Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"Whan the turf is thy tour," anonymous Middle English lyric

Whan the turf is thy tour

Whan the turf is thy tour
And thy put is thy bour,
Thy fel and thy white throte
Shullen wormes to note.
What helpeth thee than
Al the worlde wenne?

Notes [from Stevick]:

2. put = pit, i.e., grave
3. fel    skin
4. Shullen wormes to note    worms shall have for their use (or purpose)
6. worlde wenne    joys, pleasures of the world; (?) to win the world

Notes [from Stevick Glossary]:

bour    abode, chamber, dwelling-place, bower

Source of the text - One Hundred Middle English Lyrics, Revised Edition, edited by Robert D. Stevick. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1994, p. 12.

TJB: Anti-dailiness. With rotting-courtly images & surprising-intricate metrics the poet predicts the obvious & asks an easy-to-dismiss question.

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