Friday 22 April 2011

Good Friday: I sike when I singe

An anonymous late thirteenth-century poem on the Crucifixion.

1. I sike when I singe
For sorewe that I se,
When I with wepinge
Beholde upon the tre
And se Jesu, the swete
His herte blod forlete
For the love of me;
His woundes waxen wete,
They wepend stille and mete;
Mary, reweth thee.

2. Heye upon a downe
Ther all folk it se may
A mile from uch towne
Aboute the midday
The rode is up arered;
His frendes aren afered
And clingeth so the clay;
The rode stond in stone,
Marye stond hire one,
And seith "Weylaway."

3. When I thee beholde
With eyen bright bo
And thy body colde
Thy ble waxeth blo;
Thou hengest all of blode,
So heye upon the rode,
Betwene theves two.
Who may sike more?
Marye wepeth sore
And siht all this wo.

4. The nailes beth too stronge,
The smithes are too sleye
Thou bledest all too longe,
The tre is all too heye;
The stones beth all wete.
Alas! Jesu the swete
For now frend hast thou non
Bote Seint Johan, mourninde,
And Marye, wepinde,
For pine that thee is on.

5. Ofte when I sike
And makie my mon,
Well ille thah me like,
Wonder is it non
When I se honge heye
And bittre pines dreye
Jesu, my lemman,
His wondes sore smerte,
The spere all to his herte
And thourh his sides gon.

6. Ofte when I sike
With care I am thourhsoght;
When I wake, I wike,
Of sorewe is all my thoght.
Alas! Men beth wode
That swereth by the rode,
And selleth him for noght
That boghte us out of sinne.
He bring us to winne,
That hath us dere boght!


1. I sigh when I sing
For the sorrow I see
When I with weeping
Gaze upon the tree
And see Jesus, the sweet,
His heart's blood lost
For love of me;
His wounds grow wet
They weep copiously;
Mary, it grieves thee!

2. High upon a hill
Where everyone may see
A mile from any town
At midday,
The Rood is raised up.
His friends are afraid,
Cast down by sorrow
The Rood stands on the stone,
Mary stands alone,
And cries, "Weylaway!" ["Alas!"]

3. When I behold thee,
Thy two eyes bright
And thy body cold
And thy face like ash,
Hanging, covered in blood,
So high upon the Rood
Between the two thieves -
Who can sorrow more?
Mary weeps sore,
Seeing all this woe.

4. The nails are too strong,
The smiths are too cunning,
Thy bleeding is too long,
The tree is too high;
The stones are all wet;
Alas, Jesus, the sweet!
For now thou hast no friend
Except St John, mourning,
And Mary, weeping,
Because of thy pain.

5. Often when I sigh
And make my complaint
It is great distress to me,
And it is no wonder -
When I see, hanging high,
Suffering bitter pains,
Jesus, my darling;
His wounds smart sore,
The spear goes to his heart,
And through his sides.

6. Often when I sigh,
I am pierced through with grief;
When I wake I grow weak,
All my thoughts are of sorrow.
Alas, men are mad
Who swear by the cross
And count him as nothing
Who saved us from sin! [literally: 'sell him for nothing who bought us']
May he bring us into joy
Who has bought us at such a price!

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