Art. 80, Talent me prent de rymer e de geste fere

ART. 80, TALENT ME PRENT DE RYMER E DE GESTE FERE: 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 Talent. “Survival instinct, need, desperation.” See MED, talent (n.), sense 3.

91 x lywes ou deus. “Ten leagues or twenty.” The phrase ou deus literally means “or two,” but it seems to mean in this context “ten leagues or twice that.”


ART. 80, TALENT ME PRENT DE RYMER E DE GESTE FERE: 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.

4 que. So MS, W1, Ri. As: qe.

13 pernent. So MS, W1, As. Ri: paruent.

21 deseynes. So MS, As. W1, Ri: doseynes.
n’eit. So MS, W1, As. Ri: neit.

29 maveis. So MS, W1, Ri. As: mavois.

36 Si il. So W1, As. MS: Sil il. Ri: S’il.

37 aprendroy. So W1, Ri, As. MS: apredroy.

38 l’eschyne. So MS, W1, As. Ri: leschyne.

40 tondroy. MS, W1, Ri. As: toudroy.

45 Ycel. So MS. W1, As: Ytel. Ri: Y tel.

54 n’y. So MS, W1, As. Ri: ny.

56 dotouse. So MS, W1, Ri. As: doteuse.

57 coronee. So MS, Ri, As. W1: corouce.

64 n’averez. So MS, W1, As. Ri: naverez.

69 savoy. So MS, W1, As. Ri: sanoy.

72 escolage. So MS, W1, As. Ri: estolage.

74 C’est. So MS, W1, As. Ri: Cest.

79 volenters. So MS, W1, As. Ri: volentiers.
ledenger. So MS, W1, As. Ri: legender.

81 pust. So MS, W1, As. Ri: prist.

82 su. So MS, Ri. W1, As: fu.

88 merra. So MS, W1, As. Ri: menra.

89 sevent. So MS, W1, As. Ri: sovent.

90 faus. So MS, W1, As. Ri: fous.

91 ou deus. So MS, Ri, As. W1: en d’eus.

92 seient. So MS, W1, As. Ri: serent.

98 eyre l’esperver. So MS, W1, As. Ri: cyre lesperver.

99 parchemyn. So MS (ar abbreviated), W1, Ri. As: perchemyn.

 
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¶ Talent me prent de rymer e de geste fere
D’une purveaunce qe purveu est en la terre.
Mieux valsit uncore que la chose fust a fere.
Si Dieu ne prenge garde, je quy que sourdra guere.

Ce sunt les articles de Trayllebastoun.
Salve le roi meismes, de Dieu eit maleysoun
Qe a de primes graunta tiel commissioun,
Quar en ascuns des pointz n’est mie resoun.

Sire, si je voderoi mon garsoun chastier
De une buffe ou de deus, pur ly amender,
Sur moi betera bille e me frad atachier,
E avant qe isse de prisone raunsoun grant doner.

Quaraunte souz pernent pur ma raunsoun,
E la viscounte vint a son guerdoun
Qu’il ne me mette en parfounde prisoun.
Ore agardez, seigneurs, est ce resoun?

Pur ce me tendroi antre bois sur le jolyf umbray,
La n’y a fauceté ne nulle male lay,
En le bois de Belregard, ou vole le jay,
E chaunte russinole touz jours santz delay.

Mes le male deseynes — dount Dieu n’eit ja pieté! —
Parmi lur fauce bouches me ount enditee
De male robberies e autre mavestee,
Que je n’os entre mes amis estre receptee.

J’ai servi my sire le roy en pees e en guere,
En Flaundres, Escoce, en Gascoyne sa terre,
Mes ore ne me sai je point chevisaunce fere.
Tot mon temps ay mis en veyn pur tiel honme plere!

Si ces maveis jurours ne se vueillent amender
Que je pus a mon pais chevalcher e aler,
Si je les pus ateindre, la teste lur froi voler!
De touz lur manaces ne dorroi un dener.

Ly Martyn e ly Knoville sunt gent de pieté,
E prient pur les povres qu’il eyent sauveté.
Spigurnel e Belflour sunt gent de cruelté:
Si il fuissent e ma baylie, ne serreynt retornee.

Je lur aprendroy le giw de Traylebastoun:
E lur bruseroy l’eschyne e le cropoun,
Les bras e les jaunbes — ce serreit resoun! —
La lange lur tondroy, e la bouche ensoun!

Qy cestes choses primes comença,
Ja jour de sa vie, amendé ne serra.
Je vous di, pur veyr, trop graunt pecché en a,
Quar pur doute de prisone meint laroun serra.

Ycel devendra leres que ne fust unque mes,
Que, pur doute de prisone, ne ose venir a pes:
Vivre, covient avoir chescum jour adés.
Qy ceste chose comença yl emprist grant fes.

Bien devoient marchaunz e moygnes doner maliçoun
A tous iceux que ordinerent le Traillebastoun.
Ne lur vaudra un ayle le roial proteccioun
Que il ne rendrount les deners sauntz regerdoun.

Vous qy estes endité, je lou venez a moy,
Al vert bois de Belregard la n’y a nul ploy,
Forque beste savage e jolyf umbroy,
Car trop est dotouse la commune loy!

Si tu sachez de lettrure e estes coronee,
Devaunt les justices serrez appellee.
Uncore, poez estre a prisone retornee,
En garde de le evesque, jesque seiez purgee.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
E soffryr messayse e trop dure penaunce,
E par cas n’averez jamés delyveraunce.

Pur ce valt plus ov moi a bois demorer
Q’en prisone le evesque fyergé gyser.
Trop est la penaunce e dure a soffrer!
Quy le mieux puet eslyre fol est qe ne velt choyser.

Avant savoy poy de bien; ore su je meins sage.
Ce me fount les male leis par mout grant outrage
Qe n’os a la pes venyr entre mon lignage.
Les riches sunt a raunsoun, povres a escolage.

Fort serroit engager ce qe ne puet estre aquytee —
C’est la vie de honme, que taunt est cher amee.
E je n’ay mye le chatel de estre rechatee.
Mes si je fusse en lur baundoun, a mort serroi lyveree.

Uncore, attendroy grace e orroi gent parler.
Tiels me dient le mal, que me ne osent aprochier,
E volenters verroient mon corps ledenger.
Mes entre myl debles Dieu puet un honme sauver.

Cely me pust salver que est le fitz Marie,
Car je ne su coupable — endité su par envye!
Qy en cesti lu me mist Dieu lur maldie.
Le siecle est si variant fous est qe s’affye.

Si je sei compagnoun e sache de archerye,
Mon veisyn irra disaunt, “Cesti est de compagnie
De aler bercer a bois e fere autre folie.
Que ore vueille vivre, come pork merra sa vye.”

Si je sache plus de ley qe ne sevent eux,
Yl dirrount, “Cesti conspyratour comence de estre faus,”     
E le heyre n’aprocheroy de x lywes ou deus.
De tous veysinages, hony seient ceux!

Je pri tote bone gent qe pur moi vueillent prier
Qe je pus a mon pais aler e chyvaucher.
Unqe ne fu homicide, certes a moun voler,
Ne mal robberes pur gent damager.

Cest rym fust fet al bois desouz un lorer,
La chaunte merle, russinole, e eyre l’esperver.
Escrit estoit en parchemyn pur mout remenbrer,
E gitté en haut chemyn qe um le dust trover.
¶ Survival compels me to rhyme and compose a story
About an ordinance that’s ordained in the land.
It’d be much better were the thing still undone.
If God doesn’t prevent it, I think war will arise.

It concerns the articles of Trailbaston.
Except for the King himself, may God’s curse fall
Upon he who first granted such a commission,
For there’s no justice at all in any of its points.

Sir, should I wish to punish my knave
With a blow or two, in order to correct him,
He’ll seek a bill against me and have me arrested,
And before leaving prison I must pay a big ransom.

Forty shillings they take for my ransom,
And the sheriff comes for his reward
For not consigning me to a deep dungeon.
Now consider, lords, is this just?

That’s why I shall stay in the woods under lovely shade,
Where there’s neither treachery nor any bad law,
In the forest of Belregard, where the jay flies,
And the nightingale always sings without ceasing.

But the false accusers — may God never pity them! —
Have indicted me with their lying mouths
For wicked robberies and other crimes,
So that I dare not be received by my friends.

I’ve served my lord the King in peace and in war,
In Flanders, Scotland, in his own land of Gascony,
But now I don’t have any idea how to make a deal.
I’ve spent all my time in vain to please such a man!

If these wicked jurors won’t set things right
So that I’m able to ride and go about in my country,
Should I catch up with them, I’ll make their heads fly!
I wouldn’t give a penny for all their threats.

Judge Martin and Judge Knoville are men of piety,
And they pray for the poor that they may be safe;
Spigurnel and Belflour are men of cruelty:
Were they in my power, they wouldn’t be returned.

I’d teach them the game of Trailbaston:
I’d break their spines and rumps,
Their arms and legs — that would be justice! —
Their tongues I’d cut out, and their mouths as well!

He who first started these affairs,
In all the days of his life, will never be reformed.
I tell you, truly, he sins too greatly in it,
For many a man will be a thief for fear of prison.

He’ll become a thief who was never one before,
Who, for fear of prison, dares not come to peace:
To live, it’s essential to have nourishment each day.
Whoever began this business undertook a huge task.

Well ought merchants and monks heap curses
On all those who ordained the Trailbaston.
Royal protection won’t be worth a straw to them
Unless they pay back their money without recompense.

You who are indicted, I advise you to come to me,
To the greenwood of Belregard where there’s no worry,
Only wild animals and beautiful shade,
For the common law is too frightening!

If you know how to read and are tonsured,
You shall be summoned before the judges.
Still, you may be returned to prison,
Under guard of the bishop, until you’re cleared.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
And suffer hardship and extremely harsh punishment,
And perhaps you shall never be freed.

That’s why it’s better to live with me in the forest
Than to lie fettered in the bishop’s prison.
The punishment is too great and hard to endure!
Whoever knows what’s better is a fool if he doesn’t choose it.

I used to know a little about virtue; now I’m less wise.
Bad laws inflict this on me by such great abuse
That I don’t dare return peacefully to my relatives.
The rich are fined, the poor dwindle away.

It’d be bitter to pledge what can’t be discharged —
A man’s life, which is so dearly loved.
And I don’t have any property by which to be redeemed.
Were I ever in their power, I’d be handed over to death.

Even now, I’ll wait for a pardon and hear people talk.
Some, who don’t dare to approach me, speak of me badly,
And would happily see my body injured.
But amid a thousand devils God can save a man.

The one who can save me is the son of Mary,
For I’m not guilty — I’m indicted out of envy!
May God curse whoever put me in this place.
The world’s so fickle that he’s a fool who trusts it.

If I’m one of a company and know about archery,
My neighbor will go about saying, “This one’s from the gang   
That goes hunting in the forest and commits other sin.
Should he want to live now, let him live like a pig.”

If I should know more about the law than they know,
They’ll say, “This conspirator starts to be treacherous,”
And I won’t approach home within ten leagues or twenty.
Among all neighbors, shame on them!

I ask that all good men should pray for me
So that I may go to my country and ride about.
I was never a murderer, surely not by my will,
Nor a wicked robber for the intent of harming people.

This rhyme was made in the forest under a laurel,
Where sing blackbird and nightingale, and sparrow hawk flies.
It was written on parchment to be better remembered,
And thrown on the highway so that someone might find it.
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Go To Art. 81, Mon in the mone stond ant strit, introduction
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