Monday, 21 June 2010

Top lines from Chaucer No. 3

(In anticipation of George Osborne's budget)

To yow, my purse, and to noon other wight
Complayne I, for ye be my lady dere!
I am so sory, now that ye been lyght;
For certes, but ye make me hevy chere,
Me were as lief be layd upon my bere;
For which unto your mercy thus I crye:
Beth hevy ageyn, or elles moot I dye!

(To you, my purse, and to no one else
Do I complain, for you are my true love.
I am so sorry that there is no weight in you
For you certainly give me such heavy grief
That I might as well be laid on my bier:
And so I fall on your mercy crying
Be heavy again, or else I must die!)

Now voucheth sauf this day, or yt be nyght,
That I of yow the blisful soun may here,
Or see your colour lyk the sonne bryght,
That of yelownesse hadde never pere.
Ye be my lyf, ye be myn hertes stere,
Quene of comfort and of good companye:
Beth hevy ageyn, or elles moot I dye!

(Now promise today, before nightfall,
That I may hear your wonderful sound
Or behold your colour, bright as the sun,
Of unequalled yellowness.
You are my life, you are the rudder of my heart,
Queen of ease and of good company:
Be heavy again, or else I must die!)

Now purse, that ben to me my lyves lyght
And saveour, as doun in the world here,
Out of this toune helpe me thurgh your myght,
Syn that ye wole nat ben my tresorere;
For I am shave as nye as any frere.
But yet I pray unto your curtesye:
Beth hevy ageyn, or elles moot I dye!

(Now, purse, that are to me my life's light
And saviour down in this world here,
Help me out of it through your power
If you prefer not to be my treasurer,
For I am as close shaven (i.e. skint) as any monk.
All the same I pray you , in your kindness
Be heavy again, or else I must die!)


moreidlethoughts said...

Oh! wellst nowth I this grieff. Forsooth, tis hardst of myn troubles.

[And my mid-english spellyng is now soomwat wonky!]

Rog said...

This isn't Chaucerian it's Wolverhamtonian yowm tillen moi !

patroclus said...

Liam Byrne might have clawed back some points if he'd quoted that first verse in his infamous letter to David Laws. (Not that David Laws has to worry about it now.)

Vicus Scurra said...

Yes, very lyrical, but I am disappointed by the materialistic sentiments.

Of course, Miss Turner was my English teacher, and so we did "Six Modern Poets" instead of Chaucer. They were crap.

Dave said...

I'm surprised Vicus. I would have thought that Chaucer was still a modern poet in your schooldays.

I, Like The View said...

this explains a lot

thank you

(lovely purses!)

moreidlethoughts said...

Just thought you might like this
Although it's nowt t'do wi' Chaucer!

Sarah said...

I think we may all be laying on our biers after today's doom and gloom....

Christopher said...

MIT: Gramercy, sote dame.

(And thanks for the link, which I didn't know. I've heard of the principle of weed soup fertiliser, tho' I've never used it. But I have drunk nettle soup, richer in iron than taste.)

Rog: When I was five I used to play with a little girl called Anne, who came from Wolverhampton. We used to see who could pee the most on the woite. You will understand this.

Patroclus: A penetrating political acumen. I don't know where you get it from: maybe from -

- Vicus, whose schooling seems to have strong affinities with the nettle fertiliser mentioned above: useless basic ingredient valuable only in encouraging later growth.

Dave: I understand it's sometimes felt in some university English faculties that anything after Chaucer is a bit suspect, may smack too much of novelty and should be treated with caution. Maybe that Miss Turner (who later married Jno. Trellis of Colwyn Bay, did you know?) merely went to training college.

Jax: It's amazing what you can find, isn't it? You've only to Google-image 'empty purse' and hundreds of them appear. Clearly it's a widespread phenomenon. I know it is here.

Sah: Did I understand you to say you were laying on the beer? Fantastic. I'll be round. Can I bring the gang round? Would you like us to dress up as anything?

Spadoman said...

Chauser always confused me. I kept getting this image os a suacer in my mind. I barely passed what we called English Literature in high school. I thionk we had to read Dickens. He got paid by the word and his books were long and boring, yet I remember the first words of Tale of Two Cities. "It was the best of times....and so on..."
So, maybe it was okay that I passed and graduated, (by the good graces of that English Lit prof I might add)
Now, quote and decypher some racy Shakespeare or something next.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Wot a pity mi Chaucerian comment has bin binned. . ?

An. . . ol it sed woz ’bout s-o-d an‘ stuff an‘ such b’anal’ity. . .

Christopher said...

Anonymous: I'm sorry. I deleted your first comment in a fit of annoyance that our beautiful language that I love so much should be so defaced, forgetting for the moment that one of its many beauties is its limitless flexibility. Your first comment read:

. . Aint it a strate forwad luv rime to a one who ee knows he can't av. . . the poor pathetic whining Sod!. . . Wot's it 2 do wit Osbourne's 22nd of June budget crap anyways?

(Lots Of Chaucerian laughs)

Chaucer wrote Complaynte to his purse right at the end of his life, in 1399 or 1400. There is a fourth mini-verse, entitled Envoy, in which he addresses his complaint to Henry Bolingbroke, to whom Chaucer was related by marriage, who had recently become king Henry IV having usurped his cousin Richard II. Under Richard II Chaucer held an official appointment, inspector of royal palaces or something like that, which carried a remuneration which Henry IV had omitted to ratify when he became king. The matter was put right, and Chaucer got what he wanted but died soon after.

Apologies again.

Dave said...

Chris: we haven't seen in blog-world for a few days. I trust all is well. You will regret it if you don't read my blog today.

Vicus Scurra said...

What Dave said, apart from substituting "do" for "don't".

Christopher said...

Dear friends, this is kind. Back in action now. In an effort to satisfy both your strictures I started to read every other word of Dave's post, was interrupted, and started again (or started over, if Cynthia and Spadoman and Charlene and other US worthies are reading this) having forgotten in the meantime whether I was supposed to read the odd or the even words, with the result that - but I can see I'm boring you.

Anonymous said...



(Canterbury is soooo far away...Lol)

Christopher said...

Hi, Anon. Yes, I reckon you're right. We may never get there. Mind you, to those who live there I daresay Canterbury is very central indeed.