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The wel ne deth 2 the hwile he mei, ne Who doth not well, the while he may, he shall sceal he hwenne he wolde.

not when he would; Manies mannes sare iswinch habbeth oft Many a man's sore labor oft cometh to no unholde.

good. Ne scolde nan man don a furst, ne sclawen 6 In doing good let none postpone or ever wel to done;

make delay; For mani man bihateth? wel, the hit for For many a man doth promise well who yet yiteth sone.

forgets straightway. The man the 1 siker 8 wule beon to habbe The man who would be safe and sure of having Godes blisse,

God's own bliss Do wel him sulf the hwile he mei, then haveth If he do well the while he may, he verily shall he mid iwisse. 40 not miss.


ORRM (f. 1 200)




Nu, 10 broßerr Wallterr, broßerr min

Affterr þe flæshess kinde; 11 & broßerr min i 12 Crissteắndom

þurrh fulluhht 13 & þurrh trowwpe; 14 & brokerr min i 12 Godess hus,

tēt 015 be pride 16 wise, 17 þurrh þatt witt 18 hafenn 19 tăkenn ba 20

An 21 rezhellboc 22 to follzhenn,23 Unnderr kanunnkess 24 had 25 & lif,

Swa summ 26 Sannt Awwstin sette; 27 Icc hafe 28 don swa summ 26 þu badd,29

& forbedd 30 te 31 bin wille, Icc hafe 28 wennd 32 inntil 33 Ennglissh

Goddspelless hallzhe lare,34 Affterr þatt little witt 35 tatt 36 me

Min Drihhtin hafebb lenedd 37
þu þohhtesst 38 tatt 36 itt mihhte wel

Till 39 mikell frame 40 turrnenn,
Giff 41 Ennglissh follk, forr lufe off Crist,
Itt wollde jerne 42 lernenn,

20 & follzhenn 23 itt, & fillenn 43 itt

Wibb bohht, wibb word, wibb dede. & forrbi 45 zerrndesst 46 tu þatt icc

piss werrc 47 be shollde wirrkenn; & icc itt hafe forbedd 30 te 31

Acc 48 all þurrh Cristess hellpe; & unnc birrb 49 babe 50 þannkenn Crist

þatt itt iss brohht till 39 ende. Icc hafe sammnedd 51 o 52 biss boc þa Goddspelless neh 53 alle

30 1 who a doth 3 may many a man's sore labor hath often misfortune 5 no man should postpone 6 delay" promises & sure then he hath it certainly

now 11 nature 12 in 13 through baptism 14 faith 15

third 17 way, degree 18 we two 19 have 20 both 21 one 22 rule-book 23 follow 24 canon's 25 order 26 just as 27 commanded 2 I have 29 badest 30 ac

Now, brother Walter, brother mine

After the fleshly nature;
And brother mine in Christendom

Through baptism and through fealty; And brother mine in God's own house

In still another manner,
In that we two have taken both

One book of rules to follow,
Within the life of canonhood,

Just as St. Austin ordered;
As thou didst bid me, I have done,

Thy will for thee fulfilling;
For into English I have turned

The gospel's holy teaching, According to the little wit

With which my Lord endowed me. Thou thoughtest that it might full well

Be turned to mickle profit
If English folk, for love of Christ,

It zealously would study,
And follow it, and it fulfil,

With thought, with word, with action. And therefore thou didst yearn that I

This book for thee should render; And I for thee have finished it,

As Christ the Lord did help me; And now behooves us both thank Christ

That it is brought to ending. I have collected in this book

Now nearly all the gospels



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þatt sinndenn 1 o the messeboc 2

Inn all be žer 3 att messe. & azz 4 affterr be Goddspell stannt 6

þatt tatt 6 te Goddspell menebb, patt mann birrb spellenn 8 to be follc

Off þezžre sawle nede; & Zēt tær tekenn mare inoh 10

þu shallt tæronne 11 findenn Off þatt tatt 6 Cristess hallzhe þed 12

Birrþ 13 trowwenn 14 wel & follzhenn.15 Icc hafe sett her o 16 biss boc

Amang Goddspelless wordess,
All þurrh me sellfenn,"7 maniż word

Þe rime 18 swa 19 to fillenn;
Acc þu shallt finndenn þatt min word,

Ezzwhær þær 20 itt iss ekedd,21
Maži hellpenn þa 22 þatt redenn itt

To sen & tunnderrstanndenn 23 All þess te bettre hu þežim birrþ 24 !

Þe Goddspell unnderrstanndenn; & forrbi 25 trowwe icc þatt te 26 birrþ

Wel bolenn 27 mine wordess, Eziwhær þær 20 bu shallt findenn hemm 28

Amang Godspelless wordess.

That all the year at mass are found

Within the holy massbook. And aye after the gospel stands

That which the gospel meaneth, Which must be told unto the folk,

Because the soul doth need it; And still within it thou shalt find

Enough and more there written
Of what the holy flock of Christ

Must well believe and follow.
I have set down here in this book,

Among the words of gospel,
All of myself full many a word,

To fill the measure merely;
But thou shalt find here that my word,

Wherever it is added,
May help the people who shall read

To see and understand too
The better how it them behooves

To understand the gospel ;
And therefore trow I that thou must

Endure my words with patience,
Wherever thou shalt find them set

Among the words of gospel.



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Mid unimete folke,
Væie thah hit weore.1

Uppe there Tambre
Heo tuhte ? to-somne;o
Heven here-marken;4
Halden 5 to-gadere;
Luken sweord longe,
Leiden o' the helmen;
Fur ut sprengen,

28550 Speren brastlien ;' Sceldes gonnen scanen,' Scaftes to-breken.11 Ther faht 12 al to-somne Folc unimete. Tambre wes on flode 14 Mid unimete 15 blode. Mon i than fihte Non 16 ther ne mihte I-kenne nenne kempe,17 No 18 wha dude 19 wurse, no wha bet,20 Swa. that withe 21 wes imenged ; 22 28562 For ælc 23 sloh 21 adun riht, Weore he swein,25 weore he cniht.26 Ther wes Modred of-slawe 27 And idon of lif-dawe 28


With army unnumbered,
Doomed though they all were.

By the river Tamar
The troops came together;
Raised their royal standards;
Rushed there together;
Long swords locked they,
Laying blows on helmets;
Sparks they struck out,
Spears did rattle;
Shields were a-shaking,
Shafts were a-breaking.
There fought all together
Folk beyond counting.
Tamar was a flood
With measureless blood.
Of men in the fight there .
Nobody might there
Distinguish any warrior,
Nor who did better, who did worse,
So was that conflict mingled;
For each struck adown right,
Were he yeoman, or were he knight.
There was Modred stricken,
And life in him did sicken.





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in than fihte.
Ther weoren of-slawe 27
Alle tha snelle,30
Arthures hired-men, 31
Heye and lawe,32
And tha Bruttes 33 alle
Of Arthures borde, 34
And alle his fosterlinges 36
Of feole kineriches,36
And Arthur forwunded
Mid wal-spere brade. 37
Fiftene he hafde
Feondliche wunden ; 38
Mon mihte i thare lasten
Twa gloven ithraste.40

Tha 41 nas ther na mare
I than fehte to lave 42
Of twa hundred thusend monnen
Tha 44 ther leien 45 to-hauwen 46
Buten 47 Arthur the king ane 48
And of his cnihtes tweien.49

in that conflict. There fell in that battle All of the brave ones, Arthur's own henchmen, The high and the lowly, And all the Britons Of Arthur's board too, And all his fosterlings Of foreign nations many, And Arthur sorely wounded With broad blade of war-spear. Fifteen times was he Fiendishly wounded; Even into the smallest Two gloves might one have thrust.

Then were there in that battle Left among the living Of two hundred thousand soldiers Who lay there slaughtered But Arthur the king only And two of his warriors.





1 fey though they were 2 they came 3 together 24 struck 25 yeoman 26 knight 27 slain 28 and put from * raised battle-standards brushed locked long life-days 29 A line or more is missing here. 30 the swords 7 laid on, struck upon made fire leap out brave 31 retainers 32 high and low 33 the Britons 9 rattled spears 10 shields did shiver 11 shafts broke 34 table 35 wards 36 many kingdoms 37 with broad to pieces 12 fought 13 together 14 a-flood 15 measure slaughter-spear 38 dreadful wounds 39 in the least less 16 no man in the fight 17 recognize no warrior 40 thrust 41 then 42 in the fight remaining 43 men 18 nor 19 did 20 better 21 conflict 22 confused 23 each 44 who 45 lay 46 hewed to pieces 47 but 48 alone 49 two

Arthur wes for-wunded
Wunder ane swithe.

Ther to him com a cnave 2 28590
The 3 wes of his cunne; 4
He wes Cadores sune,
The Eorles of Cornwaile.
Constantin hehte 5 the cnave;
He wes than 6 kinge deore.
Arthur him lokede on,
Ther he lai on folden,"
And thas word 8 seide
Mid sorhfulle heorte:
“Constantin, thu art wilcume! 28600
Thu weore! Cadores sone !
Ich the bitache here 10
Mine kineriche ; 11
And wite 12 mine Bruttes
A to thines lifes; 13
And hald heom 14 alle tha lawen 15
Tha habbeoth istonden a mine dawen,16
And alle tha lawen gode
Tha bi Utheres dawen stode.
And ich wulle varen 17 to Avalun 28610
To vairest 18 alre 9 maidene,
To Argante there 20 quene,
Alven swithe sceone;
And heo 22 scal mine wunden
Makien alle isunde,23
Al hal 24 me makien
Mid haleweiye drenchen.25
And seothe 26 ich cumen wulle
To mine kineriche 27
And wunien 28 mid Brutten

28620 Mid muchelere wunne." 29

Æfne than worden 30
Ther com of se wenden 31
That wes an sceort bat lithen, 32
Sceoven mid uthen; 33
And twa wimmen ther-inne
Wunderliche idihte. 34
And heo nomen Arthur anan,3
And an eovste hine vereden, 36
And softe hine adun leiden,

28630 And forth gunnen lithen.37

Tha 38 wes hit iwurthen 39 That Merlin seide whilen, 40 That weore unimete care

I wondrously much ? young man who kin 5 was named to the 7 the ground 8 these words thou wert 10 I commit to thee here 11 kingdom 12 defend 13 ever during thy life 14 keep for them 15 customs, laws 16 that have stood in my days 17 I will go 18 fairest 19 of all 20 the 21 elf very beautiful 22 she 23 well 24 whole






Arthur was wounded
Wondrous severely.

To him came a child then
Who was of his kindred;
He was Cador's first-born,
Who Earl was of Cornwall.
Constantine his name was;
He was to the king dear.
Arthur looked upon him,
As he lay on the ground there,
And these words spake he
With heart full of sorrow:
“Constantine, welcome art thou !
Thou wert Cador's first-born!
To thee do I commit here
The care of my kingdom;
And guard well my Britons
Ever whilst thou livest;
And keep thou all the customs
That loved were in my life-time,
And all the customs splendid
That Uther's reign attended.
And I will fare to Avalon
To the fairest of all maidens,
Where Queen Argantè tarrics,
Most beautiful of fairies;
And she shall every wound
Make both whole and sound,
All whole shall she make me
With health-giving potions.
And come shall I hereafter
Back to my kingdom
And abide with my Britons
With bliss forever."

E'en as he was speaking
There came from sea speeding
A very small boat gliding
Before the waves a-riding;
And women twain within it
Wondrously attired.
And they raised up Arthur anon,
And aboard rapidly bore him,
And adown softly they set him,
And forth went they sailing.

Then was fulfilled there
What Merlin said aforetime,
That infinite grieving



25 with healing draughts 26 afterwards 27 kingdom 28 dwell 29 with great joy 30 even with these words 31 from the sea moving 32 that was a short boat gliding 33 impelled by the waves 34 wondrously attired 35 they took Arthur at once 36 and in haste bore him 37 did glide 38 then 39 fulfilled 40 whilom, formerly 4 that there should be measureless sorrow

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Ye, mine leove 20 süstren, 21 ne schulen 22 habben 23 no best 24 bute kat one.25 Ancre 26 thet haveth eihte 27 thüncheth 28 bet 29 husewif,30 ase Marthe was, then ancre; none-weis 31 ne mei heo 32 beon 33 Marie mid grithfulnesse 34 of heorte. Vor theonne 35 mot 36 heo thenchen 37 of the kues 38 foddre and of heordemonne huire,40 oluhnen 41 thene 12 heiward,43 warien 44 hwon 45 me 46 punt 47 hire, and yelden,48 thauh, the hermes. Wat 51 Crist, this is lodlich 52 thing hwon 46 maketh mone 53 in tune 54 of ancre 55 eihte.27 Thauh,49 yif eni mot 36 nede habben 57 ku, loke 58 thet heo 32 none monne ne eilie 59 ne ne hermie ; 60 ne thet hire thouht ne beo 61 nout ther-on ivestned. 62 Ancre ne ouh 6 nout to habben 57 no thing thet drawe 64 utward hire heorte.

None cheffare 65 ne drive ye. Ancre thet is cheapild,66 heo cheapeth 67 hire soule the chepmon 68 of helle.

Ne wite 69 ye nout in oure 70 huse 71 of other

Ye, my dear sisters, shall have no beast but a cat only. A nun that has property seems rather a housewife, as Martha was, than a nun; and in no wise may she be Mary, with peacefulness of heart. For then must she think about the cow's fodder and the herdsmen's wages, flatter the constable, curse when the cow is put in the pound, and pay the damages nevertheless. God knows, it is a hateful thing when complaint is made in the village of a nun's property. However, if anyone must needs have a cow, let her see to it that it disturbs or harms no man; and that her heart be not fastened upon it. A nun ought to have nothing that will draw her heart outward to the world.




Drive ye no bargains. A nun that is a bargainer sells her soul to the merchant of hell.

Keep ye not in your house any of other 35 then


must 37 think 38 cow's 39 herdsmen's 40 hire 41 flatter 42 the 43 heyward, bailiff 44 curse 45 when 46 47 impounds 48


49 nevertheless 50 damages 51 knows 52 hateful 53 complaint 54 town, farm bá a nun's 56 if 57 have 58 look 59 disturb 60 harm 61 be 62 fastened ought

may draw 65 bargain 66 bargainer

tradesman 69 keep, take care of 70 your 71 house

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1 death 2 believe yet 3 is alive 4 dwells 5 of all 6 shall come ? is never 8 of never no (i.e. of no) lady chosen 'who can the truth

say more 12 once 13 wizard 14 named 15 announced 16 sayings 17 true 18 come for a help to the English 19 The Nuns' Rule 20 dear 21 sisters 22 shall 23 have 24 beast 25 only 26 a nun property

29 rather 30 housewife 31 no-ways 32 she 33 be 34 peacefulness







67 sells


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