Outlaws and Highwaymen

‘De Clerico et Puella’
Early English Lyrics: Amorous, Divine, Moral & Trivial, ed. E. K. Chambers and F. Sidgwick (London, A. H. Bullen, 1907), pp. 12–14

before 1340

Modern English translation

De Clerico et Puella

Clerk: My deth I love, my lyf ich hate,
For a levedy shene;
Heo is briht so daies liht,
That is on me wel sene.
Al I falewe so doth the lef
In somer when hit is grene;
Yef mi thoht helpeth me noht,
To wham shal I me mene?
Sorewe and syke and drery mod
Byndeth me so faste,
That I wene to walke wod,
Yef hit me lengore laste.
My sorewe, my care, al with a word
He myhte awey caste.
Whet helpeth thee, my suete lemmon,
My lyf thus forte gaste?

Girl: Do wey, thou clerc, thou art a fol,1
With thee bydde I noht chyde.
Shalt thou never lyve that day
Mi love that thou shalt byde.
Yef thou in my boure art take,
Shame thee may bityde.
Thee is bettere on fote gon
Then wycked hors to ryde.2

Clerk: Weylawei! whi seist thou so?
Thou rewe on me, thy man!
Thou art ever in my thoht
In londe wher ich am.
Yef I deye for thi love,
Hit is thee mykel sham.
Thou lete me lyve, and be thi luef,
And thou my suete lemman!
Girl: Be stille, thou fol, I calle thee riht!
Thou art wayted day and nyht
With fader and al my kynne.
Be thou in mi bour ytake,
Lete they for no synne
Me to holde, and thee to slou,
The deth so thou maht wynne.
Clerk: Suete lady, thou wend thi mod,
Sorewe thou wolt me kythe.
Ich am al so sory mon,
So ich was whylen blythe.
In a windou, ther we stod,
We custe us fyfty sythe.
Feir biheste maketh mony mon
Al is sorewes mythe.

Girl: Weylawey! why seist thou so?
My sorewe thou makest newe.
I lovede a clerk al par amours;
Of love he wes ful trewe.
He nes nout blythe never a day,
Bote he me sone seye.
Ich lovede hym betere then my lyf;
Whet bote is hit to leye?

Clerk: Whil I wes a clerc in scole,
Wel muchel I couthe of lore.
Ich have tholed for thy love
Woundes fele sore,
Fer from hom and eke from men
Under the wode-gore.
Suete ledy, thou rewe of me!
Nou may I no more.
Girl: Thou semest wel to ben a clerc,
For thou spekest so scille.
Shalt thou never for mi love
Woundes thole grylle.
Fader, moder and al my kun
Ne shal me holde so stille,
That I nam thyn, and thou art myn,
To don al thi wille.

Textual Note

In stanza nine, line 2, ‘scille’ is an emendation of the ms reading ‘stille’, following the conjecture of Theodore Silverstein (see Medieval English Lyrics, ed. Theodore Silverstein (London, Edward Arnold, 1971), p. 92). I have also made some punctuation changes.


Notes and page design © Gillian Spraggs 2001, 2007
Text added to site on 20 September 2001 | Page last modified on 28 August 2007

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