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Item 41, King Edward and the Hermit


1 Lines 123–25:Even if one were as poor a creature [as can be], / I would dare not lodge him for a night / Unless he would die for the lack [of it]

2 Lines 229–30:The king ate, since (while) it seemed to him / That he saw no other food

3 Lines 414–16:The charity [that] comes from such men’s hands, / He gets very little [of it] who stands nearby / Before he takes his leave


Abbreviations: CT: Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales; MED: Middle English Diction­ary

Title No title or incipit. The text begins approximately halfway down the page of fol. 157r.

13 be god Edwerd deys. “Good Edward” may refer to either Edward I or Edward III; both kings were generally well regarded by later generations, whereas Edward II’s reign was usually seen as a dark period marked by political killings and mili­tary failures that concluded with the king’s assassination. In John the Reeve, the king is Edward I; in King Edward and the Shepherd, he is Edward III. Thomas Hoccleve’s Regiment of Princes mentions a legendary tradition of King Edward III traveling in disguise amongst his subjects to overhear their opinions of him (see Hoccleve, Hoccleve’s Works, p. 92, lines 2556–62).

16 Scherwod. Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, legendary hideout of Robin Hood, was one of the largest royal forests. The royal forests were held directly by the crown, governed by special laws, and often used for hunting. Poaching was harshly punished, and local populations often resented the restrictions that kept them from using neighboring forests. See Young, Royal Forests of Medieval England.

17 On hys pleyng for to lend. The following tail-rhyme line is missing, an omission that places some strain on the syntax of lines 16–23.

67 ne sprong. Though the MED cites several examples of “springen” meaning “to gallop,” it cites only this instance as an example of “to ride to exhaustion.”

85 Seynt Julyan. St. Julian, as the passage suggests, was the patron saint of travel­ers, pilgrims, innkeepers, and hospitality in general.

105 Seynt Julyan a boune untyll. Though this reading makes plausible sense, Furrow very reasonably emends to a bonne hostel, on the basis of rhyme and the fact that this is a customary idiom (Ten Fifteenth-Century Comic Poems). See Chaucer’s House of Fame, line 1022: “Seynt Julyan, loo, bon hostel.”

116 sir frere. The term “friar” may suggest that the hermit appears as a member of one of the mendicant orders, perhaps the Augustinians or Carmelites, who had a history of dwelling in remote priories. But the phrase “Sir Frere” can also be used as a polite greeting for any kind of monk or member of a fraternal order. See MED, “frer(e).”

122 I have non herbour tyll. As Furrow notes, the syntax in lines 121–22 is odd, relying on two prepositions (“for” and “tyll”) for the same function (Ten Fifteenth-Century Comic Poems).

127 rotys and ryndys. See Sir Orfeo (item 39), lines 255–62.

154 I have ete up all the hyre. “I have consumed all the wages you’ve ever paid me” is a roundabout way of saying either “You haven’t yet paid me anything worth my trouble” or “I have never been bound by contract to you.”

169 Two thake-bendysfull. See MED, “thach(e),” where the compound thake-bendefull is defined as “the amount of straw that could be held by the tie about a bundle of thatch,” citing this instance. The “mete” referred to in line 167 is food more nourishing than barley straw; see the note to line 319.

188 That I ne hade a mery nyght. I.e., “I never had a bad day without a merry night.” Compare line 136 of Rauf Coilyear, where the title character pledges “Eftir ane evill day to have ane mirrie nicht.”

223 servege. Though this is almost certainly an error for “servese,” both terms have a strong connotation of feudal service or homage due to a lord, an ironic sug­gestion here.

250 Hast thou any other heraud than so. I.e., “Does your court have any better herald than this?” Heralds entertained and sang the praises of kings; the question is sarcastic.

316 Wylkyn Alyn. Wilkin was a common name and surname derived from William.

319 corne and bred. The horse is fed grain and baked loaves of coarse bread, the kind of hearty sustenance implied by “mete” in line 167.

327 A hownyd pote. Presumably this refers to mead or barley wine sweetened with honey.

330 schell. See MED, “shel(le),” 5. Though Furrow suggests that the cup would be a seashell (Ten Fifteenth-Century Comic Poems), this is not the case; the term can be used for shallow bowls or vessels of wood or other materials.

340 fustybandyas. As Furrow suggests, this nonce word seems be a compound of “fusty” (strong smelling), “bon” (good, from French), “dias” (medicines, see MED, “dia”), i.e., “good strong medicine” (Ten Fifteenth-Century Comic Poems).

342 totted. The MED cites this as the only instance of “totted” (adj) and offers the definition “foolish” on the basis of “tot(te)” (n.), “fool.” But the word may also be a variant of “toti” (adj.), “dizzy, unsteady,” a word used commonly in the context of drunkenness or debauchery (see CT I[A]4253).

343 stryke pantner. Furrow suggests stryke means “skim,” (perhaps more likely “knock”) and “pant” means “to gasp, to breathe,” and “ner” means “never,” i.e., “knock it down without a breath” (Ten Fifteenth-Century Comic Poems). But Blanchfield (“Idiosyncratic Scribe,” p. 245) notes that pantner or (as in line 352, pantener) is an attested variant of “pautener,” a word meaning “rogue,” or “scoundrel,” derived from the Old French “pautonier”; see MED, “pautener(e),” (n.1). This would make the toast “knock it back, rogue!”

361 The kyng seyd “fustybandyas.” The hermit expects a reply to his cry of “fusty­bandyas” in line 357, and is outraged when the king repeats his line rather than replying with “stryke pantner.” As a result of his ineptitude, the king does not get a drink until lines 373–75.

416 Or that he go awey. The sense of lines 414–16 seems to be “One does not get any charity from such men by merely standing nearby”; i.e., it must be taken.

428 horpyd. “Stout-hearted, splendid.” See MED, “orped” (adj.).

447 Jhake Flecher. Fletchers made arrows; the king has chosen a pseudonym appro­priate to his disguise.

452 Ther we schall maken full hate. The manuscript reads “Ther we schall be made full hate,” which makes little sense unless “to be made hot” is an unattested idiom for “to be drunk.” Furrow emends to “we schall be met full hate,” i.e., “we shall be greeted (or greet each other) passionately” (Ten Fifteenth-Century Comic Poems). For maken (or fillen) hate in the sense of “make (or fulfill) a vow or promise,” see MED, “hot” n. 2.

473 Than seyd Jake, “I schall.” Three lines are missing from the end of this stanza; presumably the hermit demonstrates his prowess with the bow.

480 two trowys. Troughs were used for preserving meat.

485 The kyng wytesave on me. The manuscript reading, “The kyng wyte sone on me” has been emended. Furrow preserves the manuscript reading and glosses it as “May the king watch me closely,” but sone (adv.) cannot mean “closely.”

521 To the towne than gan thei fare. The text ends at the bottom of fol. 161v.


Abbreviations: see Explanatory Notes

1 MS: Initial J is decorated with pen work.

14 MS: For soth as the romans seys is written in the right margin but marked for deletion.

15 Herkyns. MS: Herkyng.

17–18 MS: line missing.

31 plenté. MS: plete.

54 They. MS: The.

58 into the. MS: as thei. Furrow’s emendation.

62 And. MS: Are.

68 was past. MS: was s past (the first s is marked for deletion).

71 Awey he was at last. MS: Awey was at the last.

87 when. MS: whe.
trayst. MS: travyst.

123 if it were never so. MS: if it s. Furrow’s emendation.

132 MS: Initial T is larger than usual.

134 passyth. MS: passyghh.

161 so to be. MS: so be.

174 Gramersy. MS: Garamersy.

194 both. MS: beth.

214 huntyng. MS: hutynge.

227 We schall not hyll it with. MS: We schall we not hyll with.

239 schulde. MS: schuldys.

242 wyld. MS: wylld.

274–75 MS: And on to prison bryng is written in between these two lines but is marked for deletion.

275 sych. MS: schych.

276 Bot thei. MS: Bo.

277 mete. MS: me.

327 pote stondys. MS: pote that stondys.

359 well nygh. MS: a letter is scratched out before nygh.
of it yede. MS: of iyede.

366 layke. MS: lyke. Furrow’s emendation.

367 stayke. MS: styke. Furrow’s emendation.

378 I thee geve. MS: I schall thee yeve.

388 Thei. MS: The.


399 we. MS: wo.

422 The sydys. MS: Besydys.

436 not. MS: no.

452 maken. MS: be made.

463 with. MS: in.

465 long. MS: lond.

466 bow. MS: low.

485 wytesave. MS: wyte sone.

486 wyll of. MS: wyll ha of (ha is marked for deletion).







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Jhesus that is Hevyn Kyng,
Giff them all god endyng
    If it be thi wyll.
And yif them parte of hevyn gam
That well can calle gestys same
    With mete and drinke to fylle.
When that men be glad and blyth,
Than were solas god to lyth,
    He that wold be stylle.
Of a kyng I wyll you telle,
What aventour hym befelle,
    He that wyll herke thertylle.

It befelle be god Edwerd deys,
For soth, so this romans seys;
    Herkyns, I wyll you telle.
The kyng to Scherwod gan wend
On hys pleyng for to lend,
For to solas hym that stond,
The grete hertys for to hunte
    In frythys and in felle,
With ryall festys and feyr ensemblé,
With all the lordys of that contré;
    With hym ther gan thei duell.

Tyll it befell upon a dey
To hys fosterse he gan sey,
    “Felous, were is the best?
In your playng wher ye have bene,
Were have ye most gam sene
    Of dere in this forest?”
They ansuerd and fell on kne:
“Over all, lord, is gret plenté,
    Both est and west.
We may schew you at a syght
Two thousand dere this same nyght,
    Or the son go to reste.”

An old foster drew hym nere:
“Lystins, lord, I saw a dere
    Under a tre;
So grete a hed as he bare,
Sych one saw I never are,
    No feyrer myht be.
He is more than other two
That ever I saw on erth go.”
    Than seyd the kyng so fre,
“Thy waryson I wyll thee geve
Ever more whyll thou doyst lyve,
    That dere thou late me se.”

Upon the morne thei ryden fast
With hundys and with hornes blast;
    To wodde than are thei wente.
Nettys and gynnes than leyd he;
Every archer to hys tre
    With bowys redy bent.
They blew thrys, uncoupuld hundys;
They reysed the dere up that stondys,
    So nere thei span and sprent.
The hundys all, as thei were wode,
They ronne the dere into the wode;
    The kyng hys hors he hent.

The kyng sate onne a god courser:
Fast he rode after the dere,
    And chasyd hym ryght fast
Both thorow thyke and thine.
Thorow the forest he gan wyn,
    With hundys and hornes blast.
The kyng had folowyd hym so long
Hys god sted was ne sprong;
    Hys hert awey was past.
Horn ne hunter myght he non her
So ranne the hundys at the dere;
    Awey he was at last.

The kyng had folowyd hym so long,
Fro mydey to the evynsong;
    That lykyd hym full ille.
He ne wyst were that he was,
Ne out of the forest for to passe,
    And thus he rode all wylle.
“Whyle I may the dey lyght se,
Better is to loge under a tre,”
    He seyd hymselve untylle.
The kyng cast in hys wytte:
“Yyff I stryke into a pytte,
    Hors and man myght spylle.

“I have herd pore men call at morow
Seynt Julyan send them god harborow
    When that they had nede.
And yit when that thei were trayst,
And of herborow were abayst,
    He wold them wysse and rede.
Seynt Julyan, as I ame trew knyght,
Send me grace this iche nyght
    Of god harbour to sped.
A gift I schall thee gyven:
Every yere whyll that I lyven,
    Folke for thi sake to fede.”

As he rode whyll he had lyght,
And at the last he hade syght,
    Of an hermyte hym besyde.
Of that syght he was full feyn,
For he wold gladly be in the pleyn,
    And theder he gan to ryde.
An hermytage he fond ther;
He trowyd a chapell that it were.
    Than seyd the kyng that tyde,
“Now, Seynt Julyan a boune untyll,
As pylgrymes trow full wele!
    Yonder I wyll abyde.”

A lytell gate he fond ney;
Theron he gan to call and cry
    That within myght here.
That herd an hermyte ther within;
Unto the gate he gan to wyn,
    Bedyng his prayer.
And when the hermyt saw the kyng,
He seyd, “Sir, gode evyn.”
    “Wele worth thee, sir frere.
I pray thee I myght be thi gest,
For I have ryden wyll in this forest
    And nyght neyghes me nere.”

The hermyte seyd, “So mote I thé,
For sych a lord as ye be,
    I have non herbour tyll.
Bot if it were never so pore a wyght,
I ne der not herbour hym a nyght,
    Bot he for faute schuld spyll.1
I won here in wyldernes
With rotys and ryndys, among wyld bestys,
    As it is my Lordys wylle.”

The kyng seyd “I thee beseche
The wey to the toune thou wold me teche,
    And I schall thee behyght
That I schall thi travell quyte,
That thou schall me not wyte
    Or passyth this fortnyght.
And if thou wyll not, late thi knave go
To teche me a myle or two
    The whylys I have deylyght.”
“By Seynt Mary,” seyd the frere,
“Schorte servys getys thou here,
    And I can rede aryght.”

Than seyd the kyng, “My dere frend,
The wey to the towne if I schuld wynd,
    How fer may it be?”
“Syr,” he seyd, “so mote I thryve,
To the towne is myles fyve
    From this long tre.
A wyld wey I hold it were,
The wey to wend, I you suere,
    Bot ye the dey may se.”
Than seyd the kyng, “Be Godys myght,
Ermyte, I schall harbour with thee this nyght,
    And els I were we.”

“Me thinke,” seyd the hermyte, “thou arte a stout syre.
I have ete up all the hyre
    That ever thou gafe me.
Were I oute of myn hermyte wede,
Of thi favyll I wold not dred,
    Thoff ther were sych thre.
Loth I were with thee to fyght:
I wyll herbour thee all nyght,
    And it behovyth so to be.
Sych gode as thou fyndys here, take,
And aske thyn in, for Godys sake.”
    “Gladly, syr,” seyd he.

Hys stede into the hous he lede.
With lytter son he gan hym bed;
    Met ne was ther non.
The frere he had bot barly stro,
Two thake-bendysfull, without no;
    For soth, it was furth born.
Befor the hors the kyng it leyd.
“Be Seynt Mayry,” the hermyte seyd,
    “Other thing have we non.”
The kyng seyd, “Gramersy, frer,
Wele at es ame I now here;
    A nyght wyll son be gon.”

The kyng was never so servysable:
He hew the wode and kepyd the stable.
    God fare he gan hym dyght,
And made hym ryght well at es,
And ever the fyre befor hys nese
    Brynand feyr and bryght.
“Leve ermyte,” seyd the kyng,
“Mete — and thou have any thing —
    To soper thou us dyght.
For serteynly as I thee sey,
I ne hade never so sory a dey
    That I ne had a mery nyght.”

The kyng seyd, “Be Godys are,
And I sych an hermyte were
    And wonyd in this forest,
When fosters were gon to slep,
Than I wold cast of my cope
    And wake both est and weste
Wyth a bow of hue full strong
And arowys knyte in a thong;
    That wold me lyke best.
The kyng of venyson hath non nede,
Yit myght me hape to have a brede
    To glad me and my gest.”

The hermyte seyd to the kyng,
“Leve syr, were is thi duellyng?
    I praye thou wolde me sey.”
“Syr,” he seyd, “so mote I thé,
In the kyngys courte I have be
    Duellyng many a dey.
And my lord rode on huntyng,
As grete lordys doth many tyme
    That giff them myche to pley,
And after a grete herte have we redyn
And mekyll travell we have byden,
    And yit he scape awey.

“Todey erly in the mornyng
The kyng rode on huntyng,
    And all the courte beden.
A dere we reysed in that stondys,
And ganne chase with our hundys —
    A feyrer had never man sene.
I have folowyd hym all this dey
And ryden many a wylsom wey;
    He dyd me trey and tene.
I pray you, helpe me I were at es,
Thou boughtys never so god servege
    In sted ther thou hast bene.”

The ermyte seyd, “So God me save,
Thou take sych gode as we have;
    We schall not hyll it with thee.”
Bred and chese forth he brought.
The kyng ete, whyles hym thought
    Non other mete saw he.2
Sethen thyn drynke he dreughe;
Theron he had sone inoughe.
    Than seyd the kyng so fre,
“Hermyt, pute up this mete tyte,
And if I mey, I schall thee quyte,
    Or passyd be this monethys thre.”

Than seyd the kyng, “Be Godys grace,
Thou wonys in a mery place!
    To schote thou schulde lere.
When the fosters are go to rest,
Som tyme thou myght have of the best,
    All of the wyld dere.
I wold hold it for no skath,
Thoff thou had bow and arowys bothe,
    Allthoff thou be a frere.
Ther is no foster in all this se
That wold sych herme to thee;
    Ther thou may leve here.”

The armyte seyd, “So mote thou go,
Hast thou any other heraud than so
    Onto my lord the kynge?
I schall be trew to hym, I trow,
For to weyte my lordys prow
    For dred of sych a thing.
For if I were take with sych a dede,
To the courte thei wold me lede
    And to prison me bryng,
Bot if I myght my raunson grete
Be bond in prison and sorow grete
    And in perell to hyng.”

Than seyd the kyng, “I wold not lete
When thou arte in this forest sette
    To stalke when men are at rest.
Now as thou arte a trew man,
If thou ought of scheting can,
    Ne hyll it not with thi gest.
For be hym that dyghed on tre,
Ther schall no man wyte for me
    Whyll my lyve wyll lest.
Now hermyte, for thi professyon,
Yiff thou have any venison,
    Thou giff me of the best.”

The ermyte seyd, “Men of grete state
Oure ordyr thei wold make full of bate
    Aboute sych mastery,
Bot thei be in prayer and in penans,
And arne ther mete by chans
    And not be archery.
Many dey I have her ben
And flesche mete I ete non
    Bot mylke of the ky.
Warme thee wele and go to slepe,
And I schall lape thee with my cope,
    Softly to lyye.”

“Thou semys a felow,” seyd the frere.
“It is long gon seth any was here,
    Bot thou thyselve tonyght.”
Unto a cofyr he gan go
And toke forth candyllus two,
    And sone thei were ilyght.
A cloth he brought and bred full whyte,
And venyson ibake tyte.
    Agen he yede full ryght:
Venyson salt and fressch he brought,
And bade hym chese wherof hym thought
    Colopys for to dyght.

Well may ye wyte inow thei had;
The kyng ete and made hym glad,
    And grete laughter he lowghe:
“Nere I had spoke of archery,
I myght have ete my bred full dryghe!”
    The kyng made it full towghe:
“Now Crystys blyssing have sych a frere
That thus canne ordeyn our soper
    And stalke under the wode bowe!
The kyng hymselve, so mote I thé,
Is not better at es than we,
    And we have drinke inowghe.”

The hermyt seyd, “Be Seynt Savyour,
I have a pote of galons foure
    Standing in a wro.
Ther is bot thou and I and my knave:
Som solas schall we have
    Sethyn we are no mo.”
The hermyte callyd hys knave full ryght —
Wylkyn Alyn, for soth, he hyght —
    And bad hym belyve and go,
And taught hym prively to a sted
To seche the hors corne and bred —
    “And luke that thou do so.”

Unto the knave seyd the frere,
“Felow, go wyghtly here;
    Thou do as I thee sey.
Besyde me bed thou must goo
And take up a sloughte of strawe,
    Als softly as thou may.
A hownyd pote stondys ther,
And Godys forbot that we it spare
    To drynke to it be dey.
And bryng me forth my schell,
And every man schall have hys dele,
    And I schall kenne us pley.”

The herymyte seyd, “Now schall I se
If thou any felow be,
    Or of pley canst ought.”
The kyng seyd, “So mote I thé,
Sey thou what thou wyll with me;
    Thy wyll it schall be wrought.”
“When the coppe comys into the plas,
Canst thou sey ‘fustybandyas!’
    And thinke it in thi thought?
And thou schall her a totted frere
Sey ‘stryke pantner!’
    And in the cope leve ryght nought.”

And when the coppe was forth brought,
It was oute of the kyngys thought
    That word that he schuld sey.
The frere seyd “Fustybandyas!”
Than seyd the kyng “Alas, alas” —
    Hys word it was awey.
“What, arte thou mad?” seyd the frere,
“Canst thou not sey ‘stryke pantener’?
    Wylt thou lerne all dey?
And if thou efte forgete it ons,
Thou getys no drinke in this wons,
    Bot yiff thou think upon thi pley.”

“Fustybandias!” the frere seyd,
And gafe the coppe sych a breyd
    That well nygh of it yede.
The knave fyllyd and up it yede in plas;
The kyng seyd “fustybandyas!” —
    Therto hym stod gret nede.
“Fustybandyas!” seyd the frere,
“How long hast thou stond here,
    Or thou couth do thi dede?
Fyll this eft and late us layke
And betwen rost us a stayke
    Thus holy lyve to lede.”

The knave fyllyd the coppe full tyte
And brought it furth with grete delyte;
    Befor hym gon it stand.
“Fustybandyas!” seyd the frere,
The kyng seyd “Stryke pantener!”
    And toke it in hys hand
And stroke halve and more.
“Thys is the best pley, I suere,
    That ever I saw in lond!
I hyght thee, hermyte, I thee geve,
I schall thee quyte, if that I lyve,
    The gode pley thou hast us fond.”

Than seyd the ermyte, “God quyte all.
Bot when thou comys to the lordys haule
    Thou wyll forgete the frere.
Bot wher thou comyst, nyght or dey,
Yit myght thou thinke upon the pley
    That thou hast sene here.
And thou com among jentyll men,
Thei wyll laugh and thou hem it ken,
    And make full mery chere.
And if thou comyst here for a nyght
A colype I dere thee behyght
    All of the wyld dere.”

The kyng seyd, “Be hym that me bought,
Syre,” he seyd, “ne thinke it nought
    That thou be thus forgete.
Tomorow sone when it is dey,
I schall quyte, if that I may,
    All that we have here ete.
And when we com to the kyngys gate
We schall not long stond therate;
    In we schall be lete.
And by my feyth, I schall not blyne
Tyll the best that is therine
    Betwen us two be sete.”

Th’ermyte seyd, “Be hym that me bought,
Syre,” he seyd, “ne thynke it nought.
    I suere thee, by my ley,
I have be ther and takyn dole,
And have hade many merry mele,
    I dare full savely sey.
Hopys thou I wold for a mase
Stond in the myre ther and dase,
    Ne hand halve a dey?
The charyté comys thorow sych menys hend,
He havys full lytell that stond at hend
    Or that he go awey.3

“Hopys thou that I ame so preste
For to stond at the kyng yate and reste
    Ther pleys for to lere?
I have neyghbors her nygh hand:
I send them of my presente
    The sydys of the wyld dere.
Of my presantys thei ar feyn;
Bred and ale thei send me ageyn.
    Thus gates lyve I here.”
The kyng seyd “So mote I thé,
Hermyte, me pays wele with thee:
    Thou arte a horpyd frere.”

The kyng seyd, “Yit myght thou com sum dey
Unto the courte for to pley,
    Aventourys for to sene.
Thou wote not what thee betyde may
Or that thou gon awey —
    The better thou may bene.
Thoff I be here in pore clothing,
I ame not bayschyd for to bryng
    Giftys two or thre.
Ther is no man in all this wonys
That schall myssey to thee onys,
    Bot as I sey, so schall it be.”

“Sertys,” seyd the hermyte than,
“I hope thou be a trew man.
    I schall aventour the gate.
Bot tell me fyrst, leve syre,
After what man schall I spyre,
    Both erly and late?”
“Jhake Flecher, that is my name.
All men knowys me at home;
    I ame at yong man state.
And thoff I be here in pore wede,
In sych a stede I can thee lede
    Ther we schall maken full hate.”

“Aryse up, Jake, and go with me,
And more of my privyté
    Thou schall se somthyng.”
Into a chambyr he hym lede:
The kyng saughe aboute the hermytys bed
    Brod arowys hynge.
The frere gaff hym a bow in hond:
“Jake,” he seyd, “draw up the bond.”
    He myght oneth styre the streng.
“Syr,” he seyd, “so have I blys,
Ther is non archer that may schet with this
    That is with my lord the kyng.”

An arow of an elle long
In hys bow he it throng,
    And to the hede he gan it hale.
Ther is no dere in this foreste,
And it wold onne hym feste,
    Bot it schuld spyll his skale.
“Jake, seth thou can of flecher crafte,
Thou may me es with a schafte.”
    Than seyd Jake, “I schall.”

“Jake, and I wyst that thou were trew,
Or and I thee better knew,
    More thou schuldys se.”
The kyng to hym grete othys swer:
“The covenand we made whyle are,
    I wyll that it hold be.”
Tyll two trowys he gan hym lede;
Of venyson ther was many a brede.
    “Jake, how thinkys thee?
Whyle ther is dere in this forest,
Som tyme I may have of the best
    The kyng wytesave on me.

“Jake, and thou wyll of myn arowys have,
Take thee of them and sum thou leve,
    And go we to our pley.”
And thus thei sate with “Fustybandyas!”
And with “Stryke pantener!” in that plas,
    Tyll it was nerehand dey,
When tyme was com ther rest to take.
On morn they rose when they gon wake;
    The frere began to sey,
“Jake, I wyll with thee go
In thi felowschype a myle or two,
    Tyll thou have redy wey.”

“Ye,” seyd the kyng, “mekyll thanke,
Bot when we last nyght togeder dranke,
    Thinke what thou me behyght:
That thou schuld com som dey
Unto the courte for to pley,
    When tyme thou se thou myght.”
“Sertys,” seyd the hermyte than,
“I schall com, as I ame trew man,
    Or tomorow at nyght.”
Ather be taught other gode dey.
The kyng toke the redy wey;
    Home he rode full ryght.

Knyghtys and squyres many mo,
All that nyght thei rode and go
    With sygheng and sorowyng sore.
They cryghed and blew with hydoys bere
Yiff thei myght of ther lord here,
    Wher that ever he were.
When the kyng his bugyll blew,
Knyghtys and fosters wele it knew,
    And lystind to hym ther.
Many man that were masyd and made,
The blast of that horn made them glad;
    To the towne than gan thei fare.
(see note);(t-note)
Give; good

heaven’s delight
bring guests together

entertainment good to hear
For he who would be still (listen)

[To] him who will listen to it

in good Edward’s days; (see note)
Listen; (t-note)
(see note)
to dwell (continue);(see note); (t-note)
entertain; [at] that time

woods and in moors
feasts; assembly

Fellows, where is the best [hunting]



Before the sun goes down

head (rack of antlers)
might [there] be
larger than two combined




released [the] hounds; (t-note)
chased (started)
ran and leaped
as if they were mad
he took his horse

good charger (fast horse)



nearly exhausted; (see note)
he could not hear


pleased him little
knew not where
Nor [how] to go

unto himself
considered in his mind

in the morning
[For] St. Julian [to] send; good lodging; (see note)

trusting (faithful); (t-note)
instruct and advise

to achieve

in the clearing


a boon (gift) unto [you]; (see note)


That [those] within

to go

May good befall you; (see note)

draws near

So may I prosper

to [you]; (see note)

roots and barks; (see note)

repay your labor; (t-note)
[So] that; reproach
Before this fortnight passes; (t-note)


i.e., cold comfort
If I can judge well

I believe it is


woe (miserable)

consumed all the wages; (see note)

hermit’s garb
Even if there were three such [of you]

If it must be so; (t-note)

ask (have) your lodging

soon; bed down
Two bundles, in truth; (see note)

Thank you; (t-note)

cut the wood
Good comfort he made for himself


if you have any

(see note)



keep watch; (t-note)

gathered in a strap

I might happen to have a piece of meat


so may I prosper

are oft accustomed

much effort we have endured

roused in that time

trick and discomfort
[if you] help me [so that] I were at ease
service; (see note)
In [any] place where

hide it from you; (t-note)

Then thin (meager) drink he drew

right now

shoot; learn; (t-note)

[some] of the best

[do] such harm

herald (i.e., praise) then this; (see note)

guard; honor

i.e., caught poaching

might [pay]



know anything of archery
hide it not from

find out [because] of me

strife; (t-note)
such deeds; (t-note)
earn their living by chance (i.e., charity); (t-note)

cow’s milk


friendly companion
a long while since

coffer (chest)

baked soon

choose which he preferred
Fried (or roasted) meat; prepare

know enough

Had I not spoken

i.e., gave him a hard time

forest’s boughs


serving boy

he was called; (see note)
showed him privately to a place
find; (see note)



honeyed; (see note); (t-note)
God forbid

drinking cup; (see note)
teach us [a] game

good companion
know anything

(see note)
keep [that word] in mind
dizzy (foolish); (see note)
(see note)
leave nothing

i.e., He forgot his word [in response]

forget it once again

off [the table] it went; (t-note)

(see note)
It was greatly necessary

play; (t-note)
steak; (t-note)


drank half

I promise you; (t-note)
I will repay you
provided us

wherever you go

if you teach it to them; (t-note)

A piece I dare promise to you



taken charity

amazement (confusion)
Nearly half the day

(see note)


To learn their games
nearby here


In this way

you please me well
splendid (bold); (see note)

You know not what may happen

ashamed; (t-note)

insult you once

try (visit)

i.e., at any time
(see note)


fulfill [our] promise; (see note); (t-note)



barely move the string

shoot; (t-note)

an ell (approx. forty inches); (t-note)
thrust; (t-note)

shatter his skull

help me
(see note)

if I knew

a little earlier

To two troughs (tubs); (see note)

bestows upon me; (see note); (t-note)

if you; (t-note)
take [some] of them


Until you have an easy road


Each wished the other

hideous noise

confused and anguished

began to go; (see note)

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