I was in a dale in springtime; in a greatly hidden nook, I heard an owl and a nightingale holding a great. Their was , and wholehearted, sometimes , sometimes loud; and each of them swelled with against the other and let out all her , and said the full worst she could think of the other's kind, and namely they raked against each other's song. The nightingale began the rake in a , and on a ---there was blossom it---in an thick hedge, with reeds and green sedge growing through it. Forof the bough, she was all the , and sang in many other ways; the as if it came from a harp or a rather than from a living throat. Nearby there stood an old stump where the owl sang her and which was all overgrown with ivy; this was where the owl lived. The nightingale looked at her, and her and her, and everything about the owl seemed to her, since she is as ugly and dirty. 'You !', she said, 'fly away! The sight of you makes me sick. I often have to stop singing forof your ugly . My heart fails me, and so does my speech, when you thrust yourself on me. I'd rather spit than sing about your wretched howling.' The owl waited until it was evening; she couldn't hold back any longer, for she was so wrath that she could hardly breathe, and endily she spoke: 'How does my song seem to you now? Do you think that I can't sing only for I can't twitter? You often heash me and say things to upset and faze me. If I held you in my claws---if only I could!--and you were off your bough, you'd sing a full other !' The nightingale answered, 'As long as I keep out of the open, and ward myself against being , I'm not bothered by your threats; as long as I stay put in my hedge, I don't care at all what you say. I know that you're ruthless toward those who can't ward themselves from you, and that where you can you small birds and harshly. That is why all kinds of birds hate you, and they all drive you away, and screech and scream umb you, and set upon you when they get near; and for the same rethe even the titmouse would gladly rip you to bits. You're ugly to look at, and atel in all kinds of ways; your body is squat, your neck is scrawny, your head is bigger than the laf of you put together; your eyes are black as coal, and as big as if they were mealed with woad. You glare as if you want to bite to death everything that you can strike with your claws. Your beak is hard and sharp, and bowed like a bent hook. You often make an clacking din with it, and that's one of your songs. But you're making threats against my being, and would like to crush me with your hinds; a frog would fit you better, squatting under a mill-wheel; snails, mice, and other scum would be righter and more fitted for you. You roost by day and fly by night; you show that you're an evil wight. You are loathsome and unclean---I'm talking about your nest, and also about your dirty chicks; you're bringing them up with truly filthy . You know swith well what they do in their nest: they foul it up to the chin; they sit there as if they're blind. There's a saying about that: 'Shame on that wight which fouls its own nest'! The other year a falk was breeding; she didn't ward her nest well. You crept in there one day, and laid your filthy egg in it. When the time came that she hatched the eggs and the chicks outcame, she brought her chicks food, watched over the nest and saw them eat; she saw that on one side her nest was fouled on the outer edge. The falck was wrath with her chicks, and screamed loudly, and chided sternly: 'Tell me, who's done this? It was never your lund to do this kind of thing. This is a thing to have happened to you. Tell me, if you know who did it!' Then they all said, 'It was indeed our brother, the one over there with the big head--- it's a shame nobody's cut it off! Throw him out as a spurn, so that he breaks his neck!' The Falk believed her chicks, and that dirty chick by the middle, and threw it off that wild bough, where magpies and crows tore it to bits. There's a tale told about this: this is what happens to the who's come from an inherd and blends with ; he's always letting his show, that he's come from a rotten egg even if he's in an aringly nest; even if an apple wellows away from the tree where it was growing with the others, although it's some span from it it still where it's come from.' The nightingale answered with these words, and after that long speech she sang as loudly and as shrilly as if a clinging harp were being played.
The owl listened to this, and kept her eyes lowered, and sat puffed up and swollen with wrath, as if she had swallowed a frog, as she was fully aware that the nightingale was singing toher. And nevertheless she answered: 'Why don't you fly into the open and show which of us two is brighter in hue and wlittier to look at?'
'No! you have swith sharp claws; I don't wene being fanged by you. You have swith strong legs; you grip with them like aof tongs. You were ---that's what your kind do---to wile me with . I wouldn't do what you huyed to me; I knew swith well that you were looking to mislead me. You ought to be ashamed of your bad ! Your has been unheled; hide your from the light, and hele that wickedness under good behaving! When you want to , see that it's ; for unluterness brings down spurning and hatred if it's and open. You didn't with your cunning howes, for I'm wary and can easily dodge. It's not worth your pushing too hard; I would fight better with cunning than you with all your strength. I have a good home, both in breadth and length, in my bough; the wise man says, 'He who fights and runs away, Lives to fight another day.' But let's stop this raking, for speeches like this aren't getting us anywhere; and let's begin with retheful forfaring, and . Even if we don't , we can better , without and fighting, ; and indeed each of us can say what she wants to fairly and .'
Then the owl said: 'Who is there tobetween us; who can and is willing to give to us a fair ?'
'I know well,' said the nightingale, 'there's no need for talk about it:Nicholas of Guildford. He is wise and weighs his words carefully; he has sound deeming, and loathes all wrongs. He has a good understanding of singing, who is singing well, who badly; and he can shed wrong from right, darkness from light.'
The owl thought for a while, and endily spoke as follows: 'I'm sooth willing that he should deem us, for although he was wild once, and fond of nightingales and other, I know that he's cooled down now; he's not so bewitched by you that he'll give you firsting over me forof his old love for you. You'll never win him so much that he'd give a wrong deeming in your este. He's ripe, and his deeming is sound; he has no wilne for now; he's no longer drawn to ; he will take the right path.'
The nightingale was ready; she had a widereach. 'Owl,' she said, 'tell me the truth; why do you do what evil beings do? You sing by night and not by day, and your whole song is "Woe! Woe!". You could frighten all those who hear your hooting with your song. You shriek and scream to your mate in a way that's awful to listen to. It seems to everyone, or clever, that you're wailing rather than singing. You fly by night and not by day; I wonder about that, and well I may, for every being that mithes doing right loves darkness and hates light; and every being by wrongdoing likes the darkness for what it does. There's a wise, though rough, lede by many, for King Alfred said and wrote it: "Someone who knows he's fouled himself keeps out of the way." I think that's bare what you're doing, for you always fly at night. Another thing me: at night you have swith sharp eyesight; the day you're fully blind, so you can't see either bough or bark. There's a saying which is brooked about that: sooth as is the sake with the nithing who is up to no good, and is so full of nithe unluterness that nobody can flee him, knows the dark path well and the well lit one, so it is with those of your kind: they don't care at all for light.'
The owl listened for a long time, then became wrath. She said, 'You're called a nightingale, but you could better beas a chatterbox for you talk too much. Give your tung a rest! You think you've got the day to yourself. Now let me have my go! Shut up now, and let me speak; I'll get my yieldback on you. And listen to how I can ward myself by flat truth without trimtalk. You say that I hide myself by day; I don't nay that. And listen, I'll tell you why, the whole for it. I have a hard, strong beak and good, long, sharp claws, as is fit for the hawk kin. It is my wish and my to take after my own kind; nobody can chide me for it. It's given in my sake that I'm so forof my own kind. That's why I'm hated by the small birds that fly along the ground and through thickings. They scream and squawk at me and fly in flocks against me. I beliken to have frith and swey and sit still in my nest; for I would never be any better off if I cwidely them, and , as shepherds do, or with bad reard. I don't want to rake with the wretched beings, so I give them a wide berth. It's the of the wise--- and so they often say---that one shouldn't rake with meatheads, or mete with the oven in gaping wide. I've heard how Alfred once said in his ledes, "Take care to mithe anywhere where there are rakes and reethes; let dimwits reethe, and go on your way!" And I am wise, and do swith that. And from another nook, Alfred had a saying which has spread far and widely: "Anyone who has to do with someone who is dirty will never come away from him with clean hands". Do you think that the hawk is the worse for it if a crow caws at him beside the marsh, and swoops at him screaming as if she means to hild him? The hawk follows a , and flies on his way and lets her scream. 'And another thing: you rise another against me, and wray me for I can't sing, saying that my only song is a sourlede, and downheartening to listen to. That isn't true---I sing comely, with full swin and a trimming reard. You think that all songs lede awful if they're not like your . My reard is couth, not brittle; it's like a great horn, and yours is like a whistle made from a spindly half grown weed. I sing better than you do; you gabble like an Irish . I sing in the evening at the right time, and afterwards when it is time to go to bed, the third time at midnight; and so I my song. When I see dawn coming far off, or the morning star, I do good with my throat and call lede to their business. But you sing all night long, from evening till dawn, and your song lasts as long as the night does, and your wretched throat keeps on trilling without stopping, night or day. You yieldlessly harry the ears of those who live umb you with your rowling, and make your song so cheap that it loses all its worth. Every blithing can last so long that it stops to ; for harp and adder and birdsong all grow tiresome if they last too long. However a song may be, it will seem rather longsome if it goes on longer than we would like. In this way, you can cheapen your song; as it is true---Alfred said so, and it can be read in books: "Everything can lose its worth through lack of ." You can fill yourself with cweme, and overflow makes you sick; and every blithing can dull if it is followed ---let for one. That is God's kingdom, which is always full of gladdening and always the same; even if you drew stepmeal on that , it would stepmeal be full to overflowing. God's kingdom is something to at, always giving and always . 'And you me with a further , that I have low eyesight, and say that given I fly by night I can't see in daylight. You're lying! I have sooth good eyesight, for there's no darkness so thick that my sight is . You think I can't see for I don't fly by day; the hare lies low all day, but nevertheless he can see. If hounds run towards him, he dodges away at top speed, and sharply down swith narrow paths, and keeps his tricks ready, and hops and leaps afast, and looks for ways to the wood. His eyesight wouldn't be up to this unless he could see soothly well. I can see as well as a hare, even though I stay hidden all day. Where dow men are at wye, and fare everywhere, and overrun many , and do good at night, I follow those men, and fly at night with them .'
The nightingale kept all this in her mind, andfor a long time what she might say to follow it; for she could not nay what the owl had said to her, since what she said was true and . And she rued that she had let the rake get so far, and feared that her answer would not be well brought out. But nevertheless she spoke out boldly; for it is wise to put on a dow show before one's foe, rather than giving up out of , since someone who is bold if you take to flight will run away if you don't lose your thrum; if he sees that you're not wimful he'll wend from a boar into a barrow pig. And therefore, although the nightingale was , she made a bold speech. 'Owl,' she said, 'why do you behave like this? In winter you sing "Woe! Woe!' You sing like a hen in snow---everything that you sing comes out of . In winter you sing dully and gloomily, and you are always dumb in summer. It's forof your wretched that you can't be with us, since you swithly burn up with when our good times come. You behave like a mean- man: every him; and scowling come easily to him if he sees that are eady; he would like to see tears in everyone's eyes; he wouldn't mind if whole fyrds of men were fighting eachother hand-to-hand. You do the same for your own; for when deep snow is lying far and wide, and every being is earmly, you sing from evening to morning. But I bring every mirth with me; every being is glad on my , and when I come, and looks forward to my comming. The worts begin to open and bloom, both on the trees and in the fields. The lily with her fair welcomes me, I'll have you know, and me with her to fly to her. The blushing rose, too, springing from the briar, tells me to sing a mirthful song for love of her. And so I do, night and day---the more I sing, the more I can---and them with my singing, but even so, not for too long. When I see that lede are blissful I don't want them to feel overloaded; when what I've come for is done, I go back, and it's frod for me to do that. When men's thoughts wend to their sheaves, and the green leaves begin to lose their hue, I fare home and take my leave. I don't care for the of winter; when I see that harsh weather is coming, I go home to my own ethel, and am both loved and thanked for having come and done my chores here. When my work's done, should I stay on? No! why should I? After all, anyone who stays on for a long time when they're not needed is neither clever nor feeling.'
The owl listened, and took in all this rake word for word, and then hedged how she might best find an elgingly answer; for anyone who fears of being tricked when raking a sake must hiler things swith carefully. 'You ask me', said the owl, 'why I sing and yell out in winter. It's---and has been since the world began---for every good man to acknowledge his friends and them for a time in his house, at his board, with friendly talk and kind words. And namely at Christmas, when rich and arm, greater and lesser, sing carols night and day, I help them as far as I can. And also I'm ongot with other things than having fun and singing. I have a good answer to this flack, all ready and waiting. For summertime is far too heady, and makes a man's thoughts go astray; since he loses onget in weaning, he's fully minded with freelust. For no wight waits any longer, but each one goads the other; even the hengs in the stud go wild after the mares. And you are like them yourself, for your song is all about freelust, and towards the time you breed you're swith lonk and heanful. As soon as you've mated, you lose your reard, and instead chirp like a titmouse, squeaking hoarsely. What's more, you sing worse than the hedge-sparrow, which flies along the ground among the short grass; when your wilne has gone, so has your song. In summer the churls go wild, and frover themselves into fremd staddles; it isn't forof love, however, but the churl's kindly dodrive. For as soon as he's done the deed, all his elne unstathles; once he's got under a woman's skirt and shot his bolt, his love doesn't last any longer. That's what your lund is like: as soon as you're sitting on your eggs, you lose your song fully. That's how you behave on your bough: when you've had your fun, your reard is fordone. But when the nights draw in and bring sharp frosts, only then is it sheer who's got what it takes; when the going is tough, you can see who pushed forward and who hangs back. It's sifer in hard times when good thew needs to be gifted; then I'm ready and underhold and sing, and am eady to agive my outplay. Winter doesn't bother me, since I'm not a weak wretch; and also I give frover to many beings which have no strength of their own. They are worried and wretched, and seek unweningly for warmth; I sing more often to them, to lessen some of their earm. What do you think of that? Have you been nooked yet? Have you been fairly beaten?'
'Not at all!' said the nightingale; 'You must listen to the other side. This mooting hasn't been lent to deeming yet. But keep swey and listen to me now! I'll see to it that your speech is fordone by a lone cwide.'
'That wouldn't be fair', the owl said. 'You've brought a rush as you ettled to, and I've given you an answer. But before we set off for our deeming, I want to rake against you as you raked against me, and you answer me if you can. Tell me now, you earmly being, do you have any brook apart from having a swinful steven? You're no good for anything aside from knowing how to warble, for you're small and weak and your coat of feathers is brittle. What good do you do for mankind? No more than a wretched wren does! Nothing fremeful comes from you, other that you make as much din as if you were mad; and once your twittering is ended, you don't have any other skill. Alfred the wise said (well rightly), 'Nobody is loved or worthened swith long for their singing alone', for someone who doesn't know how to do anything but sing is good for nothing. You're swith a fremeless being; there's nothing to you but twittering. Your hue is dark and dull; you look like a little sooty bundle. You aren't pretty, you aren't strong, you aren't broad, you aren't tall. You've missed out fully on good looks, and you haven't done much good either. I've another mark to make about you: you're not clean or couth when you fandle folk pens, where thorns and twigs are woven together alongside hedges and thick weeds, where lede often go to allay themselves. You're drawn there, you hang umb there, and you mithe other, clean steads. When I fly out after mice at night, I can find you at the onelep; among the weeds and nettles, you sit and sing behind the seat. You can most often be found where lede sit their bottoms. What's more, you chide me for my foodline, and say that I eat scum; but what do you eat---don't seek to nay it!--- but spiders and filthy flies and worms, if you can find them in the crundles of rough bark? But I can do swith good theening, for I can look after were dwellings; and my theens are top-notch, for I help with lede's food stock. I can lay hold of mice in a barn, and also at church in the dark, for I like to fandle Christ's house to rid it of filthy mice, and no scum will get in it if I can get a hold of them. And if I don't feel like staying anywhere else, I have mickle trees in the wood, with thick boughs, not bare but all overgrown with green ivy, which always stays in leaf and never loses its hue when it snows or when it freezes. In it I have a good shelter, warm in winter, cool in summer; when my house stands bright and green, yours has fordwined. But you also wray me of other things. You chide my chicks, saying that their nest isn't clean. That's also true of a lot of other beings, since the horse in its steady and the ox in its stall do everything that they have to there; and little children in their cradles, not only meanfolk but the highbred, do everything in their youth that they give up when they're older. How can the young being help it? If it heans, it's spured to. There's a lede which has been running for a long time, that "Need makes the old woman tread." What's more, I have a twoly answer. Do you want to fandle my nest and see how it's laid out? If you have any rethe, you can learn from it. My nest is hollow and wide in the middle, so it's as soft as canly for my chicks; there's a woven lathing all umb it, sprouting outwards from the nest itself. That is where they go to allay themselves; but I forbid them to do what you say they do. We draw heed to lede living-fourthers, and forlie ours on theirs. Lede have, among other stighting, a onelep at the far end of their bedroom, for they don't want to go too far; and my chicks do the same. Sit still now, you chattering shekind! You were never so tightly tied up; you'll never find an answer to this. Hang up your axe! It's time for you to be on your way.'
At these words the nightingale was almost fully lost for, and , to see if there was anything else she could do, other from singing, which might be for other . She had to find an answer to this , or fall behind fully; and it is swith hard to fight against truth and . Someone who finds himself in plight straits must tackle the by to cunning, and is bound to sunder; he has to gather and wrap things up, if the mouth is to gloss things over so the heart inside can't be seen. And it is easy for a speech to go wrong where the mouth is saying something unstepmeal with the heart [the cwide is edsaid in slightly other wording]. But nevertheless, there is a maily way out if anyone can brook it, for anget is never so sharp as when its best howe is in writing; it reaches its height of cunning when it feels most at . For Alfred said in an old lede, which is still eftminded, "When the baning is greatest, the healing is nighest"; for anget uppens when it is in hardships, and becomes sharper as an outcome. So a man is never at a loss as long as he keeps his wits about him, but if he loses them, his bag of tricks is slit right open; if he can't hold on to his wits, he won't find a howe in any nook of it. So it was said by Alfred, who knew what he was about and always spoke the truth, "When the baning is greatest, the healing is nighest." The nightingale had wisely made good brook of all her swench; among the hardships and the tightness, she had given the sake yeming and careful thought, and had found a good answer in her time of dwolm. 'Owl,' she said, 'you ask me if I can do anything aside from singing in summertime, and bringing eadiness far and wide. Why are you frayning me about my skills? My one skill is better than all of yours; one song from my mouth is better than everything your kind could ever to do. And listen! I'll tell you why: do you know why man was born? For the bliss of the kingdom of heaven, where there is always the same flack of singing and edlisting; everyone who has any huying of what is good leans to that. That is why there is singing in Holy Church, and clerics bewrite songs, to edmind lede of where they are doomed to be, and to blive everlastingly, so that so that they shouldn't forget the cweme, but think about it and beget it, and understand from the singing in church how cweming the bliss of heaven will be. Redes, and bedemen in good meanships get up at midnight and sing about the light of heaven, and ethel beders sing when the dawn breaks. And I help them as far as I can; I sing with them night and day, and they are in better fettle thanks to me, and more willing to sing. I give lede a forelook of the upcoming for their good, to give them frover, and tend them to follow the song which is everlasting. Now, Owl, you can sit there and wither away; this isn't bare warbling; I'm ready to thware that we should go to deeming before the Pope of Rome himself. But wait---you must listen to something else on this heed. You won't dow to witherstand me in this rake, not for the whole of England. Why do you grill me for my weakness, my small girth and my short height, and say that I'm not strong for I'm not broad or tall? You've got no bild what you're talking about, and are only telling me lies, for I am misleading and cunning, and that's why I am so couth. I know many tricks and songs, and don't trust on any other strength, for it's true what Alfred said: "Strength is fremeless against anget." Often a little cunning forcomes where great strength would fail; buroughs and strongholds can be won with a meanset of thrack; walls can be forspilled by cunning, and dow knights knocked off their horses. Churlish thrack is of little worth, but wisdom never loses its worth. You can see in all kinds of things that wisdom has no even. A horse is stronger than a man, but as it lacks wits it carries heavy loads on its back, and pulls before wide teams, and drees both stick and spur, and stands tethered at the door of the mill; and it does what it's told, and as it has no understanding its strength can't redd it from having to abow to a small child. Man brings it about, by strength and wits, that nothing else is his even; even if all kinds of strength were cleaved, were anget would still be greater, for were skill overspans all eardly beings. In the same way, I do better with my song than you do throughout the year; I'm loved forof my skill, you're shunned forof your strength. Do you think less of me for I have only one skill? If two men go to wrestle and each of them pushes the other hard, and one knows many throws, and can clad up his craftings swith well, and the other only knows but one throw, but that one works with everybody, and with that one throw he brings down all his witherlings, one after another, in a short swath of time, why need he bother about having a better throw than the one which is so yielding for him? You say that you can do a lot of theens. But I'm at a higher flack from you; even if you cleaved all your skills, my only skill is still flatly better. Often, when hounds are hunting down foxes, the cat dows swith well, even though he only knows one trick. The fox doesn't know any wile as good as that, even though he knows so many that he thinks he can flee all the hounds, since he knows straight and crooked paths, and he can hang from a bough, so the hound loses the trail and wends back to the moorland. The fox can creep along the hedge, and wend off from his earlier path, and shortly afterwards and back on it. Then the hound is thrown off the smell; he doesn't know from the mingled hints whether he should go onwards or back. If the fox runs out of all these tricks, he endily creeps back to his hole; but nevertheless, with all his wile, he can't howe well enough---bold and cwick as he is--- to mithe losing his red hide. The cat knows only a single wile, by hill or by dale---that he can climb, but he climbs well; that's why he's still wearing his gray hide. I say sooth the same about myself: my one skill is worth better than twelve of yours.'
'Hold on! Hold on!' said the owl, 'Your whole smigh is unluter. You behandle all your words so that everything you say seems right; you gloss over everything, and what you say is so thwaringly and winsome that everyone who hears it thinks that you're telling the truth. Hold on! Hold on! you'll meet withstanding; now it will come swotel that you've told a pack of lies, when your unluterness is unheled. You say that you sing to, and teach them that they are headed out of this world, up to the song that lasts for ever. But it's truely thunning that you dare to tell such an sifer lie. Do you ween to bring them so easily to God's kingdom, all singing? No, no, they'll couthly onget that they must bede for a healing for their sins with rife weeping before they can ever get there. So I rethe that those folk who hope to reach the King of Heaven should be reened, and weep more than they sing, for no man is without sin; and so, before he leaves, he must make up with tears and weeping, so that what was once sweet to him becomes bitter. I help with this, God knows. I don't sing to insnare them, as all my song is about longing, and mingled to some span with norning, so that a man should be shrithed by me to onget that he should bewail his guilt If you take this as a starting-point for rake, I weep better than you sing; if right goes ahead and wrong behind, my weeping is better than your singing. Although some lede are thoroughly good, and thoroughly swotel in heart, nevertheless they long to leave this world; they rue that they are here for, although they themselves are nered, they see nothing but earm here; they weep bitterly for other folk, and bede for Christ's ruth on their behalf. I help both kinds of folk; my mouth agives two kinds of healing. I help the good man in longing, for when he feels that wilne I sing to him; and I help the sinful man as well, for I show him where earm lies. What's more, I'd rake against you from another mindnook, for when you sit on your bough, you fuse those who are willing to listen to your songs to the mirths of the flesh; you're hopeless on the bliss of heaven, since you don't have the reard for it. Everything you sing is about banelust, as there is no holiness in you; nobody's edminded by your chirping of a beder singing in church. And I'll put a further hint to you, to see if you can sweetle it away. Why won't you sing to other theds where it's needed much more? You never sing in Ireland, nor do you fandle Scotland. Why don't you fare to Norway, and sing to the folk of Galloway, where there are lede who have little afanding of any song under the sun? Why won't you sing to the beders and teach them through your chirping, and show them with your steven how rotherers sing in heaven? You behave like a fremeless spring, which comes up beside a swift stream, and lets the slope dry out and flows fremelessly down it. But I fare both north and south; I am known in every ethel; east and west, far and near, I do my job swith well, and warn lede with my lows, so that your swiking song doesn't mislead them. I guide lede with my singing so that they don't sin for too long. I tell them that they should stop so that they don't get themselves trapped; for it's better that they should weep in this world than be the begliders of devils in the next.'
The nightingale was wrath, and also rather fazed, for the owl had chided her for the stow she sat and sang in, behind the bedroom, among the weeds, where lede go to unwind; and she sat and thought for a time, and was well aware in her edleaming that wrath benims a man of his wits, for King Alfred said so: "The man who is hated seldly inbreaches davenly, and the man who is reethe seldly bedes winningly"--- for wrath stirs up the blood in the heart so that it flows like a reething rith and overwhelms the heart fully, so that it can't do anything but feel, and so loses all its insight, so it cannot see what is true or right. The nightingale huyed, and let her wrath dwindle; it would be better for her to speak mildly than to neet nithe words. 'Owl,' she said, 'now listen here! You'll fall, you're on a slippery slope. You say I fly umb behind the bedroom; it's true, the bedroom is our landdeal. Where a lord and lady are lying, I have to sing to them and cleve near them. Do you think that feeling folke forsake the right road forof dirty mud, or that the sun is less willing to shine if it's filthy in your nest? Should I, forof a board with a hole in it, forsake my true stead, so that I don't sing beside the bed where a lord has his lover as a bedfellow? It is my do, it is my rede, that I should follow the highest. Furthermore, you boast about your song, that you can screech wrathfully and harshly, and say that you fuse mankind to weep for their sins. If everybody howled and screamed as if they were damned, if they screeched as you did, they might scare the wits out of their beder. A man should keep swey and not make an outbawl; he may weep for his sins, but the stead for beding aloud and loud singing is where Christ is worshipped; singing in church at the right time can't be too loud or too long. You screech and wail, and I sing; your song is norning, and mine frealsing. I hope you screech and weep till you drop dead, and I hope you scream so loudly that both your eyes pop out! Which is better of these two things, that someone should be eady or sad? I hope that in our sake you'll aways be sad, and I'll be eady. And another thing: you ask why I don't fare to another ethel and sing there. No! What could I do among lede who have always been wretched? That ethel isn't thwaringly or cweming; on the witherside, it's wilderness and wasteland, crags and rocky hills reaching to the sky; snow and hail are what they're brooked to. That ethel is dreadful and downheartening. The inwoners are wild and yomerly; they don't live in frith or leethering. They don't care how they live. They eat raw fish and meat, ripping it apart like wolves. They drink milk and whey with it--- they don't know what else to do. They don't have either wine or beer, but live like wild wights; they go umb cladded in shaggy wight skins, as if they'd come out of hell. If any good man fandled them---as one tidely did from Rome---to teach them to behave davenly, and to give up their wrongs, he'd be better off staying put, for he could not to do anything he howed; he would have more mayhap of teaching a bear to neet a shield and spear than of beswaping that wild thede to listen to me singing. What thew would I be there with my song? However long I sang to them, my song would be fully wasted, since neither halter nor bridle could halt them from their wild behaving, nor could a man armed with steel and iron. But where an ethel is cweming and thwaresome, and where the arlanders are friendly, I neet my throat among them, for I can halesing and bring them news of love. Something was said in an old lede, which is still true, that a man must harrow and sow where he weens to gain some behoof from reaping, as that man is mad who sows his seed where no grass or blossoms ever grow.'
The owl was wrath and ready for a fight when she heard this, her eyes bulging. 'You say that you watch over lede's bedrooms, among leaves and wlitty blossoms, where two lovers lie in one bed in each other's beclip, well warded. Once you sang---I know well where--- beside a bedroom, and wanted to spur the lady into an unlawful bonding, and sang both low and high, and taught her to hoore her body to shameful and shandful workouts. The lord soon knew that, and set and laid out lime and snares and all kinds of things to latch you. Soon you came to the window; you were latched in a snare--- your legs tolled the strife for it. Your only deeming was to be torn asunder by wild horses. See if you can mislead whichever you like, wedded women or untrothen girls, after that; your song may be so yielding that you end up flapping in a snare!'
Hearing this, the nightingale would gladly have hilded with sword and spear-tip if she had been a man; but since she couldn't do anything better, she fought with her clever tung. "Whoever speaks well, fights well", it says in the song. She cores to her tung; "Whoever speaks well, fights well", said Alfred. 'What! Are you saying this to shend me? The lord got into swench for this. He was so andy of his wife that he couldn't, to nere his life, bear any man speaking to her without breaking his heart. He locked her in an inner room that inlocked her strongly and mundily. I had feeling for her, and felt sorry for her uneadiiness, and underheld her with my song as much as I could, early and late. Forof that the knight was reethe with me; out of sheer nithe he hated me. He cast his own shame on me, but it got him into swench. King Henry onfound what had happened---may Jesus have ruth on his soul! He bebid the outcasting of the knight who had outdone such a great bane in such a good king's ethel: out of sheer nithe and wretched lust he had stighted for the little bird to be fanged and deemed it to death. It was an ar to my whole kin, for the knight was benimmed of his riches and gave a hundred pounds in gainmeed for me; and my chicks stayed berg and sound, and fained weal afterwards, and were eady, as well they might be, since I was so well backyielded. For ever afterwards I've been bolder in speaking out; since this thing happened once, I've been the eadier for it ever since. Now I can sing when I want, and nobody will ever dare to atel me again. But you, you wretch, you earmly being, you've no mein where to find a hollow stump where you could hide to mithe lede, so nobody tweaks your hide; for children, thew-boys, hemmers, and workmen all want to make you thole. If they can see where you're sitting, they fill their pockets with stones, and throw them at you to hean you, and break your filthy bones. It's only when you're hit or shot that you become fremeful, as you're hung on a stick, and with your stinking coating and your ugly neck, you ward folk's corn against birds. Your life and your lund are good for nothing, but you make a neetle scarecrow. Now where seeds are sown, no hedge-sparrow, goldfinch, rook, or crow will dare come near if your bild is hanging at the end of the row; when trees are blossoming in Spring, and young seeds are sprouting and growing, no bird dares nigh if you are hung over them. Your life is always evil and wicked; you're good for nothing unless you're dead. Now you can be sicker that you look gruesome while you're alive, for when you've been killed and are hanging up, the birds that screamed at you formerly are still awed of you. Lede are right to be nitheful to you, for you're always singing about things which they hate; everything you sing, early or late, is always about lede's misluck; when you've been screeching in the night, lede are truly afraid of you. You sing where somebody is about to cwell; you're always boding some kind of bad luck; your song forecasts loss of ownhood or some friend's mar, or you foretell a house fire, or a forwaying fyrd, or a hue and bawl after reavers; or you foretell that there will be an addling among, or that the lede will lede, or that a wife will lose her husband; or you foretell reethes and hild. You're always singing about lede's tholing; forof you they're earmly and wretched. You never sing at all aside about some bane. That's why lede give you a wide berth, and throw things at you and beat you with sticks and stones and turves and clods, so that you can't flee anywhere. A town-bawler like you meeds to be baned, always outspelling ill luck, and always bringing bad news, and always talking about uncweming things! May almighty God, and all those who wear linen, be his for!'
The owl did not stop for long, but came back with a bold and stal answer. 'What!' she said, 'are you benamed, or are you baning swith without beding upthave? For I'm hure that you're doing a beder's job. I don't know if you were ever a bedeman, I don't know if you can sing Mass, but you do know a fair deal about baning. But it's forof your old evest that you baned me once again. There's an easy answer to that, though: "keep your own side!" said the wheeler. Why do you chide me for my insight, my anget, and my thrack? For I am wise, no cwalm about it, and know everything that is to come: I know about hunger, about infall, I know whether lede will live a long time, I know if a wife has lost her husband, I know where there is going to be hild and yieldback, I know who is going to be hanged or otherwise thole a shameful death. If men have fayed in gouth, I know which side will be beaten. I know whether addle will rine the, and whether wights will die; I know whether trees will blossom, I know whether seed will grow, I know whether houses will burn down, I know whether men will walk or ride, I know whether the sea will overwhelm the ships, I know whether cladders will do their cleaving badly. And I know much more still: I have a fair reach of book-learning, and also know more about the gospel than I'm reened to tell you, for I often go to church and learn a great deal of wisdom. I know all about boding, and about many other things. If there is to be a hue and bawl risen after anybody, I know all about it before it happens. Often, forof my great wisdom, I feel swith saddened and wrath. When I see that something bad is going to happen to someone, I bawl out loudly; I ask lede to be wary, and howe wisely ahead, for Alfred uttered a wise saying----everyone should galder it: "If you see a threat before it has come, it will lose almost all its strength." And heavy blows lose their might if one is on the look-out for them; an arrow will miss its mark if you watch how it flies from the string, since you can easily duck and run if if you see it coming towards you. If any man runs into swench, why should he chide his ill luck on me? Even if I see his harm coming to him in forerun, that doesn't mean that it comes from me. If you see a blind man, who can't find his way, heading wrongly towards a ditch, and falling in and getting muddy, do you think, even if I saw it all, that it was more likely to happen forof me? That's how it is with my knowledge. When I sit on my bough, I see and onget siferly that harm is about to come to someone. Should this man, who knows nothing about it, chide me for I do know about it? Should he chide me for his mishap for I'm better-learnt than he is? When I see that some awehap is nighing folk, I yell out loudly enough, and tell them often enough that they should ward themselves, since they are threatened by earnest harm. But whether I yell out loudly or softly, it all happens through the will of God. Why do lede want to bechide about me if I worry them with the truth? Even if I warn them for a full year, the bane is no nearer to them. But I sing to them for I want them to know swotely that something bad is hanging over them when I hoot at them. Nobody has so much that he can't weed and fear that some awehap is nighing him, even though he can't see it coming. That is why Alfred said --- and his word was gospel---that the better off a man is, the more he should howe ahead; no-one should trust too much to his wealth, however much he has. "Nothing is so hot that it does not grow cold, and nothing is so white that it does not grow dirty, and nothing is so much loved that it does not grow hateful, and nothing is so faining that it does not grow irksome; but everything which is not everlasting must always fare away, and all the happiness of the world". Now you can see soothly that your speeches have been meally ill-deemed, for everything that you say to heash me has always edlanded on yourself. However it goes, with every hold you're brought down by your own throw; everything you say to unbear me ends up to my bearing. Unless you want to make a fresh start, you won't get anything but anethering.'
The nightingale sat and sighed, and felt worried, and with rethe, for the owl had layed and unfolded her speech so well that she was uneathed and unhure about what she should say to her next; but nevertheless, she gave it careful thought. 'What!' she said, 'Owl, are you mad? You boast of your amazing wisdom; you've no heeding of where you got it from---unless it was from witchcraft. You'll have to swettle yourself from that wray, you earmly being, if you want to live among men. Otherwise you'll have to flee the ethel, for all those who knew about these things were put under amanse by beders long ago; you're still doing this, you've never given up witchcraft. I was speaking to you a short while back, and you asked, as a heash, whether I'd been benamed as a beder; but the amansing is so widespread that even if there were no beders in the ethel you would still be damned, foe every child calls you filthy, and every man a wretched owl. I've heard---and it's true---that man must be skilled in starcraft who knows the inner ors from which haps unfold. You say this is what you meanly do; you tharfly being, what do you know about stars apart from looking at them from afar? So do many weres and wights who know nothing about such things. A monkey can look at a book, and wend over the leaves, and shut it again, but he can't make head or tail of it, or pick up any more loreship as an outcome; if you look at the stars in that way, you're none the wiser for it. What's more, you filthy being, you chide me and smear me harshly for singing near to lede's houses and teaching wives to weddbreach. That's a hale lie, you filthy being; I've never undermined wedding. But it's true that I sing and call where there are ladies and wlitty girls, and it's true that I sing about love, for a good woman can love her own husband within wedding better than her lover, and an unwedded girl can choose a lover so as not to lose her ar, and love with ferth love the man who will be her rede. I give teaching and reding in that kind of love; all my song is about it. If a woman has a yielding lund--- since women are smolt of kind---so that, talked into it by some boneheaded man who bedes raringly with her and sighs deeply, she goes astray and misbehaves for a time, should I be held guilty for that? If women have a inkling to play the nitwit, why do you wray their bad behaving on me? Even if a woman is howing some unlawful lovemaking, I can't give up singing. A woman can have a good time in bed in whichever way she chooses, lawfully or not, and she can play out my song in whichever way she chooses, siferly or not, since there's nothing in the world so good that it can't do some harm if it's willingly misbrooked; for gold and silver are good, and nevertheless you can buy trothbreach and unrighthood with them; weapons are good for keeping the frith, but nevertheless lede are killed by them unlawfully in many ethels when thieves bear them. So it is with my song: although it's good, it can be misbrooked, and neeted for unsideliness and other misbehaviing. But, you wretch, must you put the chide on love? All love between man and woman, of whatever kind, is good; but if it is stolen, then it is wicked and forrot. May the wrath of the Holy Rood fall on those who corrupt their true lund in this way! It's thunning that they don't go mad---and in a way they do, as it's madness to start a brood without a nest. A woman's flesh is brittle, and it's hard to wield the lust of the flesh; it's no wonder if she dithers, for the wilnes of the flesh make her slip. She isn't fully lost if she finds the flesh a stumbling-block, for many women have misbehaved and climbed up out of the mud. Not all sins are even, as they are of two kinds: one arises from the lust of the flesh, the other from the mood of the ferth. Where the flesh spurs lede to drunkenness, and to sloth and to trothbreach, the ferth sins through nithe and evest, and then by glee in other lede's mishap, and hungers for more and more, and cares little for ruth and feeling, and rises high through pride, and then lords it over underlings. Tell me the truth, if you know what it is: which does the worse, flesh or ferth? You might say, if you like, that the flesh is less guilty; many lede are sound in the flesh, but beglidings of the devil in ferth. Nor should any man loudly fordeem a woman and grill her for bodily lusts; he may chide such a woman for weddbreach while sinning worse himself through pride. Another flack: if I should bring a lover to a trothen woman or an unwedded girl when I sing, I would side with the girl. If you can hedge it siferly, listen now! I will tell you why, from beginning to end: if a girl has a dern lock, she stumbles and falls in the meal of lund; for although she may run wild for a time, she hasn't gone swith far astray; she can free herself from her guilt in a thaveed way through the Church's wedding-bond, and afterwards have her lover as her husband without being chided, and go in daylight to the man she crept to earlier in the dead of night. A young girl doesn't onget what's going on; her young blood leads her astray, and some halfwitted man dwells her into it by every means in his thrack. He fandles her often, and fondles and pushes, and stands and sits near her, and gives her lingering looks. What can the child do if she does go wrong? She didn't understand what it was, and so she set out to cun it, and onfind the lund of the work which tames such wild men. I can't spare myself for ruth, when I see the drawn swettling that love brings to the young, from singing to them about mirth. I teach them by my song that love of this kind doesn't last long; for my song lasts only a little while, and love does nothing but rest on such children, and soon goes, and its hot breath fordwines. I sing with them for a while; I start high and end low, and let my songs die down quickly. The girl ongets, when I fall swey, that love is like my songs: for it is only a little breath, which comes quickly and goes quickly. The child understands it through me, and wends from wrath to good rethe, and sees siferly from my singing that a silly love doesn't last long. But I really want you to be swotel on this: I mislike wedded woman having ties, and a wedded woman can note that I don't sing when I'm breeding. A wife should mithe a nitwit's eahtings, even if her wedbond seems athrick. It strikes me as an amazing and shocking thing, how any man could go so far as to beshut to make love to another man's wife, for only one of two otherways is maily, and no-one can ween a third: either her lord is a dow man, or he's unfittingly and worthless. If he's an arful and dow man, no feeling man will want to unar him through his wife, for he has rethe to fear self heaning, and losing his tackle so he has nothing left; and even if he doesn't fear this, it's wicked and swith lowbrow to do wrong to a good man, and span his wife away from him. If her lord is unfittingly, and has little to agive in bed and at the board, how could there be any love when such a churl's body was lying on top of her? How can there be any love when a man like that is pawing her thigh? You can understand from this that the first side is plightful, the next shandful, when stealing into another man's bed; because if her husband is a dow man, you can ween to come to tholig when you're lying beside her, and if her lord is a wretch, what faining can you get from it? If you huy who's sleeping with her, you might toll for the faining with wlat. I don't know how any heedingly man can follow her after that; if he huys who she's sharing a bed with, his love may fully fordwine.'
The owl was cwemed by this speech; she thought that the nightingale, though she had spoken well at first, had made a dwild at the end, and she said, 'Now I've found out about your helds on girls: you take their side, and ward them, and hales them a great deal too much. The ladies wend to me, and tell me about their feelings. For it swith often happens that a wife and husband are out of evensorrowing with each other, and forof that the husband strays, belikening to go after another woman, and spends all that he has on her, and follows her when he has no right to, and keeps his own wife at home in an empty house with bare walls, armly worn and badly fed, and leaves her without food and clothing. When he comes back home to his wife, she doesn't dare say a word; he gremes and shouts like a madman, and brings nothing else worth having home with him. Everything she does he draws to, everything that she says heans him, and often, when she's not doing anything wrong, she gets a strike in the mouth. There's no man who can't lead his wife astray behaving like this; she can be ill-handled so often that she cores to queam(cweme) her own needs. God knows, she can't help it if she makes him a cuckold. For it happens time and time again that the wife is sooth trim and mild, good-looking and well-worn; so it's all the more unfair that he gives his love to a woman who isn't worth one of her hairs. And there are lots of men like this, who can't do right by their wives; no man is thaved to talk to her; he thinks she'll rathely uptread wedlock breach if she looks at a man or speaks smoltly to him. He keeps her under lock and key; trothbreach often happens as an outcome, for if she's brought to that flack, she does what would never have happened to her before. A bane on anyone who gossips too much about it, if such wives take their yieldback! The ladies hosp about it to me, and me a great deal; my heart soothly breaks when I see their tholing. I weep bitterly with them, and bede for Christ's ruth on them, that he may shortly nere the lady and send her a better mate. I can tell you another thing, for which you won't find an answer to nere your skin; all your rakes will grow dim. Many cheppers and many knights love their wives and treat them siferly, and so do many churls. The good wife behaves thwaringly, and thews her husband in bed and at board with bland behaving and mirthful talk, and cuns hard to make herself frimful to him. Her lord fares out into the ethel on behalf of both of them, and the good wife is saddened when her husband leaves, and sits and sighs, missing him much, and, norning deeply on her lord's behalf, is sad by day and sleepless by night, and the time seems to her to go swith slowly, and every step seems like a mile. When other lede umb her are asleep, I alone listen to her outside, and know about her uneadiness, and sing at night for her behoof; and for her sake I wend my wulder song to some mete into a norn. I take on some of her tharf, and so I am swith welcome to her; I help her as far as I can, for she wants to follow the right path. But you've truely made me wrathful, so I'm all choked up and can hardly speak; even so, though, I want to go on. You say that lede hate me, and they're all reethed to me, and threaten me with stones and sticks, and hit me and beat me, and when they've killed me, they hang me on their hedge, so I can scare off magpies and crows from what is sown there. Although it's true, I am frimful to them, and shed my blood for their sake. I am fremeful to them through my death, which is hard for you for if you're lying dead and shrivelling up, your death theens no fremeful goal. I don't know at all what you could do, for you're swith an earmly being; but even if I've lost my life, I can still do good theen. Lede can set me up on a little stake in the depths of the wood, and so dwell and snare small birds; and so through me they can get good seared meat to eat. But you've never been of good theen to man, alive or dead. I don't know what you raise your brood for; it does no good, alive or dead.'
The nightingale heard this, and hopped on to a blossoming bough, and sat higher than she did before. 'Owl,' she said, 'be careful now! I won't bede against you any longer, for here the right line of rake is swiking you. You boast that lede hate you, and every being is reethe to you, and you bechide that you're tharf with hooting and wailing. You say that boys take hold of you and hang you high on a pole, and pull you to bits and shake you to bits, and some make a scarecrow out of you. It seems to me that you're losing the game fully; you're boasting of your own uncouth. It seems to me that you're abowing to me; you're boasting about your own shame.'
When she had said this, she landed in a wlitty spot, and then wended her reard and sang so shrillingly and so siferly that it was heard far and near. And so thrushes and throstles and hickles and birds both big and small flew to her at once; for it seemed to them that she had beaten the owl, they bawled out and sang in all kinds of ways, and there was edlisting in the boughs, swith as lede jeer at a man who plays at dice and loses the game.
When the owl heard this, she said, 'Have you samened a fyrd, and do you mean to fight with me, you earmly being? No, no! You haven't got the strength! What are these new oncomings shouting? It seems to me that you're leading a fyrd against me; you'll learn before you take to flight what kind of strength my inherd have, since those birds which have a hooked beak and sharp and bowing legs are all sibbed to me, and would come if I asked them. Even the cock, which is good at fighting, could lawfully take my side, for we both have sheer reards and sit under the stars at night. If I call up a hue and bawl against you, I'll lead such a strong fyrd against you that your pride will unstathle. I don't give a turd for the lot of you! And before darkness falls, there won't be a wretched feather left on you. But it was our thwaring when we came here that we should keep to the metes which would give us a fair deeming. Do you want to break the thwaring now? I ween that deeming seems too asking to you; as you daren't abow to deeming, you wretched being, now you want to fight and reethe. But I would rethe you all, before I call up a hue and bawl against you, that you leave our reethe alone and fly away cwickly; for by my claws, if you wait umb for my fyrd you'll sing a swith other song and bale all fighting, since none of you is so dow that you dare neb me down.' The owl spoke swith harshly, since although she hadn't cyred to her own fyrd so cwickly, she nevertheless wanted to answer to the nightingale with what she said; for many men are not so good with a sharp spear and shield, but nevertheless on a gouthfield they make their foes sweat with awe by bold speeches and behaving.
The wren, for she could sing, had got there in the morning to backup the nightingale, since although she had a small reard, her throat could make a good swotel song, which gave many lede cweming. The wren was huyed as frod, as although she'd been bred in the woods, she had been reared among folk, and brought her wisdom from there. She could speak wherever she wanted, even if she were in the bybe of the king. 'Listen!' she said, 'Let me speak! What, do you want to break this frith, and do the king such unar? Yes, he's not either dead or crippled. You'll be shirded and shanded if you sake a breach of the frith in his ethel. Let it be, and come to thwaring, and go straight to your deeming, and let the rethe put an end to this rake, like as it was fore-thwared.'
'That's well with me,' said the nightingale, 'but, wren, I'm not doing it forof your speech, but forof my heeding for the law; I wouldn't want unrightness to overcome me in the end. I'm not afeared of any deeming. I've behet, it's true, that the wise Hire Nicholas should deem between us, and I still think that he will. But where might we find him?'
The wren sat in a lime-tree; 'What!' she said, 'didn't you know his home? He lives at Portesham, in a ham in Dorset, near the sea on an inling. There he makes a lot of sound deemings, and swinlays and writes all kinds of orthankful works; and through his words and his writing, things are better as far as Scotland. It's easy to find him; he has only one abode. That's a great shanding to the runners, and all those who've heard of his namecouth and ondeeds. Why won't they make a beshuting to have him often in heeding, to rethe them from his wisdom, and give him income from many behooves so he could often be with them?'
'To be couth.' said the owl, 'that's true; these mightful men play swith wrongly when they misheed that good man who knows about so many things, and give out income swith unfairly, and don't take him earnestly. The are more thwaring to their inherds, and give out incomes to small children; their rethe tells them that they're wrong, since Hire Nicholas is still waiting. But still, let's go and fandle him, for our deeming is ready and waiting there.'
'Let's', said the nightingale; 'but who will read our pleas, and speak in the bybe of our deemster?'
'I'll give you gladdening in that,' said the owl, for I can edsay it all, beginning to end, word for word. And if it seems to you that I'm going astray, you can unthware and make me stop.'
With these words they set off, without any kind of fyrd, till they came to Portesham; but I can't tell you any more about how they forcame with their deeming. That's all folks!