 The wind gan chaunge, and blew right as hem leste." 

Jolif 12 and glad they wente unto hir reste, 

And casten 18 hem ful erly for to saille ; 

But to that oo 14 man fil 16 a greet mervaille. 

That oon of hem, in sleping as he lay, 
30 Him mette a wonder dreem, agayn 10 the day : 

Him thoughte le a man stood by his beddes syde, 

1 recently 8 tortured 12 in good spirits 

2 dost make manifest, bring to " racked 13 proposed 

light 8 confessed M one 

8 heinous lie befell 

4 concealed 10 towards 16 it seemed to him 

* seized " was agreeable to them 


And him comaunded that he sholde abyde, 

And seyde him thus : " If thou to-morwe wende, 

Thou shalt be dreynt l ; my tale is at an ende." 

He wook, and tolde his felawe what he mette, 

And preyde him his viage 2 for to lette 8 ; 5 

As for that day, he preyde him to abyde. 

His felawe, that lay by his beddes syde, 

Gan for to laughe, and scorned him ful faste. 

" No dreem," quod he, " may so myn herte agaste, 

That I wol lette for to do my thinges. 4 10 

I sette not a straw by thy dreminges, 

For swevenes been but vanitees and japes 5 : 

Men dreme alday 6 of owles or of apes, 

And eke of many a mase 7 therwithal ; 

Men dreme of thing that never was ne shah* 1 5 

But sith I see that thou wolt heer abyde, 

And thus forsleuthen 9 wilfully thy tyde, 10 v 

God wot it reweth me n ; and have good day." 

And thus he took his leve, and wente his way. 

But er that he hadde halfe his cours yseyled, 20 

Noot 1 12 naj; why, ne what mischaunce it eyled, 18 

But casually w the shippes botme 15 rente, 16 

And ship and man under the water wente, 

In sighte of othere shippes it by side, 

That with hem seyled at the same tyde. 25 

And therfor, faire Pertelote so dere, 


By swiche ensamples olde maistow lere, 17 

That no man sholde been to recchelees 18 

Of dremes, for I sey thee, doutelees, 

That many a dreem ful sore is for to drede. 30 

Lo, in the lyf of Seint Kenelm I rede 

1 drowned ~ bewildering situation (there) ailed 

2 journey 8 shall be M by accident 
8 abandon, give up 9 waste in sloth 15 bottom 

* business affairs 10 time 16 split 

5 jests, tricks 11 I am sorry 17 mayst thou learn 

6 continually 12 I know not 18 heedless 

208 TALES 

That was Kenulphus l sone, the noble king 

Of Mercenrike 2 how Kenelm mette a thing ; . 

A lyte 8 er he was mordred, on a day, 

His mordre in his avisioun 4 he say. 6 
5 His norice 6 him expouned 7 every del 8 

His sweven, and bad him for to kepe 9 him wel 

For 10 traisoun ; but he nas but seven yeer old, 

And therfore litel tale hath he told u 

Of any dreem, so holy was his herte. 
10 By God, I hadde lever than my sherte 

That ye had rad his legende, as have I. 

Dame Pertelote, I sey yow trewely, 

Macrobeus, that writ th' avisioun 

In Affrike of the worthy Cipioun, 
1 5 Affermeth dremes, and seith that they been 

Warning of thinges that men after !a seen. 

And forthermore, I pray yow loketh wel 

In the Olde Testament, of 18 Daniel, 

If he held dremes any vanitee. 
20 Reed eek of Joseph, and ther shul ye see 

Wher 14 dremes ben somtyme I sey nat alle 

Warning of thinges that shul after falle. 

Loke of Egipt the king, Daun Pharao, 

His bakere and his boteler also, 
25 Wher w they ne felte noon effect 15 in dremes. 

Whoso wol seken actes of sondry remes, 16 /t^*' 

May rede of dremes many a wonder thing. 

Lo Cresus, which that was of Lyde " king, 

Mette he nat that he sat upon a tree, 

1 Kenulf (died 819) 1 explained as to 

2 Mercia 8 bit 14 whether 
little guard M reality 

< vision 1 against 16 realms 

c saw 11 account hath he made l" Lydia 

* nurse 12 afterwards 

13. avisioun : the Somnium Scipionis of Cicero, with a commentary by 

29. For this dream, cf. the Monk's Tale. 


Which signified he sholde anhanged be ? 

Lo heer Andromacha, Ectores l wyf , 

That day that Ector sholde lese his lyf, 

She dremed on the same night biforn 

How that the lyf of Ector sholde be lorn,* 5 

If thilke day he wente into bataille. 

She warned him, but it mighte nat availle ; 

He wente for to fighte nathelees, 

But he was slayn anoon of Achilles. 

But thilke tale is al to long to telle, 10 

And eek it is ny 8 day, I may nat dwelle. 4 

Shortly I seye, as for conclusioun, 

That I shal han of this avisioun 

Adversitee ; and I seye, forthermore, 

That I ne telle & of laxatyves no store, 1 5 

For they ben venimous, 6 I woot it wel ; 

I hem defye, I love hem never a del 7 

Now let us speke of mirthe, and stinte 8 al this ; 

Madame Pertelote, so have I blis, 

Of o thing God hath sent me large grace ; 20 

For whan I see the beautee of your face, 

Ye ben so scarlet-reed about your yen, 9 

It maketh al my drede for to dyen ; 

For, also siker 10 as In principle^ 

Mulier est hominis confusio 25 

Madame, the sentence 12 of this Latin is : 

" Womman is mannes joye and al his blis." 

For whan I fele anight 18 your softe syde, . . , 14 

I am so ful of joye and of solas 

That I defye bo the sweven and dreem.' 30 

And with that word he fley doun fro the beem, 

1 Hector's 6 poisonous n John 1. 1 

2 lost 7 never a whit 12 meaning 
8 nearly 8 cease 1S by night 

* continue 9 eyes 14 Two lines omitted 

6 set 10 sure 

2. In Dares Phrygius, not in Homer. 

210 TALES 

For it was day, and eek his hennes alle ; 

And with a chuk l he gan hem for to calle, 

For he had founde a corn, lay 2 in the yerd ; 

Royal he was, he was namore aferd. . . .* 
5 He loketh as it were a grim leoun ; 

And on his toos he rometh up and doun, 

Him deyned 4 not to sette his foot to grounde. 

He chukketh whan he hath a corn yfounde, 

And to him rennen thanne his wyves alle. 
10 Thus royal, as a prince is in his halle, 

Leve I this Chauntecleer in his pasture ; 

And after wol I telle his aventure. 

Whan that the month in which the world bigan, 

That highte March, whan God first maked man, 
15 Was complet, and [yjpassed were also, 

Sin March was goon, 6 [wel] thritty dayes and two, 

Bifel that Chauntecleer, in al his pryde, 

His seven wyves walking by his syde, 

Caste up his eyen to the brighte sonne, 
20 That in the signe of Taurus hadde yronne 8 

Twenty degrees and oon, and somwhat more ; 

And knew by kynde, 7 and by noon other lore, 8 

That it was pryme, 9 and crew with blisful stevene. 10 

' The sonne,' he sayde, ' is clomben up on hevene 
25 Fourty degrees and oon, and more, ywis. 

Madame Pertelote, my worldes blis, 

Herkneth thise n blisful briddes how they singe, 

And see the fresshe floures how they springe ; 

Ful is myn herte of revel and solas.' 
3 But sodeinly him fil a sorweful cas, 12 

1 cluck 6 MS. bigan (for was goon) about 9 A.M. 

2 that lay 6 run, progressed 10 voice, sound 

* Two lines omitted 1 nature u these 

* he deigned 8 teaching w misfortune 

14. maked : this was a mediaeval idea. 
16. This would make the date May 3. 


For ever the latter ende of joye is wo. 

God woot that worldly joye is sone ago l ; 

And if a rethor 2 coude f aire endyte, 8 

He in a cronique 4 Saufty 6 mighte it wryte, 

As for a sovereyn notabilitee. 6 5 

Now every wys man, lat him herkne me ; 

This storie is also trewe, I undertake, 

As is the book of Launcelot de Lake, 

That wommen holde in ful gret reverence. 

Now wol I torne agayn to my sentencejxi^*/^^ 10 

A colfox, 8 ful of sly iniquitee, 
That in the grove hadde woned 9 yeres three, 
By 10 heigh imaginacioun forncast, 11 
The same night thurghout the hegges l2 brast 18 
Into the yerd, ther Chauntecleer the faire 15 

Was wont, and eek his wy ves, to repaire ; 
And in a bed of. wortes 14 stille he lay, 
Til it was passed undern ia of the day, 
Wayting his tyme on Chauntecleer to falle, 
As gladly 16 doon thise 17 homicydes alle, 20 

That in awayt 18 liggen w to mordre men. 
O false mordrer, lurking in thy den ! 
O newe Scariot, 20 newe Genilon ' 21 ! 
False dissimilour, 22 O Greek Smon, 

That broghtest Troye al outrdy ' 2S to sorwe 1 25 

O Chauntecleer, acursed be that morwe, 
That thou into that yerd flough 24 fro the bemes 1 
Thou were ful wel ywarned by thy dremes 
That thilke day was perilous to thee, 

1 past 9 dwelt 18 waiting 

2 skilled writer w as a result of 19 He 

8 compose n premeditated 20 iscariot 

4 chronicle 12 hedges 21 Ganelon, who betrayed 

6 safely is burst Roland 

6 supremely notable fact M herbs 22 dissembler 

1 subject is about 1 1 A.M. 28 utterly 

8 brant fox (having a large inter- 16 generally ** flew 

mixture of black in its fur) l ? these 

212. TALES 

But what that l God forwoot 2 mot nedes be, 

After * the opinioun of certeyn clerkis ; 

Witnesse on him that any perfit clerk is 

That in scole is gret altercacioun 
5 In this matere, and greet disputisoun, 

And hath ben of an hundred thousand men. 

But I ne can not bulte it to the bren,' 

As can the holy doctour Augustyn, 

Or Boece, 5 or the bishop Bradwardyn, 
10 Whether that Goddes worthy forwiting 1 

Streyneth 8 me nedely 9 for to doon a thing 

(Nedely clepe I simple necessitee) ; 

Or elles, if free choys be graunted me 

To do that same thing, or do it noght, 
1 5 Though God forwoot it er thr* it was wroght ; 

Or if his witing streyneth nevere a del 

But by necessitee condicionel. 

I wol not han to do of swich matere ; 

My tale is of a cok, as ye may here, 
20 That took his counseil of his wyf , with sorwe, 

To walken in the yerd upon that morwe 

That he had met 10 the dreem that I yow tolde. 

Wommennes counseils been ful ofte colde u : 

Wommannes counseil broghte us first to wo, 
25 And made Adam fro Paradys to go, 

Ther as 12 he was ful mery, and wel at ese. 

But for 18 I noot 14 to whom it mighte displese, 

If I counseil of wommen wolde blame, 

Passe over, for I seyde it in my game. 16 
30 Rede auctours wher they trete of swich matere, 

1 that which 6 Archbishop of Canterbury in the four- 10 dreamed 

2 foreknows teenth century, and a divinity pro- n disastrous 
8 according to fessor and chancellor of Oxford 12 where 

* bolt it to the bran, sift 1 foreknowledge w since 

it thoroughly 8 compels, constrains 14 know not 

6 Boethius 9 necessarily 16 fun, sport 

17. Conditional necessity, according to Boethius, implies knowledge : if 

one knows that a man is walking, then he is, necessarily, walking. 



1 these 

2 are 

8 know 
* sand 

And what thay seyn of wommen ye may here. 
Thise l been 2 the cokkes wordes, and nat myne ; 
I can 8 noon harm of no womman divyne. 

Faire in the sond, 4 to bathe hir merily, 
Lyth 5 Pertelote, and alle hir sustres by, 
Agayn 6 the sonne ; and Chauntecleer so free 
Song merier than the mermayde in the see 
For Phisiologus seith sikerly 
How that they singen wel and merily. 
And so bifel that, as he caste his ye, 
Among the wortes, on a boterflye, 
He was war 7 of this fox that lay ful lowe. 
Nothing ne liste him 8 thanne for to crowe, 
But cryde anon, ' Cok, cok,' and up he sterte, 
As man that was affrayed in his herte ; 
For naturelly a beest desyreth flee 
Fro his contrarie, 9 if he may it see, 
Though he never erst 10 had seyn it with his ye. 

This Chauntecleer, whan he gan him espye, 
He wolde han fled, but that the fox anon 
Seyde : ' Gentil sire, alias ! wher wol ye gon ? 
Be ye affrayed of me that am your freend ? 
Now certes, I were worse than a feend, 11 
If I to yow wolde 12 harm or vileinye. 
I am nat come your counseil for t' espye ; 
But trewely, the cause of my cominge 
Was only for to herkne how that ye singe, 
For trewely ye have as mery a Steven e 18 
As eny aungel hath that is in hevene ; 
Therwith ye han in musik more felinge 
Than hadde Boece, 14 or any that can singe. 

6 exposed to 

7 aware 

8 it pleased him not at all 

9 opposite, foe 
1 before 



2 5 


11 fiend, devil 

12 wished 
18 voice 

14 Boethius wrote a treatise, 
De Mtisica 

8. In the section De Sirenis. For the Physiologus in general, see p. 316. 

214 TALES 

My lord your fader God his soule blesse ! 

And eek your moder, of hir gentilesse, 

Han in myn hous ybeen, to my gret ese 1 ; 

And certes, sire, ful fayn wolde I yow plese. 
5 But for men speke of singing, I wol saye 

So mote I brouke 2 wel myn eyen tweye I 

Save yow, I herde never man so singe, 

As dide your fader in the morweninge ; 

Certes, it was of herte, al that he song. 
10 And, for to make his voys the more strong, 

He wolde so peyne him 8 that with bothe his yen 

He moste winke, so loude he wolde cryen, 

And stonden on his tiptoon therwithal, 

And strecche forth his nekke long and smal. 
15 And eek he was of swich discrecioun 

That ther nas no man in no regioun 

That him in song or wisdom mighte passe. 

I have wel rad in Daun Burnel the Asse, 

Among his vers, how that ther was a cok, 
20 For that a preestes sone yaf him a knok 

Upon his leg, whyl he was yong and nyce, 4 

He made him for to lese his benefyce. 

But certeyn, ther nis no comparisoun 

Bitwix the wisdom and discrecioun 
25 Of youre fader, and of his subtiltee. 

Now singeth, sire, for seinte charitee ; 

Let see, conne ye your fader countref etc c ? ' 
This Chauntecleer his winges gan to bete, 

As man that coude his tresoun nat espye, 
30 So was he ravisshed with his flaterye. 

Alias 1 ye lordes, many a fals flatour 6 

Is in your courtes, and many a losengeour, 7 

1 delight 8 take such pains 5 imitate 7 deceiver 

2 enjoy * foolish 6 flatterer 

18. Nigellus Wireker wrote the Burnellus, or Speculum Stultorum, in the 
twelfth century. 


That plesen yow wel more, by my feith, 

Than he that soothfastnesse 1 unto yow seith. 

Redeth Ecclesiaste '* of 3 flaterye ; 

Beth war, 4 ye lordes, of hir 5 trecherye. 

This Chauntecleer stood hye upon his toos, 5 

Strecching his nekke, and heeld his eyen cloos, 6 

And gan to crowe loude for the nones 7 ; 

And Daun Russel the fox sterte up at ones, 

And by the gargat 8 hente 9 Chauntecleer, 

And on his bak toward the wode him beer, 10 10 

For yet ne was ther no man that him sewed. 11 

O destinee, that mayst nat been eschewed 12 1 . 
Alias, that Chauntecleer fleigh fro the bemes ! 
Alias, his wyf ne roghte 13 nat of dremes ! 
And on a Friday fil 14 al this meschaunce. 1 5 

O Venus, that art goddesse of plesaunce, 
Sin 15 that thy servant was this Chauntecleer, 
And in thy 'service dide al his poweer, , 

More for delyt, than world to multiplye, 

Why woldestow suffre him on thy day to dye ? 20 

O Gaufred, 16 dere mayster soverayn, 
That, whan thy worthy King Richard was slayn 
With shot, compleynedest 17 his deth so sore, 
Why ne hadde I now thy sentence 18 and thy lore, 
The Friday for to chyde, 19 as diden ye 25 

(For on a Friday soothly slayn was he) ? 
Than wolde I shewe yow how that I coude pleyne, 20 $j&* 
For Chauntecleres drede, and for his peyne. 
Certes, swich cry ne lamentacioun 
Was never of ladies maad whan Ilioun 30 

1 truth 8 throat 16 since 

2 Ecclesiasticus 12. 10, u, 16 9 seized 16 Geoffrey de Vinsauf 
8 on 10 bore 17 didst lament 

4 beware n pursued 18 judgment 

5 their 12 escaped 19 blame 

6 closed 18 recked 20 lament 

7 for the occasion 14 happened 

216 TALES 

Was wonne, and Pirrus l with his streite 2 swerd, 

Whan he hadde hent King Priam by the herd, 

And slayn him as saith us Eneydos 

As maden alle the hennes in the clos, 3 
5 Whan they had seyn of Chauntecleer the sighte. 

But sovereynly 4 Dame Pertelote shrighte, 6 

Ful louder than dide Hasdrubales 6 wyf 

Whan that hir housbond hadde lost his lyf, 

And that the Romayns hadde brend 7 Cartage ; 
10 She was so ful of torment and of rage 

That wilfully into the fyr she sterte, 

And brende hirselven with a stedfast herte. 

O woful hennes, right so cryden ye 

As, whan that Nero brende the citee 
1.5 Of Rome, cryden senatoures wyves, 

For that hir 8 housbondes losten alle hir lyves ; 

Withouten gilt this Nero hath hem slayn. 

Now wol I torne to my tale agayn. 

This sely 9 widwe, and eek hir doghtres two, 
20 Herden thise hennes crye and maken wo ; 

And out at dores sterten they anoon, 

And syen the fox toward the grove goon, 

And bar upon his bak the cok away ; 

And cryden, ' Out 10 1 harrow n 1 and weylaway 1 
2 5 Ha, ha, the fox ! ' and after him they ran, 

And eek with staves many another man ; 

Ran Colle our dogge, and Talbot, and Gerland, 

And Malkin, with a distaf in hir hand ; 

Ran cow and calf, and eek the verray hogges 
3 So were they fered 12 for berking of the dogges 

And shouting of the men and wimmen eke ; 

They ronne so, hem thoughte hir herte breke. 

1 Pyrrhus 6 General of Carthage, when it was 10 alas 

2 drawn burned u help 

3 enclosure 7 burned 12 frightened 

4 most of all 8 their 
6 shrieked good 


They yelleden as feendes doon in helle ; 

The dokes cryden as men wolde hem quelle 1 ; 

The gees for fere flowen over the trees ; 

Out of the hyve cam the swarm of bees ; 

So hidous was the noyse, a I benedicite 2 ! 5 

Certes he, Jakke Straw, 8 and his meynee, 4 

Ne made never shoutes half so shrille 

Whan that they wolden any Fleming 5 kille, 

As thilke day was maad upon the fox. 

Of bras thay broghten bemes, 6 and of box, 7 10 

Of horn, of boon, in whiche they blewe and pouped, 8 

And therwithal thay shryked and they houped, 9 

It semed as that heven sholde falle. 

Now, gode men, I pray yow herkneth alle 1 
Lo, how fortune furneth sodeinly 15 

The hope and pryde eek of hir enemy ! 
This cok, that lay upon the foxes bak, 
In al his drede, unto the fox he spak, 
And seyde : ' Sire, if that I were as ye, 

Yet sholde I seyn as wis God helpe me ! 20 

" Turneth agayn, ye proude cherles alle 1 
A verray pestilence upon yow falle ! 
Now am I come unto this wodes syde, 
Maugree your heed, the cok shal heer abyde ; 
I wol him etc in feith, and that anon." ' 25 

The fox answerde : ' In feith, it shal be don ; ' 
And as he spak that word, al sodeinly 
This cok brak from his mouth deliverly, 10 
And heighe upon a tree he fleigh anon. 

And whan the fox saugh that he was ygon, 30 

' Alias ! ' quod he, ' O Chauntecleer, alias ! 
I have to yow,' quod he, ' ydoon trespas, 
Inasmuche as I maked yow aferd, 

1 kill 5 any Flemish merchant in 8 tooted 

2 bless us ; pron. bencitS London 9 whooped 

8 (in the rebellion of 1381) 6 trumpets 10 nimbly, skilfully 

4 followers " boxwood 

218 TALES 

Whan I yow hente, and broghte out of the yerd ; 

But, sire, I dide it in no wikke entente ; 

Com doun, and I shal telle yow what I mente ; 

I shal seye sooth to yow, God help me so.' 
5 ' Nay than,' quod he, ' I shrewe l us bothe two, 

And first I shrewe myself, bothe blood and bones, 

If thou bigyle me ofter than ones. 

Thou shalt namore, thurgh thy flaterye, 

Do me to singe and winke with myn ye. 
10 For he that winketh whan he sholde see, 

Al wilfully, God lat him never thee 2 ! ' 

' Nay,' quod the fox, ' but God yeve him meschaunct 

That is so undiscreet of governaunce, 

That jangleth whan he sholde holde his pees ! ' 
1 5 Lo, swich it is for to be recchelees 8 

And necligent, and truste on flaterye ! 

But ye that holden this tale a folye, 

As of a fox, or of a cok and hen, 

Taketh the moralitee, good men ; 
20 For Seint Paul seith 4 that al that writen is, 

To our doctryne it is ywrite, ywis. 

Taketh the fruyt, and lat the chaf be stille. 
Now, gode God, if that it be thy wille, 

As seith my lord, 6 so make us alle good men, 
25 And bringe us to his heighe blisse ! Amen. 

1 curse 8 heedless 6 the Archbishop of Canterbury, as 

2 prosper * 2 Tim. 3. 16 a manuscript note explains 


Our chief information concerning Layamon is derived from the first extract 
printed below. In the later manuscript, ' Lagamon' is ' Laweman'; and indeed 
the word means ' lawman,' a kind of magistrate. ' Ernlege ' is Ar(e)ley Regis, 
or King's Ar(e)ley, just south of Stourport, where the Stour joins the Severn, 
and about ten miles north (slightly northwest) of Worcester. ' Radestone ' is 
Redstone, a high cliff in the neighborhood. 

Layamon goes on to say that it came into his mind to relate the history 
of England from the beginning, and that, in order to this, he journeyed up 
and down the country to procure the books he needed. Though he carries 
his story only down to 689, it consists of some 16,120 long lines, written about 
1205. His chief source was Wace's Roman de Brut (1205), yet the earlier 
manuscript of Layamon contains, according to B. S. Monroe (Modern Philology 
4. 567), only 87 French words. In common with Wace, or rather through Wace, 
he is ultimately dependent on Geoffrey of Monmouth's Histories of the Kings 
of Britain (before 1148), the ultimate source of so much romance dealing with 
' the matter of Britain.' Geoffrey's book has been excellently translated by 
Sebastian Evans (Temple Classics). 

Of the two manuscripts, the second may be a half century or so later than 
the first. Our extracts are taken from the first, as given in the standard edition, 
Madden's (3 vols., London, 1847), w i tn the latter's short lines printed as long 
ones (but Madden's numbering is retained). For further information, see the 
preface to Madden's edition ; the Diet. Nat. Biog. ; Camb. Hist. Eng. Lit. 
i. 260-4; Monroe, Jour. Eng. and Germ. Phil. 7. 139-41 (bibliography). 

Lines i-io (Madden i. i) 

An preost * wes on leoden, 2 Lajamon wes ihoten 8 ; 
He wes LeovenaSes sone liSe * him beo Drihten 6 ! 
He wonede 6 at Ernleje, at asSelen 7 are 8 chirechen, 9 
Uppen Sevarne sta]>e 10 sel n far him Jmhte 12 
On fest 18 Radestone ; per he bock radde. 14 

1 priest 5 the Lord 9 church 18 hard by 

2 among the people 6 lived 1 bank 14 read 
8 named 7 noble U good, pleasant 

4 merciful 8 a 12 seemed 




Lines 1097-1252 (Madden i. 47-53). Cf. Geoffrey of Monmouth, Book I, 
chap. 11, and Milton's translation of it in his History of Britain. 

Brutus nom l Ignogen, and into scipe laedde. 

Heo 2 rihten 8 heora rapes, heo raerden 4 heora mastes, 

Heo wunden up seiles ; wind stod 6 an willen. 6 

Sixtene siSe 7 tuenti scipen tuhten 8 from havene, 
5 And feower scipen greate pe weren grundladene 9 

Mid pat beste wepnen )>a Brutus havede. 

Heo fusden 10 from stronde ut of Griclonde u ; 

Heo wenden ut i wide sae ; pa wilde 12 wurSen itemede. 13 

Tweije dawes and tua niht inne sae weren ; 
10 J>en ofier 14 dai heo comen liSen 15 on aeven to londe. 

Logice 16 hatte " pat eitlond 18 ; leode 19 nere par nane 

Ne wapmen 20 ne wifmen buten 21 westije 22 passes. 28 '"p<j 

Utlajen u hefden iraeved 25 pat lond, and alle pa leoden of s.lajen , 26 ; 

And swa hit wes al west, 27 and wnnen 28 biraevedr J*+**f* 
15 Ah M swa monie par waren wilde deor 80 pat wnder 81 heoin puhte 82 ; 

And pa Troinisce men tuhten to pon deoren, ,^>J 

And duden of pan wilden al heora iwilla. 88 

To pan scipen waelden. 84 

Heo funden i pon eitlonde ane burh * switSe stronge ; 
20 Tohaelde 86 weoren pe walles, weste weren hallen. 

Temple heo funden par ane, imaked of marmestaene, 

Muchel and maere 87 ; pe wrse w hit hafde to welden. 39 

1 took M next 

2 thev 1S voyaging 28 ( o f) habitations 
8 put in order 16 Leogecia; position unknown 29 but 

4 raed 17 hight so animals 

6 MS. ston is eyotland (island) 81 wonder 

6 was favorable 19 people 82 seemed 

7 times 20 men 88 w jn 

8 departed 21 only 84 carried 

9 deeply laden 22 desert 35 c jty 

1 hastened 28 MS. paedes 86 tottering 

11 Greece 24 outlaws 87 glorious 

12 wild (men) 26 devastated 88 devil 
u tamed slain 89 n,i e 


Jerinne was an onlicnesse * a 2 wif monnes liche 8 ; 
Feier hit wes and swiSe heih 4 ; an 6 are 6 haeitnesse 7 nome, 
Diana wes ihaten 8 ; f e deovel heo luvede. 
Heo dude wndercraf tes 9 ; f e scucke 10 hire fulste. 11 
Heo wes quen of alle wodes f e weoxen 12 on eorSen ; 5 

A 18 f on heftene lawen me 14 heold heo for hehne 15 godd. 
To hire weoren iwoned 16 fa wndercref tie men ; 
Of fa f ingen 17 fa weren to kumen heo heom wolde cuften 18 
Mid tacnen 19 and mid swefnen, 20 ]>onne heo weren on slsepe. 
J>e wile^peb onpan eitlonde wes folc woniende, 21 10 

Heo wurSeden 22 fat anlicnes ; fe scucke hit 23 onfeng. 24 ^ <f 

Brutus hit herde siggen 26 f urh his saemonnen 
f>e aer 26 weoren on fan londe, and fa lawen wusten. 
Brutus nam twelf witijen, 27 f e weren his wiseste men, 
And enne preost of his lawen, fa weren on fan heften dawen 28 15 
(Gerion hehte f e preost ; he was an hirede w haeh) ; 
He ferde 30 to fere stowe 81 far Diane inne stod. 
Brutus ferde into fere temple, and fa twelfe mid him, 
And lette al his folc bilasven 32 f erute. 33 

Ana scale 84 he bear an honde, al of reade golde ; 20 

Mile wes i fere scale, and win sume dale 85 ; 
pa mile waes of are wite hinde, f e Brutus sceat mid his hpnde. 
He makede bi f on weofede w a swifie 37 wunsum 38 fur ; 
Nijen si^en 39 he bieode 40 fat weofed, for his neode. 41 
He clepede 42 to fere levedi 43 heo wes him on heorten leof 44 ; 25 

1 image is accustomed to resort 31 place 

2 in 17 MS. kingen 82 remain 
8 form 18 tell 88 outside 

4 majestic 19 signs 84 dish 

5 by 20 visions 85 p ar t 

6 a 21 dwelling 36 altar 
" heathen religion's (?) 22 worshiped 87 m 6st 

8 called 23 (the worship ?) 88 winsome 

9 sorceries 24 received 89 times 

10 fiend 25 sa y 40 circled about 

11 aided 26 formerly *i need 

12 grew 27 prophets 42 cr i e d 
18 by 28 days 43 J a dy 

14 one, they 29 among the people 44 dear 

15 high 3) proceeded 


milden Bis worden he jirnde 1 hire mihten. i 

Of te he custe 2 fat weofed mid wnSume lates 8 ; 

He halde 4 fa mile in fat fur mid milden N his worderf : 

' Leafdi Diana, leove Diana, heje Diana, help me to neode. 
5 Wise 8 mi and witere, 6 f urh fine witf ul 7 craft, 

Whuder Ich maei liSan, 8 and ledan mine leoden 

To ane wnsume londe, fer 9 ich mihte wunien. 10 

And jif Ich fat lond mai bijeten, 11 and mi folc hit furhj 

Makian Ich wile on fine nome maeren 18 ane stowe, 
10 And Ich fe wulle huren 14 mid wrhscipe haejan. 15 ' 

J>us spec Brutus. 

Seoftften 16 he nam fe hude 17 fa waes of fare hinde ; 

Biforen fan wefede he heo spradde, swlc 18 he leie on bedde ; 

He cnelede far ufenan, 19 and seofiSen he adun laei ; 
1 5 Swa he gon slomnen, 20 and f eraefter to slepen. 

J>a f uhte him on his swefne, far he on slepe laei, 

J>at his lavedi Diana hine leofliche 21 biheolde 

Mid wnsume leahtren 22 ; wel heo him bihihte, 23 

And hendiliche 24 hire hond on his heved leide, 
20 And fus him to seide, fer he on slepe lai : 

' Bijende 28 France, i fet west, f u scalt finden a wunsum lond ; 

)?at lond is biurnan 26 mid f aere sae ; f aron f u scalt wrf an 27 sael. 28 

Jar is fujel, far is fisc ; fer wuniaft feire deor ; 

f>ar is wode, far is water ; far is wilderne M muchel. 
25 J>et lond is swife wunsum ; weallen 80 fer beofi feire ; 

Wuniaft in f on londe eotanes 81 swiSe stronge. 

Albion hatte fat lond, ah leode ne beoft far nane. 

J>erto fu scalt teman, 82 and ane neowe Troye far makian ; 

1 besought 

2 kissed 
8 looks 

4 poured 
6 guide 
6 instruct 
' MS. wihtful 

8 journey 

9 where 
w dwell 
11 obtain 

12 overrun 
M noble 
14 adore 

16 high 

18 afterward 

17 hide 
i as if 

1 9 upon 

20 drowse 

21 lovingly 

22 laughter 

23 promised 

24 courteously 
as beyond 

26 surrounded 

27 become 

28 prosperous 

29 wilderness 

80 wells, springs 

81 giants ; MS. eotantes 

82 repair 


J>er seal of fine cunne l kinebearn 2 arisen, 

And seal fin maere 3 kun waelden 4 fas 5 londes, 

^eond 6 fa weorld beon ihaejed 7 ; and f u beo hael and isund. 8 ' 


Lines 1985-2060 (Madden 1.84-7). Cf. Geoffrey 1.17. 224 5-10 may be 
compared with the ultimate original in Geoffrey of Monmouth, with Robert 
of Gloucester's version of the latter, with Wace's expansion, and with Robert 
of Brunne's rendering of Wace : -- r ^Jtx 

Geoffrey of Monmouth i. 16: ' Amceno tamen situ locorum et piscosorum 
fluminum copia, nemoribusque praeelecta.' 

Robert of Gloucester, Chronicle (ca. 1300) 484-7 : - 

po Brut and is men"J>us come verst to londc, 
Hii wende aboute wide inou, be contreies vor to fonde ; 
Gret plente hii founde of fiis, as hii wende bi be weie, 
Of wodes and of rivers, as is in be contreie. 

Wace, Brut 1245-1250: 

Brutus esgarda les montaignes, f I V * 

Vit les values, vit les plaignes, 

Les marines et les boscages, 

Et les eves et les rivages ; 

Vit les cans et les praaries ; 

Vit les teres bien gaagnies. 

Robert (Manning) of Brunne (1338) 1889-1894: 

Brutus byhel[d] be mountaynes, 
And avised hym o be playnes ; 
Biheld be wodes, watres, and ffen, 
Where esyest wony[n]g were for men ; 
Als watres ronnen wel, he byheld, 
And niede wib be eryed feld. 

Brutaine hefde Brutus, and Cornwaile Corineus. 
Brutus nom alle his f reond, f e 9 comen in his ferde 10 ; 
Neh him he heom laende, 11 for heo him leofe weoren. 
Corineus him cleopede to alle his icorene 12 ; 
Alle he heom laende f er heom wes alre 18 leofest. 

1 kin 6 throughout n placed 

2 royal progeny 7 exalted 12 chosen ones 

3 illustrious 8 sound w of all 

4 rule (w. gen.) 9 that 

5 MS. bus 10 army 


Weox l f et folk and wel if aih, 2 for aelc hefde his iwillen * ; 

Inne lut * jeren firste 6 wes fat folc swa muchel 

)?at fer nas nan ende of folke swipe Hende. 

Brutus hine bi}>ohte, 8 and f is folc biheold ; 
5 Biheold he fa muntes, feire and muchele ; 

Biheold he fa medewan fat weoren switte maere ; 

Biheold he fa wateres and fa wilde deor ; 

Biheold he fa fisches ; biheold he fa fujeles ; 

Biheold he fa leswa 7 and f ene leofliche 8 wode ; 
10 Biheold he fene wode hu he ble'ou 9 ; biheold he fat corn hu hit greu ; 

Al he iseih on leoden fat him leof was on heorten. 

f>a bifohte he on Troyjen, 10 fer his cun teone u foleden, 1 - 
?; And he liftde 18 jeond f is lond, and scaewede 14 fa 18 leoden. 

He funde wunsum ane stude 16 uppen ane watere ; 
1 5 )?aer he gon araeren " riche ane burhe, 18 

Mid bouren and mid hallen, mid haeje stanwalle[n]. 

)?a fe burh wes imaked, fa wes he swifie maere. 19 

f>a burh wes swiSe wel idon, and he hire sette name on ; 

He jef hire " tirfulne 21 name Troye f e Newe, 
20 To munien ^ his ikunde 28 whone 24 he icomen weore. 

SeoSSen 25 fa leodene longe ferafter 

Leiden adun fene 26 noma, and Trinovant heo 27 nemneden. 

Binnen 28 feola M wintre hit iwertS 80 seofrSen M 

f>at araes of Brutus kunne fat wes an heh king 
25 Lud wes ihaten. 82 Jas burh he luvede swifte; 

]?e king i fere burh wonede swiSe feola wintre. 

He lette heo Lude clepian jond his leodfolke, 

Hehte 88 heo nemnen Kaerlud, aefter fone kinge. 

1 grew 

2 throve 

8 will (what he desired) 
4 a. few 
6 time 

* bethought 

* pastures 
8 lovely 

w Troy 

12 suffered 

28 lineage 

18 journeyed ; MS. lidSe 

2* from which 

u viewed 

2i ~' subsequently ; 

MS. so-5en 

15 MS. )>ea 

2 that 

i* spot 

27 it 

17 erect 

28 within 

18 city 

29 many 

19 glorious ; MS. mare 

8" befell 

2 MS. hire to hire 

31 MS. seodfien 

21 glorious 

82 named 

22 commemorate 

88 commanded 


SeoSSen l com oper tir 2 and neowe tidinde, 

J>at men heo clepeden Lundin over al pas leode. 

Seofiften comen Englisce men, and cleopeden heo Lundene ; 

SeSSen 3 comen pa Frensca J>a mid f ehtc 4 heo biwonnen 6 

Mid heora leodSeawe, 6 and Lundres heo hehten- 7 5 

Lines 2902-3110 (Madden i. 123-32). Cf. Geoffrey 2. n 

Bladud hafde enne sune Leir wes ihaten ; 
Efter his fader 8 daiejie heold pis drihliche g lond 
Somed 10 an u his live 12 sixti winter. 
He makede ane riche burh purh radfulle 18 his crafte, 14 
And he heo lette nemnen efter himseolvan ; 10 

Kaer Leir hehte pe burh leof heo wes fan kinge 
f>a we an ure leodquide 15 Leirchestre 16 clepiaS. 
^eare, 17 a pan olde 18 dawen, 19 heo wes swiSe aftel 20 burh ; 
And seoSSen per seh 21 toward swiSe muchel seorwe, 
J>at heo wes al forfaren 22 ]>urh fere leodene vael. 23 15 

Sixti winter herde Leir J>is lond al to welden. 
f>e king hefde preo dohtren bi his drihliche quen ; 
Nefde he nenne sune ferfore he warS sari 
His manscipe 24 to halden, buten ^ pa freo dohtren. 
J>a aeldeste dohter haihte Gornoille, pa ot5er Ragau, pa pridde 20 


Heo wes pa jungeste suster, a 2li wliten 27 alre vairest ; 
Heo wes hire fader al swa leof swa his ajene lif. 
]?a aeldede 28 pe king, and wakede 29 an aSelan 80 ; 

1 MS. seod'Sen " in 21 came 

2 glory 12 lifetime 22 destroyed 
8 MS. sedften is prudent 23 slaughter 

4 battle 14 skill 24 dignity, lordship 

5 won is language 25 only 

6 national customs . i6 Leicester 26 i n 

" called (it) 17 formerly 27 beauty 

8 father's MS. holde 28 grew old 

'> noble 19 days 29 became weak 

10 together 2 noble so pow er 




And he hine bifohte wet he don mahte ^ i 

Of 1 his kineriche 2 aefter his deie. d 

He seide to himsulven fat fat uvel 8 wes : 

' Ic wile mine riche todon 4 alien 6 minen dohtren, 

And jeven hem mine kinefeode, 6 and twemen 7 mine[n] bearnen, 8 

Ac aerst Ic wille fondien ' whulche 10 beo mi beste freond, 

And heo seal habbe fat beste del of mine drihlichen lon[d].' 

J>us fe king fohte, and feraefter he worhte. 

He clepede Gornoille, his " godfulle 12 dohter, 

Ut of hire bure to hire fader deore ; 

And f us 18 spac f e aide king, f er he on aeSelen u seat : 

' Sei me, Gornoille, soitere 16 worden : 

SwiiSe dure 16 feo eart me ; hu leof aem Ich fe ? 

Hu mochel worf " levest 18 f u me to walden kineriche ? ' 
1 5 Gornoille was swiSe waer 19 swa beoft wifmen wel ihwaer " 

And seide ane lesinge heore 21 faedere fon king : 

' Leofe fader dure, swa bide 22 Ich Codes are 28 - 

Swa helpe me Apollin, for min ilaefe ** is al on him 

J>at leverej* 5 feo M aert me aene 27 fane f is world al clane 28 ; 
20 And jet ** Ic fe wile speken wit 80 : f eou aert leovere fene mi lif ; 

And f is Ich sucge 81 fe to sotSe 82 ; f u miht 88 me wel ileve. 84 ' 

Leir f e king ilefde his dohter 88 laeisinge, 

And fas aensware jef fat waes f e olde king : 

' Ich fe, Gornoille, suge, 86 leove dohter dure, 
25 God 8T seal beon fi meda 88 for fira gretinge. 

Ic earn, for mire aeldde, 89 sw[i]fe unbalded, 40 

i with 

3 kingdom 
8 evil 

4 divide 

5 MS. & alien 
t; kingdom 

* apportion 
8 children 

10 MS. whulchere 
" MS. hes 
" goodly ; MS. gu- 
i MS. \xus 
M state 

16 with true 

16 dear 

17 MS. worg 

18 (?) ; MS. leste 
!9 wary, cunning 

20 everywhere 

21 to her 

22 hope for 
28 mercy 

24 belief 

26 dearer 

27 alone 

28 entire 

29 yet more 

*> with 

si say 

82 MS. seofle 

38 mayst ; MS. mith 

84 believe 

85 daughter's ; MS. doster 

86 say; MS. seuge 

87 good 

88 reward 

89 old age 

*> enfeebled 



And fou me lovest l sw[i]f e mare fan is on live. 
Ich wille mi drihliche 2 lond a f reo 3 al todalen 4 ; 
f>in is fat beste deal; fu aert mi dohter deore, 
And scalt habbenlo jayerd min &lre beste f ein 6 
J>eo Ich mai vind$n in rhine kinfielonde. 6 ' 

yfter spac f e bide kinge wit his [of er] 7 dohter : 
' Leove dohter Regau, Avaet seist tu 8 me to raeide 9 ? 
Seie fu bifore mire dufjden 10 heo 11 dure Ich am fe an herten.' 
J>a answasrde [Regau] mid raetfulle 12 worden : 
' Al fat is on live nis nig 13 swa dure 
Swa me is fin an lime, 14 forSe 15 min ahjene 16 lif.' 
Ah heo ne seid/e naf pg soft, 17 no more f enne hire suste[r] ; 
Alle hire lesin^e hire yader ilefede. 
J>a answareda f e king his/ 18 dojter him icwemde 19 : 
' ]?ea f ridde dVljrf ipine lonfle Ich bitake 20 f e an honde ; 
}?u scalt nime 21 loverd 22 f er fe is alre leowost.' 
J>a jet nolde 23 >f eTeodking M his sotscipe 25 bilaeven 26 ; 
He hehte 2T curnen him biforen his dohter Gordoille. 
Heo was alre jungest, of soSe jaerwitelest, 28 
And f e king heo lovede more, f anne ba tueie 29 f e o$re. 
Cordoille iherde f a lasinge fe hire sustren seiden fon kinge ; 
Nom 80 hire leaffulne 81 huie 32 fat heo lijen 88 nolden 
Hire fader heo wolde suge soS, 84 were him lef, 35 were him laS. 8 
J>eo queS f e aide king unraed 37 him f ulede 88 : 
' Iheren Ich wile of f e, Cordoille 
Swa fe helpe Appolin hu deore f e beo lif min.' 
f>a answarede Cordoille, lude 89 and no wiht stille, 

1 MS. levoste 

2 MS. dirh- 

3 in three ; MS. |>roe 

4 divide 

5 thane 

6 realm 

7 second 

8 thou 

9 as opinion 

10 men ; MS. dugden 

11 how 

!2 prudent 
is nigh 

w limb 

15 before (?) 

16 own 

if true ; MS. se 

18 MS. hiis 

19 pleased 

20 deliver 

21 take 

22 husband 

23 would not 

24 king 

25 folly : MS. soth- 
2G abandon 

27 commanded 

28 most gifted 

29 both (both two) 

30 made up 

81 faithful 

82 mind (OE. fyge) 
88 lie 

84 MS. seott 

83 agreeable 

86 disagreeable 

8? unwisdom ; MS. unra"5 

38 followed 

88 loudly 



Mid gomene l and mid lehtre to hire fader leve : 
' jljfo art me leof ajjo 2 mi faeder^and Ich pe al so pi dohter; 
Ich* habbe to p^opfaste 8 love, for 4 we buoS swipe isibbe 6 ; 
"And swaxfch ibide 6 ,anf Ich wille pe suge mare : 
Al swa muchel pu~bist worp 7 swa pu weldende 8 aert, 
And al swa muchel swa pu havest men pe wllep 9 luvien, 
For sone he 10 bi ila^ed, 11 pe mon }>e lutel ah. 12 V~ 
J?us seide pe maeiden Cordoille, and seoSSen set sw[i]pe stille. 
J>a iwartSe 18 pe king wraeft 14 for he nes noht 16 iquemed, 18 
And wende on [h]is ponke " pat 18 hit weren for unSeawe 19 
Jat he hire weore swa unwourS pat heo hine nolde iwurSi 20 
Swa hire twa sustren, pe ba somed 21 laesinge speken. 
J>e king Leir iwerSe 22 swa blac swlch ** hit a blac cloS weoren, 
IwaerS his hude 24 and his heowe, 26 for he was supe 2(i ihaermed 27 ; 
Mid paere wrae55e he wes isweved," 8 pat ^ he feol iswowen. 80 
Late 81 peo he up f usde 82 pat maeiden wes af eared ; 
J>a hit alles up brae hit wes uvel M pat he spac : 
' Haerfcjne, 84 Cordoille, Ich pe telle wile ^ mine wille : 
Of mine dohtren pu were me durest ; nu pu eaert me alre 88 laetSes[t]. 87 
Ne scalt pu na^ver halden dale of mine lande, 
Ah mine[n] / xiohtren Ich wile delen mine riche, 88 
And pu sczdt worSen wraechen, 89 and wonien in wansifte, 40 
For navere Ich ne wende 41 pat pu me woldes pus scanden 42 ; 
f>arfore pu scalt beon daed, 48 Ich wene ; flij ** ut of min eaehsene. 48 
J>ine sustren sculen habben mi kinelond ; and pis me is iqueme. 46 

33 evil 

34 hearken 
i fc/^" 85 will 

36 of all; MS. arle 
8 " most hateful 
V 88 realm 

89 exile ; MS. warchen 

40 misery 

41 supposed 



** agreeable 

l mirth (game) 

17 thought 

2 as 

is MS. J>aht 

> true ; MS. soh- 

19 undutifulness 

* because 

20 honor 

5 related 

21 both together 

6 expect 

22 grew 

" worth 

28 as if 

8 ruling ; MS. velden 

24 skin 

MS. wflet 

25 hue 

w MS. heo 

26 much 

11 brought low ; MS. ilagefi 

27 grieved 

12 possesses 

28 stupefied 

is became 

29 so that 

14 wroth ; MS. waerft 

80 in a swoon 

16 MS. >eo noht 

81 after a time 

16 gratified 

82 started 



J>e Due of Cornwaile seal habbe Gornoille, 

And fe Scottene king Regau fat scone, 1 

And Ic hem jeve al fa winne a fe Ich aem waldinge 8 over.' 

And al f e aide king dude 4 swa he hafvede 6 idemed. 6 

Of [t] wes fen 7 maeidene wa, 8 and naevre wors ]> enne fa 9 ; 5 

Wa 10 hire wes on mode n for hire fader wraef e. 12 

Heo wende 18 into hire boure, far heo ofte ssette sare, 14 

For heo nolde lijen hire 15 fader 16 leove. 

Lines 7472-7662 (Madden 1.319-27). Cf. Geoffrey 4.3, 4 

He 1T cleopede on his cnihtes : ' ^arewietS 18 eow to fihte, 
For nu is mid ferde 19 icumen Cassibellaunus.' 10 

Heo liftede m togadere mid he,ore speren longe, 
Mid axen, mid sweorden, mid scaerpe speres orde 21 ; 
Hardliche 22 heo heowen 23 ; haelmes f er gollen 24 , 
Feon[d]liche ^ heo feohten ; hafdes 26 fer feollen. 

And Cesar f e keisere wes unimete 27 kene 28 : i c 


His longe sweord he adroh, 29 and moni mon f ermide 80 asjoh, 81 ; 

He swonc 82 i f on fehte fat al he lavede 88 a sweote. 8 * 
He sloh fa ^ him neh 86 weoren alle buten 87 iferen 88 ; 
He dude fer muchelne 89 wundre ; he sloh fer an hundred 
Of ahtere 40 monnen, f e feond 41 mid his maeehe. 42 20 

J>at iseh Androgeus, and cleopede his fader Nennius, 

1 fair 15 to her 29 drew 

2 possessions (?) 16 MS. fadder so therewith 

3 ruler 17 Caesar 81 MS. asloft 

4 did is prepare 82 labored 

5 had 19 army 83 dripped 

6 decided 20 came 84 sweat 

7 to the 21 point 85 those that 

8 woe 22 stoutly 86 ne ar 

9 then 28 hewed 87' w ithout 

1 MS. ba 24 resounded * 8 companions (help) 

11 heart 25 fiercely 89 a great 

12 wrath ; MS. waerbe 26 heads *o valiant 
18 MS. vende 27 beyond measure 41 enemy 
i 4 sorrowful 28 brave 42 sword 


And bejene l fa eorles bujen 2 heom togaderes, 

Mid swrSe muchele folke ; togaederen stoden faste. 

Isejen 8 heo Julius Cesar faehten al swa a wilde bar, 

And heo him to fusden 4 mid ladliche* fehte, 
5 And monie of heore feonden heo faelden to fon grunde. 
J?a iseh Nennius waer 6 faeht Cesar Julius, 

And he him to rasde 7 mid raehaem 8 his sweorde ; 

Uppen )>ene helm he hine smat fat fet sweord in bat. 

SelkuS 9 hit f uhte 10 moni cnihte 
10 J?at he durste cumen him naeh, for fan fa fe keisere 11 wes swa haeh. 1 ' 2 

Julius Cesar ne queS nan word, ah he braeid 18 ut his sweord, 

And Nennium he smat fa uppen fene helm swa 

f>at fe helm tohaelde, 14 and fat haefde 15 bletide ; 

Ah he ne blakede le no, for he wes cniht wel idon. 17 
1 5 And Julius noht ne na braeS, 18 ah his brond 19 he up ahaef, 20 

And Nennius haef up his sceld, scilde 21 hine sulve. 

Julius adun smat, 2 ' 2 and fat sweord a m fiene scelde bat 24 .; 

Julius hit wraste, 25 and fat sweord stike[de] 26 feste ; 

Julius fat sweord heold, and Nennius fene sceld, 
20 And f us heo hit longe bitujen, 27 ne mihte he fat sweord ut drajen. 35 ' 

]?at isaeh Androgeus hu verden & Cesar and Nennius, 

And he 80 hem to fusde, Nennius 81 to fulste. 82 
J>a isaeh Cesar tiSend M fat him wes saer ; 

He forlette 84 fene brand fa nefde he noht on his bond 
25 And he fa feondliche 85 turnde to flaeme. 86 

Nennius wende i fane felde, and he turnde his scelde, 

Droh ut fene brande. J>a wes f e eorl swif e bald : 


M gave way 

25 wrenched 

2 turned 

16 head 

26 stuck 

8 saw 

16 paled 

27 tugged at 

4 hurried 

l" trained 

28 draw 

5 hostile 

l 8 paused for breath (?) ; but the text is 

2 fared 

6 where 

probably corrupt. (The later MS. 

so MS. heo 

" rushed 

has : mid l>e seolve brej>.) 

81 MS. monie 

8 fierce 

19 sword 

82 assistance 

9 strange 

M lifted 

33 occurrence 

W MS. J>ute 

21 shielded 

84 let go 

11 emperor 

22 smote 

85 as a foeman 

12 awe-inspiring 

28 in 

86 flight 

is drew 

a* bit 


Monie Romanisce men mid ]>on sweorde he leide adun ; 

He wes moni l monnes bone, 2 and moni anne 8 he dude scome. 

Al fat he mid fan sweorde smat, f erriht 4 hit 5 iwat 6 ; 

Al fat he f ermid 7 atran, 8 weore hit flaes, 9 weore hit ban, 

f>urh feos sweordes vvunde heo fullen to fon grunde. $ 

Alle daei wes fat fiht, 10 a 11 fet com fe fesfcere 12 niht. 

Julius fe kaisere mid alle fan Romanisce here 
Dalden 18 from fan fihte al bi f ustere nihte ; 
To haerberje 14 heo wenden uppen fare sae stronde ; 
Heo bilefden 15 biaeften 16 twenti hundred cnihten 10 

J>eo leien under scelden, islaejen jeond fon felden. 
Cesar iwende to his bedde ; his men weoren ofdredde. 17 
Hine 18 biwakeden 19 in fere, nihte f ritti hundred cnihten, 
Mid helmen and mid burnen, 20 and mid stelene sweorden. 

"* > N 

Julius Cesar he wes jep 21 and swuSe iwasr 22 ; 15 

He isaeh his muchele lure, 28 and of ma/e 24 he haefde kare ; 

He aras to fan midnihte, and bannede 25 his cnihtes, 

And seide heom fat heo wolden faren and fleon of fissen londe, 

Faren into Flandre, and beo[n] fer wuniende " 

A 2e fat he iseje 2T his time fat heo 28 mihten aeft cumen liSen. 29 20 

Heo ferden forf 30 rihte to scipe al bi nihte ; 

Heo haefden swiSe fair weder, and wenden into Flandre. 

A margen, fa hit daei wes, f e king mid his dujeSe 81 

c^arekede 82 his ferde, and wende to fan fihte. 

J>o 88 was Romanisce folc ivaren 84 from here londe, 85 25 

f>at 86 ne funden heo naver enne 8T of Cesares monnen. 

1 MS. moniennes 

l 4 shelter, harborage 

27 should see ; MS. isegen 

2 slayer 

is left 

2 MS. he 

3 a one 

16 behind 

29 sailing 

4 straightway 

17 dismayed 

so MS. forh 

5 it (= they) 

is him ; MS. inne 

8i knighthood 

6 died 

19 wakened 

82 made ready 

7 therewith 

20 cuirasses 

88 MS. )>eo 

8 reached, touched 

21 astute 

84 passed 

9 flesh 

22 wary 

86 MS. sonde 

I" MS. fehti 


86 so that 

" till 

24 more, further ; MS. maere 

87 on e 

12 dark 

25 summoned 

18 departed 

26 until 



pa weoren Bruttes bliSe 1 an heore mode ; 

Muchel wes pa blisse pat heo makeden mid iwisse, 2 

And * sone perasfter saeri heo wurden. 4 

And Cassibellaune pe king iwarS saeri purh alle ping, 6 
5 For Nennius his broSer ne mihte finden bote 6 

Of his haefved-wunde pe Julius smat mid honde, 

Ne purh nenne laechecraefte 7 ne mihte he lif habben. 

Nes per nan ofcer raed 8 buten Nennius iwarS daed, 9 

And Nennius was ilaeid 10 at pon nor&jaete i Lundene. 
10 pe king naem enne marmestan, and lette hine mid golde bigon, 11 

Mid golde and mid pmme 12 ; his broker he leide perinne ; 

Mid richedome 18 pa Bruttes Nennium biburden. 14 

Nu pu miht 15 iheren selkuft 16 word : pe king nom pat ilke n sweorde 

pat Nennius his broker biwan of Julius Cesare, 
1 5 And laeide hit bi his broker, pah 18 hit his bone 19 weore. 

Waes pe stelene brond swiSe brad and swiSe long ; 

peron weoren igraven feole cunne M bocstaven 21 ; 

A 22 Sere hike wes igraven 

pat pa sweord wes icleoped 23 inne Rome Crocia Mors 2 * 

Swa pat sweord haehte, for hit havede muchele mahte. 25 

permide pe keisere praetede 26 aelches londes here m ; 

For nas naevere pe ilke bern 28 pe avere iboren weore, 

pat of pen ilke sweorde enne M swipe so hefde, 

pat 81 he of his likame 82 lette aenne drope blod, 
25 pat he nes sone daed, neore he noht 88 swa dohti. 
Julius mid his ferde laei inne Flandre ; 

pa word com to France hou 84 he ivaren haefde, 

1 joyful 

2 with certainty, in truth 

* MS. wurgen 

5 in every way 

6 cure 

" medical skill 

8 remedy 

MS. dae 

10 laid 

" adorn 

12 precious stone (s) 

w splendor 26 might 

14 buried 26 menaced 

!5 mayst 27 army 

16 strange 28 man 

17 very 29 a 
"though; MS. >>at so blow 

w slayer 81 so that 

20 kinds 82 body 

2 1 letters (cf. Ger. Buchstaben) 88 never 

22 on ; MS. ae 84 MS. heou 
28 called 

2 Saffron Death 


And hu he waes mid his faerde iflaemde l of pissen earde. 2 
J?a 3 weoren pa Frensce men perfore swipe vaeine, 4 
For toward Julius heo haefden grome, 5 and forpi weoren faein 
of his scome. 6 

Lines 9064-9185 (Madden 1.386-91). Cf. Geoffrey 4. n 

On Kinbelines daeie, pe king wes inne Bruttene,- 
Com a pissen middelaerde 7 anes maidenes Sune ; 5 

Iboren wes in BeSleem of bezste 8 alre burden. 9 
He is ihaten Jesu Crist purh pene Halie Gost, 
Alre worulde Wunne, 10 Walden[d] u englenne. 12 
Faeder he is on hevenen, Frovre 18 moncunnes 14 ; 
Sune he is on eorSen of sele 15 pon masidene ; 10 

And pene Halie Gost haldeft 16 mid himseolven. 
fene Gast he wel daleo" 17 to fan p e him beo$ leove, 
Al swa he dude Peture, pe wes a wraeche 18 fiscasre, 
J>e makede hine an mancunne hehst 19 of alre manne. 

Kinbelin, Bruttene king, wes god mon purh alle ping ; i 5 

And he luvede 20 here twa and twenti sere. 
An his dseie her luvede a mon inne pisse leoden 
Feorliche 21 ping f uleden 22 him he wes ihaten Teilesin 23 ; 
Heo heolden 24 hine for witie 25 purh his witfulne 26 craef te, 
And al heo hit ilaefden 27 pat Teilesin heom seide. 20 

He seide heom seolkuS 28 inoh, and al heo hit funden soft ; 
He seide heom seiche sere waet heom to cumen weore. 
J>e king him sende asfter wise twalf cnihtes, 
Bad & hine comen him 80 to pat he nan otSer 31 scolde 82 don ; 

1 put to flight & of angels w Taliesin 

2 country 18 comfort 24 held ; MS. heolten 

3 MS. J?at 14 of mankind 25 prophet 

4 fain, glad 15 blissful 26 wise 

5 grudge 16 he holdeth 2 ? believed 

6 shame 17 imparts 28 marvel 

l world 18 forlorn bade ; MS. baft 

8 the best 19 highest 80 Cymbeline 

9 women >x> lived 81 other thing 

10 joy ' wondrous 32 should ; MS. seolden 

U lord ' . ollowed 


And heo hine bro[h]ten sone biforen pen folkekinge. 

Anan swa J pe king hine imette, faeire he hine 4gjretteJ> 

' Swa me helpen min hefde and mi chin, wulcume aertpu, Teilesin, 

And leovere me is fine isunden * \>er\ne a pusen^underV 

5 J?a andswerede Teilesin, and )ms seide to Kinbelin : 

' Swa ich mote gode ipeon, 8 al * pu hit 8 saelt 6 wel biteon. 7 - ' 
]?a wes glad Kinbelin, and pus seide. to Teilesin : 
' Her beofc to pisse londe icumen seolcufie leodronen, 8 
And fromward 9 peon 10 londe of Jerusalem ; iwurden u heo beoo" in 

10 J>er is iboren an luttel child inne pere leoden. 12 

Muchele is and stor 18 pe eije 14 ; tacnen 1S per beo5 on sterren, 
An monen, and on seonnen 16 ; eie 1T is on moncunnen. 
J>is is widen 18 icuS 19 and pa writen m me beofi to icume, 
And Ic wolde iwiten aet 21 pe pu aert mi wine ^ deore 

15 To whan 28 pis tocne wule ten, 24 to wulche pinge temen, 25 
For herfore 28 is alches londes folc laedliche " afered.' 
J>a answerede Teilesin, and pus seide to Kinbelin : 
' Hit wes ^are 28 iquetten w pa quides 80 beo$ nu sotte 
J>at scolden beon a child iboren, of alle folke icoren, 81 

20 And pat scolde beon ihaten Haelend, 82 and helpen his freondes, 
Alesen M his leofve wines of laeSe M heore bendes, 85 
Of 86 helle bringen Adam, Noe, and Abraham, 
Sadoc and Samiel, and Symeon pene aide, 
Josep an[d] Benjamin, and alle his broSeres mid him, 

25 Johel and Eliseon, Asor and Naason, 

Ysaac and his broker, and moni enne 87 ofcer, 

1 the moment that 14 alarm, misgiving 27 sore 

2 health, welfare 16 signs 28 i ong ago 

well thrive 16 sun 29 announced 

* everything K f ea r so assertions 

refers to al 18 widely si choicest 

8 shall 19 known 82 Saviour, Jesus 

' accomplish 20 writings 83 deliver 

secret tidings 21 know from 84 hateful 

from ; MS. -war* 22 friend 85 bonds 

10 the 28 w hich 86 f rom 

n come to pass ; MS. iwurSen 24 tend 87 a one 

12 country 26 lead 

18 mighty, overwhelming 26 O n account of this 

uc mo. i" 



Moni hundred f usend f e if ud * beoS to hellen ; /*~* 

And for swulchere 2 neode he is icumen to fere f eoden. 8 ' ^aw \? 

J>eos word seide Teilesin, and alle heo weoren so$e. Cr<*-f^*-*- 

J>a fan 4 kinge weoren 5 icudde fas quides fa weoren 

J>a weoren fa tiftinde cuSe jeond his kineriche ; 

Bruttes herof jemden, 6 and noht hit ne forjeten. 

Kinbelin wes god king, and griftful 7 furh alle f ing, 8 
And fa Romleoden 9 swit5e hine luveden ; 
And jif f e king wolde 10 wiS ll heom wiSerhalden, 12 
He mihte 13 aethalden 14 heore feoh 15 f e Julius her 16 faette 17 ; 
Ah aevere mare 18 bi 19 his live he hit heom leofliche 20 jeaf. 
SeoSSe 21 him comen fas tiSinde of Crist, Codes childe, 
Ne leovede 22 f e king mare buten ten jere : 
SeofrSen f e king bilaefden w his lif ; inne Eowverwike 24 he jet 

OF STEPHEN (A.D. 1137) 

The Old English Chronicle is of priceless value for the early history of 
England. Toward the end the language passes over into an early form of 
Middle English. Modern historians have often drawn upon this passage in 
characterizing the reign of Stephen. 

Our text is from Two Saxon Chronicles Parallel, ed. Plummer and Earle, 
pp. 263-5, w i tn contractions expanded. 

J>a-f e 2e King Stephne to Englalande com, fa macod he his gader- 15 
ing 27 ast Oxeneford, and far he nam fe biscop Roger of Sereberi, 28 
and Alexander, Biscop of Lincol, and te Canceler Roger, hjise neves, 29 
and dide aslle in prisun til hi iafen 30 up here castles. f>a the suikes 81 

12 rebel; MS. -heolden 
; might have ; MS. mrSte 

i consigned 
2 such 
3 peoples 
* to the 
5 MS. wes 

6 took note 

" peaceable 
8 in all ways 
9 Romans 

1 had wished 

11 against 

14 withhold 

15 tribute 

16 from here 

17 fetched 

is MS. maere 

19 during 

2" submissively, loyally 

21 after 

22 lived 


23 departed 

24 York 

25 lies 

26 when 

2 " assembly 

28 Salisbury 

29 nephews 
so g ave 

31 traitors 



undergaetpn 1 Sat he mijde man was and softe and god, and na jiis- 
tise ne dide, fa tiiden hi alle wunder. Hi hadden him manred a maked 
and athes suoren, ac 8 hi nan treuthe ne heolden ; alle hi 4 waeron for- eU7e 
sworen and here treothes forloren, for aevric 5 rice man his castles 
5 makede and agaenes him heolden, and fylden fe land ful of castles. 
Hi swuncten 6 suySe f e wrecce men of fe land mid castelweprces. 7 
j?a fe castles WJlren maked, fa fylden hi [hi] mid deovlg^ and yyele men. 

ffa namen hi fa men fe hi wenden Sat ani god 8 fief den j "bathe be 
nihtes and'be daeies,^Qmen 9 and wjmmen, and diden heom in prisun, i " 

10 gfter 10 gold and sylv'er. and pined 11 heom untellendljce 12 pining. For 
ne waerep naevre nan nrartyrs swa pined alse hi waeron ; me 18 henged 
up bi trfe fet and smoked^heom mid ful 14 smoke ; me henged bi the 
^fumbes' other bi the hefecf, 16 and hengen bryniges 16 on her fet; me 
dide cnotted strenges abuton here haeved, and ( wrythen 1T to Sat it 

15 gaede 18 !to fe haernes. 19 Hi dyden heom in quarterne, 20 far nadres 21 

and snakes and pades 22 waeron inne, and drapen 23 heom swa. Sume 

hi diden: in crucethus, 24 Sat is in an caeste 25 fat was sort and nareu 

<^/yA and unoep, and dide scaerpe stanes ^erinne, and frengde 26 fe man 

faerinne Sat him braecon alle f e .limes. In mani of f e castles waeron 

20 lof " and grin, 28 Sat waeron rachenteges M Sat twa of er thre men had 
den onoh to baeron onne 80 ; fat was sua maced, Sat is faestned to an 
beom, 81 and diden an scaerp iren abuton f e 82 mannes throte and his 
hals, 88 Sat he ne myhte nowiderwardes, 84 ne sitten ne lien ne slepen, 
oc baeron al Sat iren. Mani fusen[d] hi drapen mid hungaer. 

25 I ne can ne I ne mai tellen alle fe wunder, ne alle fe pines, Sat 
hi diden wrecce men on f is land ; and Sat lastede fa xix wintre 
wile Stephne was king, and aevre it was werse and werse. Hi laeiden 

1 understood, perceived 13 they 25 chest 

2 homage 14 f ou l 20 pressed, jammed 
8 but 15 head 27 device (?) 

4 MS. he 16 coats of mail 28 contrivance 

6 evel T lr twisted - 29 chains, fetters 

6 oppressed is till it went so one 

" the making of castles brain si beam, rafter 

8 property 20 prison 32 MS. J?a 

9 men 21 adders 88 ncc k 

10 in P ursuit of 22 toads 84 (go) in no direction 

11 tortured 23 killed 

12 unspeakable 24 torture-box 




gasldes 1 on the tunes aevre um wile, 2 and clgrjeden it tenserie. 3 J>a 
f e wrecce men ne hadden nan mpje to gyven, fa raeveden 4 hi and 
brendon 5 allejthe Junes, Sat, 6 wel * f u myhtes faren all a daeis fare, 8 
sculdest thu riey're finden man in tune sittende ne land tiled. 9 J>a 
was corn djere, 10 and flesc 11 and ca^se 12 and butere, for nan ne 5 
waes o f e land. Wrecce men sturven 18 of hungaer ; sume ieden u on 
aelmes fe waren sum wile 15 rice men ; sume flugen 16 ut of lande. 

js nsevre gaet mare wreccehed 1T on land, ne naevre hethen men 


ne diden fan hi diden ; for ower 18 sithon 19 ne forbaren ^ hi 


nouther circe 21 ne cyjceiaerd, 22 oc namen al fe god Sat farinne was, 10 
and brenden sythen J?e cyrce, and al tegaedere. Ne hi ne forbaren 
> biscopes land, ne abbotes, ne preostes, ac raeveden munekes and 
' clerekes, and asvric man other M fe ower 24 myhte. Gif twa men ofer 
iii a coman ridend to an tun, al ]>e tunscipe flugjgn for heom ; wenden 
Sat hi waeron raeveres. 25 f>e biscopes and lered men heom curse^e 26 
aevre, oc was heom naht farof, for hi weron al forcursaed and for- 
suoren and forloren. Warsae 27 me tilede, fe erthe ne bar nan corn, 
for fe land was al fordon mid suilce daedes, and hi saeden openlice 
Sat Crist slep and his halechen. 28 Suilc and mare fanne we cunnen 
saein, we foleden M xix wintre for ure sinnes. 


The Bruce was composed in I37^by a northern contemporary of Chaucer, 
John Barbour (1320 (?)-i395), who was for thirty-eight years archdeacon of 
Aberdeen. Of Barbour's life comparatively little is known, but we learn that 
he received permits from the king to study at Oxford and in France, and was 
granted various pensions. Besides the Bruce, he wrote a poem called The Brttt, 
and a genealogy of the Stuart family, both of which are lost. 

1 tributes ; MS. gaeildes 

2 from time to time 

3 name given to a tax exacted 

from vassals in return for 

4 plundered 

5 burned 

6 so that 

7 though 

8 journey 

9 tilled 

10 dear, expensive 

" MS. flee 

12 cheese 

18 died, perished 

1 4 went, lived 

15 at one time 
le fled 

l" wretchedness 

18 everywhere ; MS. ouer 

1 9 afterwards 

20 abstained from 

21 church 

22 churchyard 

23 each man his neighbor 

24 anywhere ; MS. ouer 

25 robbers 

26 excommunicated 

27 wheresoever 
528 saints 

29 endured; MS. ^olenden 


The Bruce is called by its author a romance, though it has often been dealt 
with and criticized as history. ' We are hardly to regard it in the light of an 
exact history, but rather as a succession of episodes telling us various stories 
about the great perils and adventures of the heroes, the chief ,of whom are 
Robert Bruce, his brother Edward, Sir James Douglas, and Sir Thomas 
Randolph, afterwards Earl of Murray' (Skeat), the period covered being 
1286-1332. The poem is divided into twenty books, and Is wrftten in the 
dialect of southern Scotland. While certain parts of it are undeniably tedious, 
it is of real interest for its national spirit, and has been influential upon so late 
a fellow-countryman of Barbour's as Sir Walter Scott. Barbour's unique posi 
tion is that ' of being the father both of vernacular Scottish poetry and Scottish 
history ' (Diet. Nat. Biog.). 

Our text is taken from that of Skeat, as edited for the Scottish Text Society 
(Edinburgh, 1894), with the omission of square brackets, substitution of s for ss 
(representing a single sound), and writing of n as , etc. Skeat's text is based 
on the Edinburgh manuscript, written in 1489, collated with the Cambridge 
MS. G. 23, and with several early editions. Our selections include lines 353-406 
of Book i, 352-452 of Book 10, and 18-49, *39~66 and 272-323 of Book 13. 
It is to be noted that v and w are frequently interchanged. 


To Sanct Andrews he come in hy, 1 
Quhar 2 the byschop full curtasly 
Resavyt him, and gert 8 him wer , .^cJt 
His knyvys, 4 forouch 5 him to scher ' ; * t^J^\ J 
5 And cled him rycht honorabilly, 

And gert ordayn quhar he suld ly. 

A weile 7 gret quhile thar duellyt he ; ^ 

All men lufyt him for his bdunte, 

For he wes off full fayr effer, 8 

^s>* --, 

10 Wys, curtais, and deboner ; 

Larg 9 and lyfjjajjd als wes he, 
And our 10 all thing luffyt lawte. 11 
Leaute to luff 12 is gretumly u -. 
Throuch leaute liffis men rychtwisly ; 

1 naste 6 carve at table \ 11 loyalty 

"where 7 very (well) 12 to be loved 

8 made 8 behavior 13 greatly 

* knives, daggers 9 generous 

5 before 10 over above 

/j - 



With a wertu * of leaute 

A man, may jeit sufficyand be ; 

And But 2 leawte may nane haiff price,^ 

Quhethir he be wycht 4 or he be wj 

For quhar it failjeys^ ha werti 

May be off 5 pfic< 

To mak a man sa gud that he 

May symgly gud man callyj^ be. (j > 

He wes in all his dedis lele 6 ; 

For him dedeynjeit 7 nocht to dele 

With trecheryj na with falsgL? ffi 

His hart on hey honour wes set ; 

And hym contenyt 9 on sic 10 maner_ 

That all him luff yt that war him ner. 

Bot he, wes nocht sa f ay_r that we -15 

Suld spek gretly off his beaute : 
K V In wysage wes he sumdeill gray, 

And had blak har, as Ic hard say ; 

Bot off lymmys he wes weill maid, 

With banys n gret and schuldrys braid. 20 

His body wes weyll maid and lenye, 12 
Wj As thai that saw hym said to me. 

Quhen he wes blyth, he wes lufly, 
0y\ And meyk and sweyt in cjumpany ;0r 

Bot quha in battaill mycht him se, %v 25 

^ All othir contenance had he. ftf^ 

And in spek 13 wlispyt 14 he sum deill, 

Bot that sat 15 him rycht wondre weill. ' ; 

Till 16 gud Ector of Troy mycht he 

In mony thingis liknyt be. 30 

Ector had blak har as he had, 

1 virtue 7 deigned 18 speech 

2 without 8 falsehood M lisped 

3 praise 9 he demeaned himself 15 became 

4 vigorous 10 such 16 to 

5 of n bones 

6 leal, loyal 12 lean, thin 


And stark l lymmys, and rycht weill maid ; 
And wlispyt alsua as did he, 
IA " ' And wes fullfillyt 2 of leawte, - 

And wes curtais, and wys, and wycht. 8 
Bot off manheid and mekill mycht, 
Till Ector dar I nane comper ff 
Off all that evir in warldys wer. 
The quhethyr 4 in his tyme sa wrocht he, 
That he suld gretly lovyl be. 


This tym that the gud erll Thomas 
Assegit, 6 as the lettir 6 sais, 
Edinburgh, James of Douglas 
Set all his vit for till purchas 7 ' 


How Roxburgh, throu subtilite 
1 5 Or ony craft, mycht wonnyn be ; 

Till he gert Sym of the Ledows 

A crafty man and a curious 

Of hempyn rapis 8 ledderis rpa, 9 

With treyn 10 steppis buhdin swa, 
20 That vald n brek apon na kyn wis. 12 

^{V A cruk 18 thai maid, at thair dguis^ 4 

Of irn, 15 that wes styth 16 and square ; 

That, fra 17 it ane kyrnaill 18 ware, - 

And the leddir tharfra stratly 19 
25 Strekit, 20 it suld stand sekirly. 21 -- 

This lord of Douglas than, alsoyn ffl 

As this devisit wes and done, 

1 strong 9 make w from the time that, when 

2 filled full 1 wooden 18 against a battlement 
* brave n would 19 tightly 

4 nevertheless 12 in no way 20 stretched 

6 besieged is large hook 21 securely 

6 written account M according to their plan 22 as soon 

7 devise, contrive JS iron 

8 ropes 16 strong 






Gaderit gud men in preyate l ; 
Thre score I trow at 2 thai mycht be. 
And on the f asteryn evyn 8 rycht, 
In the begjYnnyng of the nycht, 
k Till the clstell thai tujk the.3j.ay. 
With blak froggis 4 all helit 5 thai 
The armouris at thai on thame had. 
Thai com njgr by thar but abaid,^ - 
And send haly thair hors ' thame fra, 
And on range 8 in ane rod 9 can 10 ga u 
On handis and feit, quhen thai wa-frneir, 
Richt as thai ky 12 and oxin weir, 
That war unbondyn left therout. 

di ' It wes richt -rherk, 13 forouten 14 dout ; $ T 

The quhethir 15 ane, on the wall that lay, 

Besvde him till his f eir 1G can say : 

, J ~ J 

' This man thinkis to mak gude chere ' 
And nemmyt 1T ane husband 18 tharby neir 
' That has left all his oxyne. out.' 
The tothir said, ' It is na. dout ; 
He sail mak merye this nycht, thouch thai 19 
Be with w the Douglas led ayay.' 
Thai wende the Douglas and his men 
Had beyn oxyne, for thai jeid 21 then 
On handis and feit, ay ane and ane. 
The Dowglas rycht gud tent 2<l has tane 
Till all thar speke, 24 bot alssoyn 25 thai 
Held, carpand, 26 inward on thar way. 
The Douglas men tharof wes blith, 

Cr^- tlL v 


1 secrecy 

2 that 

8 eve of the fast, Shrove 

4 frocks 

5 covered, concealed 

6 without delay 

7 sent all their horses away 

8 in single file 

9 along a path (road) 
1 did (gan) 
u go 
12 cows 
is dark 

14 without 

15 nevertheless 

16 companion ( 

17 named 

is husbandman, farmer 

19 (the cattle) 

20 by 

21 went (OE. eode) 

22 attention 

28 paid (taken) 

24 speech 

25 very soon 

26 talking 


And till the wall thai sped thame swith l 
And soyn has up thair ledderis set, 
That maid a clap, 2 quhen the cleket * 
Wes festnyt fast in the kyrnell. 
That herd ane of the vachis 4 wele, 
And buskit 6 thiddirward bjit baid 6 ; 
Bot'Ledous, that the leddyr maid, 
' JL-wLfA. Sped 7 hym to cl^m first to the wall ; 
Bot, .or he wes up gottin all, 

10 He aP that vard 9 had in keping, 

jS If^JL t^_ 
Met him rycht at the upcummyjig ; 

And, for 10 he thoucht to dyng u hym doune, 

He maid na nojs, na cry, na sowne, 

Bot schot ia till him deliverly. 18 
15 And he that wes in juperdy 

Till de, 14 a lans 15 till him he maid, 

And gat him be the nek but baid, 

And stekit le him upward vith ane knyff, 

Quhill in his hand he left tte'liff. 17 
20 And quhen he ded sa saw him ly, 

Upon the wall he went in hy, 

And doune the body kest thame till, 

And said : ' All gangis 18 as we will ; 

Speid 19 jow upward deliverly.' 
25 And thai did swa in full gret hy. 

Bot, or thai wan * up, thar com ane, 

And saw Ledows stand him allane, 

And knew he wes nocht of thar men. 

In hy he ruschit till hym then, 
3 And hym assaljeit sturdely ; 

Bot he hym slew deliverly ; 

1 quickly 8 that 15 leap, dash 

2 noise watch 16 stabbed 

3 clicket, holdfast l<> because 17 life 

* watches, guards n throw is goes 

5 hastened 12 shot, dashed i hasten 

6 without delay is nimbly 20 succeeded in getting 
" hastened i< to die 


For he wes armyt and wes vycht~ 
The tothir nakyt 1 wes, I hicht, 2 ' ' 


And had nocht for till styjit no strak. 8 

Qir rr\j^ll^ ^ fJ-ioriiT-\ 5 /-*OTI Vio rY-olr 

Sic melle 4 tharup 5 can he mak, 





uhill Douglas and his mergjie 
War wonnyn up apon the wall. 
Than in the jour thai vent in hy. 
The folk that tym wes halely 7 
Into 8 the hajl at thair dansyng, 
Synging, and othir wayis playing 
As jipon fastryn evyn is 
The custom, to mak joyji: 
To folk that ar into 
Swa trowit thai that tym to be. 
Bot, or thai wist, rycht in the hall 
Douglas and his men cummyn var_all, 
And cryit on hicht 10 : ' Douglas ! Douglas ! 
And thai, that ma n war than he was, 
Herd 'Dowglas ! ' cryit rycht hydwisly, 12 
Thai war abasit 13 for the cry, 
And schurje 14 richt na defens to ma. 15 
And thai but 16 gije can thame sla, 
Till thai had gottyn the ovir " hand. 

7 all of them 


2 assure you 

3 to oppose a blow (stop a stroke) 

4 such combat 

5 up there 

6 host 

9 in safety 

10 aloud 

11 more 

12 horribly 

18 dismayed 

14 attempted 

15 make 

1 6 without 

17 upper 




The closing incident of this selection may be compared with Scott's adapta 
tion of it in The Lord of the Isles 6.31-2. The story of the campaign, with a 
survey of the related events and conditions, has been told by W. M. Mackenzie, 
The Battle of Bannockburn : A Study in Mediteval Warfare (Glasgow, 1913). 

The battale thair so felloune 1 was, 

And sua richt gret spilling of blud, 

That on the erd the flus 2 it stud. 

The Scottis men so weill thame bar, 
5 And sua gret slauchtir maid thai thar, 

And fra so feill 8 the livis revit, 4 

That all the feild wes bludy levit. 5 

That tym thir thre battalis 6 wer 

All syde be syde fechtand 7 weill neir, 
10 Thar mycht man her 8 richt mony dynt, 

And vapnys 9 apon armour stynt, 10 

And se tummyll n knychtis and stedis, 

With mony rich and ryoll 12 wedis 18 

Defoulit roydly 14 under feit. 
1 5 Sum held on loft, 15 sum tynt 16 the suet. 17 

A long quhill thus fechtand thai wer, 

That men no noyis na cry mycht her ; 

Men herd, nocht ellis bot granys 18 and dyntis, 

That slew 19 fire, as men dois 20 on flyntis ; 
20 Sa 21 faucht thai ilkane egirly 

That thai maid nouthir noyis no cry, 

Bot dang w on othir at thar mycht, 

With wapnys that war burnyst brycht. 

The arrowis als so thik thai flaw 

1 cruel 


8 many 

4 took away 

6 left 

8 these three battalions 

" being fought 

8 hear 

9 weapons 
10 clash, smite 
tumble, fall 
12 royal 
is garments 
14 rudely 
is aloft 
16 lost 

1 7 life-blood (sweat) 

18 groans 
i struck 

21 so 

22 struck 


That thai mycht say weill, at l thaim saw, 

That thai ane hydwis schour 2 can ma ; 

For quhar thai fell, I wndirta, 8 

Thai left eftir thame taknyng, 4 

That sail neid, as I trow, lechyng. 5 5 

The Ynglis archeris schot so fast 

That, mycht thar schot haf had last, 6 

It had beyne hard to Scottis men. . . . 

For quhen the Scottis ynkirly 7 

Saw thair fais sa sturdely -fr*^- I0 

Stand into 8 battale thame agane, 
With all thar mycht and all thar mayne 
Thai layd on, as men out of wit ; 
For quhar thai with full strak 9 mycht hit, 
Thair mycht no armyng 10 stynt thar strak ; 1 5 

Thai tofruschit u thame thai mycht ourtak, 13 
And with axis sic duschis 18 gaff 
That thai helmys and hedis claff. 
And thair fais richt hardely 

Met thame, and dang 14 on douchtely 16 20 

With wapnys that war stith 16 of steill. 
Thar wes the battell strikyn 17 weill ; 
So gret dynnyng ther wes of dyntis, 
As wapnys apon armor styntis, 
And of speris so gret bristing, 18 
With sic thrawing 19 and sic thristing, 20 
Sic gyrnyng, 21 granyng, 22 and so gret 
A noyis, as thai can othir bet, 28 
And cryit ensenjeis 24 on everilk syd, 
Gifand and takand woundis wyd, 30 

1 that 9 stroke l" engaged 

2 shower 1 armor 18 breaking, bursting 
8 assert n crushed 19 throwing 

4 token 12 overtake 20 thrusting 

5 healing I B severe blows 21 grinning 

6 lasted l 4 struck 22 groaning 
" in particular, for their part 15 valiantly 28 beat 

8 in l" strong 24 war-cries 



That it wes hydwiss for till her 
All four the battelis, 1 wicht that wer, 
Fechtand intill a front haly. a 
Almychty God ! full douchtely 
Schir Edward the Brys and his men 
Amang thair fais 8 contenyt thame * then. 
For all the Scottis men that war thar, 
Quhen thai saw thame 6 eschew the ficht, 
Dang on thame swa with all thar mycht 
That thai scalit 6 in tropellis 7 ser, 8 
And till discumfitur war ner ; 
And sum of thame fled all planly. 9 
Bot thai that wicht war and hardy, 
That schame letit 10 till ta u the flicht, 
At gret myschef mantenyt 12 the ficht, 
And stithly in the stour 18 can stand. 
And quhen the king of Ingland 
Saw his men fle in syndry w place, 
And saw his fais rout, 15 that was 
Worthyn 16 so wicht and so hardy, 
That all his folk war halely " 
Swa stonayit 18 that thai had no mycht 
To stynt 19 thair fais in the ficht, 
He was abasit * so gretumly 21 
That he and all his cumpany, 
Fif hundreth armyt weill at rycht, 
Intill a f rusche M all tuk the flycht, 
And till the castell held ther way. 
And jeit, as I herd sum men say, 
That of Wallanch Schir Amer, 28 

1 battalions 

2 abreast, all in one rank (?) 
8 foes 

4 demeaned themselves 

6 the English 

6 dispersed 

' small companies 

8 separate . 

9 openly 

10 prevented 

11 from taking 

12 maintained 

18 combat, battle 
14 sundry 
is host 
16 become 

" entirely 

18 astonished, dismayed 

w stop, check 

20 cast down, discouraged 

21 greatly, extremely 

22 rush, sudden breaking of ranks 
28 Sir Aymer de Valence 


Quhen he the feld saw vencust 1 ner, 
By the renje 2 led avay the king, 
Agane his will, fra the fichting. 
And quhen Schir Gelis de Argente 8 
Saw the king thus, and his menje, 5 

Schape thame 4 to fle so spedely, 
He com richt to the kyng in hy, 
And said : ' Schir, sen that it is swa 
That je thusgat 5 jour gat 6 will ga, 
Haffis ~ gud day ! for agane 8 will I ; 10 

, j: ^heit fled I nevir sekirly ; 

And I cheis heir to byde and de, 

Than till lif heir and schamfully fle.' 

His brydill than but mair abaid 9 

He turnyt, and agane he raid, 15 

And on Schir Eduard the Brysis 10 rout 

That wes so sturdy and so stout, 

As dreid of na kyn thing n had he, 

He prikit, 12 cryand ' Argente ! ' 

And thai with speris swa him met, 20 

And swa feill speris on hym set, 

That he and hors war chargit 18 swa L--- 

That bath doune to the erd can ga ; 

And in that place than slayne wes he. 

Of his ded wes rycht gret pite ; 25 

He wes the thrid best knycht, perfay, 

That men wist liffand in his day ; 

He did mony a fair journe. 14 

1 vanquished c way H no sort of thing 

2 rein " have 12 ro d e hard 

3 Giles de Argentine 8 (turn) back again 18 pressed hard 

4 prepare themselves 9 without more delay 14 day's fighting 

5 thus 10 Bruce's 

26. thrid : the other two named by Lord Hailes (Ann. Scot. 2. 48) are the 
Emperor Henry of Luxembourg and Robert Bruce. 



The work which passes under the name of Sir John Mandeville was probably 
the production of a certain Jean de Bourgogne, called the Bearded, who died 
at Liege on November 17, 1372. According to the chronicle composed by Jean- 
d'Outremeuse (1338-1399), this Jean de Bourgogne styled himself in his will 
Jean de Mandeville, and revealed on his deathbed to the chronicler that, having 
had the misfortune to kill an earl in his own country, England, he had bound him 
self to traverse three parts of the world. His tomb was to be seen at Liege till 
1798, with an inscription which ran (Diet. Nat. Biog. 36. 26): ' Hie jacet vir nobi- 
lis Dom. Joannes de Mandeville, alias dictus ad Barbam, Miles, Dominus de 
Campdi, natus de Anglia, medicinae professor, devotissimus orator, et bonorum 
suorum largissimus pauperibus erogator, qui, toto quasi orbe lustrato, Leodii 
diem vitae suae clausit extremum, A.D. MCCCLXXII, mensis Nov. die XVII.' 

Whatever traveling Mandeville (or Bourgogne) may have done, almost his 
whole work is a tissue of borrowings and adaptations from such writings as 
William of Boldensele's Itinerary (published 1336), Odoric of Pordenone's 
Itinerary (1330), Hetoun the Armenian's History of the Orient (1307), the 
so-called Epistle of Prester John, etc. The work was first written in French, 
and afterwards translated into English, Latin, and a variety of other languages. 

Dr. Warner says (Diet. Nat. Biog. 36. 28) : ' Avowedly written for the un 
learned, and combining interest of matter and a quaint simplicity of style, the 
book hit the popular taste. ... No mediaeval work was more widely diffused in 
the vernacular.' Some three hundred manuscripts are said to be in existence. 
There are three English versions, of which two, both contained in manuscripts 
of 1410-1420, are superior to the other. One of these (in Cotton MS. Titus 6. 1 6) 
is the text generally found in print ; the other, in Northern dialect (in Egerton 
MS. 1982), was published by G. F. Warner in 1889, with an excellent introduc 
tion and notes, and is that from which our extracts are taken. For fuller accounts 
see Encyc. Brit, and Diet. Nat. Biog. s.v. ; Camb. Hist. Eng. Lit. 2. 90-100. 


Text, p. 25. In order to show the relation of the English translation to the 
original, a passage of the French text printed by Dr. Warner is here repro 
duced ; but it must be understood that this undoubtedly differs from the precise 
text on which the present English version is based : 

En Egipte est la cite de Eliopole, cest a dire la cite de solail. En celle y ad une 
temple fait reonde, a la guise de temple de Jerusalem. Luy preistres de ceo temple ad 



par escript la date del oysel qad a noun Fenix, qi nest qe un soul en monde, et se vient 
la arder sur laulter de ceo temple au chief de v c ans, qar tant vit il. Ly preistres appa- 
raille et met sur eel aulter espices, et soufre vif, et autres choses qi legerement enflau- 
ment, si qe ly oisel se vient ardoir tot en cendres. Et le primer iour apres lem troeve 
as cendres un verm ; et le secund iour lem trove loisel tot parfait ; et le tiercz iour il 
sen vole. Et ensi ni ad totdys qe un oisel soul de celle nature ; et vrayment ceo est grant 
miracle de Dieu. Et puet homme comparer eel oisel a Dieu, en ceo qe ni ad Dieu forsqe 
un soul, et en ceo qe nostre Seignur resuscita le tiercz iour. Cest oisel veit homme souent 
voler en celles parties. Et nest gairs pluis grant dun aigle ; et il ad un crest sur la teste 
pluis grant qe un pauon, et ad col tout iaune de la colour dun oriel bien lusant, et le dos 
de ynde, et les aeles de purpre colour, et la cowe reget de travers de iaune et de rouge. 
Et est tres belle a veoir au solail, qar il tresluyt mult noblement. 

In Egipte also es a citee pat es called Eliople, 1 pat es als mykill at 
say 2 as pe citee of pe sonne. In pis citee es a temple, round in pe 
maner of pe temple of Jerusalem. J>e preste of pe temple has writen 
in a buke pe date of a f ewle 8 pat men calles Fenix ; and per es hot 
ane in all pe werld. And pis fewle liffes fyve hundreth jere ; and at 5 
pe fyve hundreth jere 4 end he commes to pe forsaid temple, and 
apon pe awter he brynnes himself all to powder. And pe preste of 
pe temple, pat knawes by his buke pe tyme of his commyng, makes 
pe awter redy, and lays perapon diverse spiceries 6 and sulphure vive, 6 
and stikkes of pe junipre tree, and oper thinges pat will sone brynne. 10 
And pan the fewle commes, and lightes apon pe awter, and fannez 
with his wenges ay till pe forsaid thinges be sett on fire ; and pare he 
brynnes himself all till asches. On pe morue 7 pai fynd in pe asches as 
it ware a worme ; on pe secund day pat worme es turned till a fewle 
perfitely fourmed; and on pe thridd day it flies fra pat place to pe 15 
place whare it was wont to dwell. And so per es nevermare bot ane. 
J>is ilke fewle betakens oure Lord" Jesu Criste, in als mykill as per 
es bot a a Godd, pat rase on pe thridd day fra deed to lyfe. J>is for 
said fewle es ofttymes sene ayrand 9 aboute, when pe weder es faire 
and clere ; and pai say pare pat when pai see pat fewle sore in pe aer, 20 
pai sail afterward hafe gude jeres and miry, for pai say it es a fewle 
of heven. And pis fewle es na mare pan ane egle of body. He has 
on his heved a creste as a pacok, bot it es mykill mare pan pe creste 

1 Heliopolis, a short distance 4 year's 7 morrow 

from Cairo 5 spicy substances 8 one 

2 as much as to say 6 sulphur vivum, horse 9 moving in the air 

3 bird brimstone 


of a pacok. His nekke es jalow, and his back es ynde l colour ; his 
wenges er reed, and his taile es barred overthwert 2 with grene and 
jalowe and reed. And in f e sonne he semes wonder faire, for fir 8 er 
fe colours fat er fairest schewand. 4 


Text, pp. 137-8. Almost any encyclopaedia, and the larger dictionaries 
under the word ' Assassin,' will give some information on the matter of this 
section. The Assassins were so called because they were intoxicated with 
hashish (see the ' maner of drinke ' below). Mandeville draws from Odoric 
(Yule, Cathay 1. 153-5) or Marco Polo (Book i, chap. 22); see Yule's notes to 
both. The ' old man,' or sheikh, derived his title from the mountainous region 
south of the Caspian which was under his sway. In particular, he had a moun 
tain castle at Alamut in the Elburz range, some ninety miles northwest of 
Teheran, and just south of a line joining Teheran and Rasht. The rise of this 
power may be assigned to 1090, or thereabouts, and the destruction of the 
castles where the sheikhs held sway to about 1256. 

5 Besyde fe ile of Pentoxore, fe whilk es Prestre Johnez, es anofer 
ile bathe lang and brade, f e whilk es called Mulstorak 8 ; and it es 
under fe lordschepe of Prestre John. In pis ile es grete plentee of all 
maner of gudes and ricchess. And in fat land was sum tyme a riche 
man fat was called Catolonabes, and he was a grete man and a won- 

10 der wyly. And he had a faire castell and a strang, standand apon a 
hill, and he gert 6 make aboute it strang wallez and hie. And within 
fase wallez he gert make a faire gardyn, and plant ferin all maner of 
treez berand diverse fruytz. He gert plant ferin also all maner of 
erbez of gude smell, and fat bare -faire floures. J>are ware also in fat 

15 gardyne many faire welles, and besyde faim ware many faire halles 
and chaumbres, paynted with gold and azure wele and curiousely with 
diverse storys, and with diverse maners of briddes, fe whilk semed, 
as fai sang and turned by engyne, 7 as fai had bene all quikke. 8 He 
putte also in fat gardyne all maner of fewles fat he myght get, and 

20 all maner of bestez fat he myght fynd, to make a man solace and dis- 
porte. And he putte also into fat gardyne faire damysellz within fe 

1 blue (indigo) * showing (i.e. to look upon) 6 caused to 

2 crosswise 6 Melazgerd, in Armenia, north " mechanism 
* these of Lake Van alive 


elde 1 of xv jere, fe fairest fat he myjt fynd, and knafe 2 childre of 
fe same elde ; and fai ware all cledd in clathes of gold. And f ase, he 
said, ware aungelles. Also he gert make in fe forsaid gardyn three 
faire welles of precious stanes, closed aboute with jasper and cristall, 
wele bunden with gold and ofer precious stanes. And he gert make 5 
cundytes 8 under fe erthe, so fat, when he wald, ane of fir 4 wellez 
ran of wyne, anofer of mylke, anofer of hony, thurgh fir forsaid 
cundytes. And fis place called he Paradys. And, when any jung 
bachelere of fe cuntree come to him, he ledd him into fis Paradys 
and schewed him all fise forsaid thingez. And he had diverse myn- 10 
stralles prively in hye toure fat fai myght nojt be sene, playand on 
diverse instrumentez of music. And he said fat fai ware Goddes 
aungelles, and fat fat was Paradys fat Godd graunted to fase fat 
he lufes, sayand on fis wyse : Dabo vobis terram fluentem lac et tnel^ 
fat es to say, 'I sail giffe to jow land flowande mylke and hony.' 15 
And fan fis ryche man gafe to fise men a maner of drinke, of whilke 
fai ware drunken alssone 6 ; and fan fai ware mare blinded fan fai 
ware before, and wend fai had bene in full blisse. And he said fam 
fat, if fai wald putte faim in juperdy of deed 7 for his sake, when 
fai ware deed fai schuld com into his Paradys, and fai schuld ever- 20 
mare be of fe elde of fe forsaid damyselles, and fai schuld evermare 
dwell with fam, and have lyking s and dalyaunce of fam, and ever 
mare be maydens, and after a certayne tyme he schuld putte fam 
in a fairer Paradys, whare fai schuld see Godd in his majestee, and 
in his blisse and joy. And fan fai graunted at 9 do all fat he wald 25 
bidd fam do. And fan he bad fam ga to swilk a place, and sla 10 
swilke a lorde or man of fe cuntree, whilk was his enmy, and fat fai 
schuld hafe na drede, for, if fai ware deed, fai schuld be putte into 
fat Paradys. And f us gert he sla many lordes of fe cuntree ; and 
also many of fise men ware slaen, in hope to hafe fis Paradys fat he 30 
hight n fam. And f us he venged him on his enmys thurgh fis des- 
sayte. 12 And when lordes and riche men of fe cuntree persayved fis 
malice and wyle of him, fis Catolonabes, fai gadred fam togyder and 

1 age 5 cf . Lev. 20. 24 9 to 

3 boy 6 at once 10 slay 

8 conduits 7 death n promised 

4 these 8 pleasure 12 deceit 


assailed pis castell, and slew Catolonabes, and destruyd all his ricchess 
and faire thinges pat ware in his Paradys, and kest doune his castell ; 
and jit er pe welles pare, and sum other thinges, hot na ricchess. It 
es nojt lang sen it was destruyd. 


Text, p. 84. Mandeville is here indebted to the so-called Letter of Prester 
John, extant before 1177. The Latin runs (Zarncke, Der Priester Johannes, in 
Abh. Phil.-Hist. Classe der Kiinigl.- Sachs. Ges. der Wiss., Vol. 7, Leipzig, 1879, 
pp. 912-3): 'Quod nemus situm est ad radicem mentis Olimpi, unde fons 
perspicuus oritur, omnium in se specierum saporem retinens. Variatur autem 
sapor per singulas horas diei et noctis, et progreditur itinere dierum trium non 
longe a Paradyso, unde Adam fuit expulsus. Si quis de fonte illo ter jejunus 
gustaverit, nullam ex ilia die infirmitatem patietur, semperque erit quasi in 
aetate XXX duorum annorum, quamdiu vixerit.' The European notions of 
the Fountain of Youth all go back to this, according to E. W. Hopkins (' The 
Fountain of Youth,' mjour. Am. Or. Soc. 26 (1905). 32 ff.). 

5 At pe heved of pis ilk forest es pe citee of Polombe; and besyde 
pat citee es a mountayne wharoff pe citee takez |>e name, for men 
callez pe mountayne Polombe. And at pe fote of pis mountayne es a 
well, noble and faire ; and pe water peroff has a swete savour and 
reflaire, 1 as it ware of diverse maner of spicery. And ilke houre of pe 

10 day pe water chaungez diversely his savour and his smell. And wha 
so drinkes fastand thryes of pat well, he sail be hale of what maner 
of malady pat he base. And forpi 2 pa 8 pat wonnez 4 nere pat well 
drynkez peroff pe ofter, and perfore pai hafe nevermare sekeness, bot 
evermare pai seme Jung. I, John Maundevill, sawe pis well, and 

1 5 drank peroff thrys and all my f elawes, and evermare sen pat tyme I 

. fele me pe better and pe haler, and suppose 6 for to do till pe tyme pat 

Godd of his grace will make me to passe oute of pis dedly lyf. Sum 

men callez pat well Fons Juventutis, pat es for to say, pe well of gowthe- 

hede 8 ; for pai pat drinkez peroff semez allway Jung. And pai say pis 

1 odor 8 those MS. supposez 

2 therefore 4 dwell 6 youth 

5. Polombe : Quilon, or Quillon, not far from Cape Comorin, the southern 
most point of India, on the west coast (Yule, Cathay 12.71). 


well commez fra Paradys terrestre, 1 for it es so vertuous. Thurgh- 
oute all fis cuntree fer growes fe best gynger fat es ower whare 2 ; 
and marchaunds commez fider fra ferre cuntreez for to bye it. 

Text, pp. 86-7. From Odoric, chaps. 18, 19 (Yule, Cathay i. 80-83). 

Fra fis land men gase by many diverse placez to a cuntree fat es 
called Mabaron 8 ; and it es fra fe forsaid land x day-journeez. And 5 
it es a grete rewme 4 and a large, and many gude citeez and tounes 
f erin. In fat land of Mabaron liez Sayne Thomas f e apostle, and his 
body all hale, in a faire toumbe in f e citee of Calamy 5 ; for fare was 
he martird and graven. 6 Bot afterwardes fe Assirienes tuke his body, 
and bare it to a citee in Mesopotamy fat es called Edisse. 7 Bot eft- 10 
sones 8 it was translated agayne to f e foresaid citee, and layd in f e 
forsaid toumbe ; and his arme with his hand fat he putt in oure 
Lordes syde after his resurreccioun, when he said, Noli esse incredulus, 
sed fidefa? lyez withouten in a vessell. And by that hand men of 
fat cuntree giffez faire jugementz, to wit wha has rijt. For if any 15 
stryf be betwene twa parties, and ayther party affermez fat he has 
rijt in his cause, fan f ai ger write in a scrowe 10 f e rijt of ayther party, 
and puttez f ase billes in f e hand of Sayne u Thomas ; and als fast 12 f e 
hand castez oute fe bille fat contenez fe fals cause, and fe tofer it 
haldez still. And f erfore men commez ofttymes oute of ferre cuntreez 20 
fider, for to declare a rijtwys cause betwene party and party, f e whilk 
es in doute. f>e kirke whare Sayne Thomas lyes es mykill and faire, 
and full of ymagery of faire mawmets 13 ; and f ase ymagez er ilk ane 
of f e stature of twa men at f e leste. 

Bot fare es ane fat passez all ofer of stature ; and fat es richely and 25 
really 14 enourned 15 with gold and precious stanes all aboute, and sittez 

1 earthly * St. Thomas, a few miles n saint 

2 anywhere where (redun- south of Madras 12 as fast as might be, very 

dant phrase) 6 buried fast 
8 the Coromandel coast of 7 Edessa, or Urfa, in Syria 13 false gods, idols (///. Ma- 
southern India (Yule, 8 afterwards hornets) 
Cathay i. 80) 9 John 20. 27 14 royally 
4 realm 1 scroll 15 adorned 


in a chaier nobelly arraied. And he has aboute his nekk as it ware 
brade gyrdils l of silke, wele hernayst z with gold and preciouse stanes. 
To fat ymage men commez fra ferre in pilgrimage with grete devo- 
cioun, als comounly als Cristen men commez to Sayne James. 8 And 

5 sum of fam, for f e grete devocioun fai hafe to fat mawmet, ay as fai 
ga, er lukand douneward to fe erthe, and will nojt luke aboute fam, 
for fai schuld see nathing fat schuld lette faire devocioun. J>are 
commez sum also f ider in pilgrimage fat beres scharpe knyfes in faire 
handes, with whilk, ay as fai ga by fe way, fai wound famself in )>e 

10 legges and fe armes, and in ofer placez of faire body, fat fe blude 
rynnez doune fra fer woundes in grete fuysoun. 4 And fis fai do for 
lufe of fat ydole, and saise fat he es full blissed fat will dye for fe 
lufe of his mawmet. And sum of fam bringez with fam faire childer, 
and slaez f aim and makes sacrifice of fam to faire mawmet ; and f ai 

15 take fe blude of faire childer, and sprenklez it apon fe ymage. Sum, 
also, fra 6 f ai passe oute of f er housez til f ai comme before faire maw 
met, at ilke a thridd passe knelis doune apon fe erthe with grete de 
vocioun. And fai bring with fam incense and ofer thinges swete 
smelland, for to turify 6 fat ymage, as we do here to Goddes body. 

20 And fare es before fat ymage, as it ware, a poonde 7 or a vyver, 8 full 
of water ; and into fat pilgrimes castez gold and silver and precious 
stanes withouten noumer, insteed of offerand. And forfi fe mynis- 
ters fat kepez fat ilk mawmet, when fai hafe mister 9 of any monee 
for reparailyng of faire kirk, or for any ofer thing fat fallez to fat 

25 ilke mawmet, fai ga to fat ilke poonde, and takez oute feroff als 
mykill as fam nedez. And je schall understand fat, when grete festez 
commez of fat mawmet, as f e dedicacioun of f e kirk or f e tronyng 10 
3f fat mawmet, all f e cuntree assemblez f ider ; and fai sett f is maw 
met with grete wirschepe in a chariot, wele arraid with clathez of gold 

30 and of silke, and ledez him with grete sollempnitee aboute fe citee. 
And before f e chariot gase first in processioun all f e maydens of f e 
cuntree, twa and twa togyder ; and fan all f e pilgrymmes fat commez 
fider fra ferre cuntreez, of whilke sum for fe grete devocioun fai 

1 a broad girdle 6 f rom the time when 9 need 

2 ornamented 6 incense 1 throning 
8 Saint James of Compostella 7 pond 

* abundance, profusion 8 aquarium (vivarium) 


hafe to pat mawmet fallez doune before pe chariot, and latez it gang 
over pam. And so er sum of pam slayne, sum paire armes and sum 
paire schankes broken ; and pai trowe pat, pe mare payne pai suffer 
here for lufe of paire mawmet, pe mare joy in pe toper werld sail pai 
hafe, and pe nerre paire godd sail pai be. And sikerly pai suffer so 5 
mykill payne and martirdom apon paire bodys for pe lufe of pat ilke 
mawmet, pat unnethes 1 will any Cristen man suffer half so mykill, 
ne pe tende 2 parte, for pe lufe of oure Lorde Jesu Criste. 

Text, pp. 20-1 

J>e sowdan 8 has three wyfes, of pe whilke ane sail be a Cristen 
womman, and pe oper twa Sarezenes. And ane of pir wyfes sail dwell 10 
in Jerusalem, anoper at Damasc, and pe thridd at Ascalon. 4 And, ay 
when him list, he gase to visit pam, and umqwhyle 5 ledes pam aboute 
with him. Noght forpi 6 he has lemmanes, als many as him list have ; 
for, when he comes till any citee or toune, he gers bring before him 
all pe nobilest and pe fairest maydens of pe cuntree nere aboute, and 15 
he gers pam be keped honestly and wirschipfully. And, when he will 
hafe any of pam, he gers paim all be bjroght before him, and wha so 
es maste lykand tilljiim, he sendes twl hir or takes pe ryng off his 
fynger, and castez ml hir. And pan sail scho be tane, 7 and waschen 
and bawmed 8 and wirschipfully cledd, and after souper be broght till 20 
his chaumbre. And pus he duse ay when he will. Before pe sowdan 
sail na straunger com pat he ne sail be cledd in clathe of gold or tars 9 
or in chamelet, 10 a maner of clething whilk pe Sarzenes usez. And als 
sone as he has sight of pe sowdan, be it at wyndow or elleswhare, 
him behoves knele doune and kisse pe erthe ; for swilk es pe maner 25 
pare to do reverence to pe sowdan, when, any man will speke with 
him. And when any straungers commes till him in "message n oute of 
ferre landes, his men sail stand aboute him with drawen swerdes in 
handes, and per handes up on loft, 12 to stryke pam doune, if pai speke 

1 scarcely, with difficulty 5 from time to time 9 a rich Oriental stuff 

2 tenth 6 none the less 10 damasked silk 

3 sultan ? taken H on an embassy 

4 West of Jerusalem, on the coast 8 anointed 12 aloft 


any thing fat displesez f e sowdan. J>are sail na straunger com before 
him for to ask him any thing fat ne his asked sail be graunted him, 
if it be resounable and nojt agayne faire lawe. And rijt so duse all 
ofer princez and lordes in fat cuntree ; for f ai say fat na man suld 
5 com before a prince fat he ne schuld passe gladder away fan he 
come fiderward. 

Text, pp. 90-2 

And je schall understand fat in fis land, and in many ofer fare- 
aboute, men may nojt see fe sterne 1 fat es called Polus Articus, 
whilk standes even north and stirrez never, by whilk schippemen er 

10 ledd, for it es nojt sene in fe south. Bot fer es anofer steme, whilke 
es called antartic, and fat es even agayne 2 f e tofer sterne ; and by 
fat sterne er schippemen ledd fare, as schippemen er ledd here by 
Polus Articus. And, rijt as fat sterne may nojt be sene here, on fe 
same wyse fis sterne may nojt be sene fare. And fareby may men 

15 see wele fat fe werld es all rounde; for parties 3 of fe firmament 
whilk may be sene in sum cuntree may nojt be sene in anofer. And 
fat may men prove fus. For, if a man myght fynd redy schipping 
and gude company, and ferto had his hele, 4 and wald ga to see fe 
werld, he myght ga all aboute fe werld, bathe aboven and benethe. 

20 And fat prufe I fus, after 5 fat I hafe sene. For I hafe bene in 
Braban, 6 and sene by f e astrolaby 7 fat f e pole artyc es fare liii de- 
greez hegh, and in Almayne 8 towardes Boem 9 it has Iviii degrez, and 
forfermare 10 toward fe north it has Ixii degrez of height and sum 
mynutes. All fis I persayved by fe astrolaby. And je schall under- 

25 stand fat in fe south, even ynentes 11 fis sterne, es fe sterne fat es 
called pole antartic. f>ise twa sternes stirrez never mare ; and aboute 
faim movez fe firmament, as a qwhele 12 duse aboute ane axeltree. 
And so f e lyne fat es betwene f ise twa sternez departez 18 all f e firma 
ment in twa partes, ayther ylike mykill. 14 Afterwardes I went toward 

1 star Brabant 11 exactly opposite 

2 exactly opposite to ' astrolabe 12 wheel 

8 parts 8 Germany 13 separates 

* health 9 Bohemia " much alike 

6 according to l further 


f e south, and I fand fat in Liby l seez men first f e sterne antartyke ; 
and, as I went ferrer, I fand pat in hie Liby it hase in height xviii de- 
greez and sum mynutes, of whilke mynutes Ix makez a degre. And 
so, passand by land and by see toward fe cuntree fat I spakk off 
lire, 2 and ofer landes and iles fat er bejond, I fand fat fis steme 5 
antartik had in height xxxiii degreez. And, if I had had cumpany 
and schipping fat wald hafe gane ferrer, I trow forsothe fat we schuld 
hafe sene all fe roundeness of fe firmament, fat es to say bathe f e 
emisperies, 8 fe uppermare and fe nedermare. 4 For, as I sayd sow 
before, half e fe firmament es betwene fise twa sternes ; fe whilk I 10 
hafe sene. . . . And ferfore I say sikerly fat a man myght go all fe 
werld aboute, bathe aboven and bynethe, and comme agayne to his 
awen cuntree, so fat he had his hele, gude schipping, and gude com 
pany, as I said before. And all way he schuld fynd men, landes, and 
iles and citeez and townes, as er in fir cuntrees. For je wate wele 15 
fat fase men fat dwellez even under fe pole antartyk er fote agayne 
fote .to fase fat dwellez even under fe pole artyke, als wele as we 
and fase men fat dwellez agaynes us er fote agayne fote ; and rijt 
so it es of ofer parties of fe werld. For ilke a party of fe erthe and 
of fe see hase his contrary of thinges, whilk er even 5 agaynes him. 20 
And 56 schall understand fat, as I conjecture, f e land of Prestre John, 
Emperour of Inde, es even under us. For, if a man schall ga fra 
Scotland or Ingland unto Jerusalem, he sail ga all way upward. For 
oure land es f e lawest 6 party of f e west, and f e land of Prestre John 
es in fe lawest party of fe este. And fai hafe day when we hafe nyght, 25 
and nyght when we hafe day. And, als mykill as a man ascendes 
upward oute of oure cuntreez to Jerusalem, als mykill schall he go 
dounward to f e land of Prestre John ; and f e cause es for f e erthe 
and fe see er rounde. For it es fe comoun worde fat Jerusalem es 
in myddes of f e erthe ; and fat may wele be proved f us. For, and a 30 
man fare take a spere and sett it even in fe erthe at midday, when 
f e day and f e nyght er bathe ylyke lang, it makez na schadowe till na 
party. 7 And David also beres witnes f eroff, fare he saise : Deus autem 

1 Libya * nether 7 direction 

2 before 5 just, exactly 
* hemispheres 6 lowest 


rex noster ante secula operatus est salutem in media terre? fat es to say : 
' Godd oure kyng before fe begynnyng of fe werld wroght hele in 
myddes of fe erthe.' And f erf ore fai fat gase oute of oure cuntreez 
of fe west toward Jerusalem, als many journez 2 as fai make to ga 

5 fider upward, als many journez sail fai make to ga in to fe land of 
Prestre John dounward fra Jerusalem. And so he may ga into fase 
iles envirounand all fe roundness of fe erthe and of fe see, till he 
com even under us. And J>erfore I hafe ofttymes thoght on a tale fat 
I herd, when I was Jung, how a worthy man of oure cuntree went 

10 on a tyme for to see f e werld ; and he passed Inde 8 and many iles 
byjonde Inde, whare er ma fan v m 4 iles, and he went so lang by land 
and by see, envirounand fe werld, fat he fand ane ile whare he herd 
men speke his awen langage. For he herd ane 5 dryfe bestez, sayand 
to fam swilke wordes as he herd men say til oxen in his awen cun- 

15 tree gangand at fe plugh ; of whilk he had grete mervaile, for he wist 
nojt how it myght be. Bot I suppose he had so lang went 6 on land 
and on see, envirounand ]> e werld, fat he was commen in to his awen 
marchez 7 ; and, if he had passed forf ermare, he schuld hafe commen 
even to his awen cuntree. Bot for he herd fat mervaile, and myght 

20 get schipping na ferrere, he turned agayne as he come ; and so he 
hed a grete travaile. And it befell efterward fat he went into Nor 
way ; and a tempest of wynd in fe see drafe him, so fat he arryved 
in ane ile. And, when he was fare, he wist wele it was f e ile in whilk 
he had bene before and herd his awen speche, as men drafe bestez. 

25 And fat myght wele be ; fof all 8 it be fat symple men of cunnyng 
trowe nojt fat men may ga under fe erthe bot-if 9 fai fall unto fe 
firmament. For as us think 10 fat f ase men er under us, so think f aim 
fat we er under f aim. 

1 Ps. 74. 12 5 one; a man 9 unless 

- day's journeys 6 traveled 1 it seems to us 

8 India T borders 

4 five thousand * even though 



Text, pp. 149-50. To afford an opportunity of comparison with the current 
Southern text, the beginning of this section is here transcribed from Halliwell's 
reprint (London, 1839, p. 303), with changes in capitalization : ' And bej;onde 
the lond and the yles and the desertes of Prestre Johnes lordschipe, in goynge 
streyght toward the est, men fynde nothing but mountaynes and roches fulle 
grete : and there is the derke regyoun, where no man may see, nouther be day 
ne be nyght, as thei of the contree seyn. And ftiat desert and that place of 
derknesse duren fro this cost unto Paradys Terrestre, where that Adam, oure 
foremest fader, and Eve weren putt, that dwelleden there but lytylle while ; 
and that is towards the est, at the begynnynge of the erthe.' 

For the subject in general, see Coli, // Paradise Terrestre Dantesco, Flor 
ence, 1897. 

Beyond pir ilez pat I hafe talde jow off, and pe desertez of pe lord- 
schepe of Prestre John, to ga even 1 est, es na land inhabited, as I said 
before, bot wastez and wildernessez, and grete rochez and moun 
taynes, and a myrk ' 2 land, whare na man may see, nyght ne day, as 
men of pas cuntreez talde us. And pat mirk land and pase desertez 5 
laste rijt to Paradyse terrestre, wharein Adam and Eve ware putte ; 
bot pai ware pare bot a lytill while. And pat place es toward pe este, at 
pe begynnyng of pe erthe. Bot pat es nojt oure este, whare pe sonne 
risez till us ; for when pe sonne risez in pase cuntreez, pan es it mid- 
nyght in our cuntree, because of pe roundness of pe erthe. For, as I 10 
said before, Godd made pe erthe all rounde, in myddez of pe firma 
ment. Bot pe hillez and pe valays pat er now on pe erthe er nojt bot 
of Noe flude, thurgh pe whilk pe tendre erthe was remowed fra his 
place, and pare become a valay, and pe hard erthe habade 8 still, and 
pare er now hilles. 1 5 

Off Paradys can I nojt speke properly, for I hafe nojt bene pare ; 
and pat f orthinkez 4 me. Bot als mykill as I hafe herd Of wyse men, 
and men of credence, of pase cuntreez, I will tell jow. Paradys ter 
restre, as men saise, es pe hiest land of pe werld ; and it es so hye 
pat it touchez nere to pe cercle of pe moone. For it es so hye pat 20 
Noe 5 flode myght nojt com perto, whilk flude coverd all pe erthe bot 
it. Paradys es closed all aboute with a wall ; bot whareoff pe wall es 

1 directly 8 abode 5 Noah's 

2 dark, gloomy < that I regret 


made, can na man tell. It es all mosse-begrowen, and coverd so with 
mosse and with bruschez fat men may see na stane, ne nojt elles 
wharoff a wall schuld be made. J>e walle of Paradys strechez fra ]>e 
south toward }>e north ; and f er es nane entree open into it, because 

5 of fire evermare brynnand, ]> e whilk es called fe flawmand swerde 1 fat 
Godd ordaynd fare before fe entree, for na man schuld entre. 

In fe middes of Paradys es a well, out of fe whilke fer commez 
foure flodez, 2 fat rynnez thurgh diverse landez. J?ir 8 flodez sinkez doune 
into fe erthe within Paradyse, and rynnez so under fe erthe many a 

10 myle, and afterwardes comme fai up agayne oute of fe erthe in ferre 

Text, pp. 155-6 

J>are er many ofer cuntreez and ofer mervailes whilk I hafe nojt 
sene, and f erfore I can nojt speke properly of f am ; and also in cun 
treez whare I hafe bene er many mervailes of whilk I speke nojt, for it 

15 ware owere 4 lang to tell. And also I will tell na mare of mervailes fat 
er fare, so fat ofer men fat wendez fider may fynd many new thingez 
to speke off, whilk I hafe nojt spoken off. For many men hase grete 
lykyng and desyre for to here new thinges ; and f erfore will I now 
ceesse of tellyng of diverse thingez fat I sawe in f ase cuntreez, so fat 

20 fase fat covetez to visit fase cuntrez may fynd new thinges ynewe to 
tell off, for solace and recreacioun of f aim fat lykez to here f am. 

And I, JOHN MAWNDEVILL, knyght, fat went oute of my cuntree, 
and passed fe see, fe gere of oure Lord Jesu Criste MCCCXXXII, 
and hase passed thurgh many landes, cuntreez, and iles, and hase bene 

25 at many wirschipfull journeez 5 and dedez of armez with worthy men 
if all 6 I be unworf i and now am commen to rest, as man dis- 
comfitt for age and travaile and febilness of body, fat constraynez me 
farto, and for ofer certayne causez, I hafe compiled fis buke and 
writen it, as it coome to my mynde, in fe jere of oure Lord Jesu 

30 Criste MCCCLXVI, fat es for to say, in fe foure and thrittyde jere 
efter fat I departed oute of fis land, and tuke my way fiderward. 

1 Gen. 3. 24 8 these s days of battle 

2 Gen. 2. loff. 4 too 6 even if 


And for als mykill as many men trowez nojt hot fat at * pai see 
with paire eghen, or pat pai may consayve with paire awen kyndely 2 
wittes, perfore I made my way in my commyng hamward unto Rome, 
to schew my buke till' cure Haly Fader pe Pape. And I tald him pe 
mervailes whilk I had sene in diverse cuntreez, so pat he, with his 5 
wyse counsaile, wald examyne it with diverse folke pat er in Rome 
for pare er evermare dwelland men of all naciouns of pe werld. And 
a lytill after, when he and his wyse counsaile had examynde it all 
thurgh, he said to me for certayne pat all was soth pat was perin. 
For he said pat he had a buke of Latyn pat conteyned all pat and 10 
mykill mare, after whilk buke the Mappa Mundi es made ; and pat 
buke he schewed me. And perfore oure Haly Fader pe Pape hase 
ratified and confermed my buke in all poyntes. 

Qwherfore I pray til all pase pat redez pis buke, or heres it redd, pat 
pai will pray for me, and I schall pray for paim. And all pase pat saise 1 5 
for me devotely a Pater Noster and ane Ave, pat Godd forgife me my 
synnez, he graunt pam parte of all my pilgrimage, and all oper gude 
dedis pat I hafe done, or may do in tyme commyng unto my lyfez end. 
And I, in pat in me es, makez pam parceneres 8 of me, 4 prayand to 
Godd, of wham all grace commez, pat he fulfill with his grace all pase 20 
pat pis buke redez or heres, and save pam and kepe pam in body and 
saule, and after pis lyf bring pam to pe cuntree whare joy es, and 
endles rest, and peesse withouten end. Amen. 


The manuscript containing this poem has been ascribed to the time of 
Henry VI (1422-1471). It is here printed from Furnivall's edition of The 
Stations of Rome (E.E.T.S. No. 25). 

Men may leve alle gamys 6 

That saylen to Seynt Jamys, 6 25 

Ffor many a man hit gramys, 7 
When they begyn to sayle ; 

1 that 4 MS. >am 6 Santiago de Compostella, in the province 

2 natural, native 6 put aside all mirth of Galicia, hi northwestern Spain 
s sharers, partners 7 distresses 


Ffor when they have take the see 
At Sandwyche * or at Wynchylsee, 2 
At Brystow, 8 or where that hit bee, 
Theyr hertes begyn to fayle. 

5 Anone the mastyr commaundeth fast 

To hys shypmen, in alle the hast, 4 
To dresse 6 hem sone about the mast, 

Theyr takelyng to make ; 
With ' Howe ! hissa ! ' then they cry ; 
10 ' What, howe I mate, thow stondyst to 6 ny> 

Thy felow may nat hale 7 the 8 by ' ; 
Thus they begyn to crake. 9 

A boy or tweyn an one upstyen, 10 
And overthwart the sayle-yerde lyen. 

15 ' Y how 1 taylia ! ' the remenaunt cryen, 

And pulle with alle theyr myght. 
' Bestowe u the boote, 12 boteswayne, anon, 
That our pylgryms may pley theron ; 
For som ar lyke to cowgh and grone 

20 Or 18 hit be full mydnyght.' 

' Hale the bowelyne 14 ! now, vere the shete ! 
Cooke, make redy anoon our mete ! ' 
' Our pylgryms have no lust to etc, 

I pray God yeve hem rest.' 

25 ' Go to the helm ! what, howe ! no nere u ! ' 

' Steward, felow, a pot of bere ! ' 
' Ye shalle have, sir, with good chere, 

Anon alle of the best.' 

1 north of Dover ? haul 18 ere 

2 southwest of Dover, in Sussex 8 thee l* a rO pe made fast to the mid- 
* Bristol 9 call aloud die part of the outside of 
4 all haste 1 climb a sail 

6 make ready 11 stow i fi nearer (no closer to the 

6 too 12 boat wind ?) 


' Y howe ! trussa ! hale in the brayles 1 ! 
Thow halyst nat, be God, thow fayles ! ' 
' O se howe welle owre good shyp sayles ! ' 

And thus they say among. 

* Hale in the wartake 2 ! ' ' Hit shal be done.' 5 

' Steward, cover the boorde anone, 
And set bred and salt therone, 

And tary nat to long ! ' 

Then cometh oone and seyth : ' Be mery, 

Ye shall have a storme or a pery. 3 ' 10 

' Holde thow thy pese ! thow canst no whery, 4 

Thow medlyst wondyr sore.' 
Thys menewhyle 5 the pylgryms ly, 
And have theyr bowlys fast theym by, 
And cry aftyr hote malvesy 6 : 15 

' Thow helpe for to restore.' 

And som wold have a saltyd tost, 7 

Ffor they myght ete neyther sode 8 ne rost ; 

A man myght sone pay for theyr cost, 

As for oo day or twayne. 20 

Som layde theyr bookys on theyr kne, 
And rad 9 so long they myght nat se. 
' Alias, myne hede wolle cleve on thre ! ' 

Thus seyth another certayne. 

Then commeth owre owner, lyke a lorde, 25 

And speketh many a royall worde, 
And dresseth hym to the hygh borde, 

To see alle thyng be welle. 
Anone he calleth a carpentere, 
And byddyth hym bryng with hym hys gere, 10 30 

1 small ropes fastened to the 4 (?) 8 anything boiled 

edges of sails 6 in the meantime 9 read 

2 (?) 6 malmsey 10 tools 

3 squall 7 toast 


To make the cabans here and there, 
With many a febylle l celle. 

A sak of strawe were there ryght good, 
Ffor som must lyg 2 theym in theyr hood 
I had as lefe be in the wood, 

Without[e] mete or drynk. 
For when that we shall go to bedde, 
The pumpe is 8 nygh oure beddes hede ; 
A man were as good be * dede 

As smell therof the stynk. 

i slightly built a lie 8 MS. was * MS. to be 



Richard Rolle, who was born near the end of the thirteenth century (the 
year is not known) at Thornton Dale, near Pickering in northern Yorkshire, 
was a hermit and mystic who wrote the first original [since the Ancren Rivule 
is translated] English prose after the Conquest (Jusserand, Lit. Hist. Eng. People 
i. 218). In his early youth he was sent as a student to Oxford, but was repelled 
by the scholastic philosophy there dominant, and made up his mind to turn to 
a life of contemplation. For the next four years he lived in a solitary cell on 
the estate of friends who provided him with the necessaries of life, and there 
' he passed through three stages of the contemplative life purificatio, illumi- 
natio, and contemplatio proper (cf. H. O. Taylor, The Mediaeval Mind 2. 362 ff.), 
in the last of which he had the mystic sense of the direct vision of God. After 
traveling about for some time, in the hope of teaching his faith, as to which 
he met with little encouragement and considerable opposition, he settled near 
the recluse Margaret Kirkby at Ainderby, near Northallerton (famous for the 
Battle of the Standard), also in the North Riding, where he gave assistance 
and instruction to her and other recluses. Later he lived and wrote at Hampole, 
five miles northwest of Doncaster, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, where 
he died in 1349, and whence he has come to be known as Richard Rolle of 

Rolle was a figure apparently but little heeded by the authorities of his own 
time, yet one of real significance. In his emphasis on the direct relation be 
tween the individual soul and God, rather than on mere obedience to the 
Church, he was a forerunner of Wycliffe and Luther; and through the fervor 
oThis mystical outpourings, he still makes a strong emotional appeal. 

His works, which it is hard in some cases to distinguish from those of his 
imitators and translators, were sometimes written in Latin and sometimes in 
English, one of the best known of those in English being a long poem, The 
Prick of Conscience. His editor Horstman says of him : ' His chief character 
istic as a writer is originality he is essentially a genius; everywhere he cuts \ 
out new ways, lays new foundations. Next, he is preeminently a Jjric ; whether 
he writes in prose or verse, he writes from feeling, from momentary inspiration. 
Besides, he is of a remarkable versatility and facility; he writes with equal 
ease in Latin and English, in verse and prose, and in all kinds of verse, fre 
quently mixing prose and verse in the same work ; he writes postils, commen 
taries, epistles, satires, polemic treatises, prayers and devotions, lyric and 
didactic poetry, epigrams ' (2. xxxv). Our selections are from his epistle known 



as The Form of Perfect Living, as it appears in MS. Cambr. Dd. V. 64, where 
it is dedicated to the recluse Margaret. For this text, and for an extended 
account of Richard Rolle and his place in the history of mysticism, see Richard 
Rolle of Hampole, ed. C. Horstman, London, 1895, m Yorkshire Writers (Library 
of Early English Writers). Our selections are from Vol. I, pp. 29-30, 46-9. 


Anwre langueo. pir 1 twa wordes er 2 wryten in fe boke of lufe, 
fat es kalled fe Sang of Lufe, or fe Sang of Sanges. For he fat mykel 3 
lufes, hym lyst 4 oft syng of his luf, for joy fat he or scho hase when 
f ai thynk on fat fat f ai lufe, namely 5 if ajr lover be trew and lufand. 

5 And fis es fe Inglisch of thies twa wordes : ' I languysch for lufe.' 
Sere 6 men in erth has sere* gyftes and graces of God, bot f e special 
gift of fas fat ledes s6htary lyf es for to lufe Jesu Criste. J>ow says 
me: 'All men lufes hym fat haldes 7 his comawndementes.' Soth it 
es. Bot all men fat kepes hys byddyngs kepes noght also hys cown- 

10 sayle. And all fat dos his cownsell er noght also fulfyld of 8 f e swet 
nes of his lufe, ne feles noght f e fyre of byrnand luf of hert. Forf i f e 
diversite of lufe makes f e diversite of halynes and of mede. 9 In heven, 
fe awngels fat er byrnandest in lufe er nerrest God. Also men and 
women fat maste 10 has of Goddes lufe, whether f ai do penance or 

1 5 nane, f ai sail be in f e heghest degfe in heven ; f ai fat lufes hym lesse, 
in fe lawer order. If fou lufe hym mykel, mykel joy and swetnes and 
byrnyng fou feles in his lufe, fat es fi comforth and streng[t]h nyght 

, and day. If fi lufe be not byrnand in hym, litel es f i dely_te. For hym 
may na man fele in joy and swetnes, bot-if n f ai be clene, and fylled 

20 with his lufe ; and f artill 12 sal fou com with grete travayle in praier 
and thynkyng, havand swilk meditacions fat er al in fe lufe and in 
fe lovyng of God. And when fou ert at fi mete, love ay God in fi 
thoght at ilk a 18 morsel, and say f us in f i hert : ' Loved be fou, Kevng, 
and thanked be fou, Keyng, and blyssed be fou, Keyng, Jesuall my 

25 joyng, of all fi giftes gude ; fat for me spylt fi blude, and died on fe 

1 these ; cf. Cant. 2. 5 diverse H unless 

2 are 7 keeps 12 to this condition, thereto 
8 much, greatly 8 filled with 13 every 

4 he desires 9 reward 

6 especially w most 


rude ; fou gyf me grace to syng fe sang of fi lovyng.' And thynk it 
noght anely l whils ]>ou etes, hot bath before and after, ay bot when 2 
]>ou prayes or spekes. Or if ]>ou have other thoghtes fat ]>ou has 8 
mare swetnes in and devocion ]>an in f ase fat I lere 4 f e, \>ou may thynk 
[fam]. For I hope fat God will do swilk 5 thoghtes in ]>i hert als he 5 
es payde i of, 6 and als fou ert ordaynde for. When fou prayes, loke 
noght how mykel fou says, bot how wele, fat ]>e lofe of fi hert be ay 
upwarde, and thy thoght on fat fou sayes, als mykel als f ow may. If 
]>ou be in prayers and meditacions al f e day, I wate 7 wele fat ]>ou mon 
wax 8 gretely in f e lufe of Jesu Cryste, and mikel fele of delyte, and 10 
within schort tyme. 


Twa lyves far er fat Cristen men lyfes. Ane es called actjrve lyfe, 
for it es in mare 9 bodili warke. Another, contemplative lyfe, for it 
es in mare swetnes gastely. 10 Actife lyfe es mykel owteward, and in 
mare travel u and in mare peryle, for fe temptacions fat er in f e wo ride. 15 
Contemplatyfe lyfe es mykel inwarde, and forf i iy it es lastandar, 13 and 
sykerar, 14 restfuller, delitabiler, 15 luflyer, and marc medeful. 16 For it 
hase joy in Goddes lufe, and savowre in fe lyf fat lastes ay, in fis 
present tyme, if it be right ledde. And fat felyng of joy in f e lufe of 
Jesu passes al other merites in erth. For it es swa harde to com to 20 
for fe freelte of oure flesch, and fe many temptacions fat we er um- 
sett n with, fat lettes 18 us nyght and day. Al other thynges er lyght 
at 19 com to, in regarde f arof , for fat may na man deserve, bot anely 
it es gifen of Goddes godenes, til fam fat verrayli gifes fam to ' 
contemplacion and til quiete for Cristes luf. 25 

Til men or wymen fat takes 20 fam til acti% lyfe, twa thynges 
falles. 21 Ane, for to ordayne fair meyne ^ in drede and in f e lufe of 

1 only 9 more 17 set about, surrounded 

2 always except when 10 spiritually 18 hinder 

3 findest n labor, toil easy to 
* teach 12 therefore 20 betake 

5 put such w more lasting 21 are appointed 

6 satisfied with 14 more full of security 22 household 

7 know 15 more delightful 

8 must increase 16 full of reward 


God, and fynd fam faire necessaries, and famself kepe enterely fe 
comandementes of God, doand 1 til far neghbur als fai wil fat fai 
do til fam. Another es : pat )>ai do at far power f e seven werkes of 
mercy, f e whilk es : to fede f e hungry ; to gyf f e thristi a drynk ; to 

S cleth f e naked ; to herbar hym fat hase na howsyng ; to viset f e 
seke ; to comforth fam fat er in prysoun ; and to grave 2 dede men. 
Al fat mai, and hase 8 cost, 4 fai may nogjit be qwyt 5 with ane or 
twa of fir, bot fam behoves do fam al, if fai wil have fe benyson 6 
on Dpmesday 7 fat Jesu sal til 8 al gyf fat dose fam. Or els may fai 

10 drede fe malysoun 9 fat al mon 10 have fat will noght do fam, when 
fai had godes u to do fam wyth. 

Contemplatife lyf hase twa partyes, 12 a lower and a heer. J>e lower 
party es meditacion of haly wrytyng, fat es Goddes wordes, and in 
other gude thoghtes and swete fat men hase, of f e grace of God, abowt 

15 fe lufe of Jesu Criste, and also in lovyng of God in psalmes and 
ympnes, 18 or in prayers. f>e hegher party of contemplacion es behald- 
yng and jernyng of 14 f e thynges of heven, and joy in f e Haly Gaste. 
J>at men hase oft, and 16 if it be swa fat fai be noght prayand with f e 
mowth, bot anely thynkand of God, and of f e fairehede 16 of aungels 

20 and haly sawles. 17 f>an may I say fat contemplacion es a wonderful 
joy of Goddes luf, f e whilk 18 joy es lovyng of God, fat may noght be 
talde ; and fat wonderful lovyng es in fe saule, and for abundance of 
joy and swettenes it ascendes in til fe mouth, swa fat fe hert and fe 
tonge acordes in ane, 19 and body and sawle joyes in God lyvand. 20 

25 A man or woman fat es ordayhd til contemplatife lyfe, first God 

j enspires fam to forsake f is worlde, and al f e vanite and f e covayties 

' and K vik luste farof. Sythen 21 he ledes fam by far ane, 22 and 

spekes til fair ^ hert, and, als f e prophete says, he gif es fam at sowke 24 

f e swetnes of f e begynnyng of lufe, and fan he settes fam in will ** 

1 doing 10 must 19 agree 

2 bury 11 goods 20 living 
MS. hase and mai (em. H.) 12 parts, phases 21 afterwards 

< money sufficient is hymns 22 by themselves, alone 

s quit, released 14 for 28 MS. Jar 

blessing 16 even a* to suck 

f Day of Judgment 16 fairness, beauty 26 makes them desire 

8 to 17 souls 

9 malediction 18 which 



to gyf fam haly 1 to prayers and meditacions and teres. Sithen, 
when fai have sufferd many temptacions, and [fe] 2 foule noyes 8 of 
thoghtes fat er ydel, and of vanitees f e whilk wil comber fam fat can 
noght destroy fam, er passand away, he gars )>am 4 geder 8 til fam 
fair hert, and fest 6 anely in hym, and opens til f e egh 7 of fair sawls 5 
fe jate.s of heven, swa fat f e ilk 8 egh lokes in til heven ; and fan f e 
fire of lufe verrali ligges 9 in fair hert, and byrnes farin, and makes 
[it] clene of al erthly filth ; and sithen forward 10 f ai er contemplatife 
men, and ravyst u in lufe. For contemplacion es a syght, and f ai se 
in til heven with far gastly egh. Bot fou sal witt 12 fat na man hase/io 
peMte syght of heven whils f ai er lifand bodili here ; bot als sone algf 
fai dye fai er broght before God, and sese hym face til face, and egh 
til egh, and won^es 18 with hym withouten ende. For hym fai soght, 
and hym fai covayted, and hym fai lufed, in al far myght. 

Loo, Margarete, I have schortly sayde'fe 14 fe forme of lyvyng, and 15 
how fou may com til perfection^ and to lufe hym fat fou base taken 
f e til. If it do f e gude, and profit til f e, thank God, and pray for me. 
f>e grace of Jesu Criste be with f e, and kepe f e. Amen. 


The Ancren Riwle (Regtda Inclusarum) was written for the guidance of 
three sisters of gentle blood who had given themselves up to a religious life, 
without having at that time become nuns. It exists in three languages 
French, English, and Latin the English having been translated from French, 
and the Latin from English (G. C. Macaulay, in Mod. Lang. Rev. 9. 63 ff.). 

The author has been thus characterized : ' His doctrine may be summed 
up in a word : he teaches self-renunciation. But he does it in so kindly and 
affectionate a tone that the life he wishes his penitents to submit to does not 
.seem too bitter ; his voice is so sweet that the existence he describes seems 
almost sweet' (Jusserand, Lit. Hist. Eng. People i. 212). His 'work betokens 
much learning, great knowledge of the human heart, as well as deep piety, 

1 wholly 

2 em. H. 

8 annoyances, troubles 
4 causes them 
6 gather, collect 

6 fix 
"' eyes 

8 same 

9 lies 

1 from that time on 

U ravished, rapt 
12 know 
is dwell 
" to thee 

15. Margarete : probably Dame MargapeKKyrkby, an anchoress^ for whom 
he felt a holy affection. ***,v a^vo^**^ 



and a refined and gentle spirit' (Ten Brink, Early Eng. Lit. i. 200). Ten Brink 
also refers (ibid. 2 1 . 16) to 'that aroma, that tinge of poetry, which breathes 
throughout the language of the Ancren A'iw/e,' to which, as well as to the 
author's deep spirituality, the work owes its unusual appeal. 

Judging from its language, the Ancren Riwle was written in the early thir 
teenth century. The best text is contained in a Cambridge manuscript desig 
nated by Macaulay as B (Mod. Lang. Rev. 9. 145). Our selections are taken 
from Morton's text (The Ancren Riwle, London, 1853), in which MS. Brit. 
Mus. Cotton Nero A. XIV is reproduced; the pages are 50-2, 72, 132-4, 
388-90, 416-22, 422-4. The dialect is southwestern. Morton's translation is 
published in The King's Classics as The Nun's Rule. 



Vorbui, 1 mine leove 2 sustren, 8 be leste baet je ever muwen luvieo" 
our furies * ; al beon heo lutle, 5 be parluris 6 lest 7 and nerewest. f>e 
cloS in ham beo 8 twovold : blac cloS ; be creoiz 9 hwit, wio"innen and 
wiSuten. J>e blake cloS bitockneS baet je beoft blake and unwurSe 10 

5 toward n )>e worlde wiSuten ; baet te soSe sunne, bast is Jesu Crist, 
haveS 12 wiSuten vorkuled 13 ou ; and so wiftuten, ase je beoft, unseau- 
liche imaked ou 14 }mrh gleames 15 of his grace. J>et hwite creoiz 
limpeS 16 to ou ; vor b reo manere 17 creoices beoS reade and blake 
and hwite. J>e reade limpeS to feo faet beoti, vor Codes luve, mid 

10 hore 18 blodshedunge irudded 19 and ireaded, 19 ase fe martirs weren. J>e 
blake creoiz limpeS to }>eo 20 faet makieS i Se 21 worlde hore penitence vor 
lodliche 22 sunnen. 28 f>e hwite creoiz limpet to hwit meidenhod and 
to clennesse, 24 )> aet is muchel pine M wel vor to holden. 26 Pine is overal 27 
Jmrh creoiz idon to understonden. 28 J>us bitockne6 hwit croiz ]>e ward ^ 

1 wherefore 11 in the sight of ' 21 i n the 

2 dear 12 has 22 f ou i ( loathsome 
8 sisters 18 discolored 23 s i ns 

4 love your windows the u and so has made you exter- 24 purity 

least that ye ever may nally as you are, uncomely 2& difficulty, pains 

5 and let them all be small 16 rays 26 preserve 

those of the parlor 16 belongs, appertains 27 everywhere 

7 smallest ir three kinds 28 gi ven to understand = 

8 let il be 18 their to be understood 

9 cross 19 reddened 29 keeping 
10 of no value 20 those 

i. leste . . . luvieS: properly, according to the French (Mod. Lang. Rev. 
9. 65), ' the best that you ever can guard,' etc. 



of hwit chastite, paet is muchel pine wel vor to witene. 1 J>e blake 
cloft also tekefte ' z bitocnunge, 3 deS 4 lesse eile 6 to pen eien, and is 
piccure ajein pe wind, and wurse to purhseon, 6 and halt 1 his heou 8 
betere vor winde and for oSer hwat. 9 LokeS paet te 10 parlurs beon 
ever veste n on everiche halve, 12 and eke wel istekene 13 ; and witeS 14 per 5 
our 15 eien, leste ]> e heorte etfleo 16 and wende ut, ase of David, 17 and 
oure soule secli 18 so sone heo is ute. Ich write muchel vor oftre, paet 
noting ne etrineS ou, 19 mine leove sustren, vor nabbe je 20 nout pene 
nome, 21 ne ne schulen habben, )mrh pe grace of Gode, of totinde 2 ^_ , 
ancres, 23 ne of tollinde^ lokunges 24 ne lates, 25 paet summe, ofier hwules, 26 - 10 
weilawei ! unkundeliche 2T makieS ; vor ajein kunde 28 hit is, and un- 
meS ^ sullic 80 wunder, paet te deade totie, 31 and mid cwike worldes 
men 32 wede, 33 wi5 sunne. 

' Me 34 leove sire,' seiS sum inouh reaSe, 35 'and is hit nu so overuvel 86 
vor te 37 to ten utward ? ' <^e hit, leove suster, vor uvel faet ter 38 kumeS 15 
of hit, is uvel over uvel 89 to everich ancre, and nomeliche 40 to J>e gunge, 
and to fen old vorSui 41 ]>set heo to fe junge jiveS uvel vorbisne, 42 and 
scheld 43 to werien ham mide. 44 Vor, jif-ei 45 etwit 46 ham, feonne sig- 
get5 heo anon riht 47 : ' Me sire, peo deS also feo 48 is betere pen Ich 
am, and wot betere pen Ich wot hwat heo haveS to donrie.' O leove 20 
junge ancren, oftea fulhawttf 49 smitS smeo8it5 50 a ful woe 51 knif , and 
te wise ouh 82 to (yolewe^ wisdom, and nout folie, and an olde ancre 
mei don wel paet tu^dest uvele. Auh 54 'toten ut witmten uvel ne mei 

1 guard 

19 for nothing [of this] applies to you 

8" to 

2 teaches 

20 ye have not 

88 there 

3 symbol, emblem 

21 the name 

39 evil beyond evil 

4 does 

22 peering 

40 especially 


23 anchoresses 

4 l because 

6 see through 

24 enticing looks 

42 example 

" holds, keeps 

26 manners, gestures 

43 a shield 

8 hue, color 

26 at times 

44 defend themselves with 

9 anything else 

27 inconsistently 

45 any one 

10 the 

28 against nature 

46 reprove, chide 

n fast 

29 exceedingly 

4 " straightway 

12 side 

30 strange ; MS. swuc 

48 she does it also who 

13 shut 

31 should look out 

49 clever, skilful 

i4 guard 

32 living men of the world 

50 forges 

l 5 your 

33 wed 

51 weak, poor 

16 fly out, escape 

34 my 

5 2 ought 

1" like David's 

35 quickly enough 

58 thou 

18 become sick 

36 very evil 

54 but 


noufcer of ou ; and nim nu jeme l hwat uvel beo icumen of totinge : 
nout on uvel ne two, auh al J>e uvel and al )>e woj>aet nu is, and ever 
tete was, and ever schal iwurften 2 al com of a/sihSe)! fret hit beo soS, 

O ^ y. . -^"""^ J 

lo her )>e preove 8 : Lucifer, ]> urh pet he iseih and biheold on himsulf 

5 his owene (veirnes^ leop 4 into prude, 5 and bicom(ofj 6 engel . atelich 7 

deovel ; and of Eve, ure alre 8 mpder, is iwriten on alre_erest, 9 in hire 

neowe 10 injong 11 of hire ^eiesihSe :' Vidit igitur mulier quod bonum 

esset lignum ad vescendum, et pulchrum ocu/is, aspectuque delectabile, et 

tulit de fructu ejus et comedit, deditque vtro, 12 }>aet is : ' Eve biheold o 1 ? 

10 pen vorbodene eppele, and iseih hine u {(ej$, and veng 15 to deliten i be 

biholdunge, and turnde hire lust )>er toward, and nom 16 and et berof, 

and jef hire loverd.' Lo hu Holi Writ spekeft, and hu inwardliche " 

hit telleS hu sunegunge 18 bigon. ]?us code 19 sihfte bivoren, and makede 

wei to 20 uvel lust ; and com be deaS ferefter, ]> aet al monkun iveleS. 21 

1 5 J?es eppel, leove sustren, bitocneS alle )>e fing faet lust falletS M to, and 

delit of sunne. Hwon )>u biholdest te mon, fu ert in Eve point 23 : 

)m lokest o fen eppel. 


Seneca seide: Ad summam \yolo\ vos esse rariloquos, tuncque pauci- 
loquos J>aet is fe ende of )>e tale, sei6 Seneke the wise : ' Ichulle K 
20 )>aet je speken selde, and feonne buten lutel.' Auh moni punt 26 hire 
word vor te leten mo ut, as me deft water et ter mulne cluse 27 ; and 
so duden Jobes f reond 28 faet weren icumen to vrovren M him : seteti 80 
stille alle seoveniht. 81 Auh ]>eo 82 [heo] hefden alles bigunne vor to 
spekene, feone kufien heo nevere astunten 88 hore cleppe. 84 Greg. : 

1 take thou heed u looked upon 25 i w jH ) desire 

2 come to pass M it 26 shut in, restrain 
8 proof 15 began 27 a t the mill-dam 
* leaped 16 took 28 friends 

6 pride 17 showing the inward causes 29 comfort 

6 instead of 18 sinning so they sat 

" hateful, foul w went 81 f or a full week 

8 of us all for 82 when 

first of all 21 feeleth 83 they never knew how 

10 fresh 22 inclines to stop 

11 beginning w in Eve's case 3* talking 
w Gen. 3. 6 24 Not found 



Censura silencii nutritura est verbi; so hit is ine monie, ase Seint 
Gregorie seiS : ' Silence is wordes fostrild. 1 ' Juge silenrium cogit celestia 
meditari \ ' Long silence, and wel iwust, 2 nedeS 3 p e pouhtes up touward 
per heovene.' Also ase je muwen iseon pe water, hwon me punt hit, 
and stopped 4 bivoren wel, 5 so pet hit ne muwe 6 aduneward, peonne 5 
is hit ined 7 ajein vor to climben upward. And je al pisses weis 8 
pundeS 9 ower wordes, and forstoppeft 10 ouwer pouhtes, ase je wulleS 
paet heo climben and hien touward heovene, and nout ne vallen adune 
ward, and to vleoten n jeond 12 te world, ase deft muchel cheafle. 18 Auh 
hwon je nede moten 14 speken a lutewiht, 15 leseS up 16 ower muSes 10 
flodjeten, 17 ase me deft et ter 18 mulne, and leted 19 adun sone. 


Auh God cleopetS 20 pe gode ancren briddes of heovene, ase Ich 
er 21 seide : Vulpes foveas habent, et volucres cell nidos^ 2 - : ' Voxes hab- 
beS ho re holes, and briddes of heovene ho re nestes.' Treowe ancren 
beoft ariht 23 briddes of heovene pet fleoS an heih, ant sitteS singinde c 5 
murie 24 o Se ^ grene bowes ; )>et is, fencheS 26 upp, and of )>e blisse of 
heovene, pet never ne valeweft, 27 auh is ever grene, and sitteS o pisse 
grene, singinde swuSe 28 murie ; pet is, restefi ham inne swuche pouhte, 
and habbeS muruhSe of heorte, ase peo pet singed. Brid pauh, 29 otSer 
hwule, 80 vor te sechen 81 his mete 82 vor pe vlesches neode, lihte'S adun 20 
to per eorfle ; auh peo hwule pet 88 hit sit o per eorSe, nis hit never 
siker, auh biwent 84 him ofte, and bilokeS ^ him ever jeorneliche 86 al 
abuten. Alriht 37 so, pe gode ancre, ne vleo heo 88 never so heie, heo 

1 foster-mother, nurse 

14 needs must 

27 fadeth 

2 kept 

is little 

28 very 

8 compels 

16 open up 

29 a bird, however 

4 stop, check (it) 

i" the floodgates of your mouth 

80 sometimes 

5 spring 

18 at the 

81 seek 

6 cannot (flow) 

i fl let them 

82 food 

" forced, compelled 

21 calleth 

88 the while that, while 

8 in this way 

21 before 

84 turns 

9 do ye check (imperative) 

22 Matt. 8. 20 

85 looks 

10 restrain 

28 indeed 

86 carefully, cautiously 

11 float 

2-1 merrily 

87 just 

12 through 

25 on the 

88 although she fly 

13 idle talk 

26 meditate 


mot lihten o6er hwules adun to per eorSe of hire bodie, eten, drinken, 
slepen, wurchen, speken, iheren (of pet neodeS to), 1 of eor&liche 
)>inges. Auh peonne, as pe brid deft, heo mot wel biseon hire, 2 and 
biholden hire on ilchere half, 8 )>et heo nouhwar ne misnime, 4 leste 
5 heo beo ikeiht 5 puruh summe of pe deofles gronen, 6 o$er ihurt 
summes weis, pe hwule paet heo sit so lowe. 


A lefdi was 7 J>et was mid hire voan 8 biset al abuten, and hire lond 
al destrued, and heo al poure, wiftinnen one eorSene castle. On 9 
mihti kinges luve was, pauh, 10 biturnd upon hire, so unimete n swufte 

10 pet he vor wouhlecchunge 12 sende hire his sonden, 18 on efter oSer, and 
ofte' somed monie, 14 and sende hire beaubelet 15 boSe veole 16 and feire, 
and sukurs 17 of livened, 18 and help of his heie bird 19 to holden hire 
castel. Heo underveng 20 al ase on unrecheleas ping, 21 pet was so 
herd iheorted pet hire luve ne mihte he never beon pe neorre. Hwat 

1 5 wult tu more ? He com himsulf a 22 last, and scheawede hire his 
feire neb, 28 ase pe 24 pet was of alle men veirest to biholden, and spec ^ 
swufie sweteliche and so murie wordes pet heo 26 muhten pe deade 
arearen 27 vrom deatSe to live, and wrouhte veole wundres, and dude 
veole meistries 28 bivoren hire eihsihfte, and scheawede hire his mihten ; 

20 tolde hire of his kinedome, and bead 29 for to makien hire cwene of 
al pet he ouhte. 80 Al pis ne help nout. Nes 81 pis wunderlich hoker 82 ? 
Vor heo nes never wurtSe vor te beon his schelchine. 88 Auh so, puruh 
his debonerte, 84 luve hefde overkumen hine pet he seide on ende K : 
' Dame, pu ert iweorred, 86 and pine von 87 beoft so stronge pet tu ne 

1 so far as is necessary l* many together 27 arouse 

2 look about her 15 jewels (baubles) 28 brave deeds 
* on every side i many 29 offered 

4 make a mistake li" help, aid so owned, possessed 

5 caught 18 food 81 i s not 

6 snares 19 army 82 contempt, disdain 
" there was 20 received 88 slave, scullion 

8 foes 21 a heedless creature 84 graciousness, kindness 

9 a 22 at as fi na ii y 

1 however 28 f ac e, countenance 86 attacked, warred against 

11 boundlessly 24 he 87 foes 

12 for wooing, to woo her 25 spoke 
18 messengers 20 they 


meiht nones weis, 1 wiSuten sukurs of me, etfleon 2 hore honden, pet 
heo ne don pe to scheomefule deaS. Ich chulle, 8 vor pe luve of pe, 
nimen pis fiht upon me, and aredden 4 pe of ham pet secheS 5 fine 
deaS. Ich wot, pauh, forsoSe, pet Ich schal bitweonen 6 ham under- 
vongen 7 deaSes wunde, and Ich hit wulle heorteliche vor to ofgon 8 5 
pine heorte. Nu, peonne, biseche Ich pe, vor pe luve J>et Ich kutte 
pe, pet tu luvie me, hure and hure jo efter fen ilke dea'Se, 11 hwon pu 
noldes lives. 12 ' J>es king dude al pus aredde hire of alle hire von, 
and was himsulf to wundre 18 ituked, 14 and isleien on ende. 15 f>uruh 
miracle, pauh, he aros from deafte to live. Nere 16 peos ilke lefdi of 10 
uvele kunnes kunde, 17 jif heo over alle ping 18 ne luve him heref ter ? 

J>es king is Jesu Crist, Godes Sune, pet al o pisse wise 19 wowude 20 
ure soule, pet pe deoflen hevedjen biset. And he, ase noble woware, 
efter monie messagers and feole 21 god deden, com vor to preoven his 
luve, and scheawede puruh knihtschipe 22 pet he was luve-wur$e, 23 ase 1 5 
weren sumewhule 24 knihtes iwuned 25 for to donne. He dude him 
ine 26 turnement, and hefde, vor his leof monnes 2T luve, his schelde ine 
vihte, 28 ase kene kniht, on everiche half ipurled. 29 


<)e, mine leove sustren, ne schulen habben no best 80 bute kat one. 81 
Ancre pet haveS eihte 82 punched 88 bet 84 husewif , ase Marthe was, pen 20 
ancre ; ne none wise ne mei heo beon Marie, 86 mid grrSfulnesse 86 of 
heorte. Vor peonne mot 87 heo penchen of pe kues 88 foddre, and of 

1 in no way 14 maltreated, injured 2 " sweetheart, lady 

2 escape from 15 finally 2* in the fight 

8 w m 16 were not 29 pierced in all parts 

* deliver 17 of a perverse sort of nature 30 beast, animal 

5 seek ; MS. schecheft 18 above all things 81 except only a cat 

6 amongst 19 in this manner 82 cattle 
"i receive ^ wooed && seems 

8 deserve, win 21 many 9 34 better 

9 show thee 22 knightly prowess & Mary 
1 at least 2S worthy of love ; MS. -wurde 86 peace 

11 MS. dead deafte 24 sometimes 8 " must 

12 in life 25 wont 88 cow's 
18 wonderfully, grievously 26 entered into 



heordemonne huire. 1 oluhnen z pene heiward, 3 warien 4 hwon me punt 


hire, 5 and jelden, pauh, pe hermes. 6 Wat Crist, 7 pis is lodlich ping 
hwon me makefi mone 8 in tune of ancre eihte. f>auh, pf eni mot 
nede habben ku, loke pet heo none monne ne eilie, 9 ne ne hermie, 10 

5 ne pet hire pouht ne beo nout peron ivestned. 11 Ancre ne ouh 12 
nout to habben no ping pet drawe utward hire heorte. None cheffare 18 
ne drive 14 56. Ancre pet is cheapild, 15 heo cheapeS 16 hire soule pe 
chepmon n of helle. Ne wite 18 56 nout in oure 19 huse of oSer monnes 
pinges, ne eihte, ne clones ; ne nout ne undervo 20 je pe chirche vesti- 

10 menz, ne pene caliz, 21 bute-jif 22 strencSe hit makie, 23 oSer muchel eie, 24 
vor of swuche witunge ^ is ikumen muchel uvel oftesrSen. 26 WiSinnen 
ower woanes 27 ne lete ^e nenne mon slepen. ^if muchel neode mid 
alle 28 makeS breken m ower hus, pe hwule pet hit ever is ibroken, loke 
pet je habben perinne mid ou one wummon of clene live deies and 

15 nihtes. 80 

VorSi 81 pet no mon ne isihft ou, ne je iseoS nenne mon, wel mei 
don of 82 ower clotSes, beon heo hwite, beon heo blake ; bute pet heo 
beon unorne 38 and warme, and wel iwrouhte velles M wel itauwed, 85 
and habbeS ase monie ase ou toneodeft, 86 to bedde and eke to rugge. 87 

20 Nexst fleshe ne schal mon werien no linene cloS, bute-jif hit beo 
of herde 88 and of greate heorden. 89 Stamin 40 habbe hwosejvule, and 
hwose wule mei beon buten. 41 ^e schulen liggen in on heater, 42 and 
igurd. 48 Ne bere 44 je non iren, 46 ne here, 46 ne irspiles 47 felles ; ne ne 

l herdsman's hire 

15 trafficker 

83 plain 

2 flatter 

is sells 

84 skins 

8 hayward (keeper of the 

i" to the bargainer 

85 tawed, dressed 

hedges, who prevented 

58 take charge 

86 you need 

cattle from injuring pri 

19 your 

87 also for your back 

vate property) 

20 receive 

88 hards, tow 

4 defend herself 

81 chalice 

89 coarse canvas 

6 they shut it up 

22 unless 

40 harsh rough cloth, 


6 pay the damages, more 

28 make necessary 

for penitential 



24 fear 

(cf. F. etamine) 

7 Christ knows 

26 guarding, care-taking 

4 i without 

8 they make complaint 

26 ofttimes 

42 a garment 

9 annoy 

27 dwelling 

48 girt 

10 harm 

28 after all 

44 wear 

11 fixed 

29 to be used 

45 iron 

12 ought 

so by day and night 

46 haircloth 

18 traffic, business 

81 because 

47 porcupines' 

14 carry on 

82 do with, be content with 



beate ou permide, 1 ne mid schurge 2 ileftered 8 ne Headed, 4 ne mid 
holie, 5 ne mid breres 6 ; ne ne biblodge hiresulf 7 wiSuten schriftes 8 
leave ; ne ne nime, et enes, to veole 9 disceplines. 10 Ower schone 
beon 11 greate and warme. Ine sumer je habbeS leave vor to gon 
and sitten barvot, and 12 hosen wiSuten vaumpez, 18 and ligge ine ham 5 
hwoso likeS. 14 . . . ^if je muwen beon wimpelleas, 15 beoS bi 16 warme 
keppen 17 and peruppon blake veiles. Hwose wule beon iseien, pauh 
heo atiffe 18 hire nis nout muchel wunder ; auh to Codes eien heo is 
lufsumere, pet is, vor ]> e luve of him, untiffed wiSuten. Ring ne broche 
nabbe je, ne gurdel imenbred, 19 ne gloven, ne no swuch ping pet ou 10 
ne deih ^ for to habben. 

Ever me is leovere so 21 36 don gretture werkes. Ne makie none 
purses, vor te vreonden ou mide, 22 ne blodbendes 28 of seolke, auh 
schepieft, 24 and seouweS, 25 and amended 26 chirche clones, and poure 
monne clones. No ping ne schule 56 given witSuten schriftes leave. 15 
Helped mid ower owune swinke, 27 so vorS so 28 je muwen, to 
schruden ^ ou sulven and peo pet ou served, ase Seint Jerome lereS. 80 


^e ne schulen senden lettres, ne undervon lettres, ne writen uten 
leave, ^e schulen beon idodded 81 four sifcen i Se jere, vor to lihten 
ower heaved 82 ; and ase ofte ileten blod, 88 and oftere jif neod is; and 20 
hwoso mei beon per wiSuten, 84 Ich hit mei wel iSolien. 85 Hwon je beoS 
ileten blod, je ne schulen don no ping, peo preo dawes, pet ou greve, 86 
auh talked mid ouer meidenes and mid peaufule 87 talen schurteS 88 ou 

1 therewith 

2 scourge 

8 made of leather 

4 leaded 

5 holly 

6 briars 

"> let her not cause herself 
to bleed 

8 of the confessor 

9 too many 

10 flagellations 

11 let your shoes be 

12 and (to wear) 
18 vamps 

!* whoever likes may lie in 


15 without wimples 
10 be provided with 
17 capes 
i g adorn 

19 linked 

20 you ought not 

21 I am always more pleased if 

22 gain you friends with 

28 bandages to stop bleeding 

24 fashion 

25 sew 

26 mend 

2 " labor 
28 so far as 
' clothe 
so teacheth 

81 have your hair clipped 

82 your head 

38 have blood let 

84 be able to be without this 

85 suffer, permit 

86 that may grieve you, be 

disagreeable to you 

87 edifying 

88 divert 


togederes. ^e muwen don so ofte hwon ou ]>uncheS hevie, 1 ofter beo$ 
vor sume worldliche pinge sorie oSer seke. So wisliche witeS ou * in 
our 8 blodletunge, and holdeS ou ine swuche reste pet je longe fer- 
efter muwen ine Godes servise j?e monluker 4 swinken, and also hwon 
5 je iveleS eni secnesse; vor muchel sotschipe 5 hit is vor to vorleosen, 6 
vor one deie, tene ofter tweolve. 


This tract, in the form of a sermon, was first printed by Halliwell (in Reliquia 
Antiqua 2. 42 ff.) from a manuscript volume of sermons in the library of St. 
Martin's-in-the-Fields, London. This is now British Museum MS. Add. 24,202, 
which is designated in the catalogue as ' Wycliffite Tracts in English.' The 
manuscript is described as a small folio, vellum, of the end of the fourteenth 
century. Unless otherwise stated, the readings given below repose upon my 
collation of this manuscript. As there is considerable variation in the orthog 
raphy, I have sought to render it more consistent, especially in the endings. 
Emendations marked ' M ' are those of Matzner in his Altenglische Sprach- 
proben ; the others are mine. 

The following selections give the main argument of the tract, which is 
headed : ' Here bigynnis a tretise of miraclis-pleyinge.' The outline which 
follows may help to make the argument clear. Detailed notes can be found in 
Matzner's edition. 

I. Introduction. Christ's miracles were performed in earnest, and therefore ought not 
to be represented in play. 

1. Such representation takes away our fear of God, and, as a result, the strength of 

our faith. 

2. It contradicts the teaching of Christ. 

3. It leads to scorn of God : the players make sport of his passion. 
II. There are six arguments in favor of miracle-plays. Men say: 

1. They are given for the sake of worship. 

2. By them many are converted to a good life, seeing, as they do, the manifest work 

of the devil. 

3. Often the sight of Christ's passion moves men to tears. 

4. Some men may be drawn to religion through play, who would never be moved 

by seriousness. 

5. Men must have some recreation ; why not that of a good sort ? 

6. We do not object to paintings of miracles ; why, then, to dramatic portrayals of 

III. But there are answers to all these arguments : 

i. The giving of such plays springs from heathenism, and is not worship. Worship 
consists in doing the will of God. 

1 you are in low spirits your 5 folly 

2 guard yourselves < more vigorously 6 lose 


2. Though good may sometimes come of evil, this is not the rule. Miracle-plays 

most often pervert those who see them. 

3. If the spectators weep, it is purely from external causes, not from consciousness 

of their own sin. 

4. If men are ever converted by miracle-plays, it is only to show the grace of God. 

But men are seldom converted by such means ; conversion comes from the 
earnest working of God, not from playing. 

5. Plays do not afford true recreation. 

6. Good paintings merely exhibit truth, but plays are mainly to delight men's bodily 

IV. A friend declares : 

1. That he will not abandon his interest in miracle-plays unless their sinfulness can 

be proved directly from Holy Writ. 

Answer : Such plays are against the spirit of the commandment, ' Thou shalt not 
take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.' (Illustration: One would not 
represent in a play the death of one's own father.) 

2. That if the giving of such plays is sin, it is but a small sin. 
Answer : Any sin, however small, is deadly sin. 

Moreover, the danger in such playing is shown by the analogy of the following 
stories, with their mediaeval allegorical interpretations : 

a. Ishmael and Isaac (Gen. 21.8-10). 

b. The children of Abner and those of Joab (2 Sam. 2. 12-32). 

c. Moses and the children of Israel (Exod. 32). 

d. Elisha (2 Kings 2.23-4). 

e. Noah (as referred to in Matt. 24. 38-9). 

V. If we are to play, let us do so in the spirit of David (2 Sam. 6. 15-6, 20-2), (i) realiz 
ing how God's grace to us surpasses that to our neighbors ; (2) being always 
devout before God, though misliked by the world; (3) being lowly in our own eyes. 

Knowe jee, Cristen men, bat as Crist, God and man, is hope weye, 
trewb, and lif, 1 as seib be gospel of Jon (weye to ]>e errynge, trew)>e 
\o }>e unknowyng and doutyng, lif to be styynge 2 to hevene and 
weryinge 3 ), so Crist dyde 4 nobinge to us but ef [fjectuely in weye of 
mercy, in treu)>e of ri[j]twesnes, and in lif of jildyng 6 everlastynge 5 
joye for oure continuely 6 mo[u]rnyng and sorwynge in ]>is valey of 
teeres. 7 f>e 8 myraclis, berfore, ]>at Crist dyde * heere in erpe, oufer 
in 9 hymsilf ou]>er in hise seyntis, weren so ef[f]ectuel and in ernest 
don, 10 )>at to synful men bat erren }>ei broujten forjyvenesse of synne, 
settynge hem in be weye of rijt bileve ; to doutouse u men not stede- 10 
fast fei broujten in kunnyng 12 to betere plesen God, and verry hope 

1 John 14. 6 6 yielding 9 through 

2 those climbing upward 6 MS. continuiely 10 MS. don* 
8 growing weary 7 Ps. 84. 6 (in the Latin) " doubting 
< MS. dude 8 MS. in (em. M.) 12 ability 


in God to ben l stedefast in hym ; and to f e wery of f e weye of 
God, for fe grette penaunce and suffraunce of fe trybulac[i]oun fat 
men moten 2 ban 8 ferinne, fei broujtenj in love of brynnynge* 
charite, to fe whiche alle fing is lijt, 5 and ' were 7 he to suffren 8 

5 defe, fe whiche men most dreden, for fe everlastynge lyf and joye 
fat men most loven and desiren 9 : of f e whiche ping verry hope 
puttif awey alle werinesse heere in f e weye of God. J>anne, syf en 10 
myraclis of Crist and of hyse seyntis weren fus effectuel, as by oure 
bileve we ben in certeyn, 11 no man shulde usen in bourde 12 and 

10 pley 18 fe myraclis and werkis fat Crist so ernestfully 14 wroujte to oure 
helfe 16 ; for whoevere so do[i]f, he errif in ]>e byleve, reversif 16 Crist, 
and scornif 17 God. He errif in f e bileve, for in fat he takif f e most 
precious werkis of God in pley and bourde, he 18 takif his name in 

j. - idil, 19 and so mysusif oure byleve. A, Lord ! syfen an erfely servaunt 

1 5 dar not taken 20 in pley and in bourde fat fat his 21 erf ely lord takif 
in ernest, myche more we shulden not maken oure pley 13 and bourde 
of fo myraclis and werkis fat God so ernestfully wroujt[e] to us; 
for, 22 sof ely whan we so don, 23 drede to synne M is taken m awey, as 
a servaunt whan he bourdif K wif his mayster leesif 26 his drede to 

20 offenden 27 hym, namely, whanne he bourdif wif his mayster in fat 
fat 28 his mayster takif in ernest. . . . 

J>anne, syfen fes myraclis-pleyeris taken in bourde fe ernestful 
werkis of God, no doute fat f ei ne ^ scornen God, as dyden 80 f e Jewis 
fat bobbiden 81 Crist ; for fei lowen 82 at his passioun, as fese lawjen 88 

25 and japen at 8 * fe myraclis of God. ]?erfore, as fei scorniden 85 Crist, 
so fese 86 scorne[n] God ; and rijt 87 as Pharao, wroof 88 to do[n] fat 

l MS. been 

14 MS. ernyst- 

27 MS. -yn 

2 must needs 

15 salvation 

28 MS. in J>at in )>at 

MS. have 

18 contradicts 

29 MS. ne J>ei 

4 burning 

1" MS. -y)> 

so MS. diden 

5 easy 

i8 MS. and so 

si mocked, made sport of 

6 if 

19 vain 

82 laughed 

7 MS. omits were; M. he were 

20 MS. -un 

88 MS. lowyn 

8 MS. suffere 

21 MS. her (em. M.) 

84 MS. Of 

MS. di- 

22 MS. ffor 

85 MS. -eden 

10 since 

28 MS. done 

88 MS. )>eese 

il assured 

24 of sinning 

& just 

12 game, sport 

26 jests, makes merry 

88 hating 

is MS. pleye 

28 loses 


fat God bad hym, dispiside God, 1 so fese myraclis-pleyeris and 
-mayntenours, 2 leevynge plesingly 8 to do[n] fat God biddif hem, 
scornen God. He, forsof e, haf beden us alle to halowen 4 his name, 
jyvyng drede and reverence in alle mynde 6 of his werkis, wifoute 
ony pleying[e] or japynge, as al holynesse is in ful ernest men ; ]> anne, 5 
pleyinge f e name of Goddis myraclis, 6 as plesyngly f ei leeve[n] to do[n] 
pat God biddif hem, so f ei scornen his name, and so scornen 7 hym. 
But hereajenus 8 fei seyen [i] fat fei pleyen fese myraclis in fe 
worschip of God, and so dyden not fese Jewis fat bobbiden Crist. 
Also, [2] ofte sifis 9 by siche myraclis-pleyinge ben 10 men convertid 10 
to gode lyvynge, as men and wymmen, seyng in myraclis-pleyinge 
fat ]> e devul by fer aray, by f e whiche fei moven eche on of ere u to 
leccherie and to pride, makif hem his servauntis to bryngen hemsilf 
and many of ere to helle, and to han 12 fer more vylenye herafter, by 13 
f er proude aray heere, fan f ei han worschipe heere ; and seynge, 1 * 1 5 
ferf ermore, fat al f is worldly beyng heere is but vanite for a while 
as is myraclis-pleying[e] f ei 15 leeven fer pride, and taken to hem 
afterward fe meke conversac[i]oun of Crist and of hise seyntis, and 
so myraclis-pleyinge turnif 16 men to fe bileve, and not pervertif. 17 
Also, [3] ofte syfis by siche myraclis-pleyinge men and wymmen, 20 
seynge f e passioun of Crist and of hise seyntis, ben movyd to com 
passion and devocion, wepynge bitere teris ; f anne f ei ben not scorn- 
ynge of God, but worschipyng. Also, [4] profitable 18 to men and to 
fe worschipe of God it is to fulfillen 19 and sechen alle fe menes by 
f e whiche men mowen 20 fleen 21 synne, and drawen hem to vertues. 25 
And syfen as 22 fer ben men fat on[e]ly by ernestful doynge wylen 
be[n] convertid to God, so fer ben 28 of ere men fat wylen not be[n] con 
vertid to God but by gamen and pley ; and now on dayes 24 men ben 
not convertid by f e emestful doyng of God ne of men, f anne K now 

1 Exod. 7. 13 ff. 8 i n opposition to this l" does not pervert them 

2 those who defend and sup- 9 ofttimes 18 MS. proph- 

port them 10 are 19 MS. -un 

3 omitting for the sake of H each one the other 20 may 

pleasure 12 have 21 MS. scene ; M. fle 

4 MS. -yn 18 because of 22 whereas 

5 remembrance H MS. seeynge 28 MS. been 

6 MS. miraclis 16 MS. wherjjoru }>ie u nowadays 

7 MS. -yn 16 MS. -e)> 26 therefore 


it is tyme and skilful 1 to assayen to converter! 2 fe puple by pley 
and gamen as by myraclis-pleyinge, and oj>er maner myrf is. Also, 
[5] summe recreac[i]oun men moten 8 ban ; and bettere it is, or lesse 
yvele, fat fei ban feyre recreac[i]oun 4 by pleyinge of myraclis fan 

5 by pleyinge of ofer[e] japis. Also, [6] sifen it is leveful 5 to ban fe 
myraclis of God peyntid, why is [it] not as wel leveful to ban fe 
myraclis of God pleyid, 6 syfen men mowen bettere reden fe wille 
of God, and his mervelous werkis, in fe pleyinge of hem fan in fe 
peyntynge, and betere fei ben holden in men[n]us mynde, and oftere 

10 rehersid, by fe pleyinge of hem fan by fe peyntynge, for fis is a deed 
bok, fe tof er a qu[i]ck 7 ? 

To fe first reson we answeren, 8 seying [i] fat siche myraclis- 
pleyinge is not to fe worschipe of God, for fei ben don more to ben 
seen of fe worlde, and to plesen 9 to fe world, fanne to ben seen of 

15 God, or to plesen 9 to hym. As Crist never ensaumplide hem, 10 but 
onely hefene men, fat everemore dishonouren God, seyinge fat to fe 
worschipe of God fat is to f e most veleynye n of hym ; ferfore, as fe 
wickidnesse of f e misbileve of hefene men lyif to hemsilf 12 whanne 
fei seyn fat f e wors[c]hipyng of f eire mafimetrie u is to f e worschipe 

20 of God, so mennus 14 lec[c]herye now on dayes, to han fer owne lustus. 
liif 15 to hemsilf whanne fei seyn fat siche 16 miraclis 17 -pleying[e] is to 
fe worschip of God. . . . 

[2] f>e same wise, 18 myraclis-pleyinge, albeit fat it be synne, is 
oferewhile 19 occasion of convertyng of men ; but as it is synne, it is 

25 fer more occasion of pervertyng of men, not onely of oon synguler 
persone, but of al an hool comynte, 21 as it makif al a puple to ben 
ocupied in veyn ajenus fis heeste 22 of fe Psauter Book, fat seif to 
alle men, and namely to pristis, fat eche day reden it in fer servyse : 
' Turne awey myn eyen fat fei se[n] not vanytees M ' ; and efte 24 : 

1 reasonable 9 MS. -yn 17 MS. -es 

2 MS. -yn ln taught their use by example ls in the same manner 
8 must 11 degradation 19 sometimes 

4 em. M. 12 deceive themselves; MS. }>emsilf 20 single 

s permissible is idols 21 community 

6 MS. -ed M men's E command 

7 1'ving 16 MS. liej> 28 p s . 1 19. 37 

8 MS. -yng (em. M.) 16 MS. suche 24 


' Lord, pou hatist l alle waytynge vanytees. 2 ' How panne may a 
prist pleyn in entirludies, 3 or jyve hymsilf to pe sijt of hem ? . . . 

Myraclis-pleyinge, sypen it is ajenus ]>e heest of God, pat biddip pat 
pou shalt not take[n] Goddis name in ydil, it is ajenus oure bileve, 
and so it may not jyven occasioun 4 of turnynge men to pe bileve, 5 
but of pervertyng ; and perfore many men wenen 5 pat per is no helle 
of everelastynge peyne, but pat God do[i]p but 6 preten 7 us, and not 
to do[n] it in dede as is 8 pleyinge of myraclis 9 in sygne, 10 and 
not in dede. . . . 

A prist of pe Newe Testament, pat is passid pe tyme of childehod, 10 
and pat not onely shulde kepe[n] chastite, but alle opere vertues, ne u 
onely mynystren fee sacrament of matrimonye, but alle opere sacra- 
mentis, and, namely, 12 sypen hym owip 13 to mynystre[n] to alle pe 
puple pe precious body of Crist, awjte 14 to abstene[n] hym fro al 
ydil pleying[e], bope of myraclys and ellis. 15 .^ "^t 15 

f>es men pat seyen, ' Pley[e] we a pley of Anticrist and of pe Day 
of Dome, pat sum man may be convertid perby,' fallen into pe herisie 
of hem pat, reversyng pe Aposteyl, seyden : ' Do we y vel pingis, pat per 
comen 16 gode pingis ' 'of whom,' as seip pe Aposteyl, 17 ' dampnyng 
is rijtwise. 18 ' 20 

By pis we answeren to pe pridde 19 resoun, seyinge [3] pat siche 
myraclis-pleyinge jyvip 20 noon occasioun of verrey 21 wepynge and 
medeful 22 ; but pe wepyng pat f allip 28 to men and wymmen by pe 
sijte of siche myraclis-pleyinge, as it is. 24 not principaly for peire 
owne 25 synnes, ne of peire gode feip wipinneforp, 26 but more of peire 25 
si jt wipouteforp, is not alowable byfore God, but more reprovable 27 ; 
for 28 sypen Crist hymsilf reprovyde pe wymmen pat wepten upon 
hym in his passioun, myche more pei ben reprovable pat wepen for 

1 MS. hatistde; M.hatid- 

9 MS. mir- 

19 third 


1 symbolic 

20 MS. -ej> 

2 Ps. 31.6 (Vulg.) 

11 nor 

21 true, sincere ; MS. werrey 

8 interludes, plays ; MS. 

12 especially 

22 profitable 


13 he ought 

23 befalls 

4 MS. -cioun 

14 ought 

24 MS. J>ei ben 

6 believe 

15 other things 

25 MS. oune 

6 merely 

16 MS. -yn 

26 inwardly; MS. -for}>e 

" MS. t>retij> 

17 MS. gospel (blurred) aposteyl 

2 " MS. reprowable 

8 MS. ben 

is Rom. 3. 8 

28 MS. ffor 


f e pley of Cristis passioun, leevynge to wepen a for f e synnes of hemsilf 
and of J>eire chyldren, as Crist bad fe wymmen fat wepten on hym. 2 
And by }>is we answeren to fe furfe resoun, seyinge [4] fat no 
man may be convertid to God but onely by fe ernestful doinge 8 of 

5 God, and by noon veyn pleying[e] ; for fat fat 4 f e word of God 
worchif not, ne his sacramentis, how shulde pleyinge worchen, fat is 
of no vertue, but ful of defaute ? . . . fe wepyng fat men wepen ofte 
in siche pley, comunely is fals, witnessinge 5 fat fei loven 6 more fe 
lykyng 7 of feire body, and of prosperite of fe world, fan lykynge 

10 of 8 God, and prosperite of vertu[e] in fe soule; and, ferfore, hav- 
yng more compassion of peyne fan of synne, fei falsly wepen 9 for 
lakkynge of bodily prosperite, more fan for lakkyng of gostly. . . . 

And herby we answeren to fe fifte resoun, seyinge [5] fat verry 
recreacion is leeveful ocupiynge in lasse 10 werkis, to more ardently 

15 worchen 11 grettere werkis; and ferfore siche myraclis-pleyinge, ne 
fe sijte of hem, 12 is no verrey recreacion, 13 but fals and worldly, as 
proven 14 fe dedis of f e fautours 15 of siche pleyis. . . . And gif men 
axen what recreac[i]oun men shulden han 16 on f e haliday, after feire 
holy contemplacioun in f e chirche, we seyen to hem two f ingis : oon, 

20 fat jif he hadde ver[r]yly ocupied " hym in contemplac[i]oun byforn, 
neyfer he wolde aske[n] fat question, ne han wille 18 to se[n] 19 
vanyte ; anof ere, we seyn fat his recreacioun shulde ben in f e werkis 
of mercy to his neyebore, and in delityng 20 hym in alle good comu- 
nicacion wif his ney[e]bore, as biforn he delitid 21 hym in God, and 

25 in alle of ere nedeful werkis fat reson and kynde 22 axen. 

And to f e last reson we seyn [6] fat peinture, 23 jif it 2< be verry, 
wif oute mengyng ^ of lesyngis, 28 and not to curious to 2T myche 
fedynge mennus wittis, and not occasion of maumetrie 28 to f e puple, 
T>ei ben but as nakyd lettris to a clerk to reden ffl fe treufe ; but so 

1 omitting to weep u MS. worschen 21 MS. di- 

2 Luke 23. 28 12 (miracle-plays) 22 nature 

8 MS. doyinge 18 MS. -sion 28 painting 

< which M MS. -yn 24 MS. gif it it 

8 MS. falf wittnessenge JS patrons 2 s mingling 

6 MS. -yn 16 MS. have 26 falsehoods 

7 pleasure, enjoyment H MS. -ede x intent upon 

8 MS. in 18 desire 28 idolatry 

MS. -yn 19 see MS. riden (em. M.) 

10 smaller 20 MS. di- 


ben not myraclis-pleyingis, 1 pat ben made more to deliten men bodily 
pan to ben bokis to lewid 2 men, and perf ore jif pei ben quike 8 
bookis, pei ben quike bookis to schrewidnesse, 4 more fan to god- 
nesse. 8 Gode men, J>erfore, seinge per tyme to 6 schort to ocupyen 
hem in gode ernest werkis, and seinge pe day of per rekenynge 5 
neyjen 7 faste, and unknowyng whan pei schulen 8 go[n] hennys, 
fleen alle siche ydilnessis, hyinge 9 pat pei weren 10 wip per u spouse, 
Crist, in pe blisse of hevene. . . . 

[^5]if pou haddist had 12 a fadir pat hadde suffrid 18 a dispitous 14 dep 
to geten pee pyn heritage, and pou perafter woldest so lijtly ber[e]n 15 10 
it, to make[n] perof a pley to pe le and to alle pe puple, no doute 1T but 
pat alle gode men wolden demen 18 pe unkynde. Miche more, God and 
alle his seyntis 19 demen 18 alle po x Cristen men unkynde pat pleyen or 
favouren pe pley of pe dep or of pe myraclis 21 of per most kynde Fadir, 
Crist, pat dyede and wroujte myraclis to bryngen men to pe evere- 15 
lastande heretage of hevene. 

But peraventure heere pou seist pat, [5] if 22 pleyinge of myraclis 
be synne, never pe latere ** it is but litil synne. But herfore, 24 dere 
frend, knowe jee pat eche synne, be it never so litil, [j]if it be 
mayntenyd and prechid as gode and profitable, is deadly 25 synne; 20 
and perfore seip pe prophete 26 : ' Wo to hem pat seien good 27 yvel, 
and yvel good 28 !' and perfore pe wyse man dampnip 29 hem pat 
gtaicfen 80 whan pei don yvel; and perfore alle seyntis seyen pat 
mannysch 81 it is to fallen, but develiche it is to abyden stille per- 
inne. J>erfore, sipen pis 32 myraclis-pleyinge is synne, as pou knowl- 25 
echist, 88 and is stedefastly meyntenyd, and also men deliten hem 
perinne, no doute 17 but pat it is deadly synne, dampnable develiche, 
not mannysch. . . . 

1 MS. -inge 12 MS. hadde & nevertheless 

2 ignorant, unlearned 18 MS. -ed 2* in consideration of this 
8 living 14 cruel ; MS. -ouse 25 MS. deadely 

4 wickedness ; MS. -ide- 15 so disregard 26 MS. -ite 

s MS. gode- is for thyself 27 MS. gode 

6 too 17 MS. dowte 28 Isa. 5.20 

7 draw near 18 MS. denyen ^ condemneth ; MS. -ej> 

8 MS. schal 19 MS. -es 8 rejoice 

9 hastening 2n those 81 human ; MS. -ysche 
10 might be 21 MS. -es 82 MS. )>es 

U MS. her 22 MS. of 88 dost acknowledge 



As pis is a verre lesynge to seyen pat for pe love of God he wil 
ben a good felawe 1 \vi]> pe devul, so it is a verry 2 lesyng to seyen 
fat for pe love of God he wil pleyen his myraclis for in neyper is 
pe love of God schewid, but his hestis tobroken. 8 And sypen pe cere- 

5 monyes * of pe olde lawe albeit pat pei weren gy ven bi God for 
pei weren fleyshly, shulden 5 not be[n] holde[n] 6 wip pe Newe Testa 
ment, for it is gostly 7 ; myche more pleyinge, for it is fleys[h]ly, 
never beden 8 of God, shulde not ben don wi}> pe mervelouse werkis 
of God, for pei ben gostly ; for as pe pleyinge 9 of Ismael wip Isaac 

10 shulde han 10 bynomen n Isaac his heretage, so 12 pe kepyng of ]>e cere- 
monyes 4 of pe olde lawe in pe Newe Testament shulde han bynomen 
men per bileve in Crist, and han made men to gon bacward pat is 
to seie[n], fro pe gostly lyvyng of pe Newe Testament to pe fleyshly 
lyvyng of pe Olde Testament. . . . 

15 J>is myraclis-pleyinge is verre witnesse 18 of mennus averice and 
covey tise byf ore, pat is maumetrie, as seip pe Apostele u ; for pat pat 15 
pei shulden spenden 16 upon pe nedis of per nejeboris, pei spenden upon 
pe pleyis ; and to peyen per rente and per dette pei wolen grucchefn], 17 
and to spende[n] two so myche 18 upon per pley pei wolen nopinge 

20 grucchen. Also, to gaderen 19 men togidere to bien pe derre pere 
vetailis, 20 and to stiren men to glotonye, and to pride and boost, 21 pei 
pleyn pes myraclis ; and, also, to han wherof to spenden on pese 
myraclis, and to holde[n] felawschipe of glotenye and lec[c]herie in 
siche 22 dayes of myraclis-pleyinge, pei bisien hem beforn to more 

25 gredily bygilen per ne$[e]bors in byinge and in sellyng; and so pis 
pleyinge of myraclis now on dayes is verre 23 witnesse of hidous 24 
coveytise, pat is maumetrie. 

1 MS. felowe 

2 MS. werry 
MS. -un 

4 MS. sery- 

6 MS. t>ei shulden 

6 ranked 

7 of the spirit 

8 bidden; MS. -yn 

9 Gen. 21.9 (ludentem, Vul 
gate ; see the Authorized 

10 might have 

11 taken from ; MS. -yn 

12 MS. so in J>e 
18 MS. witt- 

14 Col. 3. 5 
!5 which 

16 MS. -yn 

i!" grudge 

is twice as much 

19 MS. gideren 

2l1 buy their food the dearer 

21 boasting 

22 MS. sicsse 
^ MS. werre 
MS. hidoous 



The Instructions for Parish Priests is a versified translation of the Pupilla 
Oculi of William de Pagula (Diet. Nat. Biog. s.v. Mirk). Its author, who was 
prior of Lilleshall in Shropshire, wrote also, besides a Latin Manuale Sacerdo- 
tum, the Liber Festialis, an English book of sermons which was decidedly 
popular, being printed eighteen times between 1483 and 1532 (Schofield, 
English Literature from the Norman Conquest to Chaucer, p. 395). Nothing 
more is known of Mirk's life ; the date 1403 as the time at which he flourished 
is conjectural. 

The following selections are from Peacock's print (E.E.T.S. 31, London, 
1868 ; revised, 1902) of MS. Brit. Mus. Cotton Claud. A. 2, which he supposes 
to be not later than 1450, and to represent the language of an earlier time. 
The pages are respectively, with the exception of the third from the end, 2, 
9-10, 14, 32, 43, 66-7, and 60, of the edition of 1902; the antepenultimate, 
21-3 of the edition of 1868. 


Preste, fyself thow moste be chast, 
And say J>y serves wyfowten hast, 
That mowthe and herte acorden ifere, 1 
<^ef thow wole that God }>e here. 

Of honde and mow^e )>ou moste be trewe, 5 

And grete oj>es thow moste enchewe 2 ; 
In worde and dede )>ou moste be mylde, 
Bothe to mon and to chylde. 
Dronkelec 8 and glotonye, 

Pruyde and sloufe and envye, 10 

Alle J>ow moste putten away, 
<3ef J>ow wolt serve God to payr* l^*-"- 
That ]>e nedeth, etc and drynke, 
But sle 6 Ipy lust for any thynge. 

Tavernes also thow moste forsake, 15 

And marchaundyse fow schalt not make ; 
Wrastelynge, and schotynge, 6 and suche maner game, 7 

1 agree (///. accord together) 4 please 7 sports of such sort 

2 eschew 5 slay, crush 
8 drunkenness 6 shooting 


Thow myjte not use * wythowte blame ; 
Hawkynge, huntynge, and dawnsynge, 
Thow moste forgo for any thynge ; 
Cuttede 2 clothes and pykede 8 schone, 
Thye gode fame fey wole fordone. 4 
Marketes and feyres I the forbede, 
But 8 hyt be for the more 6 nede. 
In honeste 7 clothes thow moste gon : 
Baselarde 8 ny bawdryke 9 were f ow non. 
Berde and crowne thow moste be schave, 
<^ef thow wole thy ordere save. 
Of mete and drynke fow moste be fre 10 7 
To pore and ryche^by n thy degre. 

12 thow moste thy Sawtere 13 rede, 

And of the Day of Dome have drede ; 
And evere do gode ajeynes u evele, 
Or elles thow myjte not lyve wele. 

2 5 


No non in chyrche stonde schal, 
Ny 16 lene to pyler ny to wal, 
But fayre ie on kneus fey schule hem sette 
Knelynge doun upon the flette 17 
And pray to God wyth herte meke 
To jeve hem grace, and mercy eke. 
Soffere hem to make no here, 18 
But ay to be in here 19 prayere ; 

1 practise 

2 cut short (?) 
8 long-toed 

4 make way with 
6 unless 

6 greater 

7 decent, simple 

8 short sword, dagger 

9 sword-belt 

10 generous 

11 according to 

12 earnestly, zealously 

13 Psalter 

14 in return for 

15 nor 

16 properly 
I? floor 

18 noise 
i their 

4. pykede: 'The pikes were sometimes made like the tails of scorpions, 
at others twisted into the form of a ram's horn ' (Peacock's note, ed. 1902, p. 73). 


And whenne J>e gospelle ired l be schalle, 

Teche hem fenne to stonde up alle, 

And blesse 2 f eyre as pey conne 

Whenne ' Gloria tibi ' 3 ys bygonne. 

And whenne }>e Gospel ys idone, 5 

Teche hem eft to knele downe sone ; 

And whenne they here the belle rynge 

To that holy sakerynge, 4 

Teche hem knele downe, boj>e jonge and olde, 

And boj>e here hondes up to holde, 10 

And say benne in ]>ys manere, 

Feyre and softely, wythowte bere : 

' Jesu, Lord, welcome )>ow be, 

In forme of bred as I fe se. 

Jesu, for thy holy name, 15 

Schelde me to-day fro synne and schame. 

Schryfte 5 and howsele, 6 Lord, )>ou graunte me bo, 7 

Er that I schale hennes go, 

And verre 8 contrycyone of my synne, 

That I, Lord, never dye thereinne ; 20 

And, as J>6w were of a may 9 ibore, 10 

Sofere n me never to be forlore, 12 

But whenne ]>at I schale hennes wende, 

Grawnte me J>e blysse wythowten ende.' 


I beleve in oure holy Dryjt, 18 25 

Fader of hevene, God almyjt, 
]?at alle thynge has wrojt 
Hevene and er}>e, and alle of nojt. 
On Jesu Cryst I beleve also, 

1 read * consecration of the elements 9 maiden 

2 make the sign of the cross 5 confession and absolution 10 born 
8 ' Glory be to thee, O God,' receiving of the Eucharist 11 suffer 

sung between the Epistle 1 both M lost 

and the Gospel 8 true w Lord 


Hys only Sone, and no mo, 

J>at was conceyvede of fe Holy Spyryt, 

And of a mayde ibore quyt 1 ; 

And afterward under Pounce Pylate 

5 Was itake 2 for 'vye 8 and hate, 

And soffrede peyne and passyone, 

And on f e croys was idone 4 ; 

Ded and buryed he was also, 

And wente to helle to spoyle 5 oure fo, 

10 And ros to lyve the fryde day, 

And stegh 6 to hevene f e xl day. 
^jet he schale come wy}> woundes rede, 
To deme 7 f e quyke and f e dede. 
In f e Holy Gost I leve 8 welle ; 

15 In Holy Chyrche and hyre spelle. 9 

In Goddes body I beleve nowe, 
Amonge hys seyntes to jeve me rowe, 10 
And of my synnes fat I have done 
To have plenere u remyssyone ; 

20 And when my body from deth schal ryse, 

I leve to be wyth God and hyse, 12 
And have the joye fat lastej) ay ; 
God graunte hymself fat I so may ! 

Hast fou ben prowde and glad in thoght 
25 Of any mysdede fat fou hast wrojt ? 

Hast fou ben prowde of any gyse 18 
Of any fynge fat fou dedust use, 
Of party'* 4 hosen, of pykede schone, 
Of fytered 16 clof es (as foles done) 

1 quite 6 ascended n full, complete 

2 seized 7 judge 12 his 

8 envy 8 believe . ls appearance, look 

4 done to death 9 teaching 1* party-colored 

5 despoil 10 rest ls slashed 


Of londes rentes, of gay howsynge, 1 

Of mony servauntes to ]>y byddynge, 

Or of hors fat and rownde, 

Or for ]>y godes 2 were hole and sownde, 

Or for fow art gret and ryche 5 

fat no nejbore ys ]>e ilyche, 3 

Or for J>ow art a vertues mon, 

And const 4 more ]>en anofer con ? 

^ef }>ou havebe 6 on pys maner prowd, 

Schryf 6 J>e, sone, and telle hyt out. 10 


i i. 

Hast ]>ow icome by chyrchejorde, 7 
And for }>e dede iprayed no worde ? 
Hast fow ay cast up 8 lydejate 9 
J>ere bestus have go in ate ? 

Hast fow istruyed 10 corn or gras, 15 

Or ofer J>ynge fat sowen was ? 
Hast )>ou icome in any sty, 11 
And cropped jerus 12 of corne }>e by ? 
Art ]>ou iwont over corn to ryde, 
When fou myjtest have go bysyde ? 20 


J>e grete sentens I wryte }>e here, 
J?at foure tymes in J>e ^ere 
J>ou schalte pronownce withowtyn lette, 13 
Whan ]>e parich is togydur mette. 

J?ou schalte pronownce fis hydowse }>inge 25 

Wit cros, and candul, and belle-knyllynge, 14 

1 trappings f past a churchyard n path 

2 goods, possessions 8 fastened up (so as to prevent 12 ears 

a like the entrance of cattle) 13 hindrance 

4 knowest 9 gate between pasture-land 14 tolling 

5 been and ploughed land 

6 shrive, confess 10 destroyed 


fe furste Sononday affter Myjhellfeste l ; 
Myd-Lenton 2 Sonday schal be neste 3 ; 
f>e Trenite feste is f e f ridde, os 4 I f e say ; 
fe ferthe is f e Sononday aftur Candulmes day. 
5 Spelle 5 hit reddely, 6 for nojte f ou wonde, 7 

J>at 8 alle men fe undurstonde. 


By auttorite of God almijti, Fader 9 and Son and Holy Gost, and of 
al ]> e seyntes of heven. First, 10 we accursen al them that broken u the 
pece of Holy Chirch or sturben hit; ... all fat falsen or use false 

10 measures, busshelles, galones, and potelles, 12 quartes, [cuppes], or false 
wightes, poundes or poundrelles, 18 or false ellenyerdes, 14 wetyngly of er 
)>an f e lawe of ]>e lond woll ; . . . also all fat distroubleth f e pes of 
Englond, and traitors that ben false or isenting 15 to falsenes, agen )>e 
king or the reame 16 ; . . . also all that helpen with strength, or with vit- 

1 5 ayles, or soccouren Jewes or Sarzons 17 agen Cristendom ; also all fat 
sleen childeren, or distroyen boren or unborn, with drynkes or with 
wichcraf t, and all her consentes 18 ; also all fat stondeth or herkeneth 
by nyjtes under wolles, dores, or wyndowes, for to spy touching evil, 
and all house-brekeres and man-quellers. 19 . . . 


20 By fe auctorite of cure Fadur, of f e Sone, of fe Holy Goste, and off 
ou[r]e lady Seynte Mary, Goddus modur of heven, and alle ofur vir- 
gynes, and Seynte Myhel,' 20 and alle ofur angellus and archangellus, and 
Petur and Poule, and ofur apostolus, and Seynte Stewne, 21 and alle ofur 
martyres, and Seynte Nicholas, and alle ofur confessoures, 22 and alle 

1 Michaelmas 10 MS. ffirst 18 accomplices 

2 Mid-Lenten n break J 9 murderers 
8 next 12 a measure for liquids, equal 20 Michael 

4 as to half a gallon 21 Stephen 

6 speak, say; MS. sepelle 18 scales, balances 22 those who suffered perse- 

6 promptly, willingly 14 ell-measures cution, but not martyr- 

1 shrink, fear ls consenting dom, for the sake of their 

8 so that W realm religion 

MS. ffader " Saracens 


f e holy halowes x of hewen, we acurson and wa'ryon 2 and departon 8 
from alle gode dedus and prayeres of Holy Chyrche, and dampnon 4 
into f e peyne of helle, alle f oo 5 fat have done pels articoles fat we 
have sayde before, tyl 6 }>ei comen to amendemente. We acurson hem 
be fe auctorite off )>e courete off Rome, witinne- and witouteforjfe, 7 5 
sclepynge and wakynge, goynge, syttynge and standinge, lyggynge, 
oftxJwne 8 f e erthe and undur f e erthe, ... in wode, in watur, in felde, 
and in towne. We acurson be fe Fadur and Sone and Holy Goste. 
Acursyn hem angelus and archangellus, and alle fe nyne ordorus of 
heven. Acursyn hem patriarchus, prophetus, and apostolus, and alle 10 
Goddus disciplus, and alle holy innocentus, martyres, confessoures, and 
virgynes, monkus, cannonus, eremytus, 9 and prestus and clerkus, pat 
}>ei have no parte off masses ne mateynus 10 ne evensonge, ne of none 
ofur gode prayeres fat bene done in Holy Chyrche, no in none ofur 
holy place ; bot ]>e peynus of helle for to be here mede, 11 wit Judas fat 1 5 
betrayed oure Lord Jesu Cryste, and f e lyf of hem be putte oute of f e 
bokus of lyfe, tyl fay comen to amendemente, and satisfaccion made. 
Fiat, fiat ! Amen ! 

J>an fou fi candul kaste to grownde, 

Ande spytte ia ferto f e same stownde, 18 20 

And lette also fe belle knylle, 

To make hertus fe more grylle. 14 


' Perhaps it is hardly too much to say that no literary production since the 
time of the apostles has contributed so much to Western civilization as the 
Benedictine Rule ; and yet its author probably never regarded it as a literary 
production at all ' (Cook and Tinker, Sel. Trans, from Old Eng. Prose, p. 278). 

Benedict was born at the end of the fifth century ; by the end of the sixth 
his Rule was chosen by Pope Gregory the Great for a monastery Gregory had 
founded at Rome. By the end of the eighth century the age of Charlemagne 

1 saints 6 M S. tul u reward 

2 execrate 7 at home and abroad 12 spit 

8 separate, shut off 8 above 18 at the same time 

4 condemn 9 hermits, recluses 14 (to) shudder, tremble 

6 those 10 matins 



the Rule was almost universally followed in European monasteries. Through 
out the Middle Ages the Benedictine monks were famous for their learning, 
and, by their zeal in copying classical manuscripts, preserved most of those 
that have come down to us. For a general account of them, see Montalembert's 
Monks of the West, Book 4. 

The early English manuscripts of the Rule are many of them based on a 
version written for nuns. That from which our selections are taken is MS. 
Brit. Mus. Cotton Vespasian A. 25, in the Northern dialect of the earlier fif 
teenth century, as printed by Kock (E.E.T.S. 120), the respective pages being 
95-6, 99-100, 102-5, 115-6. 



Of time of mete now es to lere, 
In times and sesons of |>e jere. 
Fro Pas 1 right unto Witsunnday, 
At ]>e sext our 2 ete sal pai, 
]?e whilk es midday for to mene, 
And sine 3 sal pai soupe 4 be'dene. 5 
In somer, fro 6 Witsunday be past, 
Wedinsday and Friday sal j>ai fast, 
-.! -Bot-if 7 J>ai'oj>er 8 swink 9 or swete 
In hay or corn with travel grete. 
And if pai non slike 10 travel done, 11 
On J)os days sal J?ai fast to none. 12 
And on oper days, als I air 18 saide, 
At mydday sal per mete be graide. 14 
Bot al )ris sal be purued 15 playn, 
At ]>e ordinance of per soverayn 1G ; 
What seson so 1T scho 18 putes pam to, 
Withoutin groching 19 sal )>ai do. 
Fro time pat December begin 
Until clene Lentyn cum in, 

1 Easter 

2 sixth hour 
8 afterwards 
4 sup 

6 together 

6 from the time that 

7 unless 

8 either 

10 such 

11 do, engage in 

12 noon 
is before 

14 ready, prepared 

16 provided 
16 prioress, superior 
i" whatsoever manner of life 
according to the season 

18 she 

19 grumbling 


At hi 1 none sal pai etc; 

Jer lesons ' 2 sal pai not forgete. A, 

In Lentyn sal non to mete gang 

Ef ter 3 ]> e our of evynsang ; 

And al servys 4 ]>an sal pai sai 5 

Efter mete, bi light of day, 

So pat al be rewlid right 

At we'nd 5 to bede bi dais lyght. 

All pat wons in religioun 6 


Aw 7 to have sum ocupacioun, 10 

Ouper 8 in kirk*of 9 hali bedes 10 

Or stodying in oder stedes. 11 

For ydilnes, os sais Sant Paul, 

Es grete enmy unto pe saul ; 

And J>erf or es ordand 12 pat pai 1 5 

Sum gude warkes sal wirk alway, 

And sum certane times of pe jer 

To wirk with hand, os men may her. 

Fro Pase, thurgh al Cristyndome, 

Til pe kalandes u of October cum, 20 

Unto prime 14 sone sal pai rise, 

And sine ilkon 15 wirk on per wise 

What so es most nedeful labore, 

Until pe tyme of pe third oure. 

And lessons sal pai rede pan next 25 

Fro pe third our unto pe sext. 

And efterward thurgh wirchep 

Fro cures 16 and mes 17 wend unto mete. 

1 high 7 ought 14 church-service celebrated 

2 readings 8 either about 5 or 6 A.M. 
8 MS. or efter 9 with 15 each one 

4 the whole service 10 prayers 16 hours of service 

6 to go u other places 17 mass 

6 dwell in religion, lead 12 ordained 

a religious life 18 first 


And efter mete, pen sal pai slepe, 

And silence al sartien' 1 sal pai kepe, 

So pat none do oper disese, 2 

Bot ilkon paid 8 oper to plese. 
5 Sone efterward, when J>is es done, 

And pai haf said pe our of none, 

Until peir werk fen sal pai gang, 

Unto pe tyme of evynsang, 

To scher 4 or bind, if it be nede, 
10 Or dike, 5 or els do oper dede, 

For unto travel wor we born, 

And al our elders us beforn. 

Bot travel aw mesurd to be 

Til ilkon efter per degre, 
15 To men or women, old or sing, 

Ilkon to do divers ping. 

Fro October, os I 'are 6 sayd, 

Unto Lentyn es pus purvayd 7 : 

In orisons, and in per oures 
20 And lessons, sal be per laboures. 


In Lentyn tyme pen sal pai rise 

Arly, and say per servyse 

And orisons til Codes honoure, 

Until it be past pe third oure. 
25 J>an to pe tent our 8 sal pai wirk, 

And sine til non 9 serve in pe kirk. 

And in Lentyn aw pam to luke 10 

]?at ilkon have ordand a buke, 

Whilk sal be red right to pe end,^ 
30 Als pe cours of pe rewl hase kend. 11 

1 together 6 make ditches 9 noon 

2 discomfort, disturbance before 10 see to it 
content " provided for u taught 

* cut, reap 8 tenth hour 


And who so groches oght here ogayn x 

Sal be punest with grevus payne. 

Who terites to trofils, 2 and wil not rede, 

And fai overtayn 8 with fat dede, 

With payn fai sal amendes make, 5 

So fat ofer ensaumpil take. 


A priores aw to be prest 4 
For to resave ilka gude gest, 
And at hir myght fam mere 6 make 
Soveraynly for Godes sake, 10 

Namely 6 fam fat er 7 pilgrams knawn, 
And pouer 8 fat hase 9 not of f er awn. 
For God until [us] fus sal say 
In dome, 10 apon f e dredful day : 

Hospes eram, et colligistis me 15 

' I wos a gest in my degre, 
And in jour hous je herberd me.' 
f>an aw us u gestes and gud pilgrims 
For to releve in al fere lims, 

And for to refresch in al right, 20 

Als it es det 12 be day and nyght, 
And oblis 18 fam kissmk 14 of pese, 
Perfite luf for to encres. 
And when fai cum. bi day or nyght, 
And also when fai wend to flight, 25 

Loute 15 unto fam aw le grete and small, 
Or els unto f er fete at " fall, 
Witand 18 wele in fat sesoune 
J?ai honour Crist in f er persoune ; 

1 against this 1 are 18 courteously give 

2 attends to trifles 8 poor people 14 kiss 

8 if they are found out 9 have 15 to bow 

* ready, eager 10 judgment 16 ought 

6 merry 11 it befits us, we ought 17 to 

6 especially 12 due 18 knowing 


For who so resaves fe pure man 

In Crist name, resaves Crist fan. 
A soveraryn x sal ger gestes kepe 2 

With honour and with gret wirchepe, 
5 Or rede to fam, or ger be rede, 

How hali men fer lives lede. . . . 

Scho sal gif water unto fer hend, 

And wesch feir fete, als Crist hase 

When fai so do, fai sal reherce, 
10 Word bi word, and say fis verce : 

Suscepimus, Deus, misericordiam tuam in medio 

' We have resavyd, Lord, fi mercy, 

In fe mydes of fe hows haly.' . . . 

J>e gestes kechin 4 sal be set 
1 5 Allone, fat it no nof er 5 let, 

So fat fai be servyd at ese, 

And ilk man redy fam to plese. 

And luk fer bedes 6 ordand bene 

With litter larch 7 and clothes clene, 
20 And swilk servandes assigned fam tU * 

J>at wil fam serve with gude wil. 

None aw fam do for to greve, 

Ne speke with fam withoutyn leve, 

Bot loutand 8 hals 9 fam wher fai go, 
25 And with blissing pase furth fam fro. 


Thay sal be clede ful wele, we wate, 
Efter fer place es cald or hate. 
For in cald sted'es 10 who so er s'ted, 11 
f>am nedes for to be better cled ; 
30 And 12 who er in hate cuntre, 

1 prioress 5 other 9 salute 

2 cause guests to be entertained 6 beds 10 places 

8 taught ~> large straw-bed n situated 

* kitchen 8 bowing 12 MS. in 


Sich clething to pam may be ; 
And al it sal be purvayd playne 
At pe ordinance of peir soverayne. 

: '-' ' . tVC 

In comun places for alkins note 1 

Sufficis a kirtil 2 and a cote 3 ; 5 

And mantels sal pai have certayne, 

In winter dubil, in somer playne ; 

And changing kirtils sal pai have 

In nyghtes }>er oper for to save. 

Schos pai sail have, whor pai dwel, 10 

Swilk os pai may find for to sel. 4 

Of pe farest 5 pai sal not by, 

Bot pe vilist ful bowsurnly. 6 

And peir soverayn aw for to se 

f>at pair'gere 7 evynly o[r]dand 8 be, 15 

Mete for pam pat sal it fang, 9 M 

And no)>er to schort ne to lang. 

When pai tak new, pe old sal pen 

Be partid til 10 pouer women. 

And when pai sal went n in cuntre, 20 

f>air clething sal mor honest 12 be ; 

And home agayn when fai cum eft, 

f>en sal pai were slik os 13 fai left. 

Until )>eir beddyng sal J>ai have 

At 14 suffise J>am fro cauld to save. 25 

And oftsithes sail per bed be sene, 

J?at no tresure be fam betwene, 

Ne no gude pat to J>am may gayne 15 ; 

Who so it hase, sail soffer payne. 

For whi 16 per soverayn sal pam bede 17 30 

All unto pam pat es nede. 

J all kinds of work 7 apparel 18 such as 

2 gown 8 fitly ordered ; em. K. u (enough) to 

8 skirt, petticoat 9 receive 15 be useful 

4 for sale 10 distributed to 16 wherefore 

5 fairest n go 17 offer, give them 

6 meekly 12 finer 


Ane old man sal f e gates jeme 1 
J>at witti es, and wele wil seme 2 
For to welcum with wordes fre 
Evyrilk man in fer degre. 

5 His dwelling sal be dyght 8 algayte 4 

In a eel beside fe gate, 
So fat he be redy ay 
Til al 5 fat cums be nyght or day. 
And when so ony knok or call, 

10 Softli answer fam he sail ; 

To her fer wordes sal he be bayn, 6 
And bryng fam grath 7 answer ogayn. 
And baynly sal he bryng and take 
Al fat men sendes for Godes sake. 

15 And ever him aw to jeme fe gate 

For al aventurs, 8 arely and layte. 

In abbais aw to be al thing 
fat nedeful es to feir lifing, 
Als watter for to do al fer dedis, 

20 Miln, 9 kiln, 10 and oven, and al fat nedis, 

So fat fai sal not outward gang 
To say, for dred, or wirk, oght wrang. 

Robert Mannyng of Brunne (now Bourne), in Lincolnshire, wrote his poem, 
the Handlyng Synne, in 130^ when he had for fifteen years belonged to the 
priory of Gilbertine canons at Sempringham (six miles from Bourne). The 
work is a poetical adaptation of the Manuel des Pechiez of William of Wading- 
ton, who wrote some time in the reign of Edward I (1272-1307). While char 
acterizing the seven deadly sins, etc., it pictures in a lively way the life_and 
yices of the. age, and inserts tales here and there to point a moral. The poem 

1 keep 6 for all 9 m ill 

2 be suitable 6 ready 10 bakery 
8 prepared 1 direct 

* always 8 w jth reference to all contingencies 


has been spoken of as ' the work which more than any former one foreshadowed 
the path that English literature was to tread from that time forward' (Diet. 
Nat. Biog. s.v. Mannyng) ; and, in general, it has been more popular than the ^ j 
writer's other chief work, a chronicle-history of England. Of Mannyng's 
language Ten Brink says (Early English Literature i. 302) : ' Robert of Brunne * \ 
is without doubt one of the writers who served most to spread the East- 
Midland dialect toward the south. And through him many new Romanic 
words were probably either introduced into the English literary language, or! j 
at least established there.' 

With the caution in 303 10 ff. may be compared the following (reprint of 
E.E.T.S. 15.59): 

A man that intendyth to mynstrels shall soone be weddyd to poverte. . . . 

Iff mynstrels pleace the, feyne as thow herde them, but thynke uppone another. 

He that lawith [laughs] at a mynstrels worde gevith to hym a wedde [forfeit, pledge]. 

Our selections are from E.E.T.S. 119 and 123, which print the version of 
this poem (12,630 lines long) in MS. Brit. Mus. Harl. 1701 ; and, in parallel col 
umns, the corresponding parts of Wadington's Old French. The selections are, 
respectively, lines 985-1054, 4571-4614, 4739~4774> 8987-9006, 10,729-10,798. 


g^f J>ou make karql x or play, 
J>ou halewyst nat |>yn halyday. 
^yf )>ou come overgladly partyl, 2 
And jyvest farto mochyl 8 )>y wyl, 
Yn J>at hast )>ou mochyl plyjt,* 
For synne wyl come Jmrgh swyche syjt. 

^yf )>ou ever settyst swerde ey}>er ryng 
O- For to gadyr a wrastlyng, 

J>e halyday J>ou holdest noght, 

Whan swyche bobaunce 6 for fe ys wrojt : 

Cuntek 6 fere comyp, or qujjer bobaunce, 

(. L 

And sum man slayn, or lost Jmrje chaunce. 

<5yf fou ever yn felde, eyfer 7 in toune, 
Dedyst 8 floure-gerland or coroune 9 
To make wommen to gadyr )>ere, 15 

1 dancing in a ring, accompanied by singing 4 danger ? or 

2 thereto, to it " 5 pomp 8 madest 

8 greatly 6 quarreling, discord 9 coronal, wreath 



To se whych fat feyrer were, 
J>ys ys ajens \>e commaundement, 
And )>e halyday for }>e ys shent l ; f> 
Hyt ys a gaderyng for lecherye, 
And ful grete pryde, and hejte hye. 2 
<5yf J)ou ever janglyst 8 at rnesse, 

Yn ^ e ch eL he with "I ! 6 or lesse J 

And lettyst 4 men of 5 here preyers, 

For hem perel sopely )>ou berys ; 
10 J>e halyday fou holdest nat ryjt, 

And lettyst to wurschyp God almyjt. 

Halyday was made for preyere, 

To God oure herende 6 for to here. 

Certys we oust fan with ful mynde 
15 To preye God us of synne unbynde, 7 

And yn gode lyfe us wysse and rede, 8 

And forjeve us al oure mysdede. 
^yf fou hauntyst 9 to make ]> y play 

At }>e taverne on )>e halyday, 
20 ^ V^> To many on 10 comyf farfore evyl 

J?urgh cumberaunce ll of J> e devyl. 

Hojy Chyjrche wyl fe wejcne 12 

J>e halyday to go to fe taverne, 

And namly byfore ]>e noun, 13 
25 Whan Goddys servyse owyj) to be doun. 

Taverne ys J>e devylys knyfe ; 

Hyt sle|> 14 ]> e, o]>er soule or lyfe ; 

One of ]>ys shal hyt do, 

^yf fou haunte 15 comunly ]> arto. 
30 Hyt shorty f ]>y lyfe, over moche drynkynge, 

And sle}> fy soule with bakbytyngge ; 

Hyt wastyj) }>y body, and makef ]>e drye, 

1 spoiled, ruined 6 petition n harassing, temptation 

2 high heart " set us free from sin 12 forbid 
8 dost engage in altercation 8 direct and counsel u noon 

* dost hinder 9 art accustomed 14 slayeth 

6 from 10 many a one ls resort 






And gadryj> l lecherye to glotonye ; 
And ]>e comaundment ys brokun, 
And fe halyday, byfore of spokun. 

<^yf pou do any man o dawe z 
On fe halyday for any lawe, 
Swyche men grevusly werche 
Ajens )>e state of Holy Chyrche ; 
For holy preyere, and for j>e pees, 
J>e halyday God hyt chees. 

<^yf pou ever with jogejoure, 3 
With hasa[r]doure, 4 or with rotoure, 5 
Hauntyst taverne, or were to any pere 6 
To pley at fe ches or at }>e tablere, 7 
Specyaly before )>e noun, 
Whan Goddys servyse owyf to be doun, 
Hyt ys ajens ]>e comaundment 
And Holy Cherches asentA'" 
^yf fou be infra sacros* 
And art a clerk, and hast }>e los 10 
Of subdekene, or dekene by name, 
So mojche art fou ]>e more to blame. 
J>ys 1X lerned men jyven ensample so_ 
J>at |>e lewd 12 men ]>e more mysdo. 18 


Of tournamentys pat are forbede 
Yn Holy Cherche, as men rede, 
Of tournamentys Y preve 14 |>erynne, 
Seyene poyntes of dedly synne : 
Fyrst ys pryde, as f>ou wel V$Q$, 
Avauntement, 16 bobaunce, and bost ; 

1 adds ; MS. gadryd 

2 kill any man 

3 juggler (one who enter- 

tained with songs, stories, 
or tricks) 

4 player at dice 

5 player on the rote 

6 a companion to any one 
"> backgammon 

8 sanction 

9 of the lower clergy 
10 praise, honor 

n these 

12 ignorant 

18 do evil 

14 prove 

ls knowest 

16 self-glorificatioh 


Of ryche atyre ys here avaunce, 1 

Prykyng 2 here hors with olypraunce. 3 

Wete pou wel per ys envye 

Whan one seep anoper do maystrye 4 ; 
j Oper yn wurdys oper yn dedys, 

Envye m<Mge of alle hem ledys. *& {^ A- 

Yre 6 and wra}>}>e may pey nat late 6 ; 

Ofte are tournamentys made for hate. 

^yf every knyjt lovede oper weyl, 
10 Tournament^s shulde benev.ej: a deyl ^ f v 

And certys pey faJJe yn sToj^hnes, 8 

J>ey love hyt more pan God oper messe ; 

And, perof ys hyt no doute, 

Ipey dyspende more gode per aboute 9 
'5 , Jjvi J>at ys sey.e alle to folye 

J>an to any dede of mercy. 

And gyt may nat, on no wyse, 

Be forgete 10 Dame Coveytyse, 

For she shal fonde, 11 on alle wyse, 12 
20 To wynne hors and harnyse. 

And jyt shal he make sum robbery, 

Or bygyle hys hoste per 18 he shal lye. 14 
Glotonye also ys hem among, 

Delycyus metes w to make hem strong, 
2 5 And drynke pe wyne pat he were lyght, 

Wyp glotonye to make hym wyght. 16 
<^yt ys pere Dame Lecherye ; 

Of here 17 cump alle here 18 maystrye. 

Many tymes, for wymmen sake, 
3 Knyghteys tournamentys make ; 

And whan he wendyp to pe tournament 

1 boast, vaunt 1 bit 18 where 

2 urging on 8 s i ot h 14 spend the night 
* vanity, ostentation 9 in this pursuit 15 viands 

4 wonderful deeds l" forgotten 16 courteous 

6 anger 11 try l" her 

forsake, desist from 12 by every means 


She sendyf hym sum pryvy * present, 

And byt 2 hym do for hys lemman 

Yn vasshelage 8 alle pat he kan ; ft. t +^ 

So ys he bete 4 fere, for here love, 

f>at he ne may sytte hys hors above, 5 

l>at peraventure, yn alle hys lyve, 

(j / W 

Shal he never aftyr fryve. # ~TT. 


Y shall jow telle, as Y have herd, 

Of f e bysshope Seynt Roberd 5 ; 

Hys toname 6 ys Grostest 10 

Of Lynkolne, so seyf ]>e gest. 7 

He loved moche to here fe harpe, 

For mannys wytte hyt makyf sharpe. 

Next hys chaumbre, besyde hys stody, 

Hys harpers chaumbre was fast f erby ; 1 5 

Many tymes, be nyjtys and dayys, 

He had solace of notes 8 and layys. 

One asked hym onys 9 resun why 

He had delyte yn mynstralsy ; 

He answerede hym on ]>ys manere, 20 

Why he helde f e harper so dere : 

' J>e vertu of }>e harpe, purgh skylle and ry^t, 

Wyl destroye J>e fendes my5t, 

And to pe croys by gode skylle 

Ys J>e harpe lykened weyle. 25 

Anofer poynt cumf orte)> me : 

J>at God ha}) sent unto a tre 

So moche joye to here with eere ; 

Moche fan more joye ys fere 

With God hymselfe, fere he wonys. 10 30 

1 secret 5 Robert 9 once 

2 bids 6 surname, nickname 4 10 where he dwells 
8 prowess ? romance, tale 

4 beaten, smitten 8 melodies, songs 



f>e harpe ferof me of te mones l 

Of fe joye and of J>e blys 

Where God hymself wonys and ys. 

J>arefor, gode men, je shul lere, 2 

Whan je any glemen here, 

To wurschep God at 8 joure powere, 

As Davyd seyj) yn ]>e Sautere * : 

" Yn harpe, yn thabour, and symphan gle, 5 

Wurschepe God ; yn troumpes, 6 and sautre, 7 

Yn cordys, 8 an organes, and bellys ryngyng, 

Yn al }>ese, wurschepe je hevene Kyng. 9 " 


Karolles, wrastlynges, or somour-games, 10 

Whoso ever hauntej? any swyche u shames 12 

Yn cherche oj>er yn cherchejerd, 
15 Of sacrylage he may be aferd ; 

Or entyrludes, or syngynge, 

Or tabure bete, 18 or oper pypynge, 

Alle swyche fyng forbodyn es 

Whyle J>e prest stondef at messe. 
20 Alle swyche to every gode preste ys lothe, 

And sunner wyl he make hym wroth 

J>an he wyl }>at ha)> no wyt, 

Ne undyrstonde}) nat Holy Wryt ; 

And specyaly, at hyghe tymes, 
25 Karolles to synge, and rede rymys, 

Noght yn none holy stedes, 14 

J>at myjt dysturble ]>e prestes bedes, 15 

1 reminds 

2 learn 

8 according to 
* psalter 

6 music of the symphony (in 
strument like the tabor) 

6 trumpets 

" psaltery 

8 chords (strings of a musical 

Ps. 150. 3-5 
10 summer-games 

u such 

12 disgraceful doings 

13 beating 

14 places 

is devotions 


Or jyf he were yn orysun, 1 
Or any ouf er devocyun, 
Sacrylage ys alle hyt tolde. 2 


J>yr was a man bejunde f e see 

A mynour, woned 8 yn a cyte. 5 

(Mynurs, ]>ey make yn hyllys holes, 
As yn f e West Cuntre men seke coles.) 
J>ys mynur sojte stones undyr f e molde, 4 
J>at men make of 5 sylver and golde ; 
He wrojt on a day, and holed 6 yn ]>e hyl ; 10 

A perylous chaunce to hym fyl, 7 
For a grete party s of fat yche 9 myne 
Fyl dowun yn f e hole, and closed hym ynne. 
Hys felaus alle, pat were hym hende, 10 
J>at he were dede weyl solely wende ; 1 5 

)?ey jede u and toke hem alle to rede, 12 
And tolde hys wyfe fat he was dede. 

J>ys womman pleyned 18 here husbonde sore 
Wulde God fat many swyche wommen wore ! 
She hylpe hys soule yn alle fyng, 20 

In almesdede, and yn offryng ; 
She offred for hym to f e auter, 
Ful of wyne, a pecher, 14 
And a feyre lofe withalle, 

Every day as for a pryncypalle, 18 25 

Alle fat twelvemonef stabely, 16 
But o " day fat passed forby. 
Fewe swyche wymmen now we fynde, 

1 prayer, supplication 7 befel 18 lamented, bewailed 

2 counted, considered 8 part 14 pitcher 
8 who dwelt 9 same 16 ? 

4 earth 10 kindly disposed 16 regularly 

5 from which are made u went 17 one 
s dug 12 took counsel all together 


J>at to here husbondes are so kynde. 

But fys wyf e, at x alle here myjt, 

Ded for hym hope day and nyjt. 

Fyl hyt at fe twelvemonef ende, 
5 Hys felaws to f e mounteyne gun wende, 

And come to f e same stede efte 

)?ere fey last here werk ilefte, 

Ryjt fere fey fyrst bygan, 

And perced f urgh unto fys man. 
10 J>e man yn gode state fey fonde, 

Lyvyng withoute wem 2 or wounde. 

Everych one fey hadde grete ferly, 8 

And fat was grete resun why 

Alle f o men were yn grete were 4 
15 How he had lyved alle fat gere. 

But he tolde hem everych one 

How he hadde lyved fere alone : 

* Y have lyved gracyous lyfe 

J>urgh fe curtesye of my wyfe, 
20 For every day she haf me sent 

Brede and wyne to 8 present ; 

But o day certys etc Y nojt, 

For no mete 6 was to me brogt.' 

J>ey led fys man unto f e tounne, 
25 And tolde fys myracle up and dounne, 

Fyrst furogh fe cyte, 

And sef f e 7 furogh f e cuntre. 

]?ey asked hym, at fe laste, 

pat day fat he dyde faste ; 
30 He tolde hem fe dayes name, 

And hys wyfe seyd f e same ; 

J>at day she offred never a deyl 8 

J>e Gode Fryday he mygt be weyl. 

1 with 4 doubt, uncertainty ' afterwards 

2 harm, injury 5 as a 8 bit 
8 wonder, astonishment 6 food 


Now mow 1 je here }>at almesdede 
Gostely 2 a man wyl fede, 
And so mow je weyl undyrstande 
f>at God ys payd of 3 gode offrande. 

But for alle fys tale, yn joure lyves, 5 

Truste 56 nat moche on joure wyves, 
Ne on joure chyldryn, for no pyng, 
But make}? jeself 4 joure offryng, 
For so kynde a womman as Y of tolde 
Lyve}> nat now, be fou bolde 5 ; 10 

Ne no clerk, fat pys ryme redys, 
Shal fynde a womman of so kynde dedes. 


Among the numerous instruction-books of the Middle Ages was one known 
as Le Livre du Chevalier de la Tour-Landry pour I'Enseignement de ses Ftlles, 
a series of tales written (collected, rather) in 1371-1372 for his motherless 
daughters by Geoffroy de la Tour-Landry, a nobleman of Anjou. A similar 
book written for his sons has disappeared entirely, but this for the daughters 
was frequently copied about a dozen manuscript copies being still in exist 
ence. A German translation of the work was printed toward the end of the 
fifteenth century, and an English translation by Caxton in 1484. 

Our selections are taken from the Early English Text Society's print 
(No. 33, ed. Wright, 1868; revised ed., 1906) of MS. Brit. Mus. Harl. 1764, 
assigned to the reign of Henry VI (1422-1461). This translation, by an 
unknown hand, is much less literal than Caxton's (cf. Wright's introduction). 
The selections are from pages 1-4, 22, 26-8, and 39-40 of the edition of 1906. 
The words in brackets are supplied from Caxton's edition. 


In the yere of the incarnacion of oure Lord MCCCLXXI, as Y was 
in a gardin, al hevi and full of thought, in the shadow, about the ende 
of the monthe of Aprill, but a litell Y rejoysed me of the melodic and 15 
song of the wilde briddes. Thei sang there in her 6 langages, as the 
thrustill, the thrusshe, the nytinggale, and other briddes, the whiche 

1 may 8 pleased with 6 assured 

2 spiritually * yourself 6 their 


were full of rmrthe and joye ; and thaire suete songe made my herte 
to lighten, and made me to thinke of the tyme that is passed of my 
youthe, how love in gret distresse had holde me, and how Y was in 
her service mani tymez full of sorugh and gladnesse, as mani lovers 

5 ben. But my sorw was heled, and my service wel ysette * and quitte, 
for he gave [me a fayr] wyff, and . . . 2 that was bothe faire and good, 
[whiche had knowleche of alle honoure, alle good, and fayre mayn- 
tenynge, 8 ] and of all good she was bell 4 and the floure ; and Y delited 
me so moche in her that Y made for her love-songges, balades, 

10 rondelles, viralles, 5 and diverse nwe thinges in the best wise that Y 
couthe. . . . And as Y was in the saide gardein, thinkynge of these 
thoughtz, Y sawe come towardes me my iii doughters, of the whiche 
I was joyfull, and had grete desire that thei shuld turne to good and 
worshipe above all ertheli thinges, for thei were yonge, and had but 

15 tendir witte ; and so atte the begynnyng a man aught to lerne 6 his 
doughters with good ensaumples yevinge, as dede the Quene Proues 
of Hongrie, that faire and goodly chastised 7 and taught her doughters, 
as it [is] contened in her boke. . . . And Y said to hem that Y wolde 
make a boke of ensaumples, for to teche my doughtres, that thei 

20 might understond how thei shulde governe hem, and knowe good 
from evell. And so Y made hem extraie 8 me ensaumples of the Bible 
and other bokes that Y had, as the gestis 9 of kingges, the croniclez 
of Fraunce, Grece, of Inglond, and of mani other straunge londes. 
And Y made hem rede me everi boke ; and ther that Y fonde a good 

25 ensaumple, Y made extraie it oute. And thanne Y made this boke. 
But Y wolde not sette it in ryme, but in prose, for to abregge 10 it, 
and that it might be beter and more pleinly to be understond. And 
Y made this boke for the gret love that Y had to my said doughtres, 
the whiche Y loved as fader aught to love his child, having hertely 

30 joye to finde wayes to stere and turne hem to goodnesse and wor- 
shippe, and to love and serve her 11 Creatoure, and to have love of her 
neighboures and of the world. And therfor all faders and moders, 
after good nature, 12 aught to teche her children to leve all wrong and 

1 bestowed 6 virelays 9 tales 

2 MS. illegible 6 teach 10 abridge, shorten 

* deportment 7 corrected u their 

* bore the bell 8 extract 12 in the kindness of their hearts 


evell waies, and shew hem the true right weye, as wele for the salvacion 
of the soule as for the worshipe of the worldely bodi. And therfor Y 
have made ii bokes, one for my sones, another for my doughtres, for to 
lerne hem to rede. And in reding, it may not be but that thei shall kepe 
with hem som good ensaumple for to flee evell, and withholde the good. 5 
For it shall not be posible but sumtyme thei shall have mynde on sum 
good ensaumple, sum good doctrine of this boke, whanne thei knowe 
or here speke hereafter, as thei fall in the rewe l upon sum spekers of 
suche matiers. 


Ther was a woman that had a pie 2 in a cage, that spake and wolde 10 
tell talys that she saw do. And so it happed that her husbonde made 
kepe 3 a gret ele in a litell ponde in his gardin, to that entent to yeve 
it sum of his frendes that wolde come to see hym ; but the wyff, 
whanne her husbond was oute, saide to her maide : ' Late us etc the 
gret ele, and Y will saie to my husbond that the dto'ur* hathe eten 15 
hym ; ' and so it was done. And whan the good man was come, the 
pye began to tell hym how her maistresse had eten the ele. And he 
yode 5 to the ponde, and fonde not the ele. And he asked his wiff 
wher the ele was become. 6 And she wende to have excused her, but 
he saide her : ' Excuse you not, for Y wote well ye have eten yt, for 20 
the pye hathe told me.' And so ther was gret noyse 7 betwene the 
man and hys wiff for etinge of the ele. But whanne the good man 
was gone, the maistresse and the maide come to the pie, and plucked 
of all the fedres on the pyes hede, saieng : ' Thou hast discovered 8 
us of the ele ' ; and thus was the pore pye plucked. But ever after, 25 
whanne the pie sawe a balled or a pilled 9 man, or a woman with an 
high forhede, the pie saide to hem : ' Ye spake of the ele.' And ther 
for here is an ensaumple that no woman shulde ete no lycbrous 10 
morcelles in the absens and withoute weting 11 of her husbond, but 
yef it so were that it be with folk of worshippe, to make hem chere 12 ; 30 
for this woman was afterward mocked for the pye and the ele. 

1 successively 5 went 9 with hair removed 

2 magpie 6 what had become of the eel 10 dainty 

8 caused to be kept 1 disturbance u knowledge 

4 otter 8 betrayed 12 entertainment 



Hit happed onis there were iii marchauntes that yede 1 homwarde 
from a faiere, and as thei fell in talkinge, ridyng on the waye, one 
of hem saide : ' It is a noble thinge a man to have a good wiff that 
obeiethe and dothe his biddinge atte all tymes.' ' Be my trouthe,' 

S saide that other, ' my wiff obeiethe me truly.' ' Be God,' saide that 
other, ' Y trowe myn obeieth best to her husbonde.' Thanne he that 
beganne furst to speke saide : ' Lete 2 leye a wager of a dener, 8 and 
whos wiff that obeiethe worst, lete her husbonde paie for the dener ' ; 
and thus the wager was leyde. And thei ordeined amonges hem how 

10 thei shulde saie 4 her wyfes, for thei ordeined that everi man shulde 
bidde his wyff lepe into a basin that thei shulde sette afore her, and 
they were suoren that none shulde late his wiff have weting 5 of her 
wager, save only thei shulde saye : ' Lokithe, 6 wiff, that Y comaunde 
be done.' However it be, after one of hem bade his wiff lepe into the 

15 basin that he had sette afore her on the grounde, and she ansuered 
and axed wherto, 7 and he saide : ' For it is myn luste, 8 and Y will ye 
do it.' ' Be God,' quod she, ' Y will furst wete 9 wherto ye will have 
me lepe into the basin.' And for nothinge her husbond coude do she 
wolde not do it. So her husbonde up with his fust, 10 and gave her ii 

20 or iii gret strokes ; and thanne yede thei to the secounde marchauntys 
hous, and he comaunded that whatever he bade do it shulde be do, 
but it was not longe after but he bade his wiff lepe into the basin that 
was afore her on the flore, and she asked wherto, and she saide she 
wolde not for hym. And thanne he toke a staffe, and al tobete u her. 

25 And thanne thei yode to the thridde marchauntes hous, and there thei 
fonde the mete on the borde, and he rowned 12 in one of his felawes 
heres, and saide : ' After dyner Y will assaie my wiff, and bidde her 
lepe into the basin.' And so thei sette hem to her 18 dyner. And whan 
thei were sette, the good man saide to his wiff : ' Whatever Y bidde, 

30 loke it be done, however it be.' And she that loved hym, and dredde 

l went 6 see to it u beat severely 

8 let us 7 for what purpose 12 whispered 

8 dinner 8 desire 18 their 

* assay, try 9 know 

6 knowledge 10 fist 


hym, herde what he saide, and toke hede to that worde, but she wost 1 
not what he ment. But it happed that thei had atte her dyner rere 2 
eggis, and there lacked salt on the horde, and the good man saide : 
' Wiff, sele sus table,' and the wiff understode that her husbonde had 
saide: ' Seyle sus table,' the whiche is in Frenshe: 'Lepe on the borde.' 5 
And she, that was aferde to disobeie, lepte upon the borde, and threw 
down mete and drinke, and brake the verres, 3 and spilt all that there 
was on the borde. ' What,' saide the good man, ' thanne canne 4 ye 
none other plaie, wiff ? ' ' Be ye wode, 5 sir,' she saide, ' Y have do 
youre biddinge, as ye bade me to my power, notwithstondinge it is 10 
youre harme and myn ; but Y had lever ye had harme and Y bothe, 
thanne Y disobeied youre biddinge ; for ye saide : " Seyle sus table." ' 
' Nay,' quod he, ' Y saide : " Sele sus table," that is to saie, " Salt on 
the borde." ' ' Bi my trouthe,' she saide, ' Y understode that ye bade 
me lepe on the borde,' and there was moche mirthe and laughinge. And 1 5 
the other two marchauntes saide it was no nede to bidde her lepe 
into the basin, for she obeied ynough ; wherthorugh 6 thei consented 
that her husbond had wonne the wager, and thei had lost bothe. And 
after 7 she was gretly preised for her obeisaunce to her husbonde, and 
she was not bete as were that other ii wyves that wolde not do her 20 
husbondes comaundement. 


Hit befell that Seint Bernarde, that was an holy man and of gret 
richesse and birth, lefte all his possessiones and good, and yede to 
serve God in an abbey ; and for his holy lyving, and weringe 8 of 
the heyre, and doinge gret abstinence and almesdedes, made 9 that 25 
he was chose to be abbot of that place. And he hadd a gret ladi to 
his suster, that come to see hym withe gret meyni, 10 well arraied with 
riche clothinge, and riche atyred of perles and presious stones. And 
in this array she come afore her brother, Seint Bernard. And whanne 

1 knew 5 mad 9 brought it about 

2 underdone e wherefore 10 retinue 
8 glasses 7 afterwards 

4 know 8 MS. of weringe 


he sawe her in that array, he turned to her his backe and blessed * 
hym, and the lady was ashamed, and asked whi he ne wolde with her 
speke. And he saide that he had gret pitee to see her so disgised, 
and in that pride that she was inne. And she dede of 2 her riche 

5 atyre and gay clothes, and toke other symple arraye. And he saide : 
' Suster, yef Y love youre bodi, by reson Y shuld beter love youre 
sowle. Wene ye not that ye displese God and his aungells to see in 
you suche pompe and pride, to aorne 8 suche a carion as is youre body, 
whiche withinne vii dayes that * the soule ys parted from the body, he 

10 saverithe 6 in suche wise that no creatoure may suffre to be nigh it or 
see it, with[out] gret abhominacion ? Faire suster, whi thenke ye not 
of ' the pore peple that deyen for hungir and colde, that for the sixte 
part of youre gay arraye xl persones might be clothed, refresshed, and 
kepte from the colde ? ' And thus Bernarde declared the foly and the 

15 pompe of the worlde to his suster, and also the savement of her soule. 
And thanne the ladi wepte, and solde awey her clothes, and levid 
after an holy lyff, and had love of God, aungeles, and holy seintez, 
the whiche is beter thanne of the worldely pepill. 


The Gesta Romanorum is a series of mediaeval tales and their morals, orig 
inally written in Latin, and widely used for further artistic development or for 
illustrative material by the writers and preachers of the later Middle Ages. In 
the collection are versions of the tale of Constance which Chaucer tells in his 
Man of Law's Tale, of Shakespeare's bond- and casket-incidents in The 
Merchant of Venice, and of the Lear story; and many less-known tales appear 
in later poems and ballads. The date, authorship, and origin of the series are 
doubtful; for discussions of them see the Latin version, ed. Oesterley, 1872, 
revised 1877, and the Early English Text Society's reprint of the Middle 
English versions (ed. Heritage, 1879; Ex. Ser. 33). Cf. also Swan's transla 
tion of the Latin Gesta Romanorum in the Bohn Library. 

The following selection is from Herrtage's reprint of MS. Brit. Mus. Harl. 
7333. and is No. 3 of the series of tales (pp. 7-8). The Middle English versions 
(3 manuscripts) are all dated in the reign of Henry VI (1422-1461). 

Our story has been versified by William Morris as The Writing on the Image, 
in The Earthly Paradise. 

* made the sign of the cross * adorn 5 it has an odor 

a took off * from the time when MS. that 


Deoclician was emperour in pe cite of Rome, in pe empire of whom 
was a philosophre, callid Lenoppus, pe which had bi his crafte sette 
up an ymage, pe which put out an hond with a fynger, and upon the 
finger was wretyn wordis, Percute hie, that is to say, ' Smite here.' 
This ymage stode J>er long, and many a day after pe deth of pe phi- 5 
losophre ; and many come to pis finger, and radde the superscripcion, 
but fey undirstode it not, and therfore pei hadde moch marvaile what 
it shuld mene. So in a certeyne tyme per com a clerke of ferr con- 
treys, and ofte tymis he sawe pis ymage, and pis finger with pe scrip 
ture. 1 And in a certeyne day he toke a shovill, and dyggyd in the 10 
erth, undir pe superscripcion. And anon he fond a hous of marbill 
undir pe erth ; and thanne he went down, and enterid into the hall, 
and per he fond so many riche jewelis and marvelous pingys, that no 
tunge cowde tell. Aftir pis he sawe a bord or a table, isprad with rich 
metys ynowe peruppon. Thenne he lokid afer, 2 and sawe standing a 15 
charbuncle ston, the which jaf lijt over all the hous ; and ajenst hit 
stod a man, with a bo we in his hond, redy for to schete. This clerke 
perceivid well this sight, and pou[j]te, J?oj I tell pis si^t 3 whenne I am 
ago 4 hens, no man woll trowe * me, and perfore I woll take som of 
pis goode in tokne. He stirte to pe bord, and tooke a faire gilt cowpe, 20 
and put it up ; and anoon the man with pe bowe sheet to the char 
buncle ston so soore that it gede 6 onsundre, and po was all the lijt 
agon, and pe hous was full of dorknesse. And whenne pe clerke sawe 
pis, he wepte soore, for he wiste not how to passe out, for dorknesse. 
And perfore he dwelte per still, and per he endyd his lif, etc. 25 

Moralite. Goode men, pis ymage that is thus ypaynt 7 is the devell, 
pe which seith evermore : Percute hie, ' Smyte here,' that is to sey, he 
puttith in our hertes erthely thingis, and biddith us take hem, but he 
woll never speke of hevinly thingis. The clerke pat smytith with the 
shovill bitokenyth pe wise men of pis wordle, 8 and ben advocatis and 30 
pletouris, 9 pe which by sotilte and wickidnesse getith pe goode of pis 
wordle, and pe vanyteys of pis wordle. And whenne thei have geten 
hem with such worching, they fyndith many marveilous pingis, pat is 

1 inscription, writing * gone 7 painted 

2 afar 6 believe 8 world 

3 MS. sigth 6 parted 9 pleaders 


to sey, dilectabill Jnngis of )>e wordle, in \>e which fei have gret dilecta- 
tion. The charbuncle ston J>at jevith list is fe yowth of man, }>e which 
jevith to man hardinesse to have dilectacion and liking of 1 wordly 2 
pingis. The archer fat shetith is deth, fe which stondith evermore 

5 redy in awaite, 8 for to shete his dart. Now the clerke panne takith a 
knyfe what is that ? The wordly man, trowing to have all thingis 
at his owne will. But in that trust the archer shetith att fe charbuncle 
ston, that is to sey, deth shetith his schotys to pe jowth of man, and 
smytith his strength 4 and his myjte; and J>enne lieth the yowth in 

10 derkenesse of synne, in the which derkenesse many men oftyn tyme 
deyeth. And ferefore lat us fle all lustys and all likingys, and penne 
we schull not f aile of everlasting lijt, ad quam nos perducat, etc. 


The Bestiary, or Physiologus, had a history of something like a thousand 
years before it entered Middle English, which it did as a translation from the 
Latin of a certain Theobaldus ; his work had been already rendered into 
French by Philippe de Thaon, who dedicated his version to Adela, second 
wife (1121) of Henry I of England. The Middle English version belongs to 
ca. 1 220. 

The two subjects dealt with below the Whale (Turtle) and the Panther 
are also treated in Old English poetry (see my edition of the Old English 
Elene, Phcenix, and Physiologus (New Haven, 1919), where a much fuller 
account is given, with references to the bibliography of the subject). 

Our text is derived from Matzner, Allenglische Sprachproben (i. 55~75)t 
which in turn reproduces Wright and Halliwell, Reliquia Antiques \. 208-27. 
Emendations are by Matzner, and (of the Whale) by Emerson (Middle English 
Reader) ; others are mine. 



J. Ill-* Y ^ i \J JA. i i_i.L^ 

CethegrandeMsafis, 6 
> "5 De moste 7 Sat in water is : 3? > 4. 

De moste 7 Sat in w^ter is ; 
Dat tu wuldes seien 8 get, 

Gef u it soge flet, 10 4- * 

- i .^.. V..- ^ * whale (properly, turtle) 

worldly 6 fi s h 

waiting 7 largest 


< X- 

IMS. the .I" whale (properly, turtle) saw 

a ,l,^T-lHl,r 6 ficVl in flxNO< 

MS. strenght 8 say 





A, > 

Dat it were an ejlond 1 
Dat sete 2 on 8 Se se_-sond. 4 

Dis fis Sat is unride, 6 . 
Danne him hungreS, he gapeS wide ; 
Ut of his Srote it smit 6 an onde, 7 
De swetteste Sing Sat is o londe. 
Derfore oSre fisses to him dragen 8 ; 
Wan he it felen he ar-ejCLf agen 9 ; 
He cumen and hoven 10 in his muS ; 
Of his swike n he arn uncuS. 12 
Dis cete w Sanne hise chaveles 14 lukeS, 1 * 
Disc alle in sukeS ; 
De smale he wile Sus biswiken, 16 
De grete maig he nogt bigripen. 17 

Dis fis wuneS wiS Se se-grund, 18 
And liveS Ser evre heil and sund, 19 
Til it cumeS Se time 
Dat storm stireS al Se se, 
Danne sumer and winter winnen. 20 
Ne mai it wunen Serinne[n], 
So drovi 21 is te sees grund, 
Ne mai he wunen Ser Sat stund, 22 
Oc stireS up 23 and hoveS stille. 
Wiles 24 Sat 26 weder is so ille, 
De sipes 26 Sat arn on se f ordriven 27 
LoS hem is deS, 28 and lef 29 to liven 
Biloken 80 hem, and sen Sis fis ; e& 
An eilond he wenen 31 it is. 


fr r t 

i island 
2 sat 

12 ignorant 
13 sea-monster 

3 MS. one (em. E.) 
4 sea-sand (nom.) 
5 unwieldy, bulky 
6 emits 
" breath 
8 draw near , 

14 jaws 
15 shuts 
16 deceive 
i" seize, get hold of 
is dwells near the bottom of 
: the sea 

9 glad 
10 abide - ff 

19 well and sound 
20 contend 

11 trickery 

21 turbid 

22 at that time 

23 rises 

24 while 

25 MS. flar (em. E.) 

26 ships 

2" driven about 

28 MS. ded (em. E.) 

29 dear, pleasant 
so look about 

31 they suppose 



Derof he aren swifce fa'gen, 
And mid here migt Sarto he dragen 
--^ipes on festen, 1 

e up gangen, 

Of ston mid stej in $e tundjer 3 
Wer to brennen 8 on * flis wunder, 

Warmen hem wel, and eten 6 and drinken. 
De fir he feleS, and doS 6 hem sinken, 
For sone he diveS dun to grunde ; 
He drepeS 7 hem alle wiSuten wunde. 

Stgnificado. Dis de,yel is mikel witS wil and magt 
(So 8 wicches 9 haven in here craft) ; 
He dot5 men hungren, and haven Srist, 10 
And mani ofter sinful lijt, 11 
Tolled 12 men to him wiS his onde, 
Woso him fplggefc, 13 he finde^ spnde. 14 
Dp arn e little in 15 leve 16 lage 1T ; 
De mikle ne mgjg he to him dragen 
De mikle, I mene Se stedef ast 
In rigte leve mid fles 18 and gast. 
Woso listneS devejes lore, 
On lengSe it sal him rewen 19 
Woso festeS 20 hope on him, 
He sal him folgen to helle dim. 

5L ^* 5 


1 with reference to fasten 

ing, for the purpose of 

2 tinder 

8 make a fire 

* MS. one (em. E.) 

6 MS. heten (em. E.) 
e causes 

7 slays 

8 such as 

15 (who are) in 

9 enchanters; MS. witches 16 faith 

(em. E.) 
1 thirst 

11 pleasure 

12 draw ; MS. colle (em. E.) 
l 8 follows ; MS.folgelS (em. 

w shame 

' low 

18 body 

19 rue ; MS. reven (em. 


20 fasteneth (alluding to 

the anchorage and 




Panter is an wilde dej, 
Is non fairere on werlde her ; 
He is blac so bon 1 of qual, 2 
Mid 8 wite spottes sapen 4 al, 
Wit, and trendled 5 als a wel, 6 
And it 7 bicumeS him swiSe wel. 
Worso he wuneS, Sis panter, 
He fedeS him al mid oSer.der ; 
Of So Se he wile he nimeS Se cu$?~- 
And fet him 9 wel tij he is ful. 10 

In his hole siSen 10 stille 
Dre dages he slepen wille ; 
Dan after Se Sridde dai 
He riseS and remeS n lude so 12 he mai. 

Ut of his Srote cumeS a smel -15 

Mid his rem forS over al, 
Dat overcumeth haliweie 18 
WiS swetnesse, Ic J gu 14 seie ; 
And al Sat evre smelleS swete, 

Be it drfe, be it wte. * >5 j 

For Se swetnesse off his onde, 
Worso 15 he walkeS o londe, 
Worso he walkeS, 16 er worso he wuneS, 17 . 
Ilk der Se him hereS to him cumeS, 
And f olegeS him upon 18 Se wold, x ^ "5 . ; 

For Se swetnesse Se Ic gu have told. . 
De dragunes one 19 ne stiren nout 
Wiles 20 te panter rameS ogt, 21 

1 bone ; MS. bro 8 choice, best 15 wheresoever 

2 whale 9 himself 16 MS. walked 
s MS. mi 10 afterwards ' " dwells 

4 fashioned 11 roars 18 MS. upone 

5 round l 2 loud as 19 alone 

6 wheel 13 balsam 20 w hil e 

1 MS. itt (em. M.) n to you 21 anything, at all 


Oc daren l stille in here pjt, 

Als so 2 he weren of defte 8 off rigt. 4 

Significacio, Crist is tokned Surg Sis der, 
Wos kinde 6 we haven told gu her ; 

S For he is faier over alle men, 

So evensterre over ej*Se fen *73k eo ^ ^ 
Ful wel he taunede 7 his luve to man 
Wan he Surg holi spel him wan ; 
And longe he laj her in an hole 

10 Wel him Sat 8 he it wulde Solen 9 : 

: ..t^ 

Dre daies slep he al onon, 10 

Danne he ded was in blod and bon. 

Up he ros, and remede iwis n 

Of helle pine, of hevene blis 
1 5 And steg 12 to hevene uvemest 13 ; 

Der wuneft wiS Fader and Holi Gast. 
Amonges men a swete smel u 

He let herof his holi spel, 15 

WorSurg we mugen folgen him 
20 Into his godcundnesse 16 fin. 17 * 

And Sat wirm, 18 ure widerwine 19 

Worso 20 of Godes word is dine 21 

Ne dar he stiren, ne no man deren, 22 

De 28 while he 24 lage 28 and luve beren. 

1 crouch, cower 1 uninterruptedly 19 adversary 

2 if n MS. in wis (em. M.) 20 whereso 

death ; MS. dede 12 ascended 21 mention (/zV.din); MS. 'Sine 

4 frightened 18 on high ; MS. uvenest (em. M.) 22 injure 

6 nature l* MS. mel. (em. M.) 23 MS. 'o'er (em. M.) 

6 mire 15 teaching 24 they 

7 manifested 16 divinity's 25 law 

8 MS. dat 17 utmost reach 
endure is serpent 



The Owl and the Nightingale is the earliest specimen in English of the true 
contention-poem a verbal contest for supremacy analogous to the Latin, 
French, and ^rov&n^al pariimen, tenson,platt,jeu-parti, etc. Its main subject, 
after the opening personalities, is joy and aestheticism, represented by the 
nightingale, as opposed to practicality and seriousness, represented by the 
owl. In Fritz Reuter's Hanne Niite (Part 9), the sparrow and the nightingale 
contrast their modes of life : 

' Gu'n Abend, Jochen,' seggt sei, ' na F 

Ik him tauriigg ut Afrika.' 

' Ja,' segg ik, ' siillst di brav wat schamen, 

So in de Welt heriim tau striken, 

Bliw hir bi uns, bi dinesgliken ! 

An Lotten kannst en Bispill nemen, 

De brott nu all den tweiten Satz.' 

Dunn lacht s' un seggt : ' Mein lieber Spatz, 

Dein Lotting ist ein braves Weib, 

Un Essen kochen, Striimpfe kniitten, 

Un Junge aus die Eier sitten 

Ist sicher auch ein Zeitvertreib ; 

Doch wir, die in der Poesie 

Die Aufgab' unsres Lebens finnen, 

Wir Kiinstler und wir Sangerinnen, 

Wir knutten, Jochen, un briiten nie.' 

' In a group of poets that were active in the South of England at the begin 
ning of the thirteenth century, the author of The Owl and the Nightingale stands 
preeminent. Of striking vigor and originality of mind, possessing a sane 
critical judgment founded on a considerable culture, and endowed with aston 
ishing poetical gifts for his time and environment, he produced a composition 
that seems the earliest, and from many points of view the best, original long 
poem of a wholly imaginative character written in English before the timo 
of Chaucer' (Wells' ed., p. xxxvii). Elsewhere Wells says : ' Theme and treat 
ment grew out of the poet's own immediate experience. . . . The poem is nota 
ble in its period for its embodiment of the distinctly national tone and spirit 
that were beginning to grow out of the amalgamation of the French and the 
English, the learned and the popular, in the island.' This author's identity is 
unknown ; it would seem probable that he is not the Nicholas of Guildford 
chosen by the disputants as judge. 

The poem is found in two manuscripts. Our selection (made with the kind 
permission of the publishers, Messrs. D. C. Heath & Co.) is from John Edwin 
Wells' reproduction of MS. Brit. Mus. Cotton Caligula A. 9, which belongs to 
the first half of the thirteenth century, with his emendations, and a few of my 
own. The selection includes lines 1-94, 101-285, 287-348. 




2 5 

ti,\\^ *" 

Ich was in one sumere 1 dale, 

Inonesufe 2 disele 8 hale, 4 

Iherde Ich holde grete tale 6 

An hule 6 and one 7 nijtingale. 

J>at plait 8 was stif and stare 9 and strong, 

Sum wile 10 softe and lud u among 12 ; 

Ah 18 aif er ajen of er sval, 14 

And let fat wole 15 mod le ut^al. 

And eif er seide of of eres custe " 

J>at alreworste 18 fat hi wuste ; 

And hure and hure 19 of o)>ere[s] songe, 

Hi holde plaiding ^ suf e stronge. 

f>e nijtingale bigon fe speche 
In one hurne 21 of one beche, 22 
And sat up[on] one vaire boje, 28 
par were abute blosme inoje, 
In ore 24 waste ^ f icke hegge, 
iriieind 26 mid spire 27 and grene segge. 
Ho 28 was f e gladur vor J>e rise, 29 
And song a vele 80 cunne wise 8l : 
Bet 82 fujte ]> e dreim 83 J>at he were 
Of harpe and pipe fan he nere, 
Bet Jmjte ]>at he were ishote M 
Of harpe and pipe fan of f rote. 

]?o stod on old stoc ^ far biside, 
J?ar fo ule song hire tide, 86 

1 a certain 

13 and 

2 very 
8 secluded 

14 grew swollen with wrath 
is evil 

* out of the way spot 
6 dispute 
6 owl 
1 a 

16 mood 
1" character 
18 very worst 
19 at all events 

8 debate 

20 debate 

9 severe, sharp 
10 sometimes 
u loud 
12 at intervals 

21 corner, nook 
22 valley; MS. breche 
28 a fair bough 
24 a 

25 solitary 

26 mingled 

27 tall grass 

28 she 

29 twig, branch 

80 in many 

81 kinds of ways 

82 rather (better); MS.het(em.W.) 

83 seemed the music 

84 shot, poured forth 

85 stump 

86 at her time, when her time came 


And was mid ivi al bigrowe : 
Hit was pare hule earding-stowe. 1 

J>e nijtingale hi isej, 2 
And hi bihold and oversej, 8 

And J>ujte wel wl 4 of fare hule, $ 

For me hi halt 5 lodlich and fule. 6 
' Unwijt, 7 ' ho sede, ' awei f u flo 8 ! 
Me is fe wrs 9 fat Ich f e so. 10 
Iwis for fine wle 11 lete 12 

Wel oft Ich mine song forlete 18 ; 10 

Min horte atflif , 14 and fait 15 mi tonge, 
Wonne fu art to me ifrunge. 16 
Me luste bet speten n fane singe, 
'; Of 18 fine fule jojelinge. 19 ' 

J>os 20 hule abod fort 21 hit was eve, i S 

Ho ne mijte no leng ^ bileve, 28 
Vor hire horte was sp gret 
f>at wel nej hire fnast 24 atschet, 25 
And warp 26 a word 27 f araf ter longe : 
' Hu f inc[f ] f e 28 nu bi mine songe ? 20 

We[n]st f u 29 fat Ich ne cunne singe, 
J>ej Ich ne cunne of writelinge 80 ? 
[Oft and] ilome 81 f u dest me grame, 82 
And seist me bof e tone 88 and schame. 
<^if Ich fe holde on mine vote 84 25 

So hit bitide 85 fat Ich mote ! 

1 the owl's dwelling-place 
2 saw her 
8 looked at with scorn 
4 evilly 
5 men consider her 
6 loathsome and foul 
" monster 
8 flee (imp.) 
9 worse 
10 see 
" evil 
12 behavior, noise 

is abandon, stop 
14 flees away 
is falters 
16 pressed close, drawn close 
I? I would rather spit 
is because of 
18 guggling 
ao this 
21 until 
22 longer 
28 remain silent 
24 breath 

25 shot away, burst forth 
2 6 poured out (lit. threw) 
27 speech 
28 seems it to you 
29 do you suppose 
so trilling 
81 often 
82 harm, injury 
88 reproach 
M foot 
85 would that it might happen 

, 5 


And f u were ut of fine rise, 

J?u sholdest singe an ofer wfijse. 1 ' 
J>e nijtingale jaf answare : 

' ^if Ich me loki * wit fe bare, 8 
5 And me schilde wit f e blete, 4 

Ne reche Ich no^t of fine f rete : 

\i Ich me holde in mine hegge, 

Ne recche Ich never what f u segge. 6 

Ich wot fat f u art unmilde 6 
:0 Wif horn 7 fat ne muje from f e 8 schilde j 

And f u tukest 9 wrof e 10 and uvele 

Whar fu mijt over smale fujele. 11 

Vorf i 12 f u art Tof 18 al fuel-kunne, 14 

And alle ho u f e drivef honne, 16 
15 And fe bischrichef " and bigredet, 18 

And wel narewe 19 f e biledet M ; 

And ek forf e 21 fe sulve mose, 22 

Hire fonkes, 28 wolde fe totose. 24 

J>u art lodlich to biholde, 
20 And f u art lof in monie volde ^ : 

]>'i bodi is short, f i swore 26 is smal, 

Grettere is fin heved fan f u al ; 

J>in ejene bof col-blake and brode, 

Rijt swo ho weren ipeint 2T mid wode M ; 
25 ]>u starest so M fu wille abiten * 

Al fat f u mijt 81 mid clivre 82 smiten ; 

]>i bile is stif and scharp and hoked, 

Rijt so an owel ** fat is croked, 

1 in another fashion 12 therefore M willingly 

2 may protect myself 18 hateful 24 pu n to pieces 

8 against the open u bird-kind 26 j n manifold ways 

exposure 16 they all * neck 

6 say is hence 27 painted 

harsh 17 screech at 28 WO ad 

1 those 18 cry out at as if 

8 MS. se 19 closely 8 bite to pieces 

9 domineer 20 pursue 81 might; MS. mist 
1 angrily 21 because of that 82 claws 

" birds 22 the very titmouse 88 j us t like an awl 



J>armid fu clackes[t] oft and longe, 

And fat is on 1 of fine songe. 

Ac f u pretest to 2 mine fleshe, 

Mid fine clivres woldest me meshe. 8 " 

Ipe were icundur to one frogge 4 : 

f>at sit at mulne 6 under cogge 6 ; 

Snailes, mus, 7 and fule wijte, 8 

Bof fine cunde and fine rijte. 9 

J>u sittest adai, 10 and flij[s]t anijt, 

J>u cuf est u fat f u art on unwijt. 

J>u art lodlich and unclene, 

Bi 12 fine neste Ich hit mene, 

And ek bi fine fule brode 18 

f>u fedest on horn a wel ful fode. 14 . 

J>at of er jer 15 a faukun bredde 16 ; " 

His nest nojt wel he ne bihedde 1T : 

J>arto fu stele in o 18 day, 

And leidest faron fi fole ey. 19 

J>o hit bicom m fat he ha^te, 21 

And of his eyre 22 briddes wrajte, 

Ho brojte his briddes mete, 

Bihold his nest, isej hi 23 etc : 

He isej bi one halve 24 

His nest ifuled uthalve. 26 

J>e faucun was wrof wit his bridde, 

And lude jal 26 and sterne chidde : 

" Segget me, wo 27 havet fis ido ? 

Ou nas never icunde 28 f arto ; 



1 one 

2 make threats against 
8 crush to a pulp 

4 it would be more suitable 
for you to have a frog 
(for food) 

6 the mill 

8 cog ; this line is supplied 
from J. lacking in C. 

7 mice 

8 creatures 

9 are for thy kind and fit for 

thy deserts 
10 by day 
J l knowest 
12 concerning 
is brood 
l* thou feedest in them a very 

foul lot (lit. offspring) 
15 year 
w bred 
i 7 guarded 

18 one 

is foul egg 

20 when it happened 

2 1 it (the falcon) hatched 

22 its eggs 

28 watched them 

24 on one side 

25 on the outer part 

26 cried out aloud 

27 who 

28 innate, natural 


Hit was idon ow a lof custe. 1 
Segge me jif je hit wiste." 
J>o qua)) fat on and quad fat of er : 
" Iwis it was ure ojer * brofer, 

5 )?e jond 8 fat haved fat grete heved : 

Wai fat hi[t] nis f arof bireved * ! 
Worp hit 6 ut mid fe alre-wrste, 
J>at his necke him toberste ! " 
J>e faucun ilefde 6 his bridde, 

10 And nom 7 fat fule brid amidde, 8 

And warp hit of 9 fan wilde bowe, 10 
J>ar u pie u and crowe hit todrowe. 
Herbi men segget a bispel, 18 
J>ej hit ne bo f uliche spel 14 : 

15 Al so 15 hit is bi fan ungode 16 

J>at is icumen of fule brode, 
And is meind wit fro monne 1T ; 
Ever he cuf fat he com fonne, 18 
J>at he com of fan adel eye, 19 

20 J>ej he a fro nest ** leie. 

J?ej appel trendli^from 22 fon trowe, 2 * 
Jar he and ofer mid growe, 
J?ej he bo 24 f arfrom bicume, 25 
He cuf wel whonene he is icume.' 

25 J>os word ajaf 26 fe nijtingale, 

And after fare longe tale 
He song so lude and so scharpe, 
Rijt so me grulde w schille 28 harpe. 

l in a disagreeable manner ; w bough 19 addled egg 

custe for MS. wiste u where 20 in a noble nest 

a own 12 magpies 21 ro ll (trundle) 

the one yonder l* in fable, parable 22 MS. fron 

< alas that he is not bereft of it 14 long story 28 tree 

5 throw him 15 just so ** be 

6 believed w with the evil person- 25 gone 

" took, seized i" mingled with noble 26 uttered 

8 by the middle (well-bom) men 27 as if some one were twanging 

9 cast it from i thence 28 shrill 



J>os hule luste l fiderward, 
And hold hire eje 2 nof erwa[r]d, 8 
And sat tosvolle 4 and ibolwe, 5 
Also ho hadde one frogge isuolje, 6 
For ho wel wiste and was iwar 
J>at ho song hire a bisemar, 7 
And nof eles ho gaf 8 andsuare : 
' Whi neltu 9 flon into f e bare, 10 
And sewi u ware 12 unker 18 bo 14 
Of briber howe, 15 of vairur bio 16 ? ' 

' No, f u havest wel scharpe clawe, 
Ne kep 17 Ich nogt fat f u me clawe ; 
J>u havest clivers sufe stronge, 
J>u tuengst 18 f armid so dof a tonge. 
J>u fojtest, so dof fine ilike, 19 
Mid faire worde me biswike m ; 
Ich nolde don fat fu me rad[djest, 21 
Ich wiste wel fat fu me misraddest 
Schamie f e for fin unrede ^ I 
Unwrojen ** is f i svikelhede M ! 
Schild fine svikeldom vram fe lijte, 
And hud ^ fat woje m amon[g] fe rijte. 
Wane v f u wilt fin unrijt * spene, 29 
Loke fat hit ne bo isene, 
Vor svike[l]dom haved schome and hete, 80 
<^if hit is ope 81 and underjete. 82 
Ne speddestu 33 nojt mid fine unwrenche, 84 



1 listened 

2 eyes 

8 cast down 

4 swollen with anger 

5 puffed with wrath 

6 swallowed 

" in scorn of her 

8 MS. jas (/penciled in 


9 will you not 

10 the open 

11 show 

MS. )>are 

18 which (whether) of us two 


is hue 

16 complexion, appearance (bloom) 

17 care, wish 

18 press tightly, nip 

19 as do those of thy sort 

20 to deceive, betray 

21 counseled 

22 ill advice 
28 revealed 

24 treachery 
26 wrong 
^ MS. fc-ane 

28 injustice, wrong 

29 spend, show forth 

80 hate 

81 open, apparent 

82 perceived 

88 you did not succeed 
s* trick 


For Ich am war, 1 and can wel blenche. 2 

Ne help)) nojt fat fu bo to [bjriste 8 : 

Ich wolde vijte bet mid liste * 

pan )>u mid al fine strengfe. 
5 Ich habbe on brede 6 and ech on lengfe 

Castel god on mine rise ; 

" Wel fist fat wel flijt," 6 seif f e wise. 

Ac lete we awei f os cheste, 7 

Vor suiche wordes bof unwreste 8 ; 
10 And fo we on 9 mid rijte dome, 10 

Mid faire worde and mid ysome. 11 

peg we ne bo at one acorde, 

We muje bet mid fayre worde, 

Witute cheste, and bute fijte, 
1 S )bif Plaidi 12 mid 056 18 and mid rijte, 

And mai hure u eif er wat hi wile 

Mid rijte segge and mid sckile.' 

po quaf f e hule : ' Wu 15 schal us seme, 16 

pat kunne and wille ri^t us deme 1T ? ' 
20 ' Ich wot wel,' qua)> )>e nijtingale, 

* Ne faref 18 farof bo no tale. 19 

Maister Nichole of Guldeforde, 20 

He is wis an war of worde ; 

He is of dome sufe gleu, 21 
25 And him is lop evrich unfeu. 22 

He wot insijt in 28 eche songe 

Wo singet wel, wo singet wronge ; 

And he can schede 24 vrom )>e ri5te 

pat woje, 28 fat fuster 2e from fe li^te.' 

1 wary, cautious 10 judgment 2 Nicholas of Guildford, spoken 

2 avoid by shrinking u peaceable of in lines 1752-3 of the 
8 bold 12 debate poem as living at Port- 

* cunning 18 propriety esham, in Dorset 

6 breadth u of us 21 wise, prudent 
8 cf . Proverbs of Hendyng, ^ who ; MS. )>u 22 vice, bad habit 

st. 10 (Harl. MS.) 16 reconcile w has intelligence in, knows 

7 let us be done with this strife ^ judge 24 separate, distinguish 

8 unavailing ; MS. unwerste 18 need 25 wrong 

let us begin 19 dispute 26 darkness 


J>o hule one wile hi bifojte, 1 

And after fan pis word upbrojte : 

' Ich granti wel fat he us deme, 

Vor fej he were wile 2 breme, 8 

And lof 4 him were nijtingale, 5 

And of er wijte 6 gente and smale, 

Ich wot he is nu sufe acoled. 6 

Nis he vor fe nojt afoled, 7 

J?at he, for fine olde luve, 

Me adun 8 legge 9 and f e buve ; 10 

Ne schaltu nevre so him queme 10 

J>at he for fe fals dom deme. 

He is him ripe n and fastrede, 12 

Ne lust 18 him nu to none unrede 14 ; 

Nu him ne lust na more pleie, 15 

He wile gon a 16 rrjte weie.' 

J>e nijtingale was al jare, 16 
Ho hadde ilorned 1T wel aiware 18 ; 2 / . 
' Hule,' ho sede, ' seie me sof , 

Wi dostu fat unwijtis 19 dof ? 20 

J?u singist anijt and nojt adai, 
And al fi song is " Wailawai ! " 
J>u mijt mid fine songe afere m 
Alle fat iheref fine ibere 21 ; 

J>u schrichest 22 and gollest 28 to fine fere, 24 25 

J>at hit is grislich ^ to ihere ; 
Hit finchef 26 bof e wise and snepe, 27 
No^t fat fu singe, ac fat fu wepe. 
J>u flijst anijt and no^t adai ; 

1 bethought herself for w please 19 monsters 

a time H mature 2 terrify 

2 at one time 12 of firm purpose 21 noise, clamor 

8 spirited, passionate 18 pleases ^ screechest ; MS. schirchest 

4 dear u unwise action w call out 

r > creatures 15 in 24 companion 

6 much cooled ready horrible 

' befooled learned 26 MS. ^inchest 

8 below 18 nearly everywhere (OE. 27 to wise and to foolish 

9 would place (lay) 


J>arof Ich wndri, 1 and wel mai, 

Vor evrich f ing fat schuniet 2 ri^t, 

Hit luvef f uster and hatiet 8 lijt ; 

And evrich f ing fat is lof misdede, 4 
5 Hit luvef f uster to 5 his dede. 

A wis word, fej hit bo unclene, 

Is fele manne 6 a muf e 7 imene, 8 

For Alvred King hit seide and wrot : 

" He schunet fat hine wl wot. 9 " 
10 Ich wene fat fu dost also, 

Vor fu fligst nijtes evermo. 

Anof er f ing me is awene 10 

J>u havest anijt wel brijte sene n ; 

Bi daie f u art stareblind, 12 
15 J>at fu ne sichst ne bo[u] ne rind. 18 

Adai fu art blind of er bisne, 14 

farbi men segget a uorbisne : 

" Rijt so hit farf bi fan ungode, 

J>at nojt ne suf to 15 none gode, 
20 And is so ful of uvele wrenche 16 

J>at him ne mai no man atwrenche, 17 .2 

And can 18 wel fane 19 f ustre 20 wai, 

And fane brijte lat awai. 21 " 

So dof fat bof 22 of fine cunde, 
25 Of lijte nabbef hi none imunde. 28 ' 

J>os hule luste sufe longe, 

And was oftoned ^ suf [e] stronge. 

Ho quaf : ' J>u [h] attest K nijtingale ; 

f>u mijtest bet hoten 26 galegale, 27 

1 wonder 1 is in my thoughts 2 dark ; MS. hurste 

2 shuns U power of vision 21 abandons the bright one 

3 hates 12 purblind 22 those that are 
* to which evil-doing is dear 13 see neither bough nor bark ^ thought 

6 for M of dim sight 24 irritated 

6 of many men i5 looks toward 25 are called 

7 in the mouths i fi guile, trickery 26 better be called 

8 commonly ^ evade, elude ; MS. -prenche 27 chatterbox 

9 that which knows him to J8 knows 

be foul 19 the 



1 tales 

2 respite, rest 

3 own 

4 turn 

5 avenged 

7 justify 

8 a long story 

9 no nor nay 

Vor fu havest to monie tale. 1 

Lat fine tunge habbe spale 2 ! 

]>u wenest fat f es dai bo fin oje 8 

Lat me nu habbe mine f ro^e 4 ; 

Bo nu stille and lat me speke, 

Ich wille bon of fe awreke. 8 

And lust 6 hu Ich con me bitelle, 7 

Mid rijte sofe, witute spelle. 8 

Ipu seist fat Ich me hude adai, 

f>arto ne segge Ich nich ne nai 9 ; 

And lust, Ich telle fe warevore, 

Al wi hit is and warevorfc. 

Ich habbe bile stif and stronge, 

And gode clivers scharp and longe, 

So hit bicumef 10 to havekes cunne ; 

Hit is min hijte, 11 hit is mi wune, 12 

J>at Ich me draje 13 to mine cunde, 

Ne mai [me] no man f arevore schende 14 ; 

On me hit is wel isene, 

Vor rijte cunde 15 Ich am so kene. 

Vorf i Ich am lof smale fojle 16 

J>at flof bi 1T grunde an bi f uvele ls : 

Hi me bichermet 19 and bigredef, 20 

And hore 21 flockes to me ledef . 

Me is lof to habbe reste, 

And sitte stille in mine neste ; 

Vor nere Ich never no f e betere, 

^if 22 Ich mid chavling 23 and mid chatere 

Horn schende, and mid fule worde. . . . 

Ne lust me 24 wit f e screwen 25 chide, 26 

1 is fitting 

11 joy 

12 delight 
18 turn me 

1 4 blame, revile 

15 from very nature 

16 to small birds 

17 near 

1 s bushes 

1 scream at 

20 cry out upon 

2 1 their 

22 MS. Jrif 

23 scolding 

24 it does not please me 

25 evil persons 
2 to contend 


Forpi Ich wende l from horn wide. 3 
Hit is a wise monne dome, 8 
And hi hit segget wel ilome, 4 
J>at me ne 6 chide wit pe gidie,* 

5 Ne wit pan of ne 7 me ne jonie. 8 

At sume sipe herde I telle 
Hu Alvred sede on his spelle 9 : 
" Loke pat pu ne bo pare 
J>ar 10 chavling bop and cheste jare ; 

10 Lat sottes u chide, and vorp pu go " ; 

And Ich am wis, and do also. 
And jet Alvred seide, an oper side, 12 
A word pat is isprunge 13 wide : 
" J>at wit pe fule havep imene, 14 

15 Ne cumep he never from him cleine." 

Wenestu pat haveck bo pe worse 
J>oj crowe bigrede 18 him bi pe mershe, 
And gop to him mid hore chirme 16 
Rijt so hi wille wit him schirme " ? 

20 J>e havec foljep gode rede, 18 

And flijt his wei, and lat him 19 grede. 20 
<^et pu me seist of oper pinge, 
And telst pat Ich ne can nojt singe, 
Ac al mi rorde n is woning, 22 

25 And to ihire grislich 23 ping. 

J>at nis nojt sop, Ich singe efne, 24 
Mid fulle dreme ^ and lude stefne. 26 
J>u wenist 2T pat ech song bo grislich 

1 turn 

2 far 

8 in the judgment of wise men 
4 often 

6 they do not 


7 oven, furnace 

8 yawn 

10 where 

u fools *> cry out 

12 on the other hand M speech 

18 spread & lamenting 

i 4 he who has companionship w horrible 

with the foul 2* evenly 

is cry out upon K melody 

16 uproar * voice 

17 fight 27 thinkest 

18 counsel 
l MS. hem 



J>at fine pipinge nis ilich. 1 

Mi stefne is bold 2 and nojt unorne, 8 

Ho is ilich one grete home, 

And fin is ilich one pipe 

Of one smale wode * unripe. 

Ich singe bet fan f u dest ; 

f>u chaterest so dof on Irish prost. 

Ich singe an eve, a rijte time, 6 

And sof fe won hit is bedtime, 

J>e f ridde sif e at 6 middelnijte ; 

And so Ich mine song adijte 7 

Wone Ich iso 8 arise vorre 9 

Of er dairim 10 of er daisterre. 

Ich do god mid mine frote, 

And warni men to hore note. 11 

Ac fu singest alle longe nijt, 

From eve fort 12 hit is dailijt, 

And evre seist fin o song 

So longe so f e nijt is long ; 

And evre crowef fi wrecche crei, 18 

J>at he ne swikef 14 nijt ne dai. 

Mid fine pipinge f u adunest 15 

J>as monnes earen far fu wunest, 

And makest fine song $o unwrf 16 

J?a[t] me ne telf of far noj[t] wrf. 17 

Evrich murjf e 18 mai so longe ileste, 

J>at ho shal liki 19 wel unwreste, 20 

Vor harpe, and pipe, and fujeles songe 

Mislikef , gif hit is to long. 

Ne bo f e song never so murie, 3 if- $ 


1 is not like 

2 MS. blod 

3 feeble 
* weed 

5 in the evening, at the 

proper time 
MS. ad 

"' arrange, prepare 

i 4 ceases 

8 see 

15 dinnest 

a afar 

l f> unworthy 

10 daybreak 

W that men set no store by it 

11 profit, advantage 

18 joy 

12 until 

19 please 

18 crying 

20 m 


J?at he ne shal pinche 1 wel unmurie 2 
^ef he ilestep 8 over wille 4 ; 
So Jm mijt fine song aspille. 6 


Until 1906, the work called The Vision (rather, Book) of William concerning 
Piers the Plowman had been for a generation attributed, on the faith of two 
fifteenth-century memoranda, to William Langland, or Langley, whom Skeat 
believed to have been born about 1332, and to have died about 1400. Three 
texts of the poem have been printed, of which the second and third (known as 
B and C) are revisions and extensions of the first (A). The dates assigned to 
these are : A, 1362 ; B, 1377 ; C, after 1390 (probably about 1398). The A-text 
has 2567 lines, the B-text 7242, and the C-text 7357. All have been edited by 
Skeat in two volumes (Oxford, 1886). 

Professor John M. Manly presents his view, which differs in many respects 
from that hitherto received, in the Cambridge History of English Literature, 
Vol. 2. According to him, the twelve cantos, or passus, contained in A, were 
the work of two different authors, of whom the second wrote Passus 9-12, 
while B and C represent two revisions, so that there would have been four 
authors; but since he finds 61 lines at the end of the A-text (12. 57-105, and 
12 lines not given in Skeat's large edition, i. 331) to have been written by a 
certain John But (or Butt), the whole number of authors would be five. 

On the theory of the single authorship, Jusserand has an illuminating 
chapter in Vol. I of his Literary History of the English People. For a general 
bibliography, see Camb. Hist. Eng. Lit. 2. 490-7. 

The passages given below are all from the B-text. They differ so incon 
siderably from the A-text that Manly's characterization of the style of the latter 
sufficiently holds concerning them**?/, cit. p. 13) : 'As to the style, no summary 
or paraphrase can reproduce its picturesqueness and verve. It is always 
simple, direct, evocative of a constant series of clear and sharply-defined 
images of individuals and groups. Little or no attempt is made at elaborate, 
or even ordinarily full, description, and color-words are singularly few ; but it 
would be difficult to find a piece of writing from which the reader derives a 
clearer vision of individuals or groups of moving figures in their habit as they 
lived. That the author was endowed in the highest degree with the faculty of 
visualization is proved, not merely by his ability to stimulate the reader to form 
mental images, but even more by the fact that all the movements of individuals 
and groups can be followed with ease and certainty. Composition, in the 
larger sense of structural excellence, that quality common in French literature, 

1 seem * beyond (the point of) pleasure ; MS. unwille 

2 unpleasing 6 spoil 


but all too rare in English, and supposed to be notably lacking in Piers the 
Plowman, is one of the most striking features.' 

Our text is from Skeat's smaller edition, based on MS. Laud 581, with 
certain omitted lines supplied from the large edition ; with the omission of the 
dots which mark the middle of lines ; and with changes in punctuation, 
capitalization, and the joining of words. The lines quoted are Prol. 1-122; 
3. 1-129, 133-68; 5. 304-46, 352-9, 364-71 ; 5. 392-478; 6. 107-53. 


In a somer seson, whan soft was the sonne, 
I shope 1 me in shroudes, 2 as I a shepe 8 were ; 
In habite as an heremite, unholy of workes, 
Went wyde in ]>is world, wondres to here. 

Ac on a May mornynge, on Malyerne hulles, 4 5 

Me byfel a ferly 6 of fairy, me thoujte ; 
I was wery, forwandred, 6 and went me to reste 
Under a brode banke, bi a bornes 7 side ; 
And as I lay and lened, and loked in }>e wateres, 
I slombred in a slepyng it sweyved 8 so merye. 10 

Thanne gan I to meten 9 a merveilouse swevene, 
That I was in a wildernesse wist I never where ; 
As I bihelde into )>e est, an hiegh 10 to J>e sonne, 
I seigh a toure on a toft, 11 trielich 12 ymaked ; 
A depe dale binethe, a dongeon fereinne, 15 

With depe dyches and derke, and dredful of sight. 
A faire felde ful of folke fonde I there bytwene, 
Of alle maner of men ]>e mene and ]>e riche 
Worchyng and wandryng, as j>e worlde asketh. 13 
Some putten hem 14 to ]>e plow, pleyed ful selde 18 ; 20 

In settyng 16 and in sowyng swonken 17 ful harde, 
And wonnen that 18 wastours 19 with glotonye destruyeth. 

1 robed 6 worn out with wandering 13 requires, demands 

2 rough garments l burn's, brook's 14 set themselves 
8 shepherd 8 rippled 15 seldom 

4 hills ; the Malvem hills are 9 dream 16 planting 

in Worcestershire, on the 10 on high 17 labored 

border of Herefordshire n hilltop 18 gained what 

5 marvel 12 excellently 19 spendthrifts 


And some putten hem to pruyde apparailed hem j^ereaf ter l 

In contenaunce 2 of clothyng comen disgised. 
In prayers and in penance putten hem manye, 

Al for love of owre Lorde lyveden ful streyte, 8 
5 In hope for to have heveneriche 4 blisse ; 

As ancres 5 and heremites that holden hem in here selles, 

And coveiten nought in centre to kairen aboute 6 

For no likerous liflode, 7 her lykam 8 to plese. 

And somme chosen chaff are 9 ; they cheven 10 the bettere 
10 As it semeth to owre sygt that suche men thryveth ; 

And somme murthes to make, as mynstralles conneth, 11 

And geten gold with here glee giltles, I leve. 12 

Ac japers 18 and jangelers, 14 Judas chylderen, 

Feynen hem fantasies, and foles hem maketh, 
15 And han here witte at wille, to worche, jif fei sholde ; 

That Poule precheth of hem I nel nought preve it here : 

Qui turpiloquium loquitur is Luciferes hyne. 16 
Bidders 16 and beggeres fast aboute jede, 17 

With her belies and her bagges of bred ful ycrammed ; 
20 Fayteden 18 for here fode, foujten atte ale ; 

In glotonye, God it wote, gon hii to bedde, 

And risen with ribaudye, 19 tho Roberdes knaves ; 

Slepe and sori sleuthe 20 seweth 21 hem evre. 

Pilgrymes and palmers plijted hem togidere 
25 To seke Seynt James, 22 and seyntes in Rome. 

Thei went forth in here wey, with many wise tales, 

1 accordingly 9 a merchant's life l" went 

2 outward appearance M achieved, prospered l g begged deceitfully 
8 strictly 11 know how to do 19 ribaldry, sin 

4 of the kingdom of heaven 12 believe 20 sloth 

6 anchorites is jesters 21 pursue 

go about 14 jongleurs 22 St. James of Compostella 

"> dainty living IB servant 

8 body 16 beggars 

17. Qui . . . loquitur: this is not from St. Paul; but it bears some resem 
blance to Eph. 5. 4 and Col. 3. 8. 

22. Roberdes knaves : the so-called Roberts men were robbers and vaga 
bonds (perhaps originally Robin Hood's men). 


And hadden leve to lye al here lyf after. 

I seigh somme that seiden p ei had ysoujt seyntes ; 

To eche a tale pat pei tolde here tonge was tempred to lye 

More fan to sey soth, it semed bi here speche. 

Heremites on an heep, 1 with hoked staves, 5 

Wenten to Walsyngham, 2 and here wenches after ; 
Crete lobyes 8 and longe, that loth were to swynke, 
Clotheden hem in copis, 4 to ben knowen fram othere, 
And shopen 6 hem heremites, here ese to have. 

I fonde fere freris alle pe foure ordres 10 

Preched }>e peple for profit of hemselven ; 
Closed 6 pe gospel as hem good lyked, 7 
For coveitise of copis construed it as pei wolde. 
Many of pis maistres freris mowe clothen hem at lykyng, 
For here money and marchandise marchen togideres ; 1 5 

For sith Charite hap be chapman, 8 and chief to shryve lordes, 
Many ferlis han fallen in a fewe jeris. 
But 9 Holy Chirche and hii holde better togideres, 
The most myschief on molde 10 is mountyng wel faste. 

J?ere preched a pardonere, as he a prest were ; 20 

Broujte forth a bulle u with bishopes seles, 
And seide pat hymself myjte assoilen 12 hem alle 
Of falshed, of fastyng, of vowes ybroken. 
Lewed men leved hym wel, and lyked his wordes ; 
Comen up knelyng, to kissen his bulles ; 25 

He bonched 13 hem with his brevet, 14 and blered here eyes, 
And raujte 15 with his ragman 16 rynges and broches ; 
Thus pey geven here golde, glotones to kepe, 

1 in great numbers 6 glossed, commented on J 2 absolve 

5 to the shrine of Our Lady 1 pleased them well 18 banged, beat 

of Walsingham a popu- 8 love has become a trades- u letter of indulgence 

lar pilgrimage man w obtained 

lubbers unless 16 bull 

* friars' capes or cloaks I" on the earth 

5 made n a papal bull 

10. four ordres : the four orders of friars were the Carmelites (white 
friars), Augustines (Austin friars), Dominicans (black friars), and Minorites 
(gray friars). 


And leveth * such loseles 2 fat lecherye haunten. 8 
Were fe bischop yblissed, 4 and worth bothe his eres, 
His seel shulde noujt be sent to deceyve ]>e peple ; 
Ac it is naujt by 6 f e bischop fat f e boy precheth, 

5 For the parisch prest and fe pardonere parten fe silver 

That fe poraille 6 of f e parisch sholde have, jif f ei nere. 7 

Persones 8 and parisch prestes pleyned hem to f e bischop 
}>at here parisshes were pore, sith f e pestilence-tyme, 
To have a lycence and a leve at London to dwelle, 

10 And syngen fere for symonye for silver is swete. 

Bischopes and bachelers, 9 bothe maistres and doctours, 
}?at han cure 10 under Criste, and crounyng n in tokne 
And signe fat fei sholden shryven here paroschienes, 
Prechen and prey for hem, and fe pore fede, 

15 Liggen in London in Lenten, an elles. 12 

Somme serven f e kyng, and his silver tellen 18 ; 
In Cheker 14 and in Chancerye chalengen 15 his dettes 
Of wardes 16 and wardmotes, 17 weyves and streyves. 18 
And some serven as servantz lordes and ladyes, 

20 And in stede of stu wardes sytten and demen. 19 

Here messe and here matynes, and many of here oures, 20 
Arn don undevoutlych ; drede is at f e laste 
Lest Crist in consistorie 21 acorse ful manye. 
I parceyved of f e power fat Peter had to kepe, 

25 To bynde and to unbynde, as fe boke telleth, 22 

How he it left wif love, as owre Lorde hight, 28 
Amonges foure vertues f e best of all vertues, 
]?at cardinales ben called, and closyng satis 24 

1 believe 12 and at other times 20 canonical hours 

2 wretches (vagabonds) is count 21 court, tribunal ; here, Last 
practise the court of the Exchequer Judgment 

4 a holy (blessed) man is claim 22 Matt. 16. 19 

6 concerning is wardships 28 bade 

6 poor people 17 ward-courts 24 with power to close gates, 

7 if it were not for them 18 waifs and strays aban- because 'cardinal' is de- 

8 parsons doned property or that rived from cardo, a 

9 young men for which there were hinge 
1 a charge no heirs 

11 the tonsure 19 judge 


J>ere Crist is in kyngdome to close and to shutte, 

And to opne it to hem, and hevene blisse shewe. 

Ac of f e cardinales atte courte 1 fat caujt of 2 fat name, 

And power presumed in hem a Pope to make, 

To han }>at power fat Peter hadde, inpugnen I nelle, 8 5 

For in love and letterure 4 f e eleccioun bilongeth ; 

Forfi I can and can nau^te 5 of courte speke more. 

f>anne come fere a kyng knyjthod hym ladde ; 
Mijt of fe comunes made hym to regne ; 

And fanne cam Kynde Wytte, 6 and clerkes he made, 10 

For to conseille f e kyng, and fe comune save. 

The kyng and knyjthode, and clergye bothe, 
Casten 7 fat f e comune shulde hemself fynde. 8 
J>e comune contreved 9 of Kynde Witte craftes, 
And for profit of alle fe poeple, plowmen ordeygned, 15 

To tilie 10 and travaile, as Trewe Lyf askef . 
J>e kynge and fe comune, and Kynde Witte fe thridde, 
Shope u lawe and lewte eche man to knowe his owne. 


Now is Mede 12 f e mayde, and na mo of hem alle, 
With bedellus 13 and wif bayllyves broujt bifor f e kyng. 20 

The kyng called a clerke can I noujt his name 
To take Mede fe mayde, and make hire at ese. 
' I shal assaye hir myself, and sothelich appose w 
What man of f is molde fat hire were leveste 15 ; 
And if she worche bi my witte, and my wille folwe, 25 

I wil forgyve hir f is gilte, so me God help I ' 
Curteysliche fe clerke fanne, as fe kyng hight, 

1 at the court of Rome 6 common sense 1J created 

2 received " contrived 12 bribery, ' graft ' 

8 I will not raise question 8 provide food for themselves 13 beadles, summoners 

4 learning 9 devised 14 inquire 

5 can because of what he 10 till, cultivate 16 dearest 

knows, but cannot be 
cause of his reverence 


Toke Mede bi fe middel, 1 and broujte hir into chaumbre, 
And fere was myrthe and mynstralcye, Mede to plese. 

They fat wonyeth in Westmynstre worschiped hir alle, 
Gentelliche, wif joye ; ]>e justices somme 2 

5 Busked 8 hem to f e boure 4 fere f e birde 6 dwelled, 

To conforte hire kyndely, by clergise 6 leve, 
And seiden : ' Mourne nought, Mede, ne make fow no sorwe 
For we wil wisse 7 f e kynge, and f i wey shape 
To be wedded at )>i wille, and where f e leve liketh, 8 

10 For al Conscience caste* or craft, as I trowe 1 ' 

Mildeliche Mede fanne mercyed 10 hem alle 
Of feire gret goodnesse, and gaf hem uchone 
Coupes u of clene golde, and coppis 12 of silver, 
Rynges with rubies, and ricchesses manye ; 

1 5 The leste man of here meyne 18 a motoun u of golde. 

Thanne laujte 16 f ei leve, f is lordes, at 16 Mede. 

With that comen clerkis to conforte hir fe same, 
And beden hire be blithe ' for we beth fine owne, 
For to worche fi wille fe while J>ow myjte laste.' 

20 Hendeliche 17 heo fanne bihight 18 hem f e same, 

To ' love jow lelli, 19 and lordes to make, 
And in f e consistorie atte courte do calle 20 jowre names ; 
Shal no lewdnesse lette 21 f e leode ** fat I lovye, 
That he ne worth first avanced for I am biknowen 28 

25 f>ere konnyng 24 clerkes shul clokke 25 bihynde.' 

}?anne come fere a confessoure, coped as a frere ; 
To Mede f e mayde he mellud 26 f is wordes, 
And seide f ul softly in shrif te v as it were : 

1 waist u bowls 18 promised 

2 some of them w cups l loyally 

8 hastened 18 household 2 cause to be called 

* bower, lady's chamber M a French gold coin worth 21 ignorance hinder 
6 lady about five shillings, ** man 

6 learning's stamped with the impres- 28 we ll known 

guide sion of the Lamb of God 24 w ise, learned 

8 you please 16 took 25 limp, hobble 

9 conscience's contrivance 16 of 26 spoke 

10 thanked w courteously 2: confession 


' f>eis lewed men and lered l men had leyne by fe bo the, 

And Falsenesse haved yfolwed fe al fis fyfty wyntre, 

I shal assoille f e myselve for a seme 2 of whete, 

And also be fi bedeman, 3 and bere wel Jri message 

Amonges knijtes and clerkis, Conscience to torne. 4 ' 5 

Thanne Mede for here mysdedes to fat man kneled, 

And shrove hire of hire shrewednesse fi shamelees, I trowe ; 

Tolde hym a tale, and toke 6 hym a noble, 7 

For to ben hire bedeman, and hire brokour als. 8 

Thanne he assoilled hir sone ; and sithen he seyde : 10 

' We han a wyndowe a wirchyng 9 wil sitten us ful heigh 10 ; 
Woldestow glase 11 fat gable, and grave f ereinne f i name, 
Siker 12 sholde fi soule be hevene to have.' 
' Wist I that,' quod fat womman, ' I wolde noujt spare 
For to be jowre frende, frere, and faille jow nevre, 15 

Whil je love lordes fat lechery haunteth, 
And lakketh noujt ladis fat loveth wel the same. 
It is frelete of flesh je fynde it in bokes 
And a course of kynde 13 wherof we komen afle ; 
Who may scape f e sklaundre, 14 f e skathe 18 is sone amended ; 20 
It is synne of f e sevene sonnest le relessed. 17 
Have mercy,' quod Mede, ' of men fat it haunte, 
And I shal kevre 18 jowre kirke, jowre cloystre do maken, 
Wowes 19 do whiten, and wyndowes glasen, 

Do peynten and purtraye, and paye for fe makynge, 25 

That evry segge 20 shal seyn I am sustre of jowre hous.' 

Ac God to alle good folke suche gravynge defendeth, 21 
To writen in wyndowes of here wel 22 dedes, 

1 learned 9 m process of being made 17 forgiven 

2 load 10 cost us full dear 18 cover 
8 beadsman n provide the glass for 19 walls 

4 defeat 12 certain 20 person 

5 sin 18 nature 21 forbids 

6 gave 14 disgrace 22 good 
1 a third of a pound sterling is harm 

8 broker also 16 soonest 

26. sustre : any wealthy person could belong to a religious order of friars 
through a ' letter of fraternity.' 


On aventure l pruyde be peynted fere, and pompe of pe worlde , 
For Crist knowep pi conscience and pi kynde wille, 2 
And pi coste, 8 and pi coveitise, and who pe catel ou^te. 4 
Forpi I lere 5 ^ow, lordes, levep suche werkes 

5 To writen in wyndowes of jowre wel dedes, 

Or to greden 6 after Goddis men whan je delen doles ; 

An aventure je han jowre hire here, 7 and joure hevene als ; 

Nesciat sinistra quidfaciat dextra : 8 
Lat noujte pi left half, late ne rathe, 9 

10 Wyte what pow worchest with pi rigt syde ; 

For pus, bit 10 pe gospel, gode men do here almesse. 
Meires n and maceres, 12 that menes 13 ben bitwene 
]?e kynge and pe comune to kepe pe lawes, 
To punyschen on pillories and pynynge-stoles u 

1 5 Brewesteres l6 and bakesteres,* 6 bocheres and cokes ; 

For pise aren men on pis molde pat moste harme worcheth 

To pe pore peple pat parcelmele 17 buggen, 18 

For they poysoun pe peple priveliche 19 and oft ; 

Thei rychen 20 porw regraterye, 21 and rentes hem buggen 

20 With pat pe pore people shulde put in here wombe 22 ; 
For toke pei on 28 trewly, pei tymbred noujt 24 so hei^e, 
Ne boujte non burgages, 25 be je ful certeyne. 
Ac Mede pe mayde pe maire hath bisougte, 
Of alle suche sellers sylver to take, 

25 Or presentz withoute pens, as peces of silver, 

Ringes, or other ricchesse, pe regrateres to maynetene : 
' For my love,' quod that lady, ' love hem uch one, 
And soffre hem to selle somdele 2e ajeins resoun.' 

1 lest perchance n mayors, magistrates 20 grow rich 

2 natural disposition 12 mace-bearers (officers of 21 selling retail 
8 expenses the courts) 22 stomach 

* who really owned the property ls intermediaries ^ if they took in money 

6 teach 14 stools of punishment 24 would not build 

6 cry after, send for 15 brewers 2o town-dwellings 

7 Matt. 6. 2 is bakers 26 somewhat 

8 Matt. 6. 3 !" in small quantities 

9 early 18 buy 

i bids 19 secretly 


Salamon pe sage a sarmoun he made, 
For to amende maires, and men pat kepen lawes, 
And tolde hem pis teme, 1 fat I telle thynke : 

Ignis devorabit tabernacula eorum qni libenter accipiunt munera, etc. 2 
Amonge pis lettered ledes, 3 pis Latyn is to mene 5 

That fyre shal falle, and brenne al to bio askes 4 
The houses and pe homes of hem pat desireth 
^iftes or jeres-jyves 5 bicause of here offices. 

The kynge fro conseille cam, and called after Mede, 
And of sent 6 hir alswythe 7 with serjauntes manye, 10 

That broujten hir to bowre with blisse and with joye. 
Curteisliche pe kynge panne comsed 8 to telle 
To Mede pe mayde melleth 9 pise wordes : 
' Unwittily, womman, wroujte hastow oft, 

Ac worse wroujtestow nevre pan po 10 pow Fals toke 11 ; 15 

But I forgyve pe pat gilte, and graunte pe my grace ; 
Hennes to pi deth-day do so na more. 
I have a knyjte, Conscience, cam late fro bijunde 12 ; 
<^if he wilneth pe to wyf, wyltow hym have ? ' 

' e, lorde,' quod pat lady, .' Lorde forbede elles ! 20 

But 18 I be holely at jowre heste, lat hange u me sone I ' 

And panne was Conscience calde to come and appiere 
Bifor pe kynge and his conseille, as clerkes and othere. 
Knelynge, Conscience to pe kynge louted, 15 

To wite what his wille were, and what he do shulde. 25 

' Woltow wedde pis womman,' quod pe kynge, ' jif I wil assente 
For she is f ayne of pi f elawship for to be pi make 16 ? ' 

Quod Conscience to pe kynge : ' Cryst it me forbede ! 
Ar 1T I wedde suche a wyf, wo me bityde ! 
For she is frele 18 of hir feith, fykel of here speche, 30 

1 text, theme 1 as quickly as possible H have me hanged 

2 Job 15. 34 8 began 15 made obeisance 
8 persons 9 speaks le mate 

4 livid ashes 10 when 17 before 

5 New Year's gifts (extorted n took to thee Falsehood 18 frail 

as bribes) 12 across the sea 

6 sent after 18 except 


And maketh men mysdo many score tymes ; 

Truste of hire tresore treieth * f ul manye. 

Wyves and widewes wantounes she techeth, 2 

And lereth 8 hem leccherye that loveth hire jiftes. 
5 ^owre fadre she felled forw fals biheste, 

And hath apoysounde Popis, 4 and peired 5 Holi Cherche. 

Is naujt a better baude, bi hym fat me made, 

Bitwene hevene and helle in erthe though men sougte. . . . 

Sisoures 6 and sompnoures 7 suche men hir preiseth ; 
10 Shireves of shires were shent jif she nere, 8 

For she dof men lese here londe and here lyf bothe. 

She leteth passe prisoneres, and payeth for hem ofte, 

And gyveth J>e gailers golde and grotes 9 togideres, 

To unfettre fe fals fle where hym lyketh I 
15 And take)) fe trewe bi )>e toppe, 10 and tieth hym faste, 

And hangeth hym for hatred fat harme dede nevre. 

To be cursed in consistorie she counteth noujte a russhe ; 

For she copeth u fe comissarie, and coteth 12 his clerkis ; 

She is assoilled 18 as sone as hirself liketh, 
20 And may neije as moche do in a moneth one 14 

As jowre secret seel in syx score dayes. 

For she is prive 16 with f e Pope provisoures le it knoweth 

For Sire Symonye and hirselve seleth 17 hire bulles. 
She blesseth jrise bisshopes, feige fey be lewed, 
25 Provendreth persones, 18 and prestes meynteneth 

To have lemmannes and lotebies 19 alle here lifdayes, 

And bringen forth bames ajein forbode 20 lawes. 

There she is wel with be kynge wo is fe rewme, 

1 betrays 8 would be lost if it were not 16 intimate 

2 teaches to be for her 16 provisors (persons named 
8 teaches groats by the Pope for a living 
4 poisoned Popes 10 top, head not vacant) 

6 injured u provides a cope for l ~ seal 

6 jurymen 12 provides coats for 18 supports parsons 

" summoners J 8 absolved W concubines 

14 by herself 2 prohibitive 

5. gowre fadre: probably Edward II, father of Edward III (king at the 
time the first version was written). 


For she is favorable to Fals, 1 and fouleth Trewthe ofte. 

Bi Jesus, with here jeweles jowre justices she shendeth, 2 

And lith 3 ajein f e lawe, and letteth hym ]>e gate * 

That Feith may noujte have his forth, 6 here 6 floreines go so fikke. 

She ledeth J>e lawe as hire list, and love-dayes 7 maketh, 5 

And doth men lese f orw hire love fat lawe myjte wynne 

J>e mase 8 for a mene man, f ouj he mote 9 evre. 10 

Lawe is so lordeliche, and loth to make ende, 

Withoute presentz or pens she pleseth wel fewe. 

Barounes and burgeys she bryngeth in sorwe, I0 

And alle ]>e comune in kare fat coveyten lyve n in trewthe, 
For Clergye 12 and Coveitise 13 she coupleth togideres. 
J>is is fe lyf of that lady now Lorde jif hir sorwe, 
And alle that meynteneth here men, meschaunce hem bityde ! 
For pore men mowe have no powere to pleyne u hem, f ouj J?ei smerte, 1 5 
Suche a maistre is Mede amonge men of gode.' 


Now bigynneth Gloutoun 15 for to go to schrifte, 
And kaires hym 16 to kirkeward, 17 his coupe 18 to schewe ; 
Ac Beton fe brewestere bad hym good morwe, 

And axed of hym with fat whiderward he wolde. 20 

' To Holi Cherche,' quod he, ' for to here masse, 
And sithen 19 I wil be shryven, and synne na more.' 
' I have gode ale, gossib,' quod she ; ' Glotown, wiltow assaye ? ' 
' Hastow aujte in ]> i purs 20 ? any hote spices ? ' 

' I have peper and piones, 21 ' quod she, ' and a pounde of garlike, 25 
A ferthyngworth of fenel-seed for fastyng-dayes.' 

IMS. the fals 8 disappointment 18 repairs him 

2 destroys plead, argue 17 to church ; cf . (A.V.) 2 Cor. 

8 lies 10 MS. hir evre 1. 12 ; i Thess. 1.8 

4 hinders him the way u desire to live 18 guilt, sin 

5 egress 12 Learning 19 afterwards 

6 her 18 Avarice 20 pouch, wallet 
r days for holding court, and 1* make complaint 2 l peony-seeds 

settling differences 16 Glutton 



panne goth Glotoun in, and grete othes after ; 
Cesse l J>e souteresse 2 sat on )>e benche, 
Watte J>e warner 8 and hys wyf bothe, 
Tymme }e tynkere, and tweyne of his prentis, 4 
Hikke }>e hakeneyman, 5 and Hughe |>e nedeler, 6 
Clarice of Cokkeslane, 7 and }>e clerke of }>e cherche, 
Dawe )>e dykere, 8 and a dozeine other ; 
Sire Piers of Pridie, and Peronelle 9 of Flaundres, 
A ribibour, 10 a ratonere, 11 a rakyer of Chepe, 12 
A ropere, 13 a redyngkyng, 14 and Rose fe dissheres, 15 
Godfrey of Garlekehithe, 16 and Gryfin )>e Walshe, 17 
And upholderes 18 an hepe erly bi ]>e monve 
Geven Glotoun with glad chere good ale to hansel. 19 

Clement )>e cobelere cast of * his cloke, 
And atte new f aire 21 he nempned 22 it to selle ; 
Hikke ]>e hakeneyman hitte 28 his hood after, 
And badde Bette 24 J>e bochere ben on his side. 
fere were chapmen ychose )>is chaff are to preise ^ ; 
Whoso haveth fe hood shuld have amendes of J>e cloke. 
Two risen up in rape, 26 and rouned v togideres, 
And preised fese penyworthes apart bi hemselve ; 
J>ei couth noujte bi her conscience acorden 28 in treuthe, 
Tyl Robyn \>e ropere arose bi ]>e southe, 
And nempned hym for a noumpere w fat no debate nere 

1 short for Cicely, or Cecilia 

2 woman shoemaker 

3 gamekeeper 

4 apprentices 

5 man who keeps horses for 


6 needle-seller 

" a region occupied by women 
of ill repute 

8 ditcher 

9 a proverbial name for a gaily 

dressed, bold-faced woman 
10 player on the rebeck 

11 rat-catcher 

12 street-sweeper of Cheap- 


13 rope-maker 

14 retainer 

15 dish-seller 

16 a region on the bank of 

the Thames where gar 
lic was sold 

17 Welshman 

18 furniture-brokers 

19 as an earnest or pledge 

(to propitiate him) 

20 off 

2 1 at the new fair (to chaffer 

at the new fair = to 

22 named 

23 threw down 

24 Bartholomew 

25 appraise, value 

26 haste 

27 whispered 

28 agree 

29 an umpire 

i. in : Skeat suggests that the scene may be the Boar's Head, in Eastcheap 
(cf. King Henry IV). 


For to trye pis chaffare bitwixen hem pre. 

Hikke pe hostellere 1 hadde pe cloke, 

In covenaunte J>at Clement shulde pe cuppe fille, 

And have Hikkes hode hostellere, 2 and holde hym yserved 8 ; 

And whoso repented rathest 4 shulde arise after, 5 

And grete Sire Glotoun with a galoun ale. 

Jere was laughyng and louryng, 5 and ' Let go pe cuppe ! ' 
And seten so til evensonge, and songen umwhile, 6 
Tyl Glotoun had yglobbed 7 a galoun an a jille. 8 . . . 

He myjte neither steppe ne stonde er he his staffe hadde ; 10 
And panne gan he go liche a glewmannes bicche, 9 
Somme tyme aside, and somme tyme arrere, 10 
/ As whoso leyth lynes for to lacche foules. 11 
' And whan he drowgh to pe dore, panne dymmed his eighen ; 

He stumbled on J>e thresshewolde, an threwe 12 to pe erthe. 15 

Clement pe cobelere caujte hym bi pe myddel, 

For to lifte hym alofte, and leyde him on his knowes. 13 . . . 

With al pe wo of pis worlde, his wyf and his wenche 
Baren hym home to his bedde, and broujte hym perinne ; 
And after al pis excesse, he had an accidie, 14 20 

Jat he slepe Saterday and Sonday til sonne jede 15 to reste. 
J>anne waked he of his wynkyng, 16 and wiped his eyghen ; 
J?e fyrste worde pat he warpe 17 was : ' Where is pe bolle 18 ? ' 
His wif gan edwite 19 hym po how wikkedlich he lyved, 
And Repentance rijte so rebuked hym pat tyme. 25 

1 an innkeeper (who also let 6 at intervals u fit of sloth 

horses for hire ; cf. 346 7 gulped down 15 went 

5, 16) 8 gill 16 slumber 

2 the hood of Hikke the 9 a (blind) minstrel's dog 17 uttered 

innkeeper 10 backwards 18 cup, bowl 

3 contented n catch birds 19 reproach 
< soonest ** fell 

5 scowling 18 knees 




panne come Sleuthe l al bislabered, 2 with two slymy eijen, 

1 1 most sitte,' seyde ]>e segge, 8 ' or elles shulde I nappe ; 
I may noujte stonde ne stoupe, ne withoute a stole 4 knele. 
Were I broujte abedde, . . . 

5 Sholde no ryngynge do me ryse ar I were rype to dyne.' 
He bygan ' Benedicite ' with a bolke, 5 and his brest knocked, 
And roxed 6 and rored, and rutte 7 atte laste. 

' What ! awake, renke 8 ! ' quod Repentance, ' and rape 9 fe to shrifte. 1 
' If I shulde deye bi 10 pis day, me liste n noujte to loke ; 

10 I can noujte perfitly my Pater Noster, as ]>e prest it syngeth, 
But I can rymes of Robyn Hood, and Randolf Erie of Chestre, 12 
Ac neither of owre Lorde ne of owre Lady, )>e leste fat evere was made. 

I have made vowes fourty, and forjete hem on J> e morne ; 
I parfourned 18 nevere penaunce, as be prest me hijte, 

1 5 Ne ry jte sori for my synnes jet was I nevere ; 
And jif I bidde any bedes, 14 but-if it be in wrath, 
J>at I telle with my tonge is two myle fro myne herte. 
I am occupied eche day haliday and other 
With ydel tales atte ale, and otherwhile in cherches ; 

20 Goddes peyne and his passioun ful selde )>ynke I bereon. 
I visited nevere fieble men, ne fettered folke in puttes 15 ; 
I have levere here an harlotrie, 16 or a somer-game of souteres, 17 
Or lesynges 18 to laughe at, and belye my neighbore, 
J>an al fat evere Marke made, Mathew, John, and Lucas ; 

25 And vigilies and fastyng-dayes alle bise late I passe, 19 

And ligge abedde in Lenten, an[d] my lemman in myn armes, 
Tyl matynes and masse be do, and panne go to be freres ; 

1 sloth 8 man 15 dungeons 

2 bedabbled 9 hasten 16 a tale of harlotry 

8 creature 1 within 1" summer-game played by 

4 stool 11 would please shoemakers, consisting of 

6 belch 12 1181-1231 athletic sports, etc. 

6 stretched himself 18 performed 18 lying tales 

7 snored n offer any petitions 19 I let pass, pay no heed to 

n. Robyn Hood : the earliest mention of him. 


Come I to ' Ite, missa est,' * I holde me yserved. 2 

I nam noujte shry ven some tyme but-if sekenesse it make 3 

Noujt tweies in two jere, and fanne up gesse 4 I schryve me. 

I have be 5 prest and persoun passynge thretti wynter, 
^ete can I neither solfe 6 ne synge, ne seyntes lyves rede ; 5 

But I can fynde in a felde or in a fourlonge 7 an hare, 
Better fan in Beatus vir 8 or in Beati omnes 9 
Construe oon clause wel, and kenne 10 it to my parochienes. 
I can holde love-dayes, and here a reves rekenynge, 
Ac in canoun n ne in )?e decretales 12 I can noujte rede a lyne. 10 

<5if I bigge 18 and borwe 14 it but-jif it be y tailled 15 
I forjete it as jerne 16 ; and jif men me it axe 
Sixe sithes or sevene, I forsake n it with othes, 
And fus tene 18 I trewe men ten hundreth tymes. 

And my servauntz some tyme her salarye is bihynde ; 1 5 

Reuthe 19 is to here J>e rekenynge whan we shal rede acomptes ; 
So with wikked wille and wraththe my werkmen I paye. 

^if any man doth me a benfait, or helpeth me at nede, 
I am unkynde ajein 20 his curteisye, and can noujte understonde it ; 
For I have and have hadde somedele 21 haukes maneres : 20 

I nam noujte lured with love, but fere ligge 22 aujte 28 under fe thombe. 
The kyndenesse fat myne evene-Cristene 24 kidde me fernyere, 25 
Sixty sythes I, Sleuthe, have forjete it sith ; 
In speche and in sparynge of speche yspilte 26 many a tyme 
Bo the flesche and fissche, and many other vitailles, 25 

Bothe bred and ale, butter, melke, and chese 
Forsleuthed 27 in my servyse, til it myjte serve no man. 

I ran aboute in jouthe, and jaf me noujte to lerne, 
And evere sith have be beggere, for my foule sleuthe ; 

1 the closing words of the mass n canon law 2 in response to 

2 satisfied 12 decretals a collection 21 to some extent 

3 unless sickness bring it about of Popes' edicts 22 lie 

4 by guesswork 13 buy anything w The lure was often baited 

5 been 14 give a pledge for it with meat 

6 sol-fa, i.e. sing by note 15 marked on a tally 24 fellow-Christian 

1 lot (of land) 16 quickly (as may be) 25 showed me formerly 

8 Ps. i or 112 17 deny 26 wasted 

9 Ps. 128 18 injure 27 wasted by carelessness 

10 explain 1* pity 


Heu michi, quod sterilem vitam duxi juvenilem ! ' 
' Repentestow f e naujte ? ' quod Repentance, and rijte with fat he 

Til Vigilate, 1 f e veille, 2 fette 8 water at his eyjen, 

And flatte 4 it on his face, and faste on hym criede, 
5 And seide : ' Ware f e fram Wanhope, 6 wolde 6 fe bitraye 1 

" I am sori for my synnes " sey so to fiselve, 

And bete fiselve on )>e breste, and bidde hym 7 of grace; 

For is no gult 8 here so grete fat his goodnesse nys more.' 

Jeanne sat Sleuthe up, and seyned 9 hym swithe, 10 
10 And made avowe tofore 11 God for his foule sleuthe : 

' Shal no Sondaye be pis sevene jere but sykenesse it lette ia 

)?at I ne shal do 18 me er day to f e dere cherche, 

And heren matines and masse, as I a monke were ; 

Shal none ale 14 after mete holde me ]> ennes 
1 5 Tyl I have evensonge herde, I behote to f e rode. 15 

And jete wil I gelde ajein 16 if I so moche have 

Al fat I wikkedly wan sithen I wytte hadde. 

And ]> ough my liflode lakke, 17 leten I nelle 18 

j?at eche man ne shal have his, ar I hennes wende ; 
20 And with f e residue and ]> e remenaunt, bi f e Rode of Chestre 1 

I shal seke treuthe arst, 19 ar I se Rome ! ' 


Now is Perkyn ^ and his pilgrymes to f e plowe faren 21 ; 
To erie ** f is halve-acre holpyn hym manye. 
Dikeres and delveres digged up f e balkes 2S ; 
>5 j?erewith was Perkyn apayed, 24 and preysed hem faste. 
Other werkemen fere were fat wroujten ful jerne, 25 

1 Cf. Mk. 13. 37 10 quickly 19 first 

2 watcher n before 2 little Piers (Peterkin) 
8 fetched 12 prevent 21 gone 

* dashed 18 betake 22 plow 

6 despair H alehouse 23 ridges of land left unplowed 

6 who would 15 vow to the cross ** pleased 

" God is repay 26 zealously 

8 guilt, sin l? means of living fail 

9 signed (crossed) is cease I will not 


Eche man' in his manere made hymself to done, 

And some, to plese Perkyn, piked up J>e wedes. 

At heighe pryme l Peres lete fe plowe stonde, 

To oversen hem hymself ; and whoso best wroujte, 

He shulde be huyred perafter, whan hervest-tyme come. 5 

And Jeanne seten somme, and songen atte nale, 2 
And hulpen erie his half acre with ' How ! trolli-lolli ! ' 
' Now, bi ]> e peril of my soule ! ' quod Pieres al in pure tene 8 : 
' But 56 arise }>e rather, 4 and rape 5 50 w to worche, 
Shal no greyne pat groweth glade jow at nede ; 10 

And ]>ough je deye for dole, )>e devel have fat reccheth 6 ! ' 

Tho were faitoures 7 aferde, and feyned hem blynde, 
Somme leyde here legges aliri, 8 as suche loseles conneth, 9 
And made her mone to Pieres, and preyde hym of grace : 
' For we have no lymes to laboure with, lorde, ygraced be je ! 15 

Ac we preye for jow, Pieres, and for jowre plow bothe, 
J>at God of his grace jowre grayne multiplye, 
And jelde gow of 10 <z;owre almesse pat 56 jive us here ; 
For we may nougte swynke ne swete, suche sikenesse us eyleth.' 
' If it be soth,' quod Pieres, ' pat je seyne, I shal it sone asspye 1 20 
^e ben wastoures, 11 I wote wel, and Treuthe wote pe sothe ! 
And I am his olde hyne, 12 and hijte hym to warae 
Which pei were in pis worlde his werkemen appeyred. 18 
^e wasten pat men wynnen with travaille and with tene, 
Ac Treuthe shal teche jow his teme to dryve, 25 

Or ;e shal ete barly bred, and of pe broke drynke ; 
But if he be blynde or broke-legged, or bolted with yrnes, 14 
He shal ete whete bred, and drynke with myselve, 
Tyl God of his goodnesse amendement hym sende. 
Ac je myjte travaille as Treuthe wolde, and take mete and huyre 30 
To kepe kyne 1S in pe felde, pe corne fro pe bestes, 

1 Probably about 9 A.M. 7 vagabonds 12 servant 

2 at their ale 8 crosswise 13 those who in this world de- 
8 vexation, grief 9 wretched idlers know how moralized his workmen 

< more quickly to do 14 supported with iron supports 

5 haste 10 requite you for 16 cattle 

6 take him who cares n spendthrifts 


Diken or delven, or dyngen 1 uppon sheves, 2 

Or helpe make morter, or here mukke afelde. 

In lecherye and in losengerye 8 je lyven, and in sleuthe 

And al is forw suffrance fat venjaunce jow ne taketh. 

5 Ac ancres and heremytes, fat eten nojt but at nones, 4 
And na more er morwe, 6 myne almesse shul f ei have, 
And of my catel 6 to cope hem with fat han cloistres and cherches. 
Ac Robert Renneaboute shal nowjte have of myne, 
Ne posteles, 7 but 8 fey preche conne, and have powere 9 of fe bisschop ; 

10 They shal have payne 10 and potage, and make hemself at ese, 

For it is an unresonable religioun fat hath rijte noujte of certeyne. 11 ' 


Among the poems which owe their origin to Piers Plowman is Piers the 
Plowman's Creed, written by an unknown author soon after 1393. It runs thus : 
An unlearned man who has got by heart the Paternoster and Ave Maria, 
wishes also to know the Creed, and seeks a teacher. He applies in turn to 
friars of each of the four orders. Each rails at the other orders, and promises 
that the questioner shall be saved without knowledge of the Creed, if he 
contribute to the expenses of the monastery. The man leaves them with 
indignation at their magnificent buildings and luxurious lives, and finally 
comes upon a poor plowman, who joins him in invective against friars of all 
orders. Skeat suggests that the keynote of the poem is to be found at the 
beginning of Passus 9 (A), 8 (B), u (C) of Piers Plowman. 

This poem was first printed in 1553. Our text, however, is taken, not from 
that of 1553, but from Skeat's edition (E.E.T.S. 30) of MS. Camb. Trin. Coll. 
R. 3. 1 5 (adopting Skeat's emendations without comment), which, though later 
than 1553, he concludes to be based on a much earlier manuscript. Our 
selections embrace lines 98-137, 153-242, 420-42, 546-64, 719-61, and 775-8. 

* Alas ! frere,' quaf I fo, 12 ' my purpos is ifailed ; 
Now is my counfort acast. 18 Canstou no bote 14 
Where Y myjte meten wif a man fat myjte me wissen 15 
1 5 For to conne my crede, Crist for to folwen ? ' 

1 thresh 6 substance " has no established order 

2 sheaves 7 apostles 12 then 

lying, flattering 8 unless 18 cast away, lost 

4 noon 9 license w do you know no remedy 

" 8 till the next morning 10 bread, food 16 teach 


' Certeyne, felawe,' qua)> ]>e frere, ' wipouten any faile : 
Of all men opon mold, we Menures l most schewep 
}?e pure apostelles life, wi)> penaunce on erpe, 
And suen 2 hem in sanctite, and suffren well harde. 
We haunten none tavernes, ne hobelen abouten ; 5 

At marketts and myracles 4 we medle)? us nevere ; 
We hondlen no money, but menelich 8 faren, 
And haven hunger at the meate at ich a mel ones. 
We haven forsaken the worlde, and in wo lybbe}>, 6 
In penaunce and poverte ; and prechej) }>e puple, 10 

By ensample of oure life, soules to helpen ; 
And in povertie praien for all oure parteners 7 
J>at 3yve}> us any good, God to honouren 
O)>er bell, o}>er booke, or breed to our fode, 

Other catell, 8 oper cloth to coveren wi]> our bones, 9 15 

Money, or money-worthe here mede 10 is in heven. 
For we buldej? a burwj, 11 a brod and a large : 
A chirche and a chapaile, with chambres alofte, 
Wij> wide windowes ywrougt, and walles wel heye, 
Ipat mote bene portreid and paynt, and pulched 12 ful clene ; 20 
With gaie glittering glas, glowing as ]> e sonne ; 
And, myjtestou amenden us wi}> money of ]>yn owne, 
J>ou chuldest cnely 18 bifore Crist in compas 14 of gold, 
In ]>e wide windowe westwarde wel nije in the myddell 
And Seynt Fraunces himself schall f olden the in his cope, 25 

And presente the to the Trynitie, and praie for thy synnes ; 
J>i name schall noblich ben wryten and wroujt, for the nones, 15 
And, in remembrance of ]>e, yrade 16 per for ever. 
And, broker, be )>ou noujt aferd ; bythenk in thyn herte ; 
f>ouj }>ou conne noujt pi crede, kare \>ou no more ; 30 

1 Minorites 7 those who share with us 18 kneel 

2 follow 8 property, goods 14 circle, ring ; with this whole 
s loaf our bones with passage compare Piers 
* miracle-plays w their reward Plowman, 341 23-26 

6 meanly n large convent (lit. borough) 15 for the occasion 

6 live 12 polished le read 


I schal asoilen l \>e, syre, and setten it on my soule, 

And ]>ou maie maken f is good ; fenk fou non ofer. 2 ' 
' Sire,' Y saide, ' in certaine Y schal gon and asaye.' 

And he sette on me his honde, and asoilede me clene ; 
5 And f eir Y parted him fro, wif outen any peine ; 

In covenant fat Y come a^en, Crist he me betaujte. 8 . . . 

fanne foujt Y to f rayne 4 f e first 5 of f is foure ordirs, 

And presede 6 to f e prechoures to proven 7 here wille. 

Ich hijede s to her house to herken of more, 
10 And whan Y cam to fat court, Y gaped aboute. 

Swich a bild 9 bold, ybuld opon erf e hergte, 10 

Say u I nougt in certeine siff e a longe tyme. 

Y jemede 12 upon fat house, and geme 18 f eron loked, 

Whouj u f e pileres weren ypeynt and pulched ful clene, 
1 5 And queynteli icorven wif curiouse knottes, 15 

Wif wyndowes well ywroujt, wide up olofte. 
And ]> anne Y entrid in and evenforf le went, 

And all was walled fat wone, 17 fouj it wid were, 

Wif posternes in pry vytie 18 to pasen 19 when hem liste., 
20 Orchejardes and erberes " evesed 21 well clene, 

And a curious cros craftly entayled, 22 

Wif tabernacles 28 yti^t 24 to toten m all abouten. 

J>e pris 26 of a ploujlond, of v penyes so rounde, 

To aparaile 28 fat pyler were pure * lytel. 
25 J>anne Y munte 80 me forf fe mynstre to knowen, 

And awaytede a woon 81 wonderlie well ybeld, 82 

1 absolve u gazed attentively & cells 

2 no otherwise 18 eagerly 24 fixed, arranged 
he commended me to Christ w how K spy 

* question 15 bosses 26 price 

6 the Dominicans 16 straight ahead 2 ? in 

pressed forward, hastened w dwelling-place & furnish forth, provide for 

7 make trial of 18 private posterns 29 very 

hied me 19 go out &* ventured 

9 building x gardens 8 1 perceived a building 

1 a height of earth, an elevation 21 bordered 82 built 

11 saw 22 carved 

8. prechoures : the Dominicans were called Preachers. 


Wif arches on everiche half, 1 and belliche 2 ycorven, 

Wif crochetes 8 on corners wif knottes of golde, 

Wyde wyndowes ywroujt, ywritten full fikke, 4 

Schynen wif schapen scheldes 5 to schewen aboute, 

Wif merkes 6 of marchauntes ymedled 7 bytwene, 5 

Mo fan twenty and two twyes ynoumbred. 

J>er is none heraud 8 fat haf half swich a rolle 

Rijt as a rageman 9 hadde 10 rekned hem newe. 

Tombes opon tabernacles tyld opon lofte, 11 

Housed in hirnes 12 harde set abouten, 10 

Of armede alabaustre clad for fe nones, 

Made upon marbel in many maner wyse ; 

Knyghtes in her conisantes 13 clad for }>e nones ; 

All it semed seyntes, ysacred 14 opon erfe, 

And lovely ladies ywroujt leyen by her sydes, 15 

In many gay garmentes, fat weren goldbeten. 13 

J>ouj fe tax of ten jer were trewly ygadered, 

Nolde it noust maken fat hous half, as Y trowe. 

J>anne kam I to fat cloister and gaped abouten, 
Whouj it was pilered and peynt and portred well clene, 20 

All yhyled wif leed 16 lowe to f e stones, 
And ypaved wif peynt til 17 iche poynte 18 after of er ; 
Wif kundites 19 of clene tyn 20 closed all aboute, 
Wif lavoures 21 of latun 22 lovely che ygreithed. 23 
I trowe fe gaynage 24 of fe ground in a gret schire 25 

Nolde aparaile fat place oo poynt til other ende. 25 
J>anne was fe chaptire-hous wroujt as a greet chirche, 
Corven and covered, and queyntliche entayled, 26 

1 side 11 set up on high 21 lavers 

2 beautifully 12 enclosed in corners 22 latoun, a kind of brass 
8 crockets 13 cognizances 28 prepared 

4 with many inscriptions 14 sanctified, consecrated 24 produce 

5 coats of arms wrought i g adorned with beaten gold 25 would not fit out that place 

6 symbols, badges 16 covered with lead one bit towards the other 

7 interspersed 1' painted tiles end 

8 herald is piece, bit 2* sculptured 

9 catalogue 19 conduits 
W MS. ha)> 


Wif semlich selure 1 yset on lofte, 

As a Parlement Hous ypeynted aboute. 

J>anne ferd a Y into fraytour, 8 and fond fere anof er, 
An halle for an heyj kinge an housholde to holden, 

5 Wif brode bordes 4 aboute ybenched 8 wel clene, 

Wif windowes of glas wroujt as a chirche. 

J>anne walkede Y ferrer, and went all abouten, 
And seij halles ful hyje, and houses full noble, 
Chambers wij> chymneyes, and chapells gaie, 

10 And kychens for an hy^e kinge in castells to holden, 

And her dortour 6 ydijte 7 wif dores ful stronge, 
Fermery 8 and fraitur, with fele mo houses, 
And a 9 strong ston wall, sterne opon heif e, 10 
Wif gaie garites u and grete, and iche hole yglased, 

15 And ofere houses ynowe to herberwe ]>e queene ; 

And jet fise bilderes wilne beggen a baggful of wheate 
Of a pure pore 12 man fat maie onefe 18 paie 
Half his rente in a jer, and half ben behynde. 
f>anne turned Y ajen, whan Y hadde all ytoted, 14 

20 And fond in a freitour a frere on a benche, 

A greet cherl and a grym, growen as a tonne, 18 

Wif a face as fat as a full bledder 

Blowen bretfull 16 of bref, and as a bagge honged 17 

On bofen his chekes, and his chyn wif a chol la lollede, 19 

25 As greet as a gos-eye, 20 growen all of grece ; 

)?at 21 all wagged his fleche ^ as a quyk myre. 28 

His cope fat biclypped M him, wel clene K was it folden, 

Of double worstede M ydyjt, 27 doun to fe hele ; 

1 ceiling 

1 stem on a height 

19 wagged about 

2 went 

11 garrets 

20 goose-egg 

8 the refectory 

12 very poor 

21 so that 

4 tables 

! with difficulty 

22 flesh 

6 furnished with benches 

14 observed 

28 like a quagmire 

6 dormitory 

is as large as a tun 

24 covered 

7 provided 

I* brimful 

25 neatly 

8 infirmary 

IT it hung 

26 Cf. Chaucer, Prol. 262 

MS. all 

18 jowl 

97 made 


His kyrtel of clene whiit, clenlyche 1 ysewed ; 

Hyt was good ynow of ground 2 greyn 8 for to beren. 

I haylsede 4 pat herdeman, 5 and hendliche 6 Y saide : 
' Gode syre, for Codes love canstou me graip 7 tellen 8 
To any wor)>ely wiijt 9 pat wissen 10 me coupe 5 

Whou u Y schulde conne my crede, Crist for to folowe, 
J>at levede lelliche 12 himself, and lyvede perafter ; 
J>at feynede non falshede, but fully Crist suwede 13 ? 
For sich a certeyn man syker wold Y trosten u 
J>at he wolde telle me pe trewpe, and turne to none open 10 

And an Austyn pis ender 15 daie egged 1G me faste ; 
J>at he wolde techen me wel he ply^t me his treupe, 
And seyde me : " Serteyne, sypen Crist died, 
Oure ordir was evelles 17 and erst 18 yfounde.". . .' 

And as Y wente be pe waie, wepynge for sorowe, 15 

I seij a sely 19 man me by opon pe plow hongen. 
His cote was of a cloute ^ pat cary 21 was y called ; 
His hod 22 was full of holes, and his heer oute ; 
Wip his knopped schon, 23 clouted full pykke, 24 

His ton toteden out ^ as he pe londe treddede ; 20 

His hosen overhongen his hokschynes 26 on everiche a side, 
Al beslobbred 2T in fen, 28 as he pe plow folwede ; 
Twey myteynes m as mete, 80 maad all of cloutes 
)?e fyngers weren forwerd, 81 and ful of fen honged. 
J>is whit 82 waselede 88 in pe fen almost to ]>e ancle; 25 

Foure roperen 84 hym byf orn pat f eble were worpen M 

1 neatly 18 followed 24 j n tatters 

2 texture M trust 25 toes peeped out 

8 color, dye Bother 26 the under side of the thighs 

4 saluted 16 urged bedaubed; MS. beslombered 

5 shepherd, pastor 17 evil-less 28 mud 

6 courteously 18 first & mittens 
^ readily 19 simple 8 suitable 

8 direct 2 a ragged cloth 81 worn out 

9 worthy person 21 name of a coarse material 82 fellow (wight) 
10 teach 22 hood 8* bemired himself 
H how w shoes full of knobs or ** heifers 

12 believed faithfully roughnesses ^ become 


Men myjte reken ich a ryb, 1 so reuf ull 2 fey werea 

His wiif walked him wif, wif a longe gode, 8 

In a cutted 4 cote 8 cutted full heyje, 

Wrapped in a wynwe-schete 6 to weren 7 hire fro weders, 8 
5 Barfote on fe bare iis, fat ]>e blod folwede. 

And at f e londes 9 ende laye a litell crombolle, 10 

And feron lay a litell childe, lapped in cloutes, 

And tweyne of tweie jeres olde, opon anof er syde ; 

And alle fey songen o songe, fat sorwe was to heren ; 
10 J>ey crieden alle o cry a carefull 11 note. 

J>e sely man sijede sore, and seide : ' Children, bef stille.' . . . 
Loke nowe, leve 12 man, bef noujt f ise ilyke 

Fully to f e Farisens 18 in fele u of f ise poyntes ? 

Al her brod beldyng 15 ben belded withe synne, 
15 And in worchipe of J>e werlde her wynnynge fei holden. 

J>ei schapen her chapolories, 16 and strecchef hem brode," 

And launcef 18 heije her hemmes wif babelyng 19 in states ; 

J>ei ben ysewed wif whijt silk, and semes full queynte, 

Ystongen 20 wif stiches fat staref as silver. 
20 And but 21 freres ben first yset at sopers and at f estes, 

J>ei wiln ben wonderly wrof , ywis, as Y trowe ; 

But fey ben at f e lordes horde, louren M fey willef , 

He mot bygynne fat horde, 28 a beggere 24 wif sorwe M ! 

And first sitten in se 26 in her synagoges, 27 
25 J>at bef here heyje hellehous of Kaymes 28 kynde ; 

For fou5 a man in her mynster a masse wolde heren, 

His sijt schal so be set on sundrye werkes, 

1 count each rib 12 dear 24 beggar that he is (perhaps 

2 miserable, sorry-looking is Pharisees with allusion to the beg- 
8 goad M many ging friars) 

< cut short 16 building 25 bad luck to him 

5 skirt, petticoat J6 scapulars 26 se at 

e a sheet used in winnow- 1? Matt. 23. 5-7 27 churches 

ing corn 1* fling 28 Cain's (CAIM= Carmelites 

" protect 19 babbling Augustinians, Jacobins, 

8 storms 2 pricked through Minorites the four or- 

strip's 21 unless ders of friars) 

1 crumb-bowl 22 i oo k sourly 

11 full of misery 28 s i t a t the head of the table 


J>e penounes, 1 and pe pomels, 2 and poyntes 8 of scheldes 
Wipdrawen his devocion, and dusken 4 his herte ; 
I likne it to a lymjerde 5 to drawen men to hell. . . . 

J>ei usen russet 6 also, somme of pis freres, 

J>at bitoknep travaile and trewpe opon erpe. 5 

Bote loke whou pis lorels 7 labouren pe erpe, 
But freten 8 pe f rute pat pe folk full lellich biswynkep g ; 
Wip travail of trewe men pei tymbren 10 her houses, 
And of curious n elope her copes pei biggen 12 ; 
And als 18 his getynge is greet he schal ben good holden ; i o 

And ryjt as dranes 14 dop noujt but drynkep up pe huny, 
Whan been 15 wipe her bysynesse han broujt it to hepe, 
Rijt so faref freres wip folke opon erpe : 
J?ey freten up ]>e fu[r]ste froyt, 16 and falsliche lybbep. 
But alle freres eten noujt ylich good mete, 1 5 

But after )>at his wynnynge is, is his wellfare ; 
And after ]>at he bringep home, his bed schal ben grayf ed 17 ; 
And after pat his rychesse is raust, 18 he schal ben redy served. 
But see fiself in jn si^t whou somme of hem walkep 
Wi}> cloutede 19 schon, and elopes f ul feble, 20 

Wei neig forwerd, 20 and J>e wlon 21 offe ; 
And his felawe in a froke wor)> swiche fiftene, 22 
Arayd in rede sc[h]on and elles were reupe 23 
And sexe copes or seven in his celle hongep. 

fou5 for fay ling of good his fellawe schulde sterve, 24 25 

He wolde noujt lenen ^ him a peny his liif for to holden. 
Y mijt tymen po troiflardes 26 to toilen wip pe erpe, 
Tylyen, 27 and trewliche lyven, and her flech tempren ! 

1 pennons 9 faithfully obtain by labor w patched 

2 pommels, bosses 1 build 20 WO rn out 

8 divisions n MS. )>e curious 21 borders, hems 

4 darken, cloud 12 fashion (?) ; buy (?) 22 fifteen of such 

5 a limed twig 18 according as 28 a pity 

6 The Franciscans wore gray u drones 24 die 

habits originally, but later is bees 26 lend, give 

russet-brown 16 first-fruits 26 compel the triflers 

7 good-for-nothings 17 prepared 27 till the ground 

8 devour 18 reached, obtained 


Now mot ich soutere l his sone setten to schole, 

And ich a beggers brol 2 on fe booke lerne, 

And worf to 8 a writere, and wip a lorde dwell, 

O)>er falsly to a frere, ]>e fend for to serven. 

So of fat beggers brol a bychop schal worsen, 

Among ]>e peres of ]>e lond prese 4 to sitten, 

And lordes sones lowly to ]>o losells aloute 5 ; 

Knyjtes croukeb 6 hem to, and crucheb 7 full lowe ; 

And his syre a soutere, ysuled 8 in grees, 

His teej> wib toylinge of 9 leper tatered as a sawe ! 

Alaas ! fat lordes of be londe levep 10 swiche wrechen, 

And lenep n swiche lorels for her lowe wordes ! 

J>ey schulden maken bichopes her owen brefren childre, 

Ofer of some gentil blod, and 12 so it best semed, 

And foster none faytoures, 18 ne swiche false freres, 

To maken fatt and full, and her fleche combren 14 1 

For her kynde were more to yclense diches 

J>an ben to sopers yset first, and served wib silver 1 ... 

For Fraunces 16 founded hem nou;$t to faren 16 on fat wise, 

Ne Domynik 17 dued 18 hem never swiche drynkers to worfe, 

Ne Helye 19 ne Austen * swiche liif never used, 

But in poverte of spirit spended her tyme. 

1 cobbler 9 tugging at 16 d o 

2 brat 1 believe 17 Dominic, founder of 
8 become n enrich the Dominicans 

4 press forward !2 if is endowed 

5 bow down to the wretches 18 traitors, deceivers 19 Elijah 

6 bend down l< cumber, gorge 2 St. Augustine 
" crouch 15 St. Francis of Assist, founder 

8 soiled of the Franciscan order 



The following selection (lines 1-84 of the poem) is reprinted from Wright's 
Political Poems and Songs (London, 1859) i. 263-5. It * s from MS. Brit. Mus. 
Cotton Cleopatra B. 2, which Wright assigns to the year 1382. 

Preste, ne monke, ne jit chanoun, 
Ne no man of religioun, 
Gyfen hem so to devocioun 

As done thes holy frers. 

For summe gyven ham to chyvalry, 5 

Somme to riote and ribaudery ; 
Bot ffrers gyven ham to grete study, 

And to grete prayers. 
Who so kepes thair reule al, 

Bothe in worde and dede, 10 

I am ful siker that he shal 

Have heven blis to mede. 1 

Men may se by thair contynaunce 

That thai are men of grete penaunce, 

And also that thair sustynaunce 15 

Simple is and wayke. 
I have lyved now fourty jers, 
And fatter men about the neres 2 
^it sawe I never then are these frers, 

In contreys ther thai rayke. 8 20 

i as reward 2 kidneys ; cf. Isa. 34. 6 8 wander about 



Meteles, 1 so megre are thai made, 
And penaunce so puttes ham doun, 

That ichone is an hors-lade, 2 
When he shal trusse of toun. 8 

5 Alias, that ever it shuld be so, 

Suche clerkes as thai about shuld go, 
Fro toun to toun by two and two, 

To seke thair sustynaunce 1 
By God that al this world wan, 
jo He that that ordre first bygan 

Me thynk certes it was a man 

Of simple ordynaunce. 4 
For thai have noght to lyve by, 
Thai wandren here and there, 
15 And dele with dyvers marcerye, 5 

Right as thai pedlers were. 

Thai dele with purses, pynnes, and knyves, 
With gyrdles, gloves, for wenches and wyves ; 
Bot ever bacward the husband thryves 
20 Ther thai are haunted tille. 6 

For when the gode man is fro hame, 
And the frere comes to cure dame, 
He spares nauther for synne ne shame 

That he ne dos his wille. 
25 j?jif thai no helpe of houswyves had, 

When husbandes are not inne, 
The freres welfare were ful bad, 
For thai shuld brewe ful thynne. 

Somme frers beren pelure 7 aboute, 
30 For grete ladys and wenches stoute, 

1 without meat * regulation, rule of life 6 where they are accustomed 

2 horse load 6 mercery (textile goods and to go 
8 pack out of town small wares) 7 fur 


To reverce 1 with thair clothes withoute, 

Al after that thai ere 2 
For somme vaire, 8 and somme gryse, 4 
For somme bugee, 6 and for somme byse 8 ; 
And also many a dyvers spyse, 5 

In bagges about thai bere. 
Al that for women is plesand 

Ful redy certes have thai ; 
Bot lytel gyfe thai the husband, 

That for al shal pay. 10 

Trantes 7 thai can, 8 and many a jape 9 ; 
For somme can with a pound of sape 10 
Gete him a kyrtelle n and a cape, 

And somwhat els therto. 

Wherto shuld I othes swere? 15 

Ther is no pedler that pak can bere 
That half so dere can selle his gere 

As 12 a frer can do. 
For if he gife a wyfe a knyfe 

That cost bot penys two, 20 

Worthe ten knyves, so mot I thryfe, 

He wyl have er he go. 

Iche man that here shal lede his life, 

That has a faire doghter or a wyfe, 

Be war that no frer ham shryfe, 25 

Nauther loude ne stille. 
Thof women seme of hert ful stable, 
With faire byhest and with fable 
Thai can make thair hertes chaungeable, 

And thair likynges fulfille. 30 

1 to turn back, so as to show 4 gray fur 9 jest 

the lining 6 lambskin fur 10 soap 

2 plow (?) 6 a (brown ?) fur used for trimming n mantle 

3 fur made from the skin of a " tricks 12 MS. then 

kind of squirrel 8 know 


Be war l ay with the lymitour, 2 

And with his felawe bathe, 
And 8 thai make maystries 4 in thi hour, 

It shal turne the to scathe. 6 


This poem, found in the same manuscript as the preceding one, is also 
reprinted from Wright's Political Poems and Songs (1.268-70). The writer 
seems to be describing pictorial representations. 

5 Of thes frer mynours me thenkes moch wonder, 

That waxen are thus hauteyn, 6 that som tyme weren under ; 
Among men of holy chirch thai maken mochel blonder 7 ; 
Nou he that sytes 8 us above make ham sone to sender 9 ! 

With an O and an I, thai praysen not Seynt Poule ; 
10 Thai lyen on Seyn[t] Fraunceys, by my fader soule. 

First thai gabben on 10 God, that alle men may se, 
When thai hangen him on hegh on a grene tre, 
With leves and with blossemes that bright are of ble, 11 
That was never Goddes Son, by my leute. 12 
15 With an O and an I, men wenen that thai wede, 18 

To carpe so of clergy that u can not thair Crede. 

Thai have done him on a croys fer up in the skye, 

And festned on hym wyenges, as he shuld flie ; 

This fals f eyned byleve 15 shal thai soure bye, 16 

On that lovelych Lord so for to lye. 

With an O and an I, one sayd ful stille : 

' Armachan 1T distroy ham, if it is Goddes wille ! ' 

1 cautious 6 haughty 18 go mad 

2 friar licensed to beg within cer- t confusion u MS. thai 

tain limits ; cf. Chaucer, Wife 8 s its 15 belief 

of Bath's Taleg-zt, 9 disperse them soon 16 Cf. 11223 

8 if 10 make sport of 17 Richard Fitzralph 

play tricks 11 hue (d. 1360) 

to your harm la loyalty, faith 


Ther comes one out of the skye in a grey goun, 

As it were an hoghyerd 1 hyand 2 to toun ; 

Thai have mo 8 goddes then we, I say by Mahoun, 4 

Alle men under ham that ever beres croun. 5 

With an O and an I, why shuld thai not be shent 6 ? 5 

Ther wantes noght bot a fyre that thai nere alle brent. 7 

Went I forther on my way in that same tyde 8 ; 

Ther I sawe a frere blede in myddes of his syde ; 

Bothe in hondes and in fete had he woundes wyde. 

To serve to that same frer the pope mot abyde. 9 10 

With an O and an I, I wonder of thes dedes, 
To se a pope holde a dische whyl the frer bledes. 

A cart was made al of fyre, as it shuld be ; 

A gray frer I sawe therinne, that best lyked me. 

Wele I wote thai shal be brent, by my leaute ; 1 5 

God graunt me that grace that I may it se. 
With an O and an I, brent be thai alle, 
And alle that helpes therto faire mot byfalle 10 ! 

Thai preche alle of povert, bot that love thai noght ; 

For gode mete to thair mouthe the toun is thurgh soght. 11 20 

Wyde are thair wonnynges, 12 and wonderfully wroght ; 

Murdre and horedome 13 ful dere has it boght. 
With an O and an I, for sixe pens er thai fayle, 
Sle thi fadre, and jape 14 thi modre, and thai wyl the assoile. 

1 swineherd 6 destroyed n searched through 

2 hastening 7 burned 12 dwellings 
8 more 8 time 18 whoredom 

4 Mahomet . 9 must wait 14 lie with 

5 tonsure 1 may fair (good) befall 



About 1401. This selection, from MS. Oxford Digby 41, is here reprinted 
from Wright's Political Poems and Songs 2. 76-8. 

Forthermore x thou spekest 

Of cure costli houses ; 

Thou seist it were more almes 

To helpen the nedy 
5 Than to make siche housynge 

To men that ben deede, 

To whiche longith 2 but graves 

And mornynge-housis. 

Jak, is not a man beter 
10 Than a rude best ? 

^)it makist thou to thi sheep a shepen, 8 

And to thi hors a stable ; 

And many a pore man ther is 

That hath noon hillyng, 4 
15 But oonly heven is his hous. 

The bestes stond kevered ; 

Whi houses thou not pore men 

As wele as thi beestis ? 

Take hede to sumwhat 
20 That is seid biforen : 

And 5 thou answere to my question, 

Answer to thin owne. 

Thou carpist 6 also of oure coveitise, 

And sparist the sothe ; 
2 5 Thou seist we ben more ryal 7 

Than ony lordis. . 

Coventis have wee noon, Jack, 

But cloistrers we ben callid, 

Foundid * afor 8 with charite, 

1 MS. ff- * shelter t royal, regal 

2 belong, are fitting 5 if 8 aforetime 
8 sheep-cote c talkest 


Or that he were flemyd l ; 

But sith 2 entride envie, 

And revyd 8 hath oure houses, 

That unnethes 4 the hillinge 6 

Hangith on the sparres 6 ; 5 

And jit thou thinkist hem over-good 

Yvel fare thou therfore ! 

Jak, where saw thou ever frere-houses 

Thourjout the rewme 7 

Liche in ony rialte 8 10 

To the Toure of Londoun, 

To Wyndesore, to Wodestoke, 

To Wallingforde, to Shene, 

To Herforde, to Eltham, 

To Westmynster, to Dover 9 ? 15 

How maist thou for rebukyng 

Lye so lowde, 

To saye that oure covetise 

Passith the lordes' ? 


The Land of Cokaygne, which has been called the earliest extant English 
fabliau, is not a fabliau at all, but rather a piece of Rabelaisian satire. With 
the satire, which is directed against monks and nuns, and possibly includes 
some local and specific references, are, however, mingled touches of the 
purely comic spirit. Cf. Pherecrates, in Athenaeus 6. 97. 

An Old French poem similar in character is found in Barbazan and Meon's 
Fabliaux et Conies 4. 175-81, entitled Li Fabliaus de Coquaigne (though, again, 
not a fabliau). Here the details are somewhat different, and the satiric intent, 
and reference to the religious orders, much less marked, but the general 
picture is of the same sort. One of the most amusing details is similar: 

Par les rues vont rostissant 
Les crasses oes, et tornant 
Tout par eles [lines. 37-9]. 

1 before it was banished s rO of 9 Royal castles or palaces were 

2 afterward rafters, beams in all these places 
8 robbed ; MS. renyd 1 realm 

* so that scarcely 8 royalty 



2 MS. Spayngne 


4 heaven's domain 

6 prosperity 

6 branches 

7 delight 

Here there are two rivers of wine, of which he who will may drink ; four 
Easters, Christmases, and All-Saints Days every year ; but a Lent only once in 
twenty years ! 

Our text is reproduced (120 lines out of 190) from Matzner's Altenglische 
Sprachproben (i. 148 ff.), which follows MS. Brit. Mus. Harl. 913. It has been 
dated ca. 1305. 

Fur 1 in see bi west Spaygne * 

Is a lond ihote 8 Cokaygne. 

J?er nis lond under hevenriche 4 

Of wel, 6 of godnis, hit iliche ; 

J>oj Paradis be miri and brijt, 

Cokaygn is of fairir sijt. 

What is per in Paradis 

Bot grasse, and flure, and grene ris 6 ? 

J>oj per be joi and grete dute, 7 

J>er nis mete 8 bote frute ; 

Jer nis halle, bure, 9 no benche, 

Bot watir, manis purst to quenche. 

Bep per no man but two 

Hely 10 and Enok n also ; 

Elinglich 12 may hi go 

Whar per wonip 18 men no mo. 

In Cokaygne is met and drink 
Wipute care, now, 14 and swink. 15 
J>e met is trie, 16 pe drink is clere, 
To none, russin, 17 and sopper. 
I sigge 18 forsop, boute were, 19 
J>er nis lond on erthe is pere ^ ; 
Under heven nis lond, iwisse, 21 
Of so mochil joi and blisse. 

J>er is mani swete sijte : 
Al is dai, nis per no nijte ; 

8 is no food 

9 chamber 

10 Elijah ; cf. 2 Kings 2. n 

11 Enoch ; cf. Gen. 5.24 

12 sorrowfully 
18 dwell 

M trouble 

is labor 
!6 select 



w without doubt 

20 its equal 

21 indeed 



per nis baret l neper strif ; 
Nis per no dep, ac 2 ever lif ; 
per nis lac of met no clop ; 
per nis man no womman wrop ; 
per nis serpent, wolf, no fox, 
Hors no capil, 8 kowe no ox ; 
per nis schepe, no swine, no gote, 
Ne non horwj, 4 la, 8 God it wot, 
Nother harace, 6 nother stode 7 ; 
pe londe is ful of oper gode. 
Nis per flei, 8 fle, 9 no lowse, 
In clop, in toune, bed, no house ; 
per nis dunnir, 10 slete, no haile, 11 
No non vile worme, no snaile, 12 
No non storme, rein, no winde ; 
per is man no womman blinde ; 
Ok 13 al is game, 14 joi, and gle. 
Wei is him pat per mai be ! 

per bep rivers gret and fine, 
Of oile, melk, honi, and wine ; 
Watir servip per to noping 
Bot to sijt and to waiissing. 16 
per is [mani] 16 maner frute ; 
Al is solas and dedute. 17 

per is a wel fair abbei 
Of white monkes and of grei : 
per bep bowris and halles ; 
Al of pasteiis 18 bep pe walles, 
Of fleis, of fisse, and rich met, 
pe likfullist 19 pat man mai et, 
Fluren * cakes bep pe scingles 21 alle 



1 quarrel 

2 but 

4 defilement 

5 truly 

6 place for breeding horses 

7 stud 

8 fly 

9 flea 

1 thunder 
"hail; MS. hawle 
12 MS. snawile 
18 but 
w mirth 

15 washing 

18 em. M. 
17 delight 

is pasties, pies 

19 most delicious 

20 flour 

21 shingles 




Of cherche, cloister, boure, and halle ; 
fe pinnes l bej> fat podinges 
Rich met to princez and [to] kinges ; 
Man mai perof et inoj 
Al wi}> rijt, and nojt wi}> woj 2 : 
Al is commune to jung and old, 
To stoute and sterne, mek and bold. 

J>er is a cloister, fair and lijt, 
Brod and lang, of sembli 8 sijt. 
J>e pilers of |>at cloistre alle 
Be}> iturned of cristale, 
With har bas 4 and capitale 
Of grene jaspe and rede corale. 

In J>e praer 5 is a tre, 
Swtye likful 6 for to se : 
J>e rote is gingevir and galingale T ; 
J>e siouns 8 bep al sedwale 9 ; 
Trie maces be]> )>e flure ; 
J>e rind, canel 10 of swet odur ; 
f>e frute, gilofre u of gode smakke 12 ; 
Of cucubes 18 fer nis no lakke. 

J>er bep rosis of rede ble, 14 
And lilie likful for to se 
J>ai falowef 15 never day no nijt ; 
J>is ajt be 16 a swete sijt. 
J>er bef iiii willis 17 in fe abbei 
Of triacle 18 and halwei, 19 
Of baum 20 and ek piement, 21 
Ever ernend ^ to rijt rent ^ ; 
Of pam 24 stremis al J>e molde. 26 

1 pinnacles 

2 wrong 
8 seemly 

their base 
" meadow 

6 very attractive 

7 ginger and galingale (sweet 


8 scions, shoots 

9 zedoary 

10 cinnamon 

11 gillyflower 

12 taste 

is cubebs (a pungent spice) 


is fade 

16 ought to be 

I' wells 

18 treacle (a medicine) 
i fl healing water 

20 balm 

21 spiced wine sweetened 

with honey 

22 running 
28 profit 

24 these; MS.)>ai 

25 earth, nom. 


Stonis preciuse, and golde : 
J>er is saphir and uniune, 1 -^ - 
Carbuncle and astiune, 2 
Smaragde, 8 lugre, 4 and prassiune, 6 
Beril, onix, topasiune, 6 5 

Ametist and crisolite, 
Calcedun and epetite. 7 

J>er bef briddes mani and fale 8 
J?rostil, fruisse, 9 and nijtingale, 

Chalandre 10 and wodwale, 11 10 

And o)>er briddes wifout tale, 12 
J>at stintef 13 never by bar mijt 14 
Miri to sing dai and nijt. 
<^ite I do sow mo to witte 16 : 

J>e gees irostid on fe spitte 15 

Fleez 16 to fat abbai, God hit wot, 
And gredif " : ' Gees al hote, al hot 1 ' 
Hi bringef garlek gret plente, 
J>e best idijt 18 fat man mai se. 

J?e leverokes 19 fat bef cuf ao 20 

Lijtif adun to manis muj>, 
Idijt in stu 21 ful swife wel, 
Pudrid 22 wi]> gilofre and canel. 
Nis no spech of no drink ; 
Ak take inoj wijmte swink. 25 

Whan ]> e monkes goof 28 to masse, 
All ]>e fenestres 24 fat bef of glasse 
Turnef into cristal brijt, 
To jive [fe] monkes more lijt. 
When fe masses bef iseiid, 30 

i pearl 9 thrush 16 fly ; MS. flees 

* astrion (/^r^a/jasteriated 10 a Mediterranean species of lr cry out 

sapphire) lark ; see Romance of the 18 dressed 

8 emerald Rose (81,663), 914 19 larks 

4 ligure 11 woodpecker 2 well known 

5 chrysoprase 12 number al made into a stew 

6 topaz is cease 22 sprinkled 

7 hepatite l* according to their ability 28 MS. geej> 
s numerous 15 give you to know further 24 windows 


And pe bokes up ileiid, 1 

J>e cristal turnip into glasse 

In state pat hit raper 2 wasse. 


The following poem is reprinted from Dyboski's Songs, Carols, etc. (E.E.T.S. 
Ex. Ser. 101), an edition of Richard Hill's Commonplace-Book (MS. Oxford 
lialliol 354). The manuscript contains records as late as 1536, but our text 
differs only slightly from that of Wright in Percy Society 23. 91-5, which is 
dated by the editor 1461-85, and from which two or three readings are here 
adopted (marked W.). Our text is on pages 106-8 of Dyboski. 

Hoow, gossip myne, gossip myn, 
5 Whan will we go to foe wyne, 

Good gossip\is myn\ ? 

I shall you tell a full good sport, 
How gossippis gader them on a sort, 8 
Ther seke * bodyes to comforte, 
10 Whan they mete 

In lane or stret, 

God 6 gossipis myn, [a 1] 

But I dare not, for per dissplesans, 6 
Tell of pes maters half the substance ; 
15 But jet sum what of per governance, 7 

As ferre as I dare, 
I will declare, 

Good gossipis myn, [a !] 

' Good gossip myn, wher have ye be ? 
20 Hit is so long sith I you see ; 

Wher is pe best wyne, tell you me 1 
Can ye owght tell ? ' 
' Ye, full well, 

Good gossippis myn, [a !] 

1 laid 4 sick " proceedings 

2 formerly 6 good 

in a company 6 i es t I displease them 


I know a drawght of mery-go-down, 1 
The beste it is in all this town, 
But yet I wolde not, for my gown, 

My husbond wyste.' 

' Ye may me triste, 2 5 

Good gossippis myn, [a ! '] 

' Call forth owr gossippis by and by, 
Elynore, Johan, and Margery, 
Margret, Alis, and Cecely, 

For ]>e\ will cum, 10 

Both all and som, 

Good gossippis myn, a! 

And eche of them will sumwhat bryng, 

Gose, or pigge, or capons wynge, 

Pastes 3 of pygynnes, or sum ofer thyng ; 15 

For we muste etc 

Sum maner mett, 

Good gossippis myn, a I 

Go beffore by tweyn and tweyn, 

Wisely, ]>at ye be not seen, 20 

For I muste home and cum agayn, 

To witt, ywis, 

Wher my husbond is, 
Good gossippis myn, a ! 

A strype or two God myght send me, 25 

Yf my husbond myght here see me.' 
' She Jat is aferde, lett her flee,' 

Quod Alis than ; 

' I dred no man, 

Good gossippis myn, a ! ' 30 

1 strong ale 2 trust * pasties, pies 


' Now be we in )>e tavern sett, 

A drawght of ]>e best lett hym fett, 

To bryng owr husbondis owt of dett, 

For we will spend 
5 Till God more send, 

Good gossippis myn, a I ' 

Eche of them browght forth per disshe ; 
Sum browght flesshe, and sum [browght] fisshe 
Quod Margret meke now, with a wisshe : 
10 'I wold Anne were here, 

She wold mak us chere, 
Good gossippis myn, a 1 ' 

' How say ye, gossippis ? Is pis wyn good ? ' 
' J>at is it,' quod Elynore, ' by J>e rode I 
15 It chereth J>e hart and comforteth }>e blod. 

Such jonkets 1 amonge 
Shall make us leve 2 long. 
Good gossippis [myn, a] ! ' 

Anne bade me fill a pot of Muscadell, 
20 ' For of all wynes I love it well ; 

Swet wynes kepe my body in hele 8 ; 
Yf I had it nowght, 
I shuld tak thowght, 

Good gossippis myn, a ! ' 

2 5 ' How loke ye, gossip, at J>e bordis end ? 

Not mery, gossip ? God it amend I 
All shall be well, els God defend ; 
Be mery and glad, 
And sit not so sade, 
30 Good gossip myn, a 1 ' 

l delicacies (drinks) ; MS. jonkers ; W. jonchettes 2 ii ve a health, well-being 


* Wold God I had don after your counsell, 
. For my husbond is so fell l 
He betith me lyke pe devill of hell ; 
And }>e more I crye, 

J>e lesse mercy, 5 

Good gossippis myn, a ! ' 

Alls with a lowde voys spak than : 
' Ywis, 2 ' she said, ' litill good he can, 
f>at betith or striketh any woman, 

And specially his wyff ; 10 

God geve hym short lyff, 
Good gossippis myn, a 1 ' 

Margret meke said : ' So mot I thryve, 

I know no man fat is alyve 

fat gevith me ii strokis, but he [shall] 8 have v ; 15 

I am not afferd, 

Thowgh he have a berde, 
Good gossippis myn, a I ' 

On 4 cast down her shot, 5 and went away. 

' Gossip,' quod Elynore, ' what dide she pay ? ' 20 

' Not but a peny ; loo, ferfor I say, 

She shall no more 

Be of owr lore, 

Good gossippis myn, a I 

Suche gestis 7 we may have ynow, 25 

J>at will not for per shot alowe. 8 

With whom com she, gossip ? ' ' With you I ' 

' Nay,' quod Johan, 

' I com aloon, 

Good gossippis myn, a 1 ' 30 

1 cruel < one 1 guests 

2 W ; MS. evis & contribution, share 8 provide 
8 W. 6 school, sort 


' Now rekyn owr shot, and go we hens ; 

What cummeth to eche of us ? ' ' But iii pens. 1 ' 

' Parde, \>\s is but a small expens 

For suche a sorte, 
5 And all but sporte, 

Good gossipis myn, a ! ' 

' Torn down )>e stret, whan ye cum owt, 
And we will cumpas rownd abowt.' 
' Gossip,' quod Anne, ' what nedith Jat dowt ? 
10 Your husbond is pleased, 

Whan ye be eased, 

Good gossippis myn, a I 

Whatsoever any man thynk, 
We com for nowght but for good drynk ; 
15 Now let us go home and wynke, 

For it may be seen 
Wher we have ben, 

Good gossippis myn, a ! ' 

This is J>e thowght fat gossippis take : 
20 Ons in )>e wek, mery will they make, 

And all small drynkis }>ei will forsake ; 
But wyne of pe best 
Shall have no rest, 

Good gossippis myn, a 1 

2 5 Sum be at |>e tavern )>rise 8 in )>e weke, 

And so be sum every day eke, 
Or ellis )>ei will gron and mak them sek, 
For thyngis used 
Will not be refused 4 ; 
3 Good gossippis myn, a I 

1 MS. d. * MS. Ill" < for things one is accustomed 

2 fear to cannot be done without 



The following poem, by John Lydgate (i37O?-i45i ?), the follower and 
imitator of Chaucer, is taken from the print of MS. Harl. 2251 (about 1460) in 
The Babees Book, ed. Furnivall (E.E.T.S. 32). With its precepts one may 
compare Chaucer's characterization of the Prioress (Prol. 127-36) : 

At mete wel ytaught was she withalle ; 

She leet no morsel from hir lippes falle, 

Ne wette hir fingres in hir sauce depe. 

Wel coude she carie a morsel, and wel kepe, 

That no drope ne fille upon hir brest. 

In curteisye was set ful muche hir lest. 

H ir over lippe wyped she so clene 

That in hir coppe was no ferthing sene 

Of grece, whan she dronken hadde hir draughte. 

Ful semely after hir mete she raughte. 

Our extract comprises lines 15-42, 57-70. Two or three emendations are 
from the Lambeth MS. 

Who spekithe to the in any maner place, 

Rudely cast nat thyn ye 1 adowne, 

But with a sadde chiere 2 loke hym in the face. 

Walke demurely by strete in the towne ; 

Advertise the withe 8 wisdom and reasoune. 5 

Withe dissolute laughters do thow non offence 

Tofore * thy soverayn, 6 whiles he is in presence. 

Pare clene thy nailes, thyn handes wasshe also 

Tofore mete, and whan thow dooest arise ; 

Sitte in that place thow art assigned to ; 10 

Prease 6 nat to 7 hye in no maner wise ; 

And til thow se afore the thy service, 8 

Be nat to hasty on brede for to byte, 

Of gredynesse lest men wolde the edwyte.' 

Grennyng and mowes 10 at the table eschewe " ; 15 

Cry nat to loude ; kepe honestly 12 silence ; 

1 eye 5 master 9 reproach, twit ; MS. end- 

2 sober expression 8 press 10 grinning and grimaces 
8 turn your attention to 7 too J1 MS. eschowe 

* before 8 plate of food u politely 


To enboce l thy jowis 2 withe mete [it] is nat diewe 8 
With ful mowthe speke nat, lest thow do offence ; 
Drynk nat bretheles for hast ne necligence ; 
Kepe clene thy lippes from fat of flesshe or fysshe ; 
5 Wype clene thi spone, leve it nat in thy disshe. 

Of brede ibyten no soppis 4 that thow make ; 
In ale nor wyne withe hande leve no fattenes ; 
With mowthe enbrewed 6 thi cuppe thou nat take ; 
Defoule 6 no napery 7 for no rekelesnes ; 
10 [Loude] 8 for to souppe is agenst gentiles. 

[N]evyr at mete begynne thow nat stryf 9 ; 
Thi teth also thow pike nat with no knyf. . . . 

Droppe nat thi brest withe sawce ne with potage ; 
Brynge no knyves unskoured to the table ; 
15 Fil nat thy spone, lest in the cariage 

It went beside, 10 whiche were nat comendable. 

Be quyke and redy, meke and servisable, 

Wele awaityng to fulfylle anone 

What that thy soverayne comau[n]dithe to n be done. 

20 And wharesoever that thow dyne or soupe, 

Of gentilesse take salt withe thy knyf ; 

And be wele ware thow blowe nat in the cuppe. 

Reverence thy felawe, gynne 12 withe hym no stryf ; 

Be 18 thy powere, kepe pees all thy lyf. 
25 Interrupt nat, whereso [that] 14 thou wende, 

None other mans tale, til he have made an ende. 

1 stuff out 6 defile ; MS. enbrewe (em. 

2 jaws from Lambeth MS.) 
8 fitting ~> table-linen 

4 sops 8 em. from Lamb. 

5 soiled MS. stryf e 

1 should spill over 

11 MS. the to (em. fromLamb v 

12 begin 

18 according to 
1* em. from Lamb. 



From MS. Line. Cath. Thornton A. 1. 17, printed in Horstman's edition of 
Richard Rolle, 1.375. 

Say fee charme thris to 1 it be sayd ix tymes, and ay 
thris at a charemynge? 

I conjoure the, laythely 3 beste, with 4 fat ilke spere 
J>at Longyous 5 in his hande gane here, 
And also with ane hatte of thorne $ 

J?at one my Lordis hede was borne, 
With alle J>e wordis, mare and lesse, 
With J>e office of f e messe, 
With my Lorde and his xii postills, 6 

"With oure Lady and hir x maydenys, 10 

Saynt Margrete, fe haly quene, 
Saynt Katerin, )>e haly virgyne 
Ix tymes Goddis forbott, 7 pou wikkyde worme, 
J>at ever ]>ou make any rystynge, 8 

Bot awaye mote pou wende 15 

To }>e erde 9 and J>e stane. 10 


From the Payne manuscript, of the first half of the fifteenth century, printed 
in Furnivall's Political, Religious, and Love Poems (E.E.T.S. 15). Readings 
supplied from Sloane MS. 1314 are marked S. 

The man pat wol of lechecraf t n lere, 
Red ovyr this book, and he may here 
Many medycinis both good and trewe, 
To hele sores both oolde and newe, 20 

And preciotise medycinis, porw Goddis grace 

1 till 5 Longus, or Longinus, the Roman soldier s delay (resting) 

2 charming who pierced the side of Christ 9 earth 

3 loathsome 6 apostles 10 stone 

4 by 7 God forbid n medicine 


To save mens 1 lyves in diverse place. 

Cryst, fat made bothe Est and West, 

Geve grace her sowles have 2 god rest, 

Evere more in hevene for to be, 
5 In hevene wyt fe Trinite 1 

Herinne be medycinis, wythoutyn fable, 

To hele alle sores fat ben curable, 

Of swerd, of knyf, and of arwe 8 

Be ]> e wounde wyde or narwe 
10 Of sper, 4 of quarel, 5 of dagger, of dart, 

To make him hool in ilka 6 part, 

So f e seek 7 wol do wysely, 

And kepe himself fro surfety. 

Be fe wounde nevere so deep, 
15 J>erof thar 8 him take no kep, 

So fat he drynke save 9 or anteoche, 10 

Him thar 8 not drede of fat outrage : 

Be u fat on and twenti days be goon, 

He schal be hoi, both flesch and bon, 
20 To ride and go in ilka 12 place, 

Thorw f e verteu of Goddys grace. 

Thus seyth Ypocras, 13 fe good surgien, 

And Socrates and Galyen, 14 

J?at weren philisophres alle thre, 
25 J>at tyme fe best in any countree : 

In f is werld 15 were non her 16 pere, 

As fer as any man coude here. 

1 MS. men " if the sick man u by the time 

2 may have 8 he need ; MS. dar, S. thar 12 MS. ylka, S. ilk 
8 arrow 9 sage 18 Hippocrates 

4 spear 10 a medicinal potion of herbs 14 Galen 

5 a short, square-headed arrow boiled in white wine and ls MS. weld 

3 every ; MS. ylke, S. ilka honey w their 



This will (from MS. Oxford Univ. Coll. 97), which the testator dates in the 
year 1399, is here reprinted from Horstman's edition of Richard Rolle, 2. 448-9. 

In fe name of Almyghty Jesu, I, Robart F[olkyngham], beynge in 
hool and cleere mynde, fe vi day of Juylle, 1 fe jeere of our Lorde a 
thousand f re hundreth foure score and nynetene, make my testament 
and my laste wylle in fis manere. First, I bytake 2 my soule into fe 
hondes of Almyjty God, bysechynge to oure lady, Seynte Marye, and 5 
to alle f e hoole compaygnye of heven, to preye for mercy and grace for 
me. Also I byqwethe my wrecchyd synfulle body to been heere in 
erthe, abydyng f e dredful doom of God, in suche place and manere as 
yt lyketh to his wyse endeles purveaunce. 3 Also I wylle fat at myn 
enterement fere be abowte my body bot twey 4 tapres of wex, and 10 
foure torches of wex, fe whiche torches I wille be jeven to brenne 
atte fe levacioun 5 of fe sacrement whil fei wil dure, 6 in fe same 
chirche pat I schalle be beryed inne. Also I wille fat, in alle fe haste 
fat yt may be doo after my deth, fere be sayde a thousande massez 
for my soule, and for alle Cristen soules. Also I bequethe, to be doon 1 5 
in almesse after 7 dyscrecioun of myn executours, in alle f e hast for 
my soule, for f e soules of my fadre, modre, and of alle hem fat I am 
endebtede to .by way of kynde, 8 by way of ffrendshipe, or by way of 
restitucioun, for fe gode I have hade of heres 9 by any way, fourty 
pounde of golde, and, over fat, fat fei have part of alle fe preyours, 20 
goode dedes, and almesse fat I have do or ordeyned to be doo, as 
wel in f is testament as tofore 10 in alle my lyf . Sythene, 11 I jeve to 
William Flete, my cosyn, fourty marke of golde and alle myn horses, 
a blew bed of Arras werke, twey payre schetes, my best haberjoun, 12 my 
pysan, 13 my ketylle-hat, 14 and myn armynge sworde of Burdeux. Also 25 
I bequeth to Johan of Brugge an haberjoun, a basynet, 1 "' a longe dagger 
of Burdeux harneyside 16 with sylver in manere of a sword. 

1 July "> at the 18 pisane (armor to protect 

2 commit 8 kindred chest and neck) 
8 providence 9 theirs, them u kind of helmet 

< two 10 before 15 basinet (steel headpiece) 

5 lifting up n next 16 mounted 

6 last 12 habergeon, coat of mail 


Also, I jeve to Thomas Salman an haberjoun and a basynet. 
Also, I byqueth to William Flete, my cosyn, alle fe remanant of 
myne armeure. 

Also, I byqweth to Sir William Countour a longe sangwyn l gowne 
5 furryd with Calabir. 2 

Also, I byqueth to Thomas Heighelme a gowne of blak worstede, 
furred with bevere. 

Also, I wylle fat alle fe debtez pat any man cane resonably axe, 
fat fei been payed. And fe remanant of alle my goode, whereso 
10 it be in fe handes of my debtours or elles, 8 I beqweth it to Jonet, 
my wyfe, to governe and susteyne with, hir and Elianore my dough- 
tre, ande eke to doon in almesse for me, and for here, and for alle 
hem fat we been endebted to doon for by any way, as sche may 
resonabely, noujt amenysynge 4 gretely here lyflode ne here povre 
15 stat. The execucioun of whiche thynges abovesayd after my laste 
wille to be doon and fulfillide, I make myn executours Jonet my 
wyfe, William Wenloke, Squiere, Sire William Countour, Preste, 
Thomas Heighelme, Thomas Salman, William Flete, my cosyn ; 
preyinge to hem for Goddes sake, for charitable dede of almesse, 
20 and for fe sovereyn trust I have in hem, fat fei wille take fis 
charge on hem, and refuse it by no maner way. Writen fe day 
and jere tofore nempned, 8 with myn owen honde, in witnesse of my 
laste wille, and ensealede with my seal. 


The Libel (or Little Book) of English. Policy, a plea for a strong navy, was 
written, according to internal evidence, after the siege of Calais by the Duke 
of Burgundy, in 1436, and before the death of the Emperor Sigismund in 
1437. The siege of Calais, though unsuccessful, had roused England to a sense 
of the importance of controlling the straits ; and the author of this poem, who 
is unknown, cleverly shows how all the commerce of Europe (generally 
directed toward the Low Countries) must needs pass through ' the narrow 
sea.' Control of the sea, therefore, would make England powerful. He reviews 
the exports and imports of the chief countries of Europe, showing intimate 

1 blood-red 8 elsewhere 6 named 

2 a kind of squirrel-fur * diminishing 


acquaintance with the commercial life of his age. He may in some respects 
be compared with Chaucer's merchant, who 

wolde the see were kept for any thing 
Bitwixe Middelburgh and Orewelle ; 
and his line 

Kepe thou the see, that is the walle of Englond, 

recalls Shakespeare (Rich. II 2. 1.48-50, 63) : 

This precious stone, set in the silver sea, 
Which serves it in the office of a wall, 
Or as a moat defensive to a house. . . . 
England bound in with the triumphant sea. 

His spirit, we are told (Traill, Social England 2. 347 ; cf. 340, 344 ff., 406) ' is 
exactly the spirit which animated the sea-captains and merchant adventurers 
of the golden age of Elizabeth.' 

Our selections are from Wright's Political Poems and Songs 2. 157-9, 160 I, 
172-3, this text being printed from MS. Oxford Bodl. Laud. 704. Other 
editions are by Hertzberg (1878) and in Hakluyt, Principal Navigations, Glas 
gow, 1903, 2. 114-47. Emendations in the following pages are from the two 
other editions noted ; ^"has been changed to/. 

The trewe processe of Englysh polycye 
Of utterwarde x to kepe thys regne 2 in rest 

Of oure England, that no man may denye, 
Nere 3 say of soth but it is one the best 
Is thys, that who seith 4 Southe, Northe, Est, and West, 

Cheryshe marchandyse, kepe th' amyralte, 5 

That we bee maysteres of the narowe see. 6 

For Sigesmonde, the grete emperoure 

Why die yet regneth, whan 7 he was in this londe 

Wyth Kynge Herry the Fifte, 8 prince of honoure, 
Here moche glorye, as hym thought, he fonde 9 ; 
A myghty londe, whyche hadde take on honde 

To werre 10 in Fraunce and make mortalite, 

And evere welle kepe u rounde aboute the see. 

1 from (foes) without 5 the admiralty 9 MS. founde 

2 kingdom 6 the Straits of Dover 10 war 

3 nor 7 In 1416 n MS. kept 

4 professes to be of (?) 8 MS. V" 


And to the kynge thus he seyde : ' My brothere ' 
Whan he perceyved too townes, Calys l and Dovere 

* Of alle youre townes to chese of one and othere, 

To kepe the see, and sone to come overe 
5 To werre oughtwardes, 2 and youre regne to recovere, 

Kepe these too townes, sire, to 8 youre mageste 

As youre tweyne eyne, 4 to kepe the narowe see.' 

For if this see be kepte in tyme of werre, 

Who cane here passe withought daungere and woo ? 
10 Who may eschape, who may myschef dyfferre 5 ? 

What marchaundye 8 may forby be agoo 7 ? 
For nedes hem muste take truse 8 every foo 

Flaundres, and Spayne, and othere, trust to me 

Or ellis hyndered alle for thys narowe see. 

1 5 Therfore I caste me, by a lytele wrytinge, 

To shewe att eye 9 thys conclusione, 
For concyens, and for myne acquytynge 
Ayenst God, and ageyne abusyon 
And cowardyse, and to oure enmyes confusione ; 
20 For iiii thynges our noble 10 sheueth to me 

Kyng, shype, and swerde, and pouer of the see. 

Where bene oure shippes, where bene oure swerdes, become n ? 

Owre enmyes bid for the shippe sette a shepe. 
Alias ! oure reule halteth, hit is benome 12 ; 
2 5 Who dare weel say that lordeshyppe shulde take kepe 18 ? 

I wolle asaye, thoughe myne herte gynne to wepe, 
To do thys werke, yf we wole ever the, 14 
For verry shame, to kepe aboute the see. 15 

1 Calais 7 be carried past u what has become of 

2 outwards, in foreign lands ' 8 make terms (with Eng- 12 taken away 
a MS. and land) 13 heed 

4 eyes to the eye l 4 prosper 

6 postpone 1 the gold coin called the l6 guard the circuit of the 

6 merchandise noble Channel 


Shalle any prynce, what so be hys name, 
Wheche hathe nobles moche lyche cures, 

Be lorde of see, and Flemmyngis to oure blame 
Stoppe us, take us, and so make fade the floures 
Of Englysshe state, and disteyne l oure honnoures ? 5 

For cowardyse, alias ! hit shulde so be ; 

Therfore I gynne to wryte now of the see. 

Knowe welle alle men that profites in certayne, 2 

Commodytes called, commynge out of Spayne, 

And marchandy, 8 who so wylle wete what that is, 10 

Bene fygues, raysyns, wyne bastarde, 4 and dates ; 

And lycorys, Syvyle 5 oyle, and grayne, 6 

Whyte Castelle 7 sope, and wax, is not in vayne ; 

Iren, wolle, wadmole, 8 gotefel, 9 kydefel 10 also 

For poynt-makers n f ulle nedef ulle be the two 15 

Saffron, quiksilver, wheche arne Spaynes marchandy, 

Is into Flaundres shypped fulle craftylye, 

Unco Bruges, as to here staple 12 fayre ; 

The haven of Sluse la they have 14 for here repayre, 16 

Wheche is cleped Swyn, thaire shyppes gydynge, 20 

Where many vessells 16 and fayre arne abydynge. 

But these merchandes, wyth there shyppes greet, 

And suche chaffare n as they bye and gette 

By the weyes, most nede take one honde 

By the costes to passe of oure Englonde. ... 25 

And whenne these seyde marchauntz discharged be 
Of marchaundy in Flaundres neere the see, 
Than they be charged agayn wyth marchaundy 
That to Flaundres longeth 18 full rychelye ; 

1 sully 8 a coarse, hairy, woollen cloth 14 MS. here havene 

2 certain things 9 goatskin 15 for them to resort to 

3 merchandise 10 kidskin 16 vessels ; MS. wessell 

4 a sweet wine, like muscadel n those who made leather 17 merchandise 

5 Seville lacing-strings 18 belongs; MS.bougeth 

6 kermes 12 market (em. Hertzberg) 

7 Castile 18 siuys 

19. Sluse: Edward Ill's naval victory at Sluys in 1340 gave England the 
mastery of the Channel for centuries. 


Fyne clothe of Ipre, 1 that named is better than oure is, 
Cloothe of Curtryke, 2 fyne cloothe of alle coloures, 
Moche fustyane, and also lynen cloothe. 
But ye Flemmyngis, yf ye be not wrothe, 

5 The grete substaunce of youre cloothe, at the fulle, 

Ye wot ye make hit of oure 8 Englissh wolle. . . . 

The Janueys 4 comyne in sondre wyses 
Into this londe, wyth dyverse marchaundyses, 
In grete karrekkis, 5 arrayde wythouten lake 

10 Wyth clothes of golde, silke, and pepir blake 

They bringe wyth hem, and of wood 6 grete plente, 
Woole-oyle, wood-aschen, 7 by vessels 8 in the see, 
Coton, roche-alum, 9 and gode golde of Jene. 10 
And they be charged wyth wolle ageyne, I wene, 

15 And wollene clothe of owres, of colours alle. 

And they aventure, as ofte it dothe byfalle, 
Into Flaundres wyth suche thynge as they bye, 
That is here u cheffe staple sykerlye 12 ; 
And if they wolde be oure fulle ennemyse, 

20 They shulde not passe our stremez with merchaundyse. . . . 

The grete galees 18 of Venees and Florence 
Be wel ladene wyth thynges of complacence, 14 
Alle spicerye and 15 grocers ware, 
Wyth swete wynes, alle manere of chaffare, 

25 Apes, and japes, 16 and marmusettes taylede," 

Nifles, 18 trifles, that litelle have availede, 
And thynges wyth whiche they f etely 19 blere 20 oure eye, 
Wyth thynges not enduryng that we bye 
For moche of thys chaffare that is wastable 

30 Mighte be forborne, for 21 dere and dyssevable. 22 

1 Ypres, in Belgium 9 rock alum 16 trinkets 

2 Courtrai, in Belgium Genoa 17 marmosets with tails 
8 MS. youre u their 18 baubles, ' notions ' 

* Genoese 12 in truth 19 cleverly 

5 caracks, galleons i galleys 20 dim 

6 woad (blue dyestuff) u things that give pleasure, 21 as 

" wood-ashes ; MS. woad- articles of luxury 22 deceptive 

MS. wesshelle 15 MS. and of 



The following account of the guild of St. Leonard was returned to the ' King 
in Council, by order of Parliament,' in 1389. Our text of it is taken from 
Toulmin Smith's English Gilds (E.E.T.S. 40. 49-50). 

In honore Sancti Leonardi confessoris. In ]>e worchep of God alle- 
myghti, and of his modir Seynt Mary, and of alle )>e holy company of 
heven, and specially of J>e holy confessour Seynt Leonard, pis gilde 
was begonne in Damgate in )>e toun of Lenne, 1 forow ]>e devocion 
of men and women, to fyndyn 2 beforn on ymage in ]>e Chirche of 5 
Seynt Jame of Lenn, in pe worchep of God and of Seynt Leonard, on 
candelle of i li. 8 waxe, to brenne every * festivale day in fe jere, aforn 
pe ymage of Seynt Leonard. Alleso it is ordeyned, be on assent of 
alle )>e bretheryn, ]>at everiche brothir and sistir shal offren at )>e 
chirche of Seynt Jame, on J>e Soneday nexte aftir ]>e fest of Seynt 10 
Leonard, 5 ob., 6 in ]>e worchep of God and Seynt Leonard. Alleso it 
is ordeyned, be on assent of J>e brethren, to have foure morspeches 7 
in pe sere. J>e firste shal bene ]>e Moneday neste aftir J>e forseide 
Soneday. And at )>at mornspeche, J>orow on assent of alle )>e brethen, 
to chesen 8 an aldirman, wise and able to reule )>e company to fe 15 
worchep of God ; and also foure men for to reseyven and kepyn 
J>e katel 9 of ]?e gilde ; and also on certayne oficere to warnyn alle fe 
brethren to comyn to chirche ; and also on clerke, to wryten fe katel 
of ]>e gilde. J>e secunde morspeche shal bene aftir ]>e Purificacioun 
of our Levedy. 10 J>e thred, aftir pe feste of Phelip and Jacob. 11 ]?e 20 
fourte, aftir )>e feste of Seynt Petre Ad Vincula. Alleso it is ordeyned, 
be on assent of ]>e brethren, be als mechil as 18 ]>e lyght fornseide ne 
may nout be meyntened in pe tyme for to come, every man pat wille 
with good devocion comyn into pis ffraternite shal pay iii s. Alleso, 
if any brothir or sistir deye, J>e aldirman shal comand pe oficere to 25 
warnyn alle pe bretheryn and sisteryn to bryng pe cors to pe chirche, 

1 Lynn (King's Lynn, of 6 a half-penny (obolus) 10 Feb. 2 

Norfolk) 1 periodical assemblies held u Philip and James ; 

2 provide on the morrow after the May i 
8 one pound guild-feast 12 Aug. i 

4 MS. overy 8 choose 18 inasmuch as 

5 St. Leonard's day is Nov. 6 9 property 


with waxe brennend, and pe waxe for to brenne in pe tyme of service. 
And every brop ir and sistir shal offren at J>e messe for pe body ob. 
^efe any brothir or sistir of pis company be in any mischefe, porow 
losse of ]>e se, 1 or any other myshappes, ]> orow Codes 2 sond, 8 pe com- 

5 pany shal ben gadered togedir and helpyn hym. <?>efe any broker or 
sistir of pis gild dye within a mile abouten, and have nout whereof to 
bryng hym to )>e erthe, 4 pe aldirman and pe gilde-brethren shuln wend, 
and bryng hym to pe erthe on peire owe costages. 5 And if any bropir 
dye within pe iii mile aboutyn, pe aldirman shal gon and beryne 6 hym, 

10 or ellis hyren a man of here costages to bryng hym to pe erthe. f>ere 
shal no bropir ne sistir sene othir in prison, fat 7 he shal comyn and 
vesyten hym, and comfordyn hym in his powere. Also, if any bropir 
or sistir of pis gild dye, he shal have xv messes songyn for his soule. 
Also, what man or woman of pis gilde be rebel ageyne pe lawe of 

1 5 Holy Chirche, he shal lese 8 pe f raternite of pis gilde tille he come to 

Be it open to jow, be pes presentes, pat we, fulliche undirstondend 
jour lettres sent to us, seyend on pis manere, pat we shuld send jow 
a kopy of our statuz, and also pe summe of our katel, we do sow 

20 openliche to wetyn pat pe summe of our katel is xxi s. viii d., redy to 
our lord pe kinges wille. 

1 at sea 4 bury him 7 but that 

2 MS. goodes 5 at their own expense 8 lose 
8 dispensation bury 



The Roman de la Rose, one of the most celebrated and influential poems of 
the Middle Ages, is the work of two poets, Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de 
Meun, the former writing about 1237, and the latter about 1277. Of the 22,817 
lines in Michel's edition (the most accessible), Guillaume wrote 4669, and Jean 
the remainder. Gaston Paris has characterized Guillaume's part by its use of 
the dream as a frame ; of allegory (the maiden as a rose) ; of a garden as the 
scene of the poem ; and of personification. Jean de Meun's part is more 
formless, and makes much parade of learning. 

The translation into Middle English consists of 7698 lines. Until about 
1868 Chaucer's authorship of the whole of this version was not doubted, 
especially as Cupid is represented as saying to Chaucer, in the Prologue to the 
Legend of Good Women (B) : 

For in pleyn text, withouten nede of glose, 
Thou hast translated the Romaunce of the Rose. 

At present three divisions are recognized: 1-1705 (A), 1706-5810 (B), 5811- 
7698 (C), corresponding respectively to 1-1678, 1679-5875, and 11,444-13,299 
of the French (Michel's edition). Nearly all scholars agree that A is by 
Chaucer, and that B is not ; Kaluza believes that C is also by Chaucer, but this 
view has not been generally accepted. 

Through Guillaume de Digulleville, or Guilevile (d. about 1360), the French 
Roman may have had an influence on the Pilgrim's Progress (see Hammond, 
Chaucer, pp. 76-7). 

For the French original, see Gaston Paris, Lift. Fr. au Moyen Age, chap. 5 ; 
Petit de Julleville, Hist, de la Langue et de la Lift. Fr. 2. 105-61 (Langlois) ; 
Hammond, Chaucer, pp. 78-9 ; where bibliographies may be found. The 
Roman has been translated into English by F. S. Ellis (Temple Classics, 
3 vols.). For a bibliography of the English translation, see Hammond, Chaucer, 
pp. 450-4. 

The subjoined text is based upon the reprint of the unique manuscript 
(Hunterian Museum, Glasgow, V. 3. 7) by Kaluza, issued by the Chaucer 
Society in 1891. Omissions in the manuscript have been supplied from 
Thynne's edition, and a few emendations have been admitted. The extracts 
below are, respectively, lines 49-89, 1 10-43, 349-68- To lines 71-89 of the ver 
sion I subjoin 67-83 of the French (Michel), for the purpose of comparison. 





2 hedge 
8 clothed 
4 cover 


That it was May me thought[e] tho, 
It is v yere or more ago ; 
That it was May, thus dremed me, 
In tyme of love and jolite, 
That al thing gynneth waxen gay, 
For ther is neither busk * nor hay 2 
In May, that it nyl shrouded 8 bene, 
And it with newe leves wrene. 4 
These wodes eek recoveren gr[e]ne, 
That drie in wynter ben to sene ; 
And the erth wexith proude withall, 
For swote 6 dewes that on it fall, 
And the pore estat forgette 
In which that winter had it sette ; 
And than bycometh the ground so proude 
That it wole have a newe shroude, 
And makith so queynt his robe and faire 
That it hath 6 hewes an hundred payre 
Of gras and flouris, ynde 7 and pers, 8 
And many hewes ful dyvers ; 
[That is the robe I] 9 mene, iwis, 
[Through whiche the] ground to preisen 10 is. 

[The byrdes, that ha]ven lefte her song, 
While thei [han suffrjide cold so strong 
In wedres gryl, 11 and derk to sight, 
Ben in May, for the sonne bright, 
So glade, that they shewe in syngyng 
That in her hertis is sich lykyng 
That they mote syngen and be light. 
Than doth the nyghtyngale hir myght 

6 sweet 

6 MS. had (em. Skeat) 
1 dark blue (indigo) 
8 sky-blue 

9 From Thynne's edition, 
and so the next lines 

10 to be praised, admired 

11 disagreeable 


To make noyse, and syngen blythe ; 

Than is blisful, many sithe, 

The chela[un]dre 1 and [the] papyngay. 2 

Than yong[e] folk entenden ay 

For to ben gay and amorous, 

The tyme is than so faverous. 8 

Hard is the hert that loveth nought 

In May, whan al this mirth is wrought, 

Whan he may on these braunches here 

The smale briddes syngen clere 

Her blesful swete song pitous. 

Li oisel, qui se sunt teii 
Tant com il ont le froit eu, 
Et le tens divers et frarin, 
Sunt en Mai, por le tens serin, 
Si lie qu'il monstrent en chantant 
Qu'en lor cuer a de joie tant, 
Qu'il lor estuet chanter par force. 
Li rossignos lores s'esforce 
De chanter et de faire noise ; 
Lors s'esvertue, et lors s'envoise 
Li papegaus et la kalandre : 
Lors estuet jones gens entendre 
A estre gais et amoreus 
Por le tens bel et doucereus. 
Moult a dur cuer qui en Mai n'aime, 
Quant il ot chanter sus la raime 
As oisiaus les dous chans piteus. 

1 a kind of lark (a Mediterranean species) - parrot, popinjay 3 favorable 



Toward a ryver gan I me dresse 1 

That I herd renne fast[e] by ; 

For fairer plaiyng non saugh I 

Than playen me by that ryvere, 
5 For from an hill that stood ther nere 

Cam doun the streme ful stif and bold. 

Cleer was the water, and as cold 

[As any welle is, sot] 2 h to seyn ; 

[And somdele lasse 8 ] it was than Seyn, 
10 [But it was strayjghter wel away. 

[And never sau]gh I, er that day, 

The watir that so wel lyked 4 me ; 

And wondir glad was I to se 

That lusty place, and that ryvere ; 
15 And with that watir that ran so clere 

My face I wysshe. 5 Tho saugh I well 

The botme paved everydell 

With gravel, ful of stones shene. 6 

The medewe softe, swote, 7 and grene, 
20 Beet 8 right on the watirsyde. 

Ful clere was than the morowtyde, 9 

And ful attempre, 10 out of drede. 

Tho gan I walk thorough the mede, 

Dounward ay in my pleiyng, 
25 The ryversyde costeiyng. 11 

And whan I had a while goon, 

I saugh a gardyn right anoon, 

Ful long and brood, and everydell 

Enclosed was, and walled well, 
30 With high[e] walles enbatailled, 

Portraied without, and wel entailled 12 

1 direct 5 washed 9 morning 

s^rom Thynne, and so next lines 6 glistening 1 mild 

8 smaller 7 sweet n coasting, skirting 

* pleased 8 adjoined (///. beat upon) 12 carved 


With many riche portraitures ; 

And bothe the ymages and the peyntures 

Gan I biholde bysyly. 


Elde l was [ijpaynted after this, 

That shorter was a foote, iwys, 5 

Than she was wont in her yonghede. 3 
Unneth 8 herselfe she might[e] fede ; 
So feble and eke so olde was she 
That faded was al her beaute. 

Ful salowe was waxen hir coloure, 10 

Hir heed for hore 4 was whyte as floure ; 
Iwys, great qualme 5 ne were it none, 
Ne synne, although her lyfe were gone. 
Al woxen was her body unwelde, 6 

And drie and dwyned 7 al for elde ; 15 

A foule forwelked 8 thyng was she 
That whylom rounde and soft had be. 
Hir eeres shoken faste withall, 
As from her heed they wolde fall. 

Her face frounced 9 and forpyned, 10 20 

And bothe hir hondes lome, 11 fordwined. 12 
So olde she was that she ne went 
A foote, but it were by potent. 18 

1 old age 6 unwieldy, impotent 10 wasted away 

2 youth 7 dwindled n forlorn 

3 with difficulty 8 withered 12 shrunken 

4 hoariness 9 wrinkled 18 crutch 

5 evil 




Boethius (ca. 475-524) was a Roman patrician and consul in the reign of 
Theodoric. His Consolation of Philosophy, said to have been written during his 
imprisonment by Theodoric, is preserved in hundreds of manuscripts, and was 
regarded as the standard handbook of philosophy until the Renaissance. This 
book, which is partly in verse and partly in prose, was translated into prose by 
Chaucer, while allusions to it, and versions or paraphrases of many passages, 
are scattered through his works. See Cook and Tinker, Sel. Trans, from Old 
Eng. Prose, p. 116, and the works mentioned there. 

The passages here printed are from Book 2 (Metre 5, and a bit of Prose 6), 
and comprise (i) Chaucer's prose ; (2) the original Latin ; (3) a few lines of the 
Old English translations, prose and verse, due to King Alfred ; (4) a portion of 
Chaucer's The Former Age (following MS. Camb. Univ. li. 3. 21), which is 
partly a paraphrase of the same passage. It will be noted that various glosses 
rendered by Chaucer in the prose version are printed in italics. The Latin 
lines corresponding to a given part of the first version are indicated in square 

[1-5] Blisful was the first age of men ! They helden hem apayed 1 
with the metes 2 that the trewe 8 feldes broughten forth. They ne dis- 
troyede nor deceivede nat hemself with outrage. 4 They weren wont 
lightly to slaken hir hunger at even with acornes of okes. [6-1 o] They 

5 ne coude nat medle 5 the yif te of Bachus to the cleer hony ; that is to 
scyn, they coude make no piment 6 nor clarree 7 ; ne they coude nat medle 
the brighte fleeses of the contree of Seriens 8 with the venim 9 of 
Tyrie 10 ; this is to seyn, they coude nat deyen whyte fleeses of Serien 
contree with the blode of a maner shelfisshe that men finden in Tyrie, 

10 with whiche blood men deyen purpur. They slepen hoolsom slepes upon 
the gras, [11-15] an( ^ dronken of therenninge wateres; and layen 
under the shadwes of the heye pyn-trees. Ne no gest ne straungere 
ne carf 11 yit the heye see with ores or with shippes; ne they ne 
hadde seyn yit none newe strondes, to leden marchaundyse into dy- 

15 verse contrees. [16-20] Tho weren the cruel clariouns ful hust 12 
and ful stille, ne blood yshad by egre 18 hate ne hadde nat deyed 

1 contented, satisfied 6 w j ne mixed with honey (usu- 9 dye 

2 kinds of food ally spiced wine) 1 Tyre 
* faithful ? wine mixed with honey, and J1 cut 

4 excess then clarified " silent, hushed 

'mingle, mix; MS. medly 8 Chinese i fierce, bitter 


yit armures. 1 For wherto or which woodnesse 2 of enemys wolde first 
moeven 3 armes, [21-26] whan they seyen cruel woundes, ne none 
medes 4 be of blood yshad ? I wolde that oure tymes sholde torne 
ayein to the olde maneres ! But the anguissous 8 love of havinge bren- 
neth in folk more cruely than the fyr of the mountaigne Ethna, that ay 5 
brenneth. [27-30] Alias! what was he that first dalf 6 up the gobetes 7 
or the weightes of gold covered under rthe, and the precious stones 
that wolden han ben hid ? He dalf up precious perils. That is to seyn, 
that he that hem first up dalf, he dalf up a precious peril ; forwhy % 
for the predousnesse of swiche thinge hath many man ben in peril. 10 

\Prose\ But what shal I seye of dignitees and of powers, the whiche 
ye men, that neither knowen verray 9 dignitee ne verray power, 
areysen 10 hem as heye as the hevene ? The whiche dignitees and 
powers, yif they comen to any wikked man, they don as grete 
damages and destrucciouns as doth the flaumbe u of the mountaigne 1 5 
Ethna, whan the flaumbe walweth 12 up ; ne no deluge ne doth so 
cruel harmes. 

Felix nimium prior aetas, 

Contenta fidelibus arvis 

Nee inerti perdita luxu, 20 

Facili quae sera solebat 

Jejunia solvere glande. 

Non Bacchica munera norant 

Liquido confundere melle, 

Nee lucida vellera Serum 25 

Tyrio miscere veneno. 

Somnos dabat herba salubres, 

Potum quoque lubricus amnis, 

Umbras altissima pinus. 

Nondum maris alta secabat, 30 

Nee mercibus undique lectis 

Nova litora viderat hospes. 

1 armor 

2 madness, rage 
8 stir up 

* rewards 

6 tormenting 
6 dug 
1 lumps 
8 wherefore 

9 true 
)o exalt 
u flame 
12 rolls, tosses 


Tune classica saeva tacebant, 

Odiis neque fusus acerbis 

Cruor horrida tinxerat arva. 

Quid enim furor hosticus ulla 
5 Vellet prior arma movere, 

Cum vulnera saeva viderent, 

Nee praemia sanguinis ulla ? 

Utinam modo nostra redirent 

In mores tempora priscos ! 
10 Sed, sasvior ignibus ^Etnae, 

Fervens amor ardet habendi. 

Heu 1 primus quis fuit ille 

Auri qui pondera tecti, 

Gemmasque latere volentes, 
15 Pretiosa pericula, fodit? 

Quid autem de dignitatibus potentiaque disseram qua vos verae dig- 
nitatis ac potestatis inscii caelo exaequatis ? Quae si in improbissimum 
quemque ceciderunt quae flammis ^tnae eructuantibus, quod diluvium 
tantas strages dederint ? 

20 Treowa waestmas hi aeton and wyrta ; nalles scir win hi ne druncan, 
ne nanne waetan h! ne cupon wift hunige mengan, ne seolocenra hraegla 
mid mistlicum bleowum hi ne gimdon. Ealne weg hi slepon ute on 
triowa sceadum ; hluterra wella waeter hi druncon. Ne geseah nan 
cepa ealand ne werofc, ne geherde non mon ]>a get nanne sciphere. 

2 5 And hi sene on daege aeton symle 

On aafentid eor)>an waestmas, 

Wudes and wyrta ; nalles win druncon 

Scir of steape. Naes )>a scealca nan 

J>e mete ofrSe drinc maengan cu5e, 
3 Waeter wi$ hunige, ne heora waeda )>on ma 

Sioloce siowian, ne hi siarocraeftum 

Godweb giredon, ne hi gimreced 

Setton searolice, ac hi simle him 

Eallum tldum ute slepon 


Uncjer beamsceade ; druncon burnan waeter, 

Calde wellan. Neenig cepa ne seah 

Ofer eargeblond ellendne wearod, 

Ne huru ymbe sciphergas saEtilcas ne herdon. 


A blysful lyf, a paysyble and a swete, 
Ledden the poeples in the former age ; 
They helde hem paied l of fructes 2 }>at j?ey etc, 
Whiche fat the feldes yave hem by usage 3 ; 
They ne weere nat forpampred 4 with owtrage. 5 
Onknowyn was ]>e quyerne 6 and ek the melle "' ; 
They eten mast, hawes, and swych pownage, 8 
And dronken water of the colde welle. 

Yit nas the grownd nat wownded with ]>e plowh, 
But corn upsprong, unsowe of mannes hond, 
f>e which they gnodded, 9 and eete nat half inowh. 
No man yit knewe the forwes 10 of his lond ; 
No man the fyr owt of the flynt yit fonde ; 
Unkorven n and ungrobbed 12 lay the vyne ; 
No man yit in the morter spices grond, 
To 13 clarre ne to sawse of galentyne. 14 

No madyr, 15 welde, 16 or wod 1T no litestere 18 
Ne knewh ; the fles 19 was of [h]is former hewe ; 
No flessh ne wyste offence of egge 20 or spere ; 
No coyn ne knewh man which was 21 fals or trewe ; 



1 satisfied 

2 MS. the fructes 

a customarily, regularly 

4 pampered 

5 excess 

6 hand-mill 
f mill 

8 swine's food 

9 rubbed, bruised ; ci.Rom. 

Rose 9124 (the whole 15 madder 

passage seems imitated 
from Boethius) : ' Et des 
espis des bl^s frotoient ' 
1 furrows 

11 unpruned 

12 not digged round 
is for 

H a mixture of ginger, grated 
bread, vinegar, etc. 

16 dyeweed, yellowweed 
i" woad 
is dyer 

20 edge 

21 MS. is 


No ship yit karf the wawes grene and blewe ; 
No marchaunt yit ne fette owtlandissh ware ; 
No trompes l for the werres folk ne knewe, 
Ne towres heye, and walles rownde or square. 

5 What sholde it han avayled to werreye 2 ? 

Ther lay no profyt, ther was no rychesse ; 
But corsed was the tyme, I dar wel seye, 
f>at men fyrst dede hir swety bysynesse 
To grobbe up metal, lurkynge in derknesse, 8 

10 And in |>e ryverys fyrst[e] gemmys sowhte. 

Alias 1 than sprong up al the cursydnesse 
Of coveytyse, )>at fyrst owr sorwe browhte. 


The extracts here given are from the second Wycliffite version of the 
Vulgate (ca. 1388), which is not so awkwardly literal as the earlier (ca. 1380). 
An interesting study of the Wycliffite Epistle to the Romans, compared with 
the Latin and another (fragmentary) Middle English rendering, has been 
published by Dr. Emma C. Tucker ( Yale Studies in English, No. 49). 

JOB 41.20-28; 42.4-25 

Whether thou schalt mowe drawe out levyathan with an hook, and 
schalt bynde with a roop his tunge? Whethir thou schalt putte a 

1 5 ryng in hise nosethirlis, ethir schalt perse hyse cheke with an hook ? 
Whether he schal multiplie preieris to thee, ether schal speke softe 
thingis to thee ? Whether he schal make covenaunt with thee, and 
thou schalt take him a servaunt everlastinge ? Whether thou schalt 
scorne hym as a brid, ethir schalt bynde hym to thin handmaidis? 

20 Schulen frendis kerve hym ? schulen marchauntis departe hym ? 
Whether thou schalt fille nettis with his skyn, and a leep 4 of fischis 
with his heed? Schalt thou putte thin hond on hym? have thou 
mynde of the batel, and adde no more to speke. Lo, his hope schal 
disseyve hym ; and in the sijt of alle men he schal be cast doun. . . . 

i MS. batails trompes - fight 8 MS. dirkenesse 4 basket 


Who schal schewe the face of his clothing, and who schal entre into 
the myddis of his mouth ? Who schal opene the jatis of his cheer l ? 
ferdfulnesse 2 is bi the cumpas of hise teeth. His bodi is as jotun 8 
scheldys of bras, and joyned togidere with scalis overleiynge hemsilf. 4 
Oon is joyned to another, and sotheli brething goith not thorouj 5 
tho. 5 Oon schal cleve to anothir, and tho holdynge hemsilf schulen 
not be departid." His fnesynge 7 is as schynynge of fier, and hise 
ijen 8 ben as ijelidis of the morewtid. 9 Laumpis comen forth of his 
mouth, as trees 10 of fier that ben kyndlid. Smoke cometh forth of 
hise nosethirlis, as of a pot set on the fier and boilynge. His breeth 10 
maketh colis to brenne, and flawme goith out of his mouth. Strengthe 
schal dwelle in his necke, and nedynesse u schal go bifor his face. The 
membris of hise fleischis ben clevynge togidere to hemsilf ; God schal 
sende floodis 12 ajens hym, and tho schulen not be borun to another 
place. His herte schal be maad hard as a stoon ; and it schal be 1 5 
streyned 13 togidere as the anefeld 14 of a smith. Whanne he schal be 
takun awei, aungels schulen drede ; and thei, aferd, schulen be purgid. 16 
Whanne swerd takith hym, it may not stonde, nethir spere, nether 
haburjoun. 16 For he schal arette irun as chaffis, and bras as rotun tre. 
A man archere schal not dryve hym awei ; stoonys of a slynge ben 20 
turned into stobil to hym. He schal arette " an hamer as stobil, 18 and 
he schal scorne a florischynge 19 spere. The beemys of the sunne 
schulen be undur hym ; and he schal strewe to hymsilf gold as cley. 
He schal make the depe se to buyle as a pot ; and he schal putte 20 
as whanne oynementis buylen. A path schal schyne aftir hym ; he 25 
schal gesse 21 the greet occian as wexynge eld. No power is on erthe 
that schal be comparisound to hym, which is maad that he schulde 
drede noon. He seeth al hij thing; he is kyng over alle the sones 
of pride. 

1 face 8 eyes 15 purified 

2 terror 9 morning 16 breastplate 
8 molten 10 torches 17 esteem 

4 one another u want, poverty 18 stubble 

5 them 12 Lat. fulmina, read as flumina 19 brandishing, waving 

6 separated i compacted 2 regard (it) 

7 sneezing H anvil 21 esteem 


JOHN 17.1-6 

These thingis Jesus spak, and whanne he hadde cast up hise i 
into hevene, he seide : ' Fadir, the our cometh ; clarifie 1 thi sone, 
that thi sone clarifie thee ; as thou hast jovun to hym power on ech 
fleisch, that al thing that thou hast jovun to hym, he jyve to hem 

5 everlastynge liif. And this is everlastynge liif, that thei knowe thee 
very God aloone, and whom thou hast sent, Jesu Crist. Y have 
clarified thee on the erthe ; Y have endid the werk that thou hast 
jovun to me to do. And now, Fadir, clarifie thou me at 2 thisilf, with 
the clerenesse 8 that Y hadde at thee bifor the world was maad. Y 

10 have schewid thi name to tho men whiche thou hast jovun to me of 
the world ; thei weren thine, and thou hast govun hem to me, and 
thei han kept thi word. 


And Y sai, and lo ! a Lomb stood on the mount of Sion, and with 
hym an hundrid thousynde and foure and fourti thousynde, havynge 

1 5 his name, and the name of his Fadir, writun in her forhedis. And Y 
herde a vois fro hevene, as the vois of many watris, and as the vois 
of a greet thundur; and the vois which is herd was as of many 
harperis harpinge in her harpis ; and thei sungun as a newe song 
bifor the seete 4 of God, and bifore the foure beestis and senyouris ; 

20 and no man mijte seie the song but thei, an hundrid thousynde and 

1 glorify 2 with ; Lat. apud 8 glory * throne 

i. thingis : cf. the Old English of verses 1-3 : 

D3s bing se HaMend spraec, and ah5f upp his eagan to heofenum, and cwae'S : ' Fasder, 
tid ys cumen ; geswutela binne Sunu, bast bin Sunu geswutelige be ; and swi bu him 
sealdest anweald aelces mannes, baet he sylle ece lif eallum bam be b" him sealdest. 
Dis ys soblice ece lif, baet hi oncnSwon baet J>u eart in sob God, and se be J>u sendest, 
Hselynde Crist.' 

Tyndale has : 

These wordes spake Jesus, and lifte uppe his eyes to heven, and sayde : ' Father, the 
houre is come ; glorify thy Sonne, that thy Sonne maye glorify the ; as thou hast geven 
hym power over all fleshe, that he shulde geve eternall life to as many as thou hast 
geven him. This is life eternall, that they myght knowe the, that only very God, and 
whom thou hast sent, Jesus Christ.' 


foure and fourti thousynde, that ben boujt fro the erthe. These it 
ben that ben not defoulid with wymmen, for thei ben virgyns. These 
suen the Lomb whidir ever he schal go. These ben boujt of alle men, 
the firste fruytis to God and to the Lomb ; and in the mouth of hem 
lesyng 1 is not foundun, for thei ben without wem 2 bifor the trone 5 
of God. And Y say another aungel, fliynge bi the myddil of hevene, 
havynge an everlastinge gospel that he schulde preche to men sittynge 
on erthe, and on ech folk, and lynage, and langage, and puple ; and 
seide with a greet vois : ' Drede je the Lord, and jyve 56 to hym 
onour, for the our of his dom cometh ; and worschipe je hym that 10 
made hevene and erthe, the see, and alle thingis that ben in hem, and 
the wellis of watris.' And anothir aungel suede, 8 seiynge : ' Thilke 
greet Babiloyne fel doun, fel doun, which jaf drinke to alle folkis of 
the wyn of wraththe of her fornycacioun.' And the thridde aungel 
suede hem, and seide with a greet vois : ' If ony man worschipe the 1 5 
beeste and the ymage of it, and takith the carecter* in his forheed, 
ether in his hoond, this schal drynke of the wyn of Goddis wraththe, 
that is meynd 5 with clere wyn in the cuppe of his wraththe, and schal 
be turmentid with fier and brymston, in the sijt of hooli aungels, and 
bifore the sijt of the Lomb ; and the smoke of her turmentis schal 20 
stie 6 up into the worldis of worldis ; nether thei han reste dai and 
nijt, whiche worschipiden the beeste and his ymage, and yf ony man 
take the carect of his name. Here is the pacience of seyntis, whiche 
kepen the maundementis of God, and the feith of Jesu.' And Y herde 
a vois fro hevene seiynge to me : ' Write thou, Blessid ben deed men 25 
that dien in the Lord ; fro hennus forth now the Spirit seith that thei 
reste of her traveilis ; for the werkis of hem suen hem.' And Y say, 7 
and lo a white cloude, and above the cloude a sittere, liik the Sone of 
man, havynge in his heed a goldun coroun, and in his hond a scharp 
sikil. And another aungel wente out of the temple, and criede with 30 
greet vois to hym that sat on the cloude : ' Sende thi sikil, and repe, 
for the our cometh that it be ropun ; for the corn of the erthe, is ripe.' 
And he that sat on the cloude sente his sikil into the erthe, and rap 
the erthe. And another aungel wente out of the temple that is in 

1 falsehood 8 followed 6 mingled 7 looked 

2 blemish < mark 8 rise 


hevene, and he also hadde a scharp sikile. And another aungel wente 
out fro the auter, that hadde power on fier and water ; and he criede 
with a greet vois to hym that hadde the scharp sikil, and seide: 
' Sende thi scharp sikil, and kitte awei the clustris of the vynjerd 
5 of the erthe, for the grapis of it ben ripe.' And the aungel sente his 
sikil into the erthe, and gaderide grapis of the vynjerd of the erthe, 
and sente into the greet lake of Goddis wraththe. And the lake was 
troddun without the citee, and the bloode wente out of the lake til to 
the bridels of horsis, bi furlongis a thousynd and six hundrid. 


10 Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam ; et se- 
cundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum dele iniquitatem meam. 
Amplius lava me ab iniquitate mea, et a peccato meo munda me. 
Quoniam iniquitatem meam cognosco, et peccatum meum contra me 
est semper. 

ABOUT 1200 

Vices and Virtues, in Smyth, Biblical Quotations in Middle English Litera 
ture (Yale Studies in English, No. 41), p. 42. 

15 Hlaverd, . . . after-Sat-fte 8in mildce ys michel, have ore of mine 
michele senne ; and after Sine manifealde mildces fce t5u hafst ihafd 
to mankenne, Hlaverd, do awei fram me Sese michele unrihtwisnesse. 

A.D. 1300-1350 

Bulbring, Earliest Complete English Prose Psalter, p. 60 

Ha mercy on me, God, efter ]>y mychel mercy ; and efter )>e 
mychelnes of )>y pites do way my wickednes. Whasshe me more 
20 of my wickednes, and dense me of myn synne. For ich knowe my 
wickednes, and my synne ys evermore ojains me. 

VERSIONS OF PSALM 51. 1-3 403 

A.D. 1350-1400 
Horstmann, Richard Rolle, pp. 182-3 

God, pou have mercy of me, 

After mikel mercy of pe ; 

And after of pi reupes pe mikelnes 

f>ou do awai mi wickednes. 

Nou mare me wasche of min ivel bidene, 5 

And of mi sinne pou klens me klene. 

For mi wicke[d]nes I knaw fat I am inne, 

And ai ogain me es mi sinne. 

ABOUT 1388 

God, have thou merci on me, bi thi greet merci ; and bi the mychil- 
nes of thi merciful doyngis do thou awei my wickidnesse. More 10 
waische thou me fro my wickidnesse, and dense thou me fro my 
synne. For Y knouleche my wickidnesse, and my synne is evere 
ajeyns me. 

ABOUT 1460 

Political, Keligious, and Love Songs (reprint of E.E.T.S. 15), pp. 279-80 

Mercy, God, of my mysdede, 

For ]> i mercy pat mychel ys ; 15 

Lat pi pite sprynge and sprede, 

Off pi mercy pat I ne mys. 
After gostly grace I grede * ; 

Good God, pou graunt me pis, 
J>at I may lyve in love and drede, 20 

And never after do 2 more amys. 

And after pi mercies pat ben fele, 8 
Lord, fordo my wickydnesse ; 

l cry MS. to do 8 many 


^yve me grace to hyde and hele 
The blame of my bruchelnesse. 
,)if any sterynge l on me stele 

Out of pe clos of pi clennesse, 

5 Wysse me, Lord, in wo and weele, 

And kepe me fram unkyndnesse. 

Moreover, wasche me of my synne, 
And of my gultes clanse pow me ; 

And serche my soule without and inne, 
10 That I no more defowlid be. 

And as pyn hert aclef atwynne 2 
With doleful deth on pe rode-tre, 

Late me never no werke bigynne, 
Lord, but-jif 8 it lyke pee. 

15 For al my wickidnesse I knowe, 

And my synne is ever me ajeyn ; 
Therfore late pi grace growe, 

Jesu, pat was with Jewis sleyn. 
Ryche and pore, hye and lowe, 
20 Smale and gret[e], in certeyn, 

Atte Domesdaie, when pou schalt blowe, 
Of pi mercy schul be ful feyn. 

A.D. 1535 

Have mercy upon me (O God), after thy goodnes ; and acordinge 
unto thy greate mercies do awaye myne offences. Wash me well fro 
25 my wickednesse, and dense me fro my synne. For I knowlege my 
fautes, and my synne is ever before me. 

l guidance (?) ; stirring (?) 2 burst in twain 8 unless 


A.D. 1560 
Geneva Version 

Have mercie upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindenes ; 
according to the multitude of thy compassions put awaie mine iniqui 
ties. Wash me throughly from mine iniquitie, and dense me from my 
sinne. For I knowe mine iniquities, and my sinne is ever before me. 

A.D. 1611 
Authorized Version 

Have mercie upon mee, O God, according to thy loving kindnesse ; 5 
according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my trans 
gressions. Wash mee throughly from mine iniquitie, and dense me 
from my sinne. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sinne 
is ever before mee. 



About 1240 (New Eng. Diet.). From MS. Brit. Mus. Harl. 978, where it is 
accompanied "by the music. The author of this rondel, rota, or round, may 
perhaps have been John of Fornsete, a monk of the abbey of Reading. The 
melody is of considerable importance in the history of English music. Sober 
musical critics have spoken of ' this amazing production,' of its ' ingenuity and 
beauty,' of ' the airy and pastoral correspondence between the words and the 
music.' See Grove's Diet. Music, 2d ed., 4.745-54 (cf. 3.750-1, 765) ; Oxford 
Hist. Music 1.326-38 (Wooldridge) ; Trans. Phil. Soc. for 1868, p. 103; 
E.E.T.S. 7. 419-28. There are facsimiles in Grove (4. 748), Chappell, Pop. 
Music of the Olden Time, and the facsimiles of the Palaeographical Society, 
PartS, PI. 125. 

Sing, cuccu, nu a / Sing, cuccu ! 
Sing, cuccu ! Sing, cuccu, nu ! 

Sumer is icumen in ; 

Lhude 2 sing, cuccu ! 
Crowe]? sed, and blowep 8 med,* 

And spring}? J>e wde 5 nu. 

Sing, cuccu I 
Awe 6 blete]> after lomb, 

Lhouf 7 after calve cu ; 
Bulluc stertej), 8 bucke verte]> ' ; ; 

Murie 10 sing, cuccu I 
Cuccu ! cuccu 1 

Wei singes }>u, cuccu ; 

1 now 

2 loudly 
8 blooms 

4 mead, meadow 
6 wood 

Ne swik n }m naver 12 nu. 

7 lows 

* bounds, frisks (cf . Chaucer, K. T. 644 : 
' a courser, sterling as the fyr *) 


pedit (Lat.) 

10 merrily 

11 cease 

12 never 



About 1310. 
pp. 164-5- 


From Bbddeker, Altenglische Dichtungen des MS. Harl. 2253, 

Lenten ys come wi}) love to toune, 1 
Wip blosmen and wij) briddes roune, 2 

J>at al f is blisse bryngep ; 
Dayesejes 3 in J>is 4 dales, 
Notes suete of nyhtegales ; 

Uch foul song singef. 
The frestelcoc him prete)) 5 oo 6 ; 
Away is huere 7 wynter woo, 

When woderove 8 springe}). 
f>is foules singe}) ferly fele, 9 
Ant wlytef 10 on huere wynter wele, 11 

f>at al })e wode ryngef. 

J>e rose rayle)) 12 hire rode 18 ; 
The leves on fe lyhte 14 wode 

Waxen al wi}) wille. 15 
Ipe mone mandej) 16 hire bleo n ; 
J>e lilie is lossom 18 to seo, 

}?efenyl 19 and penile. 20 
Wowes 21 fis wilde drakes ; ' 
Miles 22 murge)) 28 huere makes, 24 

Ase strem fat strike}) 25 stille. 
Mody 26 mene}), 27 so do}) 28 mo M ; 
Ichot Ycham 80 on of fo, 

For love fat likes ille. 81 




1 spring has made its appear- 

ance, with love 

2 song 

8 daisies 

4 these 

5 disputes with himself (?) 

6 ever 

7 their 

8 woodruff 

9 wonderfully much 
10 look back 

12 puts on (as a garment) 

13 ruddiness 

14 fluttering, trembling (trans- 24 mates 

ferred epithet, belonging 26 flows 
properly to ' leves ') 
16 eagerly 

16 sends forth 

17 color 

18 lovely 

19 fennel 
2 <> chervil 

22 animals (so Matzner) 
^ delight 

U winter's well-being (ironical?) 21 woo 

26 disconsolate ones ? (cf . 
Shakespeare, King 
John 4. 1. 15-16) 

2 " lament 

28 MS. doh 

29 others 

* I know I am 
81 annoys, vexes 


fe mone mandeb hire lyht ; 
So dob be semly 1 sonne bryht, 

When briddes singeb breme. 2 
Deawes donkeb 8 be dounes ; 
5 Deores * w[r]ij) 6 huere derne rounes, 6 

Domes for te deme 7 ; 
Wormes woweb under cloude 8 ; 
Wymmen waxeb wounder proude, 

So wel hit wol hem seme. 9 
10 <5ef me shal wonte wille of on, 10 

J>is worldes n weole 12 Y wole forgon, 18 

Ant wyht u in wode 15 be fleme. 16 

About 1310. From Boddeker, p. 174 

When be nyhtegale singes, 
J>e wodes waxen grene, 
15 Lef ant gras ant blosme springes 

In Averyl, Y wene ; 
Ant love is to myn herte gon 

Wi)> one 17 spere so kene, 
Nyht ant day my blod hit drynkes, 
20 Myn herte deb to 18 tene. 19 

Ich have loved al J)is jer, 

J>at Y may love na more ; 
Ich have siked ^ moni syk, 

Lemmon, 21 for bin ore 2 ' 2 ; 

1 goodly 8 clod 16 fugitive 

2 gaily 9 beseem, become ir a 

wet 1 if I shall fail to have " Wright (Sfec. Lyr. Poetry t 
* animals my will of one p. 92), me 

6 divulge ; cf. Chaucer, MS. wunne 19 distress, anguish 

Compl. Mars 91 ; T. w weal 20 sighed 

and C. 2. 537 18 forego ^ sweetheart 

6 their secret communings 14 bold (?) ^ favor, grace 

1 sentiments to express 16 forest 


1 nearer 

2 long 

8 will not 
< dear 

5 augment 

6 kiss 

Me nis love never ]>e ner, 1 

Ant }>at me rewe)> sore ; 
Suete lemmon, fench on me, 

Ich have loved )>e gore. 2 

Suete lemmon, Y preye pee 

Of love one speche ; 
Whil Y lyve in world so wyde 

O}>er nulle 8 Y seche. 
Wij? ]>y love, my suete leof, 4 

My blis J>ou mihtes eche 5 ; 
A suete cos 6 of ]>y mouth 

Mihte be my leche. 7 

Suete lemmon, Y preje J>ee 

Of a love-bene s : 
^ef )>ou me lovest, ase men says, 

Lemmon, as I wene, 
Ant jef hit Jn wille be, 

J>ou loke fat hit be sene ; 
So muchel Y penke upon ]>e 

]?at al Y waxe grene. 9 

Bituene Lyncolne ant Lyndeseye, 10 

Norhamptoun ant Lounde, 11 
Ne wot I non so fayr a may, 

As I go fore ybounde. 12 
Suete lemmon, Y preje pe 

f>ou lovie me a stounde 13 ; 
Y wole mone my song 

On wham hit ys ylong. 14 


7 healing 

8 love-boon 

9 pale 

1 Lindsey in Suffolk, about 
100 miles from Lincoln 

11 London, about 57 miles from 


12 as I go in bondage for 
18 for a time 

14 to whom it belongs ; MS. on 
wham l>at hit ys on ylong 



About 1310. From Boddeker, pp. 147-8. Translation in Ten Brink, Early 
Eng. Lit., pp. 308-9. 

An hendy hap Ichabbe yhent * ; 

Ichot* from hevene it is me sent ; 
From alle wymmen mi love is lent* 
And lyht 4 on Alysoun. 

5 Bytuene Mersh and Averil, 

When spray biginnep to springe, 
J>e lutel foul hap hire wyl 
On hyre lud 6 to synge. 
Ich libbe in love-longinge 

10 For semlokest 6 of alle pinge ; 

He 7 may me blisse bringe 
Icham in hire baundoun. 8 

On 9 heu hire her 10 is fayr ynoh, 

Hire browe broune, hire eje blake ; 
15 Wi}> lossum chere n he on me loh 12 ; 

Wi)> middel 18 smal and wel ymake. 14 

Bote 15 he me wolle to hire take, 

For te buen 16 hire owen make, 17 

Longe to lyven Ichulle 18 forsake, 
20 And f eye 19 fallen adoun. 

Nihtes when Y wende ^ and wake, 
Forjn 21 myn wonges ^ waxef won ; 

Levedi, al for pine sake 
Longinge is ylent me on. 28 

1 I have won a fair fate 9 in 17 mate 

I know 10 hair w I shall 

8 turned u loving mien 19 death-stricken 

4 has lighted & laughed 20 wander 

5 language u waist 21 on this account 
comeliest, goodliest w made 22 cheeks 

1 she 16 unless w appointed to m 

8 power I B be 

1-4 : refrain to each stanza. 


In world nis non so wyter 1 mon 
J?at al hire bounte telle con. 
Hire swyre 2 is whittore fen ]>e swon, 
And f eyrest may 8 in toune. 

Icham for wowyng 4 al forwake, 5 5 

Wery so 6 water in wore. 7 
Lest eny reve s me my make, 

Ychabbe ygerned 9 jore. 10 

Betere is polien whyle sore u 

J>en mournen evermore. 10 

Geynest 12 under gore, 18 
Herkne to my roun. 14 


Roundel, from the Parliament of Birds (about 1382?) 

Now weleom, somer, with thy sonne softe, 

That hast this wintres weders 15 overshake 

And driven awey the longe nightes blake ! \ 5 

Seynt Valentyn, that art ful hy onlofte," 

Thus singen smale foules for thy sake : 
Now weleom, somer, with thy sonne softe, 
That hast this wintres weders overshake. 

Wei han they cause for to gladen ofte, 20 

Sith ech of hem recovered hath his make ; 
Ful blisful may they singen whan they wake : 
Now weleom, somer, with thy sonne softe, 
That hast this wintres weders overshake, 
And driven awey the longe nightes blake! 25 

1 wise 7 weir (?) 18 in body (lit. under gore, i.e. 

2 neck 8 rob under garment) 
8 maid 9 yearned " lay, song 

* yearning 10 long 15 storms 

5 overwatched n to suffer sorely for a time 16 dispelled 

6 as w loveliest 17 aloft 




About 1310. From Boddeker, pp. 168-71 

Blow, northern* wynd, 
Send^ f>ou me my suetyng I 
Blow, norf>erne wynd, 
Blou! blou! blou! 


Ichot 2 a burde 8 in boure bryht, 
Jat fully semly is on syht, 4 
Menskf ul ' maiden of myht, 

Feir ant f re 6 to f onde 7 ; 
In al )>is wurhliche won, 8 
A burde of blod and of bon 
Never jete Y nuste 9 non 

Lussomore 10 in londe. 


Wij> lokkes lefliche n and longe, 
Wi} frount 12 and face feir to fonde, 
Wib murbes monie mote heo monge, 18 

J>at brid 14 so breme 15 in boure ; 
Wi}) lossom eye, grete ant gode, 
Wij> browen blysfol under hode 16 ; 
He pat reste him on )>e rode " 

Jat leflich lyf honoure I 

1 MS. sent 

2 I know 
8 lady 

* to behold 
8 worshipful 
' charming 

f test, make proof of 

8 noble dwelling (the world ?) 

9 knew 

10 more enchanting 

11 lovely 

12 forehead 

18 bargain, traffic (?) 
n maiden 
16 blithe, gay 
16 hood 
i? Christ 

1-4 : refrain to each stanza. 

14. fonde : assonance, not rhyme. 



Hire lure l lumes 2 liht 
Ase a launterne a 8 nyht, 
Hire bleo * blykyep 5 so bryht ; 

So feyr heo is ant fyn ! 
A suetly 6 suyre 7 heo hab to holde, 
Wib armes, shuldre, ase mon wolde, 
Ant fyngres feyre forte folde 8 ; 

God wolde hue were myn ! 

Middel heo hap menskf ul 9 smal ; 
Hire loveliche chere 10 as cristal ; 
pejes, 11 legges, fet, ant al, 

Ywraht 12 is 18 of ]> e beste. 
A lussum ledy lasteles u 
J>at sweting is, and ever wes ; 
A betere burde never nes 

Yheryed 15 wib be heste. 16 


Heo is dereworbe 1T in day, 
Graciouse, stout, 18 and gay, 
Gentil, jolyf 19 so 20 }>e jay, 

Worhliche 21 when heo wakej>. 
Maiden murgest 22 of mou\> ; 
Bi est, bi west, by norb and sou)), 
]?er nis fi[b]ele 28 ne croup 24 

fat' 25 such murpes make)). 



2 shines 

3 at 

5 gleams 

6 sweet 

7 neck 

8 clasp 


10 countenance 

11 thighs 

12 fashioned 
18 MS. wes 

w faultless, perfect 
16 praised 

16 highest 

17 precious 

18 stately 

19 lively 

20 as 

21 noble 

22 merriest 

28 fiddle ; em. B. 

24 crowd, rote 

26 MS. sat (em. B.) 



Heo is coral of godnesse, 
Heo is rubie of ryhtfulnesse, 1 
Heo is cristal of clannesse, 2 

Ant baner of bealte 8 ; 
Heo is lilie of largesse, 4 
Heo is paruenke 6 of prouesse, 
Heo is selsecle 6 of suetnesse, 

Ant ledy of lealte. 7 . . . 

For hire love Y carke ant care, 
For hire love Y droupne 8 ant dare, 9 
For hire love my blisse is bare, 

Ant al Ich waxe won 10 ; 
For hire love in slep Y slake, 11 
For hire love al nyht Ich wake, 
For hire love mournyng Y make 

More fen eny mon. 

1 righteousness 

2 purity 
8 beauty 

* generosity 
6 periwinkle 
6 heliotrope 
1 loyalty 


About 1310. From Bbddeker, pp. 149-50 

WiJ> longyng Y am lad, 12 
On molde 18 Y waxe mad, 

A maide marref me ; 
Y grede, 14 Y grone, unglad, 
For selden Y am sad 15 

J>at semly forte se. 

Levedi, fou rewe me ! 
To rou]>e 16 pou havest me rad 17 ; 
Be bote 18 of fat Y bad, 19 

My lyf is long on )>e. 

8 droop 15 satiated 

9 falter 16 sorrow 

10 turn pale 17 guided, brought 

11 grow weak 18 recompense 

12 led 19 (have) endured 
18 earth w depends 



Levedy of alle londe, 
Les 1 me out of bonde ; 

Broht Ich am in wo ; 
Have resting 2 on honde, 
And send 8 J>ou me \>i sonde 4 

Sone, er J>ou me slo 5 

My reste is wij) )>e ro. 6 
J>ah men to me han onde, 7 
To love nul y noht wonde, 8 

Ne lete 9 for non of J>o. 10 


Levedi, wi}> al my miht, 
My love is on )>e liht, 11 

To menske 12 ]>e when Y may ; 
J>ou rew and red 13 me ryht ; 
To dej>e ]>ou havest me diht, 14 

Y deje longe er my day ; 

f>ou leve 15 upon mi lay. 
TreuJ'e Ichave ]>e plyht, 
To don bat Ich have hyht 16 

Whil mi lif leste may. 


Lylie-whyt hue n is, 

Hire rode 18 so rose on rys 19 ; 

J?at reveb w me mi rest. 
Wymmon war 21 and wys, 
Of prude 22 hue berej> \>e pris, 

Burde on of }>e best. 

}?is wommon wonejj by west, 

1 loose 

2 relief, assuagement 

3 MS. sent 

4 message 

5 slay 

6 roe (a type of restlessness ; 

cf. Virgil, sn. 4. 69 ff.) 

7 jealousy 

8 will I not cease 

9 leave off 

10 them 

11 alighted 

12 honor 
is guide 

14 appointed 
is believe (imp.) 

16 promised 

18 complexion 

19 spray 

20 deprives 

21 prudent 

22 splendor 



Brihtest under bys l ; 
Hevene Y tolde 2 al his 

f>at o 8 nyht were hire gest. 4 




About 1445. Our text is on the basis of MS. Camb. Univ. Lib. Ff. 1.6, 
'written about the time of Hen. VI,' with emendations from MS. Bodl. Ashm. 
191, but with spellings conformed to the Cambridge manuscript. The latter is 
reproduced from Halliwell's print in Reliquia Antique 1.25; Ashmole 191 is 
printed in Stainer and Nicholson, Early Bodleian Music 2. 66 (facsimile in 
Vol. i, PI. XXX). 

Now wold I fayne some myrthis make 
All oneli for my ladys sake, 

When I hir se 6 ; 
But now I am so ferre from hir, 

Hit will nat be. 

Thogh I be long out of hir 6 sight, 
I am hir 6 man both day and night, 

And so will be ; 
Wherfor wold God as I love hir 

That she lovid me ! 

When she is mery, then am I glad ; 
When she is sory, then 7 am I sad ; 

And cause whi 
For he livith nat that lovith hir 

So 8 well as I. 

She sayth that she hath seen hit wreten 
That ' seldyn seen is soon f oryeten 9 ' ; 

Hit is nat so ; . . 

For, in good feith, save oneli hir, 

I love no moo. 

1 byssus, fine linen 

2 should consider 
8 one 

4 guest 

6 MS. and hit wold be (Ashm.) 

6 MS. your (Ashm.) 

1 MS. than 

8 MS. as (Ashm.) 

forgot 425 23 


Wherfor I pray, both night and day, 
That she may cast [all] 1 care away, 

And leve 2 in rest ; 
And evermore, wherever 8 she be, 

To love me 4 best ; 

And I to hir for to be trew, 

And never chaung[e] her for no 6 new 

Unto myne end ; 
And that I may in hir servise 

For evyr amend. 6 


The first of a sequence of three roundels. From MS. Camb. Magd. Coll. 
Pepys 2006. See Skeat, Works of Geoffrey Chaucer 1.80-1, 387; Hammond, 
Chaucer, pp. 436-7. 

Youre yen two 7 woole sle me sodenly, 
I may the beaute of them not sustene, 
So wondeth 8 it thorowout my herte kene, 

And but your word wille helen hastily 
Mi herds wound [e], 9 while that it is grene, 

Youre yen two wolle sle me sodenly, 

I may the beaute of them not sustene. 

Upon my trouth I sey yow feithfully 
That ye ben of my liffe and deth the quene ; 
For with my deth the trouth shal be [yjsene. 10 
Youre yen two wolle sle me sodenly, 
I may the beaute of them not sustene, 
So wondeth it thorowout my herte kene. 

1 (Ashm.) 6 MS. noon (Ashm.) 9 em. S. 

2 live 6 improve 10 Morris (Aldine Chaucer), 
8MS. whersoever (Ashm.) 7 MS. two yen (em. S.) isene 

4 MS. hir (Ashm.) 8 wounds 



About 1310. From Boddeker, pp. 172-3. Cf. below, p. 476 


' My de}> Y love, my lyf Ich hate, 

For a levedy shene 1 ; 
Heo is briht 2 so 8 daies liht, 

f>at is on me wel sene. 
Al Y falewe 4 so doj> )>e lef, 

In somer when hit is grene ; 
6 mi foht 6 helpej) me noht, 

To wham shal Y me mene 7 ? \ 


Sorewe and syke 8 and drery mod 9 

ByndeJ) me so faste 
J>at Y wene to walke wod, 10 

^ef hit me lengore laste ; 
My serewe, my care, al wif> a word 

He u myhte awey caste ; 
Whet helpej) )>e, my suete lemmon, 

My lyf Tpus forte gaste 12 ? ' 


' Do wey, fou clerc, fou art a fol, 

Wip J>e bydde 18 Y noht chyde ; 
Shalt )>ou never lyve fat day 

Mi love J>at ]>ou shalt byde. 14 
^ef fou in my boure art take, 

Shame )>e may bityde ; 
]?e is bettere on fote gon 

]?en wycked hors to ryde.' 


2 MS. brith (em. B.) 

8 as 

4 wither, fade 

5 if 

6 pondering 

7 bemoan myself 

8 sighing 

9 temper, state of mind 
10 insane 

12 ruin 
18 must 
14 experience 


' Weylawei ! whi seist }>ou so ? 

f>ou rewe on me, \>y man ; 
f>ou art ever in my poht 

In londe wher Ich am. 
^ef Y deje for fi love, 5 

Hit is fe mykel sham ; 
J?ou lete me lyve, and be J>i luef, 

And fou my suete lemman.' 

* Be stille, )>ou f ol Y calle ]>e riht 1 1 

Co[n]st fou never blynne 2 ? -**<- 10 

. J?ou art wayted 8 day and nyht 

WiJ> 4 fader and al my kynne ; 
Be Jxm in mi hour ytake, 

Lete J>ey 5 for no synne 6 
Me to holde, and )>e to slou 7 ; 15 

f>e dej> so fou maht 8 wynne 1 ' 

' Suete lady, J>ou wend 9 pi mod ; 

Sorewe )>ou wolt me kyf e 10 ; 
Ich am al so u sory 12 mon, 

So Ich was whylen 18 blyj>e 20 

In a wyndou fer H we stod, 

We custe us l6 fyfty sype. 16 
Feir biheste " makef mony mon 

Al is 18 serewes mythe. 19 ' 

' Weylawey ! whi seist J>ou so ? 25 

Mi serewe fou makest newe ; 
Y lovede a clerk al paramours m 

Of love he wes ful trewe ; 

1 MS. rij)t (em. B.) 8 mayst 16 kissed each other 

2 stop 9 change 16 times 

8 watched, spied upon 1 show, inflict upon 17 promise 

4 by 11 just as 18 his 

5 they will fail not 12 unhappy 19 lose 

6 because of any sin involved 18 formerly 2 passionately 

7 slay w where 


He nes nout blyj>e never a day 

Bote l he me sone 2 se je 8 ; 
Ich lovede him betere )>en my lyf 

Whet bote 4 is hit to leje 6 ? ' 

$ ' Whil Y wes a clerc in scole, 

Wei muchel Y coupe 6 of lore 7 ; 
Ych have poled 8 for )>y love 

Woundes f ele 9 sore, 
Fer from [horn], 10 and eke from men, 
I0 Under )>e wode hore u ; 

Suete ledy, )>ou rewe of me, 
Nou may 12 Y no more.' 

' ]?ou semest wel to ben a clerc, 

For JJQU spekest so stille 18 ; 
, 5 Shalt )>ou never for mi love 

Woundes bole grylle 14 ; 
Fader, moder, and al my kun 
Ne shal me holde so stille 
J>at Y nam 16 pyn, and fou art myn, 
20 To don al )>i wille.' 

From the Legend of Good Women, Prologue B, lines 249-69 

Hyd, Absolon, thy gilte " tresses clere ; 

Ester, ley thou thy meknesse al adoun ; 
Hyd, Jonathas," al thy frendly manere ; 

Penalopee, and Marcia 18 Catoun, 
25 Mak of your wyfhod no comparisoun ; 

1 unless 8 suffered 14 cruel 

2 soon 9 very 15 am not 
8 saw 10 em. Wright (Spec. Lyr. golden 

4 good Poetry, p. 91) lr Cf. i Sam. 19. 2 

s He hoary ; MS. gore 18 daughter of Cato of Utica 

e knew 12 can 

i learning 18 gently 


Hyde ye your beautes, Isoude and Eleyne, 
My lady cometh, that al this may disteyne. 1 

Thy faire body, lat hit nat appere, 

Lavyne 2 ; and thou, Lucresse of Rome toun, 

And Polixene, 8 that boghten love so dere, 5 

And Cleopatre, with al thy passioun, 
Hyde ye your trouthe of love and your renoun ; 

And thou, Tisbe, 4 that hast of love swich peyne ; 

My lady cometh, that al this may disteyne. 

Herro, 8 Dido, Laudomia, 6 alle yfere, 7 10 

And Phyllis, 8 hanging for thy Demophoun, 

And Canace, 9 espyed by thy chere, 10 
Ysiphile, 11 betraysed with 12 Jasoun, 
Maketh of your trouthe neyther boost ne soun ; 

Nor Ypermistre 18 or Adriane, 14 ye tweyne ; 1 5 

My lady cometh, that al this may disteyne. 


Laurence Minot (fl. 1333-1352) is a writer of whom virtually nothing is 
known except that he produced a series of eleven poems, of which this is 
No. 4. Herford has thus characterized him (Diet. Nat. Biog. 38.47): 'While 
Minot has no great literary value, and gives almost no new information, he 
embodies in a most vivid way the militant England of his day. He has but one 
subject, the triumph of England and the English king over French and Scots. 
The class-divisions among Englishmen are for him wholly merged in the unity 
of England ; himself probably of Norman origin, his habitual language is the 
strongest and homeliest Saxon. His verse is throughout inspired by savage 
triumph in the national successes. He has no elegiac or tender note.' Cf. 
Hall's edition, pp. xii-xiii ; Ten Brink, Early Eng. Lit., pp. 322-4. 

1 overshadow, eclipse 5 Hero; cf. Ovid, Her. 18, 19 see her legend in Chau- 

2 Lavinia ; cf. Virgil, &n. 6 Laodamia ; cf. Ovid, Her. 13 cer, Leg. Good Women 

6. 764 ff., etc. 7 together 12 betrayed by 

8 daughter of Priam ; cf. Cf. Ovid, Her. z 18 Hypermnestra ; cf. Ovid, 

Ovid, Met. 13. 439 ff. 9 Cf. Ovid, Her. n Her. 14 

* Thisbe ; cf. Ovid, Met. 10 countenance 14 Ariadne ; see Chaucer, 

4. 55-166 11 Hypsipyle,firstwifeof Jason; Leg. Good Women 


Our poem celebrates the fact that, Edward III and Philip of France having 
offered each other battle, Edward drew up his troops near La Flamengerie in 
northern France, on Saturday, Oct. 23, 1339, and waited for Philip to arrive, 
who, however, retreated from his position, five or six miles away, leaving 
behind him a thousand horses in a marsh (Hall, p. 54; cf. Diet. Nat. Biog. 


The poem here printed is from Joseph Hall's edition (Oxford, 1887). 

Edward, cure cumly king, 
In Braband has his woning, 

With mani cumly knight ; 
And in pat land, trewly to tell, 
5 Ordanis he still for to dwell, 

To l time he think to fight. 

Now God, pat es of mightes maste, 
Grant him grace of pe Haly Gaste 

His heritage to win ! 

10 And Mari moder, of mercy fre, 

Save oure king and his menje z 

Fro sorow, and schame, and syn ! 

J>us in Braband has he bene 
Whare he bifore was seldom sene 
15 For to prove 8 paire japes ; 

Now no langer wil he spare, 
Bot unto Fraunce fast will he fare, 
To confort him with grapes. 4 

Furth 5 he f erd into France ; 
20 God save him for mischance, 

And all his cumpany ! 
J>e nobill due of Braband 
With him went into pat land, 

Redy to lif or dy. 

1 until the 8 make trial of 6 MS. ff- 

2 retainers 4 Cf. Cant. 2. 5 


f>an f e riche floure de lice l 
Wan fare ful litill prise 2 ; 

Fast he 8 fled for ferde. 4 
J>e right aire 5 of fat cuntre 
Es cumen, with all his knightes fre, 5 

To schac him by fe herd. , 

Sir Philip fe Valayse, 6 
Wit his men in fo dayes, 

To batale had he thoght : 

He bad his men ]> am purvay 7 10 

Withowten lenger delay ; 

Bot he ne held it noght. 

He broght folk ful grete wone, 8 
Ay sevyn oganis one, 

J>at ful wele wapnid were ; 1 5 

Bot sone, whe[n] he herd ascry 9 
f>at King Edward was nere farby, 

f>an durst he noght cum nere. 

In fat morni[n]g fell a myst, 

And when oure I[n]gliss men it wist, 20 

It changed all f aire chere ; 
Oure king unto God made his bone, 10 
And God sent him gude confort sone 

]?e weder wex ful clere. 

Oure king and his men held fe felde 25 

Stalwortly, with spere and schelde, 

And thoght to win his right, 
With lordes, and with knightes kene, 
And of er doghty men bydene, 11 

]?at war ful frek 12 to fight. 30 

1 fleur de Us 6 heir (i.e. Edward) 9 report (by spies) 

2 glory 6 de Valois (the king) 10 prayer 

8 Philip VI of France 7 make ready n together 

4 fear * plenty 12 eager 



When Sir Philip of France herd tell 
pat King Edward in feld walld dwell, 

Jan gayned l him no gle ; 
He traisted of 2 no better bote, 8 
Bot both on hors and on fote 

He hasted him to fle. 

It semid he was ferd for strokes 
When he did fell his grete okes 

Obout his pavilyoune ; 
Abated was fan all his pride, 
For langer fare durst he noght bide, 

His bost was broght all doune. 

f>e king of Berne 4 had cares colde, 
J>at was ful 5 hardy and bolde 

A stede to amstride. 6 
[He and] 7 |>e king als 8 of Naverne 9 
War fain for ferd 10 in fe feme n 

J?aire heviddes l " for to hide. 

And leves la wele it es no lye 
J>e felde hat 14 Flemangrye 15 

}?at King Edward was in, 
With princes fat war stif ande bolde, 
And dukes fat war doghty tolde, 16 

In batayle to bigin. 

Je princes fat war riche " on raw, 18 
Gert 19 nakers m strike, and trumpes blaw, 
And made mirth at faire might ; 

1 availed 

2 expected 
8 resource 
4 Bohemia 

6 MS. fur (em. Ritson) 
6 bestride 
1 em. R. 
8 also 

9 Navarre (father-in-law of 14 was called 


10 MS. faire feld (em. Hall, 

with fered for ferd) 

11 were glad, for fear, in the 


12 heads 

is believe (imp.) 

is MS. ff- 

16 considered 

17 splendid 

is row (line of battle ?), order 

19 caused 

20 kettle-drums 


Both alblast x and many a bow 

War redy railed 2 opon a row, 

And ful frek for to fight. 

Gladly f ai gaf mete and drink, 

So fat f ai suld f e better swink 8 5 

J>e wight * men fat far ware. 
Sir Philip of Fraunce fled for dout, 6 
And hied 6 him hame with all his rout ; 

Coward, God giff him care 7 ! 

For fare fan had f e lely flowre 8 10 

Lorn all halely 9 his honowre, 

fat sogat 10 fled for ferd; 
Bot oure King Edward come ful still, 
When fat he trowed u no harm him till, 12 

And keped 13 him in fe berde. 1 * 15 


From a poem (written in 1377) in MS. Brit. Mus. Addit. 22,283. Our ex 
tract is from Wright's Political Poems and Songs (Rolls Series) i. 216-7, and 
comprises lines 17-80. 

Sum tyme an Englis schip we had, 

Nobel hit was, and heih of tour 15 ; 
Thorw al Christendam hit was drad, 16 

And stif wold stonde in uch a stour, 17 

And best dorst byde a scharp schour, 18 20 

And other stormes smale and grete ; 

Nou is that schip, that bar the flour, 
Selden seije 19 and sone forjete. 

1 arblast, crossbow 8 See 423 i 15 tower 

2 set in order 9 wholly 16 feared 

8 toil 1 thus v every battle 

* stout 11 looked for 18 tempest 

5 fear 12 to himself 19 seen 

6 hastened 18 seized 
i distress H beard 


Into that schip ther longeth a roothur, 1 
That steered the schip, and governed hit ; 

In al this world nis such anothur, 

As me thenketh in my wit. 
5 Whil schip and rothur togeder was knit, 

Thei dredde nother tempest, druy^e, 2 nor wete, 
Nou be thei bothe in synder flit, 8 

That selden sei^e is sone forjete. 

Scharpe wawes 4 that schip has say led, 
10 And sayed 6 alle sees 6 at aventur ; 

For wynt 7 ne wederes 8 never hit fay led, 
Wil 9 the roothur miht enduir. 10 
Thouj the see were rouj, or elles dimuuir, 11 
Gode havenes that schip wold geete. 12 
15 Nou is that schip, I am wel suir, 13 

Selde iseye and sone forjete. 

This good schip I may remene 14 

To the chivalrye of this londe ; 
Sum tyme thei counted nougt a bene 16 
20 Be 16 al Fraunce, Ich understonde. 

Thei toke and slouj hem with her wonde 17 
The power of Fraunce, bothe 18 smale and grete ; 

And broujt the kyng hider to byde her bonde 19 ; 
And nou riht sone hit is forjete. 

25 That schip hadde a ful siker 20 mast, 

And a sayl strong and large, 
That made the gode schip never agast 
To undertake a thinge of charge. 21 
And to that schip ther longed w a barge, 

1 rudder 9 while 17 ro d, sceptre 

2 drought 10 endure 18 MS. bethe 

3 removed asunder n calm w fetters 
* waves 12 attain 20 secure 

5 braved w sure 21 moment 

6 seas w compare 22 belonged 

7 wind 16 bean 

8 storms 16 by ; MS. beo 


Of al Fraunce jaf * noujt a cleete. 2 

To us hit was a siker targe 8 ; 
And now riht clene hit is forjete. 

The rother was nouther ok ne elm, 

Hit was Edward the Thridde, the noble kniht ; 5 

The prince his sone bar up his helm, 

That never scoumfited 4 was in fiht. 

The kyng him rod and rouwed 5 ariht, 
The prince dredde nouther stok nor streete. 6 

Nou of hem we lete ful liht 7 ; 10 

That selden is seije is sone forjete. 

The swifte barge was Duk Henri, 8 

That noble kniht and wel assayed ; 
And in his leggaunce 9 worthily 

He abod mony a bitter brayd 10 ; 15 

<^if that his enemys oujt outrayed, 11 
To chasteis hem wolde he not lete. 12 

Nou is that lord ful lowe ileyd ; 
That selde is seije is sone forjete. 

This gode comunes, 18 bi the rode, 20 

I likne hem to the schipes mast ; 
That with heore catel 14 and with heore goode 15 

Mayntened the werre 16 both furst and last. 

The wynd that bleuj the schip with blast, 
Hit was gode pregeres, I sey hit atrete n ; 25 

Nou is devoutnes out icast, 
And mony gode dedes ben clene forjete. . . . 

1 cared 7 make little account 18 commons 

2 cleat 8 Henry of Lancaster (d. 1361) 14 property 
8 shield 9 allegiance 15 goods 

* discomfited 10 stroke 16 war 

6 rode and rowed n inflicted any injuries 17 distinctly 

6 street (for rhyme, instead & refrain 
of ' stok nor ston ') 




To you, my purse, and to non other wight 1 
Compleyne I, for ye be my lady dere ; 

I am so sory, now that ye be light, 

That certes, but 2 ye make me hevy chere, 
Me were as leef be leyd upon my bere ; 

For whiche unto your mercy thus I crye : 

Beth hevy ageyn, or elles mot 8 I dye ! 

Now voucheth sauf 4 this day, or 6 hit be night, 
That I of you the blisful soun 6 may here, 

Or see your colour lyk the sonne bright, 
That of yelownesse 7 hadde never pere. 8 
Ye be my lyf, ye be myn hertes stere, 9 

Quene of comfort and of good companye. 

Beth hevy ageyn, or elles mot I dye ! 

Now purs, that be 10 to me my lyves n light, 
And saveour, 12 as doun in this worlde here, 

Out of this toune help me through your might, 
Sin 18 that ye wole nat been my tresorere ; 
For I am shave 14 as nye 15 as any frere. 

But yit I pray unto your curtesye, 

Beth hevy ageyn, or elles mot I dye I 

1 creature 

2 unless 

3 must 

* vouchsafe 
6 ere 

6 sound 

7 referring to gold 

8 equal 

9 guide 

n life's 
12 saviour 
18 since 
14 shaved 
is close 



About 1 4 so. From MS. Brit. Mus. Sloane 2593, as printed by Wright in 
Songs and Carols (Pickering, London, 1836). See 199 25 ff. 

I have a gentil cok 1 

Crowyt[h] me day 2 ; 
He doth 8 me rysyn erly, 

My matynis for to say. 

I have a gentil cok 1 ; 5 

Comyn he is of gret 4 ; 
His comb is of reed corel, 

His tayl 6 is of get. 6 

I have a gentil cok * ; 

Comyn he is of kynde 7 ; 10 

His comb is of reed corel, 8 

His tayl is of inde. 9 

His leggs ben of asour, 

So gentil and so smale ; 
His spors arn of sylver quyt 10 15 

Into the wortewale. 11 

His eynyn arn of cristal, 

Lokyn 12 al in aumbyr ; 
And every nyjt he perchit[h] hym 

In myn ladyis chaumbyr'.' 20 

1 MS. cook 5 MS. tayil 9 indigo 

2 announces day to me by his 6 jet 10 white 

crowing 7 he is true to his breed n quick (lit. root) 

3 makes 8 MS. scorel 12 enclosed 

4 great (lineage) 



About 1460-1429. From MS. Bodl. Eng. Poet. e. i, printed by Wright in 
Songs and Carols (Percy Soc. 23), p. 27. 

A, a, a, 0, 1 

Yet I love wherso I go. 

In all this warld [n]is a meryar life 
Than is a jong man withoutyn a wyfe ; 
5 For he may lyven withoujten stryfe, 

In every place wherso he go. 

In every place he is loved over all 
Among maydyns gret and small, 
In dauncing, in pypyng, and rennyng at the ball, 
10 In every place wherso he go. 

Thei lat lyjt 2 be husbondmen, 8 
Whan thei at the balle ren 4 ; 
They cast hyr love to jong[e] men 
In every place wherso he go. 

15 Than sey maydens : ' Farwell, Jack 6 ! 

Thi love is pressyd al in thi pa[c]k 6 ; 
Thou beryst thi love behynd thi back,' 
In every place wherso he go. 

1 MS. a 8 married men 5 MS. Jacke 

2 easily < MS. rene 6 MS. pake 




Fie fro the pres, 1 and dwelle with sothfastnesse 2 ; 

Suffise 3 thin owene thing, thogh it be smal ; 
For hord 4 hath hate, and clymbyng tykelnesse, 5 

Frees 6 hath envye, and wele 7 blent 8 overal 9 ; 

Savoure 10 no more thanne the byhove n shal ; 
Reule weel thiself, that other folk canst reede, 12 
And trouthe the shal delyvere it is no drede. 13 

"T "- 

Tempest 14 the 15 noght al croked to redresse, 
In trust of hire 1G that turneth as a bal ; 

Greet reste stant in litel besynesse, 17 

Bywar therfore to spurne agayn an al 18 ; 
Stryve not as doth the crokke 19 with the wal. 

Daunte 20 thiself, that dauntest otheres dede, 

And trouthe the shal delyvere it is no drede. 

That the is sent, receyve in buxumnesse, 21 

The wrastlyng for 22 this worlde axeth 23 a fal ; 

Her is non horn, 24 her nys but wyldernesse. 

Forth, pylgrym, forth ! Forth, beste, out of thi stal 1 
Know thi centre, loke up, thank God of al ! 

Hold the hye weye, and lat thi gost 25 the lede, 

And trouthe the shal delyvere it is no drede. 


1 crowd 

2 truth 
8 subj. 

4 hoarding 

5 instability 

6 the throng of courtiers 

7 prosperity 

8 blinds 

9 everywhere 

10 relish, care for 

11 suit, fit 

12 direct 

13 there is no fear 
J4 torment 

15 thyself 

16 Fortune 

17 fuss, worry (cf. Isa. 30. 15) 

is awl (cf. Acts 9. 5) 

19 crock, earthen pot 

20 conquer 

21 submission 

22 to obtain 

28 calls for, invites 

24 Cf. Heb. 11.9, 10 ; 13. 14 

25 spirit 



About 127?. From MS. Bodl. Digby 86, as printed by Furnivall, Minor 
Poems of the Vernon MS., Part II (E.E.T.S. 117), pp. 761 ff. (ten stanzas in all) ; 
cf. the somewhat different version in Boddeker, Altengl. Dicht., pp. 229-30, 
which has suggested two or three emendations. 

The keynote is struck by Boethius (Book 2, Metre 7): 

Ubi nunc fidelis ossa Fabricii manent, 
Quid Brutus aut rigidus Cato ? 

These lines are expanded in translation by King Alfred : ' Where now are 
the bones of the famous and wise goldsmith, Weland ? ' etc. One of the most 
famous variations on the theme is by Villon (1461), the first of whose stanzas 

Dictes moy oil, n'en quel pays, 

Est Flora, la belle Rommaine ; 
Archipiada, ne Thais, 

Qui fut sa cousine germaine ; 
Echo, parlant quant bruyt on maine 
Dessus riviere ou sus estan, 

Qui beault6 ot trop plus qu'humaine ? 

Mais oil sont les neiges d'antan ! 

This is translated by Payne as follows : 

Tell me, where, in what land of shade, 

Hides fair Flora of Rome ? and where 
Are Thais and Archiapade, 

Cousins german in beauty rare ? 

And Echo, more than mortal fair, 
That when one calls by river flow, 

Or marish. answers out of the air ? 

But what has become of last year's snow ? 

The last four lines are thus translated in Rossetti's version : 

Where is Echo, beheld of no man, 
Only heard on river and mere, 

She whose beauty was more than human ? 

But where are the snows of yester-year ? 

See also below, p. 434 ; Wells, Manual, p. 824 (30). 

Were be)> J>ey [bat] 1 biforen us weren, 
Houndes ladden and havekes beren, 
And hadden feld and wode ? 

i Cf. B. 


}?e riche levedies in hoere hour, 
f>at wereden gold in hoere tressour, 1 
WiJ> hoere brijtte rode * ? 

[J>ey] 8 eten and drounken, and maden hem glad ; 

Hoere lif was al wi}> gamen ilad * ; 5 

Men kneleden 5 hem biforen ; 
J>ey beren hem wel swij>e heye e ; 
And, in a twincling of an eye, 

Hoere soules weren forloren. 

Were is ]>at lawing 7 and that song, 10 

J>at trayling and that proude gong, 8 

J>o havekes and )>o houndes ? 
Al \>at joye is went away, 
f>at wele is comen to ' Weylaway ! ' 

To manie harde stoundes. 9 15 

Hoere paradis ]>ey 10 nomen n here, 
And nou )>ey lien in helle ifere 12 ; 

f>e fuir hit brennes hevere. 
Long is ay, 13 and long is o, 14 
Long is wy, 15 and long is wo 16 ; 20 

f>ennes ne comef ]>ey nevere. 


Thomas of Hales was a Franciscan friar, who wrote this ' luve-ron ' of 2 10 lines 
at the request of a young nun, in the reign of Henry III (probably before 
1240, according to Comb. Hist. Eng. Lit. I. 258; soon after 1244, according 
to Morris, Old Eng. Misc., p. xi; about 1272, JV. E. >.). The extract below is 
from the MS. of Jesus College, Oxford (lines 65-120), as reproduced in Old 
English Miscellany (E.E.T.S. 49), pp. 93-9. A translation of thirteen stanzas, 

1 braids, tresses 7 laughing 18 ever 

2 complexion 8 gait, carriage 14 always ; MS. ho 
8 Cf. B. 9 experiences 15 alas 

* led 10 MS. by 16 woe 

6 MS. keneleden n took 

6 very exceedingly high 12 s jde by side 



including the first five printed here, may be found in Ten Brink, Early Eng. 
Lit., pp. 208-11. He says: 'We have here an art-poetry not quite developed 
in form, of the simplest, noblest mould, a contemplative lyric, which, springing 
from warm feeling, moves calmly and quietly, without subtlety of reflection or 
trifling with forms, in euphonious, richly figurative speech.' Another version is 
in Miss Weston's Chief Middle English Poets, pp. 343-5. 



Hwer is Paris and Heleyne, 

J?at weren so bryht and feyre on bleo * ? 
Amadas and Ideyne, 2 

Tristram, Yseude, and alle )>eo 8 ? 
Ector, wij) his scharpe meyne, 4 -^.- "*; 

And Cesar, riche of wor[l]des feo 6 ? 
Heo beojj iglyden ut of }>e reyne, 

So 6 }>e schef 7 is of }>e cleo. 8 

/ r 

Hit is of heom/al so 9 hit nere. , * 

Of heom me)havej> 10 wunder itold 
Nere hit reu)>e n for to here 12 

Hw hi were \v'\]> pyne 18 aquold, 14 
And hwat hi foleden 15 alyve 16 here ; 

Al is heore hot iturnd to cold. 
J>us is j>es world of false fere 17 ; 

Fol he is ]>e on hire is bold. 

J>eyh he were so riche mon 
As Henry, 18 ure [noble] kyng, 


2 MS. Dideyne 

8 those 

4 power 

5 wealth 

6 as 

7 sheaf 

8 brae, steep hillside 
as if 

10 one has, they have 

11 were it not pity 

12 MS. heren 

18 pain 

14 destroyed 

15 endured 

16 in life 

17 appearance, show 

18 Henry III (1216-1272) 

3. Amadas : see Schofield, pp. 322, 479. Id$yne : there is a thirteenth- 
century OF. romance of Breton origin, Amadas et Idoine (ed. Hippeau, Paris, 
1863), and allusion is made to the story by Gower (Conf. Am. 6.879) an( ^ trie 
Cursor Mundi (v. 20), etc. ; cf. Gaston Paris, Lift. Fr. au Moyen Age, 66, and 
English Miscellany presented to Dr. Furnivall, pp. 386 ff. (where there are other 
references) ; Schofield, pp. 117, 375. 



And al so veyr as Absalon, 

]?at nevede on eorpe non evenyng, 1 
Al were sone his prute 2 agon, 8 

Hit nere on ende wrp on heryng. 4 
Mayde, if pu wilnest 5 after leofmon, 6 

Ich teche pe enne 7 treowe King. 

A 1 swete, if pu ikn[e]owe 8 

J>e gode pewes 9 of pisse Childe ! 
He is feyr, and bryht on heowe, 

Of glede chere, 10 of mode mylde, 
Of lufsum lost, 11 of truste treowe, 

Freo of heorte, of wisdom wilde 12 ; 
Ne purfte 13 )>e never re[o]we, 

Myhtestu do u pe in his [hjylde. 15 

He is ricchest Mon of londe, 

So wide so mon speketh wij> mup ; 
Alle heo beop to 16 his honde, 

Est and west, norp and sup . 
Henri, King of Engelonde, 

Of hym he halt, 17 and to hym buhp. 18 
Mayde, to pe he send his sonde, 19 

And wilnep for to beo pe cup. 

Ne byt 20 he wip pe lond ne leode, 21 
Vouh, 22 ne gray, 28 ne rencyan. 24 

Navep he perto none neode ; 
He is riche and weli ^ man. 


1 peer ; cf . 420 21 

2 pride 

8 vanished 

4 herring 

5 longest 

6 lover 

8 knew 

9 qualities 

1 countenance 

11 delight 


18 thou wouldst need ; MS. Jjurhte 

" put 

15 grace 

16 in 

i' holds 
18 bows 

19 message ; MS. schonde 

20 asks 

21 people 

22 particolored fur 
28 gray fur 

24 a kind of cloth 
2fi wealthy 


If Jm him woldest luve beode, 1 

And bycumen his leovemon, 
He brouhte 2 ]> e to suche wede,* 

J>at * navef king ne kayser non. 

5 Hwat 5 spekestu of eny bolde 6 

J>at wrouhte )>e wise Salomon ? 
Of jaspe, of saphir, of merede 7 golde, 

And of mony onoper ston ? 

Hit is feyrure of feole volde 8 

10 More ]>an Ich eu telle con, 

f>is bold, mayde, J?e is bihote, 9 

If fat fm bist his leovemon. 


Of this poem there are three versions (A, B, C). A is represented by two 
poems, B by twenty, and C by one not to mention a rather anomalous 
example, difficult to classify. The earliest texts date from about 1310; that 
printed here is from 43^0-1450 (MS. Lambeth 853), and is No. 10 of B. All 
the known texts have been printed by Miss Hilda Murray, with the necessary 
apparatus, in Erthe upon Erihe (E.E.T.S. 141). The Stratford-on-Avon version 
was printed by Longfellow in Outre-Mer. 

The theme is : ' Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return ' (Gen. 3. 19). 

Erbe out of er|>e is wondirly wroujt, 
Er}>e of er|>e ha)> gete 10 a dignyte of noujt, 
15 Erpe upon er)>e haj> sett al his fou^t, 

How pat erpe upon erpe may be hij u broujt. 

Er)>e upon erj>e wold he be a king ; 
But how er}>e schal to erfe fenkif he noting ; 
Whanne fat erfe biddij> erfe hise rentis horn bring, 
20 f>an schal erj>e out of erfe have a piteuous parting. 

1 offer 6 why 9 promised 

2 would bring building 1 got 
8 apparel 7 purified 11 high 
4 as 8 many times 


Erfe upon erfe wynnef castels and touris ; 
J>an seif er}>e to erfe : ' Now is fis al houris.' 
Whanne erfe upon erfe haf biggid l up hise boures, 
]?anne schal erfe upon erfe suffir scharpe schouris. 2 

Erfe gooth upon erfe as molde upon molde, 5 

So gooth erfe upon erfe al gliteringe in golde, 

Like as erfe unto erfe nevere go scholde, 8 

And jit schal erfe unto erthe raf er * fan he wolde. 

O fou wrecchid erfe, fat on erfe traveilist 5 nyjt and day, 

To florische 6 f e erfe, to peynte f e erfe with wantowne aray, :o 

^it schal fou, erfe, for al fi erfe, make fou it nevere so queynte 

and gay, 
Out of J>is erfe into fe erfe, fere to clinge 7 as a clot 8 of clay. 

O wrecchid man, whi art J>ou proud, fat art of f e erf e makid ? 

Hider brou5ttist fou no schroud, 9 but poore come fou and nakid. 15 

Whanne f i soule is went 10 out, and f i bodi in erf e rakid, 

J>an f i bodi fat was rank n and undevout, of alle men is bihatid. 

Out of f is erf e cam to f is erf e f is wrecchid garnement 12 ; 

To hide f is erf e, to happe 18 f is erf e, to him was clof inge lente ; 

Now goof erf e upon erf e, ruli 14 raggid and rent, 20 

J>erfore schal erfe undir fe erfe have hidiose turment. 

Whi fat erfe to myche lovef erfe wondir me fink, 

Or whi fat erfe for superflue erfe to sore sweete 15 wole or swynk 16 ; 

Ffor whanne fat erfe upon erfe is broujt withinne fe brink, 17 

J?an schal erfe of fe erfe have a rewful stynk. 18 25 

1 built 7 dry, shrivel up M cover 

2 trials 8 clod 14 ruefully 
8 MS. schulde 9 garment 15 sweat 

4 sooner 10 gone 16 toil 

5 laborest u proud 17 of the grave 

6 adorn 12 garment (of flesh) 18 MS. swynk 


Lo 1 erpe upon erpe considere pou may, 

How erpe come)) into erpe nakid alway, 

Whi schulde erpe upon erpe go now so stoute or gay, 

Whanne erpe schal passe out of erpe in so poore aray ? 

5 Wolde God perfore pis erpe, while fat he is upon this er)>e, 

Upon ]>is wolde hertili pinke, 

And how pe erpe out of pe erj>e schal have his ajenrisyng, 1 
And pis erpe for pis erpe schal jeelde 2 streite 8 rekenyng ; 
Schulde nevere pan pis erpe for pis erpe mysplese hevene King. 

10 J>erfore, pou erpe upon erpe, pat so wickidli hast wroujt, 
While pat pou, erpe, art upon erpe, turne ajen pi poujt, 
And praie to pat God upon erpe pat al pe erpe hap wroujt, 
J>at pou, erpe upon erpe, to blis may be broujt. 

pou Lord pat madist pis erpe for pis erpe, and suffridist heere 
15 peynes ille, 

Lete nevere pis erpe, for pis erpe, myscheve 4 ne spille, 6 
But pat pis erpe on pis erpe be evere worchinge pi wille, 
So pat pis erpe from pis erpe may stie 6 up to pin hij hille. Amen. 


About 1430. From MS. Lambeth 853, printed by Furnivall in Political, Re 
ligious, and Love Poems (reprint of E.E.T.S. 15), p. 233. Thirteen stanzas in all. 

As resoun rewlid my rechelees 7 mynde, 
20 Bi W4glde 8 waies as Y hadde went, 

A solempne citee me fortuned to fynde ; 

To turne perto was myne entent. 
A maiden Y mette, a modir hynde, 9 

Sobbinge and sijynge, sche was neer schent 10 ; 

1 resurrection ; MS. -risynge 5 perish 9 gracious 

2 yield c ascend w prostrated 
8 strict ^ reckless ; MS. riche- 

4 come to grief 8 w iid 


Sche wepte, sche wailid, so sore sche pined ; 
Hir heer, hir face, sche tuggid and rent : 
Sche tuggid, sche taar with greet turment, 

Sche racide l hir skyn, bothe body and brest ; 
Sche seide peise wordis evere as sche went : 5 

Filius Regis mortuus est. 

' The Kingis Sone,' sche seide, ' is deed, 

}?e joie, pe substaunce of my liif 2 ; 
J>e modir to se hir Sone so blede, 

It kittij) 3 myn herte as with a knyf. 10 

My Sone fat Y was woont to fede, 

To lulle, to lappe, with songis riif 4 
Out of his herte his blood to schede 

Makip me, his modir, in myche striif. 5 

I am bope maiden, modir, and wiif, 15 

Sones 6 have Y no mo to souke my brest ; 

I may make sorewe without reliif, 
For Filius Regis mortuus est.' 


About 1450-1500. From MS. Camb. Univ. Lib. Hh. 4. 12, printed by Fur- 
nivall, op. cit., p. 181. Sixteen stanzas in all. Translation in Weston, op. cit., 
PP- 349-5- 

In the vaile of restles mynd, 

I sowght in mownteyn and in mede, 20 

Trustyng a treu lofe for to fynd. 
Upon an hyll than toke I hede ; 
A voise I herd and nere 7 I yede 8 

In gret dolour complaynyng tho : 
' See, dere soule, my sydes blede, 25 

Quia amore langueo.' 

1 tore 4 rife 7 nearer 

2 MS. liife 5MS. striife 8 approached 

3 cuts 6 MS. and sones 


Upon thys mownt I fand a tree ; 
Undir thys tree a man sittyng ; 
From hede to fote wowndyd was he, 
Hys hert-blode I saw bledyng ; 
A semely man, to be a kyng, 

A graciose face to loke unto. 
I askyd hym how he had paynyng, 1 
He said : ' Quia amore langueo. 

I am treu love that fals was never : 

My sistur, mannys soule, I loved hyr thus ; 
Bycause I wold on no wyse dissevere, 
I left my kyngdome gloriouse ; 
I purveyd 2 hyr a place full preciouse ; 

She flytt, 8 I folowyd ; I luffed her soo 
That I suffred thes paynes piteuouse, 
Quia amore langueo? 


About 1500 (or earlier). From MS. Oxford Balliol 354, as printed by Fliigel 
in Anglia 26. 175-6 (slightly different in his Neuenglisches Lesebuch i. 142), with 
t> for MS.^. The knight is of course Jesus Christ. 

Lully, lulley, lullyf lulley, 
pefawcon hath born my make 1 " away. 

He bare hym up, he bare hym down, 
He bare hym into an orchard browne. 

In pat orchard fere was an halle 
J>at was hangid with purpill and pall. 

And in J>at hall )>ere was a bede 6 ; 
Hit was hangid with gold so rede. 

1 distress 8 fl e d 6 mate 

2 provided 4 MS. lulley (em. F.) 6 bed 


And yn pat bed pere lythe a knyght. 
His wowndis bledyng day and nyght. 

By pat bedeside kneleth a may, 1 
And she wepeth both nyght and day. 

And by fat beddeside pere stondith a ston, 
' Corpus Christi ' wretyn peron. 


The Pearl is an elegiac poem with allegorical elements, embodying a vision 
by the author of a maiden closely related to him, who had died at an early 
age. Disregarding stanza 72 (for which see Osgood's edition, p. xlvi, note i), 
the poem falls into 20 sections, each consisting of 5 twelve-line stanzas, con 
catenated by the recurrence of the last word of a stanza in the first line follow 
ing. The rhyme-scheme is abababahbcbc. The date is about 1370; the author 
wrote also Gawain and the Green Knight (see above, p. 53), besides two other 
poems, Purity and Patience. There is only a single manuscript, Brit. Mus. 
Cott. Nero A. X + 4 (facsimile in Yale University Library). The best edition 
is by Osgood (Belles Lettres Series, 1906) ; to this the student is referred for 
further information. There are translations by Gollancz (1891), Mitchell (1906), 
Coulton (1906), Osgood (1907), Jewett (1908), and Weston (in Romance, Vision, 
and Satire, 1912) ; of these the best is Osgood's, in prose. 

Tennyson thus apostrophized the poem in Gollancz's edition : 

We lost you for how long a time ! 
True pearl of our poetic prime ; 
We found you, and you gleam reset 
In Britain's lyric coronet. 

With reference to the emphasis upon the jeweler's art, we know that from 
the death of St. Louis (1270) this had surpassed all other industrial arts in 
France (Labarte, Inventaire du Mobilier de Charles V, p. i). 

Our text is taken from Osgood's edition (by the kind permission of the 
publishers, Messrs. D. C. Heath & Co.), with the substitution, when etymo- 
logically indicated, of z for the character 5, which usually denotes palatal g, of 
and for <Sf, and with the normalization of u and v ; the emendations are those 
of Osgood's text. Our extracts comprise lines 37-300, 385-420. 

To fat spot pat I in speche expoun 2 
I entred, in pat erber 8 grene, 

1 maid 2 tell of 8 lawn 





In Augoste, in a hyj * seysoun, 

Quen corne is corven z wyth crokez 8 kene. 

On huyle * per perle hit trendeled 6 doun 

Schadowed 6 pis wortez 7 ful schyre 8 and schene 9 

Gilofre, 10 gyngure, 11 and gromylyoun, 12 

And pyonys 18 powdered 14 ay bytwene. 

^if hit watz semly on to sene, 

A f ayr reflayr 15 jet fro hit flot, 16 

f>er wonys " pat worpyly, 18 I wot and wene, 19 

My precious perle wythouten spot. 

Bifore pat spot my honde I spennfVjd, 20 

For care ful colde pat to me cajt 21 ; 

A de[r]vely dele 22 in my hert denned, 28 

J>a5 resoun sette myselven sajt. 24 

I playned ^ my perle pat per watz spenned 86 

Wyth fyrte skyllez 27 pat f aste f ajt 28 ; 

J>aj kynde m of Kryst me comfort kenned, 80 

My wreched wylle in wo ay wrajte. 81 

I felle upon pat floury flajt, 82 

Suche odour to my hernez M schot ; 

I slode 84 upon a slepyng-slajte ** 

On pat prec[i]os perle wythouten spot. 

Fro spot 86 my spyryt per sprang in space, 
My body on balke 4 per bod 87 in sweven 88 ; 

1 high (in a liturgical sense ; 

probably the Assumption 
of the Virgin, August 15) 

2 mowed 
8 sickles 
4 mound 
6 rolled 

6 shaded 

7 plants 

8 bright 

9 fair 

10 gillyflower 

11 ginger 

13 gromwell 

is peonies 

14 scattered thickly 

15 fragrance 

16 flowed 

17 dwells 

18 worshipful one 
w suppose 

20 clasped 

2 1 seized on me 

22 sudden sorrow 
28 made tumult 

24 though reason reconciled 

^ bemoaned 

2 6 enclosed 

2 " frightened reasonings 

28 contended 

29 the nature 
80 imparted 
si wrought 
82 turf 

88 brain 
84 sank 

35 visitation of sleep 

36 forth 

87 remained 
ss dream 


My goste is gon in Godez grace, 

In aventure per 1 mervaylez 2 meven. 8 

I ne wyste in pis worlde quere pat hit wace, 4 

Bot I knew me keste 6 per klyfez 6 eleven 7 ; 

Towarde a foreste I here 8 pe face, 5 

Where rych rokkez wer to dyscreven. 9 

J>e lyjt of hem myjt no mon leven, 10 

J>e glemande ll glory pat of hem glent 12 ; 

For wern never webbez pat wyjez weven 18 

Of half so dere adub[be]mente. 14 10 

Dubbed 15 wern alle po downez sydez 16 

Wyth crystal klyffez so cler of kynde. 17 

Holte-wodez 18 bryjt aboute hem bydez 19 

Of bollez 20 as blwe 21 as ble of ynde 22 ; 

As bornyst sylver pe lef onslydez, 28 15 

J>at pike con trylle 24 on uch a tynde K 

Quen 26 glem of glodez 27 agaynz hem glydez ; 

Wyth schymeryng schene 28 ul schrylle ** pay schynde. 

J?e gravayl pat on grounde con grynde 80 

Wern precious perlez of Oryente ; 20 

J?e sunnebemez bot bio and blynde 81 

In respecte of 82 pat adubbement. 

The adubbemente of po downez dere 

Garten 88 my goste 84 al greff e forjete ; 

So frech flavorez 86 of frytez 86 were 25 

As fode hit con me fayre refete. 87 

1 where 14 splendid array 27 flashes of light (?) 

2 marvels 15 arrayed 28 beautiful shimmering 

3 move 16 hillsides ^ intensely 

4 was 17 by nature 80 did crunch 

5 myself to be set down " woods 81 are but dark and dim 

6 diffs 19 are w compared to 

7 stand fast 2 trunks of trees w caused 

8 turn 21 blue w soul 

9 to be descried 22 indigo color 85 fresh fragrances 
10 believe 2* unfolds ^ fruits 

H resplendent 24 did quiver * 7 satisfy, refresh 

12 gleamed 26 O n each branch 

is people weave ^ when 




Fowlez 1 per flowen 2 in f ryth 8 in fere, 4 
Of flaumbande hwez, 6 bope smale and grete ; 
Bot sytole-stryng 6 and gyternere 7 
Her reken 8 myrpe mojt not retrete 9 ; 
For, quen pose bryddez her wyngez bete, 
J>ay songen wyth a swete asent 10 ; 
So grac[i]os gle n coupe no mon gete 
As here and se her adubbement. 12 

So al watz dubbet on dere asyse 18 ; 

J>at f ryth per 14 f ortwne forth me f erez 15 ; 

J>e derpe 16 }>erof for to devyse 

Nis no wy5 n worpe 18 pat tonge berez. 

I welke 19 ay forth in wely m wyse ; 

No bonk 21 so byg 22 pat did me derez. 28 

J>e fyrre 24 in pe fryth, pe fei[r]er con ryse 

J>e playn, pe plonttez, 25 pe spyse, 26 pe perez, 27 

And rawez 28 and randez w and rych reverez 80 

As fyldor 81 fyn her bonkes brent. 32 

I wan 88 to a water by schore pat scherez 84 ; 

Lorde, dere watz hit M adubbement 1 

The dubbemente of po derworth 86 depe 87 
Wern bonkez 38 bene ro of beryl bryjt ; 
Swangeande 40 swete pe water con swepe, 
Wyth a rownande 41 rourde 42 raykande 48 arygt ; 

1 birds 

2 flew 

8 woodland 
* together 

5 flaming colors 

6 citole-string 

" player on the cithern 

8 lively 

9 reproduce 

10 harmony 

11 joy 

12 beauty 
is manner 
14 where 

16 transports 

16 glory 
i" person 
18 worthy 
l walk 

20 happy 

21 hill 

22 difficult 

28 as to cause me annoyances 

24 further 

25 plants 

26 spicy shrubs 

27 pear-trees 

28 hedges 

29 borders of streams 
8 rivers 

81 thread of gold (Fr.yfl 


82 steep 

88 made my way 

84 runs swiftly by 

35 its 

86 rare 

8" deep stream 

88 banks 

89 pleasing 

40 rushingly (?) 

41 murmuring 

42 voice 

48 moving forward 


In pe founce l per stonden stonez stepe, 2 

As glente 3 furj glas pat glowed and glyjt * 

A[s] stremande sternez, 5 quen strode 6 men slepe, 

Staren 7 in welkyn in wynter nyjt ; 

For uche a pobbel 8 in pole 9 per pyjt 10 5 

Watz emerad, saffer, 11 oper gemme gente, 12 

fat alle pe 1056 18 lemed of 14 lyjt, 

So dere watz hit adubbement. 

The dubbement dere of doun K and dalez, 

Of wod and water and wlonk 16 playnez, 10 

Bylde 1T in me blys, abated my balez, 18 

Forbidden 19 my stresse, 20 dystryed 21 my paynez. 

Doun after a strem pat dryjly 22 halez 23 

I bowed in blys. Bredful 24 my braynez ; 

f>e fyrre I folded K pose floty 26 valez, 15 

J>e more strenghpe of joye myn herte straynez. 

As fortune fares per as ho fraynez, 27 

Wheper solace ho sende oper ellez sore, 28 

J>e wyj to wham her wylle ho waynez M 

Hyttez 30 to have ay more and more. 20 

More of weel 31 watz in pat wyse 
J>en I cowpe telle Tpa% I torn 82 hade ; 
For urpely M herte myjt not suffyse 
To pe tenpe dole 84 of po gladnez glade. 86 

1 bottom of the stream 

is water 

2 5 followed 

2 glittering 

14 gleamed with 

26 watery 

8 gleam 

is hill 

2 " where she desires 

4 shimmered 

10 fair 

28 sorrow 

6 stars streaming with light 

17 caused to spring up 

29 bestows 

6 secure (?) 

l g sorrows 

so strives 

" glitter 

19 did away with 

81 joy 

8 pebble 

20 anguish 

82 leisure 


21 destroyed 

38 earthly 

1 set 

22 mightily 

8* part 

11 sapphire 

! flows 

86 happy 

12 precious 

u brimful 

. . 


Forpy l I J>ojt J>at paradyse 
Watz fer over gayn 2 J>o bonkez brade 8 ; 
I hoped 4 fe water were a devyse 6 
Bytwene myrfez 6 by merez 7 made ; 
5 Byjonde ]>e broke, 8 by slente 9 oj>er slade, 10 

I hope fat mote n merked 12 wore. 
Bot f e water watz depe, I dorst not wade, 
And ever me longed a[y] more and more. 

More and more, and jet wel mare, 
10 Me lyste 18 to se pe broke byjonde ; 

For if hit watz fayr ber I con fare, 
Wel loveloker 14 watz be fyrre londe. 
Abowte me con I stote w and stare, 
To fynde a forbe 16 faste con I fonde n ; 
15 Bot wobez 18 mo iwysse per ware, 

J>e fyrre I stalked by be stronde ; 
And ever me bojt I schulde not wonde 19 
For wo per welez so wynne " wore. 
J>enne nwe note 21 me com on honde, 
20 J>at meved 22 my mynde ay more and more. 

More mervayle con my dom M adaunt 2 * ; 
I 865 * byjonde fat myry 26 mere 
A crystal clyffe ful relusaunt n 
Mony ryal 28 ray con fro hit rere. 29 
25 At fe fote J>erof per sete a faunt, 80 

A mayden of menske 81 ful debonere ; 

1 wherefore 

11 city (referring to the New 

21 a new matter 

2 over against ; MS. oj>er 


22 stirred 


12 placed 

2 mind 

* broad 

is i yearned 

24 overcome 

4 supposed 

i4 lovelier 

25 saw 

8 division 

15 stumble 

26 lovely 

6 pleasure-gardens 

16 ford 

2 " reflecting much light 

7 boundary-lines 

" seek 

28 royal 

8 stream 

18 dangers 

29 leap 


19 hesitate 

80 young person (OF. en/aunf) 

10 dale 

20 fair 

81 decorous bearing 


Blysnande l whyt watz hyr bleaunt 2 

I knew hyr wel, I hade sen hyr ere 3 

As glysnande 4 golde pat man con schere, 5 

So schon pat schene 6 anunder schore. 7 

On lenghe 8 I loked to hyr fere, 5 

J>e lengeij I knew hyr more and more. 

The more I f rayste 9 hyr f ayre face, 

Her fygure fyn, quen I had fonte, 10 

Suche gladande u glory con to me glace 12 

As lyttel byfore perto watz wonte. 10 

To calle hyr lyste 13 con me enchace, 14 

Bot baysment w gef myn hert a brunt 16 ; 

I sej hyr in so strange a place, 

Such a burre 1Y myjt make myn herte blunt. 18 

J>enne verez 19 ho up her fayre frount, 20 15 

Hyr vysayge whyt as playn yvore, 

J>at stonge myn hert f ul stray 21 atount, 22 

And ever pe lenger, pe more and more. 

More pen me lyste my drede aros ; 

I stod ful stylle and dorste not calle, 20 

Wyth ygen open and mouth ful clos ; 

I stod as hende 23 as hawk in halle. 

I hope 24 pat gostly ^ watz pat porpose 26 ; 

I dred onende 2T quat schulde byfalle 

Lest ho me eschaped pat I per chos, 28 25 

Er I at Steven " hir mo^t stalle. 30 

1 gleaming 

11 causing me to rejoice 

21 out of the right course 

2 tunic (OF. bliaut) 

12 glide 

22 confounded 

8 erstwhile 

18 the desire 

28 quiet 

4 glittering 

14 pursue 

24 suppose 

5 cut 

16 confusion 

26 spectral 

6 fair one 

16 blow 

26 intent, thing intended 

T at the foot of the bank 

if shock 

27 concerning 

8 at a distance 

18 stunned 

28 discerned 

9 scanned 

19 lifts 

29 with my voice 

10 perceived it 

20 brow 

80 stop 




J>at gracios gay l wythouten galle, 
So smofe, so smal, so seme 2 slyjt, 8 
Rysez up in hir araye ryalle, 
A prec[i]os pyece 4 in perlez pyjt. 6 

Perlez pyjte of ryal prys 6 

pere mojt mon by grace haf sene, 

Quen fat frech 7 as flor-de-lys 

Doun }>e bonke con boje 8 bydene. 9 

Al blysnande whyt watz hir bleaunt of biys, 10 

Upon u at sydez, and bounden bene 12 

Wyth J>e myryeste margarys, 18 at my devyse, 14 

J?at ever I sej jet with myn yjen ; 

Wyth lappez 15 large, I wot and I wene, 

Dubbed with double perle and dyjte, 16 

Her cortel " of self sute 18 schene, 

Wyth precios perlez al umbepyjte. 19 

A pyjt w coroune 21 jet ^ wer 23 fat gyrle, 
Of marjorys 18 and non o}>er ston, 
Hije pynakled of cler quyt perle, 
Wyth flurted ** flowrez perfet ^ upon. 
To hed 26 hade ho non ofer herle a ; 
Her here-leke 28 al hyr umbegon. 29 
Her semblaunt * sade for doc of>er erle, 31 
Her ble 32 more blajt 88 fen whallez bon M ; 

1 radiant one 

18 pearls 

2 modest 

14 in my opinion 

8 slight 

15 loose folds 

4 creature, thing 

16 adorned 

5 arrayed 

1- kirtle 

6 excellence 

18 of the very same fashion 

7 sweet one 

19 bordered 

8 did betake herself 

20 set with jewels 


21 crown 

10 fine linen; MS.hirbeauniys(?) 

22 besides 

(em. Osgood) 

28 wore 

11 open 

24 figured 

12 pleasingly 

25 perfectly wrought 

26 on her head 
^fillet; MS. werle 

28 locks of hair (?) ; MS. 

lere leke 

29 encircled 

80 countenance 

81 demure enough to suit 

duke or earl 

82 complexion 

a white (bleached) 
84 Ivory is called whale's 
bone in ME. 



As schorne golde schyr * her fax 2 penne schon, 
On schylderez 8 pat leghe 4 unlapped 5 lyjte. 6 
Her depe colour jet wonted 7 non 
Of precios perle in porfyl 8 pyjte. 

Pyjt and poyned 9 watz uche a hemme, 
At honde, at sydez, at overture, 10 
Wyth whyte perle and non oper gemme, 
And bornyste quyte watz hyr vesture. 
Bot a wonder perle wythouten wemme u 
In myddez hyr breste watz sette so sure. 
A mannez dom 12 mojt dryjly la demme u 
Er mynde mojt malte in hit mesure 15 ; 
I hope no tong mojt endure 16 
No saverly 17 saghe 18 say of pat syjt, 
So watz hit clene and cler and pure, 
Jat precios perle per hit watz pygt. 

Pyjt in perle, pat precios py[ec]e 

On wyper half 19 water com doun pe schore ; 

No gladder gome 20 hepen 21 into Grece 

J>en I quen ho on brymme wore w ; 

Ho watz me nerre w pen aunte or nece ; 

My joy forpy watz much pe more. 

Ho p[ro]fered me speche, pat special spece, 24 

Enclynande lowe in wommon lore, 25 

Cajte of 26 her coroun of grete tresore, 

And haylsed 27 me wyth a lote lyjte. 28 

1 bright 

2 hair 

8 shoulders 

5 unbound 

6 lightly 
" lacked 

8 embroidered border 

9 pierced (with open-work 


10 opening 

11 blemish 

12 judgment 
18 seriously 
" be baffled 

15 enter into its measure of 


16 be equal to the task 
i? sweet 

18 recital 

19 on the opposite side of 

20 man 

21 hence 

22 was on the brink 

28 closer (perhaps dearer) 
2 * rare being ; MS. spyce 

25 according to women's eti 


2 6 caught off 
2 " greeted 

28 manner blithe 


Wei watz me ]>at ever I watz bore, 
To sware l fat swete in perlez pyjte 1 

' O perle,' quod I, ' in perlez pyjt, 
Art j>ou my perle )>at I haf playned, 2 
Regretted 3 by myn one, 4 on nyjte ? _> 
/Much longey_ng_haf I for J>e layned, 6 
-Sy)>en into gresse 6 j>ou me aglyjte 7 ; ._ 
Pensyf, payred, 8 I am forpayned, 9 TN 
And }>ou in a lyf of lykyng 10 ly^te, 11 
In paradys erde, 12 of stryf unstrayned. 18 
What wyrde 14 hatz hyder my juel 15 wayned, 16 
And don me in del 17 and gret daunger ? 
Fro 18 we in twynne 19 wern towen 20 and twayned, 21 
I haf ben a joylez juelere.' 

15 That juel fenne in gemmez gente 22 \- 

Vered 28 up her vyse 24 wyth yjen graye, 
Set on hyr coroun of perle orient, y i 
And soberly after benne ^ con ho say : 
' Sir, je haf your tale mysetente, 20 

20 To say your perle is al awaye, 

l?at is in cofer so comly clente, 27 
vi' v ' * * 

As in pis gardyn gracios 28 gaye, 

Hereinne to lenge ^ for ever and play, 
J>er rnys nee mornyng 80 com never nere 81 ; 
25 Her were a forser 82 for ]>e, in laye, 88 |V \ r 

If fou were a gentyl jueler. 

12 the country of paradise w turned 

2 lamented 

18 unmolested 

24 face 

8 grieved for 

" fate 

25 straightway 

4 by myself 

is jewel 

26 heeded ill 

5 kept silent about 

16 brought ; MS. vayned 

2' enclosed so beautifully 

6 the sod (grass) 

17 sorrow ; MS. bys del 

2 delightful 

7 slipped away 

18 since 

M tarry 

8 worn 

l 9 in twain 

8 where sin nor mourning 

9 overcome with pain 

20 drawn 

81 MS. here 

10 pleasure 

21 torn apart 

82 treasure-chest 

11 arrived 

22 precious 

88 indeed 


' Bot, jueler gente, if fou schal lose 

J>y joy for a gemme fat fe watz lef/ ' 

Me fynk fe put in a mad porpose, 2 ^* 

And bu.syez f e s aboute a raysoun bref 4 ; * 

For fat fou lestez 5 watz bot a jrose 

J>at flowred and fayled 6 as kynde hyt gef 7 ; 

Now, f urj kynde of f e kyste 8 fat hyt con close, 9 

To a perle of prys hit is put in pref. 10 

And ]>ou hatz called fy wyrde a fef, 11 

f>at ojt of no^t 12 hatz mad fe cler, 18 

J>ou blamez 14 fe bote 15 of J>y meschef 16 ; ^/^ 

f>ou art no kynde " jueler.' 

A juel to me fen watz fys geste, 18 
And juelez wern hyr gentyl sawez. 19 
* Iwyse,' quod I, ' my blysfol beste, 20 
'<' My grete dystresse fou al todrawez. 21 
f To be excused I make requeste \_fif 
I trawed 22 my perle don out of dawez 28 ; 
Now haf I fonde hyt, I schal ma feste, 24 
And wony K wyth hyt in schyr 26 wod-schawez, 27 . 
And love my Lorde and al his lawez, frj^- 
J>at hatz me broj[t] fys blys ner ; 
Now wjsre I at 28 ydw by^onde fise wawez, 29 
ftf I were a jpyfol jueler.' 

'Jueler,' sayde fat gemme clene, 90 25 

' Wy borde 81 56 men, so madde 56 be ? 

1 dear 12 something from nothing 28 perished 

2 given over to mad intent 18 manifestly 2* make merry 

3 thou troublest thyself 14 dost reproach ^ dwell 

4 matter of short duration 15 remedy 26 bright 

5 lost 16 injury w groves 

withered 17 grateful 28 beside 

1 nature permitted it 18 guest w waves 

8 chest 19 words 80 pure 

9 enclose 20 best one 81 jest 
1 it is proved to be 21 puttest an end to 

n thief 22 believed 


J>re wordez hatz pou spoken at ene l ; 
-f Unavysed, 2 forsobe, wern alle )?re ; 

j?ou ne woste 8 in worlde 4 quat on dotz mene, 8 
J>y worde byfore ]>y wytte con fle. 
J>ou says J>ou trawez me in bis dene, 6 
Bycawse \>ou may wyth yjen me se^ 
Anofer \>ou says, in bys countre 
J>yself schal won wyth me rj^L here ; 
Je brydde, to passe bys water f re 
J>at may no joyfol jueler. . . .' 

' In blysse I se be blybely blent, 7 
And I a man al mornyf 8 mate 9 ; 
<5e take beron ful lyttel tente, 10 
J?a5 I hente u of te harmez hate. 12 
Bot now I am here in your presente, 18 
I wolde bysech wythouten debate 
^e wolde me say in sobre asente w 
What lyf 56 lede erly and late ; 
For I am ful fayn 15 fat your astate le ff ' 
Is worsen 17 to worschyp and wele, iwysse ; 
^Y- Of alle my joy ]>e hyje gate, 18 

Hit is in grounde 19 of alle my blysse.' 

' Now blysse, burne, 20 mot )>e bytyde,' 
]?en sayde fat lufsoum of lyth and lere 21 ; . 
25 'And welcum here to walk and byde, 

For now )>y speche is to me dere ; , 
Maysterful mod 22 and hy^e pryde, 
I hete 28 f e, arn heterly 24 hated here. 

1 one time 9 dejected road 

2 ill considered 10 heed 19 at the basis 
8 knowest not n experience 2 sir 

4 a t all 12 burning 21 that one, lovely of limb 

5 a single one means (lit. 18 presence and face 

does mean) M compliance %* temper 

6 valley 15 glad 2* assure 

7 joyously mingled 16 condition 24 bitterly 
mournful 17 is turned 


My Lorde ne lovez not for to chyde, 

For meke arn alle fat wonez hym nere ; 

And when in hys place }>ou schal agfire, 

Be dep devote l in hoi 2 mekenesse ; 

My Lorde f e Ljirnb lovez ay such chere 8 5 

J>at is ]>e grounde of alle my blysse. 

' A blysful lyf pou says I lede ; 

f>ou woldez knaw perof ]>e stage.. Gi 

Ipow wpst wel when |>y perle con schede 5 

I watz ful x$ng and tender of age; 10 

Bot my Lorde pe Lombe, purj hys Godhede, 

He toke myself to hys maryage, ff- 
fr* Coroyode me quene in blysse to brede 8 ^^- 

In lenghe of dayez fat ever schal wage T ; ) 

And sesed in 8 alle hys hery tage *~T 1 5 

Hys lef 9 is, I am holy hysse ; 
ffl Hys prese, 10 hys pjvs. 11 and hys parage, 18 

Is rote and grounde of alle my blysse.' 


It is not for beauty of phrasing or loveliness of movement that these verses 
are remarkable. They are here printed because they are early (Godric died 
in 1170) ; because their author was illiterate; and because he had such a sin 
gular career. He was successively peddler, pirate, and palmer, before, at the 
age of forty or over, he turned to the hermit's life. He is described as broad- 
shouldered, with well-set, sinewy frame, and flowing beard ; and his hair in 
earlier life was black. Of him, as of Chaucer's shipman, it might be said : 

With many a tempest hadde his herd been shake. 

During his wandering life, he was for several years the master of a vessel ply 
ing between England, Scotland, Denmark, and Flanders ; journeyed twice to 
Jerusalem, and on May 29, 1102, carried Baldwin I, King of Jerusalem, to Jaffa 
in his ship ; and visited Ronie, St. Giles in Provence, and Compostella. The 

1 deeply devout 6 did fall 9 precious one 

2 all 6 dwell 10 worth 

8 demeanor i endure n excellence 

4 degree of advancement 8 put in possession of u noble lineage 


last sixty years of his life he spent at Finchale, near Durham. He knew a little 
French, and could read at least the Psalter in Latin. He ' had unique influence 
over animals. His heifer, the hare that was nibbling at his garden herbs, the 
frozen birds, the stag pursued by huntsmen, all found a friend in him ' (Diet. 
Nat. Biog.). In extreme old age he became clairvoyant, and 'would interrupt 
his conversation to utter prayers for the storm-tossed vessels of his dreams.' 
See Kingsley, Hermits ; Alban Butler's and Baring-Gould's Lives of the Saints ; 
and especially the Diet. Nat. Biog. 

The music of all three hymns, found in MS. Brit. Mus. Royal S. F. 7, is 
reproduced as the frontispiece of Saintsbury's History of English Prosody, with 
a somewhat imperfect text. 


This hymn was taught, as he believed, to Godric, by the Virgin Mary 
herself. The text is from Zupitza's edition (Eng. Stud. 11.423). The music to 
which it was sung is printed in Stevenson's edition of Reginald's life of the 
saint (Surtees Soc., Vol. 20), p. 288. 

Sainte Marie, Virgine, 

Moder Jesu Cristes Nazarene, 

Onfo, 1 scild, 2 help Jrin 8 Godric, 

Onf ang, 1 bring hehlic * wio" pe in Codes ric. 6 

Sainte Marie, Cristes bur, 6 
Maidenes clenhad, 7 moderes flur, 8 
Dilie 9 mine sinne, rixe 10 in min mod, 
Bring me to winne n witS self God. 


Godric's sister had led a hermit's life in a cell near him at Finchale. After 
her death he was concerned about the state of her soul. One night he had a 
vision of the Virgin Mary followed by two men in white garments, and between 
them the spirit of his sister. They floated down upon the altar of his oratory, 
and his sister, standing upon the altar, sang the following lines (Zupitza, p. 429). 

1 receive *> kingdom 8 flower 

2 protect 6 bower; chamber (alluding to Ps. 19. 5, under- 9 blot out 
8 thy stood of Christ as the bridegroom) 10 reign 

4 gloriously J purity ll bliss 


The ' scamel,' or footstool, here refer? to the altar, with allusion to i Chron. 
28.3; Ps. 99.5; 132.7; Isa. 60.13; f r tne footstool may be identified with 
the mercy-seat of the old dispensation (Exod. 25. 16-22), and hence with the 
altar in the Christian church. 

Crist and Seinte Marie swa 1 on scamel me iledde 2 
f>at Ic on J)is erSe ne silde 8 wiS mine bare fote itredie. 4 


St. Nicholas is reported by his biographer, Reginald (ed. Stevenson, p. 202), 
to have once visited Godric in a dream at Eastertide, in company with angels 
descending to Christ's sepulchre, to have sung with them, and to have urged 
Godric to sing also, which he did. Our hymn, however, has no direct allusion 
to this occurrence. 

The third line should, according to Zupitza (p. 430), be brought into direct 
relation with the end of the first (' God's darling at thy birth, at thy bier ') 
which indicates that Godric's literary technique left something to be desired. 

Sainte Nicholaes, Codes drutS, 

Tymbre 6 us f aire scone 6 hus 

At fi burth, at ]>i bare 5 

Sainte Nicholaes, bring us wel fare. 7 

About 1310. From Boddeker, pp. 210-2 

I syke 8 when Y singe, 

For sorewe fat Y se, 
When Y wif wypinge 9 

Biholde upon fe tre, 10 

Ant se Jesu, fe suete, 
Is 10 herte-blodforlete u 

For J>e love of me. 
Ys 10 woundes waxen wete ; 
J>ei wepen stille and mete ia ; 15 

Marie rewep fe. 

1 so 5 build 9 weeping 

2 led 6 beautiful 10 his 
8 should 7 there n lose 

4 tread 8 sigh u gently 


Heje upon a doune, 1 

per al folk hit se may, 
A mile from be 2 toune, 

Aboute pe midday, 
5 J>e rode is up arered ; 

His frendes aren afered, 

Ant clyngeb 3 so 4 )>e clay. 
}?e rode stont 5 in stone ; 
Marie stont hire one, 6 
10 Ant seib ' Weylaway 1 ' 

When Y }>e biholde 

WiJ> eyjen bryhte bo, 7 
Ant bi bodi colde, 

J>i ble 8 waxeb bio 9 ; 

1 5 J?ou hengest al of blode 

So heje upon be rode, 

Bituene feves tuo. 
Who may syke more ? 
Marie wepef sore, 
20 Ant sij> 10 al ]>is wo. 

J?e naylles be)> to stronge, 

J?e smy))es are to sleye u ; 
J>ou bledest al to longe, 

J)e tre is al to heyje. 

25 f>e stones beo}> al wete, 

Alas, Jesu, )>e suete 1 

For nou frend hast )>ou non 
Bote Seint Johan mournynde, 
Ant Marie wepynde 
30 For pyne ]>at J>e ys on. 

1 hill 6 stands ; MS. stond 9 Hvid 

2 MS. uch (em. B.) 6 by herself 10 MS. siht (em. B.) 
8 shrink up 7 both u skilful 

4 8 color 


Ofte when Y sike 

And makie my mon, 
Wei ille pah me like 1 

Wonder is hit non ; 

When Y se honge heje, 5 

Ant bittre pynes dreje, 2 

Jesu, my lemmon. 8 
His wondes sore smerte ; 
f>e spere al to [h]is herte 

Ant pourh [h]is syde [i]s 4 gon. 10 

Ofte when Y syke, 

Wip care Y am pourhsoht 8 ; 
When Y wake, Y wyke, 6 

Of serewe is al mi poht. 

Alas ! men bep wode 7 15 

fat suerep by pe rode, 

And sellep him for noht 
J>at bohte us out of synne. 
He bring 8 us to wynne 9 

f>at hap us duere 10 boht ! 20 


Thirteenth century. From MS. Brit. Mus. Egerton 613, printed by Morris, 
Old English Miscellany (E.E.T.S. 49), pp. 194-5. 

Of on pat is so fayr and brijt 

Velut- mans stella, 
Brijter J>an pe day is lijt, 

Parens et puella. 

Ic crie to pe ; pou se 12 to me ; 25 

Levedy, preye pi Sone for me, 

Tarn pia, 

1 if I like it full ill 5 pierced 9 bliss 

2 suffer 6 grow weak 10 dearly 

3 darling 7 demented u MS. velud 

4 MS. sydes 8 subj. 12 i oo k 


J>at Ic mote 1 come to J>e, 

Of kare 2 conseil 8 pou ert best, 

Felix, fecundata ; 
5 Of alle wery 4 fou ert rest, 

Mater honorata. 
Bisek him wif> 6 milde mod 
J>at for ous alle s[h]ad [h]is blod 

In cruce, 

10 f>at we moten komen til him 

In luce. 

Al pis world was forlore, 

Eva peaatrice, 
Tyl our Lord was ybore 
i 5 De te genitrice ; 

With Ave* it went away 

Duster 7 nyht and comet[h] ]>e day 

Salutis ; 

J>e welle springeth ut of ]>e 
20 Virtutis. 

Levedi, flour 8 of alle J>ing, 9 

Rosa sine spina, 
J>u bere 10 Jesu, hevene King, 

Gratia divina ; 

25 Of alle Jm berst J?e pris, 11 

Levedi, quene of Parays 

Mayde milde, moder es 


1 may * MS. wiz 9 things 

2 anxiety 6 hail (anagram of Eva) 10 barest 
8 counsel 7 dark 11 prize 

4 who are weary 8 flower 


Wei he wot l he is Jri Sone, 

Ventre quern portasti ; 
He wyl nout werne 2 fe ]>i bone, 3 

Parvum quern lactasti ; 
So hende 4 and so god he is, 5 
He havet[h] brou[h]t ous to blis 

f>at havez hidut 6 f e f oule put 7 



About 1310. From Boddeker, pp. 206-8 

' Stond wel, moder, under rode, 
Byhold 8 fy Sone wif glade mode ; 

Blyfe, moder, myht 9 ]>ou be ! ' 
* Sone, hou shulde Y blyf e stonde ? 
Y se fin fet, Y se fin honde, 

Nayled to pe harde tre.' 

' Moder, do wey 10 py wepinge ; 
Y pole n de]> for monkynde, 

For my gult pole Y non.' 
' Sone, Y fele pe dede-stounde 12 ; 
^ J>e suert is at myn herte grounde 18 

f>at me byhet 14 Symeon.' 

' Moder, merci, let me deye, 
For Adam out of helle [to] beye, 
Ant his kun, fat is fcrlore.' 


1 knows 

2 deny 

3 prayer, boon 

4 gracious 
6 MS. his 

6 covered 
1 pit 

8 MS. -holt 

9 mayst 
1 away 

n suffer 
12 death-pang 
18 core 
14 foretold 



2 5 

1 as advice 

2 death 
8 son 

* tears 

5 affects 

6 forbid 
1 run 

' Sone, what shal me to rede l ? 
My peyne pynef me to dede 2 ; 
Lat me deje J>e byfore.' 

' Moder, ]>ou rewe al of f i Bern 8 ; 
J>ou wosshe awai fe blody tern, 4 

Hit dof 6 me worse fen my ded.' 
1 Sone, hou may Y teres werne 6 ? 
Y se fe blody stremes erne 7 

From fin herte to my fet.' 

' Moder, nou Y may )>e seye, 
Betere is fat Ich one 8 deye 

}?en 9 al monkunde to helle go.' 
' Sone, Y se fi bodi bysw[o]ngen, 10 
Fet and honde f ourhout stongen 11 ; 

No wonder f ah 12 me be wo.' 

' Moder, nou Y shal )>e telle, 
^ef Y ne deje, fou gost to helle ; 

Y }>ole ded for fine sake.' 
' Sone, \> ou art so meke and mynde, 18 
Ne wy t 14 me naht hit is my kynde 15 

f>at Y for fe fis sorewe make.' 

r Moder, nou ]>ou miht wel leren 16 
Whet sorewe havef 1T fat children beren, 

Whet sorewe hit is wif childe gon.' 
' Sorewe ? ywis, 18 Y con fe telle ! 
Bote 19 hit be |>e pyne m of helle, 

More serewe wot Y non.' 

8 alone 

10 em. B. 

11 pierced 
13 if 

18 considerate 
" blame 

15 nature 

16 canst easily explain 

17 they have 

18 indeed 
l unless 
20 pain 


' Moder, rew of moder-kare, 
For nou \>ou wost of moder-fare, 1 

J>ah 2 f ou be clene mayden on. 8 ' 
' Sone, help at alle nede 
Alle )>o fat to me grede, 4 

Maiden, wif, ant fol 5 wymmon.' 

' Moder, may Y no lengore duelle, 6 
J?e time is come, Y shal 7 to helle ; 

J>e fridde day Y ryse upon.' 
' Sone, Y wil wi|> fe [be] founden ; 
Y deye, ywis, for |nne wounden 

So soreweful ded nes never non.' 

When he ros, J>o 8 fel hire sorewe, 
Hire blisse sprang J>e ]>ridde morewe; 

Blyfe, moder, were ]>ou ]>o ! 
Levedy, for fat ilke blisse, 
Bysech ]>i Sone of sunnes lisse 9 ; 

J>ou be oure sheld ajeyn 10 oure fo. 

Blessed be fou, ful of blysse ! 
Let us never hevene misse, 

J>ourh J>i ll suete Sones myht. 
Loverd, for fat ilke 12 blod 
J>at \> ou sheddest on fe rod, 

J>ou bryng us into hevene-lyht. 



1 mother-doings 

2 though ; MS. )x>u 
8 one, a ; MS. mon 
* cry 

5 foolish, loose 

6 stay 

7 must 

9 sin's remission 

10 against 

11 MS. sourh l>ich (em. B.) 

12 same 


About 1310. From Boddeker, pp. 218-9 

Ase Y me rod, f is ender * day, 
By grene wode to seche play, 
Mid herte Y fohte al on a may, 2 

Suetest of alle f inge ; 
5 Lyfe, 8 and Ich ou telle may 

Al of fat suete f inge. 

Jis maiden is suete ant fre of blod, 4 
Briht and feyr, of milde mod ; 
Alle heo mai don us god 
10 J>urh hire bysechynge ; 

Of hire he tok fleysh and blod, 
Jesu Crist, hevene Kynge. 

Wif al mi lif Y love fat may ; 
He is mi solas nyht and day, 
15 My joie, and eke my beste play, 5 

Ant eke my love-longynge ; 
Al f e betere me is fat day 

J>at Ich of hire synge. 

Of alle finge Y love hir mest, 6 

20 My dayes blis, my nyhtes rest, 

Heo counseilef and helpef best 

Bof e elde and synge 7 ; 
Nou Y may, jef Y wole, 

f>e fif joyes mynge. 8 

25 J>e furst joie of f at wymman ' 

When Gabriel from hevene cam, 

1 other ^ descent, parentage J old and young 

3 maid 5 delight 8 mention 

listen 6 most 9 MS. wyn- 



1 mankind 

2 second 
8 on 

4 manger 

5 light 

Ant seide God shulde bicome man, 

Ant of hire be bore, 
And bringe up of helle pyn 

Monkyn l fat wes forlore. 

J?at of er 2 joie of fat may 5 

Wes o 8 Cristesmasse day, 

When God wes bore, on f orwe 4 lay, 

Ant brohte us lyhtnesse 6 ; 
J>estri 6 wes seie 7 byfore day, 

J>is hirdes s beref wytnesse. 10 

J?e f ridde joie of fat levedy 
J>at men clepef fe Epyphany, 
W T hen fe kynges come, wery, 

To presente hyre Sone 
Wif myrre, gold, and encenz, 15 

J>at 9 wes Mon bicome. 

J>e furfe joie we telle mawen 

On Estermorewe, w[h]en 10 hit gon dawen, 11 

Hyre sone, fat wes slawen, 

Aros in fleysh and bon ; 20 

More joie ne mai me haven 

Wyf ne mayden non. 

J>e fifte joie of fat wymman 

When hire body to hevene cam, 

J>e soule to fe body nam, 12 25 

Ase hit wes woned to bene. 13 
Crist, leve 14 us alle wif fat wymman 

J>at joie al for te sene. 

6 darkness 

7 seen 

8 shepherds 

9 who 

10 em. B. 

11 dawn 

12 joined 
18 be 

l 4 grant 


Preye we alle to oure levedy, 

Ant to be sontes 1 bat wonej> 2 hire by, 

J>at heo 8 of us haven merci, 

Ant )>at we ne misse 
In pis world to ben holy, 

Ant wynne hevene blysse. 


About 1456. From MS. Brit. Mus. Harl. 5396, printed by Wright, Specimens 
of Old Christmas Carols (Percy Soc. 4), p. 3 2 - 

Christo paremus canticam, 
\Iri\ excelsis gloria. 

When Cryst was born of Mary fre, 4 
I0 In Bedlem in that fayre cyte, 

Angellis song ther with myrth and gle : 
In excelsis gloria. 

Herdmen 5 beheld thes angellis bryjt, 
To hem apperyd wyth gret lyjt, 
And seyd : ' Goddys Sone is born this nyjt ; 
In excelsis gloria.' 

Thys king 6 ys comyn to save [manjkynde, 
In the Scriptur 7 as we fynde ; 
Therfore this song have we in mynde : 
20 In excelsis gloria. 

Then, Lord, for thy gret[e] grace, 
Graunt us the blys to se thy face, 
Where we may syng to thy solas : 
In excelsis gloria. 

1 saints 'shepherds 7 M S. as yn Scripturas (em. 

2 dwell 6 MS. keng (em. Chambers 
8 they and Sidgwick, Early Eng- 
4 noble te h Lyrics) 



About 1425. Sections 6 and 7 (lines 59-84) of Festivals of the Church, from 
MS. Brit. Mus. Royal 18 A. 10, printed by Morris, Legends of the Holy Rood 
(E.E.T.S. 46), pp. 212-3. 

At Cristemasse, mayde Mary, 

f>orowe helpe of |>e Holy Goostis heste, 1 
J?i Brid 2 was born, and lay ]>e by, 

Aboute bobe bynne 8 and beeste. 
J>e aungels maden melody 5 

For joye of Cristis feeste ; 
A clere note ]>ei sang in )>e sky 

Whan Kyngis Sone bare fleisshly creste. 4 

Scheperdes, meest and leest, 

' Joye to God full of love ! ' 10 

Herden )>ei aungels synge above, 
' Pes to man ! J>e devyll is drove 5 

Fro Goddis trone in J>e eest.' 

J>an mygt ]>e mylde may 6 synge, 

Ysaye, J>e woord of pee : 15 

' J>ou seydest 7 a gerd schulde sprynge 

Oute of ]>e rote of jentill Jesse, 
And schulde floure with florisschyng, 

With primeroses greet plente ; 
Into j?e croppe 8 schulde come a Kyng 20 

f>at is a Lord of power and pyte 

My swete Sone I see ! 
I am J?e jerde, 9 J>ou art pe Flour ! 
My Brid 10 is borne by u beest in boure ; 
My Primerose, my Paramour, 12 25 

With love I lulle fee.' 

1 bidding 5 driven 9 shoot 

2 son (lit. bird) 6 maiden 10 child (lit. bird) 
manger 7 isa. n. i "near 

1 crest, insignia 8 topmost branch 12 sweetheart 



About 1450. From MS. Brit. Mus. Sloane 2593, as printed by Fehr in 
Herrig's Archiv 109. 50. 

I syng of a mayden 

f>at is makeles 1 ; 
Kyng of alle kynges 

To here Sone [s]che 2 dies.* 
5 He cam also 4 stylle 

f>ere 6 his moder was 
As dew 6 in Aprylle 

J?at fallyt on J>e gras ; 
He cam also stylle 

10 To his moderes bowr 

As dew in Aprille 

f>at fallyt on ]>e flour ; 
He cam also stylle 

J>ere his moder lay 
15 As dew in Aprille 

]?at fallyf on }>e spray ; 
Moder and maydyn 

Was never non but [s]che 2 ; 
Wei may swych a lady 
20 Godes moder be. 


About 1460-1490. From MS. Bodl. Eng. Poet. e. i, printed by Wright in 
Songs and Carols (Percy Soc. 73), p. 19. 

Lullay, my Child, and wepe no more; 

Slepe, and be now styll ; 
The King of blys thy Fader ys, 

As it was hys wyll. 

1 matchless 8 chose 5 where 

2 MS. che (em. Chambers and Sidgwick) * as Cf. Ps. 72. 6 


This endrys 1 nyjt I saw a syjt 2 

A mayd a cradyll kepe 
And ever she song, and seyd among : 

' Lullay, my child, and slepe.' 

' I may not slepe, but I may wepe, 5 

I am so wo begone ; 
Slep I [w]old, butt I am colde, 

And clothys have I none.' 

Me thoujt I hard 8 the Chyld answard, 

And to hys moder he sayd : 10 

' My moder der, what do I her, 

In cribbe why am I layd ? 

I was borne, and layd beforne 

Bestys, both ox and asse ; 
My moder mild, I am thy Child, 15 

But he my Fader was. 

Adam's gylt this man had spylt 4 ; 

That sin grevet[h] me sore. 
Man, for the her shall I be 

Thyrty wynter and mor. 20 

Dole 5 is to se, her shall I be 

Hang[ed] upon the rode ; 
With baleis 6 tobete, 7 my woundes towete, 8 

And seffe my fleshe to bote. s 

. 9 

Here shall I be hanged on a tre, 25 

And dye, as it is skyll 10 ; ' 
That I have bougt leese n wyll I noujt ; 

It is my Faders will. 

1 other 5 MS. dole it 9 atonement 

2 MS. syjth 6 scourge 10 proper, right 

8 heard 7 smitten n lose ; MS. lesse 

4 ruined 8 dripping 



A spere so scharp shall perse my herte 
For dedys that I have done ; 

Fader of grace, wher 1 thou hase 
Forgetyn thy lytyll Sonne ? 

Withouten pety 2 her shall aby, 8 
And mak my fleshe all bio.* 

Adam, iwys, this deth it ys 
For the and many mo.' 


About 1500 (or earlier). From MS. Oxford Balliol 354, as printed by Fliigel 
in Angl. 26. 243-5 ( c ^- Neueng. Lesebuch, pp. 117-9), w i tn J> f r MS. y. See 
554 24 ff. 

Can I not syng but ' Hoy /' 
J0 Whan the joly shepard made so mych joy. 

The shepard upon a hill he satt ; 
He had on hym his tabard 5 and his hat, 
Hys tarbox, his pype, and hys flagat 6 ; 
Hys name was called Joly, Joly Wat, 
IS For he was a gud herdesboy. 

Ut hoy 1 
For in hys pype he made so mych joy. 

The shepard upon a hill was layd ; 
Hys doge to hys gyrdyll was tayd. 7 
20 He had not slept but a lytill brayd 8 

But 9 Gloria in excelsis was to hym sayd. 

Ut hoy 1 
For in his pipe he mad so myche joy. 

1 whether 

2 pity 

8 expiate 
< livid 

5 loose upper garment with 

out sleeves 

6 flask, bottle 
" tied 

8 while ; MS. broyd (em. F.) 


The shepard [up]on a hill he stode ; 
Rownd abowt hym his shepe they yode. 1 
He put hys hond under hys hode, 2 
He saw a star as rede as blod. 

Ut hoy ! 5 

For in his pipe he mad so myche joy. 

' Now farwell, Mall, and also Will, 

For my love go ye all styll 

Unto 8 I cum agayn you till 4 ; 

And evermore, [W]ill, 5 ryng well thy bell. 10 

Ut hoy 1 ' 
For in his pipe he mad so mych joy. 

' Now must I go J>er 6 Cryst was borne ; 

Farewell, I cum agayn to-morn 7 ; 

Dog, kepe well my shep fro )>e corn, 15 

And warn well warroke 8 when I blow my horn. 

Ut hoy ! ' 
For in hys pipe he made so mych joy. 

Whan Wat to Bedlem cum [en] was, 

He swet he had gon faster than a pace 9 ; 20 

He fownd Jesu in a sympyll place, 

Betwen an ox and an asse. 

Ut hoy ! 
For in his pipe he mad so mych joy. 

The shepard sayd anon ryght : 25 

' I will go se yon farly 10 syght, 
Wheras ]>e angell syngith on hight, 11 
And the star fat shynyth so bryght 

Ut hoy ! ' 
For in [his] 12 pipe he made so mych joy. 30 

1 went 5 em. F. 9 walk 

2 hood (to lift it up) 8 where 10 wondrous 
8 until 7 to-morrow n high 

4 to 8 (?) la em - F - 


' Jesu, I offer to the here my pype, 
My skyrte, 1 my tarbox, and my scrype 2 ; 
Home to my felowes now will I skype, 
And also loke unto my shepe. 
5 Ut hoy ! ' 

For 8 in his pipe he mad so myche joy. 

' Now farewell, myne owne herdesman, Wat ! ' 
' Ye, for God, lady, even so I hat * ; 
Lull well Jesu in thy lape, 
10 And farewell, Joseph, wyth thy rownd cape. 

Ut hoy ! ' 
For in hys pipe he mad so myche joy. 

Now may I well both hope 5 and syng, 
For 8 I have bene a[t] Crystes beryng 6 ; 
15 Home to my felowes now wyll I flyng. 7 

Cryst of hevyn to his blis us bryng ! 

Ut hoy ! ' 
For in his pipe he mad so myche joy. 


About 1300 (New Eng. Diet. s.v. plate). From MS. Camb. Trin. Coll. B. 
14-39 (photograph in my possession); cf. Child, English and Scottish Popular 
Ballads, No. 23. The manuscript has y for/ and -st(e) for -$t(e) ; it is otherwise 
carelessly written (wid for wij>, wou for hou (?)), etc., but I have made very 
few emendations, though one is tempted to change aros to anas, for instance. 

Mirk (about 1400?) says (Festial, E.E.T.S., Ex. Ser. 96, p. 79) : 'Judas had 
befor slayne his owne fadyr, and bylayn hys owne modyr.' 

Hit wes upon a Scere J>orsday fat ure Loverd aros ; 
20 Ful milde were )>e wordes he spec to Judas : 

1 (?) ; MS. scrype (em. Fliigel) < am called 6 birth 

2 scrip ; MS. skyrte (em. Fliigel) 5 hop 7 rush 
MS. ffor 

19. Scere Jrorsday : Maundy Thursday ; Mirk explains (Festial, p. 125) : ' In 
old fadyrs dayes, men wold >at day make scher horn honest, and dodde hor 
heddys, and clyp hor berdys, and so make horn onest aseynes Astyr-day. For, 
on the morow, bay wold do hor body non ese, but suffyr penance yn mynd of 
hym bat suffred so hard for horn ' ; cf. p. 169. 

JUDAS 471 

' Judas, pou most to Jurselem, oure mete for to bugge l ; 
J>ritti platen 2 of selver pou here upo pi rugge. 8 

f>ou comest f er i 4 pe brode stret, fer i pe brode strete ; 

Summe of fine tunesmen per pou meijt imete. 5 ' 


Imette wid is soster, 6 pe swikele 7 wimon. 5 

' Judas, pou were wrpe 8 me 9 stende 10 pe wid ston, 

[Judas, pou were wrpe me stende pe wid ston,] 
For pe false prophete pat tou bilevest upon.' 

' Be stille, leve soster, pin herte pe tobreke n ! 

Wiste 12 min Loverd, 18 Crist, ful wel he wolde be wreke. 14 ' 10 

' Judas, go pou on pe roc, heie upon pe ston ; 
Lei pin heved i my barm, 15 slep pou pe anon.' 

Sone so 16 Judas of slepe was awake, 

J>ritti platen of selver from hym weren itake. 

He drou 17 hymselve bi Je cop, 18 pat al [h]it lavede 19 a 20 blode ; 15 
}>e Jewes out of Jurselem awenden 21 he were wode. 

Foret 22 hym com pe riche Jeu pat heijte 28 Pilatus. 
' Wolte sulle 24 pi Loverd, pat hette M Jesus ? ' 

' I nul 26 sulle my Loverd for nones cunnes eijte, 27 

Bote hit be for pe pritti platen pat he me bitaijte. 28 ' 20 

1 buy 10 stoned M in 

2 Wyclif has " plates," Matt. ll break, subj. 21 thought 

26. 1 5, etc. 12 if ... knew (it) 22 forth 

8 back 18 lord 28 was called 

4 in w avenged M wilt thou sell 

5 meet i6 lap 25 j s called 

6 sister i6 as soon as 26 w m not 

7 treacherous w drew 27 no kind of property 
6 deserving * 8 head 28 entrusted 

(that) one 19 was bathed 


' Wolte sulle pi Lord, Crist, for enes cunnes golde ? ' 
' Nay, bote hit be for pe platen pat he habben wolde.' 

In him l com ur Lord gon, as [h]is postles seten at mete. 
' Wou 2 sitte ye, postles, ant wi nule ye etc ? 

S [Wou sitte ye, postles, ant wi nule ye etc ?] 

Ic am iboujt ant isold to-day for cure 8 mete.' 

Up stod him Judas : ' Lord, am I pat ? 

I nas never o pe stude 4 per me 5 pe evel spec. 6 ' 

Up him stod Peter, ant spec wid al is mijte : 
10 ' J>au 7 Pilatus him come wid ten hundred cnijtes, 

[J>au Pilatus him com wid ten hundred cnijtes,] 
Yet Ic wolde, Loverd, for pi love fijte.' 

' Still pou be, Peter I wel I pe icnowe 8 ; 

J>ou wolt fursake me prien 9 ar pe coc him crowe.' 


About 1450. From MS. Brit. Mus. Sloane 2593, as printed by Child, 
Ballads, No. 22. 

15 Seynt Stevene was a clerk in Kyng Herowdes halle, 

And servyd him of bred and clop, 10 as every kyng befalle. 

Stevyn out of kechone cam, wyth boris hed on honde ; 
He saw a sterre was fayr and bryjt over Bedlem stonde. 

1 refl. 5 any one thrice 

2 how (is it that) ; or read wi ? spake 10 tablecloth 
8 your "i though 

* place 8 know 

7. J>at : Matzner (Altengl. Sprachproben i. 114) suggests wreck after this 
word ; but would the c of spec be palatal ? 


He kyst 1 adoun f e boris bed, and went into be halle. 
' I forsak be, Kyng Herowdes, and \>\ werkes alle. 

' I forsak be, Kyng Herowdes, and fi werkes alle ; 
J>er is a chyld in Bedlem born is beter fan we alle.' 

' Quat eylyt 2 f e, Stevene ? quat 8 is f e befalle ? 5 

Lakkyt 4 f e ey]>er mete or drynk in Kyng Herowdes halle ? ' 

' Lakit me neyf er mete ne drynk in Kyng Herowdes halle ; 
J?er is a chyld in Bedlem born is beter fan we alle.' 

' Quat eylyt f e, Stevyn ? art f u wod, 5 or )m gynnyst to brede 6 ? 
Lakkyt fe eyfer gold or fe, or ony ryche wede 7 ? ' 10 

' Lakyt me neyf er gold ne fe, ne non ryche wede ; 

J>er is a chyld in Bedlem born xal 8 helpyn us at our nede.' 

' J>at is al so sof , Stevyn, al so so}), iwys, 

As ]>is capoun crowe xal J>at \y\> here in myn dysh.' 

J>at word was not so sone seyd, fat word in fat halle, 15 

J>e capoun crew Cristus natus est ! among fe lordes alle. 

' Rysyt 9 up, myn turmentowres, be to 10 and al[s] u be on, 
And ledyt Stevyn out of f is town, and stonyt hym wyth ston ! ' 

Tokyn he ia Stevene, and stonyd hym in the way, 

And J> erfore is his evyn 18 on Crystes owyn day. 20 

1 cast 6 be pregnant (?) u also 

2 a ii s 7 garment 12 they took 
8 what 8 shall 18 eve, vigil 
4 fails 9 rise (imp.) 

6 m ad 10 by two 



Troilus and Criseyde 3. 1-14, which is translated from Boccaccio's Filostrato 
3. 585-600 : 

O luce eterna, il cui lieto splendore 
Fa bello il terzo ciel, dal qual ne piove 
Piacer, vaghezza, pietade ed amore ; 
Del sole arnica, e figliuola di Giove, 
Benigna donna d' ogni gentil core, 
Certa cagion del valor che mi muove 
A' sospir dolci della mia salute, 
Sempre lodata sia la tua virtute. 

II ciel, la terra, lo mare e 1' inferno 
Ciascuno in sfe la tua potenzia sente, 
O chiara luce ; e s' io il ver discerno, 
Le piante, i semi, e 1' erbe puramente, 
Gli uccei, le fiere, i pesci con eterno 
Vapor ti senton nel tempo piacente, 
E gli uomini e gli dei, ne creatura 
Senza di te nel mondo vale o dura. 

For an extended comment, see my article, Herrig's Archiv 119 (1907). 40-54. 

O blisful light, of whiche the bemes clere 
Adorn eth al the thridde hevene 1 faire ; 

O sonnes leef, O Joves doughter dere, 
Plesaunce of love, O goodly, debonaire, 2 
In gentil hertes ay redy to repaire ; 

O verray cause of hele 8 and of gladnesse, 

Yheried * be thy might and thy goodnesse ! 

In hevene and helle, in erthe and sake see 
Is felt thy might, if that I wel descerne ; 

As man, brid, best, fish, herbe, and grene tree 
Thee fele in tymes with vapour 5 eterne. 
God loveth, and to love wol nought werne 6 ; 

And in this world no ly ves 7 creature, 

Withouten love, is worth, or may endure. 

1 that of Venus 4 praised, exalted 6 forbid 

2 gracious 5 inspiration 7 living 
8 well-being 



Troilus and Criseyde 5. 1863-1869. The first three lines are from Dante, 

Paradiso 14.28-30: 

Quell' uno e due e tre che sempre vive, 
E regna sempre in tre e due ed uno, 
Non circonscritto, e tutto circonscrive. 

Thou oon, and two, and three, eterne onlyve, 1 
That regnest ay in three and two and oon, 

Uncircumscript, and al mayst circumscryve, 
Us from visible and invisible foon 
Defende ; and to thy mercy, everychoon, 

So make us, Jesus, for thy grace digne, 2 

For love of mayde and moder thyn benigne ! 

i in life, living 2 worthy 




This fragmentary ' interlude,' belonging to the thirteenth century, is the 
first English comedy, and the only one extant from the Middle Ages. It was 
printed by Wright from a manuscript then in private hands, but now MS. Brit. 
Mus. Add. 23,986, written about 1300 by a French scribe. A more critical edition 
is by Heuser (Anglia 30. 306-19). According to the latter, the dialect indicates 
south Yorkshire or north Lincolnshire ; as there is mention in Dame Sirith 
(see above, p. 145) of Boston, in Lincolnshire, the two works belong to the 
same region, though the manuscript of Dame Sirith hails from Worcester. 
Heuser assumes that both works rest upon a lost interlude. He concludes : 

1. Dame Sirith was originally written in rhyming couplets. 

2. Dame Sirith has only 47 narrative lines (24 of these at the beginning) 
out of 450, and these occur almost exclusively when a new character enters ; 
everything indicates that it was an interlude before it was a fabliau. 

3. Dame Sirith and our interlude are akin in subject, dramatic character, 
verse, dialect, and occasionally in phraseology ; hence both repose upon a 
thirteenth-century interlude. 

4. Various changes of the original appear in Dame Sirith (narrative addi 
tions, verse, dialect), so that our interlude does not spring from the fabliau. 
In the interlude the deceived woman is a girl, not, as in every other version, 
a wife ; hence the fabliau does not spring from the present interlude. It is 
likely that each author worked, not from a manuscript, but from his own 
recollection of the acted interlude. 

5. The names throw no light upon a possible French origin. For (a) as the 
scribe was French (Heuser, p. 310), the saints, Michel and Dinis, signify 
nothing ; (&) Mome Elwis and Malkyn are English names ; the Margeri of 
Dame Sirith is French, but must have been used in England ; the Willekin 
of Dame Sirith is English; Sirith is Scandinavian (= Sigrith) ; the Nelde of 
Dame Sirith is hardly a proper name, but possibly from OE. eald, old. Elwis, 
or Helwys, points to the eastern part of England, where there occur such 
family-names as Helwys and Elwes. 

With respect to Heuser's (5), the indications are that behind the Clericus et 
Puella there was a French original. Malkyn has a termination borrowed from 
Dutch or Low German, but the first syllable is from the French Matilda (note 
that the wife of Henry I changed her original name of Eadgyth, Edith, to 
Matilda). Mone (MS. Mome) is borrowed from Scandinavian or Dutch. The 
other names point clearly to France : to the saints, Michael and Denis, add 



Leonard (cf. above, p. 387), who is associated with the vicinity of Limoges; 
and Elwis is surely the French Heluis (Helois, Heluiz, Helui, Heloi, Eluys), 
which is frequently found in the French feudal epic before 1180 thirteen 
times in Garin le Lorrain, for instance (Langlois, Table des Noms Propres dans 
les Chansons de Geste, pp. 329-30) ; compare Chaucer's ' Helowys' in Wife of 
Bath's Prologue 677, referring to the mistress of Abelard. Then fayllard, 477 8 
(following its noun), is French, like the boinard oi Dame Sirith (152 19). As to 
Dame Sirith, the name Margeri is French, as we have seen ; Willekin has the 
same ending as Malkyn ; and Nelde (rather, nelde) represents a variant spell 
ing of ' needle ' (the one crone may have ostensibly supported herself with her 
needle, as the other with her distaff). 

Compare the Debate of the Cleric and the Maiden, pp. 418-20, above. 

The interlude begins : Hie incipit Interludium de Clerico et Puella, and these 
names are retained throughout the stage-directions ; I have substituted Cler. 
and Maid. I have also supplied the headings for the scenes, and made several 

The manuscript commonly represents initial/ (and occasionally 5) byj>; I 
have restored the original forms. It also confounds w and v, supplies and 
omits h at random, etc. 


Cler. Damisel, 1 reste wel ! 

Maid. Sir, welcum, by Saynt Michel ! 

Cler. Wer es ty 2 sire ? Wer es ty dame ? 

Maid. By Code, es noper 8 her at hame. 

Cler. Wel wor suilc a man to life, 

J>at suilc a may mihte 4 have to wyfe 5 ! 

Maid. Do way, by Crist and Leonard 1 

No wil Y lufe na clerc fayllard 6 ; 

Na kep 7 I herbherg 8 clerc in huse no 9 y 10 More, 11 

Bot 12 his hers 18 ly wituten 14 dore. 

Go forth Jn way, god sire, 

For 15 her hastu losyt 16 al J>i hire. 17 

1 MS. damishel nor 16 MS. losye ; cf. 147 5 

2 thy (t for tk, as elsewhere) 1 on 17 MS. wile ; cf . Childhood of 

3 neither n Cf. 14527 Jesus 1384 (ca. 1300) in 

4 MS. mithe 12 unless Horstmann, Altenglische 

5 Cf. 145 7-8 18 rump Legenden, 1875 = ' Elles 

6 deceitful 14 outside the we leosez bobe ore 

7 care 16 MS. ff., and always below Swile and huyre.' 

8 to harbor as initial 





Cler. Nu, nu, by Crist and by Sant Jhon, 

In al fis land ne wist I none, 

Mayden, fat Hi luf mor fan f e ; 

Hif me micht ever )>e better 1 be 1 

For f e Hy sory 2 nicht and day ; 

Y may say, ' Hay, 8 wayleuay ! ' 

Y luf ]> e mar 4 fan mi lif ; 

J>u hates me mar fan gayt 5 dos cnif 6 

J>at es noutt 7 for mysgilt. 8 

Certes, 9 for fi luf ham Hi spilt. 10 

A, suyte 11 mayden, reu of me, 12 

J>at es ty luf, hand ay sal be 1 

For fe luf of f [e] mod[er] 18 of hevene, 14 

]?u mend f i mode, 15 and her my stevene. 16 

Maid. By Crist of hevene, and Sant Jon 1T ! 

Clerc of scole ne kep 18 I non, 

For many god wymman haf fai don scam[e] 

By Crist, f u michtis haf be 19 at hame 20 1 

Cler. Syn 21 it n[on] of ir ffl gat 28 may be, 

Jesu Crist u bytech *> Y f e, 

And send[e] 26 neulic 2T bot 28 tharinne, 

pat Y 29 be lesit 80 of al my pine. 81 

Maid. Go nu, truan, 82 go nu, go, 

For mikel f u canst 88 of sory and wo ! 

1 MS. bether 

2 sorrow 
8 alas 

4 more 

5 goat; MS. yayt 

6 knife ; MS. chuief (em. 

" not 

8 misdeed 
MS. certhes 

10 undone 

11 sweet ; MS. suythe 

12 Cf . 146 12 

18 MS. y mod (em. H.) 

14 MS. efne 

is Cf . 146 n 

16 cry 

17 MS. Jone 
is care for 
is been 

M Cf. 147 6 

21 MS. synt 

22 MS. noj>ir; cf. 480 10 

25 commend; MS.bytethy (em. 


26 may he send 

2" soon ; MS. neulit (em. H.) 

28 amendment, help 

29 MS. yi 
so freed 

81 W oe 

82 vagabond 
88 MS. canstu 





ELWIS' home. Enter CLERIC and ELWIS 

Cler. God te blis, 1 mone 2 Helvvis. 

Mone 2 Elwis. Son, welcum, by San Dinis ! 

Cler. Hie am comin 4 to fe, mone 5 ; 

J>u hel 6 me noht, 7 \>u say me sone. 

Hie am a clerc fat hauntes 8 scole ; 

Y led 9 my lif wyt mikel dole 10 ; 

Me wor lever to be ded n 

J?an led the lif fat Hyc led, 12 

For an 18 mayden wit 14 and schen ls 

Fayrer ho 16 lond hav 17 Y non sen. 18 

<^o 19 hat 20 mayden Malkyn, Y wene 

Nu Jm wost quam 21 Y mene ; 

<^o wonys at the tounes ende, 

J?at suyt lif, so fayr and hende 22 ; 

Bot-if 50 wil hir mod amende, 

Neuly Crist my ded me send[e] 23 ! 

Men send 24 me hyder, wytuten ^ fayle, 

To haf fi help an[d] ty cunsayle. 26 

f>arfor am Y cummen here, 

J>at ]m salt be my herandbere, 27 

To mac me and }>at mayden sayct, 28 

And Hi sal gef \>e of myn ayct, 29 

So fat hever, al fi lyf, 

Saltu be f e better 80 wyf ; 

1 bless ; cf. 148 4 

2 aunt ; MS. mome (see 

note 5) 
Cf. 148 10 
* come 

5 MS. mome (mone rhymes 

with sone, ' soon,' in 
Gower, Conf. Am. 1. 97) 

6 conceal 

7 nothing ; MS. noth 

8 frequent 

9 lead ; MS. lydy 

10 Cf . 148 17-18 

11 MS. dedh 

12 MS. ledh 
18 MS. ay 

i* white ; MS. with 

15 beautiful 

16 on, in 

1" MS. haw 
l 8 MS. syen 
l she; MS. yo 


20 is named 

21 whom 

22 gracious 
28 opt. 

24 they (one) sent 

25 MS. vyt- 

26 Cf. 149 1-2 

2 " messenger 

28 at one ; cf . 150 8 

29 property 
80 richer 

480 PLAYS 

So help me Crist and x Hy may spede, 

Riche 2 saltu haf pi mede 1 8 

Mone * Ellwis. A, son, wat 6 saystu ? Benedicite 6 1 

Lift hup pi hand, and blis pe ! 
5 For it es boyt 7 syn and scam[e] 

f>at }>u on me hafs layt thys blam[e] ; 

For Hie am an aid 8 quyne 9 and a lam[e], 10 

Y led my lyf wit Godis gram[e] u ; 

Wit my roc 12 Y me f ede ; 
10 Can I do non othir dede 

Bot my Pater Noster and my Crede 18 

(To say Crist for missedede), 

And myn Avy Mary 

(For my synnes 14 Hie am sory), 
15 And my De Profundis 

(For al that yn sin lys) ; 

For can I me non opir ping, 15 

J>at wot Crist, of hevene Kyng. 16 

Jesu Crist, of hevene hey, 
20 Gef " that fay may heng hey, 

And gef fat Hy may se 

J>at fay be heng on a tre 

J>at pis ley as leyit 18 me onne, 19 

For aly " wyman am I on. 21 . . . 

1 if quean IS MS. )>ink 

2 richly 1 Cf. 149 10-13 16 MS. kync 
8 Cf. 149s n anger; MS. love (em. sug- W grant 

* MS. mome gested by H. ; cf. grome, 18 lie have lied 

6 MS. vat 149 11) 19 MS. onne me 

Pron. bencitee ; cf . 149 7 12 distaff 20 holy ; cf. 149 19 

t both 18 Cf. 149 21-23 21 O ne 

8 old w MS. scynnes 



Even as early as the fourth century, Greek Christian preachers introduced 
dramatic dialogue into their sermons, no doubt under the influence of the 
dramatic tradition which had been perpetuated from the classic age ; and they 
were imitated by certain of the Latin Fathers. Such dialogue is found, again, 
in the Christ of the Old English poet, Cynewulf. Thus, before the ritual of the 
Church developed into the beginnings of the miracle-play, the dramatic 
element in Scriptural narrative had been accentuated in both the East and the 
West (Cook, ' A Remote Analogue to the Miracle Play,' \njour. Eng. and Germ. 
Phil, 4 (1903). 421-51 ; cf. 5. 62-4). 

In the tenth century, the Concordia Regularis of St. /Ethelwold (A.D. 965- 
975), in the ceremony for the third nocturn at matins on Easter morning, directs 
three brethren to represent the women who go to the sepulchre, and one the 
angel seated at the door of the tomb. As they approach, the angel says : Quern 
quaritis in sepulchro, O Christicoltz ? To which the three reply : Jesum Nazare- 
num crucifixum. And he answers : Non est hie ; surrexit, sicut pradixerat. Ite, 
nuntiate quia surrexit a mortuis, etc. (Chambers, Mediaval Stage 2. 308 ; cf. 
Gayley, Plays of Our Forefathers, pp. 17-8). 

The rise and progress of the miracle-play are well sketched by Jusserand 
(Lit. Hist. Eng. People i. 456 ff.) : 

' The imitation of any action is a step towards drama. Conventional, litur 
gical, ritualistic as the imitation was, still there was an imitation in the cere 
mony of mass ; and mass led to the religious drama, which was therefore, at 
starting, as conventional, liturgical, and ritualistic as could be. Its early 
beginning is to be sought for in the antiphoned parts of the service, and then 
it makes one with the service itself. ... A great step was made when, at the 
principal feasts of the year, Easter and Christmas, the chanters, instead of 
giving their responses from their stalls, moved in the Church to recall the 
action commemorated on that day ; additions were introduced into the received 
text of the service ; religious drama begins then to have an existence of its 
own. "Tell us, shepherds, whom do you seek in this stable?" They will 
answer : " Christ the Saviour, our Lord." Such is the starting-point ; it dates 
from the tenth century ; from this is derived the play of Shepherds, of which 
many versions have come down to us. ... 

' Verse replaced prose ; the vulgar idiom replaced Latin ; open air and the 
public square replaced the church nave and its subdued light. It was no longer 
necessary to have recourse to priests wearing a dalmatic in order to represent 
midwives ; the feminine parts were performed by young boys dressed as 
women. . . . 

' The religious drama was on the way to lose its purely liturgical character 
when the conquest of England had taken place. Under the reign of the 
Norman and Angevin kings, the taste for dramatic performances increased 
considerably ; within the first century after Hastings we find them numerous 

482 PLAYS 

and largely attended. The oldest representation the memory of which has 
come down to us took place at the beginning of the twelfth century. ... A 
little later in the same century, Fitzstephen, who wrote under Henry II, 
mentions as a common occurrence the " representations of miracles " held in 
London. In the following century, under Henry III, some were written in the 
English language. During the fourteenth century, in the time of Chaucer, 
mysteries were at the height of their popularity. . . . 

' In a more or less complete state, the collections of the Mysteries performed 
at Chester, Coventry, Woodkirk, and York have been preserved, without speak 
ing of fragments of other series. Most of those texts belong to the fourteenth cen 
tury, but have been retouched at a later date. Old Mysteries did not escape the 
hand of the improvers, any more than old churches, where any one who pleased 
added paintings, porches, and tracery, according to the fashion of the day. . . . 

' Once emerged from the Church, the drama had the whole town in which 
to display itself ; and it filled the whole town. On these days the city belonged 
to dramatic art ; each company had its cars or scaffolds, pageants (placed on 
wheels in some towns), each car being meant to represent one of the places 
where the events in the play happened. The complete series of scenes was 
exhibited at the main crossings, or on the principal squares or open spaces in 
the town. . . . 

' While in the theatre of Bacchus the tragedies of Sophocles were played 
once and no more, the Christian drama, remodeled from century to century, 
was represented for four hundred years before immense multitudes ; and this 
is a unique phenomenon in the history of literature.' 

According to Gayley (op. cit., pp. 132-3 ; cf. pp. 128-31) the Chester cycle, 
at least in part, was in existence in the first third of the fourteenth century, 
and its present form probably represents a revision made not far from 1400 
(see also Ten Brink, English Literature 2^274 ; Hemingway, English Nativity 
Plays, pp. xix-xxi ; Pollard, English Miracle Plays, p. xxxvi ; Cook, in Nation 
of May 27, 1915, p. 599). The manuscripts, five in number, are, however, much 
later (1591-1604). 

Pollard thus characterizes these plays (p. xxxvii) : ' There is less in the 
Chester plays to jar on modern feelings than in any other of the cycles. The 
humor is kept more within bounds, the religious tone is far higher.' Of 
the Noah's Flood, Gayley says (p. 151) : 'The characters are distinct and con 
sistently developed. The comic episodes are natural and justifiable, for they 
serve to display, not to distort, character, and they grow out of the dramatic 
action. They are, moreover, varied, and, to some extent, cumulative.' Chaucer 
thus alludes to the stubbornness of Noah's wife (Miller's Tale 352-7) : 

' Hastow nat herd,' quod Nicholas, ' also 
The sorwe of Noe with his felawshipe, 
Er that he mighte gete his wyf to shipe ? 
Him had be lever, I dar wel undertake, 
At thilke tyme, than alle hise wetheres blake, 
That she haddc had a ship hirself allone. 


Our text is based upon MS. Harl. 2124 (H.), as printed by Deimling 
(E.E.T.S. Ex. Ser. 62.48-63), with certain stage-directions and variants from 
MS. Bodley 175 (B.), as contained in Deimling's edition, and from MS. Brit. 
Mus. Add. 10,305 (W.), as printed by Thomas Wright in 1843. For the Latin 
names of the characters, Noe, etc., I have substituted the corresponding 
English ones. 

There is a duplication of the dumb show of making the ark, of the command 
to take the beasts by sevens, and of the comic episode of Noah's wife ; this 
looks as though two drafts had been rather clumsily patched together. 

There are emendations by Kolbing in Engl. Stud. 16.280; 21. 163. 







First, in some heigh place or in the cloudes, yf it 
may be, GOD speaketh unto NOE, standing 
without the arke, with all his family : 1 
God. I, God, that all the world have wrought, 
Heaven and earth, and all of nought, 
I see my people, in deede and thought, 

Are sett[e] fowle in sinne. 

My Ghost shall not lenge 2 in mon 8 5 

That through fleshlie liking is my fone 4 
But 5 till vi skore yeares be gone, 

To loke if they will blynne. 6 

Manne that I made I will destroy, 

Beast, worme, and fowle to flie, 10 

For on earthe they doe me n[o]ye 1 
The f olke that are theron ; 

From B. ; the correspond- 8 MS. man ; W. mone 6 except 

ing Latin is in H. 4 foes (plural, because man is 6 cease ; see Gen. 6. 3, 5 

remain ( Vulg. fermanebif) used collectively) 7 cause me annoyance 

484 PLAYS 

Hit harmes me so hartfullie 1 
The malyce that now 2 can 8 multeply 
That sore it greveth me inwardlie 
That ever I made mon. 4 

5 Therfore, Noe, my servant free, 

That righteous man art, as I see, 
A shipp sone thou shalt make the, 

Of trees drye and lighte ; 
Little chambers therein thou make, 
10 And bynding slich 5 also thou take ; 

Within and out thou ne slake 6 

To noynte 7 it through thy 8 mighte. 9 

300 cubytes it shall be long, 

And 50 of breadth, 10 to mak it stronge ; 
15 Of heighte 30 " ; the mete 12 thou fonge, 18 

Thus measure it about. 

One wyndow worch, through thy wytte ; 

One cubyte of length and breadth 10 make it. 

Upon the side a dore shall sit, 
20 For to come in and out. 14 

Eating-places thou make also ; 
Three-roofed chambers one or two ; 
For with water I thinke to slowe 16 

Man that I can make ; 
25 Destroyed all the world shal be 

Save thou, thy wife, thy sonnes three, 
. And all there wives also with thee 

Shall saved be for thy sake. 16 

1 at the heart 7 MS. anoynte 18 take 

2 MS. now that MS. all thy " Gen. 6. 16 
8 doth 9 Gen. 6. 14 15 slay 

4 MS. manne ; see Gen. 6. 6 10 MS. breadeth 16 Gen. 6. 16-18 

5 pitch u MS. 50 

6 fail 12 measure 


Noah. Ah Lord, I thanke the lowd and still, 

That to me art in such will, 

And spares me and my house to spill, 1 

As now I sothlie fynde. 

Thy bydding, Lord, I shall fulfill, 5 

And never more the greeve ne grill, 2 
That suche grace has sent me till 8 

Among all mankinde. 

Have done, yow men and women all ; 

Helpe, for ought that may befall, 10 

To worke this shipp, chamber and hall, 

As God hath bydden us doe. 
Shem. Fader, 4 I am already bowne 5 ; 
Anne axe I have, by my crowne 6 1 
As sharpe as any in all this towne, 15 

For to goe thereto. 

Ham. I have a hatchet wonder kene, 
To byte well, as may be scene ; 
A better grownden, as I weene, 

Is not in all this towne. 20 

Japheth. And I can well make a pyn, 
And with this hammer knock yt in ; 
Goe and worche without more dynne ; 

And I am ready bowne. 

Noah's Wife. And we shall bring tymber to, 25 

For wee nothing els mon 7 doe ; 
Women be weake to underfoe 

Any great travayle. 

Stem's Wife. Here is a good hackstock 8 ; 
On this yow maye hew and knock ; 30 

1 destroy * MS. father 7 may ; MS. mon nothing els 

2 offend s prepared 8 chopping-block 
8 to me 6 head 




Shall non be idle in this flock, 

Ne now may no man fayle. 

Hani's Wife. And I will goe to gather sliche, 
The ship for to caulke 1 and piche ; 
Anoynt 2 yt must be every stich 

Board, tree, and pyn. 

Japheth's Wife. And I will gather chippes here, 
To make a fire for yow in feere, 3 
And for to dight[e] 4 your dynner, 

Against [that] yow come in. 5 

Then NOYE begineth to builde the arcke ; and 

speaketh NoYE: 6 

Noah. Now, in Gods name, 7 I will begin 
To make the shippe that we shall in, 8 
That we be ready for to swym 

At the cominge of the flood. 
These hordes I joyne here togeder, 9 
To kepe us safe from the wedder, 
That we may row both hider 10 and thider, 

And safe be from this floode. 

Of this tree will I make the mast, 
Tyde with cables n that will last, 
With a sayleyarde for each blast, 

And each thinge in ther kinde ; 
With topcastle and bowspreet, 12 
With coardes and ropes, I have all meete 
To sayle forth at the next weete 18 ; 

This shipp is at an ende. 14 

MS. cleane (em. W.) 5 MS. adds : Tune faciunt 1 MS. hither 

2 MS. anoynted ; em. sug 
gested by Deimling 
8 all (lit. in company) 
* make ready , 

signa quasi laborarent 
cum diversis instru- 
o From W. 

7 MS. the name of God 

8 inhabit 

9 MS. -gether 

MS. gables ; W. cabbelles 
12 MS.bewsprytt; ci.O'E.spreot 
is wet, rain 

M MS. adds: Tune Noe iterum, 
cum tota familia, faciunt 
signa laborandi cum di 
versis instruments 


Wife, in this castle we shall be kepte l ; 
My childer and thou I wold 2 in lepte. 8 
Noah's Wife. In faith, I 4 had as lief thou slepte, 6 

For all thy Frankish 6 fare 7 ; 

I will not doe after thy red[e]. 8 5 

Noah. Good wife, doe now as I the bede 9 ! 
Noahs Wife. By Christ, not or 10 I see more neede, 

Though thou stand all day u and stare ! 

Noah. Lord, that women be crabbed aye, 

And never are meke, that dare I saye ! 10 

This is wel sene by me to-daye, 

In witnes of yow each one. 
Good wife, let be all this beere 12 
That thou makes in this place here ; 
For all they wene thou art master 1 5 

So art thou, 18 by St. John ! 

Then NOYE with all his familie shall make a signe 
as though the^y} wroughte upon the shippe with 
diveres instrumentes, and after that GOD shall 
speake to NOYE, sayinge 14 . 
God. Noe, [now] take thou thy meanye, 15 
And in the shippe hye 1G that thow 1T be, 
For none so righteous man to me 

Is now on earth lyvinge. 20 

Of cleane beastes with thee thou take 
Seaven and seaven or thou slake 18 ; 
Hee and shee, make 19 to make, 

Belyve 30 in that 21 thou bringe. 22 

1 MS. keped ; W.. kepte * behavior (?) 15 company 

2 would (I would that my 8 counsel 16 hasten 

children, etc.) 9 MS. bydd ; cf. OE. beodan 17 MS. yow 

s MS. leaped ; W. lepte 1 before, till 18 stop 

4 MS. Noe I ; em. suggested " MS. the day ; W. day 19 mate 

by Deimling clamor 2 at once 

5 MS. sleppit ; W. slepte 13 MS. and so thou art 21 see that 

6 French 14 From W. ; cf. note 2 on p. 489 22 Gen. 7. i 

488 PLAYS 

Of beastes uncleane two and two, 
Male and female, without moe l ; 
Of cleane fowles seaven alsoe, 

The hee and shee togeder 2 ; 

5 Of fowles uncleane two, 8 and no more, 

As I of beastes said before, 
That shal be saved throughe my lore, 

Against I send the weder. 4 

Of all meates that must be eaten 
I0 Into the ship loke there be getten, 

For that no way may be forgeten 5 ; 

And doe all this bydeene, 6 
To sustayne man and beast therein 
Aye till the water cease and blyn 7 ; 
1 5 This world is filled full of synne, 

And that is now well sene. 

Seaven dayes be yet coming 
You shall have space them in to bringe ; 
After that is my lyking 8 

20 Mankinde for to n[o]ye ; 

40 dayes and 40 nightes 
Rayne shall fall for ther unrightes,' 
And that I have made through my mightes 
Now think I to destroy e. 10 

25 Noah. Lord, to thy 11 byddinge I am bayne 12 ; 

Seinge 18 non other grace will gayne, 
Hit will I fulfill fayne, 

For gratious I thee fynde. 

1 more 6 straightway " MS. at your (em. W.) 

2 MS. -gether 7 stop ; see Gen. 6. 21 12 willing 

8 But cf. Gen. 7. 3 8 purpose 18 MS. sith (em. W.) 

* MS. wedder 9 iniquities 

6 MS. -yeten ; W. -getten 10 Gen. 7. 4 


A 100 wynters and 20 
This shipp making taried have I, 
If through amendment any mercye 
Wolde fall unto mankinde. 

Have done, you men and women all ; 
Hye you lest this water fall 
That 1 each beast were in his stall, 
And into the ship broughte. 
Of cleane beastes seaven shal be, 
Of uncleane two this God bade me ; 
This floode is nye, well may we see, 
Therfore tary you noughte. 
Then NOYE shall goe into the arke with all his 
family, his wief except, and the arke must 
be horded rounds about, and one the hordes 
all the beastes and fowles hereafter receaved 
must be painted, that thes wordes may agree 
with the pictures? 1 

Shem. Syr, here are lyons, libardes in, 
Horses, mares, oxen, and swyne, 
Geates, calves, sheepe, and kine, 

Here sitten thou may see. 
Ham. Camels, asses, men may finde, 
Bucke [and] doe, harte and hynde ; 
And beastes of all manner kinde 

Here bene, as thinkes mee. 

Japheth. Take here cattes, dogges 8 to, 
Otter, fox, fulmart 4 also ; 

1 (hasten) that et, postquam unus quisque daredebent; etsicinci- 

2 From B. ; the Latin (from suam locutus est partem, piet primus filius 

H.) runs: Tune Noe in- ibit in archam, uxore Noe 8 MS. cattes and doggs; 

troibit archam, et familia excepta, et animalia de- W. cattes, dogges 

sua dabit et recitabit omnia picta cum verbis concor- * polecat 
animalia depicta in cartis, 

490 PLAYS 

Hares, hopping, gaylie can goe 

Have cowle l here for to eate. 

Noah's Wife. And here are beares, wolfes, sett, 

Apes, owles, marmoset, 2 

Weesells, squirrels, and firret 8 ; 

Here they eaten their meate. 

Stem's Wife. Yet more beastes are in this howse ; 
Here cattis maken it full crowse 4 ; 
Here a ratten, 8 here a mowse, 
10 They stand nye togeder. 8 

Ham's Wife. And here are fowles les and more : 
Heames, 7 cranes, and byttour, 8 
Swans, peacockes ; and them before 
Meate for this wedder. 

15 Japheth's Wife. Here are cockes, kites, crowes, 

Rookes, ravens many rowes 9 - 
Cuckoes, curlewes whoever knowes 

Eache one in his kinde ; 
And here are doves, diggs, 10 drakes, 
20 Redshankes runninge through the lakes ; 

And each fowle that ledden u makes 
In this shipp men may finde. 

Noah. Wife, come in ! Why standes thou here ? 
Thou art ever f reward that dare I sweare ! 
25 Come in, on God's half 12 ! Tyme yt were, 

For feare lest that we drowne. 

1 cabbage 6 MS. -gether U language (cf. Chaucer, 

2 monkey 7 herons Squire's Tale 435, 

3 ferret 8 bittern 478) 

* lively 9 rows 12 for God's sake 

6 rat (cf. Fr. ratori) ; MS. rotten 10 ducks 


Noah's Wife, Yea, sir, set up your sayle, 
And rowe forth with evill hayle, 1 
For, without[en] 2 any fayle, 

I will not out of this towne. 

But 8 I have my gossips everichon, 5 

One foote further I will not gone ; 
They shall not drowne, by St. John, 

And 4 I may save their lyfe 1 
They loved me full well, by Christ ! 

But 3 thou wilt let them in thy chist, 5 10 

Rowe 6 forth, Noe, whether 7 thou list, 

And get thee a new wife. 

Noah, Sem, sonne, loe thy mother is wrow 8 ; 

Forsooth such another I do not know. 

Shem. Father, I shall fett her in, I trow, 15 

Without[en] any fayle. 
Mother, my father after thee send, 
And bydds the into yonder ship wend ; 
Loke up, and se the wynde, 

For we be readye to sayle. 20 

Noah's Wife. Sonne, goe again to him, and say 

I will not come therein to-daye. 

Noah. Come in, wife, in 20 devills waye ! 

Or els stand there without. 

Ham. [Father], shall wee all fet her in ? 25 

Noah. Yea, sonnes, in Christ's blessinge and myne 1 
I would yow hyde 9 yow betyme, 

For of this flood I doubte. 10 

1 success; H.heale 5 ark 8 angry; MS. wraw (em. 

2 em. from W. 6 MS. els rowe from W.) 

3 unless 7 whither 9 hied 

4 jf 1 MS. am in doubte 

49 2 PLAYS 

[Noah's Wife.] The flood comes in full fleetinge fast, 1 

On every side it spredeth full ferre * ; 
For feare of drowning I am agast ; 

Good gossip, let us draw neare, 
5 And let us drinke or we depart, 

For oftentymes we have done soe ; 
At 8 a draught thou drinkes a quarte, 

And so will I doe or I goe. 4 

Japheth. Mother, we praye you altogeder 5 
10 For we are here your owne childer 

Come into the ship, for feare of the wedder, 

For his love that you boughte 6 ! 
Noah's Wife. That will I not, for all your call, 
But 7 I have my gossopes all. 
15 Shem. In feith, mother, yet you shall, 

Whether you will or not. 8 [She enters. 

Noah. Welcome, wife, into this boate ! 

Noah's Wife. And have thou that for thy note 9 I 

[ Gives him a box on the ear. 10 
Noah. A, ha ! Mary, 11 this is hote ! 
20 It is good to be still ! 

A, children, me thinkes my boate retrieves, 12 
Our tarying here hugelie me greves ; 
Over the lande the water spredes ; 
God doe as he will ! 

25 Ah, great God that art so good, 

That 18 worchis not thie will is wood 1 
Now all this world is on a flood, 
As I see well in sighte. 

1 This stanza is noted by It will rejoy[c]e both hart and 8 H. adds: Tune ibit 

Hohlfeld as a later addi- tong ; 9 p a ; ns (/#_ benefit) ; MS. 

tion (Anglia 1 1. 270) Though Noy thinke us never mote . em from w 

I ^ ? re ( 7' K iJ x VeT^l, drinke alyke. ] F r th <j Latin <"'> : Et 

8 MS. for at (em. K.) dat alapam vita 

* B., W. add : MS. -gether " marry 

Here is a pottell of Malmesy 6 _ redeemed 12 moves 

good and stronge ; 7 unless 13 that which, he who 


This window I will shut anon, 
And into my chamber will I gone, 
Till this water, so greate one, 

Be slaked 1 throughe thy mighte. 

Then shall NOYE shutte the wyndowe of they 
arcke, and for a littill space be silent, and 
afterwarde lokinge rounde aboute shall saye 2 .- 
Now 40 dayes are fullie gone, 5 

Send a raven I will anone, 
If oughtwhere 8 earth, tree, or stone, 

Be drye in any place ; 
And if this foule come not againe, 

It is a signe, soth to sayne, 10 

That drye it is on hill or playne, 4 

And God hath done some grace. 

Then he shall send forth the raven, and, taking 
a dove in his hand, shall say 5 . 
Ah, Lord 1 wherever this raven be, 
Somewhere is drye, well I see, 
But yet a dove by my lewtye 6 ! 15 

After I will sende. 
Thou wilt turne againe to me, 
For of all fowles that may flye, 7 

Thou art mo'st meke and hend. 8 

Then he shall send forth the dove, and there shall 
be in the ark another dove, which shall be let 

1 abated ably Ps. 69], et aperiens dimittet corvum, et, ca- 

2 From \V. ; the Latin (H.) fenestram et respiciens piens columbam in ma- 

runs : Tune Noe claudet 8 anywhere ; perhaps for nibus, dicat 

fenestram archse, et per oughwhere, variant of loyalty, faith 

modicum spatium infra owhere 7 Here a line seems to have 

tectum cantent psalmum * Gen. 8. 6, 7 dropped out 

' Save mee, O God ' [prob- 5 Translated from H. : Tune 8 gentle ; cf . Gen. 8. 8 

494 PLAYS 

down from the mast by a cord into the hands 
of NOAH ; and afterward NOAH shall say * : 
Ah, Lord 1 blessed be thou aye, 
That hast me comfort 2 thus to-day 
By this sight ; I may well saye, 

This flood beginnes to cease ; 
5 My sweete dove to me brought hase 

A branch of olyve from some place ; 
This betokeneth God has done us grace, 8 
And is a signe of peace. 4 

Ah, Lord, honoured most thou be 1 
10 All earthe dryes, now I see, 

But yet tyll thou comaunde me 

Hence will I not hye. 
All this water is awaye ; 
Therfore, as sone as I maye, 
15 Sacryfice I shall doe, in faye, 6 

To thee devoutlye. 6 

God. Noe, take thy wife anone, 
And thy children every one ; 
Out of the shippe thou shalt gone, 
20 And they all with thee ; 

Beastes, and all that can flie, 
Out anone they shall hye, 
On earth to grow and multeplye ; 
I will that yt soe be. 7 

25 Noah. Lord, I thanke the through thy mighte ; 

Thy bidding shall be done in height, 8 

l Translated from H.: Tune inmanusNoe; et postea 5 faith 

emittet columbam, et erit dicat Noe 6 Gen. 8. 20 

in nave alia columba, fe- 2 comforted 1 MS. be soe (em. K.); 

rens olivam in ore, qua? 8 MS. some grace cf. Gen. 8. 16, 17 

demittetur [MS. quam de- 4 Gen. 8. 1 1 8 with speed 

mittet] ex malo per f unem 



And, as fast as I may dighte, 1 
I will doe the honoure, 
And to thee offer sacrifice ; 
Therfore comes, 2 in all wise, . 

For of these beastes that bene hise 5 

Offer I will this stower. 8 
Then, going out from the ark with his whole 
family, he shall take with him his animals 
and birds, and shall offer them and slay* 

Lord God in majestye, 

Thou 6 such grace hast graunted me, 

Where all was lorne, save 8 to be ; 

Therfore now I am bowne, 10 

My wife, my childer, my meanye, 7 
With sacrifice to honoure thee ; 
With beastes, fowles, as thou may see, 

I offer here right sone. 8 

God. Noe, to me thou arte full able, 9 15 

And thy sacrifice acceptable ; 

For I have fownd thee trew and stable, 

On the now must I myn 10 : 
Warry u earth will I no more 

For mans synne that greves me sore, 20 

For, of 12 youth, man full yore 

Has byn enclyned to syn[n]e. 18 

You shall now grow and multeply, 
And earth, againe, you edefie u ; 

Each beast, and fowle that may flie, 25 

Shall be afrayd of you ; 

1 make ready 

2 imp. plur. 
8 store 

< Translated from H. : Tune 
egrediens archam cum 
tota familia sua, accipiet 

animalia sua et volucres, 
et offeret ea et mactabit 

5 MS. that 

6 safe 

7 nom. 

s Cf. Gen. 8. 20 

9 pleasing, compliant 
1 be mindful 
u curse 
l' 2 from 
18 Gen. 8.21 
H build up 

49 6 PLAYS 

And fishe in sea, that may flete, 1 
Shall susteyne yow, I yow behete 2 ; 
To eate of them yow ne lete 8 

That cleane bene you may knowe. 4 

5 Thereas 5 you have eaten before 

Grasse and rootes sith you were bore, 
Of cleane beastes now, les and more, 

I geve you leave to eate ; 
Safe 8 bloode and flesh, bothe in feare, 7 
10 Of 8 wrong-dead carren 9 that is here ; 

Eates not of that in no manere, 

For that aye you shall let[e]. 10 

Manslaughter also you shall flee, 

For that is not pleasant to me ; 
1 5 That u shedes bloode, he or shee, 

Oughtwhere amongst mankinne, 12 

That blood foule sheede shal be, 

And venge[a]nce have, that men shall se ; 

Therfore beware now all[e] yee, 
20 You fall not in that synne. 13 

A forwarde u now with thee 16 I make, 
And all thy seede for thy sake, 
Of suche vengeance for to slake, 

For now I have my will. 
25 Here I behet the a heaste 16 

That man [ne] woman, fowle ne beaste, 
With water, while the world shall l[e]ast[e], 17 

I will [them] no more spill. 18 

1 float, swim ; MS. flytte 7 together; Gen. 9. 4 18 Gen. 9. 5, 6 

2 promise; MS. -hite 8 Miswritten for 'or'? u covenant 
8 refrain, forbear ; MS. lett 9 carrion ; see Lev. 22. 8 15 MS. thie 
4 that you may know to be clean; 1 leave 16 promise 

Gen. 9. 1-3 ; cf. 7.2; 8. 20 " whoever 1" em. K. 

6 whereas l 2 MS. -kinde ; em. sug- i g destroy; Gen. 9. 9-11 

6 save gested by Pollard 


My bowe betwene you and me 

In the firmament shall bee, 

By verey token, that you may see 

That such vengeance shall cease ; 
That man ne woman shall never more 
Be wasted by water, as was 1 before 2 ; 
But for syn, that greveth me sore, 

Therfore this vengeance wes. 8 

Where cloudes in the welkin bene, 

That ilke bowe shall be sene, 

In tokeninge that my wrath and tene 

Shall never thus * wroken be ; 
The stringe is turned toward you, 
And toward me is bent the bowe, 
That such wedder shall never showe ; 

And this behett I thee. 5 

My blessing now I geve the here, 
To thee, Noe, my servant dere, 
For vengeance shall no more appeare ; 
And now farewell, my darling deere. 6 


Lucy Toulmin Smith, the first editor (in 1884) thus characterizes the play, 
in comparison with the five others on the same subject (Anglia 7. 332) : 'On 
the whole, the Brome version now printed is superior to those above described 
in the touches of child-nature, and in the play of feeling skilfully shown the 
dear coquetting between the love of his child and the committal of the deed 
by the obedient but agonized father. The child begging his father not to kill 
him, and his fear of the sword even after all danger is over, . . . are touched 
in with a life not found elsewhere. The thought of the mother . . . breaks out 
in the most natural and affecting manner, . . . and the joyful rebound of emo- 

Ition after the painful strain between duty and affection, expressing itself in 
the kisses of Abraham and the apostrophes of Isaac to the "gentle sheep," 

1 MS. is < MS. this w. adds : 

2 Gen. 9. 12-15 5 Gen. 9. 16 Finis. Deo gracias ! per me, George Bellin, IJQ2. 
8 MS. was (em. K.) Come, Lordejesu, come yuicklye. 

498 PLAYS 

must have warmly appealed to the hearts of the audience. Finally, the lesson 
of faith for " learned and lewed " and " the wisest of us all " is taught by the 
" Doctor " in the simplest manner.' 

Gayley thinks this the third miracle-play in order of time, the first being 
The Harrowing of Hell (ca. 1250), and the second, Jacob and Esau (ca. 1280). 
He says (Plays of our Forefathers, p. 126) : ' The Brome play of Abraham and 
Isaac, which comes next in order of production, is undoubtedly the basis of 
The Sacrifice of Isaac in the Chester cycle, and probably in an earlier version 
dates from the beginning of the fourteenth century.' A particularly close paral 
lel is that between 506 3-6 and the Chester play 289-92 (ed. Deimling, p. 76) : 

If I have trespassed in any degree, 
With a yard you maye beate me ; 
Put up your sword, if your will be, 
For I am but a childe. 

The play has been three times printed by Miss Smith as above (A.), by 
Lady Kerrison and Miss Smith in 1886 (B.), and by Manly in 1897 (M.) ; 
Pollard has reproduced lines 316-435 (English Miracle Plays, Appendix IV), 
following Miss Smith. 

The unique manuscript (1470-1480) takes its name from the village of Brome, 
in Suffolk, two miles north of Eye. Brome was from the fourteenth century the 
seat of the Cornwallis family, to which belonged the Lord Cornwallis who 
was conspicuous in the American Revolution. 

The two editions directly from the manuscript differ here and there in their 
readings; of the readings I have rejected I have taken no account. Important 
emendations have been made by Miss Smith, Holthausen (Anglia 13 (1891). 
361-2), and Manly (Spec. Pre-Shak. Drama i. 41-57). I have been tempted to 
further efforts at restoration by the remark of Miss Smith (Anglia 7. 322-3) : 
' Judging by the analogy of other plays of the kind, it is probable that this also 
was originally composed with much care for its poetical form, but has become 
partially corrupt through oral repetition and the errors of copyists.' All the 
emendations not attributed to S., H., or M. are by myself ; some are perhaps 
rather daring, but it is easy to revert to the manuscript-readings. Stage- 
directions (following a bracket) have been supplied partly from S. and M. ; 
two or three are found in the manuscript, in Latin. 

Miss Smith remarks (Anglia 7. 322) : ' With regard to the versification, the 
reader will observe that it is irregular : in several places the lines run in clear 
stanzas of five lines, riming abaab ; in others it appears to be in stanzas of eight 
lines, riming alternately, with a frequent short line or tag following. There are 
also many lines which seem to be formless as regards metre, rime, or stanza.' 
Accordingly the indications of stanzaic form are often somewhat obscured in 
this play. 

I have modernized in the stage-directions the names of certain characters, 
for the sake of consistency Deus to God, The Angell to Angel, Ysaac to 



Afield near ABRAHAM'S home in Beersheba 

Abraham. Fader of hevyn omnipotent, 

With all my hart to the I call ; 
Thow hast joffe 1 me both lond and rent, 2 
And my lyvelod thow hast me sent ; 

I thanke the evermore 8 of all. 5 

Fyrst off 4 the erth fou madyst Adam, 

And Eve also to be hys wyffe ; 
All other creatures of them too 6 cam ; 
And now thow hast grant 6 to me, Abram, 7 

Her in thys lond to lede my lyffe. 10 

In my age JJQU hast grantyd me thys, 

That thys jowng chyld with me shall wone 8 ; 

I love nothyng so myche, iwysse, 

Except ]ri 9 selffe, der Fader of blysse, 

As Ysaac her, my owyne swete sone. 15 

I have dyverse chyldryn moo, 

The wych I love not halffe so wyll 10 ; 
Thys fayer swet chyld he chereys u me soo 
In every place wer that I goo, 

That noo dessece 12 her may I fell. 18 20 

And therf or, Fadyr of hevyn, I prey 14 
For hys helth, and also for hys grace ; 

1 given 6 granted 10 well ; pronounced wail 

2 income 7 MS. Abraham u MS. scherys 
MS. heyly euermore 8 dwell 12 discomfort 

4 O f MS. thin owyne ; see 18 feel 

5 two next line " MS. the prey 

500 PLAYS 

Now, Lord, kepe hym both nyght 1 and day, 
That never dessese nor noo [afjfray 2 
Cume to my chyld in noo place. 

Now cum on, Ysaac, my owyne swet chyld ; 
Goo we horn, and take owr rest. 

Isaac. Abraham, myne owyne fader so myld, 
To folowe jow I am full prest, 8 
Bothe erly and late. 

Abraham. Cume on, swete chyld, I love the best 
Of all the chyldryn that 1 4 begat. {Exeunt. 

Heaven. Enter GOD and an ANGEL 

God. Myn angell, fast hey 5 the thy wey, 

And to 6 medyll erth anon pou goo ; 
Abra[ha]ms hart now wyll I asay, 

Wether that he be stedfast or noo. 

Sey I commaw[n]dyd hym for to take 
Ysaac, hys sonne, 7 fat he love[s] so wyll, 

And with hys blood sacryfyce he make, 
Ony 8 off my freynchepe [yf] he wyll fell. 9 

Schow hym the wey onto 10 the hylle 

Wer that hys sacryffyce schall be. 
I schall asay now hys good wyll, 

Whether he lovyth u better hys chyld or me. 

All men schall take exampyll be hym 

My commawmentes how they schall kepe. {Exeunt. 

1 MS. nygth 6 haste 8 MS. yffe ony 

2 fright, terror 6 unto ; MS. on to 9 MS. ffell 
8 ready ; MS. glad (em. H.) 7 MS. jowng sonne , cf . 10 unto 

* MS. ever I 50124 u MS. lovyd (em. M.) 


Afield near ABRAHAM'S home. Enter ABRAHAM 

Abraham. Now, Fader of hevyn, )>at formyd all thyng, 

My preyeres I make to the ajeyn, 
For thys day my tender offryng 

Here must I geve to the, certeyn. 

A ! Lord God, allmyty Kyng, 5 

Wat maner best * woll make pe most fayn ? 

Yff I had therof very knoyng, 2 

Yt schuld be don with all my mayne 8 

Full sone by me. 4 

To don thy plesyng on an hyll, 10 

Verely yt ys my wyll, 

Dere Fader, God in Trinyte. 

Enter ANGEL 
Angel. Abraham, Abraham, wyll J> ou rest 1 

Owr Lord comandyth ]>e for to take 
Ysaac, thy jowng sone, that thow lovyst best, 1 5 

And with hys blod sacryfyce )>at thow make. 

Into the lond of v[i]syon 5 thow goo, 

And offer thy chyld onto thy Lord ; 
I schall the lede and schow allsoo. 

Unto Goddes hest, Abraham, acord, 20 

And folow me upon thys grene. 

Abraham. Wollecom 6 to me be my Lordes sond, 7 
And hys hest I wyll not withstond ; 
^yt Ysaac, my jowng sonne in lond, 

A full dere chyld to me hase 8 bene. 9 25 

1 beast 4 MS. anone (em. H.) 8 MS. haue 

2 knowing, knowledge 5 Moriah (Gen. 22. 2) ; em. H. MS. byn 
8 might, strength (cf . ' might 6 welcome 

and main ') 7 messenger 

502 PLAYS 

I had lever, yf God had be plesyd, 

For to a 1 forbore 2 all be good bat I have, 

Than Ysaac my sone schuld a be desessyd, 8 
So God in hevyn my sowll mot save 1 

I lovyd never thyng soo mych in erde, 4 
And now I must the chyld goo kyll. 
A, Lord 6 ! my conseons ys stron[g]ly sterd, 6 
And jyt, my dere Lord, I am sore 7 aferd 
To groche 8 ony thyng 9 ajens thy wyll. 

I love my chyld as [I love] my lyffe, 

But gyt I love my God myche more, 
For thow my hart woold make ony stryffe, 
yt wyll I not spare for chyld nor wyffe, 
But don after my Lordes lore. 1 

. 10 

15 Thow I love my sonne never so wyll, 

<^yt smythe of u hys hed sone I schall. 

A, Fader of hevyn ! to the I knell ; 

An hard dethe my son schall fell, 

For to honor the, [my] Lord, withall. 

20 Angel. Abraham ! Abraham ! thys ys wyll seyd, 

And all thys comamentes loke bou obay 12 ; 
But in thy hart be nothyng dysmayd. 18 

Abraham. Nay, nay, 1 14 hold me wyll apayd 16 
To plesse 16 my God to the best I " may, 18 

1 have 7 MS. sere (em. H.) " MS. forsoth I 

2 done without 8 MS. owr ls MS. plesyd (M. sug 
8 disturbed, put to discom- 9 make any complaint gests em.) 

fort, molested 10 instruction 16 MS. pelsse 

< MS. erthe (em. M., follow- " smite off " MS. bat I 

ing S.'s suggestion) 12 MS. loke bat bou kepe 18 MS. haue (M. sug 
6 MS. Lord God (em. suggested by M.) gests em.) 

6 stirred ; MS. steryd 18 MS. dismasyd ; em. M. 


For thow my hart be hevely sett 

To see the blood of my owyn dere sone, 

<5yt for all thys I wyll not lett, 1 [Exit ANGEL. 

But Ysaac, my son, I wyll goo fett, 

And cum asse fast as ever we conne. 2 [Exit. 5 


[Abraham.] Now, Ysaac, my owyne son [so] dere, 
Wer art thow, chyld ? Speke to me. 

Isaac. My fayer swet fader, I am here, 
And make my preyrys to fe Trenyte. 

Abraham. Rysse up, my chyld, and fast cum heder, 

My gentyll barn 8 fat art so wysse, 
For we to, 4 chyld, must goo togeder, 

And onto my Lord make sacryffyce. 

Isaac. I am full redy, my fader, loo ! 

Evyn 8 at gowr handes I stand ryght 6 here, 
And watsoever je byd me doo, 

Yt schall be don with glad cher, 
Full wyll and fyne. 

Abraham. A ! Ysaac, my owyn son soo dere, 
Codes blyssyng I jyffe the, and myn. 

Hold thys fagot upon jn bake, 

And her myselffe fyer schall bryng. 

Isaac. Fader, all thys her wyll I packe ; 
I am full fayn to do jowr bedyng. 

1 desist 8 child 5 MS. Kevyn 

2 MS. can 4 two 6 MS. rygth 

504 PLAYS 

Abraham. A, Lord of hevyn ! my handes I wryng, 
Thys chyldes wordes all towond * my harte. 

Now, Ysaac son, goo we owr wey 
Onto son mownte, with all owr mayn. 

5 Isaac. Go we, my dere fader, as fast as I may ; 

To folow ;$ow I am full fayn, 
Allthow I be slendyr. 

Abraham. A, Lord I my hart brekyth on tweyn, 2 
Thys chyldes wordes, they be so tender. 

Mount Moriah. Enter ABRAHAM and ISAAC 

10 A, Ysaac, son 1 anon ley yt down, 

No lenger upon )>i backe yt hold, 8 
For I must make redy bo[u]n * 

To honowr my Lord God as I schold." 

Isaac. Loo, my dere fader, wer yt ys 1 
1 5 To cher 6 jow allwey I draw me ner ; 

But, fader, I mervell sore of thys, 
Wy ]>at ge make thys hevy chere ; 

And also evermore 7 dred I : 

Wer ys jowr best 8 pat je schuld kyll ? 
20 Both fyer and wood we have redy, 

But queke 9 best have we non on pis hyll ; 

A qwyke best, I wot wyll, must be ded, 
sacryfyce for to make. 10 

l wound 4 prepared 8 MS. queke best 

2MS. tewyn (em. S.) 6 MS. schuld 9 living 

MS. here (em. M., following 6 cheer 10 MS. transposes this line 

Kittredge's suggestion) 7 MS. fader euermore and the next (em. S.) 


Abraham. Dred the nowyht, 1 my chyld, I the red a ; 
Owr Lord wyll send me onto thys sted 8 
Summ maner a best for to take, 
Throw hys swet sond. 

Isaac. <^a, fader, but my hart begynnyth to quake 
To se fat scharpe sword in jowr hond. 

Wy bere je jowr sword drawyn soo ? 

Off 5owre contenauns 4 I have mych wonder. 

Abraham. A, Fader of hevyn, so 5 I am woo 1 
Thys chyld her brekys my harte onsonder. 6 

Isaac. Tell me, my dere fader, or that je ses, 7 
Ber je jowr sword draw[yn] 8 for me ? 

Abraham. A, Ysaac, swet son, pes ! [a,] pes 1 
For iwys thow breke[s] my harte on thre. 

Isaac. Now trewly, sumwat, fader, je thynke, 9 
That je morne 10 thus [ay] more and more. 

Abraham. A ! Lord of hevyn, thy grace let synke, 
For my hart was never halffe so sore. 

Isaac. I preye jow, fader, let u me fat wyt, ia 
Wyther schall I have ony harme or noo. 

Abraham. Iwys, swet son, I may not tell the jyt, 
My hart ys now soo full of woo. 

Isaac. Dere fader, I prey, 18 hyd yt 14 not fro me, 
But sum of $owr thowt je 15 tell me [anone]. 

1 not at all ; MS. -wyth 6 MS. on too (em. H.) MS. )>at je wyll let 

2 counsel 7 cease 12 know 

8 place 8 em. M. 18 MS. prey jow 

* countenance; MS. conwnauns 9 ponder upon 14 MS. hydygth (em. M.) 

6 MS. os (em. S.) 10 mourn 16 MS. )>at ge 

506 PLAYS 

Abraham. A, Ysaac, Ysaac, I must kyll the ! 

Isaac. Kyll me, fader ? alasse, wat have I done ? 

Yff I have trespassyd ajens jow owt, 

^je may make me with a gard 1 full myld, 
5 And with jowr scharp sword kyll me nowt, a 

For iwys, fader, I am but a chyld. 

Abraham. I am full sory 8 thy blood for to spyll, 
But truly, my chyld, I may not chese. 4 

Isaac. Now I wold 5 my moder were on 6 fis 7 hyll 1 
10 Sche woold knele for me on both hyr kneys 

To save my lyffe. 

And sythyn 8 my moder ys not here, 
I prey jow, fader, chonge 9 5owr chere, 

And kyll me not with jowyr knyffe. 

15 Abraham. Forsothe, son, but-jyf I the kyll, 

I schuld greve God ryght 10 sore, I drede ; 
Yt ys hys commawment and also hys wyll 
That I schuld do thys same dede. 

He commawdyd me, son, for serteyn, 
20 To make my sacryfyce with thy blood. 

Isaac. And ys yt Goddes wyll fat I schuld be slayn ? 

Abraham. ^a, truly, Ysaac, my son soo good, 
And therfor my handes I wryng. 

1 rod ; MS. with a Sard Je * choose 8 MS. sybyn f>at 

may make me 6 MS. wold to God 9 change ; MS. schonge 

2 MS. nogth 6 MS. her on 1 MS. rygth 
* MS. sory son 7 A. ys, B. yis (em. M.) 


Isaac. Now, fader, ajens my Lordes decre l 

I wyll never groche, lowd nor styll ; 
He myght 2 a 8 sent me a better destyne * 

Yf yt had a be hys wyll. 6 

Abraham. Forsothe, son, but-yf I do 8 }>is dede, 5 

Grevosly dysplessyd owr Lord wyll be. 

Isaac. Nay, nay, fader, God forbede 
That ever je schuld greve hym for me. 

. ^e have other chyldryn, on or too, 

The wyche ge schuld love wyll be kynd. 7 10 

I prey jow, fader, make 56 no woo, 
For, be I onys ded and fro jow goo, 

I schall be sone owt of jowr mynd. 

Therfor doo owr Lordes byddyng, 

And wan I am ded, than prey for me ; 15 

But, good fader, tell je my moder nothyng, 

Say fat I am dwellyng 8 in another cuntre. 9 

Abraham. A, Ysaac, 10 blessyd mot thow be 1 

My hart begynnyth u stron[g]ly to rysse, 

To see the blood off thy blyssyd body. 20 

Isaac. Fadyr, syn yt may be noo other wysse, ia 
Let yt passe over as wyll as I ; 

But, or 18 I goo onto my deth, 

I prey jow blysse me with jowr hond. 14 

1 MS. wyll (em. suggestedby M.) 6 MS. ded 1 MS. Ysaac, Ysaac 

2 MS. mygth 7 by nature, naturally n MS. begynnyd (em. M.) 

3 have 8 MS. dewllyng (em. S.) 12 wise 

4 MS. desteny 9 MS. in another cuntre 18 before ; MS. fader or 
* MS.plecer(em.suggestedbyM.) dewylling u MS. hand 

508 PLAYS 

Abraham. Now, Ysaac, [sone,] with all my breth, 
My blyssyng I jeve fe upon thys lond, 

And Codes also therto, iwys. 
Ysaac, Ysaac, sone, up thow stond, 
5 Thy fayer swete mowthe fat I may kys. 

Isaac. Now farwyll, 1 my owyne fader so fyn, 

And grete wyll my moder in erde. 2 
But I prey jow, fader, to hyd my eyne, 

That I se not fe stroke of jowr scharpe swerd,* 

10 That my fleysse schall defyle. 

Abraham. Sone, thy wordes make me to wepe full sore : 
Now, my dere son Ysaac, speke no more. 

Isaac. A, my owyne dere fader, werefore ? 
We schall speke togedyr her but a wylle, 4 

15 And sythyn that I must nedys 5 be ded, 

^yt, my dere fader, to gow I prey, 
Smythe but fewe ' strokes at my hed, 
And make an end as sone as ge may, 
And tery not to longe. 

20 Abraham. Thy meke wordes, chyld, make me afray 7 ; 

So ' Welawey ! ' may be my songe, 

Excepe al only Godes wyll. 

A, Ysaac, my owyn swete chyld, 
yt kysse me ajen upon thys hyll ! 
25 In all thys war[l]d 8 ys non soo myld. 

Isaac. Now truly, fader, all thys teryyng 

Yt doth my hart but harme ; 
I prey jow, fader, make an enddyng. 

1 farewell ; MS. for- 4 while, short time 7 afraid ; MS. afrayed 

2 MS. erthe (em. M., following 5 needs ; MS. nedysse (em. M.) 

S.'s suggestion) 8 MS. feve (em. M.) 8 em. S. 

8 MS. sword (em. M.) 

Abraham. Cume up, cwet son, onto my arme ; 

I must bynd thy handes too, 

Allthow thow be never soo myld. 

Isaac. A, mercy, fader ! wy schuld je do soo ? 

Abraham. That thow schuldyst not let, 1 my chyld. 5 

Isaac. Nay, iwysse, fader, I wyll not let jow ; 

Do on for me gowr wyll, 
And on the purpos that 56 have set ;ow 

For Codes love kepe yt forthe styll. 

I am full sory thys day to dey, 2 10 

But jyt I kepe 8 not my God to greve ; 
Do on jowr lyst * for me hard[e]ly, 

My fayer swete fader, I jeffe jow leve. 

But, fader, I prey jow evermore, 

Tell je my moder never a 6 dell 8 ; 15 

Yff e sche wist 7 yt, sche wold wepe full sore, 

For iwysse, fader, sche lovyt[h] me wylle 8 ; 

Goddes blyssyng have mot sche 9 ! 
Now forwyll, my moder so swete, 
We too be leke 10 no mor to mete. 20 

Abraham. A, Ysaac, son " ! J>ou makyst me gret, 12 
And with thy wordes 18 dystempurst u me. 

Isaac. Swete 16 fader, I am sory jow to greve 16 ; 

I cry sow mercy of that I have donne, 
And of all trespasse )>at ever I ded meve " ; 25 

Now, fader, 18 forjyffe me J?at I have donne. 
God of hevyn be with me I 

1 hinder 7 knew ; MS. wost 18 MS. wordes thow 

2 die 8 MS. full wylle 14 troubles! 

wish, desire 9 MS. mot sche have (em. H.) ls MS. iwysse swete 

* pleasure 1 are likely 16 MS. to greve Sow 

6 MS. no n MS. Ysaac, Ysaac 17 cause ; MS. meve Sow 

part of it 12 lament, weep ; MS. to gret 18 MS. dere fader 





Abraham. A, dere chyld, lefe of l thy monys 1 
In all thy lyffe thow grevyd me never onys ; 
Now blyssyd be thow, body and bonys 2 1 

Thow hast be to me chyld full good. 
But iwysse, 8 thow I morne never so fast, 
^yt must I nedes here at the last 

In thys place sched * thy blood. 

Therfor, my son, 8 here schall ]>ou lye. 

Onto my warke I must me stede 6 ; 
1 7 had as leve myselffe to dey, 

Yff God wyll be plecyd wyth my dede, 

And myn owyn body for to offer. 

Isaa<,. A, mercy, fader, morne je no more, 

^owr wepyng make[th] 8 my hart [as] sore 

As my owyn deth that I schall suffer. 

kerche[f] 9 abowt my eyn je wynd. 
Abraham, So I schall, my swettest chyld in erde. 10 

Isaac. Now jyt, good fader, have thys in mynd, 
And smyth me not oftyn with jowr scharp swerd, 11 

But hastely that yt be sped. 12 

Here ABRAHAM leyd a cloth on YSAACES face, 

thus seyyng: 
Abraham. Now farewyll, 18 my chyld, so full of grace. 

Isaac. A, fader, fader, torne downward u my face, 
For of jowr 18 swerd 16 I am ever adred. 

1 leave off, cease 

2 MS. bonys, That ever thow 

were bred and born 
8 MS. iwysse child 
< MS. sched all 
6MS. dere son 

6 set myself 

7 MS. iwysse I 

8 em. H. 

9 MS. kerche fader 

10 MS.erthe (em. M., following 
S.'s suggestion) 

11 MS. sword (em. M.) 

12 done quickly 
18 MS. fore- 

l^ MS. downgward 
is MS. Sowr scharpe 
is MS. sword 


Abraham. To don thys dede I am full sory, 
But, Lord, thyn best I wyll not withstond. 

Isaac. A, Fader of hevyn, to the I crye, 
Lord, reseyve me into thy hond. 1 

Abraham. Loo, now ys cum the tyme 2 certeyn 5 

That my swerd 3 in hys necke schall bite. 4 
A, Lord, my hart reysyth therageyn, 8 

I may not fynd 6 in my harte to smygth 

My hart wyll not now thertoo. 

^yt fayn I woold warke my Lordes wyll ; 10 

But thys jowng innosent lygth so styll, 
I may not fynd 6 in my hart hym to kyll. 

O, Fader of hevyn, what schall I doo ? 

Isaac. A, mercy, fader, wy 7 tery je so, 

And let me ley thus longe on bis hethe? >5 

Now I wold to God ]>e stroke were doo 8 ! 
I prey sow, 9 schorte me of 10 my woo, 

And let me not loke thus after n my deth. 12 

Abraham. Now, hart, wy wilt thow not ls breke on thre ? 

^yt schall )?[o]u not make me to God 14 onmyld. 13 20 

I wyll no lenger let 16 for the, 
For that my God agrevyd wold be ; 

Now hoold 17 the 18 stroke, my owyn dere chyld. 

Her ABRAHAM drew hys stroke, and />e ANGELL take 
the swerd* in h%s hond soddenly. 
Angel. I am an angell, thow mayist se 19 blythe, 

That fro hevyn to the ys sent. 20 25 

1 MS. hand 8 done u ungracious (lit. unmild) 

2 MS. the tyme cum 9 MS. fader I prey Sow hartely " tarry 

s MS. sword 10 shorten 17 receive 

4 MS. synke (em. H.) u wait thus for 18 MS. tha 

5 against this' 12 MS. degth 19 see 

MS. fyndygth ; M. fynd yt l MS. wolddyst not thou MS. senth 

7 w hy " MS. my God 

512 PLAYS 

Owr Lord thanke[th] the an c sythe 1 

For the kepyng of hys commaw[nde]ment. 

He knowyt[h] )>i wyll and also thy harte, 

That thow dredyst hym above all thyng ; 
5 And sum of thy hevynes for to departe, 2 

A f ayr ram jynder 8 I gan brynge ; 

He standyth teyed, loo, among J>e breres. 

Now, Abraham, amend thy mood, 
For Ysaac, thy jowng son pat her ys, 
10 Thys day [thow] schall not sched hys blood ; 

Goo, make thy sacryfece with jon rame. 
Now farwyll, 4 blyssyd Abraham, 
For onto hevyn I goo now horn ; 

The way ys full gayn 6 [to pace 6 ] ; 
15 Take up thy son soo free. [Exit. 

Abraham. A, Lord, I thanke the of thy gret grace 1 
Now am I teyed 7 on dyvers wysse ; 
Arysse up, Ysaac, my sunne, 8 arysse ; 
Arysse, 9 swete chyld, and cum to me. 

20 Isaac. A, mercy, fader ! wy smygth je nowt 10 ? 

A, smygth on, fader, onys with jowr knyffe. 

Abraham. Pesse, my swet son, 11 and take no thowt, 
For owr Lord of hevyn hath grant pi lyffe 

Be hys angell now, that )>ou schalt not dey. 12 
25 Isaac. A, fader, full glad than wer I, 

1 a hundred times 5 near, straight 9 MS. arysse up 

2 banish 8 pass ; em. H. 10 MS. not yyt (em. H.) 
8 yonder 7 bound (to God); MS. yeyed n MS. sir (em. M.) 

< MS. for- 8 MS. dere sunne u MS. dey \>\s day sunne truly 


Iwys, fader, I sey, iwys, 
Yf thys tale wer trew ! 

Abraham. An hundryd tymys, my son fayer of hew, 
For joy pi mowth now wyll I kys. 

Isaac. A, my dere fader, Abraham, 

Wyll not God be wroth fat we do thus ? 

Abraham. Noo, noo 1 swet l son, for jyn 2 same rame 
He hath sent hether down to us. 3 

best schall dey here in }>i sted, 
In the wor}>schup 4 of owr Lord alon ; 10 

Goo, fet 6 hym hethyr, my chyld, inded. 

Isaac. 1 6 wyll goo hent 7 hym be the hed, 

Arid bryng gen best with me anon. 

[Isaac catches the ram. 
A, scheppe, scheppe, blyssyd mot ]>ou be . 

That ever thow were sent down hederl 15 

Thow schall thys day dey for me, 
In the worchup of the holy Trynyte. 

Now cum fast, and goo we togeder 


To my fader in hy 
Thow )>ou be never so jentyll and good, 
<^yt had I lever thow schedyst ]>i blood, 

Iwysse, scheppe, than I. 

Loo ! fader, I have browt here full smerte 9 
Thys jentyll scheppe, and to 10 jow I jyffe ; 

IMS swvt Hether down to us ; 7 seize 

2 ' J em. suggested by M. inhaste;MS.ofheven 

8 MS 4 MS. worpschup (em. S.) (em. sugg. by M.) 

6 fptrh 9 promptly 

Noo, noo ! harly, my swyt son, 10 M Kvm to 

For kyn same rame he hath us sent 6 MS. Fader I l MS. hym to 

514 PLAYS 

Lord l God, I thanke J>e with all my hart, 
For I am glad that I schall leve, 2 

And kys onys my dere moder. 

Abraham. Now be ryght 3 myry, my [owyne] swete chyld, 
5 For thys qwyke best fat ys so myld 

Here I present 4 before all other. 

Isaac. And I wyll fast begynne to blowe ; 

Thys fyer schall brene 6 a full good sped. 8 
But, fader, wyll 7 I stowppe downe lowe, 
10 ^e wyll not kyll me with jowr swerd, 8 I trowe ? 

Abraham. Noo, har[de]ly, 9 swet son, have no dred, 
My mornyng 10 ys past. 

Isaac. I u woold fat swerd 8 wer in a gled, 12 
For u yt make[th] 14 me full yll agast. 

Here ABRAHAM mad hys ojfryng, knelyng, and 

seyyng thus: 
15 Abraham. Now, Lord God of heven in Trynyte, 

Allmyty God omnipotent, 
My offeryng I make in the worchope of the, 
And with thys qweke best I the present ; 
Lord, reseyve thow myn intent, 
20 As [thow] 15 art God, and grownd 16 of owr grace. 

speaks from heaven. 
God. Abraham, Abraham, wyll 17 mot thow sped, 18 
And Ysaac, fi gowng son the by ! 

1 MS. but Lord 7 while 18 MS. for iwys fader 

a live 8 MS. sword 14 em. suggested by H. 

8MS. rygth 9 certainly ; em. M. 15 em. M. 

* MS. schall present 10 mourning 16 foundation, source 

6 burn " MS. a but I 17 well 

6 speed ; MS. spyd * 2 fire (?) ; MS. glad (em. M.) 18 prosper 


Truly, Abraham, for thys dede 
I schall multyplye jowr bother l sede 
As thyke as sterres be in the skye, 

Bothe more and lesse ; 

And as thyke as gravell in the see, 5 

So 2 multyplyed jowr sede schall be ; 

Thys grant I jow for jowr goodnesse. 

Off ;$ow schall cume frowte gret [won], 8 

And ever be in blysse withowt[en] end. 4 
For je drede me as God alon, 10 

And kepe my commawmentes everych 5 on, 

My blyssyng I jeffe, wersoever je wend. 6 

Abraham. Loo, Ysaac, my son, how thynke 56 

Be thys warke that we have wroght 7 ? 
Full glad and blythe we may be, 15 

Agens Gods wyll 8 fat we grucched nott 

Upon thys fayer heth. 9 

Isaac. A, fader, I thanke owr Lord every dell 
That my wyt servyd me so wyll 

For to drede God more than my deth. 10 20 

Abraham. Why 1 dereworby n son, wer thow adred ? 
Hardely, 12 chyld, tell me thy lore. 18 

Isaac. 5a, be my feyth, fader, now have u I red, 16 
I wos never soo afrayd before 

As I have byn at jyn hyll. 25 

But, be my feyth, fader, I swere 
I wyll nevermore cume there 

But yt be agens my wyll. 

1 of you both; MS.jowresbotheres 6 MS. goo (em. H.) precious ; MS. -wordy 

2 MS. so thyke 7 MS. wrogth 12 boldly, unhesitatingly 

8 plenty ; em. M. 8 MS. be wyll of God story, what is in thy mind 

* MS. Sy'nd 9 MS. hetth u MS. hath (em. M.) 

5MS. everysch 10 MS. detth - 15 my senses 


Abraham. Cum 1 on with me, my owyn swet sonn, 
And homward fast now let us goon. 

Isaac. Be 2 my feyth, fader, therto I on, 8 
I had never so good wyll hom to gon, 4 
5 And to speke with my dere moder. 

Abraham. A ! Lord of hevyn, I thanke the. 
For now may I led hom with me 
Ysaac, my jownge sonn so fre, 

The gentyllest chyld above all other 5 
i Thys may I wyll avo[w to thjee. 6 

Now goo we forthe, my blyssyd sonn. 

Isaac. I grant, fader, and let us gon, 
For, be my trowthe, wer I at home, 
I wold never gon owt under that forme. 7 

15 I pray God jeffe us grace evermo, 

And all tho 8 that we be holdyng ' to. [Exeunt. 


Doctor. Lo, sovereyns and sorys, 10 now have we schewyd u 

Thys solom story 12 to grete and smale ; 
It ys good lernyng to lernd and lewyd 18 
20 And pe wysest of us all, 

Wythowtyn ony berry ng. 14 
For thys story schewyt[h] 16 jowe [her] M 

1 MS. 53 cum * (?) 18 ignorant 

2 by 8 those ; MS. thow M outcry, clamorous protest 
8 consent; MS. grant 9 beholding (see NED. under 6ere,sb.) 
* MS. to gon hom 10 sirs 15 showeth ; MS. schoyt 

6 MS. erthe (em. S.) " MS. schowyd l em. M. 

MS. avoee 12 MS-, story hath schowyd (em. H.) 


How we schuld kepe, to owr pofwejre, 1 
Goddes commawments withowt grochyng. 

Trowe je, sores, and 2 God sent an angell [to jow], 
And commawndyd jow jowr chyld to slayn, 8 

Be jowr trowthe, ys ther ony of jow 5 

That eyther wold groche or stry ve therageyn 4 ? 

How thyngke je now, sorys, therby ? 

I trow ther be iij, or iiij, or moo. 
And thys 5 women that wepe sorowfully 

Whan that hyr chyldryn dey them froo 6 10 

As nater woll 7 and kynd 
Yt ys but folly, I may well avow, 8 
To groche ajens God or to greve gow, 
For je schall never se hym myschevyd, 9 1 10 know, 

Be lond nor watyr, have thys in mynd ; 1 5 

And groche not ajens owr Lord God 

In welth or woo, wether u that he sow send, 

Thow je be never so hard bestad ; 
For when he wyll, he may yt amend, 

Hys comawmentes yf 12 je kepe with good hart, 20 

As thys story hath now schewyd 13 jow befor[n]e, 14 

And feytheffully serve hym qwyll 15 56 be qvart, 16 
That 56 may piece God bothe evyn and morne. 

Now Jesu, that weryd 1T the crown of thome, 

Bryng us all to hevyn blysse ! 2 5 


1 em. M. 6 die and leave them 12 MS. treuly yf 

2 if 7 MS. woll woll (em. S.) 18 MS. schowyd 
8 MS. to smygth of owr 8 MS. awooe 14 em. H. 

childes hed (em. H.) 9 afflicted 16 while 

* against this 10 MS. wyll I 16 healthy, sound 

6 these n whichever l " MS. weryt 

5i8 PLAYS : - 


The Earl of Ashburnham's manuscript (1430-1440), now MS. Brit. Mus. 
Add. 35,290, was edited by Lucy Toulmin Smith as York Plays (Oxford, 1885). 
Emendations are by Miss Smith (S.) ; Holthausen (H.), in Herrig's Archi-v 
85. 413; Kolbing (K.), in Engl. Stud. 20. 187. The stage-directions are modern. 

The form of the seven-line stanza should be noted : abab*c 2 b*c 2 . 

Bethlehem. A stable. Enter JOSEPH and MARY 

Jos. Allweldand * God in Trinite, 

I praye J>e, Lord, for thy grete myght, 
Unto thy symple servand see, 

Here in J>is place wher we are pight, 2 
S Oureself allone ; 

Lord, graunte us gode herberow 8 )>is nyght, 
Within pis wone.* 

For we haue sought both uppe and doune, 

Thurgh diverse stretis in )ris cite ; 

10 So mekill pepull is comen to towne, 

J>at we can nowhare herbered be, 

Slike prees 6 it is 6 ; 
Forsuthe I can no socoure see, 
But belde 7 with bestes. 8 

15 And yf we here all nyght abide, 

We shall be stormed in Jris steede 9 ; 
J>e walles are doune on ilke a side, 
]?e ruffe is rayned 10 aboven oure hede, 

Als have I roo. 11 

20 Say, Marie, doughtir, what is thy rede 12 ? 

How sail we doo ? 

1 almighty 6 MS. J>er is slike prees 10 wet with rain 

2 pitched, settled 1 lodge u rest, peace 
* harbor, shelter 8 MS. belde us with J>ere M counsel 

4 place, dwelling bestes (em. H., K.) 

5 such a crowd 9 place 


For in grete nede nowe are we stedde, 1 

As pou thyselffe the soth may see, 
For here is nowthir cloth ne bedde, 
And we are weyke and all werie, 

And fayne wolde rest. 5 

Now, gracious God, for thy mercie, 
Wisse 2 us pe best ! 

Mar. God will us wisse, full wele witt je, 

]?erfore, Joseph, be of gud chere, 

For in pis place borne will he be 10 

J>at sail us save fro sorowes sere, 8 

Bothe even and morne. 
Sir, witte je wele pe tyme is nere 
Hee 4 will be borne. 

Jos. f>an behoves us bide here stille, 15 

Here in pis same place all pis nyght. 
Mar. ^a, sir, forsuth it is Goddis will. 
Jos. J>an wolde I fayne we had sum light, 

Whatso befall ; 

It waxes myrke 5 unto my sight, 20 

And colde withall. 

I will go gete us light forthy, 6 

And fewell f ande 7 with me to bryng. [Exit. 

Mar. Allweldand God yow governe and gy, 8 

As he is Sufferayne 9 of all thyng, 25 

Fo[r] his grete myght ! 
And lende me grace to his lovyng 
f>at I me dight 10 ! 

Nowe in my sawle grete joie have I, 

I am all cladde in comforte clere ; 3 

1 placed 5 dark; MS. right myrke 'sovereign 

2 guide, direct 6 therefore 10 prepare 
s divers, various 7 seek 

* when he 8 guide 

520 PLAYS 

Now will be borne of my body 

Both God and Man togedir in feere, 1 

Bliste mott he be 1 
Jesu, my Son fat is so dere, 
5 Now borne is he 1 [MARY worships the child. 

Hayle, my Lord God ! hayle, Prince of pees ! 

Hayle, my Fadir ! and hayle, my Sone 1 
Hayle sovereyne Sege, 2 all synnes to sesse 8 ! 

Hayle, God and Man in erth to wonne 4 1 
10 Hayle ! thurgh whos myht 

All pis worlde was first begonne, 
Merknes and light. 

Sone, as I sugett 5 am of thyne, 

Vowchesaffe, swete Sone, [for so] I pray fe, 
15 That I myght fe take in armys myne, 6 

And in f is povre wede arraie 7 f e. 

Graunte me fi blisse, 
As I am thy modir chosen to be 
In sothfastnesse. 

Outside the stable. Enter JOSEPH 

20 Jos. A, Lorde 1 what 8 the wedir is colde ! 

J>e fellest 9 f reese 10 fat evere I felyd. 
I pray God helpe ]>am fat is olde, 11 
And namely 12 fam fat is vnwelde, 18 

So may I saie. 
2 r Now, gud God, fou be my belde, 14 

As fou best may. [A sudden light shines. 

1 together (redundant) MS. )>e armys of myne 12 especially 

2 hero 7 MS. to araie u weak 

8 cease how " shelter ; MS. brilde 

4 dwell 9 crudest (em. S.) 

6 subject ; MS. am sympill M frost 

sugett (K. omits sympill) n MS. aide 


A, Lord God ! what light is pis 

J>at comes shynyng ]>us sodenly ? 
I can not saie, als have I blisse. 

When I come home unto Marie, 

f>an sail I spirre. 1 [Exit. 5 

Within the stable. Enter JOSEPH to MARY 

[/us.] A ! here[d] 2 be God, for nowe come I. 
Mar. ^e ar welcum, sirre. 

Jos. Say, Marie doghtir, what chere with pe ? 

Mar. Right goode, Joseph, as has been ay. 

Jos. What 3 swete thyng is pat on thy kne ? 10 

Mar. It is my Sone, pe soth to saye, 

J>at is so gud. 
Jos. Wele is me I bade 4 pis day 

To se pis Foode 5 ! 

Me merveles mekill of pis light, 15 

J>at p usgates 6 shynes in pis place, 

Forsuth it is a selcouth 7 sight 1 

Mar. J>is hase he ordand 8 of his grace, 

My Sone so sing, 
A starne 9 to be shynyng a space 20 

At his bering. 10 

For Balam tolde ful longe beforne 
How pat a sterne shulde rise full hye, 11 
And of a maiden shulde be borne 12 

1 ask, inquire 6 child (lit., one fed) 9 star 

a em. K. 6 thus 10 birth 

8 MS. O Marie what (em. H.) 7 strange, unusual n Num. 24. 17 

* awaited 8 ordained u Isa. 7. 14 

522 PLAYS 

A Sone * fat sail oure saffyng * be 

Fro caris kene. 
Forsuth it is my Sone so free 

Whame he gan mene. 8 

5 Jos. Nowe welcome, Floure fairest of hewe ! 

I shall f e menske 4 with mayne and myght 
Hayle, my Maker I hayle, Crist Jesu ! 
Hayle, riall 5 Kyng, Roote of all right 1 

Hayle, Saveour! 

10 Hayle, my Lorde, Lemer 6 of light ! 

Hayle, blessid Floure 1 

Mar. Nowe, Lord, fat all f is worlde schall wynne, 
To fe, my Sone, is fat I saye, 
Here is no bedde to laye the inne, 
15 J>erfore, my dere Sone, I fe praye, 

Sen it is so, 
Here in f is cribbe I myght f e lay 

Betweene bestis 7 two. 

And I sail happe 8 f e, myn owne dere Childe, 
20 With such clothes as we have here. 

Jos. Marie, 9 beholde fes beestis mylde, 

They make lovyng in ther manere 
As ]> ei wer men ; 

Forsothe it semes wele be ther chere 10 
25 J>are Lord fei ken. 11 

Mar. Ther Lorde }>ai kenne, fat wate I wele 
They worshippe hym with myght and mayne. 
The wedir is colde, as ye may fele ; 

1 MS. sonne 4 worship 8 wrap 

2 salvation 5 royal 9 MS. O Marie (em. K.) 
8 mean; MS.bewhame Balam 6 flasher forth 10 look 

gon mene (em. H.) ? MS. }>er bestis (em. H., K.) J1 know, recognize 


To halde 1 hym warme }>ei are full fayne 

With fare warme breth, 
And oondis 2 on hym. Is noght to layne 8 

To warme hym with ? 

Nowe 4 slepis my Sone, blist mot he be 1 5 

And lyes full warme per bestis bytwene. 
Jos. Nowe * is fulfilled, forsuth I see, 
J>at Abacuc in mynde gon mene, 

By 5 prophicie : 
He saide oure Savyoure shall be sene 10 

Betwene bestis lye ; 

And nowe I see ]>e same in sight. 

Mar. ^a, sir, forsuth fe same is he. 

Jos. Honnoure and worshippe both day and nyght, 

Aylastand Lorde, be done to J>e, 15 

As 6 is worthy ! 
And to 7 thy service I oblissh 8 me 

With herte 9 holy. 

Mar. J>ou mercyfull Maker most myghty, 

My God, my Lorde, my Sone so free, 20 

Thy handemayden forsoth am I, 

And to thi service I oblissh me, 

With herte 9 entere. 10 
Thy blissing, [now], beseke I thee, 

Graunte n us in 12 feere. 25 

1 keep 6 MS. and preched by (em. K.) MS. all myn herte (em. K.) 

2 breathe 6 MS. all way as (em. K.) 10 entire, whole 

3 borrow 1 MS. lord to (em. K.) u MS. )>ou graunte (em. K.) 
* MS. O nowe (em. K.) * oblige me, bind myself 12 M& all in (em. K.) 

8. Abacuc: the allusion is to the apocryphal Pseudo-Matthew, chap. 14, 
which reads : ' Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Habakkuk the 
prophet, who said, Between two animals thou art made known.' The reference 
here is to Hab. 3. 2, where the Septuagint version reads : ' Thou shall be 
known between the two living creatures.' 

524 PLAYS 


Gayley thus characterizes this piece (Plays of our Forefathers, p. 182) : ' The 
Wakefield Secunda ... is plot within plot, developed through eight closely 
consecutive scenes, and crowded with action. The comic adventure is indeed 
but an episode this " sheep stealing of Mak " but it has its beginning, 
middle, and end ; the motive, the devices, and the progress of a comedietta 
in itself. It grows out of and belongs to the conditions with which the en 
veloping action opens, and its party of the second part are also dramatic per 
sons in the main action. . . . As a work of dramatic genius this little play, 
fwith its home-made philosophy, home-made figures, and home-made humor, 
with its comic business, its sometimes boisterous spirits, its quiet and shrewd 
irony, its ludicrous diction, its revelation of rural manners, its simple and 
healthful creed, its radiant and naive devoutness, its dramatic anticipations, 
.postponements, and surprises, stands out English and alone, and a master 
piece.' The three shepherds he thus describes (pp. 182-3) : ' Coll, the first 
shepherd, who soliloquizes concerning political philosophy, a kind of later 
fourteenth-century populist whom it refreshes to grumble ; . . . Gyb, the second 
shepherd, whose vein is of matrimonial philosophy ; . . . and Daw, the hind, 
whose philosophy is eclectic, who swears by the unborn Christ and Saint 
Nicholas, and " lets the world pass." He it is who sees " sudden sights in 
the darkness " ; who warns of the midnight-stalking Mak ; who makes that 
" Yoman " of the king lie safely down between them ; it is he, too, who dreams 
of the stolen sheep, and conducts the vain search therefor ; and who, fortu 
nately flinging back to Mak's home to give the hypothetical babe, " that little 
day starne," a " saxpence," lifts up the clout and diagnoses the fraud that has 
been practised upon them.' According to Pollard (English Miracle Plays, 
p. 189), Mak is probably adapted from the favorite comic character, the con 
jurer and buffoon Maugis, of the romance of the Four Sons of Ay man. Pollard's 
general estimate is (England's edition, p. xxx) : ' The Secunda Pastorum . . . 
is really perfect as a work of art.' 

The play is written, like four others in the Towneley series Noah, Prima 
Pastorum, Herod, and the Buffeting and parts of others (cf. Pollard's remarks 
in England's edition, pp. xxi ff. ; Gayley, op. fit., pp. 163 ff.) in a nine-line stanza, 
rhyming aaaa*b 1 ccc 2 b 1 , where the superior numbers denote the number of 
feet in the line (the a-lines have each four feet, for instance). In reality, how 
ever, there are four rhymes to the stanza, instead of three, since each of the 
a-lines has a rhyme in the middle ; the scheme may therefore be represented 
thus (cf. Pollard, p. xxii) : abababab 2 c 1 ddd 2 c 1 . All the stanzas save one 
(535 14 ff.) are constructed on this model, and that has lost two of the four 
opening lines. 

Not to mention earlier editions, the play was printed in 1897 by England 
(The Towneley Plays, E.E.T.S. Ex. Ser., No. 71, pp. 116-40), and by Manly 


(Spec. Pre-Shak. Drama I. 94-119, with a few emendations by Kittredge); in 
1909 by Hemingway (English Nativity Plays, pp. 188-214); and in part by 
Pollard (English Miracle Plays, pp. 31-43). Emendations by Kolbing are in 
Engl. Stud. 21. 165-6. Modernizations are to be found in Everyman's Library 
(Everyman, -with Other Interludes, ed. by Ernst Rhys) and (better) in the River 
side Literature Series (The Second Shepherds 1 Play, etc., ed. by C. G. Child) ; 
the latter has a good bibliographical introduction, pp. 27-8. 

The manuscript may be dated about 1460, and the composition of the plays 
may extend approximately from 1360-1410 (Pollard, in England's edition, 
pp. xxvii-xxviii). Miss Hope Traver (Mod. Lang. Notes 20 (1905). 5) con 
cludes from the use of the word ' crochett ' (551 7), introduced into the lan 
guage, before 1400, that the Secunda Pastonim was written 'perhaps about 
1400 or a little later' (for other references to music see 532 16 ff.; 54225ff.; 
5449; 55424). 

The stage-directions are modern. For Primus Pastor, Uxor, etc., I have 
substituted the proper names in the text; thus : Coll for Primus Pastor; Gib 
for Secundus (iius) Pastor; Daw for Tertius (iiius) Pastor; Gill for Uxor 
(fius), etc. 


COLL, the First Shepherd 

GIB, the Second Shepherd 

DAW, the Third Shepherd, or rather Gib's servant 

MAK, the Thief 

GILL, MaKs Wife 

THE VIRGIN MARY, with the Child Jesus 



The moors near Horbury, in the West Riding of Yorkshire 
Enter COLL, the First Shepherd 

Coll. Lord, what these weders * ar cold ! and I am yll happyd 2 ; 
I am nerehand 3 dold, 4 so long have I nappyd ; 
My legys thay fold, my fyngers ar chappyd ; 
It is not as I wold, for I am al lappyd 5 
In sorow, 

1 weathers, storms 3 nearly 6 lapped, enveloped 

2 wrapped, clothed 4 numb 

526 PLAYS 

In stormes and tempest 

Now in the eest, now in the west. 

Wo is hym has never rest 

Mydday nor morow I 

5 Bot we sely l husbandys 2 that walkys on the moore, 

In fayth we are nerehandys outt of the doore. 3 
No wonder, as it standys, if we be poore, 
Ffor the tylthe 4 of cure landys lyys falow as the floore, 

As ye ken. 
10 We ar so lamyd, 5 

Ffortaxed 6 and ramyd, 7 
We ar mayde handtamyd 8 

With 9 thyse gentlery-men. 10 

Thus thay refe n us oure rest oure Lady theym wary 12 1 
15 These men that ar lord-fest, 18 thay cause the ploghe tary. 

That 14 men say is for the best, we fynde it contrary ; 
Thus ar husbandys opprest, in po[i]nte to 15 myscary 

On lyfe. 

Thus hold thay us hunder, 
20 Thus thay bryng us in blonder le ; 

It were greatte wonder 

And 17 ever shuld we thryfe. 

Ther 18 shall com a swa[y]ne 19 as prowde as a po 20 ; 
He must borow my wa[y]ne, 21 my ploghe also ; 
25 Then I am full fa[y]ne ^ to graunt or 28 he go. 

Thus lyf we in payne, anger, and wo, 
By nyght and day ; 

1 helpless, miserable 7 oppressed W confusion, trouble 

2 husbandmen (see 1. 17); 8 reduced to submission 17 if 

MS. shepardes (em. sug- 9 by 18 MS. transposes this stanza and 

gested by M.) 10 gentry the next (em. K.) 

8 nearly homeless n take from 19 swain 

4 surface (?) (there is arable u curse 2 peacock 

land among the moors) 18 bound to a lord 21 wagon 

5 MS. hamyd (em. H.) 14 what 22 MS. swane, wane, fane (em. K.) 

6 overtaxed ^ in peril of ; em. E. w ere 


He must have if he langyd, 1 
If I shuld forgang 2 it, 
I were better be hangyd 

Then oones 8 say hym nay. 

Ffor may he gett a paynt slefe, 4 or a broche, now-on-dayes, 
Wo is hym that hym grefe, or onys aganesays 6 ! 
Dar no man hym reprefe, 6 what mastry 7 he mays, 8 
And yit may no man lefe 9 oone word that he says 

No letter. 

He can make purveance 10 
With boste and bragance, 11 
And all is thrugh mantenance 12 

Of men that are gretter. 

It dos me good, as I walk thus by myn oone, 18 
Of this warld for to talk in maner of mone. 14 
To my shepe wyll I stalk, and herkyn anone, 
Ther abyde on a balk, 15 or sytt on a stone, 

Fful soyne lc ; 
Ffor I trowe, perde, 17 
Trew men if thay be, 
We gett more compane 18 

Or it be noyne. 19 

Enter GIB, the Second Shepherd. He fails to see COLL 

Gib. Benste 20 and Dominus ! What may this bemeyne a ? 
Why fares this warld thus ? Oft have we not sene ? 

1 desired 8 makes, shows ls ridge 

2 do without 9 believe 1G soon 

3 once 10 provision for himself *' par Dieit 

4 sleeve embroidered in colors n bragging 18 company 

5 contradicts 12 countenance, backing ] 9 notm 

6 reprove 18 myself 20 benedicite 

1 masterful behavior w lamentation 21 mean, signify 

528 PLAYS 

Lord, thyse winds 1 ar spytus, 2 and the weders 8 full kene, 
And the f rostys so hydus 4 thay water myn eeyne 

No ly. 6 

Now in dry, now in wete, 
5 Now in snaw, now in slete ; 

When my shone 6 f reys to my fete, 

It is not all esy. 

Bot as far as I ken, or yit as I go, 
We sely wedmen 7 dre 8 mekyll wo, 
10 We have sorow then and then, it fallys oft so. 

Sely Capyle, oure hen, both to and fro 

She kakyls, 
Bot begyn she to crok, 
To groyne, 9 or [to clo]k, 10 
1 5 Wo is hym n oure cok, 

Ffor he is in the shakyls 12 1 

These men that ar wed have not all thare wyll ; 

When they ar full hard sted, 18 thay sygh full styll ; 

God wayte 14 thay ar led full hard and full yll ; 
20 In bower nor in bed thay say noght thertyll 

This tyde. 

My parte have I fun, 15 

I know my lesson : 

Wo is hym that is bun, 16 
25 Ffor he must abyde. 17 

Bot now late in oure lyfys (a mervell to me, 
That I thynk my hart ryfys 18 sich wonders to see 
What that destany dryfys it shuld so be !) 
Som men wyll have two wyfys, and som men thre 
30 In store 1 

1 MS. weders (em. sug- 1 See line 17, below H knows 

gested by M.) 8 endure, suffer K> found 

2 spiteful 9 grumble 16 bound 

8 storms 10 em. E. 17 stay as he is 

* hideous n MS. hym is of (em. suggested by M.) 18 is riven asunder 

6 He 12 shackles, bonds of wedlock ; MS. shekyls 

6 shoes 18 beset 


Som ar wo that has any, 
Bot so far [as] can 1 I, 
Wo is hym that has many, 

Ffor he felys sore. 

Bot, yong men, of 2 wowyng, for God that you boght, 5 

Be well war 8 of wedyng, and thynk in youre thoght : 
' Had I wyst 4 ' is a thyng it servys of noght. 
Mekyll styll mowrnyng has wedyng home broght, 

And grefys, 

With many a sharp showre ; 10 

Ffor thou may each in an owre 
That shall [savour] 5 fulle sowre 

As long as thou lyffys. 

Ffor as ever red I pystyll 6 ! I have oone to my fere 7 
As sharp as a thystyll, as rugh as a brere ; 1 5 

She is browyd 8 lyke a brystyll, with a sowre-loten 9 chere 10 ; 
Had she oones wett hyr whystyll, she couth syng full clere 

Hyr Pater Noster. 
She is as greatt as a whall u ; 

She has a galon of gall ; 20 

By hym that dyed for us all, 

I wald I had ryn 12 to 13 I had lost hir 14 ! 

Coll. ' God looke over the raw 15 ! ' Ffull defly le ye stand ! 
Gib. Yee, the dewill in thi maw so tariand 17 1 
Sagh thou awre 18 of Daw ? 25 

Coll. Yee, on a ley 19 land 

Hard I hym blaw. He commys here at hand, 
Not far, 

1 know 9 sour-looking 16 deaf 

2 as to 10 expression 17 tarrying 

8 beware well n whale 18 anywhere ; MS. awro (see 

4 known l' 2 run NED. s.v. owhere) 

5 em . E. 1S till 19 fallow, unplowed 

6 epistle 14 ' I wald I had lost hir ' would 
1 for my mate be more metrical 

8 has brows 15 row 

530 PLAYS 

Stand styll. 

Gib. Qwhy ? 

Coll. Ffor he commys, hope I. 

Gib. He wyll make us both a ly * 

Bot-if we be war. 2 

Enter DAW, the Third Shepherd. At first he thinks himself alone 

5 Daw. Crystys crosse me spede and Sant Nycholas 1 

Therof had I nede, it is wars then it was. 
Whoso couthe take hede and lett the warld pas, 
It is ever in drede, and brekyll 8 as glas, 

And sly thy s. 4 

10 This warld fowre 6 never so, 

With mervels mo and mo 
Now in weyll, 6 now in wo, 

And all thyng wrythys. 7 

Was never syn Noe 8 floode sich floodys seyn, 
15 Wyndys and ranys so rude, and stormes so keyn 

Som stamerd, som stod in dowte, as I weyn. 
Now God turne all to good ! I say as I mene, 

Ffor ponder : 

These floodys so thay drowne, 
20 Both in feyldys and in towne, 

And berys all downe, 

And that is a wonder ! [Catches sight of the others. 

We that walk on the nyghtys, oure catell to kepe, 
We se sodan syghtys, when othere men slepe. 
25 Yit me thynk my hart lyghtys, 9 I se shrewys 10 pepe. 

[Still soliloquizing. 

Ye ar two [t]all u wyghtys I wyll gyff my shepe 
A turne. 

1 lie 6 fared 9 grows light 

2 wary 6 weal M rascals 

8 brittle 7 turns, changes n em. Kittredge 

* slides 8 Noah's 


Bot full yll have I ment 1 : 
As I walk on this bent, 2 

I may lyghtly repent, 

My toes if I spurne. 3 

\Hefirst addresses COLL, then his master, GIB. 
A, sir, God you save, 2nd master myne ! 5 

A drynk fayn wold I have, and somwhat to dyne. 

Coll. Crystys curs, my knave, thou art a ledyr 4 hyne " 1 
Gib. What, the boy lyst rave ! Abyde unto syne 6 ; 

We have made 7 it. 

Yll thryft on thy pate ! 10 

Though the shrew cam late, 
Yit is he in state 

To dyne, if he had it. 

Daw. Sich servandys as I, that swettys and swynkys, 8 

Etys cure brede full dry, and that me forthynkys. 9 35 

We ar oft weytt and wery when master-men wynkys, 10 

Yit commys full lately u both dyners and drynkys. 

Bot nately 12 

Both oure dame and oure syre, 

When we- have ryn in the myre, 20 

Thay can nyp 13 at oure hyre, 

And pay us full lately. 

Bot here my trouth, master, for the fayr 14 that ye make, 
I shall do theraf ter 16 wyrk as I take ; 

I shall do a lytyll, sir, and emang 16 ever lake, 17 25 

Ffor yit lay my soper never on my stomake 
In feyldys. 

1 planned (to visit the sheep, 6 wa it till later 12 to some purpose, thoroughly 

since he may stumble in 1 finished ; MS. mayde 18 take away bits 
the dark) 8 toil u wages 

2 heath, open field 9 grieves 15 in proportion 

8 stub 10 sleep 16 the whole time 

* worthless u reluctantly, after the I7 be lacking 

6 hind proper time 

532 PLAYS 

Wherto shuld I threpe l ? 
With my staf can I lepe, 
And men say, ' Lyght chepe 2 

Letherly 8 foryeldys. 4 ' 

5 Coll. Thou were an yll lad to ryde on 5 wowyng 
With a man that had hot lytyll of spendyng. 
Gib. Peasse, boy, I bad ! no more jangling, 
Or I shall make the full rad, 6 by the hevens Kyng, 

With thy gawdys 7 ! 

10 Wher ar oure shepe, boy, we skorne 8 ? 
Daw. Sir, this same day at morne 
I thaym left in the corne, 

When thay rang lawdys 9 ; 

Thay nave pasture good, thay can not go wrong. 
1 5 Coll. That is right, by the roode 1 thyse nyghtys ar long ; 

Yit I wold, or we yode, 10 oone gaf us a song. 

Gib. So I thoght as I stode to myrth us emong. 11 

Daw. I grauntt. 

Coll. Lett me syng the tenory. 
20 Gib. And I the tryble so hye. 

Daw. Then the meyne 12 fallys to me ; 

Lett se how you chauntt. [They sing. 

Enter MAK, with a cloak thrown over his tunic ls 

Mak. Now, Lord, for thy naymes vii, that made both moyn and stames, 
Well mo then I can neven, 14 thi will, Lorde, of me tharnys 15 ; 
25 I am all uneven 16 that moves oft my harnes 17 ; 

Now wold God I were in heven, for the[re] 18 wepe no barnes 19 
So styll 1 

1 complain 8 (?) 14 name 

2 easy bargain 9 lauds (before daybreak) ls lacks 

s badly 10 before we went 16 at odds, at sixes and sevens 

4 repays H to gladden us the while 17 brains 

6 a- 12 middle part 18 em. E. 

6 frightened 18 MS. Tune intrat Mak, in clamide 19 children 
? tricks se super togam vestitus 


Coll. Who is that pypys so poore ? 
Mak. Wold God ye wyst how I f oore * 1 
[C<?//. 2 ] Lo, a man that walkys on the moore, 
And has not all his wyll ! 

Gib. Mak, where has thou gon 8 ? Tell us tythyng. 4 5 

Daw. Is he commen ? Then ylk on take hede to his thyng. 8 

[Snatches his own cloak from MAK.' 
Mak. What ! Ich be a yoman, I tell you, of the king, 

[Pretending not to know them. 
The self and the same, sond 7 from a greatt lordyng, 

And sich. 8 

Ffy on you 1 Goyth hence 10 

Out of my presence ! 
I must have reverence 

Why, who be Ich ? 

Coll. Why make ye it so qwaynt, 9 Mak ? Ye do wrang. 
Gib. Bot, Mak, lyst ye saynt 10 ? I trow that ye lang. 11 15 

Daw. I trow the shrew 12 can paynt, 18 the dewyll myght hym hang ! 
Mak. Ich shall make complaynt, and make you all to thwang, 14 

At a worde, 

And tell evyn 15 how ye doth. 

Coll. Bot, Mak, is that sothe ? 20 

Now take outt that sothren 16 tothe, 

And sett in a torde 17 ! 

Gib. Mak, the dewill in youre ee ! A stroke wold I leyne 18 you. 
Daw. Mak, know ye not me ? By God, I couthe teyn 19 you. 
Mak. God looke 20 you all thre J Me thoght I had sene you, 25 

[As if recognizing them. 

1 fared 8 so forth 16 southern (Child under- 

2 em. Child 9 do you behave so strangely stands ' deceitful ') 

3 MS. gom (em. E.) 10 play the saint I7 piece of dung 

4 news n are restless (love change ?) 18 lend 

5 property u rascal 19 trouble 

6 MS. & accipitclamidem 18 deceive * bless 

ab ipso 14 to be whipped 

7 messenger 15 exactly 

534 PLAYS 

Ye ar a fare compane. 

Coll. Can ye now mene you * ? 

Gib. Shrew, jape 2 1 

Thus late as thou goys, 
What wyll men suppos ? 
5 And thou has an yll noys 8 

Of stelyng of shepe. 

Mak. And I am trew as steyll, all men waytt 4 ; 

Bot a sekenes I feyll that haldys 5 me full haytt 6 : 

My belly farys not weyll, it is out of astate. 
10 Daw. ' Seldom lyys the dewyll dede by the gate/ 

Mak. Therfor 

Full sore am I and yll, 

If I stande stone-styll. 

I etc not an nedyll 7 
15 Thys moneth and more. 

Coll. How farys thi wyff ? By my hoode, how farys sho ? 
Mak. Lyys walteryng, 8 by the roode, by the fyere, lo 1 
And a howse full of brude 9 ; she drynkys well, to. 
Yll spede othere good that she wyll do ! 
20 Bot s[h]o 10 

Etys as fast as she can ; 
And ilk yere that commys to man 
She bryngys furth a lakan, 11 

And, som yeres, two. 

25 Bot were I not more gracy[o]us, 12 and rychere be 18 far, 

I were 14 eten outt of howse and of harbar 15 ; 
Yit is she a fowll dowse, 16 if ye com nar ; 
Ther is none that trowse nor knowys a war " 
Then ken I. 

1 remember J particle, bit 18 by 

2 make jokes 8 rolling about u should be 
8 reputation brood, children w shelter 

* know 10 em. H. w doxy 

6 keeps n baby (lit. toy) lr worse 

6 hot u prosperous 


Now wyll ye se what I prefer : 
To gyf all in my cofer 
To-morne at next l to offer 

Hyr hed-maspenny. 2 

Coll. I am cold and nakyd, and wold have a fyere. 5 

Gib. I wote so forwakyd 8 is none in this shyre ! 

I wold slepe if 4 I takyd les to my hyere. 5 

Daw. I am wery, forrakyd, 6 and run in the myre 

Wake thou ! 

Gib. Nay, I wyll lyg downe by, 10 

Ffor I must slepe truly. 
Daw. As good a mans son was I 

As any of you. 7 

Bot, Mak, com heder I betwene shall thou lyg downe. 

Mak. Then myght I lett 8 you bedene 9 of that ye wold rowne. 10 1 5 

No drede. \He says his prayers. 

' Ffro my top to my too, 

1 at length (?) 5 hire 8 hinder 

2 funeral dues (see 6 22) 6 worn out with walking 9 completely 

3 weary with waking " Two lines are apparently 10 whisper 

4 even if lost here 

5. Coll : MS. gives this line to Daw, and makes it follow Gib's next speech ; 
but Gib's speech requires Daw's next as an immediate answer. 

8. Daw : MS. assigns this to Coll, but Daw and his master, Gib, are having 
a dispute as to who shall keep awake. 

17. In the Prima Pastorum (290-5), one of the shepherds says, as they pre 
pare to lie down : pfor ferde we be fryhtj a crosse let us kest . 

' Cryst-crosse, benedyght eest and west, 

Ffor drede. 
Jesus onazorus, 
Morcus, Andreus, 

God be oure spede ! ' 

Cf. the blessing in Chaucer's Miller's Tale 292-300 : 

Therwith the nightspel seyde he anonrightes 

On foure halves of the hous aboute, 

And on the threshfold of the dore withoute : 

' Jesu Crist, and seynt Benedight, 
Blesse this hous from every wikked wight, 
For nightes verye, the white Pater Noster\ 
Where wentestow, seynt Petres soster ? ' 

536 PLAYS 

Manus tuas commcndo? 
Poncio Pilato ; 

Cryst-crosse me spede ! ' 

[ While the Shepherds sleep on, he rises* 

Now were tyme for a man that lakkys what he wold 
5 To stalk prevely than unto a fold, 

And neemly 8 to wyrk than, and be not to bold, 
Ffor he might aby 4 the bargan, if it were told 

At the endyng. 

Now were tyme for to reyll 6 ; 
10 Bot he nedys good counsell 
That fayn wold fare weyll, 

And has bot lytyll spendyng. 6 \He works a spell. 

Bot abowte you a serkyll, 7 as rownde as a moyn, 8 
Kest 9 now 10 I wyll, tyll that it be noyn, 
1 5 That ye lyg stone-styll to that I have doyne ; 

And I shall say thertyll of good wordys a f oyne n : 

' On hight, 

Over youre heydys, my hand I lyft. 
Outt go youre een ! fordo 12 your syght 1 ' 
20 Bot yit I must make better shyft, 
And 1S it be right. 

Lord, what 14 thay slepe hard ! that may ye all here. 
Was I never a shepard, bot now wyll I lere 16 ; 
If the flok be skard, 16 yit shall I nyp " nere. 
25 How ! drawes hederward ! Now mendys oure chere 
Ffrom 18 sorow ; 

1 Cf. Luke 23. 46 8 oy phonetically = o in this l2 destroy 

2 MS. Tune surgit, pastoribus dormi- text 18 if 

entibus, & dicit : 9 cast (see note on 535 17) l* how 

nimbly 10 MS. to I have done that; 15 learn 

atone for but this seems to have 16 frightened 

6 ramble been anticipated from 17 steal up 

6 money to spend next line by some scribe 18 MS.(ffronem.E.) 

7 circle (a magician's imaginary circle) u few 


A fatt shepe, I dar say ! 
A good flese, dar I lay l ! 
Ef twhyte 2 when I may, 

Bot this will I borow. [Exit with the sheep. 

MAK'S cottage. Enter MAK 

[MakJ] How, Gyll, art thou in ? Gett us som lyght. e 

Gill. Who makys sich dyn this tyme of the nyght ? 

I am sett for to spyn, I hope not I myght 

Ryse a penny to wyn, 8 I shrew 4 them on hight 5 1 

So farys 

A huswyff that has bene 10 

To be rasyd 6 thus betwene, 7 
Here may no note 8 be sene, 

Ffor 9 sich small chary s. 10 

Mak. Good wyff, open the hek u ! Seys thou not what I bryng ? 
Gill. I may thole 12 the dray 18 the snek. 14 A, com in, my swetyng ! 15 
Mak. Yee, thou thar 15 not rek of 16 my long standyng. 


Gill. By the nakyd nek art thou lyke for to hyng. 
Mak. Do way 1T 1 

I am worthy my mete, 

Ffor, in a strate, 18 can I gett 20 

More then thay that swynke and swette 

All the long day. [Shows GILL the sheep. 

Thus it fell to my lott, Gyll, I had sich grace. 19 
Gill. It were a fowll blott to be hanged for the case. 

1 wager 7 ever and anon H latch 

2 return, repay 8 work (i.e. completed task) 16 need 

3 I do not expect that I could 9 because of 16 care about 

gain a penny by rising 10 jobs 17 get along 

4 curse n inner door 18 at a pinch 
6 aloud, openly u suffer w luck 

6 rushed u to draw 


Mak. I have skapyd, Jelott, 1 oft as hard a glase. 2 

Gill. ' Bot so long goys the pott to the water,' men says, 

' At last 

Comys it home broken.' 
S Mak. Well knowe I the token, 

Bot let it never be spoken ! 

Bot com and help fast. 

I wold he were slayn, I lyst well etc 8 ; 

This twelmo[n]the 4 was I not so fayn of oone shepe-mete. 8 
10 Gill. Com thay or 6 he be slayn, and here the shepe blete 

Mak. Then myght I be tane. That were a cold swette ! 
Go spar 7 

The gaytt 8 doore. 

Gill. Yis, Mak. 
1 5 Ff or and thay com at thy bak 

Mak. Then myght I far, by 9 all the pak, 
The dewill of the war. 10 

Gill. A good bowrde n have I spied, syn thou can 12 none : 

Here shall we hym hyde, to 18 thay be gone, 
20 In my credyll. 14 Abyde 15 ! Lett me alone ! 

And I shall lyg besyde in chyl[d]bed, and grone. 

Mak. Thou red, 16 

And I shall say thou was lyght 17 

Of a knave 18 childe this nyght. 
25 Gill. Now well is me day 19 bright 

That ever was I bred ! 

This is a good gyse, 20 and a far[e] cast, 21 
Yit a woman[s] avyse helpys at the last. 

1 French form of ' Gill ' (?) fare, at the hands of ; MS. " cradle 

2 rub, swipe, plight (lit. blow) by for (em. Skeat, Loge- 15 wait 

8 greatly desire to eat man) 16 make ready 

* em. K. 10 the devil the worse, a devil- 17 delivered 

5 meal of mutton ish deal worse 18 boy 

6 ere u jest 19 the day 
' fasten ** knowest m way 

8 outer 18 until 21 clever contrivance 


I wote never who spy se ; agane go thou fast. 

Mak. Bot l I com 2 or thay ryse, els blawes a cold blast ! 

I wyll go slepe. 
Yit slepys all this meneye, 8 

And I shall go stalk prevely, 5 

As it had never bene I 

That caryed thare shepe. 


The moors near Horbury 
Enter COLL, GIB, DAW, and MAK 

Coll. Resurrex a mortruis ! have hald my hand 1 
Judas carnas dominus ! I may not well stand. 
My foytt slepys, by Jesus ! and I water-fastand. 4 J0 

I thoght that we layd us full nere Yngland. 
Gib. A! ye! 

Lord, what I have slept weyll 1 
As fresh as an eyll 5 ; 

As lyght I me feyll 6 15 

As leyfe on a tre 1 

Daw. Benste 7 be herein 1 So my body 8 qwakys 

My hart is outt of skyn, what so it makys. 

Who makys all this dyn ? So my browes blakys,' 

To the dowore 10 wyll I wyn. Harke, felows, wakys ! 20 

We were fowre ; 
Se ye awre u of Mak now ? 
Coll. We were up or thou. 
Gib. Man, I gyf God avowe 

Yit yede 12 he na owre. 18 25 

1 unless 6 feel myself M door 

2 reach there 7 a blessing n anywhere 
* company 8 MS. illegible ; E., H. hart ; 12 went 

' fasting on water Kittredge, M. body 1B aowhere ; MS. nawre 

6 eel v grow black 

540 PLAYS 

Daw. Me thoght he was lapt in a wolfe-skyn. 
Coll. So are many now hapt, namely * within. 
Daw? When we had long napt, me thoght with a gyn 8 
A fatt shepe he trapt, hot he mayde no dyn. 
5 Gib* Be styll, 

Thi dreme makys the woode 8 ; 
It is hot fantom, by the roode ! 
Coll. Now God turne all to good, 
If it be his wyll. 

10 Gib. Ryse, Mak, for shame ! Thou lygys right lang. 

Mak. Now, Crystys holy name be us emang ! 
What is this ? For Sant Jame, I may not well gang I 
I trow I be the same. A, my nek has lygen wrang 

Enoghe ! 

1 5 Mekill thank ! Syn yistereven, 

Now, by Sant Stevyn, 6 
I was flayd 7 with a swevyn, 8 

My hart out ofsloghe. 9 

I thoght Gyll began to crok, and travell 10 full sad, 
20 Wei ner u at the fyrst cok, of a yong lad 

Ff or to mend oure flok ; then be I never glad 
I have tow on my rok more then ever I had. 

A, my heede 1 

A house full of yong tharmes ! 
25 The dewill knok outt thare harnes 12 ! 

Wo is hym has many barnes, 

And therto lytyll brede ! 

1 especially 5 mad 9 which smote my heart out (?) 

MS. ii pastor (em. M.) 6 MS. strevyn (em. H.) 1 travail 

snare, trap ' tormented n well nigh 

* MS. iii pastor (em. M.) 8 dream u brains 

22. rok : distaff ; the phrase means ' business to attend to ' (cf. Chaucer, 
Miller's Tale 588 (A 3774), and Skeat's note). 

24. tharmes : children (///. bowels, Lat. viscera ; cf. Ovid, Met. 8. 478 ; 
Shakespeare, M.for M. 3. i. 29). 


I must go home, by youre lefe, tc Gyll, as I thoght, 

I pray you looke 1 my slefe, 2 that I steyll noght ; 

I am loth you to grefe, or from you take oght. [Exit MAK. 

Daw. Go furth, yll myght thou chefe 8 1 Now wold I we soght 

This morne 5 

That we had all oure store. 
Coil. Bot I will go before. 
Let us mete. 

Gib. Whore ? 

Daw. At the crokyd thorne. I0 

MAK'S cottage. MAK enters 

Mak. Undo this doore ! Who is here ? How long shall I stand ? 
Gill. Who makys sich a bere 4 ? Now walk in the wenyand. 
Mak. A, Gyll, what chere ? It is I, Mak, youre husbande. 
GUI. Then may we se 6 here the dewill in a bande, 6 

Syr Gyle 7 ! 15 

Lo, he commys with a lote 8 
As he were holden in the throte. 
I may not syt at my note 9 

A handlang-while 10 ! 

Mak. Wyll ye here what fare she makys to gett hir a glose u ? 20 
And dos noght bot lakys, 12 and clowse 18 hir toose. 
Gill. Why, who wanders ? Whowakys? Who commys? Whogose? 
Who brewys ? Who bakys ? What makys me thus hose 14 ? 
And than 

1 look in 6 bond, chain n pretext 

2 sleeve 7 Cf. p. 529, note 9 12 amuse herself 

8 prosper 8 voice 18 strokes, caresses 

4 noise, clamor 9 work M hoarse 

6 MS. be (em. Kittredge) 10 an instant 

10. crokyd thorne : perhaps the Shepherds' Thorn of Mapplewell, three 
miles northwest of Barnsley, and distant about eight miles from Horbury (see 
England's ed., p. xiv). 

13. wenyand : waning of the moon, i.e. unlucky time (cf. wanton, e.g. 
Shakespeare, Per. 2. i. 17). 

542 PLAYS 

It is rewthe to beholde ; 
Now in hote, now in colde, 
Ffull wofull is the householde 

That wantys a woman. 

5 Bot what ende has thou mayde with the hyrdys, 1 Mak ? 

Mak. The last worde that thay sayde when I turnyd my bak, 

Thay wold looke that thay hade thare shepe all the pak. 

I hope * thay wyll nott be well payde 8 when thay thare shepe lak, 

Perde ! 

10 Bot howso the gam 4 gose, 
To me thay wyll suppose, 5 
And make a fowll noyse, 

And cry outt apon me. 

Bot thou must do as thou hyght. 8 
15 Gill. I accorde me thertyll. 

I shall swedyll 7 hym right in my credyll ; 

If it were a gretter slyght, 8 yit couthe I help tyll. 

I wyll lyg downe stright, 9 com hap 10 me. 

Mak. I wyll. 

GilL Behynde ! 

20 Com Coll and his maroo, 11 

Thay wyll nyp us full naroo. 

Mak. Bot I may cry out ' Haroo 1 ' 

The shepe if thay fynde. 

Gill. Harken ay when thay call thay will com onone. 
25 Com and make redy all, and syng by thyn oone 12 ; 
Syng ' lullay ' thou shall, for I must grone, 
And cry outt by the wall on Mary and John, 
Ffor sore. 18 

1 shepherds 6 promised J1 companion = Gib (cf. Words- 

2 suspect 7 swaddle worth's ' winsome marrow,' 
8 pleased 8 trick Yarrow Unvlsited) 

4 sport ' straightway 12 alone, by thyself 

6 they will suspect me 10 wrap, cover 18 pain 


Syng ' lullay ' on fast 
When thou heris at the last ; 
And, hot I play a fals cast, 1 

Trust me no more. 

The moors near Horbury. Enter COLL, GIB, and DAW 

Daw. A, Coll, goode morne, why slepys thou nott ? 5 

Coll. Alas, that ever was I borne ! We have a fowll blott 

A fat wedir 2 have we lorne. 

Daw. Mary, Godys f orbott 8 1 

Gib. Who shuld do us that skorne ? That were a fowll spott. 

Coll. Som shrewe. 

I have soght with my dogys I0 

All Horbery * shrogys, 5 

And, of xv hogys, 6 

Ffond I bot oone ewe. 

Daw. Now trow me, if ye will by Sant Thomas of Kent, 7 
Ayther Mak or Gyll was at that assent. 8 15 

Coll. Peasse, man, be still ! I sagh when he went. 
Thou sklanders hym yll, thou aght to repent 

Goode spede. 

Gib. Now as ever myght I the, 9 

If I shuld evyn here de, 10 20 

I wold say it were he 

That dyd that same dede 1 

Daw. Go we theder, I rede, 11 and ryn 12 on oure feete. 
Shall I never etc brede the sothe to 18 I weet. 14 

1 shrewd trick (on the southwest of Wakefield, prosper 

shepherds) in Yorkshire 10 die 

2 wether 5 thickets n counsel 

3 God forbid (lit. God's 6 young sheep 12 Daw is always ' rynning ' 

prohibition) " Thomas * Becket ls till 

4 Horbury, four miles 8 agreement, concerted action 14 know; MS. wytt (H. weete) 

544 PLAYS 

Coll. Nor drynk in my heede, with hym tyll I mete. 
Gib. I wyll rest in no stede tyll that I hym grete, 

My brothere. 1 
Gone 2 I will hight : 
5 Tyll I se hym in sight, 

Shall I never slepe one nyght 

Ther 8 I do anothere. 

MAK'S cottage. MAK singing ivithin, and GILL groaning 

Daw. Will ye here how thay hak 4 ? Oure syre lyst croyne.* 

Coll. Hard 6 I never none crak 7 so clere out of toyne. 8 
10 Call on hym. 

Gib. Mak ! Undo youre doore soyne ! 

Mak. Who is that spak, as it were noyne, 9 
On loft 10 ? 

Who is that, I say ? 

Daw. Goode felowse, were it day 
1 5 Mak. As far as ye may, 

Good, spekys soft 

Over a seke woman's heede, that is at maylleasse n ; 

I had lever be dede or she had any dyseasse. 12 

Gill. Go to anothere stede, 18 I may not well qweasse. 14 
20 Ich u fote that ye trede goys thorow my nese 16 

So hee." 

Coll. Tell us, Mak, if ye may, 

How fare ye, I say ? 

Mak. Bot ar ye in this towne 18 to-day ? 
25 Now how fare ye ? 

1 = Coll ' bray, bawl 18 place 

2 one thing 8 tune u breathe (lit. wheeze) 
8 where noon 15 each 

* jangle 10 up there 16 nose 

* croon 11 distress (OF. malaise) 1" loud 

6 heard suffering 18 farmstead 


Ye have ryn in the myre, and ar weytt yit ; 
I shall make you a fyre, if ye will syt. 
A nores l wold I hyre thynk ye on 2 yit ? 
Well qwytt 8 is my hyre my dreme this is itt 

A seson. 4 

I have barnes, if ye knew, 
Well mo then enewe 
Bot we must drynk as we brew, 

And that is bot reson. 

I wold ye dynyd or ye yode. 6 Me thynk that ye swette. 10 

Gib. Nay, nawther mendys oure mode 6 drynke nor mette. 
Mak. Why, sir, alys 7 you oght bot goode ? 
Daw. Yee, oure shepe that we gett 

Ar stollyn as thay yode ; oure los is grette. 
Mak. Syrs, drynkys 1 

Had I bene thore 15 

Som shuld have boght it full sore. 
Coll. Mary, som men trowes that ye wore, 8 
And that us forthynkys. 9 

Gib. Mak, som men trowys that it shuld be ye. 

Daw. Ayther ye or youre spouse, so say we. x> 

Mak. Now if ye have suspowse 10 to Gill or to me, 

Com and rype u oure howse, and then may ye se 

Whohadhir 12 - 
If I any shepe fott, 18 

Aythor cow or stott 14 ; 2$ 

And Gyll, my wyfe, rose nott 

Here syn she lade hir. 

1 nurse 6 temper n search 

2 O ne ' ails 12 the ewe 
s requited, earned s were 18 fetched 
* for a while 9 troubles u steer 

6 before you went 10 suspicion 

546 PLAYS 

As I am true and lele, 1 to God here I pray 
That this be the fyrst mele that I shall etc this day. 
Coll. Mak, as have I ceyll, 2 avyse the, I say 
' He lernyd tymely 8 to steyll that couth not say nay.' 
5 Gill. Iswelt 4 ! 

Outt, thefys, fro my wonys 5 ! 
Ye com to rob us, for the nonys. 
Mak. Here ye not how she gronys ? 

Youre hartys shuld melt. 

10 Gill. Outt, thefys, fro my barne ! Negh 6 hym not thor 7 ! 

Mak. Wyst ye how she had fame, 8 youre hartys wold be sore. 

Ye do wrang, I you warne, that thus commys before 

To a woman that has fame bot I say no more. 

Gill. A, my medyll 9 ! - 

15 I pray to God so mylde, 

If ever I you begyld, 

That I etc 10 this chylde 

That lygs in this credyll. 

Mak. Peasse, woman, for Godys payn, 11 and cry not so ! 
20 Thou spyllys 12 thy bra[y]ne, and makys me full wo. 

Gib. I trowe oure shepe be slayn. What finde ye two ? 
Daw. All wyrk we in vayn, as well may we go. 

Bot hatters, 18 
I can fynde no flesh, 
25 Hard nor nesh, 14 

Salt nor fresh, 

Bot two tome 16 platers ; 

Whik 16 catell bot this, tame nor wylde, 
None, as have I blys, as lowde as he smylde. 17 

1 leal 7 there 18 except clothes (I can find nothing) 

2 bliss 8 fared " soft 

a early 9 middle, inwards 15 empty 

4 die i0 may eat 16 quick, live 

6 dwelling n i.e. on the cross 17 smelled as strongly as he (the sheep) (?) 

6 approach 12 dost injure 


Gill. No, so God me blys, and gyf me joy of my chylde 1 

Coll. We have merkyd * amys ; I hold us begyld. 

Gib. Syr, don 2 ! - 

Syr oure Lady hym save ! 

Is youre chyld a knave 8 ? 5 

Mak. Any lord myght hym have, 

This chyld, to his son. 

When he wakyns he kyppys 4 that joy is to se. 
Daw. In good tyme to hys hyppys, 5 and in cele.' 
Bot who were 7 his gossyppys, 8 so sone rede 9 ? 10 

Mak. So fare fall thare lyppys 10 ! 

Coll. Hark now, a le u I [Aside. 

Mak. So God thaym thank 

Parkyn, and Gybon Waller, I say, 
And gentill John Home, in good fay ; 

He made all the garray 12 15 

With the greatt shank. 

Gib. Mak, freyndys will we be, ffor we ar all oone. 

Mak. We ? Now I hald for me, 18 for mendys 14 gett I none ! 

Ffare well all thre, all 15 glad were ye gone. 

[The shepherds leave the house. 
Daw. ' Ffare wordys may ther be, bot luf is ther none ' 20 

This yere. 

' 'Coll. Gaf ye the chyld any thy ng ? 
Gib. I trow not oone farthyng 16 ! 
Daw. Ffast agane will I flyng ; 

Abyde ye me here. 17 [Goes back to the house. 25 

Mak, take it to no grefe if I com to thi barne. 

Mak. Nay thou dos me greatt reprefe, 18 and fowll has thou fame. 

1 aimed r MS. was 13 myself 

2 completely 8 sponsors 14 amends 
8 boy ' ready lfi very 

* grabs, clutches 10 lips 16 rush, thing 

6 hips ; see Gen. 49. 25 ; Prov. u. 26 n lie 17 MS. there 

6 happiness 12 commotion 18 reproach 

548 PLAYS 

Daw. The child will it not grefe, that lytyll day-starne. 1 
Mak, with youre leyfe, let me gyf youre barne 

Bot vi pence. \He approaches the cradle. 

Mak. Nay, do way, he slepys. 
S Daw. Me thynk he pepys. 2 

Mak. When he wakyns, he wepys. 

I pray you go hence. [COLL and GIB return. 

Daw. Gyf me lefe hym to kys, and lyft up the clowtt. 8 

[He sees the sheep. 

What the dewill is this ? He has a long snowte. 
10 Coll. He is merkyd * amys, we wate ill 6 abowte. 

Gib. ' Ill-spon weft,' iwys, ' ay commys foull owte.' 

Ay, so ! 

He is lyke to cure shepe ! 
Daw. How, Gyb, may I pepe 6 ? 
1 5 Coll. I trow ' Kynde 7 will crepe 8 

Where it may not go. 9 ' 

Gib. This was a qwantt gawde, 10 and a far[e] n cast ; 

It was a hee 12 frawde. 

Daw. Yee, syrs, wast. 18 

Lett bren u this bawde, and bynd hir fast. 
20 ' A fals skawde 16 hang[s] at the last.' 

So shall thou. 

Wyll ye se how thay swedyll 16 

His foure feytt in the medyll ? 

Sagh I never in a credyll 
25 A hornyd lad or " now. 

Mak. Peasse byd I ! What, lett be youre fare 1 

I am he that hym gatt, 18 and yond woman hym bare. 

1 See 553 22 " nature 18 was it 

2 whimpers 8 A proverb ; also found in Everyman, 1. 316 w burn 
8 cloth 9 walk 16 scold 

4 fashioned (marked ?) 1 trick 16 swathe, swaddle 

* wait to no purpose n See 538 27 1" before 

6 have a look 13 high) deep 18 begot 


Coll. What dewill shall he hatt, 1 Mak ? Lo, God, Makys a ayre 8 1 
Gib. Lett be all that, now God gyf hym care, 

I sagh. 4 

Gill. A pratty child is he 

As syttys on a womans 6 kne, 5 

A dyllydowne, 8 perde, 

To gar 7 a man laghe. 

Daw. I know hym by the eeremarke that is a good tokyn. 
Mak. I tell you, syrs, hark ! Hys noyse 8 was brokyn ; 
Sythen 9 told me a dark 10 that he was forspokyn. 11 10 

Coll. This is a f als wark. I wold f ayn be wrokyn ia ; 

Gett wepyn. 

Gill. He was takyn with 18 an elfe, 
I saw it myself ; 
When the clok stroke twelf 15 

Was he forshapyn. 14 

Gib. Ye two ar well feft 15 sam 16 in a " stede. 

Coll Syn thay manteyn thare theft, let do thaym to dede." 

Mak. If I trespas eft, gyrd of 20 my heede ; 

With you will I be left. 21 

Daw?* Syrs, do my reede : 20 

Ffor this trespas 

We will nawther ban *" ne flyte, 24 
Ffyght nor chyte, 25 
Bot have done as tyte, 26 

And cast hym in canvas. 25 

\They go outside, and toss MAK in a sheet. 

1 be called, named w MS. clerk death 

2 Mak's n bewitched 2 strike off 

8 heir 12 avenged 21 you shall judge 

4 say 18 enchanted by M MS. primus pastor (em. M.) 

6 MS. wamans (em. M.) M transformed M curse 

6 darling 15 endowed 24 scold 

1 make 16 together K chid* 

8 nose ir one 28 as quickly as possible 

8 since ls MS. iiius pastor (em. M.) 

550 PLAYS 

The fields near Bethlehem of Judea. Enter the Three Shepherds 

Lord, what I am sore, in poynt for to bryst 2 ! 
In fayth I may no more ; therfor wyll I ryst. 8 
Gib. As a shepe of vii skore 4 he weyd in my fyst 
Ffor to slepe ay whore fi me thynk that I lyst. 
5 Daw. Now, I pray you, 

Lyg downe on this grene. 
Coll. On these thefys yit I mene. 6 
Daw. Wherto shuld ye tene 7 ? 
Do 8 as I say you. 

An ANGEL appears, and sings Gloria in excelsis. 
Then the ANGEL addresses the shepherds:* 
10 Angel. Ryse, hyrdmen heynd 10 1 for now is he borne 

That shall take fro the feynd that Adam had lorne u ; 
That warloo 12 to sheynd, 18 this nyght is he borne. 
God is made youre freynd now at this morne, 

He behestys. 14 
i 5 At Bedlem go se ; 

Ther lygys that f re " 
In a cryb full poorely, 

Betwyx two bestys. \Exit. 

Coll. This was a qwant stevyn 1<s as 17 ever yit I hard. 
20 It is a mervell to nevyn 18 thus to be skard. 19 

Gib. Of Godys Son of hevyn he spak upward. 20 
All the wod on a levyn 21 me thoght that he gard w 

1 em. M. MS. Angelus cantat ' Gloria 16 voice 

2 burst in excelsis,' postea dicat : w MS. that (eir suggested 

3 rest 10 gentle by M.) 

* seven score pounds u lost 18 name, speak 
6 anywhere M wizard 1 frightened 

think . 1 destroy *> from above 
' trouble l* promises 21 lightning 

8 MS. so (em. M.) is noble one ** made 


Daw. He spake of a Barne 
In Bedlem, I you warne. 

Coll. That betokyns yond starne * ; [Pointing to the sky. 

Let us seke hym there. 

Gib. Say, what was his song ? Hard ye not how he crakt a it, 5 

Thre brefes 8 to a long ? 

Daw. Yee, Mary, he hakt 4 it. 

Was no crochett wrong, nor no thyng that lakt it. 

Coll. Ffor to syng us emong, right as he knakt it, fi 

I can. 

Gib. Let se how ye croyne ! 10 

Can ye bark at the mone ? 
Daw. Hold youre tonges ! Have done 1 
Coll. Hark after, than ! {They sing. 

Gib. To Bedlem he bad that we shuld gang ; 

I am full f ard 6 that we tary to lang. 1 5 

Daw. Be mery and not sad of myrth is cure sang ! 
Everlastyng glad 7 to mede 8 may we fang, 9 

Withoutt noyse. 
Coll. Hy 10 we theder forthy, 11 

If 12 we be wete and wery, 20 

To that Chyld and that lady ; 

We have it not to lose. 

Gib. We fynde by the prophecy let be youre dyn ! 
Of David and Isay, and mo then I myn, 18 

Thay prophecyed by clergy u that in a vyrgyn 25 

Shuld he lyght and ly, to slokyn 16 cure syn 
And slake 16 it, 

1 nom. 6 threw it off n therefore 

2 trilled (?); MS. crakyd afeared M even if 

3 breves (three breves were accounted 7 gladness 18 remember 

equal to one long in the music of 8 for reward 14 learning 

that period) 9 receive 16 quench 

4 warbled (?) 10 hie le slacken, abate 

552 PLAYS 

[Save] oure kynde l from wo, 
Ffor I say sayd so : 
Ecce* virgo 

Concipiet 8 a chylde that is nakyd. 

5 Daw. Ffull glad may we be, and abyde that day, 

That Lufly to se, that all myghtys may. 4 
Lord, well were me, for ones and for ay, 
Myght I knele on my kne, som word for to say 

To that Chylde. 
10 Bot the angell sayd 

In a cryb wos he layde, 
He was poorly arayd, 

Both meke 6 and mylde. 

Coll. Patryarkes that has bene, and prophetys beforne, 
15 Thay desyryd to have sene 6 this Chylde that is borne. 

Thay ar gone full clene ; that have thay lorne. 
We shall se hym, I weyn, or it be morne, 

To tokyn. 7 

When I se hym and fele, 
20 Then wot I full weyll 

It is true as steyll 

That prophetys have spokyn : 

To so poore as we ar[e] that he wold appere, 
Ffyrst fynd, and declare by his messyngere. 
25 Gib. Go we now, let us fare, the place is us nere. 

Daw. I am redy and yare, 8 go we in fere ' 
To that Bright. 10 

1 race 5 MS. mener (em. K.) 9 together 

2 MS. cite (em. E.) Matt. 13. 17 10 bright one 
8 Isa. 7. 14 (Vulgate) 7 as a sign 

* has power over all mights 8 prepared 


Lord, if thi wyll l be 
We ar lewde * all thre 
Thou grauntt us somkyns 3 gle 

To comforth thi Wight.* 

Bethlehem. A stable. Enter the Shepherds, and kneel 

Coll. Hayll, comly and clene ! Hayll, yong Child ! 5 

Hayll, Maker, as I meyne, of 6 a madyn so mylde 1 
Thou has waryd, 6 I weyne, the warlo so wylde ; 
The fals gyler 7 of teyn, 8 now goys he begylde. 

Lo, he merys, 9 

Lo, he laghys, my Swetyng 1 10 

A wel fare 10 metyng ; 
I have holden my hetyng. 11 

Have a bob 12 of cherys. 

Gib. Hayll, sufferan 18 Savyoure ! Ffor thou has us soght, 
Hayll, frely Foyde 14 and Floure, that all thyng has wroght ! 1 5 
Hayll, full of favoure, that made all of noght ! 
Hayll ! I kneyll and I cowre. A byrd have I broght 

To my Barne. 
Hayll, lytyll tyne 15 Mop 16 ! 

Of oure crede thou art Crop. 17 20 

I wold drynk on thy cop, 18 

Lytyll Daystarne. 19 

Daw. Hayll, Derlyng dere, full of godhede 1 
I pray the be nere when that I have nede. 

1 MS. wylles 8 of sorrow, sorrowful ls tiny 

2 simple, ignorant 9 grows merry 16 baby, young creature 

3 of some kind w very fair 17 See Heb. 12. 2 
* creature n promise 18 from thy cup 

6 from 12 bunch, cluster 19 See 2 Pet. 1. 19 ; Rev. 22. 16 

6 cursed 18 sovereign 

1 beguiler (Satan) M noble child 

554 PLAYS 

Hayll, swete is thy chere ! My hart wold blede 
To se the sytt here in so poore wede, 

With no pennys. 
Hayll! Put furth thy dall x ! 
5 I bryng the hot a ball ; 

Have and play the 2 withall, 

And go to the tenys. 8 

Mary. The Fader of heven, God omnypotent, 
That sett all on seven, 4 his Son has he sent. 
10 My name couth 5 he 6 neven, 7 and lyght 8 or he went. 

I conceyvyd hym 9 full even thrugh myght, as he ment, 

And now is he borne. 
He kepe you fro wo ! 
I shall pray hym so ; 
15 Tell furth as ye go, 

And myn 10 on this morne. 

Coll. Ffarewell, lady, so fare to beholde, 

With thy Chylde on thi kne ! 

Gib. Bot he lygys full cold. 

Lord, well is me ; now we go, thou behold. 
20 Daw. Fforsothe, allredy it semys to be told 

Full oft. 

Coll. What grace we have fun u ! 

Gib. Com furth, now ar we won 12 ! 

Daw. To syng ar we bun, 18 

25 Let take on loft. 14 [They sing. 

Explicit Pagina Pastorum 

1 fist, hind 6 did u found 

2 refl. 6 God the Father 12 rescued, saved 
8 tennis (well known in Eng- 7 name 18 bound 

land by the end of the 8 alighted, descended 1* let us sing aloud 

fourteenth century) (on me) l* Here ends The Shepherds' 

4 created all things in seven 9 Christ Pageant 

days (?) 10 think 

k , X,. - 


' I 



PK Oook, Albert Stanburrough 

1120 A literary middle English 

C6 reader.