Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Middle English?

The current situation of pestilence and disorder, not to mention general apocalypticism, is distinctly reminiscent of the fourteenth century - though without all the splendour of that complex century “when the ideas of the Middle Ages could neither live nor die” - but which did inter alia see the re-emergence of a rich and lively English vernacular literature, “... all the exuberance of the age of Chaucer with none of the concomitant vulgarity” *

With this in mind one of my regular correspondents, The Shropshire Lad, has shared this recent discovery from the world of Middle English: 

Sunac is icumen in
Llude sing Rishi!
DresseÞ flash
And bloweÞ cash
And shakeÞ money tre
Sing Rishi!

Leader of Þa sumer six
Locdoun haÞ a key
Boris siccens 
Cumings chiccens 
Merrie sing Rishi!

Rishi! Rishi!
Wel singes ye Rishi!
And set Þam folces fre

Sing Rishi ye! Sing Rishi!
Sing Rishi! Sing Rishi ye!

* To quote from Kind Hearts and Coronets

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