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From The Second Nun's Prologue, lines 22-28:
The purpose of the Second Nun's tale
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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Second Nun's Prologue
lines 29-84: A hymn to Holy Mary


Invocacio ad Mariam

       And thow that flour of virgines art alle,
30Of whom that Bernard list so wel to write,
To thee at my bigynnyng first I calle,
Thou confort of us wrecches, do me endite
Thy maydens deeth, that wan thurgh hir merite
The eterneel lyf, and of the feend victorie,
35As man may after reden in hir storie.
       And thou that art the flower of virgins all
30Of whom Saint Bernard loved so well to write,
To thee at my beginning do I call;
Thou comfort of us wretches, help me indite
Thy virgin's death, who won through her merit
The eternal life, and from the devil such glory
35As men may read hereafter in her story.

Thow mayde and mooder, doghter of thy sone,
Thow welle of mercy, synful soules cure,
In whom that God for bountee chees to wone,
Thow humble and heigh, over every creature
40Thow nobledest so ferforth oure nature,
That no desdeyn the Makere hadde of kynde,
His sone in blood and flessh to clothe and wynde,
Thou maid and mother, daughter of thy son,
Thou well of ruth, of sinful souls the cure,
In whom, for goodness, God was embryon,
Thou humble one, high over each creature,
40Thou did'st ennoble so far our nature
That no disdain God had of humankind
His son in blood and flesh to clothe and wind.

Withinne the cloistre blisful of thy sydis
Took mannes shape the eterneel love and pees,
45That of the tryne compas lord and gyde is,
Whom erthe and see and hevene out of relees
Ay heryen; and thou, Virgine wemmelees,
Baar of thy body - and dweltest mayden pure -
The Creatour of every creature.
Within the blessed cloister of thy sides
Took human shape eternal love and peace
45Who all the threefold world as sovereign guides,
Whom earth and sea and heaven, without cease,
Do praise; and thou, O stainless maid, increase
Bore of thy body - and wert kept a maid -
The mighty God who every creature made.

50Assembled is in thee magnificence
With mercy, goodnesse, and with swich pitee
That thou, that art the sonne of excellence,
Nat oonly helpest hem that preyen thee,
But often tyme, of thy benygnytee,
55Ful frely, er that men thyn help biseche,
Thou goost biforn, and art hir lyves leche.
50Assembled is in thee magnificence,
With mercy, goodness, and with such pity
That thou, who art the sun of excellence,
Not only keepest those that pay to thee,
But oftentimes, of thy benignity,
55Freely, or ever men thy help beseech,
Thou goest before and art their spirits' leech.

Now help, thow meeke and blisful faire mayde,
Me, flemed wrecche in this desert of galle;
Thynk on the womman Cananee, that sayde
60That whelpes eten somme of the crommes alle,
That from hir lordes table been yfalle,
And though that I, unworthy sone of Eve,
By synful, yet accepte my bileve.
Now help, thou meek and blessed, thou fair maid,
Me, banished wretch, in wilderness of gall;
Think how the Canaanitish woman said
60That even dogs may eat of the crumbs all
Which from the master's laden table fall;
And though I, now, unworthy son of Eve,
Am sinful, yet accept me, who believe.

And for that feith is deed withouten werkis,
65So for to werken yif me wit and space,
That I be quit fro thennes that moost derk is.
O thou, that art so fair and ful of grace,
Be myn advocat in that heighe place
Theras withouten ende is songe 'Osanne,'
70Thow Cristes mooder, doghter deere of Anne!
And since all faith is dead divorced from works,
65That I may do the right, O give me space
To free me from that darkness of deep murks!
O thou, who art so fair and full of grace,
Be thou my advocate in that high place
Where without ever end is sung 'Hosanna,'
70Thou, mother of Christ and daughter of Saint Anna!

And of thy light my soule in prison lighte,
That troubled is by the contagioun
Of my body, and also by the wighte
Of erthely lust and fals affeccioun,
75O havene of refut, O salvacioune
Of hem that been in sorwe and in distresse,
Now help, for to my werk I wol me dresse.
And of thy light my soul illuminate,
That troubled is by the contagion sown
Here in my body, also by the weight
Of earthly lust and false loves I have known;
75O haven of refuge, O salvation shown
To those that are in sorrow and distress,
Now help, for to my work I'll me address.

Yet preye I yow that reden that I write,
Foryeve me, that I do no diligence
80This ilke storie subtilly to endite,
For bothe have I the wordes and sentence
Of hym that at the seintes reverence
The storie wroot, and folwe hir legende.
And pray yow, that ye wole my werk amende.
Yet pray I all who read what I do write,
Forgive me that I do no diligence
80This same story carefully to write;
For I have taken both the words and sense
From him who wrote the tale in reverence
Of this one saint; I follow her legend
And pray you that you will my work amend.





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From The Second Nun's Tale, lines 85-119:
The meaning of the name 'Cecilia'
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