Academic journal article Papers on Language & Literature

The Life of St Osith

Academic journal article Papers on Language & Literature

The Life of St Osith

Article excerpt


ESTABLISHMENT OF THE TEXT: The text, written in two columns per page, begins, after the opening rubric in red, with an illuminated initial C , five lines high. Within the edited text, a large drop capital indicates a large majuscule letter in the manuscript, written over two line spaces. Scribal abbreviations have been silently expanded, following the scribe's practice for the same word found written in full. Editorial additions of words or letters judged to have been inadvertently omitted by the scribe are enclosed in square brackets; missing lines are indicated by ellipsis marks enclosed within square brackets. Rejected readings and scribal deletions or additions are indicated within the line, inside parentheses, preceded by ms:, e.g. (ms: deivre) 163, (ms: eras.--) 216; editorial interventions may similarly be indicated, e.g. (528-29 interverted by ed.). We have followed modern practice with respect to punctuation, the use of capital letters for proper names, the distinction between u/v, i/j, c/c, the use of the acute accent on tonic final -e. Because of our uncertain knowledge of Anglo-Norman metrics, the trema has not been used, nor is the text emended solely for metrical reasons. The scribal omission of final unaccented -e is noted by the use of an apostrophe, e.g. seint' Osith 103. Foliation and column number is indicated inside square brackets, in the right margin opposite the first line.

ON THE TRANSLATION: The text is translated into prose from the original's verse couplets as closely as is consistent with fluent modern English. The past tense is used, as is conventional in most English narrative, even where the text alternates past and historic present. Line numbers in the original are given in brackets at the end of each paragraph. Manuscript paragraphing has been followed where possible, but extra paragraphs have been introduced as necessary.

Edition and transcription [c] D.W. Russell, University of Waterloo 2005


4    Ceo nus mustre seinte escripture,
     Bon fu ki met en Deu sa cure
     Et aime e creient son creatur
     Plus ke ne fet autre seigniur;
     Ki l'aime e creient e bien le sert,
     Ne ci ne ailliurs ja ne pert;
     Ki guerpist terre pur son non
8    Ciel li donne de guerdon;
     Ne change cil pas follement
     Ke terre lesse e le ciel prent;
     Ne folement ne change mie
12   Ke lesse mort e receit vie;           [Fol. 134vb]
     Cil change bien, cil change a dreit
     Ki mort lesse e vie receit;
     Kar certes del mund la richesse
16   N'est fors dolur e granz tristesce;
     Honur del mond est trespassable,
     Et a nus tuz mut poi estable.
     Ki ne volt creire ne saveir,
20   Bien l'os dire, fols est pur veir.
     Veum par ceus ke sunt ale,
     Nos ancestres e trespasse:
     U sont nos aels e nos peres,
24   U nos uncles, u nos meres,
     Ke tant furent riches e beaus,
     Assez orent dras e chivaus?
     Tuz i sont alez, sachez en fin,
28   Si vous atendunt en chemin;
     Quel jur son eire ert aprestez;
     Pur ceo vous di, si l'entendez,
32   Ki aime Deu bonz fu neez.


Holy scriptures show us that he who puts his faith in God and loves and fears his creator more than he does any other lord does well: whoever loves and fears him and serves him well will never lose, either here or elsewhere. Whoever gives up land for his sake will receive heaven as a reward. He who gives up earth and receives heaven does not make a foolish bargain; nor he who gives up death and takes life. He makes a good exchange, he exchanges well who leaves death and receives life. For certainly the wealth of the world is nothing but pain and great sadness: the honor of the world is temporary and very unstable for us all. I can confidently say that whoever doesn't want to believe or know this is truly foolish. …

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