Piers Plowman – 2

 

Page from the 14th century Luttrell Psalter, showing “en:drolleries” At the bottom is a plowman

Allen Ginsberg on Piers Plowman continues

AG: “In the summer season..”  (first, the wandering out, getting clothed like a shepherd , on a May morning on Malvern Hill, the marvel befell him)

“In a somer seson, whan soft was the sonne,/I shope me into shrouded, as I a shepe were;/In habite as an heremite unholy of works/Went wide in this world, wondres to here./Ae on a May morninge on Malverne hulles/Mi bifel a ferry, of fairy me thoughte;/I was wery forwandred and went me to rest/Under a brode banke by a bornes side,/And as I lay and lend and loked on the wateres,/I slombred in a sleeping, it sweyed so merye/Thanne gan I to meten a merveilouse swevene,” – [ “sweverne” – dream] – “That I was in a wilderness, whist I never where./As I beheld into the set, an high to the sonne,/I seigh a towre on a toft, trielich ymaked,/A depe dale binethe, a dongeon therein,/With deep diches and derke, and dreadful of sight./A fair felde ful of folke fine I there between’ – [that’s really good – “ “A fair field full of folk found I there between”]  –A fair felde ful of folke fine I there between/Of alle maner of men, the mene and the riche,/Worching and wandring as the worlde asketh,/Some putten hem to the plow, pleyed ful selde,/In setting and in sowing swonken ful harde/And wonnen that this wastours with glotonoye destroyeth,/And some putten hem to pruide, apparailed hem thereafter,/In countenance of clothing comen disgised” 

And I wonder how that Malvern Hill section.. [Allen continues searching in the book] – the one about the… you might as well be.. . the lines about the.. “on Malvern Hill mumble from their mouths“.. “Hovered there…” – Let’s see, I’ll read the English again.

“And then a hundred folk hovered about in hoods of silk/Law sergeants it seemed, who served at the bar, pleading the law for pennies or pounds/Not once did they loose their lips for love of  our Lord/ Thou coulds’t better measure the mist on Malvern Hill than get a mumble from their mouths unless money was shown ‘em”

” Yit hoved there an hondreth in houves of selke,/Serjaunts it semed that serveden atte barre,/Plededen for penies and poundes the lawe,/And nought for love of oure Lorde unlese here lippes onis;? Thou mightest better mete miste on Malverne hulles/Than gate a momme of here mouthe til money were shewed” 

 [“Thou mightest better mete miste on Malverne hulles/Than gate a momme of here mouthe til money were shewed” – “here mouthe” – her mouth –  “then get a momme of their mouth” – “a momme of their mouth – get a mumble of their mouth – Thou mightest better mete“- [“mete” – measure – “meter the mist”] – Thou mightest better..mete miste on Malverne hulles (H-U-L-L-E-S) – Thou mightest better mete miste on Malverne hulles/Than gate a momme of here mouthe til money were shewed” – “than get a momme of their mouth”, that’s a pretty good way of saying it, than get a momme of their… (M-O-M-M-E) – they’re going to get a mummy of their mouth, a mumble of their mouth, a Momme.. “get a momme of their mouth, here” (H-E-R-E)- here mouth – here mouth –  “Than gate a momme of here mouthe til money were shewed“. That’s pretty fine.. 

[Audio from the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately  sixty-four-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately sixty-nine minutes in]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *