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
This World's Joy
Middle English lyric, circa the early
14th century AD)
loose translation 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
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]