Oxford Book of English Verse 1250-1918/Of a rose, a lovely rose


Of a rose, a lovely rose,
Of a rose is al myn song


c. 1400

Lestenyt,[1] lordynges, both elde and yinge,
How this rose began to sprynge;
Swych a rose to myn lykynge
     In al this word[2] ne knowe I non.

The aungil came fro hevene tour
To grete Marye with gret honour,
And seyde sche xuld[3] bere the flour
     That xulde breke the fyndes[4] bond.

The flour sprong in heye Bedlem,
That is bothe bryht and schen:[5]
The rose is Mary, hevene qwen,[6]
     Out of here bosum the blosme sprong.

The ferste braunche is ful of myht,
That sprong on Cyrstemesse nyht,
The sterre schon over Bedlem bryht,
     That is bothe brod and long.

The secunde braunche sprong to helle,
The fendys power doun to felle:
Therein myht non sowle dwelle;
     Blyssid be the time the rose sprong!

The thredde braunche is good and swote,
It sprang to hevene, crop and rote,
Therein to dwellyn and ben our bote;[7]
     Every day it schewit in prystes hond.

Prey we to here with gret honour,
She that bar the blyssid flowr,
She be our helpe and our socour
    And schyld us fro the fyndes bond.

  1. lestenyt] listen.
  2. word] world.
  3. xuld] was to.
  4. fyndes] Devil’s
  5. schen] beautiful.
  6. hevene qwen] heaven’s queen.
  7. bote] salvation.