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The' wel ne deth 2 the hwile he mei, ne

sceal he hwenne he wolde. Manies mannes sare iswinch habbeth oft

unholde. Ne scolde nan man don a furst, ne sclawen 6

wel to done; For mani man bihateth? wel, the hit for

yiteth sone. The man the 1 siker 8 wule beon to habbe

Godes blisse, Do wel him sulf the hwile he mei, then haveth he mid iwisse.


Who doth not well, the while he may, he shall

not when he would ; Many a man's sore labor oft cometh to no

good. In doing good let none postpone or ever

make delay; For many a man doth promise well who yet

forgets straight way. The man who would be safe and sure of having

God's own bliss If he do well the while he may, he verily shall not miss.


ORRM (11. 1200)





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Nu, 10 broßerr Wallterr, broberr min

Affterr þe flæshess kinde; & broberr min i 12 Crissteắndom

þurrh fulluhht 13 & þurrh trowwþe; 14 & broßerr min i 12 Godess hus,

Gēt 015 be pride 16 wise,17 þurrh þatt witt 18 hafenn 19 tăkenn ba 20

An 21 rezhellboc 22 to follzhenn,23 Unnderr kanunnkess 24 had 25 & lif, Swa summ

26 Sannt Awwstin sette; Icc hafe 28 don swa summ þu badd,29

& forbedd 30 te 31 bin wille, Icc hafé 28 wennd 32 inntil 33 Ennglissh

Goddspelless hallzhe lare, 34 Affterr þatt little witt 35 tatt

Min Drihhtin hafebb lenedd 37 þu þohhtesst 38 tatt 36 itt mihhte wel

Till 39 mikell frame 40 turrnenn, giff 41 Ennglissh follk, forr lufe off Crist,

Itt wollde Zerne 42 lernenn, & follzhenn 23 itt, & fillenn 43 itt

Wibþ þohht, 44 wibb word, wibb dede. & forrþi 45 zerrndesst 46 tu þatt icc

þiss werrc 47 þe shollde wirrkenn; & icc itt hafe forbedd 30 te, 31

Acc 43 all þurrh Cristess hellpe; & unnc birrþ 49 babe 50 þannkenn Crist

patt itt iss brohht till 39 ende. Icc hafe sammnedd 51 52 biss boc

þa Goddspelless neh 53 alle

Now, brother Walter, brother mine

After the fleshly nature;
And brother mine in Christendom

Through baptism and through fealty;
And brother mine in God's own house

In still another manner,
In that we two have taken both

One book of rules to follow,
Within the life of canonhood,

Just as St. Austin ordered;
As thou didst bid me, I have done,

Thy will for thee fulfilling;
For into English I have turned

The gospel's holy teaching, According to the little wit

With which my Lord endowed me.
Thou thoughtest that it might full well

Be turned to mickle profit
If English folk, for love of Christ,

It zealously would study,
And follow it, and it fulfil,

With thought, with word, with action. And therefore thou didst yearn that I

This book for thee should render;
And I for thee have finished it,

As Christ the Lord did help me;
And now behooves us both thank Christ

That it is brought to ending.
I have collected in this book

Now nearly all the gospels complished 31 thee turned 33 into 34 holy lore wit, intelligence

my Lord has lent thoughtest 40 great benefit 41 if 42

eagerly 43 fulfil 44 with thought therefore desiredst 47 work 48 but 49 us two it behooves 50 both 51 collected 52 in 53 nigh, near



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that 37





1 who ? doth 3 may 4 many a man's sore labor hath often misfortune no man should postpone 6 delay?promises 8 sure ' then he hath it certainly nature 12 in

through baptism 14 faith 16 third 17 way, degree

we two 19 have 20 both 22 rule-book 23 follow 24 canon's 25 order commanded 28 I have badest






now 15

on 21




26 just as






16 O

þatt sinndenn?o the messeboc 2

Inn all be zer 3 att messe. & aži 4 affterr be Goddspell stannt 5

patt tatt te Goddspell menebb, þatt mann birrb spellenn 8 to be follc

Off þezire 'sawle nede; & Zēt tær tekenn mare inoh 10

þu shallt tæronne 11 findenn Off þatt tatt 6 Cristess hallzhe þed 12

Birrþ 13 trowwenn 14 wel & follzhenn.15 Icc hafe sett her biss boc

Amang Goddspelless wordess,
All þurrh me sellfenn,1? maniz word
Þe rime

19 to fillenn;
Acc þu shallt finndenn þatt min word,

Ezzwhær þær 20 itt iss ekedd, 21 Ma33 hellpenn þa2 batt redenn itt

To sen & tunnderrstanndenn 23 All þess te bet tre hu þezim birrþ 24 !

Þe Goddspell unnderrstanndenn; & forrþi 25 trowwe icc þatt te 26 birrb

Wel þolenn 27 mine wordess, Eziwhær þær 20 bu shallt findenn hemm 28

Amang Godspelless wordess.

That all the year at mass are found

Within the holy massbook. And aye after the gospel stands

That which the gospel meaneth, Which must be told unto the folk,

Because the soul doth need it ; And still within it thou shalt find

Enough and more there written
Of what the holy flock of Christ

Must well believe and follow.
I have set down here in this book,

Among the words of gospel,
All of myself full many a word,

To fill the measure merely;
But thou shalt find here that my word,

Wherever it is added,
May help the people who shall read

To see and understand too
The better how it them behooves

To understand the gospel ;
And therefore trow I that thou must

Endure my words with patience,
Wherever thou shalt find them set

Among the words of gospel.





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mit them


with a numberless army 31 heard 32 and went against him 33 numberless 34 there were many fey (fated to die) Tamar (a river) they came

the place was called ever-more shall last that same word (name) was gathered 41 and more thousands besides 42

was their leader 43 then 44 did 45 great



2 mass-book

4 always

5 stands 6 that that, that which i means

8 that it behooves one to tell 9 of their 10 and besides that,

11 enough more therein 12 holy people 13 behooves 14 believe 15 follow 16 here in 17 by myself 18 rhythm,

everywhere where 21 added 22 those 23 to understand 24 all the better for this how it behooves them 25 therefore 26 thee 27 endure, per





19 20






Mid unimete folke,
Væie thah hit weore.1

Uppe there Tambre
Heo tuhte o to-Somne;o
Heven here-marken; 4
Halden - to-gadere;
Luken sweord longe,
Leiden o' the helmen;
Fur ut sprengen,

28550 Speren brastlien; Sceldes gonnen scanen,10 Scaftes to-breken.11 Ther faht 12 al to-somne 13 Folc unimete. Tambre wes on flode 14 Mid unimete 15 blode. Mon i than fihte Non 16 ther ne mihte I-kenne nenne kempe,17 No 18 wha dude 19 wurse, no wha bet,20 Swa. that withe wes imenged ; 22 28562 For ælc 23 sloh 24 adun riht, Weore he swein,25 weore he cniht.26 Ther wes Modred of-slawe 27 And idon of lif-dawe 28

With army unnumbered,
Doomed though they all were.

By the river Tamar
The troops came together;
Raised their royal standards;
Rushed there together;
Long swords locked they,
Laying blows on helmets;
Sparks they struck out,
Spears did rattle;
Shields were a-shaking,
Shafts were a-breaking.
There fought all together
Folk beyond counting.
Tamar was a flood
With measureless blood.
Of men in the fight there .
Nobody might there
Distinguish any warrior,
Nor who did better, who did worse,
So was that conflict mingled;
For each struck adown right,
Were he yeoman, or were he knight.
There was Modred stricken,
And life in him did sicken.









in than fihte.
Ther weoren of-slawe 27
Alle tha snelle,30
Arthures hired-men,31
Heye and lawe,32
And tha Bruttes 33 alle
Of Arthures borde, 34
And alle his fosterlinges 36
Of feole kineriches, 36
And Arthur forwunded
Mid wal-spere brade.37
Fiftene he hafde
Feondliche wunden ;
Mon mihte i thare lasten 39
Twa gloven ithraste.40

Tha 41 nas ther na mare
I than fehte to lave 42
Of twa hundred thusend monnen 43
Tha 44 ther leien 45 to-hauwen 46
Buten 47 Arthur the king ane
And of his cnihtes tweien. 49

in that conflict. There fell in that battle All of the brave ones, Arthur's own henchmen, The high and the lowly, And all the Britons Of Arthur's board too, And all his fosterlings Of foreign nations many, And Arthur sorely wounded With broad blade of war-spear. Fifteen times was he Fiendishly wounded; Even into the smallest Two gloves might one have thrust.

Then were there in that battle Left among the living Of two hundred thousand soldiers Who lay there slaughtered But Arthur the king only And two of his warriors.









1 fey though they were ? they came 3 together 24 struck 25 yeoman 26 knight 27 slain 28 and put from raised battle-standards rushed locked long life-days A line or more is missing here. the swords ? laid on, struck upon 8 made fire leap out brave

retainers 32

high and low 33 the Britons rattled spears

10 shields did shiver 11 shafts broke 34 table 35 wards 36 many kingdoms 37 with broad to pieces 12 fought 13 together 14 a-food measure- slaughter-spear 38 dreadful wounds 39 in the least

no man in the fight 17 recognize no warrior thrust then 42 in the fight remaining nor 19 did 20 better 21 conflict confused

44 who 45 lay 46 hewed to pieces 47 but 48 alone 49 two


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Arthur wes for-wunded
Wunder ane swithe.
Ther to him com a cnave

The 3 wes of his cunne;
He wes Cadores sune,
The Eorles of Cornwaile.
Constantin hehte 5 the cnave;
He wes than 6 kinge deore.
Arthur him lokede on,
Ther he lai on folden,
And thas word 8 seide
Mid sorhfulle heorte:
“Constantin, thu art wilcume ! 28600
Thu wcore' Cadores sone !
Ich the bitache here 10
Mine kineriche; 11
And wite 12 mine Bruttes
A to thines lifes;
And hald heom 14 alle tha lawen 15
Tha habbeoth istonden a mine dawen,16
And alle tha lawen gode
Tha bi Utheres dawen stode.
And ich wulle varen 17 to Avalun 28610
To vairest 18 alre 19 maidene,
To Argante there quene,
Alven swithe sceone;
And heo 22 scal mine wunden
Makien alle isunde,23
Al hal 24 me makien
Mid haleweiye drenchen.25
And seothe 26 ich cumen wulle
To mine kineriche 27
And wunien 28 mid Brutten

28620 Mid muchelere wunne." 29

Æfne than worden 30
Ther com of se wenden 31
That wes an sceort bat lithen, 32
Sceoven mid uthen;
And twa wimmen ther-inne
Wunderliche idihte.34
And heo nomen Arthur anan,35
And an eovste hine vereden,3
And softe hine adun leiden,

28630 And forth gunnen lithen.37

Tha 38 wes hit iwurthen 39 That Merlin seide whilen,40 That weore unimete care

Arthur was wounded
Wondrous severely.

To him came a child then
Who was of his kindred;
He was Cador's first-born,
Who Earl was of Cornwall.
Constantine his name was;
He was to the king dear.
Arthur looked upon him,
As he lay on the ground there,
And these words spake he
With heart full of sorrow:
“Constantine, welcome art thou !
Thou wert Cador's first-born!
To thee do I commit here
The care of my kingdom;
And guard well my Britons
Ever whilst thou livest;
And keep thou all the customs
That loved were in my life-time,
And all the customs splendid
That Uther's reign attended.
And I will fare to Avalon
To the fairest of all maidens,
Where Queen Argantè tarries,
Most beautiful of fairies;
And she shall every wound
Make both whole and sound,
All whole shall she make me
With health-giving potions.
And come shall I hereafter
Back to my kingdom
And abide with my Britons
With bliss forever.

E’en as he was speaking There came from sea speeding A very small boat gliding Before the waves a-riding; And women twain within it Wondrously attired. And they raised up Arthur anon, And aboard rapidly bore him, And adown softly they set him, And forth went they sailing.

Then was fulfilled there What Merlin said aforetime, That infinite grieving








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Ye, my dear sisters, shall have no beast but a cat only. A nun that has property seems rather a housewife, as Martha was, than a nun; and in no wise may she be Mary, ith peacefulness of heart. For then must she think about the cow's fodder and the herdsmen's wages, flatter the constable, curse when the cow is put in the pound, and pay the damages nevertheless. God knows, it is a hateful thing when complaint is made in the village of a nun's property. However, if anyone must needs have a cow, let her see to it that it disturbs or harms no man; and that her heart be not fastened upon it. A nun ought to have nothing that will draw her heart outward to the world.

hwon 45

Ye, mine leove 20 süstren,21 ne schulen 22 habben 23 no best 24 bute kat one. 25 Ancre 26 thet haveth eihte 27 thüncheth 28 bet 29 husewif,30 asc Marthe was, then ancre;

ne none-weis 31 mei heo 32 beon 33 Marie mid grithfulnesse 34 of heorte. Vor theonne 35 mot 36 heo thenchen 37 of the kues 38 foddre and of heordemonne 39 huire,40 oluhnen 41 thene 42 heiward, 43 warien 44

pünt hire, and yelden, 48 thauh,49 the hermes. 50 Wat 51 Crist, this is lodlich 52 thing hwon 45 46 maketh mone in tune 54 of ancre 55 eihte.27 Thauh,49 yif 56 eni mot 36 nede habben 57 ku, loke 58 thet heo 32 none monne ne eilie 59 ne ne hermie ; 60 hire thouht ne beo (1 nout the on ivestned. 62 Ancre ne ouh 63 nout to habben 57 no thing thet drawe 64 utward hire heorte. None chefiare

ne drive

Ancre thet is cheapild, 66 heo cheapeth 67 hire soule the chepmon

68 of helle. Ne wite 69

oure huse 71 of other

46 me



ne thet



Drive ye no bargains. A nun that is a bargainer sells her soul to the merchant of hell.

Keep ye not in your house any of other


ye nout in

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1 death ? believe yet 3 is alive * dwells 5 of all shall come 7 is never

of never no (i.e. of no) lady chosen

who can
10 the truth 11

say more 13 wizard

announced 16

sayings true come for a help to the English 19 The Nuns' Rule 20 dear 21 sisters 22 shall 23 have 24 beast only

property seems 29 rather 30 housewife 31 no-way's


33 be 34 peacefulness






herdsmen's 40 hire


flatter 42 the 43 heyward, bailiff 45 when 46 impounds


49 nevertheless damages 51 knows 52 hateful 53 complaint 54 town,

a nun's 56 if 57 have 58 look 59 disturb be fastened ought

may draw bargain bargainer

68 tradesman 69 keep, take care of 70 71

your house

farm 55

60 harm






a nun





67 sells


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