Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Mirie it is

Rain beating on the windows made me think of this little song.

It dates from the early thirteenth century and survives, with its original music, on a single leaf of parchment which was bound into another manuscript. You can see a picture of the leaf here on the Bodleian website (not the side with this song, but the other side of the page, which has two songs in French). It looks like it's faced some violent weather indeed...

Mirie it is while sumer y-last
With fugheles son
Oc nu neheth windes blast
And weder strong.
Ei, ei, what this nicht is long!
And ich with wel michel wrong
Soregh and murne and fast.

Merry it is while summer lasts
With birds' song;
But now draws near the wind's blast
And weather strong.
Ei, ei, what, this night is long!
And I with very great wrong
Sorrow and mourn and fast.

1 comment:

a clerk wonyinge fer by south said...

This is a lovely and moving rendering of what I believe is the oldest written song in English. It's also a timely reminder that for most people in the Middle Ages life was about getting enough to eat and keeping the wind and rain out.
I suspect that 'michel wrong' covers illness as well as all the other complaints one might have about life...