Me thoughte, goodly to me spak,
And seyde, ‘Frend, what is thy name?
Artow come hider to han fame?’
‘Nay, for sothe, frend,’ quod y;
‘I cam noght hyder, graunt mercy,
For no such cause, by my hed!
Sufficeth me, as I were ded,
That no wight have my name in honde.
I wot myself best how y stonde;
For what I drye, or what I thynke,
I wil myselven al hyt drynke,
Certeyn, for the more part,
As fer forth as I kan myn art.’
‘But what doost thou here than?’ quod he.
Quod y, ‘That wyl y tellen the,
The cause why y stonde here:
Somme newe tydynges for to lere,
Somme newe thinges, y not what ,
Tydynges, other this or that,
Of love or suche thynges glade.’
From The House of Fame, Book 3
drye: experience, suffer
Were hanged, than I sholde ben his baude,
As heigh as men myghte on us alle ysee!
I am thyn em; the shame were to me,
As wel as the, if that I sholde assente
Thorugh myn abet that he thyn honour shente.
To bynde yow to hym thorugh no byheste,
But only that ye make hym bettre chiere
Than ye han doon er this, and moore feste,
So that his lif be saved atte leeste;
This al and som, and pleynly, oure entente.
God help me so, I nevere other mente!
Lo, this requeste is naught but skylle, ywys,
Ne doute of resoun, pardee, is ther noon.
I sette the worste, that ye dreden this:
Men wolde wondren sen hym come or goon.
Ther-ayeins answere I thus anoon,
That every wight, but he be fool of kynde,
Wol deme it love of frendshipe in his mynde.’
From Troilus and Criseyde, Book 2.
abet: help, abetting
shente: ruined, injured
feste: welcoming attention
doute of resoun: reasonable fear
fool of kynde: congenital fool
He Alma redemptoris herde synge,
As children lerned hire antiphoner;
And as he dorste, he drough hym ner and ner,
And herkned ay the wordes and the noote,
Til he the firste vers koude al by rote.
For he so yong and tendre was of age.
But on a day his felawe gan he preye
T’expounden hym this song in his langage,
Or telle hym why this song was in usage;
This preyde he hym to construe and declare
Ful often tyme upon his knowes bare.
His felawe, which that elder was than he,
Answerde hym thus: ‘This song, I have herd seye,
Was maked of our blisful Lady free,
Hire to salue, and eek hire for to preye
To been oure help and socour whan we deye.
I kan namoore expounde in this mateere.
I lerne song; I kan but smal grammeere.’
‘And is this song maked in reverence
Of Cristes mooder?’ seyde this innocent.
‘Now, certes, I wol do my diligence
To konne it al er Cristemasse be went.
Though that I for my prymer shal be shent
And shal be beten thries in an houre,
I wol it konne Oure Lady for to honoure!’
From The Prioress’s Tale, The Canterbury Tales
prymer: elementary school book
Alma redemptoris: ‘Gracious mother of the Redeemer’
Antiphoner: book of antiphonal hymns
for my prymer: for not learning my lessons
Al that I hadde I have lost therby,
And, God woot, so hath many mo than I.
Ther I was wont to be right fresh and gay
Of clothyng and of oother good array,
Now may I were an hose upon myn heed;
And wher my colour was bothe fressh and reed,
Now is it wan and of a leden hewe –
Whoso it useth, soore shal he rewe! –
And of my swynk yet blered is myn ye.
Lo, which avantage is to multiplie!
That slidynge science hath me maad so bare
That I have no good, wher that evere I fare;
And yet I am endetted so therby
Of gold that I have borwed, trewely,
That whil I lyve I shal it quite nevere.
Lat every man be war by me for evere!
What maner man that casteth hym therto,
If he continue, I holde his thrift ydo.
For so helpe me God, therby shal he nat wynne,