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The Canon of John Lydgate Project

The Miracles of St. Edmund: Text

Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Ashmole 46, fols. 87r-97r
[The text here is copied from Carl Horstmann's Altenglische Legenden (1881), pp. 440-445. There are 58 8-line stanzas recounting three separate miracles.]
[St 1; Miracle 1: London Bridge, 1441]
   Laude of our lord vp to the hevene is reysed
Above the sonne and bryght sterrys cleere,
And in his seyntes our lord Jhesu is preysed,
As offte is seyn by ther devout prayeere,
And be signes which they werchyn heere
Thorugh Crystes myght, geyn which is noon obstacle.
And to purpoos of this mateere
I wyl remembre an vnkouth ffayr myracle.

[St 2]
   Which late ffyl the sylve same yeer
A thousand toold ffro the Natiuite
Off Cryst Jhesu by mevyng circuleer
Fourty and oon, at Londone the Cite;
That our lord of merciful pite
The twenty day monyth of Novembre
Lyst to renewe of his benignite
A memoryal, as I can remembre,

[St 3]
   With-inne the boundys of that towne
Maad his grace wit newe light to shyne,
To greet reiosshyng of al this regioun,
Vpon a day, pleynly to termyne,
Off hym that is kyng, martir, and virgine,
Blyssed Edmond: whoos merytes to aggregge,
Our lord Jhesu, by grace which is divyne,
Wrought a myracle at Tempse vpon the bregge,

[St 4]
   His gloryous martir ffor-to magneffye,
Day of his ffeeste, at ffoure afftirnoon--
Thyng doon in opyn may nat gladly lye.
On that bregge, bylt of lym and stoon,
Chyldre to pleye assemblyd were in oon;
Among which sone of a ffleccheer,
Tendre of lymes so as he myght goon,
Was among hem, of age but thre yeer.

[St 5]
   Which of custom ther pleyes did ordeyne,
Lyk ther conceyt, of verray Innocence.
Tyme of ther play to-gidre thre or tweyne
Kept ther dispoort, in whoom was no diffence(!).
A droof of oxes cam fforby ther presence
Passyng the bregge; the chyldre wer so neer:
Oon of the beestys by sodeyn violence
Cauht in his hornys the chyld of the ffleccheer,

[St 6]
   Lefft hym vp-on heyghte toward the Oryent,
Ovir the wal caste hym in-to the fflood--
Sondry peple beeing ther present:
Off aventure somme on the bregge stood.
But Jhesu Cryst, moost benigne and good,
Which of mercy lyst for man to sterve,
For our sake spent his precious blood:
The seid chyld of mercy lyst preserve,

[St 7]
   As I toold erst nat fful thre yeer ofage--
A monyth lasse, as I reherse can,
Born thorugh the bregge with the wawes rage.
Off compassyoun a pitous noyse gan,
The bittir teerys doun by ther cheekys ran
Off suych as sauh westward them be-fforn
Toward Cooldherberwe passyng "the Swan"
How, by myracle, the seid chyld was born.

[St 8]
   Grace of our lord, knet with good aventure,
Gaff to this chyld a special avauntage:
That so tendre a litel creature
Born with the streem ffelt no damage,
Nat astonyd of look nor visage.
Casuelly a botman fforby went,
Merveyllyng cam ner in his passage,
Into his vessel the litel child he hent,

[St 9]
   Afftir an ebbe, whan the fflood gan ryse;--
As ye haue herd, Cryst Jhesu was his guyde,
As þe processe pleynly doth devyse.
Vpon the bregge in the same tyde
The childes modir sat in hir hous besyde
And knewh no-thyng what of hir chyld was ffalle.
Tyl a woman cowde no lengere byde,
Ran a greet paas: which did the modir calle,

[St 10]
   With wepyng and sobbyng of hir cheer
Sparyd nat but pleynly toold hir al.
The modir saide: the chyld in no maneer
No poweer hadde to reche vp to the wal;
But whan she knewh of hir childes ffal
By a greet oxe cast in-to the fflood:
As modrys weepe at ffeestys ffuneral,
Lyk a mad woman, ffuryous and wood

[St 11]
   She ran hire out, lyft ffor no-thyng spare,
As creature moost Inffortunat,
Hir her to-torn, of kercheves maad al bare,
Crying allas, with sorwe & dool chek-maat,
Off sodeyn ffurye al disconsolat.
And so she ran by howsys to the place
Off Temple streete, took heede of noon estat:
Tyl she met a gentylman by grace,

[St 12]
   Which appertenyd, as it also is toold,
To a baroun dwellyng ther-be-syde,
The lord Fanhoop, which heeld ther his housoold.
The seid servaunt of ffortune in that tyde
Vpon this woman sadly dyd abyde
Amyd the streete, lyst no fferther goo,
Tyl it stood soo that grace lyft provide
He knewh the cause and ground of al hir woo;

[St 13]
   Hadde of hir constreynt greet compassyoun,
Serchyng the cause of hire compleynyng.
"Allas, quod she, my child is throwe doun"--
Dysespeyred ffully of his ffyndyng;
"But, gentyl sere, telle me now o thyng:
This day what ffeeste is in the kalendeer,
Which may me helpe and graunte my axing
Thorugh his merytes and devout prayeer?"

[St 14]
   "Woman, quod he, be off good counffort,
Truste hool in god afftyr my doctryne!
This day is halwyd--taak heede to my repoort--
In his worshepe that is a pure virgine,
The blyssed martir kyng Edmond in his shryne."
And with that woord the woman fyl plat doun
On bothe hire knees, bowed hed and chyne,
With devout herte seide this orysoun:

[St 15]
   "O lord, that hast of poore folk no despight
Nor of synfful, which calle the in ther nede;
Blyssed Jhesu, that hast also delight
To fforthere alle thoo that love the and drede:
For Edmondys sake that did ffor the blede
Percyd with arwes ffyleed sharp and keen,
Jhesu, graunte my request ffor-to spede:
My litel chyld that I may oonys seen.

[St 16]
   And whyl I lyve, I halwe shal the day
Off thy martir, kyng of Estyngelond,
With devout herte, as I best can or may,
In hoope I shal seen vpon the strond
My litel chyld brought quyk or ded to lond."
Down to the watir as she gan hyre hye,
Sauh hire sone which held vp his hond
Out of a boot and lowde gan to crye:

[St 17]
   "Wher is my moodir, myn owne moodir dere?
Moodir, moodir!" alwey the chyld gan crye.
Heryng that voys with sobre pitous chere,
Doun to Tempse ffaste she gan hire hye;
Off hir sorwen a-dawen gan the skye
Vpon hire chyld whan she cast hire look,
Fond hym al hool, hurt in no partye,
Myd of a boot, and vp hire chyld she took,

[St 18]
   Gaff thank to god with humble affeccioun
For this myracle knelyng on hire kne--
Doon at London, day of the passyoun
Off seint Edmond--and this a-vowh maad she:
Duryng hire lyff that solempnyte
To halwe and kepe in al hire best entent
The sayde ffeeste, hire husbonde ek parde
To doo the same also was of assent.

[St 19]
   This myracle must oonly been ascryved
To god alloone, and to no mannys myght,
And that the chyld in savete was aryved
Cheef thank to god mvt be yove of ryght
Which hath poweer to magneffye his knyght,
By this myracle, no-man may sey nay,
Which that befel, whoo-so looke aryght,
The kalendeer of kyng Edmondys day.

[St 20; Miracle 2: Bury St. Edmunds, 28 April 1444]
   Name of our lord to exalte and reyse
We ar comaundid be scrypture & wryting:
In the sawteer, of herte and wyl to preyse,
By hym that was choose prophete and kyng:
First by prayer and devout knelyng--
Last of his psalmys Dauid biddith soo--
For myracles and merveyllous werkyng
Calle to his seyntes in what we haue doo.

[St 21]
   Thorugh whoos suppoort gret wondrys þei ha wrought,
Yove to our lord lawde of ther myracles;
For ther merytes he forgat hem nought,
To ther requestys maade noon o(b)stacles.
Bryght as berylle, clerere than spectacles,
Grace excellith euery precious stoon.
To seyntes, shryned or set in tabernacles,
God hath mervaylles wrought many moo than oon.

[St 22]
   Palpable exaumple in stoory men may se:
Mawgre Pharao and al his greet myght
Moyses passyd thorugh the Rede see;
A bussh vnbrent with ffyr was maad bryght,
A saphir skye ladde Israel be day-light
Toward the lond of promyssyoun,
A ffyry pileer afforn hem brente a-nyght,
Them to conveye by grace of god sent doun.

[St 23]
   For hem he wroughte myracles moo than oon:
Bittir watir tournyd to swetnesse,
Maade a riveer renne out of a stoon,
To staunche the thrust geyn drought of wyldirnesse;
Ful ffourty yeer, the bible berith witnesse,
Ther cloothys ffressh, nat brooke nor totorn.
Which exaumplys yive ffeith and sekirnesse
For his seyntes what god hath wrought to-fforn,

[St 24]
   First in stooryes of antiquite,
Which shulde alwey remembryd been of ryght.
In myddil age the laste also parde
Whan the hooly goost to Marye doun alight;
Ek whan a dowe with snowych ffetherys whight
Cam doun to Cryst in the ffloom Jordan;
A greet myracle ageyn naturys ryght
Whan oold Elizabeth brought forth seyn John.

[St 25]
   Cryst thorugh the world sent his apostlys twelve
To preche his ffeith in euery regioun,
Gaff exaumple, the blyssed lord hym-selve,
To hooly martirs to suffre passyoun.
And oon is shryned in Brutys Albyoun,
A gloryous corseynt, martir, mayde, and kyng,
In whoos worshepe of trewe afteccioun
I wyl remembre two myracles by wryting.

[St 26]
   God lyst his martir fforto magneffye:
Notable signes fful expert in certeyn:
Seint Edward present in his regalye
Osgothus slayn ffor his ffroward dysdeyn;
Thynk on Leoffstan and fforget nat Sweyn;
Be opyn myracle how our lord Jhesu
For his corseynt dayly be toknys pleyn
Hath in seint Edmond shewyd greet vertu,

[St 27]
   By nowmbre toold of yoore agoon be date
Moo than I kan rehersyn in substaunce;
In especial of two that ffyl but late,
Which I purpoose to putte in remembraunce,
The laude of Jhesus with euery circumstaunce
Off this myracles to sette to his hond.
Off which two this was the varyaunce:
Oon vndir watir, the tothir on the lond.

[St 28]
   Al the myracles in ordre forto sette,
Off oold and newe, doon by this gloryous kyng:
Them to compyle thouh I be bounde of dette,
Off elloquence I haue but smal konnyng,
Rethoryques colours of endytyng
In my librarye is noon habundaunce;
My wyl is good, though to so greet a thyng
I ffele my witt dullyd of ignoraunce.

[St 29]
   But as the wydwe makyd hire offryng,
Wel was acceptyd, cheef of hire tresour
For she gaff al, the gospel witnessyng,
No-thyng reservyd of gold ffor hire tresour:
And semblably, enteryng this labour,
To this martir of herte and hool entent,
Off sugryd cadence though I haue no fflour,
Off this myracles I make my present.

[St 30]
   Tyme of the yeer whan the sonne shene
I-entryd was in-to the boolys heede,
Alceste in mydwys grew fresshly in euery grene,
Spradde hire crowne with fflours whyte & rede;
Nyghtyngales of that sesoun took heed
With newe entvnys Aurora to salwe:
My penne I took, ffaste gan me speed
Thys myracles to sette in ordre dewe.

[St 31]
   A thousand yeer by computacioun
Foure hundryd ovir with ffourty addid too
The surplus foure by revolucioun,
Whan this myracles opynly wer doo;
Day of Aprylle, I dar weel wryten soo,
Ful XXVIIIti accountyd by rekenyng
First remembryd of this myracles twoo,
Forn the Translacioun of this hooly kyng.--

[St 32]
   The same tyme, as I reherse shal,
Oon afftirnoon, by fieithful Just repoort,
A mayde-chyld nat ferre fro the Northgat,
Nat two yeer oold, creep for hire dispoort--
To gadre fflours was hire most counffort--
Vpon a banke ageyn the sonne cleer:
Doun froom an hyl of aventure or soort
The tendir mayde ffyl in the riveer--

[St 33]
   The seid streem sevene ffeet was deep--
In the moode plounged breest and heed.
Hire yong sustir, allas, whan she took keep,
Off ffive yeer oold, cryed out ffor dreed.
The strete a-roos, ffaste gan hem speed,
This sodeyn caas whan they did knowe.
They cam to late, for the chyld was deed--
Among the moode the fface lay so lowe.

[St 34]
   Off the streete a certeyn neyhbour,
Nat ffer absent, of sodeyn aventure
Herd a noyse and this vnwar clamour:
To knowe the caas did hire besy cure.
The chyld lay gruff, myght nat recure.
This woman ran, gan calle, lyst nat rowne,
To the moodir--moost woofful creature:
Off sodeyn sorwe almoost ffyl in a swowne.

[St 35]
   Out of hir-sylff, astonyd in hir herte,
Ful offte sithe gan to crye allas,
And specially whan she did adverte
How of hire child was drownyd hed & fface;
With her vntressyd hastyd a greet paas--
Peple present abood vpon the stronde,--
Newe and newe cryed alwey allas
Tyl that hire chyld was brought ded to londe.

[St 36]
   Hed and boody sounkyn wer to grounde:
Dysespeyred serchyng the riveer;
With touch of ffeet the ded cors was ffounde
Bolne with watir: of lyff ther was noon cheer;
Cast to londe, the peple that stood neer
In this caas sawh no remedye.
Tyl a woman, of strong herte and entieer,
Bold of corage, ffaste gan hire hye,

[St 37]
   Took vp the chyld be the leggys tweyne,
Tavoide watir hed tournyd vp so doun,
To this entent, the boody she gan streyne.
At nase and mouth ran out greet foysoun
Lykour horryble, almoost a galoun.
Alle of assent as in ther desir
To seint Edmond made this orysoun,
Tyme whan the chyld lay coold ageyn the ffyre,

[St 38]
   No tokne of lyff seyn in look nor face,
Verray ded, coold, of cheer and contenaunce,
By greet recoord hool an howrys space:
Tyl at the laste cam to remembraunce--
With wepyng eyen ffyl in dallyaunce
For pitous sobbyng and lamentable soun--
To haue recure of ther dedly grevaunce
To blyssed Edmond, made Invocacioun.

[St 39]
   Fadir and moodir ffirst knelyng on ther kne,
Al ther neyhbours aboute hem enviroun,
Ful devoutly with al humylite
To the hooly corseynt seide this orysoun:
"O gloryous martir, protectour and patroun,
Our request of mercy nat despyse:
Pray for thy tenauntys abydyng in this toun
And ffor this chyld born in thy ffraunchyse!

[St 40]
   Alle of assent with reuerence we shal seke
Thyn hooly place, oold and yong of age,
With greet avys lowe our-selff and meke,
Contryt of herte, sobre of our visage,
With this avowh come on pylgrymage
A-ffor thy shryne to thy Royal presence:
Prostrat afor the with ffeithfful hool corage,
To our prayere tyl thou yive audience."

[St 41]
   Greetly troublyd in ther oppynyoun
Took vp the chyld in the mortal distresse,
Which yit lay ded, and with processyoun
Toward the martir attoonys they hem dresse,
Affor the ffertre knelyng with meknesse,
Tyl that Jhesus ffor Edmondys sake
Beheld ther ffeith, ther trust, ther stabylnesse:
Off whoos mercy to grace he hath hem take.

[St 42]
   By his martirs meeke mediacioun
The lord above with-inne litel space
By his mercifful consolacioun
Made blood appeere in the chyldes fface;
Sodeyn quyknesse hir herte did enbrace--
Quyk lyk a soule moore than vegetatyff,
Al the membrys revived wer by grace:
So that it was restooryd ageyn to lyff.

[St 43]
   Geyn goddys werkyng may be noon obstacle--
Resistence geyn his eternal myght
Causith seyntes with many greet myracle
To be worshepyd and gloryfyed in his sight:
A greet example shewyd in his knyght,
Kyng and martir and a pure virgine,
Off Estyngelond enherytour be ryght,
Which Incorrupt restith in his shryne.

[St 44]
   This Royal corseynt, gloryous and notable,
To helpe his servauntys is nat wont to tarye,
And can also in tyme ben vengable
To them that been to his ffredam contrarye.
Which in the boundys of his seyntwarye,
This myracle was but late wrought--
Regestre it vp mid of your lybrarye
For a memoryal, and forget it nought!

[St 45]
   For this myracle al the bellys rang,
Abbot William beeyng ther present,
And Te deum devoutly was ther song
To-ffor the awteer knelyng the covent.
The toun cam doun echoon of assent,
In purpoos fful, for short conclusyoun,
The yong chyld, the tendir Innocent
Shulde afftir be born on processyoun,

[St 46]
   Al opynly vpon the thrydde day,
Namyd off kyng Edmond the Translacioun.
Which tacomplysshe was maad no delay.
Som ffolk wepte ffor devocioun,
That took good heed in ther inspeccioun:
Which sauh the chyld of colour ffressh & reed,
The day afforn brought thoruh Bury toun
To-ffor seint Edmond of visage paale and deed.

[St 47]
   Alle attoonys knelyng on ther knees
That wer present, of cuntre or the toun,
Estatys reknyd of hih or lowe degrees;
That sauh the chyld born in processyoun:
With wepyng eyen of compassyoun,
Symple and lettryd ther heedys did enclyne
To seyn ther prayere and ther devocioun
Vndir these woordys, abydyng at the shryne:

[St 48]
   "Gemme of martirs of colour purpurat,
With hookyd arwes thy boody dyed reed
Yong of yeerys in royal estat
Ful thrytty wynter, ffor Cryst whan thou wer deed;
A woolff fro beestys kept thyn hooly heed
Thy legende makith mencioun:
O blyssed martir, of mercy take good heed,
Save thy ffraunchyse, thynke on Bury toun!

[St 49]
   Suffre no tyraunt thy ffredam to assaylle,
Noon oppressour ageyn hem to maligne,
Thynk on thy spere greetly did avaylle
Ageyn kyng Sweyn--a thyng notable & digne
To be regestryd and shewyd for a signe--
Whoos tyrannye was ful dere abought."--
Anothir myracle with this to combyne,
I wyl remembre, which on the lond was wrought.

[St 50; Miracle 3: Bury St. Edmunds, 8 July 1444]
   Which on the lond ffyl also but late
At which(!) an hour, not ferre out of the toun,
In a subarbe callyd Rysbygate.
Wheer a yong babe lay tournyd vp so doun,
Nat fful two yeer age, as maad is mencioun,
His syde vpward, ffolk can repoorte weel:
Which was that tyme to his conffusyoun
Ovir-redyn with a carte-wheel.

[St 51]
   The chyld oppressyd lay in the streete deed,
Blak al the boody, the eyen cloos of sight.
A neyhboiir casuelly took heed,
Hent vp the chyld, bar it anoon right
Off compassyoun in al haste that (s)he myght,
With wepyng eyen and fface fful pitous,
Namly whan she sauh the chyld so dyght,
Ded in hir armys brought to the ffadrys hous.

[St 52]
   This sodeyn caas myght nat be kept cloos,
Thorugh the streete the clamour gan to sprede.
Greet noumbre of ffolk attonys vp aroos.
Among which wysest ffolk took hede
And gaff counsayl at so streyght a nede,
With woofful cheer seide vnto oon and alle,
Off hih prudence thus oon gan hem rede:
First on ther kneen that they shulde ffalle

[St 53]
   To make ther vowes, alle that wer present,
Withoute abood or ony long tarying
To bere this chyld al be oon assent
Bare on ther ffeet vnto ther blyssyd kyng,
Diversly to make ther offryng.
Compendiously this myracle to descryve,
Our lord Jhesu took heed to ther axing:
Off his mercy the chyld gan to revyve.

[St 54]
   Space of an hour this litel chyld ded lay--
Tokne of lyff nor signe was noon seyn.
Off Jvle in soth vpon the VIII day
Soone vpon noone they gan prey ageyn,
To the hooly martir ther orysoun to seyn
Aboute the chyld vpon ech partye.
Whoos preyers were nat maad in veyn:
Cryst lyst his martir fforto magneffye,

[St 55]
   In laude of hym did hym greet ffavour:
By whoos merytes and mediacioun
The child restooryd ageyn to his vigour.
The peple aroos with greet devocioun,
Cam to the shryne on processyoun,
With Joye and wepyng medlyd euere among,
Te deum songe, with devout knelyng,
Ave Rex gentis was afftir that ther song.

[St 56]
   The Priour last this myracle gan purpoose--
The peple abood with greet reuerence--
The trouthe toold, ther was no ffeyned gloose,
Lyk as it ffyl declaryd in sentence
Vnto alle that wer ther in presence,
Yive them this counsayl above al othir thyng
To sette ther trust with entieer dilligence
In blyssed Edmond, martir, mayd, and kyng,

[St 57]
   "Which shewyd hath in this myracles two
Our lord above of his magnifficence,
Off oold tyme and now of newe also,
To shewe to yow by notable evidence
How this martir of royal excellence
Prefferryd is in the hevenly consistorye
With gloryous kynges to holde residence,
Crownyd with seyntes euer to regne in glorye. Amen."

[St 58]
   NOw lat vs alle with hertly conffidence
Requere this martir to graunte thynges thre:
With spere & arwe to stonde in our diffence
Geyn them that caste to breke his liberte,
To save his chirche, his toun, and his cuntre,
Mawgre alle thoo that in ony wyse
Wolde interupte his royal dignite
Be deregacioun doon to his ffraunchyse.

[Notes and commentary still to come.]

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English; University of Alberta; Edmonton, Canada
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Last revised: 23 Nov. 1995

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