Back to top

Early South English Legendary Life of Mary Magdalen


1 I will not tell or teach you anything about any witch or scold

2 Lines 5-6: I will not speak or recite verses to you about a king or nobleman, a knight or retainer, / But I shall tell you of a woman who was sinful and unchaste

3 Lines 10-11: If you will listen to me and have thanks from God as a result. / This word "Marie" stands for brightness and signifies the star of the sea

4 For when a person feels in his heart that he has greatly sinned

5 What had been dear and comfortable to her was afterwards her great enemy

6 She was courteous and compassionate, and she was a blessed child

7 Lines 26-28: Of halls and of bedchambers, of saddle horses and of warhorses. / Generous they were with their food to them that had need, / To people of all kinds who would ask them for help

8 They divided all their landed properties into three parts

9 Lines 33-34: To endow each of their children therewith, / So that they would not quarrel when they (the parents) had departed from them

10 People soon did their duty by them

11 And with their hands divided their gold and their movable property

12 But upon [pride] was all her thought and to adorn herself beautifully

13 To go and run far and near, both noisily and quietly (i.e., in every way, place, and time)

14 There was no woman so beautiful in any land

15 "Sinful woman" people called her behind her back and to her face

16 She grew full of care and apprehensive and became sorely ashamed

17 Until our Lord came and preached everywhere in that land

18 Both [when] fasting and also [when] full (i.e., all the time), [so] that she might scarcely endure it

19 She was worried and very afraid of being seized (arrested)

20 Lines 99-101: Judas was close by and smelled it, and on that account he was nearly insane; / That sweet smell nearly killed him and grieved his cursed blood, / And [he] said to put away that rich stuff with which she was anointing our Lord

21 And [he] said, "It could be sold for a great sum, [and used] to buy a lot of food"

22 For always you will have the poor with you, but you will not have me

23 Lines 113-14: Our Lord perceived his wicked thought, but felt no fear of it: / "Simon, you imagine much without good cause. I have something to say to you"

24 Both of whom owed him payment for a very long time

25 And neither of them had any means wherewith to repay the debt

26 Lines 123-24: "Which of the two of them showed him the more love then?" / "Master, he who gave more, it seems to me, as I hope to live"

27 For since I came into your house, you kissed me not at all

28 Lines 150-51: They called it their inn and used it as their own [dwelling]; / They ate and drank whatever was on hand there

29 [And to everyone] great and small, old and young, that dwelled in their house

30 [The] Jews were proud and stern, cruel and of wicked behavior

31 And many people they put to flight who were members of Christ's body

32 They all were driven from the land with wrath and malice and enmity (hatred)

33 Lines 183-84: They found no friend (protector) there who would shelter them, / [Neither] Christian nor Jew, [neither] at night nor in the morning

34 Nor anyone, for love or for hire, from whom they could beg or borrow

35 Those who had been delivered from the sea were all very anxious to go into that place

36 Unless they had great shame and sorrow, and Jews fighting with them

37 The pagans challenged them to fight, to increase their grief

38 They were not certain whither they might flee; because of this they were seized

39 And, with threatening and with violence, to worship their (the attackers') false gods

40 Lines 206-07: For they are both deaf and dumb, and they may not see nor hear, / Nor can they help you in any respect

41 They had completely forgotten to give anything to Christ's followers

42 Neither did they have any kind of work [with which to earn food], nor would anyone lend them anything

43 Lady, it seems to me you are ungracious, because you have much property

44 Know with certainty that sorrow will afflict you very soon

45 Unless you remedy their condition soon, sorrow is all prepared for you

46 Lines 271-72: It is better that we feed and clothe Christ's people very well, / Than [that] we disregard them because of iniquity or pride

47 Lines 274-75: All that to them was needful they provided for them with love and all joy. / Then Magdalen taught them well to guard themselves from sin

48 Can you prove truly that what you preach deserves to be believed?

49 Lines 295-96: Along with us we want our kingdom to become His own, / And we will repay to His people what we have deprived them of

50 Lines 321-23: Rather than that I would even prefer to be skinned alive and remain disabled forever! / But stay you at home and rest yourself well and take charge of all our possessions. / At my home-coming may God send me good tidings about you!

51 Lines 325-26: Dear lord, put that [line of argument] aside and allow me [to accompany you]! / This sorrow itself will kill me unless you give me a remedy for it

52 Lines 328-31: Full of grief and misery she fell down and often said, "Sire, have mercy! / How could I live and be glad unless we were together? / We loved each other [when we were] so young, and now we are getting old (lit., rather grey)." / So persistently and eagerly this lady begged her lord, who was so gracious

53 The holy sign of the Cross should defend them from sorrow

54 Lines 339-40: For she was beloved and dear and pleasing to the King of Heaven, / And entrusted everything to her to guard and take care of

55 Meat of male and female deer and wild boar

56 Lines 344-45: Geese and hens, cranes and swans, and pork, mutton, and beef, / Because they had to cross the Mediterranean ("Greek Sea")

57 As the queen lay on her bed, extremely strong [birth]pangs (contractions) overcame her

58 Lines 365-68: "And now it must unavoidably die, for mother's milk it has none, / Nor do I know on any side what is best for me to do." / The shipmen ordered with stern countenance that people should not hesitate (delay) / To throw the dead queen into the sea, or else they must [all] perish

59 For if his mother may still awaken from her swoon

60 Lines 379-80: It seemed to him that it would be much more fitting to ury the body on that high hill than for fish to eat it there [in the water]

61 He [might] save my wife and my child, so that I will not be ruined

62 May God send them to Rome, for that is where they wished to go

63 May God protect you from harm, and I have prayed for that

64 Lines 424-25: When He is angry He takes vengeance, but that seldom happens; / But often a great and fierce fire grows from a little spark

65 I recount it to you as best I can, in [a] book and not in [a] dream

66 And placed Himself therein, for He was wise and [it] was very fitting for Him [so to do]

67 He was worried that he might have erred in staying there so long

68 We want to embark as soon as we can.

69 Don't be afraid, for you can do it without injury or disgrace

70 Anyone who was not glad and joyful [on such an occasion] would be a fool and unwise

71 As swiftly - for the wind was favorable - as [a] fast swallow or [an] arrow

72 If this woman could quicken again and live and move

73 Why should I hesitate to tell you about it? May the Cross reward her for it!

74 And I would be foolish indeed not to tell you how she has guarded my life

75 To come and go in his (Maximus's) presence and do what he asked them

76 The Magdalen, without difficulty, they found in ceremonial vestments there

77 Under which any animal (beast) might take refuge, in order to rest better

78 Come from the King of Heaven, that he was not supposed to see

79 Lines 573-74: He cried seriously and playfully (i.e., in all ways), "You creature (beast) in your cell, / I adjure you in the name of God to tell me about your mode of existence"

80 And he was very eager to know all about her way of life

81 In church, in hall, and in chamber, that they had never smelled anything like it anywhere

82 Lines 622-23: Mary turned, gracious in speech and without the least hint of discourtesy, / And said, "Father, why do you want to flee from your daughter? Stay, and come nearer to me!"

83 I long for absolution and the Eucharist - grant it to me soon!

84 For seven days after her burial


Abbreviations: A = Auchinleck (National Library of Scotland MS Advocates 19.2.1), fols. 62r-65v; L = Bodleian Library MS Laud Misc. 108 (SC 1486), fols. 190r-197r [base text]; T = Trinity College, Cambridge MS 605, fols. 127v-133r.

1-10 This opening uses the conventions of oral delivery, most obviously when it urges listeners to pay attention (lines 1-2 and 9-10). It also suggests that the audience it envisions is more accustomed to romances than to saints' legends - hence the mentions of typical romance subjects, such as the heroism of noblemen (line 5), which it is not going to treat.

11-16 This word "Marie . . ." This etymology of Mary's name derives, probably quite indirectly, from St. Jerome's Liber de nominibus hebraicis.

17 the Castel of Magdalé. Latin versions of this legend use the noun castellum, in this context probably meaning "town" or "village." But the anachronistic image of a late-medieval castle goes well with the other romance conventions in the ensuing account of Mary's family background: the titles given to her parents (line 20), the little catalog suggesting their royal lineage and landed wealth (lines 23-26), and their rich endowment of their children when they die (lines 30-34).

20 Sire Titus . . . Dame Euchirie. The name of Mary's father is generally given in medieval sources as "Syrus," perhaps because his supposed homeland was Syria. As David Mycoff points out, the name of Mary's mother, "Eucharia," probably comes from a Greek word for "thanksgiving" (Caxton, A Critical Edition, p. 155n51-55).

27 Large huy weren. The phrase introduces the ideal of generosity to those in need, an ideal that resembles the familiar aristocratic virtue of "noblesse" but will be extended much further in this text.

40 Is names seovene. The MED (name n. 2a. [c]) conjectures that this phrase might refer to the name "Jesus Christ" plus the six names in Isaiah 9: "Wonderful," "Counselor," etc.

47-48 the Betanie. Bethany, the town near Jerusalem mentioned in the Gospels as the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. Genezarez is presumably Gennesaret, a narrow plain bordering the Sea of Galilee, which is mentioned in other versions of the legend only in reference to the location of Magdala. Taking it as part of the family property may be a misunderstanding peculiar to this Middle English version of the legend.

53-54 The narrative suggests that Mary added to her inherited wealth by becoming a kind of high-class prostitute, whose favors were reserved for rich men who gave her lavish gifts.

55-62 This version of the legend seems to be criticizing the youthful selfishness of Lazarus as well as Mary, setting their tendency to follow their own inclinations against the better example of Martha, who responsibly looks after the family property and uses the proceeds to feed and clothe the poor people who depend on them.

79-136 The Gospels give three different accounts of the dinner or dinners at which a woman anoints Jesus with precious ointment. In Luke 7:36-50 Jesus is dining in the house of Simon the Pharisee and the woman is a penitent who washes his feet with her tears before anointing them. Since she is a well-known sinner in this account, the issue is whether Jesus should tolerate the ministrations of such a person. In Matthew 26:6-13, on the other hand, Jesus's host is called Simon the Leper, the woman (who pours the ointment over his head) is not particularly sinful, and the issue is the extravagance of her gesture, which scandalizes the disciples. The version in John 12:2-8 is much like that in Matthew except that Simon is no longer mentioned, the anonymous woman is now identified as Martha's sister Mary, and the protest comes only from Judas, who pretends the money should have gone to the poor but actually just covets it for himself.
    This version of the legend follows the account in Luke for almost all the details in lines 79-98, switches to John for Judas's protest and Jesus's response (lines 99-108), and then returns to Luke for the dialogue between Jesus and Simon (lines 109-36).

117-24 This version of the parable about the money-lender and his two debtors is significantly different from the version in the Gospel (Luke 7:41-43). There the first debtor owed ten times as much as the second and the moneylender forgave both debts, allowing Jesus to point out that the debtor who was forgiven more should logically respond with more gratitude and love to the money-lender he once feared. In the Middle English retelling here, on the other hand, the debts are said to be nearly the same size, both debtors evidently pay up when required to do so, and the lesson seems to be that the measure of one's love for God is how much one repays Him rather than how much one has been forgiven by Him. Perhaps the poet or scribe has simply misunderstood the point of the story. But the emphasis on generous human repayment of debts to God is quite consistent with the unusual focus on almsgiving that runs throughout this text.

138 seve develene. The exorcism is mentioned in Luke 8:2: "And [with Jesus were] certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities; Mary, who is called Magdalen, out of whom seven devils were gone forth, [and others]" (Douay-Rheims, Challoner rev.; all Biblical citations come from this edition).

141-46 The source behind this tradition about the healing of Martha is the story of the woman with the hemorrhage in Mark 5:25-34, Matthew 9:20-22, and Luke 8:43-48. According to Mycoff, the identification of that woman with Mary's sister Martha seems first to have been made in a sermon that was once attributed (erroneously) to St. Ambrose (Life of Saint Mary Magdalene, p. 124).

147 Lazarus was swythe sikel a man. With this opening, one expects the passage to continue with the famous Biblical story of Lazarus's death and his resurrection by Jesus (John 11:1-44); but both L and its nearest relative, T, leave that story untold and proceed instead to discuss the siblings' exemplary hospitality to Jesus and his disciples. The transition is so abrupt that one assumes there must have been an error in their common exemplar - perhaps something as simple as writing "sike" instead of "riche" because the scribe was expecting another miracle story at this point.

157 Aftur that He was iwend. Although the chronology here is not very clear, the idea seems to be that Mary was sent out to preach even during Jesus' lifetime, as the male apostles were (Mark 6:7-13; Matthew 10:1, 5-15; Luke 10:1-20). This claim would have few if any precedents, according to Mycoff (see Caxton, A Critical Edition, p. 91).

163-68 The beginning of this persecution and the martyrdom of Stephen are related in Acts 6:8-8:4. An early tradition assigned the division of the apostles and the beginning of their individual journeys as missionaries to the fourteenth (not usually the thirteenth) year after the Crucifixion.

166 that Cristes limes were. An echo of Paul's description of the Church as the body of Christ, an idea developed most fully in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27.

169 Seint Maximus. St. Maximinus or Maximin, who supposedly became the first bishop of Aix, in Provence. This was an easy name for medieval scribes to misread or miswrite because of all the minims, and the alternative forms "Maximus" and "Maximius" are quite common.

170 Sixti ant ten deciples. Other versions of the legend, including the one in the Legenda aurea, clearly identify Maximinus as one of the seventy or seventy-two disciples personally chosen by Jesus (Luke 10:1). Here he seems to be the leader of that large a group.

182 Everech of heom othur schrof. That is, they heard each others' confessions - presumably to help each other prepare for the possibility of an imminent death.

187 one olde porche. In other versions of the legend, including the Legenda aurea and its adaptations, the place where they take shelter is specifically identified as the portico of an old temple. Hence it makes sense when pagans start arriving to offer sacrifices the next morning (lines 199-200, below).

194 Sarasins. The term Saracen, which originally designated Syrian or Arabian nomads who raided the borders of the Roman Empire, was used loosely and anachronistically in medieval and early modern literature to refer to almost any kind of pagan or infidel who had ever attacked Christians. There are many additional examples in the stanzaic lives of St. Margaret and St. Katherine, below.

205 Mahun. The name Mahoun(d), a corruption of "Mohammed," was often used as the name of a pagan god in medieval texts.

Tervagaunt. The name of a fictitious deity, supposedly worshiped by pagans or Saracens.

230 Instead of attributing Mary's success as a preacher to her beauty, as this version does, her legend tends to credit her with a special kind of persuasiveness, rooted in her close, loving relationship with Jesus. The Legenda aurea, for example, gives this explanation: "All who heard her were in admiration at her beauty, her eloquence, and the sweetness of her message . . . and no wonder, that the mouth which had pressed such pious and beautiful kisses on the Savior's feet should breathe forth the perfume of the word of God more profusely than others could" (Jacobus de Voragine, trans. Ryan, 1.376-77).

247-48 The specificity of the threats here and in lines 261-62 sets this version of the scene apart from those in most other versions of the legend. More typically, Mary Magdalen just warns the prince and his wife of God's anger, leaving the nature of the threatened punishment to their (and the readers') imaginations.

255-56 Mary's startling denunciations of the prince and his wife, calling them instruments and children of the devil, suggest the depth of her anger - and God's - at their continued selfishness when Christ's people are homeless and miserable.

283-86 Her deference to Peter at this point is expressed more clearly and emphatically in the Legenda aurea version: "I am ready indeed to defend [the faith I preach]," she replied, "because my faith is strengthened by the daily miracles and preaching of my teacher Peter, who presides in Rome" (Jacobus de Voragine, trans. Ryan, 1.377).

324-30 This speech portrays the queen's position much more fully and sympathetically than is customary in other retellings of the legend. The Auchinleck version (MS A), for example, neglects to explain why she is so upset: "'For al love, leman,' sche seyd, / 'Lete now that will be doun aleyd!' / Sche wepe and crid and prayd him so / That he graunt hir with him to go" (lines 265-68). And the Legenda aurea just gives a summary that sounds quite disapproving: "But she insisted, doing as women do. She threw herself at his feet, weeping the while, and in the end won him over" (Jacobus de Voragine, trans. Ryan, 1.378).

334-36 In some versions of the legend she places a visible emblem of the Cross on their shoulders, marking them in effect as pilgrims bound for the Holy Land. In this text Peter does that for the prince (see line 410, below).

341-44 The little catalog of aristocratic food in these lines is a distinctive feature of L. Even the retelling in MS A, which resembles it most closely at this point, refers only in general terms to how richly their ship was provisioned: "A schippe thai gun to purvayen, / And richelich within to laien / Of al thing that hem nede stode" (lines 269-71).

368 The superstition of the sea's refusal to hold a dead body is ancient. See the Latin Historia Apolloni Regis Tyri, in Elizabeth Archibald, Apollonius of Tyre: Medieval and Renaissance Themes and Variations, Including the Text of Historia Apolloni Regis Tyri with an English Translation (Cambridge, UK: D.S. Brewer, 1991), appendix 1. Gower picks up the detail in his telling of the tale in CA 8.1089 ff. The point seems to be that since the sea will cast ashore a dead body, a corpse must be cast out of a ship lest the ship itself be cast ashore as well. See Confessio Amantis, ed. Russell A. Peck (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2000), vol. 1, pp. 222-23, and notes to lines 271 ff. (pp. 328-29) and 1089 ff. (p. 337).

401 The line can be translated in several different ways, since the verb sende may be either present subjunctive or preterite, and wolden (a plural verb form) seems to conflict with the pronoun subject he. Does it mean "May God send them to Rome, for that is where He wanted [them to go]," or "God sent them to Rome, for that is where they wanted - or He wanted them - [to go]"?

405 Since the prince is presumably already in Rome, it would seem more logical for him to identify his destination as Jerusalem.

410 creoysede. According to the MED, the taking of this emblem often signified a pledge either to engage in a crusade or to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

436-37 A reference to the Harrowing of Hell: the traditional belief that Christ's soul descended into hell when He died, defeated Satan, and freed the souls of all the faithful people of Israel who died too soon to be saved by faith in Christ.

442 his Bileve. This term could refer either in general to a body of religious doctrine or more specifically to the Creed - a single text that summarizes the key tenets of the faith. Given the references to other texts in the next line, the latter possibility seems the more likely.

443 His Oures and is Sauter. Since the prince is a layman, the "Hours" he is credited with learning would probably be the Little Office of the Virgin Mary - a much briefer and simpler set of daily prayers and devotions than the Daily Office performed by monks and other members of the clergy. He would probably not learn the whole Psalter either, but just the psalms recited regularly as part of the Little Office.

451 Peter assures him that he will not be violating his earlier vow (line 312) if he delays baptism until his return to his own kingdom.

455 ne thinche thee nought to longue! Peter urges him not to be distressed at the delay.

478 worldes fiere. That is, the partner of her life in this world.

492 houswif. Mary Magdalen's role as "housewife" would have been to keep the queen and her child supplied with the necessities of daily life. Other versions of the legend, including that in MS A, credit her instead with serving as the queen's midwife when the child was born.

501 The idea may be that it would have been scandalous for the queen to be seen making this pilgrimage without her husband or another male protector.

516-18 The point seems to be that the Christians are no longer afraid of being persecuted by their pagan neighbors for publicly associating with the bishop.

528 That is, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus act as their baptismal sponsors or godparents, as foreseen by St. Peter in lines 452-54.

533-38 The process of conversion is envisioned here in institutional terms: building churches and monastic communities throughout the prince's kingdom, ordaining priests and other kinds of clerics to staff them, and consecrating bishops to oversee the local churches.

537 According to tradition, Lazarus became the first bishop of Marseilles.

539 ff. The legend of Mary Magdalen's thirty years of contemplative solitude in the wilderness seems to have been adapted in the early Middle Ages from the legend of Mary of Egypt, a repentant prostitute who withdrew to the desert. Mycoff gives translations of both legends in The Life of Saint Mary Magdalene.

591 Sonenday. In other versions of the legend, including Mirk's, her promised return takes place specifically on Easter.

602 oure maister. In this context, the phrase could mean that they are acknowledging her as their leader, their spiritual guide and instructor, their model, and/or their superior in knowledge, skill, or courage. It is a dramatic moment in the text, since the term maister was rarely applied in a positive sense to a woman; even the closest relative of L, T, does not include this line. After this line, however, Martha and Lazarus conspicuously disappear from the narrative, leaving Maximinus alone to welcome Mary back to the Christian community she helped to establish.

604-05 This reference to fear of betrayal or deception may just mean that some people could not believe she was returning, after a thirty-year absence, but it also hints at the possibility of some rupture between Maximinus (whose position is strengthened by Mary's return and affirmation of his pastoral authority) and other members of the community.

608-11 Maximinus waits for her in the sanctuary of the church, praying all night before the high altar.

615 the Salmus Seovene and the Letanie. Both the seven penitential Psalms - Vulgate nos. 6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129, and 142 - and the Litany, a solemn prayer with set responses, were prescibed for recitation on behalf of the dying and the dead, as well as for regular church services on penitential occasions.

618-19 On the odor of sanctity, see 2 Corinthians 2:14-15, Revelation 5:8, Philippians 4:18, and Ephesians 5:2. Compare the miraculous fragrance of the roses and lilies in Chaucer's Second Nun's Tale, CT VII(G)246-52.

627 Schrift and hosel. That is, she asks Maximinus to give her the last rites of the Church before she dies.

633 Her final prayer closely echoes the last words of Jesus on the cross, as recorded in Luke 23:46.

638-39 See explanatory note for lines 618-19.

642 the righte endingue. As this assertion suggests, there were competing accounts of where and how Mary Magdalen died. This version explicitly and emphatically enfolds her within St. Maximin's monastic community at Aix, reinforcing the claim of that abbey that her relics belonged there, in the place she herself had chosen. See the Speculum Sacerdotale, below, lines 55-67, for a competing tradition which undercuts this claim, having her die in an anonymous church after receiving the sacrament from an anonymous priest.


Abbreviations: see explanatory notes.

[The scribe of L has the peculiar habit of writing 3h (yogh + h), which I have transcribed throughout as gh.]

11 brightnesse. L: brighnesse.

43-44 These two lines are written as a single, extended line in the manuscript.

78 heo. Emended from he, the form used in L at this point (and also below in lines 84, 87, 159, and 541). The pronoun he could mean either "he" or "she" in some dialects of early Middle English, but the scribe who copied this manuscript generally prefers heo for the feminine - making a distinction that also clarifies the text for modern readers. At least once (at line 138, below) he over-corrects, writing "heo" for a masculine "he."

104 of drunch and of mete. An early correction in the margin of L suggests replacing these five words with to drinke and to ete. The replacement would avoid rhyming lines 103 and 104 on the same word, but at the expense of relatively unnatural syntax.

118 beyne. Corrected in L from beye.

124 gaf. Apparently corrected in L from gat.

128 heres. Corrected in L from here.

130 smeordest. L: smeredest smeordest, with the latter form presumably intended to replace the former.

138 He. L: heo - an obvious error which strengthens the likelihood that the scribe was copying from a version of the text which used he for both the masculine and feminine forms of the pronoun.

160 was. L: wa.

189 old hous. L: hold hous, with the first h dotted for omission.

192 gret. L: gre.

204 The scribe has omitted or completely erased the rhyme word, which must have been something like here ("heir" - or "army, host").

261 strong. L: stronk.

269-70 These two lines are written as a single, extended line in the manuscript.

279 heo. Corrected in L itself from he.

298 nothing. L: nothinging.

306 and gonne. L: a gonne.

309 redes. Corrected in L from dedes.

312 fullouht. L: fulloutht, with the first t dotted for omission.

329 wore. Corrected in L from were.

332 hire. Corrected in L from him.

336 sorowe. L: seoruwe, with the first e dotted for omission.

337 huy. Emended from L: heo, an obvious error.

359 thet child. This portion of the text uses a number of inflected forms of the definite article, preserved from Old English - including that or thet with the neuter nouns child (here and below at lines 361, 385), "flod" (line 368), and "bodi" (lines 369, 371).

365 hath it. Emended from L: hath i.

367 hieten. Corrected in L from hiete.

371 that dede bodi. Emended from L, which has thad for that. See textual note to line 359.

388 thet. Corrected in L from the.

405 then wey. Another relic of earlier English grammar. The noun wey was masculine in Old English, and then(e) preserves the ending of the masculine singular accusative form of the definite article. There are similar examples in lines 426 ("thene riche man") and 427 ("thene wey"). Compare textual note to line 85 of the longer SEL Life of St. Frideswide, above.

418 They thy. Emended from L, which omits thy.

425 ofte. Emended from L: of.

465 as. L: a.

466 he. Inserted between lines in L.

481 child. L: chil.

488 seide. Omitted from L, though the context demands such a verb.

space. Corrected in L from grace.

492 houswif. L: hou wif.

493 seide. Omitted from L, though the context demands it.

523 tok. L: tok tok.
































































































































Sleighe men and egleche, and of redes wise and bolde,
Lustniez nouthe to mi speche, wise and unwise, yongue and olde.
Nothing ich eou nelle rede ne teche of none wichche ne of none scolde,1
Bote of a lif that may beo leche to sunfule men of herte colde.
Ich nelle eou nother rede ne rime of kyng ne of eorl, of knyght ne of swein,
Ake of a womman ich chulle ou telle that was sunful and forlein;2
A swythe fol wumman heo bicam, and thorugh Godes grace heo was ibrought ageyn,
And nouthe heo is to Crist icome, the fayre Marie Maudeleyn.
Of hire ichulle yeou telle nouthe al hou and hware heo was ibore,
Yif ye to me wullez iheore and habben of God thonk tharefore.
   This word "Marie" so is brightnesse and bitokne the steorre of the se,3
And soruwe also and biturnesse, ase the bok tellez me;
For hwane a man fielez in is heorte that he havez muche misdo,4
And him tharefore biguynnez to smeorte, that is to him bitur and wo,
He mournez and he sikez ofte. This ilke Marie fierde also,
That thing that was hire leof and softe was seththe hire fulle fo.5
   In the Castel of Magdalé this faire wumman was ibore;
Heo was icleoped in propre name the Maudeleyne right tharefore.
To speken of hire ich am wel fous, and it likez me ful murie.
Ire fader was hoten Sire Titus, and hire moder Dame Euchirie,
Hire brothur was cleoped Lazarus, and Martha was hire soster.
Heo was debonere and pitiuous, and heo was a seli foster.6
Heore fader and heore moder bothe comen of riche kunne,
Of bolde kyngus and of quienes, men of muchele wunne,
Of castles and of tounes, of londes and of theodes,
Of halles and of boures, of palefreighes and of stedes.
Large huy weren of heore metes to heom that hadden neode,
To men goinde and eke sittinde that heore bonene wolden heom beode.7
   Wyse men and sleyghe overal huy weren itolde.
Tho that huy scholden deighe, and so huy weren iholde,
Heore londes and heore leodes huy delden alle a-threo,8
Tounes and heore theodes, heore guod and heore feo,
To feoffen heore children tharewiz echon,
For huy ne scholden nought strive hwane huy heom weren atgon.9
Wel sone thereaftur, tho huy nede scholde,
Deiden fader and moder, ase Jesu Crist it wolde.
Bi heom men duden sone ase huy oughten to done10
And to heore longue home broughten heom ful sone.
Jesu Crist of heovene of heom habbe merci
And for Is names seovene fram helle heom waraunti!
   Huy dighten heore londes among heom alle threo,
And with heore hondene delden heore gold and heore feo.11
To Marie bilefde the castel Magdalé;
Tharefore Maudeleyne formest icleoped was heo.
Lazarus hadde that halvendel of al Jerusalem,
Of wodes and fieldes and of sart almest to Bedlehem.
Martha was ifeoffed with the Betanie
And also with Genezarez, bote the bok us lie.
   Marie heo ne tolde nought bote al of hire pruyde,
Ake tharon was al hire thought, and faire hire to schruyde,12
And seththe for to walke aboute to don hire flechses wille,
To gon and eorne feor and neor, bothe loude and stille.13
For sothe, heo was riche inough, and so heo moste nede;
Manie riche men hire leighen bi and geven hire gret mede.
   Lazarus spendede al is thought opon his chivalerie,
Of othur thingus ne tok he no yeme, ne to housebondrie.
The selie Martha, that othur suster, heo was of redes guode,
Ase thei heo and hire soster neren nought of one blode.
   Martha nam hire brothur lond and hire sustres also,
And dude heom teolien wel inough, ase wys man scholde do;
Tharewith heo fedde alle heore men and clothede heom also,
Povere men and wummen, that weren neodfole and in wo.
   So fair womman nas thare non in none kunnes londe14
Ase Marie was of bodie, and of fote and honde;
So more fairore that heo bicam, the more of hire was prys,
The more fol womman heo wax, and sunful and unwys.
   Hire righte name Marie overal heo les tharefore;
"Sunfole wumman" men cleopeden hire bihinde hire and bifore.15
Tho this wumman hadde iheord that hire name was ilore,
That heo was so bigyled and bicherd, wo was hire tharefore.
Tho men hire cleopeden sunfule and lieten hire righte name,
Heo wax kareful and dreori of thought and gan sore to schame.16
Tho nolde heo no more bifore the riche men come;
Into hire castel for sorewe heo havez hire inome
For to ore Loverd cam and prechede overal in that londe.17
Martha hire suster ofte bifore opbraid hire schame and hire schonde
And chidde hire ful ofte for hire lecherie,
Bothe fastinde and eke ful, that unnethe heo mighte it drie.18
   A man of that contreye that heighte Symond Leperous,
Also the bok us tellez, bad ore Loverd to is hous,
And Is deciples tweolve with Him, to the mete,
For He ne mighte nought Himsulf fram heom alle ete.
   Marie this iheorde and tharof was ful glad,
A smeorieles to greithi tharto heo was ful rad.
Heo wende to Symundes hous, that no man hire ne bad,
To ore Loverd Jesu Crist; and ful sore heo was ofdrad.
For that heo was so sunful, bifore ore Loverd to come
Careful heo was and sore aferd forto beon inome.19
Heo ne dorste ore Loverd repie nought bihinde ne bifore,
Ne no man hire nolde cleopie, and that hire grefde sore.
   Tho ore Loverd was isete in Symundes house there
And his apostles to the mete, that with him tho were,
Ore Loverd sat and thoughte muche, ake bote luyte He ne eet.
Marie, that was so sunful, heo crep doun to Is fiet.
Heo custe Is fiet and wusch also with hire wete teres,
And wipede heom afturward with hire yeoluwe heres.
Out of hire boxe heo nam oynement ful guod
And smeorede ore Loverdes heved with ful blisful mod.
   Judas was thare biside and smulde hit, and tharefore he was neigh wod;
That swote smul him culde neigh and gremede is sorie blod,
And bad don up that riche thing that heo ore Loverd gan with smeore;20
To spene it so in wasting, he seide, it was gret lure,
And seide, "It mai beon isold ful deore, to bugge with muchel mete,21
Povere men tharewith to freveri of drunch and of mete."
   Tho saide ore Loverd to Judas, "Lat thou this wumman beo!
Ful guod weork it was and is that heo wurchez in me;
For ai schulle ye povere with eou habbe, and so ne worth eou me.22
Thi toungue moste bien ischave; to speche heo is to freo."
   Symund Leprous iheorde this; he thoughte wel manifold
That, yif thes Profete were also wys ase He is fore itold,
He nolde soffri this fole wumman His bodi enes to reppe,
For no weork that heo can do, or toward Him enes steppe.
   Ore Loverd wuste is luthere thought, ake tharof stod Him non eyghe:
"Symund, thou thenchest muche for nought. Sumthing ichulle thee seighe."23
    "Maister, seye," seide Symound, "ich it bidde thee!
For thou noldest for nothing segge onright to me."
    "An usurer was hwilene that hadde dettores tweyne,
That swythe longue hwyle dette him scholden beyne:24
That on him scholde fifti panes and twenti tharto,
That othur him scholde of dette fifti panewes also,
And nothur of heom nadde hwareof the dette for to yelde.25
Huy yolden, tho he it crevede, ase the bok us telde.
Hwethur of heom tweine cudde him more love tho?"
    "Maister, he that more gaf, me thinche, so mote I go."26
    "For sothe, Symund Leperous, thou havest idemed aright.
For seththe ich cam into thin hous, thou ne custest me no wight,27
Ne thou ne wusche nought mine fiet with watur ne with teres,
Ne thou ne wypedest heom nought yuyt with clothe no with heres.
Min heved on none halve with no manere oynement
Ne smeordest, with none salve ne with no piement.
Seththe ich cam into thin hous, this wumman nolde blinne
Mine fiet to wasche and cusse withouten and withinne,
And to wipen heom seththe afturward with hire faire here,
Min heved also to smeorien with riche oynement and dere.
    "Op aris, thou wumman; thine sunnes thee beoth forgyve!
Also ich nouthe can and may, of me thou art ischrive."
   Marie the Maudeleyne, ore swete Loverd hire schrof,
Swete Jesu Crist out of hire seve develene He drof.
Ore Loverd makede hire Is procuratour, His leof and Is hostesse;
Heo lovede Him with gret honour in pays and in destresse.
   Martha hire suster was ful sik, and so heo hadde ibeo ful yore;
At hire bihinde heo hadde ibled seven yer and more.
Heo ne mighte for nothing no lechecraft afongue,
Are ore Loverd, Heovene King, among heom thare gan gongue,
And gaf hire Is swete blessingue and helde hire of hire sore
And bad hire beon hol and sound; and so heo was evereft more.
   Heore beire brothur Lazarus was swythe sikel a man.
Jesus hereborewede at heore hous hwane He bi heom cam,
And his apostles alle, hwane huy thare forth come:
Heore in huy gonne cleopie and ase heore owene it nome;
Al swuch ase thareinne was huy eten and huy drounke - 28
Men habbez ofte note of thing that luytel it habbut swounke.
   Tho Jesus hadde thare ibeo ase longue ase He wolde,
He wente to anothur contreye, for men iseon Him scholde.
Marie He gaf Is blessingue and Martha and Lazarus,
Muchele and luttle, elde and yongue, that woneden in heore hous.29
   Aftur that He was iwend, Marie wax egleche;
Crist hire havede aboute isent to sarmoni and to preche.
To sunfole men heo was ful rad to wissi and to teche,
And to sike men heo was ful glad to beon heore soule leche.
Mani on to Cristinedom heo broughte, and out of sunne,
Fram lecherie and horedom, thoru schrift, to joye and alle wunne.
   Aftur ore Loverdes passione in the thrittenthe yere,
Giwes weren proute and grimme, olme and of luthere chere:30
Seint Stevene to dethe huy stenden, that was ore Loverd ful deore,
And manie men huy flemden that Cristes limes were.31
Non apostle ne moste live in Giwene londe,
Alle huy weren of londe idrive with wraththe and nythe and onde.32
   Seint Maximus was tho with Godes apostles bicome;
Sixti ant ten deciples togadere heom hadden inome.
Marie the Maudeleyne and hire brothur Lazarus
And heore suster Martha and the bischop Maximus,
Mani mo of Cristine men, wel mo thane I can nemne,
Weren ihote fleme, and some to quelle and brenne.
   Huy weren in a schip ipult withouten ster and ore,
That huy scholden beon furfaren and ne libben no more;
Thare nas nothur ido with heom nothur watur ne bred,
For huy scholden ofhongrede beon and sone thareafturward ded.
Huy schypeden in the salte se, ase Jesu Crist it wolde,
Forto that tyme scholde beo that huy arivi scholde.
   To Marcile the wynd heom drof, a gret namecouth cité.
Everech of heom othur schrof are huy comen out of the se.
Huy ne founden thare no freond that wolde heom hereboruwe,
Cristine man ne no Giu, an eve nothur amoruwe,33
Ne gyven heom mete ne drinke nothur ne lissen heore soruwe,
Ne no man, for love ne for swunch, that huy mighten of bugge ne borewe.34
   In one olde porche huy stunten al that nyght,
Withoute light of torche, withoute fuyr and candle bright;
The porche was an old hous, of olde weorke iwrought,
Thudere in huy weren alle wel vouse that of the se weren ibrought,35
For huy nusten ellehware that huy stunte mighte,
Bote huy hadde gret schame and teone, and Giwes with heom to fighte.36
   Thare huy duelden al that nyght forto it was day amoruwe.
The Sarasins heom boden fight, to echen heore soruwe.37
Alle the men that fram the se thuder weren icome,
Huy nusten hwodere huy mighte fleo; forthi huy weren inome.38
Huy weren ihote ope lyf and lime Jesu Crist fursake,
And, with thretningue and with strif, to heore false godus take.39
   The Marie Maudeleine heo saigh that folk arise,
Riche and povere, knyght and sweyn, to don that sacrefise;
Heo was anuyd and ofdrad, that hire bigan to grise;
To speken of God heo was ful rad, and so dude on hire wise.
   Op heo stod with wordes bolde, with bright neb and glade chere,
And seide,"Herkniez to me, yunge and elde, that wullez beon Cristes
Ne bilievez nought opon Mahun, ne on Tervagaunt is fere,
For huy beoth bothe deve and doumbe, and huy ne mouwen iseo ne ihere,
Ne huy ne mouwen eou helpe nought of none kunnes thingue,40
Thei men of heom yelpen ought, ne no guod to eu bringue.
For huy bez doumbe and deve, crokede and eke blinde;
Heore mighte is fallen to grounde biforen and bihinde.
Ake ye schulle lieven on Jesu Crist, oure heighe Heovene Kyng,
That al this worldes Maister is, withoute ani ending,
For He may don Is wille of evereche cunnes thing
That ye wilniez with righte and withouten suneguyng.
He is withoute biguynningue, and He is withouten ende,
Withoute fuylthe and sunegyng, so corteys and so hende
That al thing that man with skile Him biddez He wole him gyve and sende,
To man that goth and eke rit, that wole to him wende.
He is Wuryte of alle thing; He makede heovene and helle,
Ne may no kayser ne no kyng His vertues alle telle;
The man that Him servez wel ne may him no feond dwelle,
Ake huy that wullez agein Him fighte, to grounde He wole heom felle.
He makede day and eke nyght, steorrene and sonne and mone;
The man that trewe is and lovez Him aright, He wole graunti him is bone,
And that he biddez Him with treouthe, He it grauntez him ful sone;
He helpez bothe king and knyght, the povere alle mididone."
   A riche prince of Sarazins thudere was icome,
With him is wyf and his mayné that with him he hadde inome.
To Maries prechingue he lustnede ful sone;
For that heo was so fair a thing, to hire huy token guod gome.
   The Sarazins onvele weren, fulle of nythe and hete.
Tho it was time of mele, huy wenden to heore mete;
Tho huy comen hom unsele and tharto weren isete,
Cristes men to delen guod ful clene huy hadden forgete.41
Thare weren of Cristine men mo thane sixti and tene;
No man nadde reuthe of heom, and that was thare isene:
Huy weren witoute mete and drunch, in gret hongur and in teone,
Ne huy ne duden no weork ne swunch, ne nothing men nolde heom lene.42
   Hit was in one nyghte aftur the thridde day
That this riche princes wif in hire bedde lay.
Thare cam Marie Maudeleyne, and biforen hire heo stod:
"Dame, me thinchez thou art unhende, for thou hast muche guod.43
Of thee ich habbe gret feorlich, and muche me thinchez wunder
That thou last Jesu Cristes folk thus steorve for hungur.
Bote yif thou othur thi loverd lissi heore kare,
Wite ye mid iwisse, sorewe eou schal beon ful yare;44
Swuch a fierd schal opon eou come that schal eou so furfare
And aquellen eou and eouwer folk; huy nellez eou nothing spare."
   This riche princes wif this word nolde hire loverd nought telle -
For sothe, heo was puyrliche unwys, in sawe and in spelle.
The othur nyght the Maudeleyne eftsone yeode hire to
And spak to hire wel stuyrneliche, and the thridde nyht also;
And yuyt heo nolde hire erinde to hire loverd do.
   Marie cam the feorthe nyght and bifore the prince heo stod:
"Slepestou, tyraunt, thou develes knyght of Sathanasses blod?
Thi wif, the naddre, heo is amad; ich holde hire puyr wod.
Heo nolde thee telle that ich bad, for uvele ne for guod.
Thou havest mete and drunch inough and luytel othur care,
And soffrest Cristes men with wough for hungur thus furfare!
Bote thou amendi heore stat sone, thee is sorewe al yare:45
Thare schal so strong folk come thee agein that wollez thee luytel spare,
With sweord and spere huy schullen thee sle and al thi folk furfare."
The Maudeleyne yeode fram him and liet him ligge thare.
   The quiene awok and sighte sore and tolde hire loverd so;
Tho thoughte him that he iwarned was threo nyghtes and mo.
Heo tolde him that hire was iseid and also ihote to do -
Feden Jesu Cristes men and lissi heom of heore wo,
Othur heom scholde sorewe inough and kare comen heom to.
   Tho seide the prince, "Dame, hwat schulle we do
Of thisse opene warningue that is icome us to?
Betere is that we Cristes men swythe wel heom fiede and schruyde,
Thene we tellen luyte of heom in vilté othur in pruyde."46
   Huy token Jesu Cristes men and ladden hom to heore inne;
Al that heom was neod huy founden heom with love and alle wunne.
The Maudeleyne heom radde wel to witien heom fram sunne,47
So that heom ne thorte nevere drede of Sathanases kunne.
   Opon a day heo bigan Godes word for to preche
And of Godes lawe, with gret wit, ase heo thar mighte areche;
To leden heore lyf in guod fey alle heo gan heom teche,
And for to lovie God and don awey wraththe and onde and wreche.
   The prince saide tho to hire with egleche wordes and bolde:
"Might thou provi with treuthe that thou prechest may beo wel iholde?"48
   The Maudeleyne saide, "Ye, ich am redi eou to teche,
Bi ore maistres conseile and mid is holie speche -
That is Seinte Petre of Rome - hou ye schullen on take
The blisse of Heovene for to afongue and the feondes lore forsake."
   Tho seide the prince anon and is wyf also:
"We beoz bothe redie anon thine wille for to do,
So ase thi Loverd is of so muchel mighte
That He may, hwane He wole, at Is wille alle thingus dighte.
Bide thine Loverd, Heove King, that is us alle above,
So ase He may don alle thing, and also for Is moder love,
And for thine bisechingue, that He gyve a child that beo a sone.
And at thane forewarde we wollez with eou wone;
Ore kinedom also forth with us His owene we wollez bicome,
And we wollez yelden agein to Is men that we heom habbez binome."49
   Tho seide Marie the Maudeleine,"That nelle ich nought bileve;
A preiere to mi Loverd to make nele me nothing greve.
Ich bidde thee, swete Jesu Crist, that makedest sonne and mone,
That thou this prince siende a child, and that it beo a sone."
Heo bad with guode heorte and milde; heo was iheord ful sone;
That ilke nyght huy geten a child, ase God heom gaf grace to done.
   Tho the prince wuste that is quiene was with childe,
Anon right toward Jesu Crist he wax meoke and milde.
Huy leten heore uvele dedes that weren so wikke and wilde,
And aftur Godes dedes huy wroughten and gonne buylde.
   Tho swor the prince and seide,"Bi heved min, wiende ichulle to Rome
And bicome a pilegrim and don aftur the holie dome,
And with Seint Petur ichulle speke and don aftur is redes,
Yif it is so ase Marie seiz of Jesu Cristes dedes;
And yif that ich him finde at the court of Rome,
Of him ichulle underfongue fullouht and Cristendome."
   Tho seide the lavedi,"Ichulle wiende with thee,
And, thare thou art icristned, ichulle also beo;
And hwane thou comest hidere agein, ich may come with thee."
   Tho seide the prince, leighinde, to is wif agame:
"And beo nouthe ase thou seist, mi leove swete dame,
Bote in schipe wexez ofte soruwe, peril, and teone and grame;
And thou art nouthe with childe; couth is that guode fame.
In the se thou mightest ful sone hente schame -
Yuyt hadde ich leovere ich were ihuld and evere to ligge lame!
Ake bilef thou at hom and reste thee wel and yem alle ore thingues.
At mine agein-come God siende me of thee guode tithingues!"50
   Tho spak the lavedi, the quiene, and feol adoun to is fote:
"Leve loverd, thou let beo that, and graunte me that ich mote!
This ilke sorewe wole me aslen bote thou do me bote."51
Yeot seide the levedi, and weop wel swithe sore,
Deolful and dreori heo ful adoun and seide ofte,"Sire, thin ore!
Hou mighte ich libbe and beon glad bote we togadere wore?
We loveden us so youngue, and nouthe we beoth sumdel hore."
   So longue and yeorne this lavedi bad hire loverd, that was so hende,52
That he hire grauntede, and was ful glad, with him for to wiende.
For neodfole bisokne of heom and heore men
The holie blessingue with hire hond Marie makede on heom,
For no wickede gost bi the weye ne scholde hem derie,
The holie Rode tokningue fram sorowe heom scholde werie.53
   The Marie huy mauden wardein of heom and of heore schipe,
The swete holie Maudeleyne, in Cristes wurthschipe,
For heo was the Kingue of Heovene leof and deore and queme,
And bitoken hire ech del to witien and to yeme.54
   Huy nomen with heom into heore schip bred inough and wyn,
Venesun of heort and hynd and of wilde swyn;55
Huy nomen with heom in heore schip al that hem was leof,
Gies and hennes, crannes, and swannes, and porc, motoun, and beof,
For huy scholden passi the Grickische Se,56
And for that huy nusten hou longue huy scholden thareinne be.
   Huy drowen op seil and ore and schipeden anon right,
Alle, the lasse and the more - eorl, baroun, and knyght.
Huy nadden bote seve nyght iseiled in that flod,
That huy neren sore ofdradde; the se wax stuyrne and wod.
The se bigan to flowen, and the wawes for to arise;
Some bigonne to swounen, and heore heortene sore agrise.
   The se bigan to ebbi, and the wynd ful stuyrne to blowe.
Ase the quiene on hire bedde lay, hire token ful strongue throwes.57
Heo swounede ful ilomeliche and harde pinede tharefore,
So forto that hire youngue sone were of hure ibore.
   Tho that child ibore was, the moder bigan to deye.
That folk gradde, "Allas, allas!" and weopen with heore eye.
Tho the levedi was ded, aftur that thet child was ibore,
Huy ne mighten it bileve to make deol tharefore.
That child wolde souke, and it nuste hwam;
Thare nas no milk aboute, ne no mielch wumman.
    "Allas," quath the prince, "that ich evere was ibore!
Wo is me for this yunge child, and for mi quien that ich habbe ilore!
And nouthe it mot nede deye, for souke ne hath it non,
Ne I not in none halve hwat me is best to don."
   The schipmen hieten with stuyrne mod that men ne schulden nought spare
The dede quien to casten in that flod, othur elles huy mosten furfare:58
"The hwyle that bodi is here with us, the stormes beoth so kete,
To quellen us huy thenchez, and that huy nellez lete."
Huy nomen up that dede bodi, into the se forto caste.
    "Abidez yuyte and herkniez me!" the prince gradde faste.
"Yif ye nellez for mi love it lete, ne for love of mi wif,
Spariez for mi luytel sone, so that he mouwe habbe is lyf.
For yif is moder mouwe yuyt of hire suoweningue awake,59
Thanne may mi luytel sone to hire tete take."
   Huy lokeden heom biside and seighen an heigh hurst
Swithe feor in the se, and the prince it isaigh furst.
Him thoughte that wel more wisdom to the bodie it were
To burien it opon thet heighe hurst thane fisches it eten there.60
   Tho huy comen thudere, huy ne mighten make no put:
The hurst was al of harde stone, ech faste in othur iknut.
Huy nomen the quiene and hire child and wounden in a mantel,
And leide opon the heighe hurste in a grene cantel;
Huy leiden that childes mouth to the moder tete.
Tho the prince that isaigh, with wepingue is neb he gan wete.
With gret deol the quiene and hire child thare huy gonne lete,
Opon thet hurst that was so heigh and hard and wilde and kete.
   The prince wep and wende forth with his schip in the se.
"Marie Maudeleyne," quath the prince, "alas, that evere kneu ich thee!
To don this pelrimage hwy raddest thou me?
Thou bede thi God a bone that mi wif with childe scholde be:
And nouthe is ded thus sone bothe hire child and heo.
Al mi lond and al mi thing ich habbe itake thee
To witen and to wardi; hwi schal it thanne thus be?
Mi wif and mi yungue child, Marie, ich bitake
To Jhesu Crist, thi owene Loverd, that alle thing of nought gan make,
That, yif He is so corteys and mightful ase thou seidest to me,
He save mi wif and mi child, furfare that ich ne be."61
   To his schyp he wende, and so forz in the se.
God hem to Rome sende, for thudere wolden he.62
   Seinte Petur wuste wel that the prince cam
With milde mod, and fair compaygnie ageines him he nam.
Petur axede him fram hwanne he cam and hwodere he wiende wolde.
    "To Rome," he seide, "then wey ich take, and speke with thee I scholde."
He tolde of Marie Maudeleyne, hou he to hire cam,
And hou he Cristus sixti men and tene to him nam;
He tolde him of is child, he tolde him of is wif,
Hou he with milde heorte for heom tholede strif.
   Seinte Petur creoysede him opon is right scholder;
Of that Marie havede iseid he havede game and wonder,
And seide, "Prince, welcome thou be and thine knightes alle!
Pays and grace with thee beo, and joye thee mote on falle.
In bour and in halle, in field and in toun also,
In castel nothur in boure ne worthe thee nevere wo.
In watur and in londe and in alle stude
God thee fram harme schilde, and that ich habbe ibede.63
    "They thy wif slepe nouthe and thi sone him reste,
Loke that thou ne weope nought for hem ne make deol ne cheste!
Mi Loverd is swithe mighthful, He wole don Is wille,
And He is also quoynte and sley, bothe loude and stille.
He can gyven and binimen, borewi and eke yielde
For soruwe blisse, hwane His wille is, in toune, in watere, in fielde;
Hwane He is wroth He doth wreche, ake that fallez ful sielde;
Ake ofte gret fuyr and eke stuyrne wext of a luytel spielde."64
   Petur ladde thene riche man agein to Jerusalem,
And fro thannes thene wey he nam with him to Bedlehem,
Fram thannes to the flym Jordan, an long bi the strem -
I segge it ase ich ou telle can, in boke and nought in drem.65
He schewede him Calvarie, thare God was don on Rode,
His fiet and Is hondene al hou huy ronnen on blode.
He tolde him of the thornes that on His heved stode,
And of the nailes that in Is fiet and in His hondene wode,
And yet he tolde him of the spere that to the heorte Him stong,
And hou He an heigh opon the Rode deide with muche wrong,
Hou He into helle cam, with Sathanas to fighte,
And Is folk that thareinne was hou He it gan out dighte,
Hou He aros, and to Heove steugh to Is Fader sete
And sat Him thareinne, for He was gleugh and was Him swythe imete.66
   Tho the prince hadde iheord Seint Peteres lore,
He carede laste he were bicherd, for he hadde ibeo thare so yore;67
He hadde ileorned swithe wel al clanliche his Bileve,
His Oures and is Sauter ech del. Tho seide he, "God it geve
That ich were sone in mine owene contreye,
And al mi folk with flechs and blod, right ase ich wolde, seighe!"
Seint Petur he bad par charité cristni him anon
And al is othur mayné, and laten heom wende hom,
And thanne habben guod day, "And gif us thine blessingue!
We wollez so blive so we mouwen don us to schipiingue."68
    "Thou schalt withouten cristindom wienden into thine londe -
Ne drede thee noughth, for thou might it don withoute schame and schonde!69
The Maudeleyne schal beon with thee, and to thee heo schal fongue;
Lazarus and Martha, al thre, bi thee huy schullen stonde
Thare thou schalt icristned beo thoru Jesu Cristes sonde,
And muche folk also of thine contreye - ne thinche thee nought to longue!
An holi man schal cristni eou, the bischop Maximus,
That can is mester don swithe wel in Jesu Cristus hous.
He wole beo yep and eke rad, sley and eke vous;
To cristni manie he wole beo glad to is Loverd Jesous -
He were a fol and unwis that ne were of glad and blithe."70
   The prince tok leve of Seint Petur and thonkede him fale sithe.
The prince saide, "Holie fader, have nou wel guod day!
Ichulle wienden hamward so blive so ich may."
   He dude him into the salte flod. His schip bigan to go,
So blive - for the wind was guod - as swaluwe swift othur flo.71
Withinne the seven-nightte thudere he was icome
Thare he agein is wille bilefde is wif and is sone.
   Huy iseighen bi the stronde a luytel child gon pleye
With publes on is honde bifore hem in the weye.
The prince stap out of the schipe - of hem alle he was the furste,
Opon the stronde he gaf a lupe, he highede him to the hurste.
   That child was swithe sore ofdrad, tho the prince cam,
To his moder he was wel rad and about the necke hire nam.
The levedi lai wel stille and slep opon a grene cantel,
That child for fere orn to hire and crep under hire mantel.
Tho saide that child, "Hiderward a thing, me thoughte I saigh come;
Of him ich am ful sore adrad laste we beon inome."
    "Beo stille, mi sone, mi leove child! He is mi worldes fiere.
For gladnesse wepe he wole that us findez here."
   The prince cam and fond hire ther, ligginde on the hurste,
Thare ase he bilefde hire er, and that child sek hire breste.
For joye he weop and sat on is knen and heold up his honde:
"That ich evere moste this iseo, ich thonki ore Loverdes sonde.
A, swete Marie Maudeleine, that me wolde nou right thinche murie
Mighte this wumman quikie agein and liven and hire sturie!"72
   Tho he hadde that word iseid, his wif bigan to wake,
Of a swume heo schok and braid, and sone bigan awake
And seide, "The hende Marie Maudeleyne, heo hath igive me space,
Fram dethe to live heo havez me ibrought thoru hire Loverdes grace.
Heo havez ifed me and mi sone and idon us alle guode;
To seggen it thee hwi scholde ich schone? That yelde hire the Rode!73
Heo havez ibeon min houswif, mi mayde and mi norice,
And bote ich thee seide hou heo heold mi lif, for sothe ich were nice.74
    "Al that Seint Petur hath seththe ischewed thee,
The swete Marie Maudeleyne it havez ischewed me.
Heo me havez on hire hond ilad over the salte strem
And seththe fortheremore to Jerusalem;
And seththe heo me ladde Bedlehem for to seo,
Thudere ase Seint Petur bifore ladde thee;
And seththe to the flum Jordan heo ladde me ful rathe,
Withoute harme and sight of man and withoute schame and scathe.
And overal heo me ladde, mi loverd, thare thou were;
And, for thou scholdest joyful beo, nouthe right heo broughte me here."
   Quath the prince, "Ich thonki God almighti that ich eou habbe alive.
Arisez bothe, yif ye mouwen, and go we to schipe ful blive!"
   Huy duden heom to the watere and schipeden alle anon;
The wynd was blowinde swithe wel, and heore schip bigan to gon.
Huy gonne to seili swithe in that salte fom,
And higheden heom ful blive, that huy weren at hom.
   Withinne a quartron of the yere huy comen to Marcilie.
Mani men of feor and ner of heom gonne speke and spilie;
Manie hem hadden togadere inome, eorl, baron, knyght and swein,
Are huy weren to londe icomen for to wenden heom agein,
Sarazins and the Giwes some, and the Marie Maudeleyn.
Martha cam and Lazarus - of heom huy weren ful glad,
And the holie bischop Maximus - to heom he was ful rad,
And manie of Cristine men - huy neren nothing ofdrad
To comen and gon ageinest him and don that he heom bad.75
   Tho the prince and is wyf weren icome to londe,
The Maudeleyne, withoute strif, irevested thare huy founde;76
And tho huy comen fram schipes bord, Marie huy founden stonde
For to prechen Godes word to heom that were on londe.
   The prince tok is wif and is sone with heorte guod and swete;
To the Maudeleyne huy comen and fellen doun to hire fete,
And tolden hire al heore liif that heom bifeol in that weye,
Pays and love, harm and strif - al huy gonne hire seighe.
Huy lieten thane Bischop Maximus cristni heom anon;
Marie and Martha and Lazarus - huy broughten heom tharon.
The children and the wummen alle that weren in the londe,
Alle huy nomen Cristindom, and that was thoru Godes sonde.
Ich wot huy nomen heore false godes and casten heom thare doune
And brenden al to poudre, feor fram everech toune;
Huy duden arere churches over al the contreies,
And priories wurche, and manie guode abbeies,
And preostes huy gonne makien overal in the londe,
Sudecknes and othur clerkus, to servi heom to honde.
Huy mauden Lazarus bischop, the Maudeleynes brother;
The holie Bischop Maximus maude also mani anothur.
   Tho al that lond Cristine was and al that folc thareinne,
Marie bithoughte a wonder cas and stal awey fram hire kunne.
Into wildernesse heo wende, al for to wonien there.
Swuch grace God hire sende, heo was thare thritti yeres.
Thare nas no watur aboute, ne thare ne wax no treo
That ani best mighte onder atroute, the betere an ayse to beo.77
For sothe ichulle yeou telle of a ferliche wonder:
Aungles comen evereche day right abouten ondern,
And nomen swithe softeliche the Marie Maudelein
And beren hire op into the lofte, and broughten hire eft agein.
Men nusten hou heo leovede, for no man ne saigh hire ete;
Ake some huy onderstoden that heo livede bi aungelene mete.
   A preost thare was in Marcilie that wilned swithe muche
For to leden elinge lif, the betere fram sunne him wite.
He maude him a woniingue in that wildernesse
Thare Marie, the swete Maudeleine, wonede in clennesse.
He ne bulde nought fram Marie bote a wel luyte mile;
For to quemen God he it dude, and He yeld wel is hwile.
He hadde wunder for that he saigh that the aungles comen ofte
Aboute onderne eche daye, ase he stod in is crofte,
And hou huy beren the Maudeleyne an hei opon lofte,
And also hou huy broughten hire agein and setten hire adoun wel softe.
   The preost aros opon a day and wende neor the stude;
He wolde iwite hwat he isaigh, and tharefore he it dude.
To thulke stude he cam so neigh, al bote a stones caste;
Tho bigonne hise theon to schrinke and to croki swithe faste;
Adrad he was and turnde agein, and so he moste nede -
Ne kneu he nought the Maudeleyne ne hire guode dedes.
Eftsone he yeode him thudeward, is fiet bigonne folde,
His heorte and his inneward him gonnen al to colde;
He thoughte it was sum derne thing othur som holi priveté,
Icomen fram the Hevene King, that he ne scholde it nought iseo.78
   He sat adoun opon is kneon and bad ore Loverd there
That he moste iwite and seon hwat that feorlich were.
He gradde on eornest and on game, "Thou best in thine celle,
Ich halsni thee a Godes name of thi stat that thou me telle!"79
   Heo bigan to tellen wordes him agein:
"I segge it thee for sothe: ich am Marie Maudeleyn,
That to the Kingue of Heove of mine sunnes ich me schrof,
And foule develene seovene out of me He drof.
Ich habbe iwoned nouthe here fulle thritti yer,
Ake I ne saigh nevere no man thus neigh bote thee nouthe her.
Of nothing that ani man of the eorthe evere biswonk
I ne et, seththe ich hidere cam, no mete, ne no drunch ne dronk;
Godes aungles everech day habbe me here inome
An ibore me alnewey, hwane I scholde come,
An heigh to Heovene lofte, evere hwane I ete scholde,
And hidere agein wel softe hwane ich misulf wolde.
    "Ich halsni thee a Godes name that thou wende to Marcilie,
And with mine freond withoute blame loke wel that thou spilie.
Thou gret wel Martha, mi soster, ofte and mi brother Lazarus,
And also gret ofte swithe wel thene Bischop Maximus,
And seie hem wel ichulle comen a Sonenday at eve,
With heom for to wonie and evere with heom bileve -
For I schal to Paradis newene fram heom fare,
Ake mi bodi, for sothe iwis, bileve schal with heom thare.
Seighe heom that huy kepen me aftur the midnighte,
For thare ich hopie for to beo thoru Godes swete mighte."
   This holie preost him wende forth and dude hire herinde anon
To the Bischop Maximus, ase heo bad him don.
The holie Bischop Maximus was glad of that sonde,
And for that tithingue he thonkede God and to Him heold up is honde.
Hire soster and hire brother weren tharof wel fayn:
"Nou comez oure maister sone, the Marie Maudeleyn."
   Of this ilke tythingues huy weren swithe glad
That huy hadden iheord, ake some weren ofdrad
That huy bitrayde weren; ake the bischop Maximus
Wuste wel that hit was sothz; to seon hire he was joyous,
And to witen hire stat everechdel he was wel corajous.80
For to seon thane messager thene Sonen-nyght he wakede
And al nyght was in heore queor, and his oresones he makede;
Bifore the heighe auter ore Loverd he bad that he moste iseo
The Maudeleynes face, that he the gladdore mighte beo.
   Sone aftur the midnight, are ani koc him creu,
Thare cam a wonder muche light, ake no wynd thare ne bleu:
The aungles comen fram Heovene and broughten the Marie,
Huy seiden the Salmus Seovene and the Letanie.
Fram the eorthe huy gonne hire holden swithe longue stounde,
The hwyle heo makede hire preyere, and seththe lieten hire to grounde.
Tho cam wit hire swuch a smul among heom everechon,
In churche, in halle, and in bour, that swuch ne smulden huy never er non.81
   The bischop for the muchele liight and for that swote smullingue
Sumdel tharefore he was aferd, and a luyte him drough bihinde.
Marie turnede, of wordes freo and of vilenie quiit and sker,
And seide, "Fader, hwy wolt thou thi doughter fleo? Abid, and cum me ner!"82
   He saigh hire neb and turnde agein, so bright so sonnebem,
Of that swete Maudeleine, so liight so ani leom.
   Heo saide, "Fader Maximus, par seinte charité,
Schrift and hosel ich yuyrne - sone thou graunte it me!"83
   Huy cleopeden alle the preostes and the clerkus everechon
And alle the othur ministres, and duden hire wille anon.
Heo it aveng wepinde with guod devotion,
And wel sore sichinde heo lay hiresulf adoun,
And seide, "Jhesu, that deidest opon the treo, al mi stat thou wost;
Into thine hondene ich bitake thee mi liif and mi gost."
   Anon right heo gaf up hire liif and hire gost, iwis.
Heo was ilad withouten strif anon right to Paradys.
The bischope thoughte murie and the clerkes echon,
And anon right gonne hire burien in a marbreston.
Seve night thareafturward that day that heo ibured was,84
Night and day that smul was thare - it was a wonder cas.
The bischop thoughte murie and bad, hwane he ded were,
That men him scholden burien bisiden hire right there.
   Of the Maudeleine this is the righte endingue.
God us schilde fram peyne and to Heovene us bringue! AMEN.


Wise; brave; counsels; (see note)
Listen now

healing to sinful

very foolish; she; restored
I shall; where

(see note);(t-note)

feel pain
sighs; felt the same

(see note)
eager; pleases
Her; called; (see note)

from rich families
great wealth
estates (properties)

(see note)

prudent; they; considered
When; die; afflicted

estates; possessions; money

when they must
Died; willed

their final resting place
heaven; have mercy on them
His; protect them; (see note)
disposed of; three

was left; (t-note)
she was first called "Magdalen"
half portion
cleared land; Bethlehem
endowed; Bethany; (see note)
Gennesaret, unless
did not care for anything except

then; flesh's desire

she should have been; (see note)
lay by her; reward
his; (see note)
heed; careful management
blessed; good counsels
As though she
took; brother's
had them farmed
all their people

The more beautiful; praise
foolish; became; both sinful
true; everywhere; lost

When; heard; lost
led astray
When; ceased to use

she would not
she betook herself

was called; the Leper; (see note)
As; invited our Lord; his
His disciples; to dinner
apart from them all
An ointment; prepare; quick
where no one had invited her

address; grieved
When; seated
at dinner; then
but He ate little
crept; His feet
kissed; washed [them]
yellow hair
jar; took
anointed; head

use; to no purpose; a great loss

comfort with drink; food; (t-note)


must be restrained; too free
the Leper
this Prophet; as wise
allow; even once; touch
deed; take even one step

speak unjustly
There was once a money-lender; (see note)
one; owed; pence; besides
owed; pennies

They paid, when he asked for it

judged rightly

Nor; washed
yet; hair; (t-note)
head; any side; kind of
anointed; ointment; (t-note)
Since; would not cease
kiss all over
then; hair
anoint; expensive
Rise up; are forgiven you
As; by me; shriven (absolved)
seven devils; (see note); (t-note)
spokesman; dear
peace; need
for a long time; (see note)
receive any healing
Until; began to walk
healed; illness
healthy; ever after
The brother of them both; ill; (see note)
lodged; when; near them

benefit; worked for
needed to see Him

had gone; grew brave; (see note)
had sent her out ; speak
ready; advise
souls' physician; (t-note)

(see note)

stoned; [to]
(see note)
could; the Jews'

going about; (see note)
had joined themselves; (see note)

put to flight; be killed and burned
placed; tiller; oars
[So] that; killed; live
was neither sent
So that; starved
Until; come; reach land
Marseilles; drove; renowned
shrove before; (see note)


open-sided building; remained; (see note)
workmanship; (t-note)

did not know anywhere else; stay
until; next morning
(see note)
to that place (thither)

ordered at the risk of


displeased; afraid; feel horror
ready; [she] did
Up; face
Listen; want to; (t-note)
his companion; (see note)

Though; may boast; you
power; i.e., everywhere
must believe
kind of
desire rightfully; sinning

filth; sinning; gracious

any kind of person; turn
Creator (Wright)
emperor; enumerate
fiend deceive

his boon
asks; integrity
all together
retinue; taken
Because; good heed; (see note)
wicked; malice; hatred
When; mealtime; food
unblessed; seated

pity on; evident

allow (lettest); die
Unless; or; lord relieve their

army; destroy; (see note)
kill; will not

totally; speech; report
second; immediately went
very sternly
still; message; deliver

Satan's kin; (see note)
adder; insane; utterly mad
what I ordered; evil
in abundance
misery; to perish

went away; let; lie

what she had been told
To feed; relieve
Or else; great sorrow
About; explicit

their own dwelling

they would never need fear
One day
there could attain
faith; (t-note)
malice; revenge

Yes; (see note)

Ask; Heaven's
Since; mother's
give [us]
with that agreement; dwell


When; knew
left; evil; ungoverned
according to; acted; live; (t-note)
I shall go
according to his counsels; (t-note)

receive baptism; (t-note)
I shall go

laughing; playfully
let it be; dear
suffering; harm
that good news is known
sea; receive injury

lady; fell; his feet; (see note)

The lady said more; wept


to go (travel); (t-note)
eager petitions
(see note)
So that; spirit; harm
made guardian; (t-note)

took; (see note)

took; dear

did not know
the lesser and the greater
no more than seven
Before they were; fierce
surge; waves
hearts; were afraid
ebb; fiercely

often; suffered
To the point that

cried; wept
cease; lamentation
wanted to suck; knew not whom
wet nurse


(see note)
So long as; violent
kill; intend; leave off
Wait; cried

little son; may

make use of her breast(s)
high hill (island)
far; saw

thither; grave (pit)
hill; joined tightly together
wrapped [them]
laid [them] on; nook
mother's breast
his face
lamentation; left
rugged; (t-note)
I knew
make; did you advise
asked; favor
so soon
committed to
protect; safeguard

So that; powerful

(see note)
to meet him

the road; (see note); (t-note)

ten; received

suffered hardship
marked him with a cross; (see note)
what; had delight

Peace; may joy befall you
bedchamber; reception room
may sorrow never come to you
all places

Although your wife sleeps; (t-note)
grief; strife
crafty; ingenious; i.e., always
give; take away; borrow; repay
joy for sorrow

the powerful man; back
the road; Bethlehem
thence; river

feet; hands; streamed with blood
were fixed
further; stabbed
on high; injustice
Satan; (see note)
ascended; Father's throne


entirely; Creed (see note)
Hours; Psalter every bit; (see note)

i.e., in the flesh
for charity's sake; baptize (christen)
retinue; let
say farewell

baptism go
(see note)
act as sponsor

Where; dispensation
(see note)

perform his office
astute; discreet; eager

many times

homeward as quickly as
betook himself to
a week thither; (t-note)
Where he against his will had left
saw; shore; playing
pebbles in

leap; hastened; hill
swift; embraced
slept; nook
ran; crept
lest; seized
spouse; (see note)

left; before; sucked; (t-note)
might; thank; sending
seem joyful

swoon; trembled; started
a span of time; (t-note)
provided us with

(see note); (t-note)
since showed

led me by the hand; sea
to see Bethlehem
To the same place
river; soon
injury; (see note)
just now
have you
if you can; let us go
took themselves
move very fast
hastened; [so] that
one fourth
tell stories
turn their ship around

eager; (see note)
not at all afraid



befell them; journey
Peace; struggle; told her
caused; to christen
(see note)

received; sending
burned; powder, far
had churches built; districts; (see note)
constructed; abbeys
had ordained everywhere
Subdeacons; available
made; (see note)

Christianized; (see note)
contrived; kindred
sent [that]; thirty

Angels; mid-morning
very gently
carried; air; back
lived; saw
But; angels' food
solitary; [to] guard himself
only a scant mile
please; repaid; his effort

mid-morning; small garden
carried; on high in the air
near the place
wanted to know; saw
stone's throw
thighs; contract; bend
Afraid; back

Again; in that direction; falter
turn cold
hidden; secret

know; see; marvel

made confession
seven foul devils
dwelled; all of
so near; here
earthly man; prepared
ate; drink
every time
needed to eat
myself wished
adjure; in God's name
friends; talk

tell; on Sunday; (see note)
dwell; remain

Say [to]; [should] await

message (sending)
news (tiding)
very glad about it
master; (see note)

(see note)
true; see

Sunday; kept watch; (see note)
their choir; prayers
altar; might
the more glad
before any cock crowed
marvellously great

Seven Psalms; Litany; (see note)
upheld; time
[sweet] smell; (see note)

drew back

face; as bright as
as light as any flame
for holy charity
(see note)

received [the sacrament]; weeping
condition; know
commit to you; spirit; (see note)
taken; opposition
marble casket/tomb
(see note)
a marvelous event
rejoiced; prayed

proper conclusion; (see note)
protect; torment