Art. 29, Bytuene Mersh ant Averil

ART. 29, BYTUENE MERSH ANT AVERIL: EXPLANATORY NOTES


ABBREVIATIONS: AND: Anglo-Norman Dictionary; ANL: Anglo-Norman Literature: A Guide to Texts and Manuscripts (R. Dean and Boulton); BL: British Library (London); Bodl.: Bodleian Library (Oxford); CCC: Corpus Christi College (Cambridge); CUL: Cambridge University Library (Cambridge); IMEV: The Index of Middle English Verse (Brown and Robbins); IMEV Suppl.: Supplement to the Index of Middle English Verse (Robbins and Cutler); MED: Middle English Dictionary; MWME: A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 1050–1500 (Severs et al.); NIMEV: A New Index of Middle English Verse (Boffey and Edwards); NLS: National Library of Scotland (Edinburgh).

4 lud. “Language, tongue, speech.” The lyric begins with the separate language of birds, playing up its own musicality.

8 baundoun. “Power to control, rule, dispose of,” a word of French origin. See MED, bandoun (n.), and the discussion by Lerer of this word “located in the register of Anglo-French regnal power” (2008, p. 242).

11 lent. “Withdrawn, be removed.” See MED, lenden (v.), sense 2.(e).

12 The name Alysoun is sometimes used in English love lyrics to playfully echo the liturgical invocation Kyrie eleyson, “Lord have mercy.” See D’Arcy, p. 317.

30 bounte. “Goodness, virtue.” Lerer discusses the effect of this French-derived word amid a predominately English lexicon: “It is perfectly possible that this Harley Lyric is using the word, if not for the very first time in English verse, then certainly at a time when it would have been widely recognized as a distinctively French word, unabsorbed into the English poetic lexicon” (2008, p. 242).

38 wore. “Seashore, beach”; see MED, wore (n.). The sense of weariness seems to be compared to constant wave movement. Compare, too, the sense of were (n.(1)), “a dam, a weir,” that is, water obstructed and restrained. On this phrase, see also Maximian (art. 68), line 127. Lerer comments that the phrase “seems to recall an ancient Anglo-Saxon idiom; but there are no Old English poems that contain it” (2008, p. 243).

43 Geynest under gore. On this suggestive phrase as a running motif in quire 7, see Fein 2000c, pp. 351–70.


ART. 29, BYTUENE MERSH ANT AVERIL: TEXTUAL NOTES


ABBREVIATIONS: As: Aspin; Bö: Böddeker; Bos: Bossy; Br: Brook; BS: Bennett and Smithers; BZ: Brandl and Zippel; B13: Brown 1932; B14: Brown 1952; DB: Dunn and Byrnes; Deg: Degginger; Do: Dove 1969; Gr: Greene 1977; Ha: Halliwell; Hal: Hall; Hol: Holthausen; Hor1: Horstmann 1878; Hor2: Horstmann 1896; Hu: Hulme; JL: Jeffrey and Levy; Ju: Jubinal; Kel: Keller; Ken: Kennedy; Le: Lerer 2008; Mc: McKnight; Mi: Millett; MR: Michelant and Raynaud; Mo: Morris and Skeat; MS: MS Harley 2253; Mu: H. M. R. Murray; Pa: Patterson; Pr: Pringle 2009; Rei: Reichl 1973; Rev1: Revard 2004; Rev2: Revard 2005b; Ri1: Ritson 1877; Ri2: Ritson 1885; Ro: Robbins 1959; Sa: Saupe; Si: Silverstein; St: Stemmler 1970; Tr: Treharne; Tu: Turville-Petre 1989; Ul: Ulrich; W1: Wright 1839; W2: Wright 1841; W3: Wright 1842; W4: Wright 1844; WH: Wright and Halliwell.

2 springe. So MS (ri abbreviated), W3, Mo, Ri1, Bö, B13, Br, St, Si, Mi. Tr: sprynge.

8 baundoun. So MS, W3, Mo, Bö, B13, Br, St, Si, Mi, Tr. Ri1: banndoun.

10 from. So MS, W3, Mo, Bö, B13, Br, St, Si, Mi, Tr. Ri1: form.

21–24 MS, W3, Mo, Ri1, Bö, B13, Br, St, Si, Mi, Tr: An hendy hap &c.

33–36 MS, W3, Mo, Ri1, Bö, B13, Br, St, Si, Mi, Tr: An hendi &c.

40 Ychabbe. So MS, W3, Mo, Bö, B13, Br, St, Si, Mi, Tr. Ri1: Ychal.

45–48 MS, W3, Mo, Ri1, Bö, B13, Br, St, Si, Mi, Tr: An hendi &c.

 
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Art. 29, Bytuene Mersh ant Averil

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¶ Bytuene Mersh ant Averil
When spray biginneth to springe,
The lutel foul hath hire wyl
On hyre lud to synge.
Ich libbe in love-longinge
For semlokest of alle thynge:
He may me blisse bringe;
   Ich am in hire baundoun!
      An hendy hap Ichabbe yhent!
      Ichot from hevene it is me sent;
      From alle wymmen mi love is lent      
         Ant lyht on Alysoun.


On heu hire her is fayr ynoh,
Hire browe broune, hire eye blake;
With lossum chere he on me loh,
With middel smal ant wel ymake.
Bote he me wolle to hire take
Forte buen hire owen make,
Longe to lyven Ichulle forsake
   Ant feye fallen adoun.
      An hendy hap Ichabbe yhent!
      Ichot from hevene it is me sent;
      From alle wymmen mi love is lent       
         Ant lyht on Alysoun.


Nihtes when Y wende ant wake
(Forthi myn wonges waxeth won),
Levedi, al for thine sake,
Longinge is ylent me on!
In world nis non so wyter mon
That al hire bounte telle con:
Hire swyre is whittore then the swon,
   Ant feyrest may in toune.
      An hendi hap Ichabbe yhent!
      Ichot from hevene it is me sent;
      From alle wymmen mi love is lent      
         Ant lyht on Alysoun.


Ich am for wowyng al forwake,
Wery so water in wore,
Lest eny reve me my make
Ychabbe yyyrned yore.
Betere is tholien whyle sore
Then mournen evermore.
Geynest under gore,
   Herkne to my roun!
      An hendi hap Ichabbe yhent!
      Ichot from hevene it is me sent;
      From alle wymmen mi love is lent
         Ant lyht on Alysoun.

 
¶ Between March and April
When sprig begins to sprout,
The little bird fulfills her desire
To sing in her own words.
I live in love-longing
For the prettiest of all things:
She may bring me to bliss;
   I am in her control!
      A happy fate have I found!
      I know from heaven to me it's sent;   
      From all women my love has leapt
         And lit on Alysoun.


In hue her hair is fair enough,
Her brows brown, her eyes black;
With a lovely face she smiled at me,
With waist small and well made.
Unless she draws me to herself
To be her own companion,
I’ll have to give up living long
   And am destined to decline.
      A happy fate have I found!
      I know from heaven to me it’s sent;
      From all women my love has leapt
         And lit on Alysoun.


Nightly when I toss and wake
(For which my cheeks grow pale),
Lady, entirely for your sake,
I’m overtaken by longing!
In all the world there’s none so wise
That he may describe all her bounty:
Her neck is whiter than the swan,
   And she the fairest girl in town.
      A happy fate have I found!
      I know from heaven to me it's sent;   
      From all women my love has leapt
         And lit on Alysoun.


I am with wooing all worn out,
As weary as water by the shore,
Lest any rob me of my mate
For whom I long have yearned.
It’s better to feel pain awhile
Than grieve forevermore.
Most kind under skirt,
   Listen to my song!
      A happy fate have I found!
      I know from heaven to me it's sent;   
      From all women my love has leapt
         And lit on Alysoun.

 

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