Classic and Contemporary Poetry
CHRONICLE: INTRODUCTION, by ROBERT OF BRUNNE Poet's Biography
First Line: Lordings all who now be here / lend to this, my tale, an ear
Last Line: Write, that we might solace make.
Alternate Author Name(s): Mannyng, Rober
LORDINGS all who now be here
Lend to this, my tale, an ear,
England's story, hearken it,
As Robert Mannynge found it writ,
Into English, as 't is spoke,
Turned it, for the simple folk
(Who in this land were not few,
And nor French nor Latin knew)
For their solace and their glee
When in fellowship they be.
For 't is wise that of their land
Men should read and understand,
Know what folk that land first won,
From what race it was begun.
Good it is for many things
Men should hear the deeds of kings,
Who were fools, and who were wise,
Who most cunning in devise,
Who did wrong, and who did right,
Kept the peace, or strove in fight.
Of their deeds shall be my saw --
Of what time, and of what law,
I from step to step will say
Even from Sir Noah's day;
From Noah unto AEneas,
And the folk that 'twixt them was;
From AEneas until Brutus came
(From whom Britain took its name) --
Till Cadwallader we see,
Last of British princes he!
All the race, and all the fruit
Sprung from Brutus is the Brut,
The right Brut is told no more
When the Britons' rule is o'er.
After them the English band
Won the lordship of this land,
North and South, and East and West,
That men call the English Geste.
When they first to Britain came
Saxons did they call their name,
Saxons, English, differ naught, --
Sandwich the first land they sought,
Vortigern, who then held sway
Suffered them to land alway,
Brothers twain led them in fight,
Hengist, Horsa, were they hight,
These the heads, to whom we trace
This, our English folk and race.
And as heathen dwelt they here
Well nigh for two hundred year
Ere the christian Faith they knew
From the lips of Austin true,
Mid the Britons in much woe,
Slaughter, slander, threat, and throe.
Ye these deeds may hear right well
E'en as Piers the tale doth tell;
Master Wace in French, to wit,
Turned the Brut, in Latin writ,
From AEneas, till there came
Cadwallader, there left the same.
I, what Master Wace doth say
Tell in English, that same way.
Wace doth all the Latin rhyme,
Piers, he skipped it many a time;
Wace, the Brut throughout he reads,
Piers, tells all the English deeds;
And where Master Wace doth fail
Piers, he oft begins his tale,
Tells the English history,
As he says then, so say I.
So, as they have writ and said,
Have I all in English laid,
Even in such simple speech
As be easiest for each,
Not for those my care alway
Who can speak, or harp a lay,
But for love of simple men
Who strange English may not ken.
Many hear good English rhymes
Who their sense know not oft-times,
Save they know what here is meant
All my pains were but ill-spent;
Yet for praise I wrote it not,
But for layman's use, I wot!
Were it made in rhyme couve,
Rhymes alternate, strange, since they
Who read English yet be few
Who can turn a couplet true,
This, in couve, or baston,
Had been past the wit of some,
So that many who should hear
Should not read my meaning clear.
I have seen, in song, and tale,
Of Ercildoun, and of Kendale,
None be told as they were wrought,
In the saying they seem naught.
In Sir Tristrem ye may see,
Of all Gestes the best it be,
Of all tales that e'er were made
If men say what Thomas said;
None I hear thus tell the tale,
Of the couplets, some, they fail,
So, for all their cunning speech,
Of his labour faileth each.
But for pride the tale they say
Deeming none be such as they;
That which they desire withal
That same fame shall perish all,
'T is in such strange speech, I wis,
Many know not what it is.
Thus it irketh me the more
In strange rhymes to travail sore,
All too dull my wit to learn
In strange speech my rhymes to turn,
And forsooth, I knew it naught,
This strange English that they wrought,
And men prayed me many a time
I would write in easy rhyme,
Saying: "If strange words ye use
Many shall to hear refuse,"
(For the names be strange, I trow,
Such as men they use not now.)
Thus, for folk who simple be,
And would gladly hearken me,
I in simple speech began
For love of the unlearned man,
Telling of the chances bold
That were said and done of old;
For my toll I ask no meed
Save your prayers when ye shall read.
Therefore, all ye lordings lay,
For whose sake I wrought alway,
Pray to God He shew me grace.
I have worked for your solace,
Should men blame, of Brunne I came,
Robert Mannynge is my name,
God in Heaven bless him still
Who doth name me with good-will.
In Third Edward's time was I
When I wrote this history,
In Sixille's house dwelt anon --
Then Dan Robert, of Malton,
Bade me, for my comrade's sake,
Write, that we might solace make.
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