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Art. 28, Ichot a burde in a bour ase beryl so bryht


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).

10 charbocle. “A precious stone, a gem.” See MED, carbuncle (n.).

15 cunde. This word is a playful pun on “nature” and “cunt,” meant as an enthusiastic compliment. The naming of a private body part matches the directness found in the Harley fabliaux; see the explanatory note to The Knight Who Made Vaginas Talk (art. 87), line 12. In English, the pun is possible and allows the coarser word to adopt a facade of decorum, as in The Life of Saint Marina (art. 32), line 217 (see explanatory note). On the interpretation and the critical history of this line, see Fein 2000c, p. 356.

18 celydoyne. Celandine, a plant used medicinally. See MED, celidoine (n.(1)), and, elsewhere in MS Harley 2253, Heliotrope and Celandine (art. 112).

20 solsecle. The marigold. This flower is also used to describe a woman’s beauty in Blow, Northern Wind (art. 46), line 67, and it appears as an herbal item in Heliotrope and Celadine (art. 112; see explanatory note).
sauve. “Heal, cure.” For the verb here and at line 34, see MED, saven (v.), sense 11.(a), and compare salven, (v.).

21–30 The stanza on birds seems filled with playful sexual innuendo, as each bird is “in” something and seems willing to frolic with the speaker. Compare the refrain of A Beauty White as Whale’s Bone (art. 36). For the translation of in pyn in line 21, I accept Hough’s interpretation, “in a pine” (pp. 174–75), instead of the standard editorial interpretation “for pain, for torment.”

23 thrustle. See explanatory note to A Beauty White as Whale’s Bone (art. 36), burden.

29 an note. The riddle’s answer in plain sight is that her name is Annot. Her name is a fitting conclusion to the stanza on birds. For a similar flattering, perhaps erotic analogy of women to birds, see ABC of Women (art. 8), lines 161–65 (and explanatory note). For antifeminist analogies, see The Blame of Women (art. 77), lines 41–45; and Women and Magpies (art. 78).

34 saveth. See explanatory note to line 20.

35 bayeth. The verb is baithen, “to inquire, ask, grant,” and the word here is often emended to baytheth by editors.

36 in dayne. “In daytime.” Brown 1932 is the only editor who reads the phrase as the word indayne, “unworthy,” which the MED follows; see indigne (adj.).

41 medicyne. The emendation is adopted by Brook and by Turville-Petre 1989. The MED accepts the manuscript reading of medierne (as do several editors), even though it is poorly attested. See med-yern (adj.) ~ might, “?desirous of power.”

42–48 The identities of these names are obscure, but they appear to be taken from Scandinavian or Celtic romance lore.

48–49 me . . . me. The word means “one, mankind in general." See MED, me (pron.(1)), and compare Song of the Husbandman (art. 31), line 19 and the explanatory note. By line 49, the word could mean “me,” having shifted in sense from the general to the specific.

50 Jonas. Breeze suggests that the original reading was Iason, referring to Jason of the Argonauts (2004).
Jon. This word names the speaker and poet.


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.

5 on. So MS, W3, B13, Br, St, Tu, Mi. Bö: omitted.

6 diamaund. So MS, Bö, B13, Br, St, Tu, Mi. W3: diamaunde.

9 mai. So MS, Bö, B13, Br, St, Tu, Mi. W3: may.

10 ches. So MS, W3, B13, Br, St, Tu, Mi. Bö: chos.

13 peruenke. So MS (er abbreviated; an e before the u is marked for deletion), B13, Br, St, Tu, Mi. W3: parvenke. Bö: paruenke.

20 sauve. MS, Br, St, Tu, Mi: sauue. W3, Bö, B13: sanne.

22 To. So MS, W3, B13, Br, St, Tu, Mi. Bö: þou.

23 in. So MS, W3, Bö, B13, Br, St, Mi. Tu: ant.

25 dernest. So MS, W3, B13, Br, St, Tu, Mi. Bö: derrest.

30 roune. So MS, Bö, B13, Br, St, Tu, Mi. W3: ronne.

31 thourh. So Bö, B13, Br, St, Tu. MS, W3: þouh. Mi: thorh.

33 Lyne. So MS, B13, Br, St, Tu, Mi. W3: lyve. Bö: lyue.

34 saveth. So MS, W3, Bö, Tu. B13, Br, St, Mi: saneþ.

35 bayeth. So MS, Bö, B13. W3, Br, St, Tu, Mi: bayþeþ.

36 dede is in dayne. So MS, W3. B13: dede is indayne. Bö: dedis in dayne. Br, St, Tu, Mi: dedis in day.

37 in greve. So MS (re abbreviated), B13, Br, St, Tu, Mi. W3, Bö: in grene.

41 medicyne. So Br, Mi. MS, W3, Bö, B13: medierne. St, Tu: medicine.

43 Tegeu. So MS, B13, Br, St, Tu, Mi. W3, Bö: Tegen.

44 oft. So B13, Br, St, Tu, Mi. MS, W3: of. Bö: omitted.

47 carf. So MS, W3, B13, Br, St, Tu, Mi. Bö: þat carf.

50 heo. So MS, B13, Br, St, Tu, Mi. W3, Bö: he.











¶ Ichot a burde in a bour ase beryl so bryht,
Ase saphyr in selver, semly on syht,
Ase jaspe the gentil that lemeth with lyht,
Ase gernet in golde, ant ruby wel ryht,
Ase onycle he ys, on yholden on hyht,
Ase diamaund the dere in day, when he is dyht.
He is coral ycud with cayser ant knyht;
Ase emeraude amorewen, this may haveth myht.
     The myht of the margarite haveth this mai mere;
     For charbocle Ich hire ches bi chyn ant by chere.

Hire rode is ase rose, that red is on rys;
With lilye-white leres, lossum he is;
The primerole he passeth, the peruenke of pris,
With alisaundre, thareto, ache, ant anys.
Coynte ase columbine, such hire cunde ys,
Glad under gore, in gro ant in grys.
He is blosme opon bleo, brihtest under bis,
With celydoyne ant sauge, ase thou thiself sys:
     That syht upon that semly to blis he is broht!
     He is solsecle, to sauve ys forsoht!

He is papejai in pyn, that beteth me my bale;
To trewe tortle in a tour, Y telle the mi tale;
He is thrustle thryven in thro, that singeth in sale,
The wilde laveroc, ant wolc, ant the wodewale;
He is faucoun in friht, dernest in dale,
Ant with everuch a gome, gladest in gale.
From Weye he is wisist into Wyrhale;
Hire nome is in a note of the nyhtegale,
     In an note is hire nome. Nempneth hit non?
     Whose ryht redeth, roune to Johon.

Muge he is, ant mondrake, thourh miht of the mone,     
Trewe triacle ytold with tonges in trone;
Such licoris mai leche from Lyne to Lone;
Such sucre mon secheth that saveth men sone;
Blithe yblessed of Crist, that bayeth me mi bone
When derne dede is in dayne derne are done.
Ase gromyl in greve, grene is the grone,
Ase quibibe ant comyn, cud is in crone,
     Cud comyn in court, canel in cofre,
     With gyngyure ant sedewale, ant the gylofre.

He is medicyne of miht, mercie of mede,
Rekene ase Regnas resoun to rede,
Trewe ase Tegeu in tour, as Wyrwein in wede,
Baldore then Byrne, that oft the bor bede;
Ase Wylcadoun he is wys, dohty of dede,
Feyrore then Floyres, folkes to fede,
Cud ase Cradoc in court, carf the brede,
Hendore then Hilde, that haveth me to hede.
     He haveth me to hede, this hendy, anon;
     Gentil ase Jonas, heo joyeth with Jon!
¶ I know a lady in a bower as bright as beryl,
As sapphire in silver, lovely to see,
As fine jasper that gleams with light,
As garnet in gold, and ruby well set,
As onyx she is, one highly regarded,
As precious diamond by day, when she’s adorned.
She is coral valued by emperor and knight;
As emerald by morning, this girl has power to heal.
     The power of pearl this fair girl possesses;
     I choose her as my precious gem in every way.

Her complexion’s as rose, red on the stem;
With lily-white cheeks, she is lovable;
She excels the primerole, the prized periwinkle,
Horse parsley, too, wild celery, and anise.
Pretty as columbine, such is her nature,
Merry under skirt, with gray and rich furs.
She’s a flower in color, radiant under dress,
With celandine and sage, as you yourself see:
     Who sees that beauty is transferred to bliss!
     She is marigold, sought out for health!

She’s a parrot in a pine, who conquers my sorrow;
To true turtledove in a tower, I tell you my tale;
She's a thrush doughty in dispute, who sings in the hall,
The wild lark, and hawk, and the golden oriole;
She's a falcon in forest, most hidden in valley,
And among everyone, most glad in merriment.
She is wisest from the Wye into the Wirral;
Her name’s in a note of the nightingale,
     In a note is her name. Can anyone name it?
     Whoever guesses correctly, whisper to John.

Nutmeg she is, and mandrake, by power of the moon,
True remedy attested to by courtly report;
Such licorice may bring cure from Lynn to Lune;
Such sought-after sugar that heals men quickly;
I’m happily blessed by Christ, who grants me my prayer     
When private daytime deeds are performed secretly.
As gromwell in grove, whose seed is green,
As peppercorn and cumin, prized for its crown,
Court-prized cumin, cinnamon in chest,
With ginger and setwall, and the clove.

She is medicine with potency, mercy with reward,
Ready as Regnas to counsel reasonably,
True as Tegeu in tower, as Wyrwein in fine dress,
Bolder than Byrne, who often challenged the boar;
As Wylcadoun she’s wise, doughty of deed,
Fairer than Floyres, a pleasure to folks,
Famous as Cradoc in court, who carved the roast,
More courteous than Hilde, who takes care of one.
     She takes care of one, this fair one, indeed;
     Gracious as Jonas, she finds pleasure with John!


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Go To Art. 29, Bytuene Mersh ant Averil, introduction
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