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

Lines 1 through 100

Page  2 [folio 233r.1]
ICH was in one sumere dale,
in one suþe diȝele hale,
iherde ich holde grete tale
an hule and one niȝtingale.
Þat plait was stif & starc & strong,
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sum wile softe & lud among;
an aiþer aȝen oþer sval,
& let þat [vue]le mod ut al.
& eiþer seide of oþeres custe
þat alre-worste þat hi wuste:
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& hure & hure of oþere[s] songe
hi holde plaiding suþe stronge.
Þe niȝtingale bigon þe speche,
in one hurne of one breche, Page  4
& sat up one vaire boȝe,
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- þar were abute blosme inoȝe,-
in ore waste þicke hegge
imeind mid spire & grene segge.
Ho was þe gladur uor þe rise,
& song auele cunne wise:
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[b]et þuȝte þe dreim þat he were
of harpe & pipe þan he nere:
bet þuȝte þat he were ishote
of harpe & pipe þan of þrote.
[Þ]o stod on old stoc þar biside,
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þar þo vle song hire tide,
& was mid iui al bigrowe;
hit was þare hule earding-stowe.
[Þ]e niȝtingale hi iseȝ,
& hi bihold & ouerseȝ,
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& þuȝte wel [vu]l of þare hule,
for me hi halt lodlich & fule.
"Vnwiȝt," ho sede, "awei þu flo!
me is þe w[u]rs þat ich þe so. [folio 233r.2]
Iwis for þine [vu]le lete,
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wel [oft ich] mine song forlete; Page  6
min horte atfliþ & falt mi tonge,
wonne þu art [to me] iþrunge.
Me luste bet speten þane singe
of þine fule ȝoȝelinge."
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Þos hule abod fort hit was eve,
ho ne miȝte no leng bileue,
vor hire horte was so gret
þat wel neȝ hire fnast atschet,
& warp a word þar-after longe;
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"Hu þincþe nu bi mine songe?
We[n]st þu þat ich ne cunne singe,
þeȝ ich ne cunne of writelinge?
Ilome þu dest me grame,
& seist me [boþe tone] & schame.
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Ȝif ich þe holde on mine uote,
(so hit bitide þat ich mote!)
& þu were vt of þine rise,
þu sholdest singe an oþer w[i]se."
Þe niȝtingale ȝaf answare:
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"Ȝif ich me loki wit þe bare,
& me schilde wit þe blete,
ne reche ich noȝt of þine þrete; Page  8
ȝif ich me holde in mine hegge,
ne recche ich neuer what þu segge.
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Ich wot þat þu art unmilde
wiþ hom þat ne muȝe from [þ]e schilde;
& þu tukest wroþe & vuele,
whar þu miȝt, over smale fuȝele.
Vorþi þu art loþ al fuel-kunne,
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& alle ho þe driueþ honne,
& þe bischricheþ & bigredet,
& wel narewe þe biledet; [folio 233v.1]
& ek forþe þe sulue mose,
hire þonkes, wolde þe totose.
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þu art lodlich to biholde,
& þu art loþ in monie volde;
þi bodi is short, þi swore is smal,
grettere is þin heued þan þu al;
þin eȝene boþ col-blake & brode,
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riȝt swo ho weren ipeint mid wode;
þu starest so þu wille abiten
al þat þu mi[ȝ]t mid cliure smiten:
þi bile is stif & scharp & hoked,
riȝt so an owel þat is croked;
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þar-mid þu clackes[t] oft & longe,
& þat is on of þine songe.
Ac þu þretest to mine fleshe,
mid þine cliures woldest me meshe.
þe were icundur to one frogge
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* * * * * Page  10
snailes, mus, & fule wiȝte,
boþ þine cunde & þine riȝte.
Þu sittest adai & fliȝ[s]t aniȝt,
þu cuþest þat þu art on vnwiȝt.
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Þu art lodlich & unclene,
bi þine neste ich hit mene,
& ek bi þine fule brode,
þu fedest on hom a wel ful fode.
Vel wostu þat hi doþ þarinne,
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hi fuleþ hit up to þe chinne:
ho sitteþ þar so hi bo bisne.
Þarbi men segget a uorbisne:
"Dahet habbe þat ilke best
þat fuleþ his owe nest."
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