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I syke when Y singe: notes
London, British Library, Harley MS 2253, f. 80ra

MED (s.v. mete adv.) translates 'copiously'; but the basic meaning of the corresponding adjective mete is 'appropriate, fitting', and the collocation here with stille suggests that 'gently' might be a better translation in context. However, as Brown (1932), p. 216, comments, the Harley reading is 'incoherent'; the version in London, British Library, Digby MS 2, has Marie, milde and seete, / Thu haf merci of me!  'Mary, mild and gentle / Have mercy on me!' (Brown (1932), no. 64, lines 9-10).

19. hire ane: for this construction, see Mustanoja (1960), pp. 150, 293-4.

22. With eyghen bryhte bo: probably based on a scribal misunderstanding, as Brown (1932), p. 216, suggests, of the reading reflected in the version in London, British Library, Digby MS 2 , Wyt hey and herte bothe, 'with both eye and heart'  (Brown (1932), no. 64, line 22); that is, the speaker is supplementing meditation with a visual image of the Crucifixion.

55-60. Alas . . . boht: in this version of the poem, the final stanza is an attack on the medieval custom of swearing by the wounds of Christ and the instruments that inflicted them (cf. Chaucer's Pardoner's Tale, lines 629-59). In the version in London, British Library, Digby MS 2 (see Brown (1932), no. 46, lines 55-60) the point is different, and Brown (p. 217) argues that the Harley version 'hopelessly perverts' the earlier version:

Allas! that men beit wode,
bi-holdit an the rode
and silit---hic li noyt--
her souelis in-to sin
for any worlde-his win,
that was so der hi-boyt.

Alas! that men are [so] mad
[as to] look at the cross
and sell---I am not lying---
their souls [sic, for sg.?] into sin
for any worldly joy,
which was so dearly bought.


Set up by Bella Millett, enm@soton.ac.uk. Last updated 28 July 2003 .