The following breakdown consists of these parts.
Part 1: Full Poem
Part 2: Key Terms
Part 3: Prose Translation
Song of the Three Minstrels
The budding flowerets blushes at the light,
The mees be sprinkled with the yellow hue;
In daisied mantles is the mountain dight,
The nesh young cowslip bendeth with the dew;
The trees enleafed unto heaven straught,
When gentle winds do blow, to whistling din is brought.
The evening comes, and brings the dew along;
The ruddy welkin shineth to the eyne;
Around the ale-stake minstrels sing the song,
Young ivy round the doorpost do entwine;
I lay me on the grass; yet, to my will,
Albeit all is fair, there lacketh something still.
So Adam thoughten when, in Paradise,
All heaven and earth did homage to his mind;
In woman only mannes pleasure lies,
As instruments of joy were made the kind.
Go, take a wife unto thine arms, and see
Winter, and barren hills, will have a charm for thee.
When Autumn bleak and sunburnt do appear,
With his gold hand gilding the falling leaf,
Bringing up Winter to fulfil the year,
Bearing upon his back the riped sheaf
When all the hills with woody seed is white,
When lightning-fires and lemes do meet from far the sight;
When the fair apple, red as even sky,
Do bend the tree unto the fruitful ground.
When juicy pears, and berries of black dye,
Do dance in air, and call the eyes around;
Then, be the even foul, or even fair,
Methinks my hartys joy is steynced with some care.
Angels be wrought to be of neither kind,
Angels alone from hot desire be free,
There is a somewhat ever in the mind,
That, without woman, cannot be stilled be
No Saint in cell, but, having blood and tere,
Do find the sprite to joy on sight woman fair.
Women be made not for themselves, but man,
Bone of his bone, and child of his desire;
From an ynutyle member first began,
Y-wrought with much of water, little fire;
Therefore they seek the fire of love to heat
The milkiness of kind, and make themselves complete
Albeit, without women, men were peers
To savage kind, and would but live to slay;
But woman oft the sprite of peace so cheers,
Tochelod in Angels' joy they angels be.
Go, take thee quickly to they bed a wife,
Be banned, or blessed hie, in proving marriage life.
Kind - Nature
Din - loud, prolonged noise
Mees - Meadows
Floweret - A Floret, especially cauliflower
Nesh - Tender
Cowslip - Clusters of drooping yellow flowers in spring
Staught - Stretched
Dight - Clothed, or equipped
Welkin - The sky or heaven
Eyne - [Archaic] Plural of eye
Ale-stake - A stake or pole projecting from or set up before, an alehouse, as a sign, an Ale Pole. At the end was commonly suspended a garland, a bunch of leaves or a bush. (See image at top of page).
Entwine - Wind or twist together.
Thoughten - Having a particular kind of thought or opinion
Mannes - Man
Sheaf - Bundle of grain stalks laid lengthwise and tied together after reaping.
Gilding - Process of applying gold leaf or gold paint
Lemes - Gleams
Hartys - Heart
Steynced - Mingled
Tere - Muscle
Ynutyle - ???
Peers - Equals
Hie - go quickly!
Sprite - Elf or fairy
Tochelod - Endowed
Wrought - Shaped by hammering
In the early morning dawn, new vegetation buds and the dewey meadows shine. The nearby mountain is covered like a well fitted-skirt with daisies, and tender cowslips that bend from the morning dew.
The trees have new spring leaves that stretch toward heaven, and when gentle winds blow, it produces a prolonged whistle.
At evening, the dew returns; this brings a view of a reddish colored dusk to your eyes. Around alehouses stand singing entertainers making their livings; they look like young ivy around an old home. I lay down to listen and enjoy, yet, as I lay down something affects my psyche, although everything seems wonderful, I feel something missing.
Adam was thinking that when he was in Paradise, the entire universe would pay him respect, particularly to the efficacy of his mind. But only through woman can man find pleasure, as it is in her nature to be an instrument of joy. So, you there, go get a wife, and discover how even winter nights or barren hills have have a charm to them.
When Autumn's bleak hand comes from the heavens and paints the leaves gold, preparing the world for winter and the end of the year, upon autumn's back will be a ripe sheaf. Then, in winter, when all the world is white, there will be seen for many miles the gleam of lightning fires.
When the red apple—a red dusk—bends the trees, they will fall to the ground. Juicy pears and black berries dance and swing on the vine and cause all passerby to look upon them; during their time, whether the night is fair or foul, I believe my heart's joy is mingled with worry.
Angels are not made in the manner of either man or woman; angels alone are free from hot desire. There is something in the mind of man that cannot be stilled, but, since he is of blood and muscle, he finds women joyful on sight.
Women are not made for themselves, but for man—bone of his bone and child of his desire: She sprang from his rib. They are like to water with little fire; therefore they seek the fire of love to heat their milky product and be complete.
It is true that without woman all men are equals, equals with a savage nature, who would live only to kill. Woman is a fairy of peace and cheer; endowed with an angels' joy, and angels they be.
Go then and take a wife to your bed, be banned or blessed quickly in proving marriage life.