Tags: notre-dame de paris

Marlowe: "bad revolting stars?"

April Poetry Month, Day 2: Magyfycence

Do I have time for this? Heck no. But I'm doing it anyway.

So. Today's selection isn't actually a poem at all, but rather the last six stanzas from Magnyfycence, a morality play written by John Skelton sometime around 1515. Of course, morality plays, as a rule, are rather ridiculous, even if you leave Pierre Gringoire out of the question; but still there's something quaintly and naively charming about them, I find. The cast of incarnate human conditions in Magnyfycence include the ever-popular Lyberte, Felycyte, Poverte, Dyspare, Myschefe, and so on, along with a few more obscure characters such as Cyrcumspeccyon, Perseveraunce, Frantic Fansy Service (whatever that is), Crafty Conveyaunce (er?), Courtly Abusyon, and Counterfet Countenaunce.

...All right, yes, I have to admit, imagining a troupe of anachronistically French players lumbering about in pasteboard signs that say "Dyspare" and "Courtly Abusyon," while Pierre Gringoire runs around in his threadbare surcoat directing them importantly, is most of the fun of reading morality plays. But.

In any case, there are a few interesting moments in this particular morality play; or at least, I rather enjoy its medieval melodramatic proselytyzing, its archaisms, and its surprising modern moments. The meter and rhymes have survived improbably intact, too, which delights me for some reason. My favorite bit is the ending (well, rather, a part very closely preceding the ending; not the actual "Jhesus preserve you frome endlesse wo and shame, Amen" part o_O), and so this I present, transcribed for your convenience into legible English, because otherwise my keyboard's letter Y myght overtyre and nevere woryk agayne.

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And here, because it really is more fun this way, is the original version, copy-pasted in all its inscrutable pre-dictionarian glory:

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I'd say more about the play, and probably also about Pierre Gringoire, if I didn't have to be in class with my homework done within the hour, but for now, I guess I'll leave off here. Feel free to mock -- you can be sure that my Marlowe icon is, characteristically, doing likewise. ;)