Abbot, Abbess and Bailif

Abbot & bailif.
Abbot and bailif

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.

Be not ashamed, though you should rightly be
ȝowre hede / ȝowr beli: your head, your belly
ȝe mote: you must
wight: person, man

eire: heir
be-hight: promised

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.
I have no desire of your threats

doeth: does

ȝitte axe: yet ask
diynge: dying, hem: them

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 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.

hit: it

vernysshed: varnished, made bright

fyne: end
mote: must

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.
gise: fashion
trewthe: truth

ȝefe a-comptes: give account(1)

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.

liste: desired, spede: success
mede: reward, bribery

Aȝen: Against


There were no women in the Danse Macabre in Paris, so the abbess was added by Lydgate.

Footnotes: (1)

account...: The dead were expected to present a factual report of their life, works, duty, actions, & accomplishments;. Compare with Romans 14,12: "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God" and 1st Peter 4,5: "Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead".