This is my translation of one of the oldest rhyming poems in the English language: the Middle English poem "How Long the Night" which dates to the early 13th century and appears to predate Geoffrey Chaucer. 

How Long the Night
anonymous Middle English poem, circa early 13th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It is pleasant, indeed, while the summer lasts
with the mild pheasants' song ...
but now I feel the northern wind's blast—
its severe weather strong.
Alas! Alas! This night seems so long!
And I, because of my momentous wrong,
now grieve, mourn and fast.

Published by Measure, Setu (India), A Long Story Short, Glass Facets of Poetry, Better Than Starbucks, Chanticleer, Poetry Brevet, Deviant Art, The Unsung Anthology, SAAD Mustafa Community, and Society of Classical Poets; also set to music by the composer Seth Wright

Middle English text:

Myrie it is while sumer ylast
with fugheles song.
Oc nu neheth windes blast
and weder strong.
Ei, ei! what this nicht is long.
And ich with wel michel wrong
soregh and murne and fast.

Keywords/Tags: Old English, Middle English, Medieval English, long night, alas, summer, pleasant, winter, north wind, northern wind, severe weather, storm, bird, birds, birdsong, sin, crime, fast, fasting, repentance, dark night of the soul, sackcloth and ashes, regret, repentance, remonstrance

Author of original: 
Unknown Middle English poet