If I hadde cunnyng and eloquens
My conceytes craftely to dilate,
Als whilom hadde the fyrsh rethoryens
Gowere, Chauncere, and now Lytgate,
I wolde me besyn to translate
Seynt Anne Lyf into oure langage.
But sekyr I fere to gynne so late,
Lest men wolde ascryven it to dotage.
For wel I know that fer in age
I am runne, and my lyves date
Aprochith faste, and the fers rage
Of cruel Deth - so wyl my fate
Inevytable1 - hath at my gate
Set hys carte to carye me hens;
And I ne may ne can, thau I hym hate,
Ageyn hys fors make resistens.
Wherfore me thinkyth, and sothe it ys,
Best were for me to leve makynge
Of Englysh, and suche as ys amys
To reformyn in my lyvynge.
For that ys a ryght sovereyn cunnynge:
A man to knowen hys trespasce,
Wyth ful purpos of amendynge,
As ferforth as God wyl grawnte hym grace.
For whil a man hath leysere and space
Here in this wordlys abydynge,
Or than that Deth his brest enbrace,
To ransake his lyf in alle thynge
And wyth his conscience to make rekenynge
And ryhtyn ageyn al that wronge is,
He may not fayle, at his partynge
Owt of his lyf, to gon to blys.
Neverthelesse, onto the sovereyn goodnesse
Of Jhesu I truste and of Marie,
His moder fre, thow I my besynesse
Do diligently to claryfye
Her moderes lyf and hyr genalogye,
To excyten wyth mennys devocyon,
Aftyr th'entent of the storye,
They wyl accepten myn entencyon.
For treuly I make a protestacyon
To Seynt Anne and to hyr dowter Marye,
That yf eythyr errour in myn opynyon
Geyn good maners or heresye
Ageyn the feyth I cowde aspye,
Wythe alle diligence and besynesse
Alle my wyttes I wolde applye
It to reforme and to redresse.
But ere than I ferther forthe procede
In this matere, I lowly beseche
Alle that schul thys story rede
That they loke aftyr no coryous speche,
For Tullyus wolde me never non teche,
Ner in Parnase wher Apollo doth dwelle
I never slepte, ne never dede seche
In Ethna flowrs, wher, as Claudian dothe telle,
Proserpina was rapt; nor of the sugird welle
In Elicona, my rudnesse to leche,
I never dede taste, to me so felle
Wher ever the Muses; and the cruel wreche
Orpheus, whiche hys wyf dede seche
In Helle, of me wolde never take hede
Nor of his armonye oo poynt me teche
In musical proporcyon rymes to lede.
Yet notforthan I wyl not blynne,
For youre sake, my frende Denston Kateryne,
Lyche as I can this story to begynne,
If grace my penne vochesaf to illumyne.
Preyth ye enterly that blyssed virgyne,
Whiche of Seynt Anne the dowter was,
That she vouchesaf som beem lat shyne
Upon me of hyr specyal grace,
And that I may have leyser and spaas,
Thorgh help of influence dyvyne,
To oure bothe confort and solace
This legende begunne for to termyn,
Or than Deth the threed untwyne
Of oure fatal web, whiche is ryht thynne,
And save us bothe from endles pyne,
And here us kepe from shame and synne.
O perles Prencesse, of virginyté
Synguler gemme, whiche in eche nede
Art ever redy helper to be
To them that thee for grace to grede!
Entende, Lady, of thy womanhede
To my prayer, and me soccour,
Whiche purpose of thy kynrede
Sumwhat to seyn, thorghe thy favour,2
And specyally onto the honour
Of thy modyr; whiche as I rede
Rote was of thee, o most swet floure,
And wyth hyr mylke dede foster and fede
Thee ful thre yer, and aftyr dede lede
Onto the temple and ther offerde thee.
Now, Lady, graunt to me mede
In blysse eterne yow bothe to se.
[The Life of Anne]
Aftyr the reulys of interpretacyon,
Anne is as myche to seyn as "grace."
And worthyly thys appellacyon
To hyr pertenyth, for wythin the space
Of hyr wombe sche dede enbrace
Here that is of grace the welle,
Lady of Erthe and Empresse of Helle.
I mene that blyssed and holy virgyne,
Modyr of Jhesu oure Savyour,
Marye, of synners sovereyn medycyne
And in alle dystresse synguler soccour
Aftyr hyr Sone; and of this floure
Whiche is so redolent and so soote
This gracyous Anne was stoke and rote.
The whiche is commendyde, as I do rede,
Of thynges thre most syngulerly:
Ferst of hyr nobyl and royal kynrede,
Conveyede from David down lyneally;
Of perfyht levynge also; and fynally
Of plenteuous fruht; and Ysachar hyr fadyr
Was clepyd, and Nasaphath hyht hyr modyr.
As for the fyrst, I wil ye knowe
Be doctryne of Scripture, whiche wyl not lye,
David in Jerusalem hade on a rowe
Fowre sones be oon cleped Bersabee,
Whilom the wyf of wurthy Urye.
But to oure purpoos, the thryde hyht
Salomon, and the fowrthe Nathan be ryht.3
Moreovyr I wyl ye know also,
As Jerom and Damascen do testifye,
The custome of Scripture not usyth, lo,
Of wymmen to wryte the genealogye;4
Wherfore, as the lyne of Marye
Is knowe be Joseph and non othyr wyse,
So is Annes be Joachym, as they two devyse.
Also for more cler undurstondynge
Of this genealogyal descencyon,
I wil ye wyte that for nothynge
The Olde Law wold suffre permixtyon
Of sundry kynredes, for whiche conclusyon
Joachym toke Anne of hys ny alye,
And Joseph was streyned to wedde Mary.
These thyngys knowen, lyst what I mene:5
Of Nathan longe aftyr descended Levy,
Whiche of his wyf Estha, seyth Damescen,
Too sones gat, Pantar and Melchy.
Pantar gat Barpantar, and he lyneally
Joachym, whiche that husbonde was
To Anne, the moder of oure solas.
On that other syde down descendynge
From Salomon even unto Mathan,
Cam Jacob, aftyr Matheus wrytynge,
But, as Damascen wyl declare can,
Melchy (of the lyne of Nathan,
Pantars brother and the sone of Levy)
Weddyd Jacobes modyr and gat Ely.
So Jacob and Ely were brethern uteryne,
Thow Jacob of Salmon and Ely cam of Nathan,
And whan Ely issules his lyf dede fyne,
Jacob, to reyse his brother seed, dede tan
Hys wyf, as comannded the Lawe than,
And gat Joseph, spouse to Marye.
Lo, thus endyth this double genealogye.
And yf yt lyke onto moralyté
To draw the names of the progenytours
Of Marye, chef gemme of virginyté,
Of helful doctryne ful redolent flours
We schul fynde, of ryht swete odowrs,
Yf we hem dewly kun applye
And ordenelly, aftyr the ethimologye.
Aftyr the sentence of the holy doctour
Seynt Austeyn, David dowth signyfye
"The sovereyn hevenely progenytour,"
And Salomon, "pesyble," aftyr ethimologye
"The prince of pees" betoknyth sothly,
Whom the Fadyr down sent pees to make
Perfyth, oure kynde whann He dyde take.
Be Nathan, David sone also,
"Gyfth" or "thynge govyn" is signyfyed,
Be whom descens Levy is made to,
And "taken up" betoknyth, or "applyed,"
Wherein we be mystyly certyfyed
That be hem oure nature assumpt shul be
To the secunde persone of the Trinité.
But yet had it not ben sufficyent,
The uptakyng of oure frele nature,
Whiche wyth synne was almost schent,
But recuryd had ben oure brosure
And he venguyshd that causyd the lesure;
Wherfore in the ordyr of oure reparacyon
Descens is to Jacob, toknynge "supplantacyon."
Jacob supplanted hys brother Esau,
Whiche toknythe "row" or ellys "hery,"
And it signifyeth that oure Lorde Jhesu
Supplanted the devyl, oure ruggyd enmye,
Whan He on the crosce ful schamfully
Heng nakyd, fastnyd wyth nayles smerte
And wyth a scharpe spere stunge to the herte.
Aftyr Jacob, Joseph (as seyth the text)
In descence of the genealogye,
Whiche toknyth "encres" stondyth next,
Spouse of Annes doughter Marie,
Modyr of Jhesu, whiche is to sygnyfie
"A byttyr see" and "salvacyon";
Whereof, lo, a bref moralizacyon:
Joseph, encrescynge in goodnesse,
Must wedde Marye, the bytter see
Of penaunce, be constant stabylnesse;
And yf Anne penaunces modyr be,
Whiche toknyth "grace" and "charyté,"
He schal conceyven be the humble vertu
Salvacyon, tokned be this name, Jhesu.
Now have I shewed more compendyously
Than it owt have ben, this noble pedegré,
But in that myn auctour I folow sothly,
And also to eschewyn prolyxité
And for my wyt is schort, as ye may se.
To the secunde part I wyl me hye
Of my processe, and Annes lyf descrye.
Thys blyssud Anne of the blode royal,
As toforn is seyde, of David the kynge,
In a cyté that Bedleem men calle
Was born and hade hyr fyrst fostrynge
In alle that myht to vertu hyr brynge,
As diligently as hyr fadyr cowd do,
Isachar, and Nazaphat hyr modyr also.
And whan she to yeris of dyscrescyon
Was comyn, aftyr ther lawes guyse,
Not over yonge aftyr myn estymacyon,
But what yer of age I ne can devyse,
Wedded sche was in ful solenne wyse
Into a cuntré clepyd Galylé
And to a man acordyng to hyr degré,
I mene to Joachym, in the cyté
Of Nazareth dwellynge and of David hows,
A ryche man and of gret dignyté
Whos lyf of youthe was ever vertuous,
Symple, ryhtfulle and eke petous,
Aforne God and man ryht comendable,
To whom Anne was wyf ful covenable.
For aftyr the doctryne of philosophye
In Jhesus Syrach, whoso it rede can,
Lyche to lyche evere doth applie,
As scheep to scheep and man to man,
Pertryche to pertryche and swan to swan,
So vertu to vertu is agreable;
Werfore Anne to Joachym was wyf ful able.
For liche as they in ther yunge age
Were bothne forthe browthe vertuously,
Ryght so, conjoyned be maryage
Whan they were, more diligently
In vertus they grew; and cause is why -
For, as longe toforne be a poete was tolde,
What newe shelle taketh it savouryth olde.6
And for they wolde lyven conformely
To Goddes plesaunce, here possessyoun
They devyded on partes thre treuly.
The ferst they goven wyth devocyon
To the temple, the secunde to sustentacyon
Of pylgrimys and pore men seek and olde;
The thrydde they kept for her howsholde.
Thus ryhtful to God and to man petous
Twenty wynter they lyved wythout issw,
In chast maryage and not vycyous.
And thow of here seed no fruht grew,
Yet to God for grace they dede pursew
At Hys temple thryes in the yere
Wyth offrynge and wyth devouht prayer,
And maden vowes wyth holy entent
That yf God wolde of His specyal grace
Ony fruht hem sende, they wolde it present,
Were it man or woman, beforn Hys face,
Even in the temple, that holy place,
Ther hem to sence bothe clene and pure7
As longe therof as they had cure.
Long aftyr, upon a festful day,
Clepyd of the temple the dedycacyon,
Joachym in his best aray
To Jerusalem went wyth devocyoun
To make his ofrynge as he was woun,
Wyth other burgeys of hys cyté,
Eche man as longyd to hys degré.
At that tyme byschop was Isakar
In the temple, as tellyth the story.
And whan he amonge other was war
Of Joachym, stondynge ful sturdyly,
He hym rebukyde, and askyde why
He that bareyn and frutles was
Presumyde to apperen in that plas.
"Thy giftes," quod he, "ben unworthy
And to God nothinge acceptable.
For this I wyl thou knowe pleynly -
That bareynesse to God is reprovable,
And cursed is yche man and condempnable,
As Holy Scripture us doth telle,
That no fruht forth bryngthe in Israele.
"Werfore, Joachym, I charge thee,
Nevere aftyr use this presumpcyon
Here to offre, tyl assoylled thou be
Of this legal malediccyoun.
And whan thou hast get an absolucyon
Of this curs and hast fecundyté,
Than shul thy giftes acceptable be."
Whan Joachym thus rebukyde was
Of the byschop in the temple opynly,
He was so aschamyd of that caas
That agyn hom he nolde goon pleynly,
Ne hap his neybures which dwellyd hym by
Hym wolde repreve anothyr day.
And therfore he toke al another way,
And to his herdemen he dede hym hye,
Which in wyldernesse fer dede pasture
That tyme his schep ful diligently,
Which in thoo dayes were his most cure,
For wyth that encrecyde of here genderure
He and his wyf were wonte to fede
Pore folke whiche God dede love and drede.
Whyl Joachym hym thus dede ocupye
Abought his scheep in wast wyldyrnesse,
And Anne his spouse cowde non aspye
Of hym tydynges, neyther more ne lasse,
Ful monythes fyve, wyth gret trestesse
Oppressede and prostrat she gan to preye,
And in here prayer she thus dede saye:
"O soverayne everelastynge Majesté,
Whiche hast been evere and be schal
Regnynge in stable eternyté,
Whos regne may neyther bowe ne fal,
To whom eeke eche creature mortal
Must obey - now, Lorde, in this nede,
Upon me rew for Thy nobylhede!
"A, Lorde of Israele most myhty,
Syth Thou no chylderne hast gove me to,
What have I trespascyd geyn Thy mercy,
That thus my spouse Thou takyst me fro?
For ful fyve monythes be passyd and go
Syth I of hym had no tydynge,
Wether he be dede or ellys lyvynge.
"Now help me, Lorde, I Thee beseche,
And graunte me grace to have knowynge
Were I myht my husbonde seche;
For yf I knew where, wythowt letynge
I wolde hym seke, yf he were lyvynge,
And yf he ded were, his sepulture
I wolde enbelshyn wyth besy cure.
"For, Lorde, Thou knowyst how affecteuously
I hym now love and evere have do,
Syth we fyrst knyt were lawfully,
Past alle creatures; Lorde, helpe me so!
And yf the knot be now undo
Of oure spousayle, I noon but Thee
Know, Lorde, that may my confort be."
Whan she thes wordes and many mo,
Which at this tyme I ne can expresse,
Had seyd, sobbynge for very wo
And sykynge for hertys byttyrnesse,
Into an herber she can hyre dresse
Besyden hyr hows, and ther certayn
Hyre prayer hertly she made ageyn.
And whan she roos from hyr prayer
And casuelly lyftyde up hyr eye,
In a fayr, fresh, and grene laurere
A sparow fedynge hyr bryddes she seye,
In a nest made of mossh and cleye,
And anon she fel down sodenly
Upon hyr knees and thus gan crye:
"O Lorde Almyhte, which hast overe al
Soverenté, and to everé creature,
Fyssh, ful, and bestis, bothe more and smal,
Hast grauntyd be kyndly engenderure
To joyen in the lykenesse of ther nature
And in ther issu, iche aftyr his kynde,
To worshyp of Thy name wythowten ende!
"And I thank Thee, Lorde, that Thou to me
Hast don as it is to Thy plesaunce,
Fro the gefte of Thy benygnyté
Me excludynge; swych is my chaunce.
Yet if yt Thee had lykede me to avaunce
Wyth sone or dowgter, in humble wyse
I wolde it han offrede to Thy servyse."
And whan she thus had hyr entent
Expressed wyth a ful mornynge chere,
Sodeynly, or she wyst what yt mente,
An aungel beforne hyr gan apere,
Clad in lyht than the sunne more clere,
And wyth debonayr chere and gret reverence
To hyr he shewyd thus his sentence:
"Be not aferde, Anne, thow unwarly
I thus appere in thy presence;
For from Heven down sent am I,
Of glad tydynges thee to encence:
How the fruht of thi body in reverence
And honour schal be and in mennys mende
Thorgh alle kynreddes to the werdys ende."
Whan the aungel thus his ambacyat
Had brefly doon, he vanysshed auay,
And she astoyned and so dysconsolat
Was that she nyst what she myght seye.
And to hyr chaumbur anon she toke the way,
Wher wythowt bodyly confort or chere
A day and a nyght she lay in hyr prayer.
And aftyr what tyme she dyd up ryse,
Alle bywept from hyr prayer,
She clepyd hir mayde, to whom this wyse
She seyde, "Syth thou sey me here
So longe lyenge wythowt confort or chere
Of ony wyht, how mayst thee quyte
That lyst not onys me to vysyhte?
"Allas, Lorde, yf it schuld be seyde
Al mannys confort Thou hast from me
Wythdrawen, and also of myn handmayde,
Which awt, me thynkyth, my confort han be!
But al this Thou dost that only in Thee
I schuld trust, Lorde, and syngulerly
Al my hope puttyn in Thy mercy."
To whom this damysel grucchyng can sey,
"Thow God thy wombe wyth bareynesse
Hath shet, and thyn husbonde takyn away,
Wenyst thou these myschevs I myht redresse?8
Nay, nay!" Than Anne for veray hevynesse
Of this answere fel sotheynly down,
And wepte wythowten consolacyon.
In this menetyme an aungel shene
In lykenesse of a ful fayre yunglynge
To Joachym apperyd in the mountes grene,
As he was amonge his schepe walkynge;
And to hym he wsyde this talkynge:
"What is the cause, telle it me pleyn,
Why thou gost not hom to thy wyf ageyn?"
"Yung man," quod Joachym, "I wyl trewly
Telle thee now even lyk as yt is.
I love my wyf as affectually,
I dar wel seyn, as any man dothe his;
But this twenty wyntur whiche beforn this
We togedur han ben, or more I trow,
The seed is lost which I have sowe.
"I wante the argumentes of a man;
And whan men be reknyd I am lefth behynde;
For no maner isseu may I han,
Neythyr son ne dowghter lyke me in kynde.
And syth in my felde no fruht may fynde,
To telyn it lengur it were but veyne,
As me thynkyth, this is certayne.
"For he that sowyth his feld yerly
Wyth gret dilygence, and hys appyl tre
Eche day watryth by and by,
And nout therof growth, faryth as he
To staunche his thrust which drynkyth of the se,9
Or betythe the wynde, or in gravel doth sowe,
Or eryth the bank were nought wyl growe.
"So have I longe, as it seyde before,
Labouryde in vayne, yf I xal not lye,
Ful twenti yere; but I wyl no more.
And also whan I thynk on the vylany
Whiche I hadde whan the byschop me hye
Bad owt of the temple, and myn offrynge
Despysed, cause I have of mornynge.
"These thyngys peysed and other moo
Thus avysede, whatevere betyde
Hom ageyn I wyl never more go,
But here wyth myn herdys I wyl abyde,
And wyth good avyhs I wyl provyde
To sende the part whiche longethe hem to
Both temple and wyf and pore men also."
And whan he thus declaryde had his menynge,
This yunglyng answerde ful demuerely:
"I am an aungel of the hevenly Kynge,
Whiche han apperyde this day sothly
To Anne thy wyf, wepynge contenuely,
And now am Y sent to declaren thee
How youre prayers and almes of God herd be.
"I have also seyn thy gret schame
And the hatful reprof of bareynesse,
To thee objectyd wythowt thy blame.
And this I wyl thou know for sekyrnesse
That God ys wenger of wyckydnesse,
And whan He the wombe of His wel-belovyde, sothly,
Schettyth, He it opnyth the more mervelusly.
"Sare, the princes of youre kynrede,
Tyl foure score yer sche was baren.
And thanne she had Isaac, in whoos seede
The blessynge of folk promyssed was certeyn.
Bareyn was Rachel, the sothe to sayn,
Tyl she hade Joseph, of Egipt governour,
And of many folk from hungur the salvatour.
"Who amonge dukys was myghtyere
Than was Sampson? Telle thou me.
Or who amonge juges was holyere
Than Samuel? Whos modres bothe perdé
Were bareyn. Thy wyf stant in lyke degré;
For a doughter she shal have, sothlye,
Whos name clepyd shal be Marye.
"She shal be offred from hyr nativyté
To Goddes temple, of youre bothens vow,
And wyth the Holy Gost fulfyllyd schal sche be
From hyr modir wombe. Wherefore thou
Hom to thi wyf go hastely nowe,
For blessyd is hyr seed, whos dowghter shal be
Modyr of blysse everlastynge, perdé."
Of thes tydynges Joachym affryht
Worchyped the aungel and thus can sey,
"Ser, yf I have fownde grace in thy syht,
Com and suppe wyth me, I thee pray,
In my tabernacle her besyde the wey,
And blesse thi servaunt." Onto whom ageyn
Thus this aungel benygnely gan seye:
"Conservaunth, not servaunth, I wyl thou me cal,
For of o Lorde above bothe we servauntes be;
And for my mete is invysible and my drynk celestyal,
It may not be seyn in this mortalyté;
Werfore to thy tabernacle compelle not me,
But swiche as thou schuldest gyf to my servyse,
To God do offren it up in a brent sacrifice."
As sone as this worde was seyd, Joachym can renne
Unto the shepys folde and brought a lamb clene,
And at the aungels byddynge he it gan to brenne,
And anon, otherwyse than Joachym dede wene,10
This aungel, whiche was both bryht and shene,
Or than he awar was, even beforn his syht,
Wyth the fume he toke to Heven his flyht.
Than Joachym fel down sodenly
Grovelynges and abasshed ful sore,
And so from sext tyl nyht, sothely,
On the yorth he lay as he dede were;
And than hys herdys had purposyde hym bere
To his grave, wenynge he dede had ben,
And than to hymselfe he cam ageyn.
And whan he thus ageyn com was
And wel adawed of his swouwnynge,
He tolde his servantys al the cas
And what was cause of his fallynge,
And anon thei hym conseled for anythynge
Al that the aungel dyde to hym seye
Wythowt taryeng he it shulde obeye.
Aftyr this, as Joachym gan thynk
In his hert what best was to do,
Slepe aftyr hevynesse made him to wynke,
And anon this aungel, evene ryht so
As he had uakynge, appered him to
Whyl that he slepte, and on this wyse
His massage to hym thus he dede devyse:
"I am the aungel the whiche at assignement
Of God am comaundyde thy kepere to be;
And of my comynge, lo, this is the entent -
In hasty wyse that thou home hye thee.
Youre prayeris ben harde, and therfore ye
Swich a chylde shul have as never tofore
Ne never schal aftur of woman be bore."
And whan Joachym of his slepe awoke,
He made hym redy wythowt lettynge,
And thankyd God, and aftur that he toke
Homward his weye, wyth hym ledynge
Bothe herdemen and bestys, forthe softe goynge;
And ever be the wey as they dyde walke,
Of Goddes goodnesse they dede speke and talke.
And whan they had ful ner spent
Thryes ten dayes in here journey,
An aungel from Heven to Anne was sent,
Whiche bad hyr goon to the hy cyté
Of Jerusalem, wher she shulde ce
At the gate whiche hath name of golde
Hyr spouse, the joye of hyr housholde.
Owt of hyr prayers anon dede ryse
Thys blessyde Anne, and on hyr ueye
To Jerusalem-warde, as dede devyse
The auungel, she gan hyr fast conveye;
And whan at the goldede gates she sey
Hyr dere spouse comyn wyth his herdemen,
As fast as she myhte she gan to ren.
She toke heed of non other thynge
But of hym alone, for in veraay blysse
Here thowte she was for his comynge.
And anon she gan hym halsen and kysse,
No joye wenynge that she myht mysse
Syth she hym hadde, and thus she gan crye,
"Welkecome, dere spouse, and God gramercy!
"I was a wedowe, now I am non.
I was also bareyn and reprevable,
But nowe bareynesse is from me gon,
And to conceyvyn I am made able
Be Goddes providence eterne and stable;
And for His goodenesse shewyd unto me
Magnyfyed mot evere His name be."
Whan this miracle abowte was blowe
Be the trompet of fame in that cuntré,
To alle tho that hem dede love or know
Ful gret joy was of that novelté,
And specyaly to alle ther offynyté.
And after this hom they went, sothly,
The promysse abydynge of God mekely.
After the nyhnte monyth, as I remembre,
Whan Phebus in Virgine had his curs ny runne,
I mene the eyghte day of September,
To the werd appered a newe sunne,
And of Annes wombe sprange the oyle-tunne11
Of gracyous helthe to alle that beth seke,
Wyth a devouht hert if they wyl it seke;
This is to seyne, that this day was born
The glorious gemme of virginyté,
Syche as never non was beforn,
Nor never aftyr other lyke it shal be;
Whos singuler privylege was this, that she
Shulde mayde be and modyr eke of Myssye;
And hyr name they dede clepe Marye.
This lady to preysen as it were skyl
Aftyr the meryte of hyr worthynesse,
Fer pasyth my wyt, thow not my wylle;
I pleynley knowleche myn owne rudnesse.
But whoso wyl knowen, as I do gesse,
In Englysshe here laudes, lat hem looke
Of owre Ladyes Lyf Jhon Lytgates booke.
And who in Latyn have luste to know
This ladyes praysynge retorycally
Expressed, ten bookes on a row
He muste seke, entytlyd sothly
"Of the weddynge dytees," metryd coryously.
In which tow werkys he shal inow fynde
Al that of me is now lefth behynde.
Aftyr this, whan Phebus (whiche every day
Chaungith his herberwe, nowher stabylly
Usyd to abyden, for he mevyth alway)
The twelve signes thryes by and by
In the Zodyak cercle had passyde coursly,
And in the ende of Virgo taken his hostayge,
Than was blessyd Mary ful thre yer of age
And Joachym dysposed hym, and his wyf
Anne, devowthly her vow to fulfille,
To offren hyr dowgthter to the Lorde of lyf,
In the temple ther to dwelle stylle
As long as it plessyd His blessyd wylle;
And to Jerusalem for the same entent
At the next feste both two they went.
Toforn the entré of the temple than
Were fiftene grees of marbyl grey and brounn,
As olde scriptures wel declare can,
Be whiche to the temple was the ascencyon,
And at the netherest was Maria set down,
And she anon ryht up ovyr on alle dede pace
Wythowt ony help saf only of grace.
A wondurful thyng it was to see
That of alle the while of hyr passage,
Whil she stey up from gre to gree,
Notwythstondynge hyr tendyrnesse of age,
She never ofbak turnyde hyr vysayge,
Nor after fadyr or modyr onys dyde calle,
Tyl she had clomben up the grees alle.
Ryht up also and nothynge stoupynge
Al the tyme she went, and evere hyr eye
On the temple she was lyftynge,
And never hyr syht kest other weye.
And whan Anne hyr modyr this marvel seye,
Fulfyllyde wyth the Holy Gostes grace,
Thus gan to seyn in that same place:
"Owre Lorde God, most of puysshaunce
Past alle other, evere blessyde mot be,
Of His holy worde wich hathe remembraunce,
And of His hy grace hathe vysedetyd me
That I no lengere reprevyd shal be,
Whil that I lyve, of bareynnesse,
Ever worshype to Hym for His goodenesse!
"And not only from shameful bareynesse
I am delyverde thus singulerly,
But eke Hys peple which was in dystresse
He hathe vysyted so marcyfully,
That thoroghe my fruht - Lord gramercy -
Not I alone but al mankynde
Shal comforth fynde wythowten ende."
Aftyr this wyth an holy entente
Joachym and Anne bothe two in fere
In the temple dede up presente
Mayde Marye wyth ful humble chere,
Preynge to God wyth herte entere
That He vouchesaf of Hys mercy
Here present to acceptyn benyngly.
Whan this was doun they lefte hyr ther,
Joachym and Anne, and hom ageyn
To Nazareth went, wher they dwelled er,
And holyly lyvedyn, this is certayn.
But how longe aftur I cannot seyn
Joachym lyved, but wyl know I
Anne had thre dowghters, and iche hyht Mary;
But whether be oon husbonde or ellys be thre,
At this tyme I wil not determyne,
For in this mater what best plesyth me
I have as I can declaryd in Latyn
In balaade-ryme. Wherfore here to fyne
Seynt Annes Lyf I fully me converte,
Thus hyr besechynge wyth ful louly herte:
"O gracyous Anne, wich hast worthyly
Of grace the name, outh of whom dede sprynge
She that of grace most mervelously
And of lyf eterne the welle dede forth brynge
Into this worlde, graunt at my partynge
Be the fatal cours from this mutabilyté,
Me in blysse eterne stablisshed to be.
"Provide, Lady, eek that Jon Denstone
And Kateryne his wyf, if it plese the grace
Of God above, thorgh thi merytes a sone
Of her body mow have or they hens pace,
As they a dowghter han, yung and fayre of face,
Wyche is Anne clepyde in worshyp, Lady, of thee,
And aftyr to blysse eterne convey hem alle thre."
A.M.E.N. Lorde, for charyté.
knowledge; (see note)
ideas artfully to expand
once; fresh rhetoricians; (see note); (t-note)
truly; fear; begin
ascribe; senile folly
far; (see note)
the end of my life
It would be best for me to give up writing
way of life
most excellent knowledge
To the extent that
thoroughly examine (ransack)
set forth clearly; (see note)
With which to stir up
solemn affirmation; (see note)
Cicero; teach me any
carried off by force; sweet
Were; scoundrel; (t-note)
harmony [even] one
(see note); (t-note)
As well as
graciously consent (vouchsafe)
beam [of light]
To the comfort of us both
Before; unravel the thread; (see note)
call to you for grace
Give heed; (see note)
Root; sweet; (t-note)
nourish; (see note)
According to; rules
has the meaning
Her who; source
most excellent medicine
She (Anne) is praised
in the direct line
manner of life
By [the] teaching; (t-note)
by one [woman]; Bathsheba; (see note)
want you to know
set forth; (see note)
want you to understand; (see note); (t-note)
allow intermingling; (t-note)
constrained; (see note)
he in the direct line [begot]
Matthew's writing (Gospel)
having the same mother
restore; brother's line, took; (see note)
If it pleases moral interpretation
translate; ancestors; (t-note)
them properly can bring together
Augustine; means (does signify); (t-note)
most excellent; ancestor
Through whom the line descends to Levi
Who (whose name)
By which we are spiritually assured; (t-note)
taken up [into heaven]
Unless our wound had been cured
[The] descent; meaning "usurpation"; (t-note)
means "rough"; "hairy"
means "increase"; (t-note)
"A bitter sea"
mother of penance
bring her to virtue
years of discretion; (see note)
the house of David; (t-note)
from youth on
just; also merciful
whoever can read it; (see note); (t-note)
Like is always conformed to like
For which reason; fitting
children (issue); (t-note)
full of vice
male or female
provided for [it]
the Dedication of the Temple; (t-note)
befitted his rank
the others; aware
want you to know
reprehensible; (see note)
For this reason; (t-note)
curse; become fertile
That he would not return home openly
a completely different road
greatest concern; (t-note)
the increase; engendering; (t-note)
accustomed to feed
who loved and feared God
decline nor fail
have pity; nobility
How; against; (t-note)
take from me; (t-note)
adorn; careful attention
marriage; no one
young birds; saw
fowl; large and small
by natural procreation
offspring, each; its nature
gift; generosity; (t-note)
if it had pleased You; favor
before she knew
brighter than the sun
afraid; though unexpectedly; (t-note)
families; world's; (t-note)
stunned; forlorn; (t-note)
did not know
in this way
From any creature; do your duty; (t-note)
[even] once; visit; (t-note)
[so] that; (t-note)
used these words
cultivate (till); vain
one after another
nothing; behaves like the man
plows; where nothing
high priest; to hasten; (t-note)
weighed; others in addition
belongs to them
[who was] constantly weeping
have been heard by God
want you to know; certainty
Sara; princess; ancestors; (see note)
Until the age of 80
princes (leaders); (see note); (t-note)
stands in the same position; (t-note)
by the vow of you both
Bowed down to
To him in response
Wherefore; tent urge
would have given
midday (the sixth hour)
herdsmen decided to carry him; (t-note)
returned [to his senses]; (t-note)
everything that had happened
sorrow; doze; (t-note)
when he was awake; (t-note)
have been heard
at an easy pace
along the way
Three times (thrice)
golden (gilded); (t-note)
It seemed to her
Welcome; thanks to God; (t-note)
Virgo; course; (see note)
are sick; (t-note)
" . . . songs," finely wrought in verse; (see note)
in due order
mounted; step to step
backwards; face (visage)
leaning over; (t-note)
thank the Lord
lived in a holy manner
each [was] called
fated path; [place of] change
before they pass away; (t-note)
called in honor