Middle English Translations

These are my modern English translations of Middle English poems by mostly anyonymous authors. 

Sumer is icumen in
anonymous Middle English poem, circa 1260 AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Summer is a-comin’!
Sing loud, cuckoo!
The seed grows,
The meadow blows,
The woods spring up anew.
Sing, cuckoo!

The ewe bleats for her lamb;
The cows contentedly moo;
The bullock roots,
The billy-goat poots ...
Sing merrily, cuckoo!

In A Hammock

by Regina

God wants to hear your prayers again,
work-worn as you are,
the hours so long,
yet a quiet respite with Him awaits,
sit down for a few minutes-
close your heavy eyes,
imagine a hammock
anchored between two tall,
inviting oak trees that
have abundant shade
on this mid-July afternoon,
as you've eased yourself
into it, it's slowly swaying,
as neighborhood children
in the pool next door
playing, "Marco Polo",
you're drifting over treetops,
as crowded thoughts and


The air cools and the leaves of the trees lift
And flutter
In the rising wind.
The clouded sky casts no shadows
But gives the light an almost luminous clarity.

I look across the yard, past the trees
And the old wire fence
To the rusted tin shed across the alley.
Barren branches of a pin oak tree
Scratch across its roof as the wind grows.
The neither red nor pink blossoms
Of an untamed Japonica
Float in the air in front of the rusted shed
And glow in the unusual light.


Oh, why should a hen
have been run over
on West 4th Street
in the middle of summer?

She was a white hen
--red-and-white now, of course.
How did she get there?
Where was she going?

Her wing feathers spread
flat, flat in the tar,
all dirtied, and thin
as tissue paper.

A pigeon, yes,
or an English sparrow,
might meet such a fate,
but not that poor fowl.

Just now I went back
to look again.
I hadn't dreamed it:
there is a hen


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