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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Prioress's Tale
lines 1-35: A hymn to Mary and Jesus


       "O lord oure lord, thy name how merveillous
Is in this large world ysprad," quod she
"For noght oonly thy laude precious
Parfourned is by men of dignitee,
5But by the mouth of children thy bountee
Parfourned is, for on the brest soukynge
Somtyme shewen they thyn heriynge.
       O Lord, Our Lord, your name how marvelous
Is spread through all this mighty world," said she;
"For not alone your praise so glorious
Is given by men of worth and dignity,
5But from the mouths of children thy bounty
Is hymned, yea, even sucklings at the breast
Do sometimes thy laudation manifest.

Wherfore in laude, as I best kan or may,
Of thee, and of the whyte lylye flour
10Which that the bar, and is a mayde alway,
To telle a storie I wol do my labour;
Nat that I may encressen hir honour,
For she hirself is honour, and the roote
Of bountee, next hir sone, and soules boote.
"Wherefore in praise, as best I can or may,
Of you and of that pure white Lily-flower
10Who bore you, and is yet a maid alway,
I tell a tale as best is in my power,
Not that I may increase her heavenly dower,
For she herself is honour and the one
From whom spring wealth and goodness, next her son.

15 O mooder Mayde! O mayde Mooder free!
O bussh unbrent, brennynge in Moyses sighte,
That ravysedest doun fro the Deitee
Thurgh thyn humblesse, the Goost that in th'alighte,
Of whos vertu, whan he thyn herte lighte,
20Conceyved was the Fadres sapience,
Help me to telle it in thy reverence.
15O Mother-Maid! O Maiden-Mother free!
O bush unburnt, burning in Moses' sight,
Who ravished so the Soul of Deity,
With thy meekness, the Spirit of the Light,
That his virtue, which was thy soul's delight,
20Conceived in thee the father's wise essence,
Help me to speak now with all reverence!

Lady, thy bountee, thy magnificence,
Thy vertu, and thy grete humylitee,
Ther may no tonge expresse in no science,
25For somtyme, lady, er men praye to thee,
Thou goost biforn of thy benyngnytee
And getest us the lyght, thurgh thy preyere,
To gyden us unto thy Sone so deere.
Lady, thy goodness and thy generous grace.
Thy virtue and thy great humility -
No tongue may say, no pen may fully trace;
25For sometimes, lady, before men pray to thee.
Thou goest before, of thy benignity,
And givest us the true light, by thy prayer,
To guide us all unto your son so dear.

My konnyng is so wayk, O blisful Queene,
30For to declare thy grete worthynesse,
That I ne may the weighte nat susteene,
But as a child of twelf monthe oold, or lesse,
That kan unnethes any word expresse,
Right so fare I; and therfore I yow preye,
35Gydeth my song that I shal of yow seye."
I cannot bear the burden, blessed Queen,
30Of fitly praising all thy worthiness,
My wisdom and my knowledge are too mean;
But as a child of twelve months old, or less,
That scarcely any word can well express,
So fare I now, and therefore do I pray,
35Guide thou that song of you which I shall say!'




Next Next:
From The Prioress's Tale, lines 36-49:
A Jewish quarter and a Christian school
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