This file was marked up in HTML by Deborah Everhart, Oct. 3, 1994.
Thirti dayes hath nouembir,
April, iune, and septembir;
Of xxviij is but oon,
And all the remenaunt xxx and j. 1
The message has persisted in the relentlessly mundane singsong rhythms recited by generations of schoolchildren, and the first line at least can be recalled by countless adults, when they try to remember the date. "Thirti dayes" and many others are vehicles for the transmission of culture, mnemonics for our way of life, intended to bring quickly to the conscious fronts of our minds those guiding principles which lurk in the unconscious backs, facts and maxims to be recalled without thought, ensuring that we think and behave in the ways our ancestors did, with their store of knowledge of things as fundamental as the reckoning of time, in short to make us well-versed in our way of life.
When speaking of culture, I do not wish to attempt a definition, something which has been done so often yet so inconclusively, but simply to accept its connection with the way of life desired, expected and/or lived by the people of the time. The mundane verses are concerned with the mundane fundamentals of these matters. They transmit the knowledge needed to live in the accepted way, the rules of life embedded inthe culture of the time. They are educative and interpretive, used to instil the collective beliefs of the society in which they were composed, to show how the world can be understood and to pass on the attitudes and values which that society thinks should spring to mind without deliberation. They were not treasured for their beauty, but retained for their usefulness. These apparently unlyrical Middle English Lyrics and related works are educative in the sense that some were used formally in the schools; as well as the rhymes of the calendar, for instance, we may find expositions of the rules of grammar.2 More important is the informal, pervasive education that comes from family, friends and the community, an education not always written down, but significant in the maintenance and transmission of cultural patterns, forming the learned basis for actions which appear to come as reflexes. These poems are ugly ducklings among their contemporaries, with few poetical devices beyond rhyme and rhythm, and they may be no longer than a proverbial couplet such as "He that wyll with the devyll ete / A long spone must he gete."3
There are verses to cover most aspects of the welfare of the body and soul, enforcing and reinforcing the behaviour expected by society, offering predictions and guidance for this mortal life and the hope of transition to an immortal one. The helplessness of humanity in an alarming and uncertain world could be alleviated by the possibility of reading meaning into such unmanageable things as the pattern of the weather. Although there was no hope of controlling the climate, almanack verses gave predictions of the kind of season to be expected, according to the weather on particular days, and action to be taken, and the predictions could be extrapolated to political events. Thus comfort could be gained from the belief in a planned and ordered universe, although it must often have been of the kind offered by Dr Pangloss to fellow citizens of the best of all possible worlds.
The measurement of time and the timing of actions are fundamentals of life. In the society of medieval England, the agricultural seasons gave a secular order to life, and the seasons of the church imposed a religious plan. The occupations of the months give a confident impression of an ordered year:
Januar- By thys fyre I warme my handys;
Februar- And with my spade I delfe my landys.
Marche- Here I sette my thynge to springe;
Aprile- And here I here the fowles singe.
Maij- I am as lyght as byrde in bowe;
Junij- And I wede my corne well I-now.
Julij- With my sythe my mede I mawe;
Auguste- And here I shere my corne full lowe.
September- With my flayll I erne my brede;
October- And here I sawe my whete so rede.
November- At Martynesmasse I kylle my swine;
December- And at Cristesmasse I drynke redde wyne.4
The almanack verses give more specific pictures, with predictions drawn from the day of the week of Christmas or New Year's Day. They cover the important variables of climate, crops, trade and sickness, and one also notes the fate of thieves. The coincidence of Christmas Day and Sunday (as in 1994) presages a year of peace and generally favourable weather, a good year for sheep and beans (although not for other produce), and the speedy capture of thieves.5 The summer of a year after Christmas Day on Monday will be stormy and windy; the sick will survive, although many beasts will die, and thieves be taken (lines 50-- 52, 54, 57). Many will dread the year when Christmas Day falls on Tuesday; women, sheep, lords, kings and thieves will die, yet the sick will recover (lines 60, 62--3, 71--2). Wednesday brings a harsh winter and peril to the young and those at sea (lines 75--6, 79--80). Thursday and Friday give mixed predictions, but Saturday's are entirely gloomy, ending with the warning: "What woman that day of childe travaille / They shall bothe be in gret peraile" (lines 119--20). These prognostications also give specific predictions for the children born on Christmas Day. Birth on such a sacred day does not inevitably convey blessings. Christmas Day babes might grow to be great lords if born on Sunday (lines 45--6), or have a life of covetousness, with a dreadful end, if born on Tuesday (lines 66--8), with valour, nimbleness and wisdom for those born on Wednesday (lines 81--4), "speche wyse & ... tonge Resonable" (line 96) for those born on Thursday, and a long and lecherous life for Friday's children (lines 108--9).
The "Prognostications of Esdras" or Ezekiel are similar in style, but reckoned from the first of January, the same weekday, of course, as Christmas Day. It is disconcerting to find that these predictions differ in many respects from those for Christmas Day, and occasionally even from manuscript to manuscript. Thus the Harley manuscript of Esdras predicts wool and wax in plenty when the year begins on Sunday, although that of St John's College, Cambridge states that both will fail.6 Esdras generally gives grim warnings of sharp weather and diseases of crops and stock, and recommends action, with advice of the kind found in financial papers in uncertain times. He advises farmers to slaughter their fat swine before they lose them to disease in the summer, when the year begins on Thursday (lines 107--10). Similarly, when New Year's Day is Saturday, the wise man should sell his crops before vermin come to take corn from his hand (lines 131--4). The disturbances of war may be expected when January begins on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Saturday, and there will be sickness, unless New Year's Day falls on Wednesday.
One could safely predict that winters would be wet, princes would wage war, winds would blow cold and hot, people and animals would die from diseases, and women with child would swoon; some prophecies added that if a predicted happening was not observed in one place, it would happen elsewhere.7 We could summarize them by saying that each day of the week will begin a year with some good things and some bad, very much as we would expect, without the almanacks' predictions. They were, however, taken seriously, and on one manuscript a writer has noted the weather conditions for the first few days of a year, most likely 1429, when Christmas Day fell on Sunday. Reliance on the prognostications connected with holy days was an objection to the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1581--2.8
A detailed poem tells of twenty-two very auspicious dates in the year, and warns of unlucky ones, when it is particularly dangerous to be born, marry or suffer any sickness.9 The last days of April and December and the first of August are intensely unfavourable for being bled or taking medicine (lines 54-- 62), and the eating of goose flesh at these times will be fatal, within forty days, a warning which persisted from the Old English Prognostications. From the standpoint of the twentieth century, it is easy to deride such maxims, but most are based on observation or on an unfamiliar reasoning process of their own, and were given credence we do not necessarily give now to data from scientific studies. A warning could certainly apply to someone unwise enough to eat the remains of the Christmas goose, and April and, more particularly, August are times of warm weather. It was also predicted that those born on these inauspicious days might die from evil deeds (lines 87--90). Some days are particularly suitable for bloodletting for various purposes: the seventh and eleventh of March, to preserve eyesight (lines 63--6), and the first or fifth of May (from both arms) to avoid mad fever (lines 67--70).
"Nota for the Dayes of the Moone," gives advice for each date in a month of thirty days, based on such events as God's creation of Adam on the first day and Eve on the second, Cain's birth on the third and Abel's on the fourth, although reasons are not always specified. One should, for example, begin a pilgrimage on the eleventh rather than the tenth of the month (lines 11--12), and the eighteenth is good for all things but not the nineteenth (lines 19--20).10
There is a specific prediction for forty days of rain after a wet St Swithin's Day, 15th July:
In the daye of Seynte Svythone
Rane ginneth rinigge
Forti dawes mid ywone
Leste3 such rithinge. 11
A similar verse foretells the weather and general and political events after St Paul's Day, 25th January, in the style of Esdras:
Giff sanct Paulliss day be fair and cleir,
Than shall be-tyd ane happie yeir.
Gif it chances to snaw or rane,
Than sal be deir all kynde of grayne.
and giff þe wind be hie on loft,
Than weir sall vex þe kingdome oft.
and gif þe cloudes make darke þe skye,
Boith nowte and foull that yeir sall dye.12
The changes of the seasons were marked by saints' days, as shown:
Ver- Petyrs cheyre begynnythe Ver
Somer And Vrban begynnythe Somer
Harvest Symphoryan begynnythe harvest
Wynter Clement begynnythe wynter. 13
The dates used are February 22nd, the enthronment of St Peter, May 25th for St Urban, August 22nd for St Symphoran and November 23rd for St Clement. The connection of ecclesiastical and climatic seasons is but one example of the medieval linking of aspects of life we now classify as religious or secular, and incidentally of the artificiality of twentieth-century attempts to divide them. Such separation would be incomprehensible to those whose lives were governed by the beliefs encapsulated in these verses, to whom the observation of all seasons was important. Thus there were rhymes to find the moveable feast of Easter. One is based on the prime:
In merche, after þe fyrst C,
Loke the prime wher-euer he be;
The 3d sonday, full I-wysse
Ester day trewly yt ys
& yf þe prime on þe sonday be,
rekyne þat sonday for one of þe thre. 14
Another uses the feast day of St Benedict, 21st March, and also the equinox, as a point of reference:
Ate feste of seint benedist
þenne is þe dai euene mid þe nist
nim þenne mone of fourtennist
þe necste sunedi þer hestes paske rist. 15
A comparison with the complications of tables and prose explanation shows the advantage of the rhyme.
Still more ingenious is a work used to remember the saints' days for each month. Verses attached to the Salisbury hours follow the pattern of French verses in consisting of twelve stanzas of mnemonic lines in which a syllable is allotted for each day of the month. There are occasional lapses, perhaps inevitable, as in August, where the last three saints' days have been displaced by an extra syllable,
Pe. ter. cal. led. for. Je. su
And. bade. Lau. rence. for. to. say. tru.
Ma. ry. se. yng. all. their. de| bate
Made. Bar. thyll. mevv. to breke. Johns. pate. 16
Pier res et os on get toit
A pres lau rens qui bru loit
Ma ri e lors se print a brai re
Bar the le mi fait Jehan tai re.
The significant syllables suggest a day after the dates for the feasts of the Assumption of the Virgin (the sixteenth rather than the fifteenth) and the days for St Bartholomew and St John the Baptist (the twenty-fifth and thirtieth instead of the twenty-fourth and twenty-ninth).
Dogmatic instruction and clear identification of auspicious and inauspicious days suggest few prospects for choice. In fact, verses of this kind are likely to enforce external control and resistance to change. The information handed on is both general and specific. All needed to know of the divisions of time, not only from the enduring rhyme which gives the number of days in particular months, but also the more fundamental arrangement of the calendar, expressed through the metaphor of a tree:
I Wot a tre XII bowys betake,
LII nestys beþe þat up ymad;
In euery nest beþ bryddys VII
I-thankyd be þe God of hevene
And euery bryd wyth selcouth name. 17
An astonishing range of verses tells indivduals how to behave in the time thus measured. There are many books of courtesy for the young, with for example, details of table manners and carving. John Russell's Book of Nurture gives precise instructions to servants, including preparation of the master's bed and bath, medicinal if necessary, and the selection of fresh clothes. Medical manuscripts present anatomical information in rhyming form, sometimes apparently made to fit the rhyme rather than the reverse:
XXXII teth that beþe full kene,
CC bonys and Nyntene,
CCC vaynes syxty and fyve,
Euery man haþe that is alyve. 18
More detailed verses give the disposition of the veins and instructions for bleeding for various purposes, such as letting blood from the veins under the tongues for sqynse (quinsy), a dramatic and barbarous treatment. 19 The four humours or complexions, the basis of medieval theories of physiology and pathology, are succinctly explained in verse. 20 Twelve points of law to be remembered by all who intend to purchase land are preserved in a rhyme found in fourteen manuscripts, a measure of its perceived worth. Its warnings can be heeded still.
Who-so wil be wise in purchasing,
consyder þe poyntes þat ben following:
fyrst that the land be clere
in the tytell of the seller;
And that it stand in no daynger
of no womans dower.
Se whether yt be bond or free,
and se the Relese of euery fefee;
Se that þe seller be of age,
& yf the land be not in morgage.
Loke if any tayle be found,
or yf yt stand in statute bounde;
And consyder the servyce þat longeth therto,
& what quyt-Rent there-owt must goo;
And yf it meve of a wedded woman,
thynke on couerd-barine then.
And if þou maye in any wysse,
mak þi charter on warrantyse
To thyne heyres & assyngnes also,
thus shall a wysse pvrchassser doo.
& yn xiiij yeare, yf thow wysse are,
þou shalle agayne thy money see. 21
Significant in the establishment and transmission of mores are the neatly expressed gnomic statements which offer judgements on an individual, with scant need for thought or observation. The complacent sternness in "He that of wast takys no hede / he shall wante wen he hasse nede," 22 has greater force than the more expansive
He that spendes myche & getes nothing,
And owthe myche & hathe nothing,
And lokes in his porse & fyndes nothing,
he may be sorye and saie nothing.
Quothe K.L. 23
The course of a life is dismissively predicted in "He that in yowthe no vertu wyll yowes, / in aege all honor shall hym refuse." 24 Verses that hand on attitudes rather than information can produce rapid, unthinking, often prejudiced responses. Among those on women we find: "A wylde beest a man may tame / A womanes tunge will never be lame." 25 Helpful advice is given in "He at is befor tyme warned / Litill or nowgth is hurte or harmyd," 26 and the related "He is wyse & happy þat can be ware / be an oder mannys harme." 27 We can take some comfort from "He that doth as can / blame him no man." 28
We can accept the recording and transmission of information in verse, but, from the twentieth century, we may wonder why. Prosaic information is now recorded and transmitted in prose, and often stored as computer data, incomprehensible to humanity. Our times seem prosaic in more senses than one. Personification of entities now considered inanimate was commonplace, with accompanying recognition of qualities and personality---for example of Fortune and money---helping to inform and set many attitudes.
A common factor of this verse is the impression of a speaking voice addressing an attentive listener. The works were intended for a listening audience, rather than a reading public. They follow the rhythms of speech and sometimes those of its most extreme form---ritual chanting. We should remember the frequent and almost universal attendance at church, but the far from univeral understanding of the Latin mass, causing many worshippers to follow the rhythms and actions of the celebrants rather than their words. Some words, such as In principio, gained magical significance beyond and unconnected with their meaning. 29
The mundane verses of instruction and interpretation, although they are usually grouped under the heading of Middle English Lyrics, are far from lyrical in senses we may generally accept. There is no outpouring of emotion, little in the way of description, and metaphor is minimal---the idea of the calendar as a tree is a rare example. Instead, there is insistent relentless rhythm, giving the effect of a rite, which may also mimic the performance of a task, as in domestic rhymes such as the "Treatise for Lavandres" which gives roundabout instructions for removing the stain of the "feruent ink spott." 30 Wine is applied first, then milk for spots of wine, and lye of beans (made from the ashes of bean straw) to remove the oily marks of milk. Water will do for everything else. A recipe for apple fritters, gaudily coloured with saffron and spiced with pepper, suggests the beating of the batter and the need to repeat the performance in a particular way. 31 Such details can be lost in a paragraph of prose. More arcane verses, found in manuscripts now stained with reagents, give the exotic and erotic secrets of making the Philosopher's Stone, adding to the drama of this ritual. 32
The conspicuous rhymes used to clinch the matter in the hearer's mind ensure that the verse is easily recalled. This couplet adds the force of powerful numbers:
Kepe well x and flee fro vii;
Rule well v And come to hevyn. 33
This neatly fixes the importance of the Ten Commandments, Seven Deadly Sins and Five Wits. These instructional tags, with their inevitable rhyme and rhythm and minimal poetic devices, have as their present day descendants slogans such as "Prune in June," "The family that prays together stays together," "First the foot and then the head, / That's the way to make a bed" and even "Good onya Mum, Tip Top's the one." 34
These verses belong to an era of spreading literacy, when the written (and later the printed) word was revered by some but mistrusted by others, and some members of the clergy and many people holding public office could not read. The rhythmic metre and distinctive rhymes of verse gave aids to the memory. Still today we may remember the rhythmic form of such verse, rather than all the words, as in "Thirty days hath September, / Da, di, da, and November". We may wonder about the name of a missing month, but are sure to know how many syllables it has.
Verse adds to the effect of ritual, important in encouraging piety and enforcing authority, through patterned scraps of information and instruction which can come rapidly to mind. There are short prayers and meditations for various moments of the mass, charms and spells for the ordinary occasions of daily life, such as getting up, going out of the house and going to bed, and others for extraordinary events such as injury or sickness. 35 Little verses, sometimes only a couplet, were invoked to help a sufferer pull through, and such help was not confined to humanity. One verse prays for the poet's dog during a dangerous whelping; another, preserved on a roofing tile in Ireland, tells how to care for a sick horse. 36 The alchemical verses, charms, herbals and recipes needed the effects of ritual and power given in patterned repetition and recitation. Instructions in verse gain an air of rightness and grandeur not found in reasoned prose.
We may contrast the couplet on commandments, sins and wits with another verse of numbers, superficially similar, but to be read, not heard or recited, since it needs knowledge of the letters and their place in the alphabet, the significant numbers and a contracted spelling of the name of Jesus in Greek, and, most importantly, the sight of the poem itself:
In 8 is alle my loue )
& 9 be y-sette byfore ) IHC
So 8 be y-closed aboue )
Thane 3 is good therefore )
This verse demands the engagement of an instructed reader. The earlier work is a tag to be implanted in the memory before it is consciously understood, to ensure that fundamentals of Christian life are fixed before innocence is lost as other instruction is gained. A modern analogy comes from a genre which may be a form of prose or is perhaps a species of found poetry. Generations of children, never familiar with calculators, grew up with the singsong daily ritual of multiplication tables. This practice makes an impression which grows from something repeated without thought, when it has no meaning, to become something which gives meaning when it can be retrieved without thought. This example does not advocate rote learning rather than reason, but gives an illustration of the purpose and practice of rhythmic, mnemonic forms, for the transmission of knowledge absorbed before it is understood, when it is accepted without question. Such acceptance is rarely granted to anything that must be understood before it is learned. The mnemonic verses of Middle English transmit and reinforce such knowledge. Universally applicable information, instilled without recourse to reason, transmitted orally in memorable, patterned form appears more authoritative than restricted, colourless prose. Prose documents could be read by very few, and were in any case sources to be consulted, rather than principles incorporated into the general culture of the time.
A last example of medieval verses addressing the fundamental needs of humanity, comes from those on death. The subject inspired many poets, who tackled the genre of memento mori in many ways. Most verses stress the need to prepare for the terrifying prospect of Judgement, before the punishment of Hell or the reward of Heaven. Many show the struggle of the body and soul, the continual opposition of flesh and spirit. The style of ubi sunt gives grim warnings of the fate of all who have gone before. Among the poems on death, one group has an additional, particular, practical purpose, with information which is not only for the spiritual welfare of those about to die. The poems which list the signs of death also guard against the horror of premature burial, by describing the physical stages of dying, giving a protocol to be followed, in the last moments, by the subject and observers. One of these is
Wanne mine eyhnen misten,
and mine heren sissen,
and mi nose koldet,
and mi tunge ffoldet,
and mi rude slaket,
And mine lippes blaken,
and mi muþ grennet,
and mi spotel rennet,
and min her riset,
and min herte griset,
and mine honden biuien,
and mine ffet stiuien,
al to late, al to late,
wanne þe bere ys ate gate.
þanne y schel fflutte
ffrom bedde te fflore,
ffrom fflore to here,
ffrom here to bere,
ffrom bere to putte,
and te putt ffor-dut.
þanne lyd min hous vppe min nose.
off al þis world ne gyffe ihic a pese. 38
The attraction of the mundane verses of instruction and interpretation comes from their functional nature. They are not works of art in the sense of objects giving aesthetic pleasure; they existed and survived because of their utility and because they encapsulated and reinforced patterns of life. They are memorable rather than beautiful, with their insistent rhythms and neat, clinching rhymes, to be learned by heart by the young and retained to become the instant responses of the mature, to transmit attitudes and aspects of culture to the next generation, retained in sharply mnemonic form. These verses preserve traces of the way of life of those who learned and kept them, giving an impression of people controlled by church and climate and resistant to change, retaining and transmitting their culture in the way most easily remembered, confident of the rightness of their customs and of the possibility of making sense of the world. They embody attitudes unquestioned for years, some enduring yet, since they deal with fundamentals of the culture of their time. 39
2. Thomas Wright and James Orchard Halliwell, eds., Reliquiae Antiquae (New York: AMS, 1966; London, 1843), 2 vols., vol. 2, 14.; IMEV 2253; Sloane 1210, f. 123b.
3. Reliquiae Antiquae, Vol. 1, 208. Rossell Hope Robbins and John L. Cutler, eds., Supplement to the Index of Middle English Verse, Carleton Brown and Rossell Hope Robbins (Lexington, KY: U of Kentucky P, 1965) (SIMEV) 1174.5; Harley 2321, f.149a.
4. Robbins, Secular Lyrics, 67; IMEV 579; Bodleian 1689, f. 89b, fifteenth century.
5. Robbins, Secular Lyrics, 72, lines 39--40, 44; IMEV 1905; Bodl. 1689, f. 75a.
6. Rossell Hope Robbins, "Fifteenth-Century Almanacks," Philological Quarterly 38 (1939): 321--31, 325, line 9.
7. E.g. that of Sloane MS 1315, f. 65a; IMEV 1905.
8. Archer Taylor, The Proverb (Hatboro, PA: Folklore Associates; Copenhagen: Rosenkilde, 1962) 117.
9. Robbins, Secular Lyrics, 73; IMEV 2131; Bodl. 29003, f. 192b.
10. "Nota for the Dayes of the Moone," (printed in the note for Robbins, Secular Lyrics, 73 (248--9)); IMEV 956; Bodl. 1689, f. 62a.
11. Robbins, "Almanacks," 322, foot note 4; IMEV 1545; Emmanuel Camb. 27, f. 163a.
12. Robbins, Secular Lyrics, 72; IMEV 1423; Dunrobin, f. 75a; fifteenth century.
13. Robbins, "Almanacks," 322, foot note 4; IMEV 2750; Camb. Un. Ee. 1. 15, f. 11b.
14. Robbins, Secular Lyrics, 70; IMEV 1502; Cambridge Univ. Ff.6.8. f 3b; early sixteenth century.
15. Robbins, "Almanacks," 322, foot note 4; IMEV 426; Trinity Camb. 323, f. 42a.
16. "Cir. cum. staunt. ly. thre. Kings. came. by. nynght." SIMEV 633.5. Horae Rouen 1557 (Morgan Lib. Acc. No 1036). See Curt Bühler, "At Thy Golg First Eut of the Hous," Studies in the Renaissance 6 (1959): 223--35. Rpt. Early books and Manuscripts. Forty Years of Research (New York: Grolier Club and Pierpont Morgan Library, 1973), 518--32, (527--8). Bhler describes the course of the transformation in detail.
17. Robbins, Secular Lyrics, 69; IMEV 1396; Harley 3362, f. 33a; fifteenth century.
18. Robbins, Secular Lyrics, 75; IMEV 3572; Bodl 14526, f. 205a; c. 1470.
19. Robbins, Secular Lyrics, 81; IMEV 3848; Bodl. 3461, f. 25a, lines 35--6.
20. Robbins, Secular Lyrics, 76; IMEV 3157; Lambeth Palace MS 523, f. 85b; mid-fourteenth century. Robbins, Secular Lyrics, 77; IMEV 2624; Harley 2251, f. 79a; mid-fifteenth century.
21. Robbins, Secular Lyrics, 74; IMEV 4148; Bodl. 21628, f. 64a.
22. SIMEV 1162.9; Hunterian Mus. 230, f. 248b.
23. Robbins, Secular Lyrics, 86; IMEV 1163; Corpus Christi Coll. Oxford MS 237, f. 1a, in a sixteenth- century hand.
24. Robbins, Secular Lyrics, 85; IMEV 1151; Cambridge Univ. MS Gg.2.8, first flyleaf.
25. SIMEV 106.5; Sidney Sussex Camb. 99.
26. SIMEV 1152.5; Egerton 1995, f. 112b.
27. SIMEV 1137.3; BL Addit. 12195, f. 114a.
28. SIMEV 1147.2; Bodl. 21626, f. 13a.
29. This is discussed by Morton W. Bloomfield, "The Magic of In Principio," Modern Language Notes, 70 (1955): 559--65. Literary references are preserved in the General Prologue to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, line 254, and Henryson's fable, "The Fox, the Wolf, and the Cadger," in his Moral Fables, line 2154.
30. Reliquiae Antiquae, 1, 26--7; IMEV 4254; Camb. Un. Ff. 1.6, f. 164a.
31. "With egges and flowre a batour thou make.' SIMEV 4187.5; Pepys 1047, f. 16a. See Gerald A. Hodgett, modern English version and foreword, Stere Htt Well, facsimile MS Pepys 1047 (Adelaide: Mary Martin, n.d.), facing p. 31.
32. E.g. Douglas Gray, ed., The Oxford Book of Late Medieval Verse and Prose (Oxford: Clarendon, 1985), 141; IMEV 1364; Harley 2407, f. 17.
33. Robbins, Secular Lyrics, 83; IMEV 1817; Cambridge Univ. Ee. 4. 37, f. 113b, fifteenth century.
34. Siegfried Wenzel offers "Winston tastes good, like a cigarette should" as a counterpart of medieval sermon tags, in "Vices, Virtues and Popular Preaching," Medieval and Renaissance Studies 6, Proceedings of the Southeastern Institute of Medieval and Renaissance Studies (1974): 28--55, 48.
35. See Robbins, "Popular Prayers in Middle English Verse," Modern Philology, 36 (1939): 337--350; Gray, "Notes on some Middle English Charms," Chaucer and Middle English Studies in Honour of Rossell Hope Robbins (London: Allen, 1974), 56--71; Bühler, "At Thy Golg First Eut of the Hous."
36. SIMEV 1730.5; Bodleian MS 12417, f. 1b, added in a sixteenth-century hand. SIMEV 1426.2; National Mus. Dublin, No. 1961.8.
37. Robbins, Secular Lyrics, 82; IMEV 717; Magdalene College Cambridge, Pepys 1236, f. 128a; fifteenth century.
38. Carleton Brown, ed., English Lyrics of the XIIIth Century(Oxford: Clarendon, 1932; rpt many times), 71; IMEV 3998; Trinity College Cambridge 43, f. 73b. Many examples are given by Rossell Hope Robbins in "Signs of Death in Middle English," Mediaeval Studies 32 (1970): 282--298.
39. I thank Mr Philip Waldron, who kindly read an earlier draft of this paper and made helpful comments which saved me from some errors.