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Ich' was in one sumere dale,10
In one swithe digele hale, 11
I-herede 12 ich holde grete tale 13
An ule and one nigtingale.
That plait 14 was stif and starc and strong,
Sum wile 15 softe, and lud among;
And aither agen other swal,12
And let that vule mod ut al.19
And either 17 seide of otheres custe
That alre-worste 21 that hi wuste; 22
And hure and hure 23 of otheres songe
Hi 24 heolde plaiding swithe 25 stronge.

The nigtingale bi-gon the speche,
In one hurne 26 of one beche;
And sat up one vaire bohe,27
Thar were abute 28 blosme i-nohe,29
In ore waste 30 thicke hegge,
I-meind mid spire 31 and grene segge.
was the gladur

33 the rise, 34
And song a vele cunne wise. 35
Bet thuhte the drem 36 that he 37
Of harpe and pipe, than he 37 nere,
Bet thuhte 39 that he i-shote
Of harpe and pipe than of throte.

Tho 40 stod on old stoc thar bi-side,
Thar tho 41 ule song hire tide, 42
And was mid ivi al bi-growe,
Hit was thare ule earding-stowe. 13

As I was in a summer dale,
Within a very secret vale,
I heard of talking a great tale
Betwixt an owl and a nightingale.
The strife was stiff and stark and strong ;
Sometimes 'twas soft, then loud, their song.
Either against the other swelled,
Let out the rage that in her dwelled.
And each said of the other's ways
The worst she knew to her dispraisc;
And specially of each other's song
They had a quarrel very strong.

The nightingale began the speech,
Snug in a corner of a beech;
She sat upon a pretty bough,
There were about her blossoms enow,
All in a lonely, thickset hedge,
Tangled with shoots and green with sedge.
She was the gladder for the sprays,
And sang in many kinds of ways.
It rather seemed the sound I heard
Was harp and pipe than song of bird;
For rather seemed the sound to float
From harp and pipe than from bird's throat.

There stood an old stump there beside,
Wherefrom the owl in her turn cried;
It was with ivy overgrown,
And there the owl dwelled all alone.

Heo 32




were 38



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1 besides agreement 3 say 4 pray 5 shall be * paid 'grant success present 'I 10 a summer dale 11 a very secret corner heard talk strife 15 while 16 at times 17 each 18 swelled 19 the foul spirit all out qualities 21 the very worst 22 knew 23 and indeed and indeed 24 they 25 very

a fair bough 23 about 29 enough a solitary 31 mixed with sprouts she sang in many kinds of ways the sound seemed rather 37 it 38 was not 39 it seemed rather 40 then 41 where the 42 in her turn 43 the owl's home








The nihtingale hi' i-seh.
And hi' bi-heold and over-seh,2
And thuhte wel vule 3 of thare ule,
For me hi halt 4 lothlich 5 and fule.
“Unwiht," 6

ở heo sede, “awei thu leo !
Me is the wers' that ich the seo;
I-wis & for thine vule lete 9
Wel oft ich mine song for-lete; 10
Min heorte at-flith,11 and falt 12 mi tunge,
Wonne 13 thu art to me i-thrunge.14,
Me luste bet speten 15 thane singe,
Of 16 thine fule gogelinge.” 17

Theos ule abod fort 18 hit was eve,
Heo ne mihte no leng bileve,19
Vor hire heorte was so gret,
That wel neh 21 hire fnast at-schet ; 22
And warp 23 a word thar-after longe:
"Hu thincthe 24 nu bi mine songe?
Wenst 25 thu that ich ne cunne singe
Theh 27 ich ne cunne 28 of writelinge ? 29
I-lome 30 thu dest 31 me grame,32
And seist me bothe teone 33 and schame; 50
Gif 34 ich the heolde on min vote,35
So hit bi-tide 36 that ich mote ! 3
And thu were ut of thine rise,
Thu scholdest singe an other wise.

The nightingale her soon espied, And looked at her with scornful pride. 30 She thought but meanly of the owl, For men it loathly deem and foul. “Monster," she said, "away with thee! The worse for me that thee I see ! Verily for thy ugly look, I oftentimes my song forsook. My tongue is mute, my heart takes flight, When thou appearest in my sight. I rather wish to spit than sing, At sound of thy foul sputtering."

The owl abode till eventide, No longer could she then abide, So swollen was her heart with wrath That she could scarcely get her breath; And still she made a speech full long: “How think'st thou now about my song? Think'st thou to sing I have no skill Merely because I cannot trill? Oft am I angered by thy blame, Thou speakest to my hurt and shame; 50 If I once held thee in my claw, Would that I might here in this shaw! And thou wert down from off thy spray, Then should'st thou sing another way!




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“Yet thu me seist of other thinge,
And telst that ich ne can noht singe, 310
Ac 39 al mi reorde 40 is woning,"
And to i-here grislich 42 thing.
That nis noht soth,43 ich singe efne 44
Mid fulle dreme 45 and lude stefne.40
Thu wenist 25 that ech song beo grislich 46
That thine pipinge nis i-lich : 47
Mi stefne 40 is bold and noht un-orne, 18
Heo 49 is-i lich 50 one grete horne;
And thin is i-lich 50 one pipe
Of one smale weode un-ripe. 51

Ich singe bet than thu dest ; 52
Thu chaterest so 53 doth on Irish prest.
Ich singe an eve, a rihte time,
And seoththe, 4 won 13 hit is bed-time,
The thridde sithe at middelnihte,
And so ich mine song adihte 56
Wone 13 ich i-seo arise veorre 57

'And yet thou sayest another thing, And tellest me I cannot sing, That all my song is mourning drear, A fearsome sound for men to hear. That is not sooth; my voice is true, And full and loud, sonorous too. Thou thinkest ugly every note Unlike the thin ones from thy throat. My voice is bold and not forlorn, It soundeth like a mighty horn; And thine is like a little pipe Made of a slender reed unripe. Better I sing than thou at least; Thou chatterest like an Irish priest. I sing at eve, a proper time, And after, when it is bedtime, And once again at middle-night, And so ordain my song aright When I see rising from afar



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1 her ? despised 3 very foully for everyone holds her 5 hateful 6 monster 'I am the worse 8 truly 9 appearance 10 give up 11 flies away 13 when 14 arrived 15 I feel more like spitting 16 because of 17 screeching 18 waited till 9 no longer wait 20 swollen 21 nigh 22 breath choked % threw 24 how does it seem 25 thinkest 25 cannot

know nothing trilling causest

anger 33 injury 34 if 35 foot

so may it happen 37

may bough but voice lamentation terrible 43 true 4 precisely 45 sound

ugly that is not like thy piping unpleasing 49 it 50 like 51 green 52 dost 53 wards third time 56 ordain 57 afar




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Other 1 dai-rim 2 other 3 dai-sterre.
Ich do god mid mine throte,
And warni men to heore note; 4

Ac 5 thu singest alle longe niht,
From eve fort 6 hit is dai-liht,
And evre lesteth thin o song
So 8 longe so 8 the niht is longe,
And evre croweth thi wrecche crei,
That he ne swiketh 10 niht ne dai.
Mid thine pipinge thu adunest 11
Thas monnes earen thar 12 thu wunest,13
And makest thine song so un-wiht 14
That me 15 ne telth 16 of the nowiht.17
Evrich murhthe 18 mai so longe i-leste,
That heo shal liki 19 wel un-wreste;
Vor harpe and pipe and fugeles songe
Misliketh, gif hit is to longe.
Ne beo the song never so murie,
That he ne shal thinche 22 wel un-murie,23
Gef he i-lesteth over un-wille 24
So thu miht 25 thine song aspille;
Vor hit is soth,27 Alvred hit seide,
And me 15 hit mai in boke rede,
‘Evrich thing mai leosen 28 his godhede
Mid unmethe 30 and mid over-dede.?” 31


Either day-dawn or else day-star.
I do men good thus with my throat,
And help them with my warning note; 330
But thou art singing all the night,
From eve until it is daylight.
For ever lasts thy only song,
As long as ever the night is long,
And ever crows thy wretched lay,
That ceaseth not, by night or day.
Thy piping is ever in man's ears,
Wherever thou dwellest, thy din he hears;
Thou makest thy song a thing of naught,
No man accounteth thee as aught; 340
For any mirth may last so long
That dislike of it waxeth strong;
For harp or pipe or song of bird
Displeaseth if too long 'tis heard.
Never so merry a song may be
But to disgust shall turn its glee
If it shall last till it annoy;
So mayst thou thy song destroy.
For it is true, as Alfred said,
And in his book it may be read,
‘Every good its grace may lose
By lack of measure and by abuse.'











“Ule," heo seide, “wi dostu so ?

411 Thu singest a-winter 32 'wolawo'; Thu singest so 8 doth hen a 34 snowe: Al that heo singeth, hit is for wowe; 35 A-wintere thu singest wrothe 36 and gomere,37 And evre thu art dumb a-sumere. Hit is for thine fule nithe,38 That thu ne miht 39 mid us beo blithe, Vor thu forbernest 40 wel neh 41 for onde, 42 Wane 43 ure blisse cumeth to londe.

420 Thu farest so 8 doth the ille ; Evrich blisse him is un-wille ; 45 Grucching and luring 46 him beoth rade, 47 Gif he i-seoth that men beoth glade; He wolde that he i-seye 48 Teres in evrich monnes eye; Ne rohte he 49 theh 59 flockes were I-meind 51 bi toppes 62 and bi here. 53 Al-so thu dost on thire 54 side; Vor wanne 43 snou lith thicke and wide, 430 And alle wihtes 55 habbeth sorhe, 56

"Owl,” she said, "why dost thou so? 411 Thou singest in winter a song of woe; Thou singest as doth a hen in snow: All that she sings it is for woe; In winter thou singest in wrath and gloom, In summer thou art ever dumb. 'Tis thy foul malice that hinders thee, That blithe with us thou may'st not be; For envy 'tis that in thee burns, When in the spring our bliss returns. 420 Thou farest as doth the wicked ever, Whom joy of others pleases never ; For grudging and louring is he mad Whene'er he sees that men are glad. Rather would such a one espy Tears in every person's eye; Never a whit would that man care Though flocks were mixed, both head and hair. So dost thou fare, upon thy side; For when the snow lies thick and wide, 430 And every creature lives in sorrow,

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16 accounts 17 naught every mirth


very badly 21 bird's 22 23

seem unpleasant 24 if it lasts unto displeasure 25 mayst 26 ruin 27 true 28 lose 29 good

excess 31 over-doing 32 in winter 33 wela36 wrath


38 hatred 39. mayst not 40 burnest up 41 nigh 42 envy

43 when 44 wicked man unpleasing 46 louring 7 ready 48 saw 19 he would not care though 51 mixed up 52 heads 53 hair 54 thy creatures 56 sorrow







Thu singest from eve fort amorhe.
Ac? ich alle blisse mid me bringe;
Ech wiht 3 is glad for mine thinge,
And blisseth hit 5 wanne 6 ich cume,
And hihteth agen ? mine kume.8
The blostme ginneth springe and sprede
Bothe ine treo and ek on mede;
The lilie mid hire faire wlite 9
Wolcumeth me, that thu hit wite, 10
Bit 11 me mid hire faire bleo 12
That ich schulle to hire fleo;
The rose also mide hire rude,13
That cumeth ut of the thorne wude,
Bit 11 me that ich shulle singe
Vor hire luve one skentinge.” 14

Then singest thou from eve till morrow.
But I all gladness with me bring,
All men are happy when I sing;
They all rejoice, when I appear,
And hope for me another year.
Blossoms begin to spring and grow,
On tree, in mead, and in hedge-row;
The lily with her fair white hue
Doth welcome me, I would thou knew;
With her sweet face she biddeth me
That I to her shall quickly flee;
Likewise the rose with ruddy hood,
That cometh from the thorny wood,
Biddeth me ever that I shall sing
For her dear love in carolling."





(Unknown Author)







An angel thus til 15 him can 16 sai :
"Rise up, Joseph, and busk 17 and ga,
Maria and thi child al-sua ; 19
For yow be-hoves nu 20. al thre
In land of Egypt for to fle;
Rise up ar 21 it be dai,
And folus 22 forth the wildrin 23 wai.
Herod, that es the child 24 fa,25
Fra nu 26 wil sek him for to sla.27
Thare sal 28 yee bide stil wit 29 the barn,30
Til that I eft 31 cum yow to warn.”

Son was Joseph redi bun ; 33
Wit 34 naghtertale 35 he went ó 36 tun,
Wit 34 Maria mild and their meine: 37
A maiden and thair suanis 38 thre,
That servid tham in thair servis;
With thaim was nan bot war 39 and wis.

Forth sco rad,40 that moder mild,
And in hir barm 41 sco ledd 42 hir child,
Til thai come at a cove was 44 depe.
Thar 45 thai tham thoght to rest and slepe;
Thar did 46 thai Mari for to light, 47 231
Bot son thai sagh an ugli sight.
Als 4' thai loked tham biside,

An angel thus to him did say:
“Rise up, Joseph, and busk and go,
Maria and thy child also;
For it behooves you now all three
To the land of Egypt for to flee;
Rise up, then, ere it be day,
And follow forth the desert way.
Herod, that is the infant's foe,
Henceforth will seek to lay him low.
There with the bairn shall ye remain
Till I come back to warn you plain.”

Now soon was Joseph ready dight;
He left the town at fall of night,
With Mary mild and their company:
A maiden and their servants three,
That served them well in servants' guise;
With them was none but wary and wise.

Forth she rode, that mother mild,
And in her bosom bore her child,
Till they came to a cave full deep;
There they had thought to rest and sleep ;
There helped they Mary to alight, 231
But soon they saw an ugly sight.
As they were looking them beside,



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Ute o 1 this cove ? than sagh 3 thai glide
Mani dragons wel 4 sodanli;
The suanis 5 than bi-gan to cri.
Quen 6 Jesus sagh tham glopnid ? be,
He lighted of 8 his moder kne
And stod a-pon thaa' bestes grim,10
And thai tham luted 11 under him. 240
Than com 12 the propheci al cler
To dede 13 that said es in Sauter : 14
“The dragons, wonand 15 in thair cove,
The Laverd 16 agh 17 yee worthli to lofe.” 18
Jesus he went befor tham than,
Forbed 19 tham harm do ani man.
Maria and Joseph ne-for-thi 2
For the child war ful dreri; 21
Bot Jesus ansuard 22 thaim onan:
“For me drednes haf 24 nu yee nan,25 250
Ne haf yee for me na barn-site, 26
For I am self man al parfite,27
And al the bestes that ar wild
For me most 28 be tame and mild.”
Leon yode tham als imid ; 29
And pardes,so als 31 the dragons did,
Bifor Maria and Joseph yede, 32
In right wai tham for to lede.
Quen Maria sagh thaa' bestes lute,33
was gretli in dute,35

Til Jesus loked on hir blith
And dridnes 36 bad hir nan to kith.37
“Moder," he said, "haf thou na ward 38
Nother o 39 leon ne o lepard,
For thai com noght us harm to do,
Bot thair servis at serve us to.”
Bath 41 ass and ox that wit 42 tham war
And bestes that thair harnais bar
Ute o Jerusalem, thair kyth,
The leons mekli yod 32 tham wit,42 270
Wit-uten harm of ox or ass,
Or ani best that wit tham was.
Than was fulfild the propheci,
That said was thoru Jeremi:
“Wolf and wether, leon and ox,
Sal 45 comen samen,46 and lamb and fox.”

Out of this cave then saw they glide
Many dragons full suddenly;
The servants then began to cry.
When Jesus saw them frightened be,
He lighted from his mother's knee,
And stood upon those beasts so grim,
And low they bowed them under im.

240 Then came the prophecy all clear As in the Psalter ye may hear: “Dragons that in their cavern dwell The praises of the Lord shall tell.”

Jesus, he went before them then,
Forbade their harming any men.
Maria and Joseph, none the less,
For the child were in distress;
But Jesus answered them and said:
“For me have ye no manner dread; 250
For me as child have ye no fright,
A perfect man am I by right;
And all the beasts that are so wild,
For me must be both tame and mild.”
A lion went them then amid;
And leopards, as the dragons did,
Before Maria and Joseph lay,
Ready to lead them on their way.
When Mary saw the beasts all lout,
Greatly, at first, she was in doubt, 260
Till Jesus blithely drew anear,
And bade her not at all to fear.
"Mother,” said he, “have no regard
For lion or for fierce leopard;
For they come not us harm to do;
But us their service to give unto.

Both ass and ox were with them there,
And other beasts that baggage bare
Out of their home, Jerusalem ;
The lions meekly went with them,

270 And did no harm to ox or ass, Or any beast that with them was. Then was fulfilled the prophecy That spoken was by Jeremy: “Wolf and wether, lion and ox, Shall come together, and lamb and fox."

First sco




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