From The Canterbury Tales
. If the Middle English
seems daunting, mouseover
the unfamiliar words. This is the prologue to The Prioress' Tale
Domine Dominus noster ...
O Lord, Our Lord, thy name how marveilous
Is in this large world y-sprad (quod she),
For not only thy laude precious
Performed is by men of dignitee,
But by the mouth of children thy bountee
Performed is: for on the brest suckinge
Sometime shewen they thine heryinge.
Wherefore in laud, as I best can or may,
Of thee and of the white lily-flower
Which that thee bare, and is a maid alway,
To tell a story I wol do my labour;
Not that I may encreesen hir honour,
For she hirself is honour and the roote
Of bountee, next hir son, and soules boote.
O moder maid, O maide moder free!
O bush unbrent, brenning in Moises' sighte,
That ravisedest down fro the deitee,
Thurgh thine humbless, the Ghost that in thee alighte,
Of whose vertu, whan He thine herte lighte,
Conceived was the Fadre's Sapience--
Help me to tell it in thy reverence.
Lady, thy bountee, thy magnificence,
Thy vertu and thy greet humilitee
There may no tonge express in no science.
For sometime, lady, ere men pray to thee,
Thou gost biforn of thy benignitee
And gettest us the light, of thy prayere
To guiden us unto thy Son so dere.
My konning is so waik, O blissful Queene,
For to declare thy grete worthiness,
That I ne may the weighte not sustene;
But as a child of twelfmonth old or lesse,
That can unnethe any word expresse,
Right so fare I. And therefore, I you praye,
Guideth my song that I shall of you saye.
The Prioress' Tale