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Art. 31, Ich herde men upo mold


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 Böddeker begins the quotation at this line instead of at line 5. I take this line as direct speech, with the full speech beginning at line 5.

19 me. “They.” This pronoun, which appears several times in this poem, is indefinite in meaning and refers to the generalized “they” who victimize the husbandman. See MED, me (pron. (1)), and compare Annot and John (art. 28), line 48.

41 me. “They.” This pronoun, which appears several times in this poem, is indefinite in meaning and refers to the generalized “they” who victimize the husbandman. See MED, me (pron. (1)), and compare Annot and John (art. 28), line 48.

47 The speaker complains of the disrespect he receives: he is called a foul cherl even when he makes payment.

53 munten. See MED, munten (v.), sense 1.(b) ~ mede, “propose or offer a bribe.”

55 under gore. “To the quick,” literally, “under robes.” See MED, gore (n.(2)), sense 3.(b), and Fein 2000c, pp. 357–58.

64 lith. See MED, leie (adj.), “fallow, uncultivated.”

68–69 ruls. This word does not appear elsewhere. The MED, s.v. ruls (n. or adj.), suggests that it means “?overripe, rotten” or "?rubbish, something useless,” and that it may be related to an Icelandic term.


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.

7 bid. So MS, W1, Ro, Dea. Bö, BZ, Tu: bit.

16 bockneth. So MS, W1, Bö, BZ, Ro, Dea. Tu: beckneth.

17 wo. So MS, W1, BZ, Ro, Tu, Dea. Bö: who.

22 en. So MS, W1, BZ, Ro, Tu, Dea. Bö: an.

24 is. So MS, W1, Ro, Tu, Dea. Bö, BZ: haþ.

26 me. So MS, Ro, Tu, Dea. W1: omitted. Bö, BZ: men.

28 biddyng. So W1, Bö, BZ, Ro, Tu, Dea. MS: bddyng.

29 Meni. So MS, W1, Ro, Dean. Bö, BZ, Tu: Men.

35 hale. So MS, W1, Bö, Ro, Tu, Dea. BZ: halle.

41 Ych. So MS, W1, Ro, Tu. Bö, BZ, Dea: ich.

42 fyhshe-day. So MS (e abbreviated). W1: fyhshe day. Ro, Dea: fyhsh day. Tu: fyhsh-day. Bö, BZ: fysh day.

55 Thus. So MS (us abbreviated), Bö, BZ, Ro, Tu, Dea. W1: Ther.

56 doth. So MS, W1, Bö, Ro, Tu, Dea. BZ: deþ.

57 doth. So Ro, Tu, Dea. MS, W1: doh. Bö, BZ: doht.

58 tek. So MS, W1, Ro, Dea. Bö, BZ, Tu: tok.

59 boded. So MS, W1, BZ, Ro, Tu, Dea. Bö: biden.
fulle. So MS, Bö, BZ, Tu. W1, Ro, Dea: sulle.

70 broke. So MS (e abbreviated), Tu, Dea. W1, Bö, BZ: brok. Ro: brokes.

72 is. So MS, W1, Bö, BZ, Tu, Dea. Ro: in.
















¶ Ich herde men upo mold make muche mon,
Hou he beth itened of here tilyynge:
“Gode yeres ant corn, bothe beth agon!”
Ne kepeth here no sawe ne no song synge:
“Nou we mote worche — nis ther non other won —
Mai Ich no lengore lyve with mi lesinge!
Yet ther is a bitterore bid to the bon,
For ever the furthe peni mot to the kynge!
    Thus we carpeth for the kyng ant carieth ful colde,
    Ant weneth forte kevere, ant ever buth acast;
    Whose hath eny god, hopeth he nout to holde,
    Bote ever the levest we leoseth alast.

“Luther is to leosen ther ase lutel ys,
Ant haveth monie hynen that hopieth therto.
The hayward heteth us harm to habben of his;
The bailif bockneth us bale ant weneth wel do;
The wodeward waiteth us wo, that loketh under rys.
Ne mai us ryse no rest, rycheis, ne ro!
Thus me pileth the pore that is of lute pris,
Nede in swot ant in swynk, swynde mot swo:
    Nede he mot swynde, thah he hade swore,
    That nath nout en hod his hed forte hude!
    Thus Wil walketh in lond, ant Lawe is forlore,
    Ant al is piked of the pore the prikyares prude!

“Thus me pileth the pore ant pyketh ful clene;
The ryche me raymeth withouten eny ryht;
Ar londes ant ar leodes liggeth fol lene;
Thorh biddyng of baylyfs, such harm hem hath hiht!        
Meni of religioun me halt hem ful hene —
Baroun ant bonde, the clerc ant the knyht.
Thus Wil walketh in lond, ant Wondred ys wene;
Falsshipe fatteth ant marreth wyth myht:
    Stont stille y the stude ant halt him ful sturne,
    That maketh beggares go with bordon ant bagges.
    Thus we beth honted from hale to hurne;
    That er werede robes, nou wereth ragges!

“Yet cometh budeles with ful muche bost:
‘Greythe me selver to the grene wax!
Thou art writen y my writ, that thou wel wost!’
Mo then ten sithen told Y my tax!
‘Thenne mot Ych habbe hennen arost,
Feyr on fyhshe-day, launprey ant lax:
Forth to the chepyn!’ Geyneth ne chost.
Thah Y sulle mi bil ant my borstax,
    Ich mot legge my wed wel, yef Y wolle,
    Other sulle mi corn on gras that is grene;
    Yet I shal be ‘foul cherl,’ thah he han the fulle!
    That Ich alle yer spare, thenne Y mot spene!

“Nede Y mot spene that Y spared yore.
Ageyn this cachereles cometh thus Y mot care!
Cometh the maister-budel, brust ase a bore,
Seith he wole ‘mi bugging bringe ful bare’;
Mede Y mot munten — a marke other more —
Thah Ich at the set dey sulle mi mare!
Thus the grene wax us greveth under gore
That me us honteth ase hound doth the hare:
    He us honteth ase hound hare doth on hulle.
    Seththe Y tek to the lond, such tene me wes taht.
    Nabbeth ner budeles boded ar fulle,
    For he may scape, ant we aren ever caht.

“Thus Y kippe ant cacche cares ful colde
Seththe Y counte ant cot hade to kepe;
To seche selver to the kyng, Y mi seed solde,
Forthi mi lond leye lith ant leorneth to slepe!
Seththe he mi feire feh fatte y my folde —
When Y thenke o mi weole, wel neh Y wepe!
Thus bredeth monie beggares bolde,
Ant ure ruye ys roted ant ruls er we repe:
    Ruls ys oure ruye, ant roted in the stre,
    For wickede wederes, by broke ant by brynke.
    Thus wakeneth in the world Wondred ant Wee:
    Ase god is swynden anon, as so forte swynke!”
¶ I heard men of the land harshly complain,
About how they’re harassed in their farming:
“Good years and corn crops, both are gone!”
They don’t care to hear platitudes nor sing any song:
“Now we must labor — there’s no other option —
No longer can I live with my losses!
And still there’s a cut more bitter to the bone,
For every fourth penny must go to the king!
    Thus we complain about the king and are cruelly vexed,
    And hope to recover, and are repeatedly cast down;
    Whoever has any goods, he expects not to keep them,
    But always the dearest possessions we lose in the end.

“It is dreadful to lose where there is little,
And we have many laborers who look for their share.
The hayward threatens us harm to get his bit;
The bailiff promises us grief and expects to do well;
The woodward brings us sorrow, who peers under trees.
There may arise for us no rest, wealth, or peace!
Thus they rob the poor man who’s of little account,
Who thereby needs must perish, in sweat and in toil:
    He needs must perish, though he’d sworn not to,
    He who hasn’t a hood to cover his head!
    Thus Will walks the land, and Law is abandoned,
    And all horsemen’s finery is plundered from the poor!

“Thus they rob the poor and strip them quite clean;
The powerful plunder them without any right;
Their lands and their property lie fully barren;
With demands of bailiffs, such harm is promised them!
They hold many of religion in utter contempt —
Baron and bondsman, the clerk and the knight.
Thus Will walks on earth, and Poverty is expected;
Falsehood grows fat and mightily brings ruin:
    He stands still in the place and behaves most sternly,
    Which causes beggars to go with staff and bags.
    Thus are we hunted from corner to corner;
    He who formerly wore robes, now wears rags!

“Still tax collectors come with excessive arrogance:
‘Pay me silver for the green wax!
You are entered in my writ, as you well know!’
More than ten times I have paid my tax!
‘Then must I have roast hens,
Generously on fish-day, lamprey and salmon:
Off to the market!’ No argument helps.
Even though I sell my hoe and my logging-axe,
    My deposit I must put down in full, if I’m able,
    Or else sell my corn while it’s still green;
    Even so I’ll be ‘foul peasant,’ though he be paid in full!
    What all year I save, then I must spend!

“I must needs spend what I previously saved.
Thus I must worry about these tax collectors coming!
The chief collector comes, bristling as a boar,
Says he will ‘strip my home completely bare’;
I must offer a bribe — a mark or more —
Even were I on the due date to sell my mare!
Thus the green wax grieves us to the quick
While they hunt us like a hound does the hare:
    They hunt us like a hound hunts hare on hill.
    Since I took to the land, such trouble’s been taught me.
    Never have tax collectors declared their full gains,
    For he can escape, and we are always caught.

“Thus I receive and catch very cruel grievances
Ever since I’ve had to keep accounts and cottage;
To find silver for the king, I sold my seed,
For which reason my land lies fallow and falls asleep!
Later they took my fine livestock from my fold —
When I think about my goods, well nigh I weep!
Thus are many beggars bred by arrogance,
And our rye is rotted and useless before we reap it:
    Useless is our rye, and rotted on the stalk,
    On account of bad storms, by brooks and by banks.
    Thus Poverty and Woe awaken in the world:
    It’s as good to perish at once, as toil so hard!”

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Go To Art. 32, Herketh hideward ant beoth stille, introduction
Go To Art. 32, Herketh hideward ant beoth stille, text