SIR OWAIN: EXPLANATORY NOTESAbbreviations: see Textual Notes.
In order to maintain consistency with other editions of Sir Owain and with citation practices in secondary criticism about the poem, this edition includes stanza numbers. The explanatory and textual notes, following METS format, are, however, listed by line number.
1-2 The first two lines of this stanza and probably the five preceding stanzas are missing. E explains the excision from the preceding folio of A that would have caused the loss (p. xxii) and prints in a note (pp. 155-56) the first 36 lines of the Anglo-Norman version of the poem.
11-12 Thai no held it . . . that he sede. The sense of these lines is that the Irish understood (held) everything he said to be "foolishness concerning nothing."
13-24 al thai seyd commounliche . . . No her folies blinne. The Irish say they will all be convinced if a man visits Hell and returns with information about the pain suffered there. This is a bit inconsistent with the primarily purgatorial experience to which the poem turns.
20 suffri. The use of an i ending for the third person plural present indicative is unusual even in descendants of Class 2 Old English weak verbs. One would expect -ith. The use of the i or y ending for the infinitive, though ordinarily a Southern dialect characteristic (occasionally on the borders of the Southwest Midland), is common throughout: see 23, 76, 208, 246, 250, 251, 305, 328, 391, 614, 807, 853, 857, 864, and 975.
43-102 St. Patrick has a dream vision in which Jesus comes to him. He gives St. Patrick a heavy book, apparently more comprehensive than Scripture, because it includes Godes priveté (line 54), those matters which are properly the knowledge of God alone and usually not to be enquired into by man. In addition, Patrick is given Godes Staf (line 58), a symbol of episcopal authority. He is shown an entry way into Purgatory and told that, if a penitent spends a night and a day, he will be forgiven and have a vision of Paradise. When St. Patrick awakes, the book and staff remain with him.
47 dere bought. Redemption is, etymologically, a "buying back." The theological idea is frequently rendered as a process whereby Christ dere bought ("dearly bought") us.
49 bok. It is tempting to see the book as the ninth-century Book of Armagh, often taken to be a relic of St. Patrick. This book, however, seems to contain more comprehensive information about "Godes priveté" (line 54) than does the Book of Armagh, which is preserved in Trinity College Dublin (MS 52). Indeed, the Book of Armagh contains documents related to St. Patrick, so the book cannot be the Book of Armagh as we know it, but a good deal of confusion surrounds such artifacts in the fourteenth century.
54 Godes priveté. Since men are ordinarily not to know Godes priveté, the book is a powerful gift to St. Patrick.
58 Godes Staf. The Staf, "a bishop's staff, crosier" (MED), is clearly a sign of episcopal authority granted by God. Godes Staf may have a special meaning with regard to St. Patrick. It is mentioned by Giraldus Cambrensis (c. 1147-1216/1220) in connection with St. Patrick's expulsion of the snakes from Ireland, and it appears in many other Patrician legends. That it was a real object is attested by its being seized from the archbishop of Armagh in 1177 and lodged in London, where it was probably burned in 1538. For an interesting bibliography, see E, p. 196.
64 gret desert. A desert was "a barren area, wooded or arid" (MED). The location is on Saints' Island in Lough Derg, County Donegal. The site of the entry was later redefined as Station Island (Lough Derg), which remains a site of penitential pilgrimage. See Introduction for greater detail.
82-83 A night and a day . . . be forgive his sinne. The idea that a day and a night, preceded and followed by prayer and fasting, would forgive sins and satisfy purgatorial punishment was traditional. The inclusion of a view of the "Earthly Paradise" was less common in visions of the hereafter. The foreground of the poem switches to the purgatorial rather than the infernal at this point.
119 Peter. A: patrike is clearly not possible. I have followed E in substituting Peter because of the foundation of Sts. Peter and Paul's, Armagh. Around 1130 the Augustinian Canons Regular of the Abbey of Sts. Peter and Paul, Armagh, were given authority over a dependent priory on Saints' Island.
120 rede. More than simply "read"; it is a liturgical observance: "To read aloud or chant during a church service" (MED).
124 Regles. There is confusion in the manuscripts of various versions of the poem about whether the name Regles is derived from the Irish reicles (a small church or monastic cell) or from Latin regula (rule of a religious order). Regardless, it is clear that the Regles in A is a monastic establishment and becomes the repository of the book and the staff (lines 130-32).
127 White chanounes. E identifies these as Premonstratensian Canons, founded by St. Norbert at Prémontré in 1120, and called "white" because of their habit. They lived according to the Rule of St. Augustine (St. Augustine appeared to St. Norbert) with some Cistercian influence probably because of St. Norbert's friendship with St. Bernard of Clairvaux, the founder of the Cistercians. Premon-stratensians were extremely austere and propagated the doctrine of Purgatory from their inception. There is, however, no certainty that the canons were Premonstratensian. Other Canons Regular of St. Augustine had existed for some time and generally wore white habits.
143 went into Helle. The meaning is clearly "visited Hell," but some confusion about the use of the terms Purgatory and Hell exists. Purgatorial visions often represented souls as suffering infernal pains, sometimes less severe, but only for a limited time.
144 storie. No specific source may be intended. The poem frequently makes such references to a vague source of a sort much more common in romance than in devotional literature. See Introduction for comment on similarities with romance including formulas of the sort noted below at lines 147 and 163, as well as more substantive narrative techniques.
147 alle and some. A line-filling formula more common in romance than in devotional literature.
154 His. The word is mysterious, but seems intended since it rhymes with "Paradys" (line 155). A word seems to be missing or implied, such as His [own].
156 Jhesu ous thider bring. This is the first of a number of pious ejaculations that the narrator sprinkles though the poem.
163 lasse and more. A line-filling formula, like "alle and some" (line 147), more common in romance. See also "withouten les" (line 175) and "forsothe to say" (line 191).
166 Now herknes. This address directly to the reader is another feature rather characteristic of romance.
169 Stevenes. King Stephen (r. 1135-54). It is unusual to think of him as a wise king. His contemporary, Henry of Huntingdon (c. 1080-1160), characterized Stephen's reign as a period of civil and political disorder largely the result of Stephen's weakness and indecisiveness. See Henry, archdeacon of Huntingdon, Historia Anglorum: The History of the English People, ed. and trans. Diana Greenway (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), pp. 698-777. Huntingdon's view has never been seriously challenged.
189 the bischop of Yrlond. The bishop is, of course, not St. Patrick, since the story has moved to the twelfth century. The prior of the abbey becomes Owain's main interlocuter.
192 Penaunce to take. Sir Owain asks to receive the sacrament of Penance, which would forgive his sins but still leave purgatorial satisfaction to be accomplished. The reception of Penance and the Eucharist, as well as a fifteen-day period of prayer and fasting, were required of all fictional visitors to St. Patrick's Purgatory and all pilgrims to the geographical site.
200 blamed. "Rebuked" or "convicted," but not in a legal sense. Rather it is a recognition of Owain's self-admitted sinfulness, a holding accountable.
211 Nay, Owain, frende. The bishop acts according to the tradition in trying to dissuade Owain.
226 priour with processioun. At this point the prior becomes the master of ceremonies and leads the determined Owain to the entry hole. It was traditionally the prior's duty, as well as the bishop's, to try to dissuade penitents from this extreme and dangerous journey, but the prior does not do so in this version.
247 Thritten men. The Tractatus has fifteen men.
253 the priour and his covent. Priour and covent are more characteristically Dominican terms, though Augustinians and Cistercians used them with regard to dependencies as opposed to primary establishments.
271 newe schorn. Their heads were freshly shaved with the tonsure of religious orders.
276 resoun right. "Right reason" is reason informed by the will's selection of higher rather than lower goals. (St. Thomas Aquinas, ST 1.qu.94)
293 thou gos to Helle. Owain's experience is purgatorial, but he is warned that he is in danger of falling into Hell.
329 tine. This seems to be derived from the verb tinen, "to perish spiritually" (MED); thus it means sin's damnation or damnation by sin.
340 fine amour. Amour is "love between the sexes" (MED), and fine amour is usually reserved for "courtly love," characteristic of romance, especially French romance; but in a moral sense fine can also mean "pure, true, genuine, perfect, faithful, unwavering" (MED fin adj.6).
345 pride and lecherie. Pride and lust are two of the seven deadly sins, the root sins that are the source of all others. Although Dante constructed his Purgatory around the seven deadly sins, no such systematic presentation appears in this poem. Other deadly sins - greed, sloth, and gluttony - are mentioned but they are not sche-matically arranged. Anger and envy seem to be missing except implicitly.
385-90 The situation of the suffering souls here is reminiscent of Dante, though it is not shaped into a systematic allegory. Dantean condign punishments are especially notable also at stanzas 69, 70, 71, and 77.
398 slewthe. Sloth is one of the deadly, or source, sins. The Middle English variant used at line 400, "slowe," aptly emphasizes the basic failing involved in the sin - a slowness to act, particularly with regard to spiritual obligations.
403-05 This was the first pain . . . greved him swithe sore. The verb dede (line 404) refers to his seeing this "first pain" of Purgatory rather than experiencing it. Owain has already been cast upon the fire in the hall. Here he begins his observation of the torments.
420 In herd. "In public." The point is that there is no way to hide from the torments.
479 theves and theves fere. Although the connection is not explicitly made, thieves and their companions are guilty of the deadly sin of greed or covetousness. "Cov-aitise" is mentioned specifically at line 512.
484 bacbiters. Although backbiting is not, by itself, a deadly sin, it flows from the deadly sins of anger and envy. Thus, the effects of all the deadly sins seem to be acknowledged even if the poem is not arranged around them.
493-516 The wheel of punishment, rather than of fortune, seems Dantean in its imaginativeness, but the relation between punishment and sin is not as clear as in Dante.
515 plough. "A unit of land measure" (MED), thus the greed is for gold, silver, and land.
604-07 In medieval art, usurers and misers are frequently represented as wearing a pouch (of coins) around their necks. E (p. 174) has many examples. Also, in Dante's Inferno, XVII, 52-57, usurers gaze down into the pouches around their neck. This section of Sir Owain (stanzas 99-103) is rather Dantean in the way punishment fits the crime.
611 misours. E (p. 298) suggests that misours is an early form of misers not found in the MED and first found in the OED c. 1560. The generality of wightes later in the line suggests that perhaps misours here is also general, a combination of mis ("sin, sinfulness . . ." MED) with -our as an agentive suffix, thus yielding "sinners" or "evildoers."
618 cours. "A sequence of periods, stages, or events" (MED), thus some indeterminate measurement of time periods.
631 seven maner colours. The significance of the seven colors is not clear. E (p. 175) suggests a relation to the seven seals of Hell mentioned in the thirteenth-century early Middle English "Vision of St. Paul," but the circumstances here are quite different. Only four colors are mentioned. The number seven may be a numerological convention, but the fires likely are from the "Vision of St. Paul," 23:1-2.
671 sinne of prede. Pride was the chief of the seven deadly sins. Just as the presentation of the deadly sins here is not systematic, pride is not given an especially prominent place as it was in Dante, Langland, Spenser, and many others. See Morton Bloomfield, The Seven Deadly Sins: An Introduction to the History of a Religious Concept, with Special Reference to Medieval English Literature (East Lansing, MI: Michigan State College Press, 1952).
682-84 Sum sexti eighen bere . . . sum hadde sexti hond. Owain had been dealing with "fiends," largely undescribed physically. Here, just before coming to the bridge, the fiends become loathsome beasts, some with sixty eyes and some with sixty hands. The number sixty may have simply implied many. See S. J. Tucker, "Sixty as an Indefinite Number in Middle English," Review of English Studies 25 (1949), 152-53.
697-756 The narrow bridge to Paradise crosses over true Hell and is the last danger to be faced. This bridge appeared in the fourth-century Apocalypse of St. Paul and became a staple of the medieval literature of Purgatory. It is prominent in the Middle English version of Paul's Apocalypse, "The Vision of St. Paul," and perhaps surfaced in altered form in secular literature in Chrétien's Lancelot. Sir Owain borrows or shares many features of the Middle English "Vision," including the seven-colored fire and many of the specific punishments. Both Middle English poems, however, are in fact borrowing from the fourth-century Apocalypse, a vision of Hell whose influence is ubiquitous in the medieval literature of Purgatory.
706-08 Thou no schalt . . . To our felawes mo. There is a verb missing in this sentence, perhaps "cross" or "pass over." The sense is: "you will not cross, for all middle-earth, without falling down towards our fellows." E (p. 178) comes to much the same conclusion.
733 dominical. The term is conjectured from an obscure abbreviation in A (see textual note). The MED cites the word in The Eleven Pains of Hell (also called The Vision of St. Paul), from Laud Miscellany 108 (Bodleian), with the sense "noun: ? a book containing the liturgy for Sunday." That the Owain-poet cites "Sein Poule" ("St. Paul" - line 735) as his authority helps to substantiate this meaning. Regardless, the dominical here is a source of information about the true Hell that Owain must pass over by means of the bridge that St. Paul mentions.
775 ff. Having escaped the fiends and passed over the treacherous bridge, Owain finds himself at the entry to Paradise. It is, however, not true Heaven, "the celestial Paradise," but the earthly or "terrestrial" Paradise. In the early Church and through the Middle Ages, the Earthly Paradise was, in the first instance, the Garden of Eden, from which Adam and Eve were expelled after the Fall. It was a place of abundant beauty and gratification befitting the prelapsarian state of Adam and Eve. Many people searched for it, unsuccessfully, and learned opinion was that, for one reason or another, it was inaccessible. The terrestrial Paradise took on an additional meaning in controversy and poetry about the places of the afterlife. By some it was considered the temporary abode of the saved until the Last Judgment. By others it was taken to be a stage in the movement to the celestial Paradise after purgation had been completed. Dante's presentation, Purgatory 27-32, was the most elaborate and theologically complex, but many treatments of Purgatory describe, often with beautiful details of gems, flowers, and birdsong, this place of joy that immediately preceded true, celestial Paradise.
781-822 The catalogue of gems on the door is a familiar poetic figuration of the beauty and value of the terrestrial Paradise. Catalogues (of gems, flowers, birds, weapons, etc.) were a stock decorative feature of Middle English verse, especially the romances. The stones mentioned include jaspers, sapphires, chalcedony, and topaz, all foundation stones of the New Jerusalem (Apocalypse 21:19-20).
784 salidoines. "A fabulous stone of two kinds, said to be found in the stomach of a swallow" (MED). The term, usually "celadon," is listed under celidoine with many spelling variations.
785 causteloines. "Some kind of precious stone; ? chalcedony" (MED). The term is listed under calcedoine. According to the OED, it is "transparent or translucent."
786 for the nones. The phrase functions as an intensifier.
787 tabernacles. "A canopied niche or recess in a wall, pillar, etc., designed to contain an image" (MED). Other definitions associate the term with the portable Hebrew sanctuary, the dwelling place of God, the repository for the Eucharist, and reliquaries. Thus, in context it is architectural and in resonance it is spiritual.
790 charbukelston. The OED records that carbuncles were said to give off light or glow in the dark.
793-94 our Saveour . . . paintour. God, as the Creator of the world, was frequently described as the greatest of all artists or makers.
813 mani processioun. Although I have not followed E in inserting in, clearly one single procession is intended.
817-28 These stanzas provide a dignified catalogue of the higher orders of the clergy and laity. Although the list is a bit haphazard, it incorporates the aristocracy, the ecclesiastical hierarchy, monks, friars, and nuns.
820 abbotes, and priours. Although the titles were sometimes used loosely, an abbot was the chief religious and administrative officer of a monastery. A prior was the chief officer of a conventual establishment of friars, especially Dominicans, but sometimes applied to the head of a dependent monastic establishment.
821 chanouns. Canons regular were priests who lived communally, ordinarily at a collegiate church, according to some religious rule. Their role was often to devote their lives to saying masses for the dead.
Frere Prechours. Dominicans. They were especially distinguished for their preaching, notably about Purgatory, and their learning, counting among their number Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas.
823 Frere Menours. Franciscans, technically the Order of Friars Minor (O.F.M.), counting among their number St. Bonaventure, Roger Bacon, Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham.
Jacobins. Dominicans, so called because of their first establishment in Northern France (1218) on the Rue St. Jacques in Paris. Thus, the Dominicans are men-tioned twice in this catalogue, either by accident or design.
824 Frere Carmes (Carmelites) and Frere Austines (Augustinians) comprise, with the Dominicans and Franciscans, the four great mendicant orders.
825 nonnes white and blake. The habits of nuns, white or black, could apply to many, almost all, of the religious orders of women.
828 order. To take "orders," whether as a monk, a friar, or a nun, meant to live according to some religious rule, such as that of St. Augustine or St. Benedict, though orders could simply refer to the hierarchical stations in life.
829 order of wedlake. It is noteworthy that the poet should list wedlock as an order, suggesting that it is an honored way of life guided by spiritual principles.
851 fithel. "Fiddle," the most popular stringed instrument of the Middle Ages. It had three to five strings, was rectangular with rounded sides, and was about the size of a modern viola (Dictionary of the Middle Ages).
sautry. "Psaltery," a stringed instrument, essentially a resonator with ten or more strings supported by bridges at each end (Dictionary of the Middle Ages). The OED notes that it resembled a dulcimer and was plucked with the fingers or a plectrum.
868 breke her notes. Henry Holland Carter defines the phrase as "To begin to sing," that is, to break out in song. See A Dictionary of Middle English Musical Terms, p. 52.
869-70 Carter, Musical Terms, provides the following definitions for vocal music. Burdoun (line 869) refers to "the recurring refrain, in a low, usually bass, tone, which is sung or sounded with a melody of a higher pitch" (p. 57), mene (line 869) signifies "the middle part, whether instrumental or vocal" (p. 278), while hautain (line 870) means "high in range or volume" (p. 200).
874-76 As E notes, this clearly sets the scene as "the Earthly and not the Celestial Paradise" (p. 185). The reference to that tre of liif (line 874) as the means by which Adam and Eve went to Hell is unusual. The original sin was the eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17). Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden so that they would not eat of the tree of life and become immortal (Genesis 3:22-24).
877-82 A decorative catalogue of flowers. Flowers, like birds and gems, were particularly characteristic of the Earthly Paradise.
883-88 The description of perpetual summer echoes the characterizations of medieval "otherworlds" generally associated with fairies. The pleasantness here, however, is of an orthodox spiritual character suitable to the Earthly Paradise.
895 Pison. Although the first letter of this line in A may be d, the intention must be p, thus Pison. The first of the four rivers of Eden was Phison (Genesis 2:11).
898 Gihon. A: fison must be Gihon, or something quite like it. St. Jerome's Vulgate says "Geon" (Genesis 2:13), and the two other rivers (Genesis 2:14) are the "Tigris" (line 904) and "Eufrates" (line 901).
931-42 Although not clearly scriptural, the idea of gradations of bliss in Heaven was the recurrent teaching of the fathers and doctors of the early Church. It was not, however, defined as dogma until the Council of Florence in the early fifteenth century.
973-84 The souls in Purgatory in this poem do not know how long they are going to be there. In The Gast of Gy, the Gast knows that he will be released by Easter. Although there was controversy about what the souls in Purgatory knew, the belief that suffrages (masses, prayers, almsgiving) could shorten the length of purgation was consistent and central to the doctrine.
985-1020 The distinction between the "terrestrial" and "celestial" Paradise is made clear in these lines.
1013 crouthe. A stringed musical instrument identified by the MED as Celtic and Middle Eastern.
1021-32 Although opinion was somewhat divided, it was broadly held that Adam and Eve would have remained in Eden if they had not sinned. Although they would not have been immortal, they would not have suffered the pains of earthly existence. After death, like the Old Testament patriarchs, they presumably went to that "Hell" (limbus Patrum), while waiting for the Resurrection of Christ.
1045-50 Adam and all his descendants had to await Redemption by Christ in "Hell." Thus, there are at least two places called Hell. The idea of Christ's "descent into Hell," is based on tenuous interpretations of Matthew 27:52-53, Luke 23:43, 1 Peter 3:18-12, and Ephesians 4:9. The notion appears in the Apostles' Creed by the fifth century. The "harrowing of Hell," Christ's descent to "Hell" to release the virtuous who had died before the Redemption, was popular in the Middle Ages, supported by the apocryphal Book of Nicodemus and perpetuated by Aelfric's Homilies, Bede's Ecclesiastical History, and the mystery plays. The story is well summarized in Cursor Mundi.
1048 Passioun. The Passion of Christ is His suffering and death described in Matthew 26-27, Mark 14-15, Luke 22-23, and John 18-19.
1057-70 The missing lines probably stated that all of the descendants of Adam required Redemption and were in some intermediate place or state until that time. They probably also indicated that individual sin after baptism required penance and satisfaction.
1087-92 The bishop's speeches recall both the manna that sustained the Israelites during their flight from captivity (Exodus 16:13-20) and reception of the sacrament of the Eucharist.
1105-1110 See explanatory note to 1087-92.
1148 The priour. To must be assumed at the beginning of this line since the priour must be in the dative case for the line to make sense.
1168 on the fiften day. Owain performs the traditional fifteen days of prayer and fasting following his return from Purgatory.
1170 Scrippe and burdoun. "A pilgrim's wallet" and "a pilgrim's staff" (MED). The appurtenances of medieval pilgrims included a cape over a loose frock and a broad-brimmed hat. Over their breasts they wore a pouch (scrippe) to hold food, money, relics, and whatever. They carried a staff (burdoun) made of two sticks tightly wrapped together. The traditional dress is well-described in the romance The Squyr of Low Degre.
SIR OWAIN: TEXTUAL NOTESThe basis of my text is National Library of Scotland MS Advocates' 19.2.1, the Auchinleck Manuscript (A), which is the only non-fragmentary source extant of the quatrain version. Easting's edition (E), entitled St. Patrick's Purgatory, includes, in addition, two couplet versions, the English prose Vision of William Staunton and the Latin Tractatus Sancti Patricii. Easting provides extensive commentary on these versions as well as relations to versions in other languages. Easting uses the title Owayne Miles because that title appears at the head of the couplet version in British Library MS Cotton Caligula A. ii, while the quatrain version in the Auchinleck Manuscript is literally acephalous. I have preferred to entitle the quatrain version Sir Owain because it is the spelling that appears twenty-three times in the quatrain version. No other spelling appears more than twice.
I have accepted readings from E only when they seem necessary for the coherence or intelligibility of the narrative. I have compared these changes to Kölbing's edition and subsequent addenda (K) and Zupitza's (Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum 10.247-57) correc-tions (Z) to Kölbing. The Auchinleck Manuscript is generally quite clear even in the Scolar Press facsimile. The manuscript does have many places where the scribe has corrected an error by writing over it, but these are easy to decipher and I have accepted them, usually without comment. I have also expanded abbreviations without comment. In the notes as in the text, I have replaced Middle English graphemes with modern orthography unless the original grapheme is relevant to the explanation. Further manuscript and bibliographical details precede the text of the poem.
Missing lines: Approximately 32 lines are missing at the beginning of the poem. Apparently a miniature on the folio preceding where Sir Owain begins was excised. (See E, p. xxi.) Easting provides the roughly corresponding lines from the Anglo-Norman version in his notes.
5 untrewthe. So K, E. A: untrewe. A's reading is not attested in the MED and K, E preserve the rhyme with line 4.
16 sum man. A: no man (though a bit unclear). E's emendation makes sense of the sentence.
22 thai. Inserted above the line in A.
28 afliccioun. A: afliccoun; E: afflicioun. A's reading is not attested in the MED, which offers no examples of afliccoun as a variant. Afliccioun provides a closer rhyme to orisoun (line 29), though the affliccoun/orysoun rhyme recurs in A, line 223. But both "affliccoun" and "orysoun" in this later stanza rhyme with "processioun"; thus my emendation to afliccioun here and in line 223. N.b., Robert Mannyng's Handlynge Synne, where "afflycccyouns" (line 310) is rymed with "orysouns" (line 309); the rhyme there sounds right through metathesis.
36 Yrlond. So K, E. A: Yrluod. A is clearly in error.
83 schuld be forgive. Z, E insert be, which makes the line appropriately passive.
87 stedfast of bileve. Z, E insert of, an important clarification.
112 Wharthurth. So A. K reads thurch throughout, but A's thurth, though a less common spelling, is clearly correct.
119 Peter. So E. A: patrike. I have accepted E's emendation. See explanatory note.
152 seye. A: sei3e. I have followed the rhyme with "heye" (line 151), though elsewhere I have transcribed "seighe" (line 773).
172 Northumberland. A: Norþhumberland. There is no need to double the h.
174 As. So K, E. A: At. The change to As makes the line intelligible.
175 Oweyn. A: Uweyn; E: Oweyne. Although there is variation in the spelling of the hero's name, I have accepted E's emendation because elsewhere the name always begins with O.
223 afliccioun. A: afliccoun. See textual note to line 28.
267 thare. So A. As E notes, there would improve the rhyme with line 270, but the difference does not seem great enough to intrude on A.
292 do as Y. A: do y. K, E insertion of as repairs the grammar.
296 do thee. A: doþe doþe, with the second excised.
416 gloweand. Corrected from groweand in A.
419 dragouns. A: dragrouns. K, E's correction of an obvious slip.
425 The scribe of A, normally very consistent, marks the stanza break after this line, though clearly it should come after the next line.
427 strong. r is inserted above the line in A.
433 thare. So A, E. K: there. I agree with E's retention of A; it is consistent with line 267, where, in fact, K does not make the change.
440 lichoure. The ho in lichoure is partially obscured, but I agree with K, E reading of ho.
455 the. Inserted above the line in A.
499 and. Inserted above the line in A.
520 thou schalt. A: he schal. K, E: thou shalt. The change to the second person is necessary for the sense of the passage.
524 forth. The þ is added above the line in A.
552 sethen. A: seþþen. There is no need to double the th in transcription. So, too, in line 1180.
641 schake. The ch is added above the line in A.
642 the. Inserted above the line in A.
643 foules. The s is added above the line in A.
683 were. A: we. I have accepted K, E's correction on the basis of rhyme.
703 with. Corrected from wis in A.
708 felawes. A: fewes. I have accepted K, E's correction.
733 dominical. So K, E. A: dmcl. Although the stroke over the m is similar to the abbreviation mark for m, n, or e, there is no way to make sense of the word orthographically. See explanatory note.
743 E reads A as cou and changes to thou (þou), but I agree with K that the scribe of A has already made this correction.
746 fendes. Although the first e of fendes is obliterated, there is no doubt about the whole word.
762 better. A: beiter. The A form is not cited in MED as a variant of better.
794 goldsmithe. A: goldsmitþe. The scribe of this part of A frequently combines t and þ where either th or þ would do, as he does in the A version of Amis and Amiloun. (See Bliss, p. 658.)
803 ywis. The y is inserted above the line in A.
813 processioun. So A. E inserts in before processioun, but I agree with K that it is not necessary.
817 dignité. A: dingnite. Clearly a scribal slip.
830 mo. An r is canceled before mo in A.
853 may. Corrected from man in A.
884 groweth here. E notes correctly that the second half of this line is partially obscured, though legible, because of a piece of paper placed in A to repair the damage caused by the excision of a miniature on fol. 31v.
891 is. Inserted above the line in A.
895 Pison. A: dison. E is clearly correct about the name of the river, though A clearly reads dison.
898 Gihon. A: fison. Again E is correct about the name of the river. See explanatory note.
912 be. K, E have properly inserted the be, which is missing in A.
927 were. A: weren. I have accepted E's emendation, which is grammatically possible and repairs the rhyme with line 930.
930 While. A: Whise. K, E's emendation makes sense, and some alteration is clearly necessary.
938 Paradis. A: parabis; K, E paradis is obviously necessary; K does not indicate that this is a change from A.
956 K, E read A: Bothe auen and a morwe. K leaves auen as a variant of of even. E changes to: Bothe an euen and a morwe.
970 sede. Second e inserted above the line in A.
988 celestien. Corrected from celestian in A.
993 may. Corrected from mar in A.
1016 Is. Corrected from þis in A.
1018 other. Corrected from oner in A.
1044 midnerd. So A. K incorrectly reads miduerd. The word in A is a derivative of Old English middangeard (MED). It seems to refer to the extra-paradisal world.
1058-70 These lines are lost in A. E: "The excision of the miniature at the head of 'The deputisoun bituen the bodi and the soule' has caused the loss of most of thirteen lines." The miniature was on fol. 31v. The initial th (Þ) of line 1058 is legible, as are the upper parts of have don s in this line. The K, E reading of the whole line is from Laing and Turnbull's early transcription (1837). The initial letters are legible in succeeding lines: 1059 s, 1060 o, and 1070 b. Laing and Turnbull were apparently able also to see initial letters at lines 1061: h; 1062: a; and 1069: Þ.
1180 sethen. A: seþþen. See textual note to line 552.
by: Edward E. Foster (Editor)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
And lived in dedeli sinne.
Seyn Patrike hadde rewthe
Of hir misbileve and untrewthe,
That thai weren inne.
Oft he proved sarmoun to make,
That thai schuld to God take
And do after his rede.
Thai were fulfild of felonie;
Thai no held it bot ribaudie
Of nothing that he sede.
And al thai seyd commounliche,
That non of hem wold sikerliche
Do bi his techeing,
Bot yif he dede that sum man
Into Helle went than,
To bring hem tiding
Of the pain and of the wo
The soulen suffri evermo,
Thai that ben therinne;
And elles thai seyd, that nolden hye
Of her misdede nought repenti,
No her folies blinne.
When Sein Patrike herd this,
Michel he card forsothe, ywis,
And sore he gan desmay.
Oft he was in afliccioun,
In fasting and in orisoun,
Jhesu Crist to pray,
That He him schuld grace sende,
Hou he might rathest wende
Out of the fendes bond,
And do hem com to amendement
And leve on God omnipotent,
The folk of Yrlond.
And als he was in holy chirche,
Godes werkes for to wirche,
And made his praier,
And bad for that ich thing,
Sone he fel on slepeing
Toforn his auter.
In his chapel he slepe wel swete.
Of fele thinges him gan mete
That was in Heven blis.
As he slepe, forsothe him thought
That Jhesu, that ous dere bought,
To him com, ywis,
And gaf him a bok that nas nought lite:
Ther nis no clerk that swiche can write,
No never no schal be;
It speketh of al maner godspelle,
Of Heven and erthe and of Helle,
Of Godes priveté.
More him thought, that God him gaf
In his hond a wel feir staf,
In slepe ther he lay;
And Godes Staf, ich understond,
Men clepeth that staf in Yrlond
Yete to this ich day.
When God him this gif hadde,
Him thought that He him ladde
Thennes be the way ful right
Into an gret desert;
Ther was an hole michel apert,
That griseliche was of sight.
Rounde it was about and blak;
In alle the warld no was his mack,
So griselich entring.
When that Patrike yseye that sight,
Swithe sore he was aflight
In his slepeing.
Tho God almighten him schewed and seyd,
Who that hadde don sinful dede
Ogaines Godes lawe,
And wold him therof repenti,
And take penaunce hastily,
And his foliis withdrawe,
So schuld in this ich hole
A parti of penaunce thole
For his misdede;
A night and a day be herinne,
And al him schuld be forgive his sinne,
And the better spede.
And yif he ben of gode creaunce,
Gode and poure withouten dotaunce,
And stedfast of bileve,
He no schuld nought be therin ful long,
That he ne schal se the paines strong
Ac non no schal him greve
In wiche the soules ben ydo,
That have deserved to com therto,
In this world ywis;
And also than sen he may
That ich joie that lasteth ay,
That is in Paradis.
When Jhesu had yseyd al out,
And yschewed al about
With wel milde chere,
God, that bought ous dere in Heven,
Fram Him he went with milde steven,
And Patrike bileft there.
When Seyn Patrike o slepe he woke,
Gode token he fond and up hem toke
Of his swevening.
Bok and staf ther he fond,
And tok hem up in his hond,
And thonked Heven king.
He kneld and held up his hond,
And thonked Jhesu Cristes sond
That He him hadde ysent,
Wharthurth he might understond
To turn that folk of Yrlond
To com to amendement.
In that stede withouten lett
A fair abbay he lete sett
Withouten ani dueling,
In the name of Godes glorie,
Seyn Peter and Our Levedy,
For to rede and sing.
Seyn Patrike maked the abbay:
That wite wele men of the cuntray,
That non is that yliche.
Regles is that abbay name;
Ther is solas, gle, and game
With pover and eke with riche.
White chanounes he sett therate
To serve God, arliche and late,
And holy men to be.
That ich boke and that staf,
That God Seyn Patrike gaf,
Yete ther man may se.
In the est ende of the abbay
Ther is that hole, forsothe to say,
That griseliche is of sight,
With gode ston wal al abouten,
With locke and keye the gate to louken,
Patrike lete it dighte.
That ich stede, siker ye be,
Is ycleped the right entré
Of Patrikes Purgatorie:
For in that time that this bifelle,
Mani a man went into Helle,
As it seyt in the storie,
And suffred pein for her trespas,
And com ogain thurth Godes gras,
And seyd alle and some,
That thai hadde sen sikerliche
The paines of Helle apertliche,
When thai were out ycome.
And also thai seyd with heye,
Apertliche the joies thai seye
Of angels singing
To God almighti and to His:
That is the joie of Paradys;
Jhesu ous thider bring!
When alle the folk of Yrlond
The joies gan understond,
That Seyn Patrike hem sede,
To him thai com everichon,
And were ycristned in fonston,
And leten her misdede.
And thus thai bicom, lasse and more,
Cristen men thurth Godes lore,
Thurth Patrikes preier.
Now herknes to mi talking:
Ichil thou tel of other thing,
Yif ye it wil yhere.
Bi Stevenes day, the king ful right,
That Inglond stabled and dight
Wel wiselich in his time,
In Northumberland was a knight,
A douhti man and swithe wight,
As it seyt in this rime.
Oweyn he hight, withouten les,
In cuntré ther he born wes,
As ye may yhere.
Wel michel he couthe of batayle,
And swithe sinful he was saunfayle
Ogain his Creatour.
On a day he him bithought
Of the sinne he hadde ywrought,
And sore him gan adrede,
And thought he wold thurth Godes grace
Ben yschrive of his trispas,
And leten his misdede.
And when he hadde thus gode creaunce,
He com, as it bifel a chaunce,
To the bischop of Yrlond,
Ther he lay in that abbay,
Ther was that hole, forsothe to say,
Penaunce to take an hond.
To the bischop he biknewe his sinne,
And prayd him, for Godes winne,
That he him schuld schrive,
And legge on him penaunce sore.
He wold sinne, he seyd, no more,
Never eft in his live.
The bischop therof was ful blithe,
And for his sinne blamed him swithe,
That he him hadde ytold,
And seyd he most penaunce take,
Yif he wald his sinne forsake,
Hard and manifold.
Than answerd the knight Owayn,
"Don ichil," he seyd, "ful feyn,
What God me wil sende.
Thei thou me wost comandy
Into Patrikes Purgatori,
Thider ichil wende."
The bischop seyd, "Nay, Owain, frende!
That ich way schaltow nought wende,"
And told him of the pine,
And bede him lete be that mischaunce,
And "Take," he seyd, "sum other penaunce,
To amende thee of sinnes thine."
For nought the bischop couthe say,
The knight nold nought leten his way,
His soule to amende.
Than ladde he him into holy chirche,
Godes werkes for to wirche,
And the right lawe him kende.
Fiften days in afliccioun,
In fasting and in orisoun
He was, withouten lesing.
Than the priour with processioun,
With croice and with gonfanoun,
To the hole he gan him bring.
The priour seyd, "Knight Oweyn,
Her is thi gate to go ful gain,
Wende right even forth;
And when thou a while ygon hast,
Light of day thou al forlast,
Ac hold thee even north.
"Thus thou schalt under erthe gon;
Than thou schalt finde sone anon
A wel gret feld aplight,
And therin an halle of ston,
Swiche in world no wot Y non;
Sumdele ther is of light.
"Namore lightnesse nis ther yfounde
Than the sonne goth to grounde
In winter sikerly.
Into the halle thou schalt go,
And duelle ther tille ther com mo,
That schul thee solaci.
"Thritten men ther schul come,
Godes seriaunce alle and some,
As it seyt in the stori;
And hye thee schul conseily
Hou thou schalt thee conteyni
The way thurth Purgatori."
Than the priour and his covent
Bitaught him God, and forth hy went;
The gate thai schet anon.
The knight his way hath sone ynome,
That into the feld he was ycome
Ther was the halle of ston.
The halle was ful selly dight,
Swiche can make no ertheliche wight;
The pilers stode wide.
The knight wonderd that he fond
Swiche an halle in that lond,
And open in ich side.
And when he hadde long stond therout,
And devised al about,
In he went thare.
Thritten men ther come,
Wisemen thai war of dome,
And white abite thai bere,
And al her crounes wer newe schorn;
Her most maister yede biforn
And salud the knight.
Adoun he sat, so seyt the boke,
And knight Owain to him he toke,
And told him resoun right.
"Ichil thee conseyl, leve brother,
As ichave don mani another
That han ywent this way,
That thou ben of gode creaunce,
Certeyn and poure withouten dotaunce
To God thi trewe fay;
"For thou schalt se, when we ben ago,
A thousend fendes and wele mo,
To bring thee into pine.
Ac loke wele, bise thee so,
And thou anithing bi hem do,
Thi soule thou schalt tine.
"Have God in thine hert,
And thenk opon His woundes smert,
That He suffred thee fore.
And bot thou do as Y thee telle,
Bodi and soule thou gos to Helle,
And evermore forlore.
"Nempne Godes heighe name,
And thai may do thee no schame,
For nought that may bifalle,"
And when thai hadde conseyld the knight,
No lenge bileve he no might,
Bot went out of the halle.
He and alle his fellawered
Bitaught him God, and forth thai yede
With ful mild chere.
Owein bileft ther in drede,
To God he gan to clepi and grede,
And maked his preier.
And sone therafter sikerly
He gan to here a reweful cri;
He was aferd ful sore:
Thei alle the warld falle schold,
Fram the firmament to the mold,
No might have ben no more.
And when of the cri was passed the drede,
Ther com in a grete ferrede
Of fendes fifti score
About the knight into the halle.
Lothly thinges thai weren alle,
Behinde and eke bifore.
And the knight thai yeden abouten,
And grenned on him her foule touten,
And drof him to hetheing,
And seyd he was comen with flesche and fel
To fechen him the joie of Helle
Withouten ani ending.
The most maister fende of alle
Adoun on knes he gan to falle,
And seyd, "Welcome, Owein!
Thou art ycomen to suffri pine
To amende thee of sinnes tine,
Ac alle gett thee no gain,
"For thou schalt have pine anough,
Hard, strong, and ful tough,
For thi dedli sinne.
No haddestow never more meschaunce
Than thou schal have in our daunce,
When we schul play biginne."
"Ac no for than," the fendes sede,
"Yif thou wilt do bi our rede,
For thou art ous leve and dere,
We schul thee bring with fine amour
Ther thou com in fram the priour,
With our felawes yfere;
"And elles we schul thee teche here,
That thou has served ous mani yer
In pride and lecherie;
For we thee have so long yknawe,
To thee we schul our hokes thrawe,
Alle our compeynie."
He seyd he nold withouten feyle:
"Ac Y forsake your conseyle;
Mi penaunce ichil take."
And when the fendes yherd this,
Amidward the halle ywis
A grete fer thai gun make.
Fet and hond thai bounde him hard,
And casten him amidward.
He cleped to our Dright;
Anon the fer oway was weved,
Cole no spark ther nas bileved,
Thurth grace of God almight.
And when the knight yseighe this,
Michel the balder he was ywis
And wele gan understond,
And thought wele in his memorie,
It was the fendes trecherie,
His hert forto fond.
The fendes went out of the halle,
The knight thai ladde with hem alle
Intil an uncouthe lond.
Ther no was no maner wele,
Bot hunger, thrust, and chele;
No tre no seighe he stond,
Bot a cold winde that blewe there,
That unnethe ani man might yhere,
And perced thurth his side.
The fendes han the knight ynome
So long that thai ben ycome
Into a valay wide.
Tho wende the knight he hadde yfounde
The deppest pit in Helle grounde.
When he com neighe the stede,
He loked up sone anon;
Strong it was forther to gon,
He herd schriche and grede.
He seighe ther ligge ful a feld
Of men and wimen that wern aqueld,
Naked with mani a wounde.
Toward the erthe thai lay develing,
"Allas! Allas!" was her brocking,
With iren bendes ybounde;
And gun to scriche and to wayly,
And crid, "Allas! Merci, merci!
Merci, God almight!"
Merci nas ther non, forsothe,
Bot sorwe of hert and grinding of tothe:
That was a griseli sight.
That ich sorwe and that reuthe
Is for the foule sinne of slewthe,
As it seyt in the stori.
Who that is slowe in Godes servise
Of that pain hem may agrise,
To legge in Purgatori.
This was the first pain aplight
That thai dede Owain the knight:
Thai greved him swithe sore.
Alle that pain he hath overschaken;
Until another thai han him taken,
Ther he seighe sorwe more
Of men and wimen that ther lay,
That crid, "Allas!" and "Waileway!"
For her wicked lore.
Thilche soules lay upward,
As the other hadde ly donward,
That Y told of bifore,
And were thurth fet and hond and heved
With iren nailes gloweand red
To the erthe ynayled that tide.
Owain seighe sitt on hem there
Lothli dragouns alle o fer,
In herd is nought to hide.
On sum sete todes blake,
Euetes, neddren, and the snake,
That frete hem bac and side.
This is the pain of glotoni:
For Godes love, bewar therbi!
It rinneth al to wide.
Yete him thought a pain strong
Of a cold winde blewe hem among,
That com out of the sky;
So bitter and so cold it blewe,
That alle the soules it overthrewe
That lay in Purgatori.
The fendes lopen on hem thare,
And with her hokes hem al totere,
And loude thai gun to crie.
Who that is licchoure in this liif,
Be it man other be it wiif,
That schal ben his bayli.
The fendes seyd to the knight,
"Thou hast ben strong lichoure aplight,
And strong glotoun also:
Into this pain thou schalt be dight,
Bot thou take the way ful right
Ogain ther thou com fro."
Owain seyd, "Nay, Satan!
Yete forthermar ichil gan,
Thurth grace of God almight."
The fendes wald him have hent:
He cleped to God omnipotent,
And thai lorn al her might.
Thai ladde him forther into a stede
Ther men never gode no dede,
Bot schame and vilanie.
Herkneth now, and ben in pes!
In the ferth feld it wes,
Al ful of turmentrie.
Sum bi the fet wer honging,
With iren hokes al brening,
And sum bi the swere,
And sum bi wombe and sum bi rigge,
Al otherwise than Y can sigge,
In divers manere.
And sum in forneise wern ydon,
With molten ledde and quic brunston
Boiland above the fer,
And sum bi the tong hing,
"Allas!" was ever her brocking,
And no nother preiere.
And sum on grediris layen there,
Al glowand ogains the fer,
That Owain wele yknewe,
That whilom were of his queyntaunce,
That suffred ther her penaunce:
Tho chaunged al his hewe!
A wilde fer hem thurthout went,
Alle that it oftok it brent,
Ten thousend soules and mo.
Tho that henge bi fet and swere,
That were theves and theves fere,
And wrought man wel wo.
And tho that henge bi the tong,
That "Allas!" ever song,
And so loude crid,
That wer bacbiters in her live:
Bewar therbi, man and wive,
That lef beth for to chide.
Alle the stedes the knight com bi
Were the paines of Purgatori
For her werkes wrong.
Whoso is lef on the halidom swere,
Or ani fals witnes bere,
Ther ben her peynes strong.
Owain anon him biwent
And seighe where a whele trent,
That griseliche were of sight;
Michel it was, about it wond,
And brend right as it were a brond;
With hokes it was ydight.
An hundred thousand soules and mo
Opon the whele were honging tho,
The fendes thertil ourn.
The stori seyt of Owain the knight,
That no soule knowe he no might,
So fast thai gun it tourn.
Out of the erthe com a lighting
Of a blo fer al brening,
That stank foule withalle,
And about the whele it went,
And the soules it forbrent
To poudre swithe smal.
That whele, that renneth in this wise,
Is for the sinne of covaitise,
That regnes now overal.
The coveytous man hath never anough
Of gold, of silver, no of plough,
Til deth him do doun falle.
The fendes seyd to the knight,
"Thou hast ben covaitise aplight,
To win lond and lede;
Opon this whele thou schalt be dight,
Bot yif thou take the way ful right
Intil thin owhen thede."
Her conseyl he hath forsaken.
The fendes han the knight forth taken,
And bounde him swithe hard
Opon the whele that arn about,
And so lothly gan to rout,
And cast him amidward.
Tho the hokes him torent,
And the wild fer him tobrent.
On Jhesu Crist he thought,
Fram that whele an angel him bare,
And al the fendes that were thare
No might him do right nought.
Thai ladde him forther with gret pain,
Til thai com to a mounteyn
That was as rede as blod,
And men and wimen theron stode;
Him thought, it nas for non gode,
For thai cride as thai were wode.
The fendes seyd to the knight than,
"Thou hast wonder of thilche man
That make so dreri mode:
For thai deserved Godes wreche,
Hem schal sone com a bevereche
That schal nought thenche hem gode."
No hadde he no rather that word yseyd,
As it is in the stori leyd,
Ther com a windes blast,
That fende and soule and knight up went
Almest into the firmament,
And sethen adon him cast
Into a stinkand river,
That under the mounteyn ran o fer,
As quarel of alblast,
And cold it was as ani ise
The pain may no man devise,
That him was wrought in hast.
Seyn Owain in the water was dreynt,
And wex therin so mad and feynt,
That neighe he was forlore;
Sone so he on God might thenchen ought,
Out of the water he was ybrought,
And to the lond ybore.
That ich pain, ich understond,
Is for bothe nithe and ond,
That was so wick liif;
Ond was the windes blast
That into the stinking water him cast:
Ich man bewar therbi!
Forth thai ladde him swithe withalle,
Til thai com to an halle,
He no seighe never er non swiche.
Out of the halle com an hete,
That the knight bigan to swete,
He seighe so foule a smiche.
Tho stint he forther for to gon.
The fendes it aperceived anon,
And were therof ful fawe.
"Turn ogain," thai gun to crie,
"Or thou schalt wel sone dye,
Bot thou be withdrawe."
And when he com to the halle dore,
He no hadde never sen bifore
Halvendel the care.
The halle was ful of turmentri:
Tho that were in that bayly
Of blis thai were ful bare,
For al was the halle grounde
Ful of pittes that were rounde,
And were ful yfilt
To the brerdes, gret and smal,
Of bras and coper and other metal,
And quic bronston ymelt;
And men and wimen theron stode,
And schrist and crid, as thai wer wode,
For her dedeli sinne;
Sum to the navel wode,
And sum to the brestes yode,
And sum to the chin.
Ich man after his misgilt
In that pein was ypilt,
To have that strong hete;
And sum bere bagges about her swere
Of pens gloweand al of fer,
And swiche mete ther thai ete:
That were gavelers in her liif.
Bewar therbi, bothe man and wiif,
Swiche sinne that ye lete.
And mani soules ther yede uprightes,
With fals misours and fals wightes,
That fendes opon sete.
The fendes to the knight sede,
"Thou most bathi in this lede
Ar than thou hennes go;
For thine okering and for thi sinne
A parti thou most be wasche herinne,
O cours or to."
Owain drad that turment,
And cleped to God omnipotent,
And His moder Marie.
Yborn he was out of the halle,
Fram the paines and the fendes alle,
Tho he so loude gan crie.
Anon the knight was war ther,
Whare sprang out a flaumme o fer,
That was stark and store;
Out the erthe the fer aros.
Tho the knight wel sore agros,
As cole and piche it fore.
Of seven maner colours the fer out went,
The soules therin it forbrent;
Sum was yalu and grene,
Sum was blac and sum was blo;
Tho that were therin hem was ful wo,
And sum as nadder on to sene.
The fende hath the knight ynome,
And to the pit thai weren ycome,
And seyd thus in her spelle,
"Now, Owain, thou might solas make,
For thou schalt with our felawes schake
Into the pit of Helle.
"This ben our foules in our caghe,
And this is our courtelage
And our castel tour;
Tho that ben herin ybrought,
Sir knight, hou trowestow ought,
That hem is anithing sour?
"Now turn ogain or to late,
Ar we thee put in at Helle gate;
Out no schaltow never winne,
For no noise no for no crie,
No for no clepeing to Marie,
No for no maner ginne."
Her conseil the knight forsoke.
The fendes him nom, so seith the boke,
And bounde him swithe fast.
Into that ich wicke prisoun,
Stinckand and derk, fer adoun,
Amidward thai him cast.
Ever the nether that thai him cast
The hatter the fer on him last;
Tho him gan sore smert.
He cleped to God omnipotent,
To help him out of that turment,
With gode wille and stedefast hert.
Out of the pit he was yborn,
And elles he hadde ben forlorn
To his ending day.
That is the pine, that ich of rede,
Is for the foule sinne of prede,
That schal lasten ay.
Biside the pit he seighe and herd
Hou God almighten him had ywerd;
His clothes wer al torent.
Forther couthe he no way,
Ther him thought a divers cuntray;
His bodi was al forbrent.
Tho chaunged Owain rode and hewe;
Fendes he seighe, ac non he no knewe,
In that divers lond;
Sum sexti eighen bere,
That lotheliche and griseliche were,
And sum hadde sexti hond.
Thai seyd, "Thou schalt nought ben alon,
Thou schalt haven ous to mon,
To teche thee newe lawes,
As thou hast ylernd ere,
In the stede ther thou were
Amonges our felawes."
The fendes han the knight ynome;
To a stinkand water thai ben ycome.
He no seighe never er non swiche.
It stank fouler than ani hounde,
And mani mile it was to the grounde,
And was as swart as piche.
And Owain seighe therover ligge
A swithe strong, naru brigge.
The fendes seyd tho,
"Lo, sir knight, sestow this?
This is the brigge of Paradis,
Here over thou most go;
"And we thee schul with stones throwe,
And the winde thee schal over blowe,
And wirche thee ful wo.
Thou no schalt, for al this midnerd,
Bot yif thou falle amidwerd
To our felawes mo.
"And when thou art adoun yfalle,
Than schal com our felawes alle,
And with her hokes thee hede.
We schul thee teche a newe play
Thou hast served ous mani a day
And into Helle thee lede."
Owain biheld the brigge smert,
The water therunder, blac and swert,
And sore him gan to drede.
For of o thing he tok yeme:
Never mot in sonne beme
Thicker than the fendes yede.
The brigge was as heighe as a tour,
And as scharpe as a rasour,
And naru it was also;
And the water that ther ran under
Brend o lighting and of thonder,
That thought him michel wo.
Ther nis no clerk may write with ynke,
No no man no may bithinke,
No no maister devine,
That is ymade, forsothe ywis,
Under the brigge of Paradis,
Halvendel the pine.
So the dominical ous telle,
There is the pure entré of Helle:
Sein Poule berth witnesse.
Whoso falleth of the brigge adoun,
Of him nis no redempcioun,
Noither more no lesse.
The fendes seyd to the knight tho,
"Over this brigge might thou nought go,
For noneskines nede.
Fle periil, sorwe, and wo,
And to that stede, ther thou com fro
Wel fair we schul thee lede."
Owain anon him gan bithenche
Fram hou mani of the fendes wrenche
God him saved hadde.
He sett his fot opon the brigge,
No feld he no scharp egge,
No nothing him no drad.
When the fendes yseighe tho,
That he was more than half ygo,
Loude thai gun to crie,
"Allas, allas, that he was born!
This ich knight we have forlorn
Out of our baylie."
When he was of the brigge ywent,
He thonked God omnipotent,
And His moder Marie,
That him hadde swiche grace ysent,
He was deliverd fro her turment,
Intil a better baylie.
A cloth of gold him was ybrought,
In what maner he nist nought,
Tho God him hadde ysent.
That cloth he dede on him there,
And alle woundes hole were,
That er then was forbrent.
He thonked God in Trinité,
And loked forther and gan yse
As it were a ston wal.
He biheld about, fer and neighe,
Non ende theron he no seighe,
O red gold it schon al.
Forthermore he gan yse
A gate, non fairer might be
In this world ywrought;
Tre no stel nas theron non,
Bot rede gold and precious ston,
And al God made of nought:
Jaspers, topes, and cristal,
Margarites and coral,
And riche saferstones,
Ribes and salidoines,
Onicles and causteloines,
And diamaunce for the nones.
In tabernacles thai wer ywrought,
Richer might it be nought,
With pilers gent and small;
Arches ybent with charbukelston,
Knottes of rede gold theropon,
And pinacles of cristal.
Bi as miche as our Saveour
Is queinter than goldsmithe other paintour,
That woneth in ani lond,
So fare the gates of Paradis
Er richer ywrought, forsothe ywis,
As ye may understond.
The gates bi hemselve undede.
Swiche a smal com out of that stede
As it al baume were;
And of that ich swetenisse
The knight tok so gret strengthe ywis,
As ye may fortheward here,
That him thought he might wel,
More bi a thousand del,
Suffri pain and wo,
And turn ogain siker aplight,
And ogain alle fendes fight,
Ther he er com fro.
The knight yode the gate ner,
And seighe ther com with milde chere
Wel mani processioun,
With tapers and chaundelers of gold;
Non fairer no might ben on mold,
And croices and goinfainoun.
Popes with gret dignité,
And cardinals gret plenté,
Kinges and quenes ther were,
Knightes, abbotes, and priours,
Monkes, chanouns, and Frere Prechours,
And bischopes that croices bere;
Frere Menours and Jacobins,
Frere Carmes and Frere Austines,
And nonnes white and blake;
Al maner religioun
Ther yede in that processioun,
That order hadde ytake.
The order of wedlake com also,
Men and wimen mani mo,
And thonked Godes grace
That hath the knight swiche grace ysent,
He was deliverd from the fendes turment,
Quic man into that plas.
And when thai hadde made this melody,
Tuay com out of her compeynie,
Palmes of gold thai bere.
To the knight thai ben ycome
Bituix hem tuay thai han him nome,
And erchebischopes it were.
Up and doun thai ladde the knight,
And schewed him joies of more might,
And miche melodye.
Mirie were her carols there,
Non foles among hem nere,
Bot joie and menstracie.
Thai yede on carol al bi line,
Her joie may no man devine,
Of God thai speke and song;
And angels yeden hem to gy,
With harpe and fithel and sautry,
And belles miri rong
No may ther no man caroly inne,
Bot that he be clene of sinne,
And leten alle foly.
Now God, for Thine woundes alle,
Graunt ous caroly in that halle,
And His moder Marie!
This ich joie, as ye may se,
Is for love and charité
Ogain God and mankinne.
Who that lat erthely love be,
And loveth God in Trinité,
He may caroly therinne.
Other joies he seighe anough:
Heighe tres with mani a bough,
Theron sat foules of heven,
And breke her notes with miri gle,
Burdoun and mene gret plenté,
And hautain with heighe steven.
Him thought wele with that foules song
He might wele live theramong
Til the worldes ende.
Ther he seighe that tre of liif
Wharthurth that Adam and his wiif
To Helle gun wende.
Fair were her erbers with floures,
Rose and lili, divers colours,
Primrol and paruink,
Mint, fetherfoy, and eglentere,
Colombin and mo ther were
Than ani man mai bithenke.
It beth erbes of other maner
Than ani in erthe groweth here,
Tho that is lest of priis.
Evermore thai grene springeth,
For winter no somer it no clingeth,
And swetter than licorice.
Ther beth the welles in that stede,
The water is swetter than ani mede,
Ac on ther is of priis,
Swiche that Seynt Owain seighe tho,
That foure stremes urn fro
Out of Paradis.
Pison men clepeth that o strem,
That is of swithe bright lem,
Gold is therin yfounde.
Gihon men clepeth that other ywis,
That is of miche more priis
Of stones in the grounde.
The thridde strem is Eufrates,
Forsothe to telle, withouten les,
That rinneth swithe right.
The ferth strem is Tigris;
In the world is make nis
Of stones swithe bright.
Who loveth to live in clenesse,
He schal have that ich blisse,
And se that semly sight.
And more he ther yseighe
Under Godes glorie an heighe:
Yblisced be His might!
Sum soule he seyghe woni bi selve,
And sum bi ten and bi tuelve,
And everich com til other;
And when thai com togiders ywis,
Alle thai made miche blis
As soster doth with the brother.
Sum he seighe gon in rede scarlet,
And sum in pourper wele ysett,
And sum in sikelatoun;
As the prest ate Masse wereth,
Tonicles and aubes on hem thai bereth,
And sum gold bete al doun.
The knight wele in alle thing
Knewe bi her clotheing
In what state that thai were,
And what dedes thai hadde ydo,
Tho that were yclothed so,
While thai were mannes fere.
Ichil you tel a fair semblaunce,
That is a gode acordaunce
Bi the sterres clere:
Sum ster is brighter on to se
Than is bisides other thre,
And of more pouwere.
In this maner ydelt it is,
Bi the joies of Paradis:
Thai no have nought al yliche;
The soule that hath joie lest,
Him thenketh he hath aldermest,
And holt him also riche.
The bischopes ogain to him come,
Bituen hem tuay thai him nome,
And ladde him up and doun,
And seyd, "Brother, God, herd He be!
Fulfild is thi volenté,
Now herken our resoun.
"Thou hast yse with eighen thine
Bothe the joies and the pine:
Yherd be Godes grace!
We wil thee tel bi our comun dome,
What way it was that thou bicome,
Er thou hennes pas.
"That lond that is so ful of sorwe,
Bothe an aven and a morwe,
That thou thus com bi
(Thou suffredes pain and wo,
And other soules mani mo)
Men clepeth it Purgatori.
"And this lond that is so wide,
And so michel and so side,
And is ful of blis,
That thou hast now in ybe,
And mani joies here yse,
Paradis is cleped ywis.
"Ther mai no man comen here
Til that he be spourged there,
And ymade al clene.
Than cometh thai hider." The bischop sede,
"Into the joie we schul hem lede,
Sumwhile bi tuelve and tene.
"And sum ben so hard ybounde,
Thai nite never hou long stounde
Thai schul suffri that hete;
Bot yif her frendes do godenisse,
Yif mete, or do sing Messe,
That thai han in erthe ylete,
"Other ani other almosdede,
Alle the better hem may spede
Out of her missays,
And com into this Paradis,
Ther joie and blis ever is,
And libbe here al in pays.
"As hye cometh out of Purgatori,
So passe we up to Godes glori,
That is the heighe riche,
That is Paradis celestien;
Therin com bot Cristen men:
No joie nis that yliche.
"When we comen out of the fer
Of Purgatori, ar we com her,
We no may nought anon right.
Til we han her long ybe,
We may nought Godes face yse,
No in that stede alight.
"The child that was yborn tonight,
Er the soule be hider ydight,
The pain schal overflé.
Strong and hevi is it than,
Here to com the old man,
That long in sinne hath be."
Forth thai went til thai seighe
A mounteyn that was swithe heighe,
Ther was al gamen and gle.
So long thai hadde the way ynome,
That to the cop thai weren ycome,
The joies forto se.
Ther was al maner foulen song,
Michel joie was hem among,
And evermore schal be;
Ther is more joie in a foules mouthe,
Than here in harp, fithel, or crouthe,
Bi lond other bi se.
That lond, that is so honestly,
Is ycleped Paradis terestri,
That is in erthe here;
That other is Paradis, Godes riche:
Thilke joie hath non yliche,
And is above the aire.
In that, that is in erthe here,
Was Owain, that Y spac of here,
Swiche that les Adam;
For, hadde Adam yhold him stille,
And wrought after Godes wille
As he ogain him nam,
He no his ofspring nevermo
Out of that joie no schuld have go;
Bot for he brac it so sone,
With pike and spade in diche to delve,
To help his wiif and himselve,
God made him miche to done.
God was with him so wroth,
That he no left him no cloth,
Bot a lef of a tre,
And al naked yede and stode.
Loke man, yif hye ner wode,
At swiche a conseil to be.
Tho com an angel with a swerd o fer,
And with a stern loke and chere,
And made hem sore aferd;
In erthe to ben in sorwe and wo,
Therwhile thai lived evermo,
He drof hem to midnerd.
And when he dyed to Helle he nam,
And al that ever of him cam,
Til Godes Sone was born,
And suffred pain and Passioun,
And brought him out of that prisoun,
And elles were al forlorn.
Hereof speketh David in the Sauter,
Of a thing that toucheth here,
Of God in Trinité,
Opon men, that ben in gret honour,
And honoureth nought her Creatour
Of so heighe dignité.
Alle that ben of Adames kinne,
Th[at here in erthe have don sinne,]
S . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
O . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
H . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Th . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
B . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
In the paine of Purgatori;
And bot he have the better chaunce,
At Domesday he is in balaunce
Ogaines God in glorie.
The bischopes the knight hete
To tellen hem, that he no lete,
Whether Heven were white or biis,
Blewe or rede, yalu or grene.
The knight seyd, "Withouten wene,
Y schal say min aviis.
"Me thenketh it is a thousandfold
Brighter than ever was ani gold,
Bi sight opon to se."
"Ya," seyd the bischop to the knight
"That ich stede, that is so bright,
Nis bot the entré.
"And ich day ate gate o sithe
Ous cometh a mele to make ous blithe,
That is to our biheve:
A swete smal of al gode,
It is our soule fode.
Abide, thou schalt ous leve."
Anon the knight was war there,
Whare sprong out a flaumbe of fer,
Fram Heven gate it fel.
The knight thought, al fer and neighe,
Ther over al Paradis it fleighe,
And gaf so swete a smal.
The Holy Gost in fourme o fer
Opon the knight light ther,
In that ich place;
Thurth vertu of that ich light
He les ther al his erthelich might,
And thonked Godes grace.
Thus the bischop to him sede,
"God fet ous ich day with His brede,
Ac we no have noure neighe
So grete likeing of His grace,
No swiche a sight opon His face,
As tho that ben on heighe.
The soules that beth at Godes fest,
Thilche joie schal ever lest
Withouten ani ende.
Now thou most bi our comoun dome,
That ich way that thou bicome,
Ogain thou most wende.
Now kepe thee wele fram dedli sinne,
That thou never com therinne,
For nonskines nede.
When thou art ded, thou schalt wende
Into the joie that hath non ende;
Angels schul thee lede."
Tho wepe Seynt Owain swithe sore,
And prayd hem for Godes ore,
That he most ther duelle;
That he no seighe nevermore,
As he hadde do bifore,
The strong paines of Helle.
Of that praier gat he no gain
He nam his leve and went ogain,
Thei him were swithe wo.
Fendes he seighe ten thousand last,
Thay flowe fram him as quarel of alblast,
That he er com fro.
No nere than a quarel might flé,
No fende no might him here no se,
For al this warld to winne;
And when that he com to the halle,
The thritten men he fond alle,
Ogaines him therinne.
Alle thai held up her hond,
And thonked Jhesu Cristes sond
A thousaned times and mo,
And bad him heighe, that he no wond,
That he wer up in Yrlond,
As swithe as he might go.
And as ich finde in this stori,
The priour of the Purgatori
Com tokening that night,
That Owain hadde overcomen his sorwe,
And schuld com up on the morwe,
Thurth grace of God almight.
Than the priour with processioun,
Wih croice and with goinfainoun,
To the hole he went ful right,
Ther that knight Owain in wende.
As a bright fere that brende,
Thai seighe a lem of light,
And right amiddes that ich light
Com up Owain, Godes knight.
Tho wist thai wele bi than,
That Owain hadde ben in Paradis,
And in Purgatori ywis,
And that he was holy man.
Thai ladde him into holi chirche,
Godes werkes forto wirche.
His praiers he gan make,
And at the ende on the fiften day,
The knight anon, forsothe to say,
Scrippe and burdoun gan take.
That ich holy stede he sought,
Ther Jhesus Crist ous dere bought
Opon the Rode tre,
And ther He ros fram ded to live
Thurth vertu of his woundes five:
Yblisced mot He be!
And Bedlem, ther that God was born
Of Mari His moder, as flour of thorn,
And ther He stighe to Heven;
And sethen into Yrlond he come,
And monkes abite undernome,
And lived there yeres seven.
And when he deyd, he went ywis
Into the heighe joie of Paradis,
Thurth help of Godes grace.
Now God, for Seynt Owain's love,
Graunt ous Heven blis above
Bifor His swete face! Amen.
St. Patrick; pity
their false belief; error; (t-note)
they were in
should take to God
full of crime
They held it but foolishness; (see note)
Everything he said
they all said commonly; (see note)
none of them would surely
Abide by his teaching
Unless; caused some man; (t-note)
souls suffer forever; (see note)
They who are therein
Otherwise; would not quickly (i.e., soon); (t-note)
their sins not repent
Nor their follies (i.e., sins) cease
Greatly he cared truly, indeed
sorely; became dismayed
most quickly lead
cause them to
prayed; very thing
slept quite sweetly (i.e., comfortably); (see note)
many; began to dream
slept, truly it seemed to him
us dearly bought (i.e., redeemed); (see note)
gave; book; was not little; (see note)
is no learned man; such
It spoke of all manner [of] gospels
secret knowledge; (see note)
Further he thought; gave
God's Staff; (see note)
He thought; led
great open space; (see note)
Where; quite open
world; its match
gruesome to enter
Full sorely; afflicted
Then; almighty; explained; said
sins (follies) withdraw from
very [same] hole
Good; blameless without uncertainty
steadfast; belief; (t-note)
But none shall; trouble
what [to] the souls is done
very joy; forever
full gracious manner
bought us dearly (i.e., redeemed)
Good signs he found; them took
Book; staff; found
took them; hand
Jesus Christ's messenger
him had sent
Through which; (t-note)
place without delay
abbey; had built
Without any delay
Saint; Lady; (see note); (t-note)
To chant and sing [praises]; (see note)
abbey's; (see note)
solace, joy; delight
canons; established there; (see note)
very book; staff
truth to say
good stone walls all around
had it built
same place, sure be you
called; very entrance
says; (see note)
pain; their trespasses
returned again through; grace
said every one of them; (see note)
had come out
said with haste
Clearly; joys; saw; (t-note)
May Jesus bring us there!; (see note)
they came every one
baptized; baptismal font
became, all of them; (see note)
Christian; through; teaching
listen; (see note)
In the time of Stephen; (see note)
doughty; mighty person
says; poem (rhyme); (t-note)
was named, without lies; (t-note)
country where; was
Very much; understood; battle
quite; without doubt
One day; thought to himself
sorely; began to dread
Be shriven; trespass
came, as it happened
bishop; (see note)
Where; truth to tell
To undertake Penance; (see note)
rebuked; at once; (see note)
Serious; many kinds
I will do; quite eagerly
Even if; would command
Thither I will go.
friend; (see note)
shall you not go
bade; avoid; adversity
would not give up
true law; teach
Fifteen; suffering; (t-note)
Then; prior; (see note)
Go directly forward
a hall of stone
Such; I know of none
A little bit
No more; is not; found
Than when the sun moves low
remain; until; more
Who shall you comfort
Thirteen; shall; (see note)
servants every one
quickly [they] shall counsel you
convent; (see note)
Commended him to; he
[So] that; field; come
Such; earthly creature
pillars stood far apart
habit they wore
crowns [of their heads] were newly shorn; (see note)
Their chief master went in front
reason true; (see note)
I will counsel you, dear brother
I have done
true source of doctrine
fiends; many more
But look well, ponder you so
If; with them
you go; (see note)
And [are] lost forever
Call out; high
No longer remain
Entrusted him to God; went
call; cry out
began to hear; rueful cry
growled; their foul arses
pursued; with abuse
said they; flesh and skin
fetch him [to]
damnable; (see note)
But; get you no profit
Never had you; bad experience
But; fiends said
If; by; advice
to us beloved; precious
perfect love; (see note)
fellows gathered together
otherwise; you teach
lust; (see note)
Into you; hooks thrust
would not; fail
But I; counsel
In the middle
fire; began to make
Feet and hands
cast; in the midst
At once; fire away; quenched
Coal nor; was not left
Much more confident; indeed
Into; uncivilized land
no kind of comfort
Only; thirst; cold
tree; saw; stand
Then thought; found
Hard; further to go
saw; lay; field; (see note)
women; were destroyed
calls of distress
iron bands bound
began to shriek; wail
very sorrow; regret
sloth; (see note)
they may dread
in fact; (see note)
troubled; very sorely
Where; saw sorrow
through feet and hands and head
iron nails glowing; (t-note)
nailed at that time
saw sit; them
Loathsome; on fire; (t-note)
In public nothing can be hidden; (see note)
sat toads black
bit them [in the] back
runs all too widely
And then; (t-note)
leapt; them there; (t-note)
their hooks them tore up
began to cry
wife (i.e., woman)
country (dwelling place)
lecher indeed; (t-note)
Unless; right away
Still further I will go
led; further; place
Where men; did
Listen; be in peace!
fourth field; was; (t-note)
iron hooks; burning
lead; caustic brimstone
calls of distress
no other prayer
glowing upon; fire
at some time; acquaintance
fire them throughout
Those; feet; neck
thieves; companions; (see note)
backbiters; lives; (see note)
Beware; wife (i.e., woman)
Who are eager to scold (complain)
willing to; relics swear
false witness bear
went; (see note)
saw; wheel turned
hooks; fitted out
made it turn
blue (i.e., livid) fire; burning
powder very fine
runs in this way
land; (see note)
Until death makes him fall down
Unto your own country
in the midst
Then; hooks; tore
fire; burned fiercely
He thought; was not
[To] them; drink
afterwards down; (t-note)
mountain; of fire
missile of a siege engine
As soon as; think at all
saw; before; such
Then stopped; to go
A half part of; pain
caustic brimstone molten
shrieked; cried; crazy
bore bags (i.e., pouches); necks; (see note)
coins glowing all on fire
such meat; ate
sinners; creatures; (see note)
period of time; washed
A cycle or two; (see note)
flame of fire
Then; sorely terrified
coal; pitch it spewed
as if one saw an adder
fellows hurry; (t-note)
birds; cage; (t-note)
do you believe at all
That they are at all agonized
back before too late
Stinking; dark, far
Then; be pained
pain; tell of
pride; (see note)
Then; face and complexion
sixty eyes bore; (see note)
loathsome; gruesome; (t-note)
saw; before; such
black as pitch
lay; (see note)
very; narrow bridge
do you see
inflict misery on you
for all the world; (see note)
Avoid falling in the middle
other fellows; (t-note)
motes; sun beams
Burned of lightning; thunder
Which he thought [a] great difficulty (misfortune)
is no; ink
master figure out
One half of; pain
(see note); (t-note)
Saint Paul bears
For any need at all
Unto; keep; (t-note)
did not know
That clothing he put on
far and near
see; (see note)
Wood nor steel was not
topaz; crystal; (see note)
Rubies; celadon; (see note)
Onyx; chalcedony; (see note)
diamonds indeed; (see note)
sanctuaries; (see note)
columns beautiful; delicate
curved; carbuncle; (see note)
more skillful; or; (t-note)
Where; earlier; from
in gracious manner
many [in] procession; (see note); (t-note)
(see note); (t-note)
canons; Friar Preachers (i.e., Dominicans); (see note)
Friars Minor (i.e., Franciscans); Dominicans; (see note)
Carmelites; Augustinian Friars; (see note)
nuns; (see note)
religious orders had taken; (see note)
wedlock; (see note)
Between; two; taken
There were no sins among them
went; in a line
fiddle; psaltery (i.e., stringed instrument); (see note)
carol (i.e., sing); (t-note)
Let us sing
leaves behind earthly love
trilled; merry glee; (see note)
Bass; melody; (see note)
treble; loud sound
life; (see note)
gardens; (see note)
chrysanthemum; briar rose
There are plants of other kinds; (see note)
Those that are least of value
But one; value; (t-note)
streams flow from
Phison; one; (see note); (t-note)
second; (see note); (t-note)
Truth to tell, without lies
saw stay alone
to the others
silk woven with gold
among mankind; (t-note)
I will; comparison; (see note)
That accords well
believes; most of all
Between; two; took
God, be He praised
evening and morning; (t-note)
At some time; twelve; ten
bound; (see note)
do not know; time
If appropriate; have Mass sung
quickly; (see note)
right away; (t-note)
Before; here placed
all kinds of birds'
fiddle; croud (i.e., stringed instrument); (see note)
By land or by sea
called; terrestrial; (t-note)
against him took up
Look; if you are not mad
Then; sword of fire
drove; earth; (t-note)
traveled; (see note)
is relevant here
kin; (see note)
With regard to
one time; (see note)
To us; meal; glad
flame of fire
far and near
form of fire
But; nowhere near
Such a great enjoyment
Back; must go
well; deadly sin
For no reason at all
took his leave; back
fled; like a missile from a catapult
[To] the prior; (see note)
Came with a premonition
works to do
Pilgrim's bag and staff; (see note)
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