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

Lines 701 through 800

Þe niȝtingale al hire hoȝe
mid rede hadde wel bitoȝe;
among þe harde, among þe toȝte,
ful wel mid rede hire biþoȝte,
an hadde andsuere gode ifunde
     705
among al hire harde stunde.
"[H]ule, þu axest me," ho seide,
"ȝif ich kon eni oþer dede
bute singen in sume tide,
an bringe blisse for & wide.
     710
Wi axestu of craftes mine?
Betere is min on þan alle þine,
betere is o song of mine muþe
þan al þat eure þi kun kuþe:
an lust, ich telle þe wareuore. [folio 238r.2]
     715
Wostu to wan man was ibore?
To þare blisse of houene-riche,
þar euer is song & murȝþe iliche: Page  62
þider fundeþ eurich man
þat eni þing of gode kan.
     720
Vorþi me singþ in holi-chirche,
an clerkes ginneþ songes wirche,
þat man iþenche bi þe songe
wider he shal, & þar bon longe:
þat he þe murȝþe ne uorȝete,
     725
ac þarof þenche & biȝete,
an nime ȝeme of chirche steuene,
hu murie is þe blisse of houene.
Clerkes, munekes, & kanunes,
þar boþ þos gode wicke-tunes,
     730
ariseþ up to midel-niȝte,
an singeþ of þe houene-liȝte:
an prostes upe londe singeþ,
wane þe liȝt of daie springeþ.
An ich hom helpe wat I mai,
     735
ich singe mid hom niȝt & dai,
an ho boþ alle for me þe gladdere,
an to þe songe boþ þe raddere.
Ich warni men to hore gode,
þat hi bon bliþe on hore mode,
     740
an bidde þat hi moten iseche
þan ilke song þat euer is eche.
Nu þu miȝt, hule, sitte & clinge:
her-among nis no chateringe:
ich graunti þat [w]e go to dome
     745
tofore þe [sulfe Pope] of Rome. Page  64
Ac abid ȝete, noþeles,
þu shalt ihere an oþer [h]es;
ne shaltu, for Engelonde, [folio 238v.1]
at þisse worde me atstonde.
     750
Wi atuitestu me mine unstrengþe,
an mine ungrete & mine unlengþe,
an seist þat ich nam noȝt strong,
vor ich nam noþer gret ne long?
Ac þu nost neuer wat þu menst,
     755
bute lese wordes þu me lenst:
for ich kan craft & ich kan liste,
an [þ]areuore ich am þus þriste.
Ich kan wit & song man[t]eine,
ne triste ich to non oþer maine:
     760
vor soþ hit is þat seide Alured:
"Ne mai no strengþe aȝen red." Page  66
Oft spet wel a lute liste,
þar muche strengþe sholde miste;
mid lutle strengþe, þurȝ ginne,
     765
castel & burȝ me mai iwinne.
Mid liste me mai walle[s] felle,
an worpe of horsse kniȝtes snelle.
Vuel strengþe is lutel wurþ,
* * * * *
     770
* * * * *
ac wisdom naueþ non euening.
An hors is strengur þan a mon;
ac for hit non iwit ne kon,
hit berþ on rugge grete semes,
     775
an draȝþ biuore grete temes, Page  68
an þoleþ boþe ȝerd & spure,
an stont iteid at mulne dure.
An hit deþ þat mon hit hot:
an for þan þat hit no wit not,
     780
ne mai his strenþe hit ishilde
þat hit nabuȝþ þe lutle childe.
Mon deþ, mid strengþe & mid witte,
þat oþer þing nis non his fitte.
Þeȝ alle strengþe at one were, [folio 238v.2]
     785
monnes wit ȝet more were;
vor þe mon mid his crafte,
ouerkumeþ al orþliche shafte.
Al so ich do mid mine one songe
bet þan þu al þe ȝer longe:
     790
vor mine crafte men me luuieþ,
vor þine strengþe men þe shunieþ.
Telstu bi me þe wurs for þan
þat ich bute anne craft ne kan?
Ȝif tueie men goþ to wraslinge,
     795
an eiþer oþer faste þringe,
an þe on can swenges suþe fele,
an kan his wrenches wel forhele,
an þe oþer ne can sweng but anne,
an þe is god wiþ eche manne,
     800