Early English Alliterative Poems - in the West-Midland Dialect of the Fourteenth Century
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This e-text is based on the 1869 (second) edition of the Poems. A few apparent misprints were checked against the 1864 edition, but the texts as a whole were not closely compared.

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[Gh] [gh] yogh ⱥ m letter with macron or overline (rare)

A few Greek words in the Glossary have been transliterated and shown between marks.

The book has been separated into six independent units, set off by triple rows of asterisks:

[1] Introductory Material [2] The Pearl [3] Cleanness [4] Patience [5] Glossarial Index (excluding Postscript) [6] Collected Sidenotes (section added by transcriber: editor's sidenotes can be read as a condensed version of full text)

Each segment has its own footnotes and errata lists. Readers may choose to divide them into separate files. The Notes were originally printed as a short (12 pages) section before the Index. For this e-text they have been distributed among their respective texts.

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In the Glossarial Index, groups of words in {braces} were printed on consecutive lines, bracketed together. Text printed in small capitals is shown in marks.

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Footnotes were numbered separately for each page. In this e-text, footnotes are numbered sequentially within each text and grouped at the end of each stanza (The Pearl) or section (Cleanness and Patience), or each subsection of the Preface. Numbered notes printed in the side margin were treated as footnotes.

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Sidenotes were added by the editor to give translations or summaries. In this e-text, they are collected into full sentences, and generally appear immediately before their original location. In The Pearl, sidenotes are grouped at the beginning of each twelve-line stanza. Sidenotes in the form [Fol. 10b] are shown in the same way as general sidenotes. They always come directly above the relevant line or its sidenotes, if any.

Orphaned Quotation Marks are listed separately in each Errata section. In some cases it may be possible to guess where the missing quotation mark belongs, but it seemed safer to leave the text as printed. No quotation marks disappeared between the 1864 and 1869 editions.]

Early English

Alliterative Poems

in the

West-Midland Dialect

of the

Fourteenth Century

Edited From The Unique Manuscript British Museum MS. Cotton Nero A. x


Richard Morris


First Published 1864 Second Edition 1869 Reprinted (1869 Version) 1965

Original Series, No. 1

Originally Printed by Stephen Austin, Hertford and now Reprinted Lithographically in Great Britain at the University Press, Oxford by Vivian Ridler, Printer to the University


[List added by transcriber. Items in brackets do not have headers in the body text, but were treated as subsections for grouping footnotes.]

Preface [Introduction to The Pearl] [Introduction to Cleanness] [Introduction to Patience] [General Introduction] Remarks Upon the Dialect and Grammar Grammatical Details I. Nouns II. Adjectives III. Pronouns IV. Verbs V. Adverbs VI. Prepositions VII. Conjunctions Description of the Manuscript Contractions Used in the Glossary

The Pearl Cleanness Patience

Notes [distributed among the three poems] Glossarial Index


The following poems are taken from a well known manuscript in the Cottonian collection, marked Nero A. x, which also contains, in the same handwriting and dialect, a metrical romance,[1] wherein the adventures of Sir Gawayne with the "Knight in Green," are most ably and interestingly described.

Unfortunately nothing can be affirmed with any certainty concerning the authorship of these most valuable and interesting compositions. The editor of "Syr Gawayn and the Green Knight" considers that Huchowne, a supposed[2] Scotch maker of the fourteenth century, has the best claims to be recognised as the author, inasmuch as he is specially referred to by Wyntown as the writer of the Gret gest of Arthure and the Awntyre of Gawayne.

I do not think that any certain conclusions are to be drawn from the Scotch historian's assertion. It is well known that more versifiers than one during the fourteenth century attempted romance composition in the English language, having for their theme the knightly deeds of Arthur or Sir Gawayne. These they compiled from French originals, from which they selected the most striking incidents and those best suited to an Englishman's taste for the marvellous. We are not surprised, then, at finding so many romance poems treating of the exploits of the same hero, and laying claim to be considered as original productions. In Scotland, Huchowne's works might no doubt have been regarded as the standard romances of the period, but that they were the only English gests is indeed very doubtful.

The Early English alliterative romance, entitled the Morte Arthure, published from a manuscript in Lincoln Cathedral by Mr. Halliwell,[3] is considered by Sir F. Madden to be the veritable gest of Arthure composed by Huchowne. An examination of this romance does not lead me to the same conclusion, unless Huchowne was a Midland man, for the poem is not written in the old Scotch dialect,[4] but seems to have been originally composed in one of the Northumbrian dialects spoken South of the Tweed.[5]

The manuscript from which Mr. Halliwell has taken his text is not the original copy, nor even a literal transcript of it. It exhibits certain orthographical and grammatical peculiarities unknown to the Northumbrian dialect which have been introduced by a Midland transcriber, who has here and there taken the liberty to adapt the original text to the dialect of his own locality, probably that one of the North Midland counties, where many of the Northumbrian forms of speech would be intelligible.[6]

A comparison of the Arthurian romance with the following poems throws no light whatever upon the authorship of the poems. The dialect of the two works is altogether different, although many of the terms employed are common to both, being well known over the whole of the North of England. The grammatical forms (the best test we can have) in the poems are quite distinct from those in the Morte Arthure, and of course go far to prove that they do not proceed from the pen of the same writer.

The Editor of "Syr Gawayn and the Green Knight" acknowledges that the poems in the present volume, as now preserved to us in the manuscript, are not in the Scottish dialect, but he says "there is sufficient internal evidence of their being Northern,[7] although the manuscript containing them appears to have been written by a scribe of the Midland counties, which will account for the introduction of forms differing from those used by writers beyond the Tweed."

Now, with regard to this subsequent transcription of the poems from the Scotch into a Midland dialect,—it cannot be said to be improbable, for we have abundant instances of the multiplication of copies by scribes of different localities, so that we are not surprised at finding the works of some of our popular Early English writers appearing in two or three forms; but, on the other hand, a comparison of the original copy with the adapted transcriptions, or even the reading of a transcribed copy, always shows how the author's productions have suffered by the change. Poetical works, especially those with final rhymes, of course undergo the greatest amount of transformation and depreciation. The changes incident upon the kind of transcription referred to are truly surprising, and most perplexing to those who make the subject of Early English dialects a matter of investigation.

But, in the present poems, the uniformity and consistency of the grammatical forms is so entire, that there is indeed no internal evidence of subsequent transcription into any other dialect than that in which they were originally written. However, the dialect and grammatical peculiarities will be considered hereafter.

Again, in the course of transcription into another dialect, any literary merit that the author's copy may have originally possessed would certainly be destroyed. But the poems before us are evidently the work of a man of birth and education; the productions of a true poet, and of one who had acquired a perfect mastery over that form of the English tongue spoken in his own immediate locality during the earlier part of the fourteenth century. Leaving out of consideration their great philological worth, they possess an intrinsic value of their own as literary compositions, very different from anything to be found in the works of Robert of Gloucester, Manning, and many other Early English authors, which are very important as philological records, but in the light of poetical productions, cannot be said to hold a very distinguished place in English literature. The poems in the present volume contain many passages which, as Sir F. Madden truly remarks, will bear comparison with any similar ones in the works of Douglas or Spenser.

I conclude, therefore, that these poems were not transcribed from the Scotch dialect into any other, but were written in their own West-Midland speech in which we now have them.

Mr. Donaldson, who is now editing for the Early English Text Society the Troy Book, translated from Guido di Colonna, puts forward a plea for Huchowne as its author, to whom he would also assign the Morte Arthure (ed. Perry) and the Pistel of Sweet Susan.[8] But Mr. Donaldson seems to have been misled by the similarity of vocabulary, which is not at all a safe criterion in judging of works written in a Northumbrian, West or East Midland speech. The dialect, I venture to think, is a far safer test. A careful examination of the Troy Book compels me to differ in toto from Mr. Donaldson, and, instead of assigning the Troy Book to a Scotchman, say that it cannot even be claimed, in its present form, by any Northumbrian south of the Tweed; moreover, it presents no appearance of having been tampered with by one unacquainted with the dialect, though it has perhaps been slightly modernised in the course of transcription.

The work is evidently a genuine West-Midland production,[9] having most of the peculiarities of vocabulary and inflexions that are found in these Alliterative Poems.[10] I feel greatly inclined to claim this English Troy Book as the production of the author of the Alliterative Poems; for, leaving out identical and by no means common expressions, we find the same power of description,[11] and the same tendency to inculcate moral and religious truths on all occasions where an opportunity presents itself.[12] Without dwelling upon this topic, which properly falls to the Editor of the Troy Book, it may not be out of place to ask the reader to compare the following description of a storm from the Troy Book, with that selected from the present volume on pp. 14 and 18.


There a tempest hom toke on e torres hegh:— A rak and a royde wynde rose in hor saile, A myst & a merkenes was mervell to se; With a routond rayn ruthe to be-holde, Thonr{et}[13] full throly with a thicke haile; With a leuenyng light as a low fyre, Blas{et} all the brode see as it bren wold. The flode with a felle cours flow{et} on hepis, Rose uppon rockes as any ranke hylles. So wode were the waghes & e wilde ythes, All was like to be lost at no lond hade The ship ay shot furth o e shire waghes, As qwo clymbe at a clyffe, or a clent[14] hille. Eft dump in the depe as all drowne wolde. Was no stightlyng with stere ne no stithe ropes, Ne no sayle, at might serue for unsound wedur. But all the buernes in the bote, as hom best liked, Besoght unto sainttes & to sere goddes; (p.65)


All the company enclin{et} cair{yn} to ship; Cach{yn} in cables, knyt up hor ancres, Sesit vp hor sailes in a sad hast; Richet ere rapes, rapit unto see. Hokit out of hauyn, all the hepe somyn, Hade bir at hor bake, blawen to e depe; Sail{yn} forthe soberly, somyn but a while, Noght fyftene forlong fairly to the end. . . . . . . . . . . . When sodenly the softe aire unsoberly rose; The cloudis overcast, claterrit aboute; Wyndes full wodely walt up the ythes; Wex merke as the mydnighte mystes full thicke: Thunret in the thestur throly with all; With a launchant laite lightonyd the water; And a ropand rayne raiked fro the heuyn. The storme was full stithe with mony stout windes, Hit walt up the wilde se vppon wan hilles. The ffolke was so ferd, that on flete were, All drede for to drowne with dryft of the se; And in perell were put all the proude kynges. —(p.150.)

[Footnote 1: Edited by Sir Frederic Madden for the Bannatyne Club, under the title of "Syr Gawayn and the Grene Kny[gh]t," and by me for the Early English Text Soc., 1865.]

[Footnote 2: Wyntown nowhere asserts that Huchowne is a Scotchman.]

[Footnote 3: Edited for E. E. T. Soc. by Rev. G. G. Perry, M.A.]

[Footnote 4: This is evident from the following particulars:—

I. In old Scotch manuscripts we find the guttural gh (or [gh]) represented by ch; thus, aght, laght, saght, wight, are the English forms which, in the Scotch orthography, become aucht (owed), laucht (seized), saucht (peace), wicht (active). It is the former orthography, however, that prevails in the Morte Arthure.

II. We miss the Scotch use of (1) -is or -ys, for -es or -s, in the plural number, and of possessive cases of nouns, and in the person endings of the present tense indicative mood of verbs; (2) -it or -yt, for -ed or -d, in the preterites or passive participles of regular verbs.

III. There is a total absence of the well-known Scotch forms begouth (began), sa (so), sic (such), throuch, thorow (through). Instead of these bigan, so, syche, thrughe (thurgh) are employed. See Preface to Hampole's Pricke of Conscience, pp. vii, viii.]

[Footnote 5: This is shown by the frequent employment of -es as the person ending of the verb in the present tense, plural number. The corresponding Southern verbal inflexion -eth never occurs; while the Midland -en is only occasionally met with in the third person plural present, and has been introduced by a later copyist. There are other characteristics, such as the predominance of words containing the A.S. long a; as hame (home), stane (stone), thra (bold), walde (would), etc.; the frequent use of thir (these), tha (the, those), etc.]

[Footnote 6: The peculiarities referred to do not appear to be owing to the copyist of the Lincoln manuscript (Robert de Thornton, a native of Oswaldkirk in Yorkshire), who, being a Northumbrian, would probably have restored the original readings. The non-Northumbrian forms in the Morte Arthure are— 1.The change of a into o, as bolde for balde, bote for bate, one for ane, honde for hande, londe for lande; 2.they, theyre, them, theym, for thay, thaire, tham; 3.gayliche, kindliche, semlyche, etc., for gayly, kindly, seemly, etc. (the termination lich, liche, was wholly unknown to the Northumbrian dialect, being represented by ly or like); 4.churle, churche, iche, mache, myche, syche, wyrche, etc., for carle, kirke, ilk, make, mykelle, swilk, wyrk, etc.; 5.infinitives in -en, as drenschen, schewenne, wacchenne, etc.; 6.the use of eke, thos, for als (alswa), thas; 7.the employment of aye for egg. The former word never occurs in any pure Northumbrian work, while the latter is seldom met with in any Southern production.]

[Footnote 7: The poems are Northern in contradistinction to Southern, but they are not Northern or Northumbrian in contradistinction to Midland.]

[Footnote 8: Printed by Mr. D. Laing in his "Inedited Pieces," from a MS. of Mr. Heber's. Other copies are in the Vernon MS., and Cotton Calig. A. ii.; the latter imperfect.]

[Footnote 9: Other specimens of this dialect will doubtless turn up. Mr. Brock has found a MS. in British Museum (Harl. 3909) with most of the peculiarities pointed out by me in the preface to the present work, and I believe that this dialect was probably a flourishing one in the 13th century. See O.E. Homilies,]

[Footnote 10: (1) en as the inflexion of the pres. tense pl., indic. mood of verbs; (2) s in the second and third pers. sing. of verbs; (3)ho = she; (4)hit = its; (5)tow = two; (6)de[gh]ter = daughters, etc.]

[Footnote 11: See p. 36, ll. 1052-1066; p.37, ll. 1074-1089; pp. 161-162, ll. 4956-4975.]

[Footnote 12: See pp. 25, 26 (Jason's unfaithfulness); pp. 74, 75, ll. 2241-2255; p.75, ll. 2256-2263; p.69, ll. 2267-2081; p.158, ll. 4839-4850; p.189, ll. 4881-4885; p.165, ll. 5078-5086, etc.]

[Footnote 13: In the Harl. MS. 3909, nearly all the p.part. and preterites end in -et (-ut and -et occur in Romances ed. by Robson).]

[Footnote 14: This seems to furnish an etymology for Clent Hills, Worcestershire—brent is the term employed in Alliterative.]

The poems in the present volume, three in number, seem to have been written for the purpose of enforcing, by line upon line and precept upon precept, Resignation to the will of God; Purity of life as manifested in thought, word, and deed; Obedience to the Divine command; and Patience under affliction.

In the first poem, entitled by me "The Pearl", the author evidently gives expression to his own sorrow for the loss of his infant child, a girl of two years old, whom he describes as a

Perle plesaunte to prynces paye Pearl pleasant to princes' pleasure, To clanly clos in golde so clere Most neatly set in gold so clear.

Of her death he says:

Allas! I leste hyr in on erbere Alas! I lost her in an arbour, ur[gh] gresse to grounde hit fro me yot Through grass to ground it from me got. —(p.1.)

The writer then represents himself as visiting his child's grave (or arbour) in the "high season of August," and giving way to his grief (p.2). He falls asleep, and in a dream is carried toward a forest, where he saw rich rocks gleaming gloriously, hill sides decked with crystal cliffs, and trees the leaves of which were as burnished silver. The gravel under his feet was "precious pearls of orient," and birds "of flaming hues" flew about in company, whose notes were far sweeter than those of the cytole or gittern (guitar) (p.3). The dreamer arrives at the bank of a stream, which flows over stones (shining like stars in the welkin on a winter's night) and pebbles of emeralds, sapphires, or other precious gems, so

at all the lo[gh]e lemed of ly[gh]t That all the deep gleamed of light, So dere wat[gh] hit adubbement So dear was its adornment. —(p.4.)

Following the course of the stream, he perceives on the opposite side a crystal cliff, from which was reflected many a "royal ray" (p.5).

At e fote er-of er sete a faunt At the foot thereof there sat a child, A mayden of menske, ful debonere A maiden of honour, full debonnair; Blysnande whyt wat[gh] hyr bleaunt Glistening white was her robe, (I knew hyr wel, I hade sen hyr ere) (I knew her well, I had seen her before) At glysnande golde at man con schore As shining gold that man did purify, So schon at schene an-vnder schore So shone that sheen (bright one) on the opposite shore; On lenghe I loked to hyr ere Long I looked to her there, e lenger I knew hyr more & more The longer I knew her, more and more. —(pp. 6, 7.)

The maiden rises, and, proceeding along the bank of the stream, approaches him. He tells her that he has done nothing but mourn for the loss of his Pearl, and has been indeed a "joyless jeweller" (p.8). However, now that he has found his Pearl, he declares that he is no longer sorrowful, but would be a "joyful jeweller" were he allowed to cross the stream (p.8). The maiden blames her father for his rash speech, tells him that his Pearl is not lost, and that he cannot pass the stream till after death (p.10). The dreamer is in great grief; he does not, he says, care what may happen if he is again to lose his Pearl. The maiden advises him to bear his loss patiently, and to abide God's doom (p.11). She describes to him her blissful state in heaven, where she reigns as a queen (p.12). She explains to him that Mary is the Empress of Heaven, and all others kings and queens (p.13). The parable of the labourers in the vineyard[15] (pp. 15-18) is then rehearsed at length, to prove that "innocents" are admitted to the same privileges as are enjoyed by those who have lived longer upon the earth (p.18). The maiden then speaks to her father of Christ and his one hundred and forty thousand brides (p.24), and describes their blissful state (p.26). She points out to him the heavenly Jerusalem, which was "all of bright burnished gold, gleaming like glass" (p.29). Then the dreamer beholds a procession of virgins going to salute the Lamb, among whom he perceives his "little queen" (p.33). On attempting to cross the stream to follow her, he is aroused from his dream (p.35), laments his rash curiosity in seeking to know so much of God's mysteries, and declares that man ever desires more happiness than he has any right to expect (p.35).

[Footnote 15: Matthew, chapter xx.]

The second poem, entitled "Cleanness," is a collection of Biblical stories, in which the writer endeavours to enforce Purity of Life, by showing how greatly God is displeased at every kind of impurity, and how sudden and severe is the punishment which falls upon the sinner for every violation of the Divine law.

After commending cleanness and its "fair forms," the author relates (I.) The Parable of the Marriage Feast (p.39); (II.) the Fall of the Angels (p. 43); (III.) The wickedness of the antediluvian world (p.44),

He wat[gh] famed for fre at fe[gh]t loued best He was famous as free that fight loved best, & ay e bigest in bale e best wat[gh] halden And ever the biggest in sin the best was held; (p.45.)

(IV.) The destruction of mankind by the Flood. When all were safely stowed in the ark,

Thenne sone com e seuene day, when samned wern alle Then soon came the seventh day when assembled were all, & alle woned in e whichche e wylde & e tame. And all abode in the ark (hutch), the wild and the tame. en bolned e abyme & bonke[gh] con ryse Then swelled the abyss and banks did rise, Waltes out vch walle-heued, in ful wode streme[gh] Bursts out each well-head in full wild streams, Wat[gh] no brymme at abod vnbrosten bylyue There was no brim (stream) that abode unburst by then, e mukel lauande loghe to e lyfte rered The much (great) flowing deep (loch) to the loft (sky) reared. Mony clustered clowde clef alle in clowte[gh] Many a clustering cloud cleft all in clouts (pieces), To-rent vch a rayn-ryfte & rusched to e vre Rent was each a rain-rift and rushed to the earth; Fon neuer in forty daye[gh], & en e flod ryses Failed never in forty days, and then the flood rises, Ouer-walte[gh] vche a wod and e wyde felde[gh] Over-flows each wood and the wide fields; . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Water wylger ay wax, wone[gh] at stryede Water wildly ever waxed, abodes that destroyed, Hurled in-to vch hous, hent at er dowelled Hurled into each house, seized those that there dwelt. Fyrst feng to e fly[gh]t alle at fle my[gh]t First took to flight all that flee might, Vuche burde with her barne e byggyng ay leue[gh] Each bride (woman) with her bairn their abode they leave, & bowed to e hy[gh] bonk er brentest hit wern And hied to the high bank where highest it were, & heterly to e hy[gh]e hille[gh] ay [h]aled on faste And hastily to the high hills they rushed on fast; Bot al wat[gh] nedle[gh] her note, for neuer cowe stynt But all was needless their device, for never could stop e ro[gh]e raynande ryg [&] e raykande wawe[gh] The rough raining shower and the rushing waves, Er vch boom wat[gh] brurd-ful to e bonke[gh] egge[gh] Ere each bottom (valley) was brim-ful to the banks' edges, & vche a dale so depe at demmed at e brynke[gh] And each dale so deep that dammed at the brinks. —(pp. 47, 48).

The ark is described as "heaved on high with hurling streams."

Kest to kye[gh] vncoue e clowde[gh] ful nere Cast to kingdoms uncouth the clouds ful near, Hit waltered on the wylde flod, went as hit lyste It tossed on the wild flood, went as it list, Drof vpon e depe dam, in daunger hit semed It drove upon the deep dam, in danger it seemed, With-outen mast, oer myke, oer myry bawe-lyne Without mast, or mike,[16] or merry bow-line, Kable, oer capstan to clyppe to her ankre[gh] Cable or capstan to clip to their anchors, Hurrok, oer hande-helme hasped on roer Oar or hand-helm hooked on rudder, Oer any sweande sayl to seche after hauen Or any swinging sail to seek after haven, Bot flote forthe with e flyt of e felle wynde[gh] But floated forth with the force of the fell winds. Wheder-warde so e water wafte, hit rebounde Whither-ward so (as) the water waft, it rebounded, Ofte hit roled on-rounde & rered on ende Oft it rolled around and reared on end, Nyf our lorde hade ben her lode[gh]-mon hem had lumpen harde Had our Lord not been their (pilot) leader hardship had befallen them. —(p.49.)

(V.) The Visit of Three Angels to Abraham (p.54).

(VI.) The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (pp. 64, 65), including a description of the Dead Sea, the tarn (lake) of traitors (p.66).

(VII.) The invasion of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar (p.71), and the captivity of Judah (p.74).

The following is a paraphrase of the fourth and fifth verses in the twenty-fifth chapter of the second book of Kings.[17]

enne e kyng of e kyth a counsayl hym takes Then the king of the kingdom a counsel him takes, Wyth e best of his burnes, a blench for to make With the best of his men a device for to make; ay stel out on a stylle ny[gh]t er any steuen rysed They stole out on a still night ere any sound arose, & harde hurles ur[gh] e oste, er enmies hit wyste And hard hurled through the host, ere enemies it wist, Bot er ay at-wappe ne mo[gh]t e wach wyth oute But ere they could escape the watch without, Hi[gh]e skelt wat[gh] e askry e skewes an-vnder High scattered was the cry, the skies there under, Loude alarom vpon launde lulted was enne Loud alarm upon land sounded was then; Ryche, rued of her rest, ran to here wedes, Rich (men) roused from their rest, ran to their weeds, Hard hattes ay hent & on hors lepes Kettle hats they seized, and on horse leap; Cler claryoun crak cryed on-lofte Clear clarion's crack cried aloft. By at wat[gh] alle on a hepe hurlande swyee By that (time) was all on a heap, hurling fast, Fol[gh]ande at oer flote, & fonde hem bilyue Following that other fleet (host), and found them soon, Ouer-tok hem, as tyd,[18] tult hem of sadeles Over-took them in a trice, tilted them off saddles, Tyl vche prynce hade his per put to e grounde Till each prince had his peer put to the ground; & er wat[gh] e kyng ka[gh]t wyth calde prynces And there was the king caught with crafty princes, & alle hise gentyle for-iusted on Ierico playnes And all his nobles vanquished on Jericho's plains. —(pp. 71, 72.)

(VIII.) Belshazzar's impious feast (pp. 76-80), and the handwriting upon the wall (pp. 80, 81).

In e palays pryncipale vpon e playn wowe In the palace principal upon the plain wall, In contrary of e candelstik at clerest hit schyned Opposite to the candlestick that clearest there shone. er apered a paume, with poyntel in fyngres There appeared a palm with a pointel in its fingers, at wat[gh] grysly & gret, & grymly he wrytes That was grisly and great, and grimly it writes, None oer forme bot a fust faylaynde e wryst None other form but a fist failing the wrist Pared on e parget, purtrayed lettres Pared on the plaister, pourtrayed letters. When at bolde Balta[gh]ar blusched to at neue When that bold Belshazzar looked to that fist, Such a dasande drede dusched to his hert Such a dazzling dread dashed to his heart. at al falewed his face & fayled e chere That all paled his face and failed the cheer; e stronge strok of e stonde strayned his ioyntes The strong stroke of the blow strained his joints, His cnes cachche[gh] to close & cluchches his hommes His knees catch to close, and he clutches his hams, & he with plat-tyng his paumes displayes his lers[19] And he with striking his palms displays his fears, & romyes as a rad ryth at rore[gh] for drede And howls as a frightened hound that roars for dread, Ay biholdand e honde til hit hade al grauen, Ever beholding the hand till it had all graven, & rasped on e ro[gh] wo[gh]e runisch saue[gh] And rasped on the rough wall uncouth saws (words).

(IX.) The story of Nebuchadnezzar's pride and its punishment (pp. 84, 85), and the interpretation of the handwriting by Daniel (p.86).

(X.) The invasion of Babylon by the Medes (pp. 87, 88).

Balta[gh]ar in his bed wat[gh] beten to dee Belshazzar in his bed was beaten to death, at boe his blood & his brayn blende on e cloes That both his blood and his brains blended on the clothes; e kyng in his cortyn wat[gh] ka[gh]t by e heles The king in his curtain was caught by the heels, Feryed out bi e fete & fowle dispysed Ferried out by the feet and foully despised; at wat[gh] so do[gh]ty at day & drank of e vessayl He that was so doughty that day and drank of the vessels, Now is a dogge also dere at in a dych lygges Now is as dear (valuable) as a dog that in a ditch lies. —(p.88.)

[Footnote 16: See Glossary.]

[Footnote 17: "4. And the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between two walls, which is by the king's garden: (now the Chaldees were against the city round about:) and the king went the way toward the plain.

"5. And the army of the Chaldees pursued after the king, and overtook him in the plains of Jericho: and all his army were scattered from him."]

[Footnote 18: Immediately.]

[Footnote 19: ? feres.]

The third poem, entitled "Patience," is a paraphrase of the book of Jonah. The writer prefaces it with a few remarks of his own in order to show that "patience is a noble point though it displease oft."

The following extract contains a description of the sea-storm which overtook Jonah:—

Anon out of e nor est e noys bigynes Anon out of the north east the noise begins, When boe brees[20] con blowe vpon blo watteres When both breezes did blow upon blue waters: Ro[gh] rakkes er ros with rudnyng an-vnder Rough clouds there arose with lightning there under, e see sou[gh]ed ful sore, gret selly to here The sea sobbed full sore, great marvel to hear; e wyndes on e wonne water so wrastel togeder, The winds on the wan water so wrestle together, at e wawes ful wode waltered so hi[gh]e That the waves full wild rolled so high, & efte busched to e abyme at breed fyssches And again bent to the abyss that bred fishes; Durst nowhere for ro[gh] arest at e bothem. Durst it nowhere for roughness rest at the bottom. When e breth & e brok & e bote metten When the breeze and the brook and the boat met, Hit wat[gh] a ioyles gyn at Ionas wat[gh] inne It was a joyless engine that Jonah was in, For hit reled on round vpon e ro[gh]e yes For it reeled around upon the rough waves. e bur ber to hit baft at braste alle her gere The bore (wave) bear to it abaft that burst all her gear, en hurled on a hepe e helme & e sterne Then hurled on a heap the helm and the stern, Furste to murte[21] mony rop & e mast after First marred[21] many a rope and the mast after. e sayl sweyed on e see, enne suppe bihoued The sail swung on the sea, then sup behoved e coge of e colde water, & enne e cry ryses The boat of the cold water, and then the cry rises; [Gh]et coruen ay e cordes & kest al er-oute Yet cut they the cords and cast all there-out. Mony ladde er forth-lep to laue & to kest Many a lad there forth leapt to lave and to cast, Scopen out e scael water, at fayn scape wolde To scoop out the scathful water that fain escape would; For be monnes lode neuer so luer, e lyf is ay swete For be man's lot never so bad, the life is aye sweet. —(p.93.)

The writer, in concluding the story of Jonah, exhorts his readers to be "patient in pain and in joy."

For he at is to rakel to renden his cloe[gh], Mot efte sitte with more vn-sounde to sewe hem togeder. For he that is too rash to rend his clothes, Must afterwards sit with more unsound (worse ones) to sew them together. (p.104.)

[Footnote 20: Eurus and Aquilo.]

[Footnote 21: ? = to-marte.]

This brief outline of the poems, together with the short extracts from them, will, it is hoped, give the reader stomach to digest the whole. It is true that they contain many "uncouth" terms; but this will be their highest merit with the student of language, as is shown, by Dr. Guest's testimony, that they are "for several reasons curious, and especially so to the philologist."[22] To those readers who do not appreciate the importance of such a very large addition to the vocabulary of our Early Language as is made by these treatises, let Sir Frederic Madden's opinion of their literary merit suffice. That distinguished editor says, of the author's "poetical talent, the pieces contained in the MS. afford unquestionable proofs; and the description of the change of the seasons, the bitter aspect of winter, the tempest which preceded the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the sea storm occasioned by the wickedness of Jonas, are equal to any similar passages in Douglas or Spenser."[23] Moreover, as to the hardness of the language—inasmuch as the subject matter of the poem will be familiar to all who may take up the present volume, the difficulty on the word-point will not be such as to deter the reader from understanding and appreciating the production of an old English poet, who—though his very name, unfortunately, has yet to be discovered—may claim to stand in the foremost rank of England's early bards.

The Editor of the present volume has endeavoured to do justice to his author by giving the text, with some few exceptions, as it stands in the manuscript.[24] The contractions of the scribe have been expanded and printed in italics, a plan which he hopes to see adopted in every future edition of an early English author.

The Glossary has been compiled not only for the benefit of the reader, but for the convenience of those who are studying the older forms of our language, and who know how valuable a mere index of words and references sometimes proves.

In conclusion, I take the present opportunity of acknowledging the kind assistance of Sir Frederic Madden and E.A. Bond, Esq., of the British Museum, who, on every occasion, were most ready to render me any help in deciphering the manuscript, in parts almost illegible, from which the poems in the present volume are printed.

[Footnote 22: History of English Rhythms, vol. i. p.159.]

[Footnote 23: Syr Gawayn, ed. Madden, p. 302.]

[Footnote 24: Wherever the Text has been altered, the reading of the MS. will be found in a foot-note.]


Higden, writing about the year A.D. 1350, affirms, distinctly, the existence of three different forms of speech or dialects, namely, Southern, Midland, and Northern;[25] or, as they are sometimes designated, West-Saxon, Mercian, and Northumbrian. Garnett objects to Higden's classification, and considers it certain "that there were in his (Higden's) time, and probably long before, five distinctly marked forms, which may be classed as follows:— 1.Southern or standard English, which in the fourteenth century was perhaps best spoken in Kent and Surrey by the body of the inhabitants. 2.Western English, of which traces may be found from Hampshire to Devonshire, and northward as far as the Avon. 3.Mercian, vestiges of which appear in Shropshire, Staffordshire, and South and West Derbyshire, becoming distinctly marked in Cheshire, and still more so in South Lancashire. 4.Anglian, of which there are three sub-divisions—the East Anglian of Norfolk and Suffolk; the Middle Anglian of Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and East Derbyshire; and the North Anglian of the West Riding of Yorkshire—spoken most purely in the central part of the mountainous district of Craven. 5.Northumbrian," spoken throughout the Lowlands of Scotland, Northumberland, Durham, and nearly the whole of Yorkshire.

Garnett's division is based upon peculiarities of pronunciation, which will be found well marked in the modern provincial dialects, and not upon any essential differences of inflexion that are to be found in our Early English manuscripts.[26]

The distinction between Southern and Western English was not at all required, as the Kentish Ayenbite of Inwyt (A.D. 1340) exhibits most of the peculiarities that mark the Chronicles of Robert of Gloucester (Cottonian MS. Calig. A. xi.) as a Southern (or West-Saxon) production. The Anglian of Norfolk, Lincolnshire, and Nottinghamshire may be referred to one group with the Mercian of Lancashire, as varieties of the Midland dialect.

A careful examination of our early literature leads us to adopt Higden's classification as not only a convenient but a correct one.

There is, perhaps, no better test for distinguishing these dialects from one another than the verbal inflexions of the plural number in the present tense, indicative mood.

To state this test in the briefest manner, we may say that the Southern dialect employs -eth, the Midland -en, and the Northumbrian -es as the inflexion for all persons of the plural present indicative:[27]—

Southern. Midland. Northern.

1st pers. Hop-eth. Hop-en. Hop-es. (we) hope. 2nd " Hop-eth. Hop-en. Hop-es. (ye) hope. 3rd " Hop-eth. Hop-en. Hop-es. (they) hope.

It is the constant and systematic employment of these inflexions, and not their occasional use that must be taken as the criterion of dialectical varieties.

In a pure specimen of the Southern dialect, we never find the Northumbrian -es. We do occasionally meet with the Midland -en, but only in those works written in localities where, from their geographical position, Southern and Midland forms would be intelligible.[28] We might look in vain for the Southern plural -eth in a pure Northumbrian production, but might be more successful in finding the Midland -en in the third person plural; as, "thay arn" for "they ar", or "thay er."

In a work composed in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, or Lancashire, we should be sure to find the occasional use of the Northumbrian plural -es.[29]

The inflexions of the verb in the singular are of value in enabling us to discriminate between the several varieties of the Midland dialect.[30] The Southern and Midland idioms (with the exception of the West-Midland of Lancashire, Cheshire, etc.) conjugated the verb in the singular present indicative, as follows:—

1st pers. hope (I) hope. 2nd " hop-est (thou) hopest. 3rd " hop-eth (he) hopes.

The West-Midland, corresponding to Garnett's Mercian, instead of -est and -eth employs the inflexions that are so common in the so-called Northumbrian documents of the ninth and tenth centuries:—

1st pers. hope (I) hope. 2nd " hop-es (thou) hopest. 3rd " hop-es (he) hopes.

The Northumbrian dialect takes -es in all three persons; but mostly drops it in the first person.

The peasantry of Cheshire and Lancashire still preserve the verbal inflexions which prevailed in the fourteenth century, and conjugate their verbs in the present indicative according to the following model:—

Singular. Plural. 1st pers. hope hopen. 2nd " hopes hopen. 3rd " hopes hopen.

Inasmuch as the poems in the present volume exhibit the systematic use of these forms, we cannot but believe that they were originally composed in one of those counties where these verbal inflexions were well known and extensively used. We have to choose between several localities, but if we assign the poems to Lancashire we are enabled to account for the large number of Norse terms employed. It is true that the ancient examples of the Lancashire dialect contained in Mr. Robson's Metrical Romances,[31] the Boke of Curtasye,[32] and Liber Cure Cocorum,[33] present us with much broader forms, as -us for -es in the plural number and possessive case of nouns, -un for -en in the plural present indicative mood, in passive participles of irregular (or strong) verbs, -ud (-ut) for -ed in the past tense and passive participle of regular (or weak) verbs, and the pronominal forms hor (their), hom (them), for her and hem.[34]

These forms are evidence of a broad pronunciation which, at the present time, is said to be a characteristic of the northwestern division of Lancashire, but I think that there is good evidence for asserting that this strong provincialism was not confined, formerly, to the West-Midland dialect, much less to a division of any particular county. We find traces of it in Audelay's Poems (Shropshire), the Romance of William and the Werwolf,[35] and even in the Wickliffite version of the Scriptures.

Formerly, being influenced by these broad forms, I was led to select Cheshire or Staffordshire as the probable locality where the poems were written; but I do not, now, think that either of these counties ever employed a vocabulary containing so many Norse terms as are to be found in the Lancashire dialect. But although we may not be able to fix, with certainty, upon any one county in particular, the fact of the present poems being composed in the West-Midland dialect cannot be denied. Much may be said in favour of their Lancashire origin, and there are one or two points of resemblance between our poems, the Lancashire Romances, and Liber Cure Cocorum, that deserve especial notice.

I. In Sir Amadace,[36] lxviii. 9, there occurs the curious form mi[gh]tus = mi[gh]tes = mightst.[37] As it appears only once throughout the Romances we might conclude that it is an error of the scribe for mi[gh]test, but when we find in the poems before us not only my[gh]te[gh] = my[gh]tes (mightst), but wolde[gh] = woldes (wouldst), couthe[gh] = couthes (couldst), dippte[gh] (dippedest), travaylede[gh] (travelledst), etc., we are bound to consider mi[gh]tus as a genuine form.[38] In no other Early English works of the fourteenth century have I been able to find this peculiarity. It is very common in the Wohunge of Ure Lauerd (xiiith cent.). See O.E. Homilies, p.51. The Northumbrian dialect at this period rejected the inflexion in the second person preterite singular, of regular verbs,[39] and in our poems we find the -es often dropped, so that we get two conjugations, which may be called the inflected and the uninflected form.

Inflected. Uninflected. 1st pers. hopede hoped (I) hoped. 2nd " hopedes hoped (thou) hopedest. 3rd " hopede hoped (he) hoped.

Originally the inflected form may have prevailed over the whole of the North of England, but have gradually become confined to the West-Midland dialect.

II. The next point of resemblance is the use of the verb SCHIN or SCHUN = schal = shall. It is still preserved in the modern dialect of Lancashire in combination with the adverb not, as schunnot[40] = shall not. The following examples will serve to illustrate the use of this curious form:—

"—— ay schin knawe sone, ere is no bount in burne lyk Balta[gh]ar ewes."[41] —(B. l.1435.)

"& ose at seme arn & swete schyn se his face."[42] —(Ibid. l.1810.)

"Pekokys and pertrikys perboylyd schyn be."[43] —(Liber Cure Cocorum, p.29.)

"For er bene bestes at schyn be rost."[44] —(Ibid. p.34.)

"Alle schun be dra[gh]un, Syr, at o syde."[45] —(Ibid. p.35.)

"Seche ferlies schyn falle."[46] —(Robson's Met. Rom. p.12, l.4.)

III. Nothing is more common in the present poems than the use of hit as a genitive = its, which is also found in the Lancashire romances.

"Fory e derk dede see hit is demed ever more, For hit dede[gh] of dee duren ere [gh]et."[47] —(Patience, l.1021.)

"And, as hit is corsed of kynde & hit cooste[gh] als, e clay at clenges er-by arn corsyes strong."[48] —(Ibid. l.1033.)

"For I wille speke with the sprete, And of hit woe wille I wete, Gif that I may hit bales bete."[49] —(Robson's Met. Romances, p.5, ll. 3, 4.)

The present dialect of Lancashire still retains the uninflected genitive:—

"So I geet up be strike o' dey, on seet eawt; on went ogreath tilly welly coom within two mile oth' teawn; when, os tha dule woud height, o tit wur stonning ot an ale heawse dur; on me kawve (the dule bore eawt it een for me) took th' tit for it mother, on woud seawk her."[50] (Tummus and Meary).

Thus much for the dialectical peculiarities of our author. The scanty material at our disposal must be a sufficient excuse for the very meagre outline which is here presented to the reader. As our materials increase, the whole question of Early English dialects will no doubt receive that attention from English philologists which the subject really demands, and editors of old English works will then be enabled to speak with greater confidence as to the language and peculiarities of their authors. Something might surely be done to help the student by a proper classification of our manuscripts both as to date and place of composition. We are sadly in want of unadulterated specimens of the Northumbrian and East-Midland idioms during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. There must surely be some records of these dialects in our university libraries which would well repay editing.[51]

[Footnote 25: Polychronicon R. Higdeni, ap. Gale, p.210, 211. See Garnett's Philological Essays, p.43, and Specimens of Early English, p.338.]

[Footnote 26: It is to be regretted that Garnett did not enter upon details, and give his readers some tests by which to distinguish the "five distinctly marked forms."]

[Footnote 27: In English works of the fourteenth century the -en of the Midland, and the -es of the Northumbrian is frequently dropped, thus gradually approximating to our modern conjugation.]

[Footnote 28: We are here speaking of works written in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.]

[Footnote 29: Robert of Brunne, in his "Handlyng Synne," often employs it instead of -en, but only for the sake of the rhyme.]

[Footnote 30: The Midland dialect is a very difficult one to deal with, as it presents us with no uniform type; and, moreover, works written in this idiom are marked by Northern or Southern peculiarities, which have led many of our editors altogether astray in determining the locality of their composition.]

[Footnote 31: Published by the Camden Society, 1842.]

[Footnote 32: Edited by Mr. Halliwell for the Percy Society.]

[Footnote 33: Edited by me for the Philological Society, 1862.]

[Footnote 34: -us and -ud for -es and -ed, as well as hom, hor, do occasionally occur in the MS. containing our poems.]

[Footnote 35: The Romance of William and the Werwolf is written in the West-Midland dialect as spoken probably in Shropshire.]

[Footnote 36: Robson's Metrical Romances, p.54, l.9.]

[Footnote 37: Woldus = woldes = wouldst, appears in Audelay's poems (in the Shropshire dialect of the fifteenth century), p.32, l.6.]

[Footnote 38: The so-called Northumbrian records of the ninth and tenth centuries frequently use -es instead of -est, in the 2nd pers. preterite of regular verbs, e.g.,

u forcerdes usic on-bec = Thou turnedst us hindward. —(Ps.xliii. 11.) u saldes usic = Thou gavest us. —(Ps. xliii. 12.) u bi-bohtes folc in butan weore = Thou soldest thy folk without price. —(Ps.xliii. 12.) u ge-hiowades me & settes ofer me hond ine = Thou madest me and settest over me thy hand. —(Ps.cxxxviii. 5.) u reades a ofer-hygdan = Thou hast rebuked the proud. —(Ps.cxviii. 21.)

Ic ondeto e fader drihten heofnes foron u gedeigeldes as ilco from snotrum & hogum & deaudes a m lytlum = I thank thee, O father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. —(Matt. xi. 25).]

[Footnote 39: ou torned us hindward. —(Early English Nn. Psalter, xliii. 11.)

ou salde i folk. —(Ibid. xliii. 12.) ou meked us. —(Ibid. xliii. 20.) ou made me and set i hand over me. —(Ibid. cxxxviii. 5.) ou snibbed proude. —(Ibid. cxviii. 21.)]

[Footnote 40: I am informed by a Shropshire friend that it prevails in his county under the form shinneh.

Win = will, in winnot, wunnot = will not, is still heard in the West-Midland districts. It is found in Robson's Romances and in Liber Cure Cocorum.]

[Footnote 41: They shall know soon there is no goodness in man like Belshazzar's virtues.]

[Footnote 42: And those that seemly are and sweet shall see His (God's) face.]

[Footnote 43: Peacocks and partriches parboiled shall be.]

[Footnote 44: For er are beasts at shall be roasted.]

[Footnote 45: All shall be drawn (have the entrails removed), Sir, at the side.]

[Footnote 46: Such marvels shall happen.]

[Footnote 47: Wherefore the dark dead sea it is called ever more. For its deeds of death endure there yet.]

[Footnote 48: And as it is cursed of kind and its properties also, The clay that clings thereby are corrosives strong.]

[Footnote 49: I will speak with the spirit, And of its woe will I wit (know), If that I may its bales (grief) abate.]

[Footnote 50: So I got up by break of day and set out; and went straight till I well nigh came within two miles of the town, when, as the devil would have it, a horse was standing at an ale-house door; and my calf (the devil bore out its eyes for me) took the horse for its mother, and would suck her.]

[Footnote 51: Three specimens of the East-Midland dialect have come to light since writing the above. Harl. MS. 3909; Troy Book, ed. Donaldson, E.E.T.Soc.; The Lay-folks Mass-Book, ed. Simpson, E.E.T.Soc.]


I. Nouns.

(1) Number.—The plurals generally end in -es (e[gh]), -s. Y[gh]en (eyes), trumpen (trumpets), are the only plurals in -en that occur in the poems. In Robson's Metrical Romances we find fellun (fells, hills,), dellun (dells), and eyren (eggs), in Liber Cure Cocorum. The plurals of brother, child, cow, do[gh]ter (daughter), are brether, childer, kuy, and de[gh]ter.

(2) Gender.—The names of inanimate things are in the neuter gender, as in modern English. The exceptions are deep (fem.), gladnes (fem.), and wind (masc.).

(3) Case.—The genitive singular (masc. and fem.) ends in -es (-e[gh]), -s, but occasionally the inflexion is dropped; as, "Balta[gh]ar thewes," the virtues of Balshazzar.[52] If "honde my[gh]t," "honde werk," "hellen wombe," are not compounds, we have instances of the final -e (en) which formed the genitive case of feminine nouns in the Southern English of the fourteenth century.

In the phrases "besten blod" (blood of beasts), "blonkken bak" (back of horses), "chyldryn fader" (father of children), "nakeryn noyse" (noise of nakers), we have a trace of the genitive plural -ene (A.S. -ena).

[Footnote 52: In the romance of "Syr Gawayn and the Grene Kny[gh]t" we find "blonk (horse) sadele," "fox felle" (skin). In blonk an e has probably been dropped.]

II. Adjectives.

(1) Number.—The final e, as a sign of the plural, is very frequently dropped. Pover (poor), sturn (strong), make the plurals poveren and sturnen. In the phrase, "o sy[gh]te[gh] so quyke[gh]"[53] (those sights so living), the -e[gh] (= -es) is a mark of the plural, very common in Southern writers of the fourteenth century, and employed as a plural inflexion of the adjective until a very late period in our literature.

The Article exhibits the following forms:

SINGULAR. PLURAL. Masc. Fem. The. tho.[54] tho.

This forms the plural thise and thes (these). That is always used as a demonstrative, and never as the neuter of the article; its plural is thos (those).[55] The older form, theos = these, shows that the e is not a sign of the plural, as many English grammarians have asserted.

(2) Degrees of Comparison.—The comparative degree ends in -er, and the superlative in -est.

Adjectives and adverbs terminating in the syllable -lyche form the comparative in -loker and the superlative in -lokest; as, positive uglyche (= ugly), comp. ugloker, superl. uglokest. The long vowel of the positive is often shortened in the comp. and superl., as in the modern English late, latter, last.

Positive. Comparative. Superlative. Brade (broad), bradder, braddest. Dere (dear), derrer, derrest. Lyke (like), lykker, lykkest. Swete (sweet), swetter, swettest. Wayke (weak), wakker, wakkest. Wode (mad), wodder, woddest.

The following irregular forms are occasionally met with:

Positive. Comparative. Superlative. Fer (far), ferre (fyrre), ferrest. He[gh]e (high), herre, he[gh]est (hest). Ne[gh]e (nigh, near) nerre, nerrest (nest). Sare (sore), sarre, sarrest. Forme (first), formast. Mikelle (great), mo most. Yvel, ill (bad), wers (worre), werst.

Numerals.Twinne and thrinne occur for two and three. The ordinal numbers are—

first (fyrste), the forme, secunde, that other, tother, thryd, } thrydde, } fure, fyfe, sexte, sevene, a[gh]te, nente, tene, } tye. }

The Northumbrian numerals corresponding to sevene, a[gh]te, nente, tene, are sevend, aghtend, neghend, tend. The Southern forms end in -the, as sevene, ei[gh]teoe, nye, teoe (tye).

[Footnote 53: The feminine form is seldom employed.]

[Footnote 54: The Northumbrian plural article is tha.]

[Footnote 55: The Northumbrian corresponding form is thas.]

III. Pronouns.

In the following poems we find the pronoun ho, she, still keeping its ground against the Northumbrian scho.[56] Ho is identical with the modern Lancashire hoo (or huh as it is sometimes written), which in some parts of England has nearly the same pronunciation as the accusative her.

The Northumbrian thay (they) has displaced the older Midland he, corresponding to the Southern pronoun hii, hi (A.S. h). Hores and thayre[gh] (theirs) occasionally occur for here.[57] The genitives in -es, due no doubt to Scandinavian influence, are very common in Northumbrian writers of the fourteenth century, but are never found in any Southern work of the same period.

Hit is frequently employed as an indefinite pronoun of all genders, and is plural as well as singular. It is, as has been previously shown, uninflected in the genitive or possessive case.

Me in Southern writers is used as an indefinite pronoun of the third person, and represents our one, but in the present poems it is of all persons, and seems to be placed in apposition with the subject of the sentence corresponding to our use of myself, thyself, himself, etc.; as,

"He swenges me ys," etc. = He himself sends this, etc.[58] "Now swe[gh]e me ider swyftly" = Now go (thou) thyself thither swiftly.[59] "He mete[gh] me is good man" = He himself meets this good man.[60]

Sturzen-Becker ("Some Notes on the leading Grammatical Characteristics of the Principal Early English Dialects, Copenhagen, 1868") thinks that I have been led astray with regard to this use of me, which he says is nothing more than the dativus ethicus.

The me in these examples may be merely an expletive, having arisen out of the general use of the dative ethicus, but the context does not satisfy me that it has the force of a dative. Dr. Guest (Proceedings of Philolog. Soc., vol. i. p.151-153, 1842-1844) has discussed this construction at some length, and he carefully distinguishes the dative of the 1st person from the indeterminate (or indefinite) pronoun me = Fr. one. He says that in Old Frisian the indefinite pronoun has two forms, min and me, "the latter of which seems to be always used as a suffix to the verb, as momme, one may; somme, one should," etc. The same construction was occasionally used in our own language, and it no doubt gave rise to those curious idioms which are noticed by Pegge in his "Anecdotes of the Eng. Lang.," p.217. This writer, whose evidence to a fact we may avail ourselves of, whatever we think of his criticism or his scholarship, quotes the following as forms of speech then prevalent among the Londoners: "and so says me I;" "well what does me I;" "so says me she;" "then away goes me he;" "what does me they?" Here it is obvious that me is the indeterminate pronoun, and represents the subject, while the personal pronoun is put in apposition to it, so that "says me I" is equivalent to "one says, that is I,"[61]. These idioms are not unknown to our literature.

(1) 'But as he was by diverse principall young gentlemen, to his no small glorie, lifted up on horseback, comes me a page of Amphialus, etc.' Pembr. Arcad. B. iii.

Other idioms, which have generally been confounded with those last mentioned, have the indeterminate pronoun preceded by a nominative absolute.

(2) 'I, having been acquainted with the smell before, knew it was Crab, and—goes me to the fellow, who whips the dogs,' etc. Two Gent. of Verona, 4. 4.

(3) 'He thrusts me himself into the company of three or four gentlemanlike dogs under the Duke's Table.' Ib. See B.Jons. Ev. Man in his Humour, 3, 1.

Johnson considers the me in examples 2 and 3 to be the oblique case of the first pers. pron., and treats it as "a ludicrous expletive." It is difficult to say how he would have parsed example 2 on such a hypothesis.

With these instances of the use of me (indef. or reflexive), the reader may compare the following:

(1) "Suche a touche in that tyde, he ta[gh]te (Gauan) hym in tene And gurdes me, Sir Gallerun, evyn grovelonges on grounde." (The Anturs of Arther at the Tarnewathelan, p.22.)

(2) There at the dore he (the Fox) cast me downe hys pack. Spenser's Shep. Cal. ed. Morris, p. 460, l.243.

Cp. Cut me, i. Hen. IV. Act 4. Sc. 4; steps me, Ib. Act 4, Sc. 3; comes me, runs me, Ib. Act 3, Sc. 1.

(3) "Juno enraged, and fretting thus, Runs me unto one olus." —(Virgile Travestie, 1664.)

The indefinite me = one is not uncommon in Elizabethan writers. Cf. "touch me his hat;" "touch me hir with a pint of sack," etc.; "and stop me his dice you are a villaine" (Lodge's Wit's Miserie).

The following table exhibits the declension of the personal and relative pronouns:—

SINGULAR. Nom. I, thou, he, ho, hit. Gen. My, myn, thy, thyn, his, hir, her, hit. Dat. Me, the, him, hir, her, hit. Acc. Me, the, him, hir, her, hit.

PLURAL. Nom. We, [gh]e, thay, hit. Gen. Oure, yor, youre, her (here), hor, hit. Dat. Vus (= uus), yow, you, hem, hom, hit. Acc. Vus (= uus), yow, you, hem, hom, hit.

Nom. Who (quo). Gen. Whose (quos). Dat. { Whom, Wham } (quom). Acc. { Whom, Wham } (quom).

[Footnote 56: Scho occurs once in the present poems.]

[Footnote 57: Yowre[gh] (yours) sometimes takes the place of youre in the romance of "Sir Gawayne and the Grene Kny[gh]t."]

[Footnote 58: Page 92, l. 108.]

[Footnote 59: Page 91, l. 72.]

[Footnote 60: Syr Gawayn, l. 1932.]

[Footnote 61: I would say that says me I = I myself say. —R.M.]

IV. Verbs.

Infinitive Mood.—The -en of the infinitive is frequently dropped, without even a final -e to mark its omission. Infinitives in -y, as louy (love), schony (shun), spotty (spot, defile), styry (stir), wony (dwell), occasionally occur, and probably owe their appearance to the author's acquaintance with Southern literature.[62]

Indicative Mood.—The final e often disappears in the first and third persons of the preterite tense, as I loved, he loved, instead of I lovede, he lovede.

The -en in the plural of the present and preterite tenses is frequently dropped. The pl. present in -e[gh] occasionally occurs.

Imperative Mood.—The imperative plural ends in -es (e[gh]), and not in -eth as in the Southern and ordinary Midland dialects.

Participles.—The active or imperfect participle ends in -ande[63] and never in -ing.

The participle passive or perfect of regular verbs terminates in -ed; of irregular verbs in -en. Occasionally we find the n disappearing, as bigonn-e, fund-e, runn-e, wonn-e, where perhaps it is represented by the final -e.

The prefix -i or -y (A.S. -ge) occurs twice only in the poems, in i-chose (chosen), and i-brad (extended); but, while common enough in the Southern and Midland dialects, it seems to be wholly unknown to the Northumbrian speech.

The verb in the West-Midland dialect is conjugated according to the following model:—

I.—Conjugation of Regular Verbs.


PRESENT TENSE. Singular. Plural. (I) hope, (We) hopen. (Thou) hopes, ([Gh]e) hopen. (He) hopes, (Thay) hopen.

PRETERITE TENSE. (I) hopede[64] (hoped), (We) hopeden. (Thou) hopedes (hoped), ([Gh]e) hopeden. (He) hopede[64] (hoped), (Thay) hopeden.


Hope (thou). Hopes ([gh]e).


Imperfect or Active. Perfect or Passive. Hopande. Hoped.

II.—Conjugation of Irregular Verbs.



Singular. (I) kerve, renne, smite, stonde. (Thou) kerves, rennes, smites, stondes. (He) kerves, rennes, smites, stondes.

Plural. (We) kerven, rennen, smiten, stonden. ([Gh]e) " " " " (Thay) " " " "


Singular. (I) carf, ran, smot, stod. (Thou) carve, ranne, smote, stode. (He) carf, ran, smot, stod.

Very frequently the e in the second person is dropped,[65] as in the Northumbrian dialect, but we never meet with such forms as carves (=carvedest), rannes (=ranst), smotes (=smotest), etc.

Plural. (We) corven, runnen, smiten, stonden. ([Gh]e) " " " " (Thay) " " " "


Corven, runnen, smiten, stonden.

The Northumbrian dialect does not preserve any separate form for the preterite plural, and this distinction is not always observed in the present poems.

Table of Verbs.


Present. Preterite. Passive Participle.

Class I. Hate, hatede, hated.

Class II. (a) Bede (offer), bedde, bed. Dype (dip), dypte, dypt. Kythe (show), kydde, kyd. Lende, lende, lent. Rende, rende, rent. Sende, sende, sent. (b) Clothe, cladde, clad. Dele (deal), dalte, dalt. Lede, ladde, lad. Leve, lafte, laft. Rede (advise), radde, rad. Sprede (spread), spradde, sprad. Swelt (die), swalte, —— Swette (sweat), swatte, —— Threte (threaten), thratte, thrat.

Class III. Byye (buy), bo[gh]te, bo[gh]t Bringe, bro[gh]te, bro[gh]t. Cache (catch), ca[gh]te, ca[gh]t. Lache (seize), la[gh]te, la[gh]t. Reche (reck), ro[gh]te, —— Reche (reach), ra[gh]te, —— Selle, solde, sold. Worche (work), wro[gh]te, wro[gh]t.


Present. Preterite. Passive Participle.

Division I.

Class I. Bere (bear), ber, born. Bete (beat), bet, beten. Breke (break), brek, broken. Chese (choose), ches (chos), chosen. Cleve (cleave), clef, cloven. Ete (eat), ette (for et), eten. For[gh]ete (forget), for[gh]et, for[gh]eten. Frese (freeze), fres, frosen. Gife (give), gef, given, geven. Heve (heave), hef, hoven. Ligge (lie), le[gh], leyen, le[gh]en. Lepe (leap), lep, lopen. Nemme } (take), nem (nam), nomen. Nimme } Schere (shear), scher, schorn. Slepe (sleep), slep, slepen. Speke (speak), spek, spoken. Stele (steal), stel, stolen. Swere (swear), swer, sworen. Wepe (weep), wep, wopen. Wreke (avenge), wrek, wroken.

Class II. Falle, fell, fallen. Fonge (take), feng, fongen. Growe, grew, growen. Hange, honge, heng, hangen, hongen. Knowe, knawe, knew, knawen, knowen. Schape (make), schep, schapen. Walke, welk, walken. Wasche, wesch, waschen.

Class III. Drawe, dra[gh]e, dro[gh], drawen. Fare (go), for, faren. La[gh]e (laugh), lo[gh], la[gh]en. Stande, stonde, stod, standen. Slaye, slow, slew, slayn. Take, tok, tane, tone. Wake, wok, waken.

Division II.

Present. Preterite. Passive Participle.

Class I. Biginne, bigon, bigonnen, bigunnen. Breste, brast, borst, brusten, bursten. Climbe, clamb, clomb, clumben. Drinke, dronk, drank, drunken, dronken. Finde, fand, fond, funden. Fi[gh]te, fa[gh]t, fe[gh]t, fo[gh]ten. Helpe, halp, holpen. Kerve (cut), carf, corven. Melte, malt, molten. Renne (run), ran, runnen. Ringe, rong, rungen, rongen. Singe, song, sang, sungen. Steke, stac, stoken. Sterve (die), starf, storven. Werpe (throw), warp, worpen. Win, wan, won, wonnen, wunnen. [Gh]elde (yield), [gh]ald, [gh]olden.

Class II. Bide (abide), bod, biden. Bite, bot, biten. Drive, drof, driven. Fine (cease), fon, —— Glide, glod, gliden. Ride, rod, riden. Rise, ros, risen. Schine, schon, —— Slide, slod, sliden. Smite, smot, smiten. Trine (go), tron, ——

Class III. Fly, fle[gh], flegh, fla[gh], flowen. See, se[gh], segh, sy[gh], seen. Sti[gh]e, ste[gh]e, ste[gh] ——

Anomalous Verbs.

Can, pret. couthe. Dare, " dorste. May, " mi[gh]te. Mot, " moste. O[gh]e (owe), " o[gh]te. Schal, " scholde, schulde. Thar, " thurte. Wote, " wiste. Wille, " wolde.

Schal (shall) in the second person singular is schal or schalt; so, too, we occasionally find wyl for wylt.

The present plural of schal is schul, schulen, or schyn.

The verb to be is thus conjugated:—



Singular. (I) am. (I) was, wat[gh]. (Thou) art. (Thou) was, wat[gh]. (He) is, bes, bet[gh]. (He) was, wat[gh].

Plural. (We) arn, are, ar. (We) wern, were. ([Gh]e) arn, are, ar. ([Gh]e) wern, were. (Thay) arn, are, ar. (Thay) wern, were.

The verbs be, have, wille, have negative forms; as, nam = am not; nar = are not; nas = was not; naf = have not; nade = had not; nyl = will not.

The following contractions are occasionally met with: bos = behoves; byhod = behoved; ha = have; ma = make; man = make (pl.) mat[gh] (mas) = makes; ta = take; tat[gh] (= tas) = takes; tane, tone = taken.

[Footnote 62: Schonied occurs for schoned. No Southern writer would retain, I think, the i in the preterite.]

[Footnote 63: Garnett asserts that the present participle in -ande is "a certain criterion of a Northern dialect subsequent to the thirteenth century." It is never found in any Southern writer, but is common to many Midland dialects. Capgrave employs it frequently in his Chronicles. It is, however, no safe criterion by itself.]

[Footnote 64: The final e is often dropped.]

[Footnote 65: In The Wohunge of Ure Lauerd the e is constantly omitted.]

V. Adverbs.

The Norse forms hethen, quethen (whethen),[66] and thethen, seem to have been known to the West-Midland dialect as well as the Saxon forms hence (hennes, henne), whence (whennes), thence (thennes), etc. The adverbs in-blande (together), in-lyche (alike), in-mydde (amidst), in-monge (amongst), are due, perhaps, to Scandinavian influence.

[Footnote 66: "Syr Gawayn and the Grene Kny[gh]t."]

VI. Prepositions.

The preposition from never occurs in the following poems; it is replaced by fro, fra (Northumbrian), O.N. fr.

VII. Conjunctions.

The conjunction if takes a negative form; as, nif = if not, unless.


Cotton MS. Nero A. x. A small quarto volume, consisting of three different MSS. bound together, which originally had no connection with each other. Prefixed is an imperfect list of contents in the hand-writing of James, the Bodley Librarian.

The first portion consists of a panegyrical oration in Latin by Justus de Justis, on John Chedworth, archdeacon of Lincoln, dated at Verona 16th July, 1468. It occupies thirty-six folios, written on vellum, and is the original copy presented by the author.

The second portion is that we are more immediately concerned with. It is described by James as "Vetus poema Anglicanum, in quo sub insomnii figmento multa ad religionem et mores spectantia explicantur," and this account, with some slight changes, is adopted by Smith and Planta, in their catalogues; both of whom assign it to the fifteenth century. It will appear, by what follows, that no less than four distinct poems have been confounded together by these writers.

This portion of the volume extends from fol. 37 to fol. 126, inclusive, and is written by one and the same hand, in a small, sharp, irregular character, which is often, from the paleness of the ink, and the contractions used, difficult to read. There are no titles or rubrics, but the divisions are marked by large initial letters of blue, flourished with red, and several illuminations, coarsely executed, serve by way of illustration, each of which occupies a page.

1. Four of these are prefixed to the first poem. In the first the Author is represented slumbering in a meadow, by the side of a streamlet, clad in a long red gown, having falling sleeves, turned up with white, and a blue hood attached round the neck.

In the second the same person appears, drawn on a larger scale, and standing by the stream. In the third he occurs nearly in the same position, with his hands raised, and on the opposite side a lady dressed in white, in the costume of Richard the Second's and Henry the Fourth's time, buttoned tight up to the neck, with long hanging sleeves. Her hair is plaited on each side, and on her head is a crown. In the fourth we see the author kneeling by the water, and beyond the stream is depicted a castle or palace, on the embattled wall of which appears the same lady, with her arm extended towards him.

The poem commences on fol. 39, and consists of one hundred and one twelve-line stanzas,[68] every five of which conclude with the same line, and are connected by the iteration of a leading expression. It concludes on fol. 55b.

2. Then follow two more illuminations; in the first of which Noah and his family are represented in the ark; in the second the prophet Daniel expounding the writing on the wall to the affrighted Belshazzar and his queen. These serve as illustrations to the second poem, which begins at fol. 57, and is written in long alliterative lines. It concludes on fol. 82.

3. Two illuminations precede, as before; one of which represents the sailors throwing the prophet Jonas into the sea, the other depicts the prophet in the attitude of preaching to the people of Nineveh. The poem is in the same metre as the last, and commences at fol. 83.

It is occupied wholly with the story of Jonas, as applicable to the praise of meekness and patience; and ends on fol. 90.

4. The Romance intitled Sir Gawayne and the Grene Kny[gh]t follows, fol. 91. Prefixed is an illumination of a headless knight on horseback, carrying his head by its hair in his right hand, and looking benignly at an odd-eyed bill-man before him; while from a raised structure above, a king armed with a knife, his queen, an attendant with a sabre, and another bill-man scowling looks on. Here and elsewhere the only colours used are green, red, blue, and yellow. It ends on fol. 124b., and at the conclusion, in a later hand, is written "Hony soit q mal penc," which may, perhaps, allude to the illumination on the opposite page, fol. 125, representing the stolen interview between the wife of the Grene Kny[gh]t and Sir Gawayne. Above the lady's head is written:

Mi mind is mukel on on, {a}t wil me no[gh]t amende, Sum time was trewe as ston, & fro schame cou{e} hir defende.

It does not appear very clearly how these lines apply to the painting. Two additional illuminations follow; in the first of which Gawayne is seen approaching the Grene Chapel, whilst his enemy appears above, wielding his huge axe; and in the second Sir Gawayne, fully equipped in armour, is represented in the presence of king Arthur and queen Guenever, after his return to the court.

The third and concluding portion of the Cotton volume extends from fol. 127 to fol. 140b, inclusive, and consists of theological excerpts, in Latin, written in a hand of the end of the thirteenth century. At the conclusion is added Epitaphium de Ranulfo, abbate Ramesiensi, who was abbot from the year 1231 to 1253, and who is erroneously called Ralph in the Monasticon, vol. ii. p. 548, new ed.

[Footnote 67: Taken with some few alterations from Sir F. Madden's "Syr Gawayn."]

[Footnote 68: A line, however, is missing from the MS. on fol. 55b. See page 15.]


The letters A. B. C. refer severally to the poems, entitled by me, "The Pearl," "Cleanness," and "Patience."

A.S. Anglo-Saxon. Dan. Danish. Du. Dutch. E. English. O.E. Old English. Prov.E. Provincial English. N.Prov.E. } North Provincial English. N.P.E. } Fr. French. O.Fr. Old French. Prov. Fr. Provincial French. Fris. Frisian. G. Doug. Gawin Douglas's neid, published by the Bannatyne Club, 2 vols. Ger. German. Goth. Gothic. Icel. Icelandic. Jam. Jamieson's Scottish Dictionary. K. Alex. King Alexander, Romance of (Ed. Stevenson). Met. Hom. Metrical Homilies (Ed. Small). O.N. Old Norse. O.S. Old Saxon. Prompt. Parv. Promptorium Parvulorum (Ed. Way). Sc. Scotch. O.Sc. Old Scotch. S.Sax. Semi-Saxon. Sw. Swedish. O.Sw. Old Swedish. Town. Myst. Townley Mysteries. T. B. Troy Book (Ed. Donaldson).

Errata (noted by transcriber)

PREFACE: [Footnote 4.III] ... for -ed or -d [or d] ... pp. vii, viii. [vii. viii.] [Footnote 5] ... verbal inflexion -eth never occurs [-eth. never] [Footnote 9] ... See O.E. Homilies, [O.E] [Footnote 10] ... (5) tow = two; [two:] their blissful state (p.26). [(p.26),] (IX.) ... by Daniel (p. 86). [p, 86] First marred[21] many a rope and the mast after. [footnote number misprinted "2"; shared note is 1]

DIALECT AND GRAMMAR: "For er bene bestes at schyn be rost."[44] [""For er bene]

GRAMMATICAL DETAILS: Pronouns [Footnote 59] ... Page 91, l. 72. [l, 72.] _hi_ (A.S. _h_) [_closing ) missing_] The same construction ["The same] ——: Verbs _comes me, runs me_, Ib. Act 3, Sc. 1. [me_. Ib.] Nom. I, thou, he, ho, hit. [he ho] PRETERITE TENSE. [_. missing_] (I) hopede[64] (hoped), (We) hopeden. [hopeden,] Wreke (avenge), wrek, wroken. [(avenge) wrek,] Class III. Drawe, dra[gh]e, dro[gh], drawen. [drawen,] Helpe, halp, holpen. [holpen,] Sterve (die), starf, storven. [storveu] Schal, " scholde, schulde. [_. missing_] ——: Adverbs The Norse forms _hethen_, _quethen_ [Ths Norse] _thence_, (_thennes_), etc. [_opening ( missing; "etc{t}" with italic {t} for ._]

CONTRACTIONS: Ger. [the abbreviations O.H.G. and M.H.G. are not listed] N.P.E. [note that this abbreviation is never used] Prompt. Parv. Promptorium Parvulorum [Prampt.]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *





[Sidenote: [Fol. 39a.]] [Sidenote: Description of a lost pearl (i.e. a beloved child). The father laments the loss of his pearl.] Perle plesau{n}te to prynces paye, To clanly clos in golde so clere, Oute of oryent I hardyly saye, Ne proued I neu{er} her precios pere, 4 So rou{n}de, so reken in vche araye, So smal, so smoe her syde[gh] were. Quere-so-eu{er} I Iugged ge{m}me[gh] gaye, I sette hyr sengeley i{n} synglure; 8 Allas! I leste hyr i{n} on erbere, ur[gh] gresse to grou{n}de hit fro me yot;[1] I dewyne for-dolked of luf daungere, Of at pryuy perle w{i}t{h}-outen spot. 12

[Sidenote 1: ? got.]

[Sidenote: He often visits the spot where his pearl disappeared, and hears a sweet song.] Syen i{n} at spote hit fro me sprange, Ofte haf I wayted wyschande at wele, at wont wat[gh] whyle deuoyde my wrange, & heuen my happe & al my hele, 16 {a}t dot[gh] bot rych my hert range, My breste in bale bot bolne & bele. [Gh]et o[gh]t me neu{er} so swete a sange, As stylle stou{n}de let to me stele, 20 For-soe {er} fleten to me fele, To enke hir color so clad i{n} clot; O moul[2] {o}u marre[gh] a myry mele. My p{r}iuy perle w{i}t{h}-outen spotte, 24

[Sidenote 2: ? mould.]

[Sidenote: Where the pearl was buried there he found lovely flowers. Each blade of grass springs from a dead grain.] at spot of spyse[gh] my[gh]t nede[gh] sprede, er such ryche[gh] to rot[3] is ru{n}nen; Blome[gh] blayke & blwe & rede, er schyne[gh] ful schyr agayn e su{n}ne. 28 Flor & fryte may not be fede, er hit dou{n} drof i{n} molde[gh] du{n}ne, For vch gresse mot grow of grayne[gh] dede, No whete were elle[gh] to wone[gh] wo{n}ne; 32 Of goud vche goude is ay by-go{n}ne. So semly a sede mo[gh]t fayly not, {a}t spry{n}gande[4] spyce[gh] vp ne spo{n}ne, Of at p{re}cios perle wyth-outen spotte. 36

[Sidenote 3: ? rote.] [Sidenote 4: The MS. reads sprygande.]

[Sidenote: [Fol. 39b.]] [Sidenote: In the high season of August the parent visits the grave of his lost child. Beautiful flowers covered the grave. From them came a delicious odour.] To at spot at I in speche expou{n} I entred in at erber grene, In augoste in a hy[gh] seysou{n}, Quen corne is coruen wyth croke[gh] kene. 40 On huyle er perle hit trendeled dou{n}, Schadowed is worte[gh] ful schyre & schene Gilofre, gyngure & gromylyou{n}, & pyonys powdered ay by-twene. 44 [Gh]if hit wat[gh] semly on to sene, A fayr reflayr [gh]et fro hit flot, er wonys at woryly I wot & wene, My p{re}cio{us} perle, wyth-outen spot. 48

[Sidenote: The bereaved father wrings his hands for sorrow, falls asleep upon the flowery plot, and dreams.] Bifore at spot my honde I spe{n}n[e]d, For care ful colde at to me ca[gh]t[e]; A denely dele in my hert de{n}ned, a[gh] resou{n} sette my seluen sa[gh]t[e]. 52 I playned my perle {a}t {er} wat[gh] spe{n}ned Wyth fyrte skylle[gh] at faste fa[gh]t[e], a[gh] kynde of kryst me comfort ke{n}ned, My wreched wylle i{n} wo ay wra[gh]te. 56 I felle vpon at flo{ur}y fla[gh]t[e], Suche odo{ur} to my herne[gh] schot; I slode vpon a slepy{n}g sla[gh]te, On at p{re}c[i]os perle w{i}t{h}-outen spot. 60



[Sidenote: In spirit he is carried to an unknown region, where the rocks and cliffs gleamed gloriously.] Fro spot my spyryt er sprang i{n} space, My body on balke er bod i{n} sweuen, My goste is gon in gode[gh] grace, In auenture {er} meruayle[gh] meuen; 64 I ne wyste in is worlde quere {a}t hit wace, Bot I knew me keste {er} klyfe[gh] cleuen; Towarde a foreste I bere e face, Where rych rokke[gh] wer to dyscreuen; 68 e ly[gh]t of hem my[gh]t no mon leuen, e glemande glory at of hem gle{n}t; For wern neu{er} webbe[gh] at wy[gh]e[gh] weuen, Of half so dere adubmente. 72

[Sidenote: [Fol. 40a.]] [Sidenote: The hill sides were decked with crystal cliffs. The leaves of the trees were like burnished silver. The gravel consisted of precious pearls.] Dubbed wern alle o downe[gh] syde[gh] W{i}t{h} crystal klyffe[gh] so cler of kynde, Holte-wode[gh] bry[gh]t aboute hem byde[gh]; Of bolle[gh] as blwe as ble of ynde, 76 As bornyst syluer e lef onslyde[gh], at ike con trylle on vch a tynde, Quen glem of glode[gh] agayn[gh] hem glyde[gh], Wyth schym{er}y{n}g schene ful schrylle ay schynde. 80 e grauayl at on grou{n}de con grynde Wern p{re}cio{us} perle[gh] of oryente; e su{n}ne beme[gh] bot blo & blynde, In respecte of at adubbement. 84

[Sidenote: The father forgets his sorrow. He sees birds of the most beautiful hues, and hears their sweet melody.] The adubbemente of o downe[gh] dere Garten my goste al greffe for-[gh]ete So frech flauore[gh] of fryte[gh] were, As fode hit con me fayre refete. 88 Fowle[gh] {er} flowen i{n} fryth i{n} fere, Of flau{m}bande hwe[gh],[5] boe smale & grete, Bot sytole stry{n}g & gyt{er}nere, Her reken myre mo[gh]t not retrete, 92 For quen ose brydde[gh] her wynge[gh] bete ay songen wyth a swete asent; So grac[i]os gle coue no mon gete As here & se her adubbement. 96

[Sidenote 5: Or hiwe[gh].]

[Sidenote: No tongue could describe the beauty of the forest. All shone like gold. The dreamer arrives at the bank of a river, which gave forth sweet sounds.] So al wat[gh] dubbet on dere asyse; at fryth er fortwne forth me fere[gh], e dere er-of for to deuyse Nis no wy[gh] wore at tonge bere[gh]. 100 I welke ay forth i{n} wely wyse, No bonk so byg {a}t did me dere[gh], e fyrre i{n} e fryth e feier con ryse, e playn, e plontte[gh], e spyse, e pere[gh], 104 & rawe[gh] & rande[gh] & rych reuere[gh], As fyldor fyn her b[o]nkes brent. I wan to a water by schore at schere[gh], Lorde! dere wat[gh] hit adubbement! 108

[Sidenote: [Fol. 40b.]] [Sidenote: In it, stones glittered like stars in the welkin on a winter night.] The dubbemente of o derworth depe Wern bonke[gh] bene of beryl bry[gh]t; Swangeande swete e water con swepe Wyth a rownande rourde raykande ary[gh]t; 112 I{n} e fou{n}ce {er} stonden stone[gh] stepe, As glente ur[gh] glas at glowed & gly[gh]t, A[6] stremande sterne[gh] quen stroe me{n} slepe, Staren i{n} welkyn i{n} wynt{er} ny[gh]t; 116 For vche a pobbel i{n} pole er py[gh]t Wat[gh] Emerad, saffer, o{er} ge{m}me gente, at alle e lo[gh]e lemed of ly[gh]t, So dere wat[gh] hit adubbeme{n}t. 120

[Sidenote 6: ? As.]


[Sidenote: His grief abates, and he follows the course of the stream.] The dubbeme{n}t dere of dou{n} & dale[gh], Of wod & wat{er} & wlonk playne[gh], Bylde in me blys, abated my bale[gh], For-didden my [dis]tresse, dystryed my payne[gh]. 124 Dou{n} after a strem at dry[gh]ly hale[gh], I bowed in blys, bred ful my brayne[gh]; e fyrre I fol[gh]ed ose floty vale[gh], e more strenghe of ioye myn herte strayne[gh], 128 As fortune fares {er} as ho frayne[gh], Whe{er} solace ho sende o{er} elle[gh] sore, e wy[gh], to wham her wylle ho wayne[gh], Hytte[gh] to haue ay more & more. 132

[Sidenote: No one could describe his great joy. He thought that Paradise was on the opposite bank. The stream was not fordable.] More of wele wat[gh] i{n} at wyse e{n} I cowe telle a[gh] I tom hade, For vrely herte my[gh]t not suffyse To e tene dole of o gladne[gh] glade; 136 For-y I o[gh]t {a}t paradyse Wat[gh] er o{er} gayn o bonke[gh] brade; I hoped e water were a deuyse By-twene myre[gh] by mere[gh] made, 140 By-[gh]onde e broke by slente o{er} slade, I hope[de] {a}t mote merked wore. Bot e water wat[gh] depe I dorst not wade & eu{er} me longed a more & more. 144

[Sidenote: [Fol. 41a.]] [Sidenote: More and more he desires to see what is beyond the brook. But the way seemed difficult. The dreamer finds new marvels.] More & more, & [gh]et wel mare, Me lyste to se e broke by-[gh]onde, For if hit wat[gh] fayr {er} I con fare, Wel loueloker wat[gh] e fyrre londe. 148 Abowte me con I stote & stare To fynde a fore, faste con I fonde, Bot woe[gh] mo i-wysse {er} ware, e fyrre I stalked by e stronde, 152 & euer me o[gh]t I schulde not wonde For wo, er wele[gh] so wy{n}ne wore. e{n}ne nwe note me com on honde at meued my mynde ay more & more, 156


[Sidenote: He sees a crystal cliff, at the foot of which, sits a maiden clothed in glistening white. He knows that he has seen her before.] More meruayle con my dom adau{n}t; I se[gh] by-[gh]onde at myry mere, A crystal clyffe ful relusau{n}t, Mony ryal ray con fro hit rere; 160 At e fote {er}-of {er} sete a fau{n}t, A mayden of menske, ful debonere; Blysnande whyt wat[gh] hyr bleau{n}t, (I knew hyr wel, I hade sen hyr ere) 164 As glysnande golde at man con schere, So schon at schene an vnder schore; On lengh{e} I loked to hyr ere, e lenger I knew hyr more & more 168

[Sidenote: He desires to call her but is afraid, at finding her in such a strange place.] The more I frayste hyr fayre face. Her fygure fyn, quen I had fonte, Suche gladande glory con to me glace, As lyttel byfore erto wat[gh] wonte; 172 To calle hyr lyste con me enchace, Bot baysme{n}t gef myn hert a bru{n}t, I se[gh] hyr in so strange a place, Such a burre my[gh]t make my{n} herte blu{n}t 176 e{n}ne vere[gh] ho vp her fayre frou{n}t, Hyr vysayge whyt as playn yuore, at stonge my{n} hert ful stray atou{n}t, & eu{er} e lenger, e more & more. 180


[Sidenote: [Fol. 41b.]] [Sidenote: So he stands still, like a well trained hawk. He fears lest she should escape before he could speak to her. His long lost one is dressed in royal array—decked with precious pearls.] More en me lyste my drede aros, I stod ful stylle & dorste not calle, Wyth y[gh]en open & mouth ful clos, I stod as hende as hawk i{n} halle; 184 I hope {a}t gostly wat[gh] {a}t porpose, I dred on ende quat schulde byfalle, Lest ho me eschaped at I {er} chos, Er I at steuen hir mo[gh]t stalle. 188 at gracios gay w{i}t{h}-outen galle, So smoe, so smal, so seme sly[gh]t, Ryse[gh] vp i{n} hir araye ryalle, A p{re}c[i]os pyece[7] i{n} perle[gh] py[gh]t. 192

[Sidenote 7: MS. looks like pyete.]

[Sidenote: She comes along the stream towards him. Her kirtle is composed of 'sute,' ornamented with pearls.] Perle[gh] py[gh]te of ryal prys, ere mo[gh]t mon by grace haf sene, Quen at frech as flor-de-lys, Dou{n} e bonke con bo[gh]e by-dene. 196 Al blysnande whyt wat[gh] hir beau uiys, Vpon at syde[gh] & bou{n}den bene Wyth e myryeste margarys at my deuyse, at eu{er} I se[gh] [gh]et with myn y[gh]en; 200 Wyth lappe[gh] large I wot & I wene, Dubbed with double perle & dy[gh]te, Her cortel of self sute schene, W{i}t{h} p{re}cios perle[gh] al vmbe-py[gh]te. 204

[Sidenote: [Fol. 42a.]] [Sidenote: She wore a crown of pearls. Her hair hung down about her. Her colour was whiter than whalebone. Her hair shone as gold.] A py[gh]t coroune [gh]et wer at gyrle, Of mariorys & non o{er} ston, Hi[gh]e pynakled of cler quyt perle, Wyth flurted flowre[gh] perfet vpon; 208 To hed hade ho non o{er} werle, Her here heke[8] al hyr vmbe-gon; Her semblau{n}t sade, for doc o{er} erle, Her ble more bla[gh]t en whalle[gh] bon; 212 As schorne golde schyr her fax e{n}ne schon, On schyldere[gh] at legh{e} vnlapped ly[gh]te; Her depe colo{ur} [gh]et wonted non, Of p{re}cios perle i{n} porfyl py[gh]te, 216

[Sidenote 8: In the MS. it is lere leke.]

[Sidenote: The trimming of her robe consisted of precious pearls. A wonderful pearl was set in her breast.] Py[gh]t wat[gh] poyned & vche a he{m}me, At honde, at syde[gh], at ouerture, Wyth whyte perle & non o{er} ge{m}me, & bornyste quyte wat[gh] hyr uesture. 220 Bot a wonder perle w{i}t{h}-outen we{m}me, In mydde[gh] hyr breste wat[gh] sette so sure; A ma{n}ne[gh] dom mo[gh]t dry[gh]ly de{m}me, Er mynde mo[gh]t malte i{n} hit mesure; 224 I hope no tong mo[gh]t endure No sau{er}ly saghe say of {a}t sy[gh]t, So wat[gh] hit clene & cler & pure, at p{re}cios perle {er} hit wat[gh] py[gh]t, 228

[Sidenote: No man from here to Greece, was so glad as the father, when he saw his pearl on the bank of the stream. The maiden salutes him.] Py[gh]t in perle at p{re}cios p[r]yse. On wy{er} half wat{er} com dou{n} e schore, No gladder gome heen i{n} to grece, e{n} I, quen ho on bry{m}me wore; 232 Ho wat[gh] me nerre en au{n}te or nece, My Ioy for-y wat[gh] much e more. Ho p{ro}fered me speche {a}t special spyce, Enclynande lowe i{n} wo{m}mon lore, 236 Ca[gh]te of her corou{n} of grete tresore, & haylsed me wyth a lote ly[gh]te. Wel wat[gh] me {a}t eu{er} I wat[gh] bore, To sware at swete i{n} perle[gh] py[gh]te! 240



[Sidenote: The father enquires of the maiden whether she is his long-lost pearl, and longs to know who has deprived him of his treasure.] "O perle," q{uod} I, "in perle[gh] py[gh]t, Art {o}u my perle at I haf playned, Regretted by my{n} one, on ny[gh]te? Much longey{n}g haf I for e layned, 244 Syen into gresse {o}u me agly[gh]te; Pensyf, payred, I am for-payned, & {o}u i{n} a lyf of lyky{n}g ly[gh]te In paradys erde, of stryf vnstrayned. 248 What wyrde hat[gh] hyder my iuel vayned, & don me in ys del & gret dau{n}ger? Fro we i{n} twy{n}ne wern towen & twayned, I haf ben a Ioyle[gh] Iuelere." 252

[Sidenote: [Fol. 42b.]] [Sidenote: The maiden tells him that his pearl is not really lost. She is in a garden of delight, where sin and mourning are unknown.] That Iuel e{n}ne in ge{m}my[gh] gente, Vered vp her vyse w{i}t{h} y[gh]en graye, Set on hyr corou{n} of perle orie{n}t, & soberly after e{n}ne con ho say: 256 "Si{r} [gh]e haf yo{ur} tale myse-tente, To say yo{ur} perle is al awaye, at is i{n} cofer, so comly clente, As i{n} is gardyn gracios gaye, 260 Here-i{n}ne to lenge for eu{er} & play. er mys nee morny{n}g com neu{er} here, Her were a forser for e i{n} faye, If {o}u were a gentyl Iueler. 264

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