The owl and the nightingale (MS Cotton), The electronic text was created from an edited version of the Cotton manuscript

Lines 1401 through 1500

þe gost misdeþ þurch niþe an onde,
& seoþþe mid murhþe of [monne shonde,] Page  120
an ȝeoneþ after more & more,
an lutel rehþ of milce & ore ;
an stiȝþ on he[h] þur[h] modinesse,
     1405
an ouerhoheð þanne lasse.
Sei [me sooþ], ȝef þu hit wost,
hweþer deþ wurse, flesch þe gost?
Þu miȝt segge, ȝef þu wult,
þat lasse is þe flesches gult:
     1410
moni man is of his flesche clene,
þat is mid mode deouel-imene.
Ne schal non mon wimman bigrede,
an flesches lustes hire upbreide:
swuch he may te[l]en of golnesse,
     1415
þat sunegeþ wurse i[n] modinesse.
[Ȝ]et ȝif ich schulde a-luue bringe
wif oþer maide, hwanne ich singe,
ich wolde wiþ þe maide holde,
ȝif þu hit const ariht atholde:
     1420
Lust nu, ich segge þe hwaruore,
vp to þe toppe from þe more.
Ȝef maide luueþ dernliche,
heo stumpeþ & falþ icundeliche:
for þah heo sum hwile pleie,
     1425
heo nis nout feor ut of þe weie;
heo mai hire guld atwende
a rihte weie þur[h] chirche-bende,
an mai eft habbe to make [folio 243v.1]
hire leofmon wiþute sake, Page  122
     1430
an go to him bi daies lihte,
þat er stal to bi þeostre nihte.
An ȝunling not hwat swuch þing is:
his ȝunge blod hit draȝeþ amis,
an sum sot mon hit tihþ þarto
     1435
mid alle þan þat he mai do.
He comeþ & fareþ & beod & bi[t]
an heo bistant & ouersi[t],
an bisehþ ilome & longe.
Hwat mai þat chil[d] þah hit misfonge?
     1440
Hit nuste neauer hwat hit was,
forþi hit þohte fondi [þ]as,
an wite iwis hwuch beo þe gome
þat of so wilde makeþ tome.
Ne mai ich for reo[w]e lete,
     1445
wanne ich iseo þe tohte ilete
þe luue bring[e] on þe ȝunglinge,
þat ich of murȝþe him ne singe.
Ich [t]eache heom bi mine songe
þat swucch luue ne lest noȝt longe:
     1450
for mi song lutle hwile ilest,
an luue ne deþ noȝt bute rest Page  124
on swuch childre, & sone ageþ,
an falþ adun þe hote breþ.
Ich singe mid heom one þroȝe,
     1455
biginne on heh & endi laȝe,
an lete [mine] songes falle
an lutle wile adun mid alle.
Þat maide wot, hwanne ich swike,
þat luue is mine songes ili[k]e,
     1460
for hit nis bute a lutel breþ,
þat sone kumeþ, & sone geþ.
Þat child bi me hit understond, [folio 243v.2]
an his unred to red[e] wend,
an iseȝþ wel, bi mine songe,
     1465
þat dusi luue ne last noȝt longe.
Ah wel ich wule þat þu hit wite,
loþ me beoþ wiues utschute:
ah [w]if mai [of] me nime ȝeme,
ich ne singe nawt hwan ich teme.
     1470
An wif ah lete so[t]tes lore,
þah spusing-bendes þuncheþ sore.
Wundere me þungþ wel starc & stor,
hu eni mon so eauar for,
þat [h]e his heorte miȝte driue
     1475
[to] do hit to oþers mannes wiue:
for oþer hit is of twam þinge,
ne mai þat þridde no man bringe;
o[þ]ar þe lauerd is wel aht,
oþer aswunde, & nis naht.
     1480
Ȝef he is wurþful & aht man,
nele no man, þat wisdo[m] can, Page  126
hure of is wiue do him schame:
for he mai him adrede grame,
an þat he forleose þat þer hongeþ,
     1485
þat him eft þarto noȝt ne longeþ.
An þah he þat noȝt ne adrede,
hit is unriȝt & gret sothede
[to] misdon one gode manne,
an his ibedde from him spanne.
     1490
Ȝef hire lauerd is forwurde
an unorne at bedde & at borde,
hu miȝte þar beo eni luue
wanne [a] cheorles buc hire ley buue?
Hu mai þar eni luue beo,
     1495
war swuch man gropeþ hire þeo?
Herbi þu miȝt wel understonde [folio 244r.1]
þat on [is a reu], þat oþer schonde,
to stele to oþres mannes bedde.
For ȝif aht man is hire bedde,
     1500