In Erth It Es a Litill Thing

IN ERTH IT ES A LITILL THING: FOOTNOTE

1 Sir Penny causes [many people] to wear fine clothing / And many to go about on horseback

IN ERTH IT ES A LITILL THING: NOTES

25 till. See OED s.v. Till v.3 signification 1: "To draw, attract, persuade; to entice, allure, coax; to win over."

29 For he . . . trayl syde. "i.e. To wear low trailing gowns" (RHR). Trayl = "To walk with trailing garments" (RHR Glossary).

30 grene. The color green; but also, perhaps, "sexual passion." See MED (n.2).

33 grace. So RHR; MS gce.

34 lese . . . bind. Alludes to the pope's power to "bind and loose." See Matt. 16.19 and 18.18.

41 borgh and wed. Borgh (from OE borg) = surety, pledge, security-money; to borwe = as a pledge, as security. Wed (from OE wedd) = pledge, compact, as in Chaucer's Knight's Tale: "Lat hym be war! his nekke lith to wedde" (I.1218). The author of this lyric often writes in doublets, including some tags from the alliterative tradition. For example: "life and saul" (line 62), "get and wyn" (line 63), "lene and gyf" (line 73), "frith and felde" (line 98, compare line 75), "stede and stall" (line 86), "spere or schelde" (line 97).

44 thai. So RHR (þai); MS he.

52 fase. Scots spelling of foes.

67 hertes. RHR hert es, which may be the correct reading. In the manuscript the letters are crowded together, but there may be a break between hert and es.

81 made . . . softe. That is, he is seated at the place of honor.

92 gifen. So MS; RHR gyfen.

94 gré. The first degree, the prize, the victory, pre-eminence, top of the ladder, reward.

105 Nowther. So MS (nowþer); RHR nouþer.

108 assise. The court of Assizes determined legal matters of fact by means of assessors or jurymen (sisours). See Alford, Glossary, s.v. Sise, and The Simonie line 469 and note.
 
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In Erth It Es a Litill Thing

[Sir Penny]

(British Library MS Cotton Galba E.ix fols. 50v-51r)

   
   
   
   
   
   
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Incipit narracio de domino denario.
   
In erth it es a litill thing,
And regnes als a riche king,
   Whare he es lent in land.
Sir Peni es his name calde:
He makes both yong and alde
   Bow untill his hand.
   
Papes, kinges, and emperoures,
Bisschoppes, abbottes, and priowres,
   Person, prest, and knyght,
Dukes, erles, and ilk barowne,
To serve him er thai ful boune
   Both bi day and nyght.
   
Sir Peny chaunges mans mode,
And gers tham oft do doun thaire hode,               
   And to rise him ogayne.
Men honors him with grete reverence,
Makes ful mekell obedience
   Unto that litill swaine.
   
In kinges court es it no bote,
Ogaines Sir Peni forto mote,
   So mekill es he of myght;
He es so witty, and so strang,
That be it never so mekill wrang,
   He will mak it right.
   
   
With Peny may men wemen till,
Be thai never so strange of will,
   So oft may it be sene.
Lang with him will thai noght chide,
For he may ger tham trayl syde
   In gude skarlet and grene.
   
He may by both hevyn and hell,
And ilka thing that es to sell,
   In erth has he swilk grace;
He may lese, and he may bind,
The pouer er ay put behind,
   Whare he cumes in place.
   
When he bigines him to mell,
He makes meke that are was fell,
   And waik that bald has bene.
All the nedes ful sone er sped
Bath withowten borgh and wed
   Whare Peni gase bitwene.
   
The domes-men he mase so blind
That thai may noght the right find,
   Ne the suth to se.
Forto gif dome tham es ful lath,
Tharwith to make Sir Peni wrath,
   Ful dere with tham es he.
   
Thare strif was, Peni makes pese;
Of all angers he may relese
   In land whare he will lende.
Of fase may he mak frendes sad,
Of counsail thar tham never be rad
   That may have him to frende.
   
That sire es set on high dese,
And served with mani riche mese,
   At the high burde.
The more he es to men plenté,
The more yernid alway es he,
   And halden dere in horde.
   
He makes mani be forsworne,
And sum life and saul forlorne,
   Him to get and wyn.
Other god will thai none have
Bot that litil round knave
   Thaire bales forto blin.
   
On him halely thaire hertes sett,
Him forto luf will thai noght let,
   Nowther for gude ne ill.
All that he will in erth have done,
Ilka man grantes it ful sone,
   Right at his awin will.
   
He may both lene and gyf,
He may ger both sla and lif,
   Both by frith and fell.
   
Peni es a gude felaw;
Men welcums him in dede and saw,
   Cum he never so oft.
He es noght welkumd als a gest,
Bot evermore served with the best,
   And made at sit ful softe.
   
Whoso es sted in any nede,
With Sir Peni may thai spede,
   Howsoever bytide.
He that Sir Peni es with all
Sal have his will in stede and stall,
   When other er set byside.
   
Sir Peny gers in riche wede
Ful mani go and ride on stede, 1
   In this werldes wide.
In ilka gamin, and ilka play,
The maystri es gifen ay
   To Peny for his pride.
   
Sir Peny over-all gettes the gré,
Both in burgh and in ceté,
   In castell and in towre;
Withowten owther spere or schelde
Es he the best in frith or felde,
   And stalworthest in stowre.
   
In ilka place the suth es sene:
Sir Peni es over al bidene,
   Maister most in mode.
And all es als he will cumand,
Oganis his stevyn dar no man stand,
   Nowther by land ne flode.
   
Sir Peny mai ful mekill availe
To tham that has nede of cownsaill,
   Als sene es in assise.
He lenkithes life and saves fro dede,
Bot luf it noght over wele, I rede,
   For sin of coveityse.
   
If thou have happ tresore to win,
Delite the noght to mekill tharin,
   Ne nything thareof be;
Bot spend it als well as thou can,
So that thou luf both God and man
   In parfite charité.
   
   
God graunte us grace with hert and will
The gudes that he has gifen us till
   Well and wisely to spend;
And so our lives here forto lede
That we may have his blis to mede,
   Ever withowten end. Amen
   
   
is
reigns as
loaned
called
old
to
   
Popes
priors
Parson
each baron
are; ready
   
   
man's mood
causes them often to take off their hoods
again
   
considerable
little boy
   
is; remedy
Against; argue
great he is
   
much wrong
   
   
   
seduce women (plow); (see note)
strong
   
   
provide them with trailing gowns; (see note)
scarlet; green; (see note)
   
buy; heaven
each; is
such; (see note)
loose; (see note)
poor are always ignored
   
   
interfere
those who formerly were fierce
weak those who once were bold
are accomplished
Both; security; pledge; (see note)
goes
   
judges; makes
(see note)
truth see
To render judgment they are so reluctant
Thereby; angry
beloved; them
   
peace
relieve
dwell
enemies; faithful; (see note)
advice they need never be afraid
as a friend
   
dais
meals
table
abundant
sought after
And dearly held in hoard
   
   
some; soul to lose
   
   
   
Their miseries to end
   
wholly; (see note)
love; cease
Neither; good
   
Each
own
   
lend
cause; murder
woods and field
   
good fellow
i.e. word
   
   
   
honored; seat; (see note)
   
Whoever is beset by any need
prosper
Whatever happens
   
Shall; everywhere
When others are set aside (rejected)
   
causes; clothing
   
wide world
each pastime
victory is always given; (see note)
   
   
victory (prize); (see note)
town; city
tower
spear or shield
wood or field
battle
   
truth is seen
everywhere completely
   
is as; command
Against his voice
Neither; water; (see note)
   
help very much
advice
As seen in the court of assizes; (see note)
lengthens; death
don't love it too much, I advise
avarice
   
have the fortune
too much in it
niggardly
   
   
perfect
   
   
   
goods that he has given to us
   
   
as a reward
   
   


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