Wynnere and Wastoure


1 Here begins a treatise and good short debate between Winner and Waster

2 Lines 1-2: Since Britain was settled after Brutus had conquered it, / Following the destruction of Troy because of internal treason

3 Wise words and subtle, and each word obscures the next (or, hides another intention)

4 Because he (the son) shall not stay behind (i.e., at home) when he (the father) grows old and gray

5 And hares shall crouch upon hearthstones for their lairs

6 Lines 29-30: But nevertheless, at the end, when men are revealed for what they are / Work will bear witness to those who know how to work best

7 Barnacle geese with their beaks make a ringing sound on the bark of trees (or, peck noisily at their shells)

8 So riotous were the rough streams that made so much noise (reached so far)

9 Pushed forward out of the woods, in phalanxes they deployed

10 That either army in hatred had for the other

11 And each one gaily surrounded with fastenings of blue

12 High upon a wooded hill (or possibly stronghold, used figuratively) a nobleman stands up

13 Dressed as a savage man of the wood (see note) in twisted tufts of fur

14 The king's beard was berry-brown (see note) - embroidered with birds

15 Go, tell the bold warriors over yonder who await on the battlefield

16 With neck armor and armor covering the stomach polished very shinily

17 With pieces of armor for the arms of bright steel linked very tightly

18 With a well-fitting tunic fastened at the sides

19 With three papal bulls of white color embroidered within it

20 That he who is head of Holy Church, I believe he is there

21 Lines 54-55: I hold that person to be a fool who would go to war even though legal disputations in court might settle the issue, / When he has found [Wynnere's] friend (lawyer), who never failed him (in court)

22 He had a heavy purse who got them all to come here

23 The ends of belts (that hang down after they have passed through the buckles) are tapered to round tips, the end of the belt (tucked) away

24 And from the time when he discovers for certain where the fault rests

25 Let neither man be angry to act as he (the king) deems (or, let neither man be angry to act as he purposes)

26 And now are their bridles ready, and they have set out upon their ways

27 "You are welcome, lords, both of you, as retainers of our house''

28 It seemed I drank so deeply it bleared both my eyes

29 But then the king spoke, saying, "Make known what you're named

30 Those who profitably will save and spend not too much

31 The devil may wonder at the wealth he enjoys at home

32 Therefore judge (doom) us this day, for God's love in heaven

33 With your violent behavior and contentiousness you consume my goods

34 Then there's nothing but "fill the cup'' and "fetch it forth,'' to make you show your money

35 Every laborer in the field ought to be the more inspired by fear to work

36 Than if goods be covered up, hidden, or laid away in chests here

37 Your son and your executors, each one ruins the other

38 And mortal sin, for their deaths, were indicted by a jury of twelve

39 That utterly disgraced were those men and Chief Justice Shareshull together with them

40 As if this were not enough, another course comes after

41 Mawmene (a chopped meat dish) that men steep (in wine) to fill their gullets (see note)

42 Every course costs a mark for every two people

43 That each man in the street may hear blaring of trumpets

44 Thus are you scorned with good reason, and disgraced accordingly

45 "Regular meals would be better than a single merry feast''

46 A hen would cost a halfpenny by the end of half a year

47 To go into the woods to show him the recesses of the estate

48 Now they (the wives) are foolish girls of the new fashion, so foolishly dressed

49 Lines 421-22: In order to give such an example, to show others / That they should leave pomp and pride, (something) which poverty often teaches.

50 To avoid ignominy and shame where men are gathered

51 And if my people are proudly arrayed, I am pleased all the better

52 You give orders to wait on the weather, then curse the time

53 That you had not prepared your houses and organized your servants

54 As willing to go mad as to anger you (even) once

55 I.e., no matter how long Winner remains in the land, he will not be able to keep up with Waster

56 Go forth into Cheapside, a chamber set up there

57 Bring him to Bread Streat (in Cheapside, noted for its bakeries), beckon with your finger

58 That if anyone find a penny in his purse, let him be damned (have his eyes put out)


T refers to Trigg's edition of the poem; T-P to Turville-Petre's 1989 edition; G to Gollancz's edition.

1-2 A number of alliterative poems (most famously Sir Gawain and the Green Knight) open by referring to Britain's founding by Brutus, the great-grandson of Aeneas. The legend stems from Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae. The tradition of Aeneas' treason in betraying Troy was also well known in the Middle Ages; it stems from Servius' commentary on the Aeneid. For a poem that probably alludes to the Statute of Treasons (see below, note to 130ff.), the opening seems particularly apt.

4 nyne. Cardinals in Middle English are used for ordinals fairly frequently (Tauno F. Mustanoja, A Middle English Syntax, I: Parts of Speech. Mémoires de la Société Néophilologique de Helsinki 23 [1960], p. 306). On the chaos of the time Turville-Petre (1989) observes: "The brilliant victories over the French at Crécy and Calais in 1346-47 were succeeded in 1348 and the following years by the horrors of the Black Death, when it seemed that, with starvation, increased crime and a severe shortage of labour, economic and moral order was collapsing" (p. 41).

5 witt and wyles. The poet alludes to abuse of two of man's three faculties, intellect and will. Memory is the third.

10-16 Political prophecies of this sort were not uncommon in England during the later Middle Ages: Thomas of Erceldoune's Prophecy (4-5), for instance, parallels the impossible situation of finding hares on hearthstones. These prophecies, as indeed the entire genre of complaint they are part of, emerge from an old tradition in which the "abuses of the age" are catalogued (Bestul, pp. 55-58). The effect of such pronouncements did not pass unnoticed: in 1402 a law was passed which forbade the making of prophecies. Invoking the Apocalypse and Judgment Day in particular was common in French and English allegorical romances of the time. Solomon's reputation in the Middle Ages as not only a sage but magician and prophet makes him a fitting figure to evoke, especially in a debate poem.

15 lede hem at will. T-P and G read: lede at hir will. But T notes that leden, "marry," normally requires a direct object (p. 18).

19-23 Criticism of present-day poets and jongleurs was familiar in medieval allegories and histories. Perhaps closest to Wynnere is the Chandos Herald, who in the Prologue to his Life and Deeds of the Black Prince (lines 1-30), written in French, says that "once those who made fine poems were regarded as men of authority, but now greater heed is paid to a chatterer, a false liar, a juggler, or a jester."

21 in fere. The reference to companions here perhaps alludes to patronage.

24 chyn-wedys. T-P points to the derisive mockery of the word, which is modeled on heroic vocabulary (e.g., here-wedys, "battle-garments," i.e., armor).

25 thies. T-P and G emend to three.

32 Wandering in the west beside a stream is a common convention in Middle English poetry; see Bestul, p. 66.

36 hill. "Hill" could possibly mean a mound overgrown with plants here, as it does in Pearl, line 41 (Elliott).
hawthorne. The hawthorn tree was sometimes associated with the supernatural world (T). Compare Death and Liffe (lines 30-31) and The Romance of the Rose (line 4002), where the hawthorn also appears (T-P).

39 Bernacles. Barnacle geese were exotic creatures: they were thought to grow in shells which adhered to trees overhanging water (T).

40 foles. T-P: fowles.

50 The armies of Wynnere and Wastoure are in either woods, separated by the glade.

58 appon hate. This is the MS reading; T, T-P, and G emend to hethe. For "upon" as "in," see line 67: appon Ynglisse tonge, and OED sv. 10b. As in the Middle English The Wars of Alexander (line 42), "upon" here denotes a state or condition; it was often associated with states of hostility. There is no need to emend the MS.

59-68 Following Speirs, Elliott argues that the topography of the dream recalls settings used in the medieval circular theater, as well as the lists of medieval tournaments and pageantry. The caban here, for instance, corresponds to the highly decorated judge's box or pavilion at fourteenth-century English tournaments. Although the cabin is adorned with emblems of the Order of the Garter (see note to line 68), one should observe that Edward III's tournaments consisted of series of single combats, not the mock battles of an earlier age. Juliet Vale (pp. 73-75) suggests that a scene like the one described in the poem may have been part of the Christmas "ludi," or court games, that were held in 1352: in them there appeared a group dressed as Dominicans and another dressed as merchants, both with their own banners.

64 ther. MS: thre. T: th[er]; T-P: the; G: th[ies]. he. T: he[u].

66 fresche. T-P: Frensche.

68 This line translates "Honi soit qui mal y pense," the motto of the Order of the Garter, which was formed by Edward III in either 1347 or 48; it was apparently officially instituted in 1349. The Order consisted of the king and twenty-six chosen knights, each of whom wore a blue garter circumscribed with gold (see line 62), which symbolized a lasting bond of friendship and honor. Edward also had a round table made for his knights.

70 holt. T-P: hale.

71 wodwyse. The wildman was a popular figure of untamed strength in medieval pageantry, art, heraldry, and literature (T). For a brief account, see Larry Benson, Art and Tradition in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1965), pp. 72-83; the standard study is Richard Bernheimer, Wild Men in the Middle Ages (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1952). Some of Edward III's own livery seems to have been decorated with "wode woses" (T-P: 45). "Dressing up" had become common in tournaments by the end of the fourteenth century (Glynne Wickham, Early English Stages 1300-1600, [New York: Columbia University Press, 1980], I, 42-44); the "wild man" was one of the figures people dressed up as.

76-82 The "wodwyse" bears the royal arms of England on his lambrequin, a mantle that hangs from the back of his helmet.

78-80 The heraldry of Edward, the Black Prince, bears the fleur-de-lis of France in the top left and bottom right quarters of the field (before and behynde) and the three rampant leopards (heraldically called lions) of England on the upper right (one lofte) and lower left (on lowe undir). As T-P notes: "The arms of France were quartered with those of England in 1340 with reference to Edward III's claims to the French Throne" (p. 45).

79 with sex grim bestes, as in MS. T: with [orfraied] bestes; T-P: with sex egre bestes; G: with sex [irous] bestes.

83 knyghte: MS: kynge. The emendation, accepted by most editors, avoids referring to the king, who is inside the pavilion, not next to it, before the narrator actually sees him three lines later. T-P, however, retains the MS reading and interprets the line: "by the (heraldry of) the pavilion I recognized the King that I was looking at" (p. 45). In his 1982 edition T-P identified the king specifically as Edward III.

90-92 These lines are difficult. I have followed Turville-Petre in retaining the MS reading and see Bery-brown was his berde as an awkward ellipsis that refers to Edward, whose beard was in fact brown. Gollancz emends was to as, and interprets the king's clothes to be the same color as his beard. Trigg, however, may be right to say that these lines are among the most corrupt in the poem; her emendation is Bery broun was [the bleaunt], i.e., the material.

94 gerede full riche. The MS reads: girde in the myddes, which the scribe probably anticipated from the following line. If the MS reading is retained, as in T-P, the sense would be that the garters were wrapped around the middle of the birds.

97 daderande tham semede. A dative form could have a nominative function with an impersonal verb in Middle English. "Seem" was in transition from an impersonal to a personal verb at the time (Mustanoja, A Middle English Syntax, pp. 112-13).

100 Edward was known for his love of hawking.

115ff Various attempts have been made to identify the herald from his jupon: Gollancz suggested the Black Prince, Salter a member of the Wingfield family. Sir John Wingfield was chief administrator for the Black Prince from 1351-61. As Trigg notes, however, wings were a common heraldic device.
Reed, Middle English Debate Poetry (pp. 264-66), suggests that in sending a minister to pray for peace and to summon feuding parties to appear before the king for arbitration of their dispute, the poet recalls the protocols of Parliament, which also opened with a call for peace and the king's declaration that he is willing to decide the pleas of his people.

121 caughte. MS reads caughten, which is ungrammatical. Editors who emend for reasons of alliteration suggest: T-P broched in ("urged his horse in swiftly"); G brawndeschet ("brandished"); T brayede ("seized").

125 Send his. The MS form is kept here as a possible contraction of sendeth. T and G emend to Sendes. Gollancz's emendation of erande to bodword is tempting.

127 no. Again the MS reading is kept. For no= "nor," see MED, s.v., conj.

130ff These lines have been thought to refer to the Statute of Treasons of 1352. Salter has shown that if this is the case, the poet's allusion is at best very general, for the offenses in the poem, abrogation of the king's privilege to ride with unfurled banners and disturbing his peace, correspond imprecisely with the stipulations of the Statute, which in fact classified the act of leading one armed band against another as a felony rather than as a treasonable offense. On the other hand, by using the word ryall (line 128), the messenger seems to imply that the armies have committed a treasonable offense, and riding with banners displayed was, as T-P notes (p. 45), evidence of levying open war, which remained an act of treason under international law.
Furthermore, as Trigg notes, the phrase "his pese to disturbe," both here and at line 318, might deliberately echo William Shareshull (see note to line 317), who summoned Parliament to draft the Statute of Treasons by saying that "the King has understood that the peace of his realm has not been kept as it should have been, and that the disturbers of the peace and maintainers of quarrels and riots in the land have harmed many of its people." Even though this phrasing is formulaic, it does seem likely, all told, that the poet is making some reference to the Statute here.

136 amonges thies wyes one. The MS reading is retained despite the diffuseness of syntax and possible error of repeating one from the line preceding. T and G emend to thies wyes amonges.

144 bulles. The MS reading is bibulles, which could possibly mean "Bibles," though the orthography is against it. T, G, and T-P all emend to bulles. Holinshed (Chronicles) reports that in 1343 one challenger in a tournament held at Smithfield came dressed as the pope, and brought twelve others with him who were dressed as cardinals (Bestul, p. 103). During the 1340s and 50s, feelings in England ran high against the Pope, whose power and demands for money were conveyed by pronouncements known as bulls.

149-55 The "band of green" on the lawyers' banner has been associated with the "green wax" used to seal a writ. The extra cost for such sealing (sixpence), without which a sheriff could not receive the writ, provided income for lawyers and a popular target for those who satirized them.

157 galegs. Emended from MS galeys by all editors. As part of their vow of poverty, Franciscans were supposed to go shoeless, but wearing the simple galegs, a kind of shoe the apostles were thought to have worn, seems to have been an accepted practice among the friars.

159 These are Saint Francis' folk, who say all are doomed to die

163 was. T-P emends to es.

164 balle. An emendation of MS balke, accepted by all editors.

166 mayne. The MS reads maye, which makes little sense. All editors emend to mayne, which gives the line the sense "when the sun is at its strongest." Havely argues that the banner contains elements, such as its emphasis on light, that are drawn from Dominican iconography and hagiography.

176, 186 Internal details suggest that these lines have been transposed by the scribe. The Carmelites (known as White friars) were famous for their devotion to the Virgin (see line 177); the Augustinian friars wore black habits with leather girdles (see lines 182-87). The three boarsheads are a common heraldic sign; if they are indeed on the banner of the White friars, this resonates with the fact that Carmelites were charged in particular to be abstemious and to practice frugality.

177 ordire. Most editors emend to ledis for reasons of alliteration. The pattern xa/ax is found in the poem, but, as Trigg notes, only when voiced/unvoiced or couplet alliteration is involved. Still, the poem is too short to rule out the possibility that the same pattern could occur in other circumstances: it appears three times in Parlement.

189-90 Some wittnesse of wolle. The MS has Some of witnesse of wolle. This entails taking wittnesse as a noun rather than a verb, which is possible, but awkward. For "merke" in the next line as a generic plural, "trademarks," see MED, s.v. 5a.

193 After the lengthy elaboration of Wynnere's army, the brevity of the description of Wastoure's forces is striking. What this terseness means, however, is open to debate.

197 hedir broghte. T-P: broghte hedir.

201 wye. The MS wyes is an error for the singular form.
demeth. The MS reads doeth, which makes little sense. Most editors emend as here.

215 sowrede. T-P: sowed.

217 See note to line 367.

236 The devyll wounder one. More idiomatic ME usage would omit the one, since it seems to make wounder a verb when it actually is a noun.

237 heghe howses. These have been interpreted as houses Wastoure owns but has not rented. The phrase, however, often carried connotations of pride and ostentation: see MED s.v. 1a.

248 Compare Parlement, lines 257-60. The merchant who cannot sleep for worry about his goods is a familiar convention.

254 Some rote, some ruste. See Matt. 6:19-21.

256-62 See Matt. 25:31-46.

264 thou. The MS reads tho, "although"; accepting this reading, the line would mean "You speak of a matter although (you) caused it yourself." As Trigg points out, however, the conjunction is spelled thofe elsewhere in the poem, and thou nicely completes the line: Wynnere says Wastoure's excessive consumption has caused the shortages that have made so many poor. T-P and G: thou.

266 playinge. This is the MS reading; it has been variously emended on grounds of alliteration. Some suggested emendations: wayttinge, feasting; wraxling(e), wrastlinge, wrestling; wastinge. See T's note (pp. 33-34) for a summary of the proposed readings.

267 angarte pryde. T-P: augarte pryde; G: angarte [of] pryde.

270 rychely. MS: ryhely. All editors emend to rychely.

276 dede monethe. The drought of March was a recognized (and welcomed) feature of the climate of medieval England: see A. Stuart Daley, "Chaucer's 'droghte of March' in Medieval Farm Lore," Chaucer Review 4 (1970), 171-79.

277-82 Compare this tavern scene and Piers Plowman A.5.185 and 8.67-75.
277 tonne-hede. This could be read as toune-hede, the upper extremity of a town.

282 T-P (p. 55) points to the sexual allusions: "Wee hee" is the noise of an amorous horse; worthe up: "climb up."

286 The allusion is to Matt. 24:40.

288 tynen. The MS reads tymen, which Karen Stern (University of London M. Phil. thesis, 1973) and Lon Mark Rosenfeld (Columbia University dissertation, 1975) interpret as "tames, subdues." Most, however, accept the emendation and gloss "fence in"; Burrow glosses the sense as "harrows."

300 freres it feche. Friars were often named the recipients of goods in wills. See Piers Plowman's Crede lines 404-17, where the friar is so eager to collect upon a wealthy widow's death that he can't stay to answer Will's questions.

308ff. Wastoure implies that Wynnere is so full of worry, he and Wanhope (despair of God's mercy) are kin. Wastoure then goes on to wish that the penances imposed by the Church were drowned in the sea. He then derisively imagines the legal charges for their "deaths," and defies the charge that he would be disturbing the peace for having gotten rid of Wynnere, Wanhope, and the others.

310 ymbryne dayes. Ember days: a three day period of fasting (Wednesday and the following Friday and Saturday) appointed by the Church during each of the four seasons. Fasts were decreed the day before a Saint's day as well; Fridays and Saturdays were always days of abstinence.

317 Sir William Shareshull (?1289-1370), Chief Justice from 1350-61, earned the hatred of many in all classes of society for his part in promulgating restrictive legislation of all kinds, especially the Statute of Laborers in 1351 and the Statute of Treasons in the following year. See Bertha Putnam, The Place in Legal History of Sir William Shareshull (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1950). Both Steadman (1923) and Anderson suggest these lines refer to an uprising in Chester in 1353, where Shareshull held a general eyre (i.e., circuit court).
itwiste. The MS reads it wiste; the line would mean then that Wastoure wants all those destroyed - and Shareshull knew it - who said he disturbed the peace. Itwiste, "together with them," however, makes better sense and is consistent with the scribe's practice of separating the elements of prepositions and pronouns (he writes by syde and hym selven for bysyde and hymselven).

329 owthe. The only instance of a Southern ending for the present tense (T). The form has legal implications; it suggests that Wastoure's followers have entered into sworn legal contracts with him.

332ff. Descriptions of sumptuous feasts are common in Middle English romances: compare Morte Arthure, lines 176-215. The one described here follows the usual sequence of courses.

334 frumentee. A potage made of boiled hulled grain mixed with almond milk and sweeteners; often served with venison.

337 doke. This is the MS reading, though the emendation to dole, "portion" is very tempting. T emends to dole. G translates doke as "dole," comparing the term to docket, or "piece."

345 Martynmesse. November 11, the feast celebrating St. Martin of Tours, at butchering time when salting of meat for winter storage was taking place.

353-59 The MS has lost a small piece from the top left hand corner at this point. The emendations follow those suggested by Gollancz, Burrow (line 356), and Trigg (line 357).

355 [Maw]mene that men stepen. A new reading. All editors have read clepen, translating "what men call mawmene." The manuscript, however, almost certainly reads stepen. Mawmene is a chopped meat dish that very often was made with wine: see MED, s.v. for citations. Wynnere is describing a variation of the dish in which the meat has been soaked in wine.

356 G: [Twelve] mese at a merke; T-P: Aye a mese at a merke. T-P notes (p. 59) that in 1349 a mark (160 pence) could buy two horses.

357 T-P: Siche bot brynneth for bale . . .; G: [Thog]he bot brynneth for bale. . . .

361 myster. T-P emends to hope, noting that "myster, 'need', neither alliterates nor makes sense" (p. 59).

364 ones. MS: one.

366 forthe. T-P emends to forthire.

367 Full freschely and faste. The invitation to fill one's cup with drink for the next fitt suggests an oral presentation (see line 217). T comments on the irony of the invitation, given the account of Wastoure's feast. "The repeated lines seem to be a stylistic remnant of the minstrel's art; certainly the fitt divisions perform little formal or structural function as the poem is too short (barely longer than a single fitt of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight) and its action too continuous to require the pauses. The lines calling for wine are part of the poet's overall fiction, reminding us of the dreamer's presence, with the address to the readers at line 31" (p. 36).

370-74 These lines are difficult. Their sense perhaps is: "Because crops will be good, the price for them will remain low, which will drive Wynnere mad with despair (because of the reduced value of his crops, if we take erthe="ploughing"), and make him (either) hope for a hard year (to drive the prices back up), (or) hang himself." Alternatively, lines 373-74 can mean that Wynnere will expect a hard year (for himself) to follow, which will lead him to hang himself.

372 and it passe. MS: and passe. T's emendation. T-P and G read that it passe.

375ff. For the argument that expenditure is necessary to maintain honor and reputation, see The Romance of the Rose, lines 5232-48.

384-88 These lines seem to mean that without consumption (by the rich), food would become so plentiful and cheap that the poor would have no incentive to work, and the social order would thus be threatened.

386 ete. T-P and G emend to frete ("devour"), for the sake of alliteration and ferocity.

390 moste. MS: moþe, in margin with caret marks.

392ff. Wynnere sarcastically dismisses Wastoure's contention (lines 382-83) that by his spending the lot of the poor will improve.

400 For to save to youre sones. This is the MS reading. It makes adequate, if redundant, sense; its grammar is awkward, but passable. Many editors follow Gollancz and emend to schadowe, "provide shade for."

409 T emends to That are had [ben] lordes . . . on the grounds that this continues Wynnere's argument against the dissolute nobility. T-P emends had to were. It is possible, though, that having spoken of those who have squandered their ancestral estate, Wynnere shows his own concern for the social hierarchy by turning to those who once were servants but now, able to command higher wages, are imitating the upper classes. The passage, nonetheless, is obscure, as is the comparison to the simple maid that ends it; it does seem to pivot, however, about the thought that clothes do not alter the nature of those who wear them.

411 side slabbende sleves. The MS reads elde, which does stand in contrast to the new gett of the line before, but the sense is difficult. Most editors emend to side "wide." Attacks on long sleeves were common in satires of the period. T-P emends to sle3e ("skillfully made").

415ff. The passage ends as it began, with the poor, but whether the humility and poverty of Mary and Joseph is an example more to be set against Wynnere or Wastoure is hard to say at this point.

422 schewes. G emends to eschewes, glossing the line to mean: "To leave pomp and pride that poverty scorn."

428ff Compare Parlement, 246-60.

434 To see tham faire and free. The MS probably reads To fee tham . . . , which would mean that Wastoure is all the happier, if his people are proudly attired, to hire them (enfeoff) at a generous wage; there are difficulties, however, with this reading, despite its preferability in alliteration. Though T-P reads fee, G and T read see, which makes better sense. The f and s are easily confused, especially late in the MS.

435ff. Again it is hard to determine exactly the point of Wastoure's thrust: is he saying (as in line 248) that Wynnere can't sleep because he's worried about his goods? The MS readings, preserved here, however, suggest the opposite: that Wynnere sleeps too soundly, suggesting a slothfulness that is seconded by Wastoure's charge that Wynnere wastes time by putting off making needed repairs to his storehouses and by failing to organize his household to react to a small harvest, if the weather is bad, or a large one, if it is good (T). T-P (p. 62) suggests that Wynnere makes a virtue of his slothfulness, first instructing his men to wait and then cursing because it is too late to do anything: thus the miser saves money in repairs and labor.

438 I hold that person crazy who worries about winning his mate

445 Thou tast tent. T, G, and T-P emend to Thou tast no tent.

446 make. G emends to makende and translates the line: "I hold him mad that worries such winnings to make."

451 Ferrere. The implication seems to be that the person who happens to live longest has to go farther to fetch wood because the timber from the surrounding countryside for fifteen miles around has already been cut down.

454 myn hert and harmes. MS: hert omitted. All recent editors follow G's emendation. T observes: "The scribe's characteristic error of omission is easily corrected" (p. 45).

460 wale. Rosenfeld derives the word from OE wael, "dangerous, deadly." T suggests "fine, beautiful, pleasant" as perhaps more appropriate. G suggests "swift, quick, moving."

468-73 Part of the manuscript has been cut away here. I have followed Trigg's emendations.

476 potet. An obscure word; Turville-Petre (1982) glosses as "?tippler," a guess I have adopted, though in his 1989 edition he emends to "botet 'booted', i.e., 'equipped for riding"' (p. 64). The situation would somewhat recall that of the Manciple and Cook in The Canterbury Tales. Other suggestions include emending to potener, "one who carries a purse" (G); pert (Stern); potent (Rosenfeld); and petit, "insignificant" (T).

479 to comforth his vaynes. T-P compares the Cretan wine as comfort for hangover to "the hair of the dog" (p. 65).

482 Hotte for the hungry seems to echo a street vendor's cry. T compares the line to Piers Plowman A Prol.104-05 and "London Lickpenny," lines 59ff. (R. H. Robbins, Historical Poems, no. 51).

485 sprede. MS: spre. T-P and G: spred; T: spre[de].

494 this other foules. Probably, as Trigg says, a scribal substitution for an illegible or unfamiliar word. She suggests endes, "ducks"; others read osulles, "ouzels."

498 T-P (p. 65) identifies the proude pales as the "Palais de la Cité." He points out that after 1346, Edward was eager to press his claim to the French crown; he tempted investors and soldiers to underwrite a campaign, whose costs were very high, with the promise of rich profits that could be made.

500 silver. MS: si. All emend to silver.

502 kayre. MS: layren. I follow T's emendation. G and T-P: kayren.

503 A reference to the shrine of the Three Magi in Cologne Cathedral. Gollancz points out that Edward III visited and made offerings at the shrine in 1338.


15 hem] hir

64 ther] thre

83 knyghte] kynge

94 gerede full riche] girde in the myddes

121 caughte] caughten

144 bulles] bibulles

157 galegs] galeys

164 balle] balke

166 mayne] maye

176 Be any crafte . . . semyde] copied after185

186 The ordire . . . I wene] copied after175

189 Some] Some of

201 wye] wyes demeth] doeth

264 thou] tho

270 rychely] ryhely

288 tynen] tymen

300 freres] it freres

317 itwiste] it wiste

321 se] se es

353 Caudils] defective to -ils connynges g damaged by worm hole

354 Dariols] defective to -oils

355 Mawmene] defective to -mene

356 Iche] defective to -e

357 That sothe] defective to -othe

358 Me tenyth] defective to -enyth

359 That iche] defective to -he

364 ones] one

372 it] om.

390 moste] mothe

411 side] elde

420 wedes] wordes

430 hir] ir damaged by worm hole

434 see] fee?

454 hert] om.

468 come] defective from co-

469 take] defective

470 beryinge-daye] defective from ber-

471 to holde] defective

472 wonne scholde] defective from wonn-

473 wyng ther untill] defective from wyng

485 sprede] defective from spr-

500 silver] defective from sil-

502 kayre] layren

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Wynnere and Wastoure

Here begynnes a tretys and god schorte refreytebytwixe Wynnere and Wastoure1





































































































Sythen that Bretayne was biggede and Bruyttus it aughte,
Thurgh the takynge of Troye with tresone withinn,2
There hathe selcouthes bene sene in seere kynges tymes,
Bot never so many as nowe by the nyne dele.
For nowe alle es witt and wyles that we with delyn,
Wyse wordes and slee, and icheon wryeth othere.3
Dare never no westren wy while this werlde lasteth
Send his sone southewarde to see ne to here,
That he ne schall holden byhynde when he hore eldes.4
Forthi sayde was a sawe of Salomon the wyse -
It hyeghte harde appone honde, hope I no nother -
When wawes waxen schall wilde and walles bene doun,
And hares appon herthe-stones schall hurcle in hire fourme,5
And eke boyes of blode with boste and with pryde,
Schall wedde ladyes in londe and lede hem at will,
Thene dredfull Domesdaye it draweth neghe aftir.
Bot whoso sadly will see and the sothe telle,
Say it newely will neghe or es neghe here.
Whylome were lordes in londe that loved in thaire hertis
To here makers of myrthes that matirs couthe fynde,
And now es no frenchipe in fere bot fayntnesse of hert,
Wyse wordes withinn that wroghte were never,
Ne redde in no romance that ever renke herde.
Bot now a childe appon chere, withowtten chyn-wedys,
That never wroghte thurgh witt thies wordes togedire,
Fro he can jangle als a jaye and japes telle,
He schall be levede and lovede and lett of a while
Wele more than the man that made it hymselven.
Bot, never-the-lattere, at the laste when ledys bene knawen,
Werke wittnesse will bere who wirche kane beste.6

[Fitt I]

Bot I schall tell yow a tale that me bytyde ones
Als I went in the weste, wandrynge myn one,
Bi a bonke of a bourne; bryghte was the sone
Undir a worthiliche wodde by a wale medewe:
Fele floures gan folde ther my fote steppede.
I layde myn hede one ane hill ane hawthorne besyde;
The tbrostills full tbroly they tbrepen togedire,
Hipped up heghwalles fro heselis tyll othire,
Bernacles with thayre billes one barkes thay roungen,7
The jay janglede one heghe, jarmede the foles.
The bourne full bremly rane the bankes bytwene;
So ruyde were the roughe stremys and raughten so heghe8
That it was neghande nyghte or I nappe myghte,
For dyn of the depe watir and dadillyng of fewllys.
Bot as I laye at the laste than lowked myn eghne,
And I was swythe in a sweven sweped belyve.
Me thoghte I was in the werlde, I ne wiste in whate ende,
One a loveliche lande that was ylike grene,
That laye loken by a lawe the lengthe of a myle.
In aythere holte was ane here in hawberkes full brighte,
Harde hattes appon hedes and helmys with crestys;
Brayden owte thaire baners, bown for to mete,
Schowen owte of the schawes, in schiltrons thay felle,9
And bot the lengthe of a launde thies lordes bytwene.
And alle prayed for the pese till the prynce come,
For he was worthiere in witt than any wy ells
For to ridde and to rede and to rewlyn the wrothe
That aythere here appon hate had untill othere.10
At the creste of a clyffe a caban was rerede,
Alle raylede with rede the rofe and the sydes,
With Ynglysse besantes full brighte, betyn of golde,
And ichone gayly umbygone with garters of inde,11
And iche a gartare of golde gerede full riche.
Then were ther wordes in the webbe werped of he,
Payntted of plunket, and poyntes bytwene,
That were fourmed full fayre appon fresche lettres,
And alle was it one sawe appon Ynglysse tonge,
"Hethyng have the hathell that any harme thynkes."

Now the kyng of this kythe kepe hym oure Lorde!
Upon heghe one the holt ane hathell up stondes,12
Wroghte als a wodwyse alle in wrethyn lokkes,13
With ane helme one his hede, ane hatte appon lofte,
And one heghe one the hatte ane hattfull beste,
A lighte lebarde and a longe, lokande full kene,
Yarked alle of yalowe golde in full yape wyse.
Bot that that hillede the helme byhynde in the nekke
Was casten full clenly in quarters foure:
Two with flowres of Fraunce before and behynde,
And two out of Ynglonde with sex grym bestes,
Tbre leberdes one lofte and tbre on lowe undir;
At iche a cornere a knoppe of full clene perle,
Tasselde of tuly silke, tuttynge out fayre.
And by the cabane I knewe the knyghte that I see,
And thoghte to wiete or I went wondres ynewe.
And als I waytted withinn I was warre sone
Of a comliche kynge crowned with golde,
Sett one a silken bynche, with septure in honde,
One of the lovelyeste ledis, whoso loveth hym in hert,
That ever segge under sonn sawe with his eghne.
This kynge was comliche clade in kirtill and mantill -
Bery-brown was his berde - brouderde with fewlys,14
Fawkons of fyne golde, flakerande with wynges,
And ichone bare in ble blewe als me thoghte
A grete gartare of ynde gerede full riche.
Full gayly was that grete lorde girde in the myddis:
A brighte belte of ble broudirde with fewles,
With drakes and with dukkes - daderande tham semede
For ferdnes of fawkons fete, lesse fawked thay were.
And ever I sayd to myselfe, "Full selly me thynke
Bot if this renke to the revere ryde umbestonde."
The kyng biddith a beryn by hym that stondeth,
One of the ferlyeste frekes that faylede hym never:
"Thynke I dubbede the knyghte with dynttis to dele!
Wende wightly thy waye my willes to kythe.
Go, bidd thou yondere bolde batell that one the bent hoves,15
That they never neghe nerre togedirs;
For if thay strike one stroke stynte thay ne thynken."
"Yis, lorde," said the lede, "while my life dures."
He dothe hym doun one the bonke, and dwellys awhile
Whils he busked and bown was one his beste wyse.
He laped his legges in yren to the lawe bones,
With pysayne and with pawnce polischede full clene,16
With brases of broun stele brauden full thikke,17
With plates buklede at the bakke the body to yeme,
With a jupown full juste joynede by the sydes,18
A brod chechun at the bakke; the breste had another,
Tbre wynges inwith wroghte in the kynde,
Umbygon with a gold wyre. When I that gome knewe,
What! he was yongeste of yeris and yapeste of witt
That any wy in this werlde wiste of his age.
He brake a braunche in his hande, and caughte it swythe,
Trynes one a grete trotte and takes his waye
There bothe thies ferdes folke in the felde hoves.

Sayd, "Loo! the kyng of this kyth, ther kepe hym oure Lorde!
Send his erande by me, als hym beste lyketh,
That no beryn be so bolde, one bothe his two eghne,
Ones to strike one stroke, no stirre none nerre
To lede rowte in his rewme, so ryall to thynke
Pertly with youre powers his pese to disturbe.
For this es the usage here and ever schall worthe:
If any beryn be so bolde with banere for to ryde
Withinn the kyngdome riche bot the kynge one,
That he schall losse the londe and his lyfe aftir.
Bot sen ye knowe noghte this kythe ne the kynge ryche,
He will forgiffe yow this gilt of his grace one.
Full wyde hafe I walked amonges thies wyes one,
Bot sawe I never siche a syghte, segge, with myn eghne;
For here es all the folke of Fraunce ferdede besyde,
Of Lorreyne, of Lumbardye, and of Lawe Spayne;
Wyes of Westwale, that in were duellen;
Of Ynglonde, of Yrlonde, Estirlynges full many,
That are stuffede in stele, strokes to dele.
And yondere a banere of blake that one the bent hoves,
With tbre bulles of ble white brouden withinn,19
And iche one hase of henppe hynged a corde,
Seled with a sade lede; I say als me thynkes,
That hede es of holy kirke I hope he be there,20
Alle ferse to the fighte with the folke that he ledis.
Another banere es upbrayde with a bende of grene,
With tbre hedis white-herede with howes one lofte,
Croked full craftyly and kembid in the nekke:
Thies are ledis of this londe that schold oure lawes yeme,
That thynken to dele this daye with dynttis full many.
I holde hym bot a fole that fightis whils flyttynge may helpe,
When he hase founden his frende that fayled hym never.21

The thirde banere one bent es of blee whitte,
With sexe galegs, I see, of sable withinn,
And iche one has a brown brase with bokels twayne.
Thies are Sayn Franceys folke, that sayen alle schall fey worthe;
They aren so ferse and so fresche, thay feghtyn bot seldom.
I wote wele for wynnynge thay wentten fro home;
His purse weghethe full wele that wanne thaym all hedire.22

The fourte banere one the bent was brayde appon lofte,
With bothe the brerdes of blake, a balle in the myddes,
Reghte siche as the sone es in someris tyde,
When it hase moste of the mayne one Missomer Even.
That was Domynyke this daye with dynttis to dele;
With many a blesenande beryn his banere es stuffede.
And sythen the pope es so priste thies prechours to helpe,
And Fraunceys with his folke es forced besyde,
And alle the ledis of the lande ledith thurgh witt,
There es no man appon molde to machen thaym agayne,
Ne gete no grace appon grounde, undir God hymselven.

And yitt es the fyfte appon the felde the faireste of tham alle,
A brighte banere of blee whitte with tbree bore-hedis;
Be any crafte that I kan Carmes thaym semyde,
For thay are the ordire that loven oure Lady to serve.
If I scholde say the sothe, it semys no nothire
Bot that the freris with othere folke shall the felde wynn.

The sexte es of sendell, and so are thay alle,
Whitte als the whalles bone, whoso the sothe tellys,
With beltys of blake bocled togedir,
The poyntes pared off rownde, the pendant awaye,23
And alle the lethire appon lofte that one lowe hengeth
Schynethe alle for scharpynynge of the schavynge iren:
The ordire of the Austyns, for oughte that I wene,
For by the blussche of the belte the banere I knewe.
And othere synes I seghe sett appon lofte,
Some wittnesse of wolle, and some of wyne tounnes,
Some of merchandes merke, so many and so thikke
That I ne wote in my witt for alle this werlde riche
Whatt segge under the sonne can the sowme rekken.
And sekere one that other syde are sadde men of armes,
Bolde sqwyeres of blode, bowmen many,
That if thay strike one stroke stynt thay ne thynkena
Till owthir here appon hethe be hewen to dethe.

Forthi I bid yow bothe that thaym hedir broghte
That ye wend with me, are any wrake falle,
To oure comely kyng that this kythe owethe;
And fro he wiete wittirly where the wronge ristyth,24
Thare nowthir wye be wrothe to wirche als he demeth."25
Off ayther rowte ther rode owte a renke als me thoghte,
Knyghtis full comly one coursers attyred,
And sayden, "Sir sandisman, sele the betyde!
Wele knowe we the kyng; he clothes us bothe,
And hase us fosterde and fedde this fyve and twenty wyntere.
Now fare thou byfore and we schall folowe aftire."
And now are thaire brydells upbrayde and bown one thaire wayes.26
Thay lighten doun at the launde and leved thaire stedis,
Kayren up at the clyffe and one knees fallyn.
The kynge henttis by the handes and hetys tham to ryse,
And sayde, "Welcomes, heres, as hyne of oure house bothen."27
The kynge waytted one wyde, and the wyne askes;
Beryns broghte it anone in bolles of silvere.
Me thoghte I sowpped so sadly it sowrede bothe myn eghne.28
And he that wilnes of this werke to wete any forthire,
Full freschely and faste, for here a fitt endes.

[Fitt II]

Bot than kerpede the kynge, sayd, "Kythe what ye hatten,29
And whi the hates aren so hote youre hertis bytwene.
If I schall deme yow this day, dothe me to here."
"Now certys, lorde," sayde that one, "the sothe for to telle,
I hatt Wynnere, a wy that alle this werlde helpis,
For I lordes cane lere thurgh ledyng of witt.
Thoo that spedfully will spare and spende not to grete,30
Lyve appon littill-whattes, I lufe hym the bettir.
Witt wiendes me with, and wysses me faire;
Aye when gadir my gudes than glades myn hert.
Bot this felle false thefe that byfore yowe standes
Thynkes to strike or he styntt and stroye me for ever.
Alle that I wynn thurgh witt he wastes thurgh pryde;
I gedir, I glene, and he lattys goo sone;
I pryke and I pryne, and he the purse opynes.
Why hase this cayteffe no care how men corne sellen?
His londes liggen alle ley, his lomes aren solde,
Downn bene his dowfehowses, drye bene his poles;
The devyll wounder one the wele he weldys at home,31
Bot hungere and heghe howses and howndes full kene.
Safe a sparthe and a spere sparrede in ane hyrne,
A bronde at his bede-hede, biddes he no nother
Bot a cuttede capill to cayre with to his frendes.
Then will he boste with his brande and braundesche hym ofte,
This wikkede weryed thefe that Wastoure men calles,
That if he life may longe this lande will he stroye.
Forthi deme us this daye for Drightyns love in heven32
To fighte furthe with oure folke to owthire fey worthe."

"Yee, Wynnere," quod Wastoure, "thi wordes are hye:
Bot I schall tell the a tale that tene schall the better.
When thou haste waltered and went and wakede alle the nyghte,
And iche a wy in this werlde that wonnes the abowte,
And hase werpede thy wyde howses full of wolle sakkes -
The bemys benden at the rofe, siche bakone there hynges,
Stuffed are sterlynges undere stelen bowndes -
What scholde worthe of that wele if no waste come?
Some rote, some ruste, some ratons fede.
Let be thy cramynge of thi kystes for Cristis lufe of heven!
Late the peple and the pore hafe parte of thi silvere;
For if thou wydwhare scholde walke and waytten the sothe,
Thou scholdeste reme for rewthe, in siche ryfe bene the pore.
For and thou lengare thus lyfe, leve thou no nother,
Thou schall be hanged in helle for that thou here spareste;
For siche a synn haste thou solde thi soule into helle,
And there es ever wellande woo, worlde withowtten ende."

"Late be thi worde, Wastoure," quod Wynnere the riche;
"Thou melleste of a mater, thou madiste it thiselven.
With thi sturte and thi stryffe thou stroyeste up my gudes33
In playinge and in wakynge in wynttres nyghttis,
In owttrage, in untbrifte, in angarte pryde.ex
There es no wele in this werlde to wasschen thyn handes
That ne es gyffen and grounden are thou it getyn have.
Thou ledis renkes in thy rowte wele rychely attyrede;
Some hafe girdills of golde that more gude coste
Than alle the faire fre londe that ye byfore haden.
Ye folowe noghte youre fadirs that fosterde yow alle
A kynde herveste to cache and cornes to wynn
For the colde wyntter and the kene with gleterand frostes,
Sythen dropeles drye in the dede monethe.Aft
And thou wolle to the taverne, byfore the tonne-hede,
Iche beryne redy with a bolle to blerren thyn eghne,
Hete the whatte thou have schalte and whatt thyn hert lykes,
Wyfe, wedowe, or wenche that wonnes there aboute.
Then es there bott "fille in" and "feche forthe," florence to schewe,34
"Wee hee," and "worthe up," wordes ynewe.
Bot when this wele es awaye, the wyne moste be payede fore;
Than lympis yowe weddis to laye or youre londe selle.
For siche wikked werkes wery the oure Lorde!
And forthi God laughte that he lovede and levede that other,
Iche freke one felde ogh the ferdere be to wirche.35
Teche thy men for to tille and tynen thyn feldes;
Rayse up thi rent-howses, ryme up thi yerdes,
Owthere hafe as thou haste done and hope aftir werse -
That es firste the faylynge of fode, and than the fire aftir,
To brene the alle at a birre for thi bale dedis.
The more colde es to come, als me a clerke tolde."

"Yee, Wynnere," quod Wastoure, "thi wordes are vayne.
With oure festes and oure fare we feden the pore;
It es plesynge to the Prynce that Paradyse wroghte.
When Cristes peple hath parte Hym payes alle the better
Then here ben hodirde and hidde and happede in cofers,36
That it no sonn may see thurgh seven wyntter ones,
Owthir freres it feche when thou fey worthes,
To payntten with thaire pelers or pergett with thaire walles.
Thi sone and thi sektours, ichone slees othere;37
Maken dale aftir thi daye, for thou durste never.
Mawngery ne myndale ne never myrthe lovediste.
A dale aftir thi daye dose the no mare
Than a lighte lanterne late appone nyghte
When it es borne at thi bakke, beryn, be my trouthe.
Now wolde God that it were als I wisse couthe,
That thou, Wynnere, thou wriche, and Wanhope thi brothir,
And eke ymbryne dayes, and evenes of sayntes,
The Frydaye and his fere one the ferrere syde,
Were drownede in the depe see there never droghte come,
And dedly synn for thayre dede were endityde with twelve,38
And thies beryns one the bynches with howes one lofte,
That bene knowen and kydde for clerkes of the beste,
Als gude als Arestotle or Austyn the wyse,
That alle schent were those schalkes and Scharshull itwiste,39
That saide I prikkede with powere his pese to distourbe!
Forthi, comely kynge, that oure case heris,
Late us swythe with oure swerdes swyngen togedirs;
For nowe I se it es full sothe that sayde es full yore -
The richere of ranke wele, the rathere will drede:
The more havende that he hathe, the more of hert feble."

Bot than this wrechede Wynnere full wrothely he lukes,
Sayse, "this es spedles speche to speken thies wordes.
Loo! this wrechide Wastoure, that wydewhare es knawenn,
Ne es nothir kaysser, ne kynge, ne knyghte that the folowes,
Barone, ne bachelere, ne beryn that thou loveste,
Bot foure felawes or fyve, that the fayth owthe;
And he schall dighte thaym to dyne with dayntethes so many
That iche a wy in this werlde may wepyn for sorowe.
The bores-hede schall be broghte with plontes appon lofte,
Buk-tayles full brode in brothes there besyde,
Venyson with the frumentee, and fesanttes full riche,
Baken mete therby one the burde sett,
Chewettes of choppede flesche, charbiande fewlis,
And iche a segge that I see has sexe mens doke.
If this were nedles note, anothir comes aftir,40
Roste with the riche sewes and the ryalle spyces,
Kiddes cloven by the rigge, quarterd swannes,
Tartes of ten ynche, that tenys myn hert
To see the borde overbrade with blasande disches,
Als it were a rayled rode with rynges and stones.
The thirde mese to me were mervelle to rekken -
For alle es Martynmesse mete that I with most dele,
Noghte bot worttes with the flesche, withowt wilde fowle
Save ane hene to hym that the howse owethe -
And he will hafe birdes bownn one a broche riche,
Barnakes and buturs and many billed snyppes,
Larkes and lyngwhittes lapped in sogoure,
Wodcokkes and wodwales full wellande hote,
Teeles and titmoyses to take what him lykes;
[Caudel]s of conynges and custadis swete,
[Dario]ls and dische-metis that ful dere coste,
[Maw]mene that men stepen your mawes to fill,41
[Ich]e a mese at a merke bytwen twa men,42
[That s]othe bot brynneth for bale your bowells within.
[Me t]enyth at your trompers, thay tounen so heghe
[That ic]he a gome in the gate goullyng may here:43
Then wil thay say to thamselfe, as thay samen ryden,
Ye hafe no myster of the helpe of the heven kyng.
Thus are ye scorned by skyll, and schathed theraftir,44
That rechen for a repaste a rawnsom of silver.
Bot ones I herd in a haule of a herdmans tong:
"Better were meles many than a mery nyghte."45
And he that wilnes of this werke for to wete forthe,
Full freschely and faste, for here a fit endes.

[Fitt III]

"Yee, Wynnere," quod Wastour, "I wote well myselven
What sall lympe of the, lede, within fewe yeris.
Thurgh the poure plenté of corne that the peple sowes,
That God will graunte of his grace to growe on the erthe,
Ay to appaire the pris, and it passe nott to hye,
Schal make the to waxe wod for wanhope in erthe,
To hope aftir an harde yere to honge thiselven.
Woldeste thou hafe lordis to lyfe as laddes on fote?
Prelates als prestes that the parischen yemes?
Prowde marchandes of pris as pedders in towne?
Late lordes lyfe als tham liste, laddes as tham falles;
Thay the bacon and beefe, thay botours and swannes,
Thay the roughe of the rye, thay the rede whete,
Thay the grewell gray, and thay the gude sewes;
And then may the peple hafe parte in povert that standes,
Sum gud morsell of mete to mend with thair chere.
If fewlis flye schold forthe and fongen be never,
And wild bestis in the wodde wone al thaire lyve,
And fisches flete in the flode, and ichone ete other,
Ane henne at ane halpeny by halfe yeris ende,46
Schold not a ladde be in londe a lorde for to serve.
This wate thou full wele witterly thiselven,
Whoso wele schal wyn, a wastour moste he fynde,
For if it greves one gome, it gladdes another."

"Now," quod Wynner to Wastour, "me wondirs in hert
Of thies poure penyles men that peloure will by,
Sadills of sendale, with sercles full riche.
Lesse and ye wrethe your wifes, thaire willes to folowe,
Ye sellyn wodd aftir wodde in a wale tyme,
Bothe the oke and the assche and all that ther growes;
The spyres and the yonge sprynge ye spare to your children,
And sayne God wil graunt it his grace to grow at the last,
For to save to your sones: bot the schame es your ownn.
Nedeles save ye the soyle, for sell it ye thynken.
Your forfadirs were fayne, when any frende come,
For to schake to the schawe and schewe hym the estres,47
In iche holt that thay had ane hare for to fynde,
Bryng to the brod lande bukkes ynewe
To lache and to late goo, to lightten thaire hertis.
Now es it sett and solde, my sorowe es the more,
Wastes alle wilfully, your wyfes to paye.
That are had lordes in londe and ladyes riche,
Now are thay nysottes of the new gett, so nysely attyred,48
With side slabbande sleves, sleght to the grounde,
Ourlede all umbtourne with ermyn aboute,
That es as harde, as I hope, to handil in the derne,
Als a cely symple wenche that never silke wroghte.
Bot whoso lukes on hir lyre, oure Lady of Heven,
How scho fled for ferd ferre out of hir kythe,
Appon ane amblande asse, withowtten more pride,
Safe a barne in hir barme, and a broken heltre
That Joseph held in hys hande, that hend for to yeme,
Allthofe scho walt al this werlde, hir wedes wer pore
For to gyf ensample of siche, for to schewe other
For to leve pompe and pride, that poverté ofte schewes."49
Than the Wastour wrothly castes up his eghne,
And said, "Thou Wynnere, thou wriche, me wondirs in hert
What hafe oure clothes coste the, caytef, to by,
That thou schal birdes upbrayd of thair bright wedis,
Sythen that we vouchesafe that the silver payen.
It lyes wele for a lede his leman to fynde,
Aftir hir faire chere to forthir hir herte.
Then will scho love hym lelely as hir lyfe one,
Make hym bolde and bown with brandes to smytte,
To schonn schenchipe and schame ther schalkes ere gadird;50
And if my peple ben prode, me payes alle the better51
To see tham faire and free tofore with myn eghne.
And ye negardes appon nyghte ye nappen so harde,
Routten at your raxillyng, raysen your hurdes;
Ye beden wayte one the wedir, then wery ye the while52
That ye nade hightilde up your houses and your hyne raysed.
Forthi, Wynnere, with wronge thou wastes thi tyme;
For gode day ne glade getys thou never.
The devyll at thi dede-day schal delyn thi gudis;
Tho thou woldest that it were, wyn thay it never;
Thi skathill sectours schal sever tham aboute,
And thou hafe helle full hotte for that thou here saved.
Thou tast tent one a tale that tolde was full yore:
I hold hym madde that mournes his make for to wyn53
Hent hir that hir haf schal, and hold hir his while,
Take the coppe as it comes, the case as it falles,
For whoso lyfe may lengeste lympes to feche
Woodd that he waste schall to warmen his helys,
Ferrere than his fadir dide by fyvetene myle.
Now kan I carpe no more; bot, Sir Kyng, by thi trouthe,
Deme us where we duell schall: me thynke the day hyes.
Yit harde sore es myn hert and harmes me more
Ever to see in my syghte that I in soule hate."

The kynge lovely lokes on the ledis twayne,
Says, "Blynnes, beryns, of youre brethe and of youre brode worde,
And I schal deme yow this day where ye duelle schall,
Aythere lede in a lond ther he es loved moste.
Wende, Wynnere, thi waye over the wale stremys,
Passe forthe by Paris to the Pope of Rome;
The cardynalls ken the wele, will kepe the ful faire,
And make thi sydes in silken schetys to lygge,
And fede the and foster the and forthir thyn hert,
As leefe to worthen wode as the to wrethe ones.54
Bot loke, lede, be thi lyfe, when I lettres sende,
That thou hy the to me home on horse or one fote;
And when I knowe thou will co[me], he schall cayre uttire,
And lenge with another lede, til thou thi lefe [take];
For thofe thou bide in this burgh to thi be[ryinge-daye],
With hym happyns the never a fote for [to holde].55
And thou, Wastoure, I will that thou wonn[e scholde]
Ther moste waste es of wele, and wyng [ther until].
Chese the forthe into the Chepe, a chambre thou rere,56
Loke thi wyndowe be wyde, and wayte the aboute,
Where any potet beryn thurgh the burgh passe;
Teche hym to the taverne till he tayte worthe;
Doo hym drynk al nyghte that he dry be at morow,
Sythen ken hym to the crete to comforth his vaynes,
Brynge hym to Bred Strete, bikken thi fynger,57
Schew hym of fatt chepe scholdirs ynewe,
"Hotte for the hungry," a hen other twayne,
Sett hym softe one a sege, and sythen send after,
Bryng out of the burgh the best thou may fynde,
And luke thi knave hafe a knoke bot he the clothe sprede.
Bot late hym paye or he passe, and pik hym so clene
That fynd a peny in his purse and put owte his eghe.58
When that es dronken and don, duell ther no lenger,
Bot teche hym owt of the townn to trotte aftir more.
Then passe to the Pultrie, the peple the knowes,
And ken wele thi katour to knawen thi fode,
The herons, the hasteletez, the henne wele serve,
The pertrikes, the plovers, the other pulled byrddes,
The albus, this other foules, the egretes dere;
The more thou wastis thi wele, the better the Wynner lykes.
And wayte to me, thou Wynnere, if thou wilt wele chefe,
When I wende appon werre my wyes to lede;
For at the proude pales of Parys the riche
I thynk to do it in ded, and dub the to knyghte,
And giff giftes full grete of golde and of silver,
To ledis of my legyance that lufen me in hert.
And sythen kayre as I come, with knyghtes that me foloen,
To the kirk of Colayne ther the kynges ligges. . . .
(see note)

marvels; various
ninth part; (see note)
deal with; (see note)

western man
nor to hear

Therefore; saying; (see note)

spirited low-born man
marry; (see note); (t-note)
Judgment Day; near
seriously; truth
Say it will come soon
Once; (see note)
among companions; (see note)
were never performed
face; beard; (see note)
shaped; (see note)
knows how to; jokes
believed; esteemed for
composed the poem

happened to me
by myself; (see note)
bank; stream
lovely wood; pleasant
Many; unfold where
(see note)
vigorously; contend in song
Leapt; woodpeckers; hazel trees
(see note)
on high; the birds chirped; (see note)
stream; quickly ran

approaching; before
chattering; birds
closed; eyes
swiftly; dream swept at once
never knew
enclosed by earthworks
army; (see note)

They unfurled; ready


man else
advise; rule; anger
(see note)
(see note)
adorned; red; roof
decorative coins; beaten

each; adorned
woven up high; (see note); (t-note)
light blue; dots
(see note)
a saying
Shame; knight; slander; (see note)

(see note)
(see note)
helmet; cap
wrathful beast
Made; skillful manner
that which covered; (see note)
devised; skillfully
above; below; (see note)
six; beasts; (see note)
above; below
red; projecting
(see note); (t-note)
discover before; enough
looked inside; aware immediately

of men
man; eyes
tunic; sleeveless robe; (see note)

bore; color
decorated; (see note); (t-note)

trembling; (see note)
terror; lest captured
knight; river; sometimes; (see note)
speaks to; knight
most marvelous men
you; blows
quickly; make known

come nearer
dressed; equipped
enclosed; iron; lower

(see note)
wrought in a natural fashion
Surrounded; man
Lo; cleverest
man; knew
swiftly; (see note); (t-note)
armies'; wait

Sends his message; (see note)

Once; nor; (see note)
troop; kingly
Openly; peace
be; (see note)


among these people; (see note)

Men; Westphalia; war
Hanseatic merchants

battlefield waits
(see note); (t-note)
a cord of hemp hanging down
heavy lead seal

unfurled; diagonal band; (see note)
lawyers' caps above them

sandals; black; (see note); (t-note)
(see note)


unfurled; (see note)
borders; (see note); (t-note)

strength; Midsummer; (see note); (t-note)

bright; crowded
since; willing
also made strong


know Carmelites; (see note); (t-note)
(see note)


hangs down
know; (see note); (t-note)

depict; casks; (see note); (t-note)

man; sum
certainly; sober; (see note)

either army; heath

Therefore; (see note)
go; before; mischief
country possesses

(see note); (t-note)

messenger, prosperity befall you

seizes [them]; orders


(see note)
desires; know
Fill up; (see note)

judge; let

I'm called

small amounts
goes; guides
my goods accumulate

pin; stitch together
lie; untilled; tools (looms)
dovecotes; fish pools
(see note)
Nothing but; (see note)
battle ax; shut up; corner
gelding; ride
boast; strut
accursed thief

until either dies

you; vex
tossed; turned; (see note)
lives with you
bacon; hangs
silver pennies; bands
rats; (see note)
(see note)
far and wide
weep; numbers


complain; caused; (see note); (t-note)

(see note)
excess; extravagance; arrogant; (see note)
well (wealth)
spent; bestowed before
(see note); (t-note)


After rainless drought; (March); (see note)
spigot; (see note)
bowl; blear

get up; enough (many); (see note)

it befalls; pledges
may our Lord curse you
took the one; (see note)

cultivate; fence in; (see note); (t-note)
clear; enclosed lands
what you've earned

in an instant; wicked

it pleases Him

So that; once
friars; when you die; (see note); (t-note)
pillars; plaster

Give a donation to the Church
Feast; memorial drink
bequest; death

carried behind you
as I could devise; (see note)
wretch; Despair
ember (i.e., fast); (see note)
companion (i.e., Saturday)

judges' caps

(see note); (t-note)
rode out; peace

in wealth; quicker

far and wide

knight (in another's service)
owe you allegiance; (see note)

vegetables; (see note)
bucks' hindquarters
(see note)
Roasted pies; table
Meat pies; roast fowls
each person; portion; (see note)

vexes; heart
covered; splendid
jewelled cross
course; describe
(see note)
(i.e., Wynnere)
prepared; spit
geese; bitterns; snipes
linnets; syrup
woodpeckers; boiling
Teals; titmice
Rabbit stews; open pies; (see note); (t-note)
Pastries; (t-note)
(see note); (t-note)
(see note); (t-note)
surely; burns; pain; (see note); (t-note)
I am vexed; sound; (t-note)
need; (see note)

pay; feast
servant's; (see note); (t-note)

desire; know further; (see note)
Fill up; (see note)

absolute plenty; (see note)
That which
reduce; (see note); (t-note)
mad; despair

(see note)
look after
wealth; peddlers
Let; please
Let these have; bitterns
husk; fine
gruel; sauces

improve their condition
caught; (see note)

swim; eat each other; (see note)

Whoever wealth; (see note); (t-note)

(see note)
costly fabric; rings
Lest you anger

shoots; sapling

(see note)


Those who once; (see note)

ample drooping; let down; (see note); (t-note)
Trimmed; around
innocent; worked with
misfortune; (see note)
fear far

child; lap; halter
gracious one; guard
ruled; clothes; (t-note)

(see note)

villain; buy
ladies; clothes

loved one; provide for; (see note)

loyally; (t-note)

lavish; in my presence; (see note); (t-note)
misers; sleep; soundly; (see note)
Snore as you stretch; buttocks

(see note)

wicked executors

take heed of; (see note)
(see note)
Let him take

gets to fetch
Farther; (see note)
Decree; flies
(see note); (t-note)
the one that I

Either person
Go; swift/pleasant; (see note)

know you well

by your life
go further away; (see note); (t-note)
stay; leave; (t-note)
remain; death; (t-note)
should dwell; (t-note)
Where; hurry thither; (t-note)

See to it; watch
drunk; (see note)
becomes merry
Make him
show; Cretan wine; (see note)

(see note)
seat; send for supplies

beating unless; (see note); (t-note)
before; rob

Poultry (in Cheapside)
instruct; buyer
roast meats
partridges; plucked
bullfinches; white herons; (see note)
look; prosper
palace; (see note)

(see note); (t-note)

(see note); (t-note)
cathedral; (see note)

Go To The Parlement of the Thre Ages