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Ichot a burde in a bour: translation
London, British Library, Harley MS 2253, f. 63r-v


I know a noble lady; like beryl she is bright,
Like a sapphire set in silver, splendid to the sight,
Like the gentle jasper she glitters with light,
As a garnet does in gold, or a ruby by right;

5 Esteemed like an onyx, at a great height,
Like the precious diamond, dazzlingly white,
She is coral, well-known to emperor and knight;
Like an emerald in the morning this maiden has might.
This excellent maiden, like a precious stone,
10 A pearl or a carbuncle, I chose for my own.

Her cheeks are as red as the rose on the tree,
Her skin like a lily, lovely to see,
Primrose and periwinkle are paler than she,
Aniseed, alexanders, and wild celery.

15 By nature she is dainty as the columbine,
Radiant in her rich robes and her furs fine;
Her face is like a flower, that lady of mine,
As you may see yourself, like sage and celandine.
Whoever sees that lady is lost in delight;
20 She is the healing marigold, sought to set us right.

She is the parrot for my pain, to heal my suffering;
True turtle-dove in a tower, my story I shall sing;
A thrush, champion of debate, chanting in a hall,
Joining in every song most joyfully of all,

25 A lark, a hawk, a wood-bird singing in the vale,
A falcon in the forest, hidden deep in the dale.
From the Wye to the Wirral she is wisest without fail;
Her name is hidden in a note of the nightingale.
Her name is in "Annote" to be reflected on;
30 Whoever works it out, whisper it to John.

She is nutmeg and mandrake, made magic by the moon,
Named by voices from heaven as medicine and boon;
Such liquorice may heal from the Lyn to the Lune;
Such sugar as is sought for to save men soon;

35 Blithe and blessed by Christ, she grants me her grace,
When dark deeds are done in a secret place.
Like gromwell with its green seeds, deep in a grove,
Like cubeb and cummin, with its flower spread above,
Cummin renowned in court, cinnamon in a chest,
40 Ginger and cloves and zedoary, the best.

She is a mighty medicine, her pity of great price,
As ready as Ragna to give good advice,
True as Tegeu in the tower, as Garwen richly dressed,
Bolder than Bjorn, who put boars to the test;

45 She is as wise as Wylcadoun, daring in deeds,
Fairer than Floripas, who helped her folk's needs,
Famous at court as Caradoc, who carved the boar's head there,
More courteous than Hilde, she has me in her care.
She has me in her care now, this courteous one,


Gentle as Jonas, she rejoices with John.

Set up by Bella Millett, enm@soton.ac.uk. Last updated 25 July 2003 .