• St Erkenwald

  • 1  At London in englonde noȝt fulle longe tyme
  • 2 Sythen Crist suffride on crosse and cristendome stablyde,
  • 3 Ther was a byschop in that burghe blessyd and sacryd
  • 4 Saynt Erkenwolde, as i hope, that holy mon hatte.
  • 5 In his tyme in that ton the temple aldergrattyst
  • 6 Was drawen don that one dole to dedifie new
  • 7 For hit hethen had bene in Hengyst dawes,
  • 8 That the Saxones vnsaȝt haden sende hyder.
  • 9 Thai bete oute the Bretons and broȝt hom into Wales,
  • 10 And peruertyd alle the pepul that in that place dwellide.
  • 11 Then wos this reame renaide mony ronke ȝeres,
  • 12 Til saynt Austyn into Sandewiche was sende fro the pope;
  • 13 Then prechyd he here the pure faythe and plantyd the trouthe,
  • 14 And conuertyd alle the communnates to Cristendame newe.
  • 15 He turnyd temples that tyme that temyd to the deuelle
  • 16 And clansyd hom in Cristes nome and kyrkes hom callid.
  • 17 He hurlyd owt hor ydols and hade hym in sayntes
  • 18 And chaungit cheuely hor nomes and chargit hom better.
  • 19 That ere was of Appolyn is now of saynt Petre,
  • 20 Mahon to saynt Margrete other to Maudelayne,
  • 21 The synagoge of the sonne was sett to oure Lady,
  • 22 Jubiter and Jono to Jhesu other to James.
  • 23 So he hom dedifiet and dyght alle to dere halowes
  • 24 That ere wos sett of Sathanas in Saxones tyme.
  • 25 Now that london is neuenyd hatte the new Troie:
  • 26 The metropol and the maysterton hit euermore has bene
  • 27 The mecul mynster therinne a maghty deuel aght,
  • 28 And the title of the temple bitan was his name
  • 29 For he was dryghtyn derrest of ydols praysid
  • 30 And the solempnest of his sacrifices in saxon londes.
  • 31 The thrid temple hit wos tolde of Triapolitanes
  • 32 By alle Bretaynes bonkes were bot othire twayne.
  • 33 Now of this Augustynes art is Erkenwolde bischop
  • 34 At loue London ton and the laghe teches
  • 35 Syttes semely in the sege of saynt Paule mynster
  • 36 That was the temple Triapolitan, as i tolde are.
  • 37 then was hit abatyd and beten don and buggyd efte new,
  • 38 A noble note for the nones and new werke hit hatte,
  • 39 Mony a mery mason was made ther to wyrke.
  • 40 Harde stones for to hewe with eggit toles
  • 41 Mony grubber in grete the grounde for to seche
  • 42 That the fundement on fyrst shuld the fote halde,
  • 43 And as thai mukkyde and mynde a meruayle thai founden
  • 44 As ȝet in crafty cronecles is kydde the memorie:
  • 45 For as thai dyȝt and dalfe so depe into the erthe
  • 46 Thai founden fourmyt on a flore a ferly faire toumbe.
  • 47 Hit was a throghe of thykke ston thryuandly hewen
  • 48 With gargeles garnysht aboute alle of gray marbre;
  • 49 The speke of the spelunke that spadde hit olofte
  • 50 Was metely made of the marbre and menskefully planede,
  • 51 And the bordure enbelicit with bryȝt golde lettres.
  • 52 Bot roynyshe were the resones that ther on row stoden
  • 53 Fulle verray were the vigures--ther auisyde hom mony--
  • 54 Bot alle muset hit to mouthe and quat hit mene shulde.
  • 55 Mony clerke in that clos with crownes ful brode
  • 56 Ther besiet hom aboute noȝt to brynge hom in wordes
  • 57 Quen tithynges token to the ton of the toumbe wonder,
  • 58 Mony hundrid hende men highide thider sone:
  • 59 Burgeys boghit therto bedels ande othire,
  • 60 And mony a mestersmon of maners dyuerse
  • 61 Laddes laften hor werke and lepen thiderwardes
  • 62 Ronnen radly in route with ryngande noyce:
  • 63 Ther commen thider of alle kynnes so kenely mony
  • 64 That as alle the worlde were thider walon within a hondequile
  • 65 Quen the maire with his meynye that meruaile aspied.
  • 66 By assent of the sextene the sayntuare thai kepten,
  • 67 Bede vnlouke the lidde and lay hit byside
  • 68 Thai wolde loke on that lome quat lengyd withinne.
  • 69 Wyȝt werkemen with that wenten thertille
  • 70 Putten prises therto, pinchid onevnder
  • 71 Kaghten by the corners with crowes of yrne,
  • 72 And were the lydde neuer so large thai laide hit by sone.
  • 73 Bot then wos wonder to wale on wehes that stoden,
  • 74 That myȝt not come to toknowe a quontyse strange
  • 75 So was the glode within gay al with golde payntyde,
  • 76 And a blisfulle body opon the bothum lyggid,
  • 77 Araide on a riche wise in rialle wedes.
  • 78 Al with glisnande golde his gowne wos hemmyd
  • 79 With mony a precious perle picchit theron
  • 80 And a gurdille of golde bigripide his mydelle,
  • 81 A meche mantel on lofte with menyuer furrit
  • 82 The clothe of camelyn ful clene with cumly bordures,
  • 83 And on his coyfe wos kest a coron ful riche
  • 84 And a semely septure sett in his honde.
  • 85 Als wemles were his wedes withouten any tecche
  • 86 Other of moulynge other of motes othir moghtfreten.
  • 87 And als bryȝt of hor blee in blysnande hewes
  • 88 As thai hade ȝepely in that ȝorde bene ȝisturday shapen.
  • 89 And als freshe hym the face and the fleshe nakyde
  • 90 Bi his eres and bi his hondes that openly shewid
  • 91 With ronke rode as the rose and two rede lippes
  • 92 as he in sounde sodanly were slippide opon slepe.
  • 93 Ther was spedeles space to spyr vschon other
  • 94 Quat body hit myȝt be that buried wos ther,
  • 95 How longe had he ther layne his lere so vnchaungit,
  • 96 And al his wede vnwemmyd thus ylka weghe askyd.
  • 97 "Hit myȝt not be bot suche a mon in mynde stode longe.
  • 98 He has ben kynge of this kithe as couthely hit semes,
  • 99 he lyes doluen thus depe hit is a derfe wonder."
  • 100 Bot summe segge couthe say that he hym sene hade
  • 101 Bot that ilke note wos noght, for nourne none couthe
  • 102 Nother by title ne token ne by tale nother
  • 103 That wos breuyt in brut ne in boke notyde
  • 104 That euer mynnyd suche a mon, more ne lasse.
  • 105 The bodeworde to the byschop was broght on a quile
  • 106 Of that buriede body al the bolde wonder
  • 107 the primate with his prelacie was partyd fro home:
  • 108 In Esex was ser Erkenwolde an abbay to visite.
  • 109 Tulkes tolden hym the tale and the troubulle in the pepul,
  • 110 And suche a cry aboute a cors crakit euermore,
  • 111 The bischop sende hit to blynne by bedels and lettres
  • 112 Ande buskyd thiderwarde bytyme on his blonke after.
  • 113 By that he come to the kyrke kydde of saynt paule
  • 114 Mony hym metten on that meere the meruayle to telle.
  • 115 He passyd into his palais and pes he comaundit,
  • 116 And deuoydit fro the douthe and ditte the durre after.
  • 117 The derke nyȝt ouerdrofe and daybelle ronge
  • 118 And ser Erkenwolde was vp in the vghten ere then,
  • 119 That welneghe al the nyȝt hade naityd his houres
  • 120 To biseche his Souerayn of his swete grace,
  • 121 To vouchesafe to reuele hym hit by avision or elles,
  • 122 "Thaghe i be vnworthi," al wepande he sayde,
  • 123 Thurghe thi deere debonerte digne hit, my Lorde,
  • 124 In confirmynge thi cristen faithe fulsen me to kenne,
  • 125 The mysterie of this meruaile that men opon wondres."
  • 126 And so longe he grette after grace that he graunte hade
  • 127 An ansuare of the Holy Goste and afterwarde hit dawid,
  • 128 Mynsterdores were makyd opon quen matens were songen
  • 129 The byschop hym shope solemply to synge the heghe masse:
  • 130 The prelate in pontificals was prestly atyride.
  • 131 Manerly with his ministres the masse he begynnes
  • 132 Of "Spiritus Domini" for his spede on sutile wise
  • 133 With queme questis of the quere with ful quaynt notes.
  • 134 Mony a gay grete lorde was gedrid to herken hit
  • 135 As the rekenest of the reame repairen thider ofte,
  • 136 Tille cessyd was the seruice and sayde the later ende,
  • 137 Then heldyt fro the autere alle the heghe gynge.
  • 138 The prelate passide on the playn--ther plied to hym lordes--
  • 139 As riche reuestid as he was he rayked to the toumbe.
  • 140 Men vnclosid hym the cloyster with clustrede keies,
  • 141 Bot pyne wos withthe grete prece that passyd hym after.
  • 142 The byschop come to the burynes him barones besyde,
  • 143 The maire with mony maȝti men and macers before hym.
  • 144 The dene of the dere place deuysit al on fyrst:
  • 145 The fyndynge of that ferly with fynger he mynte.
  • 146 "Lo lordes," quoth that lede, "suche a lyche here is,
  • 147 Has layn loken here on loghe how longe is vnknawen.
  • 148 And ȝet his colour and his clothe has caȝt no defaute,
  • 149 Ne his lire ne the lome that he is layde inne.
  • 150 Ther is no lede opon lyfe of so longe age,
  • 151 That may mene in his mynde that suche a mon regnyd,
  • 152 Ne nother his nome ne his note nourne of one speche,
  • 153 Quether mony porer in this place is putte into graue.
  • 154 That merkid is in oure martilage his mynde for euer.
  • 155 And we haue oure librarie laitid thes longe seuen dayes,
  • 156 Bot one cronicle of this kynge con we neuer fynde.
  • 157 He has non layne here so longe, to loke hit by kynde,
  • 158 To malte so out of memorie bot meruayle hit were."
  • 159 "Thou says sothe," quoth the segge that sacrid was byschop,
  • 160 "Hit is meruaile to men that mountes to litelle
  • 161 Towarde the prouidens of the Prince that paradis weldes,
  • 162 Quen hym luste to vnlouke the leste of his myȝtes.
  • 163 Bot quen matyd is monnes myȝt and his mynde passyde,
  • 164 And al his resons are torent and redeles he stondes,
  • 165 Then lettes hit hym ful litelle to louse wyt a fynger,
  • 166 That alle the hondes vnder heuen halde myȝt neuer.
  • 167 There as creatures crafte of counselle oute swarues,
  • 168 The comforthe of the creatore byhoues the creature take.
  • 169 And so do we now oure dede, deuyne we no fyrre
  • 170 To seche the sothe at oureselfe ȝe se ther no bote.
  • 171 Bot glew we alle opon godde and his grace aske,
  • 172 That careles is of counselle vs comforthe to sende,
  • 173 Anande that in fastynge of ȝour faithe and of fyne bileue,
  • 174 I shal auay ȝow so verrayly of vertues his,
  • 175 That ȝe may leue vpon longe that he is Lord myȝty,
  • 176 And fayne ȝour talent to fulfille if ȝe hym frende leues."
  • 177 Then he turnes to the toumbe and talkes to the corce,
  • 178 Lyftande vp his eghelyddes, he loused suche wordes:
  • 179 "Now lykhame that thus lies, layne thou no lenger,
  • 180 Sythen Jhesus has iuggit today his ioy to be schewyde.
  • 181 Be thou bone to his bode, I bydde in his behalue,
  • 182 As he was bende on a beme quen he his blode schedde.
  • 183 As thou hit wost wyterly and we hit wele leuen,
  • 184 Ansuare here to my sawe, councele no trouthe,
  • 185 Sithen we wot not qwo thou art witere vs thiselwen:
  • 186 In worlde quat weghe thou was, and quy thow thus ligges,
  • 187 How longe thou has layne here, and quat laghe thou vsyt,
  • 188 Quether art thou ioyned to ioy other iuggid to pyne."
  • 189 Quen the segge hade thus sayde, and syked therafter,
  • 190 The bryȝt body in the burynes braythed a litelle.
  • 191 And with a drery dreme, he dryues owte wordes voice
  • 192 Thurghe sum lyfly goste lant of Hym that al redes.
  • 193 "Bisshop," quoth this ilke body, "thi bode is me dere.
  • 194 I may not bot boghe to thi bone for bothe myn eghen.
  • 195 The name that thou neuenyd has and nournet me after,
  • 196 Al heuen and helle heldes to and erthe bitwene.
  • 197 Fyrst to say the the sothe quo myselfe were:
  • 198 One the vnhapnest hathel that euer on erthe ȝode.
  • 199 Neuer kynge, ne cayser, ne ȝet no knyȝt nothyre,
  • 200 Bot a lede of the laghe that then this londe vsit,
  • 201 I was committid and made a maystermon here,
  • 202 To sytte vpon sayd causes this cite I ȝemyd
  • 203 Vnder a prince of parage of paynymes laghe
  • 204 (And vche segge that him sewide the same faythe trowid).
  • 205 The lengthe of my lyinge here, that is a lappid date,
  • 206 Hit to muthe to any mon to make of a nombre.
  • 207 After that Brutus this burghe had buggid on fyrste,
  • 208 Noȝt bot aght hundred ȝere ther aghtene wontyd,
  • 209 Before that kynned ȝour Criste--by Cristen acounte--
  • 210 Thre hundred ȝere and thritty mo and ȝet threnen aght.
  • 211 I was on eire of an oyer in the new Troie,
  • 212 In the regne of the riche kynge that rewlit vs then,
  • 213 The bolde Breton ser Belyn--ser Berynge was his brothire--
  • 214 Mony one was the busmare boden hom bitwene,
  • 215 For hor wrakeful were quil hor wrathe lastyd.
  • 216 Then was I iuge here enioynyd in gentil lawe."
  • 217 Quil he in spelunke thus spake, ther sprange in the pepulle
  • 218 In al this worlde no worde ne wakenyd no noice,
  • 219 Bot al as stille as the ston stoden and listonde,
  • 220 With meche wonder forwrast and wepid ful mony.
  • 221 The bisshop biddes that body biknowe the cause,
  • 222 "Sithen thou was kidde for no kynge, quy thou the cron weres,
  • 223 Quy haldes thou so heghe in honde the septre,
  • 224 And hades no londe of lege men ne life ne lym aghtes."
  • 225 "Dere ser," quoth the dede body, "deuyse the, I thenke,
  • 226 Al was hit neuer my wille that wroght thus hit were.
  • 227 I wos deputate and domesmon vnder a duke noble,
  • 228 And in my power this place was putte altogeder.
  • 229 I iustifiet this ioly toun on gentil wise,
  • 230 And euer in fourme of gode faithe more then fourty wynter.
  • 231 The folke was felonse, and fals, and frowarde to reule.
  • 232 I hent harmes ful ofte to holde hom to riȝt,
  • 233 Bot for wothe, ne wele, ne wrathe, ne drede,
  • 234 Ne for maystrie, ne for mede, ne for no mounes aghe,
  • 235 I remewit neuer fro the riȝt, by reson myn awen,
  • 236 For to dresse a wrange dome no day of my lyue.
  • 237 Declynet neuer my consciens for couetise on erthe
  • 238 In no gynful iugement no iapes to make.
  • 239 Were a renke neuer so riche, for reuerens sake
  • 240 Ne for no monnes manas, ne meschefe, ne routhe,
  • 241 Non gete me fro the heghe gate to glent out of ryȝt.
  • 242 Als ferforthe as my faithe, confourmyd my hert.
  • 243 Thaghe had bene my fader bone, I bede hym no wranges,
  • 244 Ne fals fauour to my fader, thaghe felle hym be hongyt.
  • 245 And for I was ryȝtwis, and reken, and redy of the laghe,
  • 246 Quen I deghed, for dul denyed alle Troye.
  • 247 Alle menyd my dethe, the more and the lasse,
  • 248 And thus to bounty my body, thai buriet in golde,
  • 249 Cladden me, for the curtest that courte couthe then holde,
  • 250 In mantel for the mekest and monlokest on benche,
  • 251 Gurden me for gouernance the graythist of Troie,
  • 252 Furrid me for the fynest of faithe ther withinne.
  • 253 For the honour of myn honeste of heghest enprise,
  • 254 Thai coronyd me the kidde kynge of kene iustises,
  • 255 That euer was tronyd in Troye other trowid euer shulde.
  • 256 And for I rewardid euer riȝt, thai raght me the septre."
  • 257 The bisshop baythes hym ȝet, with bale at his hert,
  • 258 Thaghe men menskid him so, how hit myȝt worthe
  • 259 that his clothes were so clene. "In cloutes, me thynkes,
  • 260 Hom burde haue rotid and bene rent in rattes longe sythen.
  • 261 Thi body may be enbawmyd, hit bashis me noght
  • 262 That hit thar ryne ne rote ne no ronke wormes.
  • 263 Bot thi coloure, ne thi clothe I know in no wise
  • 264 How hit myȝt lye by monnes lore and last so longe."
  • 265 "Nay bisshop," quoth that body, "Enbawmyd wos I neuer,
  • 266 Ne no monnes counselle my clothe has kepyd vnwemmyd;
  • 267 Bot the riche Kynge of reson that riȝt euer alowes
  • 268 and loues al the lawes lely that longen to trouthe,
  • 269 and moste He menskes men for mynnynge of riȝtes.
  • 270 Then for al the meritorie medes that men on molde vsen,
  • 271 And if renkes for riȝt thus me arayed has,
  • 272 He has lant me to last that loues ryȝt best."
  • 273 "ȝea bot say thou of thi saule," then sayd the bisshop,
  • 274 "Quere is ho stablid and stadde, if thou so streȝt wroghtes.
  • 275 He that rewardes vche a renke as he has riȝt seruyd,
  • 276 Myȝt euel forgo the to gyfe of His grace summe brawnche.
  • 277 For as He says in His sothe psalmyde writtes,
  • 278 'The skilfulle and the vnskathely skelton ay to Me.'
  • 279 Forthi say me of thi soule in sele quere ho wonnes,
  • 280 And of the riche restorment that raȝt hyr oure Lorde."
  • 281 Then hummyd he that ther lay, and his hedde waggyd,
  • 282 And gefe a gronynge ful grete and to Godde sayde,
  • 283 "Maȝty Maker of men, thi myghtes are grete,
  • 284 How myȝt Thi mercy to me amounte any tyme?
  • 285 Nas I a paynym vnpreste that neuer thi plite knewe,
  • 286 Ne the mesure of Thi mercy ne Thi mecul vertue,
  • 287 Bot ay a freke faitheles that faylid thi laghes,
  • 288 That euer Thou, Lord, wos louyd in allas the harde stoundes?
  • 289 I was non of the nombre that Thou with noy boghtes
  • 290 With the blode of Thi body vpon the blo rode
  • 291 Quen Thou herghedes hellehole and hentes hom theroute,
  • 292 The loffynge oute of limbo, Thou laftes me ther!
  • 293 And ther sittes my soule that se may no fyrre,
  • 294 Dwynande in the derke dethe that dyȝt vs oure fader
  • 295 Adam, oure alder, that ete of that appulle
  • 296 That mony a plyȝtles pepul has poysned for euer.
  • 297 ȝe were entouchid with his teche and toke in the glette,
  • 298 Bot mendyd with a medecyn, ȝe are made for to lyuye.
  • 299 That is fulloght in fonte with faitheful bileue
  • 300 And that han we myste. Alle merciles myselfe and my soule
  • 301 Quat wan we with oure weledede that wroghtyn ay riȝt,
  • 302 Quen we are dampnyd dulfully into the depe lake,
  • 303 And exiled fro that soper so that solempne fest,
  • 304 Ther richely hit arne refetyd that after right hungrid.e
  • 305 My soule may sitte ther in sorow and sike ful colde,
  • 306 Dymly in that derke dethe ther dawes neuer morowen,
  • 307 Hungrie inwith hellehole and herken after meeles,
  • 308 Longe er ho that soper se other segge hyr to lathe."
  • 309 Thus dulfully this dede body deuisyt hit sorowe,
  • 310 That alle wepyd for woo the wordes that herden,
  • 311 And the bysshop balefully bere don his eghen,
  • 312 What hade no space to speke, so spakly he ȝoskyd
  • 313 Til he toke hym a tome and to the toumbe lokyd
  • 314 To the liche ther hit lay with lauande teres.
  • 315 "Oure Lord lene," quoth that lede, "that thou lyfe hades
  • 316 by Goddes leue, as longe as I myȝt lacche water,
  • 317 and cast vpon thi faire cors, and carpe thes wordes:
  • 318 "I folwe the in the Fader nome, and his fre Childes,
  • 319 and of the gracious Holy Goste, and not one grue lenger.
  • 320 Then thof thou droppyd doun dede hit daungerde me lasse."
  • 321 With that worde that he warpyd of his wete eghen,
  • 322 The teres trillyd adon, and on the toumbe lighten,
  • 323 And one felle on his face, and the freke syked,
  • 324 Then sayd he with a sadde soun: "Oure Sauyoure be louyd!
  • 325 Now herid be Thou, heghe God, and thi hende Moder!
  • 326 And blissid be that blisful houre that Ho The bere in,
  • 327 And also be thou, bysshop, the bote of my sorowe,
  • 328 And the relefe of the lodely lures that my soule has leuyd in.
  • 329 For the wordes that thou werpe and the water that thou sheddes,
  • 330 The bryȝt bourne of thin eghen my bapteme is worthyn.
  • 331 The fyrst slent that on me slode slekkyd al my tene.
  • 332 Ryȝt now to soper my soule is sette at the table.
  • 333 For with the wordes and the water that weshe vs of payne,
  • 334 Liȝtly lasshit ther a leme loghe in the abyme
  • 335 that spakly sprent my spyrit with vnsparid murthe
  • 336 into the cenacle solemply ther soupen alle trew.
  • 337 And ther a marcialle hyr mette with menske aldergrattest,
  • 338 And with reuerence a rowme He raȝt hyr for euer.
  • 339 I heere therof, my heghe God, and also the, bysshop,
  • 340 Fro bale has broȝt vs to blis blessid thou worthe."
  • 341 Wyt this cessyd his sowne; sayd he no more, words
  • 342 Bot sodenly his swete chere swyndid and faylide,
  • 343 And alle the blee of his body wos blakke as the moldes,
  • 344 As roten as the rottok that rises in powdere.
  • 345 For as sone as the soule was sesyd in blisse,
  • 346 Corrupt was that other craft that couert the bones.
  • 347 For the aylastande life that lethe shalle neuer,
  • 348 Deuoydes vche a vayneglorie that vayles so litelle.
  • 349 Then wos louynge oure Lorde with loves vphalden,
  • 350 meche mournynge and myrthe was mellyd togeder.
  • 351 Thai passyd forthe in procession and alle the pepulle folowid,
  • 352 and alle the belles in the burghe beryd at ones.
5 ar
1 are
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