Art. 75a, Les trois dames qui troverunt un vit

ART. 75A, LES TROIS DAMES QUI TROVERUNT UN VIT: 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).

1–2 Nolan, p. 306, notes that these two lines are borrowed from Marie de France’s lai Yonec, lines 1–2.

44 amour. Means both “bias” and “love-longing.” The ladies assume that the abbess, vowed to celibacy, will be wholly impartial.

85 garda. “Looked upon, gazed.” Compare the word’s recurrence in line 94.

89 bel plet. The term, “just decision,” reinforces the situation with legal language.


ART. 75A, LES TROIS DAMES QUI TROVERUNT UN VIT: 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.

1 que. So MS, Ken, NB, SP. Rev: qe.

10 Ja. So MS, NB, SP, Rev. Ken: omitted.

13 garda. So MS, NB, SP, Rev. Ken: garder.

17 meyntenaunt. So MS, NB, SP, Rev. Ken: mayntenaunt.

25 trovour. So MS, Ken, SB, Rev. SP: trover.
myen. So MS, NB, SP, Rev. Ken: meyen.

60 il. So MS, Ken, SB, Rev. SP: omitted.

78 dreytures. So MS. Ken, NB, SP, Rev: droytures.

83 erroument. So MS, Rev. Ken, NB: erronment. SP: erraument.

90 Quei. So MS, Ken, SB, Rev. SP: Que celes.
il. So MS, Ken, SB, Rev. SP: omitted.

 
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Art. 75a, Les trois dames qui troverunt un vit

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   ¶ Puis que de fabler ay comencé,
Ja n’y ert, pur moun travail, lessé.
De Trois Dames comenceroy —
Assez brievement le counteroy.
Que al Mount-Seint-Michel aloient
En pelrynage come vowé avoyent.
Ne voderount plus demorer
De lur promesse aquiter,
E de ce, fesoient qe senees.
   Ja avoient alé deus jornees
E l’endemein fust le tierce,
Quant vint a l’houre de tierce
La une garda en un senter
Si trova un vit, gros e plener,
Envolupé en un drapel.
N’i out descovert qe le musel.
La dame le prist meyntenaunt
E de la trovure fust joyaunt,
Quar ele savoit quei ce estoit.
E cele que aprés aloit
Dit que ele avereit part.
   “Certes,” fet ele, “vous le averez tart.
Ja part de ce ne averez!”
   “Coment deble estes! Vous devez!
Je dis al trovour, demy myen!
E si je ne le ey, ce n’est mie bien!
Dreit est qe je part eye,
Quar je su vostre compaigne verreie.
Vous savez bien, si Dieu m’enjoie,
Qe nous sumes en ceste voie
Compaignes e bones amyes.”
   “Yl ne me chaut voir qe tu dies —
Ja n’averez part ne prow!”
   L’autre ne le tient pas a gyw,
Mes jure soun chief qe si avera
Quaunqe juggé ly serra.
   “Par foi,” fet l’autre, “Il me plest.
Dite moi donqe qy ce est
Qy dorra le jugement,
E je le grant bonement.”
   “Devant nous est une mesone de noneynz,     
Mout seinte dames e chapeleynz
Que Dieu servent nuit e jour.
La abbesse, pur nul amour,
Ne lerra juger verité.”
   “E je le grant, de par Dé.”
   Tant ount erree qe eles sunt venues —
Ce m’est avis — al chief des rywes,
La ou l’abbesse manoit.
Tant ount alé, tort e droit,
Qe en l’abbeye sunt entreez,
E meyntenant ount demaundez
Noveles de la abbesse.
   E um lur dit, “Ele oyt sa messe.
Si vous volez a ly parler,
Yl vous covient demorer.”
   Eles dient que si frount.
Atant assises se sount
En le parlour sur un desgree.
Mes il ne urent qe poi estee
Quant venir virent la abbesse —
Ensemble ov ly, la prioresse,
D’autre part, la celerere.
   E cele qe estoit premere
Se leve e dit meyntenaunt:
“Dame, bien seiez vous viegnaunt!
Veiez si une moie compaigne
Qe doner ma part ne me deygne
De une chose qe ele ad trové.
Pur ce, qe ele ne m’en a donee
Ma part, come fere deveroit.”
E si counte tot le droit
Come la chose fust trovee.
   E sur ly est le jugement tornee,
E dit la abbesse meyntenaunt:
“Seit la chose mys avaunt,
E nous le droit jugeroms
E vos dreytures a vous rendroms.”
   “Par foi,” fet l’autre, “je le graunt.
Compaygne, metez le vyt avaunt.
L’abbesse dirra verité.”
   E cele qe le vit out trovee
Le treyst erroument de son seyn
E le mist devant un noneyn,
Qe mout le garda de bon oyl.
   De l’abbesse, counter voil
Qe molt le regarda volenters.
Granz suspirs fist, longz e enters,
Pus dit aprés, “Oiez bel plet:
Quei vueillent il, qe ore seit fet.
Le jugement se prent pur nous.
C’est, de nostre porte, le verrous
Qe l’autre jour fust adyrrez.
Je comaund qu’il soit bien gardez
Come ce qu’est nostre chose demeyne.
Alez,” fet ele, “dame Eleyne,
Qe estes pruz e bien legere,
Je comaund qu’il soit mis arere
La dount il fust ostez e pris.”
   E ma dame Eleyne ad pris
Le vit, qe fust long e grant,
E sachez qe ele meyntenaunt
Le prist e gitta en sa maunche,
Que molt estoit delgé e blaunche.
   Les dames qe la chose troverent,
Quant le jugement entenderent,
Molt sunt dolent e irassuz
Qe la chose est issi perduz.
   E molt marris s’en partoient
E l’abbesse molt maldisoient,
E distrent qe jamés n’assenterount
Ne jugement demaunderount
De tiele chose aprester,
Ne en autre manere juger.
Mes cele qe la trovera
A tous jours la tendra
Come relyke molt desirree
E de totes dames honoree.
   ¶ Since I’ve begun telling idle tales,
Surely, on account of my effort, I won’t quit.
I’ll begin with Three Ladies
I’ll recount it quite briefly.
They were going to Mont-Saint-Michel
On a pilgrimage as they had vowed.
They didn’t want to delay any longer
In keeping their promise,
And concerning this, they were acting sensibly.
   They had already traveled two days
And the next day was the third,
When it happened at the hour of terce
That one looked down on a path
And found a prick, thick and swollen,
Wrapped in a piece of cloth.
Only the tip was uncovered.
The lady picked it up at once
And was delighted by her find,
For she knew what it was.
And the one who walked behind her
Said that she would have a part.
   “Indeed,” she says, “you’ll have it later.
You’ll never have part of this one!”
   “You’re such a devil! You have to!
I say to the finder, it’s half mine!
And if I don’t have it, that’s not fair at all!
It’s only fair that I have a part,
For I’m your true companion.
You well know, God bring me joy,
That we’re on this journey
As companions and good friends.”
   “I really don’t care what you say —
You’ll never have any part at all!”
   The other doesn’t think it a game,
But swears on her head that she’ll have
Whatever will be judged hers.
   “By my faith,” says the other, “that pleases me.
Tell me then who it is
Who ought to give judgment,
And I grant it graciously.”
   “In front of us is a house of nuns,
Very holy ladies and chaplains
Who serve God night and day.
The abbess, having no bias,
Will never fail to judge truth.”
   “I agree to it, on God’s part.”
   They’ve traveled so far that they’ve arrived —
It’s my opinion — at the end of the road,
There where the abbess lived.
They’ve gone so far, wrong and right,
That they’ve entered the abbey,
And now they’ve asked for
Tidings of the abbess.
   And one tells them, “She’s hearing Mass.
If you wish to speak with her,
It’s necessary that you wait.”
   They say that they’ll do so,
And so they’re seated
On a bench in the parlor.
But they’ve been there only a little while
When they saw the abbess coming —
Together with her, the prioress,
And beside her, the cellaress.
   And the one who was in front
Gets up and says at once:
“Lady, how welcome is your arrival!
See here one of my companions
Who doesn’t deign to give me my part
Of a thing she’s found.
As a result, she hasn’t given to me
My part, as she should do.”
And here she tells exactly
How the thing was found.
   Thus the judgment is turned over to her,
And the abbess says at once:
“Let the thing be displayed,
And we’ll judge the rightful owner
And render to you your rights.”
   “By my faith,” says the other, “I agree to it.
Companion, display the prick.
The abbess will speak the truth.”
   And the one who had found the prick
Drew it promptly from her breast
And put it in front of a nun,
Who gazed at it with much favor.
   Regarding the abbess, I wish to report
That she looked at it very gladly.
She heaves great sighs, long and full,
Then says next, “Hear a just decision,
What they demand, it shall now be done.
The judgment falls to us.
It is, of our door, the bolt
Which was lost the other day.
I order that it be well guarded
As that which is our property.
Go,” she says, “Lady Helen,
You who are prudent and gentle,
I command that it be put back
There where it was lifted off and taken.”
   And my Lady Helen has taken
The prick, which was long and huge,
And know that she quickly
Took it and thrust it into her sleeve,
Which was slender and white.
   The ladies who found the thing,
When they heard the judgment,
Are very upset and angry
That the thing is here lost.
   Thus they departed very unhappy
And bitterly cursed the abbess,
And said that they’d never again
Consent to or demand a judgment
To share such a thing,
Or in any way express an opinion.
But whoever shall find it
Shall always hold onto it
As a relic much desired
And honored by all women.
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