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Art. 64, My deth Y love, my lyf Ich hate


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).

18 wayted. “Spied on, secretly”; see MED, waiten (v.), sense 5.(b).

24 mythe. “Hide, conceal (emotions, actions, etc.)”; see MED, mithen (v.(1)), sense (a).

31 under the wode-gore. This phrase reflects the often sexualized under gore motif found in many Harley lyrics. See the explanatory notes to Alysoun (art. 29), line 43, and Song of the Husbandman (art. 31), line 55.


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.

2 brith. So MS, W3, BS. Bö, B13, Br, St, Si: briht.

17 ritht. So MS (ri3t), W3. Bö, B13, Br, BS, St, Si: riht.

20 the deth. So MS, W3, Bö, B13, BS, Br, St. Si: thi deth.

31 the1. So BS. MS: omitted. W3, Bö, Br, St, Si: hom. B13: bour.

33 scille. So MS, B13, Si. W3, Bö, Br, BS, St: stille.








¶ “My deth Y love, my lyf Ich hate, for a levedy shene;    [Girl]
Heo is brith so daies liht, that is on me wel sene.
Al Y falewe so doth the lef in somer when hit is grene,
Yef mi thoht helpeth me noht, to wham shal Y me mene?

“Sorewe ant syke ant drery mod byndeth me so faste
That Y wene to walke wod yef hit me lengore laste;
My serewe, my care, al with a word he myhte awey caste.
Whet helpeth the, my suete lemmon, my lyf thus forte gaste?”

“Do wey, thou clerc! Thou art a fol! With the bydde Y noht chyde.     [Girl]     
Shalt thou never lyve that day mi love that thou shalt byde.
Yef thou in my boure art take, shame the may bityde;
The is bettere on fote gon then wycked hors to ryde.”

“Weylawei! Whi seist thou so? Thou rewe on me, thy man!     [Clerk]
Thou art ever in my thoht in londe wher Ich am.
Yef Y deye for thi love, hit is the mykel sham;
Thou lete me lyve ant be thi luef, ant thou my suete lemman.”

“Be stille, thou fol — Y calle the ritht! Cost thou never blynne?     [Girl]
Thou art wayted day ant niht with fader ant al my kynne.
Be thou in mi bour ytake, lete they, for no synne,
Me to holde ant the to slon, the deth so thou maht wynne!”

“Suete ledy, thou wend thi mod! Sorewe thou wolt me kythe?     [Clerk]
Ich am al so sory mon so Ich was whylen blythe.
In a wyndou ther we stod, we custe us fyfty sythe;
Feir biheste maketh mony mon al is serewes mythe.”

“Weylawey! Whi seist thou so? Mi serewe thou makest newe!     [Girl]
Y lovede a clerk al par amours — of love he wes ful trewe;
He nes nout blythe, never a day, bote he me sone seye;
Ich lovede him betere then my lyf! Whet bote is hit to leye?”

“Whil Y wes a clerc in scole, wel muchel Y couthe of lore;     [Clerk]
Ych have tholed for thy love woundes fele sore,
Fer from the, ant eke from men, under the wode-gore.
Suete ledy, thou rewe of me! Nou may Y no more.”

“Thou semest wel to ben a clerc, for thou spekest so scille;     [Girl]
Shalt thou never for mi love woundes thole grylle;
Fader, moder, ant al my kun ne shal me holde so stille
That Y nam thyn, ant thou art myn, to don al thi wille.”
¶ “My death I love, my life I hate, because of a radiant lady;     [Clerk]
She is as beautiful as daylight, which I can see so clearly.
I shrivel completely like the leaf when it’s green in summer,
If my thoughts can’t help me at all, to whom shall I complain?

“Sorrow and sighing and dejected mood bind me so tight
That I expect to go mad if my state lasts any longer;
My sorrow, my care, all with a word might she dispel.
What does it help you, my sweet dear, to waste thus my life?”

“Be off, you clerk! You’re a fool! I don’t want to argue with you.     [Girl]
You’ll never live to that day you obtain my love.
If you are caught in my room, may shame befall you;
You’re better to go on foot than ride a wicked horse.”

“Wailaway! Why say you so? Have pity on me, your man!     [Clerk]
You’re always in my thought wherever I’m on ground.
If I die for your love, it’s much to your shame;
Let me live and be your love, and you my sweet dear.”

“Be still, you fool — I name you aright! Can’t you ever cease?     [Girl]
You’re spied on day and night by father and all my kin.
Were you caught in my room, they’ll not refrain, for any sin,
To seize me and slay you, so that you’ll have your death!”

“Sweet lady, change your mind! Will you show me pity?     [Clerk]
I am as sorrowful a man as once I was happy.
In a window where we stood, we kissed fifty times;
Fair promise makes many a man hide all his sorrow.”

“Wailaway! What are you saying? You renew my sorrow!     [Girl]
I loved a clerk very deeply — in love he was quite true;
He was not happy, never a day, unless he saw me soon;
I loved him better than my life! What use is it to lie?”

“When I was a clerk in school, well versed I was of love-lore;     [Clerk]        
For your love I’ve suffered many wounds all hurtful,
Far from you, and also from men, under the forest-skirt.   
Sweet lady, have pity on me! Now I may do no more.”

“You seem truly to be a clerk, for you speak so gently;     [Girl]
You shall never for my love suffer dreadful wounds;
Father, mother, and all my kin shall not hold me so tightly
That I can’t be your own, and you be mine, to do all your desire.”


(see note)


(see note)

(see note); (t-note)



Go To Art. 65, When the nyhtegale singes, introduction
Go To Art. 65, When the nyhtegale singes, text