Art. 25a, Lord that lenest us lyf
ART. 25A, LORD THAT LENEST US LYF: EXPLANATORY NOTES
ABBREVIATIONS: AND: Anglo-Norman Dictionary; ANL: Anglo-Norman Literature: A Guide to Texts and Manuscripts (R. Dean and Boulton); BL: British Library (London); Bodl.: Bodleian Library (Oxford); CCC: Corpus Christi College (Cambridge); CUL: Cambridge University Library (Cambridge); IMEV: The Index of Middle English Verse (Brown and Robbins); IMEV Suppl.: Supplement to the Index of Middle English Verse (Robbins and Cutler); MED: Middle English Dictionary; MWME: A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 1050–1500 (Severs et al.); NIMEV: A New Index of Middle English Verse (Boffey and Edwards); NLS: National Library of Scotland (Edinburgh).
3 cocke with knyf. This phrase means literally “fight with a knife”; see MED, cokken (v.(1)). This invocation depicts God as ready to act belligerently, indeed, somewhat like a common brawler. On the verbal echoes between this opening and the juxtaposed ending of The Execution of Sir Simon Fraser (art. 25), see Stemmler 2000, p. 116; and Revard 2007, pp. 110–11. The opening also quietly parallels the first and last stanzas of The Three Foes of Man (art. 27), as the texts of quire 6 will soon close upon the subject of God’s moral bidding and final judgment.
9 In wunne. “In bliss,” that is, in the garden of Eden.
19 drahtes wol drawe. For the idiom here, drawen draught, meaning “to play a trick,” see MED, draught (n.), sense 3.(e).
22 smoke. The smock is her necessary underwear. The speaker laments that these underclass girls dress themselves up without modestly tending first to having proper undergarments. Attendant sexual laxity is implied.
24 boses. Fashionable hair buns worn over each cheek; see MED, boce (n.), sense 2. “The total result looked remarkably like a pig with drooping ears” (Turville-Petre 1989, p. 12).
38 joustynde gyn. The phrase appears to be a comic insult over the size of the hair buns: they are like targets to joust at. See justen (v.), sense 3.(a). In resembling either a baited pig or a target, the hairstyle seems always to be a conspicuous lure by which to attract the devil’s attention.
40–42 The joke in these lines lies in the proverbial saying on mutability, “all comes to decline,” applied to a hair fashion that literally hangs low about the ears. It comically reprises the moralisms of the preceding poems: Lament for Simon de Montfort (art. 24), lines 130–35, and The Execution of Sir Simon Fraser (art. 25), lines 169–70. For Scattergood, the lines reveal the poet’s attitude of resistance to social change: “this sense of things going to the bad is characteristic of the political and quasi-political verses in the manuscript. Old certainties were being questioned, and a new order was emerging in all sorts of areas — political, economic, and social” (2000a, p. 201).
43–44 The fashion invites the devil to hold court on the girl’s head, with the irony being that she sets herself up as vulnerable to his decree. The word halymotes may carry latinate inflection; see MED, halimot (n.).
47–48 Commentators often suppose that the “worse” liquid is urine (Turville-Petre 1989, p. 13; Revard 2007, p. 111), an alkaline solution like lye. Another possibility is that it is spit. Turville-Petre speculates that the original word was wouse, “plant sap.”
49 The words bout and barbet are not recorded elsewhere in Middle English.
51 fauce. “False,” indicating that the cloth is not of the silk quality worn by ladies.
54–55 Between these lines there is a comic pause and reversal of meaning.
ART. 25A, LORD THAT LENEST US LYF: TEXTUAL NOTES
ABBREVIATIONS: As: Aspin; Bö: Böddeker; Bos: Bossy; Br: Brook; BS: Bennett and Smithers; BZ: Brandl and Zippel; B13: Brown 1932; B14: Brown 1952; DB: Dunn and Byrnes; Deg: Degginger; Do: Dove 1969; Gr: Greene 1977; Ha: Halliwell; Hal: Hall; Hol: Holthausen; Hor1: Horstmann 1878; Hor2: Horstmann 1896; Hu: Hulme; JL: Jeffrey and Levy; Ju: Jubinal; Kel: Keller; Ken: Kennedy; Le: Lerer 2008; Mc: McKnight; Mi: Millett; MR: Michelant and Raynaud; Mo: Morris and Skeat; MS: MS Harley 2253; Mu: H. M. R. Murray; Pa: Patterson; Pr: Pringle 2009; Rei: Reichl 1973; Rev1: Revard 2004; Rev2: Revard 2005b; Ri1: Ritson 1877; Ri2: Ritson 1885; Ro: Robbins 1959; Sa: Saupe; Si: Silverstein; St: Stemmler 1970; Tr: Treharne; Tu: Turville-Petre 1989; Ul: Ulrich; W1: Wright 1839; W2: Wright 1841; W3: Wright 1842; W4: Wright 1844; WH: Wright and Halliwell.
10 monkune. So MS, W1, B13, Tu. Bö: monkunne.
16 lyne. So MS, W1, B13, Tu. Bö: lyue.
19 wol. MS, W1, Bö, B13, Tu.: wl.
29 shrewe. So MS, W1, Bö, B13. Tu: schrewe.
45 Yef. So MS (3ef), W1, Bö, Tu. B13: 3of.
47 worse. So MS, W1, B13, Tu. Bö: forse.
wet. So MS, W1, B13, Tu. Bö: fet.
48 lac. So Bö, B13, Tu. MS, W1: lat.
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