ABC a Femmes by Unknown

Those who to heaven’s Lady
Owe faith and loyalty
May listen now to my words,
And I’ll tell them the truth.
If there’s anyone who’s done wrong
To women through wickedness,
May he be banished from courtesy
Or immediately be corrected
Justly,
For surely he betrays his breeding
Whoever deceives a woman.

May God assist me, in charity,
As far as I have need;
I will make for women an ABC,
Should they wish to go to school.
Those who are literate
Can inform others
How they are honored
Properly, without falsifying
Anything.
Where woman goes, there goes joy:
She goes not alone.

Amour for a woman incites my heart
To compose a little entertainment
To protect women from all blame.
Each of us ought to be careful
On account of the love of a lady
Whom everyone on earth honors.
He who slanders women and spreads rumors
Never came from a good origin,
To tell the truth.
He who speaks evil of women
Surely debases his mouth.

Beauty of women exceeds the rose,
If one wishes to judge it properly.
On earth there’s nothing else so sweet
As loving well with faithfulness.
Moreover, I certainly dare to declare
And, if need be, to prove
That evil residing in falseness
Often makes women’s eyes weep
For wrong.
Whoever blames a woman deceitfully,
His good breeding certainly sleeps.

Concerning himself, each man
Should speak very well of women,
And I’ll tell you exactly why:
Because of one who’s healer of all ills,
From whom was born the high king
Who is Lord of all the world.
Blessed be that tree of faith
That bears such fruit as never spoils
At all,
For she bore the noble child
Endowed with all good.

Diamonds or other stones
Are not as pure in their virtue
As are women in their bearing.
To join in love they hold the glue,
And they are pleasing and meek.
They’ve struck me with a dart of love.
Whoever insults women in any way
Offends the mother of Jesus
And sins.
He who does this habitually
Bears a vile stain.

Elegantly sculpted bodies they have,
Well-formed in every aspect.
Men wouldn’t be worth a farthing
If women didn’t exist, that’s what I think.
Therefore we should, without fail,
Hold such a thing in great value,
For there’s nothing so dear as women
Beneath the joy of heaven,
On earth.
There’s nothing else on earth
That’s able to please everyone.

Females have sparkling eyes,
And they gaze like falcons.
He ought to have very high hopes
Whoever lies in their prison,
For by morning and evening
He’ll have nothing but joy!
Of all virtues they’re the heirs,
As noble and beautiful, indeed,
As the rose.
Who doesn’t speak well of them
Shows his own baseness.

Gentility flourishes in woman’s heart,
And blooms as does the flower.
Blessed be he who set it there,
In a place of such high honor.
Whoever speaks vilely of women
Can be absolutely certain
To have shame without relief
In a very dark place,
And pain.
Ever since God was born of woman,
She’s never had any baseness.

Harp nor any other instrument,
Nor bird singing in the woods,
Sounds so noble a melody
As one hears in a woman’s voice.
He might lead a very secure life
Whoever can take his choice of women,
For women incline toward all good things,
As does the hazel tree that bears nuts
And leaves.
He who planted beauty in women
Chose a very noble soil.

Infant has there never been born
Since the time of Adam and Eve
Who understood women’s virtue,
Where it begins, nor where it ends.
To unlock such a secret
Would thus be a weighty thing for me;
But since I’ve begun to do it,
I’ll speak first with words soft
And pure:
We should all honor women,
For the love of a virgin.

Kind courtesy lies in a woman
In the place where one has sweet delight;
And he who took flesh in a woman
Granted us release from hell;
And of a woman he was born,
Who later endured death for us.
Whoever has contempt for women
Is wrong, it seems to me,
For that reason:
For into a woman descended
Jesus the almighty.

Love of the world dwells in a woman
In a very amiable place.
He has not chosen a small place,
But a generous, large, and delightful one.
He’ll not find that she disinherits him;
There can he remain always stable;
His lodging is free of all ills!
For I tell the truth without any fiction
Therein:
Whoever seeks evil in a woman
Certainly wastes his time.

Mary who bore the Savior,
Your grace I pray of you.
Be for me an aid and a help,
In order to protect the honor of women,
Who bear fruit of a lovely hue,
Noble, sweet, and never bitter:
People who are of great worth,
Who govern the whole world
With reason.
Blessed be such a tree
Who bears such fruit! Amen.

Note of the nightingale
I think but a trifle in Maytime
(And of each flying bird),
Beside the one whom I’ve named,
For she sings very cleverly,
And makes a man’s heart happy,
And bears a beak sweet and soft.
If it be necessary, I know how to name it
By name.
When God made women company to men,
He gave them a very lovely gift.

Onto women is honor linked;
They are the root of virtues.
For each hurt that stings men,
Women bear the remedy.
When they have soothed the wound,
The pain goes away and quickly ends.
May God grant us the love of her
To whom the world bows
And prays.
On the day of great judgment
May she be a help to us!

Prized as periwinkle and without equal,
Women are above all other things,
For no one knows how to describe
The virtue of women, this we know well.
Women bear shining faces,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
May God grant me the joy to have
The lovely sweet who is my own
Possession!
I’ve never found in her anything
But virtue and a steadfast heart.

Quaintly elegant they go forth armed
With great beauty that shows outwardly,
And inwardly with perfect virtue
Have they filled the whole body.
It would then be a great pity
If all such were to die,
Who have on our behalf cried out terribly,
And this is excessively wrong,
Often.
No one can describe
That joy that descends from them.

Rose that’s of a beauteous hue
And bears the mark of summer
Does not release so pure a fragrance
As does the sweet breath of women.
Whoever might then, night and day,
Have one in his own possession
Would be able to live in great honor
And in joy without any pain
In world.
No one can describe
The joy that abounds in women.

Spices all, which in times of peace
Come from every land by sea,
Were they to be bound up in a sheaf,
And were one obliged to judge them justly,
There would be none of such delight
As a sweet kiss from a woman.
This I am always ready to prove,
No matter who wishes to plead against me
In words.
For woman is the most gracious
Thing that God has ever made.

Treacle of the highest quality
Is not at all as pure in its season
As is the renowned liqueur
That a woman carries in her breast.
Well ought such a thing be loved,
Who carries so splendid a medicine.
Many times does woman suffer,
On behalf of us, in childbed,
Without pride.
No one can describe
How they suffer for us.

Volatile are not at all their feelings,
For they hold themselves to one practice.
Disgraceful things are not to be said of them,
For they are entirely praiseworthy.
The more one is come of noble family,
The less one grows arrogant in any way.
Every man who’s of good standing
Honors women by his intent
Always.
Honor given a good woman
Cannot be misapplied.

X, Christ, the son of Mary,
The very noble child,
Forbids that wickedness
Henceforth be
Uttered, for any madness,
To any living woman.
Instead, may each man love his beloved
As God is loving to us
On earth,
So that his sweet face
In heaven we may see.

Yssop, fennel, columbine,
Renowned lily-flower,
Rose that bears a lovely hue,
Rooted ginger —
All must grow in the path
Where woman places her foot.
Surely that man has a good morning
Who is loved by a woman
Without deceit,
For there’s never been a woman
Who wasn’t highly praiseworthy.

Zebulon, as I say to you —
That’s an appropriate name!
May he who offends a good woman
Never attain pardon for his soul.
If I were king or powerful count,
Or noble baron of the land,
Whoever treated a woman shamefully
I’d immediately place in prison,
Justly!
And if he would not reform himself,
He would never have any reprieve.

Sweet friend, be assured
That he will be cursed by God
Who, with evil and empty words,
Speaks dishonor or contempt to women.
For God himself, without any pain,
Was on earth born of a woman
Who displays her joy in heaven.
In serving her, I take great pleasure,
Willingly,
For she’s the fountain of joy,
The spring of love.

The place where a woman sits,
In hall with bench against wall,
Abhors all vile baseness.
Just as she bears the purest fruit
Of all trees from which leaves fall,
So is woman the supreme flower.
May each man, as best he can,
Protect their bodies and their honor
From shame,
For all pleasing things
A good woman surpasses.

Women go forth cruelly bound
By the grace of the Almighty.
Were it not for their deep humility,
Which displays women’s fine excellence,
Never would a woman born of a mother
Be delivered of a child.
They suffer much for our love,
And many a time they sigh
For love.
Very often their kindness
Leads them to profound grief.

“Ave Maria,” we ought to say,
For all women who are big with child;
On our behalf, their color grows worse,
As they depart from hall to bedroom.
Let us pray to Jesus Our Lord,
Who in his joy sits there on high,
Who may, if he pleases, tend them as doctor
And the anguish they bear on our behalf
Very often.
May God protect women’s honor,
And all that befits them.

“Amen” we all ought to say!
Blessed be the precious death
That Our Lord suffered on our behalf,
Which released us from hell.
And on earth he suffered great torture
(Undeserved and unjust),
Without anger and without wrath.
On our behalf he suffered hard pain
On cross.
He granted us the joy of heaven
With his own voice.

From: http://d.lib.rochester.edu/teams/text/fein-harley2253-volume-2-article-8

Date: c1340 (original in French); 2014 (translation in English)

By: Unknown

Translated by: Susanna Greer Fein (19??- )

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