THE SHORTE TRETISE OF THE SECONDE SCOLARS CONFERRENCE OF OOLD BRITANNIA
HER BEGINNITH THE SHORTE TRETISE OF THE SECONDE SCOLARS CONFERRENCE OF OOLD BRITANNIA.
Bitwene Mersh and Averill, I heare,
the spray beginth to springe ilke yeare,
The fowles smal and grete burst into song,
whil night him shortes and the days waxe long.
But natheless, one yeare this was not so,
I mene certes DOMINI ANNO
two thusand thriteen yif I not amisse,
For in that yeare ne cam ther non such blisse.
The winter grim with all his colde shoures
of snow and sleete retourned. To all tho boures
within that shire of HESSE doun he rayned,
for such a cas had certis he ordayned
that MURPHIE is icalled, in that space
a SCOLARS CONFERRENCE was to tak place.
But natheless, from shires farre and wide
of EUROPA to GISSEN thay hem hide,
wel nine and twentye scholars, by my trothe,
thay gathered hem in divers colours clothe
on THURSDAYE, in a jollye compaynie
to eat and drinke, and joyne the revelrye
of daunces and charades til nightes deade.
Thos GISSEN scholars offerd up a bedde,
and also mete and drinke for straunge clerkis,
that from al shires had come, to tell of werkis
that wreten wern som hundred years bifore,
and convers hem of tongues from days of yore.
On FRIDAYE, whann the sunne was out of bedde
tho scholars that had well been esed and fedde
cam to the halle HUMBOLDUS is yclepped
for that renoumned man whos name is steped
in reverence for exploratiouns
to landes ferre and straunge, whos formations
of rocke described he wel with wordes newe.
He satte him in a shippe, the wind him blewe,
to CANARIE, and eek AMERICA,
PERU, BOGOTE, and NEWE SPANIA.
But so it nought be said that I digresse,
I tourne to our clerks ayain in HESSE.
Of pageants helde thay there conversatiouns
and parlayed of multiple negatiouns
that founden arre in werkes of som CHAUCER,
that somkind vintner was, or else a saucer.
Certis, myselfe, I nave nought herd no thynge,
of no man of that name, nor his werkynge.
A wise clerke thanne shewed at libraries
wel oolde bookes in tho seintuaries.
At evensonge, som scholars of good chere
atte tabern highte OOLD GISSEN had a beere.
The next daye whyche for SATURNUS is hight
com faste, our felaws rosen with the light
of PHOEBUS, soone again at table ronde
helde conversations, as I understonde,
of auncient kings, and eek of hir estate,
and telled tales of blessid SAINTE AGATHE,
of ERKENWOLD and also MAGNUS EARLES,
and wommen whyche hem cross-dressed al as carles.
At nighte then dined this whole compaynie
at BADMARC bourg, in maner barbarie.
Thay gnaweden the fleyshe right of som bones
as I have herde telle of SARCINS ones.
On SUNDAYE thanne thay talken wold no more,
But aventures of other sort in store
there wer. Thourgh storms of snowe, as man might rede,
in cariages five thay hem nowe spedde
to RONNEBOURG, whych gaudylie was al
in decorations for som festival.
Some merchauntes there were, and enchaunturs,
brewers of mede, and eek some bold jugelours.
Som of our scholars payed hir tributes
to pageants maad in YORKE: In sixe minutes
parformed thay bifore hir peers the starie*
of poure JOSEPH his dealings with SAINTE MARIE.
Thes players earned grete veneratioun
for thay maad do without translatioun.
Marie, hir maidens, Joseph eek so oold,
and thaungell crackd hir japs in freezing cold!
But that is not the endynge of this booke:
Whann that the compaynie hir leaves tooke,
anon a cart it gott in mud stuck fulle,
a paysaunt with his draughte horse moste it pulle!
Whyle ase I nowe forsooth my tale ende,
the questioun nil noght from my heade wende
of whether noght this gaderyinge be repeted,
this seemeth me a matter yet untretid.
Parchaunce, I thinke, next yeare, so God give grace,
in BONNA or elswhere it maye taak place.
HER ENDITH THE SHORTE TRETISE OF THE SECONDE SCOLARS CONFERRENCE OF OOLD BRITANNIA.
*[The word starie has been circled several times in the MS. A scratch gloss above this line reads as follows: “NOWE LETT NO MAN SAYE THAT I CAN NOUGHT RIGHTWISE IMITATE THE NORTHERNERES SPECHE”.]