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Hali Meithhad


ABBREVIATIONS: AS: Anchoritic Spirituality, trans. Savage and Watson; AW: Ancrene Wisse, ed. Hasenfratz; B: Bodleian Library MS Bodley 34 [base text]; BT: Bosworth and Toller, Anglo-Saxon Dictionary; CT: Canterbury Tales; F: Furnivall edition (1922); HM: Hali Meithhad; M: Millett edition (1982); MED: Middle English Dictionary; MWB: Millett and Wogan-Browne edition (1990); OED: Oxford English Dictionary; PL: Patrologiae Cursus Completus; SJ: The Liflade and te Passiun of Seinte Juliene; SK: The Martyrdom of Sancte Katerine; SM: The Liflade and te Passiun of Seinte Margarete; SW: Sawles Warde; T: British Library MS Cotton Titus D XVIII; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Pro-verbial Phrases.

Header Epistel of meindenhad meidene frovre. HM participates in and responds to a body of medieval writing known simply as virginity literature, which has its roots in a large body of patristic writing concerning virginity (for an overview of this material, see Lapidge and Herren’s introduction to Aldhelm’s De Virginitate, pp. 51–58 and 191–92n8). While no direct source for the Middle English text can be accounted for, the author most likely had at his disposal a number of Latin compositions about virginity as well as other pastoral material. Bella Millett has exhaustively traced many of these attributions in the 1982 edition, and, where pertinent, we have listed them below. Most likely though, as M writes, HM’s author based at least part of his text on the following main sources: (1) Hildebert of Lavardin’s letter to Athalisa; (2) Gregory the Great’s Regula Pastoralis; and (3) Bernard of Clairvaux’s De Moribus et Officio Episcoporum. The most important and influential of these works on HM is that of Hildebert: this letter, of which at least ten manuscript copies survive, demonstrates both the kind of advisory relationship between virgin recluse and clergyman modeled in texts from the Life of Christina of Markyate to AW, as well as points to the far-reaching influence of conventional models of virginity literature. Those readers who wish to consult the direct passages of Hildebert, Gregory, or Bernard should consult M’s thorough explanatory notes, as well as her introduction, “Sources,” pp. xlv–lii; we have included some short pertinent passages with translations below, which unless otherwise cited, are our own. The source study of HM reveals that the oft-cited sensitive and surprisingly realistic description of pregnancy and childbirth (see 27.6–14) in fact springs from a conventional body of texts written by clergymen for the purpose of deterring women from marriage.

1.1 Audi, filia, et . . . domum patris tui. Compare Vulgate Psalm 44:11. This text is often cited in works on virginity, including Jerome’s letter on virginity to Eustochium, as well as Part III of the twelfth-century Speculum Virginum, a popular dialogue on virginity, of which twenty-seven manuscripts survive (see the appendix of Listen Daughter for a partial translation by Barbara Newman, as well as the critical edition by Jutta Seyfarth). Millett notes that the interpretation of Psalm 44:11 is borrowed from Alan of Lille’s Summa de Arte Praedicatoria, Chapter 47, PL 210.195 (see M, p. 25n1/1–2). In addition, the emphasis on listening, “Audi,” might indicate a listening rather than a reading audience. We do not know for certain for whom the AB texts were written and therefore what kind of literacy that audience possessed. For a discussion of female literacy in this period and concerning these texts see Robertson, “This Living Hand.”

1.2 Davith. According to Millett, the spelling of David’s name here represents an Anglo-French pronunciation (see M, p. 25n1/2). However, alternatively this orthography might reflect Welsh pronunciation and, if so, would further strengthen Dobson’s proposition that the text emanated from the Herefordshire border. See Dobson, Origins of Ancrene Wisse, p. 115–73. See also the explanatory note 31.1.

Godes spuse. While contemplatives were conventionally described as married to Christ, the Bodley 34 texts develop this metaphor to the extreme; as is clear from the previous tales of Saints Katherine, Margaret, and Juliana, the virgins’ spiritual marriage to Christ conflicts with their fathers’ or other superiors’ secular plans for the dispensing of their sexuality; the consistent mis-understanding of the spiritual implications of the women’s divine marriage is one of the marks of pagan mulishness — see, for example, SJ 14.1–2, where Africanus demands to know the identity of this husband to whom he has not yet been introduced. For the particular relevance of the Sponsa Christi motif for women, see Bugge, Virginitas, and Robertson, Early English Devotional Prose, especially Chapter 5 on HM, pp. 77–93. See also Valerian’s response to Cecilia’s claim in Chaucer’s Second Nun’s Tale [CT VIII[G] 162–68].

1.3 Nim yeme hwet . . . sunderliche to seggen. HM’s author directly addresses the reader throughout the text, engaging her in an imaginative dialogue with his material. Margaret Hostetler notes that this pattern reflects a larger agenda, in which the male author creates a number of “reader-characters,” one of which is the seli meiden addressed so frequently in the first half of the text. This figure, Hostetler claims, is invited to participate in an exegesis of Psalm 44 and thus to engage actively and imaginatively with the discourse rather than passively accepting it (see “Characterized Reader,” especially pp. 95–96 on the virgin exegete). See also explanatory note 27.6–14.

1.4 lives luve. Love of eternal life. The concept appears as an allegorical figure in SW 24.1 and following.

1.10 inker. The genitive plural of the dual pronoun: literally, “of your two.”

2.1 Syon . . . the hehe tur of Jerusalem. Millett notes that the description of Sion as “a tower” (tur) follows “the traditional (though inadmissable) etymology of Sion as specula ‘watch tower’” (M, p. 26n2/5). Scripture also points to the possibility of Sion as the literal tower of Jerusalem; see 1 Chronicles 11:5: “David took the castle of Sion, which is the city of David,” i.e., Jerusalem. However, more important for our text is the association between the image of the tower and virginity, both in terms of how the tower image protects virginity but also elevates it in status above more normative sexual roles. In particular, see the legend of Saint Barbara, another early Christian martyr: the tower becomes not only a way for Barbara’s father to encase and enclose her sexuality, but for Barbara herself to use and manipulate for further worship of the Christian God (see Winstead’s translation from the South English Legendary, in Chaste Passions, pp. 39–43). Roberta Gilchrist discusses the uses of architectural space in the constructions of medieval genders and sexualities, explaining that the “gendering of the body was achieved with reference to physical boundaries and architectural spaces, especially the tendencies to link female and religious spaces, and to locate them in the most segregated settings, achieved through boundaries or height; in particular the siting of women’s chambers in the upper reaches of towers. Space was used to construct and reinforce a gendering of women’s bodies which emphasized chastity and purity” (“Medieval Bodies,” p. 57). For Gilchrist’s extended treatment of how space and gender are mutually constitutive, see Gender and Material Culture. Finally, Christopher Cannon suggests that defensive structures such as the tower feature prominently in the AB texts because the environment in which they were presumably produced (on the Herefordshire/Wales border) was sprinkled with similar defensive structures. See his “The Place of the Self: Ancrene Wisse and the Katherine Group” in Grounds of English Literature.

2.4 englene liflade. Consecrated virgins aimed to imitate the life of angels (vita angelica) through contemplation of God (see M, pp. xxviii–xxx). We have followed both M and MWB as well as Savage and Watson in liberally translating this phrase as “angelic life”; literally the phrase translates to “life of angels.”

thah ha licomliche . . . from worldiche weanen. Speaking of the grace of God, Paul writes that those who receive it come not to Sinai, with its physical revelations and restrictions, but “to mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the company of many thousands of angels” (Hebrews 12:22). That this special state is especially accessible to virgins can be seen in the fact that Paul proceeds and follows this passage with admonitions against fornication (12:16 and 13:4). On Sion as a tower, see the explanatory note to 2.1, above.

3.1 mon of lam. The author focuses on the literally earthen nature of men due to the fact that they are made of clay (see Genesis 2:7). The phrase also occurs in SK 23.2 and 51.1, SJ 61.3, and HM 15.3.

4.2 alle thing turneth then gode to gode. The reference is to Romans 8:28, where the gode people for whom things will turn out gode are those who truly love God.

4.4 forte beo cwen icrunet. This particular cwen icrunet is an earthly queen. The virgin, already a crowned queen of Heaven, has no desire to exchange her state to be a temporal queen with an inferior lord. See also the explanatory note 5.5.

4.7 Thus, habbeth Godes . . . ed ten ende. HM varies remarkably from other tracts on virginity, such as Saint Jerome’s Letter to Eustochium and Aldhelm’s De virginitate. Both Aldhelm and Jerome emphasize the rewards a virgin can attain in the afterlife, whereas HM focuses on the rewards in this life as well as in heaven. See Woman Defamed, ed. Blamires, pp. 74–76 for excerpts of the Letter, and Aldhelm’s De Virginitate, as well as Robertson, Early English Devotional Prose, pp. 77–93.

5.4 thes cwenes . . . theos modie leafdis. These references to queens, rich countesses, and proud ladies might be an indication that the text was written for an audience of upper-class women, though perhaps those unfortunate younger daughters for whom the families could not afford an expensive marriage. See also the explanatory note 6.1, below.

5.5 ha lickith honi of thornes. Proverbial; see Whiting H439. This is a conventional description of the difficulties of earthly life. It is interesting to note that the virgin saint Gertrude the Great (d. 1302) was said to have had a vision in which Christ told her that “with my enemies you have licked the dust (compare Psalm 71:9) and sucked honey among thorns. Come back to me now, and I will inebriate you with the torrent of my divine pleasure (Psalm 35:9)” (Gertrude, Herald of Divine Love, p. 95).

5.7 Nat thah . . . ham sticheth ofte. M notes the echo of Jerome, Adversus Jovinianum 1.48 (p. 28n4/13–14). This is the very text against which the Wife of Bath protests so vociferously in her Prologue (CT III[D] 673–75); we might only imagine how Chaucer’s Wife would respond to a text such as HM. Ironically, despite its misogyny, Jerome makes similar arguments against marriage and in praise of virginity in Adversus Jovinianum, though he seems to be addressing an audience of men. For a translated excerpt of this text, see Beidler’s introduction to The Wife of Bath, Geoffrey Chaucer, pp. 21–23.

6.1 hwet wenest tu of the povre. Despite the reference to the poor, this text is clearly addressed to women of upper social status — although perhaps gentlewomen of little inheritance. At times, women entered nunneries or were placed there by their parents especially because they (or their family) could afford dowry for a convent but not for a husband. Aristocratic marriage practices in the Middle Ages often involved the alliance of a member of one class with a member of another. The social desire to marry someone of equal or higher rank (though sometimes aristocrats who were losing money had to marry below their rank) occasionally conflicted with religious expectations of marriage, which argued that marriage should be based on consent alone (for praise of marriage based on consent see, for example, Langland’s Piers Plowman, B.IX.108–18). For a discussion of marriage practices in the Middle Ages, see Sheehan, Marriage, Family and Law. For a critique of marriage practices more concerned with property transfer than affirmations of consent, see the marriage arrangements of Lady Mede in Passus 2 of Piers Plowman (B).

6.3 on hare brudlakes dei iboren to biburien. This imagery most likely alludes to ritual practices concerning anchoresses, who, Clay notes, were “carried to burial on their wedding-day”; that is, they were ritually buried within an anchor-hold as a tomb. See Clay (Hermits and Anchorites, pp. 193–98) for a description of the burial ceremony often practiced at anchoritic enclosure.

8.1 Et concupiscet rex decorem tuum. Compare Vulgate Psalm 44:12. M cites Alan of Lille’s Summa de Arte Praedicatoria, Chapter 47, PL 210.195, as the source for this passage (p. 29n5/10–11): ‘Et’ sic ‘concupiscet rex decorem tuum’, ille scilicet rex, qui est rex regum, et dominus dominantium [‘And’ thus ‘the king will desire your beauty’, that king of course, who is the king of kings, and the lord of lords].

8.4 thet seil thet seileth inc togederes. The seal of virginity is based on the Canticle of Canticles 4:12: “My sister, my spouse, is a garden enclosed, a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up.” See Innes-Parker (“Fragmentation and Reconstruction,” pp. 29–30) for a discussion of the intact body as a necessary aspect of holy life. See also the explanatory note to SM 17.1.

8.6 ne bith hit neaver ifunden. The rigid irrecoverability of virginity proves flexible to later examples of female contemplatives, particularly Margery Kempe. Margery’s non-virginal status becomes a point of contention and ridicule when Christ commands her to wear white clothing as a symbol of her status as (renewed) virgin. For a discussion of how the ideological framework of a text like HM could have influenced Margery Kempe, see Bosse, “Female Sexual Behavior.”

8.12–21 Ant hwet is . . . . as eaveres forroteden. M cites an extended passage in Bernard of Clairvaux’s De Moribus et Officio Episcoporum as the source for this section (p. 30n5/31–6/29). However, she also notes Bernard’s ultimate source: the Speculum Virginum, from which a brief quotation is warranted: “What is the beauty of this virgin, so esteemed by the royal gaze? What beauty does this king, who is the creator of heaven and earth, desire in the virgin? What is this beauty that God seeks in you? Would you like to know? It is the beauty of righteousness, the form of a praiseworthy life, the light of understanding, the grace of heavenly discipline, the love of God, the hatred of the world or anything else of that kind that the rational soul acquires through longing for virtues or hatred of vices” (trans. Newman, Listen Daughter, p. 282).

8.12 of heame hine. This is a confusing phrase, as the clear sense from the rest of the passage indicates that the two terms should be antonyms. Compare also SJ 33.4: “al mi nestfalde cun, thet schulde beo me best freond, beoth me meast feondes, ant mine inhinen, alre meast heamen” [all my closest kin, those who should be my best friends, are my greatest foes, and my household, the greatest of all churls]. However, see The Owl and the Nightingale, lines 1115–16: “Vor children gromes, heme & hine. / Hi þencheþ alle of þire pine,” where the terms, if not synonymous, at least represent similar ideas: household servants. Millett emends to heane following T’s reading, but suggests that this rare Middle English noun is related to the verb heanen, “to injure, oppress, persecute” (MED henen (v.), sense a), thus a translation of “oppressors,” not otherwise attested in Middle English (see M, pp. 30–31n6/2). It should be noted, however, that the adjective heane survives to mean “contemptible, hateful, injurious” (MED hen (adj.), sense b) as in SK 43.8: “thes heane ant tes heatele tintreoh” [this heinous and this hateful torture]. We have retained B’s reading of heame with the assumption that “churls” or “yokel” is antonomous with the concept of an obedient and faithful servant; however we admit that the reading, like other readings, is tenuous.

8.15 Engel ant meiden. On the virginal qualities of the afterlife, see Matthew 22:30, Mark 12:25, and Luke 20:34–36, where proof is found in the presumed lack of marriage among angels.

8.17 ant i this . . . liveth Heovene engel. As a source for this passage, Millett cites Bernard’s Sermo 27 in Cantica, which, in turn, draws its phrase regio dissimilitudinis (land of unlikeness) from Augustine’s Confessions, 7.10 (M, p. 32n6/15–18 and 6/15–16). For the image of life on earth as exile, see Hebrews 11:13–16. See also her discussion, pp. xxvi–xxviii.

burde. The Titus manuscript reads burðe; most likely the scribe simply forgot to cross the ð. The term here presents a theological conundrum, in that burde/burðe is not simply the “birth” or “birthright” of the individual, nor its cunde or nature, but its origin as well. As the virtue of virginity here lives out its liflade in licnesse to the Heavenly life, there is a sense that this virtue preserves the original nature of the creation of God; that is, the nature uncorrupted and stained by the deeds of Adam and Eve. Since all human beings are descended from the marred state of humanity, the theological impossibility of a person living according to this original nature is solved by the author’s attention to the abstracted virtue of virginity: this quality preserves the original chaste nature of humanity, but in the body of the virgin struggles against impure thoughts. The virgin’s success in the process of this struggle is what makes her so unique.

8.18–19 Nis this mihte . . . in hal halinesse. See 1 Thessalonians 4:3–5.

8.21–22 as eaveres forroteden . . . the Deofles eaveres. The Middle English term eaveres is troublesome, and is still defined, according to MED and OED as “boar” (compare MED ever (n.), sense 1 and OED “ever” (n.)), derived from the Old English eofor (BT, eofor (n.), sense1a). Compare Celtic lore wherein evil men are turned into boars that ravage the countryside as Twrch Trwyth in the Irish story of Culhwch and Olwen. We have similarly translated as “boars.” However, identifying an echo here of Joel 1:17 (“the beasts have rotted in their dung”), Tolkien (“Devil’s Coach-Horses,” pp. 333–34) advises translating the word as “horses” based on its relationship to the Middle English term aver meaning “draft horse” or “beast of burden” (MED, aver (n.1), sense 1). MWB translate as “Devil’s cart-horses” (p. 13); Savage and Watson as “beasts of burden” (AS, p. 229). While at first the image of a draft-horse wallowing in dung or muck might still seem to make little sense, compare Chaucer’s Friar’s Tale (CT III[D] 1539–65), which features a similar image — though luckily these “caples thre” do not end up going to the devil.

8.23 with soth schrift ant with deadbote. Compare SW 7.3.

9.1–7 Eadi meiden . . . . schal him overstihen. M cites Gregory’s Regula Pastoralis, Book III, Chapter 28 (p. 33n7/6–24): Admonendi sunt peccata carnis ignorantes, ut tanto sollicitius praecipitem ruinam metuant, quanto altius stant. Admonendi sunt, ut noverint, quia quo magis loco prominenti consistunt, eo crebrioribus sagittis insidiatoris impetuntur. Qui tanto ardentius solet erigi, quanto robustius se conspicit vinci; tantoque intolerabilius dedignatur vinci, quanto contra se videt per integra infirmae carnis castra pugnari [those who are innocent of the sins of the flesh are to be admonished to dread all the more anxiously headlong ruin, the loftier the eminence on which they stand. We should admonish them to realise that the more conspicuous their position, the more numerous are the arrows hurled against them by him who lies in wait for us. The more stoutly he sees himself worsted, the more energetically does he bestir himself. The more intolerable to him is his shame of being conquered, the more clearly he perceives that he is opposed by an unbroken barrier of weak flesh] (trans. Davis, p. 195).

9.2 se herre degré, se the fal is wurse. Proverbial; see Whiting D156.

9.5 the offrede hire meithhad earst to ure Lauerd. According to Millett, in Augustine’s De Sancta Virginitate 4: “Mary was thought to have made a vow of virginity before the Annunciation” (M, p. 33n7/11–15). This tradition is later expanded in medieval writings. When ordered by the priests to take a husband in the N-Town plays, for example, Mary exclaims: “mannys felachep shal nevyr flowe me! / I wyl levyn evyr in chastyté / Be the grace of Goddys wylle!” (ed. Sugano, 10.37–39). For a discussion of the practice of chaste marriage in the Middle Ages see Dyan Elliott, Spiritual Marriage.

10.3–4 Wit, Godes dohter . . . that is ure suster. . . Leccherie, thet is the deofles streon. . . ant Sunne hire moder. The personification of virtues and vices has a long tradition in Christian literature, perhaps most influentially represented in Prudentius’ Psychomachia (ca. 405), where they battle for souls in Virgilian epic form. A much later example from an English writer is John Gower’s Mirour de l’Omme (ca. 1377), where Wit (Reason) is male and weds God’s seven daughters, the virtues, so that together they might stand against the Devil and the seven vices that have been engendered incestuously upon his daughter, Sin. In Gower’s genealogies, Virginity is specifically the second daughter of the virtue of Chastity, which is set, as here, against the vice of Lechery (Mirour de l’Omme, trans. Wilson, lines 16573 ff.). This passage recalls the ongoing battle between Wit, the husband (“Godes cunestable,” 4.1) and Will, the unruly wife in SW.

10.5–13 weorreth o this wise . . . . efter thet wunde. M cites Alan of Lille’s Summa de Arte Praedicatoria, chapter 5, PL 210.122, as a source for this passage describing the five strategies of lust (p. 34n8/7–31). See also p. 34n8/8–20 for an extended discussion of the development of this topos, which originates in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Part II of AW describes a similar battle between virginity and lechery: “Earest scheot the arewen of the licht echnen, the fleoth lichtliche forth ase flaa thet is i-vithered ant stiketh i there heorte, ther-efter schaketh hire spere ant neolachet upon hire, ant mid schakinde word yeveth speres wunde. | Sweordes dunt [is] dun-richt — thet is, the hondlunge — for sweord smit of nech ant yeveth deathes dunt, ant hit is wei-la-wei nech i-do with ham the cumeth swa nech togederes, thet outher hondli other other i-fele other” [First lechery shoots the arrows from the wanton eyes, which fly lightly forth as a shaft which is feathered and sticks in the heart; afterwards, she shakes her spear and closes in upon her, and with an agitating word, gives the wound of the spear. A sword’s blow — that is, human touching — comes straight down, for a sword smites from near-by and gives death’s blow; and it is, alas, nearly finished for those who come so close together, who either handle each other or touch each other] (ed. Hasenfratz, p. 105, lines 132–37).

10.8 seith scheome. “Speaks shame of”; i.e., slanders.

11.6–13.13 Ant sothes yef . . . were deadlich sunne. M cites an extended section of Book III, Chapter 28 of Gregory’s Regula Pastoralis as the source for this section (p. 35n8/31–10/13). On traditions of personification, see the explanatory note to 10.3–4, above.

12.2 Eunuchus qui servaverit sabata mea, et cetera. Isaias 56:4–5, discussed by Augustine in De Sancta Virginitate, pp. 234–35.

12.6–13.2 singen with engles . . . . of His goddede. M cites Hildebert of Lavardin’s Letter to Athalisa as a source for this passage: Virginitas angelicam redolens conversationem, cantat canticum novum, canticum felix, canticum quod nemo potest dicere praeter eos ‘qui cum mulieribus non sunt coinquinati’ (p. 36n9/13–15) [Virginity smelling of angelic association, sings a new song, a happy song, a song which no one can speak of except those ‘who are not polluted with women]; and Porro canticum omnium laudem Creatoris et actiones intellige gratiarum. Laudant ergo Christum virgines, Christum laudant viduae, laudant etiam conjugatae. Laudant conjugatae, quia . . . (pp. 36–37n9/24–25) [Further understand that the song of all (of them is) praise of the Creator and gestures of thanks. Therefore the virgins praise Christ, the widows praise Christ, and the wedded also praise. The wedded praise, because . . .].

12.6 His sunen ant alle Hise dehtren. On the virgins singing before God’s throne, see Apocalypse 14:3–4. Though the Bible cites these virgins as male (they are specifically undefiled by women), exegetes have long taken the passage to be gender-neutral.

13.4 Non omnes capiunt verbum istud. See Matthew 19:10–12.

13.8–13 Other is thet . . . . were deadlich sunne. This description of the difference between God’s commandments versus his advice corresponds in some ways to the “Author’s Preface” in AW: “Nan ancre, bi mi read, ne schal makien professiun — thet is, bihaten ase heast — bute threo thinges: thet beoth obedience, chastete, ant stude steathel-vestenesse . . . For hwa-se nimeth thing on hond ant bihat hit Godd as heast for-te don hit, ha bint hire ther-to, ant sunegeth deadliche i the bruche, yef ha hit breketh willes. Yef ha hit ne bihat nawt, ha hit mei do thah ant leaven hwen ha wel wule, as of mete, of drunch, flesch forgan other fisch, alle other swucche thinges . . . Theos ant thulliche othre beoth alle i freo wil to don other to leten hwil me wule ant hwen me wule, bute ha beon bihaten. Ah chearite — thet is, luve — ant eadmodnesse ant tholemodenesse . . . theos ant thulliche othre . . . ne beoth nawt monnes fundles, ne riwle thet mon stalde, ah beoth Godes heastes” [No anchoress, by my advice, shall make profession — that is, promise as a vow — except for three things: those are obedience, chastity, and steadfastness of place . . . For whosoever takes a thing in hand and promises it to God as a vow to do it, she binds herself to it and sins mortally in the breach if she breaks it willingly. If she does not promise it, she can do it nevertheless and stop when she well wants, with food, with drink, to forgo meat or fish, all other such things . . . These and such others are all in free will to do or to stop while one wants and when one wants, unless they are promised. But charity — that is, love — and humility and patience . . . these and such others . . . are not man’s invention, or a rule which man established, but are God’s commandments] (ed. Hasenfratz, pp. 62–63, lines 54–67).

13.11 ful. F translates as a past participle of fullen: “filled overfull.” We have followed M and translated as “cup” based on MED ful (n.), sense 1: “A cup; a drinking cup or bowl.” All examples of the use of this word are from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries; thus it would make sense for this author to use the word.

13.12 crune upo crune. While the literal sense of upo is “upon,” we have translated as “above” to get at the idea of a crown that surpasses the worth of other crowns.

13.13 Alswa, Seinte Pawel . . . ham mahen halden. Paul’s famous advice, found in 1 Corinthians 7:8 and 25–26, is a favorite among those recommending celibacy as the surest means of avoiding sin.

Seinte Pawel yeveth read. M cites Gregory’s Regula Pastoralis, Book 3, Chapter 27, as the likely source for this passage (p. 37n10/14–15): Hinc est enim quod peritus medicinae coelestis Apostolus non tam sanos instituit, quam infirmis medicamenta monstravit, dicens: ‘De quibus scripsistis mihi: Bonum est homini mulierem non tangere; propter fornicationem autem unusquisque suam habeat uxorem, et unaquaeque suum virum habeat’ [I Cor. 7:1–2]. Qui enim fornicationis metum praemisit, profecto non stantibus praeceptum contulit; sed ne fortasse in terram ruerent, lectum cadentibus ostendit [Hence it is that the Apostle, versed in celestial medicine, did not so much prescribe for the hale, as point out the remedies for the weak, when he said: ‘Concerning the things whereof you wrote to me, it is good for a man not to touch a woman, but for fear of fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.’ (See 1 Corinthians 7:1–2) For in setting out beforehand the fear of fornication, he surely did not give a precept to those who stood on their feet, but pointed out the bed to such as were falling] (trans. Davis, p. 189).

14.1 tha ha walden of meidnes hehschipe. An odd use of the auxiliary walden. F translates as “when they fell short of maidenhoods [sic] elevation”; MWB as “when they were about to fall from the virgin’s high estate.” MED cites this line as a “modal auxiliary expressing wish or desire . . . past form with past meaning with implied inf[initive]” (willen (v.1), sense 9g). Usually in this construction the implied verb is one that has appeared in a previous line, possibly as part of the same sentence, and most often is some expression of “to go,” “to be,” “to do,” or “to get,” as in the other lines cited in 9g. Our translation of “would have gone” follows more closely the usual pattern of this construction, though F and MWB adhere to the image of the maiden falling from the high tower only to be caught by the bed of marriage.

14.3–5 For hwa se . . . . beten hare sunnen. See Evans for a discussion of what she calls the “‘willed’ virginity” characterized by this passage (“Jew, the Host and the Virgin Martyr,” p. 174).

14.3 ham is tolimet. An impersonal construction, literally: “it is dismembered to them.”

15.3 for thet is . . . of hehe blisse. M cites Hildebert’s Letter to Athalisa as a source for this passage (p. 38n11/4–9): Laudant innuptae, quia ex eo habent ut quibus licuit hominibus nubere virginibus, spiritu Deo nubere malint, et carne virgines et spiritu [see I Cor. 7:34]. Ecce sacrarum virginum canticum sacrum, canticum non vetus sed novum, non illius scilicet Adae, in quo et per quem mentis et carnis corrupta est integritas, sed ejus in quo et per quem non solum sanata, sed etiam super angelos glorificata est humanitas. Hujus laus et exaltatio virtutis canticum est quod ignorant viduae, quod nesciunt conjugatae. [The unwedded give praise, because from that they consider that it was allowed for such virgins to marry men, although they preferred to marry God in spirit, virgins both in flesh and spirit. Behold the holy song of holy virgins, not an old song but a new one, certainly not the song of that Adam, in which and through which the soundness of mind and flesh is spoiled, but of this human nature is not only healed in it and through it, but also is glorified above the angels.]

mon of lam. See the explanatory note to 3.1, above.

16.4 Ant alle ha . . . o Latines ledene. For discussion of the source of this description of the rewards in Heaven for those who keep Christ’s commandments of Matthew 19:18–19, see M (p. 39n11/17–20), who observes that ultimately the text here seems to derive from Bede’s glossing of Exodus 25:25 in De Tabernaculo et Vasis ejus 6. However, see also Wogan-Browne, who points out the secular courtliness of the “ring-dance,” noting that “[this scene] invoke[s] a specifically high medieval ideal of the aristocratic heroine, one shared to a large extent with courtly literature and secular romance” (Saints’ Lives, p. 23). This observation emphasizes the author’s use of secular devices to imply heavenly station; compare also explanatory notes 4.4 and 5.5.

17.1–7 Of thes threo . . . . writ in Heovene. According to MWB, this discussion of the relative rewards of virginity, widowhood, and marriage is a patristic interpretation of Matthew 13:23 (“But he that received the seed upon good ground, is he that heareth the word, and understandeth, and beareth fruit, and yieldeth the one an hundred-fold, and another sixty, and another thirty”) common in literature on virginity (p. 151n20/17–21). Hassel (Choosing Not to Marry, p. 39) sees HM’s emphasis on precise numerical values for virginity, widowhood, and wifehood as “appeals to earthly rank” that overwhelm the spiritual meaning of the parable. Aquinas’ Catena Aurea cites Jerome, where the hundred-fold fruits are ascribed to virgins, the sixty-fold to widows and continent persons, and the thirty-fold to chaste wedlock (1.494). Augustine, in his Quæstiones Evangeliorum, ranks the rewards differently, and notes that the hundred-fold fruit signifies martyrs, the sixty-fold fruit virgins, and the thirty-fold fruit the wedded (1.493).

17.7 lives writ. That is, the Book of Life, made famous for its appearance in Apocalypse 3:5 and 20:12–15.

18.1 Ah schawi we . . . drehen the iweddede. See Savage, “Translation of the Feminine,” for analysis of HM not only as a virginity text but also as a text on martyrdom, particularly “marriage as an unsuccessful martyrdom” (p. 194). Likewise, Hassel (Choosing Not to Marry, p. 33) calls HM “a sermon on virginity that says more about marriage than staying single.” Although M points out the source of many of the details of the difficulties of married life in Hildebert of Lavardin, the author also includes an unusually extensive engagement with the quotidian lives its readers choose to leave behind. For a discussion of this emphasis on “quotidian psychological realism” in the AB texts in general see Robertson, Early English Devotional Prose.

18.9–19.3 hwet maketh hit . . . . monie togederes. M cites Alan of Lille’s Summa de Arte Praedicatoria, Chapter 5, PL 210.123 as source for this passage (p. 40n12/27–13/3): lechery [sic] hominem in pecudem mutat; imo, homo per eam infra pecudem degenerat, cum pecus servat concupiscendi tempora, tu concupiscis omni hora; pecus servat naturam, tu debaccharis in eam; pecus servat unitatem paris, tu ad plures discurris [lechery changes a man into an animal; no indeed, a man through that sinks lower than an animal, since an animal keeps to the seasons of carnal longing while you desire sex at every hour; an animal serves nature, you revel furiously in it; an animal keeps one mate, you run about to many].

18.10 dumbe neb. A dumb snout or face, that is, lacking the ability to speak or clearly communicate, and thus also lacking intellectual ability and discrimination (see MED domb, (adj.), sense 5a, which cites this line).

19.4 Lo nu hu . . . ant eorthe forhohien. The upright posture of mankind is attributed to a desire for Heaven (see M, p. 41n13/3–8).

forthi thet tu . . . thin eritage is. Compare Matthew 6:19–21.

20.5–6 Ah on alre . . . is of Heovene! M cites Hildebert’s Letter to Athalisa as a source for this passage (p. 41n13/19–25): Praeterea ex nuptiis nulla speratur impune felicitas, quam primo necesse est quadam carnis commistione comparari. Infeliciter ei succedit, quae successum virginitatis mercatur impendio . . . Impar mercimonium est, brevem quaestum jactura perenni comparare; minus sibi providet quisquis gratiae virginitatis aliquid anteponit [In addition, no happiness is safely hoped for from marriage, which foremost needs to be secured by means of a certain mingling of the flesh. It turns out unluckily for her, who is trafficked, with the cost (being) the continuance of (her) virginity . . . It is an uneven merchandise, a short-lived profit to compare with eternal loss; whoever places anything before the pleasantness of virginity provides too little for herself.]

21.7–8 Wa is him . . . . áá on ecnesse. M cites Augustine’s Confessions here as a probable source for 21.7–8 (p. 42n14/4–10), respectively: Miser eram, et miser est omnis animus vinctus amicitia rerum mortalium [I was in misery, and misery is the state of every soul overcome by friendship with mortal things] (trans. Chadwick, Book 4, Chapter 6, p. 58) and Beatus qui amat te [God], et amicum in te, et inimicum propter te. Solus enim nullum charum amittit, cui omnes in illo chari sunt, qui non amittitur . . . Te nemo amittit, nisi qui dimittit ["Happy is the person who loves you" (Tobit 13:18) and his friend in you, and his enemy because of you (Matthew 5:44). Though left alone, he loses none dear to him; for all are dear in the one who cannot be lost. . . . None loses you unless he abandons you] (trans. Chadwick, Book 4, Chapter 9, p. 61).

22.4 tin anes dale. “Your own share” refers to the bride’s dowry.

22.11 With earmthe biwinneth . . . hit with sorhe. This description is a conventional formula used by patristic and scholastic writers to describe avarice; for other examples of this description, see M, p. 43n14/34–5. This passage reveals the author’s dependence on these types of sources as well as a more flexible understanding of greed than is traditionally assumed. The ambiguous “muchel” of 22.10, and the series of “hit” (articulated three times in 22.11) refer to a desired object much more tenuous and ambiguous than a simple lust for money. Richard Newhauser, in his study on greed in the early Middle Ages, writes that avarice often manifests as a “desire for intangible objects” such as “honor, knowledge, [or] life itself” as much as it refers to a desire for money (Early History of Greed, p. xiv).

22.13 this worldes hweol. I.e., the wheel of Fortune, a common medieval image often denoting the impermanence of material goods and/or worldly status. Fortune and her wheel appear as both a rich component of philosophical discourse as well as a well-known trope of medieval narrative. For the former, see Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy, Book 2, in which Lady Philosophy urges the ailing philosopher to relinquish his attachment to Fortune; in Poem 7 (trans. Green, pp. 39–40), she offers the example of death, the great equalizer, as one of the many demonstrations of the fruitlessness of relying on Fortune. As regards the narrative trope, see, for a vivid and famous example, the Alliterative Morte Arthure, lines 3218–3393, in which Arthur dreams of his terrifying downfall on Fortune’s wheel. Finally, it is worth noting, in addition to this conventional imagery, the preoccupation with images of the wheel in the Bodley 34 texts (compare the would-be tortures devised for Katherine and for Juliana), where the ultimate goal, for professed nuns, anchoresses, or virgin martyrs, is to eventually transcend the significance and effectiveness of worldly pain as well as worldly joy.

22.14–15 Theoves hit steoleth . . . ham ant wreatheth. M cites Hildebert of Lavardin’s Letter to Athalisa as a source for this passage (p. 43n15/2–3): Virginitati tamen divitiae praeferuntur, sed eis aerugo suspecta est, sed tinea demolitur, sed insidiantur latrunculi, sed timetur majoris violentia potestatis [Yet riches are preferred to virginity, but rust is suspected by them, and the moth destroys it, and thieves lie in wait for it, and the violence of great power is feared].

22.16 ahte. A general term referring most likely to cattle (compare Savage and Watson’s translation, AS, p. 236, as well as SK 4.1), but often livestock in general, including sheep. See Millett’s note in Ancrene Wisse, which explains that the term “can [also] mean possessions [or] money” (ed. Millett,2.285). Compare also hahte, a similar term referring to sheep, in SM 4.4.

22.17 wullen ha nullen ha. “They wish to they do not wish to”; a proverb leading to “will they, nill they” and eventually to “willy nilly.” According to the OED, this is the earliest known occurrence of the phrase. See Whiting, W277.

23.2 grevin. M and MWB emend to granin. See M, p. 43n15/18. F reads B as grenin as a variant of granen “to groan,” related to Anglo-Saxon gránian (see F, p. 42n444 and p. 87, entry under granen) See also BT, gránian (v.).

23.8 ethele theowe. See M, p. 44n15/30, who argues that the term refers to “a serf born on the estate.”

24.4–7 Yef thu art . . . o thulliche wise? M cites Hildebert’s Letter to Athalisa as a source for this pessimistic passage on marriage (p. 45n16/13–24 and 16/31–17/13): Si formosa est, difficile caret infamia; deformem maritus aspernatur. Nunquam lectus est sine rixa, cujus vel pudet vel taedet conjugalem. Porro consequens est ut ei vir displiceat quae viro placere non quaerit. Quae non quaerit, sagaciores sollicitat aniculas, maleficiis assidet et, ut acquiret gratiam, projicit innocentiam. Quae igitur quies est animae, cui vel maritus est pro supplicio, vel conscientia pro flagello? [If she is beautiful, it is difficult for her to be without disgrace; the husband despises the ugly wife. The bed is never without quarrel, of which she is either ashamed or weary. Furthermore, it is logical that her husband displeases her who does not seek to please her husband. She who doesn’t seek (to do this), she solicits very clever little old women, sits with witches and, to get a favor, throws away innocence. Therefore who is quiet of heart, for whom there is either a husband for punishment, or conscience for a scourge?] and Magni soboles emitur, cujus conceptus infestatio est pudicitiae, partus vitae. Ea in lucem progrediens, auspicium sollicitudinis est, non materia gaudiorum. Vitiosa quippe progenies odium suscitat. Cum vero bona est, timor nascitur amittendi. Quis autem animo locus est gaudii, qui vel inflammatur odio, vel timore cruciatur? [Offspring is purchased dearly, of which the conception is a disturbance of chastity, and its birth a disturbance of life. Advancing into the light, it is an omen of anxiety, not the stuff of rejoicing. Certainly a deformed child arouses hatred. When the child is in fact sound, fear arises of its being lost. Now, what place is there in the spirit for joy, which is either inflamed with hatred, or tortured with fear?]. See also 27.6–14 for the anxieties surrounding childbirth.

27.2–3 For ase Seinte Pawel . . . unwurdthgeth thi bodi. See 1 Corinthians 6:18.

27.6–14 Ga we nu . . . . te therin itimeth. Hostetler describes this famous passage as “a mass of affective detail” signaling the imaginative movement of the “reader-character” into the role of wife and mother. Hostetler points out two other rhetorical details worth noting: first, that the author ceases to address the reader as meiden and switches to wummon (compare 18.1, 22.2 to 27.1); second, that the “narrator uses a debate format, laying out the reader-character’s imagined points and refuting them one by one” (“Characterized Reader,” p. 98). These details illustrate both the author’s strategic use of rhetoric in engaging his reader, as well as the invitation to the female reader to engage with multiple roles — i.e., exegete, virgin, wife, mother, and debater (though perhaps a more appropriate term would be motild; see the explanatory note to SK 9.4). In terms of source material, though, the author has based this sensitive account of childbirth and child-rearing, according to M, on an expansion of a description of pregnancy in Hildebert of Lavardin. The discomforts of pregnancy appear also in other religious letters, such as those of Osbert of Clare (see M, p. 46n17/23–18/4).

27.8 thi breines turnunge. “Your brain’s turning,” i.e., dizziness (see MED brain (n.1), sense a, meaning “vertigo, dizziness” as well as MWB’s translation). We have translated literally, following Savage and Watson. This phrase, a striking description of the source of dizziness, is one of the few examples in the Katherine Group of a kenning, a holdover from Anglo-Saxon poetic tradition, a metaphor or periphrastic expression referring to a thing by description, rather than simply naming it, for example: “whale-road” (sea); “sword storm” (battle); “horse of the sea” (ship).

27.9 swel in. M’s emendation (see p. 46n17/30); see also our corresponding textual note. The presence of swel here presents crucial interpretive issues, as the term is never used (as verb or noun) to describe natural pregnancy, but consistently to describe either pathological, physical swelling or the swelling of the heart/mind to pride or anger, implying (at least in this case) a connection between the sickness of inflammation and moral disobedience. MED defines swelle (n.) as “A morbid swelling in the body or a bodily part.” Compare AW 4.1182–87, where the author compares lascivious temptations to a bodily wound, which the anchoress should not concern herself with “bute hit to swithe swelle thurh skiles yettunge with to muchel delit up toward te heorte, ah drinc thenne atter-lathe ant drif thet swealm ayein-ward frommard te heorte – thet is to seggen, thench o the attri pine thet Godd dronc o the rode, ant te swealm schal setten” [unless it swell too terribly up toward the heart throught he consent of reason with too much delight, but drink then the antidote and drive the inflammation away from the heart – that is to say, think on the poisonous pain that God drank on the Cross, and the inflammation will subside] (ed. Hasenfratz, p. 288, lines 1184–87).

28.1 we ne edwiteth . . . forte warni meidnes. The moral distinction between marriage and virginity is based in the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians, chapter 7; Paul is careful to point out that marriage should not be condemned, though virginity is preferable. Patristic commentators on both Paul as well as the subject of virginity generally clarify that they do not wish to detract from marriage; Jerome has a particularly interesting take on praising marriage in his letter to Eustochium: Laudo nuptias, laudo coniugium, sed quia mihi virgines generant [I praise wedlock, I praise marriage; but it is because they produce virgins for me] (letter 22, trans. Wright, pp. 94–95).

30.1 Theose ant othre . . . ane lut wordes. M cites Hildebert’s Letter to Athalisa as a source for this passage (p. 47n18/26–27): Haec et alia nuptiarum sunt incommoda, quae numerare longum ducens Apostolus, ‘tribulationem’, inquit, ‘sustinebunt huiusmodi [These and other things of marriage are disagreeable, which the Apostle, considering them tedious to number, says ‘they tolerate the tribulation of this manner of life’].

Tribulaciones carnis et cetera. See 1 Corinthians 7:28.

31.1 Lutel wat meiden . . . ne his caderclutes. M cites Hildebert of Lavardin’s Letter to Athalisa as a source for this passage (p. 48n18/32–19/5): Virginitas maritalis ignara negotii, non labores puerperae, non novi partus spurcitias experitur . . . virginitas vigilias nutricis ignorans, quam multa supellectile, quibusve sorbitiunculis alumnus indigeat, non requirit [Virginity ignorant of the business of marriage, does not know about childbirth labors, nor about the filthinesses of a new baby . . . virginity being ignorant of the vigils of the wet-nurse, does not enquire after just how much stuff, or what portions of food the child may need].

bigan. See MED, bigon (v.1), sense a: “to cover.” All of the examples, including the Royal manuscript of Juliana (compare d’Ardenne’s edition, p. 22/187) use this verb to mean “cover (something) with blood.” Compare the Bodley reading of this line in SJ, which reads “bigoten” (27.1 of our text). As M notes (p. 48n19/4), this is the only example of this verb referring to a substance besides blood (in this case, food). We have chosen to translate bigon as “bespatter.”

cader-clutes. Cader is a Welsh word for cradle. The presence of this term provides additional evidence for the theory that the text was produced in Herefordshire near the Welsh border. See Dobson, Origins of Ancrene Wisse, pp. 115–16 and 323–24. Dobson also discusses the Welsh origin of this word on pp. 115–16.

31.3 fliche. “A side of an animal” sometimes referring to beef but more often to pork, as in a side of bacon (OED flitch (n.1)).

33.5–6 Eadi is . . . kinedom of Heovene. M cites Hildebert’s Letter to Athalisa as a source for this passage (p. 49n19/32–20/3 and 20/3–4): Beata nimirum sponsa, cujus pudor dum concipit non deperit; dum generat, non laborat. Beatissimus autem sponsus cui, nisi cohaereat, nulla virgo est; nulla casta, nisi eum diligat; nulla libera, nisi ei serviat [Certainly (God’s) spouse (is) blessed, whose purity does not perish while she conceives; who does not suffer while she produces life. And most blessed (is) the husband, whom, unless she clings to Him, she is no virgin; not clean, unless she loves Him; not free, unless she serves Him] and Ejus prole nihil vivacius, cum qua nulla propagatur mortalitas. Ejus dote nihil utilius, in quo sufficientam comitatur aeternitas [(There is) nothing more long-lived than His offspring, to whom no mortality is spread. Nothing is more profitable than His dowry, in which eternity accompanies sufficiency].

33.6 marhe-yeve. I.e., a dowry. See MED yeve (n.), sense 2b.

33.8 thah He beo . . . Him wel icweme. M cites Hildebert’s Letter to Athalisa as a source for this passage (p. 49n20/7–8): pauperi libens copulatur, dives in omnes qui invocant illum [with pleasure He marries the poor, rich among all those who call upon Him].

33.9 upo hwas nebscheft . . . fulle to bihalden. Compare 1 Peter 1:12.

34.1–2 Yef the were . . . hire in Heovene. The image of virtues as spiritual children can be traced back to Origen, Homilies on Numbers (see M, p. xli).

35.1–36.1 Ah thah thu . . . his ealdeste dohter. M cites Hildebert’s Letter to Athalisa as the source for this discussion of adultery with the devil (p. 50n20/29–21/5): Unum tamen est quo ille sponsam ablaterat, et propriam diffitetur: hujus etenim ratio dissidii, sola mentis est corruptela. Mentis deformitas offendit virum, sponsalia diripit, abjudicat dotem, eliminat introductam. Mentem tuus amans explorat, et ex ejus qualitate vel dictat repudium, vel maritum pollicetur. Huic autem suspecta est superbia, nec fieri potest ut cum eo in gratia revertatur [There is one (reason) however for which he sets aside his spouse, and denies his own: indeed the reason for this separation is corruption of the mind alone. Deformity of the mind displeases the Husband, lays waste the betrothal feast, rightfully takes away the dowry, carries the new bride (lit., “the one who has been introduced”) out the door. Your lover tests your mind, and based on its quality he either declares divorce, or promises marriage. Yet still for this, pride is suspected, and it cannot happen that she comes back in favor with Him].

36.1–38.6 Over alle thing . . . al hare lifsithen. Pride particularly threatens the virgin’s salvation because she has something that wives and widows do not: physical purity. Thus this sin has the capacity to upset the traditional order of the female estates (e.g., virgins, widows, wives). Aldhelm, in his tract on virginity, demonstrates particular interest in this matter, since some evidence points to his addressing a mixed audience: virgins and women who have cast off their husbands to pursue a chaste life — hence the terms “chastity” and “virginity” have different meanings (see the introduction to De Virginitate, trans. Lapidge and Herren, pp. 51–58). Aldhelm’s strong words on proud virgins (as opposed to humble chaste women) are worth noting: “because they judge themselves to be chastely celibate and to be thoroughly free from all the dregs of filth, inflated with (over-) confidence in their virginity they arrogantly swell up and in no way do they turn away the most cruel monster Pride, devourer of the other virtues, with the nose-ring of humility . . . Virgins of Christ and raw recruits of the Church must therefore fight with muscular energy against the horrendous monster of Pride and at the same time against those seven wild beasts of virulent vices [i.e., the Seven Deadly Sins], who with rabid molars and venemous bicuspids strive to mangle violently whoever is unarmed and despoiled of the breastplate of virginity and stripped of the shield of modesty” (trans. Lapidge and Herren, pp. 67–68).

36.5–37.3 for ne muhen . . . . the overcom engel. M cites Hildebert’s Letter to Athalisa as the source for this passage (p. 51n21/16–25): Diversum est utrique hospitium, nec in eodem cohabitant animo, quibus cohabitare non licuit in coelo. In coelo nimirum nata est superbia, sed velut immemor qua inde via ceciderit, illuc ultra redire non novit. Ea de supernis corruens, et parentans in terris, omnibus suis apud inferos aeternam pepigit mansionem. Ipsa ex purissimis et simplicibus orta substantiis, puros adhuc animos inquietat, ausa victoriam sperare de homine, quae de angelo triumphavit [It is a hostile lodging for both of them, and they do not live together in the same heart, those who are not allowed to live together in heaven. Pride was undoubtedly born in heaven, but as if (she was) forgetful of which way she fell from there, in addition she did not know how to return to that place. She, falling down from on high, and appearing on the ground, has made an eternal dwelling place for all her own in hell. Risen from the most clean and pure substances herself, even now she disturbs clean souls, having dared to hope for victory over man, she who triumphed over an angel].

37.4 hwit other blac. . . grei . . . grene. The colors probably refer to the different habits of the religious orders. If the grey refers to the Franciscan grey-friars, then this text of HM would have to be dated after 1224, the year that the Franciscans first came to England. Millett has argued that the work most closely associated with HM, AW, should be linked with the Dominicans; see “New Answers, New Questions.” For an earlier argument for the Augustinian origins of the AW and the Katherine Group, see Dobson, Origins of Ancrene Wisse, p. 16ff. The AW itself argues that a contemplative should not be concerned with the different orders but rather should ally herself with the Order of St. James, which is unconcerned with the color of habits. See ed. Hasenfratz, pp. 64–67, lines 79–129.

38.1–2 Ne tele thu . . . a prud meiden. M cites a longer passage from Book III, Chapter 28 of Gregory’s Regula Pastoralis; HM’s author evidently condensed this material for this section (M, p. 52n21/32–22/4). Davis’ translation of this section reads as follows: “Those who are innocent of sins of the flesh are to be admonished not to prefer themselves in the eminence of their loftier estate, seeing that they do not know how many better things are done by those of inferior estate in these matters. For on the assessment of the righteous Judge, the character of our conduct reverses the merit due to our rank. Indeed, who, taking the more outward appearances of objects, does not know that in the realm of gems the garnet is preferred to the jacinth, yet the blue jacinth is preferred to the pale garnet, because what the order of nature has denied to the former, is added to it by the phase of its beauty, and though the latter is superior in the order of nature, it is depreciated by the quality of its colour? So, then, in the case of man there are some who, though of higher rank, are inferior, and others who are in a lower estate, are better, because the latter by their good way of life transcend the character of the lower estate, while the former fall short of the merit of their higher estate by not living up to it” (p. 198).

38.2 charbucle1 . . . jacinct. Precious gems appear in the Bible such as in the description of the ornaments of Aaron and his sons in Exodus 39:10–12: “And he set four rows of precious stones in it. In the first row was a sardius, a topaz, an emerald. In the second, a carbuncle, a sapphire and a jasper. In the third a ligurius, an agate, and an amethyst.” Compare also the description in Apocalypse of the New Jerusalem and its gem-rich edification (Apocolapyse 21:18–21). Jewels such as these were of special interest in the Middle Ages and often accrued moral meaning or powers of healing and protection, as discussed in medieval lapidaries. The Peterborough Lapidary, for example, reports that the carbuncle, or “Carbuncculus is a precios stone, & he schineþ as feyre whose schynyng is not ouercom by nyõt” (Evans and Serjeantson, English Mediaeval Lapidaries, p. 82)

is betere a milde wif other a meoke widewe then a prud meiden. This phrase, Newman notes, is “ubiquitous in . . . virginity literature” (From Virile Woman, pp. 256–57n47). For example, Newman cites Augustine, Enarrationes in Psalmos, 99.13; Caesarius of Arles, Homilies 12; the Speculum virginum; and Thomas of Froidmont, Liber de modo bene vivendi ad sororem 22.64 (From Virile Woman, pp. 256–57n47).

38.3 eadi sunegilt Marie Magdaleine. Mary Magdalene’s identification as a repentant sinner originates in the conflation of the anonymous repentant woman of Luke 7:37–50 and of the “Mary who is called Magdalen” of Luke 8:2 (though Mary Magdalene is mentioned numerous other times in the New Testament). Gregory the Great first identified the two figures as the same, and this identification was later confirmed by Augustine (see Aquinas’ Catena Aurea, 3.258).

38.4 Ant te othre . . . unlusti ant wlecche. See Apocalypse 3:15–16.

39.3 Efter thi word . . . mi Lauerdes threl. See Luke 1:38.

39.5 Elizabeth. Mother of John the Baptist and wife of Zacharias. Elizabeth’s visitation with the Virgin is narrated in Luke 1:39–55.

39.6 For mi Lauerd . . . eadi alle leoden. See Luke 1:48.

39.8 eolie in a lampe. This image of the virgin like an oil lamp is common in virginity literature and is derived from Matthew 25:1–13, the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. See Chrysostom, who says they “denote the gifts of virginity.” Jerome agrees though he is insistent that the parable applies not exclusively to virgins but to the whole human race. Origen glosses “lamps” to mean “natural faculties.” For Hilary they are “the lights of bright souls shining forth in the sacrament of baptism” or human bodies. For Augustine the lamps are their good works that shine before them. For Hilary the oil is “the fruit of good works” and for Jerome, “the ornament of good works”; for Augustine, the oil designates the joy that springs forth in accord with God’s anointment. For Origen oil is “the word of teaching with which the lamps are filled” (Catena Aurea 1.3, pp. 844–45).

40.4 Thench o Seinte Katerrine . . . ant Seinte Cecille. This short list of martyrdoms includes the names of the virgins in the Katherine Group texts, and perhaps provides some hints as to other martyrdoms that the audience of HM was reading or to which they might have had access. Saint Agnes (Seinte Enneis) was a virgin martyr whose legend places her death during the Diocletian persecutions; Saint Cecilia was most likely a legendary figure, though one later made famous in Chaucer’s Second Nun’s Tale. B omits Saint Lucy from this short list, although T does include her here.

40.8 as weren ear ha agulten his eareste hinen. See Jerome, Epistles 22:19. It was generally accepted by the Church Fathers that Adam and Eve remained virgins until after the Fall, although Augustine later argued that sexual intercourse would have taken place in Paradise (see M, pp. xxix–xxx).

40.12 leirwite. From Old English leger-wite, the term was used in legal treatises to specify a fine levied for fornication, in particular with a female slave; see MED leir-wite (n.), sense b. HM has the only recorded instance of this term being used in a figurative sense.

41.3 as Seinte Pawel . . . overcume hire seolf. See 2 Timothy 2:5 and 1 Corinthians 9:24–27.

41.4 as the Apostle seith. This probably is a reference to James 1:12 (see M, p. 55n23/33–24/1 and MWB, p. 153n42/12–13).

41.6 wrist te under Godes wengen. This image of sheltering under God’s wings appears frequently in the Psalms. In particular, see Vulgate Psalms 16:8, 35:8, 56:2, and 60:5. This image also appears in SW 15.1 and 43.2.

41.7 damn his teeth. For a similar phrase see SJ explanatory note 38.5.


Textual Notes to Hali Meithhad Abbreviations: CT: Canterbury Tales; F: Furnivall edition (1922); HM: Hali Meithhad; M: Millett edition (1982); MED: Middle English Dictionary; MS: Bodleian Library MS Bodley 34 [base text]; MWB: Millett and Wogan-Browne edition (1990); OED: Oxford English Dictionary; T: British Library MS Cotton Titus D XVIII; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Pro­verbial Phrases.

1.2 meidene. So T. MS: meiið. M emends to meið.

1.3 word. So M, T. MS: worð.

1.4 lustni. So M, T. MS: lustin.

1.8 Heo mei ondswerien ant seggen. So M. T: Ho mei onsweren & seien. MS omits.

yeorne. So M, T. MS: ȝeone.

1.10 makieth. So M, following dreaieth of 1.10. MS: makied. T: maken.

1.11 bittre. So M, following standard AB spelling of the word. MS: bittri. T: bitter.

1.12 deorewurthe. So M, T. MS: deorewrthe.

2.1 seith. So T. MS omits. M emends to Syon seith.

2.3 worldes. So M. MS: worlddes.

lahe. So F, M, T. MS: the word has been inserted in the right margin with the final two letters cropped (the first upstroke of h is visible).

eorthe. So M, T. MS: eordthe.

2.4 ha 4. MS: ant. T: and. As is, the sentence makes little sense without an independent clause governing thurh . . . eorthe. M retains the MS reading and adds just before it ha stiheð gasteliche, following Dobson’s suggestion (see p. 26n2/11–14). We have emended more conservatively, since neither MS nor T contain this phrase.

2.5 hire. So M, T. MS omits.

icleopet. So MS, corrected from icleoped.

In the bottom margin of fol. 53v, upside down; H: Thomas Wysham de Tedestorne in com’ hereff’ gent in ducentis sterlingorum soluend’. See also the textual note to SJ 43.1, which mentions Thomas’s son George as well as Ker, Facsimile of MS Bodley 34, p. xiv, on the Wysham family of Herefordshire.

3.1 wurthschipe. MS: There is an otiose descender between s and c.

al2. So M, T. MS omits.

thet3. So M, following T’s þat. MS omits.

hire leafdischipe. MS: hire leafdhi leafdischipe.

in2. So M, T. MS omits.

earmthen. So M, T. MS: earmden.

4.5 beon. M, T: beo. MS omits.

4.6 earnnesse. So MS, with a inserted above the line.

5.1 servin. So MS, T. M: serve. M argues that an imperative is necessary here rather than the infinitive servin which appears in both manuscripts. She suggests the scribe made an error following the previous word trukien (M, p. 27n3/31). However, our sense is that the modal schal governs both infinitives, trukien and servin.

ofthunchunges. So M, T. MS: ofthunchunge.

6.1 the1. So M, T. MS omits.

wummen. So M, following T’s wimmen. MS: wummon.

7.1 the3. So M, T. MS omits.

fleschliche. So M, T. MS: flecsliche.

7.6 this. So M, following T’s tis. MS omits.

hearm. So M. MS: hearrm. T: harm.

7.8 the2. So M, T. MS omits.

7.10 biginnen. Our emendation, from T’s bigunnen. MS: luvien. M emends to iunnen, citing MS’s luvien as “bad sense” and T’s bigunnen as “bad grammar” (see p. 29n5/6). We agree that the passage is problematic and reflects corruption in both manuscripts, and have opted for a more conservative emendation. Biginnen replicates the nice alliteration of T and presents the idea that whatever the virgin strives to undertake (see MED, biginnen (v.5), sense a) or "to begin”, God will see through to its completion (endin).

8.3 desireth. Our emendation. MS, M: desiri. T: desire. Although the MED cites the MS reading as an early form of the verb, we think it highly likely, especially given T’s reading, that desiri/desire is a scribal error. A þ immediately follows the word in both manuscripts, and it makes sense that the scribe would have mistakenly elided the final þ of desiriþ/desireþ with the following þe.

8.4 meithhades. So M. MS: meidhades.

8.5 Halt. So M. MS: hwalt. According to M, the scribe anticipated the following hwam (p. 30n5/13).

the. MS: þee.

8.8 yeove. So M, T. MS omits.

8.10 to. So T. MS omits. M emends to te, explaining that in most cases forms of ah (here, ahest) followed by an infinitive (in this case, witen) are usually followed by the to particle (p. 30n5/26).

withuten. So M. MS: wituten. T: wiðute.

8.11 leof. So F, M, T. MS omits.

nis. So M, T. MS omits.

bruche. So F, M, T. MS: bruge, corrected to bruche in a different hand. We have adapted the correction following other editions.

8.12 eorthliche. So M, T. MS: eordlich.

maketh. So M, T. MS: maked.

eorthlich. So M, T. MS: eordlich.

heame. So MS. M, T: heane. See M’s long discussion of the possibility that the MS scribe is right. She argues that heane as “oppressor” fits the sense of the passage better than the more neutral heame, “inhabitant,” despite the fact that heane is not a known word (M, pp. 30–31n6/2).

8.14 ofearnest. So M, T. MS: earanest, with a 1 inserted above the line.

meiden. So M, T. MS: meden.

god. So M, T. MS: goð.

8.15 meithhades. So M. MS: meidhades. T: meidenhades.

8.16 eadiure. So M, T. MS: ed ure. F emends to ediure, noting that “the i has been erased” (p. 16).

halden. MS: halden halden. It appears that the scribe first wrote haeden, tried to correct to halden, then crossed the word out and wrote on a fresh section of the line.

8.17 i this1. So M, T. MS: is the.

gume. MS: gumine, with e inserted above the i.

licnesse. So M, T. MS: cleannesse. The scribe most likely made this mistake by repetition from the earlier unlicnesse.

throf. So M, T. MS: threof.

8.21 licomliche lustes. So T. MS: licome lustest. M emends to licomes lustes. We have adopted T’s reading based on the presence of the phrase in HM lines 1.10, 7.1, 7.3, 10.4.

theo iliche. So M. MS: the ilich. T: þa iliche. M suggests that T’s iliche should be read as a plural noun, and has adjusted the pronoun to reflect this (p. 32n6/27).

wurthinge2. So M, T. MS: wurdinge.

8.23 walewith. So M. MS: waleweth.

with1. So M, T. MS: wid.

9.1 meithhad. So M. MS: meidhad.

9.2 offearet. So M, T. MS: offeaaret. The scribe repeated the a when he began the next page (fol. 57v).

9.4 thurh. So MS, with r inserted above the line.

ure. So M, T. MS: hire.

earst. MS: earest.

9.5 wummen. So M. MS: wummem. T: wimmen.

9.6 the1. So M, T. MS omits.

scheoteth. So M. MS: scheoted. T: schoteð.

healewi. So MS, with a inserted above the line.

9.9 nawiht. So MS, with ih inserted above the line.

9.10 thes. So M. MS: it appears that the scribe wrote ses, then attempted to correct by adding a descender to the initial long s. T: þe.

fleoth. So M, T. MS: beod.

10.4 other. So M, T. MS: oder.

10.6 greitheth. So M, T. MS: greideð.

10.8 speoketh. So M. MS: sweoked. F reads as speoked but notes the mistake in spelling (p. 22). T: speken.

10.9 fulst. So M, T. MS: fulht.

Meithhad. So M. MS: meiðhað. T: meidenhad.

11.6 throf. So M, T. MS: threof.

12.2 servaverit. So M, T. MS: seminaverunt.

12.6 halhe. So M, following T’s halhes. MS: habbe.

13.1 bith. So M. MS: bid. T: beð.

13.4 istud. So M. MS: istuð. T: hoc.

13.12 as. So M, T. MS: al.

13.13 thet meidnes beoth. MS: þe meidnes beoð. M, T: to beon.

14.2 softeliche. So M, T. MS: fofteliche.

14.4 leod. So T. MS: leo. M emends to leoth.

15.1 is. So M, T. MS omits.

15.2 leadeth. So M. M argues that a plural verb is needed here to follow the plural subject (p. 38n11/3). MS, T: leat.

16.2 muhe. So M, T. MS: muhten.

16.3 gath. So M, T. MS: gad.

16.4 schinende. So T. MS omits. M emends to schininde.

auriole. So T. MS: an urle, which M argues is a corruption of auriole (p. 39n11/19). We have emended to T’s reading in the Middle English and transposed to the Latin term in the translation.

16.5 gimmes. So M. MS: ȝimmies.

te. So M, T. MS: ne.

16.6 meidnes. So M, T. MS: meiðnes.

17.1 Of. So T. MS: ȝef of. M retains MS’s reading. MWB emend to ȝet of. M makes sense of the incomplete if-clause by emending widewehad, ant wedlac is þe þridde to widewehad ant [wedlachad], wedlac is þe þridde. See M, pp. 39–40n25–26 for a helpful discussion of the corruption of this line in MS; also see Dobson, Origins, pp. 161–62n3. Most likely T’s scribe simplified what was originally an “if . . . then” correlative by dropping the ȝef, and we have adopted this reading.

17.4 preoveth. So M, T. MS: preoved.

leapeth. So M, T. MS: leaped.

17.6 haveth. So M, T. MS: haved.

17.7 beoth. So M, T. MS: beod.

18.1 to-eche. So MS. M, T: teke.

18.4 soth cnawes. So M, T. MS: soþ cwawes.

18.8 habbeth. So M. MS: omits.

leaven. MS: le leaven. The scribe began the word at the very end of a line, then canceled and wrote on the next line.

18.9 thet1. So M, following T’s þat. MS: ant.

19.3 folheth. So M, T. MS: foheth.

19.5 meithhades. So M. MS: meidhades. T: meidenhades. cheaffere. So MS, with a inserted above the line.

21.1 ipaiet. So MS, with i2 inserted above the line.

21.2 ah. So M, T. MS: ahi.

21.5 earmthe. So M, T. MS: earmde.

21.6 twinnunge. So M, following T’s twinninge. MS: twinnnunge.

22.2 He1. So M, T. MS: ȝe.

22.3 thin He. So M, T. MS: him þe.

22.5 se. So M, T. MS: þe i þe.

leadeth. So M, T. MS: leaðeð.

22.10 Al. So M, T. MS: as.

22.13 worldes. So MS, with l inserted above the line.

22.14 steoleth. So M. MS: steoled.

hit2. So M, T. MS: hit hit.

22.16 forwurthen. So M, T. MS: forwurden.

23.1 schal nede. So M, T. MS: ne schal.

23.2 grevin. MS: grenin. T: greni. M: granin. M suggests that the word granin might have been intended to mean “groan (in childbirth)” (though this use is not attested before 1300; see MED gronen (v.1) sense b). See her discussion of the various alternatives offered by editors from Tolkien onward (pp. 43–44n15/18). The first n of grenin  in MS could be a slightly smudged v, hence our emendation. Greven is a verb that appears in HM, though indirectly; i.e. HM 24.6: hit greveth the se swithe.

23.3 were. MS: weres.

23.9 tendreth. So MS, corrected from tendren, with ð written over n 2.

23.12 drehenne luvie ha him neaver swa wel. So M, T. MS omits; the line as it stands is missing a verb. M believes that the MS scribe has accidentally missed the line (p. 44n16/2–3).

23.13 gomenes. So M, T. MS: gonienes.

wulle. MS: wulla, with e inserted above the canceled a.

24.1 ifindeth. So M, T. MS: ifinðeð.

24.3 he3. So M, T. MS omits.

24.4 tu. So M, T. MS omits.

24.5 unwurthlich and wratheliche. So M, T. MS: unwurðliche.

24.7 cunqueari. So MS, with a inserted above the line.

25.1 irikenet. MS: al irikinet, with al significantly faded. The scribe appears to have repeated the word from the previous page and then erased.

26.1 habbe. MS: nab habbe.

ant1. So M, T. MS omits.

fostrunge. So M. MS: fosttrunge. T: fostringe.

26.3 upbrud. So M, T. MS: upbrrud, with r2 inserted above the line.

bimong. So M, T. MS: bimon.

26.4 forthlich. So M, T. MS: forlich.

misfeare. MS: ne misfeare.

27.1 hit. MS: inserted above the line.

27.3 sunnen 1. So M, T. MS: sunen.

27.4 Gultest. So M. MS, T: gulteð, the plural form of the verb, whereas the singular is needed. M argues the scribe of the common ancestor was misled by the series of third person singular verbs into substituting gulteth for this word (p. 46n17/21).

27.5 thet2. So M, following T’s þat. MS: ant.

27.6 awakenith. So M. MS, T: awakeneð, the singular form of the verb (though it looks like a plural), whereas the plural is needed. M explains that the scribe probably accidentally repeated the awakeneð in the preceding line (p. 46n17/25).

27.9 swel in. So M. MS, T: swelin. Reading this word as two words makes the best sense of the phrase, according to M (p. 46n17/30). See also the corresponding explanatory note.

lonke. MS: wombe lonke.

27.11 mete. So M, T. MS omits.

27.13 cares. So M. MS: carest. T: care. An emendation to T’s reading would not make sense as the main verb, bineometh, is in the plural form.

27.14 stikinde. So M, T. MS: stinkinde.

28.1 meidnes. So M, T. MS: meiðnes.

29.1 thet ti. So M, following T’s þat ti. MS: þe hire.

29.3 upo sorhe. So M, T. MS omits (see M, p. 47n18/23).

31.1 werc. So M, T. MS: were.

wleateful. So MS, with e1 inserted above the line.

sut. So M. MS, T: suti. The normal use of suti to mean “filthy, disgusting” does not quite fit here, hence Tolkien’s original suggestion of sut (see M, p. 48n19/1).

ha schule. So M, T. MS: hit is.

31.4 swithre. So M, T. MS: swithe.

33.5 His. MS: þis, corrected above the line to ihis.

33.7 Lauerd. So M, T. MS: lauerð.

34.1 tholemodnesse. So M, T. MS: tholomodnesse.

mekelec. So T. MS: metelec. M: meokelec.

meithhades. So M. MS: meihades. T: meidenhades. 35.1 i thin. So M, T. MS omits.

36.1 his. So M, T. MS: hiss.

36.2 ha2 . . . hire. So M, T. MS: hire keaste ure. M argues that MS’s reading “obscures the contrast between Pride’s heavenly father (21/9) and her earthly mothers” (p. 51n21/6).

36.3 ha. So M, T. MS: he.

36.5 muhen2. So T. MS: maken. M: mahten.

36.6 eardinde. So M, T. MS: earmðe.

bihat. So M, T. MS: bihalt.

hire2. So M, F. MS, T: hare. M follows F in emending; here, Pride’s mothers (i.e., prideful maidens are not the fiend’s daughters, but rather his whores (p. 51n21/21).

37.5 Sone. So M, T. MS: son.

38.2 charbucle1. So M, T. MS: charbuche.

onont. So M, T. MS: onon.

38.3 as1. So M, T. MS: al.

bireowsith. So M. MS, T: bireowseth. Compare the textual note to 23.13; the subjects are the mild wives and meek widows of the previous lines, though the MSS readings are in the singular. M makes the point that the scribe of the common exemplar may have read Marie Magdaleine as the subject (p. 53n22/7), hence the singular form.

inwardluker. So M. MS: inwarðluker. T: inwardlukest.

38.5 liveth. So T. MS omits.

39.1 to trusti. So M, T. MS: trust.

meithhad. So M. MS: meidhad. T: meidenhad.

theawfule. MS: þeawfufele.

39.2 lah. So M, T. MS: þah.

39.6 His. So M, T. MS: þis.

39.8 hit. MS: þis hit.

withute. So M, T. MS: wid ute.

40.1 i thi. So M, T. MS: ant ti.

40.4 meidnes. So M, T. MS: meiðnes.

40.6 ti. So M, T. MS: tu.

the2. M, T. MS omits.

40.7 engel. So M, T. MS: e englel. The first e is repeated most likely because of a lacuna in the fols. 70r–v which extends diagonally through seven lines; the scribe has heretofore neatly written around the slit.

40.9 deorewurthe. So M, from T’s derewurðe. MS: deorewurde.

40.10 me. So M, T. MS omits.

40.12 blisse upo blisse. So M, T. MS: blisse o up o blisse.

meithhades. So M. MS: meidhades. T: meidenhades.

41.2 thi2. So M, T. MS: ant ti.

41.6 greveth. So M, T. MS: greved.

Godes. So M, T. MS: goder.

42.1 leve hire. MS: leve me hire.

ant2. So M, T. MS omits.

beon2. MS: this word is inserted above the line.

eorthliche limen. MS: between these words the scribe has written several words which have been erased.


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Epistel of meidenhad meidene frovre.

(1) Avdi, filia, et vide, et inclina aurem tuam, et obliviscere populum tuum et domum
patris tui
. (2) Davith the psalmwruhte speketh i the Sawter towart Godes spuse,
thet is, euch meiden thet haveth meidene theawes, ant seith: “Iher me, dohter, bihald
ant bei thin eare, ant foryet ti folc ant tines feader hus.” (3) Nim yeme hwet euch
word beo sunderliche to seggen: “Iher me, dohter,” he seith. (4) “Dohter” he
cleopeth hire, forthi thet ha understonde thet he hire luveliche lives luve leareth, as
feader ah his dohter, ant heo him as hire feader the blitheluker lustni. (5) “Iher
me, deore dohter,” thet is, “yeornne lustne me with earen of thin heavet.” (6) “Ant
bihald,” thet is, “opene to understonde me the ehnen of thin heorte.” (7) “Ant bei thin
eare,” thet is, “beo buhsum to mi lare.” (8) Heo mei ondswerien ant seggen: “Ant hwet
is nu this lare thet tu nimest se deopliche ant learst me se yeorne?” (9) Low, this:
“Forget ti folc ant tines feader hus.” (10) “Thi folc” he cleopeth, Davith, the
gederunge inwith the of fleschliche thonkes, the leathieth the ant dreaieth with
har procunges to flesliche fulthen, to licomliche lustes, ant eggith the to brudlac
ant to weres cluppunge, ant makieth the to thenchen hwuch delit were
thrin, hwuch eise i the richedom thet theos leafdis habbeth, hu muche mahte of
inker streon | awakenin. (11) A, fals folc of swikel read, as thi muth uleth as thu
schawest forth al thet god thuncheth, ant helest al thet bittre bale thet is
therunder, ant al thet muchele lure thet terof ariseth! (12) “Forget al this folc, mi
deorewurthe dohter,” seith Davith the witege. (13) Thet is, thes thonkes warp ut of
thin heorte. (14) This is Babilones folc, the deofles here of Helle, thet is umbe
forte leaden into the worldes theowdom Syones dohter.

(1) “Syon” wes sumhwile icleopet the hehe tur of Jerusalem, ant seith “Syon” ase
muchel on Englische ledene ase “heh sihthe.” (2) Ant bitacneth this tur the
hehnesse of meithhad, the bihald, as of heh, alle widewen under hire ant weddede
bathe. (3) For theos, ase flesches threalles, beoth i worldes theowdom ant wunieth
lahe on eorthe, ant meiden stont, thurh heh lif, i the tur of Jerusalem. (4) Nawt
of lah on eorthe, ah of the hehe in Heovene, the is bitacnet thurh this, of thet
Syon ha bihalt al the worlt under hire, ant thurh englene liflade ant heovenlich thet
ha lead, thah ha licomliche wunie upon eorthe, ha is as i Syon — the hehe tur of
Heovene — freo over alle from worldliche weanen. (5) Ah Babilones folc (thet ich
ear nempnede), the deofles here of Helle, thet beoth flesches lustes ant feondes
eggunge, weorrith ant warpeth eaver | towart tis tur forte keasten hit adun ant
drahen hire into theowdom thet stont se hehe therin ant is icleopet, forthi, Syones

(1) Ant nis ha witerliche akeast ant into theowdom idrahen, the of se swithe heh
stal of se muche digneté ant swuch wurthschipe as hit is to beo Godes spuse —
Jesu Cristes brude, the Lauerdes leofmon thet alle thinges buheth, of al worlt
leafdi as He is of al Lauerd, ilich Him in halschipe, unwemmet as He is, ant thet eadi
meiden His deorrewurthe moder, ilich His hali engles ant His heste halhen — se
freo of hireseolven thet ha nawiht ne thearf of other thing thenchen bute ane of
hire Leofmon with treowe luve cwemen, for He wule carie for hire, thet ha haveth
itake to, of al thet hire bihoveth hwil ha riht luveth Him with sothe bileave — nis
ha thenne sariliche, as ich seide ear, akeast ant into theowdom idrahen, the, of se
muchel hehschipe ant se seli freodom schal lihte se lahe into a monnes
theowdom, swa thet ha naveth nawt freo of hireseolven, ant trukien, for a mon of
lam, the heovenliche Lauerd, ant lutlin hire leafdischipe ase muchel as hire
leatere were is leasse wurth ant leasse haveth then hefde ear hire earre, ant of Godes
brude ant His freo dohter — for ba togederes ha is — biki|meth theow under mon
ant his threl, to don al ant drehen thet him liketh, ne sitte hit hire se uvele, ant
of se seli sikernesse as ha wes in ant mahte beon under Godes warde, deth hire into
drechunge, to dihten hus ant hinen ant to se monie earmthen, to carien for se
feole thing, teonen tholien ant gromen ant scheomen umbe stunde, drehen se
moni wa for se wac hure as the worlt foryelt eaver ed ten ende; nis theos witer-
liche akeast? (2) Nis this theowdom inoh, ayein thet ilke freolec thet ha hefde hwil
ha wes Syones dohter?

(1) Serve Godd ane, ant alle thing schule the turne to gode, ant tac the to Him
treowliche ant tu schalt beo freo from alle worldliche weanen. (2) Ne mei nan uvel
hearmi the, for as Seinte Pawel seith, alle thing turneth then gode to gode. (3) Ne
mei na thing wonti the, the berest Him thet al wealt inwith thi breoste. (4) Ant
swuch swettnesse thu schalt ifinden in His luve ant in His servise, ant habbe se
muche murhthe throf ant licunge i thin heorte thet tu naldest changin thet stat
thet tu livest in forte beo cwen icrunet. (5) Se hende is ure Lauerd thet nule He
nawt thet His icorene beon her withute mede, | for se muchel confort is in His
grace thet al ham sit thet ha seoth, ant thah hit thunche othre men thet ha drehen
hearde, hit ne derveth ham nawt, ah thuncheth ham softe ant habbeth mare delit
thrin then ei other habbe i licunge of the worlt. (6) This ure Lauerd yeveth ham
her as on earnnesse of eche mede thet schal cume threfter. (7) Thus, habbeth
Godes freond al the frut of this worlt thet ha forsaken habbeth o wunderliche wise
ant Heovene ed ten ende.

(1) Nu thenne, on other half, nim the to the worlde, ant eaver se thu mare havest,
se the schal mare trukien, ant servin — hwen thu naldest Godd — thes fikele worlt ant
frakele, ant schalt beo sare idervet under hire as hire threal on a thusent wisen,
ayeines an licunge habben twa ofthunchunges, ant se ofte beon imaket earm of an
ethlich mon thet tu list under, for nawt other for nohtunge, thet te schal lathi thi lif
ant bireowe thi sith thet tu eaver dudest te into swuch theowdom for worldliche
wunne thet tu wendest to biyeotene, ant havest ifunden weane thrin ant wontrethe
rive. (2) Al is thet tu wendest golt iwurthe to meastling. (3) Al is nawt thet ti folc
(of hwam I spec thruppe) biheten the to ifinden. (4) Nu thu wast thet ha hab|beth
bichearret te as treitres; for under weole, i wunnes stude, thu havest her ofte
Helle, ant bute yef thu withbreide the thu bredest te thet other, as doth thes
cwenes, thes riche cuntasses, theos modie leafdis of hare liflade. (5) Sothliche, yef ha
bithencheth ham riht ant icnawlecheth soth, ich habbe ham to witnesse: ha lickith
honi of thornes. (6) Ha buggeth al thet swete with twa dale of bittre (ant thet schal
forthre i this writ beon openliche ischawet). (7) Nis hit nower neh gold al thet ter
schineth, nat thah, na mon bute hamseolfen hwet ham sticheth ofte.

(1) Hwen thus is of the riche, hwet wenest tu of the povre the beoth wacliche
iyeven ant biset on uvele, as gentile wummen meast alle nu on worlde the nabbeth
hwerwith buggen ham brudgume onont ham, ant yeoveth ham to theowdom of
an etheluker mon with al thet ha habbeth? (2) Weilawe, Jesu Godd, hwuch un-
wurthe chaffere! (3) Wel were ham weren ha on hare brudlakes dei iboren to

(1) Forthi, seli meiden, forget ti folc as Davith bit; thet is, do awei the thonckes
the prokieth thin heorte thurh licomliche lustes ant leathieth the ant eggith towart
thullich theowdom for fleschliche fulthen. (2) Foryet ec thi feader hus, as Davith
read threfter. (3) “Thi fea|der” he cleopeth thet untheaw thet streonede the of thi
moder: thet ilke unhende flesches brune, thet bearnninde yeohthe of thet
licomliche lust bivore thet wleatewile werc, thet bestelich gederunge, thet
scheomelese sompnunge, thet ful of fulthe stinkinde ant untohe dede. (4) Hit is
thah i wedlac summes weies to tholien, as me schal efter iheren. (5) Yef thu
easkest hwi Godd scheop swuch thing to beonne, ich the ondswerie. (6) Godd ne
scheop hit neaver swuch, ah Adam ant Eve turnden hit to beo swuch thurh hare
sunne ant merden ure cunde, thet is, this untheawes hus, ant haveth, mare hearm
is, al to muche lauerdom ant meistrie thrinne. (7) This cunde merreth us thet
Davith cleopeth “thi feadres hus” — thet is, the lust of lecherie thet rixleth
therwithinnen. (8) Foryet ant ga ut throf with wil of thin heorte, ant Godd wule,
efter the wil, yeove the strengthe sikerliche of His deore grace. (9) Ne thearf thu
bute wilnin ant leote Godd wurchen. (10) Have trust on His help: ne schalt tu na
thing godes bisechen ne biginnen thet He hit nule endin. (11) Eaver bidde His
grace, ant overkim with hire help the ilke wake cunde the draheth into theowdom,
ant into fulthe fenniliche akeasteth se monie.

(1) Et concupiscet rex decorem tuum. (2) “Ant thenne wule,” seith Davith, “the
king wilni thi wlite.” (3) The King of alle kinges desireth the to leofmon. (4) Ant
tu | thenne, eadi meiden, thet art iloten to Him with meithhades merke, ne brec
thu nawt thet seil thet seileth inc togederes. (5) Halt thi nome thurh hwam thu art
to Him iweddet, ne leos thu neaver for a lust ant for ethelich delit of an
hondhwile thet ilke thing the ne mei neaver beon acoveret. (6) Meithhad is thet
tresor thet, beo hit eanes forloren, ne bith hit neaver ifunden; meithhad is the
blostme thet, beo ha fulliche eanes forcorven, ne spruteth ha eft neaver. (7) Ah
thah falewi sumchere mid misliche thonkes, ha mei eft grenin neaver the leatere.
(8) Meithhad is thet steorre thet, beo ha eanes of the est igan adun i the west, neaver
eft ne ariseth ha; meithhad is thet an yeove iyettet te of Heovene. (9) Do thu hit
eanes awei ne schalt tu neaver nan other swuch acovrin, for meithhad is Heovene
cwen ant worldes alesendnesse, thurh hwam we beoth iborhen, mihte over alle
mihtes ant cwemest Crist of alle. (10) Forthi thu ahest, meiden, se deorliche to witen
hit, for hit is se heh thing ant se swithe leof Godd ant se licwurthe, ant thet an lure
thet is withuten coverunge. (11) Yef hit is Godd leof thet is Himseolf swa ilich hit nis
na wunder, for He is leoflukest thing ant buten eavereuch bruche, ant wes eaver ant
is cleane over alle thing, ant over alle thinge luveth cleannesse. (12) Ant hwet is
lufsumre thing ant mare to herien bimong eorthliche thing then the mihte of
meithhad, | bute bruche ant cleane, ibrowden on Himseolven the maketh of
eorthlich mon ant wummon Heovene engel, of heame hine, of fa freont, help of thet
te hearmith? (13) Ure flesch is ure fa ant heaneth us ant hearmith se ofte as ha us
fuleth, ah yef ha wit hire withute bruche cleane, ha is us swithe godd freond ant help
of treowe hine. (14) For in hire ant thurh hire thu ofearnest, meiden, to beon
englene evening i the eche blisse of Heovene, ant with god rihte, hwen thu hare
liflade i thi bruchele flesch bute bruche leadest. (15) Engel ant meiden beoth
evening i vertu i meithhades mihte, thah eadinesse ham twinni yetten ant totweame.
(16) Ant thah hare meithhad beo eadiure nuthe, thin is the mare strengthe to
halden, ant schal with mare mede beo the foryolden. (17) This mihte is thet an thet
i this deadliche lif schaweth in hire an estat of the blisse undeadlich i thet eadi
lond, as brude ne nimeth gume ne brudgume brude, ant teacheth her on eorthe,
in hire liflade, the liflade of Heovene, ant i this worlt thet is icleopet “lond of
unlicnesse,” edhalt hire burde in licnesse of heovenlich cunde, thah ha beo utlahe
throf ant i licome of lam, ant i bestes bodi neh liveth Heovene engel. (18) Nis | this
mihte of alle swithe to herien? (19) This is yet the vertu the halt ure bruchele veat,
thet is, ure feble flesch as Seinte Pawel leareth, in hal halinesse. (20) Ant as thet
swote smirles ant deorest of othre, thet is icleopet basme, wit thet deade licome
thet is therwith ismiret from rotunge, alswa deth meidenhad meidenes cwike flesch
withute wemmunge. (21) Halt alse hire limen ant hire fif wittes (sihthe ant herunge,
smechunge ant smellunge, ant euch limes felunge) thet ha ne merren ne ne meal-
ten, thurh licomliche lustes, i fleschliche fulthen the Godd haveth thurh His grace
se muche luve iunnen, thet ha ne beoth of theo iliche bi hwam hit is iwriten thus
thurh the prophete thet ha in hare wurthinge as eaveres forroteden — thet is,
eavereuch wif thet is hire were threal ant liveth i wurthinge, he ant heo bathe. (22)
Ah nis nawt bi theos iseid thet ha forrotieth thrin yef ha hare wedlac laheliche
haldeth, ah the ilke sari wrecches the i the fule wurthinge unwedde waleweth
beoth the Deofles eaveres, thet rit ham ant spureth ham to don al thet he wule.
(23) Theos walewith i wurthinge ant forrotieth thrin athet ha arisen thurh
bireowsunge ant healen ham with soth schrift ant with deadbote.

(1) Eadi meiden, understont te in hu heh digneté the mihte of meithhad halt
te. (2) Ah se thu herre stondest, beo sarre offe|aret to fallen, for se herre degré,
se the fal is wurse. (3) The ontfule Deovel bihalt te se hehe istihe towart Heovene
thurh meithhades mihte. (4) Thet him is mihte lathest, for thurh ure Leafdi
meithhad — the hit bigon earst, the meiden Marie — he forleas the lauerdom on
moncun on eorthe, ant wes Helle irobbet ant Heovene bith ifullet. (5) Sith the
folhin hire troden, meiden, gan as heo dude the offrede hire meithhad earst to
ure Lauerd, for hwon thet He cheas hire bimong alle wummen forte beon His
moder ant thurh hire meithhad moncun alesen. (6) Nu bihalt te alde feond ant
sith the i this mihte stonde se hehe — ilich hire ant hire Sune, as engel in
Heovene, i meithhades menske! — ant toswelleth of grome ant scheoteth niht ant
dei his earewen, idrencte of an attri healewi, towart tin heorte, to wundi the with
wac wil ant makien to fallen — as Crist te forbeode! (7) Ant eaver se thu
strengeluker stondest agein him, se he o teone ant o grome wodeluker weorreth,
for swa muche the hokerluker him thuncheth to beon overcumen, thet thing se
feble as flesch is (ant nomeliche of wummon) schal him overstihen. (8) Euch
fleschlich wil ant lust of leccherie the ariseth i the heorte is thes feondes fla, ah
hit ne wundeth the nawt bute hit festni in the ant leave se longe thet tu waldest
thet ti wil were ibroht to werke. (9) Hwil | thi wit edstont ant chastieth thi wil,
thah thi lust beore to thet te leof were, ne hearmeth hit te nawiht ne suleth thi
sawle, for wit is hire scheld under Godes grace. (10) Hwil the scheld is ihal, thet
is the wisdom of thi wit, thet hit ne breoke ne beie, thah thi fleschliche wil fals beo
therunder ant walde as hire luste, thes feondes flan fleoth ayein alle on him-

(1) Ant loke wel hwervore: Ure licomes lust is thes feondes foster, ure wit is Godes
dohter, ant ba beoth us inwith. (2) Forthi her is áá feht, ant mot beon áá nede, for ne
truketh neaver mare hwil we her wunieth weorre ham bitweonen. (3) Ah wel is him
thet folheth Wit, Godes dohter, for ha halt with Meithhad thet is ure suster. (4) Ah thi
Wil, on other half, of thet licomliche lust halt with Leccherie, thet is the deofles streon
as heo is, ant Sunne hire moder. (5) Leccherie o meithhad with help of fleschlich wil
weorreth o this wise: hire forme fulst is sihthe. (6) Yef thu bihaldest ofte ant stikelunge
on ei mon, leccherie ananriht greitheth hire with thet to weorrin o thi meithhad ant
secheth erst upon hire nebbe to nebbe. (7) Speche is hire other help. (8) Yef ye
threfter thenne speoketh togedere folliche ant talkith of unnet, Leccherie seith
scheome the menske of thi meithhad ant tuketh hire al to wundre ant | threat to don
hire scheome ant hearmin threfter, ant halt hire forewart. (9) For sone se cos kimeth
forth (thet is hire thridde fulst) thenne spit Leccherie to scheome ant to schendlac
Meithhad o the nebbe. (10) The feorthe fulst to bismere ant to merren Meithhad thet
is unhende felunge. (11) Wite hire thenne, for yef ye thenne hondlith ow in ei stude
untuliche, thenne smit Leccherie o the mihte of Meithhad ant wundeth hire sare. (12)
Thet dreori dede on ende geveth thet deathes-dunt — weila, thet reowthe!
(13) Ne acwiketh neaver Meithhad efter thet wunde. (14) Wei! The sehe thenne
hu the engles beoth isweamet the seoth hare suster se seorhfuliche aveallet, ant
te deoflen hoppin ant, kenchinde, beaten honden togederes — stani were his
heorte yef ha ne mealte i teares!

(1) Wite the, seli meiden. (2) Me seith thet eise maketh theof. (3) Flih alle the
thing ant forbuh yeorne thet tus unbotelich lure mahe of arisen. (4) Thet is, on
alre earst the stude ant te time the mahten bringe the on mis forte donne. (5)
With othre untheawes me mei stondinde fehten, ah ayein lecherie thu most turne
the rug yef thu wult overcumen ant with fluht fehten. (6) Ant sothes yef thu
thenchest ant bihaldest on heh towart te muchele mede thet meithhad abideth,
thu wult leote lihtliche ant abeoren blitheliche the derf thet tu drehest onont ti
fleschliche wil ant ti licomes lust, thet tu forberest her | ant ane hwile leavest for
blisse thet kimeth throf withuten eani ende. (7) Ant hwuch is the blisse? (8) Low,
Godd Himseolf seith thurh the prophete: “Theo the habbeth from ham forcorven
flesches lustes ant haldeth Mine Sabaz” (thet is, “haldeth ham i reste from thet
fleschliche werc ant haldeth Me forewart”), “Ich bihate ham,” He seith, “i Mi
kineriche to yeoven ham stude ant betere nome then sunen ant dehtren.”

(1) Hwa mahte wilni mare? (2) Eunuchus qui servaverit sabata mea, et cetera. (3)
Hwa mei thenche the weole, the wunne, ant te blisse, the hehschipe of this mede
thet tes ilke lut word bicluppeth abuten? (4) “Ich chulle,” He seith, “yeoven ham
stude ant nome betere then sunen ant dehtren.” (5) Sulli biheste! (6) Ah hit is ilich
thet thet ham is bihaten, to singen with engles (hwas feolahes ha beoth thurh
liflade of Heovene theyet ther ha wunieth, fleschliche, on eorthe): to singe thet
swete song ant thet englene drem, utnume murie — thet nan halhe ne mei bute
meiden ane — singen in Heovene, ant folhin Godd almihti, euch godes ful,
hwider se He eaver wendeth as the othre ne mahe nawt, thah ha alle beon His
sunen ant alle Hise dehtren. (7) Ne nan of thes othres crunen, ne hare wlite, ne hare
weden ne mahen evenin to hare, se unimete brihte ha beoth ant schene to biseon on.

(1) Ant hwet bith hare anes song, ant efter Godd hare anes yong hwider se He
eaver | turneth, ant hare fare, se feier bivoren alle the othre? (2) Understond ant nim
yeme: al hare song in Heovene is forte herien Godd of His grace ant of His goddede.
(3) The iweddede thonkith Him thet ha, lanhure, hwen ha alles walden fallen dune-
wart, ne feollen nawt with alle adun for wedlac ham ikepte — the ilke lahe the Godd
haveth istald for the unstronge. (4) For wel wiste ure Lauerd thet alle ne mahten nawt
halden ham i the hehe of meithhades mihte, ah seide tha He spec throf: Non omnes
capiunt verbum istud
. (5) “Ne undervoth nawt,” quoth He, “this ilke word alle.” (6) Quis
potest capere capiat
. (7) “Hwa se hit mei underneomen, underneome, Ich reade,” quoth
He. (8) Other is thet Godd hat ant other is thet He reat. (9) The ilke thinges Godd hat
thet mon mot nede halden the wule beon iborhen, ant theo beoth to alle men o live
iliche imeane. (10) His reades beoth of heh thing ant to His leoveste freond (the lut
i thisse worlde) ant derve beoth to fullen, ant lihte thah hwa se haveth riht luve to Him
ant treowe bileave. (11) Ah hwa se halt ham earneth him overfullet ful, ant
overeorninde met of heovenliche mede. (12) Swuch is meithhades read,
thet Godd ne hat nawt ah reat hwuch se His wule beon of the lut of His leoveste
freond, ant, as His deorling deore, don His read ant earnin him crune upo crune.
(13) Alswa, Seinte Pawel yeveth read to meidnes, thet meidnes beoth as he wes, ant
seith thet wel is ham | thet swa ham mahen halden; ne hat he hit nan other weis, for
eaver se deorre thing se is dervre to biwitene, ant yef hit were ihaten ant nawt tenne
ihalden the bruche were deadlich sunne. (14) Forthi, wes wedlac ilahet in Hali
Chirche as bed te seke, to ihente the unstronge the ne mahen stonden i the hehe hul
ant se neh Heovene as meithhades mihte.

(1) This is, thenne, hare song, the beoth i lahe of wedlac: thonki Godd ant herien
thet He greithede ham lanhure, tha ha walden of meidnes hehschipe, a swuch stude
into lihten thet ha neren nawt ihurt, thah ha weren ilahet; ant hwet se ha thrin
hurten ham with ealmesdeden healden. (2) This singeth, thenne, iweddede, thet
ha, thurh Godes milce ant merci of His grace, tha ha driven dunewart, i wedlac
etstutten ant i the bed of His lahe softeliche lihten. (3) For hwa se swa falleth of
meithhades menske thet wedlakes hevel bedd nawt ham ne ihente, se ferliche ha
driveth dun to ther eorthe thet al ham is tolimet, lith ba ant lire. (4) Theos ne
schulen neaver song singen in Heovene ah schulen weimeres leod áámare in
Helle, bute yef bireowsunge areare ham to live ant heale ham with soth schrift ant
with deadbote; for yef ha thus beoth acwiket ant imaket hale, ha beoth i widewene
reng ant schulen i widewene ring bivore the iweddede singen in Heovene. (5)
Thet is, thenne, hare song: to herien hare Drihtin | ant thonkin Him yeorne thet
His mihte heolt ham i cleanschipe chaste efter thet ha hefden ifondet flesches fulthe
ant yettede ham i this worlt to beten hare sunnen.

(1) Swote beoth theos songes, ah al is meidenes song unilich theose, with engles
imeane, dream over alle the dreames in Heovene. (2) In heore ring, ther Godd Seolf
ant His deore moder — the deorewurthe Meiden, the heovenliche cwen — leadeth
i thet eadi trume of schimminde meidnes. (3) Ne moten nane buten heo hoppin ne
singen, for thet is áá hare song, thonki Godd ant herien thet He on ham se muche
grace yef of Himseolven thet ha forsoken for Him euch eorthlich mon ant heolden
ham cleane áá from fleschliche fulthen i bodi ant i breoste, ant i stude of mon of lam
token lives Lauerd, the King of hehe blisse, forhwi He mensketh ham se muchel
bivoren alle the othre as the brudgume deth his weddede spuse.

(1) This song ne muhen nane buten heo singen. (2) Al (as ich seide ear) folhith
ure Lauerd, ant tah nawt overal, for i the menske of meithhad ant in hire mihte ne
muhe nane folhin Him, ne thet eadi Meiden, englene leafdi ant meidenes menske,
bute meidnes ane. (3) Ant forthi is hare aturn se briht ant se schene bivoren alle othre
thet ha gath eaver nest Godd hwider se | He turneth. (4) Ant alle ha beoth icrunet the
blissith in Heovene with kempene crune, ah the meidnes habbeth, upo theo the is to
alle iliche imeane, a gerlondesche schinende schenre then the sunne, “auriole” ihaten
o Latines ledene. (5) The flurs the beoth idrahe thron, ne the gimmes thrin, te tellen
of hare evene nis na monnes speche. (6) Thus, feole privileges schawith ful sutelliche
hwucche beoth ther meidnes, ant sundrith ham from the othre with thus feole
mensken, world buten ende.

(1) Of thes threo hat (meithhad ant widewehad, ant wedlac is the thridde) thu
maht, bi the degrez of hare blisse, icnawen hwuch ant bi hu muchel the an passeth
the othre. (2) For wedlac haveth frut thrittifald in Heovene, widewehad sixtifald.
(3) Meithhad, with hundretfald, overgeath bathe. (4) Loke thenne herbi, hwa se
of hire meithhad lihteth into wedlac, bi hu monie degréz ha falleth dunewardes;
ha is an hundret degréz ihehet towart Heovene hwil ha meithhad halt, as the frut
preoveth, ant leapeth into wedlac — thet is, dun neother to the thrittuthe — over
thrie twenti ant yet ma bi tene. (5) Nis this, ed en cherre, a muche lupe dunewart?
(6) Ant tah, hit is to tholien ant Godd haveth ilahet hit (as ich ear seide) leste, hwa se
leope ant ther ne edstode lanhure, nawt nere thet kepte him ant drive adun
swirevorth withuten ike|punge deope into Helle. (7) Of theos nis nawt to speokene,
for ha beoth iscrippet ut of lives writ in Heovene.

(1) Ah schawi we yet witerluker (as we ear biheten) hwet drehen the iweddede,
thet tu icnawe therbi hu murie thu maht libben, meiden, i thi meithhad over thet
heo libbeth — to-eche the murhthe ant te menske in Heovene thet muth ne mei
munnen. (2) Nu thu art iweddet, ant of se heh se lahe iliht: of englene ilicnesse, of
Jesu Cristes leofmon, of leafdi in Heovene, into flesches fulthe, into beastes liflade,
into monnes theowdom, ant into worldes weane. (3) Sei nu — hwet frut, ant for
hwuch thing meast is it al forthi, other ane dale, thervore? (4) Beo nu soth cnawes!
(5) Forte keli thi lust with fulthe of thi licome? (6) For Gode, hit is speatewile forte
thenche thron, ant forte speoken throf yet speatewilre. (7) Loke thenne hwuch beo
thet seolve thing ant thet dede to donne. (8) Al thet fule delit is with fulthe aleid
as thu turnest thin hond, ah thet ladliche least leafeth ant lest forth, ant te
ofthunchunge throf longe threfter; ant te unseli horlinges the unlaheliche hit
hantith habbeth in inwarde Helle: for thet hwilinde lust, endelese pine bute yef
heo hit leaven, ant hit on eorthe under schrift bitterliche beten. (9) Forhohe forte
don hit, thet te thuncheth uvel of ant eil forte heren; for hwen hit is thullich —
ant muchele ladluker then ei welitohe muth for scheome | mahe seggen — hwet
maketh hit iluvet bituhhe beasteliche men bute hare muchele untheaw? (10) Thet
bereth ham, ase beastes, to al thet ham lusteth, as thah ha nefden wit in ham ne
tweire schad — as mon haveth — ba of god ant of uvel, of kumelich ant
unkumelich, na mare then beastes thet dumbe neb habbeth!

(1) Ah leasse then beastes yet, for theos doth hare cunde (bute wit thah ha beon)
in a time of the yer. (2) Moni halt him to a make ne nule, efter thet lure, neaver
neomen other. (3) Ant mon, thet schulde habbe wit ant don al thet he dude efter
hire wilnunge, folheth thet fulthe in eaver-euch time ant nimeth an efter an, ant moni
(thet is wurse) monie togederes. (4) Lo nu hu this untheaw ne eveneth the nawt
ane to wittlese beastes, dumbe ant broke-rugget, ibuhe towart eorthe — thu thet
art i wit wraht to Godes ilicnesse, ant iriht bodi up ant heaved towart Heovene, forthi
thet tu schuldest thin heorte Heoven thiderwart as thin eritage is ant eorthe
forhohien — nim yeme hu this untheaw ne maketh the nawt ane evening ne ilich
ham, ah deth muchel eateluker ant mare to witen the forschuptest te seolf, willes
ant waldes, into hare cunde. (5) The leoseth thenne se heh thing — the mihte ant
te biheve of meithhades menske — for se ful fulthe as is ischawet thruppe, hwa se
of engel lihteth to iwurthen lahre | then a beast for se ladli cheaffere, loki hu ha

(1) “Nai,” thu wult seggen, “for thet fulthe nis hit nawt. (2) Ah monnes elne
is muche wurth, ant me bihoveth his help to fluttunge ant te fode. (3) Of wif ant weres
gederunge worldes weole awakeneth, ant streon of feire children the gleadieth
muchel the ealdren.” (4) Nu thu havest iseid tus ant thuncheth thet tu havest iseid
soth, ah ich chulle schawin hit al with falsschipe ismethet. (5) Ah on alre earst,
hwet weole other wunne se ther eaver of cume, to deore hit bith aboht thet tu the
seolf sulest fore ant yevest thin beare bodi to tukin swa to wundre ant feare with
se scheomeliche, with swuch uncoverlich lure as meithhades menske is ant te
mede, for worldlich biyete. (6) Wa wurthe thet cheaffeare, for ei hwilinde weole
sullen meithhad awei, the cwen is of Heovene! (7) For alswa as of this lure nis nan
acoverunge, alswa is euch wurth unwurth hertowart.

(1) Thu seist thet muche confort haveth wif of hire were the beoth wel
igederet, ant either is alles weis ipaiet of other. (2) Ye, ah hit is seltscene on
eorthe. (3) Beo nu thah swuch hare confort ant hare delit, hwerin is hit al meast
buten i flesches fulthe other in worldes vanité, the wurtheth al to sorhe ant to sar
on ende? (4) Ant nawt ane on | ende ah eaver umbe hwile, for moni thing schal
ham wreathen ant gremien ant makie to carien, ant for hare othres uvel
sorhin ant siken. (5) Moni thing ham schal twinnin, ant tweamen, thet lath is
leovie men, ant deathes dunt on ende either from other, swa thet ne bith hit
nanes weis thet tet elne ne schal endin in earmthe. (6) Ant eaver se hare murhthe
wes mare togederes, se the sorhe is sarre ed te twinnunge. (7) Wa is him, forthi,
as Seint Austin seith, thet is with to muche luve to ei eorthlich thing iteiet, for eaver
bith thet swete aboht with twa dale of bittre, ant a fals wunne with moni soth teone.
(8) Ah wel is hire thet luveth Godd, for Him ne mei ha nanes weis (bute yef ha lihe
Him ant His luve leave) neaver mare leosen, ah schal ifinden Him áá swetture ant
savurure from worlde into worlde, áá on ecnesse.

(1) Thu speke thruppe of monnes help to flutunge ant to fode. (2) Wala; lutel
therf thu carien for thin anes liveneth, a meoke meiden as thu art ant His deor
leofmon the is alre thinge Lauerd, thet He ne mahe lihtliche thet He nule gleadliche
ifinde the largeliche al thet te bihoveth. (3) Ant tah thu wone hefdest other drehdest
eani derf for His deorew|urthe luve, as the othre doth for monnes, to goder heale
thin He hit tholeth to fondi the hwether thu beo treowe, ant greitheth thi mede
monifald in Heovene. (4) Under monnes help thu schalt sare beon idervet for his ant
for the worldes luve, the beoth ba swikele, ant wakien i moni care nawt ane for the
seolf (ase thearf Godes spuse) ah schalt for monie othre, ase wel for the lathe ofte
as for the leove, ant mare beon idrechet then ei drivel i the hus other ei ihuret hine,
ant tin anes dale bruken ofte with bale ant bitterliche abuggen. (5) Lutel witen herof
the selie Godes spuses the, i se swote eise withute swuch trubuil, i
gastelich este ant i breoste reste, luvieth the sothe Luve ant in His anes servise
hare lif leadeth. (6) Inoh wel ham is her ah unlich elleshwer. (7) Alle worldes
weole ham is inoh rive. (8) Al ha habbeth therof thet ha wel wilnith; al thet eaver
Godd isith thet ham wule freamien. (9) Ne mei na worldlich unhap bireavin ham
hare weole for ha beoth riche ant weolefule inwith i the heorte. (10) Al the este
ant al the eise is ther as the othre beoth godlese ant ignahene, nabben ha neaver
se muchel withuten i the worlde, for thet ha beoth offearet eaver forte leosen, ant
yiscith thah efter muchel muche deale mare. (11) With earmthe biwinneth hit;
with fearlac biwiteth hit; forleoseth hit with sorhe. (12) Swinketh | to biyeotene;
biyeoteth forte leosen; leoseth forte sorhin. (13) Thus this worldes hweol warpeth
ham abuten. (14) Theoves hit steoleth ham; reavers hit robbith. (15) Hare
overherren witith ham ant wreatheth. (16) Mohthe fret te clathes ant cwalm sleath
thet ahte, ant tah nane of theos ne makie to forwurthen weole ther ase muchel is;
eaver se ther mare is, se ma beoth thet hit wastith. (17) Ant nat ich neaver hwi me
seith thet heo hit al weldeth, thet, wullen ha nullen ha, biwinneth ant biwiteth hit to
se monie othre, nawt ane to hare freond ah to hare fan fulle. (18) Ne habben ne
mahen throf — thah ha hit hefden isworen — bute hare anes dale. (19) This is nu
forthi iseid thet tu seidest thruppe thet ter walde wakenin of wif ant weres
somnunge richesce ant worldes weole, thet tu understonde hu lutel hit freameth
ham yet her i this worlt, teke thet hit reaveth ham the hehe riche of Heovene bute
ha povre beon therin with halinesse of heorte.

(1) Thus, wummon — yef thu havest were efter thi wil, ant wunne ba of
worldes weole — the schal nede itiden. (2) Ant hwet yef ha beoth the wone, thet
tu nabbe thi wil with him ne weole nowther, ant schalt grevin godles inwith westi
wahes, ant te breades wone brede thi bearn-team, ant teke this, liggen under
la|thest mon, thet, thah thu hefdest alle weole, he went hit te to weane? (3) For
beo hit nu thet te beo richedom rive, ant tine wide wahes wlonke ant weolefule,
ant habbe monie under the hirdmen in halle, ant ti were beo the wrath, other iwurthe
the lath swa thet inker either heasci with other — hwet worltlich weole mei beo the
wunne? (4) Hwen he bith ute havest ayein his cume sar care ant eie. (5) Hwil he
bith et hame alle thine wide wanes thuncheth the to nearewe. (6) His lokunge on
ageasteth the. (7) His ladliche nurth ant his untohe bere maketh the to agrisen. (8)
Chit te ant cheoweth the ant scheomeliche schent te; tuketh the to bismere as
huler his hore; beateth the ant busteth the as his ibohte threl ant his ethele
theowe. (9) Thine banes aketh the ant ti flesch smeorteth the, thin heorte withinne
the swelleth of sar grome ant ti neb utewith tendreth ut of teone. (10) Hwuch shal
beo the sompnunge bituhen ow i bedde? (11) Me theo the best luvieth ham
tobeoreth ofte thrin, thah ha na semblant ne makien ine marhen, ant ofte of moni
nohtunge, ne luvien ha ham neaver swa, bitterliche bi hamseolf teonith either.
(12) Heo schal his wil muchel hire unwil drehen — ne luvie ha him neaver swa wel
— with muche weane ofte. (13) Alle his fulitohchipes ant his unhende gomenes, ne
beon ha neaver swa with fulthe bifunden (nomeliche, i bedde), ha schal, wulle ha
nulle ha, tho|lien ham alle.

(1) Crist schilde euch meiden to freinin other to wilnin forte witen hwucche
ha beon, for theo the fondith ham meast ifindeth ham forcuthest, ant cleopieth
ham selie iwiss the nuten neaver hwet hit is, ant heatieth thet ha hantith. (2) Ah hwa
se lith i leifen deope bisuncken, thah him thunche uvel throf, he ne schal nawt up
acoverin hwen he walde. (3) Bisih the, seli wummon: beo the cnotte icnut eanes of
wedlac, beo he cangun other crupel, beo he hwuch se he eaver beo, thu most to
him halden. (4) Yef thu art feier ant with gleade chere bicleopest alle feire, ne schalt
tu o nane wise wite the with unword ne with uvel blame. (5) Yef thu art
unwurthlich and wratheliche ilatet thu maht — ba to othre ant to thi were —
iwurthen the unwurthre. (6) Yef thu iwurthest him unwurth ant he as unwurth the,
other yef thu him muche luvest ant he let lutel to the, hit greveth the se swithe
thet tu wult inohreathe (ase monie doth) makien him poisun ant yeoven bale i
bote stude; other, hwa se swa nule don medi with wicchen ant forsaken forte
drahen his luve towart hire Crist ant hire Cristendom ant rihte bileave. (7) Nu hwet
blisse mei theos bruken the luveth hire were wel ant ha habbe his laththe other
cunqueari his luve o thulliche wise?

(1) Hwenne schulde ich al habben | irikenet thet springeth bituhe theo the thus
beoth igederet? (2) Yef ha ne mei nawt temen ha is icleopet gealde. (3) Hire
lauerd luveth hire ant wurthgeth the leasse, ant heo, as theo thet wurst is throf,
biwepeth hire wurthes ant cleopeth ham wunne ant weolefule the temeth hare

(1) Ah nu iwurthe hit al thet ha habbe hire wil of streon thet ha wilneth; ant
loki we hwuch wunne throf hire iwurthe: i the streonunge throf, is anan hire flesch
with thet fulthe ituket (as hit is ear ishawet); i the burtherne throf is hevinesse ant
heard sar eaver umbe stunde; in his iborenesse alre stiche strengest ant death
otherhwiles; in his fostrunge forth moni earm-hwile. (2) Sone se hit lihteth i this
lif mare hit bringeth with him care then blisse, nomeliche to the moder. (3) For
yef hit is misboren — as hit ilome ilimpeth — ant wonti ei of his limen other sum
misfeare, hit is sorhe to hire ant to al his cun scheome, upbrud in uvel muth, tale
bimong alle. (4) Yef hit wel iboren is ant thuncheth wel forthlich, fearlac of his
lure is anan with him iboren; for nis ha neaver bute care leste hit misfeare, athet
owther of ham twa ear leose other. (5) Ant ofte hit itimeth thet tet leoveste bearn
ant iboht bitterlukest sorheth ant sweameth meast his ealdren on ende. (6) Nu
hwet wunne haveth the moder, the | haveth of thet forschuppet bearn sar ant
scheome bathe, ant fearlac of thet forthlich athet ha hit leose?

(1) For Gode, thah hit nere neaver for Godes luve, ne for hope of Heovene,
ne for dred of Helle — thu ahtest, wummon, this werc for thi flesches halschipe, for
thi licomes luve, ant ti bodies heale over alle thing to schunien. (2) For ase Seinte
Pawel seith, euch sunne thet me deth is withute the bodi bute this ane. (3) Alle the
othre sunnen ne beoth bute sunnen, ah this is sunne, ant ec uncumelecheth the
ant unwurdthgeth thi bodi, suleth thi sawle ant maketh schuldi towart Godd ant
fuleth thi flesch ec. (4) Gultest o twa half. (5) Wreathest then Alwealdent with thet
suti sunne ant dest woh to the seolf, thet tu al willes se scheomeliche tukest. (6) Ga
we nu forthre ant loki we hwuch wunne ariseth threfter i burtherne of bearne,
hwen thet streon in the awakeneth ant waxeth, ant hu monie earmthen anan
awakenith therwith, the wurcheth the wa inoh, fehteth o thi seolve flesch ant
weorrith with feole weanen o thin ahne cunde. (7) Thi rudie neb schal leanin ant
ase gres grenin. (8) Thine ehnen schule doskin ant underneothe wonnin, ant of thi
breines turnunge thin heaved aken sare. (9) Inwith, i thi wombe, swel in thi butte
the bereth the forth as a weater-bulge, thine thearmes thralunge ant stiches i thi
lonke, ant i thi lendene sar eche rive, | hevinesse in euch lim, thine breostes
burtherne o thine twa pappes, ant te milcstrunden the the of striketh. (10) Al is
with a weolewunge thi wlite overwarpen, thi muth is bitter, ant walh al thet tu
cheowest. (11) Ant hwet mete se thi mahe hokerliche underveth (thet is, with
unlust) warpeth hit eft ut. (12) Inwith al thi weole ant ti weres wunne forwurthest
a wrecche. (13) The cares ayein thi pinunge thraen bineometh the nahtes slepes.
(14) Hwen hit thenne therto kimeth, thet sore sorhfule angoise, thet stronge ant
stikinde stiche, thet unroles uvel, thet pine over pine, thet wondrinde
yeomerunge, hwil thu swenchest terwith ant thine deathes dute; scheome teke thet
sar with the alde wifes scheome creft, the cunnen of thet wa-sith, hwas help the
bihoveth, ne beo hit neaver se uncumelich; ant nede most hit tholien, thet te
therin itimeth.

(1) Ne thunche the nan uvel of, for we ne edwiteth nawt wifes hare weanen,
thet ure alre modres drehden on us seolven, ah we schawith ham forth forte warni
meidnes thet ha beon the leasse efterwart swuch thing ant witen herthurh the
betere hwet ham beo to donne.

(1) Efter al this kimeth, of thet bearn ibore thus, wanunge ant wepunge the
schal abute midniht makie the to wakien, other theo thet ti stude halts (the thu
most for carien). (2) Ant, hwet! — the cader fulthen ant bearmes | umbe stunde, to
feskin ant to fostrin hit se moni earm-hwile, ant his waxunge se let, ant se slaw his
thriftre! (3) Ant eaver habbe sar care ant lokin efter al this hwenne hit forwurthe, ant
bringe on his moder sorhe upo sorhe. (4) Thah thu riche beo ant nurrice habbe
thu most, as moder, carien for al thet hire limpeth to donne.

(1) Theose ant othre earmthen the of wedlac awakenith Seinte Pawel biluketh
in ane lut wordes: Tribulaciones carnis et cetera. (2) Thet is on Englisch: “theo thet
thulliche beoth schulen derf drehen.” (3) Hwa se thencheth on al this, ant o mare
thet ter is, ant nule withbuhe thet thing thet hit al of awakeneth, ha is heardre-
iheortet then adamantines stan ant mare amead (yef ha mei) then is meadschipe
seolf. (4) Hire ahne fa ant hire feont, heateth hireseolfen.

(1) Lutel wat meiden of al this ilke weane: of wifes wa with hire were, ne of
hare werc se wleateful the ha wurcheth imeane, ne of thet sar ne of thet sut i the
burtherne of bearn ant his iborenesse, of nurrices wecches, ne of hire wa-sithes of
thet fode fostrunge, hu muchel ha schule ed eanes in his muth famplin nowther
to bigan hit ne his cader-clutes. (2) Thah this beon of to speokene unwurthliche
thinges, thes the mare ha schawith i hwuch theodom wifes beoth, the thullich
mote drehen, | ant meidnes i hwuch freodom, the freo beoth from ham alle. (3)
Ant hwet yef ich easki yet — thah hit thunche egede — hu thet wif stonde the
ihereth hwen ha kimeth in hire bearn schreamen, sith the cat et te fliche ant ed
te hude the hund, hire cake bearnen o the stan ant hire kelf suken, the crohe
eornen i the fur, ant te cheorl chideth? (4) Thah hit beo egede i sahe, hit ah,
meiden, to eggi the swithre therfrommart, for nawt ne thuncheth hit hire egede
thet hit fondeth! (5) Ne therf thet seli meiden, thet haveth al idon hire ut of
thullich theowdom as Godes freo dohter ant His Sunes spuse, drehe nawiht

(1) Forthi, seli meiden, forsac al thulli sorhe for utnume mede thet tu ahtest
to don withuten euch hure, for nu ich habbe ihalden min biheaste thruppe: thet
ich walde schawin with falschipe ismethet thet te moni an seith (ant thuncheth
thet hit soth beo) of the selhthe ant te sy thet te iweddede habbeth, thet hit ne
feareth nawt swa as weneth thet sith utewith ah feareth al otherweis, of poure ba
ant riche, of lathe ba ant leovie, thet te weane ihwer passeth the wunne, ant te lure
overal al the biyete.

(1) Nu thenne, seli meiden, thet Davith cleopeth “dohter”: iher thi feader ant
hercne his read, thet he the i the frumthe of this writ readde. (2) “Foryet ti folc,”
thet liheth the of weres ant worldes wunne, thet beoth thine thohtes the
swikelliche lea|thieth the towart alle weane. (3) Ant “forsac thi feader hus,” as hit
is thruppe iopenet, ant tac the to Him treowliche. (4) With him thu schalt wealden
— as with thi were iweddet — worlt buten ende, heovenliche wunnen. (5) Eadi is
His spuse, hwas meithhad is unwemmet hwen He on hire streoneth; ant hwen ha
temeth of Him ne swinketh ne ne pineth. (6) Eadi is the Were hwen nan ne mei
beo meiden bute yef heo Him luvie, ne freo bute yef heo Him servi, hwas streon
is undeathlich ant hwas marhe-yeve is the kinedom of Heovene. (7) Nu thenne,
seli meiden, yef the is weole leof, nim the Him to Lauerd thet wealdeth al thet is
ant wes ant eaver schal iwurthen. (8) For thah He beo richest Him ane over alle,
the alre measte povre the Him to were cheoseth is Him wel icweme. (9) Yef thet tu
wilnest were the muche wlite habbe, nim Him of hwas wlite beoth awundret of the
sunne ant te mone, upo hwas nebscheft the engles ne beoth neaver fulle to
bihalden. (10) For hwen He yeveth feirlec to al thet is feier in Heovene ant in
eorthe, muchele mare He haveth withuten ei etlunge ethalden to Himseolven.
(11) Ant thah hwen He thus is alre thinge feherest, He underveth blitheliche ant
bicluppeth swoteliche the alre ladlukeste ant maketh ham seove sithe schenre
then the sunne.

(1) Yef the were leof streon, nim the to Him under hwam thu schalt, i thi
meithhad, te|men dehtren ant sunen of gasteliche teames, the neaver deie ne
mahen ah schulen áá bivore the pleien in Heovene, thet beoth the vertuz thet He
streoneth in the thurh His swete grace, as rihtwissnesse ant warschipe ayeines
untheawes, mesure ant mete ant gastelich strengthe to withstonde the feond ant
ayein sunne, simplete of semblant, buhsumnesse ant stilthe, tholemodnesse ant
reowfulnesse of euch monnes sorhe, gleadschipe i the Hali Gast ant pes i thi breoste
of onde ant of wreaththe, of yisceunge ant of euch untheawes weorre, mekelec ant
miltschipe ant swotnesse of heorte, the limpeth — alre thinge best — to meithhades
mihte. (2) This is meidenes team, Godes Sune spuse, thet schal áá libben ant
pleien buten ende bivoren hire in Heovene.

(1) Ah thah thu, meiden, beo with unbruche of thi bodi, ant tu habbe prude,
onde, other wreaththe, yisceunge, other wac wil inwith i thin heorte — thu forhorest
te with the unwiht of Helle, ant he streoneth on the the team thet tu temest. (2) Hwen
thi Were alwealdent, thet tu the to weddest, sith ant understont tis, thet His fa forlith
the ant thet tu temest of him thet Him is teame lathest, He forheccheth the anan (as
hit nis na wunder!) ant cwetheth the al cwite him thet tu of temest. (3) Ne kepeth He
with na mon, ant hure with His famon, nan half dale. (4) The luvieth eawiht | buten
Him — ant hwet se ha for Him luvieth — ha wreatheth Him swithe.

(1) Over alle thing, wite the thet tu ne temi prude bi thes deofles streonunge,
for heo of alle untheawes is his ealdeste dohter. (2) Earst ha wakenede of him
theyet he wes in Heovene, forneh with him evenald, ant swa ha keaste hire feader
sone se ha ibore wes, from the heste Heovene into Helle grunde, bute coverunge,
ant makede of heh-engel eatelukest deofel. (3) The thus adun duste hire heovenliche
feader, hwet wule ha don bi hire eorthliche modres the temeth hire in horedom
of then lathe Unwiht, the hellene schucke? (4) Hwen Godd se wracfulliche fordemde
His heh-engel the streonede hire in Heovene, hwet wule He don bi thet lam ant
wurmene mete the of the Deofel temeth hire in eawbruche on eorthe? (5) Yef thu
havest, with meithhad, meokelec ant mildschipe, Godd is i thin heorte, ah yef ther
is overhohe other ei prude in, He is utlahe throf; for ne muhen ha nanes weis
beddin in a breoste, ne ne muhen nawt somet eardin in Heovene. (6) Theonne
Godd weorp hire sone se ha iboren wes, ant as thah ha nuste hwuch wei ha come
theonewart, ne con ha neaver mare ifinden nan wei ayeinwart, ah eardinde her
on eorthe bihat eche wununge alle hire modres, al beon ha meidnes, with hire
awea|riede feader in inwarde Helle.

(1) Wite the, meiden, with hire. (2) Ha cwikede of cleane cunde, as is in engles
evene, ant cleaneste breosten bredeth hire yetten. (3) The beste ha asaileth, ant
wel ha der hopien to beo kempe over mon, the overcom engel. (4) Nis ha nawt i
clathes ne i feahunge utewith (thah hit beo merke throf ant makunge
otherhwiles), ah under hwit other blac, ant ase wel under grei ase under grene,
ant áá ha luteth i the heorte. (5) Sone se thu telest te betere then another, beo hit
hwervore se hit eaver beo, ant havest of ei overhohe, ant thuncheth hofles ant
hoker of eawt thet me seith the other deth yetten, thu merrest thin meithhad ant
brekest ti wedlac towart Godd ant of His fa temest.

(1) Ne tele thu nawt ethelich, al beo thu meiden, to widewen ne to iweddede.
(2) For alswa as a charbucle is betere then a jacinct i the evene of hare cunde, ant
thah is betere a briht jacinct then a charbucle won, alswa passeth meiden, onont
te mihte of meithhad, widewen ant iweddede; ant tah is betere a milde wif other
a meoke widewe then a prud meiden. (3) For theos, for hare sunnen thet ha i
flesches fulthe folhith other fulieth, leoteth ham lahe ant ethliche, ant beoth sare
ofdret of Godes luthere eie; ant as the eadi sunegilt Marie Magdaleine, with bittre
wopes bireowsith hare gultes ant inwardluker luvieth Godd, alswa as heo | dude,
for hare forgevenesse. (4) Ant te othre, the haldeth ham unforgult ant cleane,
beoth ase sikere unlusti ant wlecche. (5) Unneathe liveth i Godes luve, withuten
euch heate of the Hali Gast the bearneth se lihte withute wastinde, brune in alle
His icorene. (6) Ant te othre, in an heate of an honthwile, beoth imelt mare ant
iyotten i Godd then the othre in a wlecheunge al hare lifsithen.

(1) Forthi, eadi meiden, Godes Sunes spuse, ne beo thu nawt to trusti ane to thi
meithhad withuten other god ant theawfule mihtes ant over al, miltschipe ant
meokeschipe of heorte, efter the forbisne of thet eadi meiden over alle othre,
Marie, Godes moder. (2) For tha the hehengel Gabriel grette hire ant brohte hire
to tidinge of Godes akennesse, loke hu lah ha lette hire, tha ha ontswerede thus
bi hireseolven. (3) “Efter thi word,” quoth ha, “mote me iwurthen. (4) Low, her
mi Lauerdes threl.” (5) Ant tah ha ful were of alle gode theawes, ane of hire
meokelec ha seide ant song to Elizabeth. (6) “For mi Lauerd biseh His thuftenes
meokelec, me schulen cleopien,” quoth ha, “eadi alle leoden.” (7) Nim yeme,
meiden, ant understont herbi thet mare for hire meokelec then for hire meithhad
ha lette thet ha ifont swuch grace ed ure Lauerd. (8) For al meithhad, meokelec
is muche wurth, ant meithhad withuten hit is ethelich ant unwurth; for alswa is
meiden i meithhad bu|te meokeschipe as is withute liht eolie in a lampe.

(1) Eadi Godes spuse, have theos ilke mihte thet tu ne thunche theostri ah
schine ase sunne i thi Weres sihthe. (2) Feahi thi meithhad with alle gode
theawes the thuncheth Him feire. (3) Have eaver i thin heorte the eadieste of
meidnes ant meithhades moder, ant bisech hire áá thet ha the lihte ant yeove luve
ant strengthe for te folhin i meithhad hire theawes. (4) Thench o Seinte Katerrine,
o Seinte Margarete, Seinte Enneis, Seinte Juliene, ant Seinte Cecille, ant o the othre
hali meidnes in Heovene: hu ha nawt ane ne forsoken kinges sunes ant eorles, with
alle worldliche weolen ant eorthliche wunnen, ah tholeden stronge pinen ear ha
walden neomen ham ant derf death on ende. (5) Thench hu wel ham is nu ant hu
ha blissith thervore bituhe Godes earmes, cwenes of Heovene. (6) Ant yef hit eaver
timeth thet ti licomes lust — thurh the false feont — leathie the towart flesliche
fulthen, ontswere i thi thoht thus: “Ne geineth the nawt, sweoke! (7) Thullich ich
chulle beon in meidenes liflade, ilich Heovene engel. (8) Ich chulle halde me hal
thurh the grace of Godd, as cunde me makede, thet Paraise selhthe undervo me al,
swuch as weren ear ha agulten his eareste hinen. (9) Allunge swuch ich chulle beon
as is mi deore Leofmon, mi deorewurthe La|uerd, ant as thet eadi meiden the He
Him cheas to moder. (10) Al swuch ich chulle wite me treowliche unwemmet, as ich
am Him iweddet, ne nulle ich nawt, for a lust of ane lutle hwile (thah hit thunche
delit) awei warpe thet thing hwas lure ich schal biremen withuten coverunge ant with
eche brune abuggen in Helle. (11) Thu wrenchful ful wiht! (12) Al for nawt thu
prokest me to forgulten ant forgan the blisse upo blisse, the crune upo crune of
meidenes mede, ant willes ant waldes warpe me as wrecche i thi leirwite, ant for thet
englene song of meithhades menske, with the ant with thine greden áá ant granin
i the eche grure of Helle.”

(1) Yef thu thus ontswerest to thi licomes lust ant to the Feondes fondunge he
schal fleo the with scheome. (2) Ant yef he alles efter this inohreathe etstonde ant
halt on to eili thi flesch ant prokie thin heorte, thi Lauerd Godd hit theaveth him,
to muchli thi mede. (3) For as Seinte Pawel seith: “ne bith nan icrunet bute hwa
se treoweliche i thulli feht fehte ant with strong cokkunge overcume hire seolf.”
(4) For thenne is the Deofel with his ahne turn scheomeliche awarpen hwen thu,
as the Apostle seith ne schalt tu beon icrunet bute thu beo asailet. (5) Yef Godd
wule cruni the, He wule leote ful wel the | Unwiht asaili the thet tu earni,
therthurh, kempene crune. (6) Forthi, hit is the meast god thet hwen he greveth
the meast ant towart te with fondunge wodeluker weorreth yef thu wel wrist te
under Godes wengen. (7) For thurh his weorre he yarketh the (unthonc in his
teth) the blisse ant te crune of Cristes icorene.

(1) Ant Jesu Crist, leve hire thurh Thi blescede nome, ant alle theo the leaveth
luve of lami mon forte beon His leofmon, ant leve ham swa hare heorte halden
to Him thet hare flesches eggunge, ne the feondes fondunge, ne nan of his
eorthliche limen ne wori hare heorte-wit ne wrenche ham ut of the wei thet ha
beoth in iyongen, ant helpe ham swa in Him to hehin towart Heovene, athet ha
beon istihe thider as hare brudlac schal, in al thet eaver sel is, with thene seli
Brudgume thet siheth alle selhthe of sitten buten ende. (2) AMEN.
A letter on virginity for the encouragement of virgins.

(1) Listen, daughter, and look, and incline your ears, and forget your people and the
home of your father
. (2) David the psalm-writer speaks in the Psalter to God’s spouse,
that is, every maiden that has maidens’ virtues, and says: “Hear me, daughter,
behold and bend your ear, and forget your folk and your father’s house.” (3) Take
heed of what each word separately says: “Hear me, daughter,” he says. (4)
“Daughter,” he calls her, so that she understand that he teaches her lovingly love
of life, as a father ought to do for his daughter, and so that she listen to him as her
father the more gladly. (5) “Hear me, dear daughter,” that is, “carefully listen to me
with the ears of your head.” (6) “And behold,” that is, “open the eyes of your heart
to understand me.” (7) “And bend your ear,” that is, “be obedient to my teaching.”
(8) She may answer and say: “And what now is this teaching that you take so
seriously, and teach me so carefully?” (9) Lo, this: “Forget your folk and your
father’s house.” (10) “Your folk,” he, David, calls, the gathering inside you of fleshly
thoughts, which incite and draw you with their prickings to fleshly filths, to bodily
desires, and egg you on to wedlock and to a husband’s embrace, and make you
imagine what delight would be in it, what ease in the riches that these ladies have,
how much might arise from your children. (11) Ah, false folk of deceitful counsel,
how your mouth flatters as you put forth all that seems good, and conceal all that
bitter bale that is underneath, and all that great loss that arises from it! (12) “Forget
all this folk, my beloved daughter,” says David the prophet. (13) That is, cast these
thoughts out of your heart. (14) This is Babylon’s folk, the devil’s army of Hell, which
aims to lead Syon’s daughter into the world’s bondage.

(1) “Syon” in the past was called the high tower of Jerusalem, and “Syon” says
the same as “ high sight” in the English language. (2) And this tower betokens the
high rank of maidenhood, which beholds, as from on high, both all widows and
the wedded underneath her. (3) For these, as thralls of the flesh, are in the world’s
bondage and dwell low on the earth, and a maiden stands, through the lofty life,
in the tower of Jerusalem. (4) Not from low of earth, but from the height of
Heaven, which is signified through this, from that Sion she beholds all the world
under her, and through the angelic and heavenly life that she leads, although she
dwells bodily upon the earth, she is as if in Syon — the high tower of Heaven —
completely free from the world’s miseries. (5) But Babylon’s folk (which I
mentioned earlier), the devil’s army of Hell, which are the lusts of the flesh and
the egging on of the fiends, make war and always assail this tower to cast it down
and drag her into slavery who stands so high inside and who is called, because of
this, Syon’s daughter.

(1) And is she not truly cast down and dragged into slavery, who from so very
high a place, from so much dignity and such worship as it is to be God’s spouse
— Jesus Christ’s bride, the Lord’s lover whom all things obey, lady of all the world
as he is Lord of all, like Him in wholeness, unblemished as He is, and that blessed
maiden His dear mother, like His holy angels and His highest saints — so free
from herself that she need not at all think of any other thing except only of how
to please her Lover with true love, for He will provide for her, He whom she has
taken, everything that she needs while she loves Him rightly with true belief —
is not she then grievously, as I said before, cast down and dragged into slavery,
who from so much eminence and such blessed freedom shall descend so low into a
man’s slavery, so that she has nothing free of her own, and shall leave, for a man
of clay, the heavenly Lord, and lessen her ladyship by as much as her latter
husband is worth less and has less than her former one had, and from God’s bride
and his free daughter — for she is both together — she becomes a slave under a
man and his thrall, to do everything and to endure what pleases him, however
badly it sits with her, and from such holy security as she was in and could have
been under God’s protection, puts herself into drudgery, to manage household
and servants, so many miseries, to see to so many things, to endure adversities
and annoyances and sometimes shames, to suffer so many woes for so poor a wage
as the world ever pays in the end; is not this maiden truly cast down? (2) Is this
not slavery aplenty, in exchange for that same freedom that she had while she was
Syon’s daughter?

(1) Serve God alone, and all things will turn out well for you, and commit
yourself truly to Him and you will be free from all worldly sorrows. (2) Nor may
any evil harm you, for as Saint Paul says, all things turn out well for the good. (3)
Nor can anything be lacking for you who carry Him who rules everything inwardly
in your heart. (4) And you will find so much sweetness in His love and in His
service, and have so much mirth from it and pleasure in your heart that you would
not exchange that state that you live in to be a crowned queen. (5) So gracious is
our Lord that He does not wish that His chosen be here without reward, for there
is so much comfort in His grace that all that they see suits them, and though it
may seem to others that they suffer bitterly, it does not hurt them at all, but seems
soft to them and they have more delight in it than any other has in pleasure of the
world. (6) Our Lord gives them this here as a pledge of the eternal reward that
will come afterward. (7) Thus God’s friends have all the fruit of this world that
they have forsaken and, in a wondrous way, Heaven at the end.

(1) Now then, on the other hand, turn yourself to the world, and always
the more you have, the more it will fail you, and you will serve — when you
would not serve God — this fickle and foul world, and you will be terribly
troubled under her as her thrall in a thousand ways, in place of one pleasure
you have two displeasures, and so often be made wretched for the worthless
man that you lie under, for nothing or a trifle, you will loathe your life and
regret your actions that you ever put yourself into such
slavery for worldly joy that you expected to gain, and have misery and hardship
aplenty there. (2) All that you thought gold becomes brass. (3) All is nothing that
your folk (of whom I spoke earlier) promised you would find. (4) Now you know
that they have tricked you like traitors, for under joy, in place of happiness, you
often have Hell here, and unless you withdraw yourself you breed for yourself that
other [Hell], as do these queens, these rich countesses, these proud ladies from
their lives. (5) Truly, if they consider rightly and confess the truth, I take them to
witness: they lick honey from thorns. (6) They buy all that sweetness with two
parts of bitterness (and that will be shown clearly further on in this writing). (7)
All that shines there is not by any means gold, though no one except themselves
knows what often pricks them.

(1) When it is this way for the rich, what do you expect of the poor who are unwor-
thily given in marriage and evilly provided for, like almost all gentle women in the
world now who do not have the wherewithal to buy themselves a bridegroom of
the same rank as themselves, and who give themselves to slavery for a more
worthless man with everything that they have? (2) Weilaway, Jesus God, what a
worthless trade! (3) It would be better for them were they taken to be buried on
their wedding day.

(1) Therefore, blessed maiden, forget your folk as David bids; that is, do away
with the thoughts that prick your heart through bodily desires and which invite you
and egg you on towards such slavery for fleshly filth. (2) Forget also your father’s
house, as David advises next. (3) “Your father,” he calls that wantonness which begot
you on your mother: that same filthy flesh’s flame, that burning itch of that
bodily desire before that disgusting act, that beastly gathering, that shameless
union, that stinking and wanton deed full of filth. (4) It still is to be suffered in
wedlock in some ways, as you will hear later. (5) If you ask why God made such a
thing to be, I will answer you. (6) God never shaped it so, but Adam and Eve
changed it to be like this through their sin and marred our nature, that is, the
house of this wantonness, in which it has, even worse, all too much lordship and
mastery. (7) This nature mars us that David calls “your father’s house” — that is,
the lust for lechery that rules inside it. (8) Forget and go out of it with the will of
your heart, and God will, according to that will, certainly give you strength from
His dear grace. (9) You need only will it, and let God do the work. (10) Have trust in
His help: you will neither ask for nor undertake anything good that He will not
carry out. (11) Always pray for His grace, and overcome with its help the same
weak nature that drags you into slavery, and miserably casts so many into the muck.

(1) And the king will desire your beauty. (2) “And then,” says David, “the king will
desire your beauty.” (3) The King of all kings desires you as a lover. (4) And you
then, blessed maiden, who are assigned to him with the mark of maidenhood, do
not ever break that seal which seals you both together. (5) Keep your name
through which you are wedded to Him, and never lose for a desire and for the
worthless delight of a moment that same thing which may never be recovered. (6)
Maidenhood is that treasure that once it be lost, may never be found; maidenhood
is that blossom that, once it be fully cut, never sprouts afterward. (7) Although
it withers sometimes with wandering thoughts, it can still grow green afterward. (8)
Maidenhood is that star that, once it goes down from the east into the west, will
never after will rise again; maidenhood is that one gift given to you from Heaven.
(9) Throw it away once, and you will never recover any other like it, for
maidenhood is the queen of Heaven and the world’s redemption, through which
we are saved, strength over all strengths and of all things most pleasing to Christ.
(10) Therefore you ought, maiden, to guard it so dearly, for it is so great a thing
and so very beloved to God and so praiseworthy, and that one loss that is without
recovery. (11) It is no wonder if it is beloved to God who is Himself so similar, for
he is the loveliest thing and without any breach, and ever was and is clean above
all things, and over all things loves cleanness. (12) And what is a lovelier thing
and more praiseworthy among earthly things than the might of maidenhood,
without breach and clean, resembling Himself, who makes from an earthly man
and woman an angel of Heaven, from the churl a servant, from the foe a friend,
help from that which harms you? (13) Our flesh is our foe and hurts us and harms
us as often as it befouls us, but if it keeps itself clean without breach, then it is a
very good friend for us and the help of a true servant. (14) For in it and through
it you deserve, maiden, to be the equal of angels in the eternal bliss of Heaven,
and with good reason, when you lead their life in your frail flesh without breach.
(15) Angel and maiden are equal in virtue through the might of maidenhood,
though holiness may still part and separate them. (16) And though their
maidenhood may be more blessed now, yours takes more strength to guard, and
will be rewarded with a greater gift to you. (17) This power is that one that
in this mortal life shows in it one state of the immortal bliss in that blessed land,
where bride does not take bridegroom nor bridegroom bride, and teaches here
on earth, in its own way of life, the life of Heaven, and in this world that is called
the “land of unlikeness,” keeps to its original nature in likeness of heavenly
nature, although it is an exile from there and in a body of clay, and in a beast’s
body lives almost like an angel of Heaven. (18) Is not this power, over everything
else, very worthy of praise? (19) This is yet the virtue that holds our frail vessel,
that is, our feeble flesh as Saint Paul teaches, in complete holiness. (20) And as
that sweet and most precious ointment above all others, which is called balm,
protects that dead body that is anointed with it from rotting, so does maidenhood
keep the maiden’s flesh alive without corruption. (21) It also guards her limbs and
her five senses (sight and hearing, tasting and smelling, and each limbs’
sensation) so that those upon whom God has bestowed so much love through His
grace do not come to harm nor dissolve, through bodily desires, into fleshly filth,
and so that they are not like those about whom it is written by the prophet in this
way, that they rotted in their dung as do boars — that is, every wife who is thrall
to her husband and lives in dung, he and she both. (22) But by this it does not
mean that they rot in there if they lawfully keep their marriage, but the same
sorry wretches who wallow unwedded in the foul dung are the beasts of the Devil,
who rides them and spurs them to do all that he wishes. (23) These wallow in
dung and rot in there until they arise through repentance and heal themselves
with true confession and with penance.

(1) Blessed maiden, understand in what high dignity the might of maiden-
hood holds you. (2) But the higher you stand, the more sorely you should be
afraid to fall, for the higher the degree, the worse the fall. (3) The envious Devil
sees you risen so high towards Heaven through maidenhood’s might. (4) That
might is most loathsome to him, for through our Lady’s maidenhood — who first
began it, the maiden Mary — he lost the lordship over humankind on earth, and
Hell was robbed and Heaven will be filled. (5) He sees you follow in her footsteps,
maiden, and go as did she who offered her maidenhood first to our Lord, at the
time when He chose her among all women to be His mother and through her
maidenhood to redeem humankind. (6) Now the old fiend beholds you and sees
you stand so high in this might — like her and her Son, as an angel in Heaven,
in maidenhood’s honor! — and he swells from rage and shoots his arrows night
and day, dipped in a poisonous ointment, towards your heart to wound you with a
weak will and make you fall — may Christ forbid it! (7) And ever the more strongly
you stand against him, the more madly he attacks in wrath and in rage, for it seems
to him so much more shameful to be overcome, that a thing as feeble as the flesh is
(and namely of a woman) should surpass him. (8) Each fleshly wish and desire for
lechery that arises in the heart is this fiend’s arrow, but it wounds you not at all unless
it fastens inside you and remains so long that you wish that your desire were out in
action. (9) While your wit stands firm and controls your will, though your desire is
inclined to that which would be pleasing to you, it neither harms you at all nor soils
your soul, for wit is its shield under God’s grace. (10) While the shield is
whole — that is, the judgment of your reason — so that it neither breaks nor
bends, though your fleshly will is false under it and would do as it desired, this
fiend’s arrows all fly back on himself.

(1) And look well why: our body’s lust is this fiend’s foster-child, our wit is
God’s daughter, and both are within us. (2) Therefore here there is always battle
and must always be out of necessity, for the war between them never ceases while
we dwell here. (3) But well it is for him who follows Wit, God’s daughter, for she
stands with Maidenhood who is our sister. (4) But your Will, on the other hand,
out of that bodily lust, stands with Lechery who, as she is, is the devil’s child, and
Sin her mother. (5) Lechery wages war upon Maidenhood in this way with the
help of fleshly will: her first help is sight. (6) If you look often and intently upon
any man, right away Lechery readies herself with that to wage war on your
maidenhood, and she first advances on her face to face. (7) Speech is her other
help. (8) If after that you then speak together foolishly and talk about silly things,
Lechery speaks shame about the power of your maidenhood and reviles her
scandalously and threatens to put her to shame and to harm her thereafter, and
she keeps her vow. (9) For as soon as the kiss comes forth (which is her third
help), then Lechery spits at Maidenhood in the face to her shame and to her
disgrace. (10) The fourth help to besmear and mar Maidenhood is indecent
touching. (11) Guard her then, for if you then handle each other improperly in
any place, then Lechery smites upon the might of Maidenhood and wounds her
terribly. (12) That dreary deed in the end gives the death-blow — alas, what a pity!
(13) Maidenhood never revives after that wound. (14) Alas! Whoever then sees
how upset the angels are who see their sister so sorrowfully overthrown, and the
devils hop and, leering, clap their hands together — stony would be his heart if
he did not dissolve into tears!

(1) Guard yourself, blessed maiden. (2) It is said that opportunity makes a
thief. (3) Flee all those things and shun earnestly that from which irremediable
loss can arise in this way. (4) That is, first of all the place and the time that might
lead you to do amiss. (5) Against other vices you may fight standing, but against
lechery you must turn your back if you wish to overcome it and fight it with flight.
(6) And truly if you think and behold on high toward the great reward that awaits
maidenhood, you will take it lightly and blithely bear the difficulty that you
endure concerning your fleshly will and your body’s lust, which you shun here and
give up for a time, in exchange for the bliss that comes from it without any end.
(7) And what is this bliss? (8) Lo, God Himself says through the prophet: “Those
who have cut out the flesh’s lusts from themselves and hold My Sabbath,” (that is:
“keep themselves in rest from that fleshly deed and keep their promise to Me”),
“I promise,” he says, “to give them a place in My kingdom and a better name than
sons and daughters.”

(1) Who could wish for more? (2) The eunuch who keeps my Sabbaths, etc. (3) Who
can imagine the happiness, the joy, and the bliss, the eminence of this reward that
this same short word contains? (4) “I will,” He says, “give them a place and a name
better than sons and daughters.” (5) Wondrous promise! (6) But it is like the one
that is promised to them, to sing with the angels (whose fellows they are through
the lifestyle of Heaven though still they dwell there, bodily, on earth): to sing that
sweet song and that angels’ music, especially joyful — which no saint can do but
a maiden only — to sing in Heaven, and to follow God almighty, full of every
good, wherever He goes as those others cannot, though they are all His sons and
all His daughters. (7) And none of these others’ crowns, nor their beauty, nor
their clothes can compare to theirs, so immeasurably bright they are and shining
to look upon.

(1) And what will be their only song, and after God their only course, where
so ever He turns, and their fortune, so fair before all the others? (2) Understand
and take heed: their entire song in Heaven is to praise God for His grace and for
His goodness. (3) The wedded thank Him that they, at least, when they all would
fall downward, did not fall down with everyone because wedlock protected them
— the same law that God established for the weak. (4) For well did our Lord know
that not everyone could hold themselves high in the might of maidenhood, but
said when he spoke of it: Not all take that word. (5) “Not everyone may receive,”
said he, “this same word.” (6) He who is able to take it may take it. (7) “Who so may
receive it, receive it, I advise,” said He. (8) One is what God orders and another
is what he advises. (9) The one who wants to be saved must keep to the same
things that God commands, and those are shared by all living people alike. (10) His
counsels are about lofty matters and for his dearest friends (the few in this world)
and are difficult to fulfill, though easy for whoever has the proper love for Him and
true belief. (11) But whoever keeps to them earns an overflowing cup for himself,
and an overrunning measure of heavenly reward. (12) Such is the counsel of
maidenhood, which God does not order but advises for whoever wishes to be
among the few of his dearest friends, and, as his dear darling, to follow his
counsel and earn for himself a crown above crowns. (13) Also, Saint Paul gives
advice to maidens that maidens should be as he was, and says that it is well for
them who can keep themselves so; and he does not order it in any other way, for
always the more dear a thing is, the harder it is to guard it, and if it were ordered
and then not kept the breach would be a deadly sin. (14) Therefore, wedlock was
made lawful in Holy Church as a bed for the sick, to catch the weak who can not
stand on the high hill and so near Heaven as can the might of maidenhood.

(1) This, then, is their song, who are in the law of wedlock: to thank and to
praise God and that he at least prepared for them, when they would have gone from
the high place of maidenhood, such a place to descend to, so that, though they were
brought low, they would not be hurt; and however they hurt themselves in there
they healed with almsdeeds. (2) This, then, the wedded sing, that they, through
God’s pity and the mercy of His grace, though they fell downward, in wedlock they
stopped and in the bed of His law softly landed. (3) For whoever falls so from
maidenhood’s strength that wedlock’s woven bed may not catch them, so terrifyingly
they fall down to the earth that they are entirely dismembered, both joint and flesh.
(4) These will never sing the song in Heaven but will sing songs of lamentation
evermore in Hell, unless repentance raises them to life and heals them with true
confession and with penance; for if they are thus quickened and made whole, they
are in the widows’ circle and will sing in the widows’ circle before the wedded in
Heaven. (5) That, then, is their song: to praise their Lord and thank him earnestly
that His power holds them chaste in purity after they have tested the flesh’s filth
and allowed them to atone for their sins in this world.

(1) Sweet are these songs, but the maiden’s song is entirely unlike those,
shared with angels, the song over all the songs in Heaven. (2) In their circle, there
God Himself and His dear mother — the dear Maiden, the heavenly queen —
lead in that blessed company of shining maidens. (3) No one but they may dance
or sing, for that is always their song, to thank and to praise God that He gave to
them so much grace of Himself that they forsook for him every earthly man and
kept themselves clean forever from fleshly filth in the body and in the heart, and
in place of a man of earth they took the Lord of life, the King of high bliss,
because he honors them so much above all the others as the bridegroom does his
wedded spouse.

(1) This song no one but they may sing. (2) All (as I said before) follow our
Lord, and yet not entirely, for in the honor of maidenhood and in its power none
may follow Him, nor that blessed Maiden, the angels’ lady and maidens’ glory,
except for maidens alone. (3) And therefore their appearance is so bright and so
shining above all others that they go next to God where ever he turns. (4) And all
those who rejoice in Heaven are crowned with the champions’ crown, but the
maidens, in addition to that which is shared by all equally, have a diadem shining
brighter than the sun called, “aureola” in the language of Latin. (5) To tell of the
nature of the flowers that are drawn on it, or the gems in it, there is no man’s
speech. (6) Thus, many privileges show very clearly which ones there are the maidens
and with many honors distinguish them from the others, world without end.

(1) Of these three states (maidenhood and widowhood, and wedlock is the
third) you may, by the degrees of their bliss, know what and by how much the one
surpasses the others. (2) For wedlock has a thirty-fold fruit in Heaven, widowhood
sixty-fold. (3) Maidenhood, with a hundred-fold, surpasses both. (4) See then by
this: whoever descends into wedlock from her maidenhood, by how many degrees
she falls downwards; she is lifted toward Heaven one hundred degrees while she
keeps her maidenhood, as the fruit proves, and she leaps into wedlock — that is,
down lower to the thirtieth — over three twenties and yet more by ten. (5) Is this
not, at one time, a great leap downward? (6) And yet, it is to be endured and God
has decreed it (as I said before) since if anyone who leapt and did not stop there
at least, there would be nothing nearby that would catch him, and he would fall
downward headlong without protection deep into Hell. (7) Of these ones there
is nothing to say for they are scraped out of the book of life in Heaven.

(1) But let us show yet more clearly (as we promised before) what the wedded
suffer, from that you may know by that how joyfully you can live, maiden, in your
maidenhood over what they live — in addition to the mirth and the glory of Heaven
that no mouth can tell. (2) Now you are wedded, and descended from so high to so
low: from the angels’ equal, from Jesus Christ’s lover, from a lady in Heaven, into
flesh’s filth, into a beast’s life, into a man’s slavery, and into the world’s misery. (3)
Say now — for what fruit, and mostly for what reason — is it completely for this
reason, or partly, for this? (4) Reveal the truth now! (5) To cool your lust with the
filth of your body? (6) By God, it is disgusting to think about that, and to speak
about it yet more disgusting. (7) See then what that same thing is and what it
is to do the deed. (8) All that foul delight is sated with filth as you turn your hand,
but that loathsome sin lingers and lasts on, and the grief from it long afterward; and
the unholy whores who unlawfully practice it have within an inward Hell: for that
transitory lust endless pain unless they leave it and bitterly atone for it on earth in
penance. (9) Scorn to do that, which seems evil to you and disgusting to hear about;
for when it is such — and much more loathsome than any respectable mouth may
speak of for shame — what makes it loved among beastly men except for their great
viciousness? (10) That incites them, like beasts, to everything that they desire, as
though they had no wit in them nor the ability — as a person has — to tell the
difference between both good and evil, seemly and unseemly, no more than do the
beasts, which have dumb snouts!

(1) But less than beasts yet, for those follow their instinct (although they are
without wit) at one time of the year. (2) Many a one keeps itself to one mate and will
not, after its loss, ever take another. (3) And man, who should have wit and should
do everything that he does after its wish, follows that filth every time and takes one
after another, and many (which is worse) take many together. (4) See now how this
vice does not only just compare you to witless beasts, dumb and hunch-backed,
bowed towards the earth — you who are wrought in God’s likeness in the mind, and
with an upright body and head uplifted towards Heaven, because you should hold
your heart towards Heaven where your heritage is, and scorn the earth — take heed
how this vice does not only make you equal and similar to them, but makes you
much more horrible and more blameworthy, you who pervert yourself, willingly and
readily into their kind. (5) Whoever then loses so lofty a thing — the might and
the advantage of maidenhood’s honor — for so foul a filth as is shown above,
whoever falls from an angel to become lower than a beast for such a bad bargain,
look at how she prospers!

(1) “No,” you will say, “it is not at all for that filth. (2) But a man’s strength
is worth a great deal, and I need his help for sustenance and for food. (3) From
the union of wife and husband the world’s happiness awakens, and a line of fair
children who give much joy to the parents.” (4) Now you have said so and think
that you have said the truth, but I will show that it is all glossed over with
falsehood. (5) But first of all, whatever happiness or joy so comes from there, it is
too dearly bought that you soil yourself for it and give your bare body to be ill-
treated so terribly and be dealt with so shamefully, with such an irrecoverable loss
as is the honor and the reward of maidenhood, for worldly profit. (6) Cursed be
that bargain, to sell off maidenhood, the queen of Heaven, in exchange for any
passing pleasure! (7) For just as there is no recovering from this loss, so every
thing of worth is worthless in comparison.

(1) You say that the wife has much comfort of her husband if they are well-
matched, and either is in all ways satisfied with the other. (2) Yes, but it is seldom seen
on earth. (3) Though their comfort and their delight be like this now, what is in it
mostly but the flesh’s filth or the world’s vanity, which all come to sorrow and to pain
in the end? (4) And not only in the end but always, for many things will anger and
annoy them and cause them to worry, and to grieve and to sigh for each other’s
misfortunes. (5) Many things will separate them, and death’s blow, which is
hateful to loving people, in the end will part one from the other, so that there is
no way that comfort will not end in grief. (6) And always the more their joy was
together, the more painful is the sorrow at their parting. (7) Woe to him,
therefore, as Saint Augustine says, who is tied to any earthly thing with too much
love, for always will sweetness be paid for with two parts of bitterness, and a false
joy with many true sorrows. (8) But it is well for her who loves God, for she may
not in any way (unless she lies to Him and leaves His love) ever lose Him, but will
find Him ever sweeter and more savory from world into world, forever into

(1) You speak above of a man’s help for sustenance and for food. (2) Look
here: A meek maiden as you are and the dear lover of Him who is Lord of all
things, you need worry little about your own sustenance that he cannot easily, that
he will not gladly, generously provide you all that you need. (3) And if you had
want or suffered any hardship for His dear love, as the other does for a man’s, He
allows it for your benefit to test whether you are true, and he prepares your
reward manifold in Heaven. (4) Subject to a man’s help you will be sorely
troubled for his and for the world’s love, which are both treacherous, and you will
lie awake in many worries not only for yourself (as God’s spouse should) but for
many others, as often for the loathsome as often for the beloved, and you will be
more oppressed than any drudge in the house or any hired hand, and will get
your own share with misery and will pay for it bitterly. (5) Little of this do the
blessed spouses of God know who, in such pleasant ease without such trouble,
in spiritual bliss and in peace of mind, love the true Love and lead their lives in
His service alone. (6) It is well enough for them here but different elsewhere. (7)
All the world’s joy is abundant enough for them. (8) They have all from there that
they well wish for: God sees to everything that will ever benefit them. (9) Nor may
any worldly misfortune deprive them of their joy for they are rich and well-off within
the heart. (10) All the joy and comfort is there, whereas the others are impoverished
and gnawed at by worry, however much they have, because they are always afraid to
lose it, and still they itch for a great deal more. (11) With misery they obtain it; with
fear they guard it; with sorrow they lose it. (12) They work to gain it; they gain it
to lose it; they lose it to grieve for it. (13) Thus this world’s wheel whirls them
about. (14) Thieves steal it from them; raiders rob it. (15) Their overlords punish
them and make them angry. (16) The moth eats up the clothes and pestilence slays
the livestock, and though none of these things may make wealth perish where there
is much of it; always the more there is, the more there are who waste it. (17) And
I never know why it is said that they have everything, who, will they or nill they,
win it and guard it for so many others, not only for their friends but for their
absolute enemies. (18) They can not have anything from that — though they had
sworn to have it — except for their own portion. (19) This is now said because you
said above that there would arise from the union of husband and wife riches and
the world’s happiness, so that you may understand how little it helps them yet here
in this world, apart from the fact that it robs from them the high kingdom of
Heaven unless they are inwardly poor with holiness of heart.

(1) This, woman — if you have a husband for your desire, and happiness also
in world’s joy — shall certainly happen to you. (2) And what if they are missing
for you, so that you have neither your desire with him nor wealth, and will grieve
impoverished within empty walls, and to lack of bread breed your offspring, and
besides this, will lie under the most loathsome man, who, though you had every kind
of wealth, he turns it into suffering? (3) For suppose now that for you riches are plen-
tiful, and your wide walls proud and prosperous, and you have many servants
under you in hall, and yet your husband is angry with you, or becomes loathsome
to you so that either of you both are angry with the other — what worldly wealth
may be a joy to you? (4) When he is out you have terrible anxiety and dread about
his return. (5) While he is at home all your wide walls seem to you too narrow. (6) His
gazing on you frightens you. (7) His loathly noise and his wanton uproar make
you frightened. (8) He chides you and nags you and shamefully disgraces you, ill-
treats you insultingly as a lecher does his whore, beats you and buffers you as his
purchased thrall and his born slave. (9) Your bones ache and your flesh smarts, your
heart within you swells from bitter anger and on the outside your face burns with rage.
(10) What will the joining between you in bed be like? (11) Even those who love
each other best often quarrel in there, though they do not show it in the morning,
and often, however well they love each other, they bitterly irritate each other over
many nothings when they are by themselves. (12) She must endure his will greatly
against her will — however much she loves him — often with great misery. (13)
All his foulnesses and his indecent love play however filled with filth they may be
(in bed, that is!), she must, will she nill she, endure them all.

(1) May Christ shield every maiden against asking or wanting to know what
they are, for those who experience them the most find them the most hateful, and
they call those blessed indeed who never know what they are, and hate those who
practice it. (2) But whoever lies deeply sunk in the swamp will not rise out of it when
he wants to, though it seems wretched. (3) Look, blessed woman: once the knot
of wedlock is knotted, be he idiot or cripple, be he what so ever he may be, you
must stay with him. (4) If you are fair and speak to everyone pleasantly with glad
cheer, you will not be able to protect yourself in any way against slander or nasty
gossip. (5) If you are base and bad-tempered you may — both to others and to
your husband — become more worthless. (6) If you become worthless to him and he
just as worthless to you, or if you love him very much and he thinks little of you,
it grieves you so much that you will quickly enough (as many do) make poison for
him and give misery in remedy’s place; or, she who does not want to do so will
traffic with witches and forsake Christ and her Christianity and true belief in
order to draw his love to her. (7) Now what bliss may she enjoy who loves her
husband well and has his hatred or wins his love in such a way?

(1) When should I have accounted for everything that arises between those
who are joined in this way? (2) If she cannot conceive she is called barren. (3) Her
lord her loves and respects her the less, and she, as she that has the worst thereof,
bewails her fate and calls those women happy and joyful who bear their children.

(1) But now, say it happens that she has all her desire for a child that she
wishes for; and let us look at what happiness she gets from that: in the conceiving
of that, her flesh is at once soiled with that filth (as it has been shown before); in the
carrying of it, there is always heaviness and hard pain; in its birth the strongest of all
stabbing pains and sometimes death; in its upbringing many a weary hour. (2) As soon
as it comes into this life it brings with it more worry than joy, especially to the mother.
(3) For if it is born deformed — as it often happens — and lacks any of its limbs or
some other misfortune, it is sorrowful for her and shame to all its kin, scorn for evil
mouths, a tale among all. (4) If it is well born and seems fully vigorous, fear of its loss
is at the same time born with it; for she is never without worry lest it come to harm,
until either of those two first loses the other. (5) And often it happens that that dearest
and most bitterly paid for child upsets and grieves his parents the most in the end. (6)
Now what joy does the mother have, who from that deformed child has both sorrow
and shame, and fear for that healthy one until she loses it?

(1) By God, even if it were not ever for love of God, nor for hope of Heaven, nor
for fear of Hell, you ought, woman, for your flesh’s wholeness, for your body’s love,
and your body’s health, shun that deed over everything. (2) For as Saint Paul says,
each sin that one does is outside the body except for this alone. (3) All the other sins
are nothing but sins, but this is sin, and also mars you and degrades your body, soils
your soul and makes you guilty before God and also fouls your flesh. (4) You are
guilty on two sides. (5) You anger the All-Ruler with that filthy sin and you do harm
to yourself, in that you entirely willingly mistreated yourself so shamefully. (6) Let us
now go further and look at what joy arises thereafter in the carrying of the child, when
that offspring in you awakens and grows, and how many miseries awaken at
once with that, which work woe enough for you, fight against your own flesh and
make war upon your own nature with many miseries. (7) Your rosy face will grow
lean and become green as grass. (8) Your eyes will grow dim and will darken
underneath, and from your brain’s turning your head aches sorely. (9) Inside, in
your womb, a swelling in your belly that puffs you up like a water-skin, your bowels’
pain and stitches in your side, and pain in your aching loins, heaviness in every
limb, your breast’s burden of your two paps, and the streams of milk that flow from
them. (10) Your beauty is completely ruined with wilting, your mouth is bitter, and
all that you chew nauseating. (11) And what food your stomach scornfully accepts
(that is, with distaste) it casts out again. (12) In the middle of all your happiness
and your husband’s joy you degenerate into a wretch. (13) The worries about your
labor pains deprive you of sleep at night. (14) Then when it comes to it, that sore
sorrowful anguish, that strong and stabbing stitch, that nonstop suffering, that
pain above pain, that restless wailing, while you labor with it and with fear of your
death, shame along with the pain, with the shameful craft of the old women who
know about that painful experience, and whose help you need, however indecent
it may be; and you must suffer it all, whatever happens to you then.

(1) Do not consider any of this evil, for we do not at all blame wives for their mis-
eries, which all our mothers suffered for ourselves, but we put them forward to
warn maidens so that they seek such a thing less eagerly and may know better,
through this, what they should do.

(1) After all this there comes, from that child born in this way, wailing and
weeping which will wake you up around midnight, or the one who takes your place
(for whom you have to care). (2) And, look! — the filth in the cradle and sometimes
in your lap, to swaddle it and feed it for so many weary hours, and its growth so
sluggish, and so slow its thriving! (3) And ever to have intense worry and to
anticipate when, after all this, it could die, and bring upon its mother sorrow upon
sorrow. (4) Though you may be rich and have a nurse you must, as a mother, worry
about everything that falls to her to do.

(1) These and other miseries which arise from wedlock Saint Paul expresses
in few words: The tribulations of the flesh, et cetera. (2) That is in English: “those that
are like this will endure hardship.” (3) Whoever thinks on all this, and on more
that there is, and will not avoid that deed from which it all arises, she is more
hardhearted than a stone of adamant and madder (if she may be) than madness
itself. (4) Her own foe and her fiend, she hates herself.

(1) Little does the maiden know of all this same misery: of the wife’s woe
with her husband, nor of their deed — so disgusting! — that they do together, nor
of that pain nor of that grief in the carrying of a child and birth, of the nurse’s
vigils, nor of her woeful times in the raising of that child, how much food she
should stuff into his mouth at one time, neither to bespatter it nor its baby
clothes. (2) Although these are unworthy things to speak of, they show all the
more what slavery wives are in, who must endure them, and in what freedom
maidens are in, who are free from them all. (3) And what if I ask yet — although
it may seem silly — how it goes for that wife who, when she comes in, hears her
child scream, sees the cat at the flitch and the hound at the hide, her cake burning
on the stone and her calf sucking, the crock running into the fire, and the churl
chides her? (4) Though it may be silly to say, it ought, maiden, to urge you more
strongly away from it, for it does not seem silly at all to her who experiences it!
(5) Nor does that blessed maiden, who has entirely escaped such slavery as God’s
free daughter and his Son’s spouse, need to endure anything of such things.

(1) Therefore, blessed maiden, forsake all such sorrow for surpassing reward
which you ought to do without any compensation, for now I have kept my promise
above: that I would show that what many a one says to you (and it seems that it is
true) about the happiness and the success which the wedded have, is glossed over with
falsehood, and that it does not at all fare so as she who sees from outside thinks, but
it fares entirely otherwise, both for the poor and the rich, for both those who hate
and those who love, so that everywhere the woe surpasses the joy, and the loss
entirely surpasses all the gain.

(1) Now then, blessed maiden, whom David calls “daughter”: hear your father
and listen to his counsel, which he advised you in the beginning of this treatise. (2)
“Forget your folk,” who lie to you about the joy of husbands and the world, which
are your thoughts which deceitfully incite you towards every woe. (3) And “forsake
your father’s house,” as it is explained above, and commit yourself to Him truly. (4)
With Him you shall possess — as with your wedded husband — the world without
end, heavenly joy. (5) Blessed is his spouse, whose maidenhood is unmarred when
He procreates with her; and when she gives birth by Him she neither
toils nor suffers. (6) Blessed is the Husband when no one may be a maiden unless
she loves Him, or free unless she serves Him, whose offspring is immortal and
whose morning-gift is the kingdom of Heaven. (7) Now then, blessed maiden, if
wealth is dear to you, take to yourself Him as Lord who possesses all that is and
was and ever will be. (8) For though He may be richest of all by Himself over all,
the poorest of all who chooses Him as a husband is well pleasing to Him. (9) If
what you desire is a husband who has great beauty, take Him at whose beauty
both the sun and the moon marvel, upon whose face the angels are never weary
of looking. (10) For when he gives fairness to all that is fair in Heaven and in
earth, He has kept back, beyond calculation, much more for Himself. (11) And
even though He is the fairest of all things, he happily receives and sweetly
embraces the loathsomest of all and makes them seven times brighter than the

(1) If children are dear to you, commit yourself to Him with whom you will,
in your maidenhood, bear daughters and sons of a spiritual progeny, who never
die, and never can, but will always play before you in Heaven, which are
the virtues that He begets upon you through His sweet grace, such as
righteousness and vigilance against vices, measure and moderation and spiritual
strength to withstand the fiend and against sin, modesty of manner, obedience
and silence, patience and pity for every person’s sorrow, gladness in the Holy
Ghost and peace in your heart from envy and from wrath, from covetousness and
from the attack of every vice, meekness and mildness and sweetness
of heart, which belongs — best of all things — to maidenhood’s
might. (2) This is the maiden’s family, God’s Son’s spouse, which will live forever and
play without end before her in Heaven.

(1) But although you, maiden, may be without breach of your body, if you have
pride, envy, or wrath, avarice, or weak will inside in your heart, — you whore yourself
with the fiend of Hell, and he begets on you the offspring which you bear. (2) When
your all powerful Husband, to whom you wed yourself, sees and understands this, that
his foe lies with you, and that by him you are breeding what is to Him the most
loathsome of broods, He shuts you out at once (as it is no wonder!) and declares you
completely free to go to him with whom you are breeding. (3) He does not go halves
with anyone, and least of all with his foe. (4) Whoever loves aught but Him — and
whatever they love instead of Him — enrages him greatly.

(1) Above all things, guard yourself so you do not beget pride by copulation with
this devil, for she of all vices is his eldest daughter. (2) She first sprang from him while
he was still in Heaven, almost the same age as him, and, as soon as she was born, she
cast her father, irrecoverably, from the highest Heaven into the deep of Hell,
and made from the high angel the most hateful devil. (3) If she cast down her
heavenly father like this, what will she do to her earthly mothers who breed her in
whoredom with that loathly Fiend, the hellish devil? (4) When God so vengefully con-
demned His archangel who spawned her in Heaven, what will He do to that earth and
worms’ food that breeds her in adultery by the Devil on earth? (5) If you have, along
with maidenhood, meekness and mildness, God is in your heart, but if there is
arrogance or any pride inside, He is an outlaw from there, for in no way can they live
together in a single heart, when they could not dwell together at all in Heaven.
(6) God cast her out of there as soon as she was born, and as though she did not
know which way she came from there, she could never afterwards find a way back,
but living here on earth she promises an eternal dwelling place for all her
mothers, although they are maidens, with her accursed father in innermost Hell.

37(1) Guard yourself, maiden, against her. (2) She quickened from a pure
nature, as it is in the nature of an angel, and the cleanest hearts breed her still.
(3) She assails the best, and she, who overcame an angel, may dare well hope to
be a champion over a person. (4) She is not found in clothes or adornment on the
outside (though it may be the mark of her and sometimes the marking), but
under white or black, and as much under gray as under green cloth, and she
always lies hidden in the heart. (5) As soon as you consider yourself better than
another, for whatever reason it may be, and have disdain for anyone, and consider
unreasonable and contemptible anything that someone says or does to you, you
mar your maidenhood and break your marriage to God and give birth by his enemy.

38(1) Although you are a maiden, do not consider widows and the wedded
worthless. (2) For just as a carbuncle is better than a jacinth in the quality of their
nature, and though a bright jacinth is better than a dull carbuncle, so the maiden,
with respect to the might of maidenhood, surpasses widows and the wedded, and
nevertheless a mild wife or a meek widow is better than a proud maiden. (3) For
these, because of their sins which they follow or practice in filth of the flesh,
consider themselves lowly and worthless, and are sorely afraid of God’s terrible
wrath; and, like the blessed sinner Mary Magdalene, they repent their sins with
bitter weeping and more ardently love God, just as she did, because of their
forgiveness. (4) And the others, who consider themselves free from guilt and pure,
are certainly lazy and lukewarm. (5) Scarcely do they live in God’s love, without
any heat of the Holy Ghost which burns so bright without consuming, a fire in all
His chosen. (6) And the others, in the heat of one moment, are melted and
refined more in God than the others in a state of indifference all their lifetimes.

39(1) Therefore, blessed maiden, spouse of God’s Son, do not be too trusting
in your maidenhood alone without other good and virtuous strengths and above
all, mildness and meekness of heart, after the example of that blessed maiden
above all others, Mary, mother of God. (2) For when the archangel Gabriel
greeted her and brought to her tidings of God’s incarnation, look how lowly she
considered herself, when she answered thus of herself. (3) “According to your
word,” said she, “may it happen to me. (4) Lo, here is my Lord’s servant.” (5) And
though she was full of all good virtues she spoke only of her meekness and sang
to Elizabeth. (6) “Because my Lord saw the meekness of His handmaid, all
peoples,” said she “will call me blessed.” (7) Take heed, maiden, and understand
by this that she thought that she obtained such grace from our Lord more for her
meekness than for her maidenhood. (8) For all maidenhood, meekness is worth
much, and maidenhood without it is cheap and worthless; for a maiden in
maidenhood without meekness is like oil in an unlit lamp.

40(1) Blessed spouse of God, hold this same power so that you do not seem dark
but shine like the sun in the sight of your Husband. (2) Adorn your maidenhood
with all good virtues that seem lovely to Him. (3) Hold ever in your heart the most
blessed of maidens and maidenhood’s mother, and beseech her always to
enlighten you and to give you love and strength to follow her virtues in
maidenhood. (4) Think of Saint Katherine, of Saint Margaret, Saint Agnes, Saint
Juliana, and Saint Cecilia, and of the other holy maidens in Heaven: how they not
only forsook the sons of kings and earls, with all worldly wealth and earthly
pleasures, but suffered strong torments and a cruel death in the end before they
would accept them. (5) Think how well it is now for them and how they rejoice for
that in between God’s arms, queens of Heaven. (6) And if it ever happens that
your body’s lust — through the false fiend — should incite you towards fleshly
filth, answer in your thought thus: “It helps you not at all, traitor! (7) I will be, in
a maiden’s life, just like an angel in Heaven. (8) I will keep myself whole through
the grace of God, as nature made me, so that the bliss of Paradise may receive me
fully, just like its first shepherds were before they sinned. (9) I will be completely
like my dear Lover is, my precious Lord, and like that blessed maiden whom He
chose as His mother. (10) Justly so I will keep myself truly unblemished, as I am
wedded to Him, and I will not, for the lust of a little while (though it may seem
a delight) cast away that thing whose loss I will bewail as irrecoverable and pay for
with eternal fire in Hell. (11) You crafty foul creature! (12) All for nothing you
prick me to commit sin and to forgo the bliss upon bliss, the crown upon crown
of a maiden’s reward, and willingly and voluntarily cast myself as a wretch into
your punishment in hell for fornication, and instead of that song of the angels
about maidenhood’s honor, to cry out and groan with you and yours forever in
the eternal terror of Hell.”

41(1) If you answer thus to your body’s lust and to the Fiend’s temptation he will
flee from you with shame. (2) And if after all this he perhaps resists and continues
to afflict your flesh and prick your heart, then your Lord God allows him to do so,
to increase your reward. (3) For as Saint Paul says: “no one is crowned except for
whoever truly fights in such a fight and with a great struggle overcomes herself.”
(4) For then the Devil is shamefully overthrown with his own trick when, as the
Apostle says, you will not be crowned unless you are assailed. (5) If God desires to
crown you, He will allow the Fiend to assail you thoroughly so that, through that, you
may earn the champion’s crown. (6) Therefore, it is the best for you when he
grieves you the most and more madly makes war against you with temptation if
you take cover well under God’s wings. (7) For through his attack he prepares you
(damn his teeth!) for the bliss and the crown of Christ’s chosen ones.

42(1) And, Jesus Christ, grant to her through Your blessed name, and to all
those who leave the love of an earthly man to be His lover, and grant to them that
their hearts keep to Him so that neither the urging of their flesh, nor the fiend’s
temptation, nor any of his earthly followers neither trouble their mind nor wrench
them out of the path they have walked on, and so help them to ascend toward
Heaven in Him, until they have arisen to where their marriage will be, in all that
ever is good, to sit forever with that blessed Bridegroom from whom everything
good is derived. (2) AMEN.

Go To Sawles Warde (The Guardianship of the Soul)