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This World's Joy: a Modern English Translation by Michael R. Burch

"This World's Joy" is an anonymous Middle English poem believed to have been written circa 1300 AD, which would make it predate the works of Geoffrey Chaucer. "This World's Joy" has been described as "one of the most beautiful of the early English lyrics" and one of the earliest extant winter poems. Edward Bliss Reed dated the poem to around 1310, and mentioned that it is believed to have been composed in Leominster, Herefordshire.

This World's Joy
(anonymous Middle English lyric, circa the early 14th century AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Winter awakens all my care
as leafless trees grow bare.
For now my sighs are fraught
whenever it enters my thought:
regarding this world's joy,
how everything comes to naught.

Translator's Note: I have elected to translate only the first stanza because I refuse to endorse a "god" who saves one person while sending billions to "hell."

[MS. Harley 2253. f. 49r]
Wynter wakeneth al my care,
Nou this leves waxeth bare.
Ofte y sike ant mourne sare
When hit cometh in my thoht
Of this worldes joie, hou hit goth al to noht.

Nou hit is, and nou hit nys,  
Al so hit ner nere, ywys;  
That moni mon seith, soth hit ys:  
Al goth bote Godes wille:  
Alle we shule deye, thah us like ylle.
Al that gren me graueth grene,  
Nou hit faleweth albydene:  
Jesu, help that hit be sene  
Ant shild us from helle!  
For y not whider y shal, ne hou longe her duelle.
GLOSS:  this leves] these leaves.  sike] sigh.  nys] is not.  al so hit ner nere] as though it had never been.  soth] sooth.  bote] but, except.  thah] though.  faleweth] fadeth.  albydene] altogether.  y not whider] I know not whither.  her duelle] here dwell.

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