The Dance of St. Paul's, Ellesmere

Indledningen til Lydgate's tekst. Ellesmere-manuskriptet (EL 26 A 13).
Ellesmere

What follows is the text from the manuscript Ellesmere (EL 26 A 13). This manuscript is one of the so-called A-texts that contain an English translation of all 67 verses from the Parisian Danse Macabre. The participants appear in the same sequence as in Paris.

John Lydgate has added five verses at the beginning for the translator's prologue, and two verses for the translator at the end, and five extra participants: princess, abbess, juror, noblewoman and conjuror (a number of other manuscripts also feature an empress). All in all 84 verses.

The manuscript uses a letter that looks like this: ȝ. Hopefully your browser is able to support it. The letter is called Yogh and is a mixture of G and Y. It is used for instance in ȝonge (modern English: "young"), ȝoure ("your"), briȝt ("bright") and ȝeuen ("given").

The text was transcribed by Florence Warren in the book "The dance of death : edited from Mss. Ellesmere 26/A.13 and B.M. Lansdowne 699, collated with the other extant Mss" from 1931.

As the title implies, the text has been collated with other manuscripts from the A-text family, and in a number of cases Warren has chosen another variant than the one in the Ellesmere manuscript. These deviations have been marked with square brackets. We have such an example in the very first line, where Warren writes O [ȝ]ee folkes: In this case the Ellesmere manuscript says: O see folkes (see the picture to the right).

In a few cases Warren has decided to leave out words and letters present in the Ellesmere manuscript. These places have been marked with a †. The first example is the emperor, whose speech ends with: have litle† a-vauntage, even though the Ellesmere manuscript says so litle.

Translator

Verba translatoris
O [ȝ]ee folkes / harde herted as a stone
Which to the world / haue al your aduertence
Like as hit sholde / laste euere in oone
Where ys ȝoure witte / where ys ȝoure prouidence
To see a-forne the sodeyne / vyolence
Of cruel dethe / that ben so wyse and sage
Whiche sleeth allas / by stroke of pestilence
Bothe ȝonge and olde / of low and hie parage.

Dethe spareth not / low ne hye degre
Popes kynges / ne worthi Emperowrs
When thei schyne / moste in felicite
He can abate / the fresshnes of her flowres
Ther briȝt sune clipsen / with hys showres
Make hem plownge / from theire sees lowe
Maugre the myght / of al these conquerowres
Fortune hath hem / from her whele [y]throwe.

Considereth this / ȝe folkes that ben wyse
And hit enprenteth / in ȝowre memorialle
Like the exawmple / whiche that at Parise
I fownde depicte / ones on a walle
Ful notabely / as I reherce shal
Ther of frensshe clerkes / tak[yng] acqueyntaunce
I toke on me / to translaten al
Owte of the frensshe / Macabrees daunce.

BI whos a-vyse / and cownseille atte leste
Thurh her sterynge / and her mocioune
I obeyed / vnto her requeste
Ther of to make / a pleyne translacioun
In Inglisshe tunge / of entencioun
That prowde folkes whiche that ben stoute & bolde
As in a myrrowre / to-forn yn her reasoun
Her owgly fyne / may clierli ther be-holde.

By exaumple / that thei yn her ententis
A-mende her life / in eueri maner age
The whiche daunce / at seint Innocentis
Portreied is / with al the surplu[s]age
To schewe this worlde / is but a pilgrimage
Ȝeuen vn-to vs / owre lyues to correcte
And to declare / the fyne of owre passage
Ryght a-noon / my stile I wille directe.

The authority

Verba Auctoris
O creatures ȝe / that ben resonable
The life desiringe / whiche is eternal
Ȝe mai sene here / doctryne ful notable
Ȝowre life to lede / whiche that ys mortal
Ther bi to lerne / in [e]special
How ȝe schulle trace the daunce of machabre
To man and woman / yliche natural
For dethe ne spareth / hye ne lowe degre.

In this myrrow[r]e / eueri wight mai fynde
That hym behoueth / to go vpon this daunce
Who gothe to-forne / or who schal go be-hynde
All dependeth / in goddes ordynaunce
Where-fore eche man / lowely take his chaunce
Deth spareth not / pore ne blode royal
Eche man ther-fore / haue yn remembraunce
Of oo matier / god hathe forged al.

Death to the pope

Dethe to the Pope
O ȝe that ben sette / moste hye In dygnite
Of al estatis / in erthe spiritual
And liche as Petur / had the souerente
Ouer the churche / and states temporal
Vp-on this daunce / [ȝe] firste begyn shal
As moste worthi lorde / and gouernowre
For al the worschip / of ȝowre astate papal
And of lordschip / to god is the honowre.

The pope

The Pope answereth
FIrst me be-houeth / this daunce for to lede
Whiche sate yn erthe / hyest yn my see
The state ful parilous / who so taketh hede
To occupie / Petirs dignitie
But for al that / deth I mai not flee
On his daunce / with other for to trace
For whiche al honoure / who prudentely can see
Is litel worthe / that doth soo sone pace.

Death to the emperor

Dethe to the Emperowre
SIr Emperowre / lorde of al the grounde
Soueren Prince / ande hyest of noblesse
Ȝe most forsake / of golde ȝowre appil rounde
Sceptre and swerde / & al ȝowre hie prouesse
Be-hinde leue / ȝowre tresowre & richesse
And with other / to my daunce obeie
Aȝens my myght / is worth noon hardynesse
Adames children / alle thei mosten deie.

The emperor

The Emperowre answereth
I not to whom / that I mai appele
Towchyng dethe / whiche dothe me so constreyne
Ther is no geyne / to helpe my quarele
But spade & picoys / my graue to atteyne
A simple shete / ther is no more to seyne
To wrappe yn / my bodi and visage
Ther-vp-on sore / I may compleyne
That lordes grete / have litle† a-vauntage.

Death to the cardinal

Dethe to the Cardynall
Ye ben a-basshed / hit semeth and yn drede
Sire Cardynal / hit sheweth be ȝowre chere
But yit for-thi / ȝe folow shul yn dede
With other folke / my daunce for to lere
Ȝowre grete a-rai / al shal be-leue here
Ȝowre hatte of rede / ȝowre vesture of grete coste
All these thinges / rekened well I-fere
In grete honowre / gode avise is loste.

The cardinal

The Cardynal answereth
I haue grete cause / certis this is no faile
To be a-basshed / and gretli drede me
Sithen dethe is come / me sodeynli to assaile
That I shal neuer / here after clothed be
In gris ner hermyn / like to my degre
Mi hatte of rede / leve eke yn distresse
Bi whiche I haue / [lerned] wel and se
How that al ioye / endeth yn heuynesse.

Death to the king

Dethe to the Kynge
O noble Kynge / moste worthi of renown
Come forth a-noon / for al ȝowre worthinesse
That somme-tyme had / a-bowte yow envroun
Grete [r]ialte / and passynge hye noblesse
But right a-noon / al ȝowre grete hyenesse
Sool fro ȝowre men / yn haste ȝe schul hit lete
Who most haboundeth / here yn grete richesse
Shal bere with him / but a sengle shete.

The king

The Kynge answereth
I haue not lerned / here-a-forne to daunce
No daunce in sothe / of fotynge so sauage
Where-fore I see / be clere demonstraunce
What pride is worth / force or hye lynage
Deth al fordoth / this is his vsage
Grete and smale / that yn this worlde soiourne
Who is moste meke / I holde he is moste sage
For [w]e shalle al / to dede asshes turne.

Death to the patriarch

Dethe to the Patriarke.
Sire Patriark / al ȝowre humble chere
Ne quyte ȝow not / ne ȝowre humylite
Ȝowre dowble cros / of golde & stones clere
Ȝowre power hole / and al ȝowre dignyte
Somme other shal / of verrei equyte
Possede a-noon / as I reherce can
Trusteth neuere / that ȝe shul pope be
For foli hope / deceyueth many a man.

The patriarch

The Patriark answereth
Worldli honowre / grete tresowre and richesse
Haue me deceyued / sothfastli in dede
Myne olde Joies / ben turned to tristesse
What vaileth hit / suche tresowr to possede
Hi[e] clymbyng vp / [a f]alle hathe for his mede
Grete estates folke / wasten owte of nombre
Who mounteth hye / hit is sure & no drede
Grete burdoun / dothe hym ofte encombre.

Death to the constable

Dethe to the Constable
Hit is my right / to reste & yow constrayn
With vs to daunce / my maiester sire Conestable
For more stronge / than euer was Charlemayn
Dethe hathe a-forced / & more worshipable
For hardynesse [n]e knyȝthode / this is no fable
Ne stronge armoure / of plates ne of maile
What geyneth armes / of folkes most notable
Whan cruel deth / luste hem to assaile.

The constable

The Constable answereth
Mi purpose was / & hole entencioun
To assaille † castelles / and myȝty [forteresses]
And brynge folke / vn-to subieccioun
To seke honowre / fame & grete richesses
But I se welle / that alle wordli prowesses
Deth can a-bate / whiche is a grete despite
To hym al-on sorowe / & eke swetenesse[s]
For aȝeyne deth / is founden no respite.

Death to the archbishop

Dethe to the Archebisshop
Sire archebisshop / whi do ȝe ȝow with-drawe
So frowardli / as hit were bi disdeyne
Ȝe moste a-proche / to my mortal lawe
Hit to contrarie / hit were not but yn veyne
For dai be dai / ther is none other geyne
Deth at honde / pursueth eueri coost
Preste & dette / mote be ȝolde a-ȝeyne
And atte oo day / men counten with her hooste.

The archbishop

The Archebisshop answereth
Alas I wote not / what partie for to fle
For drede of dethe / I haue so grete distresse
To a-scape his myght / I can no refute se
That who so knewe / his constreynt & duresse
He wolde take reasoun / to maistresse
A-dewe my tresowr / my pompe & pride al-so
Mi peynted chambres / my porte & my fresshnesse
For thynge that behoueth / nedes mote be do.

Death to the baron/knight

Dethe to the Baroun
Ȝe that amonge / lordes and barouns
Hau had so longe / worship & renoun
Forȝete ȝowre trumpettes / & yowre clariowns
This is no dreme / ne symulacioun
Somme-tyme ȝowre custome / & entencioun
Was with ladies / to daunce yn the shade
But ofte hit happeth / In conclusioun
That oo man breketh / that another made.

The baron/knight

The Baroun or the knyȝt answereth
Ful ofte sithe / I haue ben auctorised
To hye Emprises / & thynges of grete fame
Of hie and lowe / my thanke also deuysed
Cherisshed with ladies / and wymmen hye of [n]ame
Ne neuer on me / was putte no defame
In lordes courte / whiche that was notable
But dethes stroke / hath made me so lame
Under heuene in erthe / is no thynge stable.

Death to the princess

Dethe to the Lady of gret astate
Come forth a-noon / my lady & Princesse
Ȝe most al-so / go vp-on this daunce
Nowt mai a-vaile / ȝowre grete straungenesse
Nowther ȝowre beaute / ne ȝowre grete plesaunce
Ȝowre riche a-rai / ne ȝowre daliaunce
That somme-tyme cowde / so many holde on honde
In loue / for al ȝowre dowble variaunce
Ȝe mote as now / this foting vnderstonde.

The princess

The Lady answereth
Allas I see / ther is noon other bote
Dethe hathe yn erthe / no ladi ne maiestresse
And on his daunce / ȝitte moste I nedes fote
For ther [n]is quene / Countesse ne duchesse
Flouryng in beaute / ne yn feirnesse
That she of dethe / mote dethes trace sewe
For to ȝowre beaute / & counterfete fresshnesse
Owre rympled age / seithe farewel adiewe.

Death to the bishop

Dethe to the Bysshoppe
Mi lorde Sire Bisshop / with ȝowre mitre & crose
For al ȝowre riches / sotheli I ensure
For al ȝowre tresowre / so longe kepte in clos
Ȝowre worldli godes / & godes of nature
And of ȝowre shepe / the gostli dredeful cure
With charge comytted / to ȝowre † prelacie
For to accounte / ȝe shul be browȝt to lure
No wight is sure / that clymbeth ouer hye.

The bishop

The Bysshop answereth
Mi herte trewly / is nowether glad ne meri
Of sodeyne tidinges / whiche that ȝe bringe
Mi festes turned / in to simple ferie
That for discomforte / me liste no thyng synge
The worlde contrarie / now to me In werkynge
That al folkes / can so disherite
He that al with-halte / allas atte owre partynge
And al shal passe / safe oneli owre merite.

Death to the nobleman

Dethe to the Squyere
Come † forthe Sire Squyer / right fressh of ȝowre arai
That can of daunces / al the newe gyse
Thowȝ ȝe bare armes / fressh horsed ȝisterdai
With spere & shelde / atte ȝowre vncouthe deuyse
And t[o]ke on ȝow / so many hye Emprise
Daunceth with vs / hit wille no better be
Ther is no sokoure / in no maner wise
For no man mai / fro dethes stroke fle.

The nobleman

The Squyere answereth
Sitthen that dethe / me holdeth in his lace
Ȝitte shal I speke / oo worde or I pace
Adieu al myrthe / adieu [now ] al solace
Adieu my ladyes / somme-tyme so fressh of face
Adieu beaute / plesaun[ce] & solace
Of dethes chaunge / eueri dai is pryme
Thynketh [o]n ȝowre sowles / or that deth manace
For al shal rote / & no man wote what tyme.

Death to the abbot

Dethe to the Abbott
Come forthe Sire Abbot / with ȝowre brode hatte
[B]e[e]th not abasshed † / though ȝe haue right
Grete is ȝowre hede / ȝowr beli large & fatte
Ȝe mote come daunce / thowȝ ȝe be nothing light
Leve[th] ȝowre abbei / to somme other wight
Ȝowre eire [is] of age / ȝowre state to occupie
Who that is fattest / I haue hym be-hight
In his graue / shal sonnest putrefie.

The abbot

The abbot answereth
Of thi [th]retis / haue I noon envie
That I shal now leue al gouernaunce
But that I shal / as a cloistre[r] deie
This dothe to me / passynge grete greuaunce
Mi liberte nor my grete habundaunce
What mai a-vaile / in eny maner wyse
Ȝitte axe I merci / with hertli repentaunce
Though yn diynge / to late men hem a-vise.

Death to the abbess

Dethe to the Abbesse
And ȝe my ladi / Jentel dame abbesse
With ȝowre mantels furred large & wide
Ȝowre veile ȝowre wimple / passyng of grete richesse
And beddes softe / ȝe mote now leyne a-side
For to this daunce / I shal be ȝowre gide
Thowgh ȝe be tender / & borne of Jentille blode
While that ȝe lyve / for ȝowre selfe prouyde
For after deth / no man hathe no gode.

The abbess

The Abbesse answereth
Allas that dethe / hathe thus for me ordeyned
That yn no wise / I mai hit not declyne
Thowgh hit so be / ful ofte I haue constreyned
Breste & throte / my notes owte to twyne
Mi chekes rounde / vernysshed for to shyne
Ungirte ful ofte / to walke atte large
Thus cruel dethe / dothe al estates fyne
Who hath no ship / mote rowe yn bote or barge.

Death to the bailiff

Dethe to the Baylly
Come forthe Sire Bailli / that knewe al the gise
Bi ȝowre office of trewthe / & rightwisnesse
Ȝe moste come / to a newe assise
Extorcions & wronges / to redresse
Ȝe ben sommened / as lawe bitte expresse
To ȝefe a-comptes / the Juge wille ȝow charge
Whiche hathe ordeyned / to exclude al falsnesse
That eueri man / schal bere his owne charge.

The bailiff

The Baylly answereth
O thou lorde god / this is an harde Journe
To whiche a-forne / I toke but litel hede
Mi chaun[c]e is turned / & that forthynketh me
Some-tyme with Juges / what me liste to spede
Lai yn my myȝte / be favoure or for mede
But sitthen ther is / no rescuse be bataile
I holde hym wise / that coude see yn dede
Aȝen dethe / that noon appele mai vaile.

Death to the astrologer

Dethe to the Astronomere
Come forthe maister / that loken vp so ferre
With instrumentis / of astronomy
To take the grees / & hight of eueri sterre
What mai a-vaile / al ȝowre astrologie
Sith [of] Adam / alle the genelegye
Made firste of god / to walke vp-on the grounde
Dethe dothe a-reste / thus seieth theologie
And al schal dye / for an appil rounde.

The astrologer

The Astronomere an(s)wereth
For al my crafte / cunnynge or science
I can not fynde / no provisioun
Ne yn the sterres / serche owte no defence
Be domefyinge / nor calculacioun
Saue finyalli / in conclusioun
For to discryue / owre cunnynge euery dele
Ther is no more / be sentence of resoun
Who lyueth a-right / mote nedes dye wele.

Death to the citizen

Dethe to the Burgeys
Sire Burgeys / what do ȝe lenger tarie
For al ȝowre aver / & ȝowre grete richesse
Thowgh ȝe be straunge / deynous & contrarie
To this daunce / ȝe mote ȝow nedes dresse
For ȝowre tresoure / plente & largesse
From other hit came / & shal vn-to straungeres
He is a fole / that yn soche besynesse
Wote not for hom / he stuffeth his garneres.

The citizen

The Burgeys answereth
Certes to me / hit is grete displesauns
To leue al this / & mai hit not assure
Howses rentes / tresoure & substauns
Dethe al fordothe / suche is his nature
There-fore / wise is no creature
That sette [h]is herte / on gode that mote disseuere
The worlde hit lente / & he wille hit recure
And w[h]o moste hathe / [l]othest dieth euer.

Death to the canon

Dethe to the Chanoun
And ȝe Sire Chanoun / with many grete prebende
Ȝe mai no lenger / haue distribucioun
Of golde & siluer / largeli to dispende
For ther is now / no consolacioun
But daunce with vs / for al ȝowre hye renoun
For ȝe of dethe / stonde vp on the brinke
Ȝe mai ther of / haue no dilacioun
Dethe cometh ai / when men leste on hym thenke.

The canon

The Chanoun answereth
Mi benefices / with many a personage
God wote ful lite / mai me now comforte
Dethe hathe of me / so grete a-vantage
Al my richesse / mai me not disporte
Amys o[f] gris / thei wille aȝen resorte
Vnto the worlde / surplus & prebende
Al is veyneglorie / treuli to reporte
To dei welle / eche man shulde entende.

Death to the merchant

Dethe to the Marchaunde
Ȝe riche marchaunt / ȝe mote loke hiderwarde
That passed haue / ful many dyuerse londe
On hors on fote / hauyng moste rewarde
To lucre & wynnynge / as I vndurstonde
But now to daunce / ȝe mote ȝeue me ȝowre honde
For al ȝowre laboure / ful litel a-vaileth now
A-dieu veyneglorie / bothe of fre and bonde
No[ne] more coueite / than thei that haue ynow.

The merchant

The Marchaunte answereth
Be many an hille / and many [a] straunge vale
I haue trauailed / with my marchaundise
Ouer the see / do carye many a bale
To sundri Iles / mo than I can deuyse
Myn herte inwarde / ai frette with couetise
But al for nowght / now dethe [dothe] me constreyne
Be whiche I seie / be recorde of the wise
Who al embraceth / litel schal restreyne.

Death to the Carthusian

Dethe to the Chartereux
Gefe me ȝowre honde / with chekes dede & pale
Caused of wacche / & longe abstinence
Sire Chartereux / & ȝowre selfe a-vale
Vn-to this daunce / with humble pacience
To stryue aȝen / mai be no resistence
Lenger to lyve / sette not ȝowre memorie
Thowgh I be lothsome / as yn apparence
Above al men / deth hath the victorie.

The Carthusian monk

The Chartereux answereth
Vn to the worlde / I was dede longe a-gon
Be my ordre / and my professioun
Thowgh eueri man / be he neuer so stronge
Dredeth to dye / be kyndeli mocioun
After his flessheli / Inclynacioun
But plese hit to god / my sowle for to borowe
From fendes myȝt / & fro dampnacioun
Somme ben to dai / that shul not be to morowe.

Death to the sergeant

Dethe to the Sergeaunt
Come forthe Sire Sergeaunt / with ȝowr stateli mace
Make no defence / ne no rebellioun
Not may availe / to grucche in this cace
Thowgh ȝe be deynous / of condicioun
For nowther peele / ne proteccioun
Mai ȝow fraunchise / to do nature wronge
For ther is noon / so sturdi Champioun
Thowgh he be myȝti / a-nother is as stronge.

The sergeant

The Sergeant answereth
How dar this dethe / sette on me a-reste
That am the kynges / chosen officere
Whiche ȝesterdai / bothe este & weste
Myn office dede / ful surquedous of chere
But now this dai / I am a-rested here
And mai not fle / thowgh I had hit sworne
Eche man is lothe / to dye ferre and nere
That hath not lerned / for to dye a-forne.

Death to the monk

Dethe to the Monk
Sire monke also / with ȝowre blake abite
Ȝe mai no lenger / holde here soioure
Ther is no thinge / that mai ȝow here respite
Aȝeyn my myght / ȝow for to do socoure
Ȝe mote accounte / towchyng ȝowre laboure
How ȝe haue spente hit / in dede worde & thowght
To erthe and asshes / turneth eueri floure
The life of man / is but a thynge of nowght.

The monk

The Monk answereth
I had leuere / in [the] cloystre be
Atte my boke / and studie my seruice
Whiche is a place / contemplatif to se
But I haue spente / my life in many vise
Liche as a fole / dissolute and nyce
God of his merci / graunte me repentaunce
Be chere owtewarde / harde to deuyce
Al ben not meri / whiche that men seen daunce.

Death to the usurer

Dethe to the Vsurere
Thow vserere loke vp & be-holde
Un to wynnynge / thow settest al thi peyne
Whose couetise / wexeth neuer colde
Thi gredi thruste / so sore the dothe constreyne
But thow shalt neuer / thi desire atteyne
Suche an etik / thyn herte frete shal
That but of pite / God his honde refreyne
Oo parilous stroke / shal make the lese al.

The usurer

The Vsurere answereth
Now me behoueth / sodeynly to dey
Whiche is to me / grete peyne & grete greuaunce
Socowre to fynde / I see no maner weie
Of golde ne siluer / be no cheuisshaunce
Dethe thrugh his haste / a-bitte no puruiaunce
Of folkes blynde / that can not loke welle
Ful ofte happeth / be kynde or fatal chaunce
Somme haue feyre yȝen / that seen neuer adele.

The poor man

Usure to god / is ful grete offence
And in his sight / a grete abusioun
The pore borweth / par cas for Indigence
The riche lent / be fals collucioun
Onli for lucre / in his entencioun
Dethe shal hem bothe / to accomptes fette
To make rekennynge / be computacioun
No man is quytte / that is be-hynde of dette.

Death to the physician

Dethe to the Phisician
Maister of phisik / whiche [o]n ȝowre vryne
So loke and gase / & stare a-ȝenne the sunne
For al ȝowre crafte / & studie of medicyne
Al the practik / & science that ȝe cunne
Ȝowre lyues cours / so ferforthe ys I-runne
Aȝeyne my myght / ȝowre crafte mai not endure
For al the golde / that ȝe ther-bi haue wonne
Good leche is he / that can hym self recure.

The physician

The Phecissian answereth
Ful longe a-gon / that I vn-to phesike
Sette my witte / and my diligence
In speculatif / & also in practike
To gete a name / thurgh myn excellence
To fynde oute / a-ȝens pestilence
Preseruatifes / to staunche hit & to fyne
But I dar saie / shortli in sentence
A-ȝens dethe / is worth no medicyne.

Death to the suitor

Dethe to the amerous Squyere
Ȝe that be Jentel / so fresshe & amerous
Of ȝeres ȝonge / flowryng in ȝowre grene age
Lusti fre of herte / and eke desyrous
Ful of deuyses / and chaunge yn ȝowre corage
Plesaunt of porte / of loke & [of] visage
But al shal turne / in to asshes dede
For al beaute / is but a feynte ymage
Whiche steleth a-wai / or folkes can take hede.

The suitor

The Squyer answereth
Allas allas / I can now no socoure
A-ȝeyns dethe / for my selfe prouyde
Adieu of ȝowthe / the lusti fressh floure
Adieu veynglorie / [of bewte and of pride]
Adieu al seruyse / of the god cupide
Adieu my ladyes / so fresshe so wel be-seyne
For a-ȝeyne dethe / no thynge mai abide
And wyndes grete / gon doune with litel reyne

Death to the gentlewoman

Dethe to the Gentilwoman amerous
Come forthe Maistresse / of ȝeres ȝonge & grene
Whiche holde ȝowre self / of beaute souereyne
As feire as ȝe / was sum tyme pollicene
Penelope / and the quene Eleyne
Ȝitte on this daunce / thei wenten bothe tweyne
And so shul ȝe / for al ȝowre straungenesse
Though daunger longe / yn loue hathe lad ȝow reyne
A-rested is / ȝowre chaunge of dowblenesse.

The gentlewoman

The Jentilwoman answereth
O cruel dethe / that sparest noon a-state
To olde and ȝonge / thow arte indefferente
To my beaute / thou haste I-seide checke-mate
So hasti is / thi mortal Jugemente
For yn my ȝowthe / this was myn entente
To my seruyce / many a man to a lured
But she is a fole / shortli yn sentemente
That in her beaute / is to moche assured.

Death to the lawyer

Dethe to the man of lawe
Sire aduocate / shorte processe for to make
Ȝe mote come plete / a-fore the hye Juge
Many a quarel / ȝe haue vndurtake
And for lucre / to do folke refuge
But my fraunchise / is so large & huge
That counceile noon / a-vaile mai but trouth
He skapeth wyseli / of dethe the grete deluge
To-fore the dome / who is not teynte with slouth.

The lawyer

The mon of law answereth
Of right and resoun / be natures lawe
I can [not] put a-ȝen dethe / no defence
Ne be no sleyght / me kepe ne with-drawe
For al my witte / and [my] grete prudence
To make appele / from his dredeful sentence
No thyng yn erthe / mai a man preserue
A-ȝeyne his myght / to make † resistence
God quyte al men / liche as thei deserue.

Death to the juror

Dethe to the Jouroure
Maister ioroure / whiche that atte assise
And atte shires / questes doste embrace
Depart[ist] londe / like to thy deuyse
And who moste ȝaf / moste stode yn thi grace
The pore man loste / londe and place
For golde thow / [cow]dest / folke disherite
But now lete see / with thi teynte face
To-fore the Juge / howe thow cannest the quyte.

The juror

The Joroure answereth
Somme tyme I was cleped / yn my Cuntre
The belle wedyr / and that was not a lite
Not loued but drad / of hye & lowe degre
For whom me liste / be crafte y coude endite
And hange the trewe / & the thief respite
Al the cuntre / be my worde was lad
But y dar sei / shortli for to write
Of my dethe / many a man is glad.

Death to the minstrel

Dethe to the Mynstralle
O thow Minstral / that cannest so note & pipe
Un-to folkes / for to do plesaunce
By the right honde [anoone] I shal the gripe
With these other / to go vp-on my daunce
Ther is no scape / nowther a-voydaunce
On no side / to contrarie my sentence
For yn musik / be crafte & accordaunce
Who maister is / shew his science.

The minstrel

The Mynstral answereth
This newe daunce / is to me so straunge
Wonder dyuerse / and passyngli contrarie
The dredful fotyng / dothe so ofte chaunge
And the mesures / so ofte sithes varie
Whiche now to me / is no thyng necessarie
Ȝif hit were so / that I myght asterte
But many a man / ȝif I shal not tarie
Ofte daunceth / but no thynge of herte.

Death to the conjuror

Dethe to the Tregetoure
Maister Jon Rikelle / some tyme tregetowre
Of nobille harry / kynge of Ingelonde
And of Fraunce / the myghti Conquerowre
For alle the sleightes / and turnyng of thyn honde
Thow moste come nere / this daunce to vndurstonde
Nowȝt mai a-vaile / alle thi conclusiouns
For dethe shortli / nowther on see ne londe
Is not deceyued / be noon illusiouns.

The conjuror

The tregetour answereth
What mai a-vaile / Maugik natural
Or any crafte / shewed be apparence
Or cours of sterres / aboue celestial
Or of the heuene / al the Influence
A-ȝens dethe / to stonde atte defence
Legerdemeyn / now helpeth me right nowght
Fare welle my crafte / and al soche sapience
For dethe mo maistries / ȝitte than y hathe wrowght.

Death to the priest

Dethe to the Persoun
O Sire Curate / that ben here now present
That had / ȝowre worldli Inclynacioun
Ȝowre herte entier / ȝowre study & entent
Moste on ȝowre tithes / & oblacioun
Whiche shulde haue ben / of conuersacioun
Mirroure vn-to other / light & exaumplarie
Like ȝowre deserte / shal be ȝowre guerdoun
And to eche laboure / due is the salarie.

The parish priest

The Persun answereth
Mawgre my wille / I moste condescende
For dethe assaileth / eueri lifli thynge
Here yn this worlde / who can comprehende
His sodeyn stroke / & his vnware comynge
Fare-wel tithes / and fare-wel myn offrynge
I mote go Counte / yn ordre by and by
[And for my shepe] / make a Juste rekenynge
Whom he acquyteth / I holde he is happi.

Death to the peasant

Dethe to the Laborere
Thow laborere / whiche yn sorow & peyne
Haste had thi life / in ful grete trauaile
Thow moste eke daunce / & ther fore not disdeyne
For ȝif thow do / hit mai the not a-vaile
And cause whi / that I the assaile
Is wonli this / from the to disseuere
The fals worlde / that can so folke faile
He is a fole / that weneth to lyve euere.

The peasant / labourer

The Laborere answereth
I haue wisshed / after dethe ful ofte
Al-be that I wolde / haue fled hym nowe
I had leuere / to haue leyne vnsofte
In wynde & reyne / & haue gon atte plowe
With spade & pikeys / and labored for my prowe
Dolue & diched / & atte Carte goon
For I mai sey / & telle playnli howe
In this worlde / here ther is reste noon.

Death to the Franciscan

Dethe to the Frere menour
Sire Cordelere / to ȝow my hande is rawght
To this daunce / ȝow to conueie ande lede
Whiche yn ȝowre prechynge / hau ful ofte tawght
How [þat] I am / moste gastful for to drede
Al-be that folke / take ther of none hede
Ȝitte is ther noon / so stronge ne so hardi
But dethe dar reste / and lette for no mede
For dethe eche owre / is present & redy.

The Franciscan monk

The Frere answereth
What mai this be / that yn this world no man
Here to a-bide / mai haue no seuerte
Strengh richesse / ne what so that he can
Wordly wisdom / al is but vanyte
In grete astate / ne yn pouerte
Is no thynge founde / that mai fro dethe defende
For whiche I sei / to hye & lowe degre
Wise is that synner / that dothe his lif a-mende.

Death to the child

Dethe to the Chylde
Litel Enfaunt / that were but late borne
Schape yn this worlde / to haue no plesaunce
Thow moste with other / that gon here to forne
Be lad yn haste / be fatal ordynaunce
Lerne of newe / to go on my daunce
Ther mai non age / a-scape yn sothe ther fro
Late eueri wight / haue this yn remembraunce
Who lengest leueth / moste shal suffre wo.

The child

The Chylde answereth
A a a / a worde I can not speke
I am so ȝonge / I was bore ȝisterdai
Dethe is so hasti / on me to be wreke
And liste no lenger / to make no delai
I cam but now / and now I go my wai
Of me no more / no tale shal be tolde
The wille of god / no man with-stonde mai
As sone dyeth / a ȝonge man as an olde.

Death to the clerk

Dethe to the Clerke
O ȝe [Sir] Clerke suppose ȝe to be fre
Fro my daunce / or ȝowre selfe defende
That wende haue risen / vn-to hye degre
Of benefices / or somme grete prebende
Who clymbeth hyest / somme-tyme shal dessende
Lete no man grucche / a-ȝens his fortune
But take yn gre / what [euer god] hym sende
Whiche punyssheth / al whan tyme is oportune.

The clerk

The Clerke answereth
Shal I that am / so ȝonge a Clerke now deye
Fro my seruyse / and haue no bette guerdoun
Is there no geyne / ne noon better weye
No sure fraunchise / ne proteccioun
Dethe maketh al weie / a short conclusioun
To late ware / whan men ben on the brynke
The worlde shal faile / and al possessioun
For moche faileth / of thynge that foles thynke.

Death to the hermit

Dethe to the Ermyte
Ȝe that haue lyued / longe yn wildernesse
And there contynued / longe yn abstynence
Atte laste ȝitte / ȝe mote ȝow dresse
Of my daunce / to haue experience
For ther-aȝeyne / is no resistence
Take now leue / of thyn Ermytage
Where-fore eche man / aduerte this sentence
That this life here / is no sure Eritage.

The hermit

The Ermyte answereth
LIfe yn deserte / callid solitarie
Mai a-ȝeyne dethe / haue respite noon ne space
Atte vnsette owre / his comyng dothe not tarie
And for my parte / welcome be goddes grace
Thankyng hym / with humble chere & face
Of al his ȝiftes / and grete habundaunce
Fynalli affermyng / yn this place
No man is riche / that lacketh suffisaunce.

Death

Dethe a-ȝen to the Ermyte
That is welle seyde / & thus shulde euery wight
Thanke his god / and al his wittes dresse
To loue and drede hym / with al his herte & myght
Setth dethe to a-scape / mai be no sekernesse
As men deserue / god quytte of rightwisnesse
To riche and pore / vp-on eueri side
A better lessoun / ther can no Clerke expresse
Than til to morowe / is no man sure to a-bide.

The dead king

The kynge liggyng dede & eten with wormes
Ȝe folke that loken / vpon this purtrature
Beholdyng here / alle the estates daunce
Seeth what ȝe ben / & what is ȝowre nature
Mete vnto wormes / not elles yn substaunce
And haue this myrroure / euer yn remembraunce
[H]ow I lye here / som-tyme crowned kynge
To al estates / a trewe resemblaunce
That wormes fode / is fyne of owre lyuynge.

The authority

Machabre the Doctoure
Man is nowght elles / platli for to thenke
But as a wynde / whiche is transitorie
Passyng ay forthe / whether he wake or wynke
Towarde this daunce / haue this yn memorie
Remembr[ing]e ay / ther is [no] bette victory
In this life here / than fle synne atte leste
Than shul ȝe reigne / yn Paradyse with glorie
Happi is he / that maketh yn heuene his feste.

Ȝitte ther be folke / mo than sixe or seuene
Reckeles of life / yn many maner wyse
Like as ther were / helle noon ne heuene
Suche fals errowre / lete eueri man despice
For holi seyntes / & olde Clerkes wise
Writen contrarie / her falsnes to deface
To lyue welle / take this for beste Emprise
Is moche worthe / when men shul hennes pace.

The translator

Lenvoye de translatoure
O ȝe my lordes / and maistres al in fere
Of a-venture / that shal this daunce [r]ede
Loweli I preye / with al myn herte entere
To correcte / where as ȝe see nede
For nowght elles / I aske for my mede
But godeli supporte / of this translacioun
And with fauowre / to soupewaile drede
Benyngneli / in ȝowre correccioun.

Owte of the frensshe / I drowe hit of entent
Not worde be worde / but folwyng the substaunce
And fro Paris / to Inglond hit sent
Oneli of purpose / ȝow to do plesaunce
Rude of langage / y was not borne yn fraunce
Haue me excused / my name is Jon Lidgate
Of her tunge / I haue no suffisaunce
Her corious metris / In Inglissh to translate.

Amen

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