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The Digital Index of Middle English Verse
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DIMEV 5977
IMEV 3754
NIMEV 3754
To God that is our best leech
On the Virtues of Herbs, especially Rosemary — in couplets
Note: For prose versions see Lewis, Blake, and Edwards (1985) ; see Ringler Jr. (1992), TM 200.
Subjects: herbals
Versification: — two-line — aa



Manuscript Witnesses:
1.Source: Oxford, Bodleian Library Ashmole 1379 (SC 7683), pp. 19-28
First Lines:
As in a booke wretyn y fownd
of wise doctours in dyuers lond
As eche clerk saith in his degree
And yit is proved euery oþer yere…
Last Lines:
…al evyll fro þe stomake it wyl do slake
Also fro þe flux of a man þat is ful strong
Note: Alternate introduction; 155 lines; missing line 3 or 4 (to rhyme with ‘degree’).
Attributed Title: Here is vertues & settyng of rosemary by the ij doctours of fysyk ffollowyng per Galyen & platery (p. 18)
2.Source: Oxford, Bodleian Library Ashmole 1442, Part VI (SC 7625), pp. 1-5
First Lines:
To god þat is þe onelie leeche
of his goodnes we beseche…
Last Lines:
…Whoe graunt vs his blessinge
That is our Etarnall kinge
Note: 290 lines. At the end: ‘Translatid at this tyme; owt of prose into Ryme / Owt of a verie olde bouke; thes same meadicins þat I touke / And hathe them practized with owt fayle; & fownde þem true everie deall / Prays be gevin to christe Ihesue; whoe ever have þe in his kepinge / James Mathewe: Amen’.
Attributed Title: Heare Begynnethe the vertue of Rosemarie According to þe sayenges of devine docters (p. 1)
3.Source: Oxford, Bodleian Library Digby 95 (SC 1696), ff. 83-89v
First Lines:
Ihesu þat art oure best leche
Of helthe we the beseche
And to mayden myld marye
That modyr ys of all mercye…
Last Lines:
…And syth for the Rygth god vs bryng
And send vs hele tyl our endyng
Amen pur charyte Explicit libellis
Note: 328 lines, preceded by a prose introduction, ends with colophon, ‘Explicit libellis de vertutibus Rose marine secundum salernitanos ad comitissam de hennand cujus copiam propriam transmisit philippe sue filie regine anglie. Anno domini millesimo cccxxxviii quem unus anglicus ranstulit de Latino in suum proprium idioma etc’.
Attributed Title: Heare Begynnethe the vertue of Rosemarie According to þe sayenges of devine docters (p. 1)
4.Source: Cambridge UK, Trinity College R.7.23 (759), ff. 96v-127v
First Lines:
…of columbyne I wyll ȝow tell
his flour is blewe lyk to a bell
þis Columbyne beres a blak sede
ffor þe squenacy to drynk ys gud atte nede…
Last Lines:
…In all tyme yt be ȝere
ffore soth he schal blede no mere
Note: Scattered couplets written on margins of medicinal properties of such herbs as columbine, mint, etc.
5.Source: London, British Library Harley 1735, ff. 51-52v
Note: Preceded by a prose introduction, variant text.
6.Source: London, British Library Sloane 3215, ff. 17v-24v
7.Source: London, Wellcome Historical Medical Library 406 [olim Loscombe, olim Ashburnham 122], ff. 14-20v
First Lines:
To God that is owre best leche
Owre hele holy we be teche
& to þat mayden mylde marie
Modur ful of mercye…
Last Lines:
…To blis he vs bryng a ryȝt
He may so welle
Þat he ȝyf vs part of hys lyȝt
A men so bedde we euelle
Attributed Author: Explicit Garddener (f. 20v)
Editions:
Wright, Thomas, and James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps, eds. Reliquiae Antiquae. 2 vols. London: Smith, 1845: 1.194-7.