Obrázky stránek

they consider well. For, from such a nest, they cattle appears as Martha was, a better housewill too late bring forth young birds, which wife than anchoress; nor can she in any wise are good works, that they may fly toward be Mary, with peacefulness of heart. For then heaven. Job calleth a religious house a nest; she must think of the cow's fodder, and of the and saith, as if he were a recluse: "In nidulo | herdsman's hire, flatter the heyward,1 defend meo moriar;" that is, "I shall die in my nest, and be as dead therein;" for this relates to anchorites; and, to dwell therein until she die; that is, I will never cease, while my soul is in my body, to endure things hard outwardly, as the nest is, and to be soft within.

Hear now, as I promised, many kinds of comfort against all temptations, and, with God's grace, thereafter the remedies.

Whosoever leadeth a life of exemplary piety may be certain of being tempted. This is the first comfort. For the higher the tower is, it hath always the more wind. Ye yourselves are the towers, my dear sisters, but fear not while ye are so truly and firmly cemented all of you to one another with the lime of sisterly love. Ye need not fear any devil's blast, except the lime fail; that is to say, except your love for each other be impaired through the enemy. As soon as any of you undoeth her cement, she is soon swept forth; if the other do not hold her she is soon cast down, as a loose stone is from the coping of the tower, down into the deep pitch of some foul sin.

Here is another encouragement which ought greatly to comfort you when ye are tempted. The tower is not attacked, nor the castle, nor the city, after they are taken; even so the warrior of hell attacks, with temptation, none whom he hath in his hand; but he attacketh those whom he hath not. Wherefore, dear sisters, she who is not attacked may fear much lest she be already taken. .

herself when her cattle is shut up in the pinfold, and moreover pay the damage. Christ knoweth, it is an odious thing when people in the town complain of anchoresses' cattle. If, however, any one must needs have a cow, let her take care that she neither annoy nor harm any one, and that her own thoughts be not fixed thereon. An anchoress ought not to have any thing that draweth her heart outward. Carry ye on no traffic. An anchoress that is a buyer and seller selleth her soul to the chapman of hell. Do not take charge of other men's property in your house, nor of their cattle, nor their clothes, neither receive under your care the church vestments, nor the chalice, unless force compel you, or great fear, for oftentimes much harm has come from such care-taking.

Because no man seeth you, nor do ye see any man, ye may be well content with your clothes, be they white, be they black; only see that they be plain, and warm, and well made-skins well tawed; 2 and have as many as you need, for bed, and also for back. Next your flesh ye shall wear no flaxen cloth, except it be of hards3 and of coarse canvass. Whoso will may have a stamin, and whoso will may be without it. Ye shall sleep in a garment and girt. Wear no iron, nor haircloth, nor hedgehog-skins; and do not beat yourselves therewith, nor with a scourge of leather thongs, nor leaded; and do not with holly nor with briars cause yourselves to bleed without leave of your confessor; and do not, at one time, use too many flagellations. Let your shoes be thick and warm. In summer ye are at liberty to go and sit barefoot, and to wear hose without vamps,5 and whoso liketh may lie in them. A woman may well enough wear an undersuit of haircloth very well tied with the strapples reaching down to her feet,

The sixth comfort is, that our Lord, when He suffereth us to be tempted, playeth with us, as the mother with her young darling: she flies from him, and hides herself, and lets him sit alone, and look anxiously around, and call Dame! dame! and weep a while, and then leap-laced tightly. If ye would dispense with wimeth forth laughing, with outspread arms, and embraceth and kisseth him, and wipeth his eyes. In like manner, our Lord sometimes leaveth us alone, and withdraweth His grace, His comfort, and His support, so that we feel no delight in any good that we do, nor any satisfaction of heart; and yet, at that very time, our dear Father loveth us never the less, but does it for the great love that He hath to us.

[ocr errors][merged small]

ples, have warm capes, and over them black veils. She who wishes to be seen, it is no great wonder though she adorn herself; but, in the eyes of God, she is more lovely who is unadorned outwardly for his sake. Have neither ring, nor broach, nor ornamented girdle, nor gloves, nor any such thing that is not proper for you to have.

[ocr errors]

1 A cattle-keeper on a common.

2 Prepared with oil, or without tan-liquor.
3 The coarser parts of flax or hemp.
4 A shirt of linsey-woolsey.
5 gaiters


In this book read every day, when ye are at | love him and please him, the Lord of Life. leisure, every day, less or more; for I hope He is alone good, above all goodness; that, if ye read it often, it will be very bene- He is alone wise, above all wisdom; ficial to you, through the grace of God, or else He is alone blissful, above all bliss; I shall have ill employed much of my time. He is alone man's mildest Master; God knows, it would be more agreeable to me He is alone our Father and Comfort." to set out on a journey to Rome, than to begin to do it again. And, if ye find that ye do according to what ye read, thank God earnestly; and if ye do not, pray for the grace of God, and diligently endeavour that ye may keep it better, in every point, according to your ability. May the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the one Almighty God, keep you under his protection! May he give you joy and comfort, my dear sisters, and for all that ye endure and suffer for him may he never give you a less reward than his entire self. May he be ever exalted from world to world, for ever and ever, Amen.

As often as ye read any thing in this book, greet the Lady with an Ave Mary for him that made this rule, and for him who wrote it, and took pains about it. Moderate enough I am,

[blocks in formation]

Thus quoth Alfred:
"The earl and the lord
that heeds the king's word
shall rule o'er his land
with righteous hand;
and the clerk and the knight
shall give judgment aright,
to poor or to rich
it skilleth3 not which.
For whatso men sow,

the same shall they mow,
and every man's doom
to his own door come."


Thus quoth Alfred:
"Small trust may be
in the flowing sea.
Though thou hast treasure
enough and to spare,
both gold and silver,
to nought it shall wear;
to dust it shall drive,
as God is alive.
Many a man for his gold
God's wrath shall behold,
and shall be for his silver
forgot and forlorn.

It were better for him
he had never been born."


Thus quoth Alfred:
"If thou hast sorrow,
tell it not to thy foe;
tell it to thy saddle-bow
and ride singing forth.
So will he think,

who knows not thy state,
that not unpleasing

to thee is thy fate.
If thou hast a sorrow
and he knoweth it,
before thee he'll pity,
behind thee will twit.
Thou mightest betray it
to such a one

as would without pity
thou madest more moan.
Hide it deep in thy heart

3 matters





[blocks in formation]

And springeth wood anew.
Sing Cuckoo!

Loweth after calf the cow,

Bleateth after lamb the ewe,
Buck doth gambol, bullock amble,-
Merry sing Cuckoo!

Cuckoo, Cuckoo! Well singest thou
Cuckoo! nor cease thou ever now.


Sing Cuckoo now, sing Cuckoo.

Sing Cuckoo, sing Cuckoo now.

See Eng. Lit., p. 42, for the Middle English, which is here somewhat modernized. The song was set to music, and the manuscript which contains the music adds the following directions, in Latin: "This part-song (rota) may be sung by four in company. It should not be sung by fewer than three, or at least two, in addition to those who sing the Foot. And it should be sung in this manner: One begins, accompanied by those who sing the Foot, the rest keeping silent. Then, when he has reached the first note after the cross [a mark on the musical score], another begins; and so on. The first line of the Foot one singer repeats as often as necessary, pausing at the end; the other line another man sings, pausing in the middle but not at the end, but immediately beginning again."


FROM THE PEARL (c. 1350)*


O pearl, for princes' pleasure wrought,
In lucent gold deftly to set,

Never from orient realms was brought
Its peer in price, I dare say, yet.
So beautiful, so fresh, so round,

So smooth its sides, so slender shown, Whatever gems to judge be found

I needs must set it apart, alone. But it is lost! I let it stray

Down thro' the grass in an arbor-plot. With love's pain now I pine away, Lorn of my pearl without a spot.


Since in that spot it slipt from my hand, Oft have I lingered there and yearned For joy that once my sorrows banned And all my woes to rapture turned. Truly my heart with grief is wrung,

And in my breast there dwelleth dole; Yet never song, methought, was sung So sweet as through that stillness stole. O tide of fancies I could not stem!

O fair hue fouled with stain and blot! O mould, thou marrest a lovely gem,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



Mine own, own pearl without a spot. *This anonymous poem is allegorical: possibly the "pearl" is the poet's daughter (Eng. Lit., 44). The selection here given is translated, because the West Midland dialect of the original presents more difficulties than the East Midland of

Chaucer. The whole is a very interesting piece of construction, combining the Romance elements of meter and rhyme, as employed by Chaucer, with the old Saxon alliteration which the West Midland poets, like Langland,

affected. Note also the refrain-like effects. In this translation, the exacting rhymescheme of the original, which permits but three rhyme sounds in a stanza, has been adhered to in the last three stanzas only. The first stanza of the original runs thus: Perle plesaunte to prynces paye,

To clanly clos in golde so clere,

Out of oryent I hardyly saye,

Ne proved I never her precios pere,

So rounde, so reken in uche a raye,

So smal, so smothe her sydez were,—
Queresoever I jugged gemmez gaye,
I sette hyr sengeley in synglere.

Allas! I leste hyr in on erbere;

Thurgh gresse to grounde hit fro me yot; I dewyne for-dokked of luf-daungere, Of that pryvy perle withouten spot.

[blocks in formation]


[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

Pearl-dight in royal wise, perdie,

One might by grace have seen her there, When all as fresh as a fleur-de-lys

Adown the margent stepped that fair. Her robe was white as gleaming snow, Unclasped at the sides and closely set With the loveliest margarites, I trow, That ever my eyes looked on yet. Her sleeves were broad and full, I ween, With double braid of pearls made bright. Her kirtle shone with as goodly sheen, With precious pearls no less bedight.


Pearl-dight, that nature's masterpiece
Came down the margent, stepping slow;
No gladder man from here to Greece
When by the stream she stood, I trow.
More near of kin than aunt or niece,
She made my gladness overflow;


[blocks in formation]

That jewel then, with gems o'erspread,
Upturned her face and her eyes gray,
Replaced the crown upon her head,

And thus my longing did allay:
"Oh, sir, thou hast thy tale misread
To say thy pearl is stolen away,
That is so safely casketed

Here in this garden bright and gay,
Herein forever to dwell and play

Where comes not sin nor sorrow's blight. Such treasury 2 wouldst thou choose, parfay, Didst thou thy jewel love aright."'*

2 Compare Matthew vi, 21.



A long religious dissertation follows and the dreamer awakes consoled.

« PředchozíPokračovat »