Anonymous


Erle of Tolous - Poem by Anonymous

Jhesu Cryste, yn Trynyté,
Oonly God and persons thre,
Graunt us wele to spede,
And gyf us grace so to do
That we may come thy blys unto,
On Rode as thou can blede!
Leve lordys, y schall you telle
Of a tale, some tyme befelle
Farre yn unknowthe lede:
How a lady had grete myschefe,
And how sche covyrd of hur grefe;
Y pray yow take hede!

Some tyme there was in Almayn
An Emperrour of moche mayn;
Syr Dyoclysyan he hyght;
He was a bolde man and a stowte;
All Chrystendome of hym had dowte,
So stronge he was in fyght;
He dysheryted many a man,
And falsely ther londys wan,
Wyth maystry and wyth myght,
Tyll hyt befelle upon a day,
A warre wakenyd, as y yow say,
Betwene hym and a knyght.

The Erle of Tollous, Syr Barnard,
The Emperrour wyth hym was harde,
And gretly was hys foo.
He had rafte owt of hys honde
Three hundred poundys worth be yere of londe:
Therfore hys herte was woo.
He was an hardy man and a stronge,
And sawe the Emperour dyd hym wronge,
And other men also;
He ordeyned hym for batayle
Into the Emperours londe, saun fayle;
And there he began to brenne and sloo.

Thys Emperour had a wyfe,
The fayrest oon that evyr bare lyfe,
Save Mary mekyll of myght,
And therto gode in all thynge,
Of almesdede and gode berynge,
Be day and eke be nyght;
Of hyr body sche was trewe
As evyr was lady that men knewe,
And therto moost bryght.
To the Emperour sche can say:
'My dere lorde, y you pray,
Delyvyr the Erle hys ryght.'

'Dame,' he seyde, 'let that bee;
That day schalt thou nevyr see,
Yf y may ryde on ryght,
That he schall have hys londe agayne;
Fyrste schall y breke hys brayne,
Os y am trewe knyght!
He warryth faste in my londe;
I schall be redy at hys honde
Wythyn thys fourteen nyght!'
He sente abowte everywhare,
That all men schulde make them yare
Agayne the Erle to fyght.

He let crye in every syde,
Thorow hys londe ferre and wyde,
Bothe in felde and towne,
All that myght wepon bere,
Sworde, alablast, schylde, or spere,
They schoulde be redy bowne;
The Erle on hys syde also
Wyth forty thousand and moo
Wyth spere and schylde browne.
A day of batayle there was sett;
In felde when they togedur mett,
Was crakydde many a crowne.

The Emperour had bataylys sevyn;
He spake to them wyth sterne stevyn
And sayde, so mot he thryve,
'Be ye now redy for to fyght,
Go ye and bete them downe ryght
And leveth non on lyve;
Loke that none raunsonyd bee
Nothyr for golde ne for fee,
But sle them wyth swerde and knyfe!'
For all hys boste he faylyd gyt;
The Erle manly hym mett,
Wyth strokys goode and ryfe.

They reryd batayle on every syde;
Bodely togedyr can they ryde,
Wyth schylde and many a spere;
They leyde on faste as they were wode,
Wyth swerdys and axes that were gode;
Full hedeous hyt was to here.
There were schyldys and schaftys schakydde,
Hedys thorogh helmys crakydde,
And hawberkys all totore.
The Erle hymselfe an axe drowe;
An hundred men that day he slowe,
So wyght he was yn were!

Many a stede there stekyd was;
Many a bolde baron in that place
Lay burlande yn hys own blode.
So moche blode there was spylte,
That the feld was ovyrhylte
Os hyt were a flode.
Many a wyfe may sytt and wepe,
That was wonte softe to slepe,
And now can they no gode.
Many a body and many a hevyd,
Many a doghty knyght there was levyd,
That was wylde and wode.

The Erle of Tollous wan the felde;
The Emperour stode and behelde:
Wele faste can he flee
To a castell there besyde.
Fayne he was hys hedde to hyde,
And wyth hym Erlys thre;
No moo forsothe scapyd away,
But they were slayn and takyn that day:
Hyt myght non othyr bee.
The Erle tyll nyght folowed the chace,
And sythen he thanked God of hys grace,
That syttyth in Trynyté.

There were slayne in that batayle
Syxty thousand, wythowte fayle,
On the Emperours syde;
Ther was takyn thre hundred and fyfty
Of grete lordys, sekyrly,
Wyth woundys grymly wyde;
On the Erlys syde ther were slayne
But twenty, sothely to sayne,
So boldely they can abyde!
Soche grace God hym sende
That false quarell cometh to evell ende
For oght that may betyde.

Now the Emperour ys full woo:
He hath loste men and londe also;
Sore then syghed hee;
He sware be Hym that dyed on Rode,
Mete nor drynke schulde do hym no gode,
Or he vengedde bee.
The Emperes seyde, 'Gode lorde,
Hyt ys better ye be acorde
Be oght that y can see;
Hyt ys grete parell, sothe to telle,
To be agayne the ryght quarell;
Be God, thus thynketh me!'

'Dame,' seyde the Emperoure,
'Y have a grete dyshonoure;
Therfore myn herte ys woo;
My lordys be takyn, and some dede;
Therfore carefull ys my rede:
Sorowe nye wyll me sloo.'
Then seyde Dame Beulybon:
'Syr, y rede, be Seynt John,
Of warre that ye hoo;
Ye have the wronge and he the ryght,
And that ye may see in syght,
Be thys and othyr moo.'

The Emperour was evyll payde:
Hyt was sothe the lady sayde;
Therfore hym lykyd ylle,
He wente awey and syghed sore;
Oon worde spake he no more,
But held hym wonder stylle.
Leve we now the Emperour in thoght:
Game ne gle lyked hym noght,
So gretly can he grylle!
And to the Erle turne we agayn,
That thanked God wyth all hys mayn,
That grace had sende hym tylle.

The Erle Barnard of Tollous
Had fele men chyvalrous
Takyn to hys preson;
Moche gode of them he hadde;
Y can not telle, so God me gladde,
So grete was ther raunsome!
Among them alle had he oon,
Was grettest of them everychon,
A lorde of many a towne,
Syr Trylabas of Turky
The Emperour hym lovyd, sekurly,
A man of grete renowne.

So hyt befell upon a day
The Erle and he went to play
Be a rever syde.
The Erle seyde to Trylabas,
'Telle me, syr, for Goddys grace,
Of a thyng that spryngyth wyde,
That youre Emperour hath a wyfe,
The fayrest woman that ys on lyfe,
Of hewe and eke of hyde.
Y swere by boke and by belle,
Yf sche be so feyre as men telle,
Mekyll may be hys pryde.'

Then sayde that lord anon ryght,
'Be the ordre y bere of knyght,
The sothe y schall telle the:
To seeke the worlde more and lesse,
Bothe Crystendome and hethynnesse,
Ther ys none so bryght of blee.
Whyte as snowe ys hur coloure;
Hur rudde ys radder then the rose-floure,
Yn syght who may hur see;
All men that evyr God wroght
Myght not thynke nor caste in thoght
A fayrer for to bee.'

Then seyde the Erle, 'Be Goddys grace,
Thys worde in mornyng me mas.
Thou seyest sche ys so bryght;
Thy raunsom here y the forgeve,
My helpe, my love, whyll y leve
Therto my trowthe y plyght,
So that thou wylt brynge me
Yn safegarde for to bee,
Of hur to have a syght,
An hundred pownde, wyth grete honoure,
To bye the horses and ryche armoure,
Os y am trewe knyght!'

Than answeryd Syr Trylabas,
'Yn that covenaunt in thys place
My trowthe y plyght thee;
Y schall holde thy forward gode
To brynge the, wyth mylde mode,
In syght hur for to see;
And therto wyll y kepe counsayle
And nevyr more, wythowte fayle,
Agayne yow to bee;
Y schall be trewe, be Goddys ore,
To lose myn own lyfe therfore;
Hardely tryste to mee!'

The Erle answeryd wyth wordys hende:
'Y tryste to the as to my frende,
Wythowte any stryfe;
Anon that we were buskyd yare,
On owre jurney for to fare,
For to see that wyfe;
Y swere be God and Seynt Andrewe,
Yf hyt be so y fynde the trewe,
Ryches schall be to the ryfe.'
They lettyd nothyr for wynde not wedur, 1
But forthe they wente bothe togedur,
Wythowte any stryfe.

These knyghtys nevyr stynte nor blanne,
Tyll to the cyté that they wan,
There the Emperes was ynne.
The Erle hymselfe for more drede
Cladde hym in armytes wede,
Thogh he were of ryche kynne,
For he wolde not knowen bee.
He dwellyd there dayes three
And rested hym in hys ynne.
The knyght bethoght hym, on a day,
The gode Erle to betray;
Falsely he can begynne.

Anone he wente in a rese
To chaumbur to the Emperes,
And sett hym on hys knee;
He seyde, 'Be Hym that harowed helle,
He kepe yow fro all parelle,
Yf that Hys wylle bee!'
'Madam,' he seyde, 'be Jhesus,
Y have the Erle of Tollous;
Oure moost enemye ys hee.'
'Yn what maner,' the lady can say,
'Ys he comyn, y the pray?
Anone telle thou me.'

'Madam, y was in hys preson;
He hath forgevyn me my raunsom,
Be God full of myght -
And all ys for the love of the!
The sothe ys, he longyth yow to see,
Madam, onys in syght!
And hundred pownde y have to mede,
And armour for a nobull stede;
Forsothe y have hym hyght
That he schall see yow at hys fylle,
Ryght at hys owne wylle;
Therto my trowthe y plyght.

Lady, he ys to us a foo;
Therfore y rede that we hym sloo;
He hath done us gret grylle.'
The lady seyde, 'So mut y goo,
Thy soule ys loste yf thou do so;
Thy trowthe thou schalt fulfylle,
Sythe he forgaf the thy raunsom
And lowsydd the owt of preson,
Do away thy wyckyd wylle!

To-morne when they rynge the masbelle,
Brynge hym into my chapelle,
And thynke thou on no false sleythe;
There schall he see me at hys wylle,
Thy covenaunt to fulfylle;
Y rede the holde thy trowthe!
Certys, yf thou hym begyle,
Thy soule ys in grete paryle,
Syn thou haste made hym othe;
Certys, hyt were a traytory,
For to wayte hym wyth velany;
Me thynkyth hyt were rowthe!'

The knyght to the Erle wente;
Yn herte he helde hym foule schente
For hys wyckyd thoght.
He seyde, 'Syr, so mote y the,
Tomorne thou schalt my lady see;
Therfore, dysmay the noght:
When ye here the masbelle,
Y schall hur brynge to the chapelle;
Thedur sche schall be broght.
Be the oryall syde stonde thou stylle;
Then schalt thou see hur at thy wylle,
That ys so worthyly wroght.'

The Erle sayde, 'Y holde the trewe,
And that schall the nevyr rewe,
As farre forthe as y may.'
Yn hys herte he waxe gladde:
'Fylle the wyne,' wyghtly he badde,
'Thys goyth to my pay!'
There he restyd that nyght;
On the morne he can hym dyght
Yn armytes array;
When they ronge to the masse,
To the chapell conne they passe,
To see that lady gay.

They had stonden but a whyle,
The mowntaunse of halfe a myle,
Then came that lady free;
Two erlys hur ladde;
Wondur rychely sche was cladde,
In golde and ryche perré.
Whan the Erle sawe hur in syght,
Hym thoght sche was as bryght
Os blossome on the tree;
Of all the syghtys that ever he sye,
Raysyd nevyr none hys herte so hye,
Sche was so bryght of blee!

Sche stode stylle in that place
And schewed opynly hur face
For love of that knyght.
He beheld ynly hur face;
He sware there be Goddys grace,
He sawe nevyr none so bryght.
Hur eyen were gray as any glas;
Mowthe and nose schapen was
At all maner ryght;
Fro the forhedde to the too,
Bettur schapen myght non goo,
Nor none semelyer yn syght.

Twyes sche turnyd hur abowte
Betwene the Erlys that were stowte,
For the Erle schulde hur see.
When sche spake wyth mylde stevyn,
Sche semyd an aungell of hevyn,
So feyre sche was of blee!
Hur syde longe, hur myddyll small;
Schouldurs, armes therwythall,
Fayrer myght non bee;
Hur hondys whyte as whallys bonne,
Wyth fyngurs longe and ryngys upon;
Hur nayles bryght of blee.

When he had beholden hur welle,
The lady wente to hur chapell,
Masse for to here;
The Erle stode on that odur syde;
Hys eyen fro hur myght he not hyde,
So lovely sche was of chere!
He seyde, 'Lorde God, full of myght,
Leve y were so worthy a knyght,
That y myght be hur fere,
And that sche no husbonde hadde,
All the golde that evyr God made
To me were not so dere!'

When the masse come to ende,
The lady, that was feyre and hende,
To the chaumbur can sche fare;
The Erle syghed and was full woo
Owt of hys syght when sche schulde goo;
Hys mornyng was the mare.
The Erle seyde, 'So God me save,
Of hur almes y wolde crave,
Yf hur wylle ware;
Myght y oght gete of that free,
Eche a day hur to see
Hyt wolde covyr me of my care.' 2

The Erle knelyd down anon ryght
And askyd gode, for God allmyght,
That dyed on the tree.
The Emperes callyd a knyght:
'Forty floranse that ben bryght,
Anone brynge thou mee.'
To that armyte sche hyt payde;
Of hur fyngyr a rynge she layde
Amonge that golde so free;
He thankyd hur ofte, as y yow say.
To the chaumbyr wente that lady gay,
There hur was leveste to bee.

The Erle wente home to hys ynnys,
And grete joye he begynnys
When he founde the rynge;
Yn hys herte he waxe blythe
And kyssyd hyt fele sythe,
And seyde, 'My dere derlynge,
On thy fyngyr thys was!
Wele ys me, y have thy grace
Of the to have thys rynge!
Yf evyr y gete grace of the Quene
That any love betwene us bene,
Thys may be our tokenyng.'

The Erle, also soone os hyt was day,
Toke hys leve and wente hys way
Home to hys cuntré;
Syr Trylabas he thanked faste:
'Of thys dede thou done me haste,
Well qwyt schall hyt bee.'
They kyssyd togedur as gode frende;
Syr Trylabas home can wende,
There evell mote he thee!
A traytory he thoght to doo
Yf he myght come thertoo;
So schrewde in herte was hee!

Anon he callyd two knyghtys,
Hardy men at all syghtys;
Bothe were of hys kynne.
'Syrs,' he seyde, 'wythowt fayle,
Yf ye wyl do be my counsayle,
Grete worschyp schulde ye wynne;
Knowe ye the Erle of Tollous?
Moche harme he hath done us;
Hys boste y rede we blynne;
Yf ye wyll do aftur my redde,
Thys day he schall be dedde,
So God save me fro synne!'

That oon knyght Kaunters, that odur Kaym;
Falser men myght no man rayme,
Certys, then were thoo;
Syr Trylabas was the thrydde;
Hyt was no mystur them to bydde
Aftur the Erle to goo.
At a brygge they hym mett;
Wyth harde strokes they hym besett,
As men that were hys foo;
The Erle was a man of mayn:
Faste he faght them agayne,
And soone he slew two.

The thrydde fledde and blewe owt faste;
The Erle ovyrtoke hym at the laste:
Hys hedd he clofe in three.
The cuntrey gedryrd abowte hym faste,
And aftur hym yorne they chaste:
An hundred there men myght see.
The Erle of them was agaste:
At the laste fro them he paste;
Fayne he was to flee;
Fro them he wente into a waste;
To reste hym there he toke hys caste:
A wery man was hee.

All the nyght in that foreste
The gentyll Erle toke hys reste:
He had no nodur woon.
When hyt dawed, he rose up soone
And thankyd God that syttyth in trone,
That he had scapyd hys foon;
That day he travaylyd many a myle,
And ofte he was in grete parylle,
Be the way os he can gone,
Tyll he come to a fayre castell,
There hym was levyst to dwelle,
Was made of lyme and stone.

Of hys comyng hys men were gladde.
'Be ye mery, my men,' he badde,
'For nothyng ye spare;
The Emperour, wythowte lees,
Y trowe, wyll let us be in pees.
And warre on us no mare.'
Thus dwellyd the Erle in that place
Wyth game, myrthe, and grete solase,
Ryght os hym levyst ware.
Let we now the Erle alloon,
And speke we of Dame Beulyboon,
How sche was caste in care.

The Emperoure lovyd hys wyfe
Also so moche os hys own lyfe,
And more, yf he myght;
He chose two knyghtys that were hym dere,
Whedur that he were ferre or nere,
To kepe hur day and nyght.
That oon hys love on hur caste:
So dud the todur at the laste,
Sche was feyre and bryght!
Nothyr of othyr wyste ryght noght,
So derne love on them wroght,
To dethe they were nere dyght.

So hyt befell upon a day,
That oon can to that othyr say,
'Syr, also muste y thee,
Methynkyth thou fadyste all away,
Os man that ys clongyn in clay,
So pale waxeth thy blee!'
Then seyde that other, 'Y make avowe,
Ryght so, methynketh, fareste thou,
Whysoevyr hyt bee;
Tell me thy cawse, why hyt ys,
And y schall telle the myn, ywys:
My trouthe y plyght to thee.'

'Y graunte,' he seyde, 'wythowt fayle,
But loke hyt be trewe counsayle!'
Therto hys trowthe he plyght.
He seyde, 'My lady the Emperes,
For love of hur y am in grete dystresse;
To dethe hyt wyll me dyght.'
Then seyde that othyr, 'Certenly,
Wythowte drede, so fare y
For that lady bryght;
Syn owre love ys on hur sett,
How myght owre bale beste be bett?
Canste thou rede on ryght?'

Then seyde that othyr, 'Be Seynt John,
Bettur counsayle can y noon,
Methynkyth, then ys thys:
Y rede that oon of us twoo
Prevely to hyr goo
And pray hur of hur blys;
Y myselfe wyll go hyr tylle;
Yn case y may gete hur wylle,
Of myrthe schalt thou not mys;
Thou schalt take us wyth the dede:
Leste thou us wrye sche wyll drede,
And graunte the thy wylle, ywys.'

Thus they were at oon assent;
Thys false thefe forthe wente
To wytt the ladyes wylle.
Yn chaumbyr he founde hyr so free;
He sett hym downe on hys knee,
Hys purpose to fulfylle.
Than spake that lady free,
'Syr, y see now well be the,
Thou haste not all thy wylle;
On thy sekeness now y see;
Telle me now thy prevyté,
Why thou mornyst so stylle.'

'Lady,' he seyde, 'that durste y noght
For all the gode that evyr was wroght,
Be grete God invysybylle,
But on a booke yf ye wyll swere
That ye schull not me dyskere,
Then were hyt possybyll.'
Then seyde the lady, 'How may that bee?
That thou darste not tryste to mee,
Hyt ys full orybylle.
Here my trowthe to the y plyght:
Y schall heyle the day and nyght,
Also trewe as boke or belle.'

'Lady, in yow ys all my tryste;
Inwardely y wolde ye wyste
What payne y suffur you fore;
Y drowpe, y dare nyght and day;
My wele, my wytt ys all away,
But ye leve on my lore;
Y have yow lovyd many a day,
But to yow durste y nevyr say -
My mornyng ys the more!
But ye do aftur my rede,
Certenly, y am but dede:
Of my lyfe ys no store.'

Than answeryd that lovely lyfe:
'Syr, wele thou wottyst y am a wyfe:
My lorde ys Emperoure;
He chase the for a trewe knyght,
To kepe me bothe day and nyght
Undur thy socowre.
To do that dede yf y assente,
Y were worthy to be brente
And broght in grete doloure;
Thou art a traytour in thy sawe,
Worthy to be hanged and to-drawe
Be Mary, that swete floure!'

'A, madam!' seyde the knyght,
'For the love of God almyght,
Hereon take no hede!
Yn me ye may full wele tryste ay;
Y dud nothyng but yow to affray,
Also God me spede!
Thynke, madam, youre trowthe ys plyght
To holde counsayle bothe day and nyght
Fully, wythowte drede;
Y aske mercy for Goddys ore!
Hereof yf y carpe more,
Let drawe me wyth a stede!'

The lady seyde, 'Y the forgeve;
Also longe os y leve,
Counsayle schall hyt bee;
Loke thou be a trewe man
In all thyng that thou can,
To my lorde so free.'
'Yys, lady, ellys dyd y wronge,
For y have servyd hym longe,
And wele he hath qwytt mee.'
Hereof spake he no mare,
But to hys felowe can he fare,
There evyll must they the!

Thus to hys felowe ys he gon,
And he hym frayned anon,
'Syr, how haste thou spedde?'
'Ryght noght,' seyde that othyr:
'Syth y was borne, lefe brothyr,
Was y nevyr so adredde;
Certys, hyt ys a boteles bale
To hur to touche soche a tale
At borde or at bedde.'
Then sayde that odur, 'Thy wytt ys thynne:
Y myselfe schall hur wynne:
Y lay my hedde to wedde!'

Thus hyt passyd ovyr, os y yow say,
Tyl aftur on the thrydde day
Thys knyght hym bethoght:
'Certys, spede os y may,
My ladyes wylle, that ys so gay,
Hyt schall be thorowly soght.'
When he sawe hur in beste mode,
Sore syghyng to hur he yode,
Of lyfe os he ne roght.
'Lady,' he seyde, 'wythowte fayle,
But ye helpe me wyth yowre counsayle,
Yn bale am y broght.'

Sche answeryd full curtesly,
'My counsayle schall be redy.
Telle me how hyt ys;
When y wott worde and ende,
Yf my counsayle may hyt mende,
Hyt schall, so have y blysse!'
'Lady,' he seyde, 'y undurstonde
Ye muste holde up yowre honde
To holde counsayle, ywys.'
'Yys,' seyde the lady free,
'Thereto my trouthe here to the,
And ellys y dudde amys.'

'Madam,' he seyde, 'now y am in tryste;
All my lyfe thogh ye wyste,
Ye wolde me not dyskevere;
For yow y am in so grete thoght,
Yn moche bale y am broght,
Wythowte othe y swere;
And ye may full wele see,
How pale y am of blee:
Y dye nere for dere;
Dere lady, graunt me youre love,
For the love of God, that sytteth above,
That stongen was wyth a spere.'

'Syr,' sche seyde, 'ys that youre wylle?
Yf hyt were myne, then dyd y ylle;
What woman holdyst thou me?
Yn thy kepeyng y have ben:
What haste thou herde be me or sene
That touchyth to any velanye,
That thou in herte art so bolde
Os y were a hore or a scolde?
Nay, that schall nevyr bee!
Had y not hyght to holde counsayle,
Thou schouldest be honged, wythowt fayle,
Upon a galowe tree.'

The knyght was nevyr so sore aferde
Sythe he was borne into myddyllerde,
Certys, os he was thoo.
'Mercy,' he seyde, 'gode madam!
Wele y wott y am to blame;
Therfore myn herte ys woo!
Lady, let me not be spylte;
Y aske mercy of my gylte!
On lyve ye let me goo.'
The lady seyde, 'Y graunte wele;
Hyt schall be counseyle, every dele,
But do no more soo.'

Now the knyght forthe yede
And seyde, 'Felowe, y may not spede.
What ys thy beste redde?
Yf sche telle my lorde of thys,
We be but dedde, so have y blys:
Wyth hym be we not fedde.
Womans tonge ys evell to tryste;
Certys, and my lorde hyt wyste,
Etyn were all owre bredde.
Felow, so mote y ryde or goo,
Or sche wayte us wyth that woo,
Hurselfe schall be dedde!'

'How myght that be?' that othur sayde;
'Yn herte y wolde be wele payde,
Myght we do that dede.'
'Yys, syr,' he seyde, 'so have y roo,
Y schall brynge hur wele thertoo;
Therof have thou no drede.
Or hyt passe dayes three,
In mekyll sorowe schall sche bee:
Thus y schall qwyte hur hur mede.'
Now are they bothe at oon assente
In sorow to brynge that lady gente:
The devell mote them spede!

Sone hyt drowe toward nyght;
To soper they can them dyght,
The Emperes and they all;
The two knyghtys grete yapys made,
For to make the lady glade,
That was bothe gentyll and small;
When the sopertyme was done,
To the chaumbyr they went soone,
Knyghtys cladde in palle
They daunsed and revelyd, os they noght dredde,
To brynge the lady to hur bedde:
There foule muste them falle!

That oon thefe callyd a knyght
That was carver to that lady bryght;
An Erleys sone was hee;
He was a feyre chylde and a bolde;
Twenty wyntur he was oolde:
In londe was none so free.
'Syr, wylt thou do os we the say?
And we schall ordeygne us a play,
That my lady may see.
Thou schalt make hur to lagh soo,
Thogh sche were gretly thy foo,
Thy frende schulde sche bee.'

The chylde answeryd anon ryght:
'Be the ordur y bere of knyght,
Therof wolde y be fayne,
And hyt wolde my lady plese,
Thogh hyt wolde me dysese,
To renne yn wynde and rayne.'
'Syr, make the nakyd save thy breke;
And behynde the yondur curtayn thou crepe,
And do os y schall sayne;
Then schalt thou see a joly play!'
'Y graunte,' thys yonge knyght can say,
'Be God and Seynte Jermayne.'

Thys chylde thoght on no ylle:
Of he caste hys clothys stylle;
And behynde the curtayn he went.
They seyde to hym, 'What so befalle,
Come not owt tyll we the calle.'
And he seyde, 'Syrs, y assente.'
They revelyd forthe a grete whyle;
No man wyste of ther gyle
Save they two, veramente.
They voyded the chaumber sone anon;
The chylde they lafte syttyng alone,
And that lady gente.

Thys lady lay in bedde on slepe;
Of treson toke sche no kepe,
For therof wyste sche noght.
Thys chylde had wonder evyr among
Why these knyghtys were so longe:
He was in many a thoght.
'Lorde, mercy! How may thys bee?
Y trowe they have forgeten me,
That me hedur broght;
Yf y them calle, sche wyll be adredd,
My lady lyeth here in hur bede,
Be Hym that all hath wroght!'

Thus he sate stylle as any stone:
He durste not store nor make no mone
To make the lady afryght.
Thes false men ay worthe them woo!,
To ther chaumbur can they goo
And armyd them full ryght;
Lordys owte of bedde can they calle
And badde arme them, grete and smalle:
'Anone that ye were dyght,
And helpe to take a false traytoure
That wyth my lady in hur bowre
Hath playde hym all thys nyght.'

Sone they were armyd everychone;
And wyth these traytours can they gone,
The lordys that there wore.
To the Emperes chaumber they cam ryght
Wyth torchys and wyth swerdys bryght
Brennyng them before.
Behynde the curtayne they wente;
The yonge knyght, verrament,
Nakyd founde they thore.
That oon thefe wyth a swerde of were
Thorow the body he can hym bere,
That worde spake he no more.

The lady woke and was afryght,
Whan sche sawe the grete lyght
Before hur beddys syde.
Sche seyde, 'Benedycyté!'
Syrs, what men be yee?'
And wonder lowde sche cryedd.
Hur enemyes mysansweryd thore
'We are here, thou false hore:
Thy dedys we have aspyedd!
Thou haste betrayed my lorde;
Thou schalt have wonduryng in thys worde:
Thy loos schall sprynge wyde!'

The lady seyde, 'Be Seynte John,
Hore was y nevyr none,
Nor nevyr thoght to bee.'
'Thou lyest,' they seyde, 'thy love ys lorne' -
The corse they leyde hur beforne -
'Lo, here ys thy lemman free!
Thus we have for they hym hytt;
Thy horedam schall be wele quytte:
Fro us schalt thou not flee!'
They bonde the lady wondyr faste
And in a depe preson hur caste:
Grete dele hyt was to see!

Leve we now thys lady in care,
And to hur lorde wyll we fare,
That ferre was hur froo.
On a nyght, wythowt lette,
In hys slepe a swevyn he mett,
The story telleth us soo.
Hym thoght ther come two wylde borys
And hys wyfe all toterys
And rofe hur body in twoo;
Hymselfe was a wytty man,
And be that dreme he hopyd than
Hys lady was in woo.

Yerly, when the day was clere,
He bad hys men all in fere
To buske and make them yare.
Somer horsys he let go before
And charyettes stuffud wyth stoore
Wele twelve myle and mare.
He hopud wele in hys herte
That hys wyfe was not in querte;
Hys herte therfore was in care;
He styntyd not tyll he was dyght,
Wyth erlys, barons, and many a knyght;
Homeward can they fare.

Nyght ne day nevyr they blanne,
Tyll to that cyté they came
There the lady was ynne.
Wythowt the cyté lordys them kepyd;
For wo in herte many oon wepyd:
There teerys myght they not blynne.
They supposyd wele yf he hyt wyste
That hys wyfe had soche a bryste,
Hys yoye wolde be full thynne;
They ladden stedys to the stabyll,
And the lorde into the halle,
To worschyp hym wyth wynne.

Anon to the chaumbur wendyth he:
He longyd hys feyre lady to see,
That was so swete a wyght.
He callyd them that schoulde hur kepe:
'Where ys my wyfe? Ys sche on slepe?
How fareth that byrde bryght?'
The two traytours answeryd anone,
'Yf ye wyste how sche had done,
To dethe sche schulde be dyght.'

'A, devyll!' he seyde, 'how soo,
To dethe that sche ys worthy to go?
Tell me, in what manere.'
'Syr,' they seyd, 'be Goddys ore,
The yonge knyght Syr Antore,
That was hur kervere,
Be that lady he hath layne,
And therfore we have hym slayne;
We founde them in fere;
Sche ys in preson, verrament;
The lawe wyll that sche be brente,
Be God, that boght us dere.'

'Allas!' seyde the Emperoure,
'Hath sche done me thys dyshonoure?
And y lovyd hur so wele!
Y wende for all thys worldys gode
That sche wolde not have turned hur mode:
My joye begynnyth to kele.'
He hente a knyfe wyth all hys mayn;
Had not a knyght ben, he had hym slayn,
And that traytour have broght owt of heele.
For bale hys armes abrode he bredde
And fell in swowne upon hys bedde;
There myght men see grete dele.

On the morne be oon assente,
On hur they sett a perlyament
Be all the comyn rede.
They myght not fynde in ther counsayle
Be no lawe, wythowt fayle,
To save hur fro the dede.
Then bespake an olde knyght,
'Y have wondur, be Goddys myght,
That Syr Antore thus was bestedde,
In chaumbyr thogh he naked were;
They let hym gyf none answere,
But slowe hym, be my hedde!

Ther was nevyr man, sekurly,
That be hur founde any velany,
Save they two, y dar wele say;
Be some hatered hyt may be;
Therfore doyth aftur me
For my love, y yow pray.
No mo wyll preve hyt but they twoo;
Therfore we may not save hur fro woo,
For sothe, os y yow say,
In hyr quarell but we myght fynde
A man that were gode of kynde
That durste fyght agayn them tway.'

All they assentyd to the sawe:
They thoght he spake reson and lawe.
Then answeryd the Kyng wyth crowne,
'Fayre falle the for thyn avyse.'
He callyd knyghtys of nobyll pryce
And badde them be redy bowne
For to crye thorow all the londe,
Bothe be see and be sonde,
Yf they fynde mowne
A man that ys so moche of myght,
That for that lady dar take the fyght,
'He schall have hys warison.'

Messangerys, y undurstonde,
Cryed thorow all the londe
In many a ryche cyté,
Yf any man durste prove hys myght
In trewe quarell for to fyght,
Wele avaunsed schulde he bee.
The Erle of Tullous harde thys telle,
What anger the lady befell;
Thereof he thoght grete pyté.
Yf he wyste that sche had ryght,
He wolde aventure hys lyfe to fyght
For that lady free.

For hur he morned nyght and day,
And to hymselfe can he say
He wolde aventure hys lyfe:
'Yf y may wytt that sche be trewe,
They that have hur accused schull rewe,
But they stynte of ther stryfe.'
The Erle seyde, 'Be Seynte John,
Ynto Almayn wyll y goon,
Where y have fomen ryfe;
I prey to God full of myght
That y have trewe quarell to fyght,
Owt of wo to wynne that wyfe.'

He rode on huntyng on a day,
A marchand mett he be the way,
And asked hym of whens he was.
'Lorde,' he seyde, 'of Almayn.'
Anon the Erle can hym frayne
Of that ylke case:
'Wherefore ys yowre Emperes
Put in so grete dystresse?
Telle me, for Goddys grace.
Ys sche gylté, so mote thou the?'
'Nay, be Hym that dyed on tree,
That schope man aftur Hys face.'

Then seyde the Erle, wythowte lett,
'When ys the day sett
Brente that sche schulde bee?'
The marchande seyde sekyrlyke,
'Evyn thys day thre wyke,
And therfore wo ys mee.'
The Erle seyde, 'Y schall the telle:
Gode horsys y have to selle,
And stedys two or thre:
Certys, myght y selle them yare,
Thedur wyth the wolde y fare,
That syght for to see.'

The marchand seyd wordys hende:
'Into the londe yf ye wyll wende,
Hyt wolde be for yowre prowe,
There may ye selle them at your wylle.'
Anon the Erle seyde hym tylle,
'Syr, herkyn me nowe:
Thys jurney wylt thou wyth me dwelle
Twenty pownde y schall the telle
To mede, y make avowe!'
The marchand grauntyd anon;
The Erle seyde, 'Be Seynt John,
Thy wylle y alowe.'

The Erle tolde hym in that tyde
Where he schulde hym abyde,
And homeward wente hee.
He busked hym, that no man wyste,
For mekyll on hym was hys tryste.
He seyde, 'Syr, go wyth mee!'
Wyth them they toke stedys sevyn -
Ther were no fayre undyr hevyn
That any man myght see.
Into Almayn they can ryde:
As a coresur of mekyll pryde
He semyd for to bee.

The marchand was a trewe gyde;
The Erle and he togedur can ryde,
Tyll they came to that place.
A myle besyde the castell
There the Emperoure can dwelle,
A ryche abbey ther was;
Of the abbot leve they gatt
To sojorne and make ther horsys fatt;
That was a nobyll case!
The abbot was the ladyes eme;
For hur he was in grete wandreme,
And moche mornyng he mase.

So hyt befell upon a day,
To churche the Erle toke the way,
A masse for to here.
He was a feyre man and an hye;
When the abbot hym sye,
He seyde, 'Syr, come nere:
Syr, when the masse ys done,
Y pray yow, ete wyth me at noone,
Yf yowre wylle were.'
The Erle grauntyd all wyth game;
Afore mete they wysche all same,
And to mete they wente in fere.

Aftur mete, as y yow say,
Into an orchard they toke the way,
The abbot and the knyght.
The abbot seyde and syghed sare;
'Certys, Syr, y leve in care
For a lady bryght;
Sche ys accusyd - my herte ys woo! -
Therfore sche schall to dethe goo,
All agayne the ryght;
But sche have helpe, verrament,
In fyre sche schall be brente
Thys day sevenyght.'

The Erle seyde, 'So have y blysse,
Of hyr, methynkyth, grete rewthe hyt ys,
Trewe yf that sche bee!'
The abbot seyde, 'Be Seynte Poule,
For hur y dar ley my soule
That nevyr gylté was sche;
Soche werkys nevyr sche wroght
Neythyr in dede nor in thoght,
Save a rynge so free
To the Erle of Tullous sche gafe hyt wyth wynne,
Yn ese of hym and for no synne:
In schryfte thus tolde sche me.'

The Erle seyde, 'Syth hyt ys soo,
Cryste wreke hur of hur woo,
That boght hur wyth Hys bloode!
Wolde ye sekyr me, wythowt fayle,
For to holde trewe counsayle,
Hyt myght be for yowre gode.'
The abbot seyde be bokes fele
And be hys professyon, that he wolde hele,
And ellys he were wode.
'Y am he that sche gaf the rynge
For to be oure tokenynge.
Now heyle hyt, for the Rode!

Y am comyn, lefe syr,
To take the batyle for hyr,
There to stonde wyth ryght;
But fyrste myselfe y wole hur schryve,
And yf y fynde hur clene of lyve,
Then wyll my herte be lyght.
Let dyght me in monkys wede
To that place that men schulde hyr lede,
To dethe to be dyght;
When y have schrevyn hyr, wythowt fayle,
For hur y wyll take batayle,
As y am trewe knyght!'

The abbot was nevyr so gladde;
Nere for joye he waxe madde;
The Erle can he kysse;
They made meré and slewe care.
All that sevenyght he dwellyd thare
Yn myrthe wythowt mysse.
That day that the lady schulde be brent,
The Erle wyth the abbot wente
In monkys wede, ywys;
To the Emperour he knelys blyve,
That he myght that lady schryve:
Anon resceyved he ys.

He examyned hur, wyttyrly,
As hyt seythe in the story;
Sche was wythowte gylte.
Sche seyde, 'Be Hym that dyed on tree,
Trespas was nevyr none in me
Wherefore y schulde be spylte;
Save oonys, wythowte lesynge,
To the Erle of Tollous y gafe a rynge:
Assoyle me yf thou wylte;
But thus my destanye ys comyn to ende,
That in thys fyre y muste be brende;
There Goddys wylle be fulfyllyt.'

The Erle assoyled hur wyth hys honde,
And sythen pertely he can up stonde
And seyde, 'Lordyngys, pese!
Ye that have accused thys lady gente,
Ye be worthy to be brente.'
That oon knyght made a rees:
'Thou carle monke, wyth all thy gynne,
Thowe youre abbot be of hur kynne,
Hur sorowe schalt thou not cees;
Ryght so thou woldyst sayne
Thowe all youre covent had be hyr layne;
So are ye lythyr and lees!'

The Erle answeryd, wyth wordys free,
'Syr, that oon y trowe thou bee
Thys lady accused has.
Thowe we be men of relygyon,
Thou schalt do us but reson
For all the fare thou mas.
Y prove on hur thou sayst not ryght.
Lo, here my glove wyth the to fyght!
Y undyrtake thys case;
Os false men y schall yow kenne;
Yn redde fyre for to brenne;
Therto God gyf me grace!'

All that stoden in that place
Thankyd God of hys grace,
Wythowte any fayle.
The two knyghtys were full wrothe:
He schulde be dedde, they swere grete othe;
But hyt myght not avayle.
The Erle wente there besyde
And armyd hym wyth mekyll pryde,
Hys enemyes to assayle.
Manly when they togedur mett,
They hewe thorow helme and basenet
And martyrd many a mayle.

They redyn togedur, wythowt lakk,
That hys oon spere on hym brakk;
That othyr faylyd thoo;
The Erle smote hym wyth hys spere;
Thorow the body he can hym bere:
To grounde can he goo.
That sawe that odyr, and faste can flee;
The Erle ovyrtoke hym undur a tre
And wroght hym mekyll woo;
There thys traytour can hym yylde
Os recreaunt yn the fylde;
He myght not fle hym froo.

Before the Emperoure they wente
And there he made hym, verrament,
To telle for the noonys.
He seyde, 'We thoght hur to spylle,
For sche wolde not do oure wylle,
That worthy ys in wonnys.'
The Erle answeryd hym then,
'Therfore, traytours, ye schall brenne
Yn thys fyre, bothe at onys!'
The Erle anon them hente,
And in the fyre he them brente,
Flesche, felle, and boonys.

When they were brent bothe twoo,
The Erle prevely can goo
To that ryche abbaye.
Wyth joye and processyon
They fett the lady into the towne,
Wyth myrthe, os y telle may.
The Emperoure was full gladde:
'Fette me the monke!' anon he badde,
'Why wente he so awaye?
A byschoperyke y wyll hym geve,
My helpe, my love, whyll y leve,
Be God that owyth thys day!'

The abbot knelyd on hys knee
And seyde, 'Lorde, gone ys hee
To hys owne londe;
He dwellyth wyth the pope of Rome;
He wyll be glad of hys come,
Y do yow to undurstonde.'
'Syr abbot,' quod the Emperoure,
'To me hyt were a dyshonoure;
Soche wordes y rede thou wonde;
Anone yn haste that y hym see,
Or thou schalt nevyr have gode of me,
And therto here myn honde!'

'Lorde,' he seyde, 'sythe hyt ys soo
Aftur hym that y muste goo,
Ye muste make me sewrté,
Yn case he have byn youre foo,
Ye schall not do hym no woo;
And then, also mote y thee,
Aftur hym y wyll wynde,
So that ye wyll be hys frende,
Yf youre wylle bee.'
'Yys,' seyd the Emperoure full fayne,
'All my kynne thogh he had slayne,
He ys welcome to mee.'

Then spake the abbot wordys free:
'Lorde, y tryste now on thee:
Ye wyll do os ye sey;
Hyt ys Syr Barnard of Tollous,
A nobyll knyght and a chyvalrous,
That hath done thys jurney.'
'Now certys,' seyde the Emperoure,
'To me hyt ys grete dyshonoure;
Anon, Syr, y the pray
Aftur hym that thou wende:
We schall kysse and be gode frende,
Be God, that owyth thys day!'

The abbot seyde, 'Y assente.'
Aftur the Erle anon he wente,
And seyde, 'Syr, go wyth mee:
My lorde and ye, be Seynt John,
Schull be made bothe at oon,
Goode frendys for to bee.'
Therof the Erle was full fayne;
The Emperoure came hym agayne
And sayde, 'My frende so free,
My wrath here y the forgeve,
My helpe, my love, whyll y leve,
Be Hym that dyed on tree!'

Togedur lovely can they kysse;
Therof all men had grete blysse:
The romaunse tellyth soo.
He made hym steward of hys londe
And sesyd agayne into hys honde
That he had rafte hym froo.
The Emperoure levyd but yerys thre;
Be alexion of the lordys free,
The Erle toke they thoo.
They made hym ther Emperoure,
For he was styffe yn stoure
To fyght agayne hys foo.

He weddyd that lady to hys wyfe;
Wyth joye and myrthe they ladde ther lyfe
Twenty yere and three.
Betwene them had they chyldyr fifteen,
Doghty knyghtys all bedene,
And semely on to see.
Yn Rome thys geste cronyculyd ywys;
A lay of Bretayne callyd hyt ys,
And evyr more schall bee.
Jhesu Cryste to hevyn us brynge,
There to have owre wonnyng!
Amen, amen, for charytee!

Form: Lay


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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, October 27, 2015



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