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Bytuene Mersh ant Aueril
London, British Library, Harley MS 2253, f. 63v


Bytuene Mersh ant Aueril,
When spray biginneth to springe,
The lutel foul hath hire wyl
On hyre lud to synge.


Between March and April,
When the leaves begin to open,
The little bird takes its pleasure
In singing in its own language.

5 Ich libbe in loue-longinge
For semlokest of alle thynge;
He may me blisse bringe;
Icham in hire baundoun.

An hendy hap Ichabbe yhent;
I live in love-longing
For the most beautiful of all creatures;
She is able to bring me joy;
I am in her power.


I have been given a piece of good fortune;
10  Ichot from heuene it is me sent;
From alle wymmen mi loue is lent
Ant lyht on Alysoun.

On heu hire her is fayr ynoh,
Hire browe broune, hire eghe blake;

I know it has been sent to me from heaven;
My love has been withdrawn from all women
And settled on Alysoun.

Her hair is fair enough in colour,
Her eyebrows dark, her eyes black;

15 With lossum chere he on me loh,
With middel smal ant wel ymake.
Bote he me wolle to hire take
Forte buen hire owen make,
Longe to to lyuen Ichulle forsake,
She smiled at me charmingly,
With a slim and well-shaped waist.
Unless she is willing to accept me
To be her own partner,
I will give up living for long,
20  Ant feye fallen adoun.
An hendy hap, et cetera.

Nihtes when Y wende ant wake---
For-thi myn wonges waxeth won--
Leuedi, al for thine sake

And collapse, fated to die.
I have been given, etc.

At night, when I toss and turn---
That is why my cheeks grow pale---
Lady, all for your sake

25 Longinge is ylent me on.
In world nis non so wyter mon
That al hire bounte telle con;
Hire swyre is whittore then the swon,
Ant feyrest may in toune.
I am seized with longing.
There is no man in the world so talented
That he can describe all her goodness;
Her neck is whiter than the swan,
And she is the most beautiful girl in the world.
30 An hendi, et cetera.

Icham for wowyng al forwake,
Wery so water in wore;
Lest eny reue me my make
Ychabbe y-yyrned yore.

I have been given, etc.

I am worn out with lying awake for love,
Weary as troubled water;
In case anyone steals my partner from me
I have been anxious for a long time.

35 Betere is tholien whyle sore
Then murnen euermore;
Geynest vnder gore,
Herkne to my roun.
An hendi, et cetera.
It is better to suffer greatly for a time
Than mourn for ever;
Kindest of women,
Listen to what I say.
I have been given, etc.


Set up by Bella Millett, enm@soton.ac.uk. Last updated 24 July 2003 .