Winter Poems




NOV. 14, 2005, 6-8 P.M., UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA, ILC 140. 

Funded by COH. 

Organized by Albrecht Classen, Dept. of German Studies


Ancient Greek, read by Kenneth Porter:


Hesiod (b. ca. 700 B.C.E.), Works and Days, 504-563:

“Avoid the month Lenaeon, wretched days, all of them fit to skin an ox, and frost which are cruel when Boreas blows over the earth. He blows across horse-breeding Thrace upon the wide sea and stirs it up, while earth and the forest howl. On many a high-leafed oak and thick pine he falls and brings them to the bounteous earth in mountain glens: then all the immense wood roars and the beasts shudder and put their tails between their legs, even those whose hide is covered with fur; for with his bitter blast he blows even through them although they are shaggy-breasted. He goes even through an ox’s hide; it does not stop him. Also he blows through the goat’s fine hair. But through the fleeces of sheep, because their wool is abundant, the keen wind Boreas pierces not at all; but it makes the old man curved as a wheel. And it does not blow through the tender maiden who stays indoors with her dear mother, unlearned as yet in the works of golden Aphrodite, and who washes her soft body and anoints herself with oil and lies down in an inner room within the house, on a winter’s day when the Boneless One gnaws his foot in his fireless house and wretched home; for the sun shows him no pastures to make for, but goes to and fro over the land and city of dusky men, and shine more sluggishly upon the whole race of the Hellenes. Then the horned and unhorned denizens of the wood, with teeth chattering pitifully, flee through the copses and glades, and all, as they seek shelter, have this one care, to gain thick coverts or some hollow rock. Then, like the Three-legged One whose back is broken and whose head looks down upon the ground, like him, I say, they wander to escape the white snow.
“Then put on, as I bid you, a soft coat and a tunic to feet to shield your body, ?and you should weave thick woof on thin warp. In this clothe yourself so that your hair may keep still and not bristle and stand upon end all over your body. Lace on your feet close-fitting boots of the hideof a slaughtered ox, thickly lined with felt inside. And when the season of frost comes on, stitch together skins of firstling kids with ox-sinew, to put over your back and to keep off the rain. On your head above wear a shaped cap of felt to keep your ears from getting wet, for the dawn is chill when Boreas has once made his onslaught, and at dawn, a fruitful mist is spread over the earth from starry heaven upon the fields of blessed men: it is drawn from the ever flowing rivers and is raised high above the earth by wind-storm, and sometimes it turns to rain towards evening, and sometimes to wind when Tracian Boreas huddle the thick clouds. Finish your work and return home ahead of him, and do not let the dark cloud from heaven wrap round you and make your body clammy and soak your clothes. Avoid it: for this is the hardest month, wintry, hard for sheep and hard for me. In this season let your oxen have half their usual food, but let your man have more; for the helpful nights are long. Observe all this until the year is ended and you have nights and days of equal length, and Earth, the mother of all, bears again her various fruit.”


Medieval Latin, read by Kenneth Porter and Heather Wiilliams:


Carmen 58

Conveniunt subito cuncti de montibus altis Pastores pecudum vernali luce sub umbra Arborea, pariter laetas celebrare Camenas.
Adfuit et iunvenis Dafnis seniorque Palemon; Omnes hi cuculo laudes cantare parabant.
Ver quoque florigero succinctus stemmate venit, Frigida venit Hiems, rigidis hirsuta capillis.
His certamen erat cuculi de carmine grande.
Ver prior adlusit ternos modulamine versus:
“Opto meus veniat cuculus, carissimus ales.
Omnibus iste solet fieri gratissimus hospes In tectis, modulans rutilo bona carmina rostro.”
Tum glacialis hiems respondit voce severa:
“Non veniat cuculus, nigris sed dormiat antris.
Iste famem secum semper portare suescit.”
“Opto meus veniat cuculus cum germine laeto, Frigora depellat, Phoebo comes almus in aevum.
Phoebus amat cuculum crescenti luce serena.”
“Non veniat cuculus, generat quia forte labores, Proelia congeminat, requiem disiungit amatam, Omnia disturbat: pelagi terraeque laborant.”
“Quid tu, tarda Hiems, cuculo convitia cantas?
Qui torpore gravi tenebrosis tectus in antris Post epulas Veneris, post stulti pocula Bacchi.”
“Sunt mihi divitiae, sunt et convivia laeta, Est requies dulcis, calidus est ignis in aede.
Haec cuculus nescit, sed perfidus ille laborat.”
“Ore feret flores cuculus et mella ministrat, Aedificatque domus, placidas et navigat undas, Et generat soboles, laetos et vestiet agros.”
“Haec inimica mihi sunt, quae tibi laeta videntur.
Sed placet optatas gazas numerare per arcas Et gaudere cibis simul et requiescere semper.”
“Quis tibi, tarda Hiems, semper dormire parata, Divitias cumulat, gazas vel congregat ullas, Si ver vel aestas ante tibi nulla laborant?”
“Vera refers: illi, quoniam mihi multa laborant, Sunt etiam servi nostra ditione subacti, Iam mihi servante domino, quaecumque laborant?”
“Non illis dominus, sed pauper inopsque superbus, Nec te iam poteris per te tu pascere tantum, Ni tibi qui veniet cuculus alimonia praestet.”
Tum respondit ovans sublimi e sede Palemon Et Dafnis pariter, pastorum et turba piorum:
“Desine plura, Hiems; rerum tu prodigus, atrox.
Et veniat cuculus, pastorum dulcis amicus.
Collibus in nostris erumpant germina laeta, Pascua sint pecori, requies et dulcis in arvis, Et virides rami praestent umbracula fessis, Uberibus plenis veniantque ad mulctra capellae, Et volucres varia Phoebum sub voce salutent.
Quapropter citius cuculus nunc ecce venito!
Tu iam dulcis amor, cunctis gratissimus hospes:
Omnia te expectant, pelagus tellusque polusque, Salve, dulce decus, cuculus, per saecula salve!”


Carmen 58

Suddenly, all come together from the tall mountains The shepherds of the sheep in the spring light below the wooded Shade, to celebrate the happy poems equally.
Even the young Daphnis and the elder Palemon were there; All these prepared to sing praises to the cuckoo Spring too comes readied with flower carrying garlands, Icy Winter comes, shaggy with rough hairs.
The struggle of the cuckoo is theirs about the great song.
Spring jests in melodic threefold verses:
“I hope my cuckoo come, that dearest bird.
That guest, most welcome to all, is accustomed to be on the roofs, singing fair songs from its red beak.”
Snowy winter then responded with a voice severe:
May the cuckoo not come, let it sleep in dark hollows.
He is accustomed to bring hunger with him.”
“I hope my cuckoo come with a happy shoot, Dispel the frost, nourishing comrade of Apollo into this time.
Apollo loves the cuckoo when the bright light waxes.”
“May the cuckoo not come, since it perchance produces toils, The disputes double, unyoking lovely rest, He upsets all things: they work on sea and on land.”
“Why do you, late Winter, sing of the vices of the cuckoo?
He who is covered by heavy torpor in dank caves After the feasts of Venus, after the cups of the idiot Bacchus.”
“I have my riches, even my happy dinner parties, There is sweet rest, warmer is the fire in the house.
The cuckoo knows of this not, but that faithless one toils.”
“The cuckoo shall bear flowers and furnishes honey, And he builds homes, and sails the even waves, And he produces offspring, and clothes the happy fields.”
“Atrocious are these things to me, which seem joyful to you.
But it pleases to count up the desired treasures through the chests And to rejoice then in food and to rest always.”
“Who to you, late Winter, always prepared to sleep Cumulates wealth, or heaps up any riches?
If Spring or Summer produces nothing before you.”
“You speak the truth: They, since they produce much for me, Are even slaves, conquered by my power, Already serving my dominion, whatsoever do they produce?”
“You are not their lord, but a haughty and poor weakling, Already you will not be able to feed even yourself through yourself, Unless any cuckoo come and furnishes food for you.”
Then rejoicing responded Palemon from his high seat And Daphnis equally, and the crowd of pious shepherds:
“Stop this too much, Winter, you fierce and wasteful of things.
And let the cuckoo come, that sweet friend of shepherds.
Let the happy buds burst out in out hills, Let the sheep have pastures, and sweet rest in the fields And let the green branches supply the tired with a little shade, And with full udders, let the she-goats come to the milk pail, And let those who fly greet Apollo with a varied voice.
Behold how quickly the cuckoo now comes!
You now, sweet love, the most welcome guest of all:
Everything expects you, the sea and the earth and the sky, Welcome, sweet splendor, cuckoo, welcome through the ages!


MEDIEVAL FRENCH — read by Jonathan Beck

“On the Approach of Winter.” Anonymous.

North central France. 13th century.

Edited by Jeanroy and Langfors, Chansons satiriques et bachiques du XIIIe siècle. Trans. J. Beck.


Between 1209-1244, the South of France was invaded by armies from the North to whom the pope had promised the land and wealth of Christian nobles—principally the counts of Toulouse—considered too lax in their tolerance of heretics and Jews. Backed by hardline Cistercians like St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Innocent III declared the “Albigensian crusade” in 1208, which eventually succeeded in exterminating the Cathars (ascetic adherents of  a Manichean dualism widespread in the Mediterranean basin for centuries), and in expropriating their land—Albi, Toulouse, Caracasonne, Agen, Béziers. Disgusted by the plundering and gratuitous massacres, the dukes of Burgundy and Nevers, the earliest supporters of the crusade, refused to accept the blood-stained fiefs offered them by the pope, and returned home in 1209. The song below, “On the approach of Winter,” reflects  the disgust in the ranks of the soldiers.







































Quand je lou tans refroidier

voi et geleir


et les arbres despoillier

et iverneir

adonc me voil aaizier

et sejorneir

a boen feu leiz lou brazier,

et a vin cleir

en chade mason

par lou tans fellon;

ja n’ait il perdon

ki n’amet sa garison.


Je ne voil pas chivachier

et feu bouteir

et si haz mout garroier

et cris leveir

et grans proies acoillier

et gent robeir;

asseis i a fol mestier

a tot gasteir;

a poc d’acheson

se prannent baron

par consoil bricon

muevent guerres et tansons.

Kant je seus leiz lo brasier

et j’oz venteir

et je voi plain lou hastier

a feu torneir,

et lou boen vin dou sillier

amont porteir,

adonc voil boivre et mangier

et repozeir

a feu de charbons…

When I see the weather 

turning cold

and starting to freeze

and the trees going bare

and winter coming,

then I want to ease up

and spend time

with a good fire beside the brazier,

and a glass of claret

in a warm house

during foul weather ;

may he have no pardon,

who won’t take care of himself.


I don’t want to ride out

and burn places down,

and so I really hate going to war

and the battle cries

and piling up great pillage

and robbing people;

it’s a crazy enough business

to waste everything;

for little gain

the masters in charge

counseled with lies

start wars and disputes.


When I’m home by the fire

and I hear the wind outside

and I see the loaded spit turning

on the grill,

and good wine from the cellar

being brought up,

then I want to drink and eat

and rest,

by the wood fire…




MIDDLE HIGH GERMAN  — read by Albrecht Classen

(English translations by Albrecht Classen)

Heinrich von Veldeke

Ez habent die kalte nähte getân (MF 64, 26)

Ez habent die kalte nähte getân,
daz diu löuber an der linden
winterlîche val stân.
der minne hân ich guoten wân
und weiz sîn nû ein liebez ende;
daz ist mir zem besten al vergân,
Dâ ich die minne guot vinde
und ich mich ir aldâ underwinde.


The cold nights have been guilty
of changing the leaves on the linden trees
to take on a wintry color.
I had enjoyed high hopes for love,
and now I know that my love has ended.
I have lost the best time and place
there where I find good love
and where I can win this happiness.

Rudolf von Fenis

Daz ich den sumer alsô mæziclîchen klage (MF 83, 25)

1. Daz ich den sumer alsô mæzeclîchen klage, / walt unde bluomen die sint gar betwungen / daz ist dâ von, daz sîn zît mir noch her hât gevrumt harte kleine umb ein wîp. / vil lîhte gvreuwent si die liehten tage, / den dâ vor ist nâch ir willen gelungen. / mac mir der winter den strît noch gescheiden hin zir, der ie gerte mîn lîp, / Sô ist daz mîn reht, daz ich in iemer êre, / wan mîner swære wart nie mêre. / owê, zwiu lât mich verderben diu hêre?

2. Diu heide noch der vogel sanc / kan ân ir trôst mir niht vröide bringen, / diu mir das herze und den lîp hât bewungen, daz ich ir niht vergezzen mac. / swie vil si gesingent, mich dunket ze lanc / daz bîten. durch daz verzage ich an guoten gedingen. / dâ muoz ich dur nôt von verderben von ir, wan mir nie wîp sô nâhe gelac. / Swenne si wil, so bin ich leides âne. / mîn lachen stât sô bî sunnen der mâne. / doch was gnuoc grôz her mîn vröide von wâne.


The reason why I lament the passing of summer so moderately, and equally little the defeat of trees and flowers, is that its wonderful time has hardly helped me to win a lady’s favor. Those who have been able to achieve their goals have the summer days in wonderful memory. If winter can help me win the struggle to gain her love, I would be very thankful to him. Then it would be my duty to give him honor, as my pain right now has never been worse. Oh dear, why does the harsh lady allow my death to happen?

Neither the meadow nor the bird song can give me any joy without her, she who has control over my heart and my body so that I cannot forget her. However much they might be singing, for me it seems to take too much time to beg for her favor. I will have to perish because of her, as I have never loved any lady more than her. My laughter is so close to her as the moon is to the sun, but I had enough happiness before because of my hope for her love.

Heinrich von Morungen

Uns ist zergangen (MF 140, 32)

1. Uns ist zergangen der lieplîch summer.
dâ man brach bluomen, da lît nu der snê.
mich muoz belangen, wenne sî mînen kummer
welle volenden, der mir tuot so wê.
Jâ klage ich niht den klê,
swenne ich gedenke an ir wîplîchen wengel,
diu man ze vröide so gerne ane sê.

2. Seht an ir ougen und merkent ir kinne,
seht an ir kele wîz und prüevent ir munt.
Si ist âne lougen gestalt sam diu minne.
mir wart von vrouwen so liebez nie kunt.
Jâ hât si mich verwunt
sêre in den tôt. ich verliuse die sinne
genâde, ein küniginne, du tuo mich gesunt.

3. Die ich mit gesange hie prîse unde krœne,
an die hât got sînen wunsch wol geleit.
in gesach nu lange nie bilde alsô schœne
als ist mîn vrowe; des bin ich gemeit.
Mich vröit ir werdekeit
baz danne der meie und alle sîn dœne,
die die vogel singt; daz sî iu geseit.


1. The lovely summer has passed away.
Where we picked flowers, there is now snow
it troubles me deeply, when she wants to increase my pain; this hurts me so much.
I do not lament about the loss of clover
when I think of her womanly cheeks
which men like to look at out of pure joy.

2. Look in her eyes and notice her chin,
look at her white neck and check her lips.
She truly looks just like Lady Love.
No other woman has given me so much joy.
Yes, she has hurt me deeply
almost killed me. I am losing my senses,
mercy, you queen, make me healthy again.

3. She whom I praise and crown with my song,
has been the realization of God’s own ideal.
I have never seen such a beautiful image
as my lady. This makes me happy
her worthiness gives me more joy
than the month of May and all his noises,
which the birds make, be assured of that.

Walther von der Vogelweide (L 28, 31)

Ich hân mîn lêhen, al die werlt, ich hân mîn lêhen. / nû enfürhte ich niht den hornunc an die zêhen, / und wil alle bœse hêrren dester minre flêhen. / der edel künec, der milte künec hât mich berâten, / daz ich den sumer luft und in dem winter hitze hân. / mîn nâhgebûren dunke ich verre baz getân: / si sehent mich niht mêr an in butzen wîs als sî wîlent tâten. / ich bin ze lange arm gewesen ân mînen danc. / ich was sô voller scheltens daz mîn âten stanc: / daz hât der künec gemachet reine, und dar zuo mînen sanc.


I have a farm, listen world, I have a farm, / now I do no longer fear February at my toes / and now I will no longer beg from all the evil lords. / The noble king, the generous king has helped me to enjoy fresh air during the summer and warmth in winter. / From now on my fellow men will think more highly of me, they will no longer look at me as some strange creature. / I have been poor just too long without any fault on my part. / I was so full of criticism that my breath began to smell. The king has cleaned it up, and so also my singing. 

Walther von der Vogelweide (L. 39, 1)

Uns hât der winter geschât über al:
heide unde walt sint beide nû val,
dâ manic stimme vil suoze inne hal.
sæhe ich die megde an der strâze den bal
werfen! sô kæme uns der vogele schal.
Möhte ich verslâfen des winters zît!
wache ich die wîle, sô hân ich sîn nît,
daz sîn gewalt ist sô breit und sô wît.
weizgot er lât ouch dem meien den strît:
sô lise ich bluomen dâ rîfe nû lît.


Winter has caused damage everywhere:
meadow and forest are all grey,
where before you heard many sounds.
If I could see the girls play ball on the street,
then bird song would come back.
If only I could sleep through the winter!
When I am awake I feel only hatred 
that his power is so far and wide.
God knows, he even fights with May;
I picked flowers where there is now snow.

Neidhart L 24

Kint, bereitet iuch der sliten ûf daz îs!
da ist der leide winder kalt;
der hât uns der wünneclîchen bluomen vil benomen.
manger grüenen linden stênt ir tolden grîs,
unbesungen ist der walt.
daz ist allez von des rîfen ungenâden komen
mugt ir schouwen, wie er hât die heide erzogen?
diust von sînen schulden val.
dar zuo sint die nahtigal
alle ir wec gevlogen.

Wol bedörfte ich mîner wîsen vriunde rât
umbe ein dinc, als ich iu sage,
daz si rieten, wâ diu kint ir vreuden solten phlegen.
Megenwart der wîten stuben eine hât.
obz iu allen wol behage,
dar sul wir den gofenanz des vîretages legen.
ez ist sîner tohter wille, kom wir dar.
ir sultz alle ein ander sagen.
einen tanz alum die schragen
brüevet Engelmâr.


Girls, prepare your sleds for the ice!
The miserable winter is cold; 
he has stolen our wonderful flowers.
Many green linden trees are all shriveled. 
Nobody sings in the forest.
This is caused by the merciless frost.
Do you want to see how he treated the meadow?
It has become withered because of his fault.
Moreover, the nightingales
have all flown away.

Now I need advice from my wise friends
because of one thing, as I tell you.
Where should the young people have fun.
Megenwart has a big hall.
If you all agree,
then we’ll have a dance on weekends there.
His daughter wants us to come there
tell everybody about it.
We’ll have a dance around the table
with Engelmâr as the leader.

Neidhart L 41

Sumer, dîner süezen weter müezen wir uns ânen
dirre kalte winder trûren unde senen gît.
ich bin ungetrœstet von der lieben wolgetânen.
Wie sol ich vertrîben dise langen swæren zît,
diu die heide velwet unde mange bluomen wolgetân?
dâ von sint die vogele in dem walde des betwungen,
daz si ir singen müezen lân.

Alsô hât diu vrouwe mîn daz herze mir betwungen,
daz ich âne vröude muoz verswenden mîne tâge.
ez vervæhet niht, swaz ich ir lange hân gesungen.
mir ist alsô mære, daz ich mêre stille dage.
ich geloube niht, daz sî den mannen immer werde holt
wir verliesen, swaz wir dar gesingen unde gerûnen,
ich und jener Hildebold.

Der ist nû der tumbist under geilen getelingen,
er und einer, nennet man den jungen Willegêr.
den enkunde ich disen sumer nie von ir gedringen,
so der tanz gein âbent an der strâze gie entwer.
mangen twerhen blic den wurfen sî mich mit den ougen an
daz ich sunder mînes guoten willen vor in beiden
ie ze sweime muose gân.

Closing stanza:

Her Nîthart hât uns hie verlâzen als diu krâ den stecken
diu dâ hinne fliuget unde sitzet ûf ein sât.
ez sol ein man mit fremden frouwen niht ze vil gezecken
der der wâren schulde an sîner keine vunden hât.
er niez sîn tegelîche spîse (der hât er dâ heime genuoc)
lâz Hildebolten mit gemache! ez was ein eichel, die
er bî im in dem biutel truoc.


Summer, we are missing your good weather
this cold winter gives us sorrow and longing.
My beautiful beloved does not give me solace. 
What shall I do during these long, heavy times,
as the meadow and the flowers have withered?
The birds in the wood are defeated by you
and have to stop singing.

The same way my lady exerts force on my heart
and I have to waste my time without any joy.
It is of no use what I used to sing for her,
this weighs so heavily on me that I stay quiet.
I do not think that she will ever love any man,
both I and that [peasant] Hildebold
forfeit the award for our singing and flattering.

He is the dumbest among the horny boors
he and another guy, called the young Willeger.
All summer I could never push him from her side
when the evening dance took place on the street.
Both [guys] looked at me full of jealousy
that I could not help but to feel like a pig
right in front of their eyes.

Closing Stanza:

Lord Neithart has left us as the crow left the stick
when it flies away and sits down on the seed field.
A man should not fool around too much with other women
when there is nothing wrong with his own wife.
He should enjoy his daily bread (of which he has enough at home)
leave Hildebolt alone, it was an acorn which
he carried in his bag (scrotum).



Middle English Winter Poetry – read by Roger Dahood 

  1. Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. Rawlinson G. 22 (unique text with music, ca. 1225)
Myrie* it is whil somer ylast* Wyth foweles* song;
But now neigheth* wyndes blast
And weder* strong*. 
Ei! Ei! What, this nyght is long,
And I wyth wel* muchel* wrong 
Sorwe* and murne* and faste.
Merry / lasts
weather / strong, severe, violent

very / much
Sorrow / mourn


  1. London, British Library, MS. Harley 2253 (unique text, ca. 1320)
Wynter wakeneth* al my care;
Now thise leves waxen* bare.
Ofte I sike* and murne sare*
Whan it cometh in my thought
Of this worldes joye, how it goth al
 to noght.
sorely, grievously
Now it is and now it nis*, 
Also* it ner* nere*, y-wis*. 
That* many man seyth, sooth* it is– 
Al goth* but Goddes wille;
Alle we shullen* deye*,
thogh us like ille*.  
As if / never / had been / truly
What / true
passes, ends
must / die
though (it) displease us
Al that greyn* me* graveth* grene*,
Now it faleweth* al bidene*. 
Jhesu, help that it be sene,  
And shilde* us from Helle;
For I not* whider* I shal*, ne*how long
heer dwelle.
grain, seed/one/plants/new
withers, dies / quickly
plain, understood

don’t know/ whither/must (go)/nor


  1. Oxford, Bailliol College MS. 354 (unique text, MS. before 1550)
“The carol is spoken or sung by the minstrel in the person of the Lord of Misrule,
who presided over the Christmas festivities: his authority is indicated by his orders
to the marshal (l. 2, a functionary in charge of seating arrangements at feasts) and
by his power to extract forfeits, e.g. confinement in the stocks for those who did
not enter into the revelry (l. 11).” –R. H. Robbins
Make we mery bothe more &  lasse*         great and small, i.e., everyone                                                          
            For now ys the tyme of Crystymas.
Lett no man cum into this hall–
Grome*, page, nor yet marshall, 
But that sum sport he bring with-all*,
For now ys the tyme of Crystmas.
Groom, man-servant
entertainment / in addition
Yff that he say he cannot syng,
sum oder* sport then lett hym bring, 
That* yt may please at thys festing, 
For now ys the tyme of Crystmas.

So that

Yff he say he can nowght* do,
Then for my loue aske hym no mo*;
But to the stokkes then lett hym go,


  1. London, British Library Additional MS. 14997 (unique text, 1500)
Refrain:       Hay, ay, hay, ay,
            Make we mery as we may.
1. Now ys Yole comyn with gentyll chere,
Of merthe & gomyn* he has no pere*
In euery londe where he comys nere* 
Is merthe & gomyn, I dar wele say.
 amusement / peer, equal
2. Now ys comyn* a messyngere  
Of yore lorde, Ser Nu Yere*
Byddes* vs all be mere* here
And make as mere as we may.
has come
Sir / New Year
(Who) commands / merry
3. Therefore euery mon that ys here
Synge a carol on hys manere*
Yf he con* non, we schall* hym lere*,
So that we be mere allway.
in his own way, as best he can
know / must / teach
4. Whosoeuer makes heve* chere*,
Were he neuer to me dere*,
In a dyche* I wolde* he were, 
To dry hys clothes tyll hyt were day.
heavy, serious / face, facial expression
No matter how dear he might be to me
ditch / would wish
5. Mende the fyre, & make gud chere!
Fyll the cuppe, ser* botelere*
Let euery mon drynke to hys fere*!  
Thys endes my carol with care awaye.
sir / butler
fellow, companion


From Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (?1390)
Þis kyng lay at Camylot vpon Krystmasse
With mony luflych˚ lorde, ledez˚ of þe best, 
Rekenly˚ of þe Rounde Table alle þo rich breþer˚,
With rych reuel oryght˚ and rechles merþes.˚ 
Þer tournayed tulkes˚ by tymez ful mony˚,
Justed ful jolilé˚ þise gentyle knightes,  
Syþen kayred˚ to þe court caroles to make.
For þer þe fest watz ilyche ful˚ fiften dayes,
With alle þe mete and þe mirþe þat men couþe avyse˚;
Such glaum ande gle˚ glorious to here,   
Dere˚ dyn vpon day, daunsyng on nyghtes,
Al watz hap˚ vpon heghe in hallez and chambrez  
With lordez and ladies, as leuest him þoght˚
With all þe wele of þe worlde þay woned þer samen˚,
Þe most kyd˚ knyghtez vnder Krystes seluen˚
And þe louelokkest˚ ladies þat euer lif haden˚,
And he þe comlokest˚ kyng þat þe court haldes˚
For al watz þis fayre folk in her˚ first age, 
on sille˚,  
Þe hapnest˚ vnder heuen,
Kyng hyghest mon of wylle˚
Hit were now gret nye to neuen˚ 
So hardy a here˚ on hille.
many a courteous / men
worthily / brothers (in arms)
properly / carefree joys
men / very many times
jousted very gallantly

afterwards rode
kept up in full (for)
noise and revelry
as seemed most pleasant to them
remained there together
renowned / Christ himself
most courteous ladies / lived
comeliest / rules
in the hall
most fortunate
temper, mind
difficulty to name
Wyle Nw Yer watz so yep˚ þat hit watz nwe cummen,
Þat day doubble on þe dece˚ watz þe douth˚ serued.
Fro˚ þe kyng watz cummen with knyghtes into þe halle,
Þe chauntré of˚ þe chapel cheued to an ende˚
Loude crye watz þer kest of˚ clerkez and oþer,
Nowel nayted˚ onewe, neuened˚ ful ofte;
And syþen riche˚ forth runnen to reche hondeselle˚,
Yeyed˚, “Yeres-yiftes!” on high, yelde˚ hem bi hond, 
Debated busyly aboute þo˚ giftes;  
Ladies laghed ful loude, þogh þay lost haden,  
And he þat wan watz not wrothe, þat may ye wel trawe.
Alle þis mirþe þay maden to þe mete˚ tyme; 
When þay had waschen worþyly þay wenten to sete,
Þe best burne˚ ay abof, as hit best semed, 
Whene Guenore, ful gay˚, grayþed˚ in þe myddes, 
Dressed˚ on þe dere des, dubbed˚ al aboute, 
Smal sendal˚ bisides, a selure hir ouer 
Of tryed˚ tolouse˚, and tars˚ tapites˚ innoghe, 
Þat were enbrawded and beten˚ wyth þe best gemmes 
Þat myght be preued of prys wyth penyes to bye˚,
in daye. 
Þe comlokest to discrye  
Þer glent˚ with yghen gray, 
A semloker˚ þat euer he syghe 
Soth moght˚ no mon say.
dais / company
singing from / having ended
spoken by
celebrated, repeated / spoken
nobles / give gifts
cried / gave


highest ranking man
very lovely / seated
seated / adorned
fine silk / canopy
fine / red cloth / rich cloth / wall hangings
shown worth great cost
glanced, glinted, sparkled
 in truth might

Bot Arthure wolde not ete til al were serued,
He watz so joly˚ of his joyfnes˚, and sumquat childgered˚:
His lif liked hym lyght˚, he louied þe lasse˚
Auþer˚ to longe lye or to longe sitte,  
So bisied˚ him his yonge blod and his brayn wylde˚.
And also an oþer maner meued him eke˚    
Þat he þurgh nobelay˚ had nomen˚, he wolde neuer ete
Vpon such a dere day er hym deuised were˚   
Of sum auenturus˚ þyng an vncouþe˚ tale, 
Of sum mayn˚ meruayle, þat he myght trawe,
Of alderes˚, of armes, of oþer auenturus, 
Oþer˚ sum segg˚ hym bisoght˚ of sum siker˚ knyght  
To joyne wyth hym in iustyng˚, in jopardé to lay˚
Lede˚, lif for lyf, leue vchon oþer˚,
As fortune wolde fulsun hom˚, þe fayrer˚ to haue.
Þis watz þe kynges countenaunce˚ where˚ he in court were,
At vch farand fest˚ among his fre meny˚   
in halle.
Þerfore of face so fere
He stightlez˚ stif˚ in stalle˚
Ful yep˚ in þat Nw Yere 
Much mirthe he mas˚ withalle. 
lively / youthfulness / boyish
active / didn’t like (lit. loved the less)
stirred / restless
as well
on his honor / undertaken
before it were told to him
daring / strange, marvelous
or / man / for some true
To joust with him / to risk
(each) man / allow the other
help them / the better (i.e., victory)
custom / wherever
splendid feast / noble retinue

rules / boldly / erect
very young

Thus þer stondes in stale þe stif kyng hisseluen,
Talkkande bifore þe hyghe table of trifles ful hende˚.
There gode Gawan watz grayþed˚ Gwenore bisyde, 
And Agrauayn a la Dure Mayn˚ on þat oþer syde sittes, 
Boþe þe kynges sistersunes˚ and ful siker knightes; 
Bischop Bawdewyn abof biginez þe table˚,
And Ywan, Vryn son, ette with hymseluen˚
Þise were dight on þe des˚ and derworþly˚ serued, 
And siþen mony siker segge at þe sidbordez˚
Þen þe first cors come with crakkyng of trumpes,
Wyth mony˚ baner ful bryght þat þerbi henged;  
Nwe nakryn noyse˚ with þe noble pipes, 
Wylde werbles˚ and wyght˚ wakned lote˚,  
Þat mony hert ful highe hef at her towches˚
Dayntés dryuen þerwyth of ful dere metes˚
Foysoun˚ of þe fresche, and on so fele˚ disches  
Þat pine˚ to fynde þe place þe peple biforne  
For to sette þe sylueren þat sere sewes halden˚ 
on clothe.
Iche lede as he loued hymselue˚ 
Þer laght˚ withouten loþe˚;  
Ay two˚ had disches twelue, 
Good ber and bryght wyn boþe.   
noble, courteous
of the Hard Hand
nephews (sister’s sons)
sits on Arthur’s right-hand side
Shared dishes with him (i.e., Baldwin)
seated at the dais / nobly
lower tables

many a
kettle drums’ sound
trills / loud / created echoes
rose up very high at their sounds
delicacies brought in of very costly foods
abundance / many
(it was) difficult
silver dishes that held different stews

each one as he pleased
took / offending
every two people

Now wyl I of hor˚ seruise say yow no more,  
For vch wyghe˚ may wel wit˚ no wont þat þer were˚
An oþer noyse ful newe neghed˚ biliue˚,
Þat˚ þe lude˚ myght haf leue liflode to cach˚;
For vneþe˚ watz þe noyce˚ not a whyle sesed˚,  
And þe fyrst cource in þe court kyndely˚ serued,   
Þer hales˚ in at þe halle dor an aghlich mayster˚….  

person / know / lack was there
drew near / quickly
such that / king / be allowed to eat
hardly / music / ended
properly, courteously
rushes / awesome, fearsome lord




Medieval Italian Poetry – read by Fabian Alfie


Io son venuto al punto de la rota

1. Io son venuto al punto de la rota

che l’orizzonte, quando il sol si corca,

ci partorisce il geminato cielo,

e la stella d’amor ci sta remota

per lo raggio lucente che la ‘nforca

sì di traverso, che le si fa velo;

e quel pianeta che conforta il gelo

si mostra tutto a noi per lo grand’arco

nel qual ciascun di sette fa poca ombra:

e però non disgombra

un so penser d’amore, ond’io son carco,

la mente mia, ch’è più dura che petra

in tener forte imagine di petra. 


2. Levasi de la rena d’Etiopia

lo vento peregrin che l’aere turba,

per la spera del sol ch’ora la scalda;

e passa il mare, onde conduce copia

di nebbia tal, che, s’altro non la sturba,

questo emisperio chiude tutto e salda;

e poi si solve, e cade in bianca falda

di fredda neve ed in noiosa pioggia,

onde l’aere s’attrista tutto e piagne:

e Amor, che sue ragne

ritira in alto pel vento che poggia,

non m’abbandona; sì è bella donna

questa crudel che m’è data per donna.


3. Fuggito è ogne augel che ‘l caldo segue

del paese d’Europa, che non perde

le sette stelle gelide unquemai;

e li altri han posto a le lor voci triegue

per non sonarle infino al tempo verde,

se ciò non fosse per cagion di guai;

e tutti li animali che son gai

di lor natura, son d’amor disciolti,

però che ‘l freddo  lor spirito ammorta:

e ‘l mio più d’amor porta;

ché li dolzi pensier non mi son tolti

né mi son dati per volta di tempo

ma donna li mi dà c’ha picciol tempo.


4. Passato hanno lor termine le fronde

che trasse fuor la virtù d’Ariete

per adornare il mondo, e morta è l’erba;

ramo di foglia verde a noi s’asconde

se non se in lauro, in pino o in abete

o in alcun che sua verdura serba;

e tanto è la stagion forte ed acerba,

c’ha morti li fioretti per le piagge,

li quai non poten tollerar la brina:

e la crudele spina

però Amor di cor non la mi tragge;

per ch’io son fermo di portarla sempre

ch’io sarò in vita, s’io vivesse sempre.


5. Versan le vene fummifere acque

per li vapor che la terra ha nel ventre,

che d’abisso li tirasuso in alto;

onde cammino al ben giorno mi piacque

che ora è fatto rivo, e sarà mentre

che durerà del verno il grande assalto;

la terra fa un suol che par di smalto

e l’acqua morta si converte in vetro

per la freddura che di fuor la serra:

e io de la mia guerra

non son però tornato un passo a retro,

né vo’ tornar; ché, se ‘l martiro è dolce,

la morte de’ passare ogni altro dolce.


Canzone, or che sarà di me ne l’altro

dolce tempo novello, quando piove

amore in terra da tutti li cieli,

quando per questi geli

amore è solo in me, e non altrove?

Saranne quello ch’è d’un uom di marmo,

se in pargoletta fia per core un marmo.

1.  I have come to that point on the wheel when the horizon, once the sun goes down, brings forth the twinned heaven for us; and the star of love is removed from us by the shining beam which so rides across it as to veil it away; and the planet that intensifies the cold stands fully revealed to us along the great arc in which each of the seven casts the shortest shadow.  And yet my mind does not shake off a single one of the thoughts of love that burden me—my mind is harder thanstone in strongly retaining an image ofstone









2.  The pilgrim wind that darkens the air rises from the sands of Ethiopia, now heated by the sun’s sphere; and crossing the sea, it brings up such a quantity of cloud that, unless dispersed by another wind, the cloud-mass encloses and blocks up our hemisphere; and then it dissolves and falls in white flakes of chill snow and dreary rain, so that all the air grows sad and weeps.  And yet Love, who draws his nets aloft with the soaring wind, still does not leave me, so fair is this cruel lady who is given to me as alady








3.  Every bird that follows the warmth has fled from the European lands which never lose the seven freezing stars; and the rest have imposed a truce on their tongues, and will make no sound until the green season, unless it be to lament; and all the beasts that are lusty by nature are released from love, for the cold numbs their spirit.  And yet my spirit is more full of love than ever; for sweet thoughts are neither taken from me, nor given, with changes of season, but a woman gives them who has lived but a short season









4.  The leaves brought forth by the power of the Ram to adorn the world have passed their term, and the grass is dead; branches green with leaf are taken from our sight, save in bay or pine or fir, or in other trees that retain their leaf; and so harsh and bitter is the season, it has killed the frail flowers of the field, unable to withstand the frost.  And yet Love will not draw from my heart his cruel thorn; so that I am resolved to bear itever, all life long, though I were to live for ever











5.  The springs spew forth fumy waters because the earth draws the gases that are hot in its bowels upwards from the abyss; so that a path that pleased me in fine weather is now a stream, and so will remain as long as winter’s great onslaught endures; the earth has formed a crust like rock and the dead waters turn into glass because of the cold that locks them in.  And yet I have not withdrawn one step from the struggle, nor will I withdraw; for is all suffering be sweet, death must be sweet above all things.









Congedo.  My song, what will become of me in that other, that sweet young season when love pours down to the earth from the heavens; if love, amid all this cold, is found only in me and nowhere else?  It will be with me as a man of marble, if a girl keeps a heart of marble



Al poco giorno e al gran cerchio d’ombra

1. Al poco giorno e al gran cerchio d’ombra

son giunto, lasso, ed al bianchir de’ colli,

quando si perde lo color ne l’erba:

e ‘l mio disio però non cangia il verde,

sì è barbato ne la dura petra

che parla e sente come fosse donna.


2. Similemente questa nova donna

si sta gelata come neve a l’ombra;

ché non la move, se non come petra,

il dolce tempo che riscalda i colli,

e che li fa tornar di bianco in verde

perché li copre di fioretti e d’erba. 


3. Quand’ella ha in testa una ghirlanda d’erba,

trae de la mente nostra ogn’altra donna;

perché si mischia il crespo giallo e ‘l verde

sì bel, ch’Amor lì viene a stare a l’ombra,

che m’ha serrato intra piccioli colli

più forte assai che la calcina petra.


4. La sua bellezza ha più vertù che petra,

e ‘l colpo suo non può sanar per erba;

ch’io son fuggito per piani e per colli,

per potere scampar da cotal donna

e dal suo lume non mi può far ombra

poggio nè muro mai nè fronda verde.


5. Io l’ho vedua già vestita a verde,

sì fatta ch’ella avrebbe messo in petra

l’amor ch’io porto pur a la sua ombra:

ond’io l’ho chesta in un bel prato d’erba,

innamorata com’anco fu donna,

e chiuso intorno d’altissimi colli.


6. Ma ben ritorneranno i fiumi a’ colli,

prima che questo legno molle e verde

s’infiammi, come suol far bella donna,

di me; che mi torrei dormire in petra

tutto il mio tempo e gir pascendo l’erba,

sol per veder do’ suoi panni fanno ombra.


Quandunque i colli fanno più nera ombra,

sotto un bel verde la giovane donna

la fa sparer, com’uom petra sott’erba. 

1.  To the short day and the great circle of shadow I have come, alas, and to the whitening of the hills, when the grass loses its color: and yet my desire remains ever green, it is so rooted in the hard stone which speaks and has senses like a woman





2.  This young woman stays frozen like snow in shadow; for the sweet season moves her no more than stone, the season that warms the hills and turns them from white to green, covering them with flowers and grass





3.  When she wears on her head a garland of grass she takes every otherwoman from our mind; for the curling yellow and the green mingle so beautifully that Love comes to dwell in their shadow, Love who has locked me between his small hills more tightly than cement locks stone





4.  Her beauty has more power thanstone, nor can her blows be healed bygrass: and I have ever fled over plains and hills to escape, if possible, from such a woman; but from her light I can find no shadow under mountain or wall or green bough.





5.  I once saw her clothed in greenand such that she would have imparted to stone the love I bear to her mere shadow; hence I have desired her in a fair grass field—as much in love as ever a woman was—enclosed by great hills






6.  But surely rivers will return to thehills before this wet green wood catches fire, as is the way of fairwoman, for me—who would consent to sleep on stone all my days and go about eating grass, only to see where her dress casts a shadow. 







Whenever the hills cast darkestshadow this young woman makes it disappear beneath a fair green, as one makes stone disappear under grass




Folgore da San Gimignano 

To a Noble Company of Sienese

A la brigata nobele e cortese

en tutte quelle parte, dove sono

con allegrezza stando, sempre dono

cani, uccelli e danari per ispese,

ronzin portanti, quaglie a volo prese,

bracchi levar, correr veltri a bandono:

in questo regno Niccolò corono,

per ch’ell’è ‘l fior de la città sanese;

Tengoccio e Min di Tengo ed Ancaiano,

Bartolo con Mugàvero e Fainotto,

che paiono figliuoi del re Priàno,

prodi e cortesi più che Lancilotto;

se bisognasse, con le lance in mano

farìano torneamenti a Camelotto.

To the noble and courteous band wherever they may be, for they are always joyful, I give dogs, hawks and plenty of money,


Good riding horses, quails taken in flight, deer-hounds, greyhounds and swift whippets: and in this kingdom I crown Niccolò because he is the flower of the city of Siena.


Tingoccio, Min di Tigo, and Anchaiano, Bartolo, Mugavero and Fainotto, who might be sons of King Priam,


More gallant and more courteous than Lancelot—worthy with land in hand to joust at Camelot.



E di novembre a Petrïuolo al bagno,

con trenta muli carchi de moneta:

la ruga sia tutta coverta a seta;

coppe d’argento, bottacci di stagno:

e dar a tutti stazzonier guadagno;

torchi, doppier che vegnan di Chiareta;

confetti con cedrata de Gaeta;

e bèa ciascun e conforti ‘l compagno.

E ‘l freddo vi sia grande e ‘l fòco spesso;

fagiani, starne, colombi, mortiti,

lèvori, cavrïoli rosto e lesso:

e sempre aver acconci gli appetiti;

la notte e ‘l vento, ‘l piover a ciel messo:

e siate ne le letta ben forniti.

For November you shall go to the baths of Petriuolo with thirty mules laden with money; let the street be covered with silk, silver cups and pewter bottles;


And let the shopkeepers have their profit.  Your torches and candlesticks shall come from Chiareta and from Gaeta you lemon-flavored candies; let each man drink and rejoice the company.


The cold shall be great and your fires frequent.  Pheasants, partridges, pigeons, ragouts, hares roebucks roast and boiled—


Let your appetites be always ready for them; at night there shall be a gale and pouring rain but you shall all be well tucked-up in bed.




E di dicembre una città in piano:

sale terrene, grandissimi fòchi,

tappeti tesi, tavolier e giochi,

torticci accesi, star co’ dadi en mano,

e l’oste inebrïato e catellano,

e porci morti e finissimi cochi,

ghiotti morselli, ciascun bèa e mandòchi:

le botte sian maggior che San Galgano.

E siate ben vestiti e foderati

di guarnacche, tabarri e di mantegli

e di cappucci fini e smesurati;

e beffe far de’ tristi cattivegli,

de’ miseri dolenti sciagurati

avari: non vogliate usar con egli. 

And for December I give you a city in the plain, ground-floor rooms and huge fires, woven carpets, chess boards and games and lighted torches; and let there be always gifts in your hands;


For your host I give you a glutton and wine-bibber; with dead pigs and most skillful cooks, neat morsels, each one good and sumptuous, and wine-kegs higher than San Galgano.


And you shall be well-clothed and wrapped in long gowns, mantles and cloaks, and in fine voluminous hoods;


And make scorn of all sad vagabonds and miserable mournful wretches.  Misers—have nothing to do with them.




I’ doto voi, nel mese de gennaio

corte con fochi di salette accese,

camer’ e letta d’ogni bello arnese,

lenzuol’ de seta e copertoi di vaio,

tregèa, confetti e mescere arazzaio,

vestiti di doagio e di rascese,

e ‘n questo modo star a le defese,

mova scirocco, garbino e rovaio.

Uscir di fòr alcuna volta il giorno,

gittando de la neve bella e bianca

a le donzelle che staran da torno;

e quando fosse la compagna stanca,

a questa corte faciase retorno:

e si riposi la brigata franca. 

I give you in the month of January banquets with fires of burning rushes, rooms and beds with beautiful embroideries, silk sheets an coverlets of vair,


Sweetmeats, comfits and sharp mixed wine, cloth of Douai and of Russia.  Thus you shall be defended when South Wind or West Wind or North Wind rise.


Sometimes during the day you shall go out to throw soft white snowballs at the girls,


And when you are all tired of this you shall come back to dinner, and there refresh the whole company. 




Poems by Jalal Al-Din Rumi

Read by Professor Kamran Talattof


Translations into English Verse’ by A.J. Arberry, 1949.

Number one

Essence is poverty,
Accidents all else be;
Poverty is heart’s ease,
All else the soul’s disease.
The round world complete
Delusion is, and deceit;
Poverty is the sole
Treasure, and spirit’s goal.

Thou who lovest, like a crow,
Winter’s chill and winter’s snow,
Ever exiled form the vale’s
Roses red, and nightingales:
Take this moment to thy heart!
When the moment shall depart,
Long thou’lt seek it as it flies
With a hundred lamps and eyes.

Thy childhood days are sped,
Thy youth is gone,
Old age is about thy head;
From the world fare on.
Three days is the pledge, no more,
The guest shall stay;
Master, thy time is o’er-
Up, be on thy way

Number two

Seek, and thou shalt find
Another purpose in my mind;
See, and thou shalt prove
A fairer idol is my love.
God my witness be,
Love too is not enough for me;
Comes another spring
After this autumn blossoming.

In love if for one moment
Thy spirit finds repose,
Where stand the ranks of lovers
What place hast thou with those?
Then like a thorn be pricking,
That like a rose thy fair
May pin thee to her bosom,
And braid thee in her hair.

Number three

Time bringeth swift to end
The rout men keep;
Death’s wolf is nigh to rend
These silly sheep.
See, how in pride they go
With lifted head,
Till Fate with a sudden blow
Smiteth them dead.

Thou who lovest, life a crow,
Winter’s chill and winter’s snow,
Ever exiled from the vale’s
Roses red, and nightingales:
Take this moment to thy heart!
When the moment shall depart,
Long thou ‘lt seek it as it flies
With a hundred lamps and eyes.


Sometimes I wonder, sweetest love, if you
Were a mere dream in along winter night,
A dream of spring-days, and of golden light
Which sheds its rays upon a frozen heart;
A dream of wine that fills the drunken eye.
And so I wonder, sweetest love, if I
Should drink this ruby wine, or rather weep;
Each tear a bezel with your face engraved,
A rosary to memorize your name…
There are so many ways to call you back-
Yes, even if you only were a dream.



Translation by Arberry (Mystical Poems of Rumi 1, #80, p.70):

Die now, die now, in this Love die; when you die in this Love, you will

all receive new life.

Die now, die now, and do not fear this death, for you will come forth from

this earth and seize the heavens.

Die now, die now, and break away from this carnal soul, for this carnal

soul is as a chain and you are as prisoners.

Take an axe to dig through the prison; when you have broken the prison you

will all be kings and princes.

Die now, die now before the beauteous King; when you have died before the

King, you will all be kings and renowned.

Die now, die now, and come forth from this cloud; when you come forth from

this cloud, you will all be radiant full moons.

Be silent, be silent; silence is the sign of death; it is because of life

that you are fleeing from the silent one.



Lover Me

Translation by from Shahram Shiva

Lover me, cave me, 
the sweet burn of Love me.
Lover you, cave you, 
Shams protect me.
Noah you, soul you, 
conqueror and the conquered you
the awakened heart you.
Why hold me at that gate of your secret?

Light you, celebration you, 
the victorious land you
the bird of Mount Sinai you. 
You carry me on your tired beak.
Drop you, ocean you, 
compassion and rage you, 
sugar you, poison you.
Please don’t continue to hurt me.

The orb of the Sun you, 
the house of Venus you,
the sliver of hope you. 
Open up the way for me.
Day you, night you, 
fasting and the crumbs of a beggar you,
water and a pitcher you.
Quench my thirst, Beloved.

Bait you, trap you, 
wine you, cup you,
baked and raw you. 
Please don’t let me be unbaked.

If you don’t run my body too hard, 
if you don’t cut my way too much, 
if you try to help rather than make my life more difficult.
Oh, all these words of mine. 

Hebrew Poems by Judah Halevi, read by Esther Fuchs, University of Arizona