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An Anglo-Norman Reader

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Jane Bliss

An Anglo-Norman Miscellany

An Anglo-Norman Miscellany

Texte intégral

  • 1 As is the case with Dean’s catalogue, the collection (actually in Middle and not Old English) repre (...)

1The next few chapters represent some of Dean’s sections 5 (Satirical, Social, and Moral), 7 (Grammar and Glosses), and 9 (Medicine); they cannot be lumped into a single genre or even group of genres. The closest would be to describe it as a collection of moral or social pieces, mostly non-fiction (although the satirical poem below is clearly as fictional as any romance). My title here is adapted from the EETS volume, An Old English Miscellany, ed. Morris, whose contents are almost as varied as in this section of the present book.1

  • 2 I have transcribed them from a scan sent me by the British Library, of BL MS Harley 913, f. 15v (th (...)
  • 3 They do not conform to conventional patterns of medieval English alliterative verse, but may be inf (...)
  • 4 A third is The Walling of New Ross, more substantial, and comparatively well known.
  • 5 Hue de Rotelande represents Wales.
  • 6 They could be listed among Lyrics; it is noted in my introduction to the Fabliaux, above, that Dean (...)

2Before presenting the main chapters, I add here a pair of very short poems from the Kildare Manuscript.2 Interesting because alliterative,3 they are two of only three Anglo-Norman texts in this MS.4 Like the romance of Fergus (for Scotland), they are evidence that the French of England was also the French of other countries in the British Isles.5 These short meditations are listed by Dean among Proverbs (her number 271); they cannot easily be classified.6 The verses are written on the MS page as if prose; I have copied them thus, but my translation shows them as (blank) verse.

Text

[15v] (1)
Folie fet qe en force sa fie, fortune fet
force failire. Fiaux funt fort folie,
fere en fauelons flatire. Fere force
fest fiaux fuir, faux fiers fount feble
fameler. Fausyne fest feble fremir,
feie ferme fra fausyn fundre.

  • 7 This word has been inserted above the line. Letters in italic type denote the expansion of abbrevia (...)

(2) ‘Proverbia comitis desmonie’
Soule su simple e saunz solas, seignury
me somount soiorner; Si suppris sei
de moune solas, sages se deit soul solacer.
Soule ne solai soiorner, ne solein estre
de petit solas; Souereyn se est de se sola
cer, qe se7 seut soule e saunz solas.

Translation

(1)
He is foolish who puts his faith in force,
for Fortune makes force fail.
Falsehoods make folly strong,
and make men to be flattered by fair speaking.
Fierce force makes deceivers flee,
false forces make the feeble man famish.
Deceit makes the feeble man tremble,
but firm faith will make falsehood to founder.

  • 8 The first earl, d. 1356, may have been the author of one or both poems; if so, this one refers to h (...)

(2) ‘The earl of Desmond’s proverb’8
I am solitary, single, and without solace.
My rank obliges me to remain;
if I were surprised by my comfort,
it were wisdom to bring comfort to oneself alone.
I am not accustomed to staying alone,
nor to being alone with small comfort;
it is most important to bring comfort to oneself,
whoever knows himself solitary and without solace.

Notes

1 As is the case with Dean’s catalogue, the collection (actually in Middle and not Old English) represents, in little, a larger proportion of religious pieces compared with others. Those others include a Bestiary, a Description of the Shires, and Proverbs of Alfred.

2 I have transcribed them from a scan sent me by the British Library, of BL MS Harley 913, f. 15v (they are edited in The Kildare Manuscript, ed. Turville-Petre, pp. 21–2, which I have consulted but not copied).

3 They do not conform to conventional patterns of medieval English alliterative verse, but may be influenced by it.

4 A third is The Walling of New Ross, more substantial, and comparatively well known.

5 Hue de Rotelande represents Wales.

6 They could be listed among Lyrics; it is noted in my introduction to the Fabliaux, above, that Dean’s categories can sometimes (unsurprisingly) be fluid.

7 This word has been inserted above the line. Letters in italic type denote the expansion of abbreviated forms.

8 The first earl, d. 1356, may have been the author of one or both poems; if so, this one refers to his imprisonment in 1331 (p. 21, & Introduction p. xxxv, of the edition).

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