Posts tagged ‘14th Century’

Friday, 7 June 2019

Extemporaneous by Betsugen Enshi

The courtyard is so lonely in autumn rain
that I open the window and gaze all day at the peak.
From the beginning of the world my two eyes
have been fixed to those mile-high pines on top.

From: Carter, Steven D. (ed. and transl.), Traditional Japanese Poetry: An Anthology, 1991, Stanford University Press: Stanford, California, p. 271.

Date: 14th century (original in Japanese); 1991 (translation in English)

By: Betsugen Enshi (1294-1364)

Translated by: Steven D. Carter (19??- )

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Parting by Jean Froissart

The body goes, the spirit stays;
Dear lady, till we meet, farewell!
Too far from thee my home must be;
The body goes, the soul delays; —
Dearest of ladies, fare thee well!

But sweeter thoughts that in me dwell
The anguish of my grief outweigh; —
Dearest of ladies, fare thee well!
The body goes, the soul may stay.

From: Taylor, Edgar, The Minnesingers or German Troubadours of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries: Illustrated by Specimens of the Contemporary Lyric Poetry of Provence and Other Parts of Europe, 1825, Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green: London, p. 294.

Date: 14th century (original in Old French); 1825 (translation in English)

By: Jean Froissart (c1337-c1405)

Translated by: Edgar Taylor (1793-1839)

Friday, 30 March 2018

You Who Created Everything by Anonymous

You who created everything,
My sweet Father, heavenly King,
Hear me, I your son implore,
For Man this flesh and bone I bore.

Clear and bright my breast and side,
Blood on the wideness gushing wide,
Holes in my body crucified.

Held stiff and stark my long arms rise,
And dim and dark fall on my eyes:
Like sculptured marble hang my thighs.

My feet are red with flowing blood,
Their holes washed over by the flood.
Show Man’s sins mercy, Father on high!
With all my wounds to you I cry!

From: Stone, Brian (ed. and transl.), Medieval English Verse, 1973, Penguin Books: London, p. [unnumbered].

Date: 14th century (original in Middle English); 1964 (translation in modern English)

By: Anonymous

Translated by: Brian Ernest Stone (1919-1995)

Friday, 12 January 2018

Wynter Wakeneth Al My Care (Art. 52) by Unknown with a translation into modern English by Susanna Greer Fein

Wynter wakeneth al my care;
Nou this leves waxeth bare.
Ofte Y sike ant mourne sare
When hit cometh in my thoht
Of this worldes joie:
Hou hit geth al to noht!

Nou hit is, ant nou hit nys,
Also hit ner nere, ywys!
That moni mon seith, soth hit ys:
Al goth bote Godes wille;
Alle we shule deye,
Thath us like ylle.

Al that gren me graveth grene;
Nou hit faleweth al bydene.
Jesu, help that hit be sene,
Ant shild us from helle,
For Y not whider Y shal,
Ne hou longe her duelle.

Winter awakens all my sorrow;
Now these leaves grow barren.
Often I sigh and sadly mourn
When it enters into my thought
Regarding this world’s joy:
How it goes all to nought!

Now it is, and now it isn’t,
As if it had never been, indeed!
What many a man says, true it is:
All passes except God’s will;
We all shall die,
Though we dislike it.

All that seed men bury unripe;
Now it withers all at once.
Jesus, help that this be known,
And shield us from hell,
For I know not whither I’ll go,
Nor how long here dwell.


Date: 14th century (original in Middle English); 2014 (translation in modern English)

By: Unknown

Translated by: Susanna Greer Fein (1950- )

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Exactly the Opposite of What One Wants by Oton de Granson

Surely, Love, it is a fitting thing
That you exact a high price for your goods:
Lying awake in bed and fasting at table,
Laughing while crying and singing while lamenting,
Lowering the eyes when one ought to look,
Often changing color and expression,
Lamenting while sleeping and dreaming at the dance,
Exactly the opposite of what one wants.

Jealousy is the mother of the devil.
She wants to see and listen to everything,
Nor does anyone do anything so reasonable
That she doesn’t want to turn it into evil.
Love, that’s how we have to pay for your gifts,
And you often give out arbitrarily
Grief enough and very little pleasure,
Exactly the opposite of what one wants.

For a short time, the game is agreeable,
But it is much too hard to keep it up,
And though to ladies it is honorable,
It is too painful for their servants to bear.
One must constantly suffer and endure,
Languish in hope without any certainty,
And receive many a harsh misfortune,
Exactly the opposite of what one wants.


Date: 14th century (original in French); 2015 (translation in English)

By: Oton de Granson (13??-1397)

Translated by: Joan Grenier-Winther (19??- )

Friday, 9 September 2016

Lines 925-972 of “Sir Launfal” by Thomas Chestre with rough rendering into modern English by flusteredduck

And as the Quene spak to the Kyng,
The barouns seygh come rydynge
A damesele alone
Upoon a whyt comely palfrey.
They saw never non so gay
Upon the grounde gone:
Gentyll, jolyf as bryd on bowe,
In all manere fayr ynowe
To wonye yn wordly wone.
The lady was bryght as blosme on brere;
Wyth eyen gray, wyth lovelych chere,
Her leyre lyght schoone.

As rose on rys her rode was red;
The her schon upon her hed
As gold wyre that schynyth bryght;
Sche hadde a crounne upon her molde
Of ryche stones, and of golde,
That lofsom lemede lyght.
The lady was clad yn purpere palle,
Wyth gentyll body and myddyll small,
That semely was of syght;
Her matyll was furryd wyth whyt ermyn,
Yreversyd jolyf and fyn –
No rychere be ne myght.

Her sadell was semyly set:
The sambus wer grene felvet
Ypaynted wyth ymagerye.
The bordure was of belles
Of ryche gold, and nothyng elles
That any man myghte aspye.
In the arsouns, before and behynde,
Were twey stones of Ynde,
Gay for the maystrye.
The paytrelle of her palfraye
Was worth an erldome, stoute and gay,
The best yn Lumbardye.

A gerfawcon sche bar on her hond;
A softe pas her palfray fond,
That men her schuld beholde.
Thorugh Karlyon rood that lady;
Twey whyte grehoundys ronne hyr by –
Har colers were of golde.
And whan Launfal sawe that lady,
To alle the folk he gon crye an hy,
Bothe to yonge and olde:
“Her,” he seyde, “comyth my lemman swete!
Sche myghte me of my balys bete,
Yef that lady wolde.”

Lines 925-972 of Sir Launfal by Thomas Chestre

And as the Queen spoke to the King,
The barons saw come riding
A damsel alone
Upon a white comely palfrey.
They saw never none so fine
Upon the earth:
Gentle, beautiful as bird on bough,
In all manner extremely fair
To dwell in worldly dwelling.
The lady was bright as blossom on briar:
With eyes grey, with lovely countentance,
Her face shone with light.

As rose on stem, her cheeks were red
The hair shone upon her head
As gold wire that shines bright;
She had a crown upon the top of her head
Of rich stones, and of gold,
That gorgeously blazed with light.
The lady was clad in purple cloth,
With pleasant body and middle small,
That seemly was of sight;
Her mantle was furred with white ermine,
Lined splendidly and fine –
Nothing richer be any sight.

Her saddle was seemly set:
The saddle blanket was green velvet
Painted with imagery.
The border was of bells
Of bright gold, and nothing else.
That any man might espy,
In the saddle bows, before and behind,
Were two stones of India,
Bright for the majesty,
The breast-plate of her palfrey
Was worth an earldom, stout and gay,
The best in Lombardy.

A gerfalcon she bore on her wrist;
A soft pace her palfrey moved,
That men her should behold.
Through Carlyon rode that lady;
Two white greyhounds ran by her –
Her colours were of gold.
And when Launfal saw that lady,
To all the folk he cried aloud,
Both to young and old:
“Here,” he said, “comes my mistress sweet!
She might me of my woes relieve,
If that lady would.”


Date: 14th century

By: Thomas Chestre (14th century)

Sunday, 10 July 2016

A Bitter Lullaby by Anonymous with rough rendering into almost modern English by flusteredduck

Lullay, lullay, litel child, why weepestou so sore?
Needes most thou weepe, it was y-yarked thee yore
Evere to live in sorwe, and siken everemore,
As thine eldren dide er this, whil they alives wore
Lullay, lullay, litel child, child, lullay, lullow,
Into uncouth world ycomen so art thou.

Beestes and thise fowles, the fisshes in the flood,
And eech sheef alives, ymaked of boon and blood,
Whan they cometh to the world they dooth hemself som good—
Al but the wrecche brol that is of Adames blood.
Lullay, lullay, litel child, to care art thou bimet:
Thou noost nat this worldes wilde bifore thee is yset.

Child, if it bitideth that thou shalt thrive and thee,
Thenk thou were yfostered up thy moder knee;
Evere have minde in thyn herte of thise thinges three:
Whennes thou comest, what thou art, and what shal come of thee.
Lullay, lullay, litel child, child, lullay, lullay:
With sorwe thou come into this world, with sorwe thou shalt away.

Ne tristou to this world, it is thy fulle fo:
The riche it maketh poore, the poore riche also;
It turneth wo to wele and eek wele to wo:
Ne triste no man to this world whil it turneth so.
Lullay, lullay, litel child, the foot is in the wheele:
Thou noost whether it wol turne to wo other to wele.

Child, thou art a pilgrim in wikkednesse ybore;
Thou wandrest in this false world—thou looke thee bifore:
Deeth shal come with a blast out of a wel dim bore
Adames kinne down to caste—himself hath do bifore.
Lullay, lullay, litel child, so wo thee warp Adam
In the land of Paradis through wikkenesse of Satan.

Child, thou nart a pilgrim, but an uncouth gest:
Thy dayes beeth ytold, thy journeys beeth ycest
Whider thou shalt wenden, north other est,
Deeth thee shal bitide with bitter bale in brest.
Lullay, lullay, litel child, this wo Adam thee wrought
Whan he the apple eet, and Eve it him bitoughte.

A Bitter Lullaby by Anonymous

Lullay, lullay, little child, why weeps thou so sore?
Needs must thou weep, it was destined thee of yore
Ever to live in sorrow, and sigh ever more,
As thine elders did ere this, while they alive were
Lullay, lullay, little child, child, lullay, lullow,
Into a strange world so art thou come.

Beasts and fowls, the fishes in the flood,
And each creature alive, made of bone and blood,
When they come to the world, they do themselves some good—
All but the wretched brat that is of Adam’s blood.
Lullay, lullay, little child, to care art thou bound:
Thou knowest not that this world’s wilds before thee are set.

Child, if it betides that thou shall thrive and prosper,
Remember as thou were brought up at thy mother’s knee;
Ever have mind in thy heart of these things three:
Whence thou comes, what thou art, and what shall become of thee.
Lullay, lullay, little child, child, lullay, lullay:
With sorrow thou come into this world, with sorrow thou shall away.

Never trust to this world, it is thy full foe:
The rich it makes poor, the poor rich also;
It turns woe to well and changes well to woe:
Never trust no man to this world while it turns so.
Lullay, lullay, little child, thy foot is in the wheel;
Thou knowest [not] whether it will turn to woe or to well.

Child, thou art a pilgrim in wickedness born;
Thou wanders in this false world
thou look thee ahead:
Death shall come with a blast out of a very dim shadow
Adam’s kin down to cast
as himself hath done before.
Lullay, lullay, little child, such woe was for thee wove by Adam
In the land of Paradise through the wickedness of Satan.

Child, thou art not a pilgrim, but an unknown guest:
Thy days be numbered, thy journeys be determined
Whither thou shall wend, north or east,
Death thee shall betide with bitter pain in thy breast.
Lullay, lullay, little child, this woe Adam has for thee wrought
When he the apple ate, and Eve it him brought.


Date: Early 14th century

By: Anonymous

Alternative Title: Adult Lullaby

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Lines 61-78 of “Speculum Vitae” by William of Nassyngton

In English tonge I schall you telle,
yif ye with me so longe wil dwelle.
No Latyn wil I speke no waste,
But Englisch, that men vse mast,
That can ech man vnderstonde,
That is born in Ingelande.
For that langage is most chewyd,
Os wel among lered as lewyd.
Latyn, as I trowe, can nane
But tho, that haueth it in scol tane.
And somme can frenssche and no Latyn,
That vsed hav cowrt and dwellen therein.
And somme can of Latyn a party,
That can of Frensche but febly.
And somme vnderstonde wel Englysch,
That can nother Laty nor Frankys.
Bothe lered and lewed, olde and yonge,
Alle vnderstonden english tonge.


Date: 14th century (original); 2008 (translation)

By: William of Nassyngton (died 1354)

Translated by: Venetia Somerset (1939- )

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Pearl: Section I by Pearl Poet/Gawain Poet

Pearl, to delight a prince’s day,
Flawlessly set in gold so fair
In all the East, I dare to say,
I have not found one to compare.
So round, so radiant in array,
So small, so smooth her contours were,
Wherever I judged jewels gay
I set her worth as truly rare.
I lost her in a garden where
Through grass she fell to earthen plot;
Wounded by love beyond repair
I mourn that pearl without a spot.

Since from that spot it fled that day
I waited oft, in hope to see
What once could drive my gloom away
And charge my very soul with glee;
But heavy on my heart it lay
And filled my breast with misery.
Yet no song ever seemed so gay
As that quiet hour let steal to me
Though in my heart one thought ran free,
Her fresh face wrapped in earthly clot;
Earth, you have marred her purity,
My secret pearl without a spot.

That spot of spices needs must spread
Where such rich bounty doth decay,
With yellow flowers and blue and red
That shine so bright in sun’s clear ray.
Flower and fruit can ne’er be dead
Where that pearl slipped into the clay,
For grass will grow from seed once shed
Or grain could not be stored away,
And good will always good repay.
This comely seed shall perish not,
And spices will their fruit display
From that dear pearl without a spot.

From that spot I in speech expound
I entered in that garden green,
As August’s season came around
When corn is cut with sickles keen,
There that pearl rolled into the ground,
Shadowed with plants both bright and clean,
Wallflower, ginger, gromwell abound
Bright paeonies scattered in between;
Though they were seemly to be seen
No less in their scent my sense caught;
And there that jewel long has been,
My precious pearl without a spot.

Before that spot I clasped my hand,
In chilling care my heart was caught;
A bitter grief my soul unmanned
Though reason wiser comfort sought.
I mourned my pearl from freedom banned
With arguments that fiercely fought;
Though Christ’s grace bade me understand
My wretched will fresh sorrow brought.
On flowery sward I fell, distraught;
Such fragrance to my senses shot
In deepest sleep I dreamt, methought,
On that dear pearl without a spot.


Date: 14th century (original); 1995 (translation)

By: Pearl Poet/Gawain Poet (14th century)

Translated by: William Graham Stanton (1917-1999)

Friday, 4 March 2016

Preiddeu Annwn: The Spoils of Annwn by Taliesin

I praise the Lord, Prince of the realm, King.
His sovereignty has extended across the world’s tract.
Equipped was the prison of Gweir in the Mound Fortress,
throughout the account of Pwyll and Pryderi.
No one before him went into it,
into the heavy blue/gray chain; a faithful servant it held.
And before the spoils of Annwfyn bitterly he sang.
And until Judgment shall last our bardic invocation.
Three fullnesses of Prydwen we went into it
Except seven none rose up from the Fortress of the Mound.

I am honored in praise. Song was heard
in the Four-Peaked Fortress, four its revolutions.
My poetry, from the cauldron it was uttered.
From the breath of nine maidens it was kindled.
The cauldron of the chief of Annwfyn: what is its fashion?
A dark ridge around its border and pearls.
It does not boil the food of a coward; it has not been destined.
The flashing sword of Lleawch has been lifted to it.
And in the hand of Lleminawc it was left.
And before the door of hell lamps burned.
And when we went with Arthur, brilliant difficulty,
except seven none rose up from the Fortress of Mead-Drunkenness.

I am honored in praise; song is heard
in the Fortress of Four-Peaks, isle of the strong door.
Flowing water and jet are mingled.
Sparkling wine their liquor before their retinue.
Three fullnesses of Prydwen we went on the sea.
Except seven none rose up from the Fortress of Hardness.

I merit not the Lord’s little men of letters.
Beyond the Glass Fortress they did not see the valor of Arthur.
Six thousand men stood upon the wall.
It was difficult to speak with their sentinel.
Three fullnesses of Prydwen went with Arthur.
Except seven none rose up from the Fortress of Guts (Hindrance?).

I do not merit little men, slack their will.
They do not know which day the chief was created,
what hour of the midday the owner was born,
what animal they keep, silver its head.
When we went with Arthur, sorrowful strife,
except seven none rose up from the Fortress of Enclosedness.

Monks howl like a choir of dogs
from an encounter with lords who know:
Is there one course of wind? is there one course of water?
Is there one spark of fire of fierce tumult?

Monks pack together like young wolves
from an encounter with lords who know.
They do not know when midnight and dawn divide.
Nor wind, what its course, what its onrush,
what place it ravages, what region it strikes.
The grave of the saint is hidden (or: lost, vanishing, in the Otherworld), both grave and ground (or: champion).
I praise the Lord, great prince,
that I be not sad; Christ endows me.


Date: ?14th century (manuscript original); 1996 (translation)

By: Taliesin (6th century)

Translated by: Sarah Higley (19??- )