A Comparison Between Four Birds

Saltwood, Robert

STC 21647 [see STC Addenda]
Ringler 21647 and TP 1013. Saltwood fl. 1530-48 [CBEL]. UMI microfilm reel 1005

A comparyson bytwene .iiij. byrdes / the Larke / the Nyghtyngale / ythornsuperscript-e Thrusshe and the Cucko / for theyr syngynge who shuld be chauntoure of the quere
[Canterbury?]: John Mychel,1533-34? [STC Addenda].

Composition Date: 1533-34?.

sof[t]ely tryllyd: cf. tryl ... softly, belowpropyd ='stuffed'; see OED s.v. prop v2Coyshe: =coyish, 'somewhat coy'; vnderpropyng: cf. vnderproppyng, belowiustes: =joustsragement ='violence', although ragement is not recorded in OED (but see OED s.v. toying vbl. n [1580])The meaning of lectorne (=lectern) is unclear (='music'?); see the notes on lectorn(e) above.
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¶A comparyson bytwene .iiij. byrdes / the Larke / the Nyghtyngale / the Thrusshe and the Cucko / for theyr syngynge who shuld be chauntoure of the quere.

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¶How a sorowful man went to the wood and there toke comforte by the melody and comparyson of thes byrdes.

LAmentyng my sorowes with syghes depe
How lowryng fortune me had scorned
Pensyue in my harte dreryly dyd wepe
Whos scoffe perfyt anone I lerned scoffe ='contempt, ridicule'
5 Rare is the welth that hath not morned
Iocunde / plesaunt and of corage
O sorowful howre in his outrage O: =one

As whyle markyng in cyrcle rotyng rotyng ='rotating', here and below; see OED s.v. rote v2
Famous men callyng to my remembrance
10 That rued pytyful in-to dotyng
To meane men also showyng his varyaunce
Lyke the ayre than founde I hym of constance
Now smylyth fayre and sodenly doth rage
Ma[n] rockyng in the flode of sharpe passage Man] Mam 1534

15 This dyd I secretly with me reason This: =Thus
Of hym anon hauyng aduertysment
To clyme not to hye for fere of euersyon
A ####ab#### boue my state to make no interment interment ='dealings', probably a nonce-formation from entermete, 'to concern oneself, to have dealings'. MED s.v. entermeten v records a form entermenten.
Of comparyson ospryngyth torment
20 Which of me patiently ponderedospryngyth: either a variant of aspryngyth, 'springs up', here and below (lines 552, 655), or 'off-spring' used as a verb.
In me the matter lay / that he scorned

O low byrth / why woldyst thou auaunce
Whan in thy purse lay al thy corage
In proudly port to make repastaunce proudly ='of proud manner'; repastaunce: not recorded in OED, but cf. repast, repasture, 'food, feasting'
25 My welth vanyshed in redy passage
Thus turned my state in-to dotage
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Fortune than why shuld I now accuse
Seyng he ragyth of my mys ####ab#### vse

Proude nor portly be thou neuer
30 Comparyng / bosting nor of wylfulnese
To gyue reuerence the endeuer
Recounter thy blode to be of mekenese Recounter: =recount, 'regard, consider', although this form is not recorded in OED s.v. recount v1
Of thy homage reason no secretnese
For whan lowe blode clymith o[u]er-hye
35 He tumblyth oft hedlyng in vylonye

Let the cartar than handel his plough
The smyth his hammar dylygent entrete
Thy mynd insatyat content with ynoug[h] ynoug[h]: the final letter is illegible.
Peres lyke of blod together wel met
40 Of nature prudently pondar thy fet fet ='pursuit, employment, profession'; see OED s.v. feat n, 5
Seldom buddyt[h] from the cartars grosse brest buddyth] buddyte 1534
Polycy / cheualry and maners honest

This repetyng / in my mynd oft reuolued
Of presumptyon I dyd me repent
45 And that comparyson me not behoued
To late bewaylyng tyme mysspent
Sorowe to doble a folyshe entent
Therfore purposyng for my comfort
To a place of plesure me to resort

50 I drewe to the wood freysh enpareled enpareled: =apparelled
With flowrs smylyng plesauntly
With bewtyful colours enpurpuled
With swete odor ryght sauory
A medycen apt for syke memory
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55 And ny to a haythorne I approched haythorne: =hawthorn
Entendyng to take rest there me choched choched: =nonce-form of checked? Cf. choch, below. Or it may be a form of couch v.

A busshe of plesure perlese in the wood
Fragraunt / vernaunt / bewtyful in coloure
The blossoms iucunde / in vertu lyke good
60 Facyng the Lyly in whytly candoure whytly ='whitish, pale'; see OED s.v. whitely
Al swete flowrs dysclosyd theyr odor
The goddes there to solace than I iugged
Such comly flowrs on euery boufe budded boufe: =bough, but this spelling is not attested in OED s.v. bough; elsewhere in this text the word is spelled bowghe (3x)

A fayre founten was there at hande
65 A freyshe spring / clere as any Crystal
That sof[t]ely tryllyd on the sande softely] sofely 1534sof[t]ely tryllyd: cf. tryl ... softly, below

The which moysted the flowrs vernaunt all
The Lybanot and Lyly of conwall Lybanot: not recorded in OED, and presumably derived from the Greek libanos (=incense); cf. MED s.v. libanus, 'a tree from which incense is derived'. Conwall: see OED s.v. convally, an adapted form of the Latin Lilium convallium, 'lily of the valleys'.
With a pure sauoure that there remayned
70 As Pallas / or Uenus there had bathed

The ayre murmured of theyr presence
As after assemble remaynith monument monument ='record, document'; see OED s.v. monument n, 2a
Of great powrs in fet of magnyfycence fet: =feat, 'exceptional act'
Which reuyued my mynde with sorowe ny spent
75 Reioysed streight / vnb[u]rdened of torment
And as fre myndes pursuyth oft slepe
So soft and gentyl on me dyd it crepe

But not long after as I ny slombered
Of tewnable cordes I harde melody
80 Oft recountering that my rest combered recountering ='encountering'; see OED s.v recounter v
A noyse far passyng in armony
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In cordes and raches of consony raches: error for caches? OED s.v. catch n1, 14, '(sung) round', sense first att. 1601.
Th[a]t none I iuge but wold it desyre That] Thet 1534
Except the ayshe vnapt to the lyre ayshe: =ash(tree)

85 O my spyryttes so it refreyshed
My body trymbelyd in reioysyng
That ny my sorowe away it wayshed
And fully awake from my slombering
To it gaue than dyligent heryng
90 My eye rollyd swyft here and there
To be fed as wel as was the ere

Than gentyl touches I recorded touches ='feelings'; see OED s.v. touch n, 13b; recorded ='recollected'; see OED s.v. record v1, 4
In welth whyle fortune dyd fauor
But to far mownt I remembered
95 A fayned melody lost in labor
Proue who lyst nothyng lyke sauor
For there is lernyng of reuenyence of reuenyence ='retrospective'? Revenience is not recorded in OED, but cf. OED s.v. revene, 'to come again', and Latin revenire
But I lerned here the notes of prudence

Mannys state was there descrybed
100 A ####ab#### mong the fowles of the ayre
Man promptly there myght haue lerned
Elegaunt to garnyshe nature fayre
My sorowe where-at dyd appayre
For comparysons I dyd combynde For: =Four? comparysons ='rivalries, contentions'? see OED s.v. comparisn n, 7; combynde ='combine, bind together'; see OED s.v. combind v
105 Mekly assuagyng in theyr kynde assuagyng ='pacifying, appeasing'? Or perhaps, 'giving way (to one another)'.

Of foules there certayne dyd assymble
To proue theyr voyces in counteryng counteryng: ='singing an accompaniment to a melody or plain-song'; see OED s.v. counter v2; the sense 'engaging in contest', OED s.v. counter v1, 4, is also present.
Arrogaunt began / but endyd humble
To syng most plesaunt was theyr stryuing
110 In swete armony and also reasonyng
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Betwyx the nyghtyngale and the thrusshe
The larke and the cocko in that busshe

Among them began a natural stryfe
Of melody who coude best endyte
115 Theyr tewnes ware redy and outraunce ryfe
To tedyous ware it to resyte
Comparysons made in theyr delyte
With reasons strong there lackyd none
That they renderyd one after one

¶The descryptyon of the nyghtyngale.

120 The nyghtyngale made heuynly noyse
Redobelyng her tewnes melodyously
Man beryed in sorowe it wold reioyse
Swete / plesaunt in consent / in corde redy consent: =concent, '(musical) harmony'
The ere fedyth no sownde more freyshly
125 That yf al melody ware truly loste
To be found in her / perelese she myght boste

Ful meryly in tyme it recorded recorded ='sang, warbled'; see OED s.v. record v1, 3b
Swete / swete / iug / iug ryght meruelus
And in a nother key streyght reported reported ='uttered, pronounced'; see OED s.v. report v, 8a
130 In manyfold notes lyke wonderus
To be taught in Paradyse / I iuged thus
Or had some lectorne of Melpomene lectorne (=lecturn): an error for lecture ='lesson'? See OED s.v. lecture n, 5a, and cf. lectorn below
Which of armony hath the dygnyte

But of the ere thus fed not suffysed
135 My eye I cast on that mery orgon
Of whos syght anon [I] was amased I] 1534 omits
So lytel a byrde to muse that lesson muse ='sing'; this sense is not recorded in OED s.v. muse v, but see the note on muses ='songs' below. Lesson ='musical piece'; see OED s.v. lesson n, 5
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So audyble / so tewnable in good facyon
From the lytel body than I remembred
140 That famous vertu oft hath burgened

Hystoryes calling to my rem[em]braunce remembraunce] rembraunce 1534
In the lytel body that vertu hydyth
The grosse body a yocke to be of combraunce yocke: =yoke
Of educatyon / such robustnesse rysith
145 Demynishment of stature in vertu smilyth
Pregnaunt in wyt / lusty in corage
In goodnese prompt / in counsel ryght sage

The sume of vertu there enharboryng
To al thynges apte that be of fame
150 The greattest conquest left in wrytting
To a lytel body that honor came
Before Alexandar who berith the name
Cesar in stature properd / fete and small properd: apparently a nonce-spelling for proper (='own, individual'), here and below
Whos polycy tryumph had ouer-all

155 Which Corylane morned in lost of victory lost ='loss'
The grosse body turning in occasyo[n]
Also Sertorius hym saued by polycy
The tayle of the horse lesyng by reason
Sonar than strenght by good conclusyon strenght: =strength
160 The batel of wyt this prouyd spetyal
Where strenght and lymmes seruyd not natural

Moch feble deceyt raignyth in strenghth strenghth: =strength
Hartes p[r]opyd in corage without aduysement propyd] popyd 1534propyd ='stuffed'; see OED s.v. prop v2

For lake of wysdome fowndering at lenght
165 And so most comyn we haue it in experyment
In a lytel body lernyng hath enclosement
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Freshe subtyl and redy of outteraunce
Facunde / elegaunt and of remembraunce

The seneuey-sede who lystyth to beholde seneuey: =senvy, 'mustard'
170 In vertu all other that doth excell
Exhausten of nature gyftes manyfolde Exhausten of ='drawn from'; see OED s.v. exhaust v, 1
Powned the fragraunter I you tell Powned: =pounded
Busshyth in vernaunce thoughe not mychel
So thys lytel byrde her notes endyted
175 Of no great fowle so wel there recorded

Of the Larkys melody

But not far of the Larke dyd appere
Composyng her pennes arrogauntly
Which to that busshe approched sone nere
Fayre-penned redy proferyng to fly
180 Which as in worthy cheke for cheualry cheke ='attack'; see OED s.v. check v1, 2
Ny to that busshe streyght toke her flyght
Mowntyng meruelus agaynst the lyght

And euer as she dyd than assende
Lyke knyght in campe for vyctory
185 Her notes she swetely dyd amende
Exaltynge her voyce merely
The trebyl tewne song than freshly
The Nyghtyngale no bettar in report
Such swete armony she made of comfort

190 I behelde that byrde of strange nature
The clowdes welny her inclosed
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In the element redounded her voyce pure
The heuyn to penetrat I supposed
The heuynly melody she dysclosed
195 At heuyn-gates I iuge she dyd get
The reches at plesure that she dyd fet reches: =riches

Of orbes rotyng she lerned armony
Enforsed by powre of the fyrst mouyng
Enstructed of nature lawde god almyghty lawde ='may laud?
200 The Egle thowghe strangly be in mowntyng strangly ='strong', although strongly is not recorded in OED as an adjective; but cf. proudly, whytly in this text.
Yet of it sure hath not lyke outteryng
Recordyng at plesure / deuydyng wonderus deuydyng ='descanting'; see OED s.v. divide v, 11
Nothyng so swete [song] Syrene the dangerus song] 1534 omits

Anone after she dyd descende
205 By lytel and lytel lyke a byrde of pryce
With note that euer dyd amende
Redy in wynges swyft / mowntyng at a tryce
Of the vernaunt lawre worthy in my aduyce lawre: = laure, 'laurel-chaplet'
Which in the grotton anone lyghted grotton: =gratten, a southern dialect word meaning 'stubble(-field)'
210 Faryng as she there wold haue rested

But quykly lyke a byrde of bewte
To the fayre haythorne toke her flyght
As after worthynesse showed of dewte
Wolde make clame there to some dewe ryght
215 And among the blossomes dyd lyght
Lyke an heyre to take possessyon
Clamyd of ryght for her swet lesson swet: =sweet

Of the thrusshe

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Which the thrusshe dylygent marked
That her ere fast layd to that melody
220 Lyke a byrde greuyd anone carped
Expressyng sone her fast memory Expressyng ='expelling (the contents of)'; see OED s.v. express v1, 1b
As nothyng had scaped of that armony
She whysteled and also chypped chypped: =cheeped, here and below? See OED s.v. cheep v
And from bowghe to bowghe there trypped

225 Sone after that byrde so semble and fayre semble: =seemly
Her chere changyd of greuyd cowntenaunce
To the hyest branche leppyng of the bryar
And her gyft of nature prowdly dyd avaunce
Showyng of muses her redy owtterance muses ='songs'; see OED s.v. muse n1, 3
230 Nothyng was truly to her than strange
In cordes at plesure she dyd range

The nyghtyngale she dyd cownterfet
Lyke a byrde that wolde the hole reply
For no dysdayne she dyd than let
235 Ful of corage syngyng ryght freshly
The larkys note she dyd descry
The starle / the keyt she pertly dyd mocke
Robyn redbrest the wren and the Pecocke

Such borowed descaunt she song freshly
240 And of her owne she spared no bost
Now swete / now sharpe and scornfully
Avaunsyng as the other had lost
Or none such to be in that same cost
And so on the bryar syttyng a ####ab#### hy
245 Proyned her fayre fethers by and by Proyned: =preened; see OED s.v. preen v2

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¶The melody of the Cocko.

Which father cocko sone espyed
Ful sagely restyng not far off
That to confownde hym-self emplyed hym-self emplyed ='he indicated his presence'; see OED s.v. imply v, 2c
He noddyd with the hed as a man wold coff
250 Apperyng lyke one hauyng no vse therof
And at the last it out dyd brast
A sad song and a formal blast

Great grauyte therin pretendyng
Tewnes syngyng of solempnyte
255 Playne was it wit[h]out ruffelyng without] witout 1534
Crachettis nor quauerettis cured she The cuckoo appears to have changed his gender.
That esyly iuged it myght be
By some subtyl reason wold make clame
And not by note to encrese her name

260 Lyke as we rede vertu hath oft spyred spyred ='sprouted, mounted'; see OED s.v. spire v1
From body not elegaunt of composyng
In membres deforme or in tonge lypped lypped ='lopped, truncated'? See OED s.v. lip v2
Esope was not al venust in shapyng
Demosthenes of nature was stuttyng stuttyng ='stuttering'; see OED s.vv. stut v1, stutting
265 Yet reason pregnaunt in the one rayngned rayngned: =reigned
Dylygence in th'other eloquence procured

So plesaunt cowntenaunce oft hath be occasyon
In vyce or troble that some ware trapped
Moch bewty shone in the face of Absolon
270 His bewtyful heere in vyce hym lapped
Putyfers spouse fayre Ioseph clapped
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In pryson for his fayre cowntenaunce
Be ####ab#### ca[u]se with her he made [n]ot dalyaunce

So rudy chekes haue often dysseued
275 Crokyd lymmes be of louely mekenese
Esyly gotten oft-tymes hath greued
Elabored thyng is of more suernese Elabored ='worked for'; see OED s.v. elabour v, which does not record a transitive use in this sense, however
That lake bewty be of prompt redynese
To garnyshe nature with pregnaunt reson
280 In the cowcko prouyd by conclusyon

So from the cothows oft hath floryshed cothows: =cothouse, 'small cottage'
Prynces redoub[t]ed of valeaunt pusaunce redoubted] redoubded 1534
By vertu and vyctory that it purchased
Actes declaryng of worthy remembraunce
285 Gydyng theyr people by noble gouernaunce
Which conquered to landes great royalte
Where vyce spoyled them of auctoryte

So from the thorne buddyth the rose
In bowghe and branch not lyke apperyng
290 Ye in sauour his nature doth lose
Rubycunde fayre of plesaunt smylyng
Whyte / sprynkeled of semble colouryng
Lyke in the blake botel lyquor hydyth
Swete / freysh / fragraunt that man confortyth

295 So thys sory byrde in notes ryght playne
Not in pennes arrogaunt composed
Of the lawre made profer to be fayne
But [she that] note no bettar expressed she that] that she 1534
To reason she wold styke I than iuged
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300 In an oke not far of restyng
As wold fle with her hed noddyng

Streyght from her perch she toke her flyght
Entendyng there to make comparyson
And in that bussh boldly dyd lyght
305 Where they chypped and chaunted a ceson
But not long after they began to reason
The chantors offyce who shuld haue
So they compared them-selfe to saue

¶The reason of the nyghtyngale.

The nyghtyngale sayd she was worthy
310 In whom the key of musyke dyd rest
All-hole her-self fayned melody
Nothyng delyueryng from her brest
But descaunt it was of the purest
A nother bost than made of comparement
315 A swete qualite to her only lent

Whan Lucyfers bemes be beryed bryght
Than at rest syt you all lurkyng
Many sad hartes than make I lyght
The corde of trewe musyke reportyng
320 So Pheba I please with my chantyng
And yet on the day I seldom delay
Utteryng my notes with sport and play

The kocke refreysheth many a man
In the nyght from dull and duskyd slomberyng
325 Prowdly crowyng now and than
But that ne pausyng suckeryth lamentyng suckeryth: =succoureth
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Of more lawde is worthy after reasonyng
Wherfore most apte am I for this offyce
A byrde perelese of pryke and pryce

330 The subtyl fet of good inuentyng fet: =feat
In cordes and tewnes that plesaunt be
With coraged brest of clene delyueryng
Seyng the grounde with reportes of bewte Seyng: an error for Sedyng (=seeding) or Sewyng (=sowing)? Reportes ='notes'
Bettar than his boke is of auctoryte
335 Such cordes be in me / such tewne is kepte
As the lady of musyke in me had slepte

A nother argument of ryght tytell tytell ='that which justifies or substantiates a claim'; see OED s.v. title n. 6
Most men of me take theyr repast
To fede theyr ere delectable well
340 Wherby to me such loue haue cast
Sayeng my tewnes that all haue past
What nedyth me than to make reclame
Of that in possessyon that is my name

¶The larkys reason

Me-semyth (quod the larke) ye do dote
345 Imprudently your-self to avaunce
That wyll compare must haue no blotte
I fynde in you a thyng of combraunce
That sone assuage shall your dalyaunce
Lyke as the Pecoke in pen[n]es dysdaynyth
350 But fowle legges his corage assuagyth fowle: =foul, with a pun on 'fowl'

So doth many one promote his parson
With crafty colours of aduauncement
All that furtheryng is good reason
The bowe indyfferent is not bent indyfferent ='impartial'
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355 To touch the but lokyng for punyshment
Of whom the prouerbe shal not dye
A man fawtlese / but / but doth denye This proverb is not recorded in Tilley, Whiting or the Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs.

Many commodytes ye do propone
Of notes / dytes and armony
360 By your-selfe as ye ware perles alone
But to me it semyth a pange sory pange: here and below, pang(e) seems to have a different sense (='attitude'?) from those recorded in OED s.v. pang n1 ('sudden pain or feeling')
That lokyth on vertu and not foly
Them in a bundel wysdom doth combynde
Which sone assuagyth the arrogaunt mynde

365 Your notes I besech where do become
Whan Baron Ianus blo[w]yth his blast blowyth] bloyth 1534
You lurke in a corner than very dome
Your voyce slomberyth / your pennes do wast
That after your syght than no man hath hast
370 Is not thys a byrde lyke to make comparyson?
In a pange of fortune whystelyng his lesson?

Yet nere by nature may I approche
Thys offyce vpon me to take
No sharpe / hore-frost makyth me to choch choch: =check? Cf. choched, above
375 Nor fethers for it do asslake
But in the grotton myrth do [I] make I] 1534 omits
And somtyme for my plesure merely
My armony sone wyl exalte an hye

With an-other gyfte that surmowntyth all
380 Not erth only in me doth delyt
But also the aungels ethereal
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Where I lerne so puerly to endyte
And ful wel do I theyr grace requyte
In theyr swete dewe there bath I oft
385 With plesaunt armony mowntyng a ####ab#### loft

I rendar kyndly that they me lent
Benefyttes geuyn in me do not spyl
My nowne person doth it present
With prompt seruys and voyce subtyl
390 Which is famous after my skyl
In an-other freysh to behold playne freysh ='(to) refresh'? See OED s.v. fresh v
That with study dyscussyd his brayne dyscussyd ='drove out'; see OED s.v. discuss v, 1, 2

This leftyd swetly in the ayre This: =Thus
Of armony only [I] here not the lesson I] 1534 omits
395 But I contemplat the woddes fayre woddes: =woods
The flowrs / the odors haue assentyon
Wherof I haue great delectatyon
I behold wel the place of amenyte the place of amenyte ='the locus amoenus, the earthly paradise'
Paradyse in erth / most worthy of dygnyte

¶The reason of the thrushe.

400 Whom the thrush coude no lengar forbere
Supposyng to speke al to late
As no laude had be lefte for [her] there her] here 1534
And for the offyce began to chat
Euyn in the bussh there-as she sat
405 With formal reason of eloquence
As of Pallas had some influence

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If in report there restyth praysyng
In the nyghtys melody commendatyon
In varyable notes moch reioysyng
410 In contynual syngyng swete consolatyon
Of armony to rendar the mery lesson
At heuyn-gattes where freyshly it is
In solace bathyng of meruelus blys

In them cockyng vertu elegauntly cockyng: the sense is unclear here; but see OED s.v. cock v1.
415 Allegyng for the lawre with dysdayne Allegyng ='pleading'? See OED s.v. allege v2
Chockyng with a bone of dyshonesty Chockyng: =choking
But one thyng marke you very playne
Of parteys the hole doth remayne
And the hole is no other thyng
420 But parteys compact in ioynyng

What thyng partly ye haue descrybed
In me of it the hole sume restyth
Who can endyte? of me not fayned
No fowle in the ayre that euer fleyth
425 Of me herd but my brest reportyth
Seldom the byrde vtteryth melody
That I reporte not in bettar armony

The mo the meryar it is sayd
Sen in dyuerse the bettar is sped
430 And of more worthynese vndenayd
Study in scyence sone is enhaunsed
If with quycke memory it be flowred
In incredyble memory scyence is lockyd incredyble ='beyond belief'? See OED s.v. incredible adj., 1
So in a dull hed sone is it chockyd chockyd: =choked

sig: C2
435 Cesar is lauded for fast memory
Of no man resyted / that euer red swyftar
Pennyng his mynde in quycknes as redy
Of foure quaterns he was compylar
Of epystels at ons no man bettar
440 Pycus de Myrandula not longe agon
Thrughe fast memory felowe had non

Now marke ye dylygent my entent
The flowre of study of me expressyd
To dylygent pregnaunce comyn is lent
445 Yf in no trechery the mynde be duskyd
In slewth and dyscord be not there luskyd luskyd ='lay hidden'
Apt to honor is that elegaunt parson
Which as in me lyke / in none hath perfectyon

This auaunsyd she in that natural hous
450 Coyshe with her cowntenaunce vnderp[r]opyng vnderpropyng] vnderpopyng 1534Coyshe: =coyish, 'somewhat coy'; vnderpropyng: cf. vnderproppyng, below

Fayre-mayled and a properd smale dows dows ='sweetheart, dear'; see OED s.v. douse n2; a properd smale dows ='a proper little dear'; see above for the form properd: =proper
With scornful syght rollyng on them lokyng
That bone in theyr throte thought to be choking
But sone after bespake her make
455 Her arrogaunt bost to aslake

¶The cocko.

Soth sayth the cocko it is that ye say
Sen in many but expert in very fewe
Your brest vtteryth sport and play
With Meduseus as ye dyd renewe
460 Or in the font of the hors lappyd the d[e]we
sig: [C2v]
Moch your comparyson greater your bostyng
As all the muses had in you reclosyng

To the hole perlese ye make reclame
A hole sume with a grosse gappe
465 A false tytel and forged fame
A vayne bost that the wynde doth flappe
A fayre byldyng wyl stand parhappe
Insculped / enbosted and paynted venustly Insculped ='adorned with carvings'; see OED s.v. insculp v
For lake of fundatyon fallyth quycly

470 So your reasons apperyng strong
Lykely / but false I can proue
What is descaunt with-out playnsong
With reportes of plesure as ye loue
In the meane or swetely to syng aboue
475 Yf the playnsong swarue from the boke
A ####ab#### none your descaunt wyl stande a ####ab#### croke

To me it longyth to syng the pla[y]nsong playnsong] plansong 1534
And you on me to syng descaunt I ####ab#### wys
Now on mynom-tyme and now two long mynom: =minim
480 To ####ab#### gether shal we syng swetely this
Most fyt for me than this offyce is
And seldome ye se it in experyence
But the quere rulyth the basys dyly[g]ence dylygence] dylyence 1534

After the which prudent and formal reason
485 To the cocko dyd they al assent
Geuyng hym that offyce of promotyon
And ech with other ware wel content
Knyt in trewe loue sone after ware bent
sig: [C3]
1534 misnumbers the signature as B.iij.
To repete theyr notes of melody
490 A swete song to make of armony

The cocko began than redely to syng
A fayre key takyng of meane tyme
The dyapason now and than touchyng
The larke in her voyce anon dyd clyme
495 The nyghtyngale reportyd hym
A standyng tenor song the thrussh
Ioyned in felysshyp in that bussh

Theyr voyces in the wood dyd redownde
All instrumentes in plesure excellyng
500 Far bettar theyr eccho was i[n] sownde
A fayrar lectorn they rede of syngyng lectorn (=lecturn): an error for lecture ='lesson', lection? See OED s.v. lecture n, 3, and cf. lectorne above
Than dyd the hamors of Tubals techyng
Or Pyctagoras that was so tedyus
Knyt in a sume myght se it compendyus

505 It was not frompelyd nor yet iombelyd frompelyd ='rumpled, disordered'; see OED s.v. frumple v
Nor fayned voyces but of nature pure
Not hob-for-gyb out rayshly tumbelyd
Lyke blynd bayar[d] that nothyng doth cure bayard] bayar 1534
Lytel in the grounde / in the boke assure The sense of boke is obscure, but may refer to the part of the plough-beam to which the horses are yoked; see OED s.v buck n5, 4.
510 Which not syngyth but scuyth al raysh scuyth: =skews, 'shies (as a horse), swerves'; see OED s.v. skew v2, 2b
That with his fryske from the cord doth laysh laysh ='dash, spring, start'; see OED s.v. lash v1, 1

Than perseuyd I good apperyng symple
Of many coniectured folyshnese
In the wooddes to lyue forsoke the cyte
515 Renownsyng al pompe of wantonnese
Dwellyd in the cothowse of wyldernese
sig: [C3v]
And no merwel that such plesure there founde
Eloquentar dyte than in the tounde tounde: a nonce-form of toune (=town)

So drewe my sorowe to perfectyon
520 In my reason it dyd so wel recorde
There restyth vehemence in a swete lesson
With whom ragyng wyldnese euer wyl borde
In greater dysdayne at the bettar worde
Which delyte in prouerbe shal not spyl
525 Moch swettar is sport to the wanton wyl

The wooddes and the cyte I dyd combynde
Many apply but fewe haue the lote lote: =lot
In corde and dyte to agre of mynde
Dyuerse study the armony of note
530 But in the dyte vtterly they dote
As oft is sen a man wel enpareled
Yet lyke goodnese within is fabeled

So in the cyte armony is forsed
From the woodyes translate that melody
535 But bondage for lyberte is yl scorsed scorsed ='bartered, exchanged'; see OED s.v. scorse v1
Byrdes in cages be mured gayly cages] chages 1534
But that is coacte syngyth not freyshly
As in musytyons we se it playne
Yf it come not of corage they wyl fayne

540 So cordes of lyberte are in corage
With me contryuyng his nature
Uertu is lyberte vyce is bondage
Which causyd me to take more cure
Theyr dyte to marke / as note pure
sig: [C4]
545 And anone perseuyd it not darke
Agaynst puaunt vyce that dyd barke puaunt ='stinking'; see OED s.v. puant

The dyte to me was wonderfull
Of the byrdes expressyd meruelus
No hed but it wold refreyshe dull
550 Man (quod they) lerne this lesson of vs
To syng in trewe loue as we do thus
From the corde of loue ospryngyth grace
Heuyn wynnyng / hydyng al trespace

Be content with the gyft of nature
555 Upon the neyghbors enter not pryse pryse ='contest'; see OED s.v. prize n2
For presumptyon may not endure
Uyce of dysdayne doth euer aryse
Goddys creatyon do thou surmyse surmyse ='conceive, imagine'; see OED s.v. surmise v, 3b
All-thyng he creatyd in trewe armony
560 Gyft to accorde here with gyft meryly

After from thens they toke theyr flyght
Nature to sustayne by his prouysion
Utterly vanyshyng from my syght
Than fel I in great medytatyon
565 Compassyng that swete noyse with my reason
As lyghtly it is in man most feruent
To recorde delyte somtyme present recorde ='recall, recollect'

O fortune ouerrollyd in darkenese ouerrollyd ='enveloped'; see OED s.v. overroll v
Ny mured slomberyng in my brest
570 Thy-self forgettyng in welthynese
But sone a ####ab#### wry whan he dyd wrest
Repentaunce had me wel-ny opprest
sig: [C4v]
Lerne lerne man arrogaunce euer to fle
Condescend with thes byrdes in humylyte

575 Man thy reason yf thou do wel tyll tyll ='cultivate'; see OED s.v. till v1, 6
Lyke swetenese of armony we fynde
In all men that refrayne theyr wyll
As in brefe sentence I wyll combynde
The larkys note who bettar hath in mynde
580 Than where the flowr of chastyte smylyth
A heuynly tewne where-so it restyth

That passyth this lyfe in vyrgynyte
With aungel equal and hym beforne
Aungel in ioy / man lapped in mysere
585 Trogyng and mournyng as ware forlorne Trogyng: =trudging
But syngyng this note fortunat is borne
Whose mynde sone the cloudes doth penetrat
Meke and redy all wronge to tollerat

So the nyghtyngale euydent syngeth
590 In the gentyl brest of curtese
The fetes of reason there reporteth
A ####ab#### propred clame of that dygnyte
O[n] pregnaunt wyt grounded auctoryte
Lawes to sancyt of ryghtfulnes sancyt ='sanction'; see OED s.v. sancite v
595 The ragyng mynde to let of wyldnes

Whome of innocentes I may call
The good and sure buckeler of defence
Chastenyng vyce and wyll tyrannicall
A note trewly of hye magnyficence
600 Both in nyght and daye of redy presence
sig: D1
The nyght turnyth in dayly pastaunce
Correctyth synne and vertu doth enhaunce

In dyuerse tewnes of the thrushys musyng
In a grosse sume to ####ab#### together coniest coniest: =congest
605 Clerely expressyth the comyn lyuyng
In the lyne of lyke meryt that do rest
That holdyth of other is not the purest
Whos varyable notes do dysclose
The indygest lyfe that most do repose indygest ='shapeless, confused'

610 The dangerus recourse of marchandyse
The subtyl inuentyon artyfytyal
Composyng in ordar by semble wyse
To confort our lyfe with thynges of materyal
With handy-craftes that be lyke natural natural ='pertaining to the physical (as opposed to spiritual) world'; see OED s.v. natural adj., 5
615 Which in a nombre yf we redresse redresse: some such meaning as 'have recourse to' is needed here, but this sense is not recorded in OED s.v. redress v1. An emendation to adresse may be required; see OED s.v. address v, 11 ('to turn the attention to').
The th[ru]shys notes wyl expresse thrushys] thurshys 1534

Now the cocko druggyth at the plough
Playne as a packestafe euer in care
Be it frost or snowe he goyth thrugh
620 Yf the plough spede the bettar do they fare
Th'other geuyng the tewne of welfare
Than goyth the playnsong ryght swetly
The bettar musyke there of armony

But yf the cocko the larke wold fayne
625 Dekey wold sone theyr modulatyon
Or yf the thrusshe the note wold retayne
Of the nyghtyngalys gentyl fatyon
Sone theyr corde wold come to confusyon
sig: [D1v]
As lyke to syght as an ape purpuled
630 Or a slaue in a regal vesture palled

As plesaunt to the ere as the blacke sanctus blacke sanctus ='a kind of burlesque hymn'; see OED s.v. sanctus n, 3, where the term is first attested 1578
Of a sad sorte vpon a mery pyn
Lernyd in the bole of curtys Bacchus
Bathyd in musyke without / and within
635 Rage in cordes / in dyte do deuyn
Querystars arrogaunt syt with dysdayne Querystars: =choristers
For than al wysdome rumbelyth in theyr brayne

Lyke Sylene in swetnes of armony
Relyng from his dene with a blacke tankarde
640 Endyted verses of famous memory
The styffe okes fayned hym to regarde
To Aglays promysyng wanton rewarde
Al faynyng to daunce I iuge they dremed
Or the erth with molles euerywhere heued

645 Lyke Promachus in tryumph dysgysed
That lorde of drynkars I may call
In Alexanders game vnsemble deuysed
Of thre tankerdes he dronke vp all
No man lyke hym in quaftyng prodygall quaftyng: =quaffing
650 He vsyd to sup them at a tryce
Wherfore among them he had the pryce

Lyke knyght in felde for vyctory
For the gottys-wul that often stryuyth
Or for tryumph beyng vylony
655 Of tyranny what laude ospryngyth
What to hym that an-other spoylyth
sig: D2
So of comparyson sory is electyon
Where nether of them bryngyth but infectyon

To stryue in offyce it to auaunce
660 Famyd with the flowre of humilyte
The vertu it is of noble constance
Not to barke at an-others dygnyte
That garnyshe theyr gyfte ryght famous be
So drenched in pryde often do lowre
665 Syt it in cothowse or in hye bowre

The greater in wysdom / the hyar in grace
Goddys ordynaunce if they behold
In them pryde shal occ[u]py no place occupy] occapy 1534
The inflat mynde may sone make colde
670 Comyn folowyth gyftes manyfolde Comyn ='commonly'
Panges of foly dayly pursuyng
In pryde that the mynde may haue no raging

Holy saynt Paul was oft cuffyd cuffyd= 'buffeted'; see OED s.v. cuff v1
For al he was drenched in hye grace
675 With enflamed lechery oft buffyd
Gladly callyng to heuynly solace
To saue hym from that fylthy trespace
Which let al byrdes dylygent contemplat
So prydly venom shal not intoxycat prydly ='prideful', although OED does not record an adj. pridely

680 Let the larke than dylygent aduort aduort is a nonce-spelling of advert, 'turn one's attention to'.
Which of nature in the grotton restyth
Heuyn to refreyshe by dewe resorte
With mowntyng plesauntly as she syngyth
Which thyng a chaste mynde wel expressyth
sig: [D2v]
685 No lowryng darke clowde may hym let
His prayer afore god to be set

The famous vyrgyn by prerogatyue
Tastyd grace slomberyng on Chrystys brest
The sacrament of secresy dyd contryue
690 In storys restyth ne such a conquest
Al powre in ordar that hath redrest
Recusyng honor / where honor myght haue Recusyng ='rejecting, renouncing'; see OED s.v. recuse v
Hyest in honor / that most men dyd saue

Not entreprysyng iuste[s] at the campe iustes] iusted 1534iustes: =jousts

695 Not shyned in vayne-glory and ryet
Theyr lyfe is bryghter than eny lampe
Trechery quenchyng by good dyet
In hyest tryumphe beyng most quyet
This offeryth incenses for our mortalyte This: =these
700 That oft sagge redemyng our fraylte

Solinus showyth of a prouynce
Where the indwellars be hole chast
Al toyes of ryet that do deuynce deuynce is not recorded as a verb in OED, but cf. devict, 'subdued, overcome', and devinct, 'bound'. Deuynce must therefore derive from either Latin devincere, 'to conquer' or devincire, 'to bind fast'.
Theyr mynde in vertu is lockyd fast
705 Not haltyng doune from theyr norme cast norme: =norm, 'standard', here and below; OED s.v. norme first attests it in this sense 1635.
Lyke one tyme losyng / relyth to the close relyth ='rushes, dashes'; see OED s.v. reel v, 3. Close ='end, conclusion'
Wrystyng and wryngyng to bryng to purpose

The famous flowre of nobylyte
The swete reportes yf be loste
710 A byrde in name but not in dygnyte
Which of hye lynage may make boste
But lackyng vertu / slepyth in the froste
sig: D3
Gentyl vngentyl that may be named
In the parent fayre in the sonne dyffamed

715 Sone honor vadyth led by auaryce vadyth: =fades; see OED s.v. vade v1
Euer lackyng yet drouned in opulence
Sone mannys mynde spousid to vyce
Blynded / tumbelith in-to neclygence
This garryth the note of reuerence garryth: =jars
720 Moch truculence wherof ospringyth
That playne a dyscord no other syngyth

The vernaunt flowre of gentylry
Bathyth in the well-spryng of clemence
Iustyce / and the dewe acte of honesty
725 Preferryng / fauoryth royalte
Not grossyth / nor engratyth dayle engratyth ='is harsh or oppressive'; see OED s.v. ingrate v
Nor druggyth with the cartar at the plough
But syngyth swetly content with ynough

Craftes resyted artyfytyal resyted ='already mentioned'
730 Theyr gyfte labored yf they do apply
Most restyth in thynges materyal
To folowe the larke behouyth truly
Th'other to obey in corde meryly
So ioynyng fortunes by dyscretyon
735 The swete corde shal sone rendar of reason

Now the larke pouerly the ploughman can play pouerly: =poorly, 'humbly'
The cocko vnapt the other counterfyttys
Nature repugnyth the gentylman to play
As truly no game it is for slauys
740 To iust in the felde with syluer sperys
sig: [D3v]
So dewe ordar makyth armony
A confused state garryth vtterly

To pray belongith for our offence
The larkys note in humylite
745 The nyghtyngale protector of innocence
The thrusshe clothith our necessite
Of the cockoys playnsong al fed be
Which to confuse no other thyng is
But the plough the oxen to drawe I ####ab#### wys

750 Where thes agre. O fortunat countre
Irrored with the dew celestyal Irrored ='bedewed'; cf. OED s.v. irrorate
Spousyd to vertu / indued with bownte
The swete key reportyng armonycal
Rauyshed plesaunt in noyse ethereal
755 Where though the muses be not present
Yet theyr odor pausith in monument

A nother lyke lesson than dyd I bownte bownte: probably an error; cf. bownte in the previous stanza
Which me refreyshed meruelusly
Many thynges creat I dyd recownte
760 Of the elementys nature facundly facundly ='eloquently', although the adverbial form of the adj. facund is not recorded in OED
In proportyons syngyng iocundly
In rarnesse / or thycknesse euer a tenth rarnesse ='thinness'; see OED s.v. rareness n, 1. Tenth may be used in the musical sense; see OED s.v. tenth n, 3
From theyr corde mak[y]ng no ragement makyng] makng 1534ragement ='violence', although ragement is not recorded in OED (but see OED s.v. toying vbl. n [1580])

Dystyncted in stryfe by dew proportyon Dystyncted ='distinguished'; see OED s.v. distinct v
765 Of whom compact is al-thyng sensyble
Whos armony spyreth propagatyon spyreth ='produces'; see OED s.v. spire v1, 1b
And whan they rage / yssueth mysere
Than ceasith the corde by fayned amyte
sig: [D4]
So wonderful in nature further in stryfe
770 Content with theyr vertu gyue to al lyfe

So founde I in countreys descryptyon
Of al thynges in one not lyke opulence
Which inducyth this elegaunt reason
To agre in corde of louely congruence
775 Therfore one hath not the hole influence
That by commodytes in nede of fodar
We shuld aduertyse one to loue an-other aduertyse ='notify, admonish'; see OED s.v. advertise v, 4a

As of landes made of in mentyon
For gyftes of nature that be auaunsyd
780 Some for subtyl and elegaunt inuentyon
Some for the vyne famous be extollyd
Some for theyr sauours greatly are commendyd
Some wooddes / fel / catal and freyshe spryng
Some forest / dale and holsom fosteryng

785 Some hold moch of the heuinly larke
An-other of the nyghtyngale bost dare
Dyuerse with the thrusshe dayly do warke
Most with the cocko druggen in care
Thus sowre and swet in loue ioyned are
790 But fortunat that parke / plesaunt that tre
Wher thes be knet and in corde do agre

Which in the lectorne of cosmography The meaning of lectorne (=lectern) is unclear; see the notes on lectorn(e) above.
The gyfte of nature in none more opulent
Than in Englonde of noble memory
795 Al thes byrdes there syng ryght reuerent
Seldom ragyng / or makyng interment interment ='meddling, interference'; see OED s.v. entermete v, and the note on interment above, line 18
sig: [D4v]
Fayre semble and of lusty corage
Gouernyd by prynces of hye lynage

A parke vernaunt / plesauntly paled
800 Under fruitful plage by syt[u]atyon plage ='region, clime'; see OED s.v. plage n1
With the surgyng see rownd a ####ab#### bowt mured
Fayre in prospect / a place of miratyon miratyon ='wonder'; see OED s.v. miration, where it is recorded only as a regional term in the United States, from 1893
Dystyncted in prouynces by discretyon
Aungels are lyke the people of cowntenaunce
805 For whom ther god makyth great purueaunce

Of catal and corne there is ryght good
From the hylles the stremes do tryl
Encresyng softly at last in flode
Of forest and dale they haue theyr wyl
810 Of fysshe and fowle they haue theyr fyl
Of metal there is a ryght good vayne
Of men there lackyth no poure and mayne

Al landes to it haue lyeng theyr trade
With al to change his gyfte is redy
815 Half-stuffyd come thyther / away go lade
God saue Englond and kepe in armony
The corde of goddis wyl to report dayly
In trewe musyke theyr lesson to rendar
Theyr famous state shal last the lengar

820 Consent neuer drawyth to confu[s]yon confusyon] confutyon 1534
The flowre euer garnyshyth of prudence
A meke state neuer tumblyth in euersyon
A suffysed brest is full of clemence
That knowyth hym-self geuyth reuerence
sig: [E1]
825 The swete lectorne of [t]he foules assemblaunce the] che 1534The meaning of lectorne (=lectern) is unclear (='music'?); see the notes on lectorn(e) above.

That where it spyryth is lytel combraunce spyryth ='mounts up'; see the note on spyred, above

Whereof yssuyth a noble sentence
Man assuage thy insatyat appetyte
Of presumptyon alay the offence
830 He lyuyth not here in cordly delyte
Suaruyng from the tewne of his benefyte
Than let go pryde and vnderproppyng
Loke on thy-self and leue thy choppyng
Let go bostyng and vayne-glory
835 The subtyl artyllary of the deuyl
Let go dyscorde a blast ful sory
Man of vertu that doth euer pyll
And spouse thy-selfe truly to goddys wyll
For wyl adulteryne may not endure adulteryne ='spurious, counterfeit, due to adulteration' in early uses; see OED s.v. adulterine adj.
840 That louyth wel god / he lyuyth sure

Creatyd thou must the remembre
In purpose of lyfe far moch bettar
Laude to god than se thou rendre
Frely he gaue the a gyfte comlyar
845 To rendar agayne thou art but dettar
For such is ordayned the meruelus syght
To behold the myrrour of tryforme lyght

Wherto to come god gyue vs grace
The louyng note to synge of humylyte
850 For that wyll mownt vnto that place
Must nosel in no pang of mysere nosel: =nuzzle
Lyke wyll to lyke and euer shalbe
sig: [E1v]
That in cordly ordar lyue not here of lyfe
Shal lament where is no ordar but al stryfe

855 Reason the norme of ordar hath inuentyd
To tech man the path of heuynnys s[o]lace solace] salace 1534
That to publyshe Cryst was incarnatyd
Growndyng obedyence to lede that trace Growndyng ='establishing'; see OED s.v. ground v, 3
Loue and ordar to purchese that place
860 Euyl-wyl and dysordar there to haue no powr
But fayth and vertu to floryshe in that bowre

That vse wel reason there shal haue meryte
That lyue for heuyn there shal haue honor
Uertu there shynyth in perfyt delyte
865 Of al swet flowrs there is the fragraunt odor
All perfectyon to beholde that myrror
With other ioyes that be there in corage
Of whom I can not expresse the surplusage

From blyndnese of hart god vs defende
870 To fyx our loue in lyfe perpetual
And not rest in thyng that shal haue ende
For mortal in thyng to delyte mortall
As neuer wolde depart with loue so spetyal
Hedlyng to tomble it is no other thyng
875 To the darke lake of pytyful mornyng

God saue our prynce and his louyng make
His byrdes to report in armony
From the breth god defende them of the lake
That the deuyl blastyth owt spytefully
sig: [E2]
880 That this compyled Cryst saue from foly
God send vs al the heuynly palace
Uyryng in bewte of meruelus solace Uyryng ='turning'?; see OED s.v. vire v1, 2

¶This endyth endyth] endythth 1534 the comparyson of the byrdes compyled by dan Robert Saltwood monke And imprynted by Iohnn Mychel.