Art. 75, Le jongleur d’Ely e le roi d’Angleterre

ART. 75, LE JONGLEUR D’ELY E LE ROI D’ANGLETERREE: 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); CT: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; CUL: Cambridge University Library (Cambridge); DOML: Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library; FDT: French Devotional Texts of the Middle Ages (Sinclair 1979); FDT-1French Devotional Texts of the Middle Ages, . . . First Supplement (Sinclair 1982); IMEV: The Index of Middle English Verse (Brown and Robbins); 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).

9 Par amour. Idiomatically, this phrase in this text means “if you please.”

17–18 The wordplay is on the double meaning of coment, “how?” and “like what?”

29–30 The wordplay is on similar words for where a place is situated: it “sits” (seer) or it “stands” (ester).

51 The word vet can mean either “go” or “do.”

58 seint Leonard. Saint Leonard of Noblac (d. ca. 559), the patron saint of horses.

69–72 The jongleur converts the word for “step” (pas) to a second meaning, “pass.”

73 Emble. The jongleur quibbles on how this word can mean “steal.”

84 seinz. The wordplay is on the meanings “sound, healthy” and “saintly, holy.”

87 Les noirs moynes. The Black Monks, that is, the Benedictines, who are satirized in The Order of Fair Ease (art. 86), lines 95–100.

163 pleder. This word means “begging” while it also carries the legal sense of pleading a formal case. See MED, pleden (v.).

370–85 On this concern for avoiding the blame of others, compare Urbain the Courteous (art. 79), lines 185–96.

375 The jongleur requests a contribution. The prose analogues include a section on how the king should respond to beggars.

389–90 Compare this advice with that found in Urbain the Courteous (art. 79), lines 227–32.


ART. 75, LE JONGLEUR D’ELY E LE ROI D’ANGLETERRE: TEXTUAL NOTES


ABBREVIATIONS: As: Aspin; : Böddeker; Br: Brook; BS: Bennett and Smithers; BZ: Brandl and Zippel; B13: Brown 1937; Dea: J. M. Dean; Do: Dove 1969; Fl: Flood; : Förster; Fu: Furnivall; HB: Hunt and Bliss; Kem: Kemble; Ken: Kennedy; Mi: Millett; Mo: Morris and Skeat; MS: MS Harley 2253; Mu1: H. J. R. Murray; Mu2: J. A. H. Murray; NB: Noomen and van den Boogard; Pa: Patterson; Rev: Revard 2005a; Ri: Ritson 1877; Ro: Robbins 1959; SP: Short and Pearcy; Si: Silverstein; St: Stemmler 1970; Tu: Turville-Petre 1989; Ul: Ulrich; W1: Wright 1839; W2: Wright 1841; W3: Wright 1842; WH: Wright and Halliwell.

13 seignur. So MS (ur abbreviated). Ul: seignour.

66 fere. So MS. Ul: feyre.

82 yl ne fust. So MS. Ul: yl fust.

110 Qe. So MS. Ul: Que.

162 pus. So MS (us abbreviated). Ul: puis.

169 avre. So MS. Ul: aver.

177 Ore. So MS. Ul: Or.

179 pur. So MS (ur abbreviated). Ul: par.

181 ore. So MS. Ul: or.

188 Datheheit. So MS (Daþeheit). Ul: Dascheit.

226 bocerel. So MS. Ul: boterel.

235 fust. So MS. Ul: fist.

251 Yl. So MS. Ul: Il.

254 dirra. So MS. Ul: dira.

308 Pur. So MS (ur abbreviated). Ul: Par.

316 hountouse. So MS. Ul: hontouse.

319 descorreit. So MS. Ul: destorreit.

321 dirrount. So MS. Ul: dirront.

324 pecchiés. So MS. Ul: pechies.

328 Quar. So MS. Ul: Qar.

337 pecchiés. So MS. Ul: pechies.

371 Qe. So MS. Ul: Que.

390 simple. So MS. Ul: estre simple.

 
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Art. 75, Le jongleur d’Ely e le roi d’Angleterre

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405
   ¶ Seygnours, escotez un petit,
Si orrez un tres bon desduit
De un menestral que passa la terre
Pur merveille e aventure quere.
Si vint de sa Loundres, en un pree
Encountra le Roy e sa meisnee.
Entour son col porta soun tabour,
Depeynt de or e riche atour.
   Le Roi demaund, “Par amour,
Ov qy este vous, sire Joglour?”
   E il respount sauntz pour,
“Sire, je su ov mon seignour.”
   “Quy est toun seignur?” fet le Roy.
   “Le baroun ma dame, par ma foy.”
   “Quy est ta dame, par amour?”
   “Sire, la femme mon seignour.”
   “Coment estes vous apellee?”
   “Sire, come cely qe m’ad levee.”
   “Cesti qe te leva, quel noun aveit?”
   “Itel come je, sire, tot dreit.”
   “Ou va tu?” “Je vois dela.”
   “Dont vien tu?” “Je vienke desa.”
   “Dont estez vous? Ditez saunz gyle!”
   “Sire, je su de nostre vile.”
   “Ou est vostre vile, daunz Jogler?”
   “Sire, entour le moster.”
   “Ou est le moster, bel amy?”
   “Sire, en la vile de Ely.”
   “Ou est Ely qy siet?”
   “Sire, sur l’ewe estiet.”
   “Quei est le ewe apelé, par amours?”
   “L’em ne l’apele pas, eynz vient tous jours
Volenters par son eyndegré,
Que ja n’estovera estre apelee.”
   “Tot ce savoi je bien avaunt.”
   “Donqe demandez com enfaunt.
A quei fere me demaundez
Chose qe vous meismes bien savez?”
   “Si m’aid Dieus,” fet le Roy,
“Uncore plus vous demaundroy.
Vendras tu ton roncyn a moy?”
   “Sire, plus volenters qe ne le dorroy.”
   “Pur combien le vendras tu?”
   “Pur taunt com il serra vendu.”
   “E pur combien le vendras?”
   “Pur taunt come tu me dorras.”
   “E pur combien le averoi?”
   “Pur taunt come je receveroy.”
   “Est il jevene?” “Oil, assez
Yl n’avoit unqe la barbe reez.”
   “Vet il bien, par amours?”
   “Oil, pis de nuit qe de jours.”
   “Mange il bien? Ce savez dire!”
   “Oil, certes, bel douz sire.
Yl mangereit plus un jour d’aveyne
Que vous ne frez partote la symeyne.”
   “Beit il bien, si Dieu vous gard?”
   “Oil, sire, par seint Leonard,
De ewe a une foiz plus bevera
Que vous ne frez taunt come la symeyne durra.”     
   “Court il bien e isnelement?”
   “Ce demaundez tot pur nient.
Je ne sai taunt poindre en la rywe
Qe la teste n’est devaunt la cowe!”
   “Amy, ne siet il point trere?”
   “Je ne vous menterei — a quei fere?
D’arke ne d’arblastre, ne siet il rien.
Je ne le vi unqe trere pus qu’il fust mien.”
   “Passe il bien le pas?”
   “Oil, ce n’est mie gas.
Vous ne troverez en nulle route
Buef ne vache que il doute.”
   “Emble il bien, com vous est avis?”
   “Yl ne fust unqe de larcyn pris.
Tant come ov moi ad esté,
Ne fust mes de larcyn prové.”
   “Amis, si Dieu vous espleit,
Je demaund si il porte dreit.”
   Fet le Jogler, “Si Deu me eyt,
Qy en son lit coché serreit
Plus suef avereit repos
Qe si yl ne fust mounté soun dors!”
   “Ces paroles,” dit le Roi, “sunt veynz!
Ore me dirrez si il est seinz.”
   “Seintz n’est il mie, ce sachez bien,
Car, si il fust seintz, ne fust pas mien.
Les noirs moynes le m’eussent toleyt
Pur mettre en fertre, come s’en serreit,
Auxi come autres seintz cors sunt
Partot le universe mount,
Pur pardoun receyvre e penance fere
A tote gent de la terre.”
   “Seinte Marie!” fet le Roy,
“Comment parles tu a moy!”
   "Je dy sauntz de gales e sorenz
E d’autre mals e tormentz,”
Fet le Jogler al Roy.
“Yl ne se pleynt unque a moy
De maladie qu’il out en sey
Ne a autre myr, par ma fey.”
   “Bels amis, ad il bons piés?”
   “Je ne mangay unqe, ce sachez,”
Ensi le Joglour respount,
“Pur ce, ne say je si bons sunt.”
   “Qe vous est, daun Rybaut?
Sunt il durs, si Dieu vous saut!”
   “Durs sunt il, verroiement,
Come je quide a mon escient:
Yl usereit plus fers un meis
Qe je ne feisse mettre en treis.”
   “Est il hardy e fort?”
   “Oil, il ne doute point la mort.
S’il fust en une grange soulement,
Yl ne dotereit, verroiement,
Ne ja n’avereit il poour
Ne de nuit ne de jour.”
   “Ditez moi s’il ad lange bone.”
   “Entre si e Leons-sur-Rone,
N’ad nulle meilour, come je quyt,
Car unqe mensonge ne dit,
Ne, si bien, noun de son veysyn
Ne dirreit, pur cent marcz d’or fyn,
Mes qu’il ly voleit apertement fere
Mavesté de chescune matere,
Ou larcyn par le pays,
Ou homicide, qe valt pys.
Sire Roy, ce sachez:
Par ly ne serrez acusez.”
   Fet le Roi, “Je ne prise pas vos dys!”
   “Ne je les vos, que vaillent pys.
Je di bourde pur fere gent ryre,
E je vous en countray, bel douz syre.”
   “Responez a droit, daunz Joglours.
De quele terre estez vous?”
   “Sire, estez vous tywlers ou potters
Qe si folement demaundez?
Purquoi demandez ‘de quele tere’?
Volez vous de moi potz fere?”
   “E qe diables avez vous
Que si responez a rebours?
Tiel ribaud ne oy je unqe mes!
Diez de quel manere tu es.”
   “Je vous dirroi, par seint Pere,
Volenters, de ma manere.
Nous sumes compaignouns plusours,
E de tiele manere sumes nous
Qe nous mangeroms plus volenters
La ou nous sumez priez,
E plus volenters e plus tost,
Qe la ou nous payoms nostre escot.
E bevoms plus volenters en seaunt
Qe nous ne fesoms en esteaunt,
E aprés manger qe devant,
Pleyn hanap, gros e grant,
E si vodroms assez aver,
Mes nous ne avoms cure de travyler.
E purroms molt bien deporter
D’aler matyn a mostier;
E ce est le nostre us
De gysyr longement en nos lys,
E a nonne sus lever,
E pus aler a manger.
Si, n’avoms cure de pleder,
Car il n’apent a nostre mester;
E nous vodroms estre totdis,
Si nous pussoms, en gyw e rys.
E si vodroms aprompter e prendre,
E, a nostre poer, malement rendre.
Nous n’avoms cure de avre
For qe nous eyoms assez a manger.
Plus despendroms a un digner
Q’en un mois purroms gayner,
E uncore volum plus
Quar orgoil est nostre us.
E a bele dames acoynter,
Ce apent a nostre mester.
Ore savez une partie
Coment amenoms nostre vie.
Plus ne pus, pur vileynye,
Counter de nostre rybaudie.
Sire Roi, ore me diez
Si vostre vie est bone assez?”
   Le Roy respoygnant ly dit,
“Certes, je preise molt petit
Vostre vie ou vostre manere,
Quar ele ne valt mie une piere!
Pur ce qe vous vivez en folie,
Datheheit qe preyse vostre vie!”
   “Sire Roi,” fet le Jogler,
“Quei valt sen ou saver?
Ataunt valt vivre en folye
Come en sen ou corteysie.
E tot vous mostroi par ensample
Qu’est si large e si aunple
E si pleyn de resoun
Qe um ne dirra si bien noun.
   Si vous estez simple e sage honm,
Vous estez tenuz pur feloun.
   Si vous parlez sovent e volenters,
Vous estes tenuz un janglers.
   Si vous eiez riant semblaunt,
Vous estez tenuz pur enfaunt.
   Si vous riez en veyn,
Vous estez tenuz pur vileyn.
   Si vous estes riche chivaler
E ne volez point torneyer,
Donqe dirra ascun honme,
‘Vous ne valez pas un purry poume!’
   Si vous estes hardy e pruytz
E hauntez places de desduytz:
‘Cesti cheitif ne siet nul bien —
Taunt despent qu’il n’a rien!’
   Si vous estes honme puissaunt
E seiez riche e manaunt,
Dount, dirra hom meyntenaunt,
‘De par le Deable ou ad il taunt!’
   S’il est povre e n’ad dount vyvre:
‘Cest cheitif tot ditz est yvre!’
   Si il vent sa tere pur ly ayder:
‘Quel diable ly vodera terre doner?
Yl siet despendre e nient gaigner!’
Chescun ly velt cheytyf clamer.
   S’il achate terres par la vyle,
Si lur estoit autrement dire:
‘Avez veu de cel mesel,
Come il resemble le bocerel
Qe unqe de terre ne fust pleyn?
Ensi est il de cel vileyn!’
   Si vous estes jeovene bachiler
E n’avez terre a gaygner,
E en compagnie volez aler
E la taverne haunter,
Vous troverez meint qe dirrat,
‘Ou trovera il ce qu’il ad?
Unqe ne fust gayné a dreit
Ce qu’il mangue e ce qu’il beit!’
   Si vous alez poi en compagnie
E taverne ne hauntez mye:
‘Cesti est escars, avers, e cheytif.
C’est damage qu’il est vyf!
Yl ne despendi unqe dener
S’il ne fust dolent al departer —
De son gayn Dieu li doint pert!
Yl n’out unqe la bourse overt!’
   Si vous estes vesti quoyntement,
Donqe dirrount la gent,
‘Avez veu de cel pautener,
Com il est orguillous e fier?
Ataunt usse je de or real,
Com il se tient valer fient de chyval!
Yl n’i averoit si riche honme, par Dé,
En Londres la riche cité!’
   Si vostre cote seit large e lee,
Si dirra ascun de soun gree,
‘Ce n’est mie cote de esté!’
Donqe dirra le premer,
‘Assez est bone — lessez ester! —
Yl resemble un mavois bover!’
   Si vostre teste soit despyné,
E soit haut estauncé:
‘C’est un moygne eschapé!’
   Si vostre teste seit plané,
E vos cheveus crestre lessé,
Yl serra meintenaunt dit,
‘C’est la manere de ypocrit!’
   Si vostre coyfe seit blanche e bele:
‘S’amie est une damoysele
Qe ly vodra plus coyfes trover
Qe ly rybaud pust decyrer!’
   Si ele est neyre a desresoun:
Yl est un fevre, par seint Symoun —
Veiez come est teint de charboun!’
   Si vous estes cointement chaucé,
E avez bons soudlers al pié,
Si serra ascun par delee
Que vous avera al dey mostree,
E a soun compaignoun est torné:
‘Ce n’est mie tot, pur Dé,
De estre si estroit chaucé.’
Dirra l’autre, ‘A noun Dé,
C’est pur orgoil e fierté
Qe li est el cuer entree.’
   Si vous estes largement chaucé,
E avez botes feutré
E de une pane envolupé,
Donqe dirra ascun de gree,
‘Beneit soit le moigne de Dee
Qe ces veyle botes, par charité,
Ad a cesti cheytyf doné!’
   E si vous les femmes amez
E ov eux sovent parlez,
E lowés ou honorez
Ou sovent revysitez,
Ou si vous mostrez par semblaunt
Qe a eux estes bien vueyllaunt,
Donqe dirra ascun pautener,
‘Veiez cesti mavois holer —
Come il siet son mester! —
De son affere bien mostrer!’
   Si vous ne les volez regarder
Ne volenters ov eux parler,
Si averount mensounge trové
Qe vous estes descoillé.
   Auxi, di je, par dela,
Come l’ensaunple gist par desa:
Si ascune dame bele,
Ou bien norrie damoysele,
Pur sa nateresse e bounté,
De nulli seit privee,
Ou si ele taunt ne quant
Face a nully bel semblaunt,
Ou si ele vueille juer:
‘Cele est femme de mester
E de pute manere,
E a gayner trop legere!’
   Si ele soit auqe hountouse
E de juer daungerouse:
‘Veiez come ele se tient souche —
Bure ne descorreit en sa bouche!’
Coment qe ele ameyne sa vie,
Rybaudz en dirrount vileynye.
   E a Dieu volez prier
E a Dieu volez prier
De vos pecchiés remissioun,
E de fere satisfaccioun,
Si dirra ascun qe vous regart:
‘Ja de vos prieres n’ey je part —
Quar vous n’estes qe un papelart
Vos prieres serrount oys tart.’
   E si vous alez par le mostrer,
E ne volez point entrer,
Donqe dirra vostre veysyn,
‘Cesti ne vaut plus qe un mastyn!
Si Dieu me doint de son bien —
Cesti ne valt plus qe un chien!’
   Si vous volenters volez juner
Pur vos pecchiés amender,
Dount dirra ly maloré,
‘Ov a deables ad il esté —
Yl ad soun pere ou mere tué
Ou ascun de soun parentee,
Ou femme, file, ou enfaunt!
Pur ce qu’il june taunt!’
   Si vous sovent ne junez,
Donqe dirrount malorez,
‘Cesti maveis chien recreaunt
Ne puet juner taunt ne quant
Le bon vendredy ahorree!
Prendreit il bien charité,
Trestot par soun eyndegré —
Ja de prestre ne querreit congé.’
   Si je su mesgre, bels douz cher:
‘Mort est de faym! Il n’a qe manger!’
   E si je su gros e gras,
Si me dirra ascun en cas:
‘Dieu, come cesti dorreit graunt flaut
En une longayne s’il cheit de haut!’
   Si j’ay long nees, asque croku,
Tost dirrount, ‘C’est un bescu.’
   Si j’ay court nees tot en desus,
Um dirrat, ‘C’est un camus.’
   Si j’ay la barbe long pendaunt:
‘Est cesti chevre ou pelrynaunt?’
   E si je n’ay barbe, ‘Par seint Michel,
Cesti n’est mie madle, mes femmel!’
   E si je su long e graunt,
Je serroi apelé geaunt.
   E si petitz sei de estat,
Serroi apelé naym e mat.
   Dieu, come le siecle est maloré —
Qe nul puet vivre sanz estre blamé!
Plus y avereit a counter,
E assez plus a demaunder,
Mes je ne vueil estudier
Si vous ne me volez del vostre doner.
Car ensi va de tote rienz —
E des mals e des bienz —
Quar nulle rien ne purroi fere
Qe um ne trovera la countrere.”
   Donqe dit le Roi, “Verroiement,
Vous dites voir, a mien asscient.
Quei me saverez vous counsiler
Coment me pus countener
E sauntz blame me garder,
Que um ne me vueille mesparler?”
   Respound le Joglour al Roy,
“Sire, moun counsail vous dirroy:
Si vous vostre estat vueillez bien garder,
Ne devez trop encrueler
Ne trop simple vers ta gent,
Mes vous portez meenement.
Quar vos meymes savez bien
Qe nul trop valt rien.
Qy par mesure tote ryen fra
Ja prudhome ne ly blamera.
Par mesure, meenement,
Come est escrit apertement,
E le latyn est ensi:
‘Medium tenuere beati.’”
   Qy ceste trufle velt entendre
Auke de sen purra aprendre,
Car um puet oyr sovent
Un fol parler sagement.
Sage est qe parle sagement;
Fol, come parle folement.
   ¶ Lords, listen a little while,
And you’ll hear a good diversion
About a minstrel who traversed the land
Seeking marvels and wonders.
When he came to London, in a meadow
He met the King and his retinue.
Around his neck he wore his drum,
Painted with gold and rich ornament.
   The King asks, “If you please,
Whose man are you, Lord Jongleur?”
   And he answers fearlessly,
“Lord, I am my lord’s.”
   “Who’s your lord?” says the King.
   “The husband of my lady, by my faith.”
   “Who’s your lady, if you please?”
   “Lord, the wife of my lord.”
   “How are you called?”
   “Lord, like he who raised me.”
   “He who raised you, what name did he have?”
   “Such as I, lord, quite properly.”
   “Where are you going?” “I go over there.”
   "Where do you come from?” “I come from here.”
   “From where are you? Speak without guile!”
   “Lord, I’m from our town.”
   “Where’s your town, Master Jongleur?”
   “Lord, near the church.”
   “Where’s the church, good friend?”
   “Lord, in the town of Ely.”
   “Where is Ely situated?”
   “Lord, upon the water it stands.”
   “What’s the water called, if you please?”
   “One doesn’t call it, but it always comes
Gladly of its own free will,
So that it need never be called.”
   “I knew all this well before.”
   “Then you ask like a child.
To what purpose do you ask me
Things you already understand?”
   “God help me,” says the King,
“Still more will I ask you.
Will you sell your horse to me?”
   “Lord, more gladly than I’d give it.”
   “For how much will you sell it?”
   “For as much as it’ll be sold.”
   “And for how much will you sell it?”
   “For as much as you’ll give me.”
   “And for how much will I have it?”
   “For as much as I’ll receive.”
   “Is it young?” “Yes, young enough
He’s never had his beard shaved.”
   “Does he do well, if you please?”
   “Yes, worse by night than by day.”
   “Does he eat well? Say what you know!”
   “Yes, certainly, fair sweet lord.
He’d eat more oats in a day
Than you’ll have in a whole week.”
   “Does he drink well also, God protect you?”
   “Yes, lord, by Saint Leonard,
He’ll drink more water at one time
Than you’ll do as long as a week lasts.”
   “Does he run well and quickly?”
   “You ask all this for nothing.
I can’t spur so vigorously on the road
That his head not be in front of his tail!”
   “Friend, is he able to draw at all?”
   “I’ll not lie to you — for what purpose?
Of bows and of crossbows, he knows nothing.
I’ve never seen him draw since he’s been mine.”
   “Does he step his pace well?”
   “Yes, he’s not at all foolish.
You won’t find along any route
Bull or cow that he fears.”
   “Does he amble well, in your opinion?”
   “He’s never been seized for theft —
For as long as he’s been with me,
He’s never been convicted of theft.”
   “Friend, God care for you,
I ask if he carries comfortably.”
   Says the Jongleur, “God help me,
He who’d lie asleep in his bed
Would have a softer rest
Than were he mounted on his back!”
   “These words,” says the King, “are empty!
Now tell me if he be healthy.”
   “He’s not at all saintly, as you well know,
For, were he a saint, he’d not be mine.
The Black Monks would’ve taken him from me
To put him in a shrine, as would be sensible,
Just as other saints’ bodies are
Throughout the entire world,
So that all the people of earth
May receive pardon and do penance.”
   “Saint Mary!” says the King,
“How you speak to me!"
   "I speak without jests or games
Or other malice or evils,”
Says the Jongleur to the King.
“He has never complained to me
Of sickness that he had in him
Nor to any doctor, by my faith.”
   “Dear friend, has he good feet?”
   I’ve never eaten them, you know,”
Thus the Jongleur answers,
“As a result, I don’t know if they’re good.”
   “What’s the matter with you, Master Scoundrel?     
Are they hard, God save you?”
   “Hard they are, truly,
As I know by my experience:
He uses up more iron in a month
Than I could put on in three.”
   “Is he hardy and strong?”
   “Yes, he’s not at all afraid of death.
If he were in a barn alone,
He wouldn’t be afraid, truly,
Nor would he ever have fear
By night or day.”
   “Tell me if he has a good tongue.”
   “Between here and Lyons-sur-Rhone
There’s none better, as I believe,
Since he never tells a lie,
Nor would he speak of any of his neighbors,
Either, for a hundred marks of fine gold,
Unless he wished openly to do
Wickedness of some kind,
Or theft in the countryside,
Or murder, which is worse.
Lord King, know this:
By him you’ll never be accused.”
   Says the King, “I don’t value your words!”
   “Nor I yours, which are worth less.
I tell jokes to make people laugh,
And I’ll tell you some, dear sweet lord.”
   “Answer properly, Master Jongleur.
Of what land are you?”
   “Lord, are you a tiler or a potter
That you ask so foolishly?
Why do you ask ‘of what earth’?
Do you want to make a pot out of me?”
   “And what devils possess you
That you answer backwards?
I’ve never heard such a scoundrel!
Explain in what way you live.”
   “I’ll tell you, by Saint Peter,
About my manner of life, freely.
We’re many companions,
And of such ways we are
That we’ll eat more freely
There where we’re invited,
And more gladly and more quickly,
Than where we pay our share.
And we drink more freely sitting
Than we do standing,
And [more] after eating than before,
A full goblet, thick and large.
And also we want to have enough,
Although we don’t care for working.
And we can very well abstain from
Going in the morning to church;
And it’s our custom
To lie a long time in our beds,
And to get up at noon,
And then go to eat.
Also, we don’t care for begging,
Because it doesn’t befit our office;
And we want to be always,
If we can, in play and laughter.
And we also want to borrow and take,
And, as we’re able, give bad return.
We don’t care for working
So long as we have enough to eat.
We spend more on a meal
Than we’re able to earn in a month,
And we want still more
Because pride is our practice.
And to know lovely ladies,
That befits our office.
Now you know a portion
Of how we lead our lives.
I cannot, for rudeness,
Explain more of our ribaldry.
Lord King, now tell me
Whether your life is as good?”
   The King in response says to him,
“Indeed, I value very little
Your life and your manner,
For it’s not worth even a stone!
Because you live in folly,
Cursed be he who values your life!”
   “Lord King,” says the Jongleur,
“What’s knowledge or wisdom worth?
It’s as valuable to live in folly
As in good sense or courtliness.
And I’ll show you everything by example
So broad and so wide
And so full of reason
That no one shall speak against it.
   If you’re a man humble and wise,
You’re considered a felon.
   If you speak often and gladly,
You’re considered a chatterer.
   If you have a smiling face,
You’re considered a child.
   If you laugh at everything,
You’re considered a yokel.
   If you’re a powerful knight
And you don’t at all wish to joust,
Then some man will say,
‘You aren’t worth a rotten apple!’
   If you’re brave and bold
And frequent places of pleasure:
‘This wretch knows nothing good —
He spends so much, he’s got nothing!’
   If you’re a powerful man
And are rich and influential,
Of this, a man will readily say,
‘It’s from the Devil that he’s got so much!’
   If he’s poor and doesn’t have means to live:
‘This wretch is always drunk!’
   If he sells his land to help himself:
‘What devil wanted to give land to him?
He knows how to spend and earns nothing!’
Everyone wants to call him a wretch.
   If he buys lands by the town,
Then it’s their custom to say the opposite:
‘Have you seen this leper,
How he looks like a little goat
Who’s never had his fill of land?
That’s how it is with this peasant!’
   If you’re a young man
And don’t have lands to cultivate,
And want to go out with friends
And frequent the tavern,
You’ll find many who’ll say,
‘Where did he find what he has?
He never earned honestly
What he eats and what he drinks!’
   If you seldom go out with friends
And don’t at all frequent the tavern:
This one’s stingy, miserly, and wretched.
It’s a pity that he’s alive!
He’s never spent a penny
That he wasn’t sad to part with —
God give him loss of his profit!
He never has an open purse!’
   If you’re dressed elegantly,
Then people will say,
‘Have you seen this rascal,
How he’s haughty and proud?
For as much royal gold as I spend,
He holds it worth horse dung!
There isn’t so wealthy a man, by God,
In the wealthy city of London!’
   If your tunic is broad and wide,
Then someone will say of his own accord,
‘It’s not at all a summer coat!’
Then the first one will say,
‘It’s good enough — let him be! —
He looks like a wicked herdsman!’
   If your head is spiked,
And its hair be cut high:
‘It’s an escaped monk!’
   If your head is flat,
And your hair stops growing,
It will immediately be said,
‘It’s the look of a hypocrite!’
   If your hood is white and handsome:
‘His friend is a young lady
Who wants him to find more hoods
Than the scoundrel can imagine!’
   If it’s extremely black:
‘He's a blacksmith, by Saint Simon —
See how he’s stained with coal!’
   If you’re elegantly shod,
And have good shoes on your feet,
Then there’ll be somebody nearby
Who’ll have pointed at you,
And turned to his companion:
‘It’s not everything, by God,
To be so tightly shod.’
The other will say, ‘In God’s name,
It’s on account of haughtiness and pride
That’s entered his heart.’
   If you’re generously shod,
And have boots felted
And covered in a fur lining,
Then someone will say of his own accord,
‘Blessed be the monk of God
Who these old boots, out of charity,
Gave to this wretch!’
   And if you love women
And often speak with them,
And praise or honor [them]
Or often exchange visits,
Or if you show by your countenance
That you desire them greatly,
Then some rascal will say,
‘Look at this wicked dissolute —
How he knows his trade! —
Displaying openly his business!’
   If you don’t want to look at them
Or speak freely with them,
Then they’ll have invented the lie
That you’re castrated.
   Next, I say, in contrast,
As the example lies the other way:
If a certain lovely lady,
Or well-bred maiden,
On account of her upbringing or goodness,
Should be private with anyone,
Or if she in any way at all
Casts a fair glance at someone,
Or should she wish to play:
‘That one's a prostitute
And a kind of whore,
And too easy to win!’
   If she’s at all bashful
And reluctant to play:
‘Look how she holds aloof —
Butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth!’
No matter how she leads her life,
Scoundrels will say filth about her.
   If you go gladly to church,
And you wish to pray to God
For remission of your sins,
And do satisfaction,
Then someone will say of you:
‘I’ll have no part of your prayers —
Because you’re just a hypocrite,
Your prayers will be heard late.’
   And if you go by the church
And don’t at all wish to go in,
Then your neighbor will say,
‘This one’s not worth a hound!
God grant me his goodness,
This one’s not worth a dog!’
   If you gladly wish to fast
To make amends for your sins,
Then the wicked will say,
‘He’s been with a devil —
He’s killed his father or mother
Or one of his relatives,
Or his wife, daughter, or child!
It’s for this that he fasts so much!’
   If you don’t fast often,
Then the wicked ones will say,
‘This evil, cowardly dog
Can’t fast in any way at all
On the blessed Good Friday!
He’d certainly accept charity,
Fully of his own free will —
He’d never seek a priest’s permission.’
   If I’m thin, fair sweet dear:
‘He’s dead of hunger! He needs to eat!’
   And if I am large and fat,
Then someone will say to me in that case:
‘God, how this one would spew a great flood
In a privy if he should shit from above!’
   If I have a long nose, rather crooked,
All will say, ‘It’s a beak.’
   If I have a nose all short on top,
They’ll say, ‘It’s a pug nose.’
   If I have a long hanging beard:
‘Is this one a goat or a pilgrim?’
   And if I don’t have a beard, ‘By Saint Michael,
This one isn’t male at all, but female!’
   And if I’m tall and big,
I’ll be called a giant.
   And if I’m short of stature,
I’ll be called a dwarf and low.
   God, how the world is accursed —
That none may live without being blamed!
There would be more to tell,
And plenty more to ask,
But I don’t want to belabor the matter
Lest you decide not to give me of your means.
For thus go all things —
Both the bad and the good —
For I can’t do anything
Without someone finding the opposite.”
   Then says the King, “In truth,
You tell the truth, by my experience.
Can you advise me
How I ought to conduct myself
And govern myself without blame,
Such that none will speak ill of me?”
   Answers the Jongleur to the King,
“Lord, I’ll give you my advice:
If you want to protect well your estate,
You ought to be neither too cruel
Nor too familiar toward the people,
But bear yourself with moderation.
For you yourself know well
That excess is worth nothing.
He who does all in accordance with measure
Shall never be blamed by a worthy man.
[Act] in accordance with measure, moderately,
As it is clearly written,
And the Latin is thus:
‘Blessed be he who holds the middle way.’”
   He who wants to heed this trifle
Could learn some sense,
For one may often hear
A fool speak wisely.
Wise is he who speaks wisely;
Foolish, when he speaks foolishly.








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Go To Art. 75a, Les trois dames qui troverunt un vit, introduction
Go To Art. 75a, Les trois dames qui troverunt un vit, text