Skip to content

Women

November 7, 2016

Women

Women, women, loue of women,
Make bare purs with some men,
Some be nyse as a nonne hene,
Yit al thei be nat soo.
some be lewde,
and some be schrewede,
go wher thei goo.

Sum be nyse, and some be fonde,
And some be tame, y vndirstonde,
And some can take brede of a manes hande,
Yit all thei be nat soo.
some be lewde etc.

Some cane part with-outen hire,
And some make bate in eueri chire,
And some cheke mate with oure Sire,
Yet all thei be nat so.
Some be lewde etc.

Som be browne, and some be whit,
And some be tender as a tripe,
And some of theym be chiry ripe,
Yet all thei be not soo.
Sume be lewde etc.

Some of them be treue of love
Beneth the gerdell, but nat above,
And in a hode aboue can chove,
Yet all thei do nat soo.
Some be lewde etc.

Some cane whister, & some cane crie,
Some cane flater, and some can lye,
And some cane sette the moke awrie,
Yet all thei do nat soo.
Sume be lewde etc.

He that made this songe full good,
Came of the north and of sothern blode,
And some-what kyne to Robyn Hode,
Yit all we be nat soo.
Some be lewde etc.

–Anonymous, ~1450

COMMENTARY: This frolicksome, somewhat bawdy poem was found among the so-called “Lambeth Palace” manuscripts–a collection of ancient books accumulated over the years by the various Archbishops of Cantebury. I have no idea who the Archbishop of Cantebury was in 1450 or why he had this poem (though I have a better idea of the latter than the former). I mainly like it for its rhythm, deliciously rhymed, and for the capriciousness of some of the comparisons. My favorite might be “Some be nyse as a nonne hen,” (“Some are chaste as a nun’s hen”). I also like “Some of them be treu of love/ Beneth the gerdell but nat above.” In the last stanza the minstrel says he’s related to Robin Hood. The Robin Hood of the Middle Ages (so the footnote in my book tells me, at any rate) wasn’t the green-capped bandit who stole from the rich to give to the poor but rather the hero in a series of bawdy tales featuring “Mad Maid Marian”–the 15th century version of Betty Boop.

Advertisements
Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: