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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Mandragora
Bestiaries and Lapidaries
Guillaume le Clerc de Normandie (Thirteenth Century)
 
THE MANDRAGORA is a wild plant, the like of which does not exist. Many kinds of medicine can be made of its root; this root, if you look at it closely, will be seen to have the form of a man. The bark is very useful; when well boiled in water it helps many diseases. The skillful physicians gather this plant when it is old, and they say that when it is plucked it weeps and cries, and if any one hears the cry he will die. 1 But those who gather it do this so carefully that they receive no evil from it. If a man has a pain in his head or in his body, or in his hand or foot, it can be cured by this herb. If you take this plant and beat it and let the man drink of it, he will fall asleep very softly, and no more will he feel pain. 2 There are two kinds of this plant,—male and female. The leaves of both are beautiful. The leaf of the female is thick like that of the wild lettuce.  1
 
Note 1.
  “Would curses kill as doth the mandrake’s groan.”
—‘2 Henry VI.,’ iii. 2.    [back]
Note 2. Cf. the exquisite line of Dante, ‘Purgatorio,’ i. 13:—
  ‘Dolce color d’oriental zaffiro.’    [back]
 
 
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