Young people these days seem to think they invented morbid poetry…

My friend Lucy and I have an excellent arrangement, by the terms of which she’s educating me in Gothic literature and how to apply make-up, and I’m trying to get her hooked on medieval literature. This must be working out reasonably well, since along with a stack of 19th century novels, she recently loaned me R.T. Davies’s (not the Dr Who guy) Medieval English Lyrics, which I’d never seen before and she had managed to pick up from somewhere.

I found this delightful poem, and it is too good not to share. Titled ‘How Death Comes’, it is number 17 in Davies’ collection, and dated to the 13th century.

How Death Comes
Wann mine eyhen misten,
And mine heren sissen,
And my nose coldet,
And my tunge folded
And my rude slaket,
And mine lippes blaken,
And my spotel rennet,
And mine her riset,
And mine herte griset,
And mine honden bivien,
And mine fet stivien –
Al to late! al to late!
Wanne the bere is ate gate.

Than I schel flutte
From bedde to flore,
From flore to here,
From here to bere,
From bere to putte,
And te putte furdut.
Than lyd mine hus uppe mine nose.
Of al this world ne give I it a pese!

Cheery outlook, isn’t it?

Much more cheerful is this book, which I bought because a friend of mine who’s lucky enough to still be at uni told me it’s the set text for Awesome’s MDST course this year. Hopefully when I get back from Brisbane I’ll have time to tell you about it.

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One Response to “Young people these days seem to think they invented morbid poetry…”

  1. Jessica Says:

    I believe the group “Medeval Baebes” based a song on this poem. I’ve never read it before, but it has a few similar lines, and the same title, as the song. Got to love the morbid Middle Ages!


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