'Why, maskelles bryd, that bryght con flambe,
That reiates has so ryche and ryf,
Quat kyn thing may be that Lambe
That the wolde wedded unto hys vyf ?
Over alle other so hygh thou clambe
To lede wyth hym so ladyly lyf.
So many a comly onunder cambe
For Kryst han lyved in much stryf;
And thou con alle tho dere out dryf
And fro that maryag al other depres,
Al only thyself so stout and styf,
A makeles may and maskelles.'
'Maskelles,' quod that myry quene,
'Unblemyst I am, wythouten blot,
And that may I wyth mensk menteene;
Bot "makeles quene" thenne sade I not.
The Lambes vyves in blysse we bene,
A hondred and forty fowre thowsande flot,
As in the Apocalyppes hit is sene:
Saint John hem syy al in a knot
On the hyl of Syon, that semly clot;
The apostel hem segh in gostly dream
Arayed to the weddyng in that hyl-coppe,
The nwe cité o Jerusalem.
Maid without spot, who shines so bright,
With dignities so richly rife
What being is this who in some rite
Takes you unto him for his wife,
Over all to reach such splendid height,
And lead with Him a lady's life ?
For many a comely lady light
For Christ bore woes like sharpest knife,
Yet He, o'er them, makes you his wife
Usurping thus their rightful lot,
Making you sure against all strife,
A matchless maid without a spot.
'Matchless ?' said that beauteous maid.
'Unblemished am I, and do no wrong,
But "matchless maid" I never said,
Nor could such honour to me belong.
Wives of the Lamb in joy we're made
One hundred and forty-four thousand strong,
As in the Apocalypse conveyed:
Saint John it was who saw that throng
The Mount oi' Zion all among;
In spiritual vision he witnessed them
Arrayed l'or the wedding those slopes along,
In that city new, Jerusalem.
Why, spotless bride, who shine so brightly, and have royal dignities so noble and plentiful, what kind of being may that Lamb be that he would wed you as his wife `? Over all others you have climbed, to lead with him so ladylike a life. So many fair ladies (lit., under comb) for Christ have lived in great trouble, and you have driven away all those deserving ladies and overcome a11 other pretenders to the marriage, yourself alone so brave and strong, a peerless and spotless maiden.'
'Matchless?' said that lovely maiden. 'Unblemished I am, without a stain, and that I may claim in honour; but 'matchless queen' I did not then say. The Lamb's wives in joy we are, a company of one hundred and forty-four thousand, as in the Apocalypse it is seen. Saint John saw them in a throng on the Mount of Zion, that fair hill. The Apostle saw them in a spiritual vision arrayed for the wedding on that hill-Lop, the new city of Jerusalem.