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THOMAS DE HALES (bef. 1300)
A LOVE LETTER
A maid of Christ doth plead with me That ich hire + wurche 5 a luv ron;
To write her a letter of love to-day, For hwan heo myhte best ileorne?
From which she can learn most readily To taken on 8 other sotho lefmon 10
To take another true love, i'fay, That treowest were of alle berne,"
Who faithfulest of all shall be, And best wyte cuthe 12 a freo wymmon. And best can guard a lady gay. Ich hire nule 13 nowiht 14 werne,15
No wise will I deny her plea, Ich hire wule 16 teche as ic con. 8 But I will teach her as I may.
8 Mayde, her 17 thu myht 18 biholde
O maiden, here thou mayst behold This worldes luve nys 19 bute o res,20
This earthly love is but a race,
And is beset so many fold,
Those knights that here were once so bold, Beoth aglyden so 28 wyndes bles; 29
Like wind have glided from their place; Under molde 30 hi liggeth 31 colde
Under mould they are lying cold, And faleweth 28 doth medewe gres. 16 And wither as doth the meadow grass. 16
Nis non 33 so riche, ne non so freo, 34
sone away. Ne may hit never his waraunt beo,
Gold ne seolver, vouh 36 ne gray;
Ne weren 39 his lif enne 40 day.
Al so 4 the schadewe that glyt away. 32
Hwenne 44 on cumeth, an other goth; That 45 wes bi-fore nu is bihynde,
That 45 er 46 was leof 47 nu hit is loth ; 48
That in this world his luve doth.50
That wouh goth forth, abak that soth.54
Thu treowest 56 hire 57 myd muchel wouh,58 Al so 59 hwenne hit schal to-glide, 60
Hit is fals, and mereuh, and frouh,62 And fromward 63 in uychon tide. 64
Hwile hit lesteth, is seorewe 65 inouh;
la love rune (or letter) 2 of Christ's 3 begs me eagerly herb make 6 whereby she ? learn 8 an 'true 10 lover 11 could protect 13 will
not at all 15 refuse 16 will 17 here mayst 19 is not 20 a race 21 in so many ways 22 fickle > ugly 24 weak 25 false 26 these nobles 27 are passed away as 29 breath 30 the earth 31 they lie 52 wither 33 there is none 34 free, generous 35 hence
There's none so rich and none so free
That hence he shall not soon away.
Gold, nor silver, nor ermine gay;
Nor guard his life a single day.
Like as the shadow that glides away. 32
One thing gone, another here;
What now is loath before was dear;
Who sets his love on this world's gear.
Evil goes forward, truth to the rear.
Thou art wrong to trust it now;
Capricious and frail and false of vow,
The while it lasts, 'tis sorrow enow;
a single " just as 42 glides 43 swiftly when 45 what 46 formerly 47 dear 48 hated 49 therefore
places 51 may see 52 vanish 53 the wrong 54 the true 55 the 56 trustest 57 it 58 very wrongly even so a pass away 61 delicate 62 capricious 63 hasting away 64 at every time 65 sorrow 66 enough
Hwer is Paris and Heleyne,
That weren so bryht and feyre on bleo; 6 Amadas and Dideyne,
Tristram, Yseude and alle theo ; 8 Ector, with his scharpe meyne,
And Cesar, riche of worldes feo ? 10 Heo beoth iglyden 11 ut of the reyne So 13 the schef 14 is of the cleo.15
72 Hit is of heom 16 al so hit nere;
Of heom 16 me haveth 18 wunder itold, Nere hit reuthe 19 for to here
Hw hi 20 were with pyne aquold, 21 And what hi tholeden 22 alyve here.
Al is heore 23 hot iturnd to cold. Thus is thes world of false fere ; 24 Fol 25 he is the 26 on hire is bold.
80 Theyh 27 he were so riche mon 28
As Henry ure 29 kyng, And al so veyr
as Absalon That nevede 31 on eorthe non evenyng, 32 Al were sone his prute 33 agon,
Hit nere 34 on ende 1 wurth on heryng.3 Mayde, if thu wilnest 36 after leofmon,37
Ich teche the enne 38 treowe king. 88 A! swete, if thu iknowe 39
The gode thewes 40 of thisse childe! He is feyr and bryht on heowe, 41
Of glede chere, 12 of mode 43 mylde, Of lufsum lost,44 of truste treowe,
Freo of heorte, of wisdom wilde; Ne thurhte the never rewe, 46
Myhtestu do the 47 in his hylde.48 He is ricchest mon of londe;
So 13 wide so mon speketh with muth, Alle heo 49 beoth 50 to his honde
Est and west, north and suth.
Of hym he halt 51 and to hym buhth, 52
Paris and Helen where are they
That were so bright and fair of face? Amadas and Ydoine gay,
Tristram, Yseult, and all that race? Hector, strong in battle array,
And Cæsar, great in worldly place? They all have glided from earth away
As sheaf from the hill, that leaves no trace. 72 They're now as though they never were here;
Of them are many wonders told, Were it not pity for one to hear
How they were tortured and died of old, And what they suffered in life while here.
All their heat is turned to cold. Thus all this world doth false appear; Foolish is he who in it is bold.
80 Although he were a man as strong
As Henry is, our gracious King, And fair as Absalom the young,
Whose match no man on earth could bring, His pride were soon not worth a song,
In value less than a red herring. O maid, if thou wilt love full long, I will show thee a loyal king.
88 Ah, my sweet, if thou but knew
The blessed virtues of this Lord ! He is fair and bright of hue,
Both glad of cheer and mild of word, Of lovesome grace, of trust most true,
Free-hearted, rich in wisdom's hoard; Never shouldst thou have need to rue,
If thou but trust thee in his ward. He is the strongest man in land,
As far as men can speak with mouth, And all are liegemen in his hand,
East and west, north and south. Henry, King of English land,
Doth hold of him and to him boweth. O maid, he sends thee his command,
His will to be thy friend avoweth. 104
MIDDLE ENGLISH LYRICS
ALYSOUN (C. 1300) Bytuene Mersh 1 and Averil,
Betwixt old March and April gay, When spray biginneth to springe,
When sprays begin to spring, The lutel foul ? hath hire wyl
The little bird in her own way On hyre lud 3 to synge.
Follows her will to sing. Ich libbe * in love longinge
But I must live in love longing For semlokest 5 of alle thinge.
For one who is the fairest thing. He ở may me blisse bringe;
'Tis she who may to bliss me bring, Icham' in hire baundoun.
For she my love háth won. An hendy hap ichabbe yhent,
A blessed fortune is my lot, Ichot,10 from hevene it is me sent,
'Tis sent to me from Heaven, I wot, From alle wymmen mi love is lent 11
To other women my love turns not And lyht 12 on Alysoun.
But lights on Alison. On heu 13 hire her is fayr ynoh,
Fair enough in hue her hair, Hire browe broune, hire eye blake,
Her brows are brown, and black her eyne. With lossum chere 14 he on me loh! 15
She smiled on me with lovesome air ; With middel 16 smal, and wel ymake.17 Trim is her waist and neat and fine. Bote 18 he.me wolle 19 to hire take,
Unless thou'lt take me to be thine, Forte buen 20 hire owen make, 21
Thy own dear love, O lady mine, Longe to lyuen ichulle 22 forsake,
Of longer living shall I pine, And feye 23 fallen adoun.
By death shall be undone. An hendy hap, etc.
A blessed fortune is my lot, etc. Nihtes-when y wende 24 and wake;
Often at night I toss and wake; Forthi 25 myn wonges 26 waxeth won.
For this my cheeks are pale and wan. Levedi,27 al for thine sake
Lady, 'tis all for thy dear sake Longinge is ylent 28 me on. 25 Longing has fallen me upon.
25 In world nis non so wytermon,29
In world is none so wise a man That al hire bounte 30 telle con.31
That all her goodness tell he can. Hire swyre 32 is whittore then the swon, Her neck is whiter than the swan; And feyrest may 33 in toune.
My heart 'she has undone. An hendi, etc.
A blessed fortune is my lot, etc. Icham for wowyng al forwake, 34
Weary as water in weir I wake, Wery so water in wore,35
And woo thee more and more, Lest eny reve 36 me my make. 2
Lest some one rob me of my make. 21 Ychabbe y-yir yore,
For I have heard of yore, Betere is tholien whyle sore 38
35 Better to suffer a while full sore, 35 Then 39 mournen evermore.
Than go a-mourning evermore. Geynest under gore, 40
Gayest under gore, Herkne to my roun! 41
Hear my orison ! An hendi, etc.
A blessed fortune is my lot, etc. 1 March 2 little bird ' in her language * I live 29 there is no so wise man 30 goodness
can 32 neck 5 most beautiful she 'I am 8 power 'a pleas 33 maid 34 I am for wooing all worn with watchant fortune I have got 10 I know departed ing 35 weary as water in weir 36 take away from 12 alighted 13 in color 14 with loving look 15 laughed 37 I have heard long ago 38 it is better to endure 16 waist 17 made 18 unless 19 will 20 (for) to be hurt for a while 39 than 40 most gracious one alive 21 mate 22 I will 23 ready to die 24 at night-time I (in clothing) 41 secret turn 25 therefore 26 cheeks 27 lady 28 descended
SPRINGTIME (c. 1300) Lenten ys come with love to toune,
With love is come to town the spring, With blosmen and with briddes roune;2 With blossoms and birds' whispering; That al this blisse bryngeth.
That all this bliss now bringeth. Dayes-eyes in this 3 dales;
There are daisies in the dales, Notes suete 4 of nyhtegales;
5 Pipings sweet of nightingales, Uch foul song singeth.”
His song each warbler singeth. The threstercoc him threteth oo; 6
The throstlecock doth strutting go; Away is huere ? wynter woo
Away is all their winter woe When woderoue 8 springeth.
When up the woodruff springeth. This 3 foules singeth ferly fele,10
A thousand birds are singing gay And wlyteth 11 on huere wynter wele,12 Of winter's sadness passed away, That al the wode ryngeth.
Till all the woodland ringeth. The rose rayleth 13 hire rode,14
The rose puts on her ruddy hood, The leves on the lyhte wode
The leaves within the greening wood Waxen al with wille.15
With a will are growing. The mone mandeth 16 hire bleo,17
The moon is brightening her face; The lilie is lossom 18 to seo,
Here is the lily in her grace, The fenyl and the fille ;
With thyme and fennel blowing; Wowes this wilde drakes,20
A-wooing go the wilding drakes, Miles murgeth huere makes ; 21
Beasts are courting now their mates; Ase strem that striketh 22 stille,
The stream is softly flowing; Mody meneth, so doht mo;
Many a wretch bemoans his lot; Ichot ycham on of tho,
I am one of them, I wot, For love that likes ille.25
My love for naught bestowing.
The moon now mendeth fast her light,
When birds are bravely chaunting;
Sweethearts are not wanting;
Their joy in life a-vaunting.
Lonely the wild wood haunting.
The mone mandeth 26 hire lyht,
25 So doth the semly sonne bryht,
When briddes singeth breme ; 27 Deawes donketh 28 the dounes ; 29 Deores with huere derne rounes, Domes forte deme ; 31
So wel hit wol hem seme.
Ant wyht in wode be fleme.3
1 spring 2 whisper 3 these sweet 5 each bird sings a song the throstle cock threatens ever 7 their 8 woodruff birds 10 wonderfully many cry 12 weal 13 puts on 14 redness 15 vigorously
17 complexion 18 beautiful thyme 20 these wild drakes woo 21 beasts gladden their mates 22 runs 23 the moody man laments, — so do
UBI SUNT QUI ANTE NOS FUERUNT? (c. 1350)
Hounds they led and hawks they bore,
And held both park and chase. The riche levedies 4 in here 5 bour,
The ladies in their bowers fair, That wereden gold in here 5 tressour,
Who bound with gold their lovely hair, With here brighte rode;? 6 And winsome were of face;
6 Eten and drounken, and maden hem glad; They ate and drank and made them glad; Here lif was al with gamen 8 y-lad,
Their life was all with pleasure led, Men kneleden hem biforen;
Men knelt unto their sway; They beren hem wel swithe heye; 10
They bore themselves full haughty and high; And in a twincling of an eye
And in the twinkling of an eye
Their souls were lost for aye.
That swaggering step that strode along,
The hawks and all the hounds? Al that joye is went away,
All that joy is passed away, That wele 15 is comen to weylaway 16
That weal is turned to woe for aye, To manye harde stoundes. 17
To woe that hath no bounds.
18 Here ó paradis they nomen 18 here,19
Their heaven they had ere they did die, And nou they lyen in helle y-fere;
And now together in hell they lie; The fyr hit brennes 21 evere:
The fire it burneth ever. Long is ay, and long is o,
Long is ay! and long is oh! Long is wy, and long is wo;
Long is wy! and long is wo! Thennes ne cometh they nevere.
Thence escape they never.
1 where are 2 led 3hawks bore 4 ladies 5 their 6 head-dress 7 complexion 8 pleasure them 10 bore themselves very highlost
12 laughing 13 gait 14 those hawks 15 weal 16 alas