Ayenbite of Inwyt

middle English prose work

The Ayenbite of Inwyt, by Dan Michael of Northgate, is a translation into the Middle English Kentish dialect of Lorens of Orleans' Somme des vices et des vertues, an Old French treatise on morality. It is generally agreed to be of mainly linguistic interest; for example it is the earliest known source of several English proverbs.

Middle English quotations are cited from the edition by Richard Morris (London: N. Trübner for the Early English Texts Society, 1866). Translations into Modern English are from the same source, unless otherwise stated.

Quotes edit

  • Hi byeþ ase þe wedercoc þet is ope þe steple, þet him went mid eche wynde.
    • They are like the weather-cock that is above the steeple, that turns itself with every wind.
    • Page 180; translation from Walter W. Skeat Early English Proverbs Chiefly of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910) p. 61.
  • A roted eppel amang þe holen: makeþ rotie þe yzounde.
    • A rotten apple will spoil a great many sound ones.
    • Page 205.
  • Zuo longe geþ þet pot to þe wetere: þet hit comþ to-broke hom.
    • So long goes the pot to the water, till at last it comes home broken.
    • Page 206; translation from William Carew Hazlitt English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases (London: Reeves and Turner, 1882) p. 352.

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