In Erth It Es a Litill Thing
IN ERTH IT ES A LITILL THING: FOOTNOTE1 Sir Penny causes [many people] to wear fine clothing / And many to go about on horseback
IN ERTH IT ES A LITILL THING: NOTES25 till. See OED s.v. Till v.3 signification 1: "To draw, attract, persuade; to entice, allure, coax; to win over."
29 For he . . . trayl syde. "i.e. To wear low trailing gowns" (RHR). Trayl = "To walk with trailing garments" (RHR Glossary).
30 grene. The color green; but also, perhaps, "sexual passion." See MED (n.2).
33 grace. So RHR; MS gce.
34 lese . . . bind. Alludes to the pope's power to "bind and loose." See Matt. 16.19 and 18.18.
41 borgh and wed. Borgh (from OE borg) = surety, pledge, security-money; to borwe = as a pledge, as security. Wed (from OE wedd) = pledge, compact, as in Chaucer's Knight's Tale: "Lat hym be war! his nekke lith to wedde" (I.1218). The author of this lyric often writes in doublets, including some tags from the alliterative tradition. For example: "life and saul" (line 62), "get and wyn" (line 63), "lene and gyf" (line 73), "frith and felde" (line 98, compare line 75), "stede and stall" (line 86), "spere or schelde" (line 97).
44 thai. So RHR (þai); MS he.
52 fase. Scots spelling of foes.
67 hertes. RHR hert es, which may be the correct reading. In the manuscript the letters are crowded together, but there may be a break between hert and es.
81 made . . . softe. That is, he is seated at the place of honor.
92 gifen. So MS; RHR gyfen.
94 gré. The first degree, the prize, the victory, pre-eminence, top of the ladder, reward.
105 Nowther. So MS (nowþer); RHR nouþer.
108 assise. The court of Assizes determined legal matters of fact by means of assessors or jurymen (sisours). See Alford, Glossary, s.v. Sise, and The Simonie line 469 and note.
(British Library MS Cotton Galba E.ix fols. 50v-51r)
Incipit narracio de domino denario.
In erth it es a litill thing,
And regnes als a riche king,
Whare he es lent in land.
Sir Peni es his name calde:
He makes both yong and alde
Bow untill his hand.
Papes, kinges, and emperoures,
Bisschoppes, abbottes, and priowres,
Person, prest, and knyght,
Dukes, erles, and ilk barowne,
To serve him er thai ful boune
Both bi day and nyght.
Sir Peny chaunges mans mode,
And gers tham oft do doun thaire hode,
And to rise him ogayne.
Men honors him with grete reverence,
Makes ful mekell obedience
Unto that litill swaine.
In kinges court es it no bote,
Ogaines Sir Peni forto mote,
So mekill es he of myght;
He es so witty, and so strang,
That be it never so mekill wrang,
He will mak it right.
With Peny may men wemen till,
Be thai never so strange of will,
So oft may it be sene.
Lang with him will thai noght chide,
For he may ger tham trayl syde
In gude skarlet and grene.
He may by both hevyn and hell,
And ilka thing that es to sell,
In erth has he swilk grace;
He may lese, and he may bind,
The pouer er ay put behind,
Whare he cumes in place.
When he bigines him to mell,
He makes meke that are was fell,
And waik that bald has bene.
All the nedes ful sone er sped
Bath withowten borgh and wed
Whare Peni gase bitwene.
The domes-men he mase so blind
That thai may noght the right find,
Ne the suth to se.
Forto gif dome tham es ful lath,
Tharwith to make Sir Peni wrath,
Ful dere with tham es he.
Thare strif was, Peni makes pese;
Of all angers he may relese
In land whare he will lende.
Of fase may he mak frendes sad,
Of counsail thar tham never be rad
That may have him to frende.
That sire es set on high dese,
And served with mani riche mese,
At the high burde.
The more he es to men plenté,
The more yernid alway es he,
And halden dere in horde.
He makes mani be forsworne,
And sum life and saul forlorne,
Him to get and wyn.
Other god will thai none have
Bot that litil round knave
Thaire bales forto blin.
On him halely thaire hertes sett,
Him forto luf will thai noght let,
Nowther for gude ne ill.
All that he will in erth have done,
Ilka man grantes it ful sone,
Right at his awin will.
He may both lene and gyf,
He may ger both sla and lif,
Both by frith and fell.
Peni es a gude felaw;
Men welcums him in dede and saw,
Cum he never so oft.
He es noght welkumd als a gest,
Bot evermore served with the best,
And made at sit ful softe.
Whoso es sted in any nede,
With Sir Peni may thai spede,
He that Sir Peni es with all
Sal have his will in stede and stall,
When other er set byside.
Sir Peny gers in riche wede
Ful mani go and ride on stede, 1
In this werldes wide.
In ilka gamin, and ilka play,
The maystri es gifen ay
To Peny for his pride.
Sir Peny over-all gettes the gré,
Both in burgh and in ceté,
In castell and in towre;
Withowten owther spere or schelde
Es he the best in frith or felde,
And stalworthest in stowre.
In ilka place the suth es sene:
Sir Peni es over al bidene,
Maister most in mode.
And all es als he will cumand,
Oganis his stevyn dar no man stand,
Nowther by land ne flode.
Sir Peny mai ful mekill availe
To tham that has nede of cownsaill,
Als sene es in assise.
He lenkithes life and saves fro dede,
Bot luf it noght over wele, I rede,
For sin of coveityse.
If thou have happ tresore to win,
Delite the noght to mekill tharin,
Ne nything thareof be;
Bot spend it als well as thou can,
So that thou luf both God and man
In parfite charité.
God graunte us grace with hert and will
The gudes that he has gifen us till
Well and wisely to spend;
And so our lives here forto lede
That we may have his blis to mede,
Ever withowten end. Amen
causes them often to take off their hoods
great he is
seduce women (plow); (see note)
provide them with trailing gowns; (see note)
scarlet; green; (see note)
such; (see note)
loose; (see note)
poor are always ignored
those who formerly were fierce
weak those who once were bold
Both; security; pledge; (see note)
To render judgment they are so reluctant
enemies; faithful; (see note)
advice they need never be afraid
as a friend
And dearly held in hoard
some; soul to lose
Their miseries to end
wholly; (see note)
woods and field
honored; seat; (see note)
Whoever is beset by any need
When others are set aside (rejected)
victory is always given; (see note)
victory (prize); (see note)
spear or shield
wood or field
truth is seen
is as; command
Against his voice
Neither; water; (see note)
help very much
As seen in the court of assizes; (see note)
don't love it too much, I advise
have the fortune
too much in it
goods that he has given to us
as a reward
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