Back to top

Art. 22, In a thestri stude Y stod


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).

6 chaunge two for fyve. That is, cheat and swindle.

15 purpris. “Worldly goods.” See MED, purprise (n.), sense (b), which cites this line as the only instance of this meaning for a word that normally means “enclosure, domain.”

92 genge. “Hole of hell”; see MED, gang, gong (n.), sense 3.(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.

4 wrht. So MS, Do, Rei. W2: wrth. Bö: wurht.

7 wrohstes. So MS, W2, Do, Rei. Bö: wrohtes.

8 me. So MS, W2, Do, Rei. Bö: þe.

10 Was. So MS, W2, Do, Rei. Bö: Wit.

13 spake. So MS (e abbreviated). W2, Bö, Rei: spak. Do: spac.

15 palefreis. So MS, W2, Bö, Rei. Do: palefrois.

19 am. So MS (ay am, with ay marked for deletion), W2, Bö, Rei. Do: ay am.

25 wen. So MS, W2, Rei. Bö, Do: wend.
strift. So MS. W2, Bö: strist. Do, Rei: strif.

30 bete. So MS, W2, Do, Rei. Bö: beten.

31 threte. So MS, W2, Do, Rei. Bö: threten.

32 ete. So MS, W2, Do, Rei. Bö: eten.

35 ete. So MS, W2, Do, Rei. Bö: eten.

57 hire forestond. So MS, W2, Do, Rei. Bö: hit forestondes.

58 hire forewond. So MS, W2, Do, Rei. Bö: hit forewondes.

60 aren. So MS, Bö, Do, Rei. W2: arene.

61 hyle. So Bö. MS, W2, Do, Rei: hylen.

62 flume. So MS, Bö, Do. W2: flunie. Rei: fluuie.
hit. So MS, Bö, Do, Rei. W2: it.

72 Line omitted by Do.

78 anon. MS, W2, Bö, Rei. Do: omitted.

82 holde. So MS, W2, Do, Rei. Bö: to holde.

89 schowen. So MS, W2, Do, Rei. Bö: schowend.

92 the. So MS, W2, Do, Rei. Bö: þou.

111 corteis. So MS, W2, Bö, Rei. Do: curteis.

117 stoude. So MS, W2 (who suggests proude), Bö, Do, Rei.

124 worldes. So Bö, Rei. MS, W2, Do: wolrdes.

126 that. So MS (a abbreviated), W2, Do, Rei. Bö: not.




























In a thestri stude Y stod a lutel strif to here   [Narrator]
Of a Body that was ungod, ther hit lay on a bere.
Tho speke the Gost wyth drery mod ant myd sorful chere:   [Gost]
“Wo wrht thy fleyshe, thi foule blod! Whi lyst thou nou here?

“Ful kene thou were in halle, whil thou were alyve,
False domes deme, chaunge two for fyve;
Falsnesse ant swykedom thou wrohstes ful ryve —
Tharefore pyne stronge maketh me thunne thryve.”

Tho spac the Body so dymme to that drery Gaste:   [Body]
“Was me noht of synne, that byndeth me so faste!
I wende my worldes wynne me wolde ever laste;
The bondes that Y am ynne, to helle he wolleth me caste.”

Tho spake the Gost with ryht red soth al to wys:    [Gost]
“Wher ys thi muchele prude, thy veyr ant thi gris?
Thine palefreis ant steden, ant al thi purpris?
Thou ne shalt with the beren, wrecche, ther thou lis.”

Tho saide the Body with drery mod on bere ther hit lay:   [Body]
“Nou ys come her my deth, ant myn ende day.
Bounden am Y hond ant fot that Y ne may away.
Nou aren mi dawes done. Y wende ha lyved ay!”

“Thou havest ylyved to longe! Wo wruth the so suykel!   [Gost]
Ever whil thou lyvedest, fals thou were ant fykel.
Turne ryht to wronge thou lovedest al to mukel.
Pynen harde ant stronge to the bueth nou ful tykel.”

“Wrecche Gost, thou wen away! Hou longe shal thi strift laste?   [Body]   
Wormes holdeth here mot, domes byndeth faste.
Maked he habbeth here lot on my fleyshe to caste.
Mony fre bodi shal roten — ne be Y nout the laste!”

“Body, miht thou nout lepen to pleyen ant rage,   [Gost]
Wilde bueres bete, bynde lyouns savage,
Pore men to threte ant reven here heritage.
Wormes shulen ete thy fleyshe for al thyn heye parage.”

“Wrecche Gost, thou wend away! Ful wel thou const chyde!   [Body]
Y wot that Y shal rotien for al my muchele pride;
Wormes shule ete myn herte, ant my whyte syde
Stynken worse then any hound, so hit may bytyde.”

“Body, wher aren thy solers, thi castles, ant thy toures?    [Gost]
Thine ryche clothes ant thine covertoures?
Ful lowe shalt thou lyggen for alle thine heye boures.
Jesu, Vader, ant Holy Gost, shild me from helle shoures!”

“Wrecche Gost, thou wend away! Fare ther thou shalt fare.   [Body]
Me is nou wo ynoh. Myn bones aren al bare.
Min hous ys maked of erthe. Yturnd ys al to kare.
Thah thou chyde nyht ant day, of me tyd the no mare.”

“Body, why nere thou bythoht, whiles thou myhtes the welde,   [Gost]
On him that made us alle of noht, whet thou hedest to yelde?
For oure synnes, for hyse noht, ys oune fleyshe he selde.
His body wes on rode don, so the prophete us telde.

“Body, wyld thou nou lythe, ant Y wol telle the
Of wondres fele ant ryve er Domesday shal be.
The mon that ys on lyve he may hit here ant see
That world shal al todryve, stones breke on thre.

“The furste day shal springe ase blod a red deu,
That al this world shal sprede, bynymen gomen ant gleu;
The grene tren shule blede that Crist himself seu.
Wel his him thenne that hath be god ant treu.

“The other day shal fur brenne al that hire forestond;
Ne may hit no water quenche, ne nout that hire forewond.
The world shal al o-fure ben, ant these brode londes.
Thenne shal oure Louerd sayen, ‘Suche aren myne sondes.’

“The thridde day shal flowe a flod, that al this world shal hyle,
Bothe heye ant lowe the flume shal hit swyle,
Herre then eny hul opo the herthe a myle.
Wel ys him that ys trewe al that ilke while.

“The furthe day shal blowe a wynd; so longe so hit dures
Castles adoun falleth, bothe halles ant bures.
The hulles maketh evene smethe wyth the dales.
Him Y telle a louerd that thus con bete bales.

   “The fyfte day him cometh ywys!
   Everuch best that lyves ys
   Toward hevene ys hed halt
   Ant thuncheth wonder wed this byhalt,
   Ant wolde clepe to oure Dryhte —
   Ah hy to speke ne habbeth myhte.

“The seste day ayen the dom shule four aungles stonde,
Blowe that this world shal quaque, with beme in here honde.
Yef hit ys any soule that flet bi water other by londe,
Up hit shal aryse anon ant to the dom gonge.

“The sevethe day shule upryse, ase the Bok us tolde,
In stat of thrytty wynter bothe yunge and olde —
Thilke that God han ydon. He mowe be ful bolde
When Jesu Crist wol come his harde domes holde.

“We mowe ther noud chyde ne have wordes stronge;
The aungles shule quakye, that Crist shup wyth hys honde,
Ant the apostles xii that eoden with Crist in londe,
Ant alle Cristes ycoren that never loveden wronge.

“Thenne shal segge oure Louerd to Seinte Marie,
Bringinde the rode opon ys bake that stod on Calvarie,
Ant schowen us hise fet ant honden al blody.
For oure soule fode deth tholede hy.

“Thenne sayth Jesu Crist to Sathanas the unhende,    [Jesus]
‘Fare awey the, foule swyke, ant thi cursede genge!’”

Thenne saith the Gost, “Weylawey!” Ant at the ende: “Alas,   [Gost]
Body, wo wurth the time that thou ybore was!
Hy shal into helle for thi trespas,
Ant tholien harde pinen wyth that sory Judas.”

Such pleyntes makyeth the Soule to the Fleyshe,   [Narrator]   
Ant thus heo departeth wyth muche reunes:
The Soule into helle, ant that nis nout les;
The Body to the erthe, ant rotieth endeles.

Whiles he wes in worlde, he hevede frend ant kyn.
When he is graved under mold, al cold ys hys yn.
The wormes sitteth on ys brest ant eteth of ys chyn.
Ne haveth he frend on erthe that thenketh opon hym.

Al this worldes pride ant al this worldes ahte
Ne mihte holde a monnes lyf a day to the nahte.

Were ther eny in londe that myhte charre ded,
Shulde no mon deye that hevede eny red;
He wolde with ys catel, bote he were aqued
Wyten from the dethe the body ant the hed.

Jesu Crist himselven is so corteis
For ous he soffrede deth, ase the Boc hit seys.

Alle we shule deye, be we never so proude.
For alle oure toures heye, ligge we shule throute,
In forstes ant in snowes, in shures ant in cloude.
Of all oure riche clothes, tid us never a shroude.
Whose hath don for Godes love, he may be ful stoude.

Her we haveth houses of lym ant of ston,
Ant alle we shulen hem leven, everuchon;
Fare we shule to a bour that is oure long hom —
Nouther more ne lasse bote from the hed to ton;
Ther shal rotie ure fleyshe al to the bon.

When the flor is at thy rug, the rof ys at thy neose,
Al this worldes blisse nis nout worth a peose.
Bote yef Jesu Cristes merci among us more were,
To wrothere hele that ever we in londe comen here.
To thin holy halewen, Crist, bring us alle yfere.
I stood in a dark place to overhear a little quarrel   [Narrator]
Of an unrighteous Body, where it lay on a bier.
Then the Soul spoke miserably and with sad countenance:   [Soul]
“Woe to your flesh, your foul blood! Why lie you now here?

“You were quite eager in hall, when you were alive,
To dispense false judgments, change two for five;
Deception and treachery you created everywhere —
Thus does fierce pain make me barely to thrive.”

Then the Body spoke quite faintly to that sad Soul:    [Body]
“Would that I weren’t filled with sin, which binds me so hard!
I thought that my worldly gain would last forever;
The bonds that I’m in, they’ll cast me to hell.”

Then spoke the Soul with good counsel to reveal the truth:   [Soul]
“Where is your haughty pride, your fancy and gray fur?
Your palfreys and steeds, and all your worldly goods?
You’ll not bear them with you, wretch, where you lie.”

Then said the Body miserably where it lay on the bier:   [Body]
“Now is come here my death, and my last day.
Hand and foot I am bound so I can’t get away.
Now are my days over. I expected to live forever!”

“You have lived too long! You wrought so much woe!   [Soul]
Always while you lived, you were false and fickle.
All too much you enjoyed turning right to wrong.
Hard and sharp pains now afflict you severely.”

“Wretched Soul, go away! How long will your quarrel last?    [Body]
Worms hold council here, with fast-binding judgments.
They have cast their lot on my flesh.
Many noble bodies will rot — I’ll not be the last!”

“Body, you’re not able to leap up to play and strut,   [Soul]
To beat wild bears, bind savage lions,
Threaten poor men and steal their inheritance.
Worms will eat your flesh despite all your high breeding.”

“Wretched Soul, go away! So well you can chide!   [Body]
I know that I’ll rot on account of my excessive pride;
Worms will eat my heart, and my white sides
Will stink worse than a hound, as it will happen.”

“Body, where are your chambers, your castles, and your towers?   [Soul]
Your rich clothes and your outward trappings?
Very low will you lie despite all your grand rooms.
Jesus, Father, and Holy Ghost, shield me from hell’s torments!”

“Wretched Soul, go away! Go where you should.   [Body]
Already I’m woeful enough. My bones are all bare.
My house is made of earth. All is turned to despair.
Though you chide night and day, I’m no longer your business.”

“Body, why didn’t you think, while you could govern yourself,   [Soul]
About him who made us from nothing, and what you ought to offer?
For our sins, not for his own, he sold his own flesh.
His body was tortured on the cross, as the prophet tells us.

“Body, confused now you lie, and I’ll explain to you
Wonders many and plenteous before Doomsday befalls.
The one who’s alive will hear it and see
That the world will be destroyed, stones break into three.

“On the first day there will spring up like blood a red dew,
Which will spread through this world, removing gladness and glee;
The green wood will bleed, that accompanied Christ himself.
Then well is he who has been good and true.

“On the next day fire will burn all that stands before it;
No water may quench it, nor may anything stop it.
The world will be entirely on fire, and these broad lands too.
Then our Lord will say, ‘Such are my signs.’

“On the third day a flood will flow, covering all this world,
The river will swell both high and low,
Higher by a mile than any hill on earth.
Well is he who is true during all that time.

“On the fourth day a wind will blow; as long as it lasts
Castles will fall down, both halls and chambers.
The hills will be made level with the dales.
I call him a lord who then can escape misery.

   “On the fifth day he comes indeed!
   Every creature who is alive
   Holds his head toward heaven
   And thinks it a wonder what this betokens,
   And wants to cry out to our Lord —
   But they don’t have the power to speak.

“On the sixth day four angels will stand before the judgment,
Blow until the world quakes, with trumpets in their hands.
If there’s any soul who wanders by sea or by land,
It will arise immediately and proceed to judgment.

“On the seventh day there will arise, as the Book told us,
Both young and old in their conditions of thirty winters —
The same length that God lived. One must be very steadfast
When Jesus Christ comes to exact his stern judgments.

“There we may neither chide nor have bold words;
The angels will tremble, whom Christ shaped with his hand,
As will the twelve apostles that went with Christ on earth,
And all Christ’s chosen who never loved sin.

“Then will our Lord speak to Saint Mary,
Carrying on his back the cross that stood on Calvary,
And showing us his feet and hands all bloody.
For our soul’s nourishment he suffered death.

“Then Jesus Christ will say to Satan the vile:   [Jesus]
‘Be gone, foul traitor, and your cursed hell-hole!’”

Then says the Soul, “Wailaway!” And finally: “Alas,   [Soul]
Body, woe is the time when you were born!
You will hasten to hell for your sins,
And suffer harsh pains with that wretched Judas.”

The Soul makes such complaints to the Flesh,   [Narrator]
And thus they depart with much regret:
The Soul into hell, and that’s not a lie;
The Body to the earth where it rots endlessly.

While he was in the world, he had friends and kin.
When he is buried underground, all cold is his inn.
The worms sit on his breast and eat from his chin.
He hasn’t a friend on earth who thinks upon him.

All this world’s pride and all this world’s wealth
Might not extend a man’s life by even a day.

Were there any on earth who might escape death,
No man would die who had any counsel;
Unless he were miserly, he would with his property
Protect the body and head from death.

Jesus Christ himself is so courteous
That for us he suffered death, as the Book says.

We all will die, be we never so proud.
For all our high towers, we will lie in plain view,
In frosts and in snows, under showers and clouds.
Despite all our rich clothes, not a shroud falls to us.
Whoever has acted for God’s love, he may be full noble.

Here we have houses of lime and of stone,
And we will relinquish them all, every one;
We will travel to a bower that is our lasting home —
Neither more nor less than from the head to the toe;
There will our flesh rot entirely to the bone.

When the floor is at your back, the roof is at your nose,
All this world’s bliss is not worth a pea.
Unless Jesus Christ’s mercy be greater among us,
We on earth will always come here to an evil outcome.
To your holy saints, Christ, bring us all together.


(see note)



(see note); (t-note)












(see note); (t-note)





Go To Art. 23, Sitteth alle stille ant herkneth to me, introduction
Go To Art. 23, Sitteth alle stille ant herkneth to me, text