In a Valley of this Restless Mind


1 No matter how exaltedly you may long for love, / My love is greater than yours may be

2 In gladness and in woe I am forever able to support [you]!




L MS Lambeth 853. [Base text.]
C MS Cambridge University Library Hh.4.12.

Editions based on L:

Fu[L] Furnivall (1903). [A diplomatic text.]
CS Chambers and Sidgwick (1926). [Omits stanzas 4, 6-8.]
Ka Kaiser (1958). [Omits stanzas 8-9, 12-13, 15-16.]
Re Reeves (1965). [Omits stanzas 12-16.]
Wi Wimsatt (1978). [Fragmentary; adopts C order.]
Ri Riddy (1989).

Editions based on C:

Fu[C] Furnivall (1903). [A diplomatic text.]
Co Cook (1915). [Omits stanzas 4-16.]
NL Nicholson and Lee (1917).
Com Comper (1936).
Ce Cecil (1940).
Do Donaldson (1950).
SS Sisam and Sisam (1970).
Gr Gray (1975). [Adopts L order.]
St Stevick (1994). [Adopts L order.]
Du Duncan (1995). [Adopts L order.]

Variants from C are listed in the following notes, as are the emendations made by editors (aside from modernized spellings). Most editions based on one MS incorporate some readings from the other one; these editorial decisions are recorded below.

1 a valey of this. C: the vaile of. The overt psychologizing of the landscape, as part of the narrator's "restless mind," is exceptional among early English lyrics. Stouck describes this opening as "marvelously evocative, Dantesque," and glosses the valley as the narrator's "state of separation from God, but . . . not so far from Him as to be in a state of sin." She finds the scene "reminiscent of courtly love dream visions" and compares it to Chaucer's Book of the Duchess (p. 9). The traditional chanson d'aventure opening may cause one both to visualize the narrator as a man about to embark on a love adventure (Hill, p. 460) and to expect an overheard dialogue or complaint (Gray [1975], p. 126). Beyond these conventions, however, the figure of lovelorn seeking strongly evokes the lyric voice heard in Canticles (see, for example, 3.1-2, 4.6, 5.6, and 6.1).

2 mede. L: myde; C: mede, adopted by CS, Ka, Re, Ri. On the punning development of the word, from the site of searching to the sought-for reward, see note to line 122.

3 a trewelove. The narrator is engaged in the same sort of ambiguous search as is the lovelorn maiden in the opening of The Four Leaves of the Truelove. He seeks "truelove," an abstract (and divine) quality, or a secular lover, or, in the naturalism of the setting, a cross-shaped plant (herb Paris) known by this popular name and commonly sought as a sign of good luck in love. As in Truelove, the end of the search is found to exist unambiguously in the figure of Christ crucified.

4 Y took. C: toke I, adopted by Re.

6 huge. C: gret.

7 how. Adopted by Com; omitted in C.

8 Canticles 2.5 (2.8, Vulgate). A contemporary gloss of the phrase exists in Richard Rolle's Form of Living (ed. S. J. Ogilvie-Thomson, pp. 15-25), further elaborated in Ego dormio (pp. 26-33). See also the phrase as refrain in In a Tabernacle of a Tower and allusions to it in English couplets embedded in Latin homilies (ed. Carleton Brown, Register of Middle English Religious and Didactic Verse, vol. 1 [Oxford: University Press for the Bibliographical Society, 1916], p. 131).

9 hil. C: mownt. The hill with the tree is to be associated with the Cross on Calvary. In the topography of the poem, it contrasts with the valley (perhaps the "shadow of death," Psalm 23.4). The narrator's discovery of it signifies his moving closer to God