Wednesday, 30 May 2012

A Church Romance, c.1500

Something fun for a sunny day: this vivid little medieval poem is amusing evidence that even three hundred years before Thomas Hardy's parents, men and women were flirting in church. It's also basically the sixteenth-century version of those 'missed connections' adverts you still sometimes see in newspapers, or indeed of this...

(I've modernised the spelling from this text)

Go, little bill, and commend me heartly
Unto her that I call my true-love and lady,
By this same true tokening:
That she saw me in a kirk on a Friday morning,
With a sparrow-hawk on my hand,
And my man did by her stand,
And an old woman sat her by,
That little knew of courtesy,
And often on her she did smile
To look on me for a while.
And yet by this, another token:
To the kirk she came with a gentlewoman
Even behind the kirk door
They kneeled both on the floor
And fast they did pitter-patter –
I'm sure they said matins together! [he's joking: no, they didn't...]
Yet once or twice, at the least,
She did on me her eye cast,
Then I went forth privily
And greeted them courteously.
By all these tokens, truly,
Commend me to her heartily!

Vincent Vidal, Young Woman Saying the Rosary

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