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Full text of "The Pearl an English vision poem of the fourteenth century, done into modern verse"

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THE PEARL 




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/^' f THE PEARL ^ /' o 

AN ETNIUSH \1SION-POEM OF 

THE FOURTEENTH CENTURV 

DONE INTO MODERN VERSE 

BY MARIAN MEAD 







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THREE QUATRAINS 



IV$ hstjfou — for bow Umg a Hm$ — 
True Pearl of om poetic prime I 
We found you^ and you gleam re-set 
In Britaitf^s lyric coronet. 

ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON. 
// 

A HMs grane^ a nameless matfs distress. 
And lol a wail of lyric tendemessf 
Unheard, mueenfor half a tbousandyears. 
Asks from lovers eqneU lass tbepraiu of tears. 

S. WKIR MITCHBLL. 

/// 

Pearl! Jewel that art heauty horn of pain ; 
Pure dajh gleam of our poesf, dawning twice; 
Shine still for mortal hearts, that still attain 
From grief to vision, and the pearl of price. 

MARIAN MEAD. 



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INTRODUCTION 




INTRODUCTION 

THX vision, that literaiy form so dear to 
mediaeval writers, is commonly a very 
conventional setting. As, at a later period, 
a certain kind of o'er-vaulting poetic ambi- 
tion would embody itself in a quantum of 
sentimental episodes, and a goodly number 
of battles, and be called an epic, so equally 
as a matter of course did the romantic or 
didactic fancy of this age feel the need of 
clothing itself in the pageantry of the dream. 
Usually such poetry presents classical figures 
or personified abstractions, Love» Reason, 
and the like, appropriately clad, and wander- 
ing about, probably, in delightful gardens, 
often for no particular puii>ose, apparently, 
save the edification of chance dreamers. 
The Romaunt of the Rose is of course the 
great model of this type; and the three 
chief English poets contemporary with the 
unknown author of The Pearly Chaucer, 
Gower, and Langland, employed the vision - 
form as a convenient vehicle of their varying 
inspirations. Chaucer, indeed, as he came 
into the fullness of his powers, threw off the 
machinery of the dream. When he needed 



INTRODUCTION 

a framework for the Canterbury Tales^ the 
conventional was left behind, with such 
allegorical and classical fancy as had made a 
setting for Gower's stories, and the wonder- 
ful nature and realism of the great Prologue 
were introduced into English literature by 
him who is justly called its father. 

But of the vision-poem there are two 
examples, at least, as to which the obvious 
criticism entirely falls. As Shakespeare, of 
! the dramatic form so popular in his day, so 
subject to all the extravagances, good and 
bad, of popularity, created a thing ideally 
apart, a marvel for all time ; as Spenser, of 
the already ruinous fabric of chivalrous 
romance, built a lasting kingdom for those 
who love beauty ; so nobly in its season was 
perfected the flowering of the vision. And 
when we have done honour to the great 
cathedral of the Divine Comedy^ skirted by 
its studious cloister of the Contnto^ heralded 
by its slender, soaring campanile of the Vita 
. Nucva^ let us seek, not so far from the lofty 
i sculptured choir of the FareuUso^ the baptis- 
tery of The Pearly — smaller, humbler, as 
' befits the shrine of childhood, yet, though 
' the hand that wrought it was of different 
race, akin in structure and material, and no 
. unworthy companion. For this poem too, 
while so much less in power and aim and 



UfTKODUCTION 

scope, Is a '* vision " of things eternal, in no 1 
mere convention of 'liame or IrarmTlnit in 
clearness and radiance of actual insight 

The poem, beginning with the lament of 
a father for his infant daughter, under the 
symbol of a pearl, probably suggested by 
her name of Margaret, or Margery, passes 
on to a revelation in dream of her bliss in 
Paradise. 

Leaving aside for the moment its spiritual 
aspect. The Pearl has a quality which made 
it a remaikable product of its own time, and 
should serve to endear it to readers of our 
own, — its lyrical power. For sustained f 
though vaiying lyrical quality, and for depth 
of personal note. The Pearl is surely unique 
in the literature of its time, as handed down 
to us. While the lyric strain had been 
sounded very sweetly in our language, its 
notes had been slender and scattered. Not 
till Sidney and Spenser would the English 
lytic realise its possibilities of form and feel- 
ing. Remarkable, therefore, is this poem in 
its expression of deep personal emotion in 
an age when such expression, apart from 
purely religious utterances, was scarcely 
known, as well as in its truly lyrical singing 
quality. How touching, for instance, how 
permeated with a deep passion of grief, a^ 
passion creating its own munc, is the greet- 



INTRODUCTION 

ing of the bereaved father to his child, first 
seen in the light of the Earthly Paradise : 

" O Perle," quod I, " in perie* pyght, 
Art thoa my perle that I haf pUyned, 
Regretted by myn one, on nyghte? 
Much longeynge haf I for the layned, (hidden) 
Sythen into gresse thou me aglyghte ; 
Pensyf, payred, I am forpayned, 
& thou in a lyl of lykjrng lyghte 
In paradys erde, of stryf unstrayned. 

What wyrde hath hyder my juel wayned, 
And don me in thys dol & gret daunger ? 

; Fro we in twynne wem towen and twayned, 

1 1 haf ben a joyles jaelere." 

How wonderful, again, in its throb of joy, 
is the almost ecstatic outburst of praise 
banning 

" O maakelet Perle, in perlex pore, 
That berex," qaod I, ** the perle of prys." 

(Stanxa 63.) 

which, in four antiphonal stanxas, stnkes a 
new key, and introduces the higher-pitched 
Apocalyptic portion of the poem, the descrip- 
tion of the mystic Lamb, and the bliss of the 
Heavenly City. 

Tke Pearl is eminently a {nece to read, 
and read again, for, as Dr. Osgood has said, 
^ At first reading, the course of the poem is 
likely to seem interrupted with dull digres- 
sions, out of proportion to the rest. But, if 
it is viewed as a whole, its various parts 



iimoDUcnoN 

sink into a right and helpful relation to i 
other." Familiarity shows every part vital, 
even thrc^bbing with life. Grief, tendemeit, 
despair, a sense of the terror and tragedy 
which lie in wait for man's soul, nq^tnre, 
faith, delight in the mysterious loveliness 
of Paradise, sympathy with the divine law 
of the spiritual kingdom of the blest, — all 
these lyrical motives are shot and inter- 
woven through the poem, and sound in 
moving and various harmony. 

The verse-plan of the piece is admirably 
conceived. Its divisions, its linking refrains, 
ila nciirring rhymes, the movement of the 
verse, simple, fleziUe, and harmonious, ate 
all lyrically expressive. The refrain, (omitted 
only twice, at the beginning of the 52nd and 
61 St stanzas) has a special value, caidosing, 
as it were, each stanza between two deeper 
emotional breathings, which at onoe empha- 
sise its separate force, and prepare the mind 
for a fresh flight. Simpler than a sonnet - 
sequence, the poem is equally a linked chain ; 
and more strictly narrative in spirit than 
either the usual sonnet -sequence or the In 
Memoriam^ which it also suggests, the more 
ballad-like effect, due to the refrain, is entirely 
soitaUe. The stanza in structure somewhat 
resembles the modem sonnet, consisting as 
it does of an# octave followed by a quatrain, 

ziti 



INTRODUCTION 

nearly always distinguished in subject or 
feeling, or both. When the quatrain does 
not introduce a new thought, or a heighten- 
ing of emotion, this is usually done by the 
two (once by the three) concluding lines. 
The combination of alliteration with elabo- 
rate rhyme is interesting, the poet having, 
as Mr. Gollancz says, one hand towards 
the earlier English, the other towards the 
French influences ; and the sentiment of the 
piece is likewise a mingling of the homely 
** Saxon " and the courtly " Norman." 

The lyric impulse gathers into one concen- 
trated brightness many rays and colours of 
the poetic consciousness, and a glance at 
some of these may add to an appreciation 
of 7%€ PearL The poef s interest in nature, 
for instance, seems very real, and not at all 
that conventional admiration of mediaeval 
writers for the garden or park, nature tamed 
and adorned, to which even Chaucer in his 
eariiest woric was bound. But our poet 
takes us where there were cliffs, and his fair 
forest has rocks; he leads us among hills, 
which he hints were sometimes steep; he 
gives us the wild image of thunder rolling 
among storm -darkened tors. Those who 
recall the aversion, almost rising to horror, 
of our forefeithers, nearly until modem times, 
for those rugged aspects of nature which to 

nv 



mrmoDucnoN 

OS are so satisfying and sublime, will perceive 
the Introduction of such features into Para- 
dise to be quite worthy of remark. If the 
poet, as often supposed, was of northern 
origin, here, no doubt, was an instinctlTe 
recalling of early surroundings. Again, he 
writes with pleasure of downs and dales, 
woods and waters and noble plains, hedge- 
rows and "rich rivers;" betraying an eye 
accustomed to delight in broad prospects, a 
sense of landscape. He is a lover of moon 
and stars; when the heavenly procession 
suddenly, mystically, becomes visible to him, 
it is 

Rygiit as the maynfnl mone con rjs 
Sr thcmie the day-fjlem drhre tl doan. 

The gems that pave the wondrous pool shine 
through the water's depths 

As stremande sterrex qaen strofhe men alepe. 

Even Chaucer cared little for the glories of 
night, noticing the stars chiefly to compare 
to them his roguish Friar's eyes. 

The poem for its time is rich in sugges- 
tions of colour. The picture in stanzas 7-8, 
of crystal cliffs beset with woods, the tree- 
stems all of deep bright blue, with leaves 
like burnished silver, the gravel underfoot 
of orient pearl; these groves all adorned 



INTRODUCTION 

with ripe fruits, and filled with the motion 
of flame-coloured birds, paints for us an 
unearthly beauty, and shows keen sensibility 
to the value of colours. The poet loved 
the hues of gold and jewels, placing above 
all gems, as ** gentyleste in uch a plyte," the 
amethyst, " purpre, with ynde blente." He 
sees his Pearl, however, arrayed only in 
white and pearls, her shining hair giving 
that glory of gold so tenderly hinted at in 
the opening lines of the poem, 

Perlc, .... 

To(o) clanly dos in gold so dere I 

Spenser, too, was to see the most beloved 
. women of his imagination, Una, Britomart, 
Belphoebe, Florimell, in these pure and 
royal hues. * Our poet is notably a lover of 
light, — of whiteness, silver, gold, jewels, 
glass, crysbu diffs, river -banks of beryl ; he 
delights in the lovely brightness of emerald 
and sapphire seen through clear water; in 
the radiant river flowing from the heavenly 
throne ; in the ** worthly lyght " that shines 
upon that river's brim, before which moon 
and planets and the sun himself are but poor 
and pale. He has assimilated th6 glorious 
imageiy of the Apocalypse, its splendour of 
burnished gold and lucent gem, as well as its 
picture of the state of the blessed. 



INTRODUCTION 

With the Apocalypse, mdeed, a Christian 
father would at that day be likely to have 
his mind filled, as he fell in a trance of 
sorrow on the little mound. Thus, inspired 
by a deeper pain, a higher passion, than 
Chaucer knew, bloomed this lyric of child- 
hood fairer even than his tale of the little 
singing martyr; thus grew this conception of 
infant death, more unified, more fruitful, than 
De Quincey's touching and lofty description 
of his childhood's bereavement. Though 
the Apocalypse be not to us what it was to 
our forefathers, though the theology of 7)1/ 
Pearlf as of the Divine Comedy^ is partly 
outgrown as literal belief, yet, since a sym- 
bolism is necessary to express the truths of 
spiritual behig, where, after all, is one more 
magnificent or more touching than that of 
John the Divine ? Of these visionary worlds 
the Pearl maiden says, " Thou thinkest me 
here, because here thine eyes behold me," 
and Beatrice, ** Souls are presented in this 
sphere only for thy better understanding." 
Their real mode of being the eye of earthly 
man cannot see, nor his heart conceive. 

Of the Divine Comedy and The Pearl the 
theological scope differs as does that of 
the poems themselves. Dante, progressing 
through the cycle of sin, purification, and 
beatitude, takes for his own the whole ezpe- 

zvU 



INTRODUCTION 

rience of the soul» as conceived in his day. 
The Pearl is a glorification of unblemished 
innocence, — "the innocent are aye saved 
by right,** is the burden of its theological 
teaching. And this exaltation of spotless - 
ness, being no lifeless product of monkish 
ideas, but the accompaniment of an over- 
whelming human grief, makes the poem a 
beautiful thing apart, like those saintly and 
seraphic beings given us by Fra Angelico, 
on whom no shadow of sin has ever fallen. 

It remains to touch upon the mysticism of 
T%e Pearl — it would seem better to say, its 
<* imagination penetrative," as illuminating 
conditions of the unseen world ; for it was 
the faculty which grasps and reveals the 
vital heart of things, their essential quality, 
that Ruskin so named. It is by this faculty 
that The Pearl is worthy to stand as a little 
shrine beside the mighty fabric of Dante. 
Lacking though it does the tools of the 
Florentine's imagination, the magnificence 
of his Une, the great similes and white-hot 
figures which force home his thought, yet 
the English poem, simple indeed as a little 
child, like it is through all its body trans- 
parent to the informing soul; the poefs 
exaltation, to use an image of his own, 
passes to us like a gleam through glass, — 
**as glente thurgh glas that glowed and 

xviU 



nfTKODUCnON 

glyght/* Thus, the father's first sight of 
his lost child, shining in her white and gold 
beyond the dividing water, — the " gladsmde 
glory ** which filled his soul, — his longing to 
call her, — the sudden abashment at thought 
of the strange place he saw her in, — the 
sting at his heart as she in her beauty lifted 
up her white brow, — the dread and doubt 
which fell upon him, — their dialogue, the 
father's plaints, the child's grave but gentle 
reproofs, — her solicitude, as a soul forever 
lifted above all grief, to open his eyes and 
strengthen him, her joy in his amendment 
of feeling, — all these breathe not only the 
mystery of other worlds, but, as with Dante, 
also a cmicentrated passion which makes 
them real. This passion it is which has 
kept the poem so free from allegory, that 
pitfall of its age, a pitfall indeed too common 
to frigid imagination in any age, as seen in 
the Kilmeny of James Hogg, for instance, 
where a fine poetic conception of the <* land 
of vision " is constantly being spoiled by the 
failure of strong feeling, and degenerating 
into feeble commonplace. 

Through this gift of ** strong imagination," 
which is as much of the heart as of the mind, 
our poet, like Dante, beholds the heavenly 
kingdom with an illuminating clearness. 
Both tell us that there difference of spiritual 

zix 



INTRODUCTION 

rank or station means no lessening of joy. 
Piccarda*s teaching is also that of The Pearl, 
The parable of the vineyard, so feelingly 
retold, has already illustrated this doctrine, 
while the thirteen stanzas following it have 
developed the reasonableness of the salvation 
of innocents, by both grace and justice, — 
'*the grace of God is gret inoghe," and 
" the innocent is ay saf by ryght; " this part 
of the poem, the climax of its argument, 
betraying a touching eagerness to demon- 
strate, beyond chance of doubt, the welfare 
of the dead child. But now, rising on 
stronger pinions, without question or debate 
the poet accepts his spiritual teaching. 
**Each one*s bliss is perfect and best;'' 
whoever arrives in the kingdom of the Liv- 
ing God is made king or queen of all, yet no 
one's sovereignty diminishes another's, and 
each would desire another's increase of power 
if it were conceivable that this could add to 
his happiness. Thus, also, increase in the 
number of the partakers of joy makes it 
more, not less : 

" The mo the myryer, so God me blesae. 
In compayny gret our luf con thryf 
In honour more & nener the lease." 

So the greeting of the blessed spirits to 
Dante, "Lo, one who shall increase our 



IlfnODUCTION 

loves f " They are to him " perpetual flowers 
of the eternal gladness, which make all your 
odours seem to me as only one." (Par. xix, 
Norton.) 

light is the great expression to us of the 
joy of the purified spirits. As Beatrice's 
eyes at every upward flight increase in glory, 
so the father, looking into the celestial throng 
to see *'how thay wyth lyf wem last and 
lade," beholds his ** little queen, . . among 
her peers that was so white^ 

** Loide 1 mache of mirthe wacz that ho made 1 " 

he cries. For not only is the deep and 
mystic joy of the Paradiso apparent in The 
Pearlf 

The fjrm I fol|^ed those floty valex, 

The more etrcsigthe of joye ^yn h^rte stnynes,— 

but there is a spirit of mirth, sweet and 
childlike, according well with the subject 
and simplicity of the poem. 

The tie, even more human and touching 
than that which holds Dante to Beatrice, 
between the father and his child, like that, 
is the more moving for being lightly borne 
upon. That pregnant phrase of his, on see- 
ing the little maiden shining in glory beneath 
the crystal cliff, — *' I knew hyr wel, I hade 
sen hyr ere," irresistibly recalls the lover's 



INTRODUCTION 

cry in the Blessed Damozel, '* I heard her 
tears 1" 

Such beings as Beatrice and Pearl, no 
longer only the beloved woman or the be- 
loved child, but spirits purified and immortal, 
in the fulness of their joy and vision, poetry 
can shadow forth only through aid of that 
inward comprehension which Ruskin called 
the highest form of the imaginative faculty. 
Of them we read with the conviction, that 
if mortal might hold communion in the 
world of the unseen with a " blessed ghost," 
such would be its presence, its manner of 
speech, the conditions of its being, in 

an ampler ether, a diviner air, 
And fields invested with parpureal >f gleams. 

The sight of <*that fayre regionn,'* of *<alle 
tho syghtez so quike and queme" (living 
and fair), reconciles the bereaved man to 
his loss, and the poem, begun in sorrow's 
storm, closes in the peace of faith. Love, 
seeing that it is well with the beloved one, 
joyfully acquiesces in its own deprivation, 
and acknowledges the wisdom of a Higher 
Will. The vision, though ending untimely, 
and not, like Dante's, culminating in a 
supreme revelation of the Divine Nature, 
yet fulfills its own simpler purpose, — the 
stilling of a personal sorrow in the comfort- 



INTRODUCTION 

ing sense of the reality and nearness of that 

Divine Purpose which, in those old days, 

" conceived, not as immanent in this 

, but as apart, and coming only by 

t grace into relation with this "doel- 

{onn." 

^ % It for so many centuries, and still 

j^ jj 5 iciently recognised, surely 751^ Pearl 

§. ^ p «t come to its own, and fit audience 

|! d For to the spirit in every age it must 

* % :, through its lyric note of sorrowing 

^ s its mysterious lightings of the unseen, 

^1 iep reconciliation of the soul with the 

1 ^ 'e that moves the sun and the other I 




THE PEARL 




/ Inlasmvoluntadelnostrapace, 
j In His will is ourp$ac4* 



'■ n 






PEARL, pleasing to prince's will, 
Set ail-too sweetly in clearest gold! ^ 
A gem such precious worth to fulfill 
Ne*er saw I from Orient, that say I bold. 
So round, SQjuijrely x^diant still. 
So smooth was it, so small of mould, — 
Wherever bright gems I judg'd with skill. 
Apart and alone I must it hold. ") \ 

Alas I in an arbour it from me rolled ;' 
In the grass I lost it, the ground it got ; 
I pine, sore -wounded, in love-bonds old, 
For that pearl, mine own, withouten spot 



II 



Since, in that spot where from me it sprung. 
Oft have I waited, wanting that sore, 
That whilom was wont to banish my wrong, ^ 
Renew my bliss, and my weal restore ; — 
It could but crushing grief prolong. 
My breast but bum and swell the more ; 
Yet never, methought, so sweet a song. 
As in those still hours my heart stole o'er. 
Ah I was it not much that there I bore ? 
Her fair hue so hid in clayey clot 1 
O mould, thou marrest a blissful store, — 
My Pearl, mine own, withouten spot. 



Ill 



That spot with spices must o'erspread, 
Where wealth like this to waste has run ; 
Blossoms white, and blue, and red, 
Shine there full sheen against the sun ; 
Flower and fruit shall be fadeless, fed 
Where that passed down to grave-mould's dun. 
All grass must grow from grains that are dead ; 
No wheat is else for the gamer won. 

From good each good is aye begun ; 

So seemly the seed, it faileth not. 

That spices should spring from that sweetest one. 

That precious pearl withouten spot. 



IV 



In that spot I have spoken on, 

I enter'd into that arbour green. 

In August, at a high seas6n, 

When the com was cut with sickles keen. 

On the mound where my pearl slipp'd away, time agone, 

Herbs g^ew shading, all gay and sheen ; 

There were gillyflower, ginger, and gromwell thereon, 

And peonies powder'd thick between. 
Fair was it there, and if goodly seen, 
Goodlier still smelt the fragrant plot. 
Where lies that treasure, I wot and ween, 
My precious pearl withouten spot. 



On that spot I dasp'd my hands, — that moand, 
With sorrow full cold my heart it caught, 
A sudden grief did my soul confound. 
Though reason peace within me taught. 
I moum*d my pearl that there was bound, 
With fiercest doubts that stubborn fought ; 
Though Christ's own comfort might be found. 
My wretched will in woe aye wrought 

I fell on that mound with flowers fraught; — 
Such odour through my senses shot, 
A dream came upon me, deeper was naught, 
Of that precious pearl withouten spot. 



VI 



FROM the spot my spirit sprang into space, 
While my body dream'd, to the mound it clove 
My ghost was gone, by God*s own grace, 
Where wonders and mysteries are, to rove. 
I knew not in this world the place, 
But I found me set where were clifiEs above : 
Toward a forest I tum'd my face, 
Where rocks of splendour in richness throve. 

The brightness of them no belief would move, 

Their gleaming glory that shone so there ; 

For never was web that mortal wove. 

Of splendour half so rich and fair. 



VII 

Fair adorned those hillsides lay, 
With crystal cliffs full clear of kind ; 
Bright holt and wood about them stay, 
And their boles are blue as blue of Ind. 
Like bumish'd silver the light leaves play, — 
On ev'ry branch thick they trembl'd and shin'd, — 
Where open glade giveth them gleam of day. 
Their shimmering sheen full glory doth find. 
The gravel that underfoot we grind, 
Is precious pearl of Orient there ; 
The sunbeam pales, and grows but blind, 
Before that splendour rich and fair. 



VIII 

So fair those hills, so fair and dear, 
My soul her griefs forgot, I weet. 
Of their fresh fruits the fragrance mere 
To breathe gives life, like very meat. 
Mated in peace the birds fly near. 
Both small and great in flame-hues sweet ; 
But cithern string or minstrel here. 
Their lovely mirth may not repeat ; 

For when those birds their wings do beat, 
They sing in sweet accord so rare, 
Such gracious glee may no man meet, 
As hear and see such splendour fair. 



IX 



So fair adorned in richest guise 
That forest where fortune bade me wend. 
Set forth the beauty that in it lies. 
No tongue ever may that this life doth lend. 
I walk'd on, ever in blissful wise ; 
No hill too toilsome was to ascend ; 
The further in forest, the fairer did rise 
Plain, plants, and spice, and fruits without end, 
Hedgerows, and paths, and rich rivers, penn'd 
In steep banks, glistening like gold thread rare ; 
To the shore of a water my steps did bend, — 
Ah Lord 1 how dear was that splendour fair 1 



The splendour fair of that water deep, 

Its lucent banks of the beryl bright 1 

Sweet was the rushing water's sweep 

With murmurings many, and swift its flight. 

A brightness of stones from the depths did leap ; 

i^ like a gleam through glass they glimmer*d to sight, 
Or as stars refulgent, while safe men sleep. 
Shine in the sky through the winter night ; 
For every pebble the pool that dight 
Was emerald, sapphire, or gem as rare. 
That all the water glister'd with light ; 
So dear and rich was that splendour fair. 



XI 

THE splendour fair of downs and dales, ( 
Of wood, and waters, and noUe plain. 
Bred in me bliss, and soften'd my bales. 
Gave peace to my stress, destroy'd my pain. y 
A stream whose current strongly sails 
I f ar'd adown, with teeming brain ; 
The farther I followed those water'd Tales, 
The stronger joy did my heart constrain. \ 
Fortune deals ever as she is fain, 
Whether solace she send, or sorrow sore ; 
But wight that her good -will once doth gain, 
Seeks to have ever more and more. 



XII 

More weal was I ware of in that wise 
Than I could tell of, though time gave aid, 
For earthly heart might not suffice 
That a tenth of that gladness should be said. 
In truth, I thought that Paradise 
Beyond those broad banks close was laid ; 
I thought the water some fair device, 
A mere that blissful shores embay'd ; 

Beyond the stream, by slope or glade, 

I hop'd to see the city soar ; 

But the water was deep, I durst not wade ; 

And ever I long'd, aye more and more. 



XIII 

More 3jid more that longing I bare, 

The longing to see what lay beyond, 
I For if goodly it was where I did fare, 

Far lovelier was the farther land. 

I gaz'd, and stumbPd, searching there, 

A ford I sought at my demand ; 

But of still more dangers was I ware. 

The further I stepp'd along the strand : 
Methought no peril should have bann*d 
My venture to that blessed shore. 
When fresh delight show'd near at hand 
That mov'd my mind still more and more. 



XIV 

More marvels smote my sonl beguil*d ; 
I saw, beyond that mere so fair, 
A crystal cliff, in light that smil'd. 
And radiance royal streamed in air ; 
And at its foot there sat a child, — 
A maiden gracious, debonnaire. 
In white all glistening, undefiPd : 
(I knew her well, I had seen her ere). 

Like gleaming gold most pure and rare, 
, So shone she bright on the farther shore ; 

Long time I look'd upon her there ; 

The longer, I knew her more and more. 



XV 

The more I look'd on her fair face, 
Her tender shape when I had seen. 
Such glory of gladness did me grace, 
As seld before in my soul had been. 
To call her then I wish'd apace. 
But abashment 8eiz*d me, swift and keen ; 
I saw her in, so strange a place, 
That shock might chill my heart, I ween. 
Then lifted she up her forehead sheen. 
Her face like the ivory white upbore, — 
That stung my heart, astounded clean ; 
And ever the longer, more and more. 



XVI 

MORS than I list, my dread arose ; 
I stood fall still, and duist not call ; 
With open eyes, and month shut close, 
I stood as docile as hawk in hall. 
I thought, unearthly were these shows ; 
I dreaded what should at last befall, 
( Lest she should escape, whom my soul there chose, 
Ere I could drive my prize to wall. 

That gracious one then, most pure of all, 
( So smooth, so small, so lovely -slight, 
\ Rose up in her array royal, 
] A precious thing in pearls bedight 



XVII 

Pearls bedight, of princely fees, 
There might a man by grace have seen, 
When she, as fresh as flor-de-lis, 
Straight down the bank her steps did lean ; 
All dazzling white was her fair amice ; 
Open the sides, and border'd between 
With pearls, the fairest and fittest to please 
That ever I saw yet with mine een. 

Wide and large were the sleeves, I ween. 
With doubrd pearl adom*d and bright ; 
The kirtle, too, of selfsame sheen. 
With precious pearls around bedight. 



XVIII 

With a crown was the maid bedight, 

Of pearls, and of none other stone, 

Pinnacrd high, of pearls pore white, 

With figor'd flowers thickly sown. 

Her head, save for that, nncover'd quite ; 

Her hair fell all abont her thrown ; 

As duke or as eail she was grave to the sight ; , 

More white her hne than the walms-bone ; 

Like pure shorn gold her soft locks shone, 
On her shoulders lying, all loose and light ; 
Their colour deep scarce brighter grown 
From the precious pearls that her bedight. 



XIX 

Bedight and broider'd each hem and seam 
That opening, and side, and wrist secure. 
With pearls, with only the white pearls' gleam ; 
And bumish'd white was her vesture. 
But a flawless pearl, a marvel, I deem, 
Amid her breast was set full sure ; 
Mind of mortal might faint and dream. 
Ere ever its worth he could well measure. 
I think no tongue is, could endure 
A fitting tale to tell of that sight. 
It was so white and clear and pure. 
That precious pearl that her bedight. 



13 



XX 

Bedight with pearls, she, raie^d dear, 
Came down on the farther shore more nigh ; 
No gladder man betwixt Greece and here, 
When she reached the water's edge, than I. 
(More than aunt or niece to me was she near. 
So ever the more my joy rose high.) 
Then proffer'd that wonder speech to mine ear. 
Low bending to me, full womanly ; 

From her head the rich crown she put by, 
[ And blithely hail'd me with greeting light. 
Well for me that I was bom, I cry. 
That sweet to answer, with pearls bedight. 



XXI 

4 4 /^ PEARL," said I, " with pearls bedight, 

V^ Art thou my pearl that I have plain'd, 
And regretted, lone in the lonely night ? 
Much longing for thee I have sustained 
Since down in the grass thou didst slip from sight. * 
Thought-weary and worn am I, sore pain'd, 
While thou to a life of joyance bright 
In Paradise cam'st, of woe unconstrain'd. 

What fate hath hither my jewel entrain'd, 
And thrown me in dolour and grief and fear ? 
Since we two apart were torn and distrained, ^. 
I have been but a joyless jeweller." 



XXII 

That jewel then, begemm'd so fair, 

Rais'd up her face, with eyes of gray ; 

With the orient pearl she crown'd her hair. 

And soberly then did she say : 

** Sir, ye have well mistaken thi re. 

To say your pearl is lost away. 

That is kept in so comely a coffer's care. 

As here in this garden, gracious -gay; 
Herein forever to dwell and play. 
Where sin and mourning come never near; 
Here were the casket for thee, in fay, / 

If thou wert a well-taught jeweller. j 



15 



XXIII 

** But, jeweller gentle, if thou didst io«e 
Thy joy, for a gem that was dear to thy mind, 
Methinks thou but unwisely chose, 
And with scanty reason thy soul dost blind ; 
For that which thou lost was but a rose, 
That flowei'd and fail'd in the way of kind ; 
Now, through the casket that holdeth it dose. 
For a precious pearl it is seal'd and sign'd : ' 
Yet thou thy fate a thief dost find, 
That thy naught for something hath bought, f u 
To what cureth thy ills thou Uame dost bind ; 
Thou art no kindly jeweller." 



XXIV 

A jewel to me then was this guest, 

Jewels the soft words she did say. 

" I -wis,*' said I, ** my blissful -b^t, 

My great distress thou dost allay ; 

To be excus'd I make request ; 

I trow'd my pearl was lost to the day; 

Tis found, now feast shall I make, and rest. 

And dwell with it in woodland gay, 

And praise my Lord, and his laws, for aye. 

That hath me brought this bliss so near ; 

Were I with thee beyond this water's way, 

I were now a joyful jeweller." 



XXV 

" Jeweller/' said that gem serene, 

** Why jest men thus ? so mad ye be 1 

Three words thou spok'st in one, I ween. 

Full unadvis'd, in sooth, all three. 

Thou nothing knoVst what thou dost mean. 

Thy words before thy wits do flee. 

Thou sayest, for thus thine eyes have seen, 

Thou deem'st me in truth in this vale to be ; 

Again, thou sayest, in this country 

Thyself shall dwell with me, even here ; 

The third, thou wouldst pass this water free : 

That may no joyful jeweller. 



17 



XXVI 

4 4 Y HOLD that jeweller little to praise, 

1 That trusts too well what he sees with eye ; 

And blameful, and wanting in n^bU^ ways, 

Who believes cuu* LonTwc^uld s^ak a lie, 

That leally promised yomUSe tTraise, 

']|^ugh fortune fell on your flesbio. die. 

Ye make of his words but a twisted maxe, 

That nothing belidve but ye see it, ay. 
And thailB the sin of arrogancy, 
That any good man doth most ill beseem, — 
Naught to believe, to trust or try, / 

But his own reason it truth shall deem. 



XXVII 

**Deem now thyself if thou didst use 
Such words as from man to God are fit. 
To dwell in this kingdom thou dost choose ; 
Thou wert better first ask leave for it. 
And yet that boon thou well might'st lose. 
Thou wiliest over this water to flit ; 
Ah, first another lot thee ensues ; 
Thy corpse must lie cold in clods of the pit. 

For its worth in Paradise groves was quit ; 

Our forefather brought it to ill esteem; 

By drear death must every mortal be smit. 

Ere the Lord him worthy to cross here deem." 



i{ 



xxvni 

'* Deem'st thou me doom'd," said I, '< my sweet, 
To dolour again, then am I undone I 
Now I have found what from me did fleet, 
Must I lose it again ere my life is run ? 
Why shall I at once it miss and meet ? 
But pain for me my pearl has won I 
What serve treasures but gar men greet, 
If they find but to lose in grief anon ? 

I reck not to sink low, f roin this hour on ; 

Home and land to leave no ill shall seem ; 

For when my pearl from me is gone, 

What is it but endless dolour to deem ? " 



XXIX 

" Thou deem'st to have but Sble and distress," 
Then said that being, <* why dost thou so ? 
Through clamour of grief, from losses less, 
To those far greater full oft men go. 
Thou better thyself shouldst guide and bless, 
And pndse God ever, in weal or woe. 
Thy anger avails thee not a cress ; 
Who needs must suffer may rage forego ; 
For though thou d^ce as any doe, 
Chafe, and cry out, and with fierce ire teem. 
Since thou may'st no farther, to or fro. 
Thou must abide what He well shall deem. 



19 



XXX 



** The Lord shall deem, and he shall ordain, 
Nor will he swerve one foot from his way ; 
Nothing to thee shall be the gain 
Though never for sorrow thou shouldst be gay. 
Leave thy chiding, and stint thee to strain. 
And seek His bliss as fast as thou may ; 
Thy prayer to his pity may attain, 
And mercy her crafts to thee display ; 
His comfort can thy languor allay, 
Thy grief turn back like a glancing gleam ; 
For man'd ye or mended, in woe or away, 
All lies with him to allot and deem." 



XXXI 

THEN deem'd I to that damosel, 
** My Lord will not hold me in wrath and acorn, 
Though I rave as the rushing words impel, 
For its bursting griefs my heart have torn. 
As springing waters from source upwell. 
My soul be aye in His mercy borne I 
Rebuke me never with words so fell, (^ 

Dear one, ador'd, though I err, forlorn, 

But show thy comfort to me who mourn, 

Thinking with pity aye on this, 
/ . That for thy sake, grief is my fellow sworn,. 
' • That once wast ground of all my bliss. 



XXXII 

*' My bliss, my bale, ye have been both ; 

For both the heavier is my moan. 

Since thou wast taken away, in troth, 

I never knew where my pearl was gone ; 

Now I see it, my sorrow go'th. 
I { We, when we parted, as one were grown : 

God forbid that we now be wroth. 

We meet so seldom by stock or stone. 

Though fair and courteous ye speak on, 
I am dust, and lack manners fair, I wis ; 
But Christ his mercy, and Mary, and John, 
These are the ground of all my bliss. 



21 



XXXIII 

** In bliss I see thee, and joyance dear 
And I a man of mournful fate ; 
It takes full little from your cheer, 
Though I have often hurts so great. 
But now that I have won so near, 
I would beseech, without debate. 
With sweet consent thou let me hear 
What life ye lead here, soon and late ; 
For I am full glad that your estate 
Is raised to worship and weal, I wis ; 
I Of all my joy the highway straight 
It is, and ground of all my bliss." 



XXXIV 

** Now, noble sir, bliss thee betide," 
Then said she, lovesome of form and cheer, 
** And welcome here to walk and bide. 
For now thy speech I joy to hear. 
Masterful mood, and haughty pride, 
I rede thee, are bitterly hated here. 
My Lord, too, loveth not to chide. 
For meek are all that dwell him near ; 

And when in his place thou shalt appear. 
Be deep devout in pure meekness ; 
That aye to my Lord the Lamb is dear. 
That is the ground of all my bliss. 



XXXV 

**A blissful life I lead, thou dost say, 

Its state and manner thou wouldst guage. 

Thou know*st well, when thy pearl slipp'd away, 

I was full young and tender of age ; 

But the Lamb, my Lord, as his godhead may. 

He took myself to his marriilge, 

Crown'd me queen in his bliss to stay. 

Gave me eternal days to wage; 
And seized of all his heritage 
His beloved are, I am wholly his ; 
His praise, his price, his high peerage. 
Are root and ground of all my bliss." 



23 



XXXVI 

i i r^LissTUL,' said I, " may this be true } 
D And vex thee not if I err once more ; 

Art thou the queen of heaven blue, . 

That all the world shall do honour for ? 

We believe on Mary, of whom grace grew, 

In viigin flower a child that bore; 

The crown from her who might undo, 

Save one who in favour pass'd her o'er ? 

Now her for sweetness supreme we adore. 
And call her ' Phoeniz of Araby,' 
That blameless liv'd her life of yore, 
Like to the Queen of Courtesy." 



XXXVII 

" Courteous Queen," that joy then said, 
Kneeling to earth with cover'd face, 
'* Matchless mother, and mirthfullest maid, 
Blessed beginner of every grace I " 
Then rose she up, and still she staid. 
And spoke to me across that space. 
" Sir, here many seekers rich spoils have repaid, 
But supplanters are none within this place. 
That empress holds heaven in vassal case, 
And earth and hell too in her fee ; 
From that heritage none may her displace, 
For she is the queen of courtesy. 



24 



XXXVIII 

*< The court of the LiTing God's realm doth thrive 

By a yirtue its own, and ever seen ; 

Whoever may therein arrive 

Of all the realm is made king or queen ; 

Yet never one shall another deprive, 

But all rejoice in other's demesne, 

And would that another's crown were five, 

If possibly better that had been. 

But my lady, Jesus' mother, I mean. 
She holds the empire o'er us full high. 
And to none is that displeasing, I ween, 
For she is the queen of courtesy. 



XXXIX 

*< By courtesy, St. Paul did say, 
All we are members of Christ by right. 
As head, arm, leg, and nail alway 
Belong to the body, in fealty plight ; 
So with Christian souls is the way. 
Each one is a limb of the Lord of Might. 
Behold, whether hatred or any fray 
Among thy members comes ever to sight ; 
Thy head feeb neither grief nor spite, 
Though rings on finger or arm there be ; 
So fare we all with love and delight, 
To king and queen, by courtesy." 



25 



XL 

" Courtesy," said I, •« I believe. 
And a wondrous love is there you among ; 
But, (let not now my speech thee grieve) 
Methinks thou speak'st in this full wrong. 
Thyself in heaven o'er high dost heave, 
To make thee queen, that wast so yomig 1 
What honour more might he achieve 
That had endured in this world, strong, 
And lived in penance his life long, 
With body's pain him bliss to bny^ — 
What worship more might him belong, 
Than be crown'd king by courtesy ? 



26 



XLI 



4 4 'T^HAT courtesy is too free, indeed, 

1 If it be sooth that thoa dost say. 
With us on earth thou life didst lead 
Not two years, nor unto God couldst pray, 
Nor please him, nor knew'st or pater or creed ; 
And thou made queen on thy first day I 
I may not think, so God me speed, 
That he would deal so wrong a way. 
A countess, damosel, by my fay. 
Perhaps such rank thee heaven might lend. 
Or else some lesser lady to stay ; 
But a queen, that is too high an end.*' 



XLII 

** But no end to his goodness stays," 
Then answered me that precious wight, 
^' Truth is in all his works and ways, 
He cannot do or think but right. 
Thus Matthew in your missal says. 
In gospel true of the God of might ; 
He tells a parable, worthy all praise, 
For a likeness of heaven's kingdom bright. 
Like, he says, is that realm of light. 
To a lord who had a vineyard to tend. 
And now came the time of year aright 
When to labour there was the season's end. 



27 



XLIII 

** That end of the season well knew every hind ; 
The lord full early up arose, 
For his vineyard workers to hire and find, 
And some were there, ready for his purpdse. 
Now in agreement themselves they bind 
For a penny a day, and forth each goes, 
And painfully toils at the task assign'd, — 
Prunes, and fastens, and ties all close. 

At noon, the mart to the master shows 
Men that stand idle, nor make, nor mend ; 

* Why stand ye idle,' he saith to those, 

* Know ye not for this day an end ? ' 



XLIV 

** * Hither^ere end of the night we won,' 
(They answered all with the selfsame thought) 

* Here have we stood since arose the sun. 
And no man hath bidden us do aught.' 

* To my vines go, do what ye may, each one,* 
Said that lord, and their labour too he bought ; 
' What reasonable hire by night is run, 

I will pay you in full, even as I ought' 

They too went into the vines and wrought ; 
And thus all day did the master wend, 
And new men to his vineyard brought. 
Till the day had almost reach'd its end. 



38 



XLV 

** At end of the day, at evensong. 
One hour before the son woold away. 
He saw there idle men fnll strong, 
And gently onto them did say, 
* Why stood ye here idle, aU the day long ?* 
They said, no man did their service pray. 
' Go to my vineyard, yeomen yoang, 
And labour, and do even that ye may.' 

Soon the world was all grown gray. 

So late that the sun no light did lend ; 

He call'd them, that he their hire might pay ; 

The day was long since past its end. 



29 



XLVI 



4 4 'T^HB end of the day that lord did know ; 

1 * Pay the men,' he cried to his reeve amain ; 
* Give them the hire that I them owe. 
And farther, that none may blame me in vain, 
Set them all alike in a row. 
And give to each a penny for gain. 
Begin at the last, that standeth low, 
Until to the first thou shalt attain,' 

And then did the first begin to complain. 

Saying that they had labour'd sore ; 

* These last but one hour did them pain ; 

It seemeth to us we should have more. 



XLVII 

*< * More have we served thee, we trow, 
Who aU have borne the heat of the day, 
Than these, who came scarce two hours ago ; 
Yet thou makest them equal with us to weigh.' 
Then answer'd that lord to one who spake so, 
< Friend, I do thee no wrong ; I say. 
Take thou what is thine own, and go. 
If I hir'd thee with promise a penny to pay. 

Why beginn'st thou now in threatening way ? 

Didst thou not agree for a penny of yore ? 

Seek beyond covenant no man may ; 

Why dost thou then ask for more ? 



XLVIII 

" * More praiseworthy is not giving for me, 
And to do with mine own even as I will ? — 
Or is thine eye bent evil to see, 
Because I am good, and do no man ill ? ' 
< Thus shall I,' saith Christ, ' decree ; 
The last of all shall be first, still, 
And the first the last, though swift he be ; 
For many are call'd, though few high place fill.' 
Thus, poor men not in vain shall till, 
Though they come late, and have small store, 
And though their labour little skill ; 
The mercy of God is so much the more. 



XLIX 

^ More have I of bliss and joy herein, 
Of the bloom of life, and ladyship great. 
Than all the creatures of earth might win. 
If their rights alone they ask'd of fate. 
Though scarcely did I my work begin. 
And the vineyard I enter'd at evening late. 
Yet my hire the master's first care hath been ; 
Fully and freely he paid me straight. 

Yet others there were who needs must wait, 
They toil'd and sweated for long of yore, 
But naught have receiv'd of their service' rate. 
And perhaps shall not for a full year more." 



31 



Then more I qwke, and bokDy did say, 
** Unreasonable, methinks, thy tale ; 
God's justice is ready and watchfol aye. 
Or is Holy Writ bat a fable frail 
In the Psalter a verse this point doth weigh. 
Its meaning is dear, and cannot fail: 
' Each man to his worth thoa dost repay. 
High King, whom aU -disposing we haiL' 
Now he that bore the long day's assail. 
If thou to payment pass him before, 
Then the less in work doth the more avail. 
And ever the longer, the less is more."^ 



u 



4 4 f N the kingdom of God, on less or more," 
1 Said that gentle one, ** no hazards wait ; 
For each alike is paid his store. 
Whether his guerdon be small or great ; 
No niggard the gentle Chief we adore; 
Whether soft or hard he deal the fate. 
His gifts like damm*d-up waters oatpoar. 
Or streams of the deep, ^hMt never abate. 

Who aye fear'd him that from sin's estate 
Can rescue, hath largest franchise now; 
No bliss upon him shall close the gate ; 
For the grace of God is great enow. 



LII 

** To checkmate me now thou dost essay, — 
That I wrongly have ta'en my penny here, 
Too late a comer I, thou wouldst say. 
And thus unworthy of hire so dear. 
But knew'st thou e'er mortal, so strong to pray, 
So constant in holiness to iqppear. 
That he forfeited not, some time or way. 
The meed of the heavenly kingdom clear ? 
And aye the oftener, the older they were, 
They wrought amiss, and from right did bow ; 
Mercy and grace then must them steer, 
For the grace of God is great enow. 



33 






.^e .3B.VS9C: 




LV 

*< Enow there flow'd from out that well 

Of blood and water, from bitter wound ; 

The blood us bought from bale of hell. 

And from doom of the second death unbound. 

The water is baptism, sooth to tell. 

That f ollow'd the glaive full grimly ground ; 

It washeth away the guilt so fell, 

Wherewith Adam in death us drown'd. 

And there is naught in the world around 

Between us and bliss, but He made it bow ; 

In that blessed season our path he found ; 

And the grace of God is great enow. 



35 



LVI 

4 4 T7 NOW of grace the man may have 
d That sinneth anew, if he repent ; 

But with sorrow and grief he most it crave, 

And abide the pain that for sin is sent. 

Bat reason, to right that ever clave, 

Saves evermore the innocent; 

It is a doom that God never gave. 

That ever the guiltless should be shent. 
The guilty may, in contrition bent. 
To mercy come, and on grace alight; 
But he that guile never knew or meant. 
In his innocence is sav'd by right. 



LVII 

** Right well I know of this same case, 
God must save these two, and justice fulfill, — 
The righteous man shall see his face. 
And the blameless one shall be with him still. 
This verse in Psalter ye may trace : 
* Lord, who shall dimb thy lofty hill, 
Or rest within thy holy place ? ' 
And swift doth he answer what is his wiU : 
< He whose dean hands have done no ill. 
That is of heart both pure and light. 
There shaU stand, and a firm place fill' 
The innocent is aye sav'd by right 



36 



LVIII 

** The righteous, too, shall surely gain 

His entrance to that glorious pile. 

Who taketh not his life in yain. 

Nor deceiveth his neighbour with any gnile. 

Of the righteous, Solomon saw plain 

How our Lord him greeted with kindly smile ; 

In ways full strait did He him constrain, 

And show'd him the kingdom of God awhile, 
As who saith, * Lo, yon lovely isle 1 
This may be won by hardy wight ; ' 
But surely, and without perils vile, 
The innocent is aye sav'd by right 



LIX 

** Of the righteous man ye may have read 
The Psalter's words, by David applied, 
* Lord, bring not thy servant to judgment dread ; 
For with thee none living is justified.' 
So when to that court thou shalt be sped 
Where all our causes judgment abide, 
Through those same words that late I said. 
Thou mayst in, if in righteousness thou confide ; 
But He on the bloody rood who died. 
With hands sore pierced by cruel might. 
Grant thee to pass, when thou art tried, 
By innocence, and not that right. 



37 



LX 

** He who aright to read doth know, 

Let him take his book, and learn by its aid, 

How Jesus was walking once, long ago, 

And their little ones folk before him laid. 

For the healing and help that from him did flow. 

To touch their children they fair him pray'd ; 

His disciples harshly bade let him go, 

And by their rebukes full many were stayM. 

Jesus then to them sweetly said, 

* Give way, let the children come to my sight ; 

For such is the kingdom of heaven made.' 

The innocent are aye sav'd by right. 



LXI 

4 4 f Ksus call'd to him kig little ones mild, 

J And said, his kingdom none enters in, 
But come he thither right as a child, 
Or let him never that quest begin. 
Harmless, true, and nndefil'd. 
Without or spot or taint of sin ; 
When such shall knock on that wall strong-pil'd. 
Swift shall men them the gate unpin ; 

There is the bliss that fades not within, 

That the jeweller searched for early and late ; 

Sold his linen and wool, yea, all he could win. 

To buy him a pearl immaculate. 



LXII 

'* This immaculate pearl, Was bought so dear, 
That the jeweller more than aU wealth it would, 
To the kingdom of heaven hath likeness near. 
So said the Father of land and flood: 
For it is stainless, pure, and clear. 
Round, without end, form'd in bUssful mood. 
And common to aU that were righteous here ; 
And lo I amid my breast it stood. 

My Lord the Lamb, that shed his blood, 
.In token of peace there set it late ; 
Forsake the mad world, it were thee good. 
And purchase this pearl immaculate." 



39 



\ 

LXIII 



" O immacnlate pearl, in pearls so pure, 

. That bearest," said I, ** the peail of price, 

Who formed thee thy fair figiire ? 

Who wrought thy weed, he was full wise ; 

Thy beauty came never of natiire ; 

Pygmalion painted never those eyes ; 

Aristotle with all his learning, sure. 

Ne'er taught of thy kind and its properties. 
Thy colour passeth the 6or-de-lis, 
/ Thine angel-bearing, how courteous-great I 
Tell me, bright one, what trust as prize 
Weareth that pearl immaculate ? ** 



LXIV 

'* My immaculate Lamb, that can bless all," 

Said she, ** my beloved fiz'd by lot. 

Chose me to his mate, though my worth was small ; 

Long ago was that bridal, I wot ; 

What time I from your world did fall, 

Then did he to me his bliss allot, 

' Come hither, my love, my sweet I ' was his call, 

* For thou hast neither blemish nor spot.' 

Beauty and might he withheld from me not, 
Wash'd my weeds in hb blood on his throne of state, 
In maidenhood crown'd me withouten blot. 
And dight me in pearls immaculate." 



40 



LXV 

"O immaculate bride, that flam'st so briglit, 

And in riches and royalties so dost thrive, 

Who is this Lamb of thy delight, 

That thee would wed unto his wife ? 

How tak'st thou o'er others so high flight, 

To lead with him such princely life ? 

How many maidens, faur to sight, 

Have endur'd for Christ in pain and strife, 

Yet all those dear ones canst thou outdrive, 
And from that marriage all others abate, 
All save thyself, in strength so rife, — 
A matchless maid, and immaculate." 



41 



LXVI 

441 MMACUULTK," Said that joyful queen, 
1 Unblemish'd I am, withouten blot ; 
That may I say with grace, I ween ; 
But a matchless queen, that said I not. 
Brides of the Lamb in bliss we been 
A hundred and forty thousand, I wot, 
As in the Apocalypse it is seen ; 
St. John saw them duster'd in a knot 

On the hill of Zion, that goodly spot ; 

The apostle saw them, in heavenly dream, 

On that mountain array'd for their bridal lot. 

In the city of New Jerusalem. 



LXVII 

'* Of Jerusalem now will I tell : 

If thou wilt know what kind he be, — 

My Lamb, my lord, my dear jew^l. 

My joy, my bliss, my true-love free, — 

The prophet Isaiah told of him well. 

Of his goodly grace full piteously. 

Him guiltless and glorious, men did fell, 

Though in him was never evil to see ; 

As a sheep to the slaughter led was he ; 
As a lamb that the shearer in field doth hem. 
So clos*d he his mouth from plaint or plea, 
When the Jews him judg'd in Jerusalem. 



42 



LXVIII 

** In Jerusalem was my tnie4ove slain, 
And rent on the rood by hirelings bold ; 
All our ills to bear fall fsdn. 
He took on himself oar cares so cold. 
Buffets on his face did rain, 
That once so fair was to behold ; 
For our sins he made himself in vain, 
Who ne'er himself to sin had yold. 

For us he let them scourge, and hold, 

And stretch him on the rugged beam ; 

As meek as lamb, no plaint he told ; 

For us he died in Jerusalem. 



LXIX 

** Jerusalem, Jordan, and Galilee, 
There did baptise the good St. John ; 
With Isaiah's words according spake he, 
When Jesus unto him was gone ; 
He said of him this prophecy, 
* Lo 1 the Lamb of God, the changeless One, 
That all the world shall yet set free 
From the sin it hath wrought beneath the sun.' 
He himself yet sin had none, 
Though to himself he all did claim ; 
His generation who may con. 
That died for us in Jerusalem ? 



43 



LXX 

** In Jerusalem thus my tnie4ove sweet, 
Twice to a lamb was liken'd there; 
Both prophets him thus in records treat, 
For that meekly and gently he him bare ; 
The third time is, and that is meet. 
In Apocalypse written, with full great care; 
Amidst the throne, the saints' high seat. 
The Apostle John of him was ware, 

Unsealing the book with pages square, 
Which seven signs set together hem ; 
At that sight all creatures in terror stare. 
In hell, in earth, and Jerusalem. 



LXXI 

i 4 'T^His Jerasalem lamb had never a stain, 
1 Or hae but the winsome white, in life ; 

Spot or soil would attack in vain 

That whitest wool, so rich and life; 

Thos every sonl that no blemish has ta'en 

Is onto that Lamb a worthy wife ; 

And though each day he bring many agun, 

Among us comes never dispute or strife ; 

We only would that each one were five, — 
The fnore, the merrier, so God me bless; 
By company great our love does thrive. 
And honour is more, and never the less. 



LXXII 

" To less of bliss none may us bring, 
Who wear this pearl upon our breast ; 
For never ill to them could cling. 
Of spotless pearls who bear the crest. 
Although our corpses the dods enring. 
And ye for ruth lament without rest. 
Throughout, we have knowledge of everything; 
For by One Death are all hopes blest 

The Lamb us gladdens, no grief is our guest. 
At every feast his joy we possess ; 
The bliss of each is brightest and best, 
And no one's honour ever the less. 



45 



LXXUI 

*< Less of thy faith should my tale command. 

These words are writ in Apocalypse lore ; 

* I saw,' saith John, * the Lamb then stand 

In glory excelling, on Zion hoar; 

Hundred thousand maidens were at his hand. 

And four and forty thousand more; 

And a writing all their foreheads spann'd. 

The ftame of the Lamb and his Father they bore. 
A voice from heaven then heard I pour, 
As of many waters that rush and press. 
As thunders on dark tors hurling roar. 
That sound, I trow, was never the less. 



LXXIV 

(( « Nevertheless, though loud did ring 

That sound, and sudden was to hear, 

A note full new I heard them sing; 

To listen then was lovely -dear. 

As haipers haip upon the string. 

They sang that new song then full dear ; 

Resounding that noble music doth spring; 

Full sweet then in chorus the strains they rear; 
Before the throne of God right near. 
With the four beasts that his might confess. 
And the elders all of gravest cheer. 
Sang they the song that was never the less. 



46 



LXXV 

^ * Nevertheless, was no wight aye, 
For all the crafts that ever he knew, 
That ever could smg one note of that lay. 
Save the meinie that doth the Lamb ensue. 
For they are bought from earth away, 
As first-fruits assign'd to God all new ; 
To the gentle Lamb they are given alway, 
As like to himself in look and hue : 

For never a lie or word untrue 

Was found on their tongue, for any dbtress. 

That stainless meinie forever is due 

To that spotless Master, and never the less.' " 



LXXVI 

" Nevertheless my pearl I thank," 
Said I, " though questions still I pose ; 
I should not tiy thy mind so fiank. 
Whom Christ unto his chamber chose. 
I bide but in dust and mire all rank. 
And thou so rich and sweet a rose, 
And dweU'st here on this blissful bank, 
Where life its bloom may never lose ; 

Yet, sweet, whom simpleness erst did enclose, 

I would thee ask one thing express; 

Though too forward I be, like flame that blows, ) 

Let my boon avail me, nevertheless. 



47 



LXXVII 



44 IV Tkvkrtheless, on thee I call, 

IN If it may be done, as thou canst see. 
As glorious thou art, and stainless all, 
Deny thou never my piteous plea. 
Have ye no dwelling in castle wall. 
No manor to bide and meet in free ? 
Of Jerusalem tellest thou, rich-royal. 
That David dear call'd on its throne to be ; 

But with these holts that doth not agree; 

Judaea that noble delight hath got; 

As undefiPd 'neath the moon are ye, 

Your dwelling should be withouten spot. 



Lxxvni 

** This spotless meinie thou dost me declare, 
A throng of thousands, so mi^^ty a rout, — 
A city vast, since so many are there, 
Ye behoove to have, withouten doubt. 
So joyous a wealth of jewels fair, 
*Twere evil done should lie without ; 
Yet, tarrying here on this bank, nowhere 
See I hall or castle hereabout. 

Here ye but come and linger out 
To look on this fair stream's glory, I wot; 
If thou hast dwelling fixed and stout. 
Now lead me to that happy spot." 



' LXXIX 

**That spot thou mean'st in Jadaea*8 land," 

(That creature wondrous to me then spake) 

**Is the town where the Lamb first took his stand, 

To suffer sore for mortals' sake ; 

The Old Jerusalem, understand. 

For that he the old guilt there did slake ; 

But the New, that came shining from God's own hand,] 

The saint for Apocalypse' theme did take. 

The Lamb there with never a speck or flake. 
The fair flock too that he there hath brought, — 
As their whiteness hath never blemish nor break, 
So too that place is withouten spot. 



LXXX 

** Of these two spots aright to ween, 
Both Jerusalem called in their degrees, — 
Naught, I rede thee, that name doth mean 
But City of God, or Sight of Peace. \ 

In the one our peace made whole hath been ; 
Pain there to suffer the Lamb did please ; 
In the other is naught but peace to glean, \ 
The same forever, that shall not cease. '' 

That is the bourne where the spirit flees 
When that our flesh is laid to rot ; 
There glory and bliss shall ever increase 
To the meinie that is withouten spot." 



49 



Lzzxr 






Forms 



kniKvosi^ dower. 



ToMpiB 



ikti^iootfdkBot: 
cti hmt thorn, no power, 



Lxxxn 

44 \1 /iLT ^ou <^^ ^® spo^ where it doth hide, 
YY Bend thy steps ap toward this river's head, 

And across from thee apon this side, 

I will follow, till thoa to a hiU hast led." 

Then there would I no longer bide ; 

By fair-leav'd boughs I softly fled, 

nil a hill before me I espied, 

And beheld the city, as up I sped. 

Beyond the stream, far from me, that stead. 
That brighter than san, with clear beams shone ; 
In Apocalypse its fashion is read, 
As describeth it the Apostle John. 



LXXXIII 

As John the apostle saw the sight. 
Saw I that city high -renowned, 
Jerusalem the New, full royally dight. 
As it new alighted from heaven was found. 
Of pure gold all that burgh was built, 
Bumish'd, it gleam'd like glass around. 
With precious gems beneath it pight ; 
The base with courses twelve was crown'd, 
Foundations twelve, full richly bound, 
And a special stone each tier thereon ; 
As well that city's praise doth sound, 
In Apocalypse, the Apostle John. 



SI 



LXXXIV 

As John in writ these stones did name, 
Their kinds I well through him coald trace ; 
Jasper was calPd the first fair gem, 
I saw it the first foandation grace, 
Green it gleam'd, and the base did hem. 
Sapphire then held the second place ; 
Chalcedony spotless was third of them. 
Purely pale it shone in the space ; 

The fourth tier emerald green did face 
The fifth sardonyx was laid upon ; 
The sixth a ruby is, as says 
In Apocalypse, the Apostle John. 



LXXXV 

Then added John the chrysolite. 
The seventh gem that foundation knew ; 
The eight was beryl, clear and white, 
And ninth came topaz, of twofold hue ; 
Chrysoi^rase the tenth is hight ; 
Eleventh, did precious jacinth ensue ; 
The twelfth is ever the fairest to sight. 
The amethyst, purple, blent with blue. 
The wall that overhung them, anew, 
Was jasper, like gleaming glass that shone ; 
I knew it by his description true 
In Apocalypse, the Apostle John. 



W 



LXXXVI 

As John describ'd, so saw I there 
Those twelve steps, broad and steep to sight ; 
The city stood above, all square, 
Alike in length and breadth and height ; 
The streets of gold like glass lay bare, 
The jasper wall gleam'd with amber's light ; 
The dweUings within adorned were 
With store of ^-brought jewels bright. 
And every way the city site 
Full twelve furlongs* length did run ; 
So high, so long, so broad aright. 
For it measurM saw the Apostle John. 



53 



LXXXVII 

OF what John beheld, more did I descry ; 
That town hath in every wall three gates, 
That twelve in order I might espy ; 
Deck'd were the portals with richest plates ; 
Each gate one perfect pearl saw I, 
Whose glory dims never, nor abates ; 
And each a name doth bear on high. 
Of the children of Israel, after their dates. 

As the order of their birth them rates ; 

The eldest are aye first in that nme ; 

And such light that city floods and sates. 

It needeth neither sun nor moon. 



LXXXVIII 

They have no need of moon or son, 
For God*s self is their lamp of light, 
The Lamb their lantern, ever one ; 
Through him beams all the city bright. 
Through wall and dwelling mine eyes did run. 
For clear so rare hides naught from sight. 
The high throne might I look upon. 
With all its rich array bedight. 

As John hath told in words of might. 

High God's self thereon saw I soon ; 

A river there ran from the throne outright. 

Was brighter than both the sun and moon. 



54 



LXXXIX 

Sun or moon shone never so sweet 
As that rich flood which there doth rise ; 
Swiftly it surgeth through every street, 
Nor slime nor stain in its waters lies. 
No church doth that city's dwellers greet ; 
Nor chapel nor temple behold their eyes ; 
The Almighty One is their minster meet, 
The Lamb their redeeming sacrifice. 

Ne'er clos'd are those portals in any wise, 
But open at every lane, late and soon ; 
None there to enter for refuge tries, 
That beareth blemish beneath the moon. 



XC 

The moon hath there nor place nor might ; 

Too spotted is she, too wan and grim ; 

Moreover, since never there is night, 

Why her course should she thither swim. 

And liken herself with that noble light 

That shineth upon the river's brim ? 

The planets are in too poor a plight, 

And the sun himself far, far too dim. 
Fair trees that glorious water rim. 
That bear twelve fruits of life full soon ; 
Twelve times in the year they richly them trim, 
And renew it aU fresh with every moon. 



55 



XCI 

Under the moon, snch marvel plac'd, 
No heart of fleah aye might endure, 
As when upon that spot I gaa'd, 
So fair was it, beyond measiire. 
( As still I stood as qaail bedaz'd, 
For wonder of that vision's lure ; 
No feeling rest or travail rais'd, 
So was I ravish'd with glory pure; 

For I dare say, with conscience sure. 
If mortal in body abode that boon. 
Though all the doics had him in cure, 
His life were lost beneath the moon. 



56 



XCII 

k 8 when the mighty moon doth rise 

^ £re day-gleam, dimming, hath sunk all down, 

o, suddenly, in wondioos wise, 

. moving host to me was known, 

cmndless, unsommon'd, before mine eyes : 

addenly, all that noble town 

Tas fiird with virgins in that same guise 

s my blissful one that ware the crown. 

Crown'd too were all they, and white of gown, 
In sel£uune fashion with pearls bedight ; 
And firm on each breast that rare renown, 
That blissful pearl of great delight. 



XCIII 

1 great delight together they were, 

•n the gold ways gliding, as glass that gleam ; 

[undred thousands in all were here. 

Ad all alike their array, I deem ; 

Pwas hard to know the gladdest cheer. 

tately the Lamb led on that stream ; 

even horns had he of the red gold clear, 

ike pearls of price did his raiment beam. 

No press there was, though such throng did teem, 
As toward the throne they far*d aright ; 
Miki as at mass young maidens seem, i 
So drew they on with great delight ) 



XCIV 

Delight that there His coming bred, 
Too great it was for me to tell : 
The elders, when he near was sped, 
Prostrate before his feet they fell. 
Legions of angels, there summoned. 
Cast incense forth, of sweetest smell ; 
New glee and glory abroad were spread ; 
All sang to praise that bright Jew^l : 

That voice might strike through earth to hell. 

Of the heavenly Virtues in joy and might ; 

To praise the Lamb in his meinie well. 

In truth, methonght it great delight. 



XCV 

Delight of that Lamb before mine eyes, 
And marvel great, in my mind there went ; 
C Best was he, blithest, and most to prize 
Of all on whom speech was ever spent 
So nobly white his garment and guise; 
So gentle he look'd, so simple his bent ; 
But a wound fxdl wide and wet there lies 
Anigh his heart, where the skin is rent ; 

From his white side the blood is sprent, — 
*<Alas," thought I, '<who did that spite? 
What breast in pain had not outbrent, 
£re it in that had found delight ? " 



S8 



XCVI 

The Lamb's delight none doubt, I ween ; 
Though he were hurt with wound so sad, 
Naught in his semUance was it seen, \ 
His looks were all so glorious-glad. ' 
I tum'd, among his meinie sheen 
To see how Life them fill'd and clad, — \ 
Then saw I there my little queen, } 

Methought I still b^de me had; 

Ah Lord 1 what mirth I heard her add. 
Among her peers that was so white I 
To cross the stream that sight me bade. 
For love -longing and great delight. ! 



59 



XCVII 

DKLiGHT SO grew to hear and see, 
In madness melted my mortal thought ; 
When I saw my joy, there would I be, 
Though beyond the water she must be sought. 
Nothing, I ween'd, might hinder me ; 
To halt my onrush there was naught ; 
And to plunge in the stream if I were free, 
I would swim the rest, though my death it wrought. 

But from that purpose soon was I brought ; 

As I would leap, all wildly still. 

Out of that passion I was caught ; 

It was not to my Prince's will. 



XCVIII 

'Twas not his will I should fling me there 
0*er those mystic bounds, in mad array ; 
Though headlong I rush'd, nor haste did spare. 
Yet suddenly my course had stay ; 
Up the bank as I push'd, without heed or care. 
That fury drove my dream away ; 
I awaken'd then in that arbour fair ; 
My head upon that same mound lay 

Where my pearl in the grass had gone astray. 

I rous'd me, and fell in a terror ill ; 

Then sighing, to myself did say, 

•• Now all be to that Prince's will 1 " 



60 



XCIX 

Sore against my will was I outcast 
So sndden from that region fair, 
Those sights of living joy all past ) 
Deep longing sent me swooning there, 
And moamfully I cried at last, 
**0 Pearl," said I, " thon rich and rare. 
How dear to me what thon steadfast 
Didst in this vision true declare I / 
If thou in very sooth dost wear 
That crown so bright and glorious still, 
'Tis well for me, in this dungeon of care, 
That thou art to that Prince's will." 



To that Prince's will had I ever bent, ' 

And crav'd no more than he gave me aye. 

And held me there in faithful intent, 

As the Pearl so exalted did me pray, 

When thus God's presence by grace was lent, 

More mysteries had I seen that day. 

But ever more good than can be sent 

By right, a man will seixe, if he may ; 

Thus was my joy soon snatch'd away, 
And I cast from the realm that endureth still ; 
Who strive against thee, Lord, mad are they. 
Or offer thee aught against thy will. 



6i 



8Ulv\1 



CI 



. With that Prince's will m peace to agree 
Is easy for Christ's folk, and full of cheer ; 
He hath been through all my days to me 
A God, a master, a friend without peer^ — 
On that monnd it befell me these things to see, 
IProne, for my pearl in grief so drear ; 
And then to God I yielded her free, 
(With my blessing, and Christ's, whose love is near; 
The priest who the bread and wine doth nprear 
Daily to us Him showeth still ; 
; He grant us to be His servants dear, 
And precious pearls onto His will 1 



62 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 



'm^^mM 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 

THE present rendering owes mnch help to 
Dr. Osgood's purer text, as well as to 
his interpretations, in both his edition and his 
translation. But since the learned do not 
alwajTS agree, the translator has at times felt 
privileged to exercise a choice; so that 
some readings are those of Gollancz and 
of Holthausen. The translator wishes to 
acknowledge also an indebtedness to Mr. 
Israel GoUancz's version for a number of 
happy suggestions, and to mention that her 
prefatory pages were written before the 
reading of Dr. Osgood's Introduction to his 
text, in which, amid a very full and system- 
atic discussion of both literary and scholarly 
questions, are some similarities of thought. 
To translate a poem is to attempt the 
impossible; but the aim of this rendering 
has been to express faithfully the spirit of 
the old poet in his own verse-form, and, so 
far as might be, in language as simple and 
direct as his own. The few slight liberties 
taken are only expansions or heightenings 
of the poef 8 own thought, not the additions 
of a personal fancy. 



65 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTB 

I. Thk Original Txxt: 

Tk€ Pearl was preserved for as, almost 
miraculously, as Mr. GoUancz intimates, in 
one manuscript alone, the British Museom's 
** Cotton Nero A x," (new number ,+4). This 
and three other poems, CUanmss^ Patience^ 
and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight^ 
believed, from similarity of dialect and 
thought, to be by the same writer, are bound 
up together with some unrelated matters. 
Till 1864, when Dr. Richard Morris searched 
ont these fourteenth century treasures for 
the Early English Text Society, the nature 
of these poems was quite unknown, previous 
ezamhiations of the manuscript having been 
baffled by the difficulties of the so^ and 
the obscure dialect. 

II. Editions of the Pearl: 

Early English AlliteraHpe Poems in ike 
West-Midland Dialect of the FourUentk 
Century, Edited by Rev. Richard Morris, 
LL.D. Early English Text Sodety L 
London, 1864. Revised and reprinted, 1869, 
1885, 1896, 1901. 

Pearly an English Poem of the Ponrieenlh 
Century, Edited, with a Modem Render- 
u^gt ^ Israel Gollancz, M.A., London, 1891. 
David Nutt. 



66 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 

(A new and revised rendering by Professor 
Gollancz is announced as forthcoming in the 
Florence Press Series, London: Chatto and 
Windus.) 

The Pearl, a Middle English Poem, Ed- 
ited, with introduction, notes, and glossary, 
by Charles G. Osgood, Jr., Ph.D., 1906. 
Boston and London. D. C. Heath & Co. 

IIL Translations : 

Mr. Gollancz, as above. 

S. Weir Mitchell, Pearl, Rendered into 
Modem English Verse, New York, 1906, 
Century Co. Reprinted by Thomas B. 
Mosher, Portland, Maine, m The Bibelot, 
XIV, 7, 1908. Sixty copies were also printed 
on hand-made paper for presentation par- 
poses. Renders about half the poem. 

G. G. Coulton, Pearl, Rendered into Mod- 
em English. London, 1906, David Nutt. A 
complete version in the verse of the original. 

Charles G. Osgood, Jr., The Pearl ren- 
dered in Prose. Princeton, N. J., 1907. Pub- 
lished by the Translator. 

(The beautiful story of Sir Gawain and 
the Green Knight is easily accessible in the 
volume of Everyman*s Library called Fatty 
Gold.) 

Readers interested in the literary criticism 
of The Pearl will find Dr. Osgood's Intro- 



67 



BIBUOGKAPHICAL NOTI 

docdon to Ills translatioD an enlightening 
and deeply thooghtfnl study of the spiritual 
content of the poem. Ten Brink's HUiory 
of Engiisk Literature, I, 336-351, is recom- 
mended as a general description of this piece 
and the three others by the same antlior. 
Much of the material, interesting thongli 
largely speculative, of the introduction to 
the Gollancz edition, now out of print, may 
be found, with recent additions, in Mr. Gol- 
lancz's article in the Cambridge Engiisk 
Literature^ I. The theory propounded by 
Dr. Schofield, hi the PubUcaii^Hs 0/ the 
Modem Language A ts o e iat i om of Awuriee^ 
XDC, 154-215, {The Fearl: its Nature astd 
EaMe) that the poem is not an elegy at all, 
and has only an allegorical import, in qpite 
of his distinguished authority ajqpean to 
have met with no very general acceptance ' 
among scholars. The point seems one for 
literary criticism quite as much as for pure 
scholarship, and one ventures to think that 
a jury of Matthew Arnolds or A. C. Brad- 
leys would not long hesitate to give a verdict 
for the defendant 




NOTES 

Stanza iv, line 3. This *' high season " is 
thought to be, very appropriately, the feast 
of the Assumption of the Virgin, August 
fifteenth. 

Stanza xxxvi, line 12. "Courtesy" in 
this and the following stanzas means ** noble- 
ness, generosity, benevolence, goodness.'* 
The New English Dictionary, after defining 
the word as above, quotes from a sermon of 
Widif, 1380: <* Crist, of his curtasie, inter- 
pretith ther wordis to goode." 

Stanza xl, line 4. This line is supplied 
bj Mr. Gollancz, one having been omitted 
here by the scribe. 

Stanza ucx, line 12. The New Jerusalem 
is here meant, — thus, in hell, earth and 
heaven. 



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