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The Lady Prioress


Abbreviations: CT: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; MED: Middle English Dictionary; OED: Oxford English Dictionary.

18 A prioress was a leader of nuns, either the superior in a daughter house or the second in command to the abbess in a mother house. This prioress is the superior in a daughter house, a particular “plase.”

19–20 Like a heroine of romance, the prioress is lovely and well born. But nuns, particularly those in positions of power, often did come from noble families.

21 Gan is a past tense marker in this poem: gan chase means “chased.”

37 narrow tornyd and went. Literally, “turned this way and that in tight circles” (from the phrase “turn and wind,” with confusion from the verb “wend”).

38–41 The wooers are clearly differentiated from each other, down to the presents they bring: the knight brings game, the parson rosaries, candles, and wine, and the merchant brings gold and rent. In The Long Wapper they are not distin­guished at all; in Les Trois galants au cimetière there is no systematic distinction, and in the Decameron and the farcial Trois amoureux de la croix the lovers are distinguished only by name. In Schimpf und Ernst they are distinguished only by status (a student, a nobleman, and a burgess’s son who belongs to a regiment).

52 To make the Jues there heddys hyde. Saracens were more usual adversaries, since they held the Holy Land throughout most of the medieval period. Compare Les Trois galants au cimetière, in which the young woman says to the first lover “vous me prometès tant de bien et mesmes pour aller en Jerusalem” (pp. 33–34) [you promised me much and even to go to Jerusalem]. The last abortive crusade began and ended in 1464 when its leader, Pope Pius II, died before his ship left port at Ancona. The combination of Jews and huge giants as the knight’s potential adversaries must have seemed comically odd, like a boast now that one will fight Belgians and space invaders.

76 The boastfully fierce knight, eagerly sewing himself into a winding sheet to be like a corpse ready for burial, has turned himself into a comic figure. Since a winding sheet could have been wound and knotted rather than stitched, perhaps the stitching here is reminiscent of the young man Amans at the beginning of the French text that did so much to define fin’ amours for northern Europe, the thirteenth-century Roman de la rose by Guillaume de Lorris. In a dream vision, Amans goes off to find love on a fine spring morning, and as he walks along he stitches his sleeves to make them fashionably tight around his arms. Sewing was not a usual pursuit among men of the gentry, and both stitching one’s sleeves while wearing them and stitching oneself into a winding sheet involve improb­able contortions.

82 Syr John. The conventional title and name for a priest.

90 Hys beryng ys forbode. Refusing burial to a corpse because of debt was a literary theme, not a historical reality. See the introduction to The Lady Prioress for an instance of the theme in contemporary romance.

121 In a devellys garment ye shall be arayed. The devil’s garment here is made of rags, as implied in line 154. In contemporary art the devil was usually portrayed as bestial, with shaggy fur, and costumes in contemporary plays undoubtedly tried for the same effect. In 1393 Charles IV of France and five of his lords were acting as “hommes sauvages” in a “ludus” at court, and imitated the fur also associated with the wild men by coating themselves with pitch and, stuck in that, frayed linen. The results were tragic: the duke of Orléans brought a torch too close to one, trying to guess who he was, and a fire spread among them, killing four of the courtiers. Probably a costume made of real fur was more usual (and safer). The Lucifer in Les Actes des apôtres (played at Bourges in 1536) “estoit vestu d’une peau d’ours, ou à chaucun poil pendait une papillotte” [was clothed in a bearskin, where from each hair hung a curl of paper] (cited by Gustave Cohen, Histoire de la mise en scène dans la théâtre religieux français du moyen age, second ed. [Paris: Libraire Honoré Champion, 1951], p. 95). But perhaps the merchant’s rags formed a cloak meant loosely to suggest rough fur.

138 Rynnyng, roryng wyth hys rakyls as devyllys semyd to doo. The merchant carries chains, a symbol of the bonds of hell, as do the pretended devils in The Long Wapper and the farcical Trois amoureux de la croix. In the account book of expenses for the playing of the mystery of the Passion at Mons in 1501, a major expense is for the devil’s chains: “Item pour iii kaisnes de fer, pesant ensemble cxx livres, servant pour le deable Lucifer d’Enfer en hault, à iii s. la livre, xviii l.” [Item, for three iron chains, weighing together 120 pounds, serving for the devil Lucifer of Hell above (?), at three sous the pound, 18 livres] (ed. Gustave Cohen, Le Livre de conduite du régisseur, Publications de la Faculté des Lettres de l’Université de Strasbourg 23 [1925], p. 507).

180 In a bokys snarre. A snare was not a usual way of catching bucks. Snares were set for birds and for small animals, but deer were hunted by driving them into enclosures or by shooting with bow and arrows. But this snare has to be big enough to catch a man, and so it is a buck’s snare.

184 For now I goo to the devyll bycause I dyd hym scoren. Feeling the bull’s horns, the priest assumes he is being carried off to hell on a devil’s back, as Vices tradition­ally were in morality plays. The priest also assumes that he has offended the devil by daring to imitate him.

189 Tyll that he herde a bell. A bell was a sanctified object, and its ringing had power against demons. The bell would have been heard from the church or the convent, ringing to signal a service.

196 Ye, and eke the calltrape. The precise sense is unclear, since a caltrop is usually a spiky trap on the ground. The general sense must be that the knight accidentally undoes or detaches the snare that has hauled him up into the tree top, and so he will fall out of the tree and crash to the ground. Likely the line is corrupt in its current form.

208–09 The prioress of course speaks with double meaning: she has never had a lover who died a good death, in God’s grace, because she has never had a lover, but the unprincipled and superstitious priest is quick to swear off pursuing her any further because he now sees his night’s misadventures as diabolic retribution for his attempt to violate a nun’s vows of chastity.

228–35 The merchant makes a last-ditch attempt to turn his flight from the risen corpse into a demonstration of his love for the prioress: no hedge is too high, no body of water too broad, for him to cross to win her. Her response is a brusque instruction to be quiet, and a threat of exposing him to his wife and the people on whom his business depends, those in the countryside and the local market town.

236 Therwyth he gave her twenty marke that she shold hold her pese. A mark was a large unit of money, worth two-thirds of a pound.


Abbreviations: MS: London, British Library, MS Harley 78, fols. 74r–81v; MED: Middle English Dictionary; OED: Oxford English Dictionary.

title No title in the MS. Instead appears the heading: Lydgate.

5 MS reads: Of resons x or xii.

24–26 This area is a mess, with layered conjectures trying to restore an unrecovered original text. The main scribe has written this:
Grett gyftys to here they put
Many men lowyth here out of mynd
How here selfe myght from shame shytt
The corrector has made insertions and deletions:
Grett gyftys to here they put browghth
Many men lowyth there out of mynd thei hir softe
How here selfe myght from them shame shytt wrowthe
Accepting that “brought” is probably a good guess by the corrector as to what the original might have read before the line endings in this area were damaged, I have made highly conjectural emendations to the other two lines, trying to make sense of them, guided by the rhyme scheme and the first parts of the lines.

28 This line is written as two separate lines, broken after knyght. In the first half of the poem many long lines after this are similarly broken. They are: 37, after love; 46, after mervelously; 58, after lord; 64, after chapell; 65, after nyght; 73, after gent; 74, after borne; 76, after shett; 82, after go; 84, after do; 101, after me; 102, after this; 103 after showyll; 109, after gon.

33 Evyre more thei went and com. This is inserted by the corrector. The main scribe has: They goo and com. The corrector’s version restores a consistency of tenses: “went,” “came,” “desired.” Agreement of tenses is not necessary in Middle English, but it is plausible that the main scribe read com as present tense and thus changed to goo from went, but that the corrector habitually used com as a past tense. Middle English com as a past tense had long o (unlike the more central vowel in com as a present tense or infinitive), which would have rhymed with the vowel in moon and soon.

40 MS reads: beddys brochys and botellys of wyen he to the lady sent. The second part of the line virtually repeats the second part of line 38. The sense requires naming the presents that the burgess offers. The emendation is conjectural.

42 MS reads: Thus they trobylyd her thorow tene; “her” added above the line by the corrector.

46 MS reads: The young knyght bethought hym mervelously wyth lady for to mell. Emendation for sense.

48 MS reads: lessyngys lepyd out of amonge as sowend of a bell.

49 Madam but I haue my lyst of yow I shall myseleff quell: added between lines by the corrector.

51 MS reads: In batyll bolde there abyde. Emendation for sense, taking there as a form of the verb tharf (OED; confused with dare v.1), thurven (MED, def. 8).

52 MS reads: To make the Iude Iues there heddys hyde. “Iues” added above the line by the main scribe.

53 With gret strokes and bloddy syd: added between lines by the corrector.

64 MS reads: Dowen in the wode there ys a chapell / ryght as I you hyght lett. The word lett is in the hand of the corrector, but hyght is not canceled. The form hyght (instead of hett) is doubtless influenced by the appearance of nyght at the end of the half line immediately below.

72 In that quarrell for to fyght: for inserted above the line.

79 MS reads: Wyth ij tapers bornynge bryght.

85 MS reads: Syr sche sayd hyt schall tell you my conssell sone. These words were added by the corrector between lines, and have been emended for sense.

90 MS reads: hys beryng ys for good bode.

92 MS reads: therfore we send for you ouer worshype for to save. for is inserted above the line.

96 MS reads: hys hartte hoppyd hys wyll toworke worke. An r is added in the corrector’s hand between the o and k of towoke; then the whole word worke is added in the corrector’s hand beside the line.

101 MS reads: and serten to I the saye. The word to is added above the line.

103 MS reads: Wyth a mttake and a showyll.

107 MS reads: The knyght lyeth styll and dremyd byt. The b of byt is corrected to h with an exaggerated downstroke.

112 MS reads: Therin lyeth a ded corse; thefore must ye stere ye.

113–14 These lines are written as one line in the MS. After this point no more long lines are broken in half by the scribe, but short lines are combined into one. They are lines 122–23; 124–25; 131–32; 133–35; 140–41; 142–43; 149–50; 151–52; 158–59; 160–61; 168–69; 170–71; 176–77; 178–79; 186–87; 188–89; 193–94; 195–96; 197–98; 203–04; 205–06; 212–13; 221–22; 223–24; 230–31; 232–33; 238–39; 240–41; 242–43.

119 MS reads: Yt were a fowlle sham for us so for to be bytrayed. The by of bytrayed has been inserted above the line.

122 The word full has been added above the line.

127 MS reads: Madam for your love soen I ye shall be tryed tyryd. The corrector adds tyryd above the line but does not cancel tryed. The I is squeezed in after soen; ye is scraped to obliterate.

134 The words sade he are added above the line in the corrector’s hand.

138 MS reads: Rynnyng raoryng wyth hys rakyls as devyllys semyd to doo.

139 MS reads: The pryst brayed up as a boke hys hartt was all a most goo. The word most is added above the line.

143 The word at is added above the line.

147 MS reads: I trow I had my damys curse I myght haue byn better beddyd. Emended for rhyme.

150 MS reads: the devyll se the rose body rose. Emended for rhyme.

154 MS reads: Hys Ragys and hys Rattellys clen he had forgett. Emendation for sense (compare line 138).

158 MS reads: lord he was fowle scrapyd. The second r is added above the line.

160 MS reads: they sparyd nethe styll ne sherd. Emendation for sense.

165–67 MS reads:
he ran in a fyrryd gowen he cast of all hys clothys all hys body gan reke
to the bare breke be cause he wolde goo lyght
Emended to restore stanza form and sense.

182 MS reads: he fell apon a bollys bake he causte hym apon hys hornys. Emendation for rhyme.

183–85 These lines are broken in the wrong places. MS reads:
Out alas he sayd that euer I was boren for now I goo to the devyll
by cause I dyd hym scoren vnto the pytt of hell
193–94 MS reads: the best jowell that he had fayn he wolde for sake for to com dowen. Emendation (the addition of yt) for rhyme.

199 Above be gylyd and be glued appears in the corrector’s hand: by feldys and by felldys and by forrow.

200–01 The four half-lines appear in scrambled order in the MS, with a caret and line running up between the two pairs as an attempt to indicate the right order. Here is how they appear in the MS:
nether on other wyst \ the person tolde the lady on the morrow
hom they went be shrewyd ^ what myschyf ther was shewed
Emendation to restore stanza form and sense.

206 MS reads: To se all thys my hart grese. Emendation for rhyme.

208 MS reads: Remember the lady sayth / what mysschyfe heron goyth. Emendation for rhyme, and removal of what seems to be a meaningless penstroke.

209 MS reads: had I neuer louer yt that euer dyed good the deth.

210 MS reads: be that lord sayd the pryst that shope both ale and mette. Emendation for rhyme and sense.

214–16 These lines are misdivided in the MS. They appear thus:
ffurthe he went wyth out the corse then com the knyght
for hys purpos and told her of hys fare
Emendation to restore stanza form.

225 MS reads: And of hys hyght aventure.

227 MS reads: when the body ded rise a grymly gost agleed. Emendation for sense and rhyme.

231 MS reads: the lady said f pese full bleth. Emendation for sense and rhyme.

234–37 These lines are misdivided in the MS, ignoring the stanza break altogether. They appear thus in the MS:
And all the contre yt tyll and proclaymytte in the markyt towen
they care to encrese ther wyth he gaue her xx marke
that she shold hold her pese thus the burges of the borrowe after hys dyses
Emendation to restore stanza form and (for proclamytte to proclaym yt) sense.


















































O gloryus God oure governer,
         glad in all thys gesttyng,
And gyfe them joye that wyll here
         whatt I shall saye or syng.
Me were loth to be undernom
         of them that byn not connyng:
Many maner of men there be
         that wyll meddyll of everythyng,
Of resons ten or twelfe.
Dyverse men fawttys wyll fele
That knowyth no more then doyth my hele,
Yt they thynke nothyng ys well
But yt do meve of themselfe.

But yt move of themselfe
         forsoth they thynke yt ryght nowght.
Many men ys so usyd;
         ther terme ys soen tought.
Sympyll ys there consayet
         when yt ys forth brought.
To meve you of a matter
         forsoth I am bethought,
Declare you of a case:
Make you mery all and som,
And I shall tell you of a noone,
The fayryst creator under the son,
Was pryorys of a plase.

The lady that was lovely,
         a lorddys dowter she was,
Ful pewer and full precyous
         provyd in every plase.
Lordys and laymen and spryttuall
         her gan chase.
For her fayer beawté
         grett temtacyon she hase,
Her love for to wynne.
Grett gyftys to here they browghth.
Many men lowyth here out of thought.
How she hereselfe myght kepe from shame she sought;
She wyst not how to begyen.

There wooyd a young knyght,
         a fresse lord and a fayer,
And a person of a paryche,
         a prelet wythouttyn pyre,
And a burges of a borrow.
         Lyst and ye shall here
How they had layed ther love
         apan the lady dere,
And nooen of other wyst.
Evyre more thei went and com,
Desyryd of here louff soon;
They sware by son and mone
Of here to have there lyste.

The young knyght for the ladys love
         narrow tornyd and went;
Many bokkys and dooys
         to the lady he sent.
The person present her prevely
         (hys matters to amend)
Beddys, brochys, and botellys of wyen.
         Of his gold and rent
The burges to her broght.
Thus they trobylyd her thorow tene.
She wyst not how hereselfe to mene
For to kepe here soule clene,
Tell she her bethought.

The young knyght bethought hym mervelously
         wyth the lady for to mell.
He flatteryd her wyth many a fabyll;
         fast hys tonng gan tell.
Lessyngys lepyd out amonge
         as sowend of a bell:
“Madam, but I have my lyst of yow
         I shall myseleff quell:
Youre loufe unto me graunt.
In batyll bolde I there abyde,
To make the Jues there heddys hyde,
With gret strokes and bloddy syd,
And sle many a grette gyaunt.

“All ys for your love, madame;
         my lyfe wold I venter,
So that ye wyll graunt me
         I have desyryd many a wyntter,
Underneth your comly cowle
         to have myn intent.”
“Syr,” she sayd, “ye be ower lord,
         ower patron, and ower precedent:
Your wyll must nedys be do,
So that ye wyll goo thys tyde
Dowen to the chapyll under the woodsyde
And be rewlyd as I wyll ye gyde.”
“All redy,” sayde he thoo.

“Dowen in the wode there ys a chapell:
         ryght as I you hett
Therein must ye ly all nyght,
         my love and ye wyll gett.
Ly there lyke a ded body
         sowyd in a shett —
Than shall ye have my love,
         myn awen hony swett —
Unto morow that yt be lyght.”
“Madame,” he sayed, “for your love
Yt shall be don, be God above!
Ho sayeth ‘naye,’ here ys me glove
In that quarrell for to fyght.”

That knyght kyssyd the lady gent;
         the bargen was made.
Of no bargen syght he was borne
         was he never halfe so glade.
He went to the chapell
         as the lady hym bad,
He sowyd hymselfe in a shett.
         He was nothyng adred;
He thought apon no sorrow.
When he com there he layed upryght
Wyth two tapers bornynge bryght:
There he thought to ly all nyght,
To kys the lady on the morrow.

As soon as the knyght was go
         she sent for Syr John.
Well I wott he was not long:
         he cam to her anon.
“Madam,” he sayd, “what shall I do?”
         She answeryd to hym than:
“Syr,” sche sayd,
         “I schall tell you my conssell sone,
Blowen yt ys so brode.
I have a cosyn of my blode
Lyeth ded in the chapyll wood;
For owyng of a som of good
Hys beryng ys forbode.

“We be not abyll to pay
         the good that men do crave;
Therfore we send for you
         ouer worshype for to save.
Say hys dorge and masse
         and laye hym in hys grave —
Wythin a whyle after
         my love shall you have —
And truly kepe consell.”
Hys hartte hoppyd, hys wyll to-woke,
To do all thys he undertoke.
To say hys servys apon a boke
He sware be hevyn and hell.

“Do thy dever,” the lady sayd,
         “as farforth as thou may.
Then shalt thou have thy wyll of me.”
         And serten I thee saye,
Syr John was as glad of this
         as ever was fowle of daye.
Wyth a mattake and a showyll
         to the chapyll he takyth the waye,
Where he lay in hys shett.
When he cam ther he made hys pett
And sayed hys dorge at hys fett.
The knyght lyeth styll and dremyd hyt:
That “my loffe” whas hys swett.

As soen as the pryst was gon
         the yong knyght for to bery,
She sent after the marchaunt.
         To her he cam full mery.
“Dowen in the wode ther ys a chapell,
         ys fayer under a pere;
Therin lyeth a ded corse;
         therfore must ye stere ye
To helpe us in ower ryght.
He owyth us a som of golde;
To forbyd hys beryng I am bolde.
A pryst ys theder, as yt ys me tolde,
To bery hym thys nyght.

“Yf the corse beryd be
         and ower mony not payed
Yt were a fowlle sham for us
         so for to be bytrayed.
And yf ye wyll do after me
         the pryst shall be afrayed:
In a devellys garment
         ye shall be arayed
And stalke ye theder full styll.
When ye se the pryst styre
To bery hym that lyeth on bere
Lepe in at the quyer dore
Lyke a fend of hell.”

“Madam, for your love
         soen I shall be tyryd,
So that ye wyll graunt me
         that I have ofte desyryd.”
“Syr,” she sayd, “ye shall yt have,
         but fyrst I wyll be sewryd
That ower cownsell ye wyll kepe,
         that they be not dyscuryd.
Tell tomorow that yt be day
Yf thou voyed or ellys flee
Forever thow lesyst the love of me.”
“I graunt, madame,” sythe sade he,
And on wyth ys araye.

He dyght hym in a dyvellys garment.
         Furth gan he goo;
He cam in at the chyrch dore
         as the dyrge was doo,
Rynnyng, roryng wyth hys rakyls
         as devyllys semyd to doo.
The pryst brayed up as a boke.
         Hys hartt was allmost goo.
He demyd hymselfe but ded.
He was aferd he was to slowe.
He rose up he wyst not howe
And brake out at a wyndow,
And brake fowle ys heed.

But he that bod all the brunt,
         how sherwly he was egged,
For to here hys dyrge do
         and se hys pet deggyd.
“I trow I had my damys curse:
         I myght have byn better beggyd,
For now I am but lost,
         the lyghtter but I be leggyd.”
And up rose he then.
The devyll se the body ryse;
Then hys hart began to gryse —
I trow we be not all wyse —
And he began to ryen.

Hys ragys and hys rakylys
         clen he had forgett;
So had the yong knyght
         that sowyed was in the shett.
The pryst demyd them devyllys both;
         wyth them he wolde not mett.
He sparyd nother hyll nor holt,
         busche, gryne, nor grett.
Lord, he was fowle scrapyd!
The other twayen was ell aferd;
They sparyd nether styll ne sherd.
They had lever then mydyll erd
Ayther from other have scapyd.

The pryst toke a bypathe;
         wyth them he wolde not mett.
Yt ys hed was fowle brokyn;
         the blod ran dowen to ys fett.
He ran in a fyrryd gowen:
         all hys body gan reke.
He cast off all hys clothys
         to the bare breke
Because he wolde goo lyght.
He thought he harde the devyll loushe;
He start into a bryer boushe
That all hys skyen gan rowsshe
Off hys body quyt.

The knyth he ran into a wood
         as fast as he myght weend.
He fell apon a stake
         and fowle hys lege gan rentt.
Therefore he toke no care;
         he was aferd of the fend.
He thought yt was a longe waye
         to the pathes end,
But then cam all hys care:
In at a gape as he glent,
By the medyll he was hent;
Into a tretope he went
In a bokys snarre.

The marchaunt ran apon a laund,
         there where growyth no thoren.
He fell apon a bollys bake:
         he causte hym apon hys horn.
“Out, alas!” he sayd,
         “that ever I was boren,
For now I goo to the devyll
         bycause I dyd hym scoren,
Unto the pytt of hell.”
The boll ran into a myre.
There he layed ower fayer syer.
For all the world he durst not stere
Tyll that he herde a bell.

On the morrow he was glad
         that he was so scapyd.
So was the pryst also,
         thoo he was body nakyd.
The knyght was in the tretope:
         for dred sore he quaked.
The best jowell that he had,
         fayn he wolde forsake yt
For to com dowen.
He caught the tre by the tope;
Ye, and eke the calltrape.
He fell and brake hys foretope
Apon the bare growend.

Thus they went from the game
         begylyd and beglued.
Nether on other wyst;
         hom they went beshrewyd.
The person tolde the lady on the morrow
         what myschyf ther was shewed,
How that he had ronne for her love;
         hys merthys wer but lewed,
He was so sore dred of deth.
“When I shuld have beryd the corse,
The devyll cam in, the body rose:
To se all thys my hart grose;
Alyffe I scapyd unneth.”

“Remember,” the lady sayth,
         “what mysschyfe heron geth:
Had I never lover yt
         that ever dyed good deth.”
“Be that lord,” sayd the pryst,
         “that shope both ale and methe,
Thow shaltte never be wooed for me
         whylyst I have spech or breth,
Whyle I may se or here.”
Thus they to mad ther bost:
Furthe he went wythout the corse.
Then com the knyght for hys purpos
And told her of hys fare.

“Now I hope to have your love
         that I have servyd youre,
For bought I never love soo dere
         syth I was man ibore.”
“Hold they pese,” the lady sayd.
         “Therof speke thou no more,
For by the newe bargen
         my love thou hast forlore
All thys hundryth wynter.”
She answered hym; he went hys way.
The marchaunt cam the same day;
He told her of hys grett afray
And of hys hygh aventure.

“Tyll the corse shulde beryd be
         the bargen I abod.
When the body ded rise,
         a grymly gost aglood,
Then was tyme me to stere;
         many a style I bestrood.
There was no hegge for me to hey,
         nor no watter to brod
Of you to have my wyll.”
The lady said “Pese” full blyffe.
“Neer,” she said, “whylle thou art man on lyffe,
For I shall shew yt to they wyff
And all the contré yt tyll,

“And proclaym yt in the markyt towen
         they care to encrese.”
Therwyth he gave her twenty marke
         that she shold hold her pese.
Thus the burges of the borrowe,
         after hys dyses,
He endewed into the place
         wyth dedys of good relese
In fee forever more.
Thus the lady ded fre:
She kepyth hyr vyrgenyté,
And indewed the place with fee,
And salvyd them of ther soore.


rejoice; tale-telling

I would hate; reproached
expert [in poetry]
Many kinds of men
meddle with
methodologies; (t-note)
sniff out faults
Unless; come from

their limits are soon seen
Foolish; notion
brought to light
it occurs to me

one and all
convent; (see note)

(see note)
pure; worthy

pursued; (see note)

love her beyond reason

knew; begin

lively; (t-note)
parson; parish
prelate; peer
burgess; town

no one
came; (t-note)


(see note)
bucks; does
(see note)

Rosaries, candles

efforts; (t-note)


resolved incredibly hard
get it on; (t-note)
Lies; all the while
sound; (t-note)
unless I have my way with
kill; (t-note)

fearlessly I dare; (t-note)
(see note); (t-note)

Provided that
[what] I


at a certain time

command; (t-note)

if you want to

sewed; sheet

own sweetheart

Whoever; my



(see note)

not at all frightened
flat on his back

(see note)
at once

private business right away; (t-note)
It is so well known [anyway]

sum of money
burying; forbidden; (see note); (t-note)


good name; (t-note)

keep it secret
entirely woke; (t-note)

service from the missal


certainly I tell you; (t-note)

mattock; shovel
he [the knight]
his sweetheart had become “my love” [to him]


directly; pear tree
bestir yourself; (t-note)

[gone] to that place

what I tell you

dressed; (see note)
quietly; (t-note)
choir (quire)

dressed; (t-note)


go away
agree; then; (t-note)
his costume


Running; chains
suited devils to do; (see note); (t-note)
jumped; buck

badly split his head

endured the worst of it
badly; provoked

grave dug
believe; mother’s
located; (t-note)
no better than destroyed
unless I am faster legged

saw; (t-note)


completely; (t-note)

grassy land, nor gravel
two; badly
stile nor gap [in a hedge]; (t-note)
rather; this world

Still his


wanted to travel light
jumped; briar bush
So that; skin began to rush
Quite off



gap; darted

buck’s snare; (see note)

an open space

bull’s back
threw; (t-note)
Oh, no

(see note)

our handsome sire
(see note)

though; stark naked


Yes, and also the caltrop; (see note)

beguiled; deluded; (t-note)
None of the three knew another
abused; (t-note)


entertainments; bad

shuddered; (t-note)

what evil follows from this; (see note); (t-note)

made; mead; (t-note)

two said their say


deserved for a long time
paid for; dearly
since; born a human



was supposed to be

grim-looking; glided up; (t-note)
bestir myself
strode across; (see note)
hedge; too high

quickly; (t-note)
Never; alive
to; (t-note)

(see note)

deeds; conveyance
By heritable right

cured; suffering

The End

Go To Dane Hew, the Munk of Leicestre: Introduction