Art. 8, ABC a femmes

ART. 8, ABC A FEMMES: 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).

23 entame. Literally, “harms, injures,” and figuratively, “opens (a wound, heart, discussion, etc.).” The verb implies that the speaker’s heart, wounded by love and now open, thus urges him to write about the wrongs women suffer.

111 honme. “Man,” translated “Infant” because the ABC requires here a word beginning with I.

161–65 The coy, teasing language suggests double entendre; the speaker compliments a woman’s mouth and perhaps a different bodily bel doun, which he leaves unnamed. Compare this stanza to Annot and John (art. 28), lines 21–30.

192–98 The speaker refers to women suffering through childbirth and its mortal dangers, a theme he will increasingly develop in the remainder of the poem. At the end of this stanza, joye “descends” from women, in the way they give birth.

221 Tryacle. A medicinal elixir. Compare Annot and John (art. 28), line 32. It is here compared to breast milk.

235 bone aprise. “Highly praiseworthy, estimable, excellent.” For the sense of this phrase, used also at line 264, see MED, ap(p)rise (n.(2)), and ap(p)risen (v.), both derived from OF aprisier (v.).

254 Ysope. The herb hyssop, spelled in the translation “yssop” because the ABC requires here a word beginning with Y. See MED, isope (n.(1)).

313 Jesum. On this Latin accusative form in French verse, compare Prayer to the Three Kings (art. 108a), line 1.

322–27 The repetitions of pur nous, “on our behalf,” for God’s sacrifice, draw a likeness to the sacrifice women undergo in birthing humans, for which the same phrase is often repeated.


ART. 8, ABC A FEMMES: 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.


5 qe. So MS, Do, Ken. W3, Hol: que.
eit. So MS, W3, Hol, Ken. Do: est.

7 forbanys. So MS, Do, W3, Hol. Ken: forbayns.

23 femme. So MS, W3, Hol, Ken. Do: femmes.

24 enveysure. So MS, W3, Hol, Do. Ken: enuoysure.

25 femme. So MS, W3, Hol, Ken. Do: femmes.

39 E. So MS, W3, Hol, Ken. Do: omitted.

40 qe en. So MS, Do, Ken. W3, Hol: que en.

45 honme. So MS, W3, Hol, Ken. Do: homme.

52 porte qe. So MS, Do. W3, Hol, Ken: porte que.

56 Dyamaund. So MS, W3, Hol, Ken. Do: Dyamand.

58 sunt. So MS, W3, Hol, Ken. Do: sount.

79 E. So MS, W3, Hol, Ken. Do: omitted.
faucoun. So MS, W3, Hol, Do. Ken: faucon.

88 vyleynie. So MS, W3, Hol, Ken. Do: vileynie.

89 femme. So MS, W3, Hol, Ken. Do: femmes.

94 pust. So MS, W3, Hol, Do. Ken: oust.

98 qe. So MS, Do, Ken. W3, Hol: que.

99 N’out. So MS, W3, Hol, Do. Ken: n’eut.

102 sount. So W3, Hol, Do. MS, Ken: fount.

111 honme. So MS, W3, Ken. Hol, Do: homme.

124 fenme. So MS, W3, Hol, Ken. Do: femme.

127 soffry. So MS, Ken, Do. W3, Hol: suffry.

150 qe. So MS, Do, Ken. W3, Hol: que.

154 Qe. So MS, Do, Ken. W3, Hol: que.

160 honme. So MS, W3, Hol, Ken. Do: homme.

164 Dieu fist. So MS, Do, Ken. W3, Hol: diensist.

168 honme. So MS, W3, Ken. Hol, Do: homme.

171 L’anguisse. So MS, Ken. W3, Hol, Do: languisse.

177 pris. So MS, Hol, Do, Ken. W3: de pris.

178 autre. So MS, W3, Hol, Do. Ken: omitted.

182 The rhyme scheme indicates that this line is missing.

186 en ly. So MS, W3, Hol, Do. Ken: omitted.

213 um. So MS, W3, Hol, Do. Ken: un.

217 countrepleyder. So MS, W3, Hol, Do. Ken: countreplayder.

220 qe. So MS, Do, Ken. W3, Hol: que.

245 vyleynye. So MS, W3, Hol, Ken. Do: vyleynie.

274 se. So MS, W3, Hol, Do. Ken: sa.

279 ou. So MS, W3, Hol, Ken. Do: ne.

293 honme. So MS, W3, Ken. Do: homme.

312 chaunbre. So MS, W3, Hol, Ken. Do: chambre.

314 Qe. So MS, Do, Ken. W3, Hol: que.
en. So MS, W3, Ken. Hol: in. Do: ou.

316 qe. So MS, Do, Ken. W3, Hol: que.

 
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330   
Quy a la Dame de parays
Deyvent foy e leauté
Ore entendent a mes dis,
E je lur dirroy verité
Si nul y soit qe eit mespris
Vers femme par mavesté,
De corteysie soit forbanys
Ou hastivement soit redressé
      A dreyt,
   Quar il pert sa noreture
      Certes que femme deceit.

Dieu m’avaunce, par charité,
Auxi come j’ay mestier;
Je froi a femmes un a b c,
A l’escole si eles vueillent aler.
Celes que sunt lettree
As autres purront recorder
Coment eles sunt honoree
En dreyture, sauntz fauser
      De nulle.
   Ou va femme, la vet joie:
      Ele ne va pas soule.

Amour de femme moun cuer entame
De fere un poy enveysure
Pur sauver femme de tote blame.
Chescun devereit mettre cure
Pur l’amour de une dame
Que tot le mound en terre honure.
Que femme esclaundre e met en fame
Ne vint unqe de bone nature,
      A veyr dyre.
   Qui de femme dit vileynie
      Certes sa bouche empyre.

Beauté de femme passe rose,
Qi le vodera bien juger.
En mounde n’i a si douce chose
En leauté pur bien amer.
Mes, je certes bien dire le ose
E, si mestier soit, prover
Qe mavesté qe en faus repose
Fet sovent femme des oils lermer
      A tort.
   Qy femme dampne par tresoun,
      Certes sa noreture dort.

Chescun honme endreit, de sey,
Deit de femmes tot bien dyre,
E si vous dirroi bien purquei:
Pur une qu’est de tous mals myre,
De qui nasquy le haut rey
Qe de tot le mound est Syre.
Beneit soit cel arbre a fey
Qe tiel fruit porte qe ja n’enpyre
      Pur rien,
   Quar ele porta le noble enfaunt
      Repleni de tot bien.

Dyamaund ne autre piere
Ne sount si fyn en lur vertu
Come sunt femmes en lur manere.
D’amour joindre portent le glu,
E sount pleysauntz e debonere.
De un dart d’amour me ount feru.
Qe femme mespreyse en nulle manere
Il corouce la mere Jhesu
      E pecche.
   Qy a ce s’acostume
      Porte vyleyne tecche.

Eux ont le corps de bel entayle,
En tous poyntz tres bien assis.
Um ne vaudreit une mayle
Si femme ne fust, ce m’est avys.
Donque dussum nous, sauntz fayle,
De tiele chose tenir grant pris,
Quar il n’y a rien que a femme vayle
Desouz la joie de parays,
      En terre.
   Yl n’y a nulle terrene
      Que purra a tous plere.

Femmes portent les oyls veyrs,
E regardent come faucoun.
Mout doit estre en bon espeyr
Cely qe gist en lor prisoun,
Quar al matyn ne a seyr
Rien n’y avera si joye noun!
De totes bountés sunt yl heyr,
Fraunches e beles, par resoun,
      Come rose.
   Quy de eux dit si bien noun
      Sa vyleynie desclose.

Genterise en cuer de femme floryst,
E espanit come fet la flur.
Bené soit qui la le myst,
En lu de si grant honur.
Qy vileynie de femme dist
Mout pust il estre ensur
D’aver hounte sauntz respist
En un lu molt obscur,
      E peyne.
   Pus qe Dieu de femme nasquist,
      N’out unque nulle vyleyne.

Harpe n’autre menestrausie,
Ne oysel que chaunt u boys,
Ne sount si noble melodie
Come de femme oyr la vois.
Mout purrad mener sure vie
Que de femme puet aver choys,
Quar a tous biens femme plye,
Come fet la coudre que porte noys
      E foyl.
   Qui bealté plaunta en femme
      Molt chosy noble soyl.

Il n’y out unqe honme nee
Pus le temps Adam e Eve
Qe sout de femmes la bounté,
Ou comence, ne ou acheve.
A demostrer tiel segree
A moy serreit donqe chose greve;
Mes pus qe je l’ay comencee,
Avant dirroi ov parole sweve
      E fyne:
   Femmes dussoms tous honorer,
      Pur l’amour d’une meschyne.

Korteysie en femme git
En lu ou ad bel desport;
E cely en fenme char prist
Qe d’enfern nous dona resort;
E de femme cil nasquist,
Qe pur nous pus soffry la mort.
Qui a femme fet despit
Il me semble que il ad tort,
      En taunt:
   Quar en femme descendist
      Jesu le tot pussaunt.

L’amour du mound en femme habite
En un lu molt aimable.
Yl n’ad pas choysy lu petite,
Mes large, grant, e delitable.
Yl ne trovera que ly desheryte;
La puet il meyndre tot dis estable;
Son ostel est de tous maus quite!
Pur veyr le dy sauntz mot de fable
      Dedenz:
   Que mavesté quert en femme
      Certes il pert son tenz.

Marie que portastes le Salveour,
Vostre grace vous requer.
Me seiez ayde e socour,
Pur l’onour de femme sauver,
Qe portent fruyt de bel colour,
Noble, douce, ne mie amer:
Gentz qe sount de grant valour,
Qe le mound governent enter
      Par sen.
   Bené soit tiel arbre
      Qe tiel fruit porte! Amen.

Note de la russinole
Je tienk pur nient en temps de may
(E de chescun oysel que vole),
Encountre une que nomé ay,
Quar ele chaunte de bone escole,
E tient le cuer de honme en gay,
E porte le bek douce et mole.
Si mestier soit, nomer le say
      Par noun.
   Quant Dieu fist femme compaigne a honme,     
      Molt lur dona bel doun.

Ov femmes est honour enjoynt;
De bountés sunt racyne.
Pur chescun mal qu’en honme poynt,
Femme porte medicine.
Quant eles ount le mal enoynt,
L’anguisse va e tost fyne.
L’amour de cele Dieu nous doint
A cui le mound enclyne
      E prie.
   Al jour de le graunt jugement
      Que ele nous seit aye!

Paruenke pris e sauntz pier,
Sount femmes sur tote autre rien,
Quar nul ne savera devyser
La bounté de femmes, ce savoms bien.
Femmes portent le vis cler,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Dieu me doint a joie aver
La bele douce qu’est le myen
      Demeyne!
   Unque ne trovay en ly
      Fors bounté e cuer certeygne.

Quoyntement s’en vont armee
De grant bealté que pert dehors,
E dedenz de tot bounté
En ount repleny tot le cors.
Mout serroit donque grant pieté
Si tous tieles fuissent mors,
Que par nous ount grevement ploree,
E ce a molt grauntz tortz,
      Sovent.
   Nul ne savera devyser
      La joye que de eux descent.

Rose qu’est de bel colour
E d’esté porte l’enseygne
Ne gitte poynt si fyn odour
Come est de femme la douce aleyne.
Qui porreit donque, nuit e jour,
Aver une en son demeyne
Mout purreit vivre a grant honour
E en joie sauntz nulle peyne
      U mounde.
   Nul ne savera deviser
      La joie que de femme habounde.

Si tous l’espieces, en tenz de pees
Qe de tous terres venent par mer,
Fuissent lyés en un fees,
E um les devereit bien juger,
Il n’y a nul de tel relees
Come de femme un douz bayser.
Ce su je prest prover adés,
Qui me vodra countrepleyder
      En dyt.
   Car femme est la plus graciouse
      Chose qe unqe Dieu fyt.

Tryacle tres bien tryee
N’est poynt si fyn en sa termyne
Come est le lycour alosee
Quy femme porte en sa peytrine.
Bien doit tiele chose estre amee,
Que porte si noble medicine.
Meint foyz est anguissee,
Par nous, fenme en gysyne,
      Sanz bobance.
   Nul ne savera deviser
      Come sunt pur nous en grevaunce.

Volables ne sunt point de corage,
Quar eles se tienent en une assise.
A eux ne serra dit hountage,
Quar il sount de bone aprise.
Come plus est venu de haut parage,
Meinz s’en orguile en tote guyse.
Chescun qu’est de bon estage
Femmes honourt par soun devyse
      Tot dis.
   Honour en bone femme
      Ne puet estre mesassis.

Xristus, le fitz Marie,
Le tres noble enfaunt,
Defent qe vyleynye
Ne soit desorenavant
Dit, par nulle folye,
A nulle femme vivant.
Mes, chescun ayme s’amye
Come Dieu nous est amaunt
      En terre,
   Que sa douce face
      En ciel pussoms vere.

Ysope, fenoil, columbyn,
Flur de lyls alosee,
Rose que porte colour fyn,
Gyngivre racynee —
Deveroit crestre u chemyn
Ou femme marche soun pee.
Certes cely ad bon matyn
Que de femme est amee
      Saunz feyntyse,
   Quar unqe femme ne fust
      Si noun de bon aprise.

Zabulon, come je vous counte —
C’est un propre noun!
Cely que bone femme afrounte
Ja n’eit s’alme pardoun.
Fuisse je roy ou grant counte,
Ou de terre noble baroun,
Quy a femme ferreit hounte
Tost le mettroi en prisoun,
      Sanz tort!
   Si il ne se vodra amender,
      Ja n’avereit resort.

Douce amie, seiez certeigne
Que de Dieu serra maldit
Qe, de male parole e veyne,
Dient a femme hounte ou despyt.
Quar Dieu meismes, sauntz nulle peyne,
De une femme en terre nasquyt
La quele en ciel sa joye demeyne.
De ly servyr, ay grant delyt,
      A gree,
   Quar ele est de joie fonteyne,
      Source de amistee.

Place la ou femme siet,
En sale ov banc countre mur,
Totes vileynyes het.
Tant come porte fruit si pur
De totes arbres dount fueille chet,
Si est femme sovereyn flur.
Chescun honme, a mieux qu’il puet,
Sauve lur cors e lur honur
      De hounte,
   Quar totes choses avenauntes
      Bone femme sourmounte.

Cruelement s’en vont lyé
Par la grace de ly Puissaunt.
Si ne fust sa grant humilité,
Qe mostre a femme vertu grant,
Jamés femme de mere nee
Ne fust delyvres de un enfant.
Mont seofrent pur nostre amisté,
E meintefoiz vont suspirant
      Pur amour.
   Molt sovent lur nateresse
      Lur torne a grant dolour.

¶“Ave Maria,” devoms dire,
Pur totes femmes qe grosses sount;
Lur colour, pur nous, empire,
De sale en chaunbre quant eles vont.
Prioms Jesum Nostre Sire,
Qe en sa joie siet la a mount,
Que, si ly plest, lur veile myre
Les anguisses qe pur nous ount
      Molt sovent.
   Dieu sauve l’onour de femmes,
      E quant qe a eux apent.

¶“Amen” devoms trestous dire!
Benet seit le tresdouz mort
Que pur nous soffri Nostre Sire,
Que d’enfern nous dona resort.
E en terre soffry grant martyre
(Sauntz desert a graunt tort),
Saunz rancour e sanz ire.
Pur nous soffry peyne fort
      En croys.
   La joie de ciel nous ad graunté
      Meismes de sa voys.
Those who to heaven’s Lady
Owe faith and loyalty
May listen now to my words,
And I’ll tell them the truth.
If there’s anyone who’s done wrong
To women through wickedness,
May he be banished from courtesy
Or immediately be corrected
      Justly,
   For surely he betrays his breeding
      Whoever deceives a woman.

May God assist me, in charity,
As far as I have need;
I will make for women an ABC,
Should they wish to go to school.
Those who are literate
Can inform others
How they are honored
Properly, without falsifying
      Anything.
   Where woman goes, there goes joy:
      She goes not alone.

Amour for a woman incites my heart
To compose a little entertainment
To protect women from all blame.
Each of us ought to be careful
On account of the love of a lady
Whom everyone on earth honors.
He who slanders women and spreads rumors
Never came from a good origin,
      To tell the truth.
   He who speaks evil of women
      Surely debases his mouth.

Beauty of women exceeds the rose,
If one wishes to judge it properly.
On earth there’s nothing else so sweet
As loving well with faithfulness.
Moreover, I certainly dare to declare
And, if need be, to prove
That evil residing in falseness
Often makes women’s eyes weep
      For wrong.
   Whoever blames a woman deceitfully,
      His good breeding certainly sleeps.

Concerning himself, each man
Should speak very well of women,
And I’ll tell you exactly why:
Because of one who’s healer of all ills,
From whom was born the high king
Who is Lord of all the world.
Blessed be that tree of faith
That bears such fruit as never spoils
      At all,
   For she bore the noble child
      Endowed with all good.

Diamonds or other stones
Are not as pure in their virtue
As are women in their bearing.
To join in love they hold the glue,
And they are pleasing and meek.
They’ve struck me with a dart of love.
Whoever insults women in any way
Offends the mother of Jesus
      And sins.
   He who does this habitually
      Bears a vile stain.

Elegantly sculpted bodies they have,
Well-formed in every aspect.
Men wouldn’t be worth a farthing
If women didn’t exist, that’s what I think.
Therefore we should, without fail,
Hold such a thing in great value,
For there’s nothing so dear as women
Beneath the joy of heaven,
      On earth.
   There’s nothing else on earth
      That’s able to please everyone.

Females have sparkling eyes,
And they gaze like falcons.
He ought to have very high hopes
Whoever lies in their prison,
For by morning and evening
He’ll have nothing but joy!
Of all virtues they’re the heirs,
As noble and beautiful, indeed,
      As the rose.
   Who doesn’t speak well of them
      Shows his own baseness.

Gentility flourishes in woman’s heart,
And blooms as does the flower.
Blessed be he who set it there,
In a place of such high honor.
Whoever speaks vilely of women
Can be absolutely certain
To have shame without relief
In a very dark place,
      And pain.
   Ever since God was born of woman,
      She’s never had any baseness.

Harp nor any other instrument,
Nor bird singing in the woods,
Sounds so noble a melody
As one hears in a woman’s voice.
He might lead a very secure life
Whoever can take his choice of women,
For women incline toward all good things,
As does the hazel tree that bears nuts
      And leaves.
   He who planted beauty in women
      Chose a very noble soil.

Infant has there never been born
Since the time of Adam and Eve
Who understood women’s virtue,
Where it begins, nor where it ends.
To unlock such a secret
Would thus be a weighty thing for me;
But since I’ve begun to do it,
I’ll speak first with words soft
      And pure:
   We should all honor women,
      For the love of a virgin.

Kind courtesy lies in a woman
In the place where one has sweet delight;
And he who took flesh in a woman
Granted us release from hell;
And of a woman he was born,
Who later endured death for us.
Whoever has contempt for women
Is wrong, it seems to me,
      For that reason:
   For into a woman descended
      Jesus the almighty.

Love of the world dwells in a woman
In a very amiable place.
He has not chosen a small place,
But a generous, large, and delightful one.
He’ll not find that she disinherits him;
There can he remain always stable;
His lodging is free of all ills!
For I tell the truth without any fiction
      Therein:
   Whoever seeks evil in a woman
      Certainly wastes his time.

Mary who bore the Savior,
Your grace I pray of you.
Be for me an aid and a help,
In order to protect the honor of women,
Who bear fruit of a lovely hue,
Noble, sweet, and never bitter:
People who are of great worth,
Who govern the whole world
      With reason.
   Blessed be such a tree
      Who bears such fruit! Amen.

Note of the nightingale
I think but a trifle in Maytime
(And of each flying bird),
Beside the one whom I’ve named,
For she sings very cleverly,
And makes a man’s heart happy,
And bears a beak sweet and soft.
If it be necessary, I know how to name it
      By name.
   When God made women company to men,
      He gave them a very lovely gift.

Onto women is honor linked;
They are the root of virtues.
For each hurt that stings men,
Women bear the remedy.
When they have soothed the wound,
The pain goes away and quickly ends.
May God grant us the love of her
To whom the world bows
      And prays.
   On the day of great judgment
      May she be a help to us!

Prized as periwinkle and without equal,
Women are above all other things,
For no one knows how to describe
The virtue of women, this we know well.
Women bear shining faces,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
May God grant me the joy to have
The lovely sweet who is my own
      Possession!
   I’ve never found in her anything
      But virtue and a steadfast heart.

Quaintly elegant they go forth armed
With great beauty that shows outwardly,
And inwardly with perfect virtue
Have they filled the whole body.
It would then be a great pity
If all such were to die,
Who have on our behalf cried out terribly,
And this is excessively wrong,
      Often.
   No one can describe
      That joy that descends from them.

Rose that’s of a beauteous hue
And bears the mark of summer
Does not release so pure a fragrance
As does the sweet breath of women.
Whoever might then, night and day,
Have one in his own possession
Would be able to live in great honor
And in joy without any pain
      In world.
   No one can describe
      The joy that abounds in women.

Spices all, which in times of peace
Come from every land by sea,
Were they to be bound up in a sheaf,
And were one obliged to judge them justly,
There would be none of such delight
As a sweet kiss from a woman.
This I am always ready to prove,
No matter who wishes to plead against me
      In words.
   For woman is the most gracious
      Thing that God has ever made.

Treacle of the highest quality
Is not at all as pure in its season
As is the renowned liqueur
That a woman carries in her breast.
Well ought such a thing be loved,
Who carries so splendid a medicine.
Many times does woman suffer,
On behalf of us, in childbed,
      Without pride.
   No one can describe
      How they suffer for us.

Volatile are not at all their feelings,
For they hold themselves to one practice.
Disgraceful things are not to be said of them,
For they are entirely praiseworthy.
The more one is come of noble family,
The less one grows arrogant in any way.
Every man who’s of good standing
Honors women by his intent
      Always.
   Honor given a good woman
      Cannot be misapplied.

X, Christ, the son of Mary,
The very noble child,
Forbids that wickedness
Henceforth be
Uttered, for any madness,
To any living woman.
Instead, may each man love his beloved
As God is loving to us
      On earth,
   So that his sweet face
      In heaven we may see.

Yssop, fennel, columbine,
Renowned lily-flower,
Rose that bears a lovely hue,
Rooted ginger —
All must grow in the path
Where woman places her foot.
Surely that man has a good morning
Who is loved by a woman
      Without deceit,
   For there’s never been a woman
      Who wasn’t highly praiseworthy.

Zebulon, as I say to you —
That’s an appropriate name!
May he who offends a good woman
Never attain pardon for his soul.
If I were king or powerful count,
Or noble baron of the land,
Whoever treated a woman shamefully
I’d immediately place in prison,
      Justly!
   And if he would not reform himself,
      He would never have any reprieve.

Sweet friend, be assured
That he will be cursed by God
Who, with evil and empty words,
Speaks dishonor or contempt to women.
For God himself, without any pain,
Was on earth born of a woman
Who displays her joy in heaven.
In serving her, I take great pleasure,
      Willingly,
   For she’s the fountain of joy,
      The spring of love.

The place where a woman sits,
In hall with bench against wall,
Abhors all vile baseness.
Just as she bears the purest fruit
Of all trees from which leaves fall,
So is woman the supreme flower.
May each man, as best he can,
Protect their bodies and their honor
      From shame,
   For all pleasing things
      A good woman surpasses.

Women go forth cruelly bound
By the grace of the Almighty.
Were it not for their deep humility,
Which displays women’s fine excellence,
Never would a woman born of a mother
Be delivered of a child.
They suffer much for our love,
And many a time they sigh
      For love.
   Very often their kindness
      Leads them to profound grief.

¶ “Ave Maria,” we ought to say,
For all women who are big with child;
On our behalf, their color grows worse,
As they depart from hall to bedroom.
Let us pray to Jesus Our Lord,
Who in his joy sits there on high,
Who may, if he pleases, tend them as doctor
And the anguish they bear on our behalf
      Very often.
   May God protect women’s honor,
      And all that befits them.

¶ “Amen” we all ought to say!
Blessed be the precious death
That Our Lord suffered on our behalf,
Which released us from hell.
And on earth he suffered great torture
(Undeserved and unjust),
Without anger and without wrath.
On our behalf he suffered hard pain
      On cross.
   He granted us the joy of heaven
      With his own voice.




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Go To Art. 9, De l'Yver et de l'Esté, introduction
Go To Art. 9, De l'Yver et de l'Esté, text