|Anon.||trans. Marie Borroff (from Middle English)|
'I biseche Že, Syre, now žou self jugge;
Watz not žis ilk my worde žat woržen is nouže,
Žat I kest in my cuntré, when žou žy carp sendez
Žat I schulde tee to žys toun ži talent to preche?
Wel knew I ži cortaysye, žy quoynt soffraunce,
Žy bounté of debonerté and žy bene grace,
Žy longe abydyng wyth lur, žy late vengaunce;
And ay žy mercy is mete, be mysse neuer so huge.
I wyst wel, when I hade worded quatsoeuer I cowže
To manace alle žise mody men žat in žis mote dowellez,
Wyth a prayer and a pyne žay myght her pese gete,
And žerfore I wolde haf flowen fer into Tarce.
Now, Lorde, lach out my lyf, hit lastes to longe.
Bed me bilyue my bale-stour and bryng me on ende,
For me were swetter to swelt as swyže, as me žynk,
Žen lede lenger ži lore žat žus me les makez..'
Že soun of oure Souerayn žen swey in his ere,
Žat vpbraydes žis burne vpon a breme wyse:
'Herk, renk, is žis ryght so ronkly to wrath
For any dede žat I haf don ožer demed že yet?'
Jonas al joyles and janglande vpryses,
And haldez out on est half of že hyghe place,
And farandely on a felde he fettelez hym to bide,
For to wayte on žat won what schulde worže after.
Žer he busked hym a bour, že best žat he myght,
Of hay and of euer-ferne and erbez a fewe,
For hit watz playn in žat place for plyande greuez,
For to schylde fro že schene ožer any schade keste
. He bowed vnder his lyttel bože, his bak to že sunne,
And žer he swowed and slept sadly al nyght,
Že whyle God of His grace ded growe of žat soyle
Že fayrest bynde hym abof žat euer burne wyste.
When že dawande day Dryghtyn con sende,
Ženne wakened že wygh vnder wodbynde,
Loked alofte on že lef žat lylled grene;
Such a lefsel of lof neuer lede hade,
For hit watz brod at že božem, boghted on lofte,
Happed vpon ayžer half, a hous as hit were,
A nos on že norž syde and nowhere non ellez,
Bot al schet in a schaghe žat schaded ful cole.
Že gome glyght on že grene graciouse leues,
Žat euer wayued a wynde so wyže and so cole;
Že schyre sunne hit vmbeschon, žagh no schafte myght
Že mountaunce of a lyttel mote vpon žat man schyne.
'I beseech you now, Sire, yourself be the judge:
Were they not my words that forewarned of this change,
That I said when you summoned me to sail from Judea
To travel to this town and teach them your will?
I knew well your courteous ways, your wise forbearance,
Your abounding beneficence, the bounty of your grace,
Your leniency, your longsuffering, your delayed vengeance;
And ever mercy in full measure, though the misdeed be huge.
I knew well, when I had wielded such words as I could
To menace all these mighty men, the masters of this place,
That for a prayer and a penance you would pardon them all,
And therefore I would have fled far off into Tarshish.
Now, Lord, take my life, it lasts too long;
Deal me my death-blow, be done with me at last,
For it seems to me sweeter to cease here and now
Than teach men your message that makes me a liar.'
Then a sound from our Sovereign assailed his ears,
As he takes the man to task with trenchant words:
"Hark, friend, is it fair so fiercely to rage
For any deed or decree I have dealt you as yet?"
Jonah all joyless, dejected and grumbling,
Goes out to the east of the high-walled city;
He looks around the land for some likely place
To wait in and watch what would happen after.
There he built him a bower, the best that he could,
Fashioned of hay and fern, and a few herbs,
For no groves grew on that ground whose green-clad boughs
Could give shelter or shade in the shimmering heat.
So he sat in his little booth, bis back to the sun,
And soon fell asleep there, and slumbered all night
While God of His grace made grow from that soil
A green vine, the goodliest a gardener could boast.
When God turned dark to dawn and daylight returned,
He wakened under woodbine and was well-pleased:
He looked up at the leaves, that lightly moved:
In a lovelier leaf-hall no lodger e'er dwelt,
For the walls were wide apart, arched well above;
Sealed on either side, as snug as a house;
An entry-nook on the north, and nowhere else,
All closed around like a copse that casts a cool shade.
He gazed up at the green leaves that graced his bower,
Where breezes ever blew, so blithe and so cool.
Though the sun glared grimly, no glint of its rays
Could pierce the sheltering shade to shine there within.
Trans. Copyright © W.W.Norton & Co. Inc. 2001, 1977, 1967 - publ. W.W.Norton. Original with acknowledgements to University of Exeter Press.