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THOMAS DE HALES (bef. 1300)
A LOVE LETTER
A maid of Christ doth plead with me That ich hire 4 wurche - 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, 11
Who faithfulest of all shall be, And best wyte cuthe 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,
8 Mayde, her 17 thu myht 18 biholde
O maiden, here thou mayst behold This worldes luve nys?' 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 wyndes bles;
Like wind have glided from their place; Under molde 30 hi liggeth 31 colde
Under mould they are lying cold, And faleweth 32 28 doth medewe gres. 16
And wither as doth the meadow grass. 16
so riche, ne non so freo, That he ne schal heonne 35
sone away. Ne may hit never his waraunt beo,
37 Gold ne seolver, vouh
ne gray; Ne beo he no the swift,38 ne may he fleo,
Ne weren 39 his lif enne day. Thus is thes world, as thu mayht
Al so 41 the schadewe that glyt 42 away. 32 This world fareth hwilynde. 13
Hwenne on cumeth, an other goth; That wes bi-fore nu is bihynde,
was leof 47 nu hit is loth; For-thi 4 he doth as the blynde
That in this world his luve doth.50
That wouh 53 goth forth, abak that soth.54
Thu treowest 56 hire 57 myd muchel wouh,58
Hit is fals, and mereuh, and frouh,62
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.
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;
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.
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. ( maid, he sends thee his command, His will to be thy friend avoweth.
Theyh 27 he were so riche mon
As Henry ure kyng, And al so veyr
as Absalon That nevede 31 on eorthe non evenyng, Al were sone his prute 33 agon,
Hit nere on endel wurth on heryng. 35 Mayde, if thu wilnest 36 after leofmon,
Ich teche the enne 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, 42 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 mon speketh with muth, Alle heo 49 beoth 60 to his honde
Est and west, north and suth.
Of hym he halt 61 and to hym buhth.52
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 6 may me blisse bringe;
'Tis she who may to bliss me bring, Icham 7 in hire baundoun.8
For she my love hath 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 ; 15 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.
Often at night I toss and wake;
For this my cheeks are pale and wan. Levedi,27 al for thine sake
Lady, 'tis all for thy dear sake Longinge is ylent
Longing has fallen me upon. In world nis non so wytermon,
In world is none so wise a man That al hire bounte 30 telle con.31
That all her goodness tell he can. 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
Lest some one rob me of my make.21 Ychabbe y-yir yore,
For I have heard of yore, Betere is tholien whyle sore
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! 4
Hear my orison ! An hendi, etc.
A blessed fortune is my lot, etc. 1 March ? little bird 3 in her language 4 I live 29 there is no so wise man 30 goodness 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 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 will (for) to be hurt for a while 39 than most gracious one alive
mate 22 I will 23 ready to die 24 at night-time I (in clothing) secret turn therefore cheeks lady
me my make. 21
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 * of nyhtegales ;
5 Pipings sweet of nightingales, Uch foul song singeth.”
His song each warbler singeth. The threstercoc him threteth oo; 6
The throsi lecock 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,24
I am one of them, I wot, For love that likes ille.25
My love for naught bestowing.
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 5 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;
They bore themselves full haughty and high; And in a twincling of an eye
And in the twinkling of an eye Here soules weren forloren.11
Their souls were lost for aye.