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Man in the Moon -- woodcut from 'Curious Myths of the Middle Ages' by Sabine Baring-Gould'
Middle English Lyrics: Man in the Moon

Mon in the Mone

[MS. Harl. 2253. ff. 114-5]

Mon in the mone stond and strit;
On his botforke his burthen he bereth.
It is muche wonder that he na doun slyt;
For doute leste he valle he shoddreth ant shereth.
When the forst freseth muche chele he byd.
The thornes beth kene, his hattren to tereth.
Nis no wyght in the world that wot wen he syt,
Ne bote it be the hegge, whet wedes he wereth.
Whider trowe this mon ha the wey take?
He hath set his o fot his other toforen,
For non highte that he hath ne syght me hym ner shake;
He is the sloweste mon that euer wes yboren.

Man in the Moon

Trans. A. Jokinen

Man in the moon stands and strides;
On his boatfork* his burden he beareth.
It is a great wonder that he down does not slide;
For fear, lest he fall, he shuddereth and veereth.
When the frost freezeth, much chill he bides.
There's no-one in the world who knows when he sits,
Unless it be the hedge, what clothes he weareth.
Whither, think you, hath this man gone?
He hath set one foot in front of the other,
In any height he's reached, I have never seen him shaken;
He is the slowest man that ever was born.

* A boatman's forked stick, now called a pike pole.

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