The Minor Poems

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Author: John S. P. Tatlock  | Date: 1374

ABC

(R)Incipit carmen secundum ordinem literarum Alphabeti.

ALMIGHTY, all-merciful Queen, to whom all this world fleeth for succor, to have release from sin, sorrow and trouble, glorious Virgin, flower of all flowers, to thee I flee, confounded in error! Thou mighty, gracious lady, help and relieve me, pity my perilous malady! My cruel adversary hath vanquished me.

BOUNTY hath so fixed his tent in thy heart that well I wot thou wilt be my succor; thou canst not reject him who with pious mind asketh thine aid. Thine heart is ever so bounteous, thou art the liberal giver of full felicity, haven of refuge, of quiet and rest. Lo how the seven thieves pursue me! Help, bright lady, ere my ship go to pieces!

COMFORT is there none, save in thee, dear lady, for lo! my sin and confusion, which ought not to come into thy presence, have brought against me a grievous suit, founded on strict justice and my despair. And in justice they might well maintain that I were worthy of condemnation, were it not for thy mercy, blessed queen of heaven.

DOUBT is there none that thou, queen of misericorde, art source of grace and mercy on earth. Through thee God vouchsafed to be reconciled with us. For certes, dear, blessed mother of Christ, were the bow of justice and wrath bent now in such wise as it was at first, the righteous God would hear of no mercy; but through thee we have favor, as we desire.

EVER hath my hope of refuge been in thee, for in divers manners thou hast received me into misericorde heretofore full oft. But grant me favor, lady, at the Great Assize, when we shall come before the high Judge! So little fruit shall be found in me then that, unless thou well chasten me before that day, by strict justice my work will destroy me.

FLEEING I come to thy tent for succor, to hide me from the tempest full of terror, beseeching thee, though I be wicked, that thou withdraw thee not. Ah, help me yet in this need! Though I have been a beast in will and in act, yet, lady, clothe me with thy grace. Take heed, lady, thine enemy and mine is in point to pursue me unto my death.

GLORIOUS maid and mother, who never in earth or heaven wast bitter, but ever full of sweetness and mercy, help, that my Father be not angry with me. Speak thou, for I dare not behold Him! Alack the while! I have so done on earth that certes, unless thou be my succor, He will exile my spirit to eternal stench.

HE vouchsafed, tell Him, to become a man, to have kinship with us, as was His will; and with His precious blood He made the writ upon the cross as general release for every penitent that believeth on Him. And therefore, bright lady, pray for us! Then thou shalt both still all His displeasure, and snatch his prey from our foe.

I WOT it well, thou wilt verily be our succor, thou art so full of bounty. For when a soul falleth into sin, thy pity goeth and haleth him back again. Then thou makest his peace with his Lord and bringest him out of the crooked path. Whoso loveth thee shall find he loveth not in vain, as he leaveth this life.

KALENDARS and illuminated texts be they in this world who be lighted with thy name; and whoso taketh to thee by the straight path need not fear to be maimed in soul. Now, queen of comfort, since thou art she from whom I seek my medicine, let my foe no more re-open my wound; I commit my health all into thine hand.

LADY, I cannot portray the sorrow thou hadst beneath the cross, nor His grievous suffering. But by the pains of both I pray you, let not the foe of us all make his boast that he hath vanquished in his fatal lists what ye both have bought so dearly. As I first said, thou ground of our being, continue to keep thy pitiful bright eyes upon us!

MOSES, who saw the bush burning with red flames, of which was never a stick consumed, saw the sign of thine unspotted maidenhood. Thou art the bush which Moses deemed had been a-fire, on which descended the Holy Ghost; and this was in symbol. Now, lady, defend thou us from the fire which shall last eternally in hell.

NOBLE princess, who never hadst peer, certes, if there be any comfort for us, it cometh from thee, thou beloved mother of Christ; none other melody or song have we to rejoice us in our adversity, none other advocate who will and dare so pray for us; and that for so small hire as thou, who helpest us for an Ave-Marie or two.

O TRUE light of blind eyes, O true delight of them in labor and trouble, O treasurer of grace to mankind, thou whom for thine humility God chose as mother! From His hand-maiden He made thee mistress of heaven and earth, to offer up our petition. This world ever waiteth upon thy goodness, for thou never failest any wight in need.

PURPOSE I have sometime to seek out why the Holy Ghost sought thee, when Gabriel’s voice came to thine ear. He worked not such a marvel to make war upon us, but to save us whom afterwards He redeemed. Then we need no weapon to save us; but only needful penance, when we have not done it, and to ask and receive mercy.

QUEEN of comfort, yet when I consider that I have sinned toward both Him and thee, and that my soul is worthy to sink, alas, caitiff! whither can I go? Who shall be my mediator to thy Son? Who but thyself, who art fount of pity? More ruth than any tongue in this world can tell thou hast on our adversity.

REFORM me, mother, and chasten me, for verily my Father’s chastening I dare in no wise abide, so hideous is His just reckoning. Mother, from whom all mercy to man hath ever sprung, be thou my judge and eke my soul’s leech. For ever in thee pity abounds to each who will beg thee for pity.

SOOTH is it that God granteth no mercy without thee; for God of His goodness forgiveth none unless it please thee. He hath made thee vicar and mistress of all the world and eke empress of heaven; and He represseth His justice after thy will, and in token of that He hath crowned thee in so royal wise.

TEMPLE of devotion, where God hath His abode from which misbelievers be proscribed, to thee I bring my penitent soul. Receive me; I can flee no further! O queen of heaven, with those venomous thorns for which the earth was accursed full long ago I am so wounded, as thou mayst well see, that I am almost lost; it paineth so grievously.

VIRGIN so splendid in apparel, who leadest us unto the high tower of Paradise, counsel and guide me, how I may obtain thy grace and thy succor, although I have been in error and foulness. Lady, do thou summon me to that court that is called thy bench, O fresh and blooming! where mercy shall ever abide.

XRISTUS thy Son descended into this world to suffer His passion upon the cross, and eke that Longinus should pierce His heart and let His heart’s blood run down; and all this was to save me. I am false and unkind to Him, and yet He desireth not my damnation.- For this I thank thee, succor of all men.

YOUNG ISAAC was verily type of His death, who so obeyed his father that he recked not to be slain; even so thy Son list to die as a lamb. Now lady full of mercy, since He measured out His mercy so liberally, I entreat thee be thou not scant; for we all sing and say that thou art ever our shield against vengeance.

ZACHARY calleth thee the open spring to wash the sinful soul from its guilt. Therefore I ought well to read this lesson, that we were lost were it not for thy tender heart. Now, lady bright, since thou canst and wilt be merciful to the seed of Adam, bring us to that palace that is raised for penitents who are deserving of mercy. Amen.

Explicit Carmen.

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Chicago: John S. P. Tatlock and Percy Mackaye, "Abc," The Minor Poems Original Sources, accessed February 27, 2021, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=NC5DVQFJCP5KPZS.

MLA: Tatlock, John S. P., and Percy Mackaye. "Abc." The Minor Poems, Original Sources. 27 Feb. 2021. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=NC5DVQFJCP5KPZS.

Harvard: Tatlock, JS, Mackaye, P, 'Abc' in The Minor Poems. Original Sources, retrieved 27 February 2021, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=NC5DVQFJCP5KPZS.