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Art. 45, Heye Louerd, thou here my bone


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 of murthes munne. Either “salvation-minded” or “pleasure-minded.” The ambiguity aptly begins this poem of regret over sin and hope for redemption.

9–10 These lines are about the old man’s spent assets of character. His wise proverbs constituted a portion of his virtuous capital.

17 waynoun-wayteglede. On this term of derision, see MED, wainoun (n.) and waiten (v.), sense 1b.(a). This line is the only attested instance of wainoun, “lazy dog, worthless person,” in the MED.

21 no fynger folde. The idiom refers to being able to love a woman. Compare the phrasing in The Fair Maid of Ribblesdale (art. 34), line 55, and Blow, Northern Wind (art. 46), line 31.

42 atgoht. “Gone, vanished, slipped away”; see MED, atgon (v.), sense 1.(a).

55 plowe-fere. A very common term for “playmate.” See MED, pleie (n.), sense 10.(a), “companion, playmate, friend; also, paramour.”

56 lavendere. Lechery was his laundress, implying she was his mistress.

63–64 The link word weneth/whene has an interesting range of meaning: “entertain, amuse,” and also “exhaust.” See MED, wenen (v.(1)), sense 2 (citing this line), and sense 3.

65 This line is repeated at line 80, and it echoes the idea stated in line 3 (see explanatory note). The speaker focuses on his own incapacity to exchange worldly happiness in society for spiritual happiness in heaven. For the verb meten, see MED, meten (v.(4)), sense 1.(b), “to encounter, experience, be afflicted by.” Compare, too, the idiom meten with mirth, “be saved, attain salvation”; see MED, mirthe (n.), sense 2.(b).


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.

18 wille. So MS, W3, B14, Br, Tr. Bö, Pa: wille &.

23 Yleved. So MS, W3, B14, Br, Tr. Bö, Pa: y leued.

27 Thar. So MS, W3, Br. Bö, Pa, B14, Tr: That.

28 Y swyke. So MS, W3, B14, Br, Tr. Bö, Pa: yswyke.

55 plowe-fere. So MS, W3, B14, Br, Tr. Bö, Pa: plawe fere.

62 bedyver. So MS, B14, Br, Tr. W3, Bö, Pa: bedyner.

63 unbe-while. So MS, W3, Bö, Pa, B14, Tr. Br: umbewhile.

64 whene. So MS, W3, Bö, Pa, Tr. Br, B14: wene.

67 me. So MS, W3, B14, Br,Tr. Bö, Pa: mi.

76 Y wroht. So MS, W3, B14, Br, Tr. Bö, Pa: ywroht.

83 Y sugge. So MS, W3, B14, Br, Tr. Bö, Pa: ysugge.

85 heued. So MS, W3, B14, Br, Tr. Bö, Pa: heueþ.























¶ Heye Louerd, thou here my bone,
That madest middelert ant mone
   Ant mon of murthes munne.
Trusti kyng, ant trewe in trone,
That thou be with me sahte sone,
   Asoyle me of sunne.
Fol Ich wes, in folies fayn;
In luthere lastes Y am layn,
   That maketh myn thryftes thunne.
That semly sawes wes woned to seyn;
Nou is marred al my meyn,
   Away is al my wunne!
     Unwunne haveth myn wonges wet,
        That maketh me routhes rede.
     Ne semy nout ther Y am set:
     Ther me calleth me “fulle-flet”
        Ant “waynoun-wayteglede”!

Whil Ich wes in wille wolde,
In uch a bour among the bolde,
   Yholde with the heste;
Nou Y may no fynger folde,
Lutel loved ant lasse ytolde,
   Yleved with the leste.
A goute me hath ygreythed so,
Ant other eveles monye mo —
   Y not whet bote is beste!
Thar er wes wilde ase the ro,
Nou Y swyke — Y mei nout so —
   Hit siweth me so faste!
     Faste Y wes on horse heh
        Ant werede worly wede;
     Nou is faren al my feh —
     With serewe that Ich hit ever seh —
        A staf ys nou my stede.

When Y se steden stythe in stalle,
Ant Y go haltinde in the halle,
   Myn huerte gynneth to helde;
That er wes wildest inwith walle
Nou is under fote yfalle,
   Ant mey no fynger felde.
Ther Ich wes luef, Ich am ful loht,
Ant alle myn godes me atgoht,
   Myn gomenes waxeth gelde.
That feyre founden me mete ant cloht,
Hue wrieth awey as hue were wroht —
   Such is evel ant elde!
     Evel ant elde ant other wo
        Foleweth me so faste,
     Me thunketh myn herte breketh atuo!     
     Suete God, whi shal hit swo?
        Hou mai hit lengore laste?

Whil mi lif wes luther ant lees,
Glotonie mi glemon wes;
   With me he wonede a while.
Prude wes my plowe-fere;
Lecherie my lavendere;
   With hem is Gabbe ant Gyle.
Coveytise myn keyes bere;
Nithe ant Onde were mi fere —
   That bueth folkes fyle!
Lyare wes mi latymer;
Sleuthe ant Slep mi bedyver,
   That weneth me unbe-while.
     Umbe-while Y am to whene
        When Y shal murthes meten;
     Monne mest Y am to mene!
     Lord that hast me lyf to lene,
        Such lotes lef me leten!

Such lyf Ich have lad fol yore.
Merci, Louerd! Y nul namore!
   Bowen Ichulle to bete.
Syker, hit siweth me ful sore —
Gabbes les ant luthere lore;
   Sunnes bueth unsete!
Godes heste ne huld Y noht,
Bote ever ageyn is wille Y wroht;
   Mon lereth me to lete!
Such serewe hath myn sides thurhsoht
That al Y weolewe away to noht,
   When Y shal murthes mete.
     To mete murthes Ich wes wel fous,
        Ant comely mon ta calle
     (Y sugge by other ase bi ous),
     Alse ys hirmon halt in hous,
        Ase heued hount in halle.

Dredful Deth, why wolt thou dare
Bryng this body that is so bare
   Ant yn bale ybounde?
Careful mon ycast in care,
Y falewe as flour ylet forthfare;
   Ychabbe myn dethes wounde!
Murthes helpeth me no more!
Help me, Lord, er then Ich hore,
   Ant stunt my lyf a stounde!
That yokkyn hath yyyrned yore;
Nou hit sereweth him ful sore,
   Ant bringeth him to grounde!
     To grounde hit haveth him ybroht.
        Whet ys the beste bote?
     Bote heryen him that haht us boht,
     Ure Lord, that al this world hath wroht,
        Ant fallen him to fote!

Nou Ich am to dethe ydyht.
   Ydon is al my dede.
God us lene, of ys lyht,
That we of sontes habben syht
   Ant hevene to mede!
¶ High Lord, hear my prayer,
Who created earth and moon
   And salvation-minded man.
Trustworthy king, and true in throne,
So you soon accord with me,
   Absolve me of sin.
I was a fool, pleased with follies;
In wicked vices I’m embroiled,
   Which makes my assets thin.
I once was prone to say wise saws;
Now damaged is all my strength,
   Away is all my joy!
     Joylessness has wet my cheeks,
        Making me speak of regret.
     I’m not suited for where I sit:
     There they call me “floor-filler”
        And “good-for-nothing fire-gazer”!

Once I was in pleasure’s power,
In every room among the noble,
   Counted among the highest;
Now I may no finger clasp,
Little loved and less esteemed,
   Abandoned with the lowest.
A gout has so afflicted me,
And many more ills besides —
   I don’t know what remedy’s best!
Where once I was wild as the roe,
Now I refrain — I’m not able —
   It pursues me so fast!
     Set I was on lofty horse
        And wore expensive clothes;
     Now gone is all my property —
     I'm sorry I ever saw it —
        A staff is now my steed.

When I see spirited steeds in stall,
While I go haltingly in the hall,
   My heart begins to sink;
Who once was wildest inside walls
Am now fallen underfoot,
   And may no finger clasp.
Where once beloved, I’m fully despised,
And all my goods gone from me,
   My pleasures have grown barren.
They who kindly gave me food and cloth,
Now turn away as if they’re angry —
   Such is distress and age!
     Distress and age and other woe
        Pursue me so fast,
     It seems my heart breaks in two!
     Sweet God, why should it be so?
        How much longer may it last?

When my life was wicked and false,
Gluttony was my minstrel;
   With me he dwelled for a time.
Pride was my playmate;
Lechery my laundress;
   With them are Gossip and Guile.
Covetousness carried my keys;
Envy and Anger were my companions —
   They are vile folks!
Liar was my interpreter;
Sloth and Sleep my bedfellows,
   Who still entertain me from time to time.
     From time to time I'm entertained
        When I encounter pleasure;
     Of men I’m most to be pitied!
     Lord who has granted me life,
        Such evils let me abandon!

Such a life I’ve led very long.
Mercy, Lord! I won’t anymore!
   I’ll bow down to atone.
Certainly, they pursue me fiercely —
Gossip’s lies and wicked words;
   Sins are unattractive!
God’s command I didn’t uphold,
But ever I acted against his will;
   One teaches me too late!
Such sorrow has pierced through my sides
So that wholly I wither away to nought,
   When I encounter pleasure.
     To encounter pleasure I was too eager,
        And to be called a fine fellow
     (I speak of others as well as me),
     Regarded as retainer in house,
        And chief huntsman in hall.

Dreadful Death, why do you delay
To take this body that is so barren
   And bound in misery?
As an anxious man cast in care,
I wither as a flower left to die;
   I have my death wound!
Merriment helps me no more!
Help me, Lord, before I turn gray,
   And end my life in an instant!
He who's yoked to life has yearned long;
Now it brings him deep sorrow,
   And throws him to the ground!
     To the ground it has thrown him.
        What is the best remedy?
     Only to praise him who's redeemed us,
     Our Lord, who's created all this world,
        And bow at his foot!

Now I am prepared for death.
   Done is all my deed.
God grant us, of his light,
That we may envision saints
   And heaven as reward!

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Go To Art. 46, Ichot a burde in boure bryht, introduction
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