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Till he so long had weped and complained,
And many a yere his service to me fained,
Til that min herte, to pitous and to nice,
Al innocent of his crowned malice,
For-fered of his deth, as thoughte me,
Upon his othes, and his seuretee,
Graunted him love on this conditioun,
That evermo min honour and renoun
Were saved, both privee and apert;
This is to say, that after his desert,
I yave him all min herte and all my thought,
God wote, and in none other wise nought;
And toke his herte in chaunge of min, for ay.
But soth is said, gon sithen is many a day,
A trence tright, and a theef, thinken not on.
“And whan he saw the thing so serygon,
That I had granted him fully my love,
In swiche a guise, as I have said above,
And yeven him my trewe herte as free
As he swore that he yaf his herte to me;
Anon this tigre, ful of doublenesse,
Fell on his knees, with so gret humblesse,
With so high reverence, as by his chere,
So like a gentil lover of manere,
So ravished, as it semed, for the joye,
That never Jason ne Paris of Troye,
Jason' certes, ne never other man
Sin Lamech was, that alderfirst began
To loven two, as writen folk beforne;
Ne never, sithen the first man was borne,
Ne coude man by twenty thousand part
Contrefete the sophimes of his art;
Ne were worthy to unbocle his galoche,
Ther doublenesse of faining shuld approche,
Ne coude so thanke a wight, as he did me,
His maner was an heven for to see
To any woman, were she never so wise,
So painted he, and kempt at point devise,
As wel his wordes, as his contenance:
And I so loved him for his obeisance,
And for the trouthe I demed in his herte,
That if so were that any thing him smerte,
Al were it never so lite, and I it wist,
Me thought I felt deth at myn herte twist.
And, shortly, so fersorth this thing is went,
That my will was his willes instrument;
This is to say, my will obeid his will
In alle thing, as fer as reson fill,
Keping the boundes of my worship ever:
Ne never had I thing so lefe, ne lever,
As him, God wot, ne never shal no mo.
“This lasteth lenger than a yere or two,
That I supposed of him nought but good;
But finally, thus at the last it stood,
That Fortune wolde that he muste twin
Out of that place, which that I was in.
Wher me was wo, it is no question;
I cannot make of it description.
For othing dare I tellen boldely,
I know what is the peine of deth therby:
swiche harme I felt, for he ne might byleve.
“So on a day of me he toke his leve,
So sorweful eke, that I wend verally,
That he had felt as mochel harme as I,
Whan that I herd him speke and sawe his hewe =
But, nathelesse, I thought he was so trewe,
And eke that he repairen shuld again,
Within a litel while, soth to sain,_
And reson wold, eke, that he muste go
For his honour, as often happeth so,
That I made vertue of necessitee,
And toke it wel, sin that it muste be.
As I best might I hid from him my sorwe,
And toke him by the hand, Seint John to borwe,
And said him thus: “Lo, I am youres all
Both swiche as I have ben to you and shall.”
“What he answerd, it nedeth not reherse;
Who can Say bet than he who can Do werse 2
Whan he hath al well said, than hath he done.
Therfore, behoveth him a full long spone
That shal ete with a fend; thus herd I say.
“So at the last, he muste forth his way;
And forth he fleeth, til he com ther him lest.
Whan it came him to purpos for to rest,
I trow that he had thilke text in mind,
That alle thing repairing to his kind
Gladeth himself; thus sain men, as I gesse:
Men loven of propre kind newefangelnesse,
As briddes don, that men in cages fede.
For though thou night and day take of hem hede
And strew hir cage faire and soft as silke,
And give hem sugre, hony, bred, and milkes-
Yet, right anon as that his dore is up,
He with his feet wol spurnen doun his cup,
And to the wood he wol, and wormes ete;
So newefangel ben they of hir mete,
And loven noveltees of propre kind;
No gentillesse of blood ne may hem bind.
“So ferd this tercelet, alas the day !
Though he were gentil borne, and fresh, and gay,
And goodly for to seen, and humble, and free.
He sawe upon a time a kite flee;
And, sodenly, he loved this kite so
That all his love is clene from me ago;
And hath his trouthe falsed in this wise,
Thus hath the kite my love in her service,
And I am lorn withouten remedy.”
And with that word this faucon gan to cry,
And swouneth eft in Canacees barme.
Gret was the sorwe for that haukes harme,
That Canace and all hire women made ;
They n'isten how they might the faucon glade.
But Canace home bereth hire in hire lap,
And softely in plastres gan hire wrap,
Ther as she with hire bek had hurt hireselve-
Now cannot Canace but herbes delve
Out of the ground; and maken salves newe
Of herbes precious and fine of hewe;
To helen with this hauk, fro day to night
She doth hire besinesse and all hire might.
And by hire beddes hed, she made a mew,
And covered it with velouettes blew,
In signe of trouthe that is in woman sene :
And, all without, the mew is peinted greue,
In which were peinted all thise false foules,
As ben thise tidises, tercelettes, and owles;
And pies, on hem for to cry and chide,
Right for despit, were peinted hem beside.
Thus lete I Canace hire hauk keping.
I wol no more, as now, speke of hire ring,
Til it come est to purpos for to sain,
How that this faucon gat hire love again
Repentant, as the story telleth us,
By mediation of Camballus,
The kinges sone, of which that I you told.
But hennesforth I wol my processe hold
To speke of avantures, and of batailles,
That yet was never herd so gret mervailles.
First, wol I tellen you of Cambuscan,
That in his time many a citee wan:-
And, after, wol I speke of Algarsif,
How that he wan Theodora to his wif;
For whom ful oft in gret peril he was,
Ne had he ben holpen by the hors of bras:-
And after wol I speke of Camballo,
That fought in listes, with the brethren two
For Canace er that he might hire winne;
And ther I left, I wol again beginne.
[The rest is wanting.
“O Lord our Lord! thy name how merveillous
ls in this large world yspread!” (quod she).
“For, not al only, thy laude precious
Parfourmed is by men of dignitee;
But by the mouth of children thy bountee
Parfourmed is, for on the brest souking
Somtime shewen they thin herying.
“Wherfore in laude, as I can best and may,
Of thee and of the white lily flour
Which that thee bare, and is a maide alway-
To tell a storie I wol do my labour;
Not that I may encresen hire honour,
For she, hireselven, is honour and rote
Of bountee, next hire sone; and soules bote.
“O mother maide : O maide and mother fre!
O bushe unbrent! brenning in Moyses sight, .
That ravishedst doun fro the deitee,
Thurgh thin humblesse, the gost that in thee alight:
Of whos vertue, whan he thin herte light,
Conceived was the fathers sapience;
Helpe me to tell it in thy reverence.
* Lady! thy bountee, thy magnificence,
Thy vertue, and thy gret humilitee,
Ther may no tonge expresse in no science;
For -omtime, Lady! or men pray to thee,
Thou gost beforn of thy benignitee,
And getest us the light of thy prayere,
To giden us unto thy sone so dere.
“My couning is so weke, O blissful Quenes
For to declare thy grete worthinesse,
That I ne may the weighte not sustene;
But as a child of twelf moneth old or lesse,
That can unnethes any word expresse,
Right so fare I; and, therfore, I you pray Gideth my song that I shal of you say.”
Ther was in Asie, in a gret citee, Amonges Cristen folk a JewerieSustened by a lord (of that contree) For foul usure and lucre of vilanie, Hateful to Crist and to his compagnieAnd thurgh the strete men mighten ride and wende, For it was free, and open at eyther ende. A litel scole of Cristen folk there stood Doun at the ferther end, in which ther were Children an hepe, comen of Cristen blood, That lerned in that scole yere by yere Swiche manere doctrine as men used there; This is to say, to singen and to rede, As smale children don in hir childhede. Among thise children was a widewes sone, A litel clergion, sevene yere of age, That day by day to scole was his wone; And, eke also, wheras he sey the image Of Cristes moder, had he in usage, As him was taught, to knele adoun, and say Ave Marie as he goth by the way. Thus hath this widewe hire litel sone ytaught Our blissful Lady, Cristes moder dere, To worship ay; and he forgate it nought; For sely childe wol alway some lere. But, ay, whan I remembre on this matere, Saint Nicholas stant ever in my presence, For he so yong to Crist did reverence. This litel childe his litel book lerning, As he sate in the scole at his primere, He Alma Redemptoris herde sing As children lered hir antiphonere: And as he dorst, he drew him nere and nere, And herkened, ay, the wordes and the note, Til he the firste vers coude al by rote. Nought wist he what this Latin was to say, For he so yonge and tendre was of age; But on a day his felaw gan he pray To expounden him this song in his langage, Or telle him why this song was in usage: This prayde he him to construe and declare,
Ful often time upon his knees bare.
His felaw, which that elder was than he,
Answer'd him thus; “This song, I have herd say,
Was maked of our blissful Lady fre,
Hire to salue, and eke hire for to pray
To ben our help, and socour, whan we dey.
I can no more expound in this matere;
I lerne song; I can but smal gramere.”
“And is this song maked in reverence
Of Cristes moder?” said this innocent;
“Now, certes, I wildon my diligence
To conne it all, or Cristemasse be went,
Though that I for my primer shal be shent,
And shal be beten thries in an houre,
I wol it conne our Ladie for to honoure.”
His felaw taught him homeward, prively,
Fro day to day, til he coude it by rote,
And than he song it, wel and boldely,
Fro word to word according with the note:
Twies a day it passed thurgh his throte,
To scoleward and homeward whan he wente:
On Cristes moder set was his entente.
As I have said, thurghout the Jewerie
This litel child, as he came to and fro,
Ful merily than wold he sing and crie,
“O Alma Redemptoris!' ever mo.
The swetenesse hath his herte persed so
Of Cristes moder; that to hire to pray,
He cannot stint of singing by the way.
Our firste fo, the serpent Sathanas,
That hath in Jewes herte his waspes nest,
Up swale and said; “O Ebraike peple, alas!
Is this to you a thing that is honest,
That swiche a boy shal walken as him leste
In your despit, and sing of swiche sentence,
Which is again our lawes reverence "
From thennesforth the Jewes han conspired,
This innocent out of this world to chace:
An homicide therto han they hired,
That in an aleye had a privee place;
And as the child gan forthby for to pace,
This cursed Jew him hent and held him fast,
And cut his throte, and in a pit him cast.
I say that in a wardrope they him threwe,
Wher as thise Jewes purgen hir entraille.
O cursed folk of Herodes alle-newe,
what may your evil entente you availle
Mordre wol out; certein it wol not faille;
And namely, ther, the honour of God shal sprede;
The blood out crieth on your cursed dede.
O martyr souded in virginitee!
Now maist thou singe and folwen, ever in on,
The white Lamb celestial, quod she,
Of which the gret evangelist Seint John
In Pathmos wrote, which sayth that they that gon
Beform this Lamb, and singe a song al neice,
That never fleshly troman they ne knewe.
This poure widewe awaiteth al that night
After hire litel childe, and he came nought;
For which as sone as it was dayes light,
With face pale of drede and besy thought,
She hath, at scole and elles wher, him sought,
Til finally she gan so fer aspie,
That he last seen was in the Jewerie.
With modrespitee in hire brest enclosed
She goth, as she were half out of hire minde,
To every place, wher she had supposed
By likelihed hire litel childe to find;
And ever on Cristes moder meke and kinde
She cried; and, at the laste, thus, she wrought,
Among the cursed Jewes she him sought.
She freyneth, and she praieth pitously
To every Jew that dwelled in thilke place,
To telle hire, if hire child went out forth by:
They sayden Nay; but Jesu, of his grace,
Yave in hire thought, within a litel space,
That in that place after hire sone she cride,
Ther he was casten in a pit beside.
O grete God, that parformest thy laude
mouth of innocentes, lo here thy might!
This gem of chastitee, this emeraude,
And, eke, of martirdome the rubie bright,
Ther he with throte yeorven lay upright,
He Alma Redemptoris gan to singe
So loude, that all the place gan to ringe.
The Cristen folk that thurgh the strete wente,
In comen, for to wondre upon this thing,
And hastifly they for the provost sente.
He came, anon, withouten tarying,
And herieth Crist, that is of heven king,
And, eke, his moder, honour of mankind;
And, after that, the Jewes let he binde.
This child with pitous lamentation
Was taken up, singing his song alway:
And with honour and gret procession,
They carien him unto the next abbey;
His moder, swouning, by the bere lay:
Unnethes might the peple that was there
This newe Rachel bringen fro his bere.
With turment, and with shameful deth, eche on
This provost doth thise Jewes for to sterve,
That of this morder wiste; and that anon:
He n'olde no swiche cursednesse observe:
Evil shal he have, that evil wol deserve.
Therfore, with wilde hors he did hem drawe;
And, after that, he heng hem by the lawe.
Upon his bere ay lith this innocent
Beforn the auter while the masse last.
And, after that, the abbot with his covent
Han spedde hem for to berie him ful fast;
And whan they holy water on him cast, [water,
Yet spake this child, whan spreint was the holy
And sang O Alma Redemptoris Mater 1
This abbot, which that was an holy man,
As monkes ben, or elles ought to be,
This yonge child to conjure he began,
And said; “O dere child! I halse thee,
In vertue of the Holy Trinitee,
Tell me what is thy cause for to sing,
Sith that thy throte is cut to my seming "
“My throte is cut unto my nekke bon;”
Saide this child; “and as, by way of kinde,
I shuld have deyd, ye longe time agon:
But Jesu Crist, as ye in bookes finde,
Wol that his glory last and be in minde;
And for the worship of his moder dere,
Yet may I sing O Alma loude and clere.
“This welle of mercie, Cristes moder swete,
I loved alway, as after my conning;
And whan that I my life shulde forlete,
To me she came, and bad me for to sing
This antem verally in my dying,
As ye han herde; and, whan that I had songe,
Me thought she laid a grain upon my tonge.
“Wherfore I sing; and sing I mote, certain,
In honour of that blissful maiden free,
Til fromy tonge of taken is the grain,
And, after that, thus saide she to me:
“My litel childe, than icol I fetchen thee,
Whan that the grain is frothy tonge ytake:
Be not agaste, I wol thee not forsake.”
This holy monk, this abbot him mene I,
His tonge out caught, and toke away the grain;
And he yave up the gost ful softely.
And whan this abbot had this wonder sein,
His salte teres trilled adoun as reyne:
And groff he fell, al platte upon the ground;
And still he lay, as he had ben ybound.
The covent lay, eke, upon the pavement,
Weping, and herying Cristes moder dere.
And, after that, they risen, and forth ben went
And toke away this martir fro his bere;
And in a tombe of marble stones clere
Enclosed they his litel body swete.
Ther he is now, God lene us for to mete.
O yonge Hew of Lincoln' slain also
With cursed Jewes, as it is notable,
For it n'is but a litel while ago,
Pray eke for us, we sinful folk unstable,
That of his mercy God so merciable
Onus his grete mercie multiplie
For reverence of his moder Marie.
THE PLOURE AND THE LEAFE.
Wars that Phoebus his chair of gold so hie
Had whirled up the sterrie sky aloft,
And in the Bole was entred certainly;
When shoures sote of raine descended soft,
Causing the ground, fele times and oft,
Up for to give many an wholesome air;
And every plain was yelothed faire
With newe grene; and maketh smale flours
To springen here and there in field and mede,-
So very gode and wholesom be the shoures,
That they renewen that was old and dede
In winter time; and out of every sede
Springeth the herbe; so that every wight
Of this seson wereth right glad and light.
And I so glade of the seson swete;
Was happid thus: Upon a certain night
As I lay in my bed, slepe full unmete
was unto me, but why that I ne might
Rest. I ne wist; for there n'as erthly wight
(A* I suppose) had more of hertes ese
Than 1, for I n'ad sicknesse nor disese;
Wherefore I mervailegretly of my self,
That I -o long withouten slepe lay-
And up I rose thre houres after twelfe,
About the springing of the gladsome day,
And on I put my gear, and mine array,
And to a pleasaunt grove I gan to pas,
Long or the bright sonne uprisen was,
in which were okes grete, streight as a line, Unior the which the grass, so freshe of hew, Wa. newly sprong; and, an eight foot or nine, Every tre well fro his fellow grew, With braunches brode, laden with leves new, That sprangen out agen the sonne shene,— * very rede, and some a glad light grene.
Which (as me thought) was a right pleasaunt sight;
And eke the birdes songes for to here,
Would have rejoiced any erthly wight,
And I, that couth not yet in no manere
Heare the nightingale of all the yere,
Full busily herkned, with hert and ere,
If I her voice perceve coud any where.
And, at the last, a path of litel brede,
I found, that gretly had not used be;
For it forgrowen was with gras and wede,
That well unnethes a wight might it sei
Thought I, this path some whider goth, parde;
And so I followed, till it me brought
To a right pleasaunt herber wel ywrought,
Which that benched was, and with turfes new
Freshly turved; whereof the grene gras,
So small, so thick, so short, so fresh of hew,
That most like to grene woll, wot I, it was.
The hegge also-that yeden in compass,
And closed in alle the grene herbere—
With sicamor was set, and eglatere
Wrethen in sere so well and cunningly,
That every braunch and lese grew by mesure
Plain as a bord, of an height by and by 5–
I se never a thing (I you ensure)
So well ydone; for he that toke the cure
It for to make, (I trowe) did all his peine
To make it pass all tho that men have seine.—
And shapen was this herber, rose and all,
As is a pretty parlour; and also,
The hegge as thick as is a castel wall,
That who that list, without, to stand or go,
Thogh he wold all day pryen to and fro,
He should not se if there were any wight
Within or not; but one within, wel might
Perceve all tho that yeden there without
Into the field, that was, on every side,
Covered with corn and grass, that, out of doubt,
Tho one would seken all the worlde wide,
So rich a felde could not be espyde,
Upon no cost, as of the quantity;
For of alle gode thing there was plenty.
And I, that all this pleasaunt sightese,
Thought sodainly I felt so swete an air
Of the eglentere; that, certainly,
There is no hert (I deme) in such dispair;
Ne yet with thoughtes froward and contraire
So overlaid, but it should some have bote,
If it had ones felt this savour sote.
And as I stode, and cast aside mine eye,
I was ware of the fairest medlar tre
That ever yet in all my life I se,
As full of blossomes as it might be ;
Therein a goldfinch leping pretily
Fro bough to bough, and, as him list, he ete
Here and there of buddes and floures swete.