Year 7 Poems, Paraphrased

These are paraphrases of the assigned poems from the Oxford Book of English Verse used in Year 7. These are no substitute for the real poems - they're just meant to be a help in comprehension. The goal is to begin to understand enough so that a paraphrase is not needed. In fact, it's a better exercise for the student to write their own paraphrase.

Cuckoo Song
Blow, Northern Wind
This World's Joy
A Hymn to the Virgin
Of a Rose
Praise of Women
The Love Unfeigned
Merciless Beauty
Lament for Chaucer
Vox ultima Crucis
Spring Song of the Birds
Robin and Makyne
The Bludy Serk/The Bloody Shirt
To a Lady
In Honour of the City of London
On the Nativity of Christ
Lament for the Makers
May in the Green-Wood
Quia Amore Langueo
The Old Cloak
To Mistress Margaret Hussey
The True Knight
An Epitaph
The Old Cloak

Cuckoo Song (Anonymous. c. 1250) Bartleby

Welcome, Summer!

Summer is coming in,
Sing loudly, cuckoo!
The seed grows, the meadow blows,
And the wood springs new--
Sing cuckoo!

The ewe bleats after her lamb,
The cow lows after her calf;
The bull leaps, the deer passes wind,
Sing merrily cuckoo!

Cuckoo, Cuckoo, sing well, cuckoo:
Don't stop singing;
Sing cuckoo, now, sing cuckoo,
Sing cuckoo, sing now cuckoo!

Alison (Anonymous. c. 1300) Bartleby

A love song

Between March and April
When new growth begins to spring
The little bird has her way
And sings in her own language
I live with yearning in love
For the most beautiful of all things
She may bring me bliss
I am her devoted servant
      And I've taken advantage of a lucky break
      I'll wager that it's sent from heaven
      My affection has left all other women
      And alighted on Alison

The color of her hair is fair
Her brow is brown, her eyes black
With a loving look she laughs at me
She's well-made, with a small waist
If she doesn't decide to take me
As her own mate
I'll lose my desire to live
And wish I were dead
      And I've taken advantage of a lucky break
      I'll wager that it's sent from heaven
      My affection has left all other women
      And alighted on Alison

At night I toss and turn
That's why I grow so pale
Lady, because of you
I've developed this yearning
In all the world there's no man wise enough
To tell all of her bounty
Her neck is whiter than the swan
She's the prettiest maiden in town
      And I've taken advantage of a lucky break
      I'll wager that it's sent from heaven
      My affection has left all other women
      And alighted on Alison

I'm worn out with vigils from wooing
Like water in a stagnant pool
Someone else might steal my mate
I've been distressed for a long time
Yet it's better to endure distress for a while
Than to mourn forevermore
Prettiest thing under any dress
Listen to my song
      And I've taken advantage of a lucky break
      I'll wager that it's sent from heaven
      My affection has left all other women
      And alighted on Alison

Spring-tide (Anonymous. c. 1300) Bartleby

Spring is here, but not everyone is happy . . .

Early spring is come with love in its turn,
With blossom and with birds' song,
      That all this bliss brings;
Daisies in the valleys,
Sweet notes of nightingales,
      Each fowl sings its song;

The thrush chides them all,
Gone is their winter woe,
      When woodruff blooms;
Marvellously many fowls sing,
And whistle so in their happiness,
      That all the wood rings.

The rose clothes herself in red,
The leaves on the light-colored wood
      All grow all with a will;
The moon sends forth her light,
The lily is lovely to see,
      The fennel and the thyme;
The wild drakes woo,
Males make their mates merry;
      Like a stream that still flows,
The moody man moans; many of them do
It seems that I am one of them
Because of love that went wrong.

The moon sends forth her light,
So does the bright, lovely sun.
      When birds sing lustily;
Dew makes the slopes soggy,
Lovers with their secret tales
      Give their decisions;
Worms woo under the dirt,
Women grow so proud,
      So it would seem,
If I can't have the will of one,
I'll forego this wealth of joy
      And be banished to the woods.

[Another translation is here]

Blow, Northern Wind (Anonymous. c. 1300) Bartleby

A love song: Blow my love to me!

I know a maiden in a bright bower,
That is fully lovely to see,
Worshipful maiden of might;
      Fair and free to take;
In all this noble multitude
A maiden of blood and of goodness
Never yet I knew not none
      Lovelier on earth.
      Blow northern wind!
      Send me my sweetheart!
      Blow northern wind! blow, blow, blow!

With long, lovely locks,
With shape and face lovely to take between my hands,
May she mingle with many joys,
      That bird so full of life in bower.
With lovely eye great and good,
With brown bliss under hood,
He that rest him on the Cross,
      That [values?] life honor.
      Blow northern wind!
      Send me my sweetheart!
      Blow northern wind! blow, blow, blow!

Her face beams light,
Like a lantern at night,
Her color looks so bright.
      So fair she is and fine.
She has a darling neck for holding,
With arms shoulder as man would,
And fingers fair to enfold,
      God would she were mine!
      Blow northern wind!
      Send me my sweetheart!
      Blow northern wind! blow, blow, blow!

She is a coral of goodness,
She is a ruby of righteousness,
She is a crystal of purity,
      And banner of beauty.
She is a lily of renown,
She is periwinkle of prowess,
She is sunflower of sweetness,
      And lady of loyalty.

For her love I worry and care,
For her love I droop and dare,
For her love my bliss is bare
      And all else pales,
For her love I lose sleep,
For her love all night I wake,
For her love I pine
      More than any man.
      Blow northern wind!
      Send thou me my sweetheart!
      Blow northern wind! blow, blow, blow!

This World's Joy (Anonymous. c. 1300) Bartleby

Life is short; think about the life to come.

Winter wakens all my care,
Now these leaves grow bare;
Often I sigh and mourn sorely
      When it comes to my mind
      Of this world's joy, how it amounts to nothing.

Now it's here, and now it's not,
as though it had never been, I guess;
Many man say it, and so it is:
      Everything ends except God's will:
      We shall all die, though none of us us like it.

All that was around me grew green,
But now it all fades
Jesus, help us remember that fact
      And shield us from hell!
      For I know not where I shall end up,
nor how long I shall dwell here.

A Hymn to the Virgin (Anonymous. c. 1300) Bartleby

The Virgin Mary

Of one that is so fair and bright
      Just as the stars of the sea,
Brighter than the day is light,
      Mother and maiden:
I cry to thee, thou see to me,
Lady, pray to your Son for me,
      So holy,
That I might come to thee

All this world was forlorn
      through Eve the sinner,
Til our Lord was born
      Of you, the mother.
With farewell it went away
Dark night; and now comes the day
      Of Salvation;
The well springs out of thee,
      Of virtue.

Lady, flower of all things,
      Rose without a thorn,
You bore Jesus, heaven's king,
      By divine grace:
Of all you bear the prize,
Lady, queen of paradise
Maiden mild, mother is
      You are proved.

Of a Rose (Anonymous. c. 1350) Bartleby

Mary, the Rose of Heaven

Of a rose, a lovely rose,
Of a rose is all my song.

Listen, lords, both old and young,
How this rose began to spring;
Such a rose to my liking
      In all this world never have I known one.

The Angel came from heaven's tower,
To greet Mary with great honor,
And said she would bear the flower
      That would break the fiend's bond.

The flower sprang in high Bethlehem,
That is both bright and shining:
The rose is Mary, heaven's queen,
      Out of her bosom the blossom sprang.

The first branch is full of might,
That sprang on Christmas night,
The star shone over Bethlehem bright
      That is both broad and long.

The second branch sprang to hell,
The fiend's power down to fell:
Therein might no soul dwell;
      Blessed be the time the rose sprang!

The third branch is good and sweet,
It sprang to heaven top and root,
Therein to dwell and be our ransom;
      Every day it shows in priest's hand.

We pray to her with great honour,
She that bore the blessed flower,
She is our help and our help
      And shields us from the fiend's bond.

Praise of Women (Robert Mannyng of Brunne. 1269-1340) Bartleby

Nothing makes a man gladder than a good woman.

Nothing is so dear to man
As woman's love in good manner.
A good woman is man's bliss,
There her love is right and steadfast.
There is no solace under heaven
Of all that a man may name
That should gladden a man so much
As a good woman whose love is true.
Neither is there anything dearer in God's herd
Than a chaste woman who speaks lovely words.

Freedom (John Barbour. d. 1395) Bartleby

From a Scot/English poem about Robert the Bruce.

Ah! Freedom is a noble thing!
Freedom makes man to have liberty;
Freedom gives all solace to man,
He who freely lives, lives at ease!
A noble heart may have no ease,
Nor aught else that may please him,
If freedom fails; for free liberty
Is yearned for above all other things.
And he that has always lived free
May not know well the nature,
The anger, nor the wretched doom
That is coupled to foul slavery.
But if he had tasted it,
Than he would know it thoroughly;
And would think freedom more to be prized
Than all the gold there is in the world.
Thus the opposite thing evermore
Reveals the other more.

The Love Unfeigned (Geoffrey Chaucer. 1340?-1400) Bartleby

True love belongs to Christ.

O young fresh folks, male or female,
In which that love grows up with your age,
Return home from worldly vanity,
And from your heart cast off the visage
To that same god that after his image
You made, and think all is but a fair
This world passeth soon as fair flowers.

And love Him, Who, to earn the right for love,
Upon a cross, to buy our souls,
First died, and rose, and sits in heaven above;
For He will be false to no man, dare I say,
Who lays his heart wholly on Him.
And since He is the best to love, and the most meek,
What need is there to seek feigned love?

Balade (Geoffrey Chaucer. 1340?-1400) Bartleby

"My lady . . . will outshine all this."

Absalom, hide your clear golden tresses;
Esther, lay down your meekness;
Jonathan, hide your friendly manner;
Penelope, and Marcia Catown,
Make no comparison of your wifehood;
Hide your beauties, Isolde and Helen;
My lady is coming, whose beauty will outshine all this.

Your fair body, let it not appear,
Lavinia; and you, Lucresse of the town of Rome,
And Polixene, who paid so much for love,
And Cleopatra, with all your passion,
Hide your truth of love and your renown;
And you, Thisbe, who have such pain of love;
My lady is coming, whose beauty will outshine all this.

Hero, Dido, Laudomia, all beauties,
And Phyllis, hanging for thy Demophon,
And Canace, spied by your beloved,
Hypsipyle, betrayed with Jason,
Make of your truth neither boast nor sound;
Nor Hypermnestra or Adriane, you two;
My lady is coming, whose beauty will outshine all this.

Absalom: King David's son, known for his long hair
Jonathan: see 1 Sam 19:2
Penelope (and Odysseus): from Homer's Odyssey
Marcia Catown: second wife of Cato (the Younger) of Utica
Isolde/Isoude (and Tristram)
Helen: of Troy
Lavinia (and Aeneas): from Virgil's Aeneid
Polixene: from Ovid
Thisbe (and Pyramus): from Ovid
Hero (and Leander): from Ovid
Laodomia (and Protesilaus): from Chaucer's Legend of Good Women; from Ovid's Heroides
Phyllis and Demophon, king of Athens: from Ovid
Canace (and Macareus): from Ovid, daughter of Aeolus
Hypsipyle: from Chaucer's Legend of Good Women, first wife of Jason
Hypermnestra (and Lynceus): from Ovid
Ariadne (and Theseus): from Chaucer's Legend of Good Women

Merciless Beauty (Geoffrey Chaucer. 1340?-1400) Bartleby

Attraction, rejection, and a vow to never love again.

A Triple Roundel

1. Captivity

Your two eyes will slay me suddenly,
I may not sustain the beauty of them,
So it wounds throughout my keen heart.

And merely your word will hastily heal
My heart's wound, while it is still green,
      Your two eyes will slay me suddenly,
      I may not sustain the beauty of them.

Upon my truth I say faithfully,
That you've been the queen of my life and death;
For with my death the truth shall be seen.
Your two eyes will slay me suddenly,
I may not sustain the beauty of them,
So it wounds it throughout my keen heart.

2. Rejection

So hath your beauty chased from your heart
Pity, that me ne availeth not to complain;
For Danger halt your mercy in his cheyne. [chain?]

Guiltless my death thus have ye purchased me;
I tell you truly, I need not pretend;
So has your beauty chased from your heart
Pity, that doesn't avail me to complain.

Alas! that nature has compassed in you
Such great beauty, that no man may attain
To mercy, though he perish from the pain.
So has your beauty chased from your heart
Pity, that avails me not to complain;
For Danger halt your mercy in his cheyne.

3. Escape

Since I escaped so far from Love,
I never plan to be in his lean prison;
Since I am free, I count him not a friend.

He may answer, and say this or that;
I tell no lie, I say just what I mean.
Since I escaped so far from Love,
I never plan to be in his lean prison;

Love has stricken my name from his slate,
And he is stricken clean out of my books
For ever-more; there is no other way.
Since I escaped so far from Love,
I never plan to be in his lean prison;
Since I am free, I count him not a friend.

Lament for Chaucer (Thomas Hoccleve. 1368-9?-1450?) Bartleby

Chaucer has died, and no one will ever fill his shoes.

Alas! my worthy honorable master,
This land's very treasure and riches!
Death by thy death hath irreparable harm
Done unto us: her vengeable violence
Has despoiled this land of the sweetness
Of rhetoric; for unto Tullius [Tullius - Cicero]
Was never man so similar among us.

Also, who was heir in philosophy
To Aristotle in our language but thou?
The steps of Virgil in poetry
Thou followed too, men know well enough.
Thou encumberer of earth who slew my master--
Would that I had been slain!--Death was too hasty
To rain on you and take from you your life . . .

Death might have tarried her vengeance awhile
Till some man had been equal to you;
Nay, forget that! she knew well that this world
May never bring forth a man like you,
And she didn't choose her task:
God bade her so; I trust 'twas for the best;
Oh master, master, God rest your soul!

[The "Encumberer of Earth" is death herself.]

Vox ultima Crucis [voice or living/last/cross?] (John Lydgate. 1370?-1450?) Bartleby

Jesus calls us onward and upward!

Tarry no longer; toward your heritage
Hasten on your way, and be of very good cheer.
Go each day onward on your pilgrimage;
Think how short time you've abided here.
Your palace is built above the clear stars,
No earthly palace is wrought in such a stately way.
Come on, my friend, my brother most dear!
For you I offered my blood in sacrifice.

Spring Song of the Birds (King James I of Scotland. 1394-1437) Bartleby

Worship ye that lover's boon this May,
For of your bliss the Kalendis are begone,
And sing with us: Away, Winter, away!
      Come, Summer, come, the sweet season and sun!
      Awake for shame! that have your heaven's won,
      And lovingly lift up your heads all,
      Thank Love that lifts you to his mercy call!

[Kalendis may refer to the first of the month.]

Robin and Makyne (Robert Henryson, 1425-1500, Scottish) Bartleby; Wikipedia

Robin spurns Makyne's advances, but then he changes his mind. Makyne (or Malkin) is a diminutive of Matilda or Maud or Maid. Since Robin was sort of a generic name in poems, this poem could thus be inferred to mean "A Guy and a Girl."

Robin sat on good green hill,
      Keeping a flock of sheep:
Merry Makyne said to him
      'Robin, have pity on me
I have loved thee, publicly and privately,
      These two or three years;
Unless you soothe my secret grief,
      Surely but resignedly I die.'

Robin answered 'I swear by the cross,
      Nothing of love I know,
But keep my sheep under yon wood:
      Look, where they range in row.
What has made thee in such a mood,
      Makyne, show me;
What is love, or to be loved?
      Fain would I learn that law.'

[Makyne responds:]

'At love's lore if thou will learn
      Take there any A B C;
Be gentle, fair wooer, and fair of face,
      Wise, hardy, and free:
So that no danger do thee daunt
      What secret sorrow you suffer;
Exert thee with pain and with all thy power
      Be patient and secret.' [as is fitting for courtly love.]

Robin answered her again,
      'I know not what is love;
But I surely marvel at
      What makes thee so joyless:
The weather is fair, and I am in good spirits;
      My sheep go well above;
If we were to dally around in this plain, [like you propose]
      They would reprove us both.'

'Robin, take heed unto my tale,
      And do all as I advise,
And thou shall have all of my heart,
      This and my maiden-hood:
Since God sends balm for ill,
      And remedy for mourning,
Unless I deal with thee secretly
      Surely I am but dead.'

'Makyne, to-morrow morning this same time
      If you meet me here . . .
But what if my sheep go astray,
      While we are busy nearby;
In spite of that, and I stay here,
      And if they begin to stray--
What lies on my heart I will not hide; [concern only for the sheep]
      Makyne, then be of good cheer.'

'Robin, thou robs me of my peace;
      I love but thee alone.'
'Makyne, adieu! the sun sets in the west,
      The day is nearly gone.'
'Robin, in sadness I am so covered
      That love will be the ruin of me.'
'Go love, Makyne, wherever you want,
      For lady I love none.'

'Robin, I am in such a sad plight,
      I sigh very sadly.'
'Makyne, I have been here this while;
      I wish I were at home.'
'My honey, Robin, talk any while,
      If thou will do no more.'
'Makyne, beguile some other man,
      For homeward I will go.'

Robin on his way went
      As light as a leaf of a tree; [in relief!]
Makyne mourned in her thoughts,
      And vowed never to see him again.
Robin bolted over the heath:
      Then Makyne cried on high,
'Now may thou sing, for I am disgraced!
      Why does love deal so cruelly towards me?'

Makyne went home without fail,
      Weary from all her weeping;
Then Robin, the next fair day
      Assembled all his sheep.
But by then some part of Makyne's love
      Had entered his own heart!
He followed her fast there to woo her,
      And took her good advice.

'Stay, abide, thou fair Makyne,
      A word for any thing;
For all my love, it shall be thine,
      Without separating.
All whole thy heart to have for mine
      Is all I covet;
My sheep this morn, until nine,
      Will need no keeping.' [I'm free til nine o'clock!]

'Robin, thou hast heard the song and saying,
      In jests and stories old:
"The man who will not, when he may
      Shall have not, when he would."
I pray to Jesus that every day
      May increase the cold sorrows
Of whoever first tries with thee to woo
      In woods, forest, or field.'

'Makyne, the night is soft and dry,
      The weather is warm and fair,
And the green wood is right near us
      To walk over everywhere:
There may no tattle espy us
      Who is against love;
Therein, Makyne, both ye and I,
      May go without being seen.'

'Robin, that world is all away, [That ship has sailed, that train has left the station . . .]
      And is quite brought to an end:
And never again thereto, by my faith,
      Shall it be as thou want;
For you made light of my pain;
      And all in vain I spent it:
As thou has done, so shall I say,
      "Mourn on, I plan to mend."

'Makyne, the hope of all my happiness
      My heart on thee is set;
And evermore to thee be loyal
      While my life but lasts;
Never to fail as others fail,
      What grace that ever I get.'
'Robin, with thee I will not deal;
      Adieu! for thus we part.'

Makyne went home blithe enough
      Over the woodlands gray;
Robin mourned, and Makyne laughed;
      She sang, but he sighed sore:
And so she left him both woe and wretch,
      In melancholy and in care,
Keeping his herd under a cliff
      Among the dunghill gray.

The Bludy Serk/The Bloody Shirt (Robert Henryson. 1425-1500, Scottish) Bartleby

An alleghorical narrative poem that provides us with a key to understand its meaning.

This past year I heard it told
      There was a worthy King;
Dukes, Earls, and Barrons bold,
      He had at his bidding.
The Lord was ancient and old,
      And sixty years he reigned;
He had a daughter fair to see,
      A merry young Lady.

Off all fairhood she bore the flower,
      And also her father's heir;
Of joyful manner and high honour,
      Both meek and debonair:
She dwelt in a well-built bower,
      On earth was none so fair,
Princes loved her exceedingly
      In countries all everywhere.

There dwelt somewhat beside the King
      As foul Giant as any;
He has stolen the Lady young,
      Away with her is gone,
And cast her in his dungeon
      Where light she might see none;
Hunger and cold and great thirsting
      She found in her cell.

He was the loathliest on to look
      That on the ground might go:
His nails were like a hell's-claw,
      Fully five quarters long;
There was none that he overtook,
      In right or yet in wrong,
But he shook all to pieces,
      The Giant was so strong.

He held the Lady day and night
      Within his deep dungeon,
He would not give of her a sigh
      For gold nor yet ransom--
But said the King might get a knight,
      To fight with his own person,
To fight with him both day and night,
      Untll any were beaten down.

The King he sought both far and near,
      Both by sea and land,
For any knight that he might hear
      Would fight with that Giant:
A worthy Prince, that had no peer,
      He took the deed on hand
For the love of the Lady cleir,
      And held full true promise.

That Prince came proudly to the town
      Of that Giant to hear,
And fought with him, his own person,
      And took him prisoner,
And cast him in his own dungeon
      Alone without friend,
With hunger, cold, and confusion,
      As full well he deserved.

Sin broke the bower, the bright one headed home
      Unto her father--free!
But deathly wounded was the Knight
      That he behoved to die;
His clothing was unloosened
      His shirt was all bloody;
In all the world was there a sight
      So piteous for to see?

The Lady mourned and made great moan,
      She moaned with all her might--
'I loved never any but one,
      That tragically now is dying;
God sees my life is from me taken
      Or I had seen yon sight,
Or else in begging ever to gain
      Forth with that couteous knight.'

He said 'Fair lady, now I beg
      If, truly ye me love;
Take ye my shirt that is bloody,
      And hang it yonder tree;
First think on it, and remember me,
      When men come to woo you.'
The Lady said 'By Mary free,
      Thereto I make a vow.'

When ever she looked at the shirt
      she thought of the knight,
And prayed for him with all her heart
      That loosed her of bondage,
Where she was made to sit in full murk
      Into that deep dungeon;
And ever until she was in cell,
      That was to her a lesson.

So well the Lady loved the Knight
      That no husband would she take:
So should we do our God of might
      That did all for us make;
Which fully to deid was dight, [deid - deed; dight - dealt with or adorned]
      For sinful man's sake,
So should we do both day and night,
      With prayers make to him.

This King is like the Trinity,
      Both in heaven and here;
Man's soul is like the Lady,
      The Giant like Lucifer,
The Knight like Christ, who died on the cross
      And bought our sins at great cost;
The pit like Hell with evil pains,
      Sin like the men who wooed her.

The Lady was wooed, but she said nay
      To men that would wed her;
So should we cast all sin away
      That in our breast is bred.
I pray to Jesus Christ very,
      For it was his blood that bled,
To be our help on doomsday
      Where laws are straitly led.

The soul is God's dear daughter,
      And also his handiwork,
Who was betrayed by Lucifer,
      Who sits in hell full murky,
Borrowed with Christ's angel clear,
      Kind men, will ye not heed?
And for his life that bought us at such cost
      Think on the BLOODY SHIRT!

To a Lady (William Dunbar. 1465-1520?) Bartleby

My love is a rose, but my rose is gone . . .

Sweet rose of virtue and of gentleness,
Delicate lily of every lustiness,
      Richest in bounty and in beauty clear,
      And every virtue that is esteemed dear,
Except only that you are merciless

Into your garden I did pursue this day;
There saw I flowers that were of freshest hue;
      Both white and red most vibrant were to see,
      And healthy herbs upon stalks green;
Yet leaf nor flower find could I none of rew. [rue?]

I doubt that March, with his cold blasts keen,
Has slain this gentle herb, for which I mourn;
      Whose piteous death does to my heart such pain
      That I would make to plant his root again,--
So comforting his leaves unto me been.

In Honour of the City of London (William Dunbar. 1465-1520?) Bartleby

London! The flower of cities all!

London, thou art of towns itself.
      Sovereign of cities, seemliest in sight,
Of high renown, riches and royalty;
      Of lords, barons, and many a goodly knight;
      Of most delectable merry ladies bright;
Of famous bishops, in clerical habits;
      Of merchants full of goods and of authority:
London, thou art the flower of Cities all.

Rejoice anon, thou merry Troynovaunt,
      City that some time was called New Troy; [Troynovaunt means New Troy]
In all the earth, imperial as thou stand,
      Princess of towns, of pleasure and of joy,
      There is no richer town under any Christian king;
For manly power, with crafts natural,
      None seems fairer since the flood of Noah:
London, thou art the flower of Cities all.

Gem of all joy, jasper of jollity,
      Most mighty carbuncle of virtue and valour;
Strong Troy in vigour and in strength;
      The rose and gillyflower of royal cities;
      Empress of towns, exalted in honour;
In beauty bearing the crown imperial;
      Excelling even sweet Paradise in pleasure;
London, thou art the flower of Cities all.

Thy River hath renown above all rivers, [Thames River]
      Whose beryl streams, pleasant and distinguished,
Runneth down under thy merry walls,
      Where many a swan doth swim with wings fair;
      Where many a barge doth sail and row with oar;
Where many a ship doth rest with top-royal.
      O, towne of towns! patron and not compare,
London, thou art the flower of Cities all.

Upon thy lusty bridge of pillers white [London Bridge]
      Are merchants full royal to behold;
Upon thy streets goeth many a seemly knight
      In velvet gowns and in chains of gold.
      Thy Tower founded long ago by Julius Caesar [early legends claim the original Tower of London was built by Julius Caesar]
Might be the house of a victorious god of war,
      Whose artillary can not be described with words:
London, thou art the flower of Cities all.

Strong be thy wall that stands about thee;
      Wise be the people that dwell within thee;
Fresh is thy river with his merry strands;
      Cheerful be thy churches, well sounding be thy bells;
      Rich be thy merchants in merchandise that excells;
Fair be their wives, right lovely, white and slender:
      Clear be thy virgins, merry under their kellis: [kellis - woman's head-dress]
London, thou art the flower of Cities all.

Thy famous Mayor, by princely governance,
      Rules thee prudently with rules of justice.
No Lord of Paris, Venice, or Florence
      Comes near him in n dignity or honour.
      He is exampler, lode-star, and guide;
Principal patron and rose original,
      Above all Mayors as master most worthy:
London, thou art the flower of Cities all.

On the Nativity of Christ (William Dunbar. 1465-1520?) Bartleby

Christ is come, and all worship Him.

Rorate coeli desuper! [drop down dew, ye heavens]
      Heavens, distill your balmy showers!
For now the bright day-star is risen,
      From the rose Mary, flower of flowers:
      The clear Son, whom no cloud devours,
Surmounting Pheobus in the East, [Phoebus - sun]
      Is come of his heavenly towers:
      Et nobis Puer natus est. [and is born as a child for us]

Archangels, angels, and dominations,
      Thrones, popes, and various martrys,
And all ye heavenly operations,
      Star, planet, firmament, and sphere,
      Fire, earth, air, and water clear,
To Him give loving, most and least,
      That come in to so meek manner;
      Et nobis Puer natus est. [and is born as a child for us]

Sinners, be glad, and do penance,
      And thank your Maker heartfully;
For He that ye might not come to,
      To you is come full humbly
      To buy your souls with his blood
And loose you of the fiend's arrest--
      And only of his own mercy;
      Pro nobis Puer natus est. [and is born as a child for us]

All clergy, bow to him,
      And bow unto that harmless baby,
And do your divine observance
      To him that is Kings of kings:
      Encense his altar, read and sing
In holy church, with mind digest,
      Him honouring over all thing
      Qui nobis Puer natus est. [and is born as a child for us]

Celestial fowls in the air,
      Sing with your notes upon high,
In estuaries and in fair forests
      Be mirthful now with all your might;
      For your dull night is passed,
Dawn has pierced the clouds,
      The Son is risen with gladsome light,
      Et nobis Puer natus est. [and is born as a child for us]

Now spring up, flowers, from the root,
      Revert yourselves upward naturally,
In honour of the blessed fruit
      That rose up from the rose Mary;
      Lay out your leaves cheerfully,
From death take life now at the least
      In worship of that worthy Prince
      Qui nobis Puer natus est. [and is born as a child for us]

Sing, heaven imperial, highest of high!
      Regions of air make harmony!
All fish in flood and fowl of flight
      Be mirthful and make melody!
      All Gloria in excelsis cry!
Heaven, earth, sea, man, bird, and beast,--
      He that is crowned above the sky
      Pro nobis Puer natus est! [and is born as a child for us]

Lament for the Makars (Poets) "Timor Mortis Conturbat Me" (William Dunbar. 1465-1520? Many of the poets lamented by name are unidentifiable.) Bartleby Wikipedia

Rich, poor, great, humble -- all must die.

I who was in health and gladness
Am troubled now with great sickness
And feebled with infirmity:--
      The fear of death confounds me.

Our pleasure here is all vain glory,
This false world is but transitory,
The flesh is brittle, the Fiend is sly:--
      The fear of death confounds me.

The state of man does change and vary,
Now sound, now sick, now blithe, now sorry,
Now dancing merry, now like to die:--
      The fear of death confounds me.

No state on Earth here stands sure;
As with the wind the willow waves
So wanes this world's vanity:--
      The fear of death confounds me.

Unto the Death go all Estates,
Princes, Prelates, and Potentates,
Both rich and poor of all degree:--
      The fear of death confounds me.

He takes the knights into the field
Encased under helm and shield;
But he is Victor at all melee:--
      The fear of death confounds me.

That strong unmerciful tyrant
Takes, from the mother's breast suckling,
The babe full of gentleness:--
      The fear of death confounds me.

He takes the champion in the fight,
The captain closed in the tower,
The lady in bower full of beauty:--
      The fear of death confounds me.

He spares no lord for his power,
Nor clerk for his intelligence;
His awful stroke may no man flee:--
      The fear of death confounds me.

Art-magicians and astrologers,
Rhethorics, logicians, and theologians,
No brilliant conclusion saves them:--
      The fear of death confounds me.

In medicine the most practicians,
Leeches, surgeons, and physicians,
May not save themselve from Death:--
      The fear of death confounds me.

I see that poets among the rest
Play here their pageants, sin goes to grave;
Their faculty is not spared:--
      The fear of death confounds me.

He has petuously devoured
The noble Chaucer, flower of poets,
The Monk of Bury, and Gower, all three:-- [poet/monk John Lydgate of Bury] [John Gower]
      The fear of death confounds me.

The good Sir Hew of Eglintown, [Earl of Eglinton/Huchoun of the Awle Ryale?]
Ettrick, Heriot, and Wintown, [Andrew of Wyntoun]
He has taken out of this country:--
      The fear of death confounds me.

That fell scorpion has infected
Master John Clerk, and James Afflek,
From ballad-making and tragedy:--
      The fear of death confounds me.

Holland and Barbour he has bereft; [Richard Holland] [John Barbour]
Alas! that he not with us left
Sir Mungo Lockart of the Lee:--
      The fear of death confounds me.

Clerk of Tranent also he has taken,
That made the adventures of Gawaine;
Sir Gilbert Hay indited has he:-- [Sir Gilbert the Haye, Scottish poet]
      The fear of death confounds me.

He has Blind Harry and Sandy Traill [Blind Harry/Henry the Minstrel]
Slain with his shower of mortal hail,
While Patrick Johnstown might not flee:--
      The fear of death confounds me.

He has reft Merseir his inditing,
That did write of love so lively,
So short, so quick, of sentence he:--
      The fear of death confounds me.

He has taken Rowll of Aberdene,
And gentle Rowll of Corstorphine;
Two better fellows did no man see:--
      The fear of death confounds me.

In Dunfermline he has take Brown
With Master Robert Henrysown; [Robert Henryson]
Sir John the Ross he has embraced:--
      The fear of death confounds me.

And he has now take, last of all,
Good gentle Stobo and Quintin Shaw, [Stobo: John Reid]
Of whom all people has pity:--
      The fear of death confounds me.

Good Master Walter Kennedy [Walter Kennedy, Scottish poet]
In point of Death lies verily;
How sad that it should so be:--
      The fear of death confounds me.

Since he has all my brothers take,
He will not let me live alone;
Of force I must his next prey be:--
      The fear of death confounds me.

Since for Death there is no remedy,
It's best that we make disposition for Death,
That after our death we may live:--
      The fear of death confounds me.

May in the Green-Wood (Anonymous. 15th Cent.) Bartleby

A spring poem with a Robin Hood reference.

In summer when the groves be bright,
      And leaves be large and long,
It is full merry in fair forest
      To hear the fowl's song.

To see the deer draw to the dale
      And leave the high hills,
And shadow him in the green leaves
      Under the green-wood tree.

It befell on Whitsontide [Pentecost]
      Early in a May morning,
The sun up fair can shine,
      And the birds merry can sing.

'This is a merry morning,' said Little John,
      'By Him that died on the cross;
A more merry man than I am
      Lives not in Christendom.

'Pluck up thy heart, my dear master,'
      Little John can say,
'And think it is a lovely time
      In a morning of May.'

Carol (Anonymous. 15th Cent.) Bartleby

A song about Mary and Jesus.

I sing of a maiden
      That is peerless;
King of all kings
      To her son she chose.

He came all so still
      There his mother was,
Like dew in April
      That falleth on the grass.

He came all so still
      To his mother's bower,
Like dew in April
      That falleth on the flower.

He came all so still
      There his mother lay,
Like dew in April
      That falleth on the spray.

Mother and maiden
      Was never none but she;
Well may such a lady
      God's mother be.

Quia Amore Langueo (Anonymous. 15th Cent.?) Bartleby

Who is lamenting, and about whom?

In a valley of this restless mind
I sought in mountain and in mead,
Hoping for to find a true love.
Upon a hill then took I heed;
A voice I heard (and near I went)
In great melancholy complaining though:
See, dear soul, how my sides bleed
      Quia amore langueo. [I am sick with love]

Upon this hill I found a tree,
Under a tree a man sitting;
He was wounded from head to foot;
His heart-blood I saw bleeding:
A seemly man, like a king,
A gracious face to look unto.
I asked why he had pain;
      [He said,] Quia amore langueo. [I am sick with love]

I am true love that never was false;
I loved Man's Soul like a sister.
So that we would in no wise be separated
I left my glorious kingdom.
I provided her with a palace full precious;
She fled, I followed, I loved her so
That I suffered this pain piteous
      Quia amore langueo. [I am sick with love]

My fair love and my spouse bright!
I saved her from beating, but she hath beat me;
I clothed her in grace and heavenly light;
But she hath set this bloody shirt on me;
For longing of love yet would I not let;
Sweet strokes are these: lo!
I have loved her as much as she hates me
      Quia amore langueo. [I am sick with love]

I crowned her with bliss and she crowned me with thorns;
I led her to a sweet room and she me led to die;
I brought her to worship and she brought me to scorn;
I did her reverence and she did me villany.
To love those who love you is no great feat;
Her hate never made my love her enemy:
Ask me then no question why--
      Quia amore langueo. [I am sick with love]

Look at my hands, man!
These gloves were given me when I sought her;
They are not white, but red and lifeless;
My spouse brought them embroidered with blood.
They will not come off; I loose them not;
I woo her with them wherever she goes.
These hands fought for her so friendly
      Quia amore langueo. [I am sick with love]

Marvel not, man, though I sit still.
See, love hath shod me wonder strait:
Buckled my feet, as was her will,
With sharp nails (well thou may'st wait!)
In my love was never deceit;
All my members I have opened to her;
I made my body bait for her heart
      Quia amore langueo. [I am sick with love]

In my side I have made her a nest;
Look in, how deep a wound is here!
This is her chamber, here shall she rest,
That she and I may sleep in peace.
Here may she wash, if there be any filth;
Here is seat for all her sadness;
Whenever she comes, she shall have cheer
      Quia amore langueo. [I am sick with love]

I will wait till she is ready,
I will plead with her if she say nay;
If she be careless, I will be greedy,
If she be dangerous, I will her pray;
If she weep, then I will not wait:
Mine arms are spread to bind her to me.
Cry once, I come: now, soul, assay
      Quia amore langueo. [I am sick with love]

Fair love, let us go play:
Apples are ripe in my garden.
I shall clothe thee in a new array,
Thy meat shall be milk, honey and wine.
Fair love, let us go dine:
Thy sustenance is in my hand, look!
Tarry not, my fair beloved spouse,
      Quia amore langueo. [I am sick with love]

If thou be filthy, I shall thee make clean;
If thou be sick, I shall heal thee;
If thou mourn ought, I shall comfort thee;
Why wilt thou not, fair love, deal with me?
Have you ever found a love so loyal?
What do you wish, soul, for me to do?
I may not appeal to thee unkindly
      Quia amore langueo. [I am sick with love]

What shall I do now with my spouse
But abide her of my gentleness,
Unil she looks out of her house
Of fleshly affection? she is my love;
Her bed is made, her mattress is sweet,
Her chamber is chosen; there is none more.
Look out on me at the window of kindness
      Quia amore langueo. [I am sick with love]

My love is in her chamber: hush!
Make ye no noise, but let her sleep.
My babe I would not have you diseased,
I may not hear my dear child weep.
With my hand I shall her keep;
Ne marvel ye not though I tend her to:
This wound in my side had ne'er be so deep
      But Quia amore langueo. [I am sick with love]

Long thou for love never so high,
My love is more than thine may be.
Thou weepest, thou gladdest, I sit thee by:
Yet would thou once, love, look unto me!
Should I always feed thee
With child's meat? Nay, love, not so!
I will test your love with adversity
      Quia amore langueo. [I am sick with love]

Grow not weary, mine own wife!
What good is it always to live in comfort?
I reign more widespread in tribulation
Oftener times than in disport.
In weal and in woe I am always to support:
Mine own wife, go not away from me!
Thy mede is marked, when thou art gone: [mede - reward? price?]
      Quia amore langueo. [I am sick with love]

The Old Cloak (Anonymous. 16th Cent.?) Bartleby

     This winter's weather grows cold,
     And frost it freezes on every hill,
And Boreas blows his blast so bold [Boreas - the wind]
     That all our cattle are like to topple over.
Bell, my wife, she dislikes strife;
     She said to me quietly,
Rise up, and save our cow Crumbock's life!
     Man, put your old cloak on [and get out there]!

He: Oh, Bell my wife, why do you scold so?
     You know my cloak is very thin:
It is so bare and worn out,
     A creek couldn't run on it.
Then I'll no longer borrow nor lend;
     For once I'm determined to dress in something new;
To-morrow I'll to town and spend;
     For I'm determined to have a new cloak about me.

She: Cow Crumbock is a very good cow:
     She has been always a good milker;
She has helped us to butter and cheese, I believe,
     And other things she will not fail.
I would hate to see her suffer.
     Good husband, take my advice:
It is not for us to go around with fine clothing--
     Man, put your old cloak on!

He: My cloak used to be a very good cloak,
     It was always faithful when worn;
But now it is not worth a penny:
     I have had it forty four years!
It used to be scarlet cloth:
     It's now nothing but patches, as you can see:
It will neither hold out neither wind nor rain;
     I'm determined to have a new cloak.

She: It was forty four years ago
     Since we've known each other;
And we have had, between the two of us,
     Either nine or ten children:
We have brought them up to be women and men:
     In the fear of God I believe them to be.
And why will you yourself have mistaken ideas?
     Man, put your old cloak on!

He: O Bell my wife, why do you scold?
     Now is now, and then was then:
Seek throughout the whole world,
     You can't tell clowns from gentlemen:
They are clad in black, green, yellow and blue,
     So far above their own class.
For once in my life I'm stating my opinion:
     I'm determined to have a new cloak.

She: King Stephen was a worthy man;
     His pants cost him only a few shillings;
He held those sixpence all too stingily,
     Therefore he called his tailor a cheat.
He was a king and wore the crown,
     And you are but of a low degree:
It's pride that's ruining this country:
     Man, put your old cloak on!

He: Bell my wife, she loves not strife,
     Yet she will dominate me, if she can;
And to maintain an easy life
     I often must yield, though I'm the husband.
It's not for a man to argue with a woman,
     Unless he first give over the plea: [entertains the possbility that she might be right?]
As we began, so will we continue,
     And I'll take my old cloak about me.

To Mistress Margaret Hussey (John Skelton. 1460?-1529) Bartleby

Merry Margaret
Like a midsummer flower,
Gentle as a royal falcon
Or hawk of the tower:
With comfort and gladness,
Much cheer and no madness,
All good and no badness;
So joyously,
So innocent,
So womanly
Her demeanor
In every thing,
Far, far surpassing
Anything I can compose,
Or could write sufficiently
About Merry Margaret
As a midsummer flower,
Gentle as falcon
Or hawk of the tower.
As patient and still
And as full of good will
As fair Hypsipyle,
Sweet-smelling coriander seed,
Sweet perfume,
Good Cassandra;
Steadfast of thought,
Beautifully made, well shaped,
You might seek far,
Before you find one
So courteous, so kind
As merry Margaret,
This midsummer flower,
Gentle as falcon
Or hawk of the tower.

Hypsipyle - the beautiful Queen of Lemnos
Cassandra - the daughter of Priam and Hecuba whose beauty charmed Apollo

The True Knight (Stephen Hawes ?-1523) Bartleby

True knighthood does not consist in the feats of war,
So much as defending right over wrong,
True knighthood is defending a cause which truth can not undo:
     A knight ought to make himself sure of his mind and strong,
     Justice should be maintained along with mercy:
          And no quarrel should a knight take up
          Except to defend a truth, or universal good.

An Epitaph [on a grave stone] (Stephen Hawes ?-1523) Bartleby

Oh mortal folk, you can behold and see
That I lie here, who once was a mighty knight.
The end of joy and all prosperity
     Is death at last, Death's route and strength is thorough:
     After the day [of life] there comes the dark night [of death],
          For though the day seems never so long,
          In the end the bells ring to chime in the evening.

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