The early South-English legendary ; or, Lives of saints. I. Ms. Laud, 108, in the Bodleian library. Edited by Carl Horstmann.
Horstmann, Carl, b. 1851.
14 Ioh[an] Baptist
SEint Iohan was þe beste bern : þe holie baptist,
Þat euere of womman was i-bore : with-oute ihesu crist.
Ake of al þat he on vrþe was : we ne findez nouȝt i-write
Þat he ani Miracle dude : þat man miȝhte vnder-ȝite.
Mani men þinchez þerof wonder : so guod man ase he was;
For manie miracles sum oþur dude : þat fulliche so holi man nas.
Ake al it was for þe luþere giwes : þoruȝ ore louerdes wille so :
For ȝif he hadde here on eorþe : ani miracle i-do,
Þo giwes wolden habbe i-went : þat he ore louerd were,
For he bi-gan ferst cristindom : and þat folk þer-to lere.
Þare-fore ore louerd dude miracles : and ne liet him do non,
For þe giwes scholden i-wite : ȝwuch he were ech-on. Page 30
¶ Seint Iohan for ore louerdes loue : was sethþe i-brouȝt of dawe,
For-to holden up cristindom : and þe riȝhte lawe.
Heroudes, þat was þo king : in a time to rome
Wende to þe Aumperour : ase is wone was for-to done.
So þat bi þe weie he wende : bi sire phelipe, his broþur;
And maude gret feste, ase riȝt was : heore eiþur with oþur.
So þat heroudes spac : mid is broþer wiue :
Þe*. [r. þat] he hire wolde to wiue habbe : þe ȝwuyle he were a-liue,
And þat he wolde framward rome : þare-forth a-ȝein wende
And nimen hire and leden hire forth with him : and holde hire is liues ende.
At on a-cord huy weren sone : to don þis sorie dede—
Ase twei schrewene a-cordiet sone : to ane luþere rede.
¶ Þis kyng heroudes wende forth : in is wei toward rome
And þouȝte to take is broþer wijf : ȝwane he a-ȝeinward come.
His owene wijf it vnder-ȝat : ase sum freond hire word sende :
to hire fader, þat [was] king : of Damasche, sone heo i-wende,
to beon þare forto heo wuste : hou þis dede wolde an-ende.
Þe king heroudes bi is broþer : A-ȝeinward gan eft i-wende : [folio 33]
And, also it was er bi-speke : þis wijf with him he nam
And heold hire with strencþe ase is owene : in spous-bruche and horedam,
And tiemde bi hire deolfolliche : in sunne and with gret wouȝ.
his broþer and is wiues fader : weren with him wroþe i-nouȝ
And duden him harm bi al heore miȝhte : and boþe weren is fon;
Ake he heold him faste in his folie : and bi-lefde euere in on.
¶ So þat seint Iohan þe Baptist : to him a day com
And calangede him of is sunne*. [MS. sunnne] : to ligge so in horedom,
And seide, it was a-ȝein heore lawe : and a-ȝein cristindom.
Heroudes þare-fore in wrathþe : seint Iohan wel faste nam
And, for-to paye þe luþere hore : in strong prisun him caste—
Þare-inne he lay al a ȝer : i-warded strangue and faste;
And sethþe he liet smite of is heued : as ȝe i-hereth ofte telle,
Also man redez in is daye in heruest : bi-foren eov in þe godspelle.
¶ In þe Castel of Arabie : is heued was of i-smite;
Þe luþere quene it bi-nam hire douȝter : and liet it faste wite. Page 31
his desciples wenden stilleliche : þoruȝ ore louerdes grace
And bureden þis holie bodi : in a wel fair place:
Bi-twe[ne] Abel and Elysee : þat prophetes ȝwilene were,
Stille was is holie bodi : wel longue i-bured þere.
¶ Þis false quene þat heued wuste : þat men ne founden it nouȝt,
laste it were in ani time : to þis bodie i-brouȝt
And a rise fram deþe to liue : and bi-come at þe laste
A prophete ase he was er— : þere-fore heo wuste it faste.
A day ase heo bi-heold þat heued : inwardliche in þe face,
heo feol a-doun ded a-non : as it was ore louerdes grace.
Þulke wreche to hire cam : þat deth hire a-doun caste—
Me þinchez heo ne ouȝte nouȝt bi-liȝhe : hire schreuhede atþe laste;
Ne þat luþere best, hire douȝter, noþer. : for ase heo ȝeode a dai
And pleide upon .yse. in hire game : ase mani a man it*. [r. i-] sai,
Þat .ys. to-brak vnder hire : and heo a-dronk a-non
And in þe deueles name (!) : boþe flechs and bon.
Þis hadde moder and eke Douȝter : to heore Mede atþen ende,
And also schal ech luþur man : ȝwanne vre louerd it wole him siende.
¶ Þat heued was sethþe wel priueliche : to Ierusalem i-brouȝt
And i-bured stilleliche : þat Men ne founden it nouȝt.
Of þis holi bodi, þare it lay : manie Miracles come,
Grete and faire, nyȝht and day : ase þat folk i-saiȝ i-lome.
A luþer Aumperour þere was þo : þe luþere Iulian,
Þa[t] reneyede ore louerdes lawe : and was swyþe vuel Man.
Þo Men tolden him of þis Miracles : In grete wrathþe and onde
he liet nimen þis holie bones : and to-sprede into al þe londe
And casten heom a-boute ech fram oþur : þat no man þare-neiȝ ne come
Ne ne founden*. [r. founde] heom to fette is bote : ase men duden er i-lome.
Ake ȝut for al is felonie : ne bi-lefde ore louerd nouȝt [folio 33b]
Þat manie sike men þat comen þare-neiȝ : to hele weren i-brouȝt.
¶ Þo was þis luþere Iulian : wroþere þane he was er.
Ase is bones weren er to-[s]prad : his men he sende þer
And liet heom fette aȝein wel clene : and with-oute þe toun a-non
he liet heom sette on strongue fuyre : and fur-berne echon, Page 32
And þut doust þar-of wel wide : he liet blowe mid þe winde,
For men ne scholden of him on vrþe : neuereft more i-finde.
¶ Ake his o finguer with ȝwan he teiȝhte : þo he*. [MS. orig. ore louerd þo he him (so the other MSS.)] ore louerd i|saiȝ
Cominde toward baptisingue— : ase attwelfte day—
Toward þe watere of Iordan : and loude gradde and cride and sede
"lo here godes lomb, þat bi-nimeth : þe worldes mis-dede:"
For-soþe no fuyr ne miȝte come : on þat fingur one;
Ake elles was al to douste i-barnd : bodi and bones ech-one.
No fuyr ne miȝhte þat finguer brenne : for none cunnes þingue,
For þe holie dede þat he þare-with : teiȝhte to þe heiȝe*. [MS. holie, on the margin heiȝe] kingue,
Ake he bi-lefde hol, and ȝuyt is : and þere nis non more bi-leued
On vrþe of him bote þilke fingur : and his holie heued;
For al is bodi was for-barnd : bote vnneþe þulke two.
his day, ase falleth in heruest : þis dede was i-do
¶ Þat is bodi was þus i-barnd. : and also þulke day
Þer-aftur longue men founden is heued : vnder vrþe ase it lay.
Of þulke two þingues men holdeth is feste : þanne, þat ȝe it wite;
For men ne mowen nouȝt on ore leuedi day : þo is heued was of i-smite.
A manere martyrdom it was : is bones so to-drawe:
Þare-fore men mouwe þanne holde : is feste bi riȝte lawe.
¶ His holie heued, þat þus was : at Ierusalem i-hud,
Þoruȝ fair miracle of seint Iohan : formest was i-kud.
For to tweie Monekus at Ierusalem : him-sulf he cam bi niȝhte
And schewede heom ȝware is heued lay : ase it were in a siȝhte.
huy wenden forth and souȝten it*. [orig. is] sone : and in þulke here i-wounde
Þat he werede in wildernesse : atþe laste huy it founden;
And þane fyngur huy founden al-so : þat was of him bi-leued.
With gret honour huy beren forth : þat fingur and þis h[e]ued.
¶ For fair relike huy weren i-wust. : and ȝut atþe laste
Eft-sone huy weren ȝuyt i-hud : and in a put i-caste:
And leyen þare longue i-hudde : ase fewe þar-of þouȝte,
Ake weren on vrþe al for-ȝite : ase no-man of heom ne rouȝte.
Bote seint Iohan it nolde nouȝt : þat huy leiȝen to longue þere:
To þe Abbod Marcel*. [MS. Maroel] he cam a nyȝht : in metyngue ase it were, Page 33
And bad him nime is heued up : and seide ȝware it lay.
Þis guode man a-ros up sone : and ne a-bod nouȝt forto day,
Ake he openede is celle dore : and bi-heold a-boute.
Ane steorre he fond bi-fore þe dore : houinde þare-with-oute,
Þe clereste steorre þat miȝhte beo— : him wondrede þar-of i-novȝ.
[folio 34] he þonkede god with guode wille : and toward þe steorre he drovȝ,
And putte forth is hond and wolde hire take. : ake he ne miȝhte hire nouȝt a-reche,
Ake þe steorre gan softe to glide forth : also it were þene wey to teche.
¶ þis Abbod hire siwede euere forth : and þe steorre bi-fore wel softe—
Þe Abbot Anourede his ledare : fale siþes and ofte.
Forth wende þe steorre, forto huy comen : ouer þat ilke place
Þare his holie heue[d] lay : þoruȝ ore louerdes grace;
Þo heo cam ouer þulke place : heo houede þare ane stounde,
For-to Marcel þis holie Monek : hadde þis heued i-founde.
¶ To þe guode bischop Iulian : Marcel tolde þis cas.
Þoruȝ heom boþe þat holie heued : I-nomen up of þe vrþe was.
his heued ȝut, and is finguer al-so : boþe huy beoth hole and sounde.
A-seint Iohanes day in heruest*. [29 Aug.] : þus huy weren i-founde.
Þare-fore ȝuit þoruȝ heste of Rome : so wijd so is cristindom
Men holdez þane dai in ho[nu]raunce*. [MS. hor|aunce] : of is holi martyrdom.
¶ For in ore leuedie daye in leynte : as he was to deþe i-brouȝt,
For þe oþur festene þat þare beoth : of him men ne redez nouȝt.
Nouþe seint Iohan þat in þe flym Iordan : baptisede godes sone,
Lieue us þoruȝ ore cristindom : to þe Ioye of heouene come.