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Ech day me comëth tydinges thre
(anonymous Middle English lyric, circa the 13th to 14th century AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Each day I’m plagued by three doles,
These gargantuan weights on my soul:
First, that I must somehow exit this fen.
Second, that I cannot know when.
And yet it’s the third that torments me so,
Because there’s no way to know where the hell I will go!

Ech day me comëth tydinges thre,
For wel swithë sore ben he:
The on is that Ich shal hennë,
That other that Ich not whennë,
The thriddë is my mestë carë,
That Ich not whider Ich shal farë.

Keywords/Tags: Middle English, rhyme, medieval, epigram, lament, complaint, weight, soul, burden, burdened, heaviness, plague, plagued, exit, death, manner, fen, torment, hell, when, where, how, why
Whan the turuf is thy tour
anonymous Middle English poem, circa the 13th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When the turf is your tower
and the pit is your bower,
your pale white skin and throat
only sullen worms shall note.
What help unto you, then
was all your worldly hope?


Original Middle English text:

Whan the turuf is thy tour,
And thy pit is thy bour,
Thy fel and thy whitë throtë
Shullen wormës to notë.
What helpëth thee thennë
Al the worildë wennë?

“Whan the turuf is thy tour” may be one of the oldest carpe diem (“seize the day”) poems in the English language, and an ancestor of Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” with its virginity-destroying worms. Keywords/Tags: Middle English, translation, medieval, anonymous, rhyme, rhyming, medieval, lament, complaint, lamentation, turf, tower, pit, bower, skin, throat, worms, note, help, worldly, hope
This World's Joy
anonymous Middle English poem, circa 1300
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Winter awakens all my care
as leafless trees grow bare.
For now my sighs are fraught
whenever it enters my thought:
regarding this world's joy,
how everything comes to naught.

[MS. Harl. 2253. f. 49r]

Original Middle English text:

Wynter wakeneth al my care,
Nou this leves waxeth bare.
Ofte y sike ant mourne sare
When hit cometh in my thoht
Of this worldes joie, hou hit goth al to noht.

“This World’s Joy” or “Wynter wakeneth al my care” is one of the earliest surviving winter poems in English literature and an early rhyming poem as well.  Edward Bliss Reed dated the poem to around 1310, around 30 years before the birth of Geoffrey Chaucer, and said it was thought to have been composed in Leominster, Herefordshire. I elected to translate the first stanza as a poem in its own right. Keywords/Tags: Middle English, translation, anonymous, rhyme, rhyming, medieval, lament, lamentation, care, cares, sighs, winter, trees, leafless, bare, barren, barrenness, emptiness, isolation, alienation, joy, joys
Adam Lay Ybounden
(anonymous Medieval English Lyric, circa early 15th century AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Adam lay bound, bound in a bond;
Four thousand winters, he thought, were not too long.
And all was for an apple, an apple that he took,
As clerics now find written in their book.
But had the apple not been taken, or had it never been,
We'd never have had our Lady, heaven's queen.
So blesséd be the time the apple was taken thus;
Therefore we sing, "God is gracious!"

The poem has also been rendered as "Adam lay i-bounden" and "Adam lay i-bowndyn." Here is the original poem in one of its ancient forms:

Adam lay i-bounden, bounden in a bond;
Foure thousand winter thought he not too long.
And all was for an apple, an apple that he took,
As clerkes finden written in theire book.
Ne hadde the apple taken been, the apple taken been,
Ne hadde never our Lady aye been heavene queen.
Blessed be the time that apple taken was,
Therefore we moun singen, “Deo gracias!”

Keywords/Tags: Middle English, translation, Medieval English, Adam, Eve, Genesis, Garden of Eden, apple, God, grace, gracious, Mary, heaven's queen, Lady, clerics
MelaninInked Jan 19
He was water
He was fire

He was calm
He was thrill

He was peace
He was chaos

He was comfort
He was risk

He was a bubble
He was a race car

He was what I needed
He was what I wanted
Well, if you really cannot tell yet, 'He' is two different people. As women we are constantly caught between the thrill and risk of one man and the calm and peace of another.
Mrs Timetable Jan 18
Fresh washed P.E. clothes
The scent of fruity erasers
Blue eyeliner learning it’s place
A clear cool purse
Jelly shoes

My pink overalls are so cool
My teddy bear sweatshirt keeps me trendy and warm
My french braid hides my long hair
Because short hair rules

Oh the horror...
I forgot my homework!
Wearing grandmas ring
Silently made fun of by the popular
I miss elementary playground

Silent I sit speaking to no one
Maybe my one friend
Headaches daily
I don’t want to come here
Give me a note

P.E. clothes stink
Mom said no more blue eyeliner
Clear purse and erasers...stolen
And guess what?

You get to do this all over again

Only bigger
1984-1985 Trauma of transition from elementary to high school. Good thing it’s only once.
Seanathon Jan 8
The other day
A match struck my roughness
And anxiousness took me to be freed by fire
As I burned away all of your rusted memories
Which'd been stored for yet another day
Which turned out to be today
In ashes your words
Cast, burn and floating away
Just a song about old letters

Finally burned all of my own the other day
Ira Desmond Jan 2
When you were eleven
and shy and shuffled your feet

from classroom to classroom
in that middle school, eyes downcast,

avoiding bullies like a midge fly
zipping away from the hungry maws of

rainbow trout lurking in
a mountain stream,

your father sat you down
at the dinner table on a cold Monday

night, over a steaming plate
of meatloaf and a baked

potato and some type of microwaved
canned vegetable

(the same meal that he served
every Monday night),

and he lectured you about the
importance of direct eye contact,

always making
direct eye contact,

while he held the fork in his left hand
and pointed it at you,

its tines coated
in starches and ketchup,

like he was jamming
his index finger straight into your forehead.

“Never look away when someone is
staring at you,” he said. “It

shows that you are afraid. It
shows that you are weaker than they are.”

Then, to make his point, he held his
eye contact—an aggressive, primal stare—

with you, an introverted child,
for as long as he could,

knowing that it would hurt you,
that it would make you wince and cringe,

but hoping that it would strengthen you,
solidify some resolve deep

within you, foster the germination
of some thorny plant there

beneath your sternum, which
over time would grow into

a gnarled cuirass designed to
protect you against the world

and make you into a Man—a true Man’s Man,
the kind of Man who uses his hairy

knuckles to smash his problems—the kind
of Man who eats red meat and drives

a truck, and never backs down
from a ******* contest, even with

an introverted eleven-year-old boy.
Of course,

no such hardness ever germinated
within you, and whatever bond it was

that existed between you
and your father there beneath

your sternum simply frayed
in that moment—a sacred rope

spanning generations
suddenly transmuted into dust.

And of course
you looked away ashamed,

and your father was ashamed, too,
not for his own abhorrent behavior,

but because you were his child.
But he was also proud of himself

in that moment for showing
what a Man he was now,

for finally having proved his own father,
your grandfather,

even after all of those years had passed.
MisfitOfSociety Dec 2019
Birth on one side,
Death on the other.
Fire runs down the middle.
I watch my life,
Taper down.
Capriccio Dec 2019
Hey little fiddle
I drink too much
You smoke too little

I met your mom
And your dad
Your little sister is EMOtional
Groundhogs day sad

I talk without reason
Left a bad man
For his treason

Let go of obscurity
To find the one thing I gotta be


So hey little fiddle
Your moods swing from
American Rag-Tag

So play your notes
Take your tallies
I'll count votes

Hey little fiddle
Check out this finger
For you, right here
In the middle
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