Sir Orfeo (lines 1-100)
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We redet` oft and findet` y-write,
And t`is clerkes wele it wite,
Layes t`at ben in harping
Ben y-founde of ferli t`ing:
Sum bet`e of wer and sum of wo,
And sum of joie and mirt`e also,
And sum of trecherie and of gile,
Of old aventours t`at fel while;
And sum of bourdes and ribaudy,
And mani t`er bet` of fairy.
Of al t`inges t`at men set`,
Mest o love, forsot`e, t`ey bet`.
In Breteyne t`is layes were wrouy`t,
First y-founde and fort` y-brouy`t,
Of aventours t`at fel bi dayes,
Wherof Bretouns maked her layes.
When kinges miy`t our y-here
Of ani mervailes t`at t`er were,
t`ai token an harp in gle and game
And maked a lay and gaf it name.
Now of t`is aventours t`at weren y-falle
Y can tel sum, ac nouy`t alle.
Ac herknet`, lordinges t`at ben trewe,
Ichil you telle of "Sir Orfewe."
Orfeo mest of ani t`ing
Lovede t`e gle of harping.
Siker was everi gode harpour
Of him to have miche honour.
Himself he lerned forto harp,
And leyd t`eron his wittes scharp;
He lerned so t`er not`ing was
A better harpour in no plas.
In al t`e warld was no man bore
t`at ones Orfeo sat bifore,
And he miy`t of his harping here,
Bot he schuld t`enche t`at he were
In on of t`e joies of Paradis,
Swiche melody in his harping is.
Orfeo was a king,
In Inglond an heiy`e lording,
A stalwort` man and hardi bo;
Large and curteys he was also.
His fader was comen of King Pluto,
And his moder of King Juno,
t`at sum time were as godes yhold
For aventours t`at t`ai dede and told.
t`is king sojournd in Traciens,
t`at was a cité of noble defens -
For Winchester was cleped t`o
Traciens, wit`outen no.
t`e king hadde a quen of priis
t`at was y-cleped Dame Heurodis,
t`e fairest levedi, for t`e nones,
t`at miy`t gon on bodi and bones,
Ful of love and godenisse;
Ac no man may telle hir fairnise.
Bifel so in t`e comessing of May
When miri and hot is t`e day,
And oway bet` winter schours,
And everi feld is ful of flours,
And blosme breme on everi bouy`
Over al wexet` miri anouy`t,
t`is ich quen, Dame Heurodis
Tok to maidens of priis,
And went in an undrentide
To play bi an orchardside,
To se t`e floures sprede and spring
And to here t`e foules sing.
t`ai sett hem doun al t`re
Under a fair ympe-tre,
And wel sone t`is fair quene
Fel on slepe opon t`e grene.
t`e maidens durst hir nouy`t awake,
Bot lete hir ligge and rest take.
So sche slepe til after none,
t`at undertide was al y-done.
Ac, as sone as sche gan awake,
Sche crid, and lot`li bere gan make;
Sche froted hir honden and hir fete,
And crached hir visage - it bled wete,
Hir riche robe hye al to-rett
And was reveyd out of hir wit.
t`e two maidens hir biside
No durst wit` hir no leng abide,
Bot ourn to t`e palays ful riy`t
And told bot`e squier and kniy`t
t`at her quen awede wold,
And bad hem go and hir at-hold.
Kniy`tes urn and levedis also,
Damisels sexti and mo.
In t`e orchard to t`e quen hye come,
And her up in her armes nome,
And brouy`t hir to bed atte last,
And held hir t`ere fine fast.
Ac ever she held in o cri
And wold up and owy.
When Orfeo herd t`at tiding
Never him nas wers for not`ing.
He come wit` kniy`tes tene
To chaumber, riy`t bifor t`e quene,