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Sumer is icumen in
London, British Library, MS Harley 978, f. 11v


ME poem
Latin instructions and poem

Middle English poem

1. Sumer: spring or summer? The ME word extends over a longer period than the modern one (see Fischer (1994). Roscow (1999) argues that the poem describes early summer rather than spring.

10. bucke uerteth: the translation of this line is uncertain. Most editors translate bucke as "stag"; MED, s.v. bukke n. 1a (a), prefers the alternative meaning "billy-goat". Uerteth is generally taken as the earliest recorded instance of the verb "fart" (from OE *feortan; see MED, s.v. ferten v.). Silverstein (1971), p. 37, suggests instead derivation from Latin vertere, "turn, paw up (the ground)", hence "gambol", comparing late-C16 English vert (see OED, s.v. vert v. 1); but this seems both rather late and rather learned for the context here. See also Platzer (1995), for a defence of 'cavorts'.

Latin instructions and poem

post crucem: i.e. the red cross in the manuscript above the beginning of Lhude (line 2 of the Middle English poem).

Set up by Bella Millett, enm@soton.ac.uk. Last updated 29 May 2003 .