Back to top

Art. 78, Nicholas Bozon, Femmes a la pye


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); CT: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; CUL: Cambridge University Library (Cambridge); DOML: Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library; FDT: French Devotional Texts of the Middle Ages (Sinclair 1979); FDT-1French Devotional Texts of the Middle Ages, . . . First Supplement (Sinclair 1982); IMEV: The Index of Middle English Verse (Brown and Robbins); 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).

13 Compare the long robes of the proud in The Sayings of St. Bernard (art. 74), line 133.

49–51 This warning about marriage, which Jeffrey and Levy call “gratuitious and slightly clumsy” (p. 228), expands the stanza and is not found in BL Addit. MS 46919.

69 blestes. “Setbacks.” Compare The Sayings of Saint Bernard (art. 74), line 150. According to the poet, a magpie predicts future glory, while a woman’s presence promises the opposite.


ABBREVIATIONS: As: Aspin; : Böddeker; Br: Brook; BS: Bennett and Smithers; BZ: Brandl and Zippel; B13: Brown 1937; Dea: J. M. Dean; Do: Dove 1969; Fl: Flood; : Förster; Fu: Furnivall; HB: Hunt and Bliss; Kem: Kemble; Ken: Kennedy; Mi: Millett; Mo: Morris and Skeat; MS: MS Harley 2253; Mu1: H. J. R. Murray; Mu2: J. A. H. Murray; NB: Noomen and van den Boogard; Pa: Patterson; Rev: Revard 2005a; Ri: Ritson 1877; Ro: Robbins 1959; SP: Short and Pearcy; Si: Silverstein; St: Stemmler 1970; Tu: Turville-Petre 1989; Ul: Ulrich; W1: Wright 1839; W2: Wright 1841; W3: Wright 1842; WH: Wright and Halliwell.

3 maners. So MS (er abbreviated), W3, Do. Ken: maneres.

19 pie. So MS, W3, Ken. Do: pye.

29 honme. So MS, W3. Ken: homme. Do: houme.

31 pye. So MS, W3, Do. Ken: pie.

42 desyre. So MS, Ken. Do. W3: de syre.

66 nous. So MS, Ken. W3: nus. Do: vus.

73 purveit. So MS (ur abbreviated), W3, Ken. Do: priveit.

76 Bien. So W3, Do. MS, Ken: bie.

















¶ Femmes a la pye
Portent compagnye
   En maners e en mours.
Escotez que vous dye
E quele assocye
   Yl tienent en amours.

La pie de costume
Porte penne e plume
   De divers colours,
E femme se delite
En estraunge habite
   De divers atours.

La pie ad longe cowe
Que pend en la bowe
   Pur la pesauncie,
E femme fet la sowe
Plus long que nule cowe
   De poun ou de pye.

La pie est jangleresse
E reelement cesse
   De mostrer ou ele est,
E la femme par son us
D’assez jangle plus.
   Issi nature crest.

Par jangle de la pie,
Um vient a troverye
   De gopyl e de chat;
Femme par parole
Meynt honme afole
   E ly rend tot mat.

Vous troverez la pye
Si pleyne de boydie
   Que ele se garde bien,
Mes la femme pase
La pie en cele grace,
   Quar ele ne doute rien.

La pie en arbre haut
En freit e en chaut
   Prent soun repos,
E femme velt reposer
En hautesse de cuer
   E desyre los.

La pie quant ele greve
Countre son mary leve
   E l’enchace de ly,
E femme de grant cuer
Son baroun par tencer
   Fet autresy.
Pour icele gyse,
Je lou que un se avyse
   Avaunt qu’l soit mary.

E, nequedent, la pye
Soun compaignoun espye
   De quel part s’en va,
E la femme auxi
Espie son mary
   Par gelosie que ele a.

La pie par yre
Les gardyns empire
   Par braunche debruser,
E en femme corocee
Rien serra celee
   Quant ele se puet venger.     

Hom dit que la pie
En sa nature crye,
   “Il nous viegnent gestes.”
E la femme puet dire
A soun mary, “Syre,
   Par moi averez blestes.”

La pie siet musser
Quanqe ele puet gayner
   En un privé lu,
E la femme se purveit
Avant qe ele vidve seit
   Dount ert sustenu.

Bien dust la pie,
Queiqe um en die,
   A femme estre chere,
Puis qe lur vie
Par tiele compagnie
   Acordent en manere.
¶ Women with magpies
Keep close company
   In manners and in morals.
Listen to what I tell you
And what likenesses
   They maintain in love.

Magpie by custom
Wears feather and plumage
   Of various colors,
And woman delights
In outlandish clothes
   Of various ornament.

Magpie has a long tail
That hangs in the mud
   For heaviness,
And woman makes her own
Longer than any tail
   Of peacock or magpie.

Magpie is a chatterbox
And she rarely ceases
   Revealing where she is,
And it’s woman’s habit
To chatter even more.
   Thus she expands nature.

By magpie’s chatter,
One comes to the discovery
   Of fox and cat;
Woman by speech
Drives man crazy
   And entirely breaks him.

You’ll find magpie
So full of trickery
   That she keeps herself safe,
Yet woman surpasses
Magpie in this talent,
   For she’s afraid of nothing.

Magpie in lofty tree
In cold and in heat
   Takes its rest,
And woman wants to rest
In loftiness of spirit
   And wishes for praise.

Magpie when she’s upset
Rises up against her mate
   And drives him from her,
And proud-hearted woman
When scolding her husband
   Does likewise.
Given this behavior,
I advise that one reflect
   Before he gets married.

And, nonetheless, magpie
Spies on her companion
   Regarding where he goes,
And likewise woman
Spies on her husband
   For the jealousy she feels.

Magpie in anger
Harms gardens
   By breaking branches,
And from enraged woman
Nothing may be hidden
   When she’s bent on revenge.

They say that magpie
By her nature announces,
   “Glorious events come to us.”
And woman can say
To her husband, “Lord,
   By me you’ll have setbacks.”

Magpie knows how to hide
Whatever she can acquire
   In a secret place,
And woman provides for herself     
Before she becomes a widow
   What will be her sustenance.

Well ought the magpie,
Whatever one may say,
   Be dear to woman,
Since their lives
By such comparison
   Accord in behavior.


(see note)





(see note)


(see note)



Go To Art. 79, Un sage honme de grant valour, introduction
Go To Art. 79, Un sage honme de grant valour, text