I Have a Gentil Cook

I Have a Gentil Cook

Original Text
British Library Sloane MS 2593, fol. 10v; Rossell Hope Robbins, ed., Secular Lyrics of the XIVth and XVth Centuries (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1952): no. 46, p. 41. PR 1203 S4 1952 Trinity College Library. Carleton Brown and Rossell Hope Robbins, eds., The Index of Middle English Verse (New York, 1943): no. 3313. Z 2012 B86 General Reference Robarts Library.
2  Crowyt me day.
3He doth me rysyn erly,
5I haue a gentil cook,
6  Comyn he is of gret.
7His comb is of reed corel,
9I haue a gentyl cook,
14  So geintil and so smale.
19And euery nyght he perchit hym
20  In myn ladyis chaumbyr.


1] In one modern English translation,
I have a noble cock
Who crows for me at daybreak.
He rouses me up early
To say my matins.

I have a noble cock.
He comes from great ones.
His comb is of red corel.
His tail is of jet.

I have a noble cock,
He comes from kin [or nature];
His comb is of red squirrel,
His tail is of indigo.

His legs are of azure,
So noble and so slender.
His spurs are of white silver
As far as the wartwale.

His eyes are of crystal,
Set all in amber,
And every night he perches himself
In my lady's chamber.

cook: rooster. (A second sense of the word may be suggested by the last two lines of the poem.) Back to Line
4] matyins: "One of the canonical hours of the breviary; properly a midnight office, but sometimes recited at daybreak, and followed immediately by lauds" (OED "matin" 1). Back to Line
8] get: black, jet. Back to Line
10] kynde: well-bred kin; nature. Back to Line
11] scorel: squirrel (the colour of the fur)? or an error for "corel." Back to Line
12] Inde: indigo, blue dye. Back to Line
13] asor: azure, bright blue dye. Back to Line
15] arn: are. Back to Line
16] worte wale: wartwale, agnail, the loose skin at the top of the fingernail. Back to Line
17] eynyn: eyes. Back to Line
18] Lokyn: locked, set, bound up. aumbyr: amber, resin. Back to Line
Publication Start Year
RPO poem Editors
Ian Lancashire