Imatges de pàgina

"And here I make myne protestacion, And depely swere, as myne power, to bene Feithful, devoide of variacion, 1340 And here forbere in anger or in tene,1 And serviceable to my worldes quene, With all my reason and intelligence, To done her honoure high and reverence."

I hadde not spoke so sone the word, but she,

My souverayne, dyde thanke me hartily,
And seid, "Abide, ye shal dwelle stille with

Tylle season come of May, for than truly
The Kyng of Love and all his company 1349
Shalle hold his feste full ryally and welle;"
And there I bode till that the sesone felle.

The Birds' Matins.

On May day, when the larke began to ryse, To matens wente the lusty nightingale Withyn a temple shapen hawthorne-wise; He myghte not slepe in al the nyghtertale, But "Domine labia " 2 gan he crye and gale, "My lippes open, Lord of Love, I crye, And let my mouth thi preysing now bewrye."

The egle sang, " Venite* bodies alle, And let us joye to love that is oure helth." And to the deske anon thay gan to falle, 1361

1 Grid s Lord, [open thou my] mouth. * Ps- WT t.


\nd who came late he preced in by stelth: Than seide the fawcon, oure owen hartis welth, "Domine Dominus noster,1 I wot, Ye be the god that done us brenne thus hote."

"CaK mar ant" 2 seide the popyngay, "Your myght is told in heaven and firmament."

And than came inne the goldfynch fresh and


And seid this psalm with hartily glad intent,
"Domini est terra;" * this Laten intent,4 1370
The god of Love hath erth in governaunce;
And then the wren gan skippen and to daunce;

"Jube Domne,6 O Lorde of Love, I praye,
Commande me wel this lesson for to rede;
This legend is of alle that wolden deye
Marters for love; God gif there sowles spede!
And to the Venus singe we, oute of drede,
By influence of all thy vertue greate,
Besechyng the to kepe us in oure hete."

The seconde lesson robyn redebreste sang: "Hayle to the god and goddesse of oure lay !" * 1381 And to the lectorn amorysly he sprong, — "Haile eke," quod he, "O fresshe season of May,

Oure moneth glad tha* syngen on the spray!

1 Pa. viii. i. • Ps. xix. i. * Pa. zxSv. t. 4 This Latin means Command, Lord (a blessing). * Law (/. #t faith).

Vol. in. 34

Haile to the floures, red. and white, and b'.ewe, Which by there vertue maketh oure lustes newe!"

The thridde lesson the turtill-dove toke up And therat lough the mavis 1 in a scorn: He seid, "O God, as mote I dyene or suppe, This folissh dove wille gife us al an home! There ben right here a thousand better borne, To rede this lesson, which as welle as he, 1392 And eke as hote, can love in all degree."

The turtylle dove seide, "Welcom, welcom,

Gladsom and light to lovers that ben trewe!
I thanke the Lord of Love that doth purveye
For me to rede this lesson al of dewe ;2
For in gode south of corage I pursue
To serve my make till deth us moste departe:"
And than " Tu autem "* sang he all aparte. 1400

"Te Deum amoris " 4 sang the thrustell-cok: Tuball hymself, the firste musican, With key of armony coude not unloke So swete tewne as that the thrustill can: "The Lord of Love we praysen," quod he than, And so done alle the foules grete and lite, "Honoure we May, in false lovers dispite."

"Dominus regnavit," * seide the pecok there, 'The Lord of Love that myghty prynce, iwis, He hath receyved here and every where: 1410

1 Thrush. * Id due order. • Thou also (Lord, have mercy r.pol u). * Thou Lord of Love. 'ts. xciii. i.


Nowe Jubilate1 syng." "Whate meneth this?'' Seid than the Iynnette, "Welcom, Lord of blisse I"

Outc sterte the owl with "Benedicitel Whate meneth all this mery fare ?" quod he. "Laudate," 2 sang the larke with voice ful shrille;

And eke the kite, " O admirabile >'* 'i'his quere4 wil throwe myne eris pers and thrille;

But whate? Welcom this May season," quod he;

"And honoure to the Lord of Love mot be, That hath this feeste so solempne and so

high." 1420 "Amen," seid alle, and seid eke the pye.

And furth the cokkowe gan procede anon, With "Benedictus" thankyng God in hast, That in this May wold visite them echon, And gladden them all while the feste shall


And therewithal a-loughter oute he braste, "I thanke it God that I shuld ende the song, And all the service which hath ben so long."

Thus sange thay all the service of the feste, And that was done right early to my dome And furth goith all the courte bothe moste and leste, 1431

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To feche the floures fressh, and braunche and blome;

And namly hawthorn brought both page and grome,

With fresshe garlantis partie blewe and white, And them rejoysen in there grete delite.

Eke eche at other threwe the floures brighte, The prymerose, the violet, and the golde; So than, as I beheld the riall sighte, My lady gan me sodenly beholde, And with a trewe love, plited many-folde, 1440 She smote me thrugh the very harte as blive, And Venus yet I thanke I am alive.


When that Phebus his chaire of gold so hie Hadde whirled up the sterrie sky alofte, And in the Boole2 was entred certainely; When shoures sweet of raine discended softe, (Causing the ground, fele* times and ofte, Up for to give many an wholsome aire, And every plaine was eke yclothed faire

With newe green, and maketh smalle floures To springen here and there in field and mede; So very good and wholsome be the shoares, That it renueth that was old and dede 11

1 Mr Skeal assignsthis poem to the middle of tlie fitee'-th cent ary. It was first published in 1508, by Speght, anJ m-nusc.ip' it known. 2 Taurus, which the Sun enters in May. * Mrtnv

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