Friday, July 13, 2018


Ubi Sunt?

R.T. Davies, ed., Medieval English Lyrics: A Critical Anthology (Chicago: Northwestern University Press, 1964; rpt. 1988), pp. 56-57 (first four stanzas only):
Where beth they, beforen us weren,
Houndes ladden and havekes beren,
And hadden feld and wode?
The riche levedies in hoere bour,
That werenden gold in hoere tressour,
With hoere brighte rode?

Eten and drounken and maden hem glad;
Hoere lif was all with gamen ilad:
Men keneleden them beforen.
They beren hem well swithe heye,
And, in a twinkling of an eye,
Hoere soules weren forloren.

Where is that lawing and that song,
That trailing and that proude yong,
Tho havekes and tho houndes?
All that joye is went away,
That wele is comen to weylaway,
To manye harde stoundes.

Hoere paradis hy nomen here,
And now they lien in helle ifere:
The fuir it brennes evere;
Long is 'ay!' and long is 'ho!'
Long is 'wy!' and long is 'wo!'
Thennes ne cometh they nevere.
Modern English translation (ibid.):
Where are they who lived before us,
who led hounds and carried hawks,
and owned field and wood?
The great ladies in their chambers,
who wore gold in their head-bands
and whose faces shone?

They ate and drank and entertained themselves;
their life was spent wholly in pleasure:
men kneeled before them.
They carried themselves most proudly,
and, in the twinkling of an eye,
their souls were utterly lost.

Where is that laughter and that singing,
that trailing of garments, and that proud gait,
those hawks and those hounds?
All that joy has vanished,
that happiness has turned to misery
and many hard times.

They took their paradise here,
and now they lie in hell together:
the fire burns without end;
long lasts their 'ah!' and long their 'oh!'
long their 'alas! and long their 'woe!'—
they shall never come out of that place.

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