Middle English Seminar Edition 2019
An Edition and Translation of Three Middle English Lyrics:
“Wose wartt wid pritte abeit amadde,” “Liuis firist & licames hele,”
and “Le fiz marie, cil ke tut le munde fist”
Introduction, edition, and translation by
Marijn, Berber Bossenbroek, Annefleur Donk
Bregje Duinhof, Simone, Maria,
Julia Roos, Leontine, Gessica Sastrosoedjono,
Renee, and Rob
With a preface by
Diplomatic Editions and Translations
Wose wartt wid pritte abeit amadde
Liuis firist & licames hele
Le fiz marie, cil ke tut le munde fist
When we read, we of course bring to the practice our own experiences, interests and desires. This is true of reading not only printed texts but also manuscripts.
So it is perhaps not surprising that when I turned back to Trinity College Cambridge manuscript B. 14. 39 after almost a year, in search of poems for my Middle English seminar students to use for their new editions, I found I was drawn to different features of the manuscript than the ones that interested me before.
What stood out to me the most this year was this thirteenth century manuscript’s remarkable multilingualism. While multilingual manuscripts were not uncommon at the time and medieval England was, for a considerable period of time, a fundamentally multilingual society, this manuscript stands out for the rich and imaginative ways in which its languages are interwoven. A single folio will include English, French and Latin. Passages in different languages will sometimes echo each other, sometimes embellish each other, and sometimes build on each other.
Multilingualism of this nature fascinates. It calls on us to rethink and reimagine the diverse ways in which language communities interact to produce new meanings, productive cross-cultural exchanges, and exquisite, tantalizing beauty—not only in medieval England but also in our own multilingual environments.
Given the remarkable linguistic arrangements of the manuscript, I decided to select some multilingual—or macaronic—texts for this years’ edition project, while keeping the structure of the project much the same as last year’s. This decision meant that this year’s class encountered some particular linguistic challenges, which they approached with praiseworthy rigour and dedication; one group drew on prior knowledge of Latin to analyse a parallel text, while two others engaged with some interpolated lines of French verse.
The class’ rigour was matched perhaps only by its enthusiasm, which led to an unusual experience for me that arose while the class was working on the project.
At 2 pm, when we have our scheduled class break, I announced “Break time!”
No one got up to leave, so I assumed no one had heard me. I announced it again.
Suddenly, I realized that everyone was too engrossed in their editions to leave the room. This, in my books, is a sign of a strikingly dedicated group of students.
Aside from a few passages in Anglo-Norman, all transcriptions, translations and introductions were created by members of the Middle English seminar class; I have edited them only lightly for accuracy and style. The editorial policies here are the same as those adopted for last year’s edition project.
When embarking on a new project it is often a good idea to look back at what has gone before you. Our project this year therefore began with a reading of the lyrics that were edited by previous Middle English students at Leiden, and next year’s class will, in turn, read the lyrics edited by this years’ group. I vaguely recall describing this during our class as a kind of Middle English pyramid scheme. Thankfully no one was deterred and the editions presented here are the happy result.
So, bravo to the Middle English seminar group of 2019! May the same rigour and enthusiasm that you brought to this project enrich all your future endeavours.
Dr. Krista A. Murchison
Assistant Professor (UD) of Medieval English Literature