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Middle English Lyrics: God Speed the Plow!

The Month of October. French Manuscript, c1575

God Speed the Plow!

The merthe of alle this londe
maketh the gode husbonde,
With erynge of his plowe.
I-blessyd be Cristes sonde,
that hath us sent in honde
merthe & ioye y-nowe.

The plowe goth mony a gate,
Bothe erly & eke late,
In wynter in the clay.
Aboute barly and whete,
That maketh men to swete,
God spede the plowe al day!

Browne, morel, & sore
Drawen the plowe ful sore,
Al in the morwenynge.
Rewarde hem therfore
With a shefe or more,
Alle in the evenynge.

Whan men bygyne to sowe,
fful wel here corne they knowe,
In the mounthe of May.
Howe ever Ianyuer blowe,
Whether hye or lowe,
God spede the plowe all way!

Whan men bygyneth to wede
The thystle fro the sede,
In somer whan they may;
God lete hem wel to spede
& longe gode lyfe to lede,
All that for plowemen pray.

AJ Notes:

merthe, mirth; joy.
londe, land. gode husbonde, good husbandman; good farmer.
erynge, plowing or preparing of the soil.
I-blessyd, blessed.
Cristes sonde, Christ's ordering of things or events.
in honde, here at hand.
ioye, joy.
y-nowe, at present.
goth, goes; travels.
mony, many.
gate, path.
erly, early.
eke, also.
barly and whete, barley and wheat.
swete, sweat.
Browne, morel, & sore, brown, dusky-colored, and sorrel (reddish brown) [horses].
ful sore, laboriously.
morwenynge, morning.
hem, them.
shefe, sheaf of grain.
bygyne to sowe, begin to sow [seed].
here, their.
corne, wheat.
mounthe, month.
Ianyuer, January.
hye, high.
wede, weed.
thystle fro the sede, thistle from the seed.
somer, summer.
whan, when.
God lete hem wel to spede, let God give them good fortune.

Manuscript Image of Bodleian MS. Arch. Selden B. 26, fol. 19r.

Transcribed and glossed from the manuscript by Anniina Jokinen.


Jokinen, Anniina, ed. "God Speed the Plow!" Luminarium.
          8 Jan 2010. [Date you accessed this page].

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Created by Anniina Jokinen on January 8, 2010. Last updated November 21, 2018.


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