Original Text

Modern Text

This Absolon ful Ioly was and light,
And thoghte, ‘now is tyme wake al night;
For sikirly I saugh him nat stiringe
Aboute his dore sin day bigan to springe.
So moot I thryve, I shal, at cokkes crowe,
490Ful prively knokken at his windowe
That stant ful lowe upon his boures wal.
To Alison now wol I tellen al
My love-longing, for yet I shal nat misse
That at the leste wey I shal hir kisse.
Som maner confort shal I have, parfay,
My mouth hath icched al this longe day;
That is a signe of kissing atte leste.
Al night me mette eek, I was at a feste.
Therfor I wol gon slepe an houre or tweye,
500And al the night than wol I wake and pleye.’
Absalom perked up when he heard that the carpenter was probably out of town. “Tonight’s my chance to make my move on Alison,” he thought to himself, “Since the carpenter doesn’t seem to be around. In fact, tonight I’m going to knock quietly on Alison’s bedroom window and tell her how much I love her. I’ll be sure to get a kiss out of her at the very least, if not more! My mouth has been just itching to kiss her all day long. And last night I dreamt that I was at a feast, a good sign to be sure. So, I’ll catch a few hours sleep, then stay up late and play all night, and visit her just before sunrise.”
Whan that the firste cok hath crowe, anon
Up rist this Ioly lover Absolon,
And him arrayeth gay, at point-devys.
But first he cheweth greyn and lycorys,
To smellen swete, er he had kembd his heer.
Under his tonge a trewe love he beer,
For ther-by wende he to ben gracious.
He rometh to the carpenteres hous,
And stille he stant under the shot-windowe;
510Unto his brest it raughte, it was so lowe;
And softe he cogheth with a semi-soun—
‘What do ye, hony-comb, swete Alisoun?
My faire brid, my swete cinamome,
Awaketh, lemman myn, and speketh to me!
Wel litel thenken ye upon my wo,
That for your love I swete ther I go.
No wonder is thogh that I swelte and swete;
I moorne as doth a lamb after the tete.
Y-wis, lemman, I have swich love-longinge,
520That lyk a turtel trewe is my moorninge;
I may nat ete na more than a mayde.’
When the roosters began crowing just before dawn, Absalom woke up and carefully got ready. First, he chewed some licorice to make his breath smell sweet. Then he combed his hair and got dressed. Finally, he put a sprig of mint under his tongue so that his kisses would taste nice. When he finished he made his way over to the carpenter’s house. He went up to Alison’s bedroom window, which was so low it only came up to his chest. He cleared his throat, then rapped on the window, and said, “Hello? Sweet Alison? Honeycomb? My beautiful bird, my sweet cinnamon? Wake up, my darling, and speak to me. You don’t know how much I want you, how much I need you. I break out in a cold sweat just thinking about you. I don’t eat, and I melt when I see you. I’m like a lamb that craves its mother’s milk. I’m so lovesick for you that I’m like a lost turtledove without its mate.”