The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).>br>Volume I. From the Beginnings to the Cycles of Romance.

XVII. Later Transition English

§ 5. Dame Siriz

Dame Siriz, an oriental tale showing traces of the doctrine of the transmigration of souls, was put into English after many wanderings through other languages, about the middle of the thirteenth century, and is excellently told in a metre varying between octosyllabic couplets and the six-lined verse of the Sir Thopas type. Other renderings of the same story are contained in Gesta Romanorum (28), Disciplina Clericalis (XI) and similar collections of tales; and the imperfect poem in the form of a dialogue between Clericus and Puella, printed by Wright and Halliwell may be compared with it. A tale of this kind was certain of popularity, whether recited by wandering minstrel or committed to writing for the pleasure of all lovers of comedy. To the “common form” of an absent and betrayed husband, is added the Indian device of the “biche” with weeping eyes (induced by mustard and pepper), who has been thus transformed from human shape because of a refusal to listen to the amorous solicitations of a “clerc.” The device is used by the pander, Dame Siriz, who, for twenty shillings, promises another “clerc” to persuade the merchant’s wife to yield to his desires.