Imágenes de página

they consider well. For, from such a neat, they will too late bring forth young birds, which are good works, that they may fly toward heaven. Job calleth a religious house a nest; and saith, as if he were a recluse: "In nidulo meo moriar;" that is, "I shall die in my nest, and be as dead therein;'' for this relates to anchorites; and, to dwell therein until she die; that is, I will never cease, while my soul is in my body, to endure things hard outwardly, as the nest is, and to be soft within.

Hear now, as I promised, many kinds of comfort against all temptations, and, with God's grace, thereafter the remedies.

Whosoever leadeth a life of exemplary piety may be certain of being tempted. This is the first comfort. For the higher the tower is, it hath always the more wind. Ye yourselves are the towers, my dear sisters, but fear not while ye are so truly and firmly cemented all of you to one another with the lime of sisterly love. Ye need not fear any devil's blast, except the lime fail; that is to say, except your love for each other be impaired through the enemy. As soon as any of you undoeth her cement, she is soon Bwept forth; if the other do not hold her she is soon cast down, as a loose stone is from the coping of the tower, down into the deep pitch of some foul sin.

Here is another encouragement which ought greatly to comfort you when ye are tempted. The tower is not attacked, nor the castle, nor the city, after they are taken; even so the warrior of hell attacks, with temptation, none whom he hath in his hand; but he attacketh those whom he hath not. Wherefore, dear sisters, she who is not attacked may fear much lest she be already taken. . .

The sixth comfort is, that our Lord, when He Buffereth us to be tempted, playeth with us, as the mother with her young darling: she flies from him, and hides herself, and lets him sit alone, and look anxiously around, and call Dame! dame! and weep a while, and then leapeth forth laughing, with outspread arms, and embraceth and kisseth him, and wipeth his eyes. In like manner, our Lord sometimes leaveth us alone, and withdrawcth His grace, His comfort, and His support, so that we feel no delight in any good that we do, nor any satisfaction of heart; and yet, at that very time, our dear Father loveth us never the less, but does it for the great love that He hath to us.

Ye shall not possess any beast, my dear sisters, except only a cat. An anchoress that hath

cattle appears as Martha was, a better housewife than anchoress; nor can she in any wise be Mary, with peacefulncss of heart. For then she must think of the cow's fodder, and of the herdsman's hire, flatter the heyward,1 defend herself when her cattle is shut up in the pinfold, and moreover pay the damage. Christ knoweth, it is an odious thing when people in the town complain of anchoresses' cattle. If, however, any one must needs have a cow, let her take care that she neither annoy nor harm any one, and that her own thoughts be not fixed thereon. An anchoress ought not to have any thing that draweth her heart outward. Carry ye on no traffic. An anchoress that is a buyer and seller selleth her soul to the chapman of hell. Do not take charge of other men's property in your house, nor of their cattle, nor their clothes, neither receive under your care the church vestments, nor the chalice, unless force compel you, or great fear, for oftentimes much harm has come from such care-taking.

Because no man seeth you, nor do ye see any man, ye may be well content with your clothes, be they white, be they black; only see that they be plain, and warm, and well made—skins well tawed; 2 and have as many as you need, for bed, and also for back. Next your flesh ye shall wear no flaxen cloth, except it be of hards* and of coarse canvass. Whoso will may have a stamin,* and whoso will may be without it. Ye shall sleep in a garment and girt. Wear no iron, nor haircloth, nor hedgehog-skins; and do not beat yourselves therewith, nor with a scourge of leather thongs, nor leaded; and do not with holly nor with briars cause yourselves to bleed without leave of your confessor; and do not, at one time, use too many flagellations. Let your shoes be thick and warm. In summer ye are at liberty to go and sit barefoot, and to wear hose without vamps,5 and whoso liketh may lie in them. A woman may well enough wear an nndersuit of haircloth very well tied with the strapples reaching down to her feet, laced tightly. If ye would dispense with wimples, have warm capes, and over them black veils. She who wishes to be seen, it is no great wonder though she adorn herself; but, in the eyes of God, she is more lovely who is unadorned outwardly for his sake. Have neither ring, nor broach, nor ornamented girdle, nor gloves, nor any such thing that is not proper for you to have.

• ••••••

1 A cattle-keeper on a common.

2 Prepared with oil, or without tan-liquor, s The coarser parts of flax or hemp.

4 A shirt of linsey-woolsey, s gaiters

In this book read every day, when ye are at leisure,—every day, less or more; for I hope that, if ye read it often, it will be very beneficial to you, through the grace of God, or else I shall have ill employed much of my time. God knows, it would be more agreeable to me to set out on a journey to Rome, than to begin to do it again. And, if ye find that ye do according to what ye read, thank God earnestly; and if ye do not, pray for the grace of God, and diligently endeavour that ye may keep it better, in eveTy point, according to your ability. May the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the one Almighty God, keep you under his protection! May he give you joy and comfort, my dear sisters, and for all that ye endure and suffer for him may he never give you a less reward than his entire self. May he be ever exalted from world to world, for ever and ever, Amen.

As often as ye read any thing in this book, greet the Lady with an Ave Mary for him that made this rule, and for him who wroto it, and took pains about it. Moderate enough I am, who ask so little.


Many thanes sat at Seaford, many bishops, book-learned men, many proud earls, knights every one. There was Earl .lElfric, wise in the law; Alfred also, England's guardian, England's darling, England 's king. He began, as ye may hear, to teach them how to lead their lives. He was king, and he was clerk;1 well he loved the Lord's work; 10 wise in word and cautious in deed, he was the wisest man in England.


Thus quoth Alfred, England's comfort: '' Would ye, my people, give ear to your lord, he would direct you wisely in all things, how ye might win to worldly honour and also unite your souls with Christ." 3

Wise were the words King Alfred spake. '' Humbly I rede2 you, my dear friends, poor and rich, all you my people, 20 that ye all fear Christ the Lord,

i scholar 2 counsel

• The proverbs here translated from Middle English, some of them plainly niblical, were popularly ascribed to King Alfred and were supposed to have been delivered by blm to his Wltenagemot at Seaford. See Eng. IAt., p. 38.

love him and please him, the Lord of Life. He is alone good, above all goodness; He is alone wise, above all wisdom; He is alone blissful, above all bliss; He is alone man's mildest Master; He is alone our Father and Comfort." . . 4

Thus quoth Alfred: '' The earl and the lord that heeds the king's word shall rule o'er his land with righteous hand; and the clerk and the knight shall give judgment aright, to poor or to rich 80 it skilleths not which. For whatso men sow, the same shall they mow, and every man's doom to his own door come." . .


Thus quoth Alfred: '' Small trust may be in tho flowing sea. Though thou hast treasure enough and to spare,

both gold and silver, 200

to nought it shall wear;

to dust it shall drive,

as God is alive.

Many a man for his gold

God's wrath shall behold,

and shall be for his silver

forgot and forlorn.

It were better for him

he had never been born." . .


Thus quoth Alfred: "If thou hast sorrow, tell it not to thy foe; tell it to thy saddle bow

and ride singing forth. 230

So will he think,

who knows not thy state,

that not unpleasiug

to thee is thy fate.

If thou hast a sorrow

and he knoweth it,

before thee he'll pity,

behind thee will twit.

Thou mightest betray it

to such a one

as would without pity 240 thou madest more moan. Hide it deep in thy heart

3 matters

that it leave no smart;

nor let it be guessed

what is hid in thy breast." .


Thus quoth Alfred: 410 "Boast shouldst thou not, nor chide with a sot; nor foolishly chatter and idle tales scatter at the freeman's board. Be chary of word. The wise man can store few words with great lore. Soon shot's the fool's bolt; whence I count him a dolt 420 who saith all his will when he should keep still. For oft tongue breaketh bone, though herself has none.''

CUCKOO SONG (c. 1250)*

Summer is y-comen in,
Loudly sing Cuckoo!
Qroweth seed and bloweth mead

And springeth wood anew.
Sing Cuckoo!

Loweth after calf the cow,

Bleateth after lamb the ewe,
Buck doth gambol, bullock amble,—

Merry sing Cuckoo!

Cuckoo, Cuckoo! Well singest thou

Cuckoo! nor cease thou ever now.


Sing Cuckoo now, sing Cuckoo.
Sing Cuckoo, sing Cuckoo now.

• See Eng. IA%., p. 42. for the Middle English, which Is here somewhat modernized. The song was »et to music, and the manuscript which contains the music adds the following directions, in Latin: "This part-song (rota) may be sung l>y four in company. It should not be sung by fewer than three, or at least two. In addition to those who sing the Foot. And It should be sung in this manner: One begins, accompanied by those who sing the Foot, the rest keeping silent. Then, when he has reached the first note after the cross [a mark on the musical score], another begins; and so on. The first line of the Foot one singer repeats as often as necessary, pausing at the end; the other line another man sings, pausing in the middle hut not at the end, but immediately beginning again."


FROM THE PEARL (c 1350)*

0 pearl, for princes' pleasure wrought,

In lucent gold deftly to set,
Never from orient realms was brought

Its peer in price, I dare say, yet.
So beautiful, so fresh, so round,

So smooth its sides, so slender shown, Whatever gems to judge be found

I needs must set it apart, alone. But it is lost! I let it stray

Down thro' the grass in an arbor-plot. With love's pain now I pine away,

Lorn of my pearl without a spot. !2 2

8ince in that spot it slipt from my hand,

Oft have I lingered there and yearned For joy that once my sorrows banned

And all my woes to rapture turned. Truly my heart with grief is wrung,

And in my breast there dwelleth dole; Yet never song, methought, was sung

So sweet as through that stillness stole. 0 tide of fancies I could not stem!

0 fair hue fouled with stain and blot! 0 mould, thou marrest a lovely gem,

Mine own, own pearl without a spot. . . 24

• This anonymous poem Is allegorical: possibly the "pearl" is the poet's daughter (Eng. Lit., 44). The selection here given Is translated, because the West Midland dialect of the original presents more difficulties than the Kast Midland of Chaucer. The whole iB a very Interesting piece of construction, combining the Romance elements of meter and rhyme, as employed by Chaucer, with the old Saxon alliteration which the West Midland poets, like Langland, affected. Note also the refrain-like effects. In this translation, the exacting rhymescheme of the original, which permits but three rhyme sounds in a stanza, has been adhered to in the last three stanzas only. The first stanza of the original runs thus:

Perle plesaunte to prynces paye.
To clanly clos In golde so clere,

Out of oryent I hardyly saye.

Ne proved I never her preclos pere,—

So rounde, so reken in ucne a raye.
So smai, so smothe her sydez were,—

Qneresoever I Jugged gemmrz gaye,
I sette hyr sengeley In synglere.

Alias: I leste hyr In on erbere:

Thurgh gresse to grounde hit fro me yot;

1 dewyne for-dokked of Inf-daungere,
Of that pryvy perle wtthouten spot.

Once to that spot I took my way

And passed within the arbor green. It was mid-August's festal day,

When the corn is cut with sickles keen. The mound that did my pearl embower

With fair bright herbage was o'erhung, Ginger and gromwell and gillyflower,

And peonies sprinkled all among. Yet if that sight was good to see,

Goodlier the fragrance there begot Where dwells that one so dear to me,

My precious pearl without a spot. *8 5

Then on that spot my hands I wrung,

For I felt the touch of a deadly chill, And riotous grief in my bosom sprung,

Tho' reason would have curbed my will. I wailed for my pearl there hid away,

While fiercely warred my doubts withal,
But tho' Christ showed where comfort lay,

My will was still my sorrow's thrall.
I flung me down on that flowery mound,

When so on my brain the fragrance wrought I sank into a sleep profound,

Above that pearl without a spot. 60 6

Then from that spot my spirit soared.

My senses locked in slumber's spell, My soul, by grace of God outpoured,

Went questing where his marvels dwell. I know not where that place may be,

I know 'twas by high cliffs immured, And that a forest fronted me

Whose radiant slopes my steps allured. Such splendor scarce might one believe—

The goodly glory wherewith they shone; No web that mortal hands may weave "1

Has e 'er such wondrous beauty known. . . 9

Yes, beautiful beyond compare,

The vision of that forest-range Wherein my fortune bade me fare—

No tongue could say how fair, how strange. I wandered on as one entranced,

No bank so steep as to make me cower; And the farther I went the brighter danced

The light on grass and tree and flower.

Hedge rows there were, and paths, and streams

Whose banks were as fine threads of gold, And I stood on the strand and watched the gleams

Of one mat downward in beauty rolled. 108 10

Dear Lord, the beauty of that fair burn!

Its berylline banks were bright as day, And singing sweetly at every turn

The murmuring waters took their way. On the bottom were stones a-shimmcr with light

As gleams through glass that waver and leap, Or as twinkling stars on a winter night

That watch in heaven while tired men sleep. For every pebble there that laved

Seemed like a rare and radiant gem; Each pool was as with sapphires paved, 119

So lustrous shone the beauty of them. . . 13

Then longing seized me to explore

The farther margin of that stream, For fair as was the hither shore

Far fairer did the other seem.
About me earnestly I sought

To find some way to win across,
But all my seeking availed me nought;

There was no ford; I stood at loss.
Methought I must not daunted dwell

In sight of such a blissful goal, When lo, a strange thing there befell

That still more deeply stirred my soul 14

More wonder still my soul to daze!

I saw beyond that lowly stream A crystal cliff refulgent raise

Its regal height, and, dazzling, gleam. And at its foot there sat a child,

A gracious maid, and debonair, All in a white robe undefilcd—

Well had I known her otherwhere. As glistening gold men use to spin,

So shone that glory the cliff before. Long did I drink her beauty in,

And longed to call to her ever more. . . 16

But more than my longing was now my fright;

I stood quite still; I durst not call;
With eyes wide open and lips shut tight,

I stood as quiet as hawk in hall.
I weened it was sonic spectral shape,

I dreaded to think what should ensue
If I should call her and she escape

And leave me only my plight to rue. When lo, that gracious, spotless may,'

So delicate, so soft, so slight,

i maid



Uprose in all her queenly array,

A priceless thing in pearls bedight. 192 17

Pearl-dight in royal wise, perdic,

One might by grace have seen her there, When all as fresh as a Ueur-de-lys

Adown the margent stepped that fair. Her robe was white as gleaming snow,

Unclasped at the sides and closely set
With the loveliest margarites, I trow,

That ever my eyes looked on yet.
Her sleeves were broad and full, I ween,

With double braid of pearls made bright.
Her kirtle shone with as goodly sheen, 203

With precious pearls no less bedight. 20

Pearl-dight, that nature's masterpiece

Came down the margent, stepping slow; No gladder man from hero to Greece

When by the stream she stood, I trow. More near of kin than aunt or niece,

She made my gladness overflow; She proffered me speech—Oh heart's release ! —

In womanly fashion bending low; Caught off her crown of queenly show

And welcomed me as a maiden might. Ah well that I was born to know 239

And greet that Bwcet one pearl bedight! 21

"O pearl," quoth I, "all pearl bedight.

Art thou my Pearl, the Pearl I mourn And long for through the lonely night?

In weariness my days have worn Since thou in the grass didst slip from sight.

Pensive am I, heart-sick, forlorn,—
While thou hast won to pure delight

In Paradise, of sorrow shorn.
What fate has hither my jewel borne

And left me beggared to moan and cry f
For since we twain asunder were torn,

A joyless jeweler am I." 252 22

That jewel then, with gems o 'erspread,

Upturned her face and her eyes gray, Replaced the crown upon her head.

And thus my longing did allay: "Oh, sir, thou hast thy tale misread

To say thy pearl is stolen away, That is so safely casketed

Here in this garden bright and gay, Herein forever to dwell and play

Where comes not sin nor sorrow's blight. Such treasury = wouldst thou choose, parfay.

Didst thou thy jewel love aright.'' * 264

2 Compare Matthew vl. 21.

• A long religious dissertation follows and the dreamer awakes consoled.

« AnteriorContinuar »