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Gonzalo de Berceo was a Benedictine monk. The cloisters of his order had, through the period of the Moorish domination, been the asylum of Spanish literature. His language is much more polished and defined than that of the poem of the Cid. His own pretensions were humble. He only calls himself a versifier

“ Gonzalo li dixeron al versificador;" and the greater part of his poetry probably consists of translations from the Latin compositions, which were circulated among the ecclesiastics of his time.* His style of composition is rather curious, four pentameter verses running together, of which, however, there are some examples in the corrupt Latin of the

middle ages :

“Qui sedet in solio summe maiestatis
Vos purget à vitio; mundet à peccatis,
Vobis sit auxilio vestre pietatis

Ut abrae gremio fine sedeatis.” Though the rhymes are generally remarkable for their neatness and correctness, the asonante and consonante are, at times, confounded-manto rhymes to farto, divina to rima, pelayo with casado and anno. These are defects which would not be discovered by every Spanish ear.

The subjects of which Gonzalo de Berceo treats are, the lives of several saints; the signs of judgement; the praises, miracles, and sorrows of our Lady; and such matters. All his poetry is tinged with the gross superstitions of his day, and served to minister to the most ignorant and rapacious credulity. Yet though his inferiority to the unknown author of the Poema del Cid, in strength and genius, is every where very remarkably visible, he made great advances in correctness of style and harmony of versification. The Arabic words he employs are few; but he has many Catalan (Provençal), French, and Italian. The words of Latin origin seem even reduced to a Spanish character, with the exception of aer (air), argent (argentum), cader (cadere), contra (towards), creder (credere), decebir (decipere), dubio (dubium), elli (ille), ende (inde), eri (heri), exaudir (ex

* There are several verses in these poems which are almost wholly Latin :

“Por aver que non dura la tu alma non rendas,
Gardate ne ad lapidem pedem tuum offendas.”

Vida de S. Domingo.

audire), plus, preda, quisque, qui, quomo (quomodo), sex, sine, tristitia, uxor, &c. &c. There are some words,

“One wonders how the devil they got there,” as bren (bran), chussorrenda (mob), guizgios (lances), viedgo (point), zampuñuelo (spilt liquid), and one or two more.

Of the character of his composition, what follows will give a further idea:

The Sixth Miracle.

“ There was a wicked thief, who liked robbing better than going to mass. His house was badly ordered, and he had a habit of theft, of which he could not get rid. If he had other vices, they are not recorded of him, and it would be wrong to condemn him for that of which we are ignorant. Certain it is, he was a thief; if any thing else, may that Christ, in whom we believe, forgive him.

In the midst of his evil, there was one good, and that saved him at last. He believed in the glorious virgin, and always bowed his head at her majesty's shrine. He said his Ave Maria by heart, he saluted her images, and obtained her good will.

“ But he who in evil walks, in evil falls. He was taken in the act of robbery, no counsels could save him. He was condemned to be hanged. He was taken to the gallows. A bandage was tied over his eyes, and he was suspended on the tight-drawn cord.

“ He was suspended as high as was thought fit, and every body around believed him to be dead. 0! if they had known, what they afterwards knew, they never would have done what they then did.

The glorious mother, accustomed to watch over her servants, and be their support in the hour of calamity, determined to protect this convict, and she remembering the services he had done, she put her hands under his feet; her precious hands. She supported him. He felt no inconvenience. He never was gayer, never happier in his life.

" At the end of the third day his relations came with his friends and acquaintance; they came sad and sorrowing to cut him down, but things were better than they had any notion. They found him cheerful and uninjured. He said his feet had been so well sustained, he could have hanged a year without coming to harm.

“ When this was heard by those who hanged him, they thought the knot was badly tied. They wished they had decapitated him. They would have had no more cause to be pleased than they had afterwards.

6. The whole crowd determined that it was the fault of the knot. He was to be beheaded, but not with an axe or a sword, that would have been an affront to their noble city.

“So the bad youths went to cut off his head with seraniles (quere scythes ?) large and sharp, but Holy Mary again put her hands under the scythes, and the collar of his throat was untouched.

“When they saw they could not hurt him, since the glorious

mother was his protector, they gave up their design, and let him live as long as God should see fit. They left him in peace to go They would not oppose Holy Mary. He reformed his life, he abandoned his follies, and died when his course was ended."*

his way.

*“ Milagro sexto.
“ Era un Ladron malo que mas querie furtar
Que ir a la eglesia ni a puentes alzar
Sabia de mal porcalzo su casa gobernar
Un malo que priso no le podie dejar.

Si facia otros males, este no lo leemos
Seria mal condempnarlo por lo que non sabemos
Mas abondenos eso que dicho vos avemos
Si al fizo, perdonelo Xps en qui creemos.

Entre las otras malas avia una bondat
Que li valio en cabo è dioli salvedat
Credia en la gloriosa de toda voluntat
Saludabala siempre con la su magestat.

Dicia Ave Maria è mas de escriptura
Siempre se inclinaba contra la su figura
Dicia Ave Maria è mas de escriptura
Tenia su voluntat con esto mas segura.

Como qui en mal anda en mal a caer
Ovieronlo con furto este ladron a prender
Non ovo nul conseio con que se defender
Yudgaron que le fuessen en la forca poner.

Levolo la justicia pora la crucejada
Do estaba la forca por conceio alzada
Prisieronle los oios con toca bien atada
Alzaronlo de tierra con soga bien tirada.
Alzaronle de tierra quanto alzar quisieron
Quantos cerca estaban por muerto lo tuvieron
Si ante lo sopiessen lo que despues sopieron
No li ovieran fecho esso que li ficieron.

La Madre gloriosa decha de acorrer
Que suele a sus siervos lennas cuitas valer
A esti condempnado quisoli protexer
Membroli el servicio que li solie fer.

audire), plus, preda, quisque, qui, quomo (quomodo), sex, sine, tristitia, uxor, &c. &c. There are some words,

“ One wonders how the devil they got there," as bren (bran), chussorrenda (mob), guizgios (lances), viedgo (point), zampuñuelo (spilt liquid), and one

or two more. Of the character of his composition, what follows will give a further idea:

The Sixth Miracle.

“ There was a wicked thief, who liked robbing better than going to mass. His house was badly ordered, and he had a habit of theft, of which he could not get rid. If he had other vices, they are not recorded of him, and it would be wrong to condemn him for that of which we are ignorant. Certain it is, he was a thief; if any thing else, may that Christ, in whom we believe, forgive him.

In the midst of his evil, there was one good, and that saved him at last. He believed in the glorious virgin, and always bowed his head at her majesty's shrine. He said his Ave Maria by heart, he saluted her images, and obtained her good will.

“ But he who in evil walks, in evil falls. He was taken in the act of robbery, no counsels could save him. He was condemned to be hanged. He was taken to the gallows. A bandage was tied over his eyes, and he was suspended on the tight-drawn cord.

“ He was suspended as high as was thought fit, and every body around believed him to be dead. O! if they had known, what they afterwards knew, they never would have done what they then did.

“ The glorious mother, accustomed to watch over her servants, and be their support in the hour of calamity, determined to protect this convict, and she remembering the services he had done, she put her hands under his feet; her precious hands. She supported him. felt no inconvenience. He never was gayer, never happier in his life.

" At the end of the third day his relations came with his friends and acquaintance; they came sad and sorrowing to cut him down, but things were better than they had any notion. They found him cheerful and uninjured. He said his feet had been so well sustained, he could have hanged a year without coming to harm.

“ When this was heard by those who hanged him, they thought the knot was badly tied. They wished they had decapitated him. They would have had no more cause to be pleased than they had afterwards.

“ The whole crowd determined that it was the fault of the knot. He was to be beheaded, but not with an axe or a sword, that would have been an affront to their noble city.

“So the bad youths went to cut off his head with seraniles (quere scythes ?) large and sharp, but Holy Mary again put her hands under the scythes, and the collar of his throat was untouched.

“When they saw they could not hurt him, since the glorious

mother was his protector, they gave up their design, and let him live as long as God should see fit. They left him in peace to go

his

way. They would not oppose Holy Mary. He reformed his life, he abandoned his follies, and died when his course was ended."*

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Si facia otros males, este no lo leemos
Seria mal condempnarlo por lo que non sabemos
Mas abondenos eso que dicho vos avemos
Si al fizo, perdonelo Xps en qui creemos.

Entre las otras malas avia una bondat
Que li valio en cabo è dioli salvedat
Credia en la gloriosa de toda voluntat
Saludabala siempre con la su magestat.
Dicia Ave Maria è mas de escriptura
Siempre se inclinaba contra la su figura
Dicia Ave Maria è mas de escriptura
Tenia su voluntat con esto mas segura.

Como qui en mal anda en mal a caer
Ovieronlo con furto este ladron a prender
Non ovo nul conseio con que se defender
Yudgaron que le fuessen en la forca poner.

Levolo la justicia pora la crucejada
Do estaba la forca por conceio alzada
Prisieronle los oios con toca bien atada
Alzaronlo de tierra con soga bien tirada.

Alzaronle de tierra quanto alzar quisieron
Quantos cerca estaban por muerto lo tuvieron
Si ante lo sopiessen lo que despues sopieron
No li ovieran fecho esso que li ficieron.

La Madre gloriosa decha de acorrer
Que suele a sus siervos lennas cuitas valer
A esti condempnado quisoli protexer
Membroli el servicio que li solie fer.

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