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The Prophecy of Merlin (Bodley MS)


Headnote: Prophecia Merlini. "The prophecy of the excellent, learned Merlin." This lyric appears in Oxford University Bodleian MS 6943 fol. 78r but is housed in the Ashmolean collection (MS Ashmole 59). See Index § 3986, Supplement § 3943.

1 leefe. So Skeat and Gray. Robbins, Index and Supplement, § 3986 transcribes leefe as leese. The MS can sustain either reading.

2 beon. So MS; Skeat, Gray been.

5 David stall. David's stable, a reference to Christ's birth in Bethlehem (city of David). Of the apocalyptic element in this poem Gray comments: "On the more intellectual prophetic tradition, reflected in the Joachimite dream of a renovatio mundi, compare M. Reeves, The Influence of Prophecy in the Later Middle Ages (Oxford, 1969)."

7 Than is the. Skeat's correction of MS Þat is is.

7-8 Than is . . . his confusyoun. The language and sentiments of this prophecy should be compared with a lyric (No. 40) from the Fasciculus Morum printed by Wenzel (see above, Introduction to Political Prophecies, p. 8). In Preachers, Poets, and the Early English Lyric, Wenzel argues against the prophetic nature of the Merlin lyrics by pointing to the coincidences of phrasing in lyric no. 40 and the alleged prophetic poems and more generally to the debts they owe to the language of complaint.
(Oxford University, Bodleian Library MS 6943 fol. 78r)
                                                    Prophecia Merlini doctoris perfecti*       
Whane lordis wol leefe theire olde lawes,        
And preestis beon varyinge in theire sawes,        
And leccherie is holden solace,        
And oppressyon for truwe purchace;        
And whan the moon is on David stall,        
And the kynge passe Arthures hall,        
Than is the lande of Albyoun       
Nexst to his confusyoun.        
abandon; (see note)
teachings; (see note)
lechery is considered to be
David's stable (see note)
(see note)
Near; its

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