Ælfric’s Colloquy (Selection)

Edited by Jack Lynch

Note on the text: TK.

Ic axie þe, hwæt sprycst þu? Hwæt hæfst þu weorkes?

I ask you, what do you say? What work do you have?

Ic eom ȝeanwyrde monuc, 7 sincȝe ælce dæȝ seofon tida mid ȝebroþrum, 7 ic eom bysȝod [missing word] 7 on sanȝe, ac þeahhwæþere ic wolde betwenan leornian sprecan on leden ȝereorde.

I am a monk, a fluent speaker, and I sing seven times each day with my brothers, and I am occupied in [reading] and in singing, but nevertheless I would like to learn to speak Latin in my spare time.

Hwæt cunnon þas þine ȝeferan?

What do these, your companions, know how to do?

Summe synt yrþlincgas, sume scephyrdas, sume oxanhyrdas, sume eac swylce huntan, sume fisceras, sume fuȝeleras, sume cypmenn, sume scewyrhtan, sealteras, bæceras.

Some are plowmen, some shepherds, some herdsmen, some also hunters, some fishermen, some fowles, some merchants, some tailors, dealers in salt, bakers.

Hwæt sæȝest þu yrþlingc? Hu begæst þu weorc þin?

What do you say, plowman? How do you do your work?

Eala, leof hlaford, þearle ic deorfe. Ic ȝa ut on dæȝræd þywende oxan to felda, 7 iuȝie hiȝ to syl; nys hit swa stearc winter þæt ic durre lutian æt ham for eȝe hlafordes mines, ac ȝeiukodan oxan, 7 ȝefæstnodon sceare 7 cultre mid þære syl, ælce dæȝ ic sceal erian fulne æcer oþþe mare.

Alas, dear lord, I work hard. I go out at daybreak, driving the oxen to the field, and yoke them to the plow; it is not so rough winter that I dare remain at home for fear of my lord, but yoked oxen, and fastened the plowshare and the coulter with the plow; each day I must plow a whole acre or more.