Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Lullay, myn lykyng - Anonymous (Sloane Manuscript)


Lullay, myn lykyng, my dere sone,
myn swetyng,
Lullay, my dere herte, myn owyn
dere derlyng.

I saw a fayr maydyn syttyn and
Sche lullyd a lytyl chyld, a swete


That eche lord is that that made alle
Of alle lordis he is lord, of alle
kynges kyng.


Ther was mekyl melody at that
chyldes berthe,
Alle tho wern in hevene blys thei
made mekyl merthe,


Aungelebryth thei song that nyt and
seydyn to that chyld,
"Blyssid be thou, and so be sche
that is bothe mek and myld."


Prey we now to that chyld, and to 
his moder dere,
Grawnt hem his blyssysng that now
makyn chere.


Today's poem isn't a poem at all, but a lyric, written in Middle English, about the birth of Christ.  It had a tune to accompany it at one point, but that has been lost to history, and the author is unknown.  Mostly, it is easy to read (if you can get past the hyper use of the letter y), and a pleasant, light text.  I think reading Middle English is a good mental exercise, even for those who haven't studied it.  Most words can be worked out by pronouncing them out loud.  Just remember, pronounce the vowels like you would the vowels in Latin, or a romance language.  Pure vowels, no dipthongs.  You may need help with the word "Aungelebryt," which is "angels bright" or "bright angels."

Personally, I find Middle English and later early Modern English poetry to be very refreshing, so absent as it is of pathos and self-importance.  It's like a spring breeze, and I hope it can refresh you a bit in these winter days.


  1. Simple, melodic and full of joy. Quite a treat after a flat grey winter: a lovely choice. Thank you for a thought-provoking blog.

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