The Life of Saint Katherine: Book 5
JOHN CAPGRAVE, THE LIFE OF SAINT KATHERINE, BOOK 5: FOOTNOTES1 Lines 94-95: I would have thought / That one of you could handle nine of her
2 Lines 1110-13: the report [of her prediction] was widely circulated, / And various men who carefully noted the day and time (i.e., the details of her prediction) / Afterwards knew that / Everything she said was reliable and true
JOHN CAPGRAVE, THE LIFE OF SAINT KATHERINE, BOOK 5: NOTES6 fyve braunchis. Five is a number traditionally associated with Mary, with her five joys and five sorrows. Lydgate composes The Lyfe of our Lady in five books. Chaucer's poem on Mary in the Prologue to the Prioress' Tale is in five stanzas. Capgrave seems to be linking Katherine's life structurally to that of her Lady; n.b. his linking her to a red rose of five branches and five leaves in lines 10ff., the rose being a primary feature of Marian iconography. See Saupe, ed., Middle English Marian Lyrics, for numerous examples of the analogies. Five is also associated with the Passion - with the five wounds of Christ and with the five pains of the Passion. (For the latter, see Jacobus de Voragine, Golden Legend 1.203-06.) The significance of five is perhaps most fully elaborated in Middle English literature in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight's description of the five-sided star Gawain sports on his shield and the system of five fives it represents: five fingers, five senses, five joys of the Virgin, five wounds of Christ, and five virtues.
23 Betokynyng. MS: Betokynyth. This emendation is supported by Arundel 168 and 396.
62 Thus shall it be translate now new fro Lateyn. As Capgrave explained in his prologue (lines 57-60), the English priest whose work he had been transcribing died before he had completed his translation.
65 credulyté. MS: crudelyte. MSS Arundel 20 and 396 support this emendation.
69 Wherfor. I have changed MS Rawl. poet. 118's"for" to"wherfor," a reading supported by the other three MSS.
146 nevyr plant. MS: into oure hert plant.
165 these. MS: that. Emendation supported by the other MSS.
209-80 that we schuld ben baptized or we deye . . . trost me now trewly. The philosophers are expressing an eminently orthodox view - that baptism is necessary for salvation. Given current controversies surrounding the sacraments, however, it is surprising that Katherine should draw attention to baptem of the Goste (line 274) as an acceptable alternative to baptism by water or blood. For a discussion of baptism's place in sacramental controversies, see Sarah Beckwith, "Sacrum Signum: Sacramentality and Dissent in York's Theatre of Corpus Christi," in Criticism and Dissent in the Middle Ages, ed. Rita Copeland (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 270-71. For a discussion of spiritual baptism, see Summa Theologiae III.68.2, wherein Thomas Aquinas says that people do not need to be actually physically baptized to be saved if they intended to be baptized and died before such a rite could be performed (he makes particular reference to martyrs).
275-76 These lines are reversed in the MS with a mark that they should be read in the order in which I have placed them.
339 putte you. Not in MS.
342 rytes. MS: riches. The emendation is supported by the other three MSS.
346 save on and no moo. Maxentius is referring to his wife. See below, lines 373-74, 393-96.
385 fulfyllyd as tyth. Tithes were the one-tenth portion of one's goods that a person owed to the Church during the Middle Ages. Maxentius is thus saying that he will take Katherine's wishes as seriously as he takes his religious obligations.
394 oure. MS: youre. This emendation accords with the reading of all the other MSS.
422 she. MS: che.
535-37 Appollo . . . Redressith this word with hete. Maxentius refers to Apollo's capacity as sun god.
543 schal. MS: schon.
547 schort tyme. MS: ryght.
576 An. MS: And. Emendation supported by the other MSS.
647 I. Not in MS.
707 torment. MS: tornament. The emendation follows the other three MSS.
710-11 These lines are reversed in the MS with a mark that they should be read in the order in which I have placed them.
785 seyde. Not in MS.
817 a savour. See note to 3.949.
852 braunches fyve. Capgrave echoes a theme he developed at length in the prologue to Book 5. For the significance of the number five, see the note to 5.6.
857 Whil she helde. MS: Wille she elde. The emendation accords with the reading of the other three manuscripts.
887 Fourty dayes. Katherine's days in prison correspond to Christ's days of temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4 and Luke 4). Compare Chaucer's allusion to Christ's feeding of the Egyptian Mary in the desert (CT II [B1] 498-501). See Paul M. Clogan,"The Narrative Style of the Man of Law's Tale," Medievalia et Humanistica 8 (1977), 217-33.
890-92 For He that fedde Danyel . . . Lord myth make. See note to 3.826 above.
891 Abacuc. MS: abouth.
893 fedde. Not in MS.
897-906 as Austen seyth . . . In his boke whech tretyth in Scripture. See Augustine's Exposition on the Psalms, Ps 95:11-12, on verse 9, where he discusses the feeding of manna to the Israelites in the desert (Ex. 16:13-35).
929 Thinke 'not long.' See note to 3.1343.
935 In the MS this line follows line 942 with a marker that it should be positioned as I have here.
1006 hid. Not in MS.
1052-57 Oure dedely bodyes . . . In fayrrer forme. For medieval views of bodily resurrection, see Caroline Walker Bynum, The Resurrection of the Body in Western Christianity, 200-1336 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995).
1105-06 Constantyn . . . baptyzed was / Of Seynt Sylvestere. See Jacobus de Voragine's account in The Golden Legend, 1.279. The tale is also told in Gower's Confessio Amantis 2.3187-3496.
1133 plumbys of lede. Weights at the end of a whip.
1153 world. MS: worde.
1160 It longyth to yow to obey onto your heede. On the analogy between society and the body, with the king as head, see Anthony Black, Political Thought in Europe, 1250-1450 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 14-18.
1198-99 Every man must . . . Deye and rote but of the speciall grace. A corpse's preservation was taken as an indication of sanctity.
1299 both Robyn and Jon. Generic names, roughly equivalent to"Tom, Dick, and Harry."
1370-74 Thus dede He sumtyme in the Calde nacyon . . . thei toke the harm. See Daniel 3, where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego survive the fiery furnace.
1395 woo. MS: who.
1433 mannes. MS: moonys.
1474 rend hir tetys.The tearing off a woman's breasts is typical of the sexualized torture in virgin martyr legends; it occurs in the legends of Agatha, Barbara, Christine, and many others.
1480-81 teye hir to a stake, / Smyte of hir heede. This is the method of execution Margery Kempe desires in Book 43.677-81: "Hyr thowt sche wold a be slayn for Goddys lofe, but dred for the poynt of deth, and therfor sche ymagyned hyrself the most soft deth, as hir thowt, for dred of inpacyens, that was to be bowndyn hyr hed and hir fet to a stokke and hir hed to be smet of wyth a scharp ex for Goddys lofe."
1572 dede. MS: yede.
1593-94 It is neythir worchipfull ne eke honest / Onto mankynd to foule his own nest. Proverbial: Whiting, Proverbs, B306.
1594 foule. MS: folow.
1697 On of the auctoures. The Vulgate Vita reads:"consummata itaque est horum passio mense Nouembrio die uicesima quarta, feria quinta." Ed. S. R. T. O. d'Ardenne and E. J. Dobson, Seinte Katerine, EETS s.s. 7 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981), p. 199.
1699 of. MS: aftyr.
1704-05 These lines are reversed in the MS with a mark that they should be read in the order in which I have placed them.
1714 Mayden. MS: May.
1762 the toure of Troye. Treason ultimately allowed the Greeks to capture Troy and win the Trojan war.
1779-82 I shall folow the lombe . . . wihouten mynd. Revelation 21-22.
1873 Thu schall receyve it in anothyr stede. Christ is alluding to the resurrection of the body after death. See note to lines 1052-67 above.
1923 Poule in his bokes maketh swech induction. See Galatians 4:22-31.
1939 There leve but fewe that hath mad asayes. One devotee of St. Katherine who made this journey (1480-83) was Felix Fabri, a Dominican friar from Ulm, Germany. His account of the trip has been translated by Aubrey Stewart, The Wanderings of Felix Fabri, 2 vols. (1887-97; rpt., New York: AMS Press, 1971). Felix's devotion to Katherine's relics is the point of departure for Sheri Holman's provocative novel, A Stolen Tongue (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1997). For another fifteenth-century pilgrim's account of his visit to Katherine's shrine, see Pero Trafur, Travels and Adventures, 1435-1439, trans. and ed. Malcolm Letts (London: George Routledge and Sons, 1926).
1950 That oyle. As Capgrave explained in his prologue (lines 26-27), curative oil flows from Katherine's tomb - a sign of God's special favor.
1965 ff. In this matere pleynly I will me schryve. Capgrave's concerns about his perceived credibility and the authenticity of miracles are unusual for a saint's life. Perhaps not surprisingly, the scribe of British Library MS Arundel 20 replaced the final four stanzas of the poem with a more conventional invocation of Katherine's blessing on himself and his readers. The same scribe did other things to "tidy up" Capgrave's text: he omitted the unusually long and complex prologue and ended Book 4 with the execution of the philosophers rather than in the middle of the philosophers episode.
Now is come oure leyser and oure space
In whech we may - aftir oure grete labour
Of other materis, now we have grace -
Turne ageyn and tast the swete savour
Of this clene virgine, of this wele savoured flour,
Whech with fyve braunchis grewe thus here in erde:
The first, the secund, the thrid, and the ferde
Have ye perseyvyd if ye have red alle;
Now shall the fyft be schewid unto youre syght,
For now me lyst this lady a rose to calle,
Of fyve braunches full preciously i-dyth.
The rede coloure that shon in hir so bryght,
That was hir martirdam. The fyve leves grene
Betokne hir lyffe, thus distincte, I wene,
In dyvers bokes, like as we have dyvysyd
Beforn this tyme; and now this is the last.
These fyve leves, rith thus are thei sysyd
That on the stalke thei cleven wondir fast;
The reed floures kepe thei fro the blast
Or thei hemselfe thus lateth hem abrode,
And aftir that thei make here than abode
Even undir the same swete floures -
Betokynyng that hir liffe was sprede
With martirdam and with scharp schoures
Whech for Crist both suffered and dede,
For in divers bokes, as I have oftyn rede,
Martirdam hath a suffereyn dignyté
Above all vertues whech that gostly bee.
Thus grew this rose oute of the thorny brere
Whan that this martir of hethen was bore.
I will declare yete, if ye will here,
Why that these leves clevyn so sore:
Thre of hem are berdyd and noo more,
And too stand nakyd withouten dagge or berde -
Thus are thei wont to growen in oure yerde.
These fyve leves, as I seyd wolate,
Betokenes these bokes whech we haven in hand:
Too of hem expresse the tyme and the date
In which this lady, as I undirstande,
Leved as hethen and so dede al hir land.
Therfor are thei naked in her kynde,
Expressyng thus this ladies levyng blynde.
Blynd I calle hir whill she was in that lyffe,
Knew not Criste baptem, ne had non take,
Of hevynly thinges litil inquisitiffe -
Hir elde oppynyones had she noth forsake.
Fro this blyndnes Crist made hir awake
In oure third boke, rith as we seyd before -
It nedith not as now it rehers nomore.
The othir thre with berdis are so i-growe
That leves of vertu men may hem calle.
To all the world opynly thus it is knowe
That she hath grace whech may not falle.
So are hir leves endewyd and evyr shall:
Evyr are thei grene and evyr more shall bee,
Regnyng with Cryst in very felicyté.
And in hir honour now I will procede
To myn fyfte boke, in whech I will speke
Of hir martirdam, so as the story will lede -
How God the quelys for His cause dede breke
And on the puple took full grete wreke.
Thus shall it be translate now new fro Lateyn,
To the worchip of God and of Seynt Kateryn.
Whan these clerkys had made thus her compleynt
Of all her errour and wrong credulyté,
The emperoures hert for sorow gan to feynt,
For now is none that dare speke but he -
In all these materis convicte is this mené.
Wherfor with angry chere and wordys full dispitous
Thus seyd he to hem as he stode in that hous:
"Fy on youre scole! We had ful grete trost
Ye schuld a made wele all that was amysse.
All oure expens, all oure consayle is loste!
Ye have reved me of this worldly blys -
Noth worldly but gostly, for I seyd amysse -
It is gostly joye and longith to oure feyth.
Here ye noth now what that the puple seyth?
"Thei seyn a maydyn hath convicte in this place
Fyfty clerkis in this world non lych.
Thei sey thei wollyn the same feyth purchace -
Thus sey thei all, the pore and the rych.
Wold God ye had be byryed in a dych
Whan ye cam heder, for now all is lost:
Labour and connyng, rydyng and mechil coost.
"Lete now youre prudens make yow a new corage,
That ye lese noth youre cunnyng and youre fame -
Thinke what I hyth you, worchep and wage;
Lyft up youre hertis, men, for very shame!
Beth noth aferd, for than ye lesen youre name.
Speke to this woman, with reson bere hir down,
Than are ye worthy in scyens to bere the crowne.
"Ye stand all hertles. Wher is youre cunnyng goo
That been astoyned with nature femynyne?
Be holy Saturne, I wold a supposed soo
That on of you myth a ben for swech nyne. 1
Ye faren as ye were bound with lyne:
What answere will ye gevyn of youre conyng,
Whech that at nede avaylith nothing?"
The grettest of hem and leder eke,
The same Ariot of whech I spake before,
Onto the emperour thus he gan to speke:
"Onto thi courte come we, lesse and more,
Thi goddes servyse to gefe and restore,
And, as I wene, of all the est syde
Of all this world to seke fer and wyde
"Shuldist noth fynd swech a pykyd cumpany
In gramer, rethoricke, and thoo artes alle,
But speciall in naturall philosophie
Are we endewid. But to sciens whech thei calle
Theologie, to that coud we not falle
Till that this lady bryngyth us to induction -
Evyr blyssyd be she for hir good instruction!
"What manere man that wolde or this tyme
Dispute with us be reson and auctorité,
His demonstracyouns cowde us neyther trappe ne lyme,
But he was caute for all his sotelté.
He pased not fro us withoute a velonye -
This was oure usage ryght than for victorye,
So loved we these wordes of veynglorye.
"Now it is turned, oure fortune and oure chaunce,
Oure appetyte eke - I wote nevyr how it is went.
This mayden makyth that we falle in traunce;
Oure conyng now, it semyth that it is spent.
Sche spekyth of Godd whech that was hangen and rent
And gostly spech hath sche browte to place;
Naturall scyens hath in this matere no space.
"Therfore can we as in this solemnyté
Speke ryght nowte, but resones make sche grete.
Hir prechyng paseth all oure carnalyté,
For whan I fyrst thus mystly herd hir trete
In my body my bowelles sore gune bete,
For very rebuke that I hir langage
Cowde not conceyve. Wherfore, syre, alle your wage,
"Alle your rewardes whech ye profyrd us,
We refusen; youre goddes and youre lawe
We renunce for the love of oure Lorde Jhesus.
Schew ye summe resone pleynly that we may knawe
If that your goddes with her rowe pawe
Have othir evidens that ye can preve this tyde,
For in this errour we wyll no lengere abyde.
"Cryst, Goddes Sone, that with His blyssyd passyoun
Bowt all mankynde, here we now confesse.
Onto His mercy ryght with goode devocyoun
We now commend us, the more and eke the lesse.
Slee and flee, brenne and put in dystresse,
Other feyth schall thu nevyr plant
Into oure hert, for nothing now we want
"But of baptyme, this holy sacrament.
God, as He bowte us, on us have mercye."
Thus seyden his felawys all with oon entent,
"There is no Godd but He that syttyth on hye;
On all these maumentys evyre sey we 'fye!'
We schuld dey rathere than we schuld forsake
The Crysten feyth whech we have now take."
Now wax the emperour ny wode and oute of mynde:
His eyne rolled as thei wold fall oute.
"Fy on yow," he seyd, "charles unkynde!"
Now is oure feyth for yow more in doute
Than evyr it was to hem that stonden aboute!"
He thoo comaundyd in ful hasty wyse:
"I wyll her deth that ye thus devyse.
"A fyre I wyll that ye hastely make,
Ryght in the myddes of the grete cetee -
Spare no wode for holy Saturn sake.
Spede yow fast these renegatys that ye see,
Frye hem in her grece, for be that deyté
Of swete Apollo, I schall not ete ne drynk
Tyll that I se hem bothe brened and stynke.
"Put in rosyn, pych, and othir gere;
Spare no coste, for in this do ye servyse
Onto oure goddys, withouten any fere.
Thus schul thei dey that oure goddis despyce.
I schall be there myself as justyse
And see these I wele don in dede.
Whan ye have don ye schall have ryght goode mede.
"I wyll ye bynde hem bothe fote and hande,
Drawe hem forthe as dogges unto the place.
Youre ropes loke thei be myghty and youre bande -
Spare neythir body, heedys, nyn her face.
God gefe hem all swech a sorye grace
That thus forsake oure goddys that be eterne!
Loke none of hem skape yow in non hyrn.
"Thei schal be brent dede, ryght as I have seyde,
Brent into askes - thei gete no remedye.
Lete hem crye now on this wylfull mayde
Whech hath browte hem into that heresye!
I wyll noo wordes as now multyplye:
Goo now forth in hast and do youre dede;
Whan it is done, treuly schall ye have your mede."
Thus are thei draw with grete vylony
Onto her dome - thei wrestyll not ageyn.
Men myght se there many a wepyng eye,
But for fere no man dare now seyn.
Glad are these meny alle of very peyn.
The mayster of hem thus he cryed that tyme:
"To God be it that for no synne ne cryme
"Be we appechyd but only for trew feyth.
Therfor, felawys, in Cryst youreselfe comfort.
Whatevyr this tyraunt doth or seyth,
Thank oure Lorde, for we are in His port
Whech that ledyth us to that blyssyd comfort,
Where all seyntys are gadered togedyr be grace
In an hevynly, joyful, blessed place.
"Oure Lorde hath called us fro oure olde erroure
Onto this ende: thank we Him therfore
Whech onto the beuté of His meroure
Wold of His goodeness newly us restore.
In this world, as for me, I wyll no more
But that we schuld ben baptized or we deye;
Than were we redy for to walke that goode weye.
"For that same baptem is an holy werke:
It causeth grace and feyth and eke endewyth;
Betwyx God and man it is a very merke
That whosoevyr Crystes steppes sewyth
All his levyng sothely he renewyth,
Whan that he waschyth in this watyr his synne.
Oure Lorde Himselfe was wasched therinne
"Ryght for this cause: that no man shulde dysdeyne
To use the same whech that this Lorde used.
Of my conceyte I wyll no more now feyne,
For in this matere ofte tyme hafe I musede.
Many yere this sacrament I refusede;
That I repent now, and evyr I schall it rewe,
That I so long leved a lyffe untrewe.
"Werfore my care now is this onlye:
That sythe we schall and nedys must deye,
Of all oure synnes mercy for to crye,
And all oure defautes undyr fote to ley,
To treden hem down. Than savely may we sey
That we are purged and of all made clene -
Thus must we beleven, felawys, all bedene."
And onto the mayden he turned him with his voys:
"Lady," he seyd, "for God that syttyth above
And for the passyoun that Cryst had on crosse,
Prey for us to Him that is thi love;
Thu seyst full welle we may no lengere schove
Oure lyvyng dayes, for thei are nye at ende;
Prey that He wyll His mercy sende
"Onto His servauntys and spare hem at this tyme.
Suffyr us eke that we may waschyd be
With holy baptem, that we may the bettyr clyme
To that place of grete felicité;
And if this prayere plese not Him, but He
Wyll allgatys that we schall wante this thinge,
We wolde desyre than of this blyssyd kinge
"He wold with us make dispensacyoun,
For all this may He; He is omnipotent.
He lovyth all men, He lovyth every nacyoun
Egaly, ye sey, this is oure fundament.
If He dyspence with us of this sacrament,
Than for wantyng may we bere no blame,
Than schall oure deth be tyl us but game."
Than seyd the mayd untyll hem all in fere:
"Fere ye ryght nowght, thow ye want this thing.
So as I can now wyll I yow lere.
Thoo men that for love of Cryst oure kinge,
Whech wante of baptem, that holy waschynge,
Thei schall to blys, for aungellys schall hem carye -
The fendes powere no thinge may hem tarye.
"In stede of baptem servyth His passyoun:
Not only blode whech that He for hem dyd blede
But all othir deth whech with devocyoun
Thus thei suffred unto hem grete mede.
Leve ye wel this doctrine trostly as your crede,
The grete peyne the whech is dempte to yow
In stede of baptem schal be as now.
"God may with fyre purgen mannys synne,
With watyr eke as Him lyst demene;
Summe men are baptyzed, heven for to wynne,
With that watyr whech in the fonte is sene.
Summe are purgede with her blode, I wene -
Thei deyn as marteres, this is oure decré.
Summe are baptyzed, eke, as leve we -
"Thys calle oure clerkys baptem of the Goste -
In Goddys mercy, and deyen oute of synne
Ryght in her feyth that stedfastly troste.
Therfore ye knytes of Cryste new begune,
To cleym youre herytage that ye were therinne
Beth not aferde, but suffre the peyn mekely -
Than are ye baptized, trost me now trewly."
Whan that thei weren of this holy mayde
Thus comforted, the offyceres comen anoon:
Thei bondyn her handys, ryght as I seyde;
Thei leden hem forth, fast as thei may goon,
Onto a strete whech was pathed with ston.
Well is him that may a fagott bere
To brene the clerkys! The emperour was there,
Sett in a stage, for he wold see the ende.
The fyre is made, blokkes are leyd on hepe,
Fagottes gan thei amonge the clogges bende.
There is not ellys but fech, renne, and lepe;
Blow now fast - the foweres shuld not slepe.
Thei bynde her fete, thei throw hem in the fere,
But thei are glad and full mery of chere,
Thankyng God that all thing made of nowte
That thei may dey for swech a Lordes sake.
Thei pray to Him ryght as He hem bowte
Her soules tyll Him now that He wold take.
What schuld I now lengere this tale make?
Thus are thei dede, her sowles onto blysse,
Eke tyll her bodyes oure blyssed Lorde grauntyd thyss:
Skyn ne flesch was non of hem brente,
Ne hede, ne clothe, ne heere of berde ne of heede.
Thei lay there dede with browes fayre bente,
With fayre face colourde bothe whyght and reede,
For lyk as the fyre makyth the rusty leede
Bryth and schene, so makyth the fyre this mené -
Whoso knew hem before myth ken hem and see.
In her peynes, men seyd, thei cryed thus:
"Blyssyd be God that we nevyr knew ere,
Blyssyd be Cryst! Honourde be oure Lorde Jhesu!
For of this tormente have we now no fere."
This was a scole mervelows for to lere:
That thei in torment myrth and joy schuld make.
Onto God only her sowles gan thei take;
Thus deyed this mené in Novembyre the thirtene day.
Aftyr her deth thei semed not to a be dede:
As slepyng men in fayre coloure thei lay,
In handys, body, legges, eke, and heede,
With coloure fresch, lovely, and also reede.
This see the puple and mervelyd wondyr sore;
God thei preysyd for than and evyr more,
For be this miracle converted was that day
Meche folke to Cryst, and for devocion
Bothe of the clerkys and eke of the may,
Thei token the bodyes with solempne orison
And biried hem there in dyvers mansion,
Trostyng to spede bettir for her cause.
Thus endyth her martirdam rith in this clause.
Thoo sey the emperour: "There is non othir botte
Onto this mayden whech is so stedfast
But fayre wordes, whech draw womanhoode
And makith hem often othir thingis to tast
Than thei shulde do if thei wold be chast."
Therfor this mayden rith thus thoo he glosyth:
"Kateryne," he seyth, "there is no man supposith -
"Nothe ye youreselve - that I wold but goode
Onto youre persone. But this grete distresse
To which I putte you, spellyng yet as no bloode,
Was forto chast you fro that sekenes
Whech that ye have caute of fonned holynes,
And left the rytes that oure elderes before
Receyvyd and honouryd as for sovereyn lore.
"This was the cause why that I distressyd you soo.
But love have I onto you sekyrly
As to the best of alle, save on and no moo.
And why I do soo, if ye will wete why,
Youre beuté it causith, youre cunnyng eke; and I
Love you so wele that, if ye lyke to consent,
And thurifye to Jupiter that is omnipotent
"Ye shall have honour - no woman shall be you lich.
O swete virgyne, enclyne youre love to me!
O fayre visage of bewté now most rych,
O woman most worthy of imperiall degré,
O very merveyle, parfyth felicité,
Wold god ye knowen what care I have for yow
And what beheest I have made in myn avowe.
"Why wold ye despyce oure goddis immortall?
Why wold ye calle hem so venemous a name?
Why seyd ye that thei are develes infernall?
Why slaunder ye so her endewed fame?
For this blasfeme, iwis, ye are to blame:
'Deceyvoures of the puple,' as ye seyde.
Chaunge youre langage, ye noble goodly mayde!
"Chaunge betyme, for though thei suffir longe,
At the last thei smyten and taken hey venjaunce.
Tendir youre thought, speke no more wronge:
Thus shall ye best her yre swage.
Take youre offeryng yet, in schort langage,
And plesith hem so thei may be youre frendes,
And sey nevyr more that thei be fendes.
"If ye wil don as I you now counsayle,
This shall ye have: next aftir the qween
Shall ye be to us, withouten fayle;
To youre comaundment all men shall bene
Obeyng, but whom that ye will susteyne
He shal be favoured with all myth and mayne,
And whom that ye hate, compendiously to sayne,
"That man shall levyn in full gret distresse.
Comforth youreselve, dispice not good counsayle,
Makith not youre frendis to levyn in hevynesse,
Lete myn wordis sinken in youre entrayle:
Fle swech that may not avayle.
Withinne my kyngdam may ye have this ryght:
What that ye will shal be fulfyllyd as tyth.
"If that ye will exilen ony man,
That man shall goo - there shall no good him save.
More plesaunce to you graunt I ne can
But suffir youre will all that ye will have.
For this decré shall I nevyr more wave:
Whom that ye list of grace for to avaunce,
In joyfull dayes that same man may daunce.
"Betwix the qween and you shal be non distaunce
But only this: because of oure spousayle
Sche must of me have more dewe plesaunce -
The love betwix us, I trow, shall nevyr fayle;
But to you shall long both lawe and counsayle
Thorow all oure reme to governe at youre wille:
Rith as ye bydde all men shall fulfylle.
"Yete shall I make in the market place
A solempne ymage lich an empresse.
As man of craft will counterfete youre face
It shal be made. Ilke man, more and lesse,
Shall honour that with ful grete besynesse,
Whan thei comen forby shul fallen on knes anon.
This ymage shall not only be made of stone,
"But of clene metall, gylt full bryght and shene.
Whoso comyth forby with sufficient evidens
Shall knowen full wele that sche was a qwene
Whos ymage stante there, and that in grete offens
Shall he falle that doth noo reverens
To that ymage. And whoo flee thertoo,
What maner offens that evyr he hath doo,
"Shal be forgeve at the reverens of yow, mayde.
Thus may ye be deyfyed, if ye will it take."
Swech maner wordis untill hir he sayde:
He wold a tempill all of marbell make,
Of ful grete cost rith for hir sake,
Wenyng evyr with swech feynyd plesauns
To bryng this mayde oute of hir good perseverauns.
Sche lowe a lytill whan sche had herd all this,
And than she spake with mery countenaunce:
"Full happy am I," she seyd, "unto blys,
Whan that the emperour will me thus avaunce
To reren a ymage of so grete plesaunce
In worchip of me and of so grete pryse.
Summe men wolde seyn that I were nyse
"If I refused it, for of gold it schal be
If I comaunde, but yet at the lest
Of sylvere he wyl it make and of swech quantyté
The chaungours schul stryve and be in no rest
To bregyn so mech tresoure oute of the nest
To make a memoryall of Kateryne the mayde!"
Swech manere wordes at that tyme sche sayde:
"And thow this ymage be made of marbyll grey,
Suffysyth it that to my laude eterne
Every man schall come be the wey
Where that schal be sett in a herne,
On bothe knes him must fall yerne
And do his omage, elles must him deye.
What manere wordes hope ye thei shall seye?
"'Heyl ymage, made ryght in memoryall
Of a lady full wyse and ful of prudent;
Heyle statue that art now as eternall;
Heyl sygne, made ryght to this entent -
The grete beawté of Kateryne to present!'
Wyll not this be full grete plesaunce
Tyl hem that loven this worldly lusty daunce?
"But this wold I knowyn or we this thinge make:
Of what matere schall my legges be?
What manere werkman that dare undyrtake
To make hem to meve and walke in her degré?
My handys, eke, I wolde wete how that he
Shuld make to fele and of what matere -
Or we goo ferther this wold I lere.
"The eyne eke whech this ymage schall have,
If thei schul loke ryght as I do in dede,
Where is that werkman that swech thinges can grave?
He were wel worthy to have ful grete mede!
I leve nevyr that this werk shuld well spede.
Thys matere thus sotely to congelle,
There is no werkman in erthe that can it fulfylle.
"A tunge, eke, if he shuld it make
Onto this ymage to speke and to crye:
Where is he that dare this undirtake?
If he do thus, he werkith a grete maystry,
But for this cause that there is no man so slye.
Therfor I conclude thus, in a shorte sentens:
Whan ye have wared youre witte and youre expens
"To make this ymage, it shal be unsensible,
Stond lyke a stone, and byrdes that flyes ther abowth -
As I suppose it shal be right possible
Ther shall comyn sumtyme a full grete rowth -
Here unclene dunge shall thei there put oute
And lete it falle rith on the ymage face.
Loo, swech a guerdon I may now purchace
"That men shuld dredyn and foules shuld defyle!
But whan deth hath shake on us his blast,
And that oure mynd be passed a lytyl whyle,
I am aferd this werke shall not last -
Wherfor to make it me thinkyth but a wast.
To trosten in fame and in veynglory
It is but feynyng a fekyl flatery.
"And thou thei make it as fayre as thei can,
Yette shall dogges defylen it every day.
For thow it honoured be of every man,
The small childeryn that come by the way
Shul sumtyme make there ful fowle aray.
Shall I for this leve my God forevyr
And fro His frenchip my sowle now desevyr
"To worchep develes that standen in tempil here,
Kepte as beres? Do way! It shall not be -
There shall no joy ne peyne me nevyr stere
To leeve my Lorde, to leve my felicité,
To renne in apostasie. Fye! It will not be!
Lette be youre labour, sere, let be youre promysse;
Thei shall not maken me nevyr to do amysse.
"What, shuld my lyffe bettir ben in ese
For swech a statue? What shuld it profyth
Onto my soule - me thinkith it coude not plese
No good man, for thow it were to the syth
Ful delectable, with coloures schynyng bryth,
Onto oure dayes it shuld non encres,
Onto oure sekenes it shuld non reles,
"Onto oure lyffe it shuld be no myrth,
Onto oure deth it shuld non comforth be.
None avayle to end ne to byrthe:
To what part longith it of felicité?
If it mowte kepe my flesh in swech degré
It shuld not rote, I shuld it nevyr weyven,
But as profitable I wold it than receyven.
"I have a promysse made of a gretter Lorde,
Of gretter fame than I will now expresse,
And made aforne persones of recorde
In whech is graunted, truly withoute gesse,
A memorial of parfyth stabilnesse,
As ye shall knowe, many that here be.
Leveth youre besynes as now onto me -
Labour no more to wynne me to youre parte.
It shall not be, I wil be as I am,
It will not avayle youre sotilté ne youre arte -
He is my spouse whech is both God and man;
I am His mayde. I wil do that I can
To haven His love; He is my swetnesse,
He is my joy, He is my gentilnesse."
Thoo chaunged the emperour both word and chere,
And to the mayden he seyd as I rehers:
"The benynglyer that we treten you here,
As me semeth, the more ye revers.
This shall ye have, shortly in a vers,
Deth or joy whech you levest:
If ye will leve in solas and in rest,
"Than shal ye now with hey devocion
Thurifye to that magesté
Of grete Appollo. His exaltacion -
As ye knowe wele, for it is no secré -
Redressith this word with hete whech that he
Spredyth upon iche mayde. Obey thertoo!
There is no choys; this thing must nedis be doo.
"Fayre spech avaylith noth to you in no wyse.
I wold wele with solas a led youre gentilnesse,
But at my promysse ye sett lytill prysse -
Ye schal repent it sothly, as I gesse.
There is the fyre: dispose you to holynesse,
Do it with good will; ye schal the soner purchace
Pardon of synne and encres of grace.
"If ye do noth, in schort tyme ye shal be dede,
Rith in example of the puple that is here:
Her hertis arne hangyng hevy as leed;
A man may perseyven rith be her chere
It may not passen lyghtly, swech matere -
It must be punchid, rith for fere of othir.
He shuld be dede thou he were my brothir."
"Peyne is welcome to me," seyd she than,
And deth, eke, I wil it noth forsake,
For thou ye smyth, fle, sle, or banne,
It skyllith me rith noth for my Lordis sake
Swech myschevys for His love to take.
He toke for me mych more wrechydnes
Whill He lyved her in this worldly wyldernes.
"Poverté He suffered than full buxumly
Whan that He myth an had riches at His will;
The same myschef yete suffered nevyr I,
But if it com, I will obey thertyll.
Ageyn blasfemewrs stod that Lord ful styll,
Gevyng exaumpil til us of paciens:
Why shull His servauntis maken ony resistens
"Whan the wykyd purposyd to don hem wrong?
For His cause, His feyth, or His love
I am now redy, be it short or long,
To suffer despite, peyne, and reprove.
I wote wele it will falle to myn behove
Whan I am gone: the more I suffyr here,
The more joy shal I haven elleswhere.
"He offered himselve to the Fader of blys
An host ful clene, undefyled with synne,
And I wil offyr my body, for it is His,
Onto His plesauns whech I wold wynne.
Loke ye youreselve whan ye will begynne,
For I am redy in body and in goost:
Sle or flee, fry or ellis roste.
"There shall come tyme thu shalt repent full sore
Of cruel domes whech thu usest here.
Of thi power settest thu ful gret store,
Whech shal rew thee ful sore aftir thi bere.
Crystes servauntis hast thu brent in fere -
In tyme comyng therfor thu shal be schent
Whan that thu with fendes in helle shal be brent.
"The more thu thretyst, the more glad am I;
The moo peynes thu applyest to me,
The more my joyes encres sekyrly.
I go not alone whan that I part fro ye,
For whan I dey many of thi mené
Of thin howsold shal folow me ful sone.
Of Cryst my Lord have I askyd that boone:
"That of thi meny rith a full grete parte
Shul trow in Him and levyn her ydolatrye.
Wayte aboute with all thin sotyll arte -
Thu shal fynd that I make no lye.
Her soules fro peyn frely thus shul flye
Streyte to hevyn, and thu shalt brenne in helle.
This thing is trew that I ye now telle."
Than was the emperour ny wode for ire.
He comaund his men that stodyn hem abowte
To fetche yerdis of ful sotyll wyre;
He chase men that were of body ful stouth.
Till hem he seyd right thus without douth:
"Take this mayden and strippe hir moder-nakyd.
I trow she shal sone of hir slepe be wakyd!
"Bete hir wele, rith for hir blasfeme
To feryn hem that trostyn in hir doctryne.
Lete hir no more spekyn of that Bethleme,
Ne of Galile shal she no more dyvyne.
I trow that peyne shal hir rather enclyne
Onto oure wille than may oure plesauns.
Do ye youre dever, thou that she falle in trauns!"
The tormentoures have taken hir on syde,
Made hir naked backe and armes thertoo.
With eyrend wandes, as fast as thei may glyde,
Thei beten hir body; the blode cam fast hir froo.
Whan thei were wery, than don fresh men moo:
Thus is she betyn for hir spouses love.
Sche trostith on comforth that comyth fro above.
These weren hir wordes: "Lord send me paciens,
Make me strong to suffir this penauns.
If that I have ronne in Thi offens
Lete it be purged be this same grevauns.
Thankyng be evyr unto Thi purvyauns,
Lord, maker of man and best.
Of Thi servauntis, I that am the leest,
"Thanke Thee more for this same betyng
Than for the welthes that Thu sent me befor,
For wele wote I that this tormentyng,
It is to me as a grete tresowre.
Farewel the werd now forevyr more:
Stele and robbe the goodes that I have;
I care noth now neythir for toure ne cave."
The tyraunt aske among this byttir peyne,
Whan all was blode and the beters wery were all:
"What sey ye mayden? Will ye yete susteyne
Youre elde heresye in whech ye be falle?
If ye will mercy of oure goddes calle,
Ye shall it have, and ellys new game -
Or that ye goo, I trow ye shal be tame."
Sche answerd thus: "Sere, know this wele:
That I am strenger in body and in goost
Than evyr I was to sufferne every dele
Al maner turment, wheyther thu wolt fry or roost.
But thu, my schamful dog ful of boost,
Do what thu wilt, for I shall stronger be
In my sufferauns than thu in thi cruelté.
"Bethink thee wele, on ilke maner syde,
Whom thu may fle or bryng on dawe
The Crysten puple that knowen is so wyde,
Whech do no wrong but kepyn a ful trew lawe.
I shall dey and passen this worldes wawe,
Folow my Lorde and dwelle with Him in blys,
Wher that no thing is thout ne do amys.
"Ther schall I dwelle in joye and in solas
Whan thu thiself schalt be in horrybyll peyne.
Thou schalt than desyre, but thu schalt have no grace;
Thou schalt be bounden with that wofull cheyn
Of obstynacy; thu schalte repente and seyn,
'Allas that evyr I wrowth swech torment
Onto youre hevenly blyssyd covent!'
"Thus schalt thu wayle qwan thu sest us in blysse,
And thu in sorowe withouten remedye,
Lyeng in peynes whech shul nevyr mysse,
This shalt thu knowe uphap hastyly.
Therfore fulfylle now of ire thi malencolly,
And I shall suffyr for the love of God of heven."
Thus seyd the lady with a ful bold steven.
The emperour comaunded onto his servauntis anon,
"Ye take this mayd and into prison hir lede.
I will ye put hir in the depe cave of ston,
No man so hardy in no maner hir to fede.
I will," he seyth, "that this be done in dede:
All these fourty dayes whech that I shall ryde,
Lete hir no mete have to slake therwith hir pryde.
"Geve hir no drynke, ne lete hir no drynke have.
Whoso otherwyse do ageyn my comaundment -
So holy Jubiter mote my soule save -
Whan I come home, sone shall he be brent!
I will that ye fulfylle all myn entent
Even streytly, withoute delacion:
No man so hardy of no maner nacion
"Bere hir mete or drynke or eny lyght."
This cruell maundment and this same decré
Made the emperour thus ageyn the law o ryght
And is redyn forth with his mené
Up into the lond for cause whech that he
Had for to don as potestates have.
And thus is this mayde left alone in cave,
Withouten ony comforth or ony solas.
But Cryst hath noth forgetyn His wyffe
All these fourty dayes, of His good grace,
He wolde noth levyn hir like a caytiffe.
He sent down His servauntis fro the hows of lyffe -
His aungelis I mene - to comforth this mayde.
Swech maner wordes thoo til hir seyd thei:
"Oure Lord comaund that ye shuld be glade -
Suffir this desese with sobir paciens.
Mete shal ye have - ye nevyr swech had;
Lith hath He sent yow with oure presens.
The emperour for youre cause renneth in offens
Whech he shall sumetyme ful sore repent."
Thus was she comforted in hir torment
With lyght of heven and with hevenly mete,
With presens of aungelis. For thei that hir kepte,
Thei myth here the noyse, how thei hir trete.
Thei myth sene lyght as it gan strepe
Thorow the slarrys - thei myth not slepe.
So have thei merveyle of all this thing,
But rith noth told thei onto the kyng.
But to othir folke in the courte there
Sprong this word there, how that this mayde
Was kept fro lyth, in ful grete fere,
And fro mete eke, as I ere sayde,
And how the jayloures were so afrayde
Of certeyn lyght at the dongon dore:
This word in the courte goth aboute sore.
The tydens are come onto the qwenes ere
Of the cruel sentens and of the lith eke,
How that the mayden without ony fere
Had answerd the clerkys in the tothir weke,
And how that the mayden with wordes meke
Had turned hem to Cryst, and how thei were brent,
And she for that cause in prison is ny shent.
The emperour was absent, as I seyd before,
Forth unto the lond redyn in hast.
Thei tolde the qween that he comaunded sore
That she neythir mete ne drynke shuld tast,
But for pure hungyr she must dey and wast -
These last wordes seyd he on the heth:
"No man gefe hir mete ne drynke ne lyght in peyn of deth."
This meved the qwen of very womanly peté
To have compassion of these peynes alle
Whech that this lady, be very cruelté
Of the kyng, had suffered. Thus is she falle,
The qwen, all in stody walkyng in the halle,
Thinkyng besyly upon this mayde,
And til hirself pryvyly thus she sayde:
"These Cristen folke, thei do no man wrong:
Alle that thei bye trewly therfor thei pay;
Onto her God thei syngyn ful goodly song
New and new, as men seyn, every day;
Wastfull are thei noth in no maner of ray;
In gloteny ne drunkchip wil thei nevyr be -
This same lyffe full wele it plesith me.
"And on of hem had I ben or nowe,
Had not oure lawe forfend us that scole.
If it were sene that I to hem drowe,
Men schuld seyn that I were a fole.
It myth turne me eke to mekyl dole
If that my lorde myth this changyng knowe.
But yete in my herte there begynnyth to growe
"A grete desyre for to sene this mayde.
Allas, how shall I fulfylle myn entent?"
Thus be hirselve the lady thought and sayde.
But in this stody even as she went
Happyd to come, as thow God had him sent,
A noble knyth, a wysman in all thing,
Pryvy of counsayle ryght speciall with the kyng,
Governowre of knytes, leder of hem alle,
A very fadyr to yong folke that shuld lere -
Porphery the storyes rith thus thei him calle.
Onto the qween he kneled with ful sad chere.
"I am glad," she seyd, "Porphery, that ye be here.
Ye ben a man that may mych avayle.
To you now I will tellen my pryvy counsayle.
"I am so trobilled newly with Crysten lawe
I can noth slepe, I may neythir ete ne drynke.
Every day, or it begynnyth to daw,
And eke all nyght, on this matere I thynke -
I trow I am ful ny my lyves brynke,
But I have comforte ryght thus." Thoo sche sayde,
"Goode Porphyry, me muste nedes se yon mayde.
"Orden ye the meene ryght as ye can -
Gefe the gaylere gold and sylvyr enowe;
Ordeyn so that ye and I may than
Speke this ladye. To Godd I make a vowe,
Loke my lorde nevyr so wrothe and rowe,
I must nedes speke hir or I schal be dede,
For in this matere myn hert is hevy as lede."
Porphyry seyde, "Madame, it schal be do:
I schal parforme this thing, trost in me.
In swech degré the dorys schal be ondoo
There schall no man be pryvy but we thre -
That is to seyn, the gaylere, I, and ye.
Drede yow noth, ye schal have your entent.
With this matere have I sore be torment:
"Me thinkyth grete wrong that this lady suffereth here
So horribily beten, kept fro mete and drynke,
And she no harme doth in no manere.
Ful often tyme she made me on hir to thynke
Sithin I hir herde the noble argumentis clynke
With the clerkys, whan she convycte hem alle.
Therfor, madame, falle what so befalle,
"We wil se hir, and with good leysyre,
And speke with hir this same nyte folowyng.
Grete giftis shall I geve to the gaylere
To kepe counsayle and speke of this nothing.
Goo ye to chaumbir and whan I geve warnyng
Comyth forth alone and lete youre women slepe -
Loke ye be redy whan I shall you clepe."
Thus be consent the qwen and Porphiry,
Whan all men slepyn to prison are thei goo
Alle alone, rith seyth oure story.
Whan thei comen there, thei too and no moo,
So grete lith in prison sey thei thoo
That thei fallen down withouten spech or breth -
Thei hopyd nevyr to a ben so ny her deth,
For that brytnes was lych a lythnyng
Whech thei sey than, so wondyrfull and bryght
Her wytt is goo, and down in stameryng
Are thei falle for fere of that syght.
There was a savour, also, with the lyght;
Thei felt nevyre swech, the story seyth, certeyne,
For with that savour her comfort cam ageyn.
Tho spake the mayden swech wordes to hem:
"Ryse up syster, ryse up brothir in fere.
Cryst that was bore in the cité of Bethleem,
He hath callyd yow onto His servyse here.
Be glad and mery, be of ryght goode chere;
Oure Lord hath chose yow newly to His grace -
For that cause He sent yow to this place."
Thei behelden the mayde at that tyde,
How that sche sate on knes full mekely.
Many aungell sey thei on every syde,
With swete gummes anoyntyng hir softly;
Evyr as thei touchede with handys by and by
The flesch was helyd, the skyn closed ageyn,
With mech more beauté, sothely for to seyn,
Than evyr it was whyle that it was hole.
Thus can oure Lorde redresse all dolour
Whech men suffre, be it in hede or soole.
He can in lesse tyme than in halfe a houre
Hele oure sores, comfort oure laboure.
These folk there hadden a blysfull syght,
Ful of comforte, ful of hevynly delyte.
There satte besyde eke sundry ful elde men
Gevyng comforte ontyll hir hevynesse.
There were in cumpanye no mo than nyn or ten -
Of her noumbre have I no sekyrnesse -
Thei were sent thedyr, sothely as I gesse,
Because this woman was withoute solace,
Hir to comfort with summe hevynly grace.
On of hem helde in his hande a crown
Fayre and reall - we can it not dyscryve -
Ryght fro his hande Kateryne toke it down.
Onto the qwen thus she seyd belyve:
"This crown, systir, with these braunches fyve
Shall ye haven and weryn upon youre heed
As for asay; but aftir, whan ye be dede,
"Than shall ye have it for reward evyrlestyng."
Onto the old men tho turned that mayde
Whil she helde the crowne, in the settyng,
Thus tyl hem with meke voys she sayd:
"For these personys to my Lord I prayd
Thei shul be writyn in the boke of lyffe.
Therfor, seres, as I, Crystes wyffe,
"Graunted be patent, so wil I that ye wryth
These too names in that boke forevyr.
Clense her synnes, make so that hevy with
Fro my Lord nomore hem desevyre.
I pray to God that now mote thei falle nevyre
Aftir the tyme that thei reseyvyn the feyth."
On of the eldest ageyn onto hir seyth:
"O preciouse spouse of God that syttyth above,
O gemme reall schynyst in chastyté,
Whatevyr thu aske of Cryst that is thi love,
It cannot fayle, so precious to you is He.
Onto thi persone, therfore, trost thu to me:
This lady shall preve onto grete perfeccion,
This knyte shall have eke swech progression
"In vertuous lyffe that thorow his gode counsayle
Too hundred and moo fro her fals beleve
Shall turne to Cryst and ful sore for her synne wayle
Her fals feyth whech thei cannot preve."
Thus have these folke of Kateryne take her leve,
Walkyng to chaumbyr with hertis suspens,
Kepyng this matere alle cloos in sylens.
This mayden is kepte in prison evyr stylle
With swech comforth as ye have herdyn here.
Of mannys comforth hath she neythir lettir ne bylle -
No man dare doo it, swech is now her fere.
Fourty dayes full thus was she kepyd there
Withouten mete, but in all these dayes
Of hevenly mete had she swete assayes.
For He that fedde Danyel the prophete in the lake
And caryede Abacuc so ferre oute of Jude
To bryng him vytayle, that same Lord myth make
That in prison this mayden thus fedde shuld be.
In storyes that I rede, in dyvers too or thre,
A fayre dowe fro heven brouth hir mete -
Wheythir bodyly or goostly it is hard for to trete,
For, as Austen seyth, that same seede
Whech oure faderes receyvyd in wyldernes,
Whech served hem than in stede of brede -
This very doctir seyth in sothfastnes -
That possybyll it is swech seedes more or lesse
Shuld be noryshyd in the eyyere be supposicion,
In the lowere part whech hath desposicion,
Sumwhat to the erde acordyng in nature:
This is his sentens, whoso wil it rede,
In his boke whech tretyth in Scripture.
I trow this same was don here in dede:
The Holy Gost this goodly mayden gan fede
With hevenly thyng whech had erdly kynd:
Thus wene I, but I wil no man bynd,
But if he will for to levyn my tale.
She was fedde - that have we of treuth.
If God had left hir in so byttyr bale
Withouten comforth it had ben grete reuth.
In that pryson she lyved withouten sleuth
Alle fourty dayes, but in the last of alle
As she in prayyer ful besyly gan calle
Onto Cryst, she saw an hevenly syth:
Oure Lord Himselve to pryson is com down,
With many aungellys shynyng wondir bryth,
With many maydenes of ful grete renown -
For very joy Kateryne fell in swown.
Oure Lord comforth hir with ful goodly chere:
"Dowtir, lokyth up whom ye se here.
"Know youre makere for whom alle this dysese
Ye have suffered. Take it evyr in pacyens -
The more ye suffyr, the more ye Me plese.
Kepe youre constans, drede no worldly offens,
Thinke 'not long,' leve noth with herte suspens.
I am with yow, I shall you nevyr forsake.
Many an hert ful redy shul ye make
"Onto My servyse or ye part fro this lyffe;
Grete nombre of puple shall ye returne -
Many a husbond, mayd, widow, and wyffe
Fro her maumentrye shall ye hem returne,
Onto My feyth ledyn hem to sojorne."
Whan this was do oure Lord went up to hevyne
With grete brythnes as it were a levyne.
She lokyd aftir tyll she sey no more,
Returnyth to prayyer, as evyr was hir usage,
It was to hir a ful grete tresore
That Jhesu lyst to make that pylgrymage.
Hir hertly sorow so for to swage
With His presens, blyssyd evyr He be,
And be this mayden comend to Him be we.
Whan his causes arne brouth fully to the ende
With that he rode forth - Maxens now I mene -
He is comyn home. Anon he gan to send
For hir be sex knytys, rith as I wene.
If thei be fals, sone it shall be sene,
Thei that kepte hir; it shall hem ovirthynke
If it be provyd thei goven hir mete or drynke!
Alle the cyté is gaderyd to sene this syth,
A grete puple; summe for cruelnes,
Summe are there that han ful grete despyth
At the emperour for his wykkydnes -
Thei thinke this lady is put to grete distresse
For no cause only but for gode.
The emperour seyd with ful sturdy mood,
"Bryng forth this woman, bryng forth this concionatrix!
Bryng forth this scolde or a wycche; no man may turne hir herte!
In hir errour is sche made so fyx
That fro it no man may make hir sterte.
But if it she do, ful sore shall she smerte."
Thus is she brouth before his presens.
He supposed veryly that for hir abstinens
She had be pynyd even to deth.
Now lokyth she fresch with colour.
For very angyr his hert ny it sleth,
For she is fayrere than she was that hour
Whan he comaunde to ledyn hir to that tour.
"Traytoures," he seyd, "ye shal dey ilke one
But ye telle me in this place anon
"Who hath fedde ageyn oure comaundment
This froward caytyff that no man may evyr lede!
I swere be Jubiter, which is omnipotent,
It shal be wist who that dede this dede.
There shall no man for no maner mede
Do this thing whech we forfend soo."
He dede hem bynd with eyryn be too and too.
Than the mayden to excusen hem alle
Seyd to the kyng swech maner wordes certeyn:
"Thu art a lord, an emperour men thee calle;
Thu art ordeynyd all treuth to susteyn.
Thei that don ageyn thi lawe or seyn,
Hem shuld thu ponyshe, but innocentes non:
If thu dost, thu dost ageyn thi trone,
"For these men whech had kepyng of me
Brout me neythir mete ne drynke, thu undirstand.
I was susteyned all in anothir degré
Be my Lord whech is alle weldand,
For be His messangeres sent He me to hand
Alle my sustenauns - no dore myth hem lette,
To spere hem out thu canst not gette.
"Therfore these innocentis, do hem no torment;
Thei be not worthi, sere kyng, I sey thee whi:
Be holy aungellis my Lord me mete sent -
Non erdly creature was therto pryvy -
For hungyr He wold not suffyr me to dey.
He is my love, I am His forever;
Joy ne sorow shall us not desever."
Tho these wordes the tyraunt with dobylnesse
Answerd ful fayre, that thei that stodyn abouth
Shuld not suppose in him swech cruelnes -
The sturdy hert in him whech was so stouth
Was hid with langage as venyn in a clouth;
Ful fayre wordes at that tyme he sayde:
"I am for yow ful sory, most goodly mayde.
"Ye born a kynges dowtir, of kyng and of qwene,
Cosyn to lordes many that servyn me:
The best born woman of this cuntré ye bene,
Thus are ye namyd, and all this with sotylté
Of certeyn wytchis - cursyd evyr thei be -
Is turnyd and lost, for othir joy is there non
But Jhesu Cryst, Mary, Petyr, and Jon,
"Whech are tratoures proved be the senate
And dampned to the deth for treson and heresy.
Whi will ye lesse thus youre honourabil astate
And gevyn attendans to witchcraft and lye?
It had ben bettir to a kepte the same sophye
Whech that ye lerned fyrst in scole.
This maner lernyng will prove yow a fole.
"Eke ageyn oure holy goddes servyse
Ye speke and cry, and that so malicyously,
With word and chere ungoodly hem despyse:
This causeth me, I sey yow sewirly,
That, notwithstand, so mote I have mercy,
That I wold save yow, I must nede punysh this pryde
Ryth for my puple that stand here besyde.
"Therfore chese now wheydir that ye will deye
With swech deth as law will dampne you too,
Or ellys youre feyth, if ye will reneye,
Than shall ye have mercy and worchip eke alsoo.
Com of anon, let se what ye will doo:
Offir to Jubiter, youre god omnipotent;
Youre tendyr body with yrn shall ellys be rent."
The mayde answerd to the emperour ageyn:
"Thou that my lyffe be ful swete to me
Yet had I lever with a swerd be slayn
Than that my lyfffe in ony maner degré
Shuld offend the blyssyd majesté
Of my Lord God. I sey thee, Cryst is my lyffe
And grete encres, thow I dey on a knyffe,
"So that I dey in charyté and for His sake.
Therfore, thow deth come to me this houre,
For His lufe ful mekely I wyll it take;
I schall nevyr with myght ne with laboure
Gruch ageyn my Lorde, my savyoure.
Deth schall avaunce me with gret emolument.
Deth is a chaungoure: fro this lyffe present
"To bettyr he ledyth us. This is oure beleve:
Oure dedely bodyes whech are coruptible,
Whan that he comyth, he bryngeth hem to this preve,
That thei schall rest and rote as seyth oure byble.
Aftyr that restyng, yet it is possible
Onto oure Lorde the bodyes to rere ageyn
In fayrrer forme than evyr thei were seyn.
"Therfore, thu teraunt with thi feyned langage,
Do what thu wylt: put me to torment,
Brenne me with brondys, thin yre for to swage.
I wold offyr to Cryst whech is omnipotent
Summe plesaunt offeryng, summe delectable present;
Kyin and calveryn or schepe I all forsake -
Myn owe body to offeryng wyll I take.
"But for I may not lefully do it myselfe
As make this offeryng, therfore thi cruelté
Schall bydde thi servauntys eythere ten or twelfe
With veniable hert to make a hende of me.
Too Him that was offered in Calvery on a tre,
To Him I offyr my flesch, my blode, and my felle.
But for thi cruelnes, yet eft I thee telle,
"Thou schalt ful sore hereaftyr this thing repent
Not oonly in helle, whech thu schal be inne,
But here in erde schal thu fayle thin entent:
For thi dedys, whech are full of synne,
God schall rere a lorde the whech schall wynne
Alle thi londes fro thee and make the pore,
Take awey thi worchepe and thi tresoore.
"Yet schal he slee thee as thu art worthy:
That wykkyd heede he schall make of smyte,
Thi blode shall be offered than full solemply
Onto thi goddys ryght for despyte.
Loke my wordys that thu note and wryte:
This man that shall brynge thee thus a dawe
Schal be a lorde of the Crysten lawe.
"Yet may thu skape all this grete myschauns
If thu wyll turn ye and aske God mercy
Of thi wykedenes, if thu have repentauns
And forsake the maumentys whech stand on hye!"
These are the wordes whech that this ladye
Seyd at that tyme this man to convert,
But all hir wordes sett he not at hert.
Tho semeth it wele this lady for holynesse
Was so avaunsed whyll sche was lyvande
That God made hir as a prophetesse
To tell thinges that were aftyr comaunde,
For this same deth, as I undyrstande,
Had this same Maxence as sche seyd, trewly.
For in storyes I am well avysed that I
Have red of him that he went to Rome
To fyght with oon whech had governauns
Of all that cyté, and oonly onto his dome
Stode all that cuntré with all her pusauns,
Bothe Ytayle and Almayne, Ynglond, Spayn, and Frauns -
Constantyn he hyght, whech thoo baptyzed was
Of Seynt Sylvestere be a ful specyall grace.
This same Constantyne discoumfetyd in batayle
This forseyd Maxence, for all his pompe and pryde,
As this lady in prophecye whech myght not fayle
Had seyd before - the fame was bore full wyde
And merkyd full wele, the day and eke the tyde,
Of sundry men whech aftyrwarde full wele knewe
All that sche seyd was full stable and trewe. 2
But whan these wordes were seyd of this mayde,
He cryed lowde to the puple abowte,
So was he with hir wordes afrayde.
What he shall do now is he fall in dowte.
Swech was his crye: "Fy on swech a rowte
That schall thus suffyr a woman here defame
Oure hye goddys, her servyse, and her name!
"How long schall we this whych thus susteyne?
How long schall we suffyr this cursidenes?
To all good leveres it schuld be very peyne
To here a woman with swech sturdynesse
Ageyn all men, the more and eke the lesse,
Thus evermore crye - ley on hondys, for schame -
Ye stand as men me thinkyth were lame!"
Thus cryed this tyraunt with full lowde noys,
Thus berkyd this dogg ageyn that hevynly name,
Ageyn Jhesu that was hangyd on croys.
His men abowte him thus gan he to blame:
"Com forthe anon; loke ye tak this dame,
Bete hir and rende hir with yrn and plumbys of lede -
Leve not youre labour tyll that sche be dede!"
Sche was bete now than befor his face
So dispytously that schame it was to see,
For many a man that stode thoo in that place
Myght not loke on hir for reuthe and pytee.
The tyraunt wold nevyr sey, "Now leve ye,"
But evyr he cryed, "of hir make an hende,
For if sche lyve oure puple wyll sche schende!"
Thus is sche bounde and led forth in the town.
The puple that folowyde on hir thus gun crye:
"O noble mayde, why wyl ye not fall down
Onto the emperour and of him aske mercy?
We are full sory that youre fayre body
Is so rent, youre skyn is all to tore;
But ye aske mercy, ye are lost for evyrmore.
"What woman are ye that so despyse your age,
Youre body, your beuté, that ye set at nought?
Ye may have worchepe, ye may be set in stage
Ryght as a goddesse - where on is youre thowte?
And all the world for beuté schulde be bowte:
Here myght thei fynde it; thei nede no ferther seke.
Syth ye be wyse, syth ye be holde so meke,
"Why wyll ye not obey onto the kynge?
Bettyr it is to bowe than vylensly to be dede.
In youre bokes I trow ye lerned this thinge:
The grete dygnyté may ye not down trede;
It longyth to yow to obey onto your heede.
Syth it is ryght, why will ye not it doo?
We wolde do thus if ye councelled us soo.
"Ye lese the flour of youre virgynyté,
Ye lese that Godd plenteuously in yow sette,
Ye lese your herytage, ye lese youre degré,
All for a worde whech that is youre dette!
Ovyrsolenly think we that youre hert is sett
Whan that no counseyle may yow lede ne rayle,
Most specyaly whan it is your avayle."
Swech wordes spake the puple there abowte:
"Remembre yow, mayde, what ye schall now lese
All for youre hert, for it is so stowte.
Feynyth summe plesauns, syth ye may not chese -
Both body and bonys with betyng wyll ye lese;
Onys mercy may avoyde all this.
Thys is oure consell - it may yow bryng to blys.
"Youre whyght skyn that schyneth as the sune,
Ye wyll schende it and make it pale and wan,
For very betyng it wyl be all dunne;
Youre blode reall whech now that no man
In these dayes remembyr no hyer can,
This wyll ye spylle ryght upon the grounde.
Youre counsell in this is neythir sane ne sounde!"
"O wykkyd counsell," seyd the mayde ageyn,
"Goo to your werkys and think no more on me.
Fy on beuté that wyll with wynde and reyn
Be steyned ful sone; my fayrnesse whech that ye
Compleyn so sore, thow that I lyve, pardé,
And fall in age, yet wyll it than apeyre.
Than for my flesch fall ye not in dyspeyre,
"But trost ye this as for a sekyrnesse:
All youre bodyes, be thei nevyr so bryght,
Shall dey and roote in her wretchydnes,
For this same deth longyth onto us of ryght,
Condempned for synne be the provydens and the syght
Of God, oure Lord. What, shall we than so wayle
For febyll beuté that so sone will qwayle?
"Every man must thus as of necessité
Deye and rote but of the speciall grace
Be graunted to summe of that deyté -
For summe with clennes be that there purchace
Swech dispensacion that in what maner place
They be leyd, thei shall nevyr roote,
Flesshe ne senowis, veynes, shete ne coote:
"This specialté is to hem graunted here
That kepe her bodyes fro all unclennes
Of lust and fylth and fro that love unclere
Whech thei calle lechery - no love, I gesse,
I calle it rather a wyld rage of wodnesse.
But now to purpos: thei that kepe hem clene,
Thei have this pardon graunted, as I wene.
"And if my Lord, my love, wil graunt me
That aftir my deth my flessh shall not roote,
Than am I more bound onto His deité
Than evyr I was and this I Him behoote:
There shall nevyr man make me so to doote
That I shall leve His love or His plesauns.
Therfore, ye puple, leve this observauns,
"Folowith no lenger, goth home to youre werke;
Wepe noth for me but for youreselve ye wayle.
I shall dey bodyly, but because I have the merke
Of Crystis baptem, I shall scape that grete asayle
Of all the fendys whech with grete travayle
Are ful besy oure soules for to gete
Onto her prison, where thei shall hem bete.
"This shall I escape and eft ryse ageyn
In fayrer forme than evyr ye sey in me -
I beleve and trost this thing as for certeyn.
Therfor, seres, for youreselve wepe ye,
For youre errour, that ye in derkenes be;
For if ye deye in this same errour,
Youre reryng ageyn shall cause you grete dolour."
Many of hem that here hir thus speke
Were converted to Cryst oure savyoure.
Ful pryvyly her maumentis dede thei breke
Whech that thei had in ful grete honour,
Withdrow hem fro synne and wayled her errour,
And pryvyly, sole hevy as ony leed,
For naturall fere that thei shuld noth be dede.
Ther was a man in Alysaunder at that tyme,
Meyer and leder of alle the puple there
Undyr the emperour, puncher of all cryme,
Of whom the cyté had full mechill fere.
Venemhous in angyr was he as ony bere;
Dispitous, veniabill, without discrecyon:
Cursates thei called him thorowoute the town.
He sey the emperour in angyr and woodnes
And, of pure malice, sette him more on fere:
"O emperour," he seyd, "thi wisdam, as I gesse,
Shuld make thee ashamyd of this matere here,
That o wench shuld bryng thee thus in dwere -
Thu standyst stoyned as thow thu were bounde.
Lystyn my counsayle therfor now a stounde:
"This mayde Kateryne sey yett no torment
Whech shuld fese hir to make afrayed.
Therfor, sir, I telle you myn entent:
We shall make a thing so horrybyly arayed
It shal be dred or it be fully asayde.
Lete hir se onys this thing that I shall devyse -
She shall leve sone than, I trow, all this gyse.
"Comaund werkmen for to obey to me:
I shall be maystir, thei shall do her werke,
For I have conceyved now a new cruelté -
Ful sekyrly therof have I take my merke.
In this matere both controllere and clerke
Will I be and no man but myselve.
Werkmen will I have with me ten or twelve.
"This have I dyvysed in my besy thoght:
Foure grete qweles thus schul we make,
Swech maner wise shall thei be wrought
What maner thing that evyr thei take
Anon in pecys thei shul it rende and shake
With her sharpnes whech thei shul have,
For all the spokes that com fro the nave
"Shul have nayles sharp as a knyffe
I-fasted to the sercles round all abowth.
There is no man now that beryth lyffe,
Be his herte nevyr so styffe and stowth,
And he be onys ine he com not oute
Or he be deed and alle to pecys drawe,
Rith be experiens this thing shall we knawe.
"Sharp sawes shull thei have sumwhat crokyd,
Nayled onto the qwelys on the utter syde.
In swech maner forme thus shul thei be hokyd:
Ech of hem be othir ful sotilly shall glyde;
Summe shall com upward with her cours wide,
Summe shall go downward, and thus shall thei rend
All thing betwix hem and therof make an ende.
"Therfor lete these qweles be mad in hast.
Sett the mayd right be hem whan that thei goo -
Sche shal be afrayed or sche hem tast.
There is no man lyvyng hath sey swech whelys moo!
This same devyse shall plese youre lordchip soo,"
Seyd this Cursates. "Ye shull cun me thanke.
Yondyr will we make hem right on the banke."
The emperour comaunded, and that in hasty wyse,
These qweles shuld be made and that anon
Rith as Cursates thus gan devyse.
Thei are called forth, both Robyn and Jon,
Carpenteres and smythes, as fast as thei may gon.
Thei hewe and thei blewe ful sore, levyth me:
The qweles must be redy withinne dayes thre.
Now is it com that same third day.
The qweles are redy, sette as thei shall be;
She is brought forth, Kateryne, this same may,
Right betwix hem sett now is she.
Too qweles goo downward, as we seyd, pardé,
And too rend upward; there is non that it seyth
But for fere he gruggeth with his teth.
O nobil mayd, how shall thu scape this thing?
This irous emperour, he is noth thi frend;
The meyhir is cruel in his ymagenyng,
For he hath stodyed with all hert and mend
Thi virginal body to distroy and shend.
There is no comforth but fro the court above:
He wil not fayle thee, Jhesu that is thi love.
Thus is she sett and lykly to be rent.
With all her labour the servauntis dresse her gere:
Thei tary sumwhat because that hir entent
Thei wene to chaunge rith for very fere.
Hir yne and handis ful mekely gan she rere
Up onto heven - swech was hir oryson:
"Lord God," she seyd, "that made sunne and mon,
"Lord that art allmyty in majesté,
Thu can all thing and may fulfylle in dede;
Lord that nevyr hydyst Thi grete pyté
Fro thoo folke that cryne onto Thee at nede,
O Lord of lordes, my prayer Thu may spede.
I pray Thee, Lord, with ful besy entent,
That Thu distroy this horribyll new torment -
"Make Thi thundir descend now with Thi levene:
Brenne it, breke it, thys tyme I me thus pray.
Schewe Thy power, open now Thy hevyn
That men may know Thi lordchip at this day.
It is full esy to Thee make here swech afray
And to the puple it is full mervelows.
Good blyssyd Lord that art so graciowus,
"Thys aske I not for oure fere of deth
But for Thi puple that stand here abowte.
Me thinkyth, Lorde, her langage myn herte sleth,
That thei with tungys and wordys prowde and stowte
Schuld blaspheme Thi name and put in dowte
Thi trewe feyth. This is, Lorde, my cause,
To schryve me schortly to Thee in a clause:
"That thei shuld trost Thi myght and Thi powere
And honour Thi name and be converted eke,
Be turned fro maumentis whech thei worchep here,
The Lord Godd only for to seke.
This pray I Thee with hert lowe and meke:
Graunt me this as Thu art omnipotent -
Suffyr not Thi servauntes with maumentys be circumvent."
Whan that this lady had endyd hir orysoun,
Anon a angell was sent down fro hevene -
With wynde and thundyr thoo cam he down.
There cam with him eke an horryble levene.
The hour of the day thei sey it was but sevene,
But or eyte he with wynde and fere
Breke all this qwelys - thei fley here and there,
Thei spryng abowte be pecys in the place.
Summe man hathe harme on legges and on knees,
Summe are hurt on handys and on face
There fley fere ful wondyrly with the trees.
Mech of the puple have take there her fees:
Thei that blasphemyd oure Godd with cruell hert,
Fro this venjauns thei may not lyghtly stert.
The lady sate stille, for she felt no grevauns,
Makyng hir prayer with grete devocion.
Thus can oure Lord for His make purvyauns,
Thus can He shape hem her savacion.
Thus dede He sumtyme in the Calde nacyon
Whan that His servauntis in the ovene were sette
Wher that the fere of his myth was lette,
For thei in the ovene were no thing brent,
But thei about it, thei toke the harme.
This lady is lych hem in this myracle present:
The fyre fley abouth hir and in hir barme
It restyd oftyme, but she was not warme,
Ne hurt, ne harmed in no maner degré,
Yet was this fere so horrible that he
Brent the qweles and throw hem aboute,
Brent men, eke, and thoo were not fewe -
Foure thousand seyth oure story, withouten doute,
Were dede with the blast, leyd all on rowe,
Of hethen caytyves, schrew rith be schrewe.
Heraudes noumbred hem for thei coud best.
The lady sate stylle in hir holy nest,
Kneland devoutly in sobyr prayere.
The aungell and fere both thei toke her wey
To place thei cam fro; men myth hem here
Both in her comyng and goyng, thei sey.
Mech folke for fere were in poynt to dey,
Save that the comforth of this swete may
Lyft hem ageyn fro that affray.
This is the ende of this costfull werke:
Who are now woo but hethen men there?
Who are now mery? Who gune her fruntes merke
But Crysten folke whech hath scapyd this fere?
Summe men for venjauns may not go ne stere:
Thus o syde is in joye, the othir in sorow and care;
Of swech maner venjauns lete every man beware.
Now is the emperour oute of mesure wood,
For all fayleth and fallith that shuld now stand.
For very angyr he rent habyte and hoode.
"Saturne," he seyd, "whi take ye not on hand
Youre owne cause? For, as I undirstand,
This venjauns is repugnyng to youre deité.
Wher is now youre myth? Wher is now he,
"Jubiter youre sone, that hath the governauns
Ovyr these Ciclopes, smythis I mene,
Whech with her thundir make the erde to dauns
So it is aferd of tho strokes kene?
But ye defend you, youre offeryng wil be lene!
Ryse up, ye goddes, and suffir not this wrong!
Me thinkith ye abyde wondirly long."
In all this care the qween that stod above,
Hey in a toure for to behold this syght,
Whech on that tyme had bore the love
Full pryvyly in hert of God almyth,
Now will she pleynly ryth before his syth
Uttir hir hert, falle therof what falle.
She is now com down, and hir servauntis alle,
To presens of hir lord. Thus than she sayd,
"Thu wretchid husbond, what hast thu i-doo?
Why tormentist thu so wrongly this goodly mayde?
Ageyn the grete God whi wrestyllist thu soo?
What wodnes makith thee with care and woo
To pursew Goddis servauntis with peyne and deth?
O cruell best, whan thu shalt yeld thi breth,
"Whedir wilt thu send thi wretchid goost?
Thou fytyst ageyn the prycke that shall thu fynd,
For whan thu art hyest and in pryd moost,
Oure Lord God ful sore shall thee bynd.
Turne thi bestialté to mannes mynd!
Know the powere of thi God above
Whech werkith so wondirly for hem that Him love!
"The grete myty Godde of Crysten men -
Se what He dede this ilke same day:
With a thundir clap, of thi lordes ten
Smet He to the deth - thu thiselve it say -
Foure thousand of thi comonys in her aray,
Thei ly yondyr dede. Who shall hem reyse?
If Appollo do it I will him than preyse.
"He that with a stroke may swech thing make,
He is a lord; know Him for thi kyng.
Thi fals maumentrye I rede thee forsake.
Turne thee to that Lord that mad all thing:
The synnes that we dede whil we were ying
He will forgeve us if we mercy crave -
Aske mercy of Him and thu shall it have!"
Whan the tyraunt herd what the qwen sayde,
"Woman," sayd he, "wote ye what ye say?
I am full sekyr ye spoke with the mayde
Whan I was oute this othir day.
Avyse you sumwhat or that ye asay
The orible peynes whech that ye shul have.
Youre frendes ne youre kynrod shall you not save,
"For, be that hy majesté of the goddes alle,
And be that provydens of Jubiter the kyng,
But ye fro this fonnednes and that in hast falle,
Dame, ye shall have as foule endyng
As evyr had woman, eythire eld or ying,
In youre dayes. Therfor, avyse you weel,
For thow youre God hath brokyn oure wheell
"Be witchcraft or be nygromancy,
Trost me in this: we shall ordeyn a mene
For to distroy youre fals tretchery.
What, art thu now, dame, led on that rene?
Thi witte counte not to a bene worth
Whan thu forsakist the goddes protection
And, as a fole, takyst the Crysten illusyon."
Thus in his angyr and in his grete ire,
He byddyth his mynystris to take the qwen.
With sotil launces made of yrne wyre
Thei schul rend hir tetys ryth anon bedene.
In his presens thei shall do it, for he will it sene -
Long sorow he will that his wiffe shall have.
"Lete se," he seyth, "if Cryst shall hir now save!"
Aftir this is done he will thei hir take,
Lede hir to the felde there traytouris alle
Have as thei deserve, teye hir to a stake,
Smyte of hir heede and let it down falle,
Let it lye there - hungry doggys it schalle
Ete and devoure in despyte of Jhesu.
As the tyraunt badd, his men dede pursew:
Thei pullyd hir tetys in ful horrible wyse
Ryght from hir breste - pyté it was to se
The blode in the veynes with the mylke ryse.
All rent and ragged, all blody was sche,
Yet onto Kateryne sche fel down on kne,
Prayng ful dolfully, and evyn thus sche sayde:
"O Crysten pelere, o most holy mayde,
"Pray now for me onto thi Lorde above,
That this peyn whych I suffyr here
Only for His worchep, His feyth, and His love,
May be to my sowle a suffycyaunt chere
Whan I schal come to that blys full clere
Whech thu behyght me not long agoo.
Pray eke for me that I may kepe alsoo
"The same good purpos whech I am inne,
That this peyn horrible make me not reneye
This holy lyffe to turn ageyn to synne.
I am sore aferde my flesch, or that I deye,
For very drede the contrarye of this shulde seye.
Wherfore, lady, all this lyghte in thee:
Pray thu to Godd that He may kepe me."
The mayde seyd onto the qween ageyn,
"O blessed lady that hast forsake all thing,
Crowne and joye, schortly for to seyn,
And wonne the lufe therfore of oure kynge,
Cryst I mene, make now no stakeryng
As in this matere, for He shall make thee stronge
For Whos lufe thu sufferest now this wrong.
"Suffyr hertly all this grete dyssesse:
It schal not lest but a lytyll space.
Cryst youre Lorde herwith shall ye plese,
Whech hath graunted of His specyall grace
That this same day shall ye se His face.
A mervelous chaunge, lady, shall it be
Whan ye com before the Trynyté:
"For temporal londe ye shul have hevenly blys,
For erdly husbond youre spouse shal be He
That may amend all thing that is amysse -
A Lord that dwellith evyr in felicité,
A Lord that hath nevyr non adversité.
Thus shul ye chaunge, lady, onto the best.
I shal not long be absent fro that nest."
Thus is she comforted, this noble Crysten qwene,
Thus is she stabylyd mytyly in oure feyth.
Thus is she led, with knytys as I wene;
And evyr the emperour onto his men seyth
Ful bostous wordes, strokes eke he leyth
Upon her backes that thei shuld make a ende
Of this woman, for hir tetys now thei rend,
As I seyd ere, and aftir that grete peyne
With sharpe swerd hir hede of thei smyth.
Oure Lord Godde strenghid hir to susteyne
With grete pacyens all this same unryth.
Thus is she passed; hir soule is to that lyth
Whech was endles, rith as we beleve!
The thre and twenty day of Novembyr, rith at eve,
And on a Wednysday, was this martyrdam
Thus consummat. Hir body whan it was dede
Was left stylle, in despyte of Crystyndam,
Lying there full white and eke full rede,
No man so hardy to wynd it in cloth or lede,
Thus had the emperour of his cruelté.
That she lay thus mech folke thouth pyté.
Now is the nyth com and onto her rest
Is every man go that was abydyng there.
Porphery thouth it was honest
And eke medfull this body for to rere,
Eke to the byrying devoutly it to bere.
Therfor called he certeyn knythis onto him,
And whan the weder was ful derke and dym,
Rith in the wyntir aboute seynt Kateryne day,
He cam to the body with full holy entent.
Evene in hir lyvand, rith as she lay,
With full swete and costful onyment
He baumed hir body and forth with it went,
With prayer wepyng and full besy cure;
Thus thei led it to the sepulture.
The next day is there grete questyon:
Who beryed the qwen? Who was so hardy
To falle in grevous transgression
To remeve or bery this same body?
Only of suspecion certeyn folke openly
Were arestyd be the offyceres ther,
And Porphiry ful boldly withouten fere
Aperyd to the emperour and thus he sayd:
"Sith thu art a lord and justyce shuld kepe,
Whi hast thu tormentyd this holy mayde?
Thin owne wyves hede of dede thu swepe -
Grete cause hast thu sore for to wepe!
These innocentis, eke, this is thin entent,
Withouten cause now to torment.
"Chese of thin ire, cese of thi wrong;
Leve thi besynes in inquisicion.
I telle thee pleynly, thow thu me hong,
I am that man whech with devocion
Byried thi wiffe; me thout it no treson
But full acordand onto nature
To bryng that body onto sepulture.
"Wher hast thu seyn swech cruelnes?
Yete to thevys and robouris whan thei are dede
Her frendis have leve of the law, I gesse,
To wynd hem in clothis, in bord of lede,
To solace her neyboris with drynke or brede.
All this is turnyd ageyn discrecion,
Ageyn kynd eke ageyn religion!
"Wher lered thu evyr that bestis shuld ete
Bodyes of men, of all creatures best?
Thus oure auctoures wryth and thus thei trete:
It is neythir worchipfull ne eke honest
Onto mankynd to foule his own nest.
Sere emperour, I confesse here this dede have I do -
Punch not these innocentis, but lete hem goo!"
These wordes of Porphirie thei aren a wounde
Onto Maxens hert, for he made a cry,
Whan he had sorowed a lytyll stounde,
So grete and so loude the halle whech was hye
Sounded with the noyse; the very malencoly
Made him so wood he wist not what he sayd,
But sone aftir swech wordes he up brayd:
"O me, most wretchid of all men that lyve,
Wherto brought Nature me to lyffe?
Whi wold she to me swech astate gyve
Whan she thus wretchidly hath take my wyffe?
Had she suffered me with sharp knyffe
Be stykyd in my cradyll she had do the best.
Now am I reved of all my dewe rest,
"For Porphery here, of whom I most trost,
Porphirie here, the best frend I have,
My Porphirie, my knyth, thus is he lost,
So deceyved of witchcraft that he begynnyth rave.
Evene as the spokys rest in her nave,
So in his brest stood all my comforth;
To swech anothir frend can I nevyr resorte.
"He deceyvyd my wyffe, but she is dede,
He hath deceyved himself, that grevyth me most.
My hert it waxith hevy as the lede,
So am I acomered with thoutis in my goost.
Allas, my Porphirye, I durst a made a boost,
Thow all my kyngdam had me forsake,
Fals to my crown no man shuld thee make.
"Yete thow thu have do this grete despite -
Deceyvyd my wyffe but deceyvyd thiselve -
Yete of thi treson thu shall have respite:
Ten dayes I graunt thee or ellis twelve.
Leve this Crysten cumpany, forsake that elve
Jhesu of Nazareth - He dede nevyr man good.
He is cause of spyllyng of mech gentil bloode.
"If thu wilt leve this new cursyd scole,
Thu shall have grace, thu shalt not dey.
So wyse a man now made a fole,
Who caused him thus sone to reneye
The holy religion, the eld trew wey
Whech that oure faderes kept withoute mynd?
Allas, man, allas - thi reson is ful blynd!"
Right with this langage the emperour dede calle
All knytes of the court be on and be on.
He examyned himselve that tyme hem all,
How that thei thoutht this matere shuld goon.
Ful dolfully to hem he made his mone:
"Beholdith," he seyth, "how my Porphyrye
All sodenly is i-falle onto this myserye.
"I hope it is to you but ignorauns
If that ye favoure him in his dede,
But be ye ware of that grete venjauns
Whech that may falle withouten drede
On swech renegatis that othir men lede
Fro her trew lawes. How will ye answere?"
Alle seyd thei thus that stoden there:
"Be it knowe to thee now, ser emperour,
That God and Lord whech this same man
Honourith at this tyme, Jhesu oure savyoure,
This same God, with all that we may or can,
Will we serve, curse thu or banne,
Endith thou and smyth with tormentis straunge -
Leve this wele: thu shall us nevyr chaunge.
"Fere of deth or love of lyffe swete
May nevyr depart oure hertly love
Fro Jhesu Cryst, the trewest prophete
That evyr was sent fro heven above.
What peynes are applyed than shall thu prove
That alle oure hertis are sette in one,
In this same feyth, as stabill as the ston."
The emperour comaund in hasty wyse
Thei shuld be led onto her passion,
For of swech renegates he wil be justese
To venge the wrong which that was don
Upon the goddes, the sunne and the mone.
Thus are thei ledde forth to her ende,
Save Porphirye alone now thei have no frend,
For he to comforth hem with full myty feyth
Onto the emperour presyd where he stoode.
Swech maner wordis at that tyme he seyth:
"Men will wene that thu be ny wood
To sle this puple sodenly in her bloode
And lete me scape whech stered hem all.
For perell, I counsell, whech that may falle
"Onto thee and eke onto thi londe,
Evene with the membris take now the hede!"
Thus sayd this man, as I undirstond,
To comfort hem thus or thei be dede.
Because thei were of vysage hevy as leed
He was adrede ful sore that thei schuld fayle
If thei withoute him had go to this batayle.
Therfore, evyn aftyr his holy hertys desyre
Is he now servyd: bounde and forthe eke leed.
Thei were not brent as heretykys in fyre,
But in her martyrdam thus were thei spede:
Too hundred were there, of whech not on flede,
Her hedys the emperour bad thei shuld of smyte.
This was her ende, schortly to endyte.
The bodyes were left that doggys shuld hem ete,
For very despyte ryght of Crysten feyth -
On of the auctoures whech this legend trete
In very sothenesse thus wrytyth and seyth.
The day of her deth eke ful fayre he leyth
Of Novembre moneth, the foure and twenty day, eke
The fyfte day of that same weke.
The next day folowyng, he clepyth this mayde
Before his tribunal; now is she present.
With ful sotyll langage onto hir he sayde
Alle this male corage and his evyll entent:
"Thow thu be gylty," he seyd, "of this torment
Of Porphyrye, of my wyffe, and my knytes alle -
(Fer fro her feyth thu made hem to falle,
"With sorcery and myschauns thu hast turned hem;
Thei coude nevyr resort onto her modyr wytte.
Thei dede more for thee than for fadyr or eem.
I cowde nevyr perceyve the knottys that ye knyte,
But deede are thei alle and we repent not yyt.) -
Mayden, thu may lyve, if thu hafe grace,
Notwythstondyng thi treson and thi trespace.
"Wherfore I counsell now onto thi foudenesse:
Forsake thi magyke, wepe sore, and wayle
That evyr thu were so bolde in folehardynesse
To geve the qwene or Porphyrye swech evyl counsayle.
Fro thin eyne lete the watyr now thi chekys rayle,
Fle thi deth now, for thow thu dede this gylt -
That is to sey, thu art cause of blode that is spylt -
"Yet may thu amend it with devocyoun,
To make an offeryng to the holy Saturne.
We all wyll folow thee ryght in processyoun,
So that thu wylt to this counsayle turn.
Allas, woman, how long wylt thu sojorne
In this grete cursydhed, oute of all resoun?
Yet wyl I forgeve the all thin elde tresoun.
"Thu schal have, mayden, al thoo behestis alle
Whech I promysed thee to bryng to astate.
Tary no lengere for perell that may falle:
Chese the bettyr or ellys sey chek-maate.
But if thu offyr, we too are at debate,
For thu schalt deye and that in ful hasty wyse.
Thi deth anon on this maner I wyll devyse:
"I wyll make smyght of thi heed with a blade
Scherpe on bothe sydes whech may not fayle -
He waraunt it, the smythe that it made,
That it was sewyre at ilke maner asayle,
Were it flesch, were it bone or mayle,
It schuld it kerve. Therfore, mayd, consent,
And of thin errour, I counsell thee, repent."
The mayde answerde than with full meke voys:
"Evyr hafe I seyd that I am redy to deye
For His love whech was hang on croys.
This day schal be, schortly for to seye,
A gret spectacle to the worldylys eye,
To se a qween forsake londe and halle,
So sodeynly to deth for to falle.
"Sume men ween we Crysten, whan we dey,
Sume men wene the fall is reprovable,
Sume men ween the fall is myserye.
We lese thing to us that is ful supportable -
I sey we lese thyng that is deceyvable,
I sey we lese a lyvyng ful of stryffe
And wyne a regyon whech is the lond of lyffe.
"For grete sekenes, there schall we have helth;
For wepyng teres, we shall have lawhyng joye;
That place haboundeth evyr more in welth,
That place in sikir hath nevyr no noye,
It is more sikir than evyr was the toure of Troye
Fro schot and treson; therfor thedir I glyde.
Whan I shall dey, Cryst shal be my gyde.
"Wherfore I wil no lenger now thee drawe
With veyne termes: do as thu hast thought.
I despice thi goddis, thi offeryng, and thi lawe;
Alle thi maumentis eke I sett at nought.
To Him I goo that hath me ful dere bought;
To Him I will, I covett to se His face.
The angellis song whech is in that place,
"If thu myth here it, astoyned shuld thu be.
Thou hast no grace swech mysteries to approche.
Farewele my frendys, farwele all my mené,
Farewele my castels that stand hye on roche!
A new drynke my love will me abroche
Aftir my blood be spylt here on the ground.
Farewele the world that is shape so round!
"I shall folow the Lombe that washid with His blode
Oure blody synnes, wretchid and unkynd,
I folow the Lombe whech is full meke and good,
Whos steppes folow virgines withouten mynd.
Come of, tyraunt, sle and do thi kynd:
I abyde not elles but deth and goo to lyffe;
I drede no fere, water, swerde, ne knyffe!"
With these wordes sentens was gove anon:
She shal be dede, as was devysyd before.
Forth is she drawe. Men and women ilkon
Folow on fast and folow on wondir sore,
Wepyng and cryeng evyr more and more:
"O holy mayde, whi wilt thu thus wretchidly
Take thi deth and with sweche velony?"
Sche seyd ageyn, "Moderes and maydenys alle,
Wepe not for me, lette noth my passion,
Leve youre wordes with whech ye on me calle;
For if nature enclyne you to consolacion,
To have mercy on myschefe and desolacion,
Wepe ye than rith for youre owne synne
Whech ye have haunted, in which ye be inne.
"Wepe for youre errour whech shall you bryng
Onto brennyng fyre where youre goddes dwelle.
Thow that youre prestis rede to you and syng
Of the goddes holynesse and mech thing you telle,
I sewir you this that thei ben in helle
And evyr withoute ende in that place shal be;
But if ye amend you, eke so shall ye."
Aftir this is sayd, she is come to the place
Where she shall dey, and of the man thoo
Whech shuld hir smyth she prayed space
For to have, or she fro this world goo,
That she may sey wordes on or too
In pryvy meditacion onto God above,
Which is hir makere, hir Lord, and hir love.
The man graunted and sche kneled down
With eyene and handes lift up to hevene.
On swech sentens sche made hir oryson:
"O myty God whos name for to nevene
Is ful mervelous, makere of planetes sevene,
Helth of hem all that trostyn in Thi mercy,
Hope of all virgines that to Thi helpe cry,
"O Jhesu, most swettest, whech hast nonbred me
Rith into Thi college among Thi maydenes all,
Do with Thi servauntis aftir Thi benygnyté.
Spred me with Thi mercy; lete me nevyr falle
Into my enmy handis. Lord, to Thee I calle.
Do me this mercy for Thi hey name:
That what maner man, the rith or the lame,
"Whech hath my passion in rememberauns,
Eythir in his deth or ellis in sekenes,
Or in his persecusion or eyther grevauns,
If he with devocion and hertyly besynes
Aske ony relees, Lord, of Thi worthynes
Graunt him his bone, Lord, for my sake,
As I now my deth for Thi love take.
"And all thoo that my passion have in memorye,
Pestilens ne deth mote hem nevyr greve,
Hungyr and sores and othir myserye,
And all evyll eyres, on morow or on eve,
Suffyr hem not to have, but rathere hem geve
Abundauns in hervest and ethir temporate;
Let not her londys abyde desolate
"But graunt hem plenté of her greynes alle.
Because thei love me, Thu schalt hem love.
Behold, Lorde, for Thi cause I mote now falle
Down into deth. Take to Thi behove
Thing that this bochere may not hale ne schove:
Tak Thu my sowle, no man may but Thou.
O Jhesu Cryst, my sowle I comende now
Onto Thi handys; I pray Thee Thu it take.
Lett Thin aungellis whech that se Thi face
Come down fro hevyn for Thi maydenes sake,
Suffyr hem to come now onto this place,
To lede my soule, Lorde, onto Thi grace,
Onto that feleschepe whech Thu me behyght
Among Thi seyntys that schyne with Thee full bryght."
Sche had scarise made hir conclusyoun
Of this prayere but anon sodenlye
Fro the hevene thei herd thoo a sownde soun,
A swete voys, and thus it gan to crye:
"Myn owne spowse, My wyffe and mayde holy,
Come now to Me, come now onto thi rest,
For in My feyth thu hast labored as best.
"The blyssed gate of hevyn is now ope:
It is made redy to thee that mansyoun,
For thi feyth, thi charyté, and thi hope,
Schall thu have my specyall benysoun.
There abyde the persones of thi nacyoun
For to reteyne thee to that eternyté,
Where thu schalt joye before the Trinyté.
"Maydenes are redy to bryng thee thi crowne,
Aungellis are redy ordeynde thi sowle eke to lede.
As for a tyme cast of thi fleschly gowne -
Thu schall receyve it in anothyr stede.
Come forthe in hast; lok thu have no drede
Of thi petycyons, for I graunt hem alle:
What manere man that on thee wyll calle
"Or worchip with hert thi holy passion,
What maner myscheffe whech he be inne,
I will relese it, and all transgression
Of her defautes or of her eld synne,
If thei will leve it and new lyffe begynne,
For thi sake I will forgeve hem all,
Conferme hem eke nomore aftir to falle."
The mayde leyd forth hir necke fayre and qwyte,
And thus she sayd onto the smyter thoo:
"I am called to fest now of God almyth:
Doo thu thin office, the tyraunt bad thee soo,
Fulfille his comaundment, and than may thu goo
Without daunger, stand eke in his grace;
I pray to God forgeve thee thi trespace."
The man was glad to do the comaundment
Of his lord; wherfor, with besy corage
He applyed holly all his entent
Sumwhat to spare this yong tendir age,
For with a stroke that was ful wode and rage
Hir hede he parted from hir body there.
Too grete myracles anon men myth lere.
On was in tokyne of virginall clennesse:
In stede of blood, mylke ran at hir necke,
Whech of hir purité that tyme bare wytnesse.
Ther myth non othir thing ren at that becke
Than swech as was befor in the secke -
I mene thus to put you oute of doute:
Swech thing as was in hir, swech thing ran oute.
It ran so plenteuously, it wattered all the grounde
That lay aboute hir. O most mervelous welle:
Here is the hede, the mylke aboute all rounde.
What shulde I more of this myracle telle?
Save Mari alone, of maydenhode she hath the belle -
That witnessith wele this present vision
Whech may no wey be called illusion.
Anothir myracle eke was seyn at yye:
Aungellis aperyng in full mervelous aray.
Bodys lich men, wynges had thei to flye,
Thei cam down ful sodenly, auctouris say,
Thei toke the body and sone bore it awey
Onto the mount where Moyses the lawe toke -
Of this myracle rith thus seyth oure boke.
The hill in whech God gave the wretyn lawe
Onto the Jewes, ledyth to that perfection
Of Crystis Gospell and of His vertuous sawe,
In whech we fynd full swete instruction,
Poule in his bokes maketh swech induction -
He seyth it longith to Jerusalem as in servage,
With all his childirn here in pylgrymage.
Than sith that this hill is as it were gyde
Onto that mownt whech that stant in blysse,
It is full good to us that we full hastily ryde
Aftir this mayde that she may us wisse
A stedfaste lore for to amend oure mysse.
So shall she be in manere of a figure
To bryng us to hevyn aftir oure sepulture.
This mount, thei sey, stand in Arabie;
It is fro Alisaunder of lond ful gret distauns.
In twenty dayes, if that I shuld not lye,
Myn auctour seyth, thow man had purvyauns
And gydys good and eke gret pusauns
Full scarsly shuld he laboured in theis dayes -
There leve but fewe that hath mad asayes.
This passion was, as oure story seyth,
On a Fryday, rith for this entent:
That syth she fauth so strongly for oure feyth,
Men wene therfor it was convenient
That this same day whech oure Jhesu went
Oute of this world, that same day his mayde
Shuld dey for Him; thus oure auctour sayde.
The grete myracles whech be at hir grave
Are ny onknow, rith for grete distauns
Betwix that and us, but this knowlech we have:
That oyle it rennyth evyr in habundauns,
With wheche oyle of sores alle grevauns
Whech men suffyr, it wil be helyd anon.
Summe men say that if thei bere a ston
Of that same grave, whedir that thei it bere
It will swete evyr that same holy licour;
Thus sey the pylgrymes that have be ther.
This sey oure bokes whech be made in honour
Of this swete mayde, of this vertuous flour:
It longith to floures swech licoures to swete.
I herd men eke of othir myracles trete,
Of lampis hangyng before hir sepulture,
Fylt with that oyle whech brenne a mannys lyve
And of her lyth nevyr make forfeture
Thou thei brenne yeres ten and fyve.
In this matere pleynly I will me schryve:
I may wele leve that swech merveyles ther be,
But for because I have non auctorité,
I dare not write here her declaracion
Lest that I poyson all my forseyd werke;
Lest that eke men of myn own nacion
Shuld ymagen that I, which am a clerke,
Mith of swech thingis take a wrong merke.
Wherfor I comytte all this thing in fere
Onto discression of hem that shull it here,
For I will determyne no conclusion
As in this matere. But fully I beleve
That whoso myth se that solempne stacion,
He shuld know thing to which we cannot preve.
Of this matere thus I take my leve.
God, oure Lord, for His hye mercy
Graunt us hevene aftyr this mysery.
branches; (see note)
as we have set out
points hanging down; fuzz
newly; (see note)
contemptuous; (see note)
renew your spirits
come into the possession of
their rough hands
thanks to you
ordered [his henchmen]
those renegades (the philosophers); (see note)
rosin; pitch; material
them escape; hiding place
I will say no more
their judgment; against [it]
wish nothing else
before; (see note)
one and all
make an exception for us
exempts us from
We cannot be blamed for lacking it
decreed for you
as He chooses
logs; in a heap
i.e., the philosophers
have been dead
to prosper by having them
remedy (i.e., way to deal with)
As you know
drive you from
their wrath assuage
to be brief
in every way possible
tithe (see note)
marriage; (see note)
cheerful; (see note)
be more comfortable
worship; (see note)
Repays; world; heat
as an example for
punished; other (i.e., imitation)
though; smite, flay; banish
It makes no difference
aggrieve; bier (i.e., after your death)
naked as when she was born
duty; even if
or else another round of punishment
put to death
thought or done
To do what potentates (rulers) have to do
how [the angels] treated her; (see note)
rapt in thought
I would have been
was attracted to them
Arrange a means
expected; near their
again and again
One of them
To try on
evil being (i.e., the devil)
said to her again
lion's den; (see note)
Habakkuk; Judea; (see note)
beam of light
tell you why
poison in disguise (cloth); (see note)
even if I were to have mercy
one who causes change
i.e., commit suicide
have chopped off
put you to death
under his sole rule
are held to be
At any time
about your business
sinews; shroud; garments
to the point
be so foolish
past the other
frightened before; experiences
gnashes his teeth
know and can do [everything]
for You to; attack
flay many; spokes
got what was coming to them
i.e., followers; provision
Chaldean; (see note)
fire was deprived of its power
sad; (see note)
i.e., are crippled or dead
come what may
i.e., be rational; (see note)
by that rein
teats; immediately; (see note)
Let [it be] seen
alights upon you
have no doubt (staggering)
out of scorn for
meritorious; lift up
i.e., November 25
did you smite off; (see note)
spokes [of a wheel] rest in their hub
would have sworn
one by one
i.e., we are of one mind
right behind you
we two are at odds
In exchange for
tower; (see note)
tap (as a keg)
Lamb; (see note)
off; i.e., do your worst
In this vein; prayer
i.e., not lame
for you; dwelling place
i.e., executioner then
violent and passionate
i.e., ranks first
i.e., Mount Sinai
have attempted it; (see note)
oil; (see note)
for a lifetime
explain myself; (see note)