Chansons d'Aventure and Love Quests
Ase y me rod this ender day. Index no. 359. MS: BL Harley 2253, fol. 81b (West Midlands, early fourteenth century). Editions: Wright, Specimens, pp. 94-96; Böddekker, pp. 218-19; Wülcker, 1:48-49; B14, no. 11; Brook, no. 27; Davies, no. 20; LH, no. 194, Stevick, no. 33; Dunn and Byrnes, pp. 205-07; Cook, pp. 462-64; Otto Funke, A Middle English Reader, third ed. (Berne: A. Francke, 1966), pp. 49-51. Selected criticism: William McClellan, "Radical Theology or Parody in a Marian Lyric of Ms Harley 2253," Voices in Translation: The Authority of "Olde Bookes" in Medieval Literature; Essays in Honor of Helaine Newstead, ed. Deborah M. Sinnreich-Levi and Gale Sigal (New York: AMS, 1992), pp. 157-68.
1 Ase y me rod. A conventional opening for the chanson d'aventure. Index no. 360, "Now spryngeth the spray" (Stevick, no. 25, Davies, no. 19) shows the form's secular origins.
7 suete ant fre. Written over an erasure.
23 Stevick suggests emending to If that you leste (if it please you) or If that ye leste (If you will listen) for rhyme and meter.
25 wymman. Brook's and Brown's emendation. MS: wynman.
33 on thoro lay. Brook rejects Böddekker's reading of þore, emended to þorwe and glossed as "crib," as "phonologically unlikely." He concurs with Sister Mary Immaculate ("A Note on 'A Song of the Five Joys,'" Modern Language Notes 55 , 249-54) that Brown's glossing of the phrase as "according to due law" or "in due form" is "theologically inappropriate," and agrees with her reading of lay as "light." He comments: "This explanation seems the most satisfactory in view of v. 35 and the passages quoted by Sister Mary Immaculate from sermons on the Nativity which stress the miraculous brilliance of the star; for example, St. Bernard says 'Nox enim ut dies illuminata est' (Migne, P.L. 183, col. 126)" (p. 86).
34 brohte us lyhtnesse. Brown calls attention to the line "Et erranti populo lucem protulist" ("And to a wandering people you proffered light") in Primum fuit gaudium, a Latin hymn of the five joys (p. 246).
35 The ster. MS: þest, followed by i above the line. Brook writes: "Brown's reading þe ster fits the sense much better than Böddekker's reading þestri, but the latter is probably the reading of the manuscript, since the hook used to represent er in this manuscript is much rounder than the short vertical stroke used here. It is therefore necessary to regard the reading þe ster as an emendation" (p. 86).
44 ff. On Estermorewe . . . . Accounts of Jesus' resurrection occur in Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20.
50-51 When hire body to hevene cam, / The soule to the body nam. The legend of Mary's bodily assumption into heaven appeared first in fourth-century apocryphal writings. Jacobus de Voragine discusses several versions of the story in The Golden Legend; see 2:77-97. Some medieval mystery cycles incorporate the story; see, for example, "The Assumption of Mary" (based on the Golden Legend) in The N-Town Play, Cotton MS Vespasian D.8, vol. 1, ed. Stephen Spector (EETS s.s. 11 [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991], pp. 387-409), where Jesus receives Mary's soul in heaven, then returns to earth to place it again in her uncorrupted body. The two then re-ascend incarnate into heaven among choirs of singing angels.
Nou skrinketh rose ant lylie flour. Index no. 2359. MS: BL Harley 2253, fol. 80a (West Midlands, early fourteenth century). Editions: Wright, Specimens, p. 87; Böddekker, pp. 212 ff.; CS, no. 48; Patterson, no. 33; B14, no. 10; Brook, no. 23; Stevick, no. 31; Silverstein, no. 27, with commentary; Davies, no. 14; LH, no. 193; Sisam, Oxford, no. 51; Kaiser, pp. 288-89 (50 lines); Segar (part), no. 26.
The rose and the lily, traditional symbols of Mary, are here seen literally as earthly and transient; but they remind the speaker of the rose and lily who restores rather than withers, the life-giving Mary.
1 skrinketh. MS: skrnketh. Brook's emendation. Brown emends to skrynketh.
7 fleysh. The h is crossed with a horizontal stroke which, Brook suggests, may indicate a final e.
13 folie. Brook comments: "folie in Old French often means 'illicit love', and this may be the meaning here, cf. Handlyng Synne. vv. 12393 ff."(p. 85).
29 We. MS: whe. Brown and Brook emend.
30 medicine. Patterson calls attention to a line from the antiphon for Evensong: "Such a deeth under3ede the medicyn of liif" (Maskell, 2:64).
41 his. Sisam emends to hir.
51 dude is body. The sense might be "placed his body" instead of "died [with] his body," the implication being that Jesus as God took human form and put that body on the tree for "oure sunnes."
55-59 This is the MS reading. Brown rearranges the lines to fit the pattern of the previous stanzas:
Thah thou be whyt and bryth on ble
Thou thench on Godes shoures
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Falewen shule thy floures.
Jesu have merci of us
That al this world honoures.
Brook notes Brown's transposition, but comments: "there are other examples of differences of structure between the last stanza of a lyric and the other stanzas . . . and it is not necessary to assume that a line has been lost. As it stands in the manuscript v. 58 does not rhyme with any other line in the stanza, but the emendation of us to me restores the rhyme."
56 bryth. Brook emends to bryht.
58 us. CS and Sisam emend to me.
In a tabernacle of a toure. Index no. 1460. MS: Bodl. 21896 (Douce 322), fols. 8b-9b (c. 1400). Other MSS: Bodl. 6943 (Ashmole 59), fol. 66a (mid-fifteenth century); Bodl. 11951 (Rawlinson C.86), fol. 69b (late fifteenth century); Bodl. 21652 (Douce 78), fol. 1b (late fifteenth century); BL Harley 1706, fol. 9b (fifteenth century); BL Addit. 37049, fol. 25b (first 11 stanzas, with illustration of Mary holding infant Christ in "tabernacle" and monk praying before them: "O Maria the flowre of virgyns clere in al oure nede oure prayer thou here") (early fifteenth century); Lambeth 853, p. 4 (8 stanzas, c. 1430); Manchester Rylands Library 18932 (Latin 395), fol. 138a (stanza 11 only, late fifteenth century); Paris Bibl. Nat. Anglais 41 (Supplément Français 819), fol. 3b (10 stanzas). Editions of Douce 322: B14, no. 132; H. S. Bennett, Quia Amore Langueo, with engravings by Eric Gill (London: Faber and Faber, 1937); Davies, no. 62; Stevick, no. 49; Gray, Selection, no. 61; Silverstein, no. 50; LH, no. 196. Editions of Addit. 37049: Bennett. Editions of Lambeth 853: F. J. Furnivall, EETS o.s. 15, pp. 177-79; Quia Amore Langueo (London: Carridoc Press, 1902); Philip Warner, "Quia Amore Langueo and Richard de Castre's Prayer to Jesus," Medici Society Memorabilia 3 (1915), 9-32; Bennett. Edition of Bibl. Nat. Anglais: S. Segawa, The Paris Version of Quia Amore Langueo (N.p.: Kanazawa, 1934).
Of this poem, Silverstein comments: "Mary, at once man's mother and sister, treats of love in a family tie made intense by its figurative complexity . . . which yet permits her to voice the reason for her complaint - man's flight from God - movingly as a son's neglect of a woman's yearning devotion" (p. 72). But Rosemary Woolf criticizes the "curiosity" of the use of the Canticles imagery to refer to Mary's love for humankind rather than for Christ, arguing that "the language of love-longing is not fitting to a loving mother" (302). She says: "It was customary in both devotion and literature to transfer to the Virgin what was said of Christ: this poem is an example of such a transference not succeeding" (p. 302). Compare, however, line 95, "Take me for thy wyfe and lerne to synge," with Pearl XIII-XIV, in which Pearl, citing Apocalypse 14:1-5, explains that she is one of Christ's many virgin brides; marriage is, in Pearl and in this poem, a metaphor for spiritual devotion. For a similar poem, a chanson d'aventure in which Christ is the speaker, see Index no. 1463 (Stevick, no. 50).
1 A tabernacle is "a canopied niche or recess in a wall or pillar, to contain an image" (OED tabernacle, sb.4.b). Ashmole: tourret.
2 musyng on the mone. Typological readings provide associations between the moon and Mary; see Canticles 6:9: "Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon . . ." and the vision in Apocalypse 12:1 of a figure often associated with Mary, "a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon was under her feet." The associations could be extended: if Christ is the sun, Mary is the moon, which "sends out its light without itself losing any of its brightness, just as Mary gave birth to her Child without forfeiting her virginity. It is smaller and weaker than the sun, but as a morning star it can announce the advent of the great light, just as Mary announces Jesus" (Hirn, pp. 322-23).
3 crouned. Ashmole: comly.
4 Apered in gostly syght ful sone. Rawlinson: I saw wittande high in a trone. Lambeth: Me thou3 te y si3 sittinge in trone.
8 Quia amore langueo. See Canticles 2:5 and 5:8.
11 I am hys moder - I can none other. Douce 78 and Rawlinson: Y am his mediatrice and his modur.
14 Though. Brown emends to Through.
15 Rawlinson and Ashmole read me, which Stevick adopts.
ryse. See MED risen, 5.c: "to rise to a higher or more perfect moral or spiritual state; arise after a moral or spiritual fall." Compare Cursor Mundi, line 25745: "Bot quen we fall, ai mai we ris, For es na man sa gret mai sin . . . that he ne his merci has in hij."
18 I love, I loke. Rawlinson: And busy I loke.
21 soule. Rawlinson: sonne.
23 my son forgave. Rawlinson, Ashmole, Lambeth: I forgave.
25-40 These two stanzas are reversed in Paris and Lambeth MSS.
30 thow stelest me fro. In Canticles, the bride repeatedly seeks the groom but never secures him for long, as he steals away while she sleeps.
31 Sewe: MS: shewe. Brown, Gray, and Stevick emend.
Sewe to me, synner, I thee pray. Rawlinson: Shew to me love sonne I the pray.
34 nedeth hit but. Addit. 37049: nedys it none; Douce 78: nedithe hit man.
41-48 Omitted from Paris and Lambeth MSS.
50 Mankynde ys bette for hys trespasse. Paris and Lambeth: Hys body was beten for this trespas. Stevick emends to My child is beten for thy trespas.
53-55 Paris and Lambeth MSS: My son is thi fader, thi [Paris: his] modur y was / He sucked my pappe, he lufd the so / He dyed for the, my hert thou has. The shift in point of address from Thow (sinner) to Thow (Jesus) in lines 53-54 is awkward, but it effectively dramatizes Mary's role as intercessor as she first addresses humankind and then Jesus. Addit. and Rawlinson give thy moder for hys moder; Addit. gives thow has for he has.
57 The Lambeth text ends with a stanza not found in Douce 322:
My sone deede for thi love, died
His herte was persid with a spere
To bringe thi soule to hevene above,
For thi love so diede he here.
Therfor thou must be to me moost dere,
Sithen my sone loved thee so;
Thou praiest to me nevere but y thee here, hear
Quia amore langueo.
62 Why shulde I flee thee? Douce 78, Rawlinson, Ashmole: Why schuldest thou fle?
soo. MS: loo. Brown's emendation.
63 I helpe. Ashmole: thy helpe, which Stevick adopts.
65-72 Davies notes: "Paris MS. omits this and the last stanza but includes the intermediate stanzas in reverse order. B.L. MS. has a different version of this and the next stanza and omits the last."
70 were me fro. Ashmole: were foo.
76 he ys myne hosprynge. Compare §60, lines 7 ff.
79 For hym had I thys worshippyng. I.e., Mary's prominence - and her influence - result from what she has done for the sake of humankind.
86 me helpe. Douce 322: mercy.
87 kepe. Douce 322: helpe.
90 thus. MS reads thys; Brown and Gray emend.
92 wynge. Although Mary is never represented with wings, her robes function as shelter as a bird's wings might to her chicks. She is sometimes depicted as Mater Misericordia, with her mantle spread open to shelter Christians (see, for example, Plate C in this volume). John V. Fleming discusses this tradition in light of a thirteenth-century legend of a Cistercian monk who goes to heaven and sees none of his brothers; Mary opens her mantle and reveals a host of them, held close ("The Summoner's Prologue: An Iconographic Adjustment," Chaucer Review 2 , 95-107).
94 Thys heritage ys tayled; sone, come therto. Davies glosses: "This inheritance is for yourself and your heirs - come quickly into it."
95 wyfe. Douce 78: modure.
Upon a lady my love ys lente. Index no. 3836. MS: BL Cotton Caligula A.2, fol. 91a (early fifteenth century). Editions: Wright and Halliwell, 2:255-56; Wülcker, 2:7; B15, no. 48; LH, no. 188.
This poem exemplifies the dedicated lover trope that is often brought into Marian lyrics. The first six stanzas declare the lover's erotic commitment to his beloved in all its exclusive intensity: she is the stabilizing force in his life, and his love for her dominates his desire, his heart, his strength, his vows. She is worthy of his complete devotion, gentle and meek, ready to serve, and attentive, and courteous. Mary is never named; her identity is only hinted at in her mothering (line 15) and in the range of her service (not just for a man, but for women and children too, line 19). She is revealed only in the last stanza as the supreme mediatrix between human needs and desires and God, through whom eroticism is transmuted to charyté (line 29).
11 vowes. MS: vowe. Brown emends for the sake of rhyme.
14 well. The speaker puns on well and weal: the lady in love poems is often the lover's well - his place of drink, nurture, and sustenance. She is also his weal - his sense of abundance, prosperity, being, wealth, and domain.
17 nyght. MS: nygh.
Maiden in the mor lay. Index no. 2037.5. MS: Bodl. 13679 (Rawlinson D.913), item 1b (early fourteenth century). Editions: R. L. Greene, "The Maid of the Moor in the Red Book of Ossory," Speculum 27 (1952), 504; Heuser, "Fragmente von Unbekanntenn Spielmannsliedern des 14.Jahrhunderts, aus MS. Rawl. D. 913," Anglia 30 (1907), 175; Sisam, Fourteenth Century, no. 188; R. H. Robbins, Secular Lyrics, no. 18; Auden and Pearson, 1:26; Kaiser, p. 471; Hughes and Abraham, p. 119; Speirs, p. 62; Davies, no. 33; Stevick, no. 38; Reiss, p. 98; Wilhelm, no. 277.
D. W. Robertson, Jr., reads this as a Marian poem ("Historical Criticism" in English Institute Essays 1950, ed. Alan S. Downer [New York: Columbia University Press, 1951] pp. 26-27); his interpretations are indicated in the notes below. R. J. Schoeck (TLS, June 8, 1951, 357), concurred with Robertson. This reading has been opposed by a number of critics, however, most notably E. Talbot Donaldson (who, however, allows that medieval audiences might have thought of Mary, "the paramount innocent maiden," in connection with the poem) in "Patristic Exegesis in the Criticism of Medieval Literature," Critical Approaches to Medieval Literature, ed. Dorothy Bethurum (New York: Columbia University Press, 1960), pp. 21-24. E. M. W. Tillyard argued instead that the maiden might be Mary Magdalene or Mary of Egypt (TLS, May 11, 1951, p. 293; see also David Fowler A Literary History of the Popular Ballad [Durham: Duke University Press, 1968], pp. 113-14). Others believe the poem has no Christian significance at all. When Greene found the opening line as an incipit indicating the tune for a Latin hymn (Peperit virgo, a Marian roundel, for which Greene prints the full text) in the Red Book of Ossory (see "The Maid of the Moor in the Red Book of Ossory," Speculum 27 , 504-06), he argued that the Bishop of Ossory had composed the Latin hymn in order to replace the "profane" words with a sacred text. Dronke (pp. 195-96) argues that the moor-maiden is a version of German water sprite who sometimes takes human form and mingles with young men at village dances. Speirs argues that we need not know who the maiden is, but he points toward a tradition of well-worship in the Middle Ages and suggests that the maiden might be "the spirit of the well-spring," a fertility symbol (p. 63). For further criticism, see Mahmoud Manzalaoui, "Maiden in the Mor Lay and the Apocrypha," Notes and Queries 210 (1965), 91-92; Siegfried Wenzel, "The Moor Maiden - a Contemporary View," Speculum 49 (1974), 69-74; and Ronald Waldron, "'Maiden in the Mor Lay' and the Religious Imagination," Unisa English Studies 29 (1991), 8-12.
1 mor. Robertson: "The moor is the wilderness of the world under the Old Law before Christ came" (p. 27).
3 Sevenyst. Robertson: "The number seven indicates life on earth, but life in this instance went on at night, or before the Light of the World dawned. The day is this light, or Christ, who said 'I am the day.'" And it appears appropriately after seven nights, or, as it were, on the count of eight, for eight is also a figure of Christ" (p. 27). The dies octavus designates Easter and the Resurrection after the time of darkness under the Old Law. See glosses on Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; and John 20:1 in the CA.
8 was. MS: wat. Robbins' emendation.
10 primerole. Robertson: "The primrose is not a Scriptural sign, but a figure of fleshly beauty. We are told three times that the primrose was the food of this maiden, and only after this suspense are we also told that she ate or embodied the violet, which is a Scriptural sign of humility" (p. 27).
14 violet. See note to line 10.
15 MS omits was hire dryng. As supplied by Robbins.
17 water. Robertson: "The maiden drank the cool water of God's grace" (p. 27). The well is a natural symbol of life and rebirth; compare §53, note to line 5.
17-20 Robbins supplies these lines, abbreviated in MS.
22 bour. Robertson: "her bower consisted of the roses of martyrdom or charity and the lilies of purity with which late medieval and early Renaissance artists sometimes adorned pictures of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and, indeed, she is the Maiden in the Moor, the maiden who was at once the most beautiful of all women and the divinity whose humility made her the most accessible of all saints" (p. 27).
24-27 Robbins supplies these lines, abbreviated in MS.
Lulley, lulley, lully, lulley (The Corpus Christi Carol). Index no. 1132: He bare hym up, he bare hym down. MS: Balliol College Oxford 354, fol. 165b (c. 1500?). Editions: Ewald Flügel, "Liedersammlungen," Anglia 26 (1903), 175; Ewald Flügel, Neuenglische Lesebuch (Halle: Niemeyer, 1895), p. 142; CS, no. 81; R. Dyboski, Songs, Carols and Other Miscellaneous Poems from Balliol MS. 354, EETS e.s. 101 (1908; rpt. Millwood, NY: Kraus, 1973), p. 103; John J. Manly, English Prose and Poetry (1137-1892) (Boston: Gill, 1907), p. 94; Cook, p. 440; W. W. Greg, Review of English Studies 13 (1937), 88; EEC, no. 322A; Rickert, p. 193; Charles Williams, ed., New Book of English Verse (New York: Macmillan, 1936), p. 112; Niles, Carol Study Book, p. 35; Gilchrist (see below), p. 35; Segar, no. 11; Greene, Medium Aevum 29 (1960), 10-11; Chambers, p. 11; Mason, p. 146; Greene, Selection, no. 67a; Speirs, pp. 76-77; Davies, no. 164; Fowler, p. 58; Oliver, p. 108; Gray, Themes, p. 164; Sisam, Oxford, p. 524; William Tydeman, English Poetry 1400-1580 (London: Heinemann Educational, 1970), p. 53; Geoffrey Grigson, The Faber Book of Popular Verse (London: Faber and Faber, 1971), p. 308; Manning, pp. 115-16; Stevick, no. 99; Burrow, p. 303. Selected criticism: Greene's survey of interpretations (EEC, pp. 423-27) is indispensible. See also Annie G. Gilchrist, Journal of the Folk-Song Society 4 (1910), 52-66 [associates the poem with the grail legend]; Greene, "The Meaning of the Corpus Christi Carol," Medium Aevum 29 (1960), 10-21 [argues that the poem refers to Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, whose badge was the falcon]; and Stephen Manning, pp. 115-18 [reads the poem as Marian]. Greene, Selection, prints two nineteenth-century versions in which the Marian reading is explicit. On the riddling nature of the poem, see Peck, pp. 466-67.
2 fawcon. Some have interpreted the falcon as death, which meaning Greene believes is unlikely; see EEC, p. 246.
4 brown. Greene notes that "brown" may simply mean "dark," though it could suggest "autumnal" or "dying." Brown can mean "shining," however - see MED n.3 and adj.5 in its OE etymology - though usually that sense is restricted to armor and weapons, not orchards.
6 purpill and pall. Both designate a rich, perhaps royal, cloth; purple is the color of royalty.
Of on that is so fayr and bright. Index no. 2645. MS: BL Egerton 613, fol. 2a (thirteenth century). Also in Trinity College Cambridge 323 (B.14.39), fol. 24b. Editions of Egerton: Wright and Halliwell, 1:89-90; Mätzner, 1:53; Morris, EETS o.s. 49, pp. 194-95; CS, no. 46; Cook, p. 457; Segar, no. 33; Patterson, no. 32; B13, no. 17b; Kaiser, p. 285; William O. Wehrle, The Macaronic Hymn Tradition in Medieval English Literature (Washington: Catholic University of America, 1933), pp. 30-31; EEC, no. 191Ba; Bruce Dickins and R. M. Wilson, eds., Early Middle English Texts (Cambridge: Bowes and Bowes, 1951), pp. 125-26; Davies, no. 5; Stevick, no. 11; James J. Wilhelm, Medieval Song (New York: Dutton, 1971), p. 349; Karl Reichl, Religiöse Dichtung im Englischen Hochmittelalter (Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 1973), p. 293; Gray, Selection, no. 7; Bennett and Smithers, Early Middle English Verse and Prose, pp. 129 ff.; Sisam, Oxford, no. 13; Wilhelm, Lyrics, no. 272. Edition of Trinity: B13, no. 17a.
The stanzas are printed according to Greene's reading of margin instructions, which matches the order given in the Trinity MS. For a fifteenth-century version of this carol, see EEC, no. 191A.
5 Trinity: I crie be grace of the.
10 flour. Trinity: best.
10-18 This is stanza 4 in the Egerton MS, marked to move to the present location.
18 Es effecta. "You are the effect" (i.e., the best ever made, the ultimate creation, through which God Himself would be born).
19-27 This is stanza 2 in the Egerton MS, marked to move to the present location.
20 Felix fecundata. Stevick suggests an allusion to Elizabeth's greeting of the pregnant Mary to gloss: "i.e., blessed is the fruit of thy womb" (p. 15), though there is no direct verbal connection: Benedicta ta inter mulieres, et benedictus fructus ventris tui (Luke 1:42).
21 Of. Trinity: To.
23 Bisek. Trinity: Bihold.
29 Eva. Trinity: Thoru Eva.
30 Trinity: To forn that Jhesu was iborn.
32 With. Trinity: Thorou.
34 Salutis. "Of Salvation," from salus, salut/are, -arium, but with a possible pun in the fifteenth century on "greeting" or "salutation," the effect being that with Ave (line 32), dark night goes away and Salutis ("Voilà" or "Hello"), the day comes; in which case The welle in line 35 is a "well of light" as well as a spring of virtue (Virtutis, line 36); likewise, in line 37, a possible pun on son/sun along with connotations of light in blis / Superni (lines 42-43), and of darkness in Inferni (line 45).
37 he. Trinity: thou.
41 Trinity: So god and so milde.
42 He havet brout ous. Trinity: He bringet us alle.