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195 A p p e n d i x The following passages provide a sample of Capgrave’s Middle English , with literal, line-by-line translations into modern English on facing pages. These passages, from the major debates in The Life of Saint Katherine, illustrate two very different facets of Capgrave’s style. The first selection, from book 2, is Katherine’s final response in the marriage parliament, wherein she describes the only type of man she will marry. Such a description of the perfect spouse occurs in many lives of Katherine, but in other lives her declaration manifests her yearning for the yet unknown Christ. Capgrave’s Katherine, however, is a rhetorical prodigy who thinks to checkmate her opponents by turning their flattery into grounds for insisting on an impossibly splendid mate. She heaps stipulation upon extravagant stipulation, never dreaming that she is describing someone who actually exists. The second selection is part of Katherine’s debate with the fifty scholars in book 4. One scholar has just challenged Katherine to defend her monotheism in light of an Old Testament reference to gods.­ Katherine’s response illustrates Capgrave’s extraordinary willingness to tackle arcane points of doctrine in Middle English verse aimed at a ­ general audience. To my knowledge, his discussion of the adoption of saints and faithful as “gods” has no source or analogue in any life of Katherine. 196 Appendix I. Book 2, Chapter 33, Lines 1373–456 (See pp. 67–68) Than answerd sone that swete gracyous wyght, And to this mayster sche seyd thus ageyn: “Youre commendacyoun whech ye dyd endyth, If it be soth as ye sayd, plat and pleyn, Schall cause me, there is no more to seyn, To plese that lord with all hert and mynde, That in his gyftis hath be to me so kynde “And sent me graces whech othir women want. Ye seyd efte for that I am so fayre And eke so wys and rych as ye warant, Therfore me must purpos to have a ayre, To chese an husbond, good and debonayre. Avyse yow, syre, what that ye have sayde: We wyll not lyght lowere than ye us layde. “Ye have sett oure loos above so hye We pase all women that now formed are. And on youre grounde ageyn I thus replye: I wold know to me who that worthy ware. This is your argument, this is your owne lare, That I am worthyest lyvyng of all women; Than must I hafe the worthyest of all men. “It folowyth full evene ryght of your tale, If ye take heed. I pray yow, where dwellyth he, So wyse, so fayre, so rych, withouten bale, And of swech lynage born as we be? But if ye fynde swech on, ye may leve me, I wyll non haf; therfore, loke well aboute— The more ye plete, the more ye stand in doute. “But ye wyll wyte allgate what I desyre; I schall dyscryve myn husbond whom I wyll hafe. Above all lordes he must be withoute pere, Whom he wyll to spylle or elles to save; He must be stable and nevyr turn ne wave Fro noo purpos that he set him on. But he be swech, husbond schall he be none Appendix 197 I. From Book 2. Conclusion of the Marriage Parliament Then that sweet, gracious person answered And replied to this scholar: “The commendation that you gave, If it is true, as you said, flat and plain, Will cause me, there’s no more to say, To please that lord with all heart and mind Who has been so kind in his gifts to me “And sent me graces that other women lack. You just said that because I am so fair, And also so wise and rich as you declare, I must therefore resolve to have an heir, To choose a husband, good and debonair. Consider, sir, what you have said: We will not settle lower than you placed us. “You have set our reputation so high We surpass all women that are formed now. And I answer you thus on your terms: I want to know who is worthy of me. This is your argument, this is your own pronouncement, That I am the worthiest woman alive; Then I must have the worthiest of all men. “It follows directly from your speech, If you notice. I ask you, where does he live, [The man] so wise, so fair, so rich, without flaw, And born of...


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