The owl and the nightingale (MS Jes. Col. 29), The electronic text was created from an edited version of MS Jes. Col. 29
Incipit altercacio inter filomenam et Bubonem

Lines 1 through 100

Page  3 [folio 229r.1]
ICH wes in one sumere dale
In one swiþe dyele hale
Iherde ich holde grete tale
An vle and one nyhtegale.
Þat playd wes stif & starc & strong
     5
Sum hwile softe & lud among;
And eyþer ayeyn oþer swal,
And let þat vuele mod vt al.
And eyþer seyde of oþres custe
Þat alre-w[u]rste þat hi ywuste:
     10
& hure & hure of oþres songe
Hi holde playding swiþe stronge.
Þe Nihtegale bigon þo speke
In one hurne of one beche, Page  5
& sat vp one vayre bowe,
     15
Þat were abute blostme ynowe,
In ore vaste þikke hegge
I[m]eynd myd spire & grene segge.
He wes þe gladder vor þe ryse,
& song a veole cunne wyse:
     20
Bet þuhte þe drem þat he were
Of harpe & pipe þan he nere:
Bet þuhte þat heo were ishote
Of harpe & pipe þan of þrote,
Þo stod on old stok þar byside,
     25
Þar þe vle song hire tyde,
And wes myd ivi al bigrowe:
Hit wes þare vle erdingstowe.
Þe Nihtegale hi iseyh,
& hi bi[hold] and ouerseyh,
     30
& þuhte wel ful of þare vle,
For me hi halt lodlich & fule. [folio 229r.2]
"Vnwyht," heo seyde, " awey þu fleo !
Me is þe wurs þat ich þe iseo.
Iwis for þine [vu]le lete
     35
Wel ofte ich my song furlete; Page  7
Min heorte atflyhþ & falt my tunge,
Hwenne þu art to me iþrunge.
Me luste bet speten þane singe
Of þine fule howelynge."
     40
Þeos vle abod for hit wes eve,
Heo ne myhte no leng bileue,
Vor hire heorte wes so gret
Þat wel neyh hire fnast atset,
& warp a word þar-after longe;
     45
"Hw þynk þe nu bi [m]ine songe?
Wenestu þat ich ne kunne singe,
Þe ich ne cunne of wrytelinge?
Ilome þu dest me grome,
& seist me boþe teone & schome.
     50
If ich þe heolde on myne vote,
(So hit bitide þat ich mote!)
& þu were vt of þine ryse,
Þu scholdest singe on oþer wise."
Þe Nihtegale yaf onsware:
     55
"If ich me loki wiþ þe bare,
& me schilde [w]it þe blete,
Ne recche ich nouht of þine þrete: Page  9
If ich me holde in myne hegge,
Ne recche ich neuer hwat þu segge.
     60
Ich wot þat þu art vn[m]ilde,
Wiþ heom þat ne [m]uwe from þe schilde:
And þu tukest wroþe & vuele,
Hwar þu myht ouer smale vowele. [folio 229v.1]
Vorþi þu art loþ al fowel-cunne
     65
& alle heo þe dryueþ heonne,
& þe biscrycheþ & bigredeþ,
& wel narewe þe byledeþ:
& ek forþe þe sulue mose,
Hire þonkes, wolde þe totose.
     70
Þu art lodlich to biholde,
And þu art loþ in monye volde:
Þi body is scort, þi swere is smal,
Gretture is þin heued ne þu al;
Þin eyen beoþ colblake & brode,
     75
Ryht so hi weren ipeynt myd wode;
Þu starest so þu wille abyten
Al þat þu myht myd clyure smyten;
Þi bile is stif & sarp & hoked,
Riht as on ewel þat is croked;
     80
Þarmyd Þu clechest euer among,
And þat is on of þine song.
Ac þu þretest to myne vleysse,
Mid þine cleures woldest me [m]eysse.
Þe were icundere to one frogge
     85
Þat sit at [m]ulne vnder cogge: Page  11
Snayles, [m]us, and fule wihte,
Beoþ þine cunde & þine rihte.
Þu sittest aday, and flyhst aniht,
Þu cuþest þat þu art on vnwiht.
     90
Þu art lodlich and vnclene,
Bi þine neste ich hit mene,
And ek bi þine fule brode,
Þu vedest on heom a wel ful vode.
Wel wostu þat hi doþ þar-ynne,
     95
Hi fuleþ hit vp to þe chynne:
Heo sytteþ þar so hi beo bysne.
Hwarbi men seggeþ a vorbysne: [folio 229v.2]
"Dehaet habbe þat ilke best
Þat fuleþ his owe nest."
     100

Lines 101 through 200

Þot oþer yer a faukun bredde:
His nest nowiht wel he ne bihedde:
Þarto þu stele in o day,
& leydest þaron þi fule ey.
Þo hit bycom þat he hayhte,
     105
& of his eyre briddes wrauhte;
Heo brouhte his briddes mete,
Biheold his nest, iseyh hi ete: Page  13
He iseyh bi one halue
His nest ifuled in þe vt halue.
     110
Þe faukun wes wroþ wiþ his bridde,
& lude yal and sturne chidde;
"Seggeþ me hwo haueþ þis ido?
Eu nas neuer icunde þerto:
Hit wes idon eu a loþe custe.
     115
Seggeþ me if ye hit wiste."
Þo queþ þat on and queþ þat oþer:
"Iwis hit wes vre owe broþer,
Þat yeonde þat haueþ þat grete heued:
Way þat he nys þarof byreued!
     120
Werp hit vt myd þe vyrste
Þet his nekke him toberste!"
Þe faukun leuede his ibridde,
& nom þat fule brid amydde,
& warp hym of þan wilde bowe,
     125
Þat pie and crowe hit todrowe.
Þerby men seggeþ a byspel,
Þeyh hit ne beo fulliche spel;
Al so hit is bi þan vngode
Þat is icumen of fule brode, Page  15
     130
& is ymeynd wiþ freo monne,
Euer he cuþ þat he com þenne, [folio 230r.1]
Þat he com of þan adel-eye,
Þeyh he a freo neste leye.
Þeyh appel trendli from þe treo,
     135
Þar he and oþer myde grewe,
Þeyh he beo þar-from bicume,
He cuþ hwenene he is icume."
Þeos word ayaf þe nihtegale,
And after þare longe tale
     140
Heo song so lude & so scharpe,
Ryht so me grulde schille harpe.
Þeos vle luste þider-ward,
& heold hire eyen neþer-ward,
& sat toswolle & tobolewe,
     145
So heo hedde one frogge iswolwe:
For heo wel wiste & was iwar
Þat heo song hire a-bysemar.
& naþeles heo yaf ondsware,
"Hwy neltu fleon in-to [þe] bare, Page  17
     150
And schewi hweþer vnker beo
Of brihter hewe, of fayrur bleo ?"
"No, þu hauest scharpe clawe,
Ne kepe ich noht þat þu me clawe.
Þu hauest clyures swiþe stronge,
     155
Þu twengest þar-mid so doþ a tonge.
Þu þoutest, so doþ þine ilyche,
Mid fayre worde me biswike.
Ich nolde don þat þu me raddest,
Ich wiste wel þat þu me misraddest.
     160
Schomye þe vor þine vnrede!
Vnwryen is þi swikehede !
Schild þi swike-dom from þe lyhte,
And hud þat wowe among þe ryhte.
Hwanne þu wilt vnriht spene,
     165
Loke þat hit ne beo isene: [folio 230r.2]
Vor swikedom haueþ schome and hete,
If hit is ope and vnder-yete.
Ne spedestu nouht mid þin vnwrenche,
For ich am war and can blenche.
     170
Ne helpeþ noht þat þu bo to þriste:
Ich wolde vyhte bet myd liste Page  19
Þan þu mid al þine strengþe.
Ich habbe, on brede & ek on lengþe,
Castel god on myne ryse:
     175
" Wel fyht þat wel flyhþ," seyþ þe wise.
Ac lete [we] awey þeos cheste,
For suche wordes beoþ vnwreste:
And fo we on myd rihte dome,
Mid fayre worde & myd some.
     180
Þeyh we ne beon at one acorde,
We mawe bet myd fayre worde,
Wiþvte cheste, and bute vyhte,
Playde mid soþe & mid ryhte:
& may vr eyþer hwat he wile
     185
Mid rihte segge & myd skile."
Þo quaþ þe vle, "Hwo schal vs seme,
Þat cunne & wille riht vs deme?"
"Ich wot wel" quaþ þe nyhtegale,
"Ne þarf þerof beo no tale.
     190
Mayster Nichol of Guldeuorde,
He is wis and war of worde:
He is of worde swyþe glev,
And him is loþ eurich vnþeu. Page  21
He wot insyht in euche songe,
     195
Hwo singeþ wel, hwo singeþ wronge:
And he con schede from þe rihte
Þat wowe, þat þuster from þe lyhte."
Þe vle one hwile hi bihouhte
And after þan þis word upbrouhte: [folio 230v.1]
     200

Lines 201 through 300

"Ich graunti wel þat he vs deme,
For þeyh he were hwile breme,
& leof hym w[e]re Nihtingale,
And oþer wyhte gent & smale,
Ich wot he is nu [su]þe acoled.
     205
Nis he vor þe nouht afoled,
Þat he, vor þine olde luue,
Me adun legge & þe abuue:
N[e] schaltu neuer so him queme,
Þat he for þe fals dom deme.
     210
He is nv ripe & fastrede,
Ne luste hym nv to non vnrede:
Nv him ne lust namore pleye,
He wile gon a rihte weye."
Þe Nihtegale wes al ware,
     215
Heo hedde ileorned wel ihware :
"Vle," heo seyde "seye me soþ,
Hwi dostu þat vnwihtes doþ ?
Þu singest anyht & nouht aday,
And al þi song is waylaway. Page  23
     220
Þu miht mid þine songe afere
Alle þat hereþ þine ibere:
Þ[u] scrichest & yollest to þine fere,
Þat hit is gryslich to ihere:
Hit þincheþ boþe wise & snepe
     225
Nouht þat þu singe [ac þat] þu wepe.
Þu flyhst anyht and noht aday:
Þarof ich wundri & wel may.
For vych þing þat schonyeþ riht,
hit luuyeþ þuster & hateþ lyht;
     230
& euych þing þat luueþ misdede,
Hit luueþ þuster to his dede.
A wis word, þeyh hit beo vnclene,
Is fele monne a-muþe imene, [folio 230v.2]
For Alured King hit seyde & wrot:
     235
"He schuneþ þat hine ful wot."
Ich wene þat þu dost al so,
For þu flyhst nyhtes euer mo.
[An] oþer þing me is a-wene,
Þu hauest anyht wel bryhte sene:
     240
Bi daye þu art stare-blynd,
Þat þu ne syst bouh of lynd. Page  25
Aday þu art blynd oþer bisne,
Þarby men seggeþ a vorbisne:
"Riht so hit farþ bi þan vngode
     245
Þat nouht ne isyhþ to none gode,
& is so ful of vuele wrenche
Þat him ne may no mon aprenche,
& con wel þene þustre way,
& þane bryhte lat away."
     250
So doþ þat beoþ of þine cunde,
Of lihte nabbeþ hi none imunde."
Þeos vle luste swiþe longe,
& wes ofteoned swiþe stronge:
Heo quaþ "Þu hattest Nihtegale,
     255
Þu [m]ihtest bet hote galegale, Page  27
Vor þu hauest to monye tale.
Let þine tunge habbe spale!
Þu wenest þat þes day beo þin owe:
Let me nv habbe myne þrowe:
     260
Beo nv stille & let me speke,
Ich wile beo of þe awreke.
& lust hw ich con me bitelle,
Mid rihte soþe wiþvte spelle.
Þu seyst þat ich me hude aday,
     265
Þarto ne segge ich nyk no nay:
& lust ich telle hwervore,
Al hwi hit is & hwarevore. [folio 231r.1]
Ich habbe bile stif & stronge,
& gode cleures scharp & longe,
     270
So hit bycumeþ to hauekes cunne
Hit is myn hyhte & my [wu]nne
Þat ich me drawe to mine cunde,
Ne may me no mon þarfor sende;
On me hit is wel isene,
     275
For rihte cunde ich am so kene.
Vorþi ich am loþ smale vowele
Þat fleoþ bi grunde & bi þuuele: Page  29
Hi me bichirmeþ & bigredeþ,
& heore flockes to me ledeþ.
     280
Me is leof to habbe reste
And sitte stille in myne neste:
Vor nere ich neuer þe betere,
Þeyh ich mid changling and myd chatere
Heom schende & myd fule worde,
     285
So herdes doþ oþer [m]id sit-worde.
Ne lust me wiþ þe screwen chide;
Forþi ich wende from heom wide,
Hit is a wise monne dome,
& hi hit seggeþ wel ilome,
     290
Þat me ne chide wiþ þe gidie,
Ne wiþ þan ofne me ne yonie.
At sum syþe herde I telle
Hw Alured seyde on his spelle:
"Loke þat þu ne beo þare
     295
Þar changling beoþ & cheste vare;
Let sottes chide & forþ þu go."
& ich am wis, & do al so.
& yet Alured seyde an oþer syde
A word þat is isprunge wide,
     300

Lines 301 through 400

"Þat wiþ þe fule haueþ imene,
Ne cumeþ he neuer from him clene." [folio 231r.2]
Wenestu þat hauek beo þe w[u]rse
Þe crowe bigrede him bi þe mersche, Page  31
& goþ to him myd heore chyrme
     305
Riht so hi wille wiþ him schirme?
Þe hauek foleweþ gode rede;
He flyhþ his wey, & let hi grede."
"[Y]et þu me seyst of oþer þinge,
& tellest þat ich ne can nouht singe,
     310
Ac al my reorde is wonyng,
And to ihere gryslych þing.
Þat nis nouht soþ, ich singe efne,
Mid fulle dreme & lude stefne.
Þu wenest þat eoch song beo grislich
     315
Þat þine pipinge nis ilich.
Mi stefne is bold & nouht vnorne,
Heo is ilich one grete horne,
& þin is iliche one pype,
Of one smale weode vnripe.
     320
Ich [singe] bet þan þu dest:
Þu chaterest so doþ on Yris prest.
Ich singe an efne a ryhte time,
& seþþe hwenne hit is bed-time,
Þe þridde syþe a middel-nyhte:
     325
& so ich myne songe adihte
Hwenne ich iseo arise veorre
Oþer day-rewe oþer day-steorre.
Ic do god myd myne þrote,
And warny men to heore note.
     330
Ac þu singest alle longe nyht,
From eue þat hit is day-liht,
& euer lesteþ þin o song
So longe so þe nyht is long: Page  33
& euer croweþ þi wrecche crey,
     335
Þat he ne swikeþ nyht ne day. [folio 231v.1]
Mid þine pipinge þu adunest
Þas monnes eren þar þu wunest,
& makest þi song so vnwiht
Þat me ne telleþ of þe nowiht.
     340
Eurych mureþe may so longe leste,
Þat heo schal liki wel vnwreste :
For harpe, & pipe, & foweles song
Mislikeþ, if hit is to long.
Ne beo þe song ne so murie,
     345
Þat he ne sal þinche vnmurie
If he ilesteþ ouer vnwille:
So þu myht þi song aspille.
For hit is soþ, Alured hit seyde,
& me hit may in boke rede:
     350
"Eurich þing may lesen his godhede
Mid vnmeþe and ouerdede."
Mid este þu þe maist ouerquatie,
& ouerfulle makieþ wlatie: Page  35
& euerich mureþe may agon,
     355
If me hit halt euer in on,
Bute one, þat is Godes riche,
Þa[t] euer is swete & euer iliche:
Þeyh þu nyme of þan lepe,
Hit is euer ful by hepe.
     360
Wunder hit is of Godes ryche,
Þat euer spenþ & euer is iliche.
Yet þu me seyst an oþer schome,
Þat ich a[m] on [m]yne eye lome,
& seyst, for þat ich fleo bi nyhte,
     365
Þat ich ne may iseo bi lyhte.
Þu liest! on me hit is isene
Þat ich habbe gode sene:
Vor nys no so dym þesternesse
Þat ich euer iseo þe lesse.
     370
Þu wenest þat ich ne m[u]we iseo, [folio 231v.2]
Vor ich bi daye nouht ne fleo.
Þe hare luteþ al day,
Ac noþeles iseo he may.
If hundes eorneþ to him-ward,
     375
He gencheþ swiþe awey-ward,
& hokeþ paþes swiþe narewe,
& haueþ mid him blenches yarewe.
He [hupþ] & start swiþe cove,
& secheþ paþes to þe groue:
     380
Ne scholde he vor bo his eye
So do, if he þe bet ne iseye. Page  37
Ich may iseo so wel so on hare,
Þeyh ich bi daye sytte a dare.
Þar auhte men beoþ in worre,
     385
& fareþ boþe neor & feorre,
& ouervareþ veole þeode,
& doþ bi nyhte gode neode,
Ich folewi þane ahte manne,
& fleo bi nyhte in heore barme."
     390
Þe nyhtegale in hire þouhte
Atheold al þis, & longe þouhte
Hwat heo þarafter myhte segge:
Vor heo ne myhte noht alegge
Þat þe vle hedde hire iseyd,
     395
Vor ho spak boþe riht & red.
& hire ofþuhte þat heo hadde
Þe speche so feor uorþ iladde,
& wes aferd þat hire answare
Ne w[u]rþe nouht ariht ivare.
     400

Lines 401 through 500

Ac noþeles heo spak boldeliche,
Vor heo is wis þat hardeliche
Wiþ his fo berþ grete ilete,
[Þ]at he for arehþe hit ne forlete: Page  39
Vor suych worþ bold if þu flyhst,
     405
Þat wile fleo if þu [ne] swykst; [folio 232r.1]
If he isihþ þat þu [n]art areh,
He wile of bore wurche bareh.
& forþi, þey [þe] nyhtegale
Were aferd, heo spak bolde tale.
     410
"[H]vle" heo seyde "hwi dostu so?
Þu singest a-wynter wolawo !
Þu singest so doþ hen a-snowe,
Al þat heo singeþ hit is for wowe.
A-wintre þu singest wroþe & yomere,
     415
& euer þu art dumb a-sumere.
Hit is for þine fule nyþe
Þat þu ne myht myd vs be bliþe,
Vor þu forbernest neyh for onde
Hwenne vre blisse cumeþ to londe.
     420
Þu farest so doþ þe ille,
Euerich blisse him is vnwille:
Grucching & luring him beoþ rade,
If he iseoþ þat men beoþ glade. Page  41
He wolde þat he iseye
     425
Teres in eueriche monnes eye:
Ne rouhte [h]e þeyh flockes were
Imeynd bi toppes & bi here.
Al so þu dost on þire syde:
For hwanne snouh liþ þikke & wide,
     430
& alle wihtes habbeþ sorewe,
Þu singest from eue to a-morewe.
Ac ich mid me alle blisse bringe:
Ech wiht is glad for myne þinge,
& blesseþ hit hwenne ich cume,
     435
& hihteþ ayeyn myne cume.
Þe blostme gynneþ springe & sprede,
Boþe in treo & ek in mede.
Þe lilie myd hire fayre wlite
Welcomeþ me, þeyh þu hit wite,
     440
Bid me myd hire fayre bleo [folio 232r.2]
Þat ich schulle to hire fleo. Page  43
Þe rose also myd hire rude,
Þat cumeþ of þe þorne wode,
Bit me þat ich schulle singe
     445
For hire luue one skentynge:
& ich so do þureh nyht & day,
Þe more ich singe þe more ich may,
& skente hi myd myne songe,
Ac noþeles nouht ouerlonge:
     450
Hwenne ich iseo þat men beoþ glade,
Ich nelle þat hi beon to sade:
Hwenne is ido for hwan ich com,
Ich vare ayeyn & do wisdom.
Hwanne mon howieþ of his sheue,
     455
& falewi cumeþ of grene leue,
Ich fare hom & nyme leue:
Ne recche ich nouht of wyntres teone.
Hwanne ich iseo þat cumeþ [þat] harde,
Ich fare hom to myn erde,
     460
& habbe boþe luue & þonk
Þat ich her com & hider swonk.
Hwanne myn erende is ido,
Scholde ich bileue ? nay, hwarto ?
Vor he nys noþer yep ne wis,
     465
Þat longe abid þar him no neod is."
Þeos vle luste, & leyde an hord
Al þis mot, word after word,
And after þouhte hw heo myhte
Onswere vynde best myd rihte:
     470
Vor he mot ful wel him biþenche,
Þat is aferd of playtes wrenche.
"Þv ayssest me," þe vle seyde,
"Hwi ich a-winter singe & grede. Page  45
Hit is gode monne ywune,
     475
& was from þe worlde frume, [folio 232v.1]
Þat ech god mon his frend iknowe,
& blissi myd heom sume þrowe
In his huse at his borde,
Mid fayre speche & fayre worde.
     480
& hure & hure to Cristesmasse,
Hwenne riche & poure, more & lasse,
Singeþ cundut nyht & day,
Ich heom helpe hwat ich may.
& ek ich þenche of oþer þinge
     485
Þane to pleye oþer to singe.
Ich habbe herto god onsware
Anon iredi and al ware :
Vor sumeres-tyde is al wlonk,
& doþ mysreken monnes þonk:
     490
Vor he ne rekþ noht of clennesse,
Al his þouht is of golnesse:
Vor none dor no leng nabideþ,
Ac euerich vp oþer rideþ:
Þe sulue stottes yne þe stode,
     495
Beþ boþe wilde and mare-wode.
& þu sulf art þar-among,
Vor of golnysse is al þi song,
& ayeyn [þet þu wilt teme],
Þu art wel modi & wel breme.
     500

Lines 501 through 600

Sone so þu hauest itrede,
Ne myht þu leng a word iqueþe,
Ac pipest al so doþ a mose,
Mid cokeringe, mid stefne hose. Page  47
Yet þu singest w[o]rse þan þe heysugge,
     505
þat flyhþ bi grunde among þe stubbe:
Hwenne þi lust is ago,
Þenne is þi song ago al so.
A-sumere chorles aweydeþ
& uorcrempeþ & uorbredeþ: [folio 232v.2]
     510
Hit nys for luue noþeles,
Ac is þeos cherles wode res;
Vo[r] hwanne he haueþ ido his dede,
Ifalle is al his boldhede,
Habbe he istunge vnder gore,
     515
Ne last his luue no leng more.
Al so hit is on þine mode;
So sone so þu sittest a-brode,
Þu forleost al þine wise.
Al so þu varest on þine ryse:
     520
Hwenne þu hauest ido þi gome,
Þi stefne goþ anon to schome.
Ac hwenne nyhtes cumeþ longe,
& bryngeþ forstes starke & stronge,
Þanne erest hit is isene
     525
Hwar is þe snelle, hwar þe kene.
At þan harde me may avynde
Hwo goþ forþ, hwo lyþ bihynde.
Me may iseon at þare neode,
Hwan me schal harde wike beode; Page  49
     530
Þanne ich am snel, & pleye & singe,
& hyhte me myd my skentinge:
Of none wyntre ich ne recche,
Vo[r] ich nam non aswunde wrecche.
& ek ich froueri fele wihte
     535
Þat myd heom nabbeþ none [m]ihte:
Hi beoþ houhful & wel arme,
And secheþ yorne to þen warme;
Ofte ich singe for hem þe more
For lutly sum of heore sore.
     540
Hw þinkþ þe? artu [inome]?
Artu myd rihte ouercume ?"
" Nay, nay ! " seyde þe Nihtegale,
"Þu schalt ihere on oþer tale: [folio 233r.1]
Yet nis þeos speche ibroht to dome.
     545
Ac be stille, and lust nv to me:
Ich schal mid one bare worde
Do þat þi speche w[u]rþ forwurþe."
"Þat nere noht riht" þe vle seyde,
"Þu hauest bicleped al so þu bede, Page  51
     550
And ich þe habbe iy[i]ue onswere.
Ac are we to vnker dome fare,
Ich wile speke toward þe
Al so þu speke toward me;
& þu me onswere if þu myht.
     555
Sey me nv, þu wrecche wiht,
Is in þe eny oþer note
Bute þu hauest schille þrote?
Þu nart nouht to non oþer þinge,
Bute þu canst of chateringe:
     560
Vor þu art lutel and vnstrong,
& nys þi ryel nowiht long.
Hwat dostu godes among monne ?
Na mo þene doþ a wrecche wrenne.
Of þe ne cumeþ non oþer god,
     565
Bute þu gredest swich þu be wod:
& beo þi piping ouergo,
Ne beoþ on þe craftes na mo.
Alured seyde, þat wes wis:
(He myhte wel, for soþ hit is,)
     570
"Nis nomon for his bare songe
Leof ne w[u]rþ noht swiþe longe:
Vor þat is o furw[u]rþe man
Þat bute singe naht ne can."
Þu nart bute o furw[u]rþe þing:
     575
On þe nys bute chateryng.
Þu art dym & of fule heowe,
& þinchest a lytel soty clewe. [folio 233r.2] Page  53
Þu nart fayr, ne þu nart strong,
Ne þu nart þikke, ne þu nart long;
     580
Þu hauest ymyst of fayrhede,
& lutel is þi godhede.
An oþer þing of þe ich mene,
Þu [n]art feyr ne þu nart clene.
Hwanne þu cumest to monne hawe,
     585
Þar þornes beoþ & ris idrawe,
Bi hegge & bi þikke weode,
Þar men goþ to heore neode,
Þarto þu draust [þar]to þu w[u]nst
& oþer clene stude þu schunest.
     590
Hwanne ich fleo nyhtes after muse,
Ich may þe vinde at þe rum-huse:
Among þe wede, among þe netle,
Þu syttest & singst bihinde seotle:
Þar me þe may ilomest fynde,
     595
Þar men worpeþ heore byhinde.
Yet þu atwitest me myne mete,
& seyst þat ich fule wyhtes ete.
Ac hwat etestu, þat þu ne lye,
Bute attercoppe & fule vlye,
     600

Lines 601 through 700

& wurmes, if þu myht fynde
Among þe volde of harde rynde?
Yet ich can do wel gode wike,
For ich can loki monne wike:
& mine wike beoþ wel gode,
     605
For ich helpe to monne vode.
Ich can nyme [m]us at berne,
& ek at chireche in þe derne:
For me is leof to Cristes huse,
To clansi hit wiþ fule [m]use,
     610
Ne schal þar neuer cume to
Ful wiht, if ich hit may ivo. [folio 233v.1] Page  55
& if me lust on my skenting
To wernen oþe[r] wunyng,
Ich habbe at wode treon grete,
     615
Mid þikke bowe noþing blete,
Mid ivi grene al bigrowe,
Þat euer stont iliche iblowe,
& his heou neuer ne uorleost,
Hwanne hit snywe ne [hwanne hit] frost.
     620
Þarinne ic habbe god ihold,
A-wintre warm, a-sumere cold.
Þane myn hus stont briht & grene,
Of þine nys nowiht isene.
Yet þu me telst of oþer þinge,
     625
Of myne briddes seyst gabbinge,
Þat heore [nest] nys nouht clene.
Hit is fale oþer wihte imene:
Vor hors a-stable, & oxe a-stalle
Doþ al þat heom wile þar valle.
     630
& lutle childre in þe cradele,
Boþe cheorles & ek aþele,
Doþ al þat in heore youhþe
Þat hi uorleteþ in heore duhþe.
Hwat! can þat yongling hit bihede?
     635
Yf hit mys[d]eþ, hit mot nede:
A vorbisne is of olde iwurne,
Þat neode makeþ old wif eorne. Page  57
& yet ich habbe an oþer onswere:
Wiltu to myne neste vare
     640
& loki hw hit is idiht?
If þu art wis leorny þu mi[h]t:
Mi nest is holeuh & rum amidde,
So hit is softest myne bridde.
Hit is ibroyde al abute,
     645
Vrom þe neste ueor wiþvte:
Þarto hi goþ to heore neode, [folio 233v.2]
Ac [hwat] þu menest ich heom forbode.
We yeme nymeþ of manne bure,
& after þan we makieþ vre:
     650
Men habbeþ among oþre i[h]ende,
A rum-hus at heore bures ende,
Vor þat hi nelleþ to veor go,
& myne briddes doþ al so.
Syte nv stille, chaterestre !
     655
Nere þu neuer ibunde vastre:
Herto ne vyndestu neuer answere.
Hong up þin ax! nv þu miht fare!"
Þe Nihtegale at þisse worde
Was wel neyh ut of rede iworþe,
     660
& þouhte yorne on hire mode
Yf heo ouht elles vnderstode,
If heo cuþe ouht bute singe,
Þat myhte helpe to oþer þinge. Page  59
Herto heo moste answere vynde,
     665
Oþer mid alle beon bihinde:
& hit is strong to vyhte
Ayeyn soþe & ayeyn rihte.
He mot gon to al mid gynne,
Hwan þe horte beoþ on winne:
     670
& þe man mot oþer segge,
He mot bihemme & bilegge,
If muþ wiþvte may biwreo
Þat me þe horte nouht niseo:
& sone may a word mysreke
     675
Þar muþ schal ayeyn horte speke:
& sone may a word myssturte
Þar muþ schal speke ayeyn horte.
Ac [noþeles hyet] upe þon,
Her is to red hwo hyne con:
     680
Vor neuer nys wit so kene
So hwanne red him is a-wene. [folio 234r.1]
Þanne erest cumeþ his yephede
Hwenne hit is alremest on drede;
For Alured seyde of olde quide,
     685
& hyet hit nis of horte islide:
"Hwenne þe bale is alre-hekst,
Þenne is þe bote alre-nest." Page  61
Vor [w]it [w]est among his sore,
& for his sore hit is þe more.
     690
Vorþi nis neuer mon redles
Ar his horte beo witles:
Ac if he furleost his wit,
Þenne is his red-purs al to-slyt:
If he ne con his wit atholde,
     695
N[e] vynt he red in none volde.
Vor Alured seyde, þat wel cuþe,
Euer he spak mid soþe muþe:
"Hwenne þe bale is alre-hekst,
Þenne is þe bote alre-nexst."
     700

Lines 701 through 800

Þe Nihtegale al hi[re howe]
Mid rede hadde wel bitowe ;
Among þe harde, among þe towehte,
Ful wel myd rede hire biþouhte,
& hedde onswere god ifunde
     705
Among alle hire harde stunde.
"[U]le, þu axest me," heo seyde,
"[I]f ich con eny oþer dede
Bute syngen in sume tyde,
& bringe blisse veor & wyde.
     710
Hwy axestu of craftes myne ?
Beter is myn on þan alle þine,
Beter is o song of myne muþe
Þan al þat [evre] þi kun kuþe:
& lust, ich telle þe hwarvore.
     715
Wostu to hwan mon wes ibore?
To þare blisse of heueryche, [folio 234r.2]
Þar euer is song & [m]urehþe ilyche: Page  63
Þider fundeþ euerich man
Þat eny þing of gode can.
     720
For-þi me syngþ in holy-chireche,
& clerekes gynneþ songes w[i]rche,
Þat mon yþenche bi þe songe
Hwider he shal, & þar ben longe:
Þat he þe murehþe ne voryete,
     725
Ac þarof þenche & bige[t]e,
& nyme yeme of chirche stefne,
Hw [m]urie is þe blisse of heuene.
Clerekes, Munekes, & canunes,
Þar beoþ þos gode wike-tunes,
     730
Ariseþ vp to middel-nyhte,
& singeþ of þon heuene-lyhte:
& preostes vpe londe singeþ,
* * * * *
& ich heom helpe hwat ic may,
     735
Ich singe myd hem nyht & day,
& heo beoþ alle for me þe gladdere,
& to þe songe beoþ þe raddure.
Ich warny men to heore gode,
Þat hi beon blyþe on heore mode,
     740
& bidden þat hi moten iseche
Þat ilche song þat euer is eche.
Nu þu myht, vle, sitte and clynge:
Her-among nys no chateringe :
Ich graunti þat þu go to dome
     745
Tovore þe sulve Pope of Rome. Page  65
Ac abid yete, noþeles,
Þu schalt abyde on oþer [bles]:
Ne schaltu, vor Engelonde,
At þisse worde me atstonde.
     750
Hwy atwitestu me myne vnstrengþe,
& myne vngrete, & myn vnlengþe,
& sayst þat ich am nouht strong, [folio 234v.1]
Vor ic nam noþer gret ne long?
Ac þu nost neuer hwat þu menest,
     755
Bute lese wordes þu me lenest:
For ic kan craft & ic kan lyste,
& þarfore ic am þus þriste.
Ich kan wit & song mony eine,
Ne triste ic to non oþer mayne:
     760
Vor soþ hit is þat seyde Alured:
"Ne may no strengþe ayeyn red." Page  67
Oft spet wel a lute lyste,
Þar muche strengþe solde myste;
Mid lutle strengþe, þureh ginne,
     765
Castel & bureh me may winne.
Mid liste me may walles felle,
& werpe of horse knyhtes snelle.
Vuel strengþe is lutel w[u]rþ,
Ac wisdom ne w[u]rþ neuer vnw[u]rþ:
     770
Þu myht iseo þurh alle þing,
Þat 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
& drahþ bi sweore grete temes, Page  69
& þoleþ boþe yerd & spure,
& stont iteyed at mulne dure.
& hit doþ þat mon hit hot:
& for þan þat hit no wit not,
     780
Ne may his strengþe hit ischilde
Þat h[it] nabuhþ þe lutle childe.
Mon doþ, mid strengþe & mid witte,
Þat oþer þing nys non his fitte.
Þey alle strengþe at one [w]ere,
     785
Monnes wit yet more were:
Vor þe mon myd his crafte, [folio 234v.2]
Ouercumeþ al eorþliche shafte.
Al so ic do myd myne one songe
Bet þan þu alle yer longe:
     790
Vor myne crafte men me luuyeþ,
Vor þine strengþe men þe schunyeþ.
Telstu bi me þe w[u]rs for þan
Þat ic bute enne craft ne kan?
If twey men goþ to wrastlinge,
     795
& eyþer oþer vaste þringe,
& þe on can swenges swiþe fele,
& kan his wrenches wel forhele,
& þe oþer ne can sweng bute onne,
& þe is god wiþ eche manne,
     800

Lines 801 through 900

& myd þan one leyþ to grunde
Anne after oþe[r] a lutle stunde,
Hwat þarf he recche of a mo swenge,
Hwenne þe on him is so genge? Page  71
Þ[u] seyst þat þu canst fele wike,
     805
Ac euer ich am þin vnyliche.
Do þine craftes alle togadere,
Yet is myn on heorte betere.
Ofte hwan hundes foxes driueþ,
Þe kat ful wel him sulue liueþ,
     810
Þeh he ne cunne wreynch bute anne.
Þe fo[x] so godne ne can nanne,
Þey he cunne so vele wrenche,
Þat he weneþ eche hunde atprenche.
Vor he can paþes rihte and wowe,
     815
& he can hongi bi þe bowe,
& so vorlest þe hund his fore,
& turnþ eft ayeyn to þe more.
Þe fox can crepe by þe heye,
& turne vt from his forme weye,
     820
& eft sone cume þarto: [folio 235r.1]
Þenne is þes hundes smel fordo:
He not, þurh þe [m]eynde smak,
Hweþer he schal vorþ þe abak.
If þe uox miste of al þis dwele,
     825
At þan ende he [creopþ] to hole: Page  73
Ac naþeles myd al his wrenche,
Ne can he hine so biþenche,
Þey he beo yep & swiþe snel,
Þat he ne leost his rede vel.
     830
Þe kat ne can wrench bute anne,
Noþer bi dune ne bi venne:
Bute he can clymbe swiþe wel,
Þarmyd he wereþ his greye vel.
Al so ich segge bi my seolue,
     835
Beter is myn on þan þine twelue."
"Abid! abid!" þe vle seyde,
"Þu gest al to mid swikelhede:
Alle þine wordes þu bileyst
Þat hit þinkþ soþ þat þu seyst:
     840
Alle þine wordes beoþ isliked,
& so biseme[d] and bilike[d],
Þat alle heo þat hi auoþ,
Hi weneþ þat þu segge soþ.
Abid! abid! me schal þe yene!
     845
Nu hit schal w[u]rþe wel isene
Þat þu hauest muchel ilowe,
Hwenne þi lesing beoþ vnwrowe.
Þu seist þat þu singest moncunne,
& techest heom þat hi fundeþ heonne
     850
Vp to þe songe þat euer ilast:
Ac hit is alre w[u]ndre mest,
Þat [þu] darst lye so opeliche.
Wenestu hi bringe so lyhtliche
To Godes riche al singinde? [folio 235r.2]
     855
Nay! Nay! hi schule wel avynde Page  75
Þat hi myd longe wope mote
Of heore sunnen bidde bote,
Ar hi mote euer cume þare.
Ich rede þi þat men beo ware,
     860
& more wepe þane singe,
Þat fundeþ to þan heuene-kynge:
For nys no mon wiþvten sunne.
Forþi he mot ar he wende heonne,
Mid teres & myd wope bete,
     865
Þat him beo sur þat er was swete.
Þarto ich helpe, God hit wot!
Ne singe ich heom no foliot:
Vor al my song is of longinge,
And ymeynd sumdel myd woninge,
     870
Þat mon bi me hine biþenche
Þat he grony for his vnwrenche;
Mid myne songe ich hine [pulte],
Þat he grony for his gulte.
If þu gest herof to disputinge,
     875
Ich wepe bet þan þu singe:
If riht goþ forþ, & abak wrong,
Betere is my wop þan þi song.
Þeyh summe men beon þurhut gode,
& þurhut clene on heore mode,
     880
Heom longeþ heonne noþeles.
Þat beoþ her, wo is hom þes:
Vor þeyh hi beo heom selue iborewe,
Hi ne seoþ her nowiht bute serewe.
Vor oþer men hi wepeþ sore,
     885
& for heom biddeþ Cristes ore. Page  77
Ich helpe monne on eyþer halue,
Mi [m]uþ haueþ tweire kunne salue:
Þan gode ich fulste to longinge, [folio 235v.1]
Vor hwenne him longeþ ic him singe:
     890
& þan sunfulle ic helpe also,
Vor ic him teche hwar is wo.
Yet ic þe yene on oþer wise:
Vor hwenne þu sittest on þine rise,
Þu drahst men to fleyses luste,
     895
Þat wil[l]eþ þine songes luste.
Al þu vorleost þe [m]urehþe of heuene,
For þarto nauestu none steuene:
Al þat þu singest is of golnesse,
For nys on þe non holynesse,
     900

Lines 901 through 1000

Ne weneþ no mon for þi pipinge
Þat eny preost in chirche singe.
Yet ic þe wile on oþer segge,
If þu hit const ariht bilegge:
Hwi nultu singe an oþer þeode,
     905
Þa[r] hit is muchele more neode?
Þu neuer ne singest in Irlonde,
Ne þu ne cumest in Scotlonde.
Hwi nultu vare to Norweye,
& singen men of Galeweye? Page  79
     910
Þar beoþ men þat litel kunne
Of songe þat is vnder sunne.
Hwi nultu þare preoste singe,
& teche of þire writelinge,
& wisi heom myd þire stefne
     915
Hw engles singeþ in þe heuene?
Þu farest so doþ on an yde[l] wel
Þat springeþ bi burne þat is snel,
& let fordruye þe dune,
& flohþ an ydel þar adune.
     920
Ac ich fare norþ and souþ:
In euerich londe ich am cuþ;
East & west, souþ & norþ, [folio 235v.2]
I do wel fayre my mester,
& warny men mid myne bere,
     925
Þat þi dwele-song heo ne forle[r]e.
Ich wisse men myd myne songe,
Þat hi ne sunegi nowiht longe;
Ich bidde heom þat heo iswike,
Þat heom seolue ne biswike:
     930
For betere is þat heo wepe here,
Þan elles hwar beo deoulene yuere."
Þe Nihtegale wes agromed
& ek sum-del ofschomed,
For þe vle hire atwiten hedde
     935
In hwiche stude ho sat & gradde,
Bihinde þe bure, among þe wed,
Þar men gon to heore ned; Page  81
& sat sum-del & ho biþouhte,
& wiste wel on hire þouhte
     940
Þe wraþþe binymeþ monnes red.
For hit seyde þe king Alured:
"Selde endeþ wel þe loþe,
& selde playdeþ wel þe wroþe."
For wraþþe meynþ þe heorte blod
     945
Þat hit floweþ so wilde flod,
& al þe heorte ouergeþ,
Þat heo naueþ naþing bute breþ,
& so uorleost al his lyht,
Þat ho ne syhþ soþ ne riht.
     950
Þe nyhtegale hi vnderstod,
& [o]uergan lette hire mod:
He myhte bet speken i-sele
Þan myd wraþþe wordes dele.
"[H]vle," [heo] seyde "lust nv hider:
     955
Þu schalt falle, þi wey is slider.
Þu seyst ich fleo bihinde bure: [folio 236r.1]
Hit is riht, þe bur is vre:
Þar louerd liggeþ and leuedy,
Ich schal heom synge & sitte bi.
     960
Wenestu þat wise men forlete,
Vor fule venne, þe rihte strete?
Ne sunne þe later schyne,
Þeyh hit beo ful in neste þine?
Scholdich, for one hole brede,
     965
Furlete myne rihte stede, Page  83
Þat ich ne singe bi þe bedde,
Þar louerd haueþ his lauedi bedde ?
Hit is my rihte, hit it my lawe,
Þat to þe hexste ich me drawe.
     970
Ac if þu yelpst of þine songe,
Þat þu kanst yolle uroþe & stronge,
& seyst þu wisest monkunne,
Þat hi biwepen heore sunne,
Solde eueruych mon wony & grede
     975
Riht such hi weren vnlede?
Scholde hi yollen al so þu dest,
Hi myhten afere heore preost.
Mon schal beo stille & noht grede;
He mot biwepe his mysdede:
     980
Ac þar is Cristes heriynge,
Þar me grede & lude singe.
Nis noþe[r] to lude ne to long,
At rihte tyme, chirche-song.
Þu yollest & wonest, & ic singe:
     985
Þi stefne is wop, & myn skentinge.
Euer mote þu yolle & wepen
Þat þu þi lif mote forleten!
& yolle mote þu so heye,
Þat ut tobersten bo þin eye!
     990
Hweþer is betere of tweyre twom, [folio 236r.2]
Þat mon beo bliþe oþer grom? Page  85
So beo hit euer in vnker siþe,
Þat þu beo sori & ich bliþe.
Yet þu ayschest hwi ic ne vare
     995
Into oþer londe & singe þare?
No! hwat scholdich among heom do,
Þar neuer blisse ne com to?
Þat lond nys god, ne hit nys este,
Ac wildernesse hit is & weste:
     1000

Lines 1001 through 1100

Knarres & cludes houenetinge,
Snov & hawel hom is genge.
Þat lond is grislich & vnuele,
Þe men beoþ wilde & vnsele,
Hi nabbeþ noþer griþ ne sibbe:
     1005
Hi ne reccheþ hw hi libbe.
Hi eteþ fys & fleys vnsode,
Suych wolues hit hadde tobroude;
Hi drinkeþ mylk & hwey þarto,
Hi nuteþ elles hwet hi do: Page  87
     1010
Hi nabbeþ noht wyn ne beor,
Ac libbeþ al so wilde deor:
Hi goþ bytuht myd rowe felle,
Riht suych hi come vt of helle.
Þey eny god man to heom come,
     1015
So hwile dude sum from Rome,
For heom to lere gode þewes,
& for to lete heore vnþewes,
He myhte be[t] sytte stille,
Vor al his hwile he scolde spille:
     1020
He myhte bet teche ane beore
To bere scheld and spere,
Þane þat wilde volk ibringe
Þat hi me wolde ihere singe.
Hwat scholdich þar mid myne song[e], [folio 236v.1]
     1025
Ne singe ic heom neuer so longe,
Mi song were ispild vych del:
For heom ne may halter ne bridel
Bringe from here wode wyse,
Ne mon mid stele ne mid i[s]e. Page  89
     1030
Ac þar lond is este and god,
& þar men habbeþ mylde mod,
Ic notye myd heom [m]ine þrote,
For ic may do þar gode note:
& bringe heom leue tydinge,
     1035
For ic of chirche-songe singe.
Hit wes isayd in olde lawe,
Þat yet ilast þilke soþ-sawe,
Þat mon schal eryen & sowe,
Þar he weneþ after god mowe:
     1040
For he is wod þat soweþ his sed
Þar neuer gras ne springþ ne bled."
Þe vle wes wroþ, to cheste rad,
Mid þisse worde hire eyen abraid:
"Þu seyst þu witest monne bures,
     1045
Þar leues beoþ & fayre flures,
Þar two yleoue in one bedde
Liggeþ iclupt & wel bihedde.
Enes þu sunge, ic wot wel hware,
Bi one bure, & woldest lere
     1050
Þe leuedi to an vuel l[u]ue,
& s[u]nge boþe lowe & buue, Page  91
& leredest hi to don schome
& vnriht of hire lichome.
Þe louerd þat sone vnderyat,
     1055
Lym & grune & wel ihwat,
Sette & leyde þe for to lacche.
Þu come sone to þan hacche,
Þu were ynume in one grune, [folio 236v.2]
Al hit abouhte þine schine :
     1060
Þu neddest non oþer dom ne lawe,
Bute myd wilde hors [were] todrawe.
Vonde if þu myht eft mysrede,
Hweþer þu wilt, wif þe meyde:
Þi song mai beo so longe genge
     1065
Þat þu schalt hwippen on a sprenge."
Þe Nihtegale at þisse worde,
Mid swerde & myd speres orde,
If heo mon were, wolde vyhte:
Ac þo heo bet do ne [m]ihte,
     1070
Heo vauht myd hire wise tunge.
"Wel viht þat wel spekþ" seyþ in þe songe.
Of hire tunge heo nom red:
" Wel viht þat wel spekþ" seyde Alured.
"Hwat! seystu þis for ruyne schome?
     1075
Þe louerd hadde herof grome.
He wes so gelus of his wyue,
Þat he ne myhte vor his lyue
Iseo þat mon wiþ hire speke,
Þat his heorte [n]olde breke.
     1080
He hire bilek in one bure,
Þat hire was stronge & sure: Page  93
Ic hadde of hire [m]ilce & ore,
And sori was for hire sore,
& skente hi mid myne songe
     1085
Al þat ic mihte, raþe & longe.
Vorþan þe knyht wes wiþ me wroþ,
Vor rihte nyþe ic wes him loþ:
He dude me his owe schome,
Ac al hit turnde him eft to grome.
     1090
Þat vnderyat þe kyng Henri:
Jesu his soule do mercy!
He let forbonne þene knyht, [folio 237r.1]
Þat hadde ido svich vnriht
In so gode kynges londe;
     1095
For rihte nyþe & ful onde
Let þane lytel fowel nyme
& him fordeme lif and lyme.
Hit wes w[u]rþsipe al myne kunne;
Forþon þe kniht furles his w[u]nne,
     1100

Lines 1101 through 1200

& yaf for me an hundred punde:
& myne briddes seten ysunde, Page  95
& hedde seþþe blisse and hihte,
& were bliþe, & wel myhte.
Vorþan ic wes so wel awreke,
     1105
Euer eft ich dar þe bet speke:
For hit bitydde ene so,
Ich am þe bliþure euer mo.
Nu ic may singe hwar ic wile,
Ne dar me neuer eft mon agrulle.
     1110
Ac þu, ermyng! þu wrecche gost!
Þu ne canst fynde, ne þu nost,
An holeh stoc hwar þu þe mist hude,
Þat me ne twenge þine hude.
Vor children, gromes, heme & hine,
     1115
Hi þencheþ alle of þine pine:
If hi mowe iseo þe sitte,
Stones hi doþ in heore slytte,
& þe totorueþ & toheneþ,
& þine fule bon toscheneþ.
     1120
If þu art iworpe oþer iscote,
Þenne þu myht erest to note.
Vor me þe hoþ in one rodde,
& þu, myd þine fule codde,
& myd þine ateliche sweore,
     1125
Biwerest monne corn from deore. Page  97
Nis nouþer nouht, þi lif ne blod: [folio 237r.2]
Ac þu art sheules swiþe god.
Þar newe sedes beoþ isowe,
Pynnuc, goldfynch, rok, ne crowe
     1130
Ne dar neuer cumen ihende,
If þi buk hongeþ at þan ende.
Þar treon schulleþ ayer blowe,
& yonge sedes springe & growe,
Ne dar no fuoel þarto fonge,
     1135
If þu art þarouer ihonge.
Þi lif is euer luþer and qued,
Þu nart nouht bute ded.
Nv þu myht wite sikerliche
þat þine leches beoþ grisliche
     1140
Þe hwile þu art on lyfdaye:
Vor hwenne þu hongest islawe,
Yet hi beoþ of þe atdradde,
Þe foweles þat þe er bigradde.
Mid rihte men beoþ wiþ þe wroþe,
     1145
For þu singest of heore loþe:
Al þat þu singest, raþe oþer late,
Hit is euer of mannes vnhwate:
Hwanne þu hauest anyht igrad,
Men beoþ of þe wel sore aferd. Page  99
     1150
Þu singst þar sum man sal be ded:
Euer þu bodest sumne qued.
Þu singst ayeyn ayhte lure,
Oþer of summe vrendes rure:
Oþer þu bodest huses brune,
     1155
Oþer ferde of manne, oþer þeues run[e]:
Oþer þu bodest qualm of orue,
Oþer þat londfolc w[u]rþ idorue,
Oþer þat wif leost hire make:
Oþer þu bodest cheste and sake.
     1160
Euer þu singest of manne harme, [folio 237v.1]
Þurh þe hi beoþ sorie & arme:
Þu ne singest neuer one syþe,
Þat hit nys for summe vnsyþe.
Hervore hit is þat me þe suneþ,
     1165
& þe totorueþ & tobuneþ
Mid staue, & stone, & turf, & clute,
Þat þu ne myht noware atrute.
Dahet euer budel in tune
Þat bedeþ vnwreste rune,
     1170
& euer bringeþ vuele tydinge,
& þat spekeþ of vuele þinge!
God Almyhti w[u]rþe him wroþ.
& al þat wereþ lynnene cloþ!"
Þe vle nabod noht swiþe longe,
     1175
Ac ȝef answere stark & stronge:
" Hwat," queþ heo, "ertu ihoded?
Oþer þu cursest vnihoded? Page  101
For prestes wike ich wat þu dest.
Ich not if þu were preost:
     1180
Ich not if þu canst masse singe:
Inouh þu canst of Mansynge.
Ac hit is for þine olde nyþe,
Þat þu me acursedest oþer siþe:
Ac þarto is lihtlych answere:
     1185
"Drah to þe!" queþ þe kartere.
Hwi atwitestu me myne insihte,
& [m]in iwit & myne myhte?
For ich am [witi] ful iwis,
& wo[t] al þat to comen is.
     1190
Ich wot of hunger, of heregonge;
Ich wot if men sulle libbe longe;
Ich wot if wif lust hire make;
Ich wot hwar sal beo niþ & wrake:
Ich wot hwo sal beo anhonge,
     1195
Oþer elles fulne deþ avonge.
If men habbeþ batayle inume,
Ic w[o]t hwaþer sal beo ouercume; [folio 237v.2]
Ic wot if qualm sal cumen on orve,
& if deor schulle ligge astorue: Page  103
     1200

Lines 1201 through 1300

Ic wot if tren schulle blowe:
Ic wot if corn schulle growe:
Ic wot if huses schulle berne:
Ic wot if men sulle eorne oþer erne:
Ic wot if sea sal sch[i]pes drenche:
     1205
Ic wot if [smithe] sale vuele clenche.
& ic con muchele more:
Ic con ynouh in bokes lore,
& ek ic can of þe Godspelle
More þan ic wile þe telle:
     1210
Vor ic at chireche cume ilome,
& muchel leorny of wisdome:
Ic wot al of þe toknynge,
& of oþer vale þinge.
If eny mon schal rem abide,
     1215
Al ic hit wot ar hit ityde. Page  105
Ofte, vor myne muchele witte,
Wel sori-mod & wroþ I sytte:
Hwanne ic iseo þer sum wrecchede
Is cumynde neyh, inoh ic grede:
     1220
Ic bidde þer men beon warre,
& habbe gode redes yare.
Vor Alured seyde a wis word,
Vych mon hit scholde legge on hord:
"If þu isyst her heo beo icume,
     1225
His strengþe is him wel neyh binume."
& grete duntes beoþ þe lasse,
If me ikepeþ myd iwarnesse,
& [flo] schal toward misyenge,
If þu isihst hw fleo of strenge:
     1230
For þu myht blenche & fleo,
If þu isihst heo to þe teo.
Þauh eny mon beo falle in edwite,
Hwi schal [he] me his sor atwite?
Þauh ic iseo his harm bivore,
     1235
Ne cumeþ hit nouht of me þarfore. fol. 238r. col.1.
Þah þu iseo þat sum blynd mon,
Þat nanne rihtne wey ne con,
To þare diche his dwele voleweþ,
& falleþ, & þaronne sulieþ, Page  107
     1240
Wenestu, þah ic al iseo,
Þat hit for me þe raþer beo?
Al so hit fareþ bi [m]ine witte:
Þanne ic on myne bowe sitte,
Ic wot & iseo swiþe brihte
     1245
Þat summe men cumeþ harm þarrihte.
Sal he, þar he nowiht not,
Hit wite me vor ic hit wot?
Sal he his myshap wyten me,
Vor ic am wisure þan he?
     1250
Hwanne ic iseo þat sum wrechede
Is manne neyh, inouh ic grede,
& bidde inouh þat hi heom schilde,
Vor toward heom is harm vnmylde.
Ac þah ic grede lude and stille,
     1255
Al iwurþ Godes wille.
Hwi wulleþ men of me mene,
Þah ic mid soþe heo awene?
Þah ic hi warny al þat yer,
Nis heom þarvore [harem] þe ner:
     1260
Ac ich singe vor ich wolde
Þer hi wel vnderstonde scholde
Þat sum vnsel heom is ihende,
Hwen ic myn huyng to heom sende.
Naueþ mon no sikerhede
     1265
Þat he ne may wene & adrede
Þat sum vnhap neih him beo,
Þah he ne cunne hit iseo.
Forþi seyde Alured swiþe wel,
& his word was Godspel, Page  109
     1270
Þat "euerich mon, þe bet [him] beo,
Euer þe bet he him biseo": [folio 238r.2]
"Ne triste no mon to his wele
To swiþe, þa[h] he habbe uele."
"Nis noht so hot þat hit nacoleþ,
     1275
Ne noht so hwit þat hit ne soleþ,
Ne noht so leof þat hit naloþeþ,
Ne noht so glad þat hit nawreþeþ:
Ac euerich þing þat eche nys,
Agon schal, & al þis worldes blis."
     1280
Nu þu miht witen redeliche,
Þat euer þu spekest gidiliche:
For al þu me seyst vor schame,
Euer þe [solue] hit turneþ to grome.
Go so hit go, at eche fenge
     1285
Þu vallest myd þin owe swenge;
Al þat þu sayst for me to schende,
Hit is my w[u]rþsipe at þan ende.
Bute þu wille bet agynne,
Ne schaltu bute schame iwynne."
     1290
Þe nyhtegale sat and syhte,
& hauhful was, & wel myhte,
For þe vle so ispeke hadde,
And hire speche so iladde.
Heo wes houhful, and erede
     1295
Hwat heo þarafter hire seyde: Page  111
Ac noþeles heo hire vnderstod.
"Hwat!" heo seyde, "vle, artu wod?
Þu yelpest of selliche wisdome,
Þu nustest hwenne hit þe come,
     1300

Lines 1301 through 1400

Bute hit of wicchecrafte were.
Þarof þu, wrecche, most þe skere
If þu wilt among manne beo:
Oþer þu most of londe fleo.
Vor alle þeo þat þerof cuþe,
     1305
Heo weren ifurn of prestes muþe
Amansed: such [þu] art yette.
* * * * * *
Ic þe seyde nv lutel ere,
& þu askedest if ich were [folio 238v.1]
     1310
A-bysemare to preoste ihoded.
Ac þe mansyng is so ibroded,
Þauh no preost a-londe nere,
A wrecche naþeles þu were:
For euerich chi[l]d þe clepede fule,
     1315
& euerich man a wrecche vle.
Ich habbe iherd, & soþ hit is,
Þe mon mot beo wel sturre-wis,
& wite inoh of hwiche þinge cume,
So þu seyst þat is iwune. Page  113
     1320
Hwat constu, wr[e]cche þing, of stor[r]e,
Bute þat þu biha[u]est hi ferre?
Al so doþ mony deor and man,
Þeo of suyche nowiht ne can.
On ape may on bok biholde,
     1325
& leues wende and eft folde:
Ac he ne con þe bet þarvore
Of clerkes lore top ne more.
Þey þu iseo þe steorre al so,
Nertu þ[e] wisere neuer þe mo.
     1330
Ac yet þu, fule þing, me chist,
& wel grimlyche me atwist
Þat ic singe bi manne huse,
& theche wyue breke spuse.
Þu lyest iwis, þu fule þing!
     1335
Þurh me nes neuer isend spusing.
Ac soþ hit is ich singe & grede
Þar leuedis beoþ & feyre meide:
& soþ hit is of luue ich singe:
For god wif may in spusinge Page  115
     1340
Bet luuyen hire owe were,
Þan on oþer, hire copinere;
& mayde may luue cheose
Þat hire trevschipe ne forleose,
& luuye mid rihte luue
     1345
Þane þat schal hire beo boue.
Suyche luue ic theche & lere,
Þerof beoþ al myne ilere. fol. 238v. col.2.
Þauh sum wif beo of neysse mode,
Vor wymmen beoþ of softe blode,
     1350
Þat heo, vor summe sottes lore
Þe yorne bit and sykeþ sore,
Misnyme & misdo sume stunde,
Schal ic þarvore beo ibunde ?
Yef wymmen luuyeþ for vnrede,
     1355
Witestu me heore mysdede?
If wymmon þencheþ luuye derne,
[Ne] may ic myne songes werne.
Wymmon may pleye vnder cloþe,
Hweþer heo wile, wel þe wroþe:
     1360
& heo may do bi [m]yne songe,
Hweþer heo wile, wel þe wronge.
Vor nys a-worlde þing so god,
Þat ne may do sum vngod,
If me hit wile turne amys.
     1365
Vor gold & seoluer, god hit is:
& naþeles þarmyd þu myht
Spusbruche bugge & vnryht.
Wepne beoþ gode griþ to holde:
& naþeles þarmyd beoþ men aqolde Page  117
     1370
Ayeynes riht of alle londe,
Þar þeoues hi bereþ an honde.
Al so hit is bi myne songe,
Þah heo beo god, me hine may mysfonge,
& drawe hine to sothede,
     1375
& to oþre vuele dede.
Ah schaltu, wrecche, luue tele?
Beo hwich heo beo, vich luue is fele
Bitwene þe mon & wymmone:
Ah if heo is abroyde, þeonne
     1380
He is vnvele and forbroyde.
Wroþ wurþe him þe holy rode
Þe rihte icunde so forbreydeþ!
Wunder [hit is] þat heo ne awedeþ.
& so heo doþ, vor heo beoþ wode, fol.239r.col.1.
     1385
Þat bute neste goþ to brode.
Wymmon is of neysse fleysse,
& fleysses [lust] is strong to queysse:
Nis wunder non þah he abide.
Vor fleysses lustes hi makeþ slide,
     1390
Ne beoþ heo nouht alle forlore
Þat stumpeþ at þe fleysses more:
Vor mony wymmon haueþ mysdo
Þat aryst vp of þe slo.
Ne beoþ noht ones alle sunne,
     1395
Vorþan hi beoþ tweire ikunne: Page  119
Sum arist of fleysses luste,
& sum of þe gostes custe.
Þar fleys drahþ nv men to drunkenesse,
& to [wrouehede] & to golnesse,
     1400

Lines 1401 through 1500

Þe gost mysdoþ þurh nyþ and onde,
& seþþe myd [m]urehþe of [monne shonde,] Page  121
& wunneþ after more and more,
& lutel rekþ of [m]ilce and ore;
& styhþ on heyh þur[h] modynesse,
     1405
& ouerhoweþ þane lasse.
Sey me soþ, if þu hit wost,
Hweþer doþ wurse, fleys þe gost?
Þu myht segge, if þu wult,
Þat lasse is þes fley[s]es gult:
     1410
Mony mon is of his fleysse clene,
Þat is myd mode deouel-imene.
Ne schal no mon wymman bigrede,
& fleysses lustes hire vpbreyde:
Such heo mahte beo of golnesse,
     1415
þat sunegeþ wurse in modinesse.
Hwet if ic schulde a-luue bringe
Wif oþer mayde, hwanne ic singe?
Ic wolde wiþ þe mayde holde,
If þu const aryht atholde:
     1420
Lust nv, ic segge þe hwarvore,
Vp to þe toppe from þe more. fol.239r. col.2.
If mayde luueþ derneliche,
Heo stumpeþ & falþ icundeliche:
Vor þaih heo sum hwile pleye,
     1425
Heo nys noht feor vt of þe weye;
Heo may hire guld atwende
A rihte weye þurh chirche-bende,
& may eft habbe to make
Hire leofmon wiþvte sake, Page  123
     1430
& gon to him bi dayes lyhte,
Þat er bistal on þeoster nyhte.
Þat yongling not hwat such þing is:
His yonge blod hit drahþ amys,
& sum sot man hit tyhþ þarto
     1435
Mid alle þan þat he may do.
He cumeþ & fareþ and beod abid,
& he bistarte an oþer sid,
& bisekþ ilome and longe.
Hwat may þat child þah hit misfonge?
     1440
Hit nuste neuer hwat hi[t] was,
Vorþi hit þouhte fondi þas,
& wyte iwis hwich beo þe gome
Þat of þe wilde makeþ tome.
Ne may ic vor reuþe lete,
     1445
Hwanne ic iseo þe tohte ilete
Þe luue bring on [þ]e [y]unglinge,
Þat ic of murehþe him ne singe.
Ic theche heom bi myne songe
Þat suych luue ne last noht longe:
     1450
For my song lu[tl]e wile ileste,
& luue ne doþ noht bute reste Page  125
On such childre, & sone ageþ,
& falþ adun þe [hote] breþ.
I singe myd heom one þrowe,
     1455
Biginne an heyh & endi lowe,
& lete mine songes falle
A lu[tl]e wi[l]e adun myd alle.
Þat mayde wot, hwenne I s[w]ike, fol. 239v. col.1.
[Þat] luue is myne songes ili[k]e,
     1460
Vor hit nys bute a lutel breþ,
Þat sone cumeþ, and sone geþ.
Þat child bi me hit vnderstond,
& his vnred to rede iwend,
& syhþ wel, bi myne songe,
     1465
Þat dusy luue ne last noht longe.
Ac wel ic wile þat þu hit wite,
Loþ me beoþ wifes vtschute:
Ac wif may of me nyme yeme,
Ic ne singe noht hwen ic teme.
     1470
& wif auh lete sottes lore,
Þauh spusyng-bendes byndeþ sore.
Wunder me þinkþ stark & sor,
Hw eny mon so haueþ for
Þat his heorte myhte dryue
     1475
To do hit to oþres mannes wyue:
Vor oþer hit is of twam þinge,
Ne may þe þridde no mon bringe;
Oþer þe louerd is wel auht,
Oþer aswunde, & nys nouht.
     1480
If he is w[u]rþful & auht mon,
Nele no mon, þat wisdom can, Page  127
Hure of his wive do him schome:
Vor he may him adrede grame,
& þat he forleose þat þer hongeþ,
     1485
Þat him eft þarto noht ne longeþ.
& þah he þat nouht ne adredeþ,
Hit is vnriht & gret sothede
To mysdo one gode manne,
& his ibedde from him spanne.
     1490
If hire louerd is forwurþe
& vnorne at bedde & at borde,
Hw myhte þar beo eny luue
Hwenne a cherles buk hire lay buue?
Hw may þer eny luue beo, [folio 239v.2]
     1495
Hwar such mon gropeþ hire þeo?
Herbi þu miht wel vnderstonde
Þat on is at þen oþres schonde
To stele to oþres mannes bedde.
Vor if auht man is hire ibedde,
     1500

Lines 1501 through 1600

Þu myht wene þat þe mystide,
Hwanne þu lyst bi hire side.
& if þe louerd is a wrecche,
Hwych este myhtestu þar vecche? Page  129
If þu biþenchest hwo hire ofligge,
     1505
Þu myht myd wlate þe este bugge.
Ich not hw may eny freomon
Vor hire sechen after þan.
If he biþenkþ bi hwam he lay,
Al may þe luue gon away."
     1510
Þe vle wes glad of suche tale:
Heo þouhte þat þe nyhtegale,
Þah heo wel speke at þe frume,
Hadde at þan ende mysnume:
& seyde "Nv ich habbe ifunde
     1515
Þat maydenes beoþ of þin imunde:
Mid heom þu holdest, & heom biwerest
& ouerswiþe þu hi herest.
Þe lauedies beoþ to me iwend,
To me hire mone heo send.
     1520
For hit ityd ofte and ilome,
Þat wif & were beoþ vnisome:
& þerfore þat were gulte,
Þat leof is oþer wymmon to pulte,
& speneþ on þare al þat he haueþ,
     1525
& syweþ þare þat noht naueþ, Page  131
& haueþ atom his riche spuse,
Wowes west, and lere huse,
Wel þunne isrud & ived wroþe,
& let heo bute mete & cloþe.
     1530
Hwenne he cumeþ hom eft to his wyue,
Ne dar he noht a word ischire: [folio 240r.1]
He chid & gred such he beo wod,
& ne bringþ hom non oþer god.
Al þat heo doþ him is vnwille,
     1535
Al þat heo spekeþ hit is him ille:
& ofte hwenne heo noht ne mysdeþ,
Heo haueþ þe fust in þe theþ.
Nis nomon þat ne may ibrynge
His wif amys myd suche þinge:
     1540
Me hire may so ofte mysbeode,
Þat heo do wile hire owe neode.
La, God hit wot! heo nah iwelde,
Þah heo hine make cukeweld.
For hit ityt ilome and ofte,
     1545
Þat his wif is neysse & softe,
Of fayre bleo & wel idiht:
[For]þi hit is þe more vnryht
Þat he is [luue] spene on þare,
Þat nis wurþ on of hire heare.
     1550
& suche men beoþ wel manyfolde,
Þat wif ne cunne ariht holde.
Ne mot no mon wiþ hire speke:
He weneþ heo wile anon tobreke
Hire spusyng, if heo lokeþ
     1555
Oþer wiþ manne veyre spekeþ. Page  133
He hire bilukþ myd keye & loke:
Þar-þurh is spusing ofte ibroke.
Vor if heo is þarto ibrouht,
He deþ þat heo nedde ear iþouht.
     1560
Dehaet þat to swiþe hit bispeke,
Þah suche wiues heom awreke!
Herof to me þe leuedies heom meneþ,
And wel sore me ahweneþ:
Wel neyh myn heorte wile tochine,
     1565
Hwenne ic biholde heore [pine].
Mid heom ic wepe swiþe sore,
& for heom bidde Cristes ore,
Þat þe leuedi sone aredde [folio 240r.2]
& hire sende betere ibedde.
     1570
An oþer þing ic may þe telle,
& þu ne schalt, for þine felle,
Onswere non þarto fynde:
Al þis sputing schal aswinde.
Mony chapmon & mony knyht
     1575
Luueþ & halt his wif ariht,
& so doþ mony bondeman:
Þat gode wif doþ after þan,
& sarueþ him to bedde & to borde
Mid fayre dede & fayre worde,
     1580
& yorne vondeþ hw heo mowe
Do þing þat him beo iduwe.
Þe louerd into þare þeode
Vareþ vt on þare beyre neode,
& is þat gode wif vnbliþe
     1585
Vor hire louerdes hou[h]syþe, Page  135
& sit & sykþ wel sore oflonged,
& hire sore an heorte ongreþ:
Al vor hire louerdes sake
Haueþ dayes kare & nihtes wake:
     1590
& swiþe longe hire is þe hwile,
& vych stape hire þinkþ a [m]ile.
Hwenne oþre slepeþ hire abute,
Ich one lust þar wyþþute,
& wot of hire sore mode,
     1595
& singe anyht for hire gode:
& myn gode song, for hire þinge,
Ic turne sumdel to [m]urnynge.
Of hure seorwe ic bere sume,
Vorþan ic am hire wel welcume:
     1600

Lines 1601 through 1700

Ic hire helpe hwat ich may,
For [ho geþ] þane rihte way.
& þu me hauest sore igremed,
Þat myn heorte is neyh alemed,
Þat ic may vnneþe speke:
     1605
Ac yet ic wile forþurre reke. [folio 240v.1]
Þu seyst þat ic am monne loþ,
& vich mon is wiþ me wroþ,
& me myd stone & lugge þreteþ,
& me toburste[þ] & tobete[þ], Page  137
     1610
& hwanne hi habbeþ me ofslawe,
Heo anhoþ me in heore hawe,
Þar ich aschevle pie & crowe
From þan þat þer is isowe.
Þah hit beo soþ, ic do heom god,
     1615
& for heom ic schedde my blod:
Ic do heom god myd myne deþe,
Þarfore þe is wel unmeþe.
For [þah] þu ligge ded & clinge,
Þi deþ nys nouht to none þinge:
     1620
Ic not neuer to hwan þu myht,
For þu nart bute a wreche wiht.
Ah þah my lif me beo atschote,
Þe yet ic may do gode note:
Me may vppe smale sticke
     1625
Me sette a-wude ine þe þikke,
& so may mon tolli him to
Lutle briddes and ivo,
& so me may myd me byete
Wel gode brede to his mete.
     1630
Ah þu neuer mon to gode
Lyues ne deþes stal ne stode: Page  139
Ic not to hwan þu breist þi word,
Lyues ne deþes ne doþ hit god."
Þe Nihtegale iherde þis,
     1635
& hupte vppe on blowe ris,
& herre sat þane heo dude er:
"Vle," he seyde, "beo nv wer, [folio 240v.2]
Nule ic wiþ þe playdi namore,
Vor her þu myst þi ryhte lore:
     1640
Þ[u] yelpest þat þu art monne loþ,
& euervich wiht is wiþ þe wroþ:
& myd yollinge & myd igrede
Þu þinchst wel þat þu art vnlede.
Þu seyst þat gromes þe ivoþ,
     1645
& heye on rode þe anhoþ,
& þe totwiccheþ & toschakeþ,
& summe of þe scheules makeþ.
Me þinkþ þat þu forlest þat game,
Þu yelpest of þire owe schome:
     1650
Me þinkþ þat þu me gest an honde,
Þu yelpest of þine owe schonde."
Þo heo hadde þeos word [icwede],
Heo sat in one fayre stude,
& þarafter hire stefne dihte,
     1655
& song so schille & so brihte, Page  141
Þat fur & neor me hit iherde.
Þarvore anon to hire cherde
Þruysse & þrostle & wodewale,
& foweles boþe grete & smale:
     1660
Vorþan þat heom þuhte þat heo hadde
Þe vle ouercome, forþan heo gradde
& sungen also uale wise,
Þat blisse wes among þe ryse.
Riht so me gred þe monne a schame,
     1665
Þat taueleþ & forleost þat gome.
Þeos vle, þo heo þis iherde,
" Hauestu," heo seyde, "ibanned ferde?
& wiltu, wrecche, wiþ me vyhte?
Na, nay! nauestu none [m]ihte! [folio 241r.1]
     1670
Hwat gredeþ heo þat hider come?
Me þinkþ þu ledest ferde to me.
Ye schulle wite, ar ye fleo heonne,
Hwuch is þe strengþe of myne kunne:
Vor þeo þat haueþ bile ihoked,
     1675
& clyures scharpe & wel icroked,
Alle heo beoþ of myne kunrede,
& wolde cumen if ich bede. Page  143
Þe seolue cok, þat wel can vihte,
He mot myd me holde wiþ rihte,
     1680
Vor [boþe] we habbe stefne brihte,
& sitteþ vnder welkne bi nyhte.
Schulle ic up eu on vtest grede,
Ich schal swo stronge verde lede,
Þat oure prude schal aualle;
     1685
A tord ne yeue ic for eu alle!
Ne schal, ar hit beo fullich eue,
A wrecche veþere on eu bileue.
Ah hit wes vnker uoreward,
Þo we comen hyderward,
     1690
Þat we þarto holden scholde,
Þar riht dom vs yeue wolde.
Wultu nv breke foreward?
Ic wene dom þe þinkþ to hard.
Vor þu ne darst domes abyde,
     1695
Þu wilt nv, wreche, fihte & chide.
Yet ich eu wolde alle rede,
Ar ich uthest vp eu grede, Page  145
Þat eur fihtlac leteþ beo,
& gynneþ raþe ayeyn fleo.
     1700

Lines 1701 through 1794

Vor, bi þe clyures þat ic bere,
If ye abideþ myne here,
Ye schulleþ an oþer wise singe,
& cursy alle fihtinge:
Vor nys of ou non so kene,
     1705
Þat durre abide myn onsene."
Þeos vle spak wel baldelyche,
Vor þah heo nadde so hwatliche
Iuare after hire here, [folio 241r.2]
Heo wolde naþeles yeue answere
     1710
Þe [n]ihtegale myd sweche worde.
For mony mon myd speres orde
Haueþ lutle strengþe, & mid his schelde,
Ah naþeles in one felde,
Þurh belde worde & myd ilete,
     1715
Deþ is iuo for arehþe swete.
Þe wrenne, for heo cuþe singe,
Þar com in þare moreweninge
To helpe þare nyhtegale:
Vor [þeih] heo hadde stefne smale,
     1720
Heo hadde gode þrote & schille,
& fale monne song a wille.
Þe wrenne wes wel wis iholde,
Vor þeih heo nere ibred a-wolde,
Heo wes itowen among mankunne,
     1725
& hire wisdom brouhte þenne:
Heo myhte speke hwar heo wolde,
Tofore þe kinge þah heo scholde. Page  147
"Lusteþ," heo queþ, "leteþ me speke.
Hwat! wille ye þis pays tobreke,
     1730
& do þanne [kinge] such schome?
Yet nys heo nouþer ded ne lome.
Hunke schal ityde harm & schonde,
If we doþ gryþbruche on his londe.
Leteþ beo, & beoþ isome,
     1735
& fareþ riht to eure dome,
& leteþ dom þis playd tobreke,
Al so hit wes erure bispeke."
"Ich vnne wel," queþ þe Nihtegale,
"Ah, wrenne, nouht for þine tale,
     1740
Ac do myre lauhfulnesse.
Ic nolde þat vnrihtfulnesse
Me at þen ende [ouercome]:
Ic nam ofdred of none dome.
Bihote ic habbe, soþ hit is,
     1745
Þat Mayster Nichole, þat is wis,
Bitwihen [us] deme schulle,
& yet ic wene þat he wulle. [folio 241v.1]
Ah [w]ar myhte we hine fynde?"
Þe wrenne sat in hore lynde: Page  149
     1750
"Hwat! [nute ye]," quaþ heo, "his hom?
Heo wuneþ at Porteshom,
At one tune in Dorsete,
Bi þare see in ore vtlete:
Þar he demeþ mony riht dom,
     1755
& diht & wryt mony wisdom,
& þurh his muþe & þurh his honde
Hit is þe betere into Scotlonde.
To seche hyne is lyhtlych þing;
He naueþ buten o wunyng.
     1760
Þat is biscopen muchel schame,
& alle þan þat of his nome
Habbeþ iherd, and of his dede.
Hwi nulleþ hi nymen heom to rede,
Þat he were myd heom ilome
     1765
Vor teche heom of his wisdome,
& yeue him rente on vale stude,
Þat he myhte ilome heom beo myde?" Page  151
"Certes," quaþ þe vle, "þat is soþ:
Þeos riche men [m]uchel mysdoþ,
     1770
Þat leteþ þane gode man,
Þat of so fele þinge can,
& yeueþrente wel [m]islyche,
& of him leteþ wel lyhtliche.
Wiþ heore kunne heo beoþ [m]ildre,
     1775
& yeueþ rente lutle childre:
So heore wit hi demeþ a-dwole,
Þat euer abit Mayster Nichole.
Ah vte we þah to hym fare,
Vor þa[r] is vnker dom al yare."
     1780
"Do we," þe Nihtegale seyde:
"Ah hwo schal vnker speche rede,
& telle tovore vnker d[e]me?"
"Þarof ic schal þe wel iqueme,"
Queþ þe vle; "for al, ende of orde, [folio 241v.2]
     1785
Telle ic con, word after worde:
& if þe þinkþ þat ic misrempe,
Þu stond ayeyn and do me crempe."
Mid þisse worde forþ hi ferden,
Al bute here and bute verde,
     1790
To Portesham þer heo bicome.
Ah hw heo spedde of heore dome,
Ne can ic eu namore telle;
Her nys namore of þisse spelle.
Explicit