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1                                                   Cuckoo Song

c. 1226

SUMER is icumen in,
   Lhude1 sing cuccu!
Groweth sed, and bloweth med,
   And springeth the wude nu—
                              Sing cuccu!
Awe2 bleteth after lomb,
   Lhouth3 after calve cu;
Bulluc sterteth,4 bucke verteth,
   Murie sing cuccu!
Cuccu, cuccu, well singes thu, cuccu:
   Ne swike5 thu naver nu;
Sing cuccu, nu, sing cuccu,
   Sing cuccu, sing cuccu, nu!

1 lhude: loud.

2 awe: ewe.

3 lhouth: loweth.

4 sterteth: leaps.

5 swike: cease.

2                                               The Irish Dancer

c. 1300

ICH am of Irlaunde,
Ant of the holy londe
      Of Irlande.
Gode sire, pray ich the,
For of saynte charité,
Come ant daunce wyth me
      In Irlaunde.

3                                                         Alison

c. 1300

BYTUENE Mershe and Averil
   When spray biginneth to springe,
The lutel foul hath hire wyl
   On hyre lud1 to synge:
Ich libbe2 in love-longinge
For semlokest3 of alle thynge,
He4 may me blisse bringe,
   Ich am in hire baundoun5.
An hendy6 hap ichabbe y-hent,7
Ichot8 from hevene it is me sent,
From alle wymmen my love is lent
   And lyht 9 on Alysoun.
On heu hire her10 is fayr ynoh,
   Hire browe broune, hire eye blake;
With lossum chere11 he on me loh;12
   With middel smal and wel y-make;
Bote he13 me wolle to hire take
For to buen14 hire owen make,15
Long to lyven ichulle forsake
   And feye16 fallen adoun.
An hendy hap, etc.
Nihtes17 when I wende18 and wake,
   For-thi19 myn wonges waxeth won,20
Levedi,21 al for thine sake
   Longinge is y-lent me on.22
In world nis non so wyter23 mon
That al hire bount é telle con;
Hire swyre24 is whittore than the swon,
   And feyrest may25 in toune.
An hendy hap, etc.
Ich am for wowyng al for-wake,26
   Wery so water in wore;27
Lest eny reve28 me my make
   Ichabbe y-yerned yore.29
Betere is tholien30 whyle sore
Then mournen evermore.
Geynest under gore,31
   Herkne to my roun.32
An hendy hap, etc.

1 on hyre lud: in her language.

2 ich libbe: I live.>

3 semlokest: seemliest.

4 he: she.

5 baundoun: thraldom.

6 hendy: gracious.

7 y-hent: received.

8 ichot: I wot

9 lyht: alighted.

10 hire her: her hair.

11 lossum chere: lovely face.

12 loh: smiled.

13 bote he: unless she.

14 buen: be.

15 make: mate.

16 feye: like to die.

17 nihtes: at night.

18 wende: turn.

19 for-thi: on that account.

20 wonges waxeth won: cheeks grow wan.

21 levedi: lady.

22 y-lent me on: come upon me.

23 so wyter mon: so wise a man.

24 swyre: neck.

25 may: maid.

26 for-wake: worn out with vigils.

27 so water in wore: as water in a weir.

28 reve: rob.

29 y-yerned yore: long desired.

30 tholien: to endure.

31 geynest under gore: comeliest under robe.

32 roun: voice.

4                                                   Spring-tide

c. 1300

LENTEN ys come with love to toune,1
With blosmen and with briddes roune,
   That al this blisse bryngeth;
Dayes-eyes in this dales,
Notes suete of nyhtegales,
   Uch foul song singeth;
The threstelcoc him threteth oo,2
Away is huere3 wynter wo,
   When woderove4 springeth;
Thise foules singeth ferly5 fele,
Ant wlyteth6 on huere wunne wele,
   That al the wode ryngeth.
The rose rayleth hire rode,7
The leves on the lyhte wode
   Waxen al with wille;
The mone mandeth hire bleo,8
The lilie is lossom to seo,9
   The fenyl and the fille;10
Wowes11 thise wilde drakes,
Miles murgeth12 huere makes13
   Ase strem that striketh14 stille.
Mody meneth;15 so doth mo16
(Ichot ych am on of tho17)
   For loue that likes ille.
The mone mandeth hire lyht,
So doth the semly sonne bryht,
   When briddes singeth breme18;
Deawes19 donketh20 the dounes,
Deores21 with huere derne rounes22
   Domes for to deme;23
Wormes woweth under cloude,24
Wymmen waxeth wounder proude,
   So wel hit wol hem seme,
Yef me shal wonte wille of on,
This wunne weole25 y wole forgon
   Ant wyht in wode be fleme26.

1 toune: the dwellings of men.

2 him threteth oo: is aye chiding.

3 huere: their.

4 woderove: woodruff.

5 ferly fele: marvellous many.

6 wlyteth etc.: whistle, in their wealth of joy.

7 rayleth hire rode: clothes herself in red.

8 mandeth hire bleo: sends forth her light.

9 lossom to seo: lovesome to see.

10 fille: thyme.

11 wowes: woo.

12 murgeth: make merry.

13 makes: mates.

14 striketh: flows.

15 mody meneth: the passionate man makes moan.

16 so doth mo: so do others.

17 on of tho: one of them.

18 breme: lustily.

19 4 deawes: dews.

20 donketh: make dank.

21 deores: animals.

22 huere derne rounes: their secret cries.

23 domes for to deme: whereby they converse.

24 cloude: clod.

25 wunne weole: wealth of joy.

26 fleme: fugitive.

5                                             Blow, Northern Wind

c. 1300

ICHOT1 a burde2 in boure bryht,
   That fully semly is on syht,
Menskful3 maiden of myht;
   Feir4 ant fre to fonde;5
In al this wurhliche6 won7
A burde of blod ant of bon
Never yete y nuste8 non
   Lussomore in londe9.
       Blow northerne wynd!
      Send thou me my suetyng!10
       Blow northerne wynd! blow, blow, blow!
With lokkes lefliche12 ant longe,
With frount ant face feir to fonge,13
With murthes14 monie mote heo monge,15
   That brid16 so breme17 in boure.
With lossom eye grete ant gode,
With browen blysfol under hode,
He that reste him on the rode,18
   That leflych lyf honoure.
     Blow northerne wynd, etc.
Hire lure19 lumes20 liht,
Ase a launterne a-nyht,
Hire bleo21 blykyeth so bryht,
   So feyr heo is ant fyn.
A suetly swyre22 heo23 hath to holde,
With armes, shuldre ase mon wolde,
Ant fingres feyre for to folde,
   God wolde hue were myn!
       Blow northerne wynd, etc.
Heo is coral of godnesse,
Heo is rubie of ryhtfulnesse,
Heo is cristal of clannesse,24
   Ant baner of bealté.
Heo is lilie of largesse,
Heo is parvenke25 of prouesse,
Heo is solsecle26 of suetnesse,
   Ant lady of lealté.
For hire love y carke ant care,
For hire love y droupne ant dare,27
For hire love my blisse is bare
   Ant al ich waxe won.28
For hire love in slep y slake,
For hire love al nyht ich wake,
For hire love mournynge y make
   More then eny mon.
     Blow northerne wynd!
     Send thou me my suetyng!
     Blow northerne wynd! blou, blou, blou!

1 Ichot: I know.

2 burde: maiden.

3 menskful: worshipful.

4 feir: fair.

5 fonde: deal with.

6 wurhliche: noble.

7 won: multitude.

8 y nuste: I knew not.

9 lussomore in londe: lovelier on earth.

10 suetyng: sweetheart.

11 lefliche: lovely.

12 fonge: take between hands.

13 murthes: mirths, joys.

14 mote heo monge: may she mingle.

15 brid: bird.

16 breme: glorious.

17 rode: the Cross.

18 lure: face.

19 lumes: beams.

20 bleo: colour.

21 suetly swyre: darling neck.

22 hue, heo: she.

23 clannesse: cleanness, purity.

24 parvenke: periwinkle.

25 solsecle: sunflower.

26 dare: am in dismay.

27 won: wan.

6                                           Lines from Love Letters


De Amico ad Amicam

ACELUY que pluys eyme en mounde,
Of alle tho that I have founde
Saluz od treyé amour,
With grace and joye and alle honoure,
Sachez bien, pleysant et beele,
That I am right in goode heele
        Laus Christo!
Et moun amour doné vous ay,
And also thine owene, night and day
        In cisto.
Ma tres duce et tres amé,
Night and day for love of thee
Soyez permanent et leal;
Love me so that I it fele,
A vous jeo suy tut doné;
Mine herte is full of love to thee
Et pur ceo jeo vous pry,
Sweting, for thin curtesy,
Jeo vous pry par charité
The wordes that here wreten be
And turne thy herte me toward
O àa Dieu que vous gard!

6 (ii)


A SOUN tres chere et special,
Fer and ner and overal
        In mundo,
Que soy ou saltz et gré
With mouth, word and herte free
Jeo vous pry sans debat
That ye wolde of myn estat
Sertfyés a vous jeo fay
I wil in time whan I may
Pur vostre amour, allas, allas!
I am werse than I was
        Per multa:
Jeo suy dolourouse en tut manere,
Woulde God in youre armes I were
Vous estes ma morte et ma vye,
I preye you for your curteisie
Cestes maundés jeo vous pry
In youre herté stedefastly

7                                                This World’s Joy

c. 1300

WYNTER wakeneth al my care,
Nou thise leves 1 waxeth bare;
Ofte I sike2 and mourne sare
    When hit cometh in my thoht
    Of this worldes joie, hou hit geth al to noht.
Nou hit is, and nou hit nys,3
Al so hit ner nere,4 ywys;
That moni mon seith, soth5 hit ys:
    Al goth bote Godes wille:
    Alle we shule deye, thah6 us like ylle.
Al that gren me graveth grene,
Nou hit faleweth7 al bydene:8
Jehsu, help that hit be sene
    And shild us from helle!
For y not whider9 y shal, ne hou longe her duelle.10

1 this leves: these leaves.

2 sike: sigh.

3 nys: is not.

4 al so hit ner nere: as though it had never been.

5 soth: sooth.

6 thah: though.

7 faleweth: fadeth.

8 al bydene: forthwith.

9 y not whider: I know not whither.

10 her duelle: here dwell.

8                                              Our Lady’s Song

c. 1375

IESU, swete sone dere!
On porful bed list thou here,
And that me greveth sore;
For thi cradel is ase a bere,1
Oxe and asse beth thi fere:2
    Weepe ich mai tharfore.
Iesu, swete, beo noth wroth,
Thou ich nabbe clout ne cloth
    The on for to folde,
    The on to folde ne to wrappe,
For ich nabbe clout ne lappe;3
Bote ley thou thi fet to my pappe,
    And wite4 the from the colde.

1 bere: byre.

2 fere: companion.

3 lappe: fold of garment.

4 wite: keep.

9                                           A Hymn to the Virgin

c. 1300

OF on1 that is so fayr and bright
           Velut maris stella,
Brighter than the day is light,
           Parens et puella:
Ic crie to the, thou see to me,
Levedy,2 preye thi Sone for me,
           Tam pia,
That ic mote come to thee
Al this world was for-lore
           Eva peccatrice,
Tyl our Lord was y-bore
           De te genetrice.
With ave it went away
Thuster3 nyth and cometh the day
The welle springeth ut of the
Levedy, flour of alle thing,
           Rosa sine spina,
Thu bere Jhesu, hevene king,
           Gratia divina:
Of alle thu berst the pris,4
Levedy, quene of paradys
Mayde milde, Moder es

1 on: one.

2 levedy: lady.

3 thuster: dark.

4 pris: prize.

10                                     Of a rose, a lovely rose,
                                            Of a rose is al myn song.

c. 1400

LESTENYT,1 lordynges, both elde and yinge,
How this rose began to sprynge;
Swych a rose to myn lykynge
       In al this word2 ne knowe I non.
The aungil came fro hevene tour
To grete Marye with gret honour,
And seyde sche xuld3 bere the flour
       That xulde breke the fyndes4 bond.
The flour sprong in heye Bedlem,
That is bothe bryht and schen:5
The rose is Mary, hevene qwen,6
      Out of here bosum the blosme sprong.
The ferste braunche is ful of myht,
That sprong on Cyrstemesse nyht,
The sterre schon over Bedlem bryht
       That is bothe brod and long.
The secunde braunche sprong to helle,
The fendys power doun to felle:
Therein myht non sowle dwelle;
       Blyssid be the time the rose sprong!
The thredde braunche is good and swote,
It sprang to hevene, crop and rote,
Therein to dwellyn and ben our bote;7
       Every day it schewit in prystes hond.
Prey we to here with gret honour,
She that bar the blyssid flowr,
She be our helpe and our socour
       And schyld us fro the fyndes bond.

1 lestenyt: listen.

2 word: world.

3 xuld: was to.

4 fyndes: Devil’s.

5 schen: beautiful.

6 hevene qwen: heaven’s queen.

7 bote: salvation.

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