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The Owl and the Nightingale
ca. 1210



Owl and nightingale
(Illustrations from "De arte
venandi cum avibus"
Codex Ms. Pal. Lat. 1071,
ca. 1260)

T h e   O w l
a n d   t h e
N i g h t i n g a l e


Ich was in one sumere dale,
in one suthe diyhele hale,
iherde ich holde grete tale
an hule and one niyhtingale.
That plait was stif & starc & strong,
sum wile softe & lud among;
an aither ayhen other sval,
& let that [vue]le mod ut al.
& either seide of otheres custe
that alre-worste that hi wuste:
& hure & hure of othere[s] songe
hi holde plaiding suthe stronge.

The niyhtingale bigon the speche,
in one hurne of one breche,
& sat up one vaire boyhe,
- thar were abute blosme inoyhe,-
in ore waste thicke hegge
imeind mid spire & grene segge.
Ho was the gladur uor the rise,
& song auele cunne wise:
[b]et thuyhte the dreim that he were
of harpe & pipe than he nere:
bet thuyhte that he were ishote
of harpe & pipe than of throte.

[Th]o stod on old stoc thar biside,
thar tho vle song hire tide,
& was mid iui al bigrowe;
hit was thare hule earding-stowe.

[Th]e niyhtingale hi iseyh,
& hi bihold & ouerseyh,
& thuyhte wel [vu]l of thare hule,
for me hi halt lodlich & fule.
"Vnwiyht," ho sede, "awei thu flo!
me is the w[u]rs that ich the so.
Iwis for thine [vu]le lete,
wel [oft ich] mine song forlete;
min horte atflith & falt mi tonge,
wonne thu art [to me] ithrunge.
Me luste bet speten thane singe
of thine fule yhoyhelinge."

Thos hule abod fort hit was eve,
ho ne miyhte no leng bileue,
vor hire horte was so gret
that wel neyh hire fnast atschet,
& warp a word thar-after longe;
"Hu thincthe nu bi mine songe?
We[n]st thu that ich ne cunne singe,
theyh ich ne cunne of writelinge?
Ilome thu dest me grame,
& seist me [bothe tone] & schame.
Yhif ich the holde on mine uote,
(so hit bitide that ich mote!)
& thu were vt of thine rise,
thu sholdest singe an other w[i]se."

The niyhtingale yhaf answare:
"Yhif ich me loki wit the bare,
& me schilde wit the blete,
ne reche ich noyht of thine threte;
yhif ich me holde in mine hegge,
ne recche ich neuer what thu segge.
Ich wot that thu art unmilde
with hom that ne muyhe from [th]e schilde;
& thu tukest wrothe & vuele,
whar thu miyht, over smale fuyhele.
Vorthi thu art loth al fuel-kunne,
& alle ho the driueth honne,
& the bischricheth & bigredet,
& wel narewe the biledet;
& ek forthe the sulue mose,
hire thonkes, wolde the totose.
thu art lodlich to biholde,
& thu art loth in monie volde;
thi bodi is short, thi swore is smal,
grettere is thin heued than thu al;
thin eyhene both col-blake & brode,
riyht swo ho weren ipeint mid wode;
thu starest so thu wille abiten
al that thu mi[yh]t mid cliure smiten:
thi bile is stif & scharp & hoked,
riyht so an owel that is croked;
thar-mid thu clackes[t] oft & longe,
& that is on of thine songe.
Ac thu thretest to mine fleshe,
mid thine cliures woldest me meshe.
the were icundur to one frogge
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
snailes, mus, & fule wiyhte,
both thine cunde & thine riyhte.
Thu sittest adai & fliyh[s]t aniyht,
thu cuthest that thu art on vnwiyht.
Thu art lodlich & unclene,
bi thine neste ich hit mene,
& ek bi thine fule brode,
thu fedest on hom a wel ful fode.
Vel wostu that hi doth tharinne,
hi fuleth hit up to the chinne:
ho sitteth thar so hi bo bisne.
Tharbi men segget a uorbisne:
"Dahet habbe that ilke best
that fuleth his owe nest."
That other yher a faukun bredde;
his nest noyht wel he ne bihedde:
tharto thu stele in o dai,
& leidest tharon thi fole ey.
Tho hit bicom that he hayhte,
& of his eyre briddes wrayhte;
ho broyhte his briddes mete,
bihold his nest, iseyh hi ete:
he iseyh bi one halue
his nest ifuled uthalue.
The faucun was wroth wit his bridde,
& lude yhal & sterne chidde:
"Segget me, wo hauet this ido?
Ov nas neuer icunde tharto:
hit was idon ov a loth[e] [cu]ste.
Segge[th] me yhif yhe hit wiste."
Tho quath that on & quad that other:
"Iwis it was ure oyher brother,
the yhond that haue[th] that grete heued:
wai that hi[t] nis tharof bireued!
Worp hit ut mid the alre-[vu]rste
that his necke him to-berste!"
The faucun ilefde his bridde,
& nom that fule brid amidde,
& warp hit of than wilde bowe,
thar pie & crowe hit todrowe.
Herbi men segget a bispel,
theyh hit ne bo fuliche spel;
al so hit is bi than ungode
that is icumen of fule brode,
& is meind wit fro monne,
euer he cuth that he com thonne,
that he com of than adel-eye,
theyh he a fro nest[e] leie.
theyh appel trendli fro[m] thon trowe,
thar he & other mid growe,
theyh he bo thar-from bicume,
he cuth wel whonene he is icume."

Thos word ayhaf the niyhtingale,
& after thare longe tale
he song so lude & so scharpe,
riyht so me grulde schille harpe.
Thos hule luste thiderward,
& hold hire eyhe notherwa[r]d,
& sat tosvolle & ibolwe,
also ho hadde one frogge isuolyhe:
for ho wel wiste & was iwar
that ho song hire a-bisemar.
& notheles ho yha[f] andsuare,
"Whi neltu flon into the bare,
& sewi [w]are unker bo
of briyhter howe, of uairur blo?"
"No, thu hauest wel scharpe clawe,
ne kepich noyht that thu me clawe.
thu hauest cliuers suthe stronge,
thu tuengst thar-mid so doth a tonge.
Thu thoyhtest, so doth thine ilike,
mid faire worde me biswike.
Ich nolde don that thu me raddest,
ich wiste wel that thu me misraddest.
Schamie the for thin unrede!
Vnwroyhen is thi svikelhede!
Schild thine svikeldom vram the liyhte,
& hud that woyhe amon[g] the riyhte.
Thane thu wilt thin unriyht spene,
loke that hit ne bo isene:
vor svikedom haue[th] schome & hete,
yhif hit is ope & underyhete.
Ne speddestu noyht mid thine unwrenche,
for ich am war & can wel blenche.
Ne helpth noyht that thu bo to [th]riste:
ich wolde viyhte bet mid liste
than thu mid al thine strengthe.
Ich habbe, on brede & eck on lengthe,
castel god on mine rise:
"Wel fiyht that wel fliyht," seith the wise.
Ac lete we awei thos cheste,
vor suiche wordes both unw[re]ste;
& fo we on mid riyhte dome,
mid faire worde & mid ysome.
Theyh we ne bo at one acorde,
we m[a]yhe bet mid fayre worde,
witute cheste, & bute fiyhte,
plaidi mid foyhe & mid riyhte:
& mai hure either wat h[e] wile
mid riyhte segge & mid sckile."

Tho quath the hule "[W]u schal us seme,
that kunne & wille riyht us deme?"
"Ich wot wel" quath the niyhtingale,
"Ne tharef tharof bo no tale.
Maister Nichole of Guldeforde,
he is wis an war of worde:
he is of dome suthe gleu,
& him is loth eurich untheu.
He wot insiyht in eche songe,
wo singet wel, wo singet wronge:
& he can schede vrom the riyhte
that woyhe, that thuster from the liyhte."

Tho hule one wile hi bithoyhte,
& after than this word upbroyhte:
"Ich granti wel that he us deme,
vor theyh he were wile breme,
& lof him were niyhtingale,
& other wiyhte gente & smale,
ich wot he is nu suthe acoled.
Nis he vor the noyht afoled,
that he, for thine olde luue,
me adun legge & the buue:
ne schaltu neure so him queme,
that he for the fals dom deme.
He is him ripe & fast-rede,
ne lust him nu to none unrede:
nu him ne lust na more pleie,
he wile gon a riyhte weie."
The niyhtingale was al yhare,
ho hadde ilorned wel aiware:
"Hule," ho sede, "seie me soth,
wi dostu that unwiyhtis doth?
thu singist aniyht & noyht adai,
& al thi song is wailawai.
Thu miyht mid thine songe afere
alle that ihereth thine ibere:
thu sch[ri]chest & yhollest to thine fere,
that hit is grislich to ihere:
hit thinche[th] bothe wise & snepe
noyht that thu singe, ac that thu wepe.
Thu fliyhst aniyht & noyht adai:
tharof ich w[u]ndri & wel mai.
vor eurich thing that schuniet riyht,
hit luueth thuster & hatiet liyht:
& eurich thing that is lof misdede,
hit luueth thuster to his dede.
A wis word, theyh hit bo unclene,
is fele manne a-muthe imene,
for Alured King hit seide & wrot:
"He schunet that hine [vu]l wot."
Ich wene that thu dost also,
vor thu fliyhst niyhtes euer mo.
An other thing me is a-wene,
thu hauest aniyht wel briyhte sene;
bi daie thu art stare-blind,
that thu ne sichst ne bov ne strind.
Adai thu art blind other bisne,
tharbi men segget a uorbisne:
"Riyht so hit farth bi than ungode
that noyht ne suth to none gode,
& is so ful of vuele wrenche
that him ne mai no man atprenche,
& can wel thane thu[str]e wai,
& thane briyhte lat awai."
So doth that both of thine cunde,
of liyhte nabbeth hi none imunde."

Thos hule luste suthe longe,
& was oftoned suthe stronge:
ho quath "Thu [h]attest niyhtingale,
thu miyhtest bet hoten galegale,
vor thu hauest to monie tale.
Lat thine tunge habbe spale!
Thu wenest that thes dai bo thin oyhe:
lat me nu habbe mine throyhe:
bo nu stille & lat me speke,
ich wille bon of the awreke.
& lust hu ich con me bitelle,
mid riyhte sothe, witute spelle.
Thu seist that ich me hude adai,
tharto ne segge ich nich ne nai:
& lust ich telle the wareuore,
al wi hit is & wareuore.
Ich habbe bile stif & stronge,
& gode cliuers scharp & longe,
so hit bicumeth to hauekes cunne;
hit is min hiyhte, hit is mi w[u]nne,
that ich me drayhe to mine cunde,
ne mai [me] no man thareuore schende :
on me hit is wel isene,
vor riyhte cunde ich am so kene.
Vorthi ich am loth smale foyhle
that floth bi grunde an bi thuuele:
hi me bichermet & bigredeth,
& hore flockes to [m]e ledeth.
Me is lof to habbe reste
& sitte stille in mine neste:
vor nere ich neuer no the betere,
[yh]if ich mid chauling & mid chatere
hom schende & mid fule worde,
so herdes doth other mid schit-worde.
Ne lust me wit the screwen chide;
forthi ich wende from hom wide.
Hit is a wise monne dome,
& hi hit segget wel ilome,
that me ne chide wit the gidie,
ne wit than ofne me ne yhonie.
At sume sithe herde [I] telle
hu Alured sede on his spelle:
"Loke that thu ne bo thare
thar chauling both & cheste yhare:
lat sottes chide & uorth thu go."
& ich am wis & do also.
& yhet Alured seide an other side
a word that is isprunge wide:
"That wit the fule haueth imene,
ne cumeth he neuer from him cleine."
Wenestu that haueck bo the worse
thoyh crowe bigrede him bi the mershe,
& goth to him mid hore chirme
riyht so hi wille wit him schirme?
The hauec folyheth gode rede,
& fliyht his wei & lat him grede."

"Yhet thu me seist of other thinge,
& telst that ich ne can noyht singe,
ac al mi rorde is woning,
& to ihire grislich thing.
That nis noyht soth, ich singe efne,
mid fulle dreme & lude stefne.
Thu wenist that ech song bo grislich,
that thine pipinge nis ilich.
Mi stefne is [bold] & noyht unorne,
ho is ilich one grete horne,
& thin is ilich one pipe,
of one smale wode unripe.
Ich singe bet than thu dest:
thu chaterest so doth on Irish prost.
Ich singe an eue a riyhte time,
& soththe won hit is bed-time,
the thridde sithe a[t] middel-niyhte:
& so ich mine song adiyhte
wone ich iso arise vorre
other dai-rim other dai-sterre.
Ich do god mid mine throte,
& warni men to hore note.
Ac thu singest alle longe niyht,
from eue fort hit is dai-liyht,
& eure seist thin o song
so longe so the niyht is long:
& eure croweth thi wrecche crei,
that he ne swiketh niyht ne dai.
Mid thine pipinge thu adunest
thas monnes earen thar thu wunest,
& makest thine song so unw[u]rth
tha[t] me ne telth of thar noyh[t] w[u]rth.
Eurich muryhthe mai so longe ileste
that ho shal liki wel unwreste:
vor harpe, & pipe, & fuyheles [song]
misliketh, yhif hit is to long.
Ne bo the song neuer so murie,
that he ne shal thinche wel unmurie
yhef he ilesteth ouer unwille:
so thu miyht thine song aspille.
Vor hit is soth, Alured hit seide,
& me hit mai ine boke rede:
"Eurich thing mai losen his godhede
mid unmethe & mid ouerdede."
Mid este thu the miyht ouerquatie,
& ouerfulle maketh wlatie:
an eurich mureyhthe mai agon
yhif me hit halt eure forth in on,
bute one, that is Godes riche,
that eure is svete & eure iliche:
theyh thu nime eure o[f] than lepe,
hit is eure ful bi hepe.
Wunder hit is of Godes riche,
that eure spenth & euer is iliche.

yhut thu me seist an other shome,
that ich a[m] on mine eyhen lome,
an seist, for that ich flo bi niyhte,
that ich ne mai iso bi liyhte.
Thu liest! on me hit is isene
that ich habbe gode sene:
vor nis non so dim thusternesse
that ich euer iso the lasse.
Thu wenest that ich ne miyhte iso,
vor ich bi daie noyht ne flo.
The hare luteth al dai,
ac notheles iso he mai.
Yhif hundes urneth to him-ward,
[h]e gength wel suithe awai-ward,
& hoketh pathes svithe narewe,
& haueth mid him his blenches yharewe,
& hupth & star[t] suthe coue,
an secheth pathes to the groue:
ne sholde he uor bothe his eyhe
so don, yhif he the bet niseyhe.
Ich mai ison so wel so on hare,
theyh ich bi daie sitte an dare.
Thar ayhte men [both] in worre,
an fareth bothe ner an forre,
an oueruareth fele [th]ode,
an doth bi niyhte gode node,
ich folyhi than ayhte manne,
an flo bi niyhte in hore banne."

The niyhtingale in hire thoyhte
athold al this, & longe thoyhte
wat ho tharafter miyhte segge:
vor ho ne miyhte noyht alegge
that the hule hadde hire ised,
vor he spac bothe riyht an red.
An hire ofthuyhte that ho hadde
the speche so for uorth iladde,
an was oferd that hire answare
ne w[u]rthe noyht ariyht ifare.
Ac notheles he spac boldeliche,
vor he is wis that hardeliche
with is uo berth grete ilete,
that he uor areyhthe hit ne forlete:
vor suich worth bold yhif thu [fliyhst],
that w[u]le flo yhif thu [n]isvicst;
yhif he isith that thu nart areyh,
he wile of [bore] w[u]rchen bareyh.
& forthi, theyh the niyhtingale
were aferd, ho spac bolde tale.

"[H]ule" ho seide " wi dostu so?
thu singest a-winter wolawo!
thu singest so doth hen a-snowe,
al that ho singeth hit is for wowe.
A-wintere thu singest wrothe & yhomere,
an eure thu art dumb a-sumere.
Hit is for thine fule nithe
that thu ne miyht mid us bo blithe,
vor thu forbernest wel neyh for onde
wane ure blisse cumeth to londe.
thu farest so doth the ille,
evrich blisse him is unwille:
grucching & luring him both rade,
yhif he isoth that men both glade.
He wolde that he iseyhe
teres in evrich monnes eyhe:
ne royhte he theyh flockes were
imeind bi toppes & bi here.
Al so thu dost on thire side:
vor wanne snov lith thicke & wide,
an alle wiyhtes habbeth soryhe,
thu singest from eue fort a-moryhe.
Ac ich alle blisse mid me bringe:
ech wiyht is glad for mine thinge,
& blisseth hit wanne ich cume,
& hiyhteth ayhen mine kume.
The blostme ginneth springe & sprede,
bothe ine tro & ek on mede.
The lilie mid hire faire wlite
wolcumeth me, that thu hit w[i]te,
bit me mid hire faire blo
that ich shulle to hire flo.
The rose also mid hire rude,
that cumeth ut of the thorne wode,
bit me that ich shulle singe
vor hire luue one skentinge:
& ich so do thuryh niyht & dai,
the more ich singe the more I mai,
an skente hi mid mine songe,
ac notheles noyht ouerlonge;
wane ich iso that men both glade,
ich nelle that hi bon to sade:
than is ido vor wan ich com,
ich fare ayhen & do wisdom.
Wane mon hoyheth of his sheue,
an falewi cumeth on grene leue,
ich fare hom & nime leue:
ne recche ich noyht of winteres reue.
wan ich iso that cumeth that harde,
ich fare hom to min erde,
an habbe bothe luue & thonc
that ich her com & hider swonk.
Than min erende is ido,
sholde ich bileue? nai, [w]arto?
vor he nis nother yhep ne wis,
that longe abid thar him nod nis."

Thos hule luste, & leide an hord
al this mot, word after word,
an after thoyhte hu he miyhte
ansvere uinde best mid riyhte:
vor he mot hine ful wel bithenche,
that is aferd of plaites wrenche.

"Thv aishest me," the hule sede,
"wi ich a-winter singe & grede.
Hit is gode monne iwone,
an was from the worlde frome,
that ech god man his frond icnowe,
an blisse mid hom sume throwe
in his huse at his borde,
mid faire speche & faire worde.
& hure & hure to Cristesmasse,
thane riche & poure, more & lasse,
singeth cundut niyht & dai,
ich hom helpe what ich mai.
& ek ich thenche of other thinge
thane to pleien other to singe.
Ich habbe herto gode ansuare
anon iredi & al yhare:
vor sumeres-tide is al to [w]lonc,
an doth misreken monnes thonk:
vor he ne recth noyht of clennesse,
al his thoyht is of golnesse:
vor none dor no leng nabideth,
ac eurich upon other rideth:
the sulue stottes ine the stode
both bothe wilde & mere-wode.
& thu sulf art thar-among,
for of golnesse is al thi song,
an ayhen thet thu w[i]lt teme,
thu art wel modi & wel breme.
Sone so thu hau[e]st itrede,
ne miyhtu leng a word iquethe,
ac pipest al so doth a mose,
mid chokeringe, mid steune hose.
yhet thu singst worse thon the heisugge,
[th]at fliYhth bi grunde among the stubbe:
wane thi lust is ago,
thonne is thi song ago also.
A-sumere chorles awedeth
& uorcrempeth & uorbredeth:
hit nis for luue notheles,
ac is the chorles wode res;
vor wane he haueth ido his dede,
ifallen is al his boldhede,
habbe he istunge under gore,
ne last his luue no leng more.
Al so hit is on thine mode:
so sone so thu sittest a-brode,
thu forlost al thine wise.
Al so thu farest on thine rise:
wane thu hauest ido thi gome,
thi steune goth anon to shome.
Ac [w]ane niyhtes cumeth longe,
& b[r]ingeth forstes starke an stronge,
thanne erest hit is isene
war is the snelle, [w]ar is the kene.
At than harde me mai auinde
[w]o geth forth, wo lith bihinde.
Me mai ison at thare node,
[w]an me shal harde wike bode;
thanne ich am snel & pleie & singe,
& hiyhte me mid mi skentinge:
of none wintere ich ne recche,
vor ich nam non asv[u]nde wrecche.
& ek ich frouri uele wiyhte
that mid hom nabbe[th] none miyhtte:
hi both hoyhfule & uel arme,
an secheth yhorne to the warme;
oft ich singe uor hom the more
for lutli sum of hore sore.
Hu thincth the? artu yhut inume?
Artu mid riyhte ouercume?"

"Nay, nay!" sede the niyhtingale,
" thu shalt ihere another tale:
yhet nis thos speche ibroyht to dome.
Ac bo wel stille, & lust nu to me
ich shal mid one bare worde
do that thi speche [wurth] forworthe."

"That nere noht riyht" the hule sede,
"thu hauest bicloped al so thu bede,
an ich the habbe iyhiue ansuare.
Ac ar we to unker dome fare,
ich wille speke toward the
al so thu speke toward me;
an thu me ansuare yhif thu miyht.
Seie me nu, thu wrecche wiyht,
is in the eni other note
bute thu hauest schille throte?
Thu nart noyht to non other thinge,
bute thu canst of chateringe:
vor thu art lutel an unstrong,
an nis thi regel nothing long.
Wat dostu godes among monne?
Na mo the deth a w[re]cche wranne.
Of the ne cumeth non other god,
bute thu gredest suich thu bo wod:
an bo thi piping ouergo,
ne both on the craftes namo.
Alured sede, that was wis:
(he miyhte wel, for soth hit is,)
"Nis no man for is bare songe
lof ne w[u]rth noyht suthe longe:
vor that is a forworthe man
that bute singe noyht ne can."
Thu nart bute on forworthe thing:
on the nis bute chatering.
Thu art dim an of fule howe,
an thinchest a lutel soti clowe.
Thu nart fair, no thu nart strong,
ne thu nart thicke, ne thu nart long:
thu hauest imist al of fairhede,
an lutel is al thi godede.
An other thing of the ich mene,
thu nart vair ne thu nart clene.
Wane thu comest to manne hayhe,
thar thornes both & ris idrayhe,
bi hegge & bi thicke wode,
thar men goth oft to hore node,
tharto thu drayhst, tharto thu w[u]nest,
an other clene stede thu schunest.
Than ich flo niyhtes after muse,
I mai the uinde ate rum-huse;
among the wode, among the netle,
thu sittest & singst bihinde the setle:
thar me mai the ilomest finde,
thar men worpeth hore bihinde.
Yhet thu atuitest me mine mete,
an seist that ich fule wiyhtes ete.
Ac wat etestu, that thu ne liyhe,
bute attercoppe & fule ulige,
an wormes, yhif thu miyhte finde
among the uolde of harde rinde?
Yhet ich can do wel gode wike,
vor ich can loki manne wike:
an mine wike both wel gode,
vor ich helpe to manne uode.
Ich can nimen mus at berne,
an ek at chirche ine the derne:
vor me is lof to Cristes huse,
to clansi hit with fule muse,
ne schal thar neure come to
ful wiyht, yhif ich hit mai iuo.
An yhif me lust one mi skentinge
to wernen other w[u]nienge,
ich habbe at wude tron wel grete,
mit thicke boyhe nothing blete,
mid iui grene al bigrowe,
that eure stont iliche iblowe,
an his hou neuer ne uorlost,
wan hit sniuw ne wan hit frost.
Tharin ich habbe god ihold,
a-winter warm, a -sumere cold.
Wane min hus stont briyht & grene,
of thine nis nothing isene.
Yhet thu me telst of other thinge,
of mine briddes seist gabbinge,
that hore nest nis noyht clene.
Hit is fale other wiyhte imene:
vor hors a-stable & oxe a-stalle
[d]oth al that hom wule thar falle.
An lutle children in the cradele,
bothe chorles an ek athele,
[d]oth al that in hore yhoethe
that hi uorleteth in hore duyhethe.
Wat! can that yhongling hit bihede?
Yhif hit misdeth, hit mo[t] nede:
a uorbisne is of olde i[vu]rne,
[th]at node maketh old wif urne.
An yhet ich habbe an other andsware:
wiltu to mine neste uare
an loki hu hit is idiyht?
Yhif thu art wis lorni thu [miyht]:
mi nest is holyh & rum amidde,
so hit is softest mine bridde.
Hit is broiden al abute,
vrom the neste uor withute:
tharto hi go[th] to hore node,
ac that thu menest ich hom forbode.
We nimeth yheme of manne bure,
an after than we maketh ure:
men habbet, among other i[h]ende,
a rum-hus at hore bures ende,
vor that hi nelleth to uor go,
an mine briddes doth al so.
Site nu stille, chaterestre!
nere thu neuer ibunde uastre:
herto ne uindestu neuer andsware.
Hong up thin ax! nu thu miyht fare!"
The niyhtingale at thisse worde

was wel neyh ut of rede iworthe,
an thoyhte yhorne on hire mode
yhif ho oyht elles understode,
yhif ho kuthe oyht bute singe,
that miyhte helpe to other thinge.
Herto ho moste andswere uinde,
other mid alle bon bihinde:
an hit is suthe strong to fiyhte
ayhen soth & ayhen riyhte.
He mot gon to al mid ginne,
than the horte both on [w]inne:
an the man mot on other segge,
he mot bihemmen & bilegge,
yhif muth withute mai biwro
that me the horte noyht niso:
an sone mai a word misreke
thar muth shal ayhen horte speke;
an sone mai a word misstorte
thar muth shal speken ayhen horte.
Ac notheles yhut upe thon,
her is to red wo hine kon:
vor neuer nis wit so kene
so thane red him is a-wene.
thanne erest kume[th] his yhephede
wone hit is alre-mest on drede:
for Aluered seide of olde quide,
an yhut hit nis of horte islide:
"Wone the bale is alre-hecst,
thonne is the bote alre-necst";
vor wit west among his sore,
an for his sore hit is the more.
Vorthi nis neuere mon redles
ar his horte bo witles:
ac yhif that he forlost his wit,
thonne is his red-purs al to-slit;
yhif he ne kon his wit atholde,
ne uint he red in one uolde.
Vor Alur[e]d seide, that wel kuthe,
eure he spac mid sothe muthe:
"Wone the bale is alre-hecst,
thanne is the bote alre-nest."

The niyhtingale al hire hoyhe
mid rede hadde wel bitoyhe;
among the harde, among the toyhte,
ful wel mid rede hire bithoyhte,
an hadde andsuere gode ifunde
among al hire harde stunde.

"[H]ule, thu axest me," ho seide,
"yhif ich kon eni other dede
bute singen in sume tide,
an bringe blisse for & wide.
Wi axestu of craftes mine?
Betere is min on than alle thine,
betere is o song of mine muthe
than al that eure thi kun kuthe:
an lust, ich telle the wareuore.
Wostu to wan man was ibore?
To thare blisse of houene-riche,
thar euer is song & muryhthe iliche:
thider fundeth eurich man
that eni thing of gode kan.
Vorthi me singth in holi-chirche,
an clerkes ginneth songes wirche,
that man ithenche bi the songe
wider he shal, & thar bon longe:
that he the muryhthe ne uoryhete,
ac tharof thenche & biyhete,
an nime yheme of chirche steuene,
hu murie is the blisse of houene.
Clerkes, munekes, & kanunes,
thar both thos gode wicke-tunes,
ariseth up to midel-niyhte,
an singeth of the houene-liyhte:
an prostes upe londe singeth,
wane the liyht of daie springeth.
An ich hom helpe wat I mai,
ich singe mid hom niyht & dai,
an ho both alle for me the gladdere,
an to the songe both the raddere.
Ich warni men to hore gode,
that hi bon blithe on hore mode,
an bidde that hi moten iseche
than ilke song that euer is eche.
Nu thu miyht, hule, sitte & clinge:
her-among nis no chateringe:
ich graunti that [w]e go to dome
tofore the [sulfe Pope] of Rome.
Ac abid yhete, notheles,
thu shalt ihere an other [h]es;
ne shaltu, for Engelonde,
at thisse worde me atstonde.
Wi atuitestu me mine unstrengthe,
an mine ungrete & mine unlengthe,
an seist that ich nam noyht strong,
vor ich nam nother gret ne long?
Ac thu nost neuer wat thu menst,
bute lese wordes thu me lenst:
for ich kan craft & ich kan liste,
an [th]areuore ich am thus thriste.
Ich kan wit & song man[t]eine,
ne triste ich to non other maine:
vor soth hit is that seide Alured:
"Ne mai no strengthe ayhen red."
Oft spet wel a lute liste,
thar muche strengthe sholde miste;
mid lutle strengthe, thuryh ginne,
castel & buryh me mai iwinne.
Mid liste me mai walle[s] felle,
an worpe of horsse kniyhtes snelle.
Vuel strengthe is lutel wurth,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
ac wisdom naueth non euening.
An hors is strengur than a mon;
ac for hit non iwit ne kon,
hit berth on rugge grete semes,
an drayhth biuore grete temes,
an tholeth bothe yherd & spure,
an stont iteid at mulne dure.
An hit deth that mon hit hot:
an for than that hit no wit not,
ne mai his strenthe hit ishilde
that hit nabuyhth the lutle childe.
Mon deth, mid strengthe & mid witte,
that other thing nis non his fitte.
Theyh alle strengthe at one were,
monnes wit yhet more were;
vor the mon mid his crafte,
ouerkumeth al orthliche shafte.
Al so ich do mid mine one songe
bet than thu al the yher longe:
vor mine crafte men me luuieth,
vor thine strengthe men the shunieth.
Telstu bi me the wurs for than
that ich bute anne craft ne kan?
Yhif tueie men goth to wraslinge,
an either other faste thringe,
an the on can swenges suthe fele,
an kan his wrenches wel forhele,
an the other ne can sweng but anne,
an the is god with eche manne,
an mid thon one leith to grunde
anne after other a lutle stunde,
[w]at tharf he recche of a mo swenge,
thone the on him is swo genge?
Th[u] seist that thu canst fele wike,
ac euer ich am thin unilike.
Do thine craftes alle togadere,
yhet is min on horte betere.
Oft than hundes foxes driueth,
the kat ful wel him sulue liueth,
theyh he ne kunne wrench bute anne.
The fo[x] so godne ne can nanne,
the[yh] he kunne so uele wrenche,
that he wenth eche hunde atprenche.
Vor he can pathes riyhte & woyhe,
an he kan hongi bi the boyhe,
an so forlost the hund his fore,
an turnth ayhen eft to than more.
The uox kan crope bi the heie,
an turne ut from his forme weie,
an eft sone kume tharto:
thonne is the hundes smel fordo:
he not, thur[yh] the imeinde smak,
wether he shal auorth the abak.
Yhif the uox mist of al this dwole,
at than ende he cropth to hole:
ac natheles mid alle his wrenche,
ne kan he hine so bithenche,
theyh he bo yhep an suthe snel,
that he ne lost his rede uel.
The cat ne kan wrench bute anne
nother bi dune ne bi uenne:
bute he kan climbe suthe wel,
tharmid he wereth his greie uel.
Al so ich segge bi mi solue,
betere is min on than thine twelue."

"Abid! abid!" the ule seide,
"thu gest al to mid swikelede:
alle thine wordes thu bileist
that hit thincth soth al that thu seist;
alle thine wordes both isliked,
an so bisemed an biliked,
that alle tho that hi auoth,
hi weneth that thu segge soth.
Abid! abid! me shal the yhene.
[N]u hit shal w[u]rthe wel isene
that thu hauest muchel iloyhe,
wone thi lesing both unwroyhe.
Thu seist that thu singist mankunne,
& techest hom that hi fundieth honne
vp to the songe that eure ilest:
ac hit is alre w[u]nder mest,
that thu darst liyhe so opeliche.
Wenest thu hi bringe so liyhtliche
to Godes riche al singin[d]e?
Nai! nai! hi shulle wel auinde
that hi mid longe wope mote
of hore sunnen bidde bote,
ar hi mote euer kume thare.
Ich rede thi that men bo yhare,
an more wepe thane singe,
that fundeth to than houen-kinge:
vor nis no man witute sunne.
Vorthi he mot, ar he wende honne,
mid teres an mid wope bete,
that him bo sur that er was swete.
Tharto ich helpe, God hit wot!
Ne singe i[c]h hom no foliot:
for al m[i] song is of longinge,
an imend sumdel mid woninge,
that mon bi me hine bithenche
that he gro[ni] for his unwrenche:
mid mine songe ich hine pulte,
that he groni for his gulte.
Yhif thu gest herof to disputinge,
ich wepe bet thane thu singe:
yhif riyht goth forth, & abak wrong,
betere is mi wop thane thi song.
Theyh sume men bo thuryhut gode,
an thuryhut clene on hore mode,
ho[m] longeth honne notheles.
That both her, [w]o is hom thes:
vor theyh hi bon hom solue iboryhe,
hi ne soth her nowiyht bote sorwe.
Vor other men hi wepeth sore,
an for hom biddeth Cristes ore.
Ich helpe monne on either halue,
mi muth haueth tweire kunne salue :
than gode ich fulste to longinge,
vor than hi[m] longeth, ich him singe:
an than sunfulle ich helpe alswo,
vor ich him teche thare is wo.
Yhet ich the yhene in other wise:
vor thane thu sittest on thine rise,
thu drayhst men to fleses luste,
that w[u]lleth thine songes luste.
Al thu forlost the muryhthe of houene,
for tharto neuestu none steuene :
al that thu singst is of golnesse,
for nis on the non holinesse,
ne wene[th] na man for thi pipinge
that eni preost in chir[ch]e singe.
Yhet I the wulle an o[th]er segge,
yhif thu hit const ariht bilegge:
[w]i nultu singe an o[th]er theode,
thar hit is muchele more neode?
Thu neauer ne singst in Irlonde,
ne thu ne cumest noyht in Scotlonde.
Hwi nultu fare to Noreweie,
an singin men of Galeweie?
Thar beodh men that lutel kunne
of songe that is bineodh the sunne.
Wi nultu thare preoste singe,
an teche of thire writelinge,
an wisi hom mid thire steuene
hu engeles singedh ine heouene?
Thu farest so dodh an ydel wel
that springeth bi burue tha[t] is snel,
an let fordrue the dune,
& flo[th] on idel thar adune.
Ac ich fare bothe north & s[u]th:
in eauereuch londe ich am cuuth:
east & west, feor & neor,
I do wel faire mi meoster,
an warni men mid mine bere,
that thi dweole-song heo ne forlere.
Ich wisse men mid min[e] songe,
that hi ne sunegi nowiht longe :
I bidde hom that heo iswike,
that [heo] heom seolue ne biswike:
for betere is that heo wepen here,
than elles hwar [beon] deoulene fere."

The niyhtingale was igr[amed]
an ek heo was sum del of[s]chamed,
for the hule hire atwiten hadde
in hwucche stude he sat an gradde,
bihinde the bure, among the wede,
thar men godh to here neode:
an sat sum-del, & heo bithohte,
an wiste wel on hire thohte
the wraththe binimeth monnes red.
For hit seide the king Alfred:
"Sel[d]e endedh wel the lothe,
an selde plaidedh wel the wrothe."
For wraththe meinth the horte blod
that hit floweth so wilde flod,
an al the heorte ouergeth,
that heo naueth no thing bute breth,
an so forleost al hire liht,
that heo ni sith soth ne riht.
The niyhtingale hi understod,
an ouergan lette hire mod:
he mihte bet speken a-sele
than mid wraththe wordes deale.
"[H]ule," heo seide "lust nu hider:
thu schalt falle, the wei is slider.
Thu seist ich fleo bihinde bure:
hit is riht, the bur is ure:
thar lauerd liggeth & lauedi,
ich schal heom singe & sitte bi.
Wenstu that uise men forlete,
for fule venne, the riyhtte strete ?
ne sunne the later shine,
theyh hit bo ful ine nest[e] thine?
Sholde ich, for one hole brede,
forlete mine riyhte stede,
that ich ne singe bi the bedde,
thar louerd haueth his loue ibedde?
Hit is mi riyht, hit is mi layhe,
tha[t] to the he[x]st ich me drayhe.
Ac yhet thu yhelpst of thine songe,
that thu canst yholle wrothe & stronge,
an seist thu uisest mankunne,
that hi biwepen hore sunne.
Solde euch mon wonie & grede
riyht suich hi weren unlede,
solde hi yhollen al so thu dest,
hi miyhte oferen here brost.
Man schal bo stille & noyht grede;
he mot biwepe his misdede:
ac thar is Cristes heriinge,
thar me shal grede & lude singe.
Nis nother to lud ne to long,
at riyhte time, chirche-song.
Thu yholst & wones[t], & ich singe:
thi steuene is wop, & min skentinge.
Euer mote thu yholle & wepen
that thu thi lif mote forleten!
an yhollen mote thu so heyhe
that ut berste bo thin eyhe!
Wether is betere of twe[n]e twom,
that mon bo blithe other grom ?
So bo hit euer in unker sithe,
that thu bo sori & ich blithe.
Yhut thu aisheist wi ich ne fare
into other londe & singe thare?
No! wat sholde ich among hom do,
thar neuer blisse ne com to?
That lond nis god, ne hit nis este,
ac wildernisse hit is & weste:
knarres & cludes houen[e]-tinge,
snou & hayhel hom is genge.
That lond is grislich & unuele,
the men both wilde & unisele,
hi nabbeth nother grith ne sibbe:
hi ne reccheth hu hi libbe.
Hi eteth fihs an flehs unsode,
suich wulues hit hadde tobrode:
hi drinketh milc & wei tharto,
hi nute elles that hi do:
hi nabbeth noth[er] win ne bor,
ac libbeth al so wilde dor:
hi goth bitiyht mid ruyhe uelle,
riyht suich hi comen ut of helle.
Theyh eni god man to hom come,
so wile dude sum from Rome,
for hom to lere gode thewes,
an for to leten hore unthewes,
he miyhte bet sitte stille,
vor al his wile he sholde spille:
he miyhte bet teche ane bore
to weyhe bothe sheld & spere,
than me that wilde folc ibringe
that hi [me] wolde ihere singe.
Wat sol[d]ich thar mid mine songe?
ne sunge ich hom neuer so longe,
mi song were ispild ech del:
for hom ne mai halter ne bridel
bringe vrom hore w[o]de wise,
ne mon mid stele ne mid i[s]e.
Ac war lon[d] is bothe este & god,
an thar men habbeth milde mod,
ich noti mid hom mine throte,
vor ich mai do thar gode note:
an bringe hom loue tithinge,
vor ich of chirche-songe singe.
Hit was iseid in olde layhe,
an yhet ilast thilke soth-sayhe,
that man shal erien an sowe,
thar he wenth after sum god mowe:
for he is wod that soweth his sed
thar neuer gras ne sprinth ne bled."

The hule was wroth, to cheste rad,
mid thisse worde hire eyhen abrad:
"Thu seist thu witest manne bures,
thar leues both & faire flores,
thar two iloue in one bedde
liggeth biclop[t] & wel bihedde.
Enes thu sunge, ic wo[t] wel ware,
bi one bure, & woldest lere
the lefdi to an uuel luue,
an sunge bothe loyhe & buue,
an lerdest hi to don shome
an vnriyht of hire licome.
The louerd that sone underyhat,
liim & grine [&] wel eiwat,
sette & le[i]de the for to lacche.
Thu come sone to than hacche,
thu were inume in one grine,
al hit aboyhte thine shine:
thu naddest non other dom ne layhe,
bute mid wilde horse were todrayhe.
Vonde yhif thu miyht eft misrede,
wather thu wult, wif the maide:
thi song mai bo so longe genge
that thu shalt wippen on a sprenge."

The niyhtingale at thisse worde,
mid sworde an mid speres orde,
yhif ho mon were, wolde fiyhte:
ac tho ho bet do ne miyhte,
ho uayht mid hire wise tunge.
"Wel fiyht that wel specth," seith in the songe.
Of hire tunge ho nom red:
"Wel fiyht that wel specth" seide Alured.
"Wat! seistu this for mine shome?
the louerd hadde herof grame.
He was so gelus of his wiue,
that he ne miyhte for his liue
iso that man with hire speke,
that his horte nolde breke.
He hire bileck in one bure,
that hire was bothe stronge & sure:
ich hadde of hire milse an ore,
an sori was for hire sore,
an skente hi mid mine songe
al that ich miyhte, rathe an longe.
Vorthan the kniyht was with me wroth,
vor riyhte nithe ich was him loth:
he dude me his oyhene shome,
ac al him turnde it to grome.
That underyat the king Henri:
Jesus his soule do merci!
He let forbonne thene kniyht,
that hadde idon so muchel unriyht
ine so gode kinges londe;
vor riyhte nithe & for fule onde
let thane lutle fuyhel nime
an him fordeme lif an lime.
Hit was w[u]rthsipe al mine kunne;
forthon the kniyht forles his wunne,
an yhaf for me an hundred punde:
an mine briddes seten isunde,
an hadde soththe blisse & hiyhte,
an were blithe, & wel miyhte.
Vorthon ich was so wel awreke,
euer eft ich dar[r] the bet speke:
vor hit bitidde ene swo,
ich am the blithur euer mo.
Nu ich mai singe war ich wulle,
ne dar me neuer eft mon agrulle.
Ac thu, eremi[n]g! thu wrecche gost!
thu ne canst finde, ne thu nost,
an holyh stok thar thu the miyht hude,
that me ne twengeth thine hude.
Vor children, gromes, heme & hine,
hi thencheth alle of thire pine:
yhif hi muyhe iso the sitte,
stones hi doth in hore slitte,
an the totorue[th] & toheneth,
an thine fule bon tosheneth.
Yhif thu art iworpe other ishote,
thanne thu miyht erest to note.
Vor me the hoth in one rodde,
an thu, mid thine fule codde,
an mid thine ateliche s[w]ore,
biwerest manne corn urom dore.
Nis nother noyht, thi lif ne thi blod:
ac thu art sh[e]ueles suthe god.
Thar nowe sedes bothe isowe,
pinnuc, golfinc, rok, ne crowe
ne dar thar neuer cumen ihende,
yhif thi buc hongeth at than ende.
Thar tron shulle ayhere blowe,
an yhunge sedes springe & growe,
ne dar no fuyhel tharto uonge,
yhif thu art tharouer ihonge.
Thi lif is eure luther & qued,
thu nar[t] noyht bute ded.
Nu thu miyht wite sikerliche
that thine leches both grisliche
the wile thu art on lifdayhe:
vor wane thu hongest islayhe,
yhut hi both of the ofdradde,
the fuyheles that the er bigradde.
Mid riyhte men both with the wrothe,
for thu singist euer of hore lothe:
al that thu singst, rathe other late,
hit is euer of manne unwate:
wane thu hauest aniyht igrad,
men both of the wel sore ofdrad.
Thu singst thar sum man shal be ded:
euer thu bodest sumne qued.
Thu singst ayhen eiyhte lure,
other of summe frondes rure :
other thu bodes[t] huses brune,
other ferde of manne, other thoues rune;
other thu bodest cualm of oreue,
other that londfolc wurth idorue,
other that wif lost hire make;
other thu bodest cheste an sake.
Euer thu singist of manne hareme,
thuryh the hi both sori & areme.
thu ne singst neuer one sithe,
that hit nis for sum unsithe.
Heruore hit is that me the shuneth,
an the totorueth & tobuneth
mid staue, & stoone, & turf, & clute,
that thu ne miyht nowar atrute.
Dahet euer suich budel in tune
that euer bodeth unwreste rune,
an euer bringeth vuele tithinge,
an that euer specth of vuele thinge!
God Almiyhti w[u]rthe him wroth,
an al that werieth linnene cloth!"
The hule ne abo[d] noyht swith[e] longe,
ah yhef ondsware starke & stronge:
" Wat," quath ho, " hartu ihoded ?
other thu kursest al unihoded ?
For prestes wike ich wat thu dest.
Ich not yhef thu were yhaure prest:
ich not yhef thu canst masse singe:
inoh thu canst of mansinge.
Ah hit is for thine alde nithe,
that thu me akursedest other sithe:
ah tharto is lihtlich ondsware;
"Drah to the!" cwath the cartare.
Wi attwitestu me mine insihte,
an min iwit & mine miyhte?
For ich am witi ful iwis,
an wo[t] al that to kumen is:
ich wot of hunger, of hergonge:
ich wot yhef men schule libbe longe:
ich wat yhef wif lus[t] hire make:
ich wat thar schal beo nith & wrake;
ich wot hwo schal beon [an]honge,
other elles fulne deth afonge.
Yhef men habbeth bataile inume,
ich wat hwather schal beon ouerkume :
ich wat yhif cwalm scal comen on orfe,
an yhif dor schul ligge [a]storue;
ich wot yhef treon schule blowe:
ich wat yhef cornes schule growe :
ich wot yhef huses schule berne:
ich wot yhef men schule eorne other erne:
ich wot yhef sea schal schipes drenche:
ich wot yhef snuw[e] schal uuele clenche.
An yhet ich con muchel more:
ich con inoh in bokes lore,
an eke ich can of the Goddspelle
more than ich nule the telle:
for ich at chirche come ilome,
an muche leorni of wisdome :
ich wat al of the tacninge,
an of other feole thinge.
Yhef eni mon schal rem abide,
al ich hit wot ear hit itide.
Ofte, for mine muchele iwitte,
wel sori-mod & w[ro]th ich sitte :
wan ich iseo that sum wrechede
is manne neh, innoh ich grede:
ich bidde that men beon iwar[r]e,
an habbe gode reades yhar[r]e.
For Alfred seide a wis word,
euch mon hit schulde legge on hord:
"Yhef thu isihst [er] he beo icume,
his str[e]ncthe is him wel neh binume."
An grete duntes beoth the lasse,
yhef me ikepth mid iwarnesse,
an [flo] schal toward misyhenge,
yhef thu isihst hu fleo of strenge;
for thu miyht blenche wel & fleo,
yhif thu isihst heo to the teo.
That eni man beo falle in [e]dwite,
wi schal he me his sor atwite?
Thah ich iseo his harm biuore,
ne cometh hit noyht of me tharu[o]re.
Thah thu iseo that sum blind mon,
that nanne rihtne wei ne con,
to thare diche his dweole fulie[th],
an falleth, and tharone sulie[th],
wenest thu, thah ich al iseo,
that hit for me the rathere beo?
Al swo hit fareth bi mine witte:
hwanne ich on mine bowe sitte,
ich wot & iseo swithe brihte
an summe men kume[&] harm tharrihte.
Schal he, that therof nothing not,
hit wite me for ich hit wot?
Schal he his mishap wite me,
for ich am wisure thane he?
Hwanne ich iseo that sum wrechede
is manne neh, inoh ich grede,
an bidde inoh that hi heom schilde,
for toward heom is [harm unmilde].
Ah thah ich grede lude an stille,
al hit itid thur[h] Godes wille.
Hwi wulleth men of me hi mene,
thah ich mid sothe heo awene?
Thah ich hi warni al that yher,
nis heom therfore harem no the ner:
ah ich heom singe for ich wolde
that hi wel understonde schulde
that sum unselthe heom is ihende,
hwan ich min huing to heom sende.
Naueth no man none sikerhede
that he ne mai wene & adrede
that sum unhwate ne[h] him beo,
thah he ne conne hit iseo.
Forthi seide Alfred swithe wel,
and his worde was Goddspel,
that "euereuch man, the bet him beo,
eauer the bet he hine beseo:"
"ne truste no mon to his weole
to swithe, thah he habbe ueole."
"Nis [nout] so hot that hit nacoleth,
ne noyht so hwit that hit ne soleth,
ne noyht so leof that hit ne alotheth,
ne noyht so glad that hit ne awrotheth:
ac eauereeu[c]h thing that eche nis,
agon schal, & al this worldes blis."
Nu thu miyht wite readliche,
that eauere thu spekest gideliche:
for al that thu me seist for schame,
euer the seolue hit turneth to grome.
Go so hit go, at eche fenge
thu fallest mid thine ahene swenge;
al that thu seist for me to schende,
hit is mi wurschipe at than ende.
Bute thu wille bet aginne,
ne shaltu bute schame iwinne."

The niyhtingale sat & siyhte,
& hohful was, & ful wel miyhte,
for the hule swo ispeke hadde,
an hire speche swo iladde.
Heo was ho[h]ful, & erede
hwat heo tharafter hire sede:
ah neotheles heo hire understod.
" Wat!" heo seide, "hule, artu wod?
thu yheolpest of seolliche wisdome,
thu nustest wanene he the come,
bute hit of wicchecrefte were.
Tharof thu, wrecche, mos[t] the skere
yhif thu wult among manne b[eo]:
other thu most of londe fleo.
For alle theo that [th]erof cuthe,
heo uere ifurn of prestes muthe
amanset: swuch thu art yhette,
thu wiecche-crafte neauer ne lete.
Ich the seide nu lutel ere,
an thu askedest yhef ich were
a-bisemere to preost ihoded.
Ah the mansing is so ibroded,
thah no preost a-londe nere,
a wrecche neotheles thu were:
for eauereuch chil[d] the cleopeth fule,
an euereuch man a wrecche hule.
Ich habbe iherd, & soth hit is,
the mon mot beo wel storre-wis,
[that] wite inno[h] of wucche thinge kume,
so thu seist th[e] is iwune.
Hwat canstu, wrecche thing, of storre,
bute that thu biha[u]est hi feorre?
Alswo deth mani dor & man,
theo of [swucche] nawiht ne con.
On ape mai a boc bih[o]lde,
an leues wenden & eft folde:
ac he ne con the bet tharuore
of clerkes lore top ne more.
Thah thu iseo the steorre alsw[o],
nartu the wisure neauer the mo.
Ah yhet thu, fule thing, me chist,
an wel grimliche me atwist
that ich singe bi manne huse,
an teache wif breke spuse.
Thu liest iwis, thu fule thing!
th[urh] me nas neauer ischend spusing.
Ah soth hit is ich singe & grede
thar lauedies beoth & faire maide;
& soth hit is of luue ich singe:
for god wif mai i[n] spusing
bet luuien hire oyhene were,
thane awe[r] hire copenere;
an maide mai luue cheose
that hire wurthschipe ne forleose,
an luuie mid rihte luue
thane the schal beon hire buue.
Swiche luue ich itache & lere,
therof beoth al mine ibere.
Thah sum wif beo of nesche mode,
for wumm[e]n beoth of softe blode,
that heo, thurh sume sottes lore
the yheorne bit & siketh sore,
mis[r]empe & misdo sumne stunde,
schal ich tharuore beon ibunde ?
Yhif wimmen luuieth unrede,
[w]itestu me hore misdede?
Yhef wimmon thencheth luuie derne,
[ne] mai ich mine songes werne.
Wummon mai pleie under clothe,
wether heo wile, wel the wrothe:
& heo mai do bi mine songe,
hwather heo wule, wel the wronge.
For nis a-worlde thing so god,
that ne mai do sum ungod,
yhif me hit wule turne amis.
For gold & seoluer, god hit is:
an notheles tharmid thu miyht
spusbruche buggen & unriyht.
Wepne beoth gode grith to halde:
ah neotheles tharmide beoth men acwalde
ayheines riht [an] fale londe,
thar theoues hi beredh an honde.
Alswa hit is bi mine songe,
thah heo beo god, me hine mai misfonge,
an drahe hine to sothede,
an to othre uuele dede.
Ah [schaltu] wrecch, luue tele ?
Bo wuch ho bo, vich luue is fele
bitweone wepmon & wimmane:
ah yhef heo is atbroide, thenne
he is unfele & forbrode.
Wroth wurthe heom the holi rode
the rihte ikunde swo forbreideth!
W[u]nder hit is that heo nawedeth.
An swo heo doth, for heo beoth wode
the bute nest goth to brode.
Wummon is of nesche flesche,
an flesches [lust] is strong to cwesse:
nis wunder nan thah he abide.
For flesches lustes hi maketh slide,
ne beoth heo nowt alle forlore,
that stumpeth at the flesches more:
for moni wummon haueth misdo
that aris[t] op of the slo.
Ne beoth nowt ones alle sunne,
forthan hi beoth tweire kunne:
su[m] arist of the flesches luste,
an sum of the gostes custe.
Thar flesch draheth men to drunnesse,
an to [wrouehede] & to golnesse,
the gost misdeth thurch nithe an onde,
& seoththe mid murhthe of [monne shonde,]
an yheoneth after more & more,
an lutel rehth of milce & ore ;
an stiyhth on he[h] thur[h] modinesse,
an ouerhohedh thanne lasse.
Sei [me sooth], yhef thu hit wost,
hwether deth wurse, flesch the gost?
Thu miyht segge, yhef thu wult,
that lasse is the flesches gult:
moni man is of his flesche clene,
that is mid mode deouel-imene.
Ne schal non mon wimman bigrede,
an flesches lustes hire upbreide:
swuch he may te[l]en of golnesse,
that sunegeth wurse i[n] modinesse.
[Yh]et yhif ich schulde a-luue bringe
wif other maide, hwanne ich singe,
ich wolde with the maide holde,
yhif thu hit const ariht atholde:
Lust nu, ich segge the hwaruore,
vp to the toppe from the more.
Yhef maide luueth dernliche,
heo stumpeth & falth icundeliche:
for thah heo sum hwile pleie,
heo nis nout feor ut of the weie;
heo mai hire guld atwende
a rihte weie thur[h] chirche-bende,
an mai eft habbe to make
hire leofmon withute sake,
an go to him bi daies lihte,
that er stal to bi theostre nihte.
An yhunling not hwat swuch thing is:
his yhunge blod hit drayheth amis,
an sum sot mon hit tihth tharto
mid alle than that he mai do.
He cometh & fareth & beod & bi[t]
an heo bistant & ouersi[t],
an bisehth ilome & longe.
Hwat mai that chil[d] thah hit misfonge?
Hit nuste neauer hwat hit was,
forthi hit thohte fondi [th]as,
an wite iwis hwuch beo the gome
that of so wilde maketh tome.
Ne mai ich for reo[w]e lete,
wanne ich iseo the tohte ilete
the luue bring[e] on the yhunglinge,
that ich of muryhthe him ne singe.
Ich [t]eache heom bi mine songe
that swucch luue ne lest noyht longe:
for mi song lutle hwile ilest,
an luue ne deth noyht bute rest
on swuch childre, & sone ageth,
an falth adun the hote breth.
Ich singe mid heom one throyhe,
biginne on heh & endi layhe,
an lete [mine] songes falle
an lutle wile adun mid alle.
That maide wot, hwanne ich swike,
that luue is mine songes ili[k]e,
for hit nis bute a lutel breth,
that sone kumeth, & sone geth.
That child bi me hit understond,
an his unred to red[e] wend,
an iseyhth wel, bi mine songe,
that dusi luue ne last noyht longe.
Ah wel ich wule that thu hit wite,
loth me beoth wiues utschute:
ah [w]if mai [of] me nime yheme,
ich ne singe nawt hwan ich teme.
An wif ah lete so[t]tes lore,
thah spusing-bendes thuncheth sore.
Wundere me thungth wel starc & stor,
hu eni mon so eauar for,
that [h]e his heorte miyhte driue
[to] do hit to others mannes wiue:
for other hit is of twam thinge,
ne mai that thridde no man bringe;
o[th]ar the lauerd is wel aht,
other aswunde, & nis naht.
Yhef he is wurthful & aht man,
nele no man, that wisdo[m] can,
hure of is wiue do him schame:
for he mai him adrede grame,
an that he forleose that ther hongeth,
that him eft tharto noyht ne longeth.
An thah he that noyht ne adrede,
hit is unriyht & gret sothede
[to] misdon one gode manne,
an his ibedde from him spanne.
Yhef hire lauerd is forwurde
an unorne at bedde & at borde,
hu miyhte thar beo eni luue
wanne [a] cheorles buc hire ley buue?
Hu mai thar eni luue beo,
war swuch man gropeth hire theo?
Herbi thu miyht wel understonde
that on [is a reu], that other schonde,
to stele to othres mannes bedde.
For yhif aht man is hire bedde,
thu miyht wene that the mistide,
wanne thu list bi hire side.
An yhef the lauerd is a w[re]cche,
hwuch este miyhtistu thar uecche?
Yhif thu bithenchest hwo hire ofligge,
thu miyht mid wlate the este bugge.
Ich not hu mai eni freo-man
for hire sechen after than.
Yhef he bithencth bi hwan he lai,
al mai the luue gan awai."

The hule was glad of swuche tale:
heo thoyhte that te nihtegale,
thah heo wel speke atte frume,
hadde at then ende misnume :
an seide: "Nu ich habbe ifunde
that maidenes beoth of thine imunde:
mid heom thu holdest, & heom biwerest,
an ouerswithe thu hi herest.
The lauedies beoth to me iwend,
to me heo hire mo[n]e send.
For hit itit ofte & ilome,
that wif & were beoth unisome:
& therfore the were gulte,
that leof is over wummon to pulte,
an speneth on thare al that he haueth,
an siueth thare that no riht naueth,
an haueth attom his riyhte spuse,
wowes weste, & lere huse,
wel thunne isch[r]ud & iued wrothe,
an let heo bute mete & clothe.
Wan he cometh ham eft to his wiue,
ne dar heo noyht a word ischire:
he chid & gred swuch he beo wod,
an ne bringth [hom] non other god.
Al that heo deth him is unwille,
al that heo speketh hit is him ille:
an oft hwan heo noyht ne misdeth,
heo haueth the fust in hire teth.
Th[er] is nan mon that ne mai ibringe
his wif amis mid swucche thinge:
me hire mai so ofte misbeode,
that heo do wule hire ahene neode.
La, Godd hit wot! heo nah iweld,
tha[h] heo hine makie kukeweld.
For hit itit lome & ofte,
that his wif is wel nesche & softe,
of faire bleo & wel idiht:
[For]thi hit is the more unriht
that he his luue spene on thare,
that nis wurth one of hire heare.
An swucche men beoth wel manifolde,
that wif ne kunne noyht ariyht holde.
Ne mot non mon with hire speke:
he uenedh heo wule anon tobreke
hire spusing, yhef heo loketh
other with manne faire speketh.
He hire bilu[k]th mid keie & loke:
thar-thurh is spusing ofte tobroke.
For yhef heo is tharto ibroht,
he deth that heo nadde ear ithoht.
Dahet that to swuthe hit bispeke,
thah swucche wiues [heom] awreke !
Herof the lauedies to me meneth,
an wel sore me ahweneth:
wel neh min heorte wule tochine,
hwon ich biholde hire pine.
Mid heom ich wepe swi[th]e sore,
an for heom bidde Cristis ore,
that the lauedi sone aredde
an hire sende betere ibedde.
An other thing ich mai the telle,
that thu ne schal[t], for thine felle,
ondswere none tharto finde:
al thi sputing schal aswinde.
Moni chapmon & moni cniht
luueth & [hald] his wif ariht,
an swa deth moni bondeman:
that gode wif deth after than,
an serueth him to bedde & to borde
mid faire dede & faire worde,
an yheorne fondeth hu heo muhe
do thing that him beo iduyhe.
The lauerd into thare [th]eode
fareth ut on thare beire nede,
an is that gode wif unblithe
for hire lauerdes hou[h]sithe,
an sit & sihdh wel sore oflonged,
an hire sore an horte ongred:
al for hire louerdes sake
haueth daies kare & niyhtes wake:
an swuthe longe hire is the hwile,
an [ech] steape hire thunth a mile.
Hwanne othre slepeth hire abute,
ich one lust thar widhthute,
an wot of hire sore mode,
an singe aniyht for hire gode:
an mine gode song, for hire thinge,
ich turne su[m]del to murni[n]ge.
Of hure seorhe ich bere sume,
forthan ich am hire wel welcume:
ich hire helpe hwat [I] mai,
for [ho geth] thane rehte wai.
Ah thu me hauest sore igramed,
that min heorte is wel neh alamed,
that ich mai unneathe speke:
ah yhet ich wule forthure reke.
Thu seist that ich am manne [lodh],
an euereuch man is widh me wrodh,
an me mid stone & lugge threteth,
an me tobu[r]steth & tobeteth,
an hwanne heo hab[b]eth me ofslahe,
heo hongeth me on heore hahe,
thar ich aschewele pie an crowe
fro[m] than the thar is isowe.
Thah hit beo soth, ich do heom god,
an for heom ich [s]chadde mi blod:
ich do heom god mid mine deathe,
waruore the is wel unneathe.
For thah thu ligge dead & clinge,
thi deth nis nawt to none thinge:
ich not neauer to hwan thu miyht,
for thu nart bute a wrecche wiyht.
Ah thah mi lif me beo atschote,
the yhet ich mai do gode note:
me mai up one smale sticke
me sette a-wude ine the thicke,
an swa mai mon tolli him to
lutle briddes & iuo,
an swa me mai mid me biyhete
wel gode brede to his mete.
Ah thu neure mon to gode
liues ne deathes stal ne stode:
ich not to hwan thu bre[d]ist thi brod,
liues ne deathes ne deth hit god."
The nihtegale ih[e]rde this,
an hupte uppon on blowe ris,
an herre sat than heo dude ear:
"Hule," he seide, "beo nu wear,
nulle ich with the plaidi namore,
for her the mist thi rihte lore:
thu yheilpest that thu art manne loth,
an euereuch wiht is widh the w[ro]th;
an mid yhulinge & mid igrede
thu wanst wel that thu art unlede.
Thu seist that gromes the ifodh,
an heie on rodde the anhodh,
an the totwichet & toschakedh,
an summe of the schawles makedh.
Me thunc[th] that thu forleost that game,
thu yhulpest of thire oyhe schame:
me thunc[th] that thu me gest an honde,
thu yhulpest of thire oyhene scho[nd]e."
Tho heo hadde theos word icwede,
heo sat in ore faire stude,
an tharafter hire steuene dihte,
an song so schille & so brihte,
that feor & ner me hit iherde.
Tharuore anan to hire cherde
thrusche & throstle & wudewale,
an fuheles bothe grete & smale:
forthan heom thuhte that heo hadde
the houle ouercome, uorthan heo gradde
an sungen alswa uale wise,
an blisse was among the rise.
Riyht swa me gred the manne a schame,
that taueleth & forleost that gome.

Theos hule, tho heo this iherde,
"Hauestu," heo seide, "ibanned ferde ?
an wultu, wreche, widh me fiyhte?
Nai! nai! nauestu none miyhte!
Hwat gredeth theo that hider come?
Me thuncth thu ledest ferde to me.
Yhe schule wite, ar yhe fleo heonne,
hwuch is the strenthe of mine kunne:
for theo the haueth bile ihoked,
an cliures [s]charpe & wel icroked,
alle heo beoth of mine kunrede,
an walde come yhif ich bede.
The seolfe coc, that wel can fiyhte,
he mot mid me holde mid riyhte,
for [bothe] we habbeth steuene briyhte,
an sitteth under weolcne bi niyhte.
Schille ich an utest uppen ow grede,
ich shal swo stronge ferde lede,
that ower pr[u]de schal aualle:
a tort ne yhiue ich for ow alle!
ne schal, ar hit beo fulliche eue,
a wreche fether on ow bileaue.
Ah hit was unker uoreward,
tho we come hiderward,
that we tharto holde scholde,
thar riht dom us yhiue wolde.
Wultu nu breke foreward?
Ich wene dom the thing[th] to hard:
for thu ne darst domes abide,
thu wult nu, wreche, fiyhte & chide.
Yh[u]t ich ow alle wolde rede,
ar [ich] utheste uppon ow grede,
that ower fihtlac leteth beo,
an ginneth rathe awei fleo.
For, bi the cliures that ich bere,
yhef yhe abideth mine here,
yhe schule on other wise singe,
an acursi alle fiyhtinge :
vor nis of ow non so kene,
that durre abide mine onsene."
Theos hule spac wel baldeliche,
for thah heo nadde swo hwatliche
ifare after hire here,
heo walde neotheles yhefe answere
the niyhtegale mid swucche worde.
For moni man mid speres orde
haueth lutle strencthe, & mid his [s]chelde,
ah neotheles in one felde,
thurh belde worde an mid ilete,
deth his iuo for arehthe swete.
The wranne, for heo cuthe singe,
thar com in thare moreyhen[i]nge
to helpe thare niyhtegale:
for thah heo hadde steuene smale,
heo hadde gode th[ro]te & schille,
an fale manne song a wille.
The wranne was wel wis iholde,
vor theyh heo nere ibred a-wolde,
ho was itoyhen among man[k]enne,
an hire wisdom brohte thenne:
heo miyhte speke hwar heo walde,
touore the king thah heo scholde.
"Lusteth," heo cwath, "lateth me speke.
Hwat! wulle yhe this pes tobreke,
an do thanne [kinge] swuch schame?
Yhe[t] nis he nouther ded ne lame.
Hunke schal itide harm & schonde,
yhef yhe doth grithbruche on his londe.
Lateth beo, & beoth isome,
an fareth riht to o[w]er dome,
an lateth dom this plaid tobreke,
al swo hit was erur bispeke."

"Ich an wel," cwadh the niyhtegale,
"ah, wranne, nawt for thire tale,
ah do for mire lahfulnesse.
Ich nolde that unrihtfulnesse
me at then ende ouerkome:
ich nam ofdrad of none dome.
Bihote ich habbe, soth hit is,
that Maister Nichole, that is wis,
bituxen vs deme schul[l]e,
an yhe[t] ich wene that he wule.
Ah, [w]ar mihte we hine finde?"
The wranne sat in ore linde;
"Hwat! nu[s]te yhe," cwath heo, "his hom?
He wuneth at Porteshom,
at one tune ine Dorsete,
bi thare see in ore utlete:
thar he demeth manie riyhte dom,
an diht & writ mani wisdom,
an thurh his muthe & thurh his honde
hit is the betere into Scotlonde,
To seche hine is lihtlich thing;
he naueth bute one woning.
That [is] bischopen muchel schame,
an alle [th]an that of his nome
habbeth ihert, & of his dede.
Hwi nulleth hi nimen heom to rede,
that he were mid heom ilome
for teche heom of his wisdome,
an yhiue him rente auale stude,
that he miyhte heom ilome be mide?"

"Certes," cwath the hule, "that is sodh:
theos riche men wel muche misdodh,
that leteth thane gode mon,
that of so feole thinge con,
an yhiueth rente wel misliche,
an of him leteth wel lihtliche.
Widh heore cunne heo beoth mildre,
au yheueth rente litle childre:
swo heore wit hi demth adwole,
thut euer abid Maistre Nichole.
Ah ute we thah to him fare,
for thar is unker dom al yhare."

"Do we" the niyhtegale seide:
"ah [w]a schal unker speche rede,
an telle touore unker deme ?"

"Tharof ich schal the wel icweme,"
cwath the houle; "for al, ende of orde,
telle ich con, word after worde:
an yhef the thincth that ich misrempe,
thu stond ayhein & do me crempe."
Mid thisse worde forth hi ferden,
al bute here & bute uerde,
to Portesham that heo bicome.
Ah hu heo spedde of heore dome,
ne [c]an ich eu namore telle:
her nis namore of this spelle.
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