School of Music
University of Nebraska--Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68588-0100
(phone: [402] 472-2507; Internet: plefferts1@unl.edu)

Data entry: Jonathan Haupt
Checked by: Peter Slemon
Approved by: Peter M. Lefferts

Author: Anonymous
Title: A Chorister's Lament
Source: Celia Sisam and Kenneth Sisam, eds., The Oxford Book of Medieval English Verse (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970), 184-87. By permission of Oxford University Press.

[-184-] Choristers Training

Uncomly in cloistre I cowre ful of care;
I looke as a lurdein and--listne til my lare--
The song of the ce-sol-fa dos me siken sare
And sitte stotiand on a song a moneth and mare.

I ga gouland aboute al so dos a gooke.
Many is the sorwful song I sing upon my booke;
I am holde so harde, unnethes dare I looke.
Al the mirthe of this mold for God I forsooke.

I goule on my grayel and rore as a rooke;
Litil wiste I therof when I therto tooke!
Some notes arn shorte and some a long nooke,
Some crooken away-ward as a flesh-hooke.

[-185-] When I can my lesson, to my maister wil I gone
That heres me my rendre he wenes I have wel done.
'What hast thou done, Daun Water, sin Saterday at none?
Thou holdest nought a note, by God, in right tone!

'Way me! leve Water, thou werkes al til shame,
Thou stumblest and stikes fast as thou were lame!
Thou tones nought the note ilke by his name;
Thou bitest asunder be-quarre, for be-mol I thee blame.

'Way thee! leve Water, thou werkes al to wonder!
As an old caudron biginnest to clonder!
Thou tuchest nought the notes, thou bites hem on sunder.
Hold up, for shame! thou letes al under.'

Then is Water so wo that wel ner wil he blede,
And wendes him til William and bit him wel to spede.
'God it wot', says William, 'therof hadde I nede!
Now wot I how judicare was set in the Crede!

[-186-] 'Me is wo so is the bee that belles in the walmes:
I donke upon David til my tonge talmes.
I ne rendrede nought sithen men beren palmes.
Is it al so mikel sorwe in song so is in salmes?'

'Ya, by God! thou reddes! and so it is wel werre.
I sol-fe, and sing after, and is me nevere the nerre;
I horle at the notes and heve hem al of herre!
Alle that me heres wenes that I erre.

'Of be-mol and of be-quarre, of both I was wel bare
When I went out of this world and--liste til my lare--
Of ef-fa-uts and e-la-mi ne coud I never are;
I faile faste in the fa, it files al my fare.

'Yet ther been other notes, sol and ut and la,
And that froward file that men clepes fa:
Often he dos me liken ille and werkes me ful wa;
Might I him never hitten in tone for to ta.

[-187-] 'Yet ther is a streinant with two longe tailes;
Therfore has oure maister ofte horled my kailes.
Ful litel thou kennes what sorwe me ailes:
It is but childes game that thou with David dailes!

'When ilke note til other lepes and makes hem asaut,
That we calles a moison in ge-sol-re-uts en haut.
Il hail were thou boren if thou make defaut;
Then says oure maister "que vos ren ne vaut".'

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