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Confessio Amantis - Tales of the Seven Deadly Sins, 1330-1408 A.D.
by John Gower
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CONFESSIO AMANTIS

or

TALES OF THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS

By John Gower

1330-1408 A.D.

The following electronic text is based on that edition published in THE WORKS OF JOHN GOWER, ed. Prof. G.C. Macauley.



Prologus

Torpor, ebes sensus, scola parua labor minimusque Causant quo minimus ipse minora canam: Qua tamen Engisti lingua canit Insula Bruti Anglica Carmente metra iuuante loquar. Ossibus ergo carens que conterit ossa loquelis Absit, et interpres stet procul oro malus.

Of hem that writen ous tofore The bokes duelle, and we therfore Ben tawht of that was write tho: Forthi good is that we also In oure tyme among ous hiere Do wryte of newe som matiere, Essampled of these olde wyse So that it myhte in such a wyse, Whan we ben dede and elleswhere, Beleve to the worldes eere 10 In tyme comende after this. Bot for men sein, and soth it is, That who that al of wisdom writ It dulleth ofte a mannes wit To him that schal it aldai rede, For thilke cause, if that ye rede, I wolde go the middel weie And wryte a bok betwen the tweie, Somwhat of lust, somewhat of lore, That of the lasse or of the more 20 Som man mai lyke of that I wryte: And for that fewe men endite In oure englissh, I thenke make A bok for Engelondes sake, The yer sextenthe of kyng Richard. What schal befalle hierafterward God wot, for now upon this tyde Men se the world on every syde In sondry wyse so diversed, That it welnyh stant al reversed, 30 As forto speke of tyme ago. The cause whi it changeth so It needeth nought to specifie, The thing so open is at ije That every man it mai beholde: And natheles be daies olde, Whan that the bokes weren levere, Wrytinge was beloved evere Of hem that weren vertuous; For hier in erthe amonges ous, 40 If noman write hou that it stode, The pris of hem that weren goode Scholde, as who seith, a gret partie Be lost: so for to magnifie The worthi princes that tho were, The bokes schewen hiere and there, Wherof the world ensampled is; And tho that deden thanne amis Thurgh tirannie and crualte, Right as thei stoden in degre, 50 So was the wrytinge of here werk. Thus I, which am a burel clerk, Purpose forto wryte a bok After the world that whilom tok Long tyme in olde daies passed: Bot for men sein it is now lassed, In worse plit than it was tho, I thenke forto touche also The world which neweth every dai, So as I can, so as I mai. 60 Thogh I seknesse have upon honde And longe have had, yit woll I fonde To wryte and do my bisinesse, That in som part, so as I gesse, The wyse man mai ben avised. For this prologe is so assised That it to wisdom al belongeth: What wysman that it underfongeth, He schal drawe into remembrance The fortune of this worldes chance, 70 The which noman in his persone Mai knowe, bot the god al one. Whan the prologe is so despended, This bok schal afterward ben ended Of love, which doth many a wonder And many a wys man hath put under. And in this wyse I thenke trete Towardes hem that now be grete, Betwen the vertu and the vice Which longeth unto this office. 80 Bot for my wittes ben to smale To tellen every man his tale, This bok, upon amendment To stonde at his commandement, With whom myn herte is of accord, I sende unto myn oghne lord, Which of Lancastre is Henri named: The hyhe god him hath proclamed Ful of knyhthode and alle grace. So woll I now this werk embrace 90 With hol trust and with hol believe; God grante I mot it wel achieve. If I schal drawe in to my mynde The tyme passed, thanne I fynde The world stod thanne in al his welthe: Tho was the lif of man in helthe, Tho was plente, tho was richesse, Tho was the fortune of prouesse, Tho was knyhthode in pris be name, Wherof the wyde worldes fame 100 Write in Cronique is yit withholde; Justice of lawe tho was holde, The privilege of regalie Was sauf, and al the baronie Worschiped was in his astat; The citees knewen no debat, The poeple stod in obeissance Under the reule of governance, And pes, which ryhtwisnesse keste, With charite tho stod in reste: 110 Of mannes herte the corage Was schewed thanne in the visage; The word was lich to the conceite Withoute semblant of deceite: Tho was ther unenvied love, Tho was the vertu sett above And vice was put under fote. Now stant the crop under the rote, The world is changed overal, And therof most in special 120 That love is falle into discord. And that I take to record Of every lond for his partie The comun vois, which mai noght lie; Noght upon on, bot upon alle It is that men now clepe and calle, And sein the regnes ben divided, In stede of love is hate guided, The werre wol no pes purchace, And lawe hath take hire double face, 130 So that justice out of the weie With ryhtwisnesse is gon aweie: And thus to loke on every halve, Men sen the sor withoute salve, Which al the world hath overtake. Ther is no regne of alle outtake, For every climat hath his diel After the tornynge of the whiel, Which blinde fortune overthroweth; Wherof the certain noman knoweth: 140 The hevene wot what is to done, Bot we that duelle under the mone Stonde in this world upon a weer, And namely bot the pouer Of hem that ben the worldes guides With good consail on alle sides Be kept upriht in such a wyse, That hate breke noght thassise Of love, which is al the chief To kepe a regne out of meschief. 150 For alle resoun wolde this, That unto him which the heved is The membres buxom scholden bowe, And he scholde ek her trowthe allowe, With al his herte and make hem chiere, For good consail is good to hiere. Althogh a man be wys himselve, Yit is the wisdom more of tuelve; And if thei stoden bothe in on, To hope it were thanne anon 160 That god his grace wolde sende To make of thilke werre an ende, Which every day now groweth newe: And that is gretly forto rewe In special for Cristes sake, Which wolde his oghne lif forsake Among the men to yeve pes. But now men tellen natheles That love is fro the world departed, So stant the pes unevene parted 170 With hem that liven now adaies. Bot forto loke at alle assaies, To him that wolde resoun seche After the comun worldes speche It is to wondre of thilke werre, In which non wot who hath the werre; For every lond himself deceyveth And of desese his part receyveth, And yet ne take men no kepe. Bot thilke lord which al may kepe, 180 To whom no consail may ben hid, Upon the world which is betid, Amende that wherof men pleigne With trewe hertes and with pleine, And reconcile love ayeyn, As he which is king sovereign Of al the worldes governaunce, And of his hyhe porveaunce Afferme pes betwen the londes And take her cause into hise hondes, 190 So that the world may stonde apppesed And his godhede also be plesed. To thenke upon the daies olde, The lif of clerkes to beholde, Men sein how that thei weren tho Ensample and reule of alle tho Whiche of wisdom the vertu soughten. Unto the god ferst thei besoughten As to the substaunce of her Scole, That thei ne scholden noght befole 200 Her wit upon none erthly werkes, Which were ayein thestat of clerkes, And that thei myhten fle the vice Which Simon hath in his office, Wherof he takth the gold in honde. For thilke tyme I understonde The Lumbard made non eschange The bisschopriches forto change, Ne yet a lettre for to sende For dignite ne for Provende, 210 Or cured or withoute cure. The cherche keye in aventure Of armes and of brygantaille Stod nothing thanne upon bataille; To fyhte or for to make cheste It thoghte hem thanne noght honeste; Bot of simplesce and pacience Thei maden thanne no defence: The Court of worldly regalie To hem was thanne no baillie; 220 The vein honour was noght desired, Which hath the proude herte fyred; Humilite was tho withholde, And Pride was a vice holde. Of holy cherche the largesse Yaf thanne and dede gret almesse To povere men that hadden nede: Thei were ek chaste in word and dede, Wherof the poeple ensample tok; Her lust was al upon the bok, 230 Or forto preche or forto preie, To wisse men the ryhte weie Of suche as stode of trowthe unliered. Lo, thus was Petres barge stiered Of hem that thilke tyme were, And thus cam ferst to mannes Ere The feith of Crist and alle goode Thurgh hem that thanne weren goode And sobre and chaste and large and wyse. Bot now men sein is otherwise, 240 Simon the cause hath undertake, The worldes swerd on honde is take; And that is wonder natheles, Whan Crist him self hath bode pes And set it in his testament, How now that holy cherche is went, Of that here lawe positif Hath set to make werre and strif For worldes good, which may noght laste. God wot the cause to the laste 250 Of every right and wrong also; But whil the lawe is reuled so That clerkes to the werre entende, I not how that thei scholde amende The woful world in othre thinges, To make pes betwen the kynges After the lawe of charite, Which is the propre duete Belongende unto the presthode. Bot as it thenkth to the manhode, 260 The hevene is ferr, the world is nyh, And veine gloire is ek so slyh, Which coveitise hath now withholde, That thei non other thing beholde, Bot only that thei myhten winne. And thus the werres thei beginne, Wherof the holi cherche is taxed, That in the point as it is axed The disme goth to the bataille, As thogh Crist myhte noght availe 270 To don hem riht be other weie. In to the swerd the cherche keie Is torned, and the holy bede Into cursinge, and every stede Which scholde stonde upon the feith And to this cause an Ere leyth, Astoned is of the querele. That scholde be the worldes hele Is now, men sein, the pestilence Which hath exiled pacience 280 Fro the clergie in special: And that is schewed overal, In eny thing whan thei ben grieved. Bot if Gregoire be believed, As it is in the bokes write, He doth ous somdel forto wite The cause of thilke prelacie, Wher god is noght of compaignie: For every werk as it is founded Schal stonde or elles be confounded; 290 Who that only for Cristes sake Desireth cure forto take, And noght for pride of thilke astat, To bere a name of a prelat, He schal be resoun do profit In holy cherche upon the plit That he hath set his conscience; Bot in the worldes reverence Ther ben of suche manie glade, Whan thei to thilke astat ben made, 300 Noght for the merite of the charge, Bot for thei wolde hemself descharge Of poverte and become grete; And thus for Pompe and for beyete The Scribe and ek the Pharisee Of Moises upon the See In the chaiere on hyh ben set; Wherof the feith is ofte let, Which is betaken hem to kepe. In Cristes cause alday thei slepe, 310 Bot of the world is noght foryete; For wel is him that now may gete Office in Court to ben honoured. The stronge coffre hath al devoured Under the keye of avarice The tresor of the benefice, Wherof the povere schulden clothe And ete and drinke and house bothe; The charite goth al unknowe, For thei no grein of Pite sowe: 320 And slouthe kepeth the libraire Which longeth to the Saintuaire; To studie upon the worldes lore Sufficeth now withoute more; Delicacie his swete toth Hath fostred so that it fordoth Of abstinence al that ther is. And forto loken over this, If Ethna brenne in the clergie, Al openly to mannes ije 330 At Avynoun thexperience Therof hath yove an evidence, Of that men sen hem so divided. And yit the cause is noght decided; Bot it is seid and evere schal, Betwen tuo Stoles lyth the fal, Whan that men wenen best to sitte: In holy cherche of such a slitte Is for to rewe un to ous alle; God grante it mote wel befalle 340 Towardes him which hath the trowthe. Bot ofte is sen that mochel slowthe, Whan men ben drunken of the cuppe, Doth mochel harm, whan fyr is uppe, Bot if somwho the flamme stanche; And so to speke upon this branche, Which proud Envie hath mad to springe, Of Scisme, causeth forto bringe This newe Secte of Lollardie, And also many an heresie 350 Among the clerkes in hemselve. It were betre dike and delve And stonde upon the ryhte feith, Than knowe al that the bible seith And erre as somme clerkes do. Upon the hond to were a Schoo And sette upon the fot a Glove Acordeth noght to the behove Of resonable mannes us: If men behielden the vertus 360 That Crist in Erthe taghte here, Thei scholden noght in such manere, Among hem that ben holden wise, The Papacie so desguise Upon diverse eleccioun, Which stant after thaffeccioun Of sondry londes al aboute: Bot whan god wole, it schal were oute, For trowthe mot stonde ate laste. Bot yet thei argumenten faste 370 Upon the Pope and his astat, Wherof thei falle in gret debat; This clerk seith yee, that other nay, And thus thei dryve forth the day, And ech of hem himself amendeth Of worldes good, bot non entendeth To that which comun profit were. Thei sein that god is myhti there, And schal ordeine what he wile, Ther make thei non other skile 380 Where is the peril of the feith, Bot every clerk his herte leith To kepe his world in special, And of the cause general, Which unto holy cherche longeth, Is non of hem that underfongeth To schapen eny resistence: And thus the riht hath no defence, Bot ther I love, ther I holde. Lo, thus tobroke is Cristes folde, 390 Wherof the flock withoute guide Devoured is on every side, In lacke of hem that ben unware Schepherdes, whiche her wit beware Upon the world in other halve. The scharpe pricke in stede of salve Thei usen now, wherof the hele Thei hurte of that thei scholden hele; And what Schep that is full of wulle Upon his back, thei toose and pulle, 400 Whil ther is eny thing to pile: And thogh ther be non other skile Bot only for thei wolden wynne, Thei leve noght, whan thei begynne, Upon her acte to procede, Which is no good schepherdes dede. And upon this also men sein, That fro the leese which is plein Into the breres thei forcacche Her Orf, for that thei wolden lacche 410 With such duresce, and so bereve That schal upon the thornes leve Of wulle, which the brere hath tore; Wherof the Schep ben al totore Of that the hierdes make hem lese. Lo, how thei feignen chalk for chese, For though thei speke and teche wel, Thei don hemself therof no del: For if the wolf come in the weie, Her gostly Staf is thanne aweie, 420 Wherof thei scholde her flock defende; Bot if the povere Schep offende In eny thing, thogh it be lyte, They ben al redy forto smyte; And thus, how evere that thei tale, The strokes falle upon the smale, And upon othre that ben grete Hem lacketh herte forto bete. So that under the clerkes lawe Men sen the Merel al mysdrawe, 430 I wol noght seie in general, For ther ben somme in special In whom that alle vertu duelleth, And tho ben, as thapostel telleth, That god of his eleccioun Hath cleped to perfeccioun In the manere as Aaron was: Thei ben nothing in thilke cas Of Simon, which the foldes gate Hath lete, and goth in othergate, 440 Bot thei gon in the rihte weie. Ther ben also somme, as men seie, That folwen Simon ate hieles, Whos carte goth upon the whieles Of coveitise and worldes Pride, And holy cherche goth beside, Which scheweth outward a visage Of that is noght in the corage. For if men loke in holy cherche, Betwen the word and that thei werche 450 Ther is a full gret difference: Thei prechen ous in audience That noman schal his soule empeire, For al is bot a chirie feire This worldes good, so as thei telle; Also thei sein ther is an helle, Which unto mannes sinne is due, And bidden ous therfore eschue That wikkid is, and do the goode. Who that here wordes understode, 460 It thenkth thei wolden do the same; Bot yet betwen ernest and game Ful ofte it torneth other wise. With holy tales thei devise How meritoire is thilke dede Of charite, to clothe and fede The povere folk and forto parte The worldes good, bot thei departe Ne thenken noght fro that thei have. Also thei sein, good is to save 470 With penance and with abstinence Of chastite the continence; Bot pleinly forto speke of that, I not how thilke body fat, Which thei with deynte metes kepe And leyn it softe forto slepe, Whan it hath elles al his wille, With chastite schal stonde stille: And natheles I can noght seie, In aunter if that I misseye. 480 Touchende of this, how evere it stonde, I here and wol noght understonde, For therof have I noght to done: Bot he that made ferst the Mone, The hyhe god, of his goodnesse, If ther be cause, he it redresce. Bot what as eny man accuse, This mai reson of trowthe excuse; The vice of hem that ben ungoode Is no reproef unto the goode: 490 For every man hise oghne werkes Schal bere, and thus as of the clerkes The goode men ben to comende, And alle these othre god amende: For thei ben to the worldes ije The Mirour of ensamplerie, To reulen and to taken hiede Betwen the men and the godhiede. Now forto speke of the comune, It is to drede of that fortune 500 Which hath befalle in sondri londes: Bot often for defalte of bondes Al sodeinliche, er it be wist, A Tonne, whanne his lye arist, Tobrekth and renneth al aboute, Which elles scholde noght gon oute; And ek fulofte a litel Skar Upon a Banke, er men be war, Let in the Strem, which with gret peine, If evere man it schal restreigne. 510 Wher lawe lacketh, errour groweth, He is noght wys who that ne troweth, For it hath proeved ofte er this; And thus the comun clamour is In every lond wher poeple dwelleth, And eche in his compleignte telleth How that the world is al miswent, And ther upon his jugement Yifth every man in sondry wise. Bot what man wolde himself avise, 520 His conscience and noght misuse, He may wel ate ferste excuse His god, which evere stant in on: In him ther is defalte non, So moste it stonde upon ousselve Nought only upon ten ne twelve, Bot plenerliche upon ous alle, For man is cause of that schal falle. And natheles yet som men wryte And sein that fortune is to wyte, 530 And som men holde oppinion That it is constellacion, Which causeth al that a man doth: God wot of bothe which is soth. The world as of his propre kynde Was evere untrewe, and as the blynde Improprelich he demeth fame, He blameth that is noght to blame And preiseth that is noght to preise: Thus whan he schal the thinges peise, 540 Ther is deceipte in his balance, And al is that the variance Of ous, that scholde ous betre avise; For after that we falle and rise, The world arist and falth withal, So that the man is overal His oghne cause of wel and wo. That we fortune clepe so Out of the man himself it groweth; And who that other wise troweth, 550 Behold the poeple of Irael: For evere whil thei deden wel, Fortune was hem debonaire, And whan thei deden the contraire, Fortune was contrariende. So that it proeveth wel at ende Why that the world is wonderfull And may no while stonde full, Though that it seme wel besein; For every worldes thing is vein, 560 And evere goth the whiel aboute, And evere stant a man in doute, Fortune stant no while stille, So hath ther noman al his wille. Als fer as evere a man may knowe, Ther lasteth nothing bot a throwe; The world stant evere upon debat, So may be seker non astat, Now hier now ther, now to now fro, Now up now down, this world goth so, 570 And evere hath don and evere schal: Wherof I finde in special A tale writen in the Bible, Which moste nedes be credible; And that as in conclusioun Seith that upon divisioun Stant, why no worldes thing mai laste, Til it be drive to the laste. And fro the ferste regne of alle Into this day, hou so befalle, 580 Of that the regnes be muable The man himself hath be coupable, Which of his propre governance Fortuneth al the worldes chance. The hyhe almyhti pourveance, In whos eterne remembrance Fro ferst was every thing present, He hath his prophecie sent, In such a wise as thou schalt hiere, To Daniel of this matiere, 590 Hou that this world schal torne and wende, Till it be falle to his ende; Wherof the tale telle I schal, In which it is betokned al. As Nabugodonosor slepte, A swevene him tok, the which he kepte Til on the morwe he was arise, For he therof was sore agrise. To Daniel his drem he tolde, And preide him faire that he wolde 600 Arede what it tokne may; And seide: "Abedde wher I lay, Me thoghte I syh upon a Stage Wher stod a wonder strange ymage. His hed with al the necke also Thei were of fin gold bothe tuo; His brest, his schuldres and his armes Were al of selver, bot the tharmes, The wombe and al doun to the kne, Of bras thei were upon to se; 610 The legges were al mad of Stiel, So were his feet also somdiel, And somdiel part to hem was take Of Erthe which men Pottes make; The fieble meynd was with the stronge, So myhte it wel noght stonde longe. And tho me thoghte that I sih A gret ston from an hull on hyh Fel doun of sodein aventure Upon the feet of this figure, 620 With which Ston al tobroke was Gold, Selver, Erthe, Stiel and Bras, That al was in to pouldre broght, And so forth torned into noght." This was the swevene which he hadde, That Daniel anon aradde, And seide him that figure strange Betokneth how the world schal change And waxe lasse worth and lasse, Til it to noght al overpasse. 630 The necke and hed, that weren golde, He seide how that betokne scholde A worthi world, a noble, a riche, To which non after schal be liche. Of Selver that was overforth Schal ben a world of lasse worth; And after that the wombe of Bras Tokne of a werse world it was. The Stiel which he syh afterward A world betokneth more hard: 640 Bot yet the werste of everydel Is last, whan that of Erthe and Stiel He syh the feet departed so, For that betokneth mochel wo. Whan that the world divided is, It moste algate fare amis, For Erthe which is meynd with Stiel Togedre may noght laste wiel, Bot if that on that other waste; So mot it nedes faile in haste. 650 The Ston, which fro the hully Stage He syh doun falle on that ymage, And hath it into pouldre broke, That swevene hath Daniel unloke, And seide how that is goddes myht, Which whan men wene most upryht To stonde, schal hem overcaste. And that is of this world the laste, And thanne a newe schal beginne, Fro which a man schal nevere twinne; 660 Or al to peine or al to pes That world schal lasten endeles. Lo thus expondeth Daniel The kynges swevene faire and wel In Babiloyne the Cite, Wher that the wiseste of Caldee Ne cowthen wite what it mente; Bot he tolde al the hol entente, As in partie it is befalle. Of gold the ferste regne of alle 670 Was in that kinges time tho, And laste manye daies so, Therwhiles that the Monarchie Of al the world in that partie To Babiloyne was soubgit; And hield him stille in such a plit, Til that the world began diverse: And that was whan the king of Perse, Which Cirus hyhte, ayein the pes Forth with his Sone Cambises 680 Of Babiloine al that Empire, Ryht as thei wolde hemself desire, Put under in subjeccioun And tok it in possessioun, And slayn was Baltazar the king, Which loste his regne and al his thing. And thus whan thei it hadde wonne, The world of Selver was begonne And that of gold was passed oute: And in this wise it goth aboute 690 In to the Regne of Darius; And thanne it fell to Perse thus, That Alisaundre put hem under, Which wroghte of armes many a wonder, So that the Monarchie lefte With Grecs, and here astat uplefte, And Persiens gon under fote, So soffre thei that nedes mote. And tho the world began of Bras, And that of selver ended was; 700 Bot for the time thus it laste, Til it befell that ate laste This king, whan that his day was come, With strengthe of deth was overcome. And natheles yet er he dyde, He schop his Regnes to divide To knyhtes whiche him hadde served, And after that thei have deserved Yaf the conquestes that he wan; Wherof gret werre tho began 710 Among hem that the Regnes hadde, Thurgh proud Envie which hem ladde, Til it befell ayein hem thus: The noble Cesar Julius, Which tho was king of Rome lond, With gret bataille and with strong hond Al Grece, Perse and ek Caldee Wan and put under, so that he Noght al only of thorient Bot al the Marche of thoccident 720 Governeth under his empire, As he that was hol lord and Sire, And hield thurgh his chivalerie Of al this world the Monarchie, And was the ferste of that honour Which tok the name of Emperour. Wher Rome thanne wolde assaille, Ther myhte nothing contrevaille, Bot every contre moste obeie: Tho goth the Regne of Bras aweie, 730 And comen is the world of Stiel, And stod above upon the whiel. As Stiel is hardest in his kynde Above alle othre that men finde Of Metals, such was Rome tho The myhtieste, and laste so Long time amonges the Romeins Til thei become so vileins, That the fals Emperour Leo With Constantin his Sone also 740 The patrimoine and the richesse, Which to Silvestre in pure almesse The ferste Constantinus lefte, Fro holy cherche thei berefte. Bot Adrian, which Pope was, And syh the meschief of this cas, Goth in to France forto pleigne, And preith the grete Charlemeine, For Cristes sake and Soule hele That he wol take the querele 750 Of holy cherche in his defence. And Charles for the reverence Of god the cause hath undertake, And with his host the weie take Over the Montz of Lombardie; Of Rome and al the tirandie With blodi swerd he overcom, And the Cite with strengthe nom; In such a wise and there he wroghte, That holy cherche ayein he broghte 760 Into franchise, and doth restore The Popes lost, and yaf him more: And thus whan he his god hath served, He tok, as he wel hath deserved, The Diademe and was coroned. Of Rome and thus was abandoned Thempire, which cam nevere ayein Into the hond of no Romein; Bot a long time it stod so stille Under the Frensche kynges wille, 770 Til that fortune hir whiel so ladde, That afterward Lombardz it hadde, Noght be the swerd, bot be soffrance Of him that tho was kyng of France, Which Karle Calvus cleped was; And he resigneth in this cas Thempire of Rome unto Lowis His Cousin, which a Lombard is. And so hit laste into the yeer Of Albert and of Berenger; 780 Bot thanne upon dissencioun Thei felle, and in divisioun Among hemself that were grete, So that thei loste the beyete Of worschipe and of worldes pes. Bot in proverbe natheles Men sein, ful selden is that welthe Can soffre his oghne astat in helthe; And that was on the Lombardz sene, Such comun strif was hem betwene 790 Thurgh coveitise and thurgh Envie, That every man drowh his partie, Which myhte leden eny route, Withinne Burgh and ek withoute: The comun ryht hath no felawe, So that the governance of lawe Was lost, and for necessite, Of that thei stode in such degre Al only thurgh divisioun, Hem nedeth in conclusioun 800 Of strange londes help beside. And thus for thei hemself divide And stonden out of reule unevene, Of Alemaine Princes sevene Thei chose in this condicioun, That upon here eleccioun Thempire of Rome scholde stonde. And thus thei lefte it out of honde For lacke of grace, and it forsoke, That Alemans upon hem toke: 810 And to confermen here astat, Of that thei founden in debat Thei token the possessioun After the composicioun Among hemself, and therupon Thei made an Emperour anon, Whos name as the Cronique telleth Was Othes; and so forth it duelleth, Fro thilke day yit unto this Thempire of Rome hath ben and is 820 To thalemans. And in this wise, As ye tofore have herd divise How Daniel the swevene expondeth Of that ymage, on whom he foundeth The world which after scholde falle, Come is the laste tokne of alle; Upon the feet of Erthe and Stiel So stant this world now everydiel Departed; which began riht tho, Whan Rome was divided so: 830 And that is forto rewe sore, For alway siththe more and more The world empeireth every day. Wherof the sothe schewe may, At Rome ferst if we beginne: The wall and al the Cit withinne Stant in ruine and in decas, The feld is wher the Paleis was, The toun is wast; and overthat, If we beholde thilke astat 840 Which whilom was of the Romeins, Of knyhthode and of Citezeins, To peise now with that beforn, The chaf is take for the corn, As forto speke of Romes myht: Unethes stant ther oght upryht Of worschipe or of worldes good, As it before tyme stod. And why the worschipe is aweie, If that a man the sothe seie, 850 The cause hath ben divisioun, Which moder of confusioun Is wher sche cometh overal, Noght only of the temporal Bot of the spirital also. The dede proeveth it is so, And hath do many day er this, Thurgh venym which that medled is In holy cherche of erthly thing: For Crist himself makth knowleching 860 That noman may togedre serve God and the world, bot if he swerve Froward that on and stonde unstable; And Cristes word may noght be fable. The thing so open is at ije, It nedeth noght to specefie Or speke oght more in this matiere; Bot in this wise a man mai lere Hou that the world is gon aboute, The which welnyh is wered oute, 870 After the forme of that figure Which Daniel in his scripture Expondeth, as tofore is told. Of Bras, of Selver and of Gold The world is passed and agon, And now upon his olde ton It stant of brutel Erthe and Stiel, The whiche acorden nevere a diel; So mot it nedes swerve aside As thing the which men sen divide. 880 Thapostel writ unto ous alle And seith that upon ous is falle Thende of the world; so may we knowe, This ymage is nyh overthrowe, Be which this world was signified, That whilom was so magnefied, And now is old and fieble and vil, Full of meschief and of peril, And stant divided ek also Lich to the feet that were so, 890 As I tolde of the Statue above. And this men sen, thurgh lacke of love Where as the lond divided is, It mot algate fare amis: And now to loke on every side, A man may se the world divide, The werres ben so general Among the cristene overal, That every man now secheth wreche, And yet these clerkes alday preche 900 And sein, good dede may non be Which stant noght upon charite: I not hou charite may stonde, Wher dedly werre is take on honde. Bot al this wo is cause of man, The which that wit and reson can, And that in tokne and in witnesse That ilke ymage bar liknesse Of man and of non other beste. For ferst unto the mannes heste 910 Was every creature ordeined, Bot afterward it was restreigned: Whan that he fell, thei fellen eke, Whan he wax sek, thei woxen seke; For as the man hath passioun Of seknesse, in comparisoun So soffren othre creatures. Lo, ferst the hevenly figures, The Sonne and Mone eclipsen bothe, And ben with mannes senne wrothe; 920 The purest Eir for Senne alofte Hath ben and is corrupt fulofte, Right now the hyhe wyndes blowe, And anon after thei ben lowe, Now clowdy and now clier it is: So may it proeven wel be this, A mannes Senne is forto hate, Which makth the welkne to debate. And forto se the proprete Of every thyng in his degree, 930 Benethe forth among ous hiere Al stant aliche in this matiere: The See now ebbeth, now it floweth, The lond now welketh, now it groweth, Now be the Trees with leves grene, Now thei be bare and nothing sene, Now be the lusti somer floures, Now be the stormy wynter shoures, Now be the daies, now the nyhtes, So stant ther nothing al upryhtes, 940 Now it is lyht, now it is derk; And thus stant al the worldes werk After the disposicioun Of man and his condicioun. Forthi Gregoire in his Moral Seith that a man in special The lasse world is properly: And that he proeveth redely; For man of Soule resonable Is to an Angel resemblable, 950 And lich to beste he hath fielinge, And lich to Trees he hath growinge; The Stones ben and so is he: Thus of his propre qualite The man, as telleth the clergie, Is as a world in his partie, And whan this litel world mistorneth, The grete world al overtorneth. The Lond, the See, the firmament, Thei axen alle jugement 960 Ayein the man and make him werre: Therwhile himself stant out of herre, The remenant wol noght acorde: And in this wise, as I recorde, The man is cause of alle wo, Why this world is divided so. Division, the gospell seith, On hous upon another leith, Til that the Regne al overthrowe: And thus may every man wel knowe, 970 Division aboven alle Is thing which makth the world to falle, And evere hath do sith it began. It may ferst proeve upon a man; The which, for his complexioun Is mad upon divisioun Of cold, of hot, of moist, of drye, He mot be verray kynde dye: For the contraire of his astat Stant evermore in such debat, 980 Til that o part be overcome, Ther may no final pes be nome. Bot other wise, if a man were Mad al togedre of o matiere Withouten interrupcioun, Ther scholde no corrupcioun Engendre upon that unite: Bot for ther is diversite Withinne himself, he may noght laste, That he ne deieth ate laste. 990 Bot in a man yit over this Full gret divisioun ther is, Thurgh which that he is evere in strif, Whil that him lasteth eny lif: The bodi and the Soule also Among hem ben divided so, That what thing that the body hateth The soule loveth and debateth; Bot natheles fulofte is sene Of werre which is hem betwene 1000 The fieble hath wonne the victoire. And who so drawth into memoire What hath befalle of old and newe, He may that werre sore rewe, Which ferst began in Paradis: For ther was proeved what it is, And what desese there it wroghte; For thilke werre tho forth broghte The vice of alle dedly Sinne, Thurgh which division cam inne 1010 Among the men in erthe hiere, And was the cause and the matiere Why god the grete flodes sende, Of al the world and made an ende Bot Noe5 with his felaschipe, Which only weren saulf be Schipe. And over that thurgh Senne it com That Nembrot such emprise nom, Whan he the Tour Babel on heihte Let make, as he that wolde feihte 1020 Ayein the hihe goddes myht, Wherof divided anon ryht Was the langage in such entente, Ther wiste non what other mente, So that thei myhten noght procede. And thus it stant of every dede, Wher Senne takth the cause on honde, It may upriht noght longe stonde; For Senne of his condicioun Is moder of divisioun 1030 And tokne whan the world schal faile. For so seith Crist withoute faile, That nyh upon the worldes ende Pes and acord awey schol wende And alle charite schal cesse, Among the men and hate encresce; And whan these toknes ben befalle, Al sodeinly the Ston schal falle, As Daniel it hath beknowe, Which al this world schal overthrowe, 1040 And every man schal thanne arise To Joie or elles to Juise, Wher that he schal for evere dwelle, Or straght to hevene or straght to helle. In hevene is pes and al acord, Bot helle is full of such descord That ther may be no loveday: Forthi good is, whil a man may, Echon to sette pes with other And loven as his oghne brother; 1050 So may he winne worldes welthe And afterward his soule helthe. Bot wolde god that now were on An other such as Arion, Which hadde an harpe of such temprure, And therto of so good mesure He song, that he the bestes wilde Made of his note tame and milde, The Hinde in pes with the Leoun, The Wolf in pes with the Moltoun, 1060 The Hare in pees stod with the Hound; And every man upon this ground Which Arion that time herde, Als wel the lord as the schepherde, He broghte hem alle in good acord; So that the comun with the lord, And lord with the comun also, He sette in love bothe tuo And putte awey malencolie. That was a lusti melodie, 1070 Whan every man with other low; And if ther were such on now, Which cowthe harpe as he tho dede, He myhte availe in many a stede To make pes wher now is hate; For whan men thenken to debate, I not what other thing is good. Bot wher that wisdom waxeth wod, And reson torneth into rage, So that mesure upon oultrage 1080 Hath set his world, it is to drede; For that bringth in the comun drede, Which stant at every mannes Dore: Bot whan the scharpnesse of the spore The horse side smit to sore, It grieveth ofte. And now nomore, As forto speke of this matiere, Which non bot only god may stiere.

Explicit Prologus



Incipit Liber Primus

Naturatus amor nature legibus orbem Subdit, et vnanimes concitat esse feras: Huius enim mundi Princeps amor esse videtur, Cuius eget diues, pauper et omnis ope. Sunt in agone pares amor et fortuna, que cecas Plebis ad insidias vertit vterque rotas. Est amor egra salus, vexata quies, pius error, Bellica pax, vulnus dulce, suaue malum.



I may noght strecche up to the hevene Min hand, ne setten al in evene This world, which evere is in balance: It stant noght in my sufficance So grete thinges to compasse, Bot I mot lete it overpasse And treten upon othre thinges. Forthi the Stile of my writinges Fro this day forth I thenke change And speke of thing is noght so strange, 10 Which every kinde hath upon honde, And wherupon the world mot stonde, And hath don sithen it began, And schal whil ther is any man; And that is love, of which I mene To trete, as after schal be sene. In which ther can noman him reule, For loves lawe is out of reule, That of tomoche or of tolite Welnyh is every man to wyte, 20 And natheles ther is noman In al this world so wys, that can Of love tempre the mesure, Bot as it falth in aventure: For wit ne strengthe may noght helpe, And he which elles wolde him yelpe Is rathest throwen under fote, Ther can no wiht therof do bote. For yet was nevere such covine, That couthe ordeine a medicine 30 To thing which god in lawe of kinde Hath set, for ther may noman finde The rihte salve of such a Sor. It hath and schal ben everemor That love is maister wher he wile, Ther can no lif make other skile; For wher as evere him lest to sette, Ther is no myht which him may lette. Bot what schal fallen ate laste, The sothe can no wisdom caste, 40 Bot as it falleth upon chance; For if ther evere was balance Which of fortune stant governed, I may wel lieve as I am lerned That love hath that balance on honde, Which wol no reson understonde. For love is blind and may noght se, Forthi may no certeinete Be set upon his jugement, Bot as the whiel aboute went 50 He yifth his graces undeserved, And fro that man which hath him served Fulofte he takth aweye his fees, As he that pleieth ate Dees, And therupon what schal befalle He not, til that the chance falle, Wher he schal lese or he schal winne. And thus fulofte men beginne, That if thei wisten what it mente, Thei wolde change al here entente. 60 And forto proven it is so, I am miselven on of tho, Which to this Scole am underfonge. For it is siththe go noght longe, As forto speke of this matiere, I may you telle, if ye woll hiere, A wonder hap which me befell, That was to me bothe hard and fell, Touchende of love and his fortune, The which me liketh to comune 70 And pleinly forto telle it oute. To hem that ben lovers aboute Fro point to point I wol declare And wryten of my woful care, Mi wofull day, my wofull chance, That men mowe take remembrance Of that thei schall hierafter rede: For in good feith this wolde I rede, That every man ensample take Of wisdom which him is betake, 80 And that he wot of good aprise To teche it forth, for such emprise Is forto preise; and therfore I Woll wryte and schewe al openly How love and I togedre mette, Wherof the world ensample fette Mai after this, whan I am go, Of thilke unsely jolif wo, Whos reule stant out of the weie, Nou glad and nou gladnesse aweie, 90 And yet it may noght be withstonde For oght that men may understonde. Upon the point that is befalle Of love, in which that I am falle, I thenke telle my matiere: Now herkne, who that wol it hiere, Of my fortune how that it ferde. This enderday, as I forthferde To walke, as I yow telle may,- And that was in the Monthe of Maii, 100 Whan every brid hath chose his make And thenkth his merthes forto make Of love that he hath achieved; Bot so was I nothing relieved, For I was further fro my love Than Erthe is fro the hevene above, As forto speke of eny sped: So wiste I me non other red, Bot as it were a man forfare Unto the wode I gan to fare, 110 Noght forto singe with the briddes, For whanne I was the wode amiddes, I fond a swote grene pleine, And ther I gan my wo compleigne Wisshinge and wepinge al myn one, For other merthes made I none. So hard me was that ilke throwe, That ofte sithes overthrowe To grounde I was withoute breth; And evere I wisshide after deth, 120 Whanne I out of my peine awok, And caste up many a pitous lok Unto the hevene, and seide thus: "O thou Cupide, O thou Venus, Thou god of love and thou goddesse, Wher is pite? wher is meknesse? Now doth me pleinly live or dye, For certes such a maladie As I now have and longe have hadd, It myhte make a wisman madd, 130 If that it scholde longe endure. O Venus, queene of loves cure, Thou lif, thou lust, thou mannes hele, Behold my cause and my querele, And yif me som part of thi grace, So that I may finde in this place If thou be gracious or non." And with that word I sawh anon The kyng of love and qweene bothe; Bot he that kyng with yhen wrothe 140 His chiere aweiward fro me caste, And forth he passede ate laste. Bot natheles er he forth wente A firy Dart me thoghte he hente And threw it thurgh myn herte rote: In him fond I non other bote, For lenger list him noght to duelle. Bot sche that is the Source and Welle Of wel or wo, that schal betide To hem that loven, at that tide 150 Abod, bot forto tellen hiere Sche cast on me no goodly chiere: Thus natheles to me sche seide, "What art thou, Sone?" and I abreide Riht as a man doth out of slep, And therof tok sche riht good kep And bad me nothing ben adrad: Bot for al that I was noght glad, For I ne sawh no cause why. And eft scheo asketh, what was I: 160 I seide, "A Caitif that lith hiere: What wolde ye, my Ladi diere? Schal I ben hol or elles dye?" Sche seide, "Tell thi maladie: What is thi Sor of which thou pleignest? Ne hyd it noght, for if thou feignest, I can do the no medicine." "Ma dame, I am a man of thyne, That in thi Court have longe served, And aske that I have deserved, 170 Some wele after my longe wo." And sche began to loure tho, And seide, "Ther is manye of yow Faitours, and so may be that thow Art riht such on, and be feintise Seist that thou hast me do servise." And natheles sche wiste wel, Mi world stod on an other whiel Withouten eny faiterie: Bot algate of my maladie 180 Sche bad me telle and seie hir trowthe. "Ma dame, if ye wolde have rowthe," Quod I, "than wolde I telle yow." "Sey forth," quod sche, "and tell me how; Schew me thi seknesse everydiel." "Ma dame, that can I do wel, Be so my lif therto wol laste." With that hir lok on me sche caste, And seide: "In aunter if thou live, Mi will is ferst that thou be schrive; 190 And natheles how that it is I wot miself, bot for al this Unto my prest, which comth anon, I woll thou telle it on and on, Bothe all thi thoght and al thi werk. O Genius myn oghne Clerk, Com forth and hier this mannes schrifte," Quod Venus tho; and I uplifte Min hefd with that, and gan beholde The selve Prest, which as sche wolde 200 Was redy there and sette him doun To hiere my confessioun. This worthi Prest, this holy man To me spekende thus began, And seide: "Benedicite, Mi Sone, of the felicite Of love and ek of all the wo Thou schalt thee schrive of bothe tuo. What thou er this for loves sake Hast felt, let nothing be forsake, 210 Tell pleinliche as it is befalle." And with that word I gan doun falle On knees, and with devocioun And with full gret contricioun I seide thanne: "Dominus, Min holi fader Genius, So as thou hast experience Of love, for whos reverence Thou schalt me schriven at this time, I prai the let me noght mistime 220 Mi schrifte, for I am destourbed In al myn herte, and so contourbed, That I ne may my wittes gete, So schal I moche thing foryete: Bot if thou wolt my schrifte oppose Fro point to point, thanne I suppose, Ther schal nothing be left behinde. Bot now my wittes ben so blinde, That I ne can miselven teche." Tho he began anon to preche, 230 And with his wordes debonaire He seide tome softe and faire: "Thi schrifte to oppose and hiere, My Sone, I am assigned hiere Be Venus the godesse above, Whos Prest I am touchende of love. Bot natheles for certein skile I mot algate and nedes wile Noght only make my spekynges Of love, bot of othre thinges, 240 That touchen to the cause of vice. For that belongeth to thoffice Of Prest, whos ordre that I bere, So that I wol nothing forbere, That I the vices on and on Ne schal thee schewen everychon; Wherof thou myht take evidence To reule with thi conscience. Bot of conclusion final Conclude I wol in special 250 For love, whos servant I am, And why the cause is that I cam. So thenke I to don bothe tuo, Ferst that myn ordre longeth to, The vices forto telle arewe, Bot next above alle othre schewe Of love I wol the propretes, How that thei stonde be degrees After the disposicioun Of Venus, whos condicioun 260 I moste folwe, as I am holde. For I with love am al withholde, So that the lasse I am to wyte, Thogh I ne conne bot a lyte Of othre thinges that ben wise: I am noght tawht in such a wise; For it is noght my comun us To speke of vices and vertus, Bot al of love and of his lore, For Venus bokes of nomore 270 Me techen nowther text ne glose. Bot for als moche as I suppose It sit a prest to be wel thewed, And schame it is if he be lewed, Of my Presthode after the forme I wol thi schrifte so enforme, That ate leste thou schalt hiere The vices, and to thi matiere Of love I schal hem so remene, That thou schalt knowe what thei mene. 280 For what a man schal axe or sein Touchende of schrifte, it mot be plein, It nedeth noght to make it queinte, For trowthe hise wordes wol noght peinte: That I wole axe of the forthi, My Sone, it schal be so pleinly, That thou schalt knowe and understonde The pointz of schrifte how that thei stonde." Betwen the lif and deth I herde This Prestes tale er I answerde, 290 And thanne I preide him forto seie His will, and I it wolde obeie After the forme of his apprise. Tho spak he tome in such a wise, And bad me that I scholde schrive As touchende of my wittes fyve, And schape that thei were amended Of that I hadde hem misdispended. For tho be proprely the gates, Thurgh whiche as to the herte algates 300 Comth alle thing unto the feire, Which may the mannes Soule empeire. And now this matiere is broght inne, Mi Sone, I thenke ferst beginne To wite how that thin yhe hath stonde, The which is, as I understonde, The moste principal of alle, Thurgh whom that peril mai befalle. And forto speke in loves kinde, Ful manye suche a man mai finde, 310 Whiche evere caste aboute here yhe, To loke if that thei myhte aspie Fulofte thing which hem ne toucheth, Bot only that here herte soucheth In hindringe of an other wiht; And thus ful many a worthi knyht And many a lusti lady bothe Have be fulofte sythe wrothe. So that an yhe is as a thief To love, and doth ful gret meschief; 320 And also for his oghne part Fulofte thilke firy Dart Of love, which that evere brenneth, Thurgh him into the herte renneth: And thus a mannes yhe ferst Himselve grieveth alther werst, And many a time that he knoweth Unto his oghne harm it groweth. Mi Sone, herkne now forthi A tale, to be war therby 330 Thin yhe forto kepe and warde, So that it passe noght his warde. Ovide telleth in his bok Ensample touchende of mislok, And seith hou whilom ther was on, A worthi lord, which Acteon Was hote, and he was cousin nyh To him that Thebes ferst on hyh Up sette, which king Cadme hyhte. This Acteon, as he wel myhte, 340 Above alle othre caste his chiere, And used it fro yer to yere, With Houndes and with grete Hornes Among the wodes and the thornes To make his hunting and his chace: Where him best thoghte in every place To finde gamen in his weie, Ther rod he forto hunte and pleie. So him befell upon a tide On his hunting as he cam ride, 350 In a Forest al one he was: He syh upon the grene gras The faire freisshe floures springe, He herde among the leves singe The Throstle with the nyhtingale: Thus er he wiste into a Dale He cam, wher was a litel plein, All round aboute wel besein With buisshes grene and Cedres hyhe; And ther withinne he caste his yhe. 360 Amidd the plein he syh a welle, So fair ther myhte noman telle, In which Diana naked stod To bathe and pleie hire in the flod With many a Nimphe, which hire serveth. Bot he his yhe awey ne swerveth Fro hire, which was naked al, And sche was wonder wroth withal, And him, as sche which was godesse, Forschop anon, and the liknesse 370 Sche made him taken of an Hert, Which was tofore hise houndes stert, That ronne besiliche aboute With many an horn and many a route, That maden mochel noise and cry: And ate laste unhappely This Hert his oghne houndes slowhe And him for vengance al todrowhe. Lo now, my Sone, what it is A man to caste his yhe amis, 380 Which Acteon hath dere aboght; Be war forthi and do it noght. For ofte, who that hiede toke, Betre is to winke than to loke. And forto proven it is so, Ovide the Poete also A tale which to this matiere Acordeth seith, as thou schalt hiere. In Metamor it telleth thus, How that a lord which Phorces 390 Was hote, hadde dowhtres thre. Bot upon here nativite Such was the constellacion, That out of mannes nacion Fro kynde thei be so miswent, That to the liknesse of Serpent Thei were bore, and so that on Of hem was cleped Stellibon, That other soster Suriale, The thridde, as telleth in the tale, 400 Medusa hihte, and natheles Of comun name Gorgones In every contre ther aboute, As Monstres whiche that men doute, Men clepen hem; and bot on yhe Among hem thre in pourpartie Thei hadde, of which thei myhte se, Now hath it this, now hath it sche; After that cause and nede it ladde, Be throwes ech of hem it hadde. 410 A wonder thing yet more amis Ther was, wherof I telle al this: What man on hem his chiere caste And hem behield, he was als faste Out of a man into a Ston Forschape, and thus ful manyon Deceived were, of that thei wolde Misloke, wher that thei ne scholde. Bot Perses that worthi knyht, Whom Pallas of hir grete myht 420 Halp, and tok him a Schield therto, And ek the god Mercurie also Lente him a swerd, he, as it fell, Beyende Athlans the hihe hell These Monstres soghte, and there he fond Diverse men of thilke lond Thurgh sihte of hem mistorned were, Stondende as Stones hiere and there. Bot he, which wisdom and prouesse Hadde of the god and the godesse, 430 The Schield of Pallas gan enbrace, With which he covereth sauf his face, Mercuries Swerd and out he drowh, And so he bar him that he slowh These dredful Monstres alle thre. Lo now, my Sone, avise the, That thou thi sihte noght misuse: Cast noght thin yhe upon Meduse, That thou be torned into Ston: For so wys man was nevere non, 440 Bot if he wel his yhe kepe And take of fol delit no kepe, That he with lust nys ofte nome, Thurgh strengthe of love and overcome. Of mislokynge how it hath ferd, As I have told, now hast thou herd, My goode Sone, and tak good hiede. And overthis yet I thee rede That thou be war of thin heringe, Which to the Herte the tidinge 450 Of many a vanite hath broght, To tarie with a mannes thoght. And natheles good is to hiere Such thing wherof a man may lere That to vertu is acordant, And toward al the remenant Good is to torne his Ere fro; For elles, bot a man do so, Him may fulofte mysbefalle. I rede ensample amonges alle, 460 Wherof to kepe wel an Ere It oghte pute a man in fere. A Serpent, which that Aspidis Is cleped, of his kynde hath this, That he the Ston noblest of alle, The which that men Carbuncle calle, Berth in his hed above on heihte. For which whan that a man be sleyhte, The Ston to winne and him to daunte, With his carecte him wolde enchaunte, 470 Anon as he perceiveth that, He leith doun his on Ere al plat Unto the ground, and halt it faste, And ek that other Ere als faste He stoppeth with his tail so sore, That he the wordes lasse or more Of his enchantement ne hiereth; And in this wise himself he skiereth, So that he hath the wordes weyved And thurgh his Ere is noght deceived. 480 An othre thing, who that recordeth, Lich unto this ensample acordeth, Which in the tale of Troie I finde. Sirenes of a wonder kynde Ben Monstres, as the bokes tellen, And in the grete Se thei duellen: Of body bothe and of visage Lik unto wommen of yong age Up fro the Navele on hih thei be, And doun benethe, as men mai se, 490 Thei bere of fisshes the figure. And overthis of such nature Thei ben, that with so swete a stevene Lik to the melodie of hevene In wommanysshe vois thei singe, With notes of so gret likinge, Of such mesure, of such musike, Wherof the Schipes thei beswike That passen be the costes there. For whan the Schipmen leie an Ere 500 Unto the vois, in here avys Thei wene it be a Paradys, Which after is to hem an helle. For reson may noght with hem duelle, Whan thei tho grete lustes hiere; Thei conne noght here Schipes stiere, So besiliche upon the note Thei herkne, and in such wise assote, That thei here rihte cours and weie Foryete, and to here Ere obeie, 510 And seilen til it so befalle That thei into the peril falle, Where as the Schipes be todrawe, And thei ben with the Monstres slawe. Bot fro this peril natheles With his wisdom king Uluxes Ascapeth and it overpasseth; For he tofor the hond compasseth That noman of his compaignie Hath pouer unto that folie 520 His Ere for no lust to caste; For he hem stoppede alle faste, That non of hem mai hiere hem singe. So whan they comen forth seilinge, Ther was such governance on honde, That thei the Monstres have withstonde And slain of hem a gret partie. Thus was he sauf with his navie, This wise king, thurgh governance. Wherof, my Sone, in remembrance 530 Thou myht ensample taken hiere, As I have told, and what thou hiere Be wel war, and yif no credence, Bot if thou se more evidence. For if thou woldest take kepe And wisly cowthest warde and kepe Thin yhe and Ere, as I have spoke, Than haddest thou the gates stoke Fro such Sotie as comth to winne Thin hertes wit, which is withinne, 540 Wherof that now thi love excedeth Mesure, and many a peine bredeth. Bot if thou cowthest sette in reule Tho tuo, the thre were eth to reule: Forthi as of thi wittes five I wole as now nomore schryve, Bot only of these ilke tuo. Tell me therfore if it be so, Hast thou thin yhen oght misthrowe? Mi fader, ye, I am beknowe, 550 I have hem cast upon Meduse, Therof I may me noght excuse: Min herte is growen into Ston, So that my lady therupon Hath such a priente of love grave, That I can noght miselve save. What seist thou, Sone, as of thin Ere? Mi fader, I am gultyf there; For whanne I may my lady hiere, Mi wit with that hath lost his Stiere: 560 I do noght as Uluxes dede, Bot falle anon upon the stede, Wher as I se my lady stonde; And there, I do yow understonde, I am topulled in my thoght, So that of reson leveth noght, Wherof that I me mai defende. My goode Sone, god thamende: For as me thenketh be thi speche Thi wittes ben riht feer to seche. 570 As of thin Ere and of thin yhe I woll nomore specefie, Bot I woll axen overthis Of othre thing how that it is. Mi Sone, as I thee schal enforme, Ther ben yet of an other forme Of dedly vices sevene applied, Wherof the herte is ofte plied To thing which after schal him grieve. The ferste of hem thou schalt believe 580 Is Pride, which is principal, And hath with him in special Ministres five ful diverse, Of whiche, as I the schal reherse, The ferste is seid Ypocrisie. If thou art of his compaignie, Tell forth, my Sone, and schrif the clene. I wot noght, fader, what ye mene: Bot this I wolde you beseche, That ye me be som weie teche 590 What is to ben an ypocrite; And thanne if I be forto wyte, I wol beknowen, as it is. Mi Sone, an ypocrite is this,- A man which feigneth conscience, As thogh it were al innocence, Withoute, and is noght so withinne; And doth so for he wolde winne Of his desir the vein astat. And whanne he comth anon therat, 600 He scheweth thanne what he was, The corn is torned into gras, That was a Rose is thanne a thorn, And he that was a Lomb beforn Is thanne a Wolf, and thus malice Under the colour of justice Is hid; and as the poeple telleth, These ordres witen where he duelleth, As he that of here conseil is, And thilke world which thei er this 610 Forsoken, he drawth in ayein: He clotheth richesse, as men sein, Under the simplesce of poverte, And doth to seme of gret decerte Thing which is litel worth withinne: He seith in open, fy! to Sinne, And in secre ther is no vice Of which that he nis a Norrice: And evere his chiere is sobre and softe, And where he goth he blesseth ofte, 620 Wherof the blinde world he dreccheth. Bot yet al only he ne streccheth His reule upon religioun, Bot next to that condicioun In suche as clepe hem holy cherche It scheweth ek how he can werche Among tho wyde furred hodes, To geten hem the worldes goodes. And thei hemself ben thilke same That setten most the world in blame, 630 Bot yet in contraire of her lore Ther is nothing thei loven more; So that semende of liht thei werke The dedes whiche are inward derke. And thus this double Ypocrisie With his devolte apparantie A viser set upon his face, Wherof toward this worldes grace He semeth to be riht wel thewed, And yit his herte is al beschrewed. 640 Bot natheles he stant believed, And hath his pourpos ofte achieved Of worschipe and of worldes welthe, And takth it, as who seith, be stelthe Thurgh coverture of his fallas. And riht so in semblable cas This vice hath ek his officers Among these othre seculers Of grete men, for of the smale As for tacompte he set no tale, 650 Bot thei that passen the comune With suche him liketh to comune, And where he seith he wol socoure The poeple, there he woll devoure; For now aday is manyon Which spekth of Peter and of John And thenketh Judas in his herte. Ther schal no worldes good asterte His hond, and yit he yifth almesse And fasteth ofte and hiereth Messe: 660 With mea culpa, which he seith, Upon his brest fullofte he leith His hond, and cast upward his yhe, As thogh he Cristes face syhe; So that it seemeth ate syhte, As he al one alle othre myhte Rescoue with his holy bede. Bot yet his herte in other stede Among hise bedes most devoute Goth in the worldes cause aboute, 670 How that he myhte his warisoun Encresce. And in comparisoun Ther ben lovers of such a sort, That feignen hem an humble port, And al is bot Ypocrisie, Which with deceipte and flaterie Hath many a worthi wif beguiled. For whanne he hath his tunge affiled, With softe speche and with lesinge, Forth with his fals pitous lokynge, 680 He wolde make a womman wene To gon upon the faire grene, Whan that sche falleth in the Mir. For if he may have his desir, How so falle of the remenant, He halt no word of covenant; Bot er the time that he spede, Ther is no sleihte at thilke nede, Which eny loves faitour mai, That he ne put it in assai, 690 As him belongeth forto done. The colour of the reyni Mone With medicine upon his face He set, and thanne he axeth grace, As he which hath sieknesse feigned. Whan his visage is so desteigned, With yhe upcast on hire he siketh, And many a contenance he piketh, To bringen hire in to believe Of thing which that he wolde achieve, 700 Wherof he berth the pale hewe; And for he wolde seme trewe, He makth him siek, whan he is heil. Bot whanne he berth lowest the Seil, Thanne is he swiftest to beguile The womman, which that ilke while Set upon him feith or credence. Mi Sone, if thou thi conscience Entamed hast in such a wise, In schrifte thou thee myht avise 710 And telle it me, if it be so. Min holy fader, certes no. As forto feigne such sieknesse It nedeth noght, for this witnesse I take of god, that my corage Hath ben mor siek than my visage. And ek this mai I wel avowe, So lowe cowthe I nevere bowe To feigne humilite withoute, That me ne leste betre loute 720 With alle the thoghtes of myn herte; For that thing schal me nevere asterte, I speke as to my lady diere, To make hire eny feigned chiere. God wot wel there I lye noght, Mi chiere hath be such as my thoght; For in good feith, this lieveth wel, Mi will was betre a thousendel Than eny chiere that I cowthe. Bot, Sire, if I have in my yowthe 730 Don other wise in other place, I put me therof in your grace: For this excusen I ne schal, That I have elles overal To love and to his compaignie Be plein withoute Ypocrisie; Bot ther is on the which I serve, Althogh I may no thonk deserve, To whom yet nevere into this day I seide onlyche or ye or nay, 740 Bot if it so were in my thoght. As touchende othre seie I noght That I nam somdel forto wyte Of that ye clepe an ypocrite. Mi Sone, it sit wel every wiht To kepe his word in trowthe upryht Towardes love in alle wise. For who that wolde him wel avise What hath befalle in this matiere, He scholde noght with feigned chiere 750 Deceive Love in no degre. To love is every herte fre, Bot in deceipte if that thou feignest And therupon thi lust atteignest, That thow hast wonne with thi wyle, Thogh it thee like for a whyle, Thou schalt it afterward repente. And forto prove myn entente, I finde ensample in a Croniqe Of hem that love so beswike. 760 It fell be olde daies thus, Whil themperour Tiberius The Monarchie of Rome ladde, Ther was a worthi Romein hadde A wif, and sche Pauline hihte, Which was to every mannes sihte Of al the Cite the faireste, And as men seiden, ek the beste. It is and hath ben evere yit, That so strong is no mannes wit, 770 Which thurgh beaute ne mai be drawe To love, and stonde under the lawe Of thilke bore frele kinde, Which makth the hertes yhen blinde, Wher no reson mai be comuned: And in this wise stod fortuned This tale, of which I wolde mene; This wif, which in hire lustes grene Was fair and freissh and tendre of age, Sche may noght lette the corage 780 Of him that wole on hire assote. Ther was a Duck, and he was hote Mundus, which hadde in his baillie To lede the chivalerie Of Rome, and was a worthi knyht; Bot yet he was noght of such myht The strengthe of love to withstonde, That he ne was so broght to honde, That malgre wher he wole or no, This yonge wif he loveth so, 790 That he hath put al his assay To wynne thing which he ne may Gete of hire graunt in no manere, Be yifte of gold ne be preiere. And whanne he syh that be no mede Toward hir love he myhte spede, Be sleyhte feigned thanne he wroghte; And therupon he him bethoghte How that ther was in the Cite A temple of such auctorite, 800 To which with gret Devocioun The noble wommen of the toun Most comunliche a pelrinage Gon forto preie thilke ymage Which the godesse of childinge is, And cleped was be name Ysis: And in hire temple thanne were, To reule and to ministre there After the lawe which was tho, Above alle othre Prestes tuo. 810 This Duck, which thoghte his love gete, Upon a day hem tuo to mete Hath bede, and thei come at his heste; Wher that thei hadde a riche feste, And after mete in prive place This lord, which wolde his thonk pourchace, To ech of hem yaf thanne a yifte, And spak so that be weie of schrifte He drowh hem unto his covine, To helpe and schape how he Pauline 820 After his lust deceive myhte. And thei here trowthes bothe plyhte, That thei be nyhte hire scholden wynne Into the temple, and he therinne Schal have of hire al his entente: And thus acorded forth thei wente. Now lest thurgh which ypocrisie Ordeigned was the tricherie, Wherof this ladi was deceived. These Prestes hadden wel conceived 830 That sche was of gret holinesse; And with a contrefet simplesse, Which hid was in a fals corage, Feignende an hevenely message Thei come and seide unto hir thus: "Pauline, the god Anubus Hath sent ous bothe Prestes hiere, And seith he woll to thee appiere Be nyhtes time himself alone, For love he hath to thi persone: 840 And therupon he hath ous bede, That we in Ysis temple a stede Honestely for thee pourveie, Wher thou be nyhte, as we thee seie, Of him schalt take avisioun. For upon thi condicioun, The which is chaste and ful of feith, Such pris, as he ous tolde, he leith, That he wol stonde of thin acord; And forto bere hierof record 850 He sende ous hider bothe tuo." Glad was hire innocence tho Of suche wordes as sche herde, With humble chiere and thus answerde, And seide that the goddes wille Sche was al redy to fulfille, That be hire housebondes leve Sche wolde in Ysis temple at eve Upon hire goddes grace abide, To serven him the nyhtes tide. 860 The Prestes tho gon hom ayein, And sche goth to hire sovereign, Of goddes wille and as it was Sche tolde him al the pleine cas, Wherof he was deceived eke, And bad that sche hire scholde meke Al hol unto the goddes heste. And thus sche, which was al honeste To godward after hire entente, At nyht unto the temple wente, 870 Wher that the false Prestes were; And thei receiven hire there With such a tokne of holinesse, As thogh thei syhen a godesse, And al withinne in prive place A softe bedd of large space Thei hadde mad and encourtined, Wher sche was afterward engined. Bot sche, which al honour supposeth, The false Prestes thanne opposeth, 880 And axeth be what observance Sche myhte most to the plesance Of godd that nyhtes reule kepe: And thei hire bidden forto slepe Liggende upon the bedd alofte, For so, thei seide, al stille and softe God Anubus hire wolde awake. The conseil in this wise take, The Prestes fro this lady gon; And sche, that wiste of guile non, 890 In the manere as it was seid To slepe upon the bedd is leid, In hope that sche scholde achieve Thing which stod thanne upon bilieve, Fulfild of alle holinesse. Bot sche hath failed, as I gesse, For in a closet faste by The Duck was hid so prively That sche him myhte noght perceive; And he, that thoghte to deceive, 900 Hath such arrai upon him nome, That whanne he wolde unto hir come, It scholde semen at hire yhe As thogh sche verrailiche syhe God Anubus, and in such wise This ypocrite of his queintise Awaiteth evere til sche slepte. And thanne out of his place he crepte So stille that sche nothing herde, And to the bedd stalkende he ferde, 910 And sodeinly, er sche it wiste, Beclipt in armes he hire kiste: Wherof in wommanysshe drede Sche wok and nyste what to rede; Bot he with softe wordes milde Conforteth hire and seith, with childe He wolde hire make in such a kynde That al the world schal have in mynde The worschipe of that ilke Sone; For he schal with the goddes wone, 920 And ben himself a godd also. With suche wordes and with mo, The whiche he feigneth in his speche, This lady wit was al to seche, As sche which alle trowthe weneth: Bot he, that alle untrowthe meneth, With blinde tales so hire ladde, That all his wille of hire he hadde. And whan him thoghte it was ynowh, Ayein the day he him withdrowh 930 So prively that sche ne wiste Wher he becom, bot as him liste Out of the temple he goth his weie. And sche began to bidde and preie Upon the bare ground knelende, And after that made hire offrende, And to the Prestes yiftes grete Sche yaf, and homward be the Strete. The Duck hire mette and seide thus: "The myhti godd which Anubus 940 Is hote, he save the, Pauline, For thou art of his discipline So holy, that no mannes myht Mai do that he hath do to nyht Of thing which thou hast evere eschuied. Bot I his grace have so poursuied, That I was mad his lieutenant: Forthi be weie of covenant Fro this day forth I am al thin, And if thee like to be myn, 950 That stant upon thin oghne wille." Sche herde his tale and bar it stille, And hom sche wente, as it befell, Into hir chambre, and ther sche fell Upon hire bedd to wepe and crie, And seide: "O derke ypocrisie, Thurgh whos dissimilacion Of fals ymaginacion I am thus wickedly deceived! Bot that I have it aperceived 960 I thonke unto the goddes alle; For thogh it ones be befalle, It schal nevere eft whil that I live, And thilke avou to godd I yive." And thus wepende sche compleigneth, Hire faire face and al desteigneth With wofull teres of hire ije, So that upon this agonie Hire housebonde is inne come, And syh how sche was overcome 970 With sorwe, and axeth what hire eileth. And sche with that hirself beweileth Welmore than sche dede afore, And seide, "Helas, wifhode is lore In me, which whilom was honeste, I am non other than a beste, Now I defouled am of tuo." And as sche myhte speke tho, Aschamed with a pitous onde Sche tolde unto hir housebonde 980 The sothe of al the hole tale, And in hire speche ded and pale Sche swouneth welnyh to the laste. And he hire in hise armes faste Uphield, and ofte swor his oth That he with hire is nothing wroth, For wel he wot sche may ther noght: Bot natheles withinne his thoght His herte stod in sori plit, And seide he wolde of that despit 990 Be venged, how so evere it falle, And sende unto hise frendes alle. And whan thei weren come in fere, He tolde hem upon this matiere, And axeth hem what was to done: And thei avised were sone, And seide it thoghte hem for the beste To sette ferst his wif in reste, And after pleigne to the king Upon the matiere of this thing. 1000 Tho was this wofull wif conforted Be alle weies and desported, Til that sche was somdiel amended; And thus a day or tuo despended, The thridde day sche goth to pleigne With many a worthi Citezeine, And he with many a Citezein. Whan themperour it herde sein, And knew the falshed of the vice, He seide he wolde do justice: 1010 And ferst he let the Prestes take, And for thei scholde it noght forsake, He put hem into questioun; Bot thei of the suggestioun Ne couthen noght a word refuse, Bot for thei wolde hemself excuse, The blame upon the Duck thei leide. Bot therayein the conseil seide That thei be noght excused so, For he is on and thei ben tuo, 1020 And tuo han more wit then on, So thilke excusement was non. And over that was seid hem eke, That whan men wolden vertu seke, Men scholde it in the Prestes finde; Here ordre is of so hyh a kinde, That thei be Duistres of the weie: Forthi, if eny man forsueie Thurgh hem, thei be noght excusable. And thus be lawe resonable 1030 Among the wise jugges there The Prestes bothe dampned were, So that the prive tricherie Hid under fals Ipocrisie Was thanne al openliche schewed, That many a man hem hath beschrewed. And whan the Prestes weren dede, The temple of thilke horrible dede Thei thoghten purge, and thilke ymage, Whos cause was the pelrinage, 1040 Thei drowen out and als so faste Fer into Tibre thei it caste, Wher the Rivere it hath defied: And thus the temple purified Thei have of thilke horrible Sinne, Which was that time do therinne. Of this point such was the juise, Bot of the Duck was other wise: For he with love was bestad, His dom was noght so harde lad; 1050 For Love put reson aweie And can noght se the rihte weie. And be this cause he was respited, So that the deth him was acquited, Bot for al that he was exiled, For he his love hath so beguiled, That he schal nevere come ayein: For who that is to trowthe unplein, He may noght failen of vengance. And ek to take remembrance 1060 Of that Ypocrisie hath wroght On other half, men scholde noght To lihtly lieve al that thei hiere, Bot thanne scholde a wisman stiere The Schip, whan suche wyndes blowe: For ferst thogh thei beginne lowe, At ende thei be noght menable, Bot al tobreken Mast and Cable, So that the Schip with sodein blast, Whan men lest wene, is overcast; 1070 As now fulofte a man mai se: And of old time how it hath be I finde a gret experience, Wherof to take an evidence Good is, and to be war also Of the peril, er him be wo. Of hem that ben so derk withinne, At Troie also if we beginne, Ipocrisie it hath betraied: For whan the Greks hadde al assaied, 1080 And founde that be no bataille Ne be no Siege it myhte availe The toun to winne thurgh prouesse, This vice feigned of simplesce Thurgh sleyhte of Calcas and of Crise It wan be such a maner wise. An Hors of Bras thei let do forge Of such entaile, of such a forge, That in this world was nevere man That such an other werk began. 1090 The crafti werkman Epius It made, and forto telle thus, The Greks, that thoghten to beguile The kyng of Troie, in thilke while With Anthenor and with Enee, That were bothe of the Cite And of the conseil the wiseste, The richeste and the myhtieste, In prive place so thei trete With fair beheste and yiftes grete 1100 Of gold, that thei hem have engined; Togedre and whan thei be covined, Thei feignen forto make a pes, And under that yit natheles Thei schopen the destruccioun Bothe of the kyng and of the toun. And thus the false pees was take Of hem of Grece and undertake, And therupon thei founde a weie, Wher strengthe myhte noght aweie, 1110 That sleihte scholde helpe thanne; And of an ynche a large spanne Be colour of the pees thei made, And tolden how thei weren glade Of that thei stoden in acord; And for it schal ben of record, Unto the kyng the Gregois seiden, Be weie of love and this thei preiden, As thei that wolde his thonk deserve, A Sacrifice unto Minerve, 1120 The pes to kepe in good entente, Thei mosten offre er that thei wente. The kyng conseiled in this cas Be Anthenor and Eneas Therto hath yoven his assent: So was the pleine trowthe blent Thurgh contrefet Ipocrisie Of that thei scholden sacrifie. The Greks under the holinesse Anon with alle besinesse 1130 Here Hors of Bras let faire dihte, Which was to sen a wonder sihte; For it was trapped of himselve, And hadde of smale whieles twelve, Upon the whiche men ynowe With craft toward the toun it drowe, And goth glistrende ayein the Sunne. Tho was ther joie ynowh begunne, For Troie in gret devocioun Cam also with processioun 1140 Ayein this noble Sacrifise With gret honour, and in this wise Unto the gates thei it broghte. Bot of here entre whan thei soghte, The gates weren al to smale; And therupon was many a tale, Bot for the worschipe of Minerve, To whom thei comen forto serve, Thei of the toun, whiche understode That al this thing was do for goode, 1150 For pes, wherof that thei ben glade, The gates that Neptunus made A thousend wynter ther tofore, Thei have anon tobroke and tore; The stronge walles doun thei bete, So that in to the large strete This Hors with gret solempnite Was broght withinne the Cite, And offred with gret reverence, Which was to Troie an evidence 1160 Of love and pes for everemo. The Gregois token leve tho With al the hole felaschipe, And forth thei wenten into Schipe And crossen seil and made hem yare, Anon as thogh thei wolden fare: Bot whan the blake wynter nyht Withoute Mone or Sterre lyht Bederked hath the water Stronde, Al prively thei gon to londe 1170 Ful armed out of the navie. Synon, which mad was here aspie Withinne Troie, as was conspired, Whan time was a tokne hath fired; And thei with that here weie holden, And comen in riht as thei wolden, Ther as the gate was tobroke. The pourpos was full take and spoke: Er eny man may take kepe, Whil that the Cite was aslepe, 1180 Thei slowen al that was withinne, And token what thei myhten wynne Of such good as was sufficant, And brenden up the remenant. And thus cam out the tricherie, Which under fals Ypocrisie Was hid, and thei that wende pees Tho myhten finde no reles Of thilke swerd which al devoureth. Fulofte and thus the swete soureth, 1190 Whan it is knowe to the tast: He spilleth many a word in wast That schal with such a poeple trete; For whan he weneth most beyete, Thanne is he schape most to lese. And riht so if a womman chese Upon the wordes that sche hiereth Som man, whan he most trewe appiereth, Thanne is he forthest fro the trowthe: Bot yit fulofte, and that is rowthe, 1200 Thei speden that ben most untrewe And loven every day a newe, Wherof the lief is after loth And love hath cause to be wroth. Bot what man that his lust desireth Of love, and therupon conspireth With wordes feigned to deceive, He schal noght faile to receive His peine, as it is ofte sene. Forthi, my Sone, as I thee mene, 1210 It sit the wel to taken hiede That thou eschuie of thi manhiede Ipocrisie and his semblant, That thou ne be noght deceivant, To make a womman to believe Thing which is noght in thi bilieve: For in such feint Ipocrisie Of love is al the tricherie, Thurgh which love is deceived ofte; For feigned semblant is so softe, 1220 Unethes love may be war. Forthi, my Sone, as I wel dar, I charge thee to fle that vice, That many a womman hath mad nice; Bot lok thou dele noght withal. Iwiss, fader, nomor I schal. Now, Sone, kep that thou hast swore: For this that thou hast herd before Is seid the ferste point of Pride: And next upon that other side, 1230 To schryve and speken overthis Touchende of Pride, yit ther is The point seconde, I thee behote, Which Inobedience is hote. This vice of Inobedience Ayein the reule of conscience Al that is humble he desalloweth, That he toward his god ne boweth After the lawes of his heste. Noght as a man bot as a beste, 1240 Which goth upon his lustes wilde, So goth this proude vice unmylde, That he desdeigneth alle lawe: He not what is to be felawe, And serve may he noght for pride; So is he badde on every side, And is that selve of whom men speke, Which wol noght bowe er that he breke. I not if love him myhte plie, For elles forto justefie 1250 His herte, I not what mihte availe. Forthi, my Sone, of such entaile If that thin herte be disposed, Tell out and let it noght be glosed: For if that thou unbuxom be To love, I not in what degree Thou schalt thi goode world achieve. Mi fader, ye schul wel believe, The yonge whelp which is affaited Hath noght his Maister betre awaited, 1260 To couche, whan he seith "Go lowe," That I, anon as I may knowe Mi ladi will, ne bowe more. Bot other while I grucche sore Of some thinges that sche doth, Wherof that I woll telle soth: For of tuo pointz I am bethoght, That, thogh I wolde, I myhte noght Obeie unto my ladi heste; Bot I dar make this beheste, 1270 Save only of that ilke tuo I am unbuxom of no mo. Whan ben tho tuo? tell on, quod he. Mi fader, this is on, that sche Comandeth me my mowth to close, And that I scholde hir noght oppose In love, of which I ofte preche, Bot plenerliche of such a speche Forbere, and soffren hire in pes. Bot that ne myhte I natheles 1280 For al this world obeie ywiss; For whanne I am ther as sche is, Though sche my tales noght alowe, Ayein hir will yit mot I bowe, To seche if that I myhte have grace: Bot that thing may I noght enbrace For ought that I can speke or do; And yit fulofte I speke so, That sche is wroth and seith, "Be stille." If I that heste schal fulfille 1290 And therto ben obedient, Thanne is my cause fully schent, For specheles may noman spede. So wot I noght what is to rede; Bot certes I may noght obeie, That I ne mot algate seie Somwhat of that I wolde mene; For evere it is aliche grene, The grete love which I have, Wherof I can noght bothe save 1300 My speche and this obedience: And thus fulofte my silence I breke, and is the ferste point Wherof that I am out of point In this, and yit it is no pride. Now thanne upon that other side To telle my desobeissance, Ful sore it stant to my grevance And may noght sinke into my wit; For ofte time sche me bit 1310 To leven hire and chese a newe, And seith, if I the sothe knewe How ferr I stonde from hir grace, I scholde love in other place. Bot therof woll I desobeie; For also wel sche myhte seie, "Go tak the Mone ther it sit," As bringe that into my wit: For ther was nevere rooted tre, That stod so faste in his degre, 1320 That I ne stonde more faste Upon hire love, and mai noght caste Min herte awey, althogh I wolde. For god wot, thogh I nevere scholde Sen hir with yhe after this day, Yit stant it so that I ne may Hir love out of my brest remue. This is a wonder retenue, That malgre wher sche wole or non Min herte is everemore in on, 1330 So that I can non other chese, Bot whether that I winne or lese, I moste hire loven til I deie; And thus I breke as be that weie Hire hestes and hir comandinges, Bot trewliche in non othre thinges. Forthi, my fader, what is more Touchende to this ilke lore I you beseche, after the forme That ye pleinly me wolde enforme, 1340 So that I may myn herte reule In loves cause after the reule. Toward this vice of which we trete Ther ben yit tweie of thilke estrete, Here name is Murmur and Compleignte: Ther can noman here chiere peinte, To sette a glad semblant therinne, For thogh fortune make hem wynne, Yit grucchen thei, and if thei lese, Ther is no weie forto chese, 1350 Wherof thei myhten stonde appesed. So ben thei comunly desesed; Ther may no welthe ne poverte Attempren hem to the decerte Of buxomnesse be no wise: For ofte time thei despise The goode fortune as the badde, As thei no mannes reson hadde, Thurgh pride, wherof thei be blinde. And ryht of such a maner kinde 1360 Ther be lovers, that thogh thei have Of love al that thei wolde crave, Yit wol thei grucche be som weie, That thei wol noght to love obeie Upon the trowthe, as thei do scholde; And if hem lacketh that thei wolde, Anon thei falle in such a peine, That evere unbuxomly thei pleigne Upon fortune, and curse and crie, That thei wol noght here hertes plie 1370 To soffre til it betre falle. Forthi if thou amonges alle Hast used this condicioun, Mi Sone, in thi Confessioun Now tell me pleinly what thou art. Mi fader, I beknowe a part, So as ye tolden hier above Of Murmur and Compleignte of love, That for I se no sped comende, Ayein fortune compleignende 1380 I am, as who seith, everemo: And ek fulofte tyme also, Whan so is that I se and hiere Or hevy word or hevy chiere Of my lady, I grucche anon; Bot wordes dar I speke non, Wherof sche myhte be desplesed, Bot in myn herte I am desesed: With many a Murmur, god it wot, Thus drinke I in myn oghne swot, 1390 And thogh I make no semblant, Min herte is al desobeissant; And in this wise I me confesse Of that ye clepe unbuxomnesse. Now telleth what youre conseil is. Mi Sone, and I thee rede this, What so befalle of other weie, That thou to loves heste obeie Als ferr as thou it myht suffise: For ofte sithe in such a wise 1400 Obedience in love availeth, Wher al a mannes strengthe faileth; Wherof, if that the list to wite In a Cronique as it is write, A gret ensample thou myht fynde, Which now is come to my mynde. Ther was whilom be daies olde A worthi knyht, and as men tolde He was Nevoeu to themperour And of his Court a Courteour: 1410 Wifles he was, Florent he hihte, He was a man that mochel myhte, Of armes he was desirous, Chivalerous and amorous, And for the fame of worldes speche, Strange aventures forto seche, He rod the Marches al aboute. And fell a time, as he was oute, Fortune, which may every thred Tobreke and knette of mannes sped, 1420 Schop, as this knyht rod in a pas, That he be strengthe take was, And to a Castell thei him ladde, Wher that he fewe frendes hadde: For so it fell that ilke stounde That he hath with a dedly wounde Feihtende his oghne hondes slain Branchus, which to the Capitain Was Sone and Heir, wherof ben wrothe The fader and the moder bothe. 1430 That knyht Branchus was of his hond The worthieste of al his lond, And fain thei wolden do vengance Upon Florent, bot remembrance That thei toke of his worthinesse Of knyhthod and of gentilesse, And how he stod of cousinage To themperour, made hem assuage, And dorsten noght slen him for fere: In gret desputeisoun thei were 1440 Among hemself, what was the beste. Ther was a lady, the slyheste Of alle that men knewe tho, So old sche myhte unethes go, And was grantdame unto the dede: And sche with that began to rede, And seide how sche wol bringe him inne, That sche schal him to dethe winne Al only of his oghne grant, Thurgh strengthe of verray covenant 1450 Withoute blame of eny wiht. Anon sche sende for this kniht, And of hire Sone sche alleide The deth, and thus to him sche seide: "Florent, how so thou be to wyte Of Branchus deth, men schal respite As now to take vengement, Be so thou stonde in juggement Upon certein condicioun, That thou unto a questioun 1460 Which I schal axe schalt ansuere; And over this thou schalt ek swere, That if thou of the sothe faile, Ther schal non other thing availe, That thou ne schalt thi deth receive. And for men schal thee noght deceive, That thou therof myht ben avised, Thou schalt have day and tyme assised And leve saufly forto wende, Be so that at thi daies ende 1470 Thou come ayein with thin avys. This knyht, which worthi was and wys, This lady preith that he may wite, And have it under Seales write, What questioun it scholde be For which he schal in that degree Stonde of his lif in jeupartie. With that sche feigneth compaignie, And seith: "Florent, on love it hongeth Al that to myn axinge longeth: 1480 What alle wommen most desire This wole I axe, and in thempire Wher as thou hast most knowlechinge Tak conseil upon this axinge." Florent this thing hath undertake, The day was set, the time take, Under his seal he wrot his oth, In such a wise and forth he goth Hom to his Emes court ayein; To whom his aventure plein 1490 He tolde, of that him is befalle. And upon that thei weren alle The wiseste of the lond asent, Bot natheles of on assent Thei myhte noght acorde plat, On seide this, an othre that. After the disposicioun Of naturel complexioun To som womman it is plesance, That to an other is grevance; 1500 Bot such a thing in special, Which to hem alle in general Is most plesant, and most desired Above alle othre and most conspired, Such o thing conne thei noght finde Be Constellacion ne kinde: And thus Florent withoute cure Mot stonde upon his aventure, And is al schape unto the lere, As in defalte of his answere. 1510 This knyht hath levere forto dye Than breke his trowthe and forto lye In place ther as he was swore, And schapth him gon ayein therfore. Whan time cam he tok his leve, That lengere wolde he noght beleve, And preith his Em he be noght wroth, For that is a point of his oth, He seith, that noman schal him wreke, Thogh afterward men hiere speke 1520 That he par aventure deie. And thus he wente forth his weie Alone as knyht aventurous, And in his thoght was curious To wite what was best to do: And as he rod al one so, And cam nyh ther he wolde be, In a forest under a tre He syh wher sat a creature, A lothly wommannysch figure, 1530 That forto speke of fleisch and bon So foul yit syh he nevere non. This knyht behield hir redely, And as he wolde have passed by, Sche cleped him and bad abide; And he his horse heved aside Tho torneth, and to hire he rod, And there he hoveth and abod, To wite what sche wolde mene. And sche began him to bemene, 1540 And seide: "Florent be thi name, Thou hast on honde such a game, That bot thou be the betre avised, Thi deth is schapen and devised, That al the world ne mai the save, Bot if that thou my conseil have." Florent, whan he this tale herde, Unto this olde wyht answerde And of hir conseil he hir preide. And sche ayein to him thus seide: 1550 "Florent, if I for the so schape, That thou thurgh me thi deth ascape And take worschipe of thi dede, What schal I have to my mede?" "What thing," quod he, "that thou wolt axe." "I bidde nevere a betre taxe," Quod sche, "bot ferst, er thou be sped, Thou schalt me leve such a wedd, That I wol have thi trowthe in honde That thou schalt be myn housebonde." 1560 "Nay," seith Florent, "that may noght be." "Ryd thanne forth thi wey," quod sche, "And if thou go withoute red, Thou schalt be sekerliche ded." Florent behihte hire good ynowh Of lond, of rente, of park, of plowh, Bot al that compteth sche at noght. Tho fell this knyht in mochel thoght, Now goth he forth, now comth ayein, He wot noght what is best to sein, 1570 And thoghte, as he rod to and fro, That chese he mot on of the tuo, Or forto take hire to his wif Or elles forto lese his lif. And thanne he caste his avantage, That sche was of so gret an age, That sche mai live bot a while, And thoghte put hire in an Ile, Wher that noman hire scholde knowe, Til sche with deth were overthrowe. 1580 And thus this yonge lusti knyht Unto this olde lothly wiht Tho seide: "If that non other chance Mai make my deliverance, Bot only thilke same speche Which, as thou seist, thou schalt me teche, Have hier myn hond, I schal thee wedde." And thus his trowthe he leith to wedde. With that sche frounceth up the browe: "This covenant I wol allowe," 1590 Sche seith: "if eny other thing Bot that thou hast of my techyng Fro deth thi body mai respite, I woll thee of thi trowthe acquite, And elles be non other weie. Now herkne me what I schal seie. Whan thou art come into the place, Wher now thei maken gret manace And upon thi comynge abyde, Thei wole anon the same tide 1600 Oppose thee of thin answere. I wot thou wolt nothing forbere Of that thou wenest be thi beste, And if thou myht so finde reste, Wel is, for thanne is ther nomore. And elles this schal be my lore, That thou schalt seie, upon this Molde That alle wommen lievest wolde Be soverein of mannes love: For what womman is so above, 1610 Sche hath, as who seith, al hire wille; And elles may sche noght fulfille What thing hir were lievest have. With this answere thou schalt save Thiself, and other wise noght. And whan thou hast thin ende wroght, Com hier ayein, thou schalt me finde, And let nothing out of thi minde." He goth him forth with hevy chiere, As he that not in what manere 1620 He mai this worldes joie atteigne: For if he deie, he hath a peine, And if he live, he mot him binde To such on which of alle kinde Of wommen is thunsemlieste: Thus wot he noght what is the beste: Bot be him lief or be him loth, Unto the Castell forth he goth His full answere forto yive, Or forto deie or forto live. 1630 Forth with his conseil cam the lord, The thinges stoden of record, He sende up for the lady sone, And forth sche cam, that olde Mone. In presence of the remenant The strengthe of al the covenant Tho was reherced openly, And to Florent sche bad forthi That he schal tellen his avis, As he that woot what is the pris. 1640 Florent seith al that evere he couthe, Bot such word cam ther non to mowthe, That he for yifte or for beheste Mihte eny wise his deth areste. And thus he tarieth longe and late, Til that this lady bad algate That he schal for the dom final Yive his answere in special Of that sche hadde him ferst opposed: And thanne he hath trewly supposed 1650 That he him may of nothing yelpe, Bot if so be tho wordes helpe, Whiche as the womman hath him tawht; Wherof he hath an hope cawht That he schal ben excused so, And tolde out plein his wille tho. And whan that this Matrone herde The manere how this knyht ansuerde, Sche seide: "Ha treson,

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