John Lydgate, The Temple of Glas


1 In shape of a sphere, constructed round in form

2 Lines 251–54: Before the goddess, who just as the sun / Passes the stars and dulls their rays, / And in order to take away the sorrow of the night, / Surpasses Lucifer in brightness early in the morning

3 Lines 1334–36: For which grant, throughout the temple, / Owing to the great relief of those present, / At once [a new ballad] was begun with a melodious sound


Abbreviations: BD: Chaucer, Book of the Duchess; CA: Gower, Confessio Amantis; CT: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; G: Cambridge, University Library, MS Gg.4.27; HF: Chaucer, House of Fame; LGW: Chaucer, Legend of Good Women; MED: Middle English Dictionary; Metam.: Ovid, Metamorphoses; OED: Oxford English Dictionary; PF: Chaucer, Parliament of Fowls; RR: Chaucer, Romaunt of the Rose; S: London, British Library, MS Additional 16165; T: Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Tanner 346 (base-text for this edition); TC: Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde; TG: Lydgate, Temple of Glas; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases.

1–3 The cause of the narrator’s malady is not identified, but his symptoms are those of a man driven to bed by lovesickness. The idea has origins in RR, lines 2553–64, and, going back further, in Ovid’s Amores 1.2.1–4. Lydgate would have had in mind the insomniac dreamer-poet, the cause of whose sleeplessness is not explained in BD and HF, and he was likely also familiar with antecedents in the French tradition which Chaucer adapted and deviated from (see Windeatt, Chaucer’s Dream Poetry). Only at the end of TG (lines 1375–1403) does the poet identify himself as an abject lover (unlike Chaucer’s narrators), though the nature of his situation remains ambiguous. The confessional tone struck by the poem’s opening lines is carried through in the lovers’ com­plaints within the dream.
1 For thought, constreint, and grevous hevines. Norton-Smith hears an echo of RR, line 308: "For sorowe, thought, and gret distresse" (John Lydgate: Poems, p. 179).

3 this othir nyght. Setting fictional events within a bedchamber in a recent, pseudo-autobiographical past produces a general sense of intimacy, individuality, and gossipy familiarity. Norton-Smith finds the same phrase in BD, line 45 (John Lydgate: Poems, p. 180). But in Chaucer the phrase means "this second night," referring to the protagonist’s sleeplessness, thereby setting up the dreamer’s awakening at twelve bells on the third day. Here, in TG, the sense may simply imply "recently."

4–7 Whan that Lucina . . . the nwe yere. The poet goes to bed when the moon (Lucina) is in conjunction with the sun (Phebus); but as it is December, these planets would have entered Capricorn, not Aquarius. "The astronomy is liter­ary, not scientific. Lydgate purposely avoids any tradition of precise dating which would postulate a real situation" (TG, ed. Norton-Smith, p. 180). Others have nevertheless felt that such circumstantial detail provokes rather than frustrates the search for historical reference. In his edition of the poem, Schick (TG, p. cxiv) makes attempts at dating the poem on the basis of the astronomical signs.

6 Amyd Decembre. The dream in HF, lines 111–12, occurs on 10 December.

7 kalendes. Referring either to dates on the calendar reckoned back as far as to the middle of the current month from the first of the following month (MED 1c), or perhaps more generally to a sense of expectancy around this time (MED 2). Either way, the poet seems to be awaiting some bright change even amidst dark December, and this anticipates a pattern of light/dark imagery later in the poem, on which see the explanatory note to lines 20-29.

8 And derk Diane, ihorned. Diane, goddess of chastity, and another name for the moon (also known as Cynthea, Latona, and Lucina). The reference is to the crescent moon, perceived as though it had horns. There may be an implied mythological and astrological juxtaposition with Venus, goddess of love, who rules inside the dream vision. Here the horned headpiece suggests aristo­cratic fashion, not cuckoldry.

14 sodein dedeli slepe. Restlessness followed by a swift and decisive fall into sleep is conventionally Chaucerian; compare BD, line 272, HF, line 114, and PF, line 94.

16 temple of glas. Lydgate’s description of this architectural marvel (surrounded by wilderness or wasteland; set upon an icy foundation; containing statues and murals; populated by gods and supplicants) owes much to Chaucer’s Temple of Glass (HF, lines 119–488), where glass implies mirrors, and some­thing to his Castle of Fame (e.g., line 1130), with its foundation of ice. Another precedent is Chaucer’s "temple of bras" in PF, line 231, which houses Priapus, Venus, and Cupid, among other ministers and devotees of love, and which is engraved with stories of many famous lovers. Lydgate’s scribes or rubricators must have had this temple on their minds when they gave TG the title The Temple of Bras in two manuscripts (see TG, ed. Schick, p. xvii). Finally, another relevant Temple of Venus features in Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale, CT I(A)1918–66.

20–29 And as I did approche. . . . The splendor of the place evokes the intensity of love; see TC 2.862–65 for a comparison of the sun and love. Ebin, John Lydgate, p. 30, argues that the "system of light and dark images, which link the various seg­ments of the poem, provide the vehicle for successive redefi­nitions of love." Davidoff, Beginning Well, pp. 135–46, also addresses the con­trastive effects of light and darkness and argues that the dreamer’s experience is one of illumination and insight occurring in a place of imaginative splendor. By contrast, Crockett, in "Venus Unveiled," pp. 73–74, construes the dazzling scene as an indictment of the narrator’s moral blindness.

32 Titan. This refers to the Titan sun god Helios, father of Phaethon, not the Olympian sun god Phoebus Apollo (e.g., line 4), twin of Diana (line 8).

39 wiket. The gate recalls similar narrow passageways through which other voy­euristic poets enter into secret, restricted, or sanctified spaces; compare RR, lines 528–30, and HF, line 477. A reader familiar with Chaucer is destined to recall the garden "wyket" that is an important architectural feature of The Merchant’s Tale, as well; for indeed, as if in imitation of the furtiveness of Damian (CT IV[E]2151–54), Lydgate’s dreamer enters through the wicket suspiciously "fast," and in his intrusion into private affairs he is not unlike the adulterous lover who trespasses on another man’s property and has his way with his wife. Of course, TG is a much more decorous affair than that retailed in The Merchant’s Tale. Nevertheless, as becomes clear by the end of TG, Lydgate’s dreamer-poet aspires to a similar role in a love triangle (or rather, rectangle), though he is apparently doomed to be an observer rather than a participant. On the voyeuristic poet in other late medieval love poems, see Spearing, Medieval Poet as Voyeur.

44–142 I saughe depeynt opon everé wal. . . . An inscription and tableau of the legend of Dido and Aeneas is the principal feature of the Temple of Glass in HF, lines 151–467; the walls of the Temple of Venus in The Knight’s Tale, CT I(A) 1918–66, portray the symptoms of lovesickness, personified behaviors, and a few famous lovers. PF, lines 284–94, with its panoply of lovers, may lie behind the depiction of ful many a faire image / Of sondri lovers in TG (lines 95-96). Lydgate refers to most of the legendary lovers listed there (Dido and Aeneas, Isolde and Tristan, Thisbe and Piramus, Paris and Helen, Polyxena and Achilles), picturing many more besides whose tales are told elsewhere by Chaucer. Indeed, the list in TG reads like an homage to Chaucerian auctoritas in a manner similar to Chaucer’s own Introduction to The Man of Law’s Tale, CT II(B1) 57–76, impressing upon readers that Chaucer is the inimitable poet who "hath toold of loveris up and doun" (CT II[B1]53). TG as it stands in T suggests other ways in which Chaucer’s secular and vernacular authority was transmitted, specifically in its emulation of Chaucer’s compilatory LGW (on which see the discussion of Tanner in Lerer’s Chaucer and His Readers, pp. 57–84). But the similarities are designed not to suggest literary sources, but rather shared poetic spaces shaped for a literate readership well sophisticated by the delights of courtly poetry.

46–47 lich as thei were of age . . . aftir thei were trwe. The reference to "age" is unclear and may indicate that the figures are either positioned in order of their phys­ical age or, more likely, represented as young adults (i.e., come of age); and "trwe" may refer to fidelity or a true likeness. Whatever the sense of these lines, the catalogue of lovers apparently does not reproduce any such order in its pictorial arrangement.

52–53 Venus . . . fleting in the se. The familiar iconography of the Marine Venus, or Venus anadyomene, is only one of several forms she takes in TG. Chaucer offers his own visual description of the floating Venus in The Knight’s Tale, CT I(A)1955–66, and HF, lines 131–37; see Twycross, Medieval Anadyomene. Crockett notes that according to medieval mythographers this image is "em­blematic of concupiscence" ("Venus Unveiled," p. 80, citing Fulgentius the Myth­ographer 2.1 [trans. Whitbread, pp. 66–67]). But Lydgate elsewhere construes the image as a sign of "þe trowble and aduersite / Þat is in Loue, and his stormy lawe, / Whiche is beset with many sturdy wawe, / Now calm, now rowe, who-so takethþ hede, / And hope assailled ay with sodeyn drede" (Troy Book 2.2544–48), and this "factual" account of desire is compatible with TG. On the various Venuses who appear in Lydgate’s works see Tinkle, Medieval Venuses and Cupids, pp. 129–35 and 154–59, who observes that in TG alone Venus is repeatedly reinterpreted — as mythological, astral, natural, carnal, or courtly — and cannot be reduced to a single meaning. Bianco makes a simi­lar observation in "New Perspectives," pp. 109–14, noting that Venus takes the form of "a painting, a statue, a planet or a living, speaking advisor."

55–61 Queen Dido of Carthage, expressing great anguish over Aeneas’ deception, pictured just before she ends her life. Derived from Virgil’s Aeneid 4, her com­plaint was elaborated in Ovid’s Heroides 7. Dido’s tragedy figures in HF, lines 219–426, and LGW, lines 924–1367, and Gower tells the tale in CA 4.77–142 to illustrate Aeneas’ "sloth" in love. Like Chaucer and Gower, Lyd­gate gives Dido the benefit of a pathetic treatment: the poets do not follow the austere mythographic tradition that construed Aeneas’ flight from Carthage as noble resistance to sexual temptation (see Crockett, "Venus Unveiled," p. 75), but rather align their sympathies with the abandoned heroine.

62–63 Medea, even after helping her husband Jason to accomplish various heroic deeds, is abandoned by him for another woman, as recounted in Ovid’s Hero­ides 12 and Metam. 7. Compare LGW, lines 1368–1679, and CA 5.3247–4222. Lydgate tells the story at length in Book 1 of Troy Book.

64–65 Venus’ passion for Adonis (Addoun), slain by a boar in the forest, is recounted in Metam. 10. Mentioned in Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale, CT I(A)224, and TC 3.720–21.

67–69 Penelope, who faithfully awaits the return of her husband Ulysses from Troy, is regularly considered alongside Alcestis (who is next described in TG) as an exemplary true wife. See the Introduction to The Man of Law’s Tale, CT II(B1)75, The Franklin’s Tale, CT V(F)1442–43, and TC 5.1778. Gower relates the story in CA 4.147–233, where Ulysses is blamed for tardi­ness; and Penelope is grouped together with Lucrece, Alcestis, and Alcyone as one of Four Noble Wives in CA 8.2621–56. Although in The Franklin’s Tale Chaucer cites "Omer" (Homer’s Odyssey) as the source of the story of Penel­ope and Ulysses, medieval poets knew it from Ovid’s Heroides 1.

70–74 Queen Alcestis, transformed into a daisy in tribute to her self-sacrificing love for her husband Admetus, is the heroine of LGW, F Prologue, lines 510–16, and the subject of CA 7.1917–43. The story was passed down in numerous medieval translations; see Fulgentius the Mythographer, 1.22 (trans. Whitbread, pp. 62–63).

75–76 Griselda’s innocence, mekenes, and pacience are exemplified in her endurance of the extreme tests set by her husband Walter. Lydgate would have known the story from Chaucer’s Clerk’s Tale, but it circulated widely in various languages throughout medieval Europe from tellings of the tale by Boccaccio and Petrarch; see Bronfman, Chaucer’s Clerk’s Tale.

77–79 Isolde is the legendary lover of Tristan, nephew to her husband King Mark of Cornwall. Their tragic and illicit affair is transmitted in several medieval versions; see Eisner, Tristan Legend. The lovers are mentioned among other figures adorning the walls of the Temple of Brass in PF, line 290, and they are found in CA 6.471–75. Evidently, the list of "trwe" (line 47) lovers painted on the wall does not discriminate between faithful wives (Penelope, Alcestis, and Griselda) and adulterers (Isolde), which suggests that the standard of truth operating here is not conformity to the social institution of marriage: the poem will go on to enlarge on the idea that sentimental love is a law unto itself. Moreover, forbidden or clandestine love has its own powerful attractions in the poem.

80–81 The unhappy tale of Piramus and Thisbe (Tesbie), who were pro­hibited from loving by their parents and became a double suicide, is derived from Metam. 4. Related in LGW, lines 706–923, and CA 3.1331–1494.

82–85 Duke Theseus of Athens vanquished the Minotaur. Like Chaucer’s Knight, the narrator fails to mention the love intrigue which forms the context of the duke’s heroics: Ariadne, who came to his assistance in figuring out how to negotiate the Cretan labyrinth, was famously dumped by Theseus. The ori­ginal story is recounted in Ovid’s Heroides 10 and Metam. 7 –8. Theseus’ treachery is the subject of LGW, lines 1886–2227. CA 5.5231–5493 also gives the history including Theseus’ "unkindness" towards Ariadne. The­seus is the only one among other celebrated lovers in Lydgate who, in other contexts, is a perpetrator rather than a victim. Here, as in Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale, he is simply a worthy leader who destroyed the Minotaur.

83 amyd the hous. The labyrinth is commonly referred to as the house of Daedalus ("Domus Dedaly," HF, line 1920) or "labyrinthus" as in Aeneid 5.588. See John Fyler’s note, Riverside Chaucer, p. 989n1920–21, which notes also Higden’s Polychronicon ("laborintus," "Dedalus hous") and Chaucer’s Boece 3.pr12.156, where "hous of dedalus" is glossed "domus dedaly." See also Metam. 8.156–58. Chaucer describes the maze in LGW 2012–14.

86–90 Phyllis is betrayed by Demophon, son of Duke Theseus, and upon com­mitting suicide she is transformed into a hazelnut tree; but her metamorphosis is not mentioned in Lydgate’s brief summary. The source is Ovid’s Heroides 2 and Remedia Amoris, lines 591–604. Her story is related in LGW, lines 2394–561, and, briefly, in HF, lines 388–96. CA 4.731–878 is probably the source of Lydgate’s "filbert" (previously identified as an almond tree, or unspecified, in classical sources; see TG, ed. Schick, pp. 75–76).

92–93 Paris "won" or abducted Helen from her husband, the Spar­tan Menelaus, and took her back to Troy. The escapade was known chiefly from Heroides 16–17. The lovers are painted on the walls of Chaucer’s Temple of Brass, PF, lines 290–91, and their story is essential background information in TC 1.57–63. Lydgate will go on to relate the full history of the abduction in the second book of Troy Book.

94–95 Achilles is slain in the temple where he was set to marry Polixena (Policene), a tragic event given brief mention in BD, lines 1069–71; the lovers also appear on the walls of the brass temple in PF, line 290. Chau­cer ac­knowl­edges his source as Dares’ De excidio Troiae historia, but medieval poets equally depended on Benoît de Sainte-Maure’s Roman de Troie, besides other chroni­clers of Troy.

97–99 Philomena is raped and has her tongue cut out by Te­reus, but she is able to communicate her ordeal to her sister Procne (Progne, wife of Tereus) using a tapestry; the sisters metamorphose into birds when Tereus attempts to kill them. Metam. 6.424–605 is the source. Chaucer alludes to the sisters in TC 2.64–70 and tells a partial story in LGW, lines 2228–2393. For the full story, see CA 5.5551–6047.

100 Sabyns. Sabines are "a race of ancient Italy who inhabited the central region of the Apennines" (OED). Legend holds that the Sabine women were raped by and forced to intermarry with the Romans. Their tragic history of sexual victimization at the hands of Romans is no doubt the reason the Sabines are mentioned alongside Lucretia (as they are in Livy’s History of Rome 1 and in Dante’s Paradiso 6), on which more below.

101 The Roman Lucretia (Lucresse), after she was raped by Sextus Tarquinius, com­mitted suicide to defend her honor and that of her husband Collatinus. The "fest of Lucresse" refers to the Regifugium ("Flight of the King" on 24 Febru­ary), a festival held in commemoration of the expulsion of the last Roman king, Tarquinius Superbus, who was forced to flee Rome because his son Sextus so violated Lucretia. As Ovid explains in Fasti 2.685–852, Lucretia’s death in­spired Brutus to take up arms against King Tarquinius. Therefore, the Sabines who observe the feast day of Lucretia are mourning the sexual exploitation of their ancestors, but also celebrating a political watershed — the advent of Roman repub­licanism — made possible, in no small part, by the heroism of Lucretia. Lydgate speaks explicitly of the political fallout in his Serpent of Division, ed. MacCracken, p. 49. On the rapes of Lucretia and the Sabine women, see Livy’s History of Rome 1. The question of the heroism of Lucretia’s suicide is discussed in Augustine’s City of God, 1.19. Chaucer recounts the legend in LGW, lines 1680–1885; Gower in CA 7.4754–5130.

102–10 There saugh I also . . . as Chaucer tellith us. A synopsis of the first two parts of The Knight’s Tale, CT I(A)859–1880, in which the Theban knights Palamon and Arcite are smitten by the sight of Emily, whom they glimpse from a prison cell in Athens. They are compelled to settle their dispute in a manner decided by Theseus. Lerer observes that the summary is the longest of all the descrip­tions of "sondri lovers," and the only one to mention a source. Its centrality leads him to argue that the narrator is presented as a "reader" of Chaucer (Lerer, Chaucer and His Readers, pp. 69–70).

105 hurt unwarli thurugh casting of an eyghe. A motif of courtly poetry. See Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale, CT I(A)1077–97 and TC 2.533–36. Compare lines 231–32 and 850.

112–16 The nymph Daphne, pursued through the forest by the love-struck Phoebus Apollo, escapes the fiery passion of the sun god when she is transformed into a laurel tree. The story is derived from Metam. 1.452–567, and referred to in TC 3.726–27. Gower has a version of the fable in CA 3.1685–1720.
112 arow of gold. Compare line 445. Cupid’s arrows are described in RR, lines 918–98.

114 envie of the god Cupide. According to Metam. 1.452–567, Cupid targets Phebus just to prove that the shafts of love are more powerful than the shafts of the sun.

117–20 Jove (or Jupiter), another promiscuous shape-changing god, took the form of a bull when he ravished Europa. The story is derived from Metam. 2.833–75, and referred to very briefly in TC 3.722–24.

121–25 Jove sleeps with Alcmene (Almen) by taking on the shap (line 122) of her hus­band Amphitrion, thereby conceiving Hercules. See Ovid’s Amores 1.13.45–46 and Metam. 6.112. Chaucer makes passing reference to the night of sexual intrigue in TC 3.1428; an adaptation of the legend can be found in CA 2.2459–95.

126–28 Vulcan, the unattractive and aged husband of Venus, discovered his wife en­gaged in sexual congress with the dashing warrior god Mars. Vulcan fettered the adulterers with chains and exposed them to the other gods, but the gods were charmed by the sight of the handsome pair of lovers and only ridiculed Vulcan. The origin is Metam. 4.171–89 and Ars Amatoria 2.561–92; also trans­mitted in Romance of the Rose, lines 18061–130 and Fulgentius the Mythographer, 2.7 (trans. Whitbread, pp. 72–73). Chaucer refers to the incident in The Knight’s Tale, CT I(A)2383–92, and in A Complaint of Mars. Gower tells the tale, in CA 5.635–725, as if from the perspective of the mocking gods, applying the example to jealous husbands: it is better to pretend you know nothing of your wife’s infidelity than to attract slander for petty jealousy. Lydgate seems nearly as sympathetic in Complaynt of a Loveres Lyfe, lines 389–92 and 621–26.
In another version of TG, Lydgate daringly capitalized on the amorality of the fable to draw an explicit comparison between the situation of Venus and that of the lady: in stanzas that replace lines 335–69 of the present edition (see explanatory notes to those lines below), the lady identifies herself as among those women who are "oppressed" no less than Venus was by her jealous hus­band. Lydgate may have altered these lines (or a scribe may have done so), but they only make explicit a romantic notion that is implicit else­where in all of the surviving versions of TG: erotic desire has its own natural justification that transcends the artificial constraints of legal marriage.

129–36 Mercurie and Philologye. Alluding to Martianus Capella’s Marriage of Philology and Mercury, a fifth-century work well known to the later Middle Ages. Chau­cer makes passing references to the marriage in The Merchant’s Tale, CT IV(E)1732–37, and HF, line 985. Crockett thinks the juxtaposition here of Mercury and Philology with Mars and Venus generates an ironic contrast between "virtu­ous" and "corrupt love" ("Venus Unveiled," pp. 75–76). But medieval love poets take much pleasure in moral equivocation, and Lydgate certainly ab­stains from explicit moral condemnation in TG. Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, CT III(D)697–705, describes the contrary astrological influences of the planets Mercury (god of studious but boring old clerks) and Venus (goddess of lusty, youthful women). In CA 7.755–800 the planets are contrasted in a similarly ambivalent manner: Mercury governs bookish, idle, avaricious folk (mainly in France), while Venus governs the amorous, courteous, and pleasure-seeking (Italians).

138–42 The passage introduces the last set of painted figures and alludes to Chaucer’s Squire’s Tale, CT V(F)9–708, an unfinished romance told by "a yong Squier, / A lovyere and a lusty bacheler" (General Prologue, CT I[A]79–80). In it Canacee receives a gift of a magic ring, enabling her to commune with a lovelorn falcon who relates a tragic tale of betrayal. Canacee’s brother re­ceives a mechanical brass horse, but the narrative breaks off before we find out exactly how he was oft holpen (TG, line 141) by the magical gift (but see CT V[F]666 for the Squire’s declared intention to relate the whole matter).

143–246 The focus of the dream vision now shifts from the "past perfect," in which the fates of legendary lovers have long been decided in the ancient past and are memorialized in static pictures, to the suspended "continuous present": the thousands now in the temple are redi to complein (line 145), and the out­comes of their cases remain undecided. This is the anxious context out of which will emerge the figure of a lady pleading her case to Venus, and even at the end of the poem the fate of the central characters remains unknown. Those awaiting an audience with Venus are like the petitioners in other courts of love (e.g., Assembly of Ladies and James I’s Kingis Quair), and they are further remi­niscent of the groups who come asking favors of Fame in HF.

147–48 envie . . . fals Jelousie. Schick capitalizes envie to give it the force of person­ification, partly on the authority of RR lines 247–48: "Envye, that never lough / Nor never wel in hir herte ferde." I mark abstract nouns as personified figures where the immediate context dictates an allegorical sense (e.g., "fals Jelousie"); capitalization is employed elsewhere, but sparingly. "Lydgate’s practice seems sometimes to hover just short of personification, posing some difficulties for an editor" (TG, ed. Boffey, p. 33).

156 Daunger. Guardian of the rosebush in RR, lines 3015 ff., Daunger represents the lady’s aloof or guarded attitude towards her suitors, dramatized later in the poem when in lines 1047–53 the lady betrays no enthusiasm for her lover. Daunger is mentioned together with Disdain in PF, line 136, a line which may be the source of Lydgate’s.

159 poverté. Personified in RR, line 450.

175 Riches. Also personified in RR, line 1033. Compare PF, line 261.

179–95 And some ther were as maydens yung of age. The circumstances and the frank language recall Chaucer’s Merchant’s Tale, CT IV(E)1245–2418, to which Lydgate expressly alludes in the reference to the ill-matched marriage of Jan­uary and May. The theme is also taken up in Chaucer’s Miller’s Tale, CT I(A)3224–30.
Another version of the complaint (as given in MSS G and S) strongly suggests that the lady would have belonged to this group of plaintiffs; see explanatory notes to lines 126–28 and 335-69. In the extenuating light of such forced alliances between impotent old men and young women, Lydgate’s lovers should not have to plead very hard to justify their romantic wishes (the absorbing sentimentality of which verges at times on the anti-matrimonial in TG). Genuine affection — even if adulterous — is probably more noble by contrast.

182 elde. A personification in RR, line 349.

196–208 And right anon I herd othir crie. These others are "child oblates" who were committed at a young age by their parents or guardians to a monastery or convent. The Benedictine Rule was particularly strict in holding that oblates were bound for life to remain in their religious vocation, but the practice was (officially) obsolescent by the thirteenth century, and wherever it continued would have been controversial: as Lydgate himself observes, adult oblates learned to keep up superficial appearances. Lydgate was himself enlisted in the Benedictine monastery at Bury St. Edmunds when only a young adoles­cent, and he did not immediately take to the discipline (according to his own The Testament of Dan John Lydgate in The Minor Poems, ed. MacCracken), lead­ing Schick to conclude that "Lydgate was certainly thinking of himself when he wrote those lines" (TG, p. lxxxviii). But the complaint was widespread, even conventional; e.g., compare The Court of Love, lines 1095–1136, and James I’s Kingis Quair, lines 624–30. See de Jong, In Samuel’s Image.

199 That conseiles in hir tender youthe. Perhaps referring to meddling guardians or advisers (compare MED, counseils), but as this is not a very satisfactory reading Schick freely emends to constrayned. But the original passage makes good enough sense if we take the phrase to mean that the girls themselves lacked counsel or judgment (OED, counselless). Compare the gloss on the line in TG, ed. Boffey, p. 35.

202 yeris of discresioun. The age of reason (aetas intelligibilis) was variously deter­mined to be anywhere between twelve and fifteen years of age in the later Middle Ages.

205 hir smert. As their presence in the court of Venus indicates, these female oblates ("many a faire maide," line 207) most lament their enforced celibacy. Pearsall refers somewhat cryptically to the way in which Lydgate is led here "into slightly indecorous irrelevance" (John Lydgate [1970], p. 104), but that can only be the case if it is really shameful to acknowledge female sexual desire. The literature of amatory complaint of which TG is an example opens up a space in which such desires are expressed, analyzed, and sanctioned.

209–14 And other next . . . with such treté. The third group of women to complain con­cerning a lack of liberty in youth. Their argument for "fredom of eleccioun" in love recalls The Franklin’s Tale, CT V(F)761–69, and is parodied in other medieval texts (e.g., Jean de Meun’s Romance of the Rose, lines 13959 ff., and Chaucer’s Manciple’s Tale, CT IX[H]148–54). Also see the explanatory note to lines 342–44.

210 That. Here and elsewhere (e.g., lines 216, 639, 1256, 1266, and 1319) the de­monstrative has an "instrumental value," conveying the meaning for the reason that, for that, or in that. On this function of the pronoun, see the discussion in Couormont, "Studies on Lydgate’s Syntax," p. 31.

240 ne durst of hir no. An example of manifold negation in the poem; see Couormont, "Studies on Lydgate’s Syntax," p. 85.

244 covetise and slouth. Probably social rather than strictly moral vices, these dis­court­esies may be conceived along the lines of the "sins" of CA. There covet­ousness (a sub-topic of the fifth book) is a vice of promiscuous and indiscrim­inate love for more than one lady or a desire for a wealthy lady, and sloth (the main topic of the fourth book) is a vice of absent, unresponsive, or apathetic lovers. Likewise, in TG the virtues of the lady (see lines 284–307) are, as we discover, not conventional moral virtues — considering her secret, prohibited desires — but are in the courtly context no less important as signs of her social respectability, good manners, and fine sentiment.

248 Pallas with hir cristal sheld. Pallas Athene (Minerva), goddess of war and wis­dom, whose shield is a symbol of fortitude in Lydgate’s Troy Book 2.2557–60. It is not clear whether Pallas and Venus represent allied or opposing forces here (i.e., strength augmenting passion, or virtue opposing beauty). "In this context Pallas probably represents worldly wisdom, since there is also some precedent for associating the goddess with the art of seduction" (Crockett, "Venus Unveiled," p. 77; see TC 2.232 and 1062, CA 1.1147, and James I’s Kingis Quair, lines 781ff.). See explanatory note to lines 464 ff.

250–64 Hou that ther knelid a ladi in my syght . . . in my sighte. The long string of similes and superlatives, bracketed by repeated reference to the narrator’s vision, reemphasizes the subjective, first-person point of view — a voyeuristic male gaze that has been guiding the reader throughout but seems to become espe­cially conspicuous at moments of intensity. Lydgate’s narrator is becoming involved as an ardent lover, and his involvement bears comparison with the embarrassed enthusiasms of the narrator in Chaucer’s TC. The narrator’s scrupulous "inspeccioun" (line 278) of the lady will continue for another forty lines with a doting portrait of her physique, courtly manners, and elegant garments — in rhetorical terms, furnishing both an effictio (physical attri­butes) and ethopoeia (behavior). Granted, the narrator’s comparisons are conventional and formulaic rather than idiosyncratic; compare BD, lines 817 ff., and PF, lines 298–301, and see Brewer, "Ideal of Feminine Beauty."

253 Lucifer. Name of the morning star; also an aspect of Venus (see TG, ed. Boffey, p. 88).

271 brighter than gold were. The line is cited under the entry for MED wir (n.)1b: "fine wire used for filigree or other delicate work; also, metallic thread; a piece of such thread; also, a wire used in supporting an arrangement of a woman’s hair." But it is an eccentric spelling and has as much claim to the subjunctive of the verb "to be."

294 An exemplarie, and mirrour. The lady exemplifies or reflects an ideal image of courtly refinement to which others should strive to conform. See also lines 752–54 and 974. On the mirror metaphor in medieval literature, see Grabes, Mutable Glass.

299 al clad in grene and white. Norton-Smith suggests that green and white signify constancy and chastity. These are the colors of the hawthorn chaplet be­stowed by Venus in lines 503–08, where the evergreen appears to signify con­stancy and youth. The same colors are used in the description of Alceste, a figure of the faithful wife, in LGW, F Prol. 242. Crockett, in "Venus Unveiled," p. 78, observes that green is elsewhere a "chaungable colour" (Lydgate’s Fall of Princes 7.1240), but this does not square with the prior description of the lady (e.g., hir vertu and hir stabilnes, line 306). Her colors are black, red, and white in MSS G and S.

303–04 With sondri rolles on hir garnement / Forto expoune the trouth of hir entent. "Embroi­dered texts were a relatively common feature on items of aristocratic dress" (TG, ed. Boffey, p. 39). Compare The Assembly of Ladies, lines 85–89, 206–08, and 306–08. But equally there may be a faint reminiscence of Boethius’ Con­solation of Philosophy 1.pr1.18–22, describ­ing a vision of Philosophy’s robes embroidered with Greek letters (signifying prac­tical and theoretical wisdom). Chaucer’s Boece was copied in one of the same manuscripts (MS BL Additional 16165) as TG, and so may encourage the connection; in fact the lady’s "reson" is remarked in line 1053.

310 De Mieulx en Mieulx. The lady’s motto, "From Better to Better," is a stock phrase in French and Middle English. It is also the motto of the Pastons, a leading family from East Anglia in the fifteenth century, who are known to have owned a copy of TG (see TG, ed. Schick, p. xxv). There has been an at­tempt to show that TG was composed for a Paston wedding (see MacCracken, "Additional Light"), but it is neither suitable nor very flattering as an epitha­lamium if there is any suggestion that the lady is escaping an earlier marriage. More­over, the fact that the lady in the poem bears the motto on her dress before she is betrothed argues against such an occasion. Other attempts to identify the occasion of the work are mentioned in the introduction to this edition. Pearsall, in John Lydgate (1970), p. 84, is probably right in observing that the search for a patron and occasion is "something to appease our sense of the preposterousness of a monk writing love-poems."
310-20 The lady’s litel bil (line 317), which so candidly expresses the somme of al hir wil (line 318), attests to her primacy and unusual initiative within the dream vision. As Scanlon observes, "In contrast to the aloof and capricious heroines of ro­mance, this protagonist is from the beginning the source of her own desire rather than a reflection of someone else’s. With her entreaty to Venus, it is she who makes the first move. While not unprecedented, this portrayal by Lydgate is highly unusual. It is not just that he endows this lady with erotic agency. In giving her desire narrative priority, he also gives her the capacity of suffering to the full agonies of the courtly lover, that mark of sublime privilege almost entirely reserved to make figures" ("Lydgate’s Poetics," p. 86).

335–69 The lady’s complaint is elliptical but suggests the situation of a woman unhap­pily married or betrothed without her consent (resembling those described in lines 209–14), or possibly subject to a religious vow (like those in lines 196–208). That she is caught in a loveless marriage — and is consequently complaining against neither a prospective marriage nor an undesirable religious vocation — is perhaps suggested by the phrases bodi knyt (line 338), we be on (line 341), and undir subjeccion (line 344), though the lines may simply suggest a reluctance to give up her freedom, specified by the Bible as a consequence of marriage. E.g., Genesis 2:24 or Ephesians 5:22–31: "Let women be subject to their husbands. . . . And they shall be two in one flesh." Only later do we discover that the lady faces a further obstacle in the fact that the object of her affection seems unaware of her love. In effect, Venus has not only to remove the impediment of some prior bond, but she must establish another. It is not Lydgate’s style in this poem to divulge the particulars all at once but rather, through carefully controlling the narrative focalization, to release details about the love intrigue little by little. But given the ambiguities of love and affective attachment, some uncertainties may never be resolved. MSS G and S are equally vague about the situation: in this alternative version of the poem these lines are replaced with others in which the lady complains bitterly about the jealousy of some unidentified figure, perhaps an old hus­band but possibly a parent or guardian. Following are the stanzas that stand in place of lines 335–69 (based on S):






"So that you list of youre benignyté
Goodly to sen and shapen remedye
Of wikked tonges and of the creweltee
That they may compas thoroghe fals envye
To quenche theyre venyme and hir felonye
Wher that they hyndre wymmen giltlesse:
Styntethe this werre and lat us leven in pees.

"I pleyne also upon Jalousye
The wylde serpent, the snake tortuous
That is so crokid and frownyng on hye
Ifret with aysel that maketh hem suspecious —
By al kynde thou art so envyous,
Of every thing the worste for to deme,
That ther is nothing that may his hert qweme.

"Thus is he fryed in his owen grese
Torent and torne with his owen rage,
And ever froward groynyng causelesse,
Whose raysoun fayllethe nowe in olde dotage:
This is the maner of croked, fer in age.
Whan they ben coupled with youthe they can no more
But hem waryen — wymmen ben ful sore.

"Thus evere in tourment and yre furyous
We ben oppressed — allas that harde stounde —
Ryght as youreself were with Vulcanus
Ageyns youre wille and your hert bounde.
Nowe for the joye whilome that ye founde
With Mars youre knyght, upon myn compleynt rewe,
For love of yowe that was so fresshe of hewe.



smugly malcontent
Consumed; bitterness
By nature
thinking the worst

fried; fat
contrary; without reason
reason fails
crooked [men], advanced

curse; fully annoyed

furious anger
difficult time


The fear of "wikked tonges" and the dangerous burdens of public exposure remind one of Criseyde’s reflections in TC 2.729–812 on the unpredictabilities of jealousy and male preoccupation with possession. The Vulcan-Mars analogue does, however, suggest jealous husband rather than simply jealous male.

338 The bodi knyt, althoughe my thought be fre. A similar dilemma afflicts a group of female plaintiffs whose bodies are constrained in James I’s Kingis Quair, lines 631–44.

342–44 Mi worship sauf, I faile eleccioun . . . undir subjeccion. The lady is declaring that while she maintains some social respectability in her current situation (e.g., re­maining in a loveless situation), it is neither genuinely holy (of God) nor natural (Kynd). The emphasis on the lady’s lack of freedom joins a tissue of intertextual references (see explanatory note to lines 209–14), provoking comparisons with Ami’s justification of adultery in Jean de Meun’s Romance of the Rose, lines 9421 ff.

350–52 Similar sentiments are expressed in Chaucer’s Complaint Unto Pity, lines 99–100; PF, lines 90–91; and in The Court of Love, line 988. They all may have origins in Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy 3.pr3.33–36. But the lines also recall the moral paradox of Romans 7:14–25: e.g., "For the good which I will, I do not: but the evil which I will not, that I do." If so, the lady’s speech is an ironic redefinition of St. Paul’s complaint that his innermost spiritual desires ("the law of my mind") are at odds with the body to which he is bound ("the law of sin that is in my members"). This is a bold description of the lady’s pre­dica­ment: is her marriage a sin for which she requires redemption through adul­tery? Indeed the pathos of the poem relies on what Crockett calls "religious inversion," when, for example, Venus goes on to describe the lady’s situation as a "purgatorie" (line 375). On the courtly "religion of love," see Lewis, Allegory of Love, pp.18–22, and Spearing, Medieval Dream-Poetry, p. 28.

382 ye. The first occurrence in the poem of the second person "plural of cour­tesy," used here by Venus to address the lady. Elsewhere the same decorum is used by the lady towards the knight and the knight towards the lady, thus demonstrating something of their cultivated speech or "daliaunce" (line 291). See Couormont, "Studies on Lydgate’s Syntax," pp. 64–66.

385–87 Withoute chaunge of mutabilité . . . To take louli youre adversité. The lady’s endur­ance and dedication suggest that she may not be one of those other types of women, represented in antifeminist satire, who are inconstant and indiscrim­inate. But see Crockett’s "Venus Unveiled" for an unsympathetic reading along these lines and the suggestion that the lady is idolatrous, unfaithful, and concupiscent.

389 old Saturne, my fadur. "In Astrol., on account of its remoteness and slowness of motion, Saturn was supposed to cause coldness, sluggishness, and gloominess of temperament in those born under its influence, and in general to have a baleful effect on human affairs" (OED, Saturn 2). Lydgate would have known the story of the birth of Venus from any number of sources, including Jean de Meun’s Romance of the Rose, lines 5535–54, and, especially, The Knight’s Tale, CT I(A)2443-78. Saturn can be said to have "fathered" Venus only indi­rectly when he cast his own father’s genitals into the sea, from whence Venus emerged. See also Fulgentius the Mythographer 1.1 and 2.1 (trans. Whitbread, pp. 49 and 66–67).

398–404 Following the logic of Pandarus ("By his contrarie is every thyng declared") in TC 1.637–48, and expounded elsewhere in Chaucer. This doctrine of contraries has respectable origins in Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy 4.pr2.10–12. See also lines 1250–63 in TG.

401 waped and amate. The OED entry for whaped, "bewildered, dismayed," cites this very line. MED wappen (v.)1c refers to the same collocation as it is em­ployed in Lydgate’s Troy Book 4.3647, giving it an expansive figurative sense: "to be plunged or driven (into an emotional state), be stricken (with grief), be astonished or dismayed." Potential ambiguity with the word wappen (v.)2 "to drape, cover" is admitted. Amati is a chess metaphor, i.e., to be "checkmated."

405–11 Grisilde . . . Penalope . . . Dorigene. Griselda has been referred to in lines 75–76, Penelope in lines 67–69; see explanatory notes above. Dorigen is the heroine of Chaucer’s Franklin’s Tale, CT V(F)729–1624, where she contemplates suicide to avoid marital infidelity. Oddly, Venus has chosen examples of three faithful wives whose marriages are happily salvaged.

411 joy is ende and fine of paine. Sounding like Pandarus again in TC 1.952. See Whiting J61.

436 my brond. Venus’ firebrand as described, for example, in Alan of Lille, Anticlaudianus 9.233–34 (trans. Sheridan, p. 210), and invoked in numerous other medieval texts. Compare PF 113–14 and The Merchant’s Tale (CT IV[E]1777); and see RR, lines 3705–10. The image figures throughout Lydgate’s Reson and Sensuallyte, lines 1578–89, 2023–24, 4117–26, 4295, and 6949; and the following epit­ome appears as a gloss to lines 1578–79 on fol. 223b of MS Fairfax 16: "¶ Hoc fingunt poete propter ardorem libidinis" ("The poets write this because of the flame of desire"). Cupid has his own "brond" at line 838 in TG.

447–53 Compare the improving effects of love in TC 3.1744–50 and 1786–1806.

453–54 The following stanza is interposed between lines 453 and 454 in the alterna­tive version of the poem that survives in MSS G and S (based on S):


And whi that I so sore to you him bynde
Is that for ye so many have forsake,
Bothe wyse, worthy, and eke gentil of kynde,
Pleynly refused oonly for his sake:
He shal to yow, whether he slepe or wake,
Be evyn suche under hope and drede,
As you list ordeyne of your wommanhed.
454 this goodli faire, fressh. Previous editors have placed a comma between goodli and faire, making the latter an adjective and the former an adjectival noun as it is later, in line 1402. Precisely this adjective-noun construction, however, is used by Lydgate in Fall of Princes 1.6930 ("The goodli faire that lith heere specheles"); compare also his Reson and Sensuallyte, lines 5984-85 ("the goodly freshe faire, / That was fairer") and TG lines 577 ("The goodli fressh in the tempil") and 731 ("That goodli fressh"). Berthelet’s print of TG clarifies the construction by emendation to "goodli ladi," though the alternate version in S (the basis for Boffey’s edition of TG) reads "this goodely, feyre and fresshe."

464 ff. Whilom conquered the appel. Referring to the legend according to which Paris was instructed by Jupiter to award a golden apple to the most beautiful of three goddesses, Venus, Juno, and Pallas. See, for example, Ovid’s Heroides 16.53–88, Ars Amatoria 1.245–48 and 1.623–28, and Remedia Amoris lines 709–14. Lydgate would have known that Paris’ preference for Venus was interpreted by medieval mythographers as a choice of "beauty over wisdom" (Crockett, "Venus Unveiled," p. 81; see Fulgentius the Mythographer, 2.1 [trans. Whitbread, pp. 64–67]). Compare Lydgate’s Troy Book 2.2635–2792.

492 subjeccioun. In courtly love relationships the lady becomes the dominant figure exercising control over her male suitor in an inversion of the approved power differential of medieval marriage in which the woman is subject to the man (e.g., likely alluded to above in line 344). See Duby, Love and Marriage, p. 62; and Boase, Origin and Meaning of Courtly Love.

495–96 The following stanzas are interposed between lines 495 and 496 in the alternative version of the poem that survives in MSS G and S (based on S):




And in despyte platly of hem alle
That been to love so contraryous,
I shal hym cherysshe whatsoevere falle,
That is in love so pleyne and vertuous,
Maugré alle tho that ben desyrous,
To speken us harme, thoroughe grucching and envye
Of that ilk serpent cleped Jalousye.

And for hem, lady, if I durst preye,
Menyng no vengeaunce but correcioun,
To chastyse hem with torment or they deye
For hir untrowthe and fals suspessyoun,
That deme the werste in here opynyoun,
Withouten desert: wherfore we wowche
To punysshe hem for theyre malebouche.

To that they may stonden in reproof
Unto alle loveris for hir cursedenesse,
Withouten mercy, forsakyn at mescheef,
Whan hem lyste best have mercy of hire distresse,
And for hir falshede and for hir doublenesse,
And in despyte right as amonge thes foules,
Ben jayis, pyis, thees lapwyngis and thes owlys.



same; called

dared pray

before; die

judge the worst
Without justice; affirm

To that [extent]

in time of distress
they would most desire
[Standing] despised; fowls
magpies; lapwings; owls
503–16 Another version of TG (surviving in MSS G and S) deviates at this point. Hawthorn branches become roses, and the lady is named (based on S):



And thanne anon Venus cast adoune
Into hir lappe roses white and rede
And fresshe of hewe, that wenten envyroun
In compas wyse even aboute hir hede,
[And bad hyre kepe her of hir goodly hede]
Whiche shal not fade ne never waxen olde
If she hir biddyng folowe as she hathe tolde.

And so as ye ben called Margarete,
Folowethe the feythe that hit dothe specifye:
This is to seyne, bethe in colde and heete
Ever of oon hert, as is the dayesye
Elyche fresshe, whiche that may not dye
Thorowe no stormes ne duresse, how it be kene,
Namore in winter thanne in somer grene.

all around

Always fresh
however intense

Norton-Smith, in "Lydgate’s Changes," suggests a revision was made to avoid the negative association of white and red roses with ephemeral pleasures and passions (compare line 299 of the poem, and see Troy Book 2.2531–41); but note that the same colors have positive connotations elsewhere in Lydgate (see MacCracken, "Additional Light," p. 135). Margaret may be the given name of a real lady, as has been supposed by Seaton, Sir Richard Roos, p. 375–83. However, it may instead be a sobriquet or an emblematic name, on which see TG, ed. Boffey, p. 51. Bianco, in "New Perspectives," p. 104, sug­gests that because variation among different versions of the poem concerns changes in the lady’s dress, motto, and chaplet, TG was probably "customized" to fit different occasions and individual ladies. Norton-Smith argues, less per­suasively, that the changes reflect an artistic process whereby the poem was revised and improved over time (resulting in the "final" version of the poem represented, for example, in the present copy-text T).

524 the goddes shoke hir hede. As in Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale, CT I(A)2265.

530 de mieulx en mieulx magré. Norton-Smith paraphrases the line, "I shall obey you better and better in spite of whatever happens" (TG, p. 187). The version of the poem in MSS G and S has a different motto ("To doon youre biddyng humblement magree"), meaning to promise humbly despite it all.

541 with sparouis and dovues. Sparrows and doves are the birds most commonly affiliated with Venus — sparrows for desire and doves for palpitation, trilling and cooing, and loyalty. In the General Prologue to CT, the Summoner himself is said to be hot and "lecherous as a sparwe" (CT I[A]626). See also Chaucer’s Summoner’s Tale, where the lecherous friar embraces Thomas’ wife and "chirketh as a sparwe" (CT III[D]1804). For doves and Venus, see The Romance of the Rose representations of Venus surmounted by doves (love birds) or being drawn in a chariot powered by doves as in Morgan 132 f. 117v (reprinted in Dunn’s edition of The Romance of the Rose, p. 336).

546 I went my wai for the multitude. One of the emerging parallels between the nar­rator and the lover, who is first introduced walking alone outside the temple.

553 ff. Withoute espiing of eni othir wight. Except that the lover does not escape the close surveillance of the dreamer-poet who, without any scruples, relates the private spectacle of a man unwittingly falling for an apparently unattainable (possibly married) woman. But the particulars are still vague. The man thinks his only misfortune is to have been wounded by Cupid, and the reader might assume that he loves a different lady: for the narrator holds back (or lacks) crucial bits of information, and the full implications only emerge in the subtle symmetries of language, imagery, and incident. Lydgate’s poem consists of a careful choreography of concealment and exposure, the pleasure of which lies partly in the postponing and progressive unveiling of the truth.

567–70 In these lines the lover’s lament echoes that of the lady: both speak of being bound, lacking eleccioun, being put under subjeccioun. But the suffering of the man is caused by the affliction of love, whereas for the lady it is being kept from love, whether by social constraint or personal choice.

572 ff. The man’s sodein aventur (line 589) is reminiscent of the unexpected con­version of Troilus (who during a visit to a different temple "Wax sodeynly moost subgit unto love," TC 1.231), though in Lydgate’s poem questions must arise as to why the man has come to Venus’ temple in the first place if not already a supplicant.

577 The goodli fressh in the tempil yonder. Unable to follow the man’s line of sight, we are left to conjecture whether this is the lady from the first part of the poem.

606–09 A nwe tempest forcasteth now my baarge. Compare TC 1.415–18.

612-13 lode-ster. . . so hid with cloudes that ben blake. Literally, the Pole Star, but more figuratively a stable point of reference, the lodestar makes several appear­ances in Chaucer’s work: in The Knight’s Tale (CT I[A]2056-60), the North Star’s legendary origin in the figure of Callisto is among the figures painted on the walls of Diana’s temple (see Metam. 2.409–509). Troilus twice refers to lodestars in the final book of TC: first in reference to Criseyde (5.232) and second in reference to God (5.1392). Lydgate, referring to "cloudes" that hide the star (line 613) seems to mean the literal North Star, with its mythological implications, but the figurative meaning of guidance lost is certainly appro­priate for the character of the lover who describes himself as a ship driven by a heedless tempest. These latter images no doubt owe much to Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy 1.m7, where "blacke cloudes" obstruct happy navigation (Chaucer’s translation). Compare Boece 1.m3 where Boreas blows away the dark clouds to reveal the stars so that, next day, Phebus may shine brightly and "with sodeyn light . . . smyteth with his beemes in merveylyng eien" (Chaucer’s translation).

618 He. T: And. Norton-Smith’s emendation. One might justify the manuscript reading on grounds that the loose and awkward syntax is appropriate to the knight’s rambling and declamatory complaint in which erratic shifts in subject, tense, and case tend to preponderate. But Norton-Smith’s emendation makes the long sentence so much more readable that I have succumbed, in this instance, to the earlier editor’s desire for clarity and sound syntax.

629 knoweth not to whom forto discure. The lover, filled with torment and pain (line 628) wonders to whom he might disclose his secret love. Compare lines 915-17, when he must meekly Discure his wound and shew it to his lech or else die for lack of speech. The passages echo Boece 1.p4.4-6, where Lady Philosophy advises the disconsolate Boece: "Yif thou abidest after helpe of thi leche, the byhoveth discovre thy wownde" (Chaucer’s translation). Here, the discon­solate lover’s leche appears to be his lady. He knows that only she can heal him and that can only happen if he "discure his wound and shew it" to her, but how that may be accomplished, either for him or for her, is not readily apparent. So he contines in his pein.

641 ff. Hope and Drede. An example of psychomachia (i.e., a battle within the soul between allegorical forces), the medieval taste for which allegories goes back to a well-known fourth-century poem, Prudentius’ Psychomachia. Compare Troilus and Criseyde on the might of their consummated love, being caught "betwixen drede and sikernesse" (TC 3.1315).

689 But stonde doumb, stil as eni stone. See Whiting S762.

701 Citheria. Another name for Venus.

703–04 Cirrea . . . thi sete. Cirrha, an ancient Greek city, is all of a sudden revealed to be the location of the Temple of Glass. Together with Parnassus and Helicon, Cirrha was thought to have been one of the favorite haunts of the Muses. See TG, ed. Schick, pp. 104–06.
The lover’s reference to Venus’ temple as her sete emphasizes that it is not just her home (MED n.2c), but that it is also her exalted position of power (MED n.1f and g), a symbolism that borders on the sacrilegious.

706 river of Elicon. Helicon is a large mountain in Greece.

736–70 These five stanzas apparently drew considerable interest from later medieval anthologizers, who used them variously as stand-alone lyrics. London, BL MS Sloane 1212, for instance, which contains fragments of one of the copies of TG, begins with a separate lyric of thirty-six lines, the greater part of which corresponds to lines 736-54 and 762-63 (collected as #139 in Robbins, ed., Secular Lyrics). The Bannatyne MS (Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland Adv MS 1.1.6) contains another lyric based on these lines (fol. 220v, see Boffey and Edwards, New Index 851/10), corresponding to lines 743-56 and 764-70.

743 in myn hert enprentid. Compare Chaucer’s Merchant’s Tale, CT IV(E)2178.

759 in vertue nwe and nwe. Subtly suggestive of the lady’s motto.

764 What wonder than though I be with drede. He fears rejection because his beloved lady does not betray any expression of "pité" in her demeanor — which is what one should expect of a sophisticated courtly lady, no less than from a married woman. Ironically, if she is the same lady who was the subject of the first part of the poem, then the lover faces greater obstacles than he knows.

778–91 Couormont identifies these lines as containing the "worst passage in our poem," conceding that it nevertheless "does not lack a certain clumsy sym­metry." The critic finds fault with what he perceives to be the undue length of the sentence (seventeen lines without a full stop), the proliferation of subordinate clauses, and the deferral of the main clause. See Couormont, "Studies on Lydgate’s Syntax," pp. 134–35. But the whole passage is finely balanced and elegantly structured around the two stanzas: each starts off with a comparative statement (To bene as trwe as and To love as wel as), and the fifth line of each reiterates the vow Right so shal I. . . . And there is no lack of verbs throughout the passage, giving it forward momentum and maintaining the focus of the passage on the lover’s undying love. See Hardman, "Lydgate’s Uneasy Syntax."

778–79 Antonyus / To Cleopatre. As recounted in Chaucer’s LGW, lines 580–705.

780–81 Or unto Tesbé . . . dethe. See explanatory note to lines 80–81.

782 Antropos me sleithe. Atropos, one of the three Fates, cuts the thread of life. Compare TC 4.1546.

785–86 Achilles . . . Polixene. See explanatory note to lines 94–95.

787–88 Hercules died when he put on a poisoned tunic given by his wife Deianera (Dianyre). The most detailed account of his love of Deianera in Middle English may be found in CA 2.2145–2307. Chaucer lists Hercules among the "fals and reccheles" lovers in HF, lines 397–404, because he left Deianera for the maiden Ide. Deianera, trying to win his love back, gave him a tunic that she thought had the power to make him love her. Instead, it was poisoned and killed him. The source for both Gower and Chaucer is Ovid’s Heroides 9. Chaucer relates some of the details in his Monk’s Tale, CT VII(B2)2095–2142; Gower mentions the pair in CA 8.2559–62. Given that Hercules’ love for Deianera was so mutable, he makes for a strange exemplary accompaniment to Achilles, and an odd model for the would-be lover to declare to Venus.

815 stremes of hir eyghen. Compare TC 1.304–05.

829 For hert, bodi, thought, life, lust, and alle. Almost verbatim from TC 5.1319 (as noted in TG, ed. Norton-Smith, p. 189). But see also BD, lines 116 and 768.

855–56 Cupide . . . / He shal ben helping. Venus appears to be granting the lover’s request that the lady be inflamed by Cupid’s brand (see lines 836–44), but Venus knows — and yet does not let it slip — that the lady is already desper­ately in love (see Torti, Glass of Form, p. 76). Cupid’s blindness is proverbial: see Whiting C634.

866 trw as eny stele. Proverbial: see Whiting S709.

905 For specheles nothing maist thou spede. Genius’ dictum in CA 1.1293.

913–17 The analogy goes back to Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy 1.pr4.4–6, adapted in the context of Pandarus’ advice to Troilus in TC 1.857–58. See note to line 169 above. On the proverbial tone of the idea see Whiting L173.

947 Mi penne I fele quaken as I write. Compare TC 4.13–14. The narrator’s involve­ment reaches a high point in this passage, where it is as if he has some personal stake in the love match. Like the lover in the poem the anguished narrator lacks words to express his "mater" and petitions a goddess to help him. Subtle correspondences suggest that the lover and dreamer are on some level inti­mately related (see Davidoff, Beginning Well, pp. 140–41; Torti, Glass of Form, pp. 81–82).

958–59 Thesiphone / And to hir sustren. Thesiphone is one of the three Furies, and she is summoned by Chaucer in TC 1.6–7 to help him compose "woful vers" and then invoked together with her sisters in 4.22–24 to sustain the tragic ending of the poem.

961–63 Nou lete youre teris into myn inke reyne . . . to peinte not, but spotte. The mixture of Furies’ tears and ink should so "blot" the paper that the lover’s complaint does not appear "painted" (depicted clearly or perhaps artfully) but "spotted" (represented imperfectly, smudging the paper as though with tears) as a proof of sincerity. A version of the "modesty topos," the poet’s declaration matches Pandarus’ instruction that Troilus write to Criseyde not "scryvenyssh or craftyly" but "Biblotte it with thi teris ek a lite" (TC 2.1026–27). Criseyde later receives a letter with "teris al depeynted" in TC 5.1599.

970-71 These two lines either reflect or give rise to a popular English song, whose existence is alluded to by Skelton’s Bowge of Court, line 253, and Garland of Laurel, lines 897-904. A fragmentary couplet of a similar (or identical) song, complete with music, can be found in Madrid, Escorial Library MS iv.a.24, fols. 114v-116r (Boffey and Edwards, New Index, 2782), printed by Robbins in the notes to the lyric "Parting is Death" (Secular Lyrics, p. 275). See Fallows, "Words and Music."

1005 secré. Secrecy has especially to be observed in adulterous liaisons, though it is always a courtly virtue: discretion is the soul of elegance. Moreover, secrecy affords lovers a chance for intensifying their pleasure (given the constant threat of exposure). But Bianco, in "New Perspectives," pp. 108–09, is astute in her observation of the paradoxical way in which the secret affair is "played out in a public arena" before a crowd of onlookers and co-celebrants in the Temple of Glass.

1042 Right as the fressh rodi rose new. Almost verbatim in PF, line 442.

1106–1284 The solemn act of binding hearts in oon (line 1108), here administered by the goddess and witnessed by her court, finally culminating in a ritual kiss, resembles a marriage ceremony. Kelly, in Love and Marriage, thinks it is a clan­destine marriage (pp. 291–93). However, it remains doubtful that the lady is free to enter into such a relationship with another man — unless, of course, such a restriction is itself what necessitates a covert coupling. The lovers’ quasi-nuptial tying of the knot (see line 1230) may rather be a formalized promise of a future together after the lady’s first husband is "disposed of, pre­sumably by death, so that she can marry someone else" (Spearing, Medieval Dream-Poetry, p. 176). Lydgate elsewhere uses the image of the knot to signify the marriage bond (e.g., as in Troy Book and Siege of Thebes), but it can also sym­bolize a bond of natural affection; see Renoir, "Binding Knot."
All of this is meant to be some consolation for the other knot binding the lady, but as Torti observes the new knot also reinforces the earlier bond: Venus requires that the lady discharge her prior obligations before consum­mating her relationship with the new man (Glass of Form, pp. 77–78). Venus’ ensuing sententious speech, a kind of homily to the lovers, is filled with moral injunctions to be truthful and patient. Venus may not so much represent un­regulated sexual desire (as depicted on the walls of the Temple of Glass) as a force for social integration and normative desire. Torti argues that Venus "increasingly speaks in terms of a Christian priest" (p. 80), and some time ago Pearsall called Venus "didactic" and "simply a mouthpiece for advice and instruction" (John Lydgate [1970], p. 107). And yet what increases the interest of her moral exhortations is the way they are inevitably inflected by the irony, unortho­doxy, and possible impropriety of the amatory situation. Her reasons for self-restraint are no less pragmatic that those of Pandarus (e.g., TC 1.953–61). See Bianco’s equally skeptical remarks, in "New Perspectives," pp. 111–14, about the supposed "Christianization" of Venus in TG.
1106 golden cheyne. The chain of love may be adapted from Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy 2.m8. But this is only the last of several references to chains in the poem (compare lines 126–28, 355, 523, and 574), in the earliest of which the notion of binding may not be auspicious: "When she binds the lovers together . . . is she performing a ‘marriage’ ceremony, or simply echoing the action of Vulcan in the early part of the poem?" (Bianco, "New Perspectives," p. 111).

1120 my cheyne that maked is of stele. Venus’ steel chain echoes back to line 666, where she promises to make the lady "as trw as eny stele," a statement that is reminiscent of any number of Chaucerian references to love "of steel," love unconditionaly strong and loyal (see, e.g., HF, line 683, TC 4.325, and LGW F.Prol.334). In the alternate version of TG in S, however, this line (S1140) is altered to read "my cheyne that is golde yche dele," perhaps under the influ­ence of the "golden cheyne" in line 1106 or of the fact that the arrows of the God of Love are specifically said in RR to be all of gold, not steel (lines 946–47).

1122 his long servise. As if conforming to the unities of time and place, the temporal sequence of allegorical events represents a condensed and anachronistic version of real events. Supposedly a "long" time has passed since the lover was first smitten.

1128 chaunge for no nwe. Compare LGW, line 1235.

1138–39 Late him for trouth then finde trouth agein. Compare TC 2.390–92.

1143 And love for love woulde wele biseme. See Whiting L506.

1153 constant as a walle. See Whiting W11–18. The line is reminiscent of Chaucer’s Clerk’s Tale (CT IV[E]1047), particularly in light of earlier references to Griselda in lines 75–76 and 405 of TG. See Scanlon, "Lydgate’s Poetics," pp. 90–91.

1157 Tempest thee not but ever in stidfastnes. Compare Chaucer’s "Truth: Balade de Bon Conseyl," line 8: "Tempest thee noght . . ."

1164 champartie. "The practice of aiding a litigant for a share of the matter in dispute, champerty," or "to hold one’s own (orig., keep or get one’s share), contend successfully" (MED 1 and 2a.).

1183 Woorde is but winde. A proverb found, among other places, in CA 3.2768. See Whiting W643.

1193 So thee to preve, thou ert put in delay. The principle seems to be intrinsic to Lyd­gate’s poem, structured as it is around seductive deferrals and displace­ments, frustrating the reader’s desire for disclosure. The payoff is greater pleasure, as Venus would say: "folk also rejosshe more of light / That thei with derknes were waped and amate" (lines 400–01; compare lines 1250–63). Lydgate seems to be complicit with Venus.

1225 my key of gold. Compare Guillame de Lorris, Romance of the Rose, lines 1999–2004.

1232–33 Saturne and Jove and Mars . . . And eke Cupide. Bianco, in "New Perspectives," pp. 112–13, says these gods are "a most unpromising collection" given their appearances earlier in the poem. Saturn has been the cause of the lady’s misfortune (lines 388–89); Jove humiliated himself for one woman (lines 117–20), changing shape again to seduce another (lines 121–25); Mars was caught in flagrante delicto with the adulterous Venus (lines 126–28); and of course Cupid is blind and notoriously cruel and capricious (e.g., line 114). It is always the case that the unsavory and sexually promiscuous behavior of the gods is a liability, but perhaps they are meant here only as benign influences. In TC 3.625, it is the teaming up of Saturn and Jove that produces the great rainstorm that, for better or for worse, helps bring Troilus and Criseyde to­gether while Troilus worries about the bad aspects of Mars and Saturn at his birth (TC 3.715–19), which he asks Venus to avert, through her supplication of Jove, "Thy fader." As we have already seen in relation to Venus, for Lydgate ancient mythology is adaptable, multivalent, and employed for limited and local effects.

1303 Caliopé / And al hir sustren. Muse of epic poetry; together with her sisters she sings hymns of praise in HF, lines 1399–1401, and she is invoked to help the poet communicate the joy of the lovers in TC 3.45–48.

1308–09 Orpheus . . . with his harp. . . Orpheus is the legendary musician who features in Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy 3.m12 and the Middle English romance Sir Orfeo (c. 1300). Derived from classical sources, e.g., Metam. 10.1–85. See also Fulgentius the Mythographer, 3.10 (trans. Whitbread, pp. 96–98).

1310–11 Amphioun. King Amphioun, who builds the walls of Thebes with the power of his harp song (or "eloquence"), as Lydgate relates in Siege of Thebes, lines 201 ff. Mentioned, for example, in Chaucer’s Merchant’s Tale, CT IV(E)1716, and Manciple’s Tale, CT IX(H)116–17, and found variously in Statius, Ovid, Horace, and Boccaccio.

1341–61 This song, sung in praise of Venus by the lovers in the temple, takes the form of a three-stanza ballade including a refrain.

1348 Esperus. The evening star and another name for Venus (TG, ed. Boffey, p. 88).

1365 Oute of my slepe anone I did awake. Chaucer’s dreamer is similarly awakened by a roundel sung at the end of PF, lines 680–95.

1379 ff. I purpose here to maken and to write / A litil tretis. Like Chaucer at the end of TC 5.1765–78, Lydgate vows he will compose a poem (litil tretis) in praise of wo­men. The simpil tretis subsequently referred to in line 1387 may refer to the future encomium or to the present dream vision, but in any case the gesture towards writing is comparable to BD, lines 1330–34. Davidoff, in Beginning Well, pp. 144–45, argues that the resolve to write shows that the dreamer-poet has discovered in his dream the solution to his troubles: "For specheles nothing maist thou spede" (line 905). Early manuscripts attach to the poem a 628-line Compleynt, the circumstances of which are not relevant to the dream but which appears to have been treated by scribes (Pearsall postulates a "literal-minded scribe," John Lydgate [1970], p. 109) as a continuation of Lydgate’s TG.

1389 The alternative version of the poem contained in MSS G and S stops here, and so does not include the envoy or dedication found in MS Tanner.
1389–90 Forto expoune . . . the significaunce. The poet thinks his dream is worth interpret­ing (technically speaking, it is a somnium rather than a mundane insomnium). On the different types of dream see Chaucer’s discussion at the beginning of the HF, lines 1–52, the typology of which is originally derived from Macrobius’ Somnium Scipionis 1.3 (Commentary on the Dream of Scipio, trans. Stahl, pp. 87–89).

1392 my ladi may it loke. The identity of the lady throughout the closing section of the poem has been the cause of great uncertainty. She can be taken to be the "real life" counterpart of the lady envisaged within the dream vision. If so, then there are grounds for thinking of the dream as an objectification and elaboration of the distress that kept the poet awake at the beginning. The man within the dream would be no less than a projection of the dreamer-poet — demonstrating the truth of Chaucer’s notion that dreams are wish-fulfilment fantasies in which a lover will imagine winning his lady (PF, line 105; the notion was originally derived from Macrobius’ Somnium Scipionis 1.3.3 [Commentary on the Dream of Scipio, trans. Stahl, pp. 88–89]). On the conven­tional "need-to-fulfilment" structure of dream visions in general and of TG in particular, see Davidoff, Beginning Well, pp. 60–80 and 135–46. On the other hand, the dream may have provoked the dreamer’s love for some lady he knows or has yet to identify; or he may be referring first of all to Venus and then to some female patron for whom he writes. All of this is part of the framing fiction of TG, carefully contrived by the monk Lydgate (not a courtly lover himself), to leave open more than one possibility for interpretation. As the previous lines implied, the meaning of the dream is not self-evident and requires interpretation.

1393 ff. Nou go thi wai, thou litel rude boke. Imitating the envoy to TC 5.1786 ff. See also Gower’s Vade liber purus, with which he concludes CA.


Abbreviations: F: Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Fairfax 16; B: Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 638; G: Cambridge, University Library, MS Gg. 4.27; MED: Middle English Dictionary; S: London, British Library, MS Additional 16165; T: Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Tanner 346 [base-text]; NS: John Lydgate: Poems, ed. Norton-Smith; Sch: Temple of Glas, ed. Schick.

Title The Temple of Glas. The title is so ascribed in T, as well as all other MSS except F and B; see Sch, p. xvii.

2 For. T: ffor. Transcribed as a capital letter throughout this edition.

12 longe. T: long. Final -e has been added in several instances throughout for the sake of meter (i.e., eurhythmy). Besides longe (lines 12, 1373) changes of this nature include thoughte (15, 532); reporte (43); moste (61, 186); myghte (68, 89, 137, 285, 286, 309, 595, 1021); fresshe (70, 93, 184); trwe (71); herte (80, 312, 337, 363, 726, 756, 825, 839, 920, 921, 945, 986, 1182, 1205); dide (80, 116, 945, 1055, 1233); thilke (81); Troie (95); yunge, yonge (106, 193, 780); ofte (169, 193, 231, 669); kynde (224); finde (242, 1138); beste (292); harde (361, 957); shulde (191, 372); rejosshe (400); woulde (591, 893, 1143); hurte (601, 813); stonde (689); thanke (774); peyne (798); graunte (804); brente (840); waie (897); roughte (939); helpe (952, 959); peinte (963); righte (975); grete (984); bothe (1108); joye (1129); weie (1140); olde (1222); ferse (1236); founde (1239); withoute (1254); mente (1288); telle (1289); juste (1331); whiche (1334).

13 atte. T: at. So Sch and NS.

16 a. T omits. So Sch and NS.

17 wildirnesse. T: wildirnes. Supported by F and B.

18 liklynesse. T: liknesse. So Sch and NS.

30 atte. T: at. So Sch and NS.

32 Tofor. T: To fore. Joined throughout.

33 within and withoute. T: with in and with oute. Joined throughout.

55 Cartage. T: Carge. So Sch and NS.

72 she. T: sho. So NS.

74 daiesie. T: daisie. So Sch and NS.

75 also. T omits. So Sch and NS and supported by F and B.

84 forwrynkled. T: forwrynkked. So NS.

88 for his trespas. T omits for. So Sch and NS; but NS misreads trepas.

96–97 walkynge up and doun. / Ther sawe I. T omits two half-lines at this point, with a large ascending decorative initial causing a break in the text and the rhyme scheme. T reads Al this sawe I writen eke the hole tale. Emended fol­lowing the other MSS; so Sch and NS.

112 an arow. T: anoro. So Sch and NS.

113 thurughoute. T: thurugh oute.

115 Daphne. T: Diane. So Sch; NS emends to Dane.

116 that. T omits. So NS.

119 a. T omits. So Sch and NS.

123 passing. T: passig. So Sch and NS.
of. T: was. So Sch and NS.

129 poesie. T: poesre. So Sch and NS.

130 Philologye. T: Philloge. So Sch and NS.

133 lowli did. T: did lowli. So Sch and NS and supported by F and B.

149 obak. T: o bak. So NS.

150 causeles. T: causles. So Sch and NS.

154 T omits line. Sch and NS derive the missing line from other MSS.

160 on. Sch and NS emend to in; see MED on 20.d.

171 a. T omits. So Sch and NS.

175 on. T: in. NS emends to on, Sch to of.

192 soote. T: sute. Sch emends to So soote.

199 That conseiles. Sch emends conjecturally to That were constrayned.

208 That. T: Than. So Sch and NS.

213 at. T omits. So Sch and NS.

216 T omits line. Missing line derived from the other MSS; so Sch and NS.

227 geve. T: yeve.

249 statue. T: statute. So Sch.

262 hir. T: hirh.

281 geven. T: yeven.

287 or. T: er. So Sch and NS.

309–10 S, an early version of the poem, gives an alternative reading in these lines; see explanatory notes. In T the lady’s motto is rubricated here and in line 530.

311 This to. Sch emends to This is to.

320 T omits line. Missing line derived from the other MSS; so Sch and NS.

322 world. T: word. So Sch and NS.

323 hauteyn ben. T: ha doten. So Sch and NS and supported by F and B.

325 releser. T: relese. Emended on strength of B and other MSS.

327 Thurugh. T: Thurught. So Sch and NS.

335–69 Lines replaced by four stanzas in S; see explan­atory notes to lines 321-69.

345 ar. T: er. So Sch and NS.

365 albeit. T: al be it.

377 sadde. T: sad. So Sch and NS.

405 Grisilde was assaied atte. T: Grisild was assaied at. Accepting the metrical im­provement of Sch and NS on authority of F.

408 her. T omits. So Sch and NS.

411 Thus ever joy is ende. T has been changed to read: Thus evere joy is ended.

420 wounde. T: woude. So Sch and NS.

427 possession. T: possion. So Sch and NS.

449 benygne face. T has what appears to be grace (in an abbreviated form matching the spelling of the word found, for example, in lines 475 and 490) between benygne and face. Neither Sch nor NS register the extraneous word.

453–54 Other versions of the poem interpolate another stanza; see explanatory notes.

456 had. T: hath. So Sch and NS.

463 beaute. T omits. So Sch and NS.

465 his hygh request. T omits. So Sch and NS and supported by F and B.

478 Sith ye, my ladi, list nou to appese. T: With the, my ladi, list nou to have peas. Following Sch and NS on authority of F and B, but changing to ye instead of thee.

486 brought. T: brough. So Sch and NS.

489 hert. T: hort. So NS.

491 humbeli. T: humbli. So Sch and NS.

494–95 With the support of F and B, Sch and NS emend these lines to read: Unto his last: now laude and reverence / Be to youre name and to your excellence.

495–96 Other versions of the poem interpolate another three stanzas; see explan­atory notes.

504–06 Other versions of the poem read: roses white and rede / So fressh of hewe. See explanatory notes.

505 hawethorn. T: hawthorun. So Sch and NS.

518 for. T omits. So Sch and NS.

530 S and G have a different motto; see explanatory notes.

530a–b Explicit prima pars / Icy commence le secund parti de la songe. So T, NS. F, B, G, S, Sch omit.

541 And. T: An. So Sch and NS.

554 if. Blotted out in T.

563 in. Sch emends to by.

565 by himself. T: bym self. So Sch and NS.

587 him. Sch and NS emend to hir. I retain the masculine pronoun since it can refer back to God (579) or even the God of Love (572) under whose subjection the knight suffers for the lady.

602 take. T: tast. So NS.

608 possid. T: passid. So Sch and NS and supported by F and B.

612 Sch emends to I ne may not se; NS to (I wot) I mai not se. But the original can stand as a sensible and recognizable type of the "Lydgatian" line.

618 He. T: And. So NS.

635 myn owne. T: my. So Sch and NS.

638 That am distraught within myselfen so. MS: That I am distraught within myself so. So Sch and NS.

639 forto. T: for. So Sch and NS.

645 iset. Sch emends to set.

655 Sch and NS emend hold (i.e., detained, urged, obliged) to bold, despite evidence of other MSS.

657 contrarie. T: contrare. So NS.

664 myschef. Sch and NS emend to myself.

666 she. T: sho. So NS.

673 thorugh. T: though. So Sch and NS.

676 therewithal bitt. T: therewith bitter. So Sch and NS.

677 Sch emends to be bold but nevertheless retains the sense of the original in his gloss ("Hope makes me look for mercy"), appropriately given the next line about the face of the beloved.

694 thoughte. T: though. So Sch and NS.

703 al. T omits. So Sch and NS.

705 oft. T: of. So Sch and NS.

706 Elicon. T: eleccion. So Sch and NS.

711 Benigneli. T: Benigli. So Sch and NS.

719 so dere. T: sodere.

726 fire hire. T: hire fire. So Sch and NS.

736 geve. T: yeve.
hardines. NS misreads herdines.

741 woid. Sch and NS emend to vowed, but the spelling also occurs in 1128.

747 kyndenes. T: kyndnes. So Sch and NS.

767 therfor. T: therfro. So Sch and (silently) NS.

771 avowe. T: avove. So Sch and (silently) NS.

773 humbeli. T: humble. So NS.

785 as wel. T: aswel.

802 enclyne. NS misreads enclynce.

808 your. T omits. Sch and NS make the addition on the authority of other MSS.

821 Second I. T omits. So Sch and NS with support from F and B.

843 flaumed. T: baumed. So Sch and NS with support from F and B.

849 benygneli. T: benygli. So Sch and NS.

851 goodeli. T: goodli. So Sch and NS.

852 humbelie. T: humblie. So Sch and NS.

872 Demen. T: Semen. So Sch and NS.

877 dilacioun. T: dillusioun. So Sch and NS with support from F and B.

885 enspiren. T: enspire. So Sch and NS.

901 sage. T: sange.

915 hurtis. Sch emends to hertis.

928 NS adds may apparently to avoid a "Lydgatian" line.

939 that. Sch emends to though.

961 myn inke. T: myn eighe inke. "Eighe" is marked for deletion.

967 hidde. T: hid. So Sch and NS.

980 helpen. T: help. So Sch and NS.

983 to. T omits. So Sch and NS.

988 hidde. T: hid. So Sch and NS.

990 hath bound me to. T: me hath bound unto. So Sch and NS.

997 Whereso. T: Wheresoever. So Sch and NS and supported by F and B.

1000 goodeli. T: goodl. So NS. Sch emends to goodli.

1008 yow allone. T: yow ben allone. So Sch and NS following F and B.

1009 gan. T: began. So Sch and NS following F and B.

1012 deien. T: dein. So Sch and NS.

1013 any. T: anay. Second "a" marked for deletion.

1020 womanli. T: womanl. So Sch and NS.

1023 for. T omits. So Sch and NS.

1029 my wittes. T: as my wittes. So Sch and NS.

1034 atte. T: at. So NS.

1045 femynynité. T: femynyte. So Sch and NS.

1047 humbele. T: humble. So Sch. NS emends to humblei.

1057 behest. T: hest. So Sch and NS.

1082 list. T omits. So Sch and NS.

1087 hidde. T: hid. So Sch and NS.

1088 hertes. T: hert. So Sch. NS emends to hertis.

1098 relesen. T: plesen. So Sch and NS.

1105 mekeli. T: mekel. So Sch and NS.

1110 benygne. NS misreads benyngne.

1113 as hit is. T: at his. So Sch and NS.

1138 trouth2. T omits. So Sch and NS.

1144 geve. T: yeve.

1161 do them. Sch emends to hem don.

1165 alle. T: al. So Sch and NS.

1188 herte myne. T: hertes mynd. So Sch and NS following F and B.

1189 hir yyve. Sch emends to yyve hir.

1190 othir. T: oth. So Sch and NS.

1191 Sch and NS remove that, though the dactyl seems acceptable.

1208 worldis. T: wordis. So Sch and NS.

1217 Whan. T: Wan. So Sch and NS.

1229 bonde. T: bounde. So Sch and NS with support from F and B.

1230 is. T: ye. So Sch and NS.

1234 overmore. Sch and NS emend to evermore; but see MED overmor(e).

1237 falle. T: fal. So Sch and NS.

1257 in. T omits. So Sch and NS.

1270 knot. T: þnot. Þ marked for erasure. So Sch and NS.

1273 wele. Sch emends to well, NS to wel. Final –e was in the process of losing phonetic value during this period, but full feminine rhyme remains a possibility.

1278 so forthwith in. T: soforthe within. So Sch and NS.

1280 toke. T: eke. So Sch and NS.

1282 fulfillyng. T: fufillyng. So Sch and NS.

1283 wise. T: vise. So Sch and NS.

1284 As. T: And. So Sch and NS.

1289 thogh. T: thow.

1290 that. T and Sch omit. So NS.

1291 For. T: Forthe. So Sch and NS.

1293 of. T: to. So Sch and NS with support from F and B.

1297 shal. T omits. So Sch and NS with support from F and B.

1302 Geve. T: yeve.

1305 Sone. Sch enends to Gunne. NS emends to Gan.

1318 Withouten. T: Withoute. So Sch and NS.

1328 presscience. T: presence. A majority of MSS read presence yielding a four-beat line, and in order to correct for the deficient meter here and three lines later in the same stanza I follow previous editors by emending on the basis of S.

1331 providence. T: prudence. So Sch and NS.

1333 contune. T: tyme. So Sch and NS.

1336 gone. Sch and NS emend to gonne.

1346 Be. T: We. So Sch and NS.

1349 sterre. Sch and NS emend to stere.

1363 Which. T: With. So Sch and NS.

1377 Sein. T: Sei. So Sch and NS.

1383 fulle. T: ful. So Sch and NS.

1384 bounteous. T: bounteuos. Sch emends to bounteuous.
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John Lydgate, The Temple of Glas

from: The Temple of Glas  2007










































































































For thought, constreint, and grevous hevines,
For pensifhede and for heigh distres,
To bed I went nou this othir nyght, now;
Whan that Lucina with hir pale light
Was joyned last with Phebus in Aquarie,
Amyd Decembre, when of Januarie
Ther be kalendes of the nwe yere,
And derk Diane, ihorned, nothing clere,
Had hir bemys undir a mysty cloude.
Within my bed for sore I gan me shroude,
Al desolate for constreint of my wo,
The longe nyght waloing to and fro,
Til atte last, er I gan taken kepe,
Me did oppresse a sodein dedeli slepe,
Within the which me thoughte that I was
Ravysshid in spirit in a temple of glas
(I nyst how, ful fer in wildirnesse)
That foundid was, as bi liklynesse,
Not opon stele, but on a craggy roche
Like ise ifrore. And as I did approche
Again the sonne that shone, me thought, so clere
As eny cristal, and ever nere and nere
As I gan neigh this grisli dredful place,
I wex astonyed: the light so in my face
Bigan to smyte, so persing ever in one
On evere part, where that I gan gone,
That I ne myght nothing, as I would,
Abouten me considre and bihold
The wondre hestres, for brightnes of the sonne;
Til atte last certein skyes donne,
With wind ichaced, have her cours iwent
Tofore the stremes of Titan and iblent,
So that I myght, within and withoute,
Where so I walk, biholden me aboute,
Forto report the fasoun and manere
Of al this place that was circulere
In compaswise, round b’entaile wrought.1
And whan that I hade long gone and sought,
I fond a wiket and entrid in as fast
Into the temple, and myn eighen cast
On evere side, now lowe and eft aloft.
And right anone as I gan walken soft
(If I the soth aright reporte shal)
I saughe depeynt opon everé wal,
From est to west, ful many a faire image
Of sondri lovers, lich as thei were of age,
Isette in ordre aftir thei were trwe,
With lifli colours wondir fressh of hwe.
And (as me thought) I saughe somme sit and stonde,
And some kneling with billis in hir honde,
And some with compleint, woful and pitous,
With doleful chere to putten to Venus,
So as she sate fleting in the se,
Upon hire wo forto have pité.
And first of al I saugh there of Cartage
Dido the quene, so goodli of visage,
That gan complein hir adventure and caas,
Hou she deceyved was of Eneas,
For al his hestis and his othis sworne,
And said, alas, that ever she was borne,
Whan that she saugh that ded she moste be.
And next I saugh the compleint of Medee,
Hou that she was falsed of Jason.
And nygh bi Venus saugh I sit Addoun,
And al the maner hou the bore him slough,
For whom she wepte and hade pein inoughe.
There saugh I also, hou Penalopé,
For she so long hir lord ne myghte se,
Ful oft wex of colour pale and grene.
And aldernext was the fresshe quene,
I mene Alceste, the noble trwe wyfe,
And for Admete hou she lost hir life,
And for hir trouth, if I shal not lie,
Hou she was turnyd to a daiesie.
Ther was also Grisildis innocence,
And al hir mekenes and hir pacience.
There was eke Isaude, and meni anothir mo,
And al the turment and al the cruel wo
That she hade for Tristram al hir live.
And hou that Tesbie her herte dide rife
With thilke swerd of him Piramus.
And al the maner hou that Theseus
The Minatawre slow amyd the hous
That was forwrynkled bi craft of Dedalus,
When that he was in prison shette in Crete.
And hou that Phillis felt of loves hete
The grete fire of Demophon, alas,
And for his falshed and for his trespas
Upon the walles depeint men myghte se
Hou she was honged upon a filbert tre.
And mani a stori (mo then I rekin can)
Were in the tempil. And hou that Paris wan
The faire Heleyne, the lusti fresshe quene;
And hou Achilles was for Policene
Islain unwarli within Troie toune:
Al this sawe I walkynge up and doun.
Ther sawe I writen eke the hole tale,
Hou Philomene into a nyghtyngale
Iturned was, and Progne unto a swalow.
And hou the Sabyns in hir maner halowe
The fest of Lucresse yit in Rome toune.
There saugh I also the sorou of Palamoun,
That he in prison felt, and al the smert,
And hou that he thurugh unto his hert
Was hurt unwarli thurugh casting of an eyghe
Of faire fressh the yunge Emelie,
And al the strife bitwene him and his brothir,
And hou that one faught eke with that othir
Within the grove, til thei bi Theseus
Acordid were, as Chaucer tellith us.
And forthirmore (as I gan bihold),
I sawgh hou Phebus with an arow of gold
Iwoundid was thurughoute in his side,
Onli bi envie of the god Cupide;
And hou that Daphne unto a laurer tre
Iturned was when that she dide fle;
And hou that Jove gan to chaunge his cope
Oonli for love of the faire Europe,
And into a bole, when he did hir sue,
List of his godhode his fourme to transmwe;
And hou that he bi transmutacioun
The shap gan take of Amphitrioun
For his Almen so passing of beauté;
So was he hurt for al his deité
With loves dart, and myght it not ascape;
There saugh I also hou that Mars was take
Of Vulcanus and with Venus found,
And with the cheynes invisible bound.
Ther was also al the poesie
Of him, Mercurie, and Philologye,
And hou that she for hir sapience
Iweddit was to god of eloquence,
And hou the Musis lowli did obeie,
High into heven this ladi to convei,
And with hir song hou she was magnified
With Jubiter to bein istellified.
And uppermore depeint men myghte se
Hou with hir ring goodli Canacé
Of everé foule the ledne and the song
Coud undirstond as she welk hem among;
And hou hir brothir so oft holpen was
In his myschefe bi the stede of bras.
And forthermore in the tempil were
Ful mani a thousand of lovers here and there,
In sondri wise redi to complein
Unto the goddes of hir wo and pein,
Hou thei were hindrid, some for envie,
And hou the serpent of fals Jelousie
Ful many a lover hath iput obak,
And causeles on hem ilaid a lak.
And some ther were that pleyned on absence,
That werin exiled and put oute of presence
Thurugh wikkid tungis and fals suspecioun,
Withoute mercy or remyssyoun.
And other eke her servise spent in vain,
Thurugh cruel Daunger and also bi Disdain;
And some also that loved, soth to sein,
And of her ladi were not lovyd again.
And othir eke that for poverté
Durst on no wise hir grete adversité
Discure ne open lest thai were refusid;
And some for wanting also werin accusid,
And othir eke that loved secreli,
And of her ladi durst aske no merci,
Lest that she would of hem have despite;
And some also that putten ful grete wite
On double lovers that love thingis nwe,
Thurgh whos falsnes hindred be the trwe.
And some ther were, as it is ofte found,
That for her ladi meny a blodi wounde
Endurid hath in mani a regioun,
Whiles that an other hath poscessioun
Al of his ladi and berith awai the fruyte
Of his labur and of al his suyte.
And other eke compleyned on Riches,
Hou he with tresour doth his besines
To wynnen al againes kynd and ryght,
Wher trw lovers have force noon ne myght.
And some ther were as maydens yung of age,
That pleined sore with peping and with rage,
That thei were coupled ageines al nature
With croked elde, that may not long endure
Forto perfourme the lust of loves plai:
For it ne sit not unto fresshe May
Forto be coupled to oold Januari.
Thei ben so divers that thei moste varie,
For eld is grucching and malencolious,
Ay ful of ire and suspecious,
And iouth entendeth to joy and lustines,
To myrth and plai and to al gladnes.
Allas that ever that it shulde fal,
To soote sugre icoupled be with gal.
These yonge folk criden ofte sithe
And praied Venus hir pouer forto kithe
Upon this myschef and shape remedie.
And right anon I herd othir crie
With sobbing teris and with ful pitous soune,
Tofore the goddes bi lamentacioun,
That conseiles in hir tender youthe,
And in childhode (as it is oft couthe)
Yrendred were into religioun
Or thei hade yeris of discresioun,
That al her life cannot but complein,
In wide copis perfeccion to feine:
Ful covertli to curen al hir smert
And shew the contrarie outward of her hert.
Thus saugh I wepen many a faire maide,
That on hir freendis al the wite thei leide.
And other next I saugh there in gret rage,
That thei were maried in her tendir age
Withoute fredom of eleccioun,
Wher love hath seld domynacioun:
For love, at laarge and at liberté,
Would freli chese and not with such treté.
And other saugh I ful oft wepe and wring
That they in men founde swych variynge,
To love a seisoun while that beauté floureth,
And bi disdein so ungoodli loureth
On hir that whilom he callid his ladi dere,
That was to him so plesaunt and entere;
But lust with fairnes is so overgone,
That in her hert trouth abideth none.
And som also I saugh in teris reyne,
And pitousli on God and Kynde pleyne,
That ever thei would on eny creature
So mych beauté, passing bi mesure,
Set on a woman to geve occasioun
A man to love to his confusioun,
And nameli there where he shal have no grace;
For with a loke forthbi as he doth pace,
Ful ofte falleth, thurugh casting of an yghe,
A man is woundid that he most nedis deye,
That never efter, peraventure, shal hir se.
Whi wil God don so gret a cruelté
To eny man or to his creature,
To maken him so mych wo endure,
For hir percaas whom he shal in no wise
Rejoise never, but so forth in jewise
Ledin his life til that he be grave?
For he ne durst of hir no merci crave,
And eke, peraventure, though he durst and would
He can not wit where he hir finde shuld.
I saugh there eke (and therof hade I routhe)
That som were hindred for covetise and slouth,
And some also for her hastines,
And other eke for hir reklesnes.
But alderlast as I walk and biheld,
Beside Pallas with hir cristal sheld
Tofore the statue of Venus set on height,
Hou that ther knelid a ladi in my syght
Tofore the goddes, which right as the sonne
Passeth the sterres and doth hir stremes donne,
And Lucifer to voide the nyghtes sorow
In clerenes passeth erli bi the morow;2
And so as Mai hath the sovereinté
Of evere moneth, of fairnes and beauté;
And as the rose in swetnes and odoure
Surmounteth floures, and bawme of al licour
Haveth the pris; and as the rubie bright
Of al stones in beauté and in sight
(As it is know) hath the regalie:
Right so this ladi with hir goodli eighe
And with the stremes of hir loke so bright
Surmounteth al thurugh beauté in my sighte.
Forto tel hir gret semelines,
Hir womanhed, hir port, and hir fairnes,
It was a mervaile hou ever that Nature
Coude in hir werkis make a creature
So aungellike, so goodli on to se,
So femynyn or passing of beauté,
Whos sonnyssh here, brighter than gold were
Lich Phebus bemys shynyng in his spere;
The goodlihed eke of hir fresshli face,
So replenysshid of beauté and of grace,
So wel ennuyd bi Nature and depeint
That rose and lileis togedir were so meint,
So egalli bi good proporcioun
That (as me thought) in myn inspeccioun
I gan mervaile hou God or werk of Kynd
Mighten of beauté such a tresour find,
To geven hir so passing excellence.
For, in goode faith, thurugh hir heigh presence
The tempil was enlumynd enviroun.
And forto speke of condicioun
She was the best that myghte ben on lyve:
For ther was noon that with hir myghte strive,
To speke of bounté or of gentilles,
Of womanhed or of lowlynes,
Of curtesie or of goodlihed,
Of spech, of chere, or of semlyhed,
Of port benygne and of daliaunce
The beste taught, and therto of plesaunce
She was the wel, and eke of onesté
An exemplarie, and mirrour eke was she
Of secrenes, of trouth, of faythfulnes,
And to al other ladi and maistres,
To sue vertu, whoso list to lere.
And so this ladi benigne and humble of chere,
Kneling I saugh, al clad in grene and white,
Tofore Venus, goddes of al delite,
Embrouded al with stones and perre
So richeli that joi it was to se,
With sondri rolles on hir garnement
Forto expoune the trouth of hir entent,
And shew fulli that for hir humbilles,
And for hir vertu and hir stabilnes,
That she was rote of al womanli pleasaunce.
Therfore hir woord withoute variaunce
Enbrouded was, as men myghte se,
De Mieulx en Mieulx, with stones and perre.
This to sein that she, this benigne,
From bettir to bettir hir herte doth resigne
And al hir wil to Venus the goddes,
Whan that hir list hir harmes to redresse.
For, as me thought, sumwhat bi hir chere,
Forto compleyne she hade gret desire:
For in hir hond she held a litel bil
Forto declare the somme of al hir wil
And to the goddes hir quarel forto shewe,
Th’effect of which was this in wordys fewe:

“O ladi Venus, modir of Cupide,
That al this world hast in governaunce,
And hertes high that hauteyn ben of pride
Enclynyst mekeli to thin obeissaunce,
Causer of joie, releser of penaunce,
And with thi stremes canst everithing discerne
Thurugh hevenli fire of love that is eterne;

“O blisful sterre, persant and ful of light,
Of bemys gladsome, devoider of derknes,
Cheif recounford after the blak nyght,
To voide woful oute of her hevynes,
Take nou goode hede, ladi and goddesse,
So that my bil your grace may atteyne,
Redresse to finde of that I me compleyne.

“For I am bounde to thing that I nold,
Freli to chese there lak I liberté.
And so I want of that myn herte would —
The bodi knyt, althoughe my thought be fre —
So that I most of necessité
Myn hertis lust outward contrarie;
Thogh we be on, the dede most varie.

“Mi worship sauf, I faile eleccioun;
Again al right, bothe of God and Kynd,
There to be knit undir subjeccion,
Fro whens ferre ar both witte and mynde.
Mi thought gothe forthe, my bodi is behind,
For I am here and yonde my remembraunce:
Atwixen two so hang I in balaunce.

“Devoide of joie, of wo I have plenté.
What I desire, that mai I not possede,
For that I nold is redi aye to me,
And that I love forto swe I drede:
To my desire contrarie is my mede.
And thus I stond departid even on tweyn,
Of wille and dede ilaced in a chaine.

“For thoughe I brenne with fervence and with hete,
Within myn hert I mot complein of cold;
And thurugh myn axcesse thoghe I sweltre and swete,
Me to complein, God wot, I am not boold
Unto no wight; nor a woord unfold
Of al my peyne — allas the harde stond —
That hatter brenne that closid is my wounde.

“For he that hath myn herte feithfulli
And hole my luf in al honesti
Withoute chaunge, albeit secreli,
I have no space with him forto be.
O ladi Venus, consider nou and se
Unto the effecte and compleint of my bil,
Sith life and deth I put al in thi wil.”

And tho me thought the goddes did enclyne
Mekeli hir hede, and softli gan expresse
That in short tyme hir turment shulde fyne,
And hou of him for whom al hir distresse
Contynued had and al hir hevynes,
She would have joy, and of hir purgatorie
Be holpen sone and so forth lyve in glorie.

And seid: “Doughter, for the sadde trouthe,
The feithful menyng and the innocence
That planted bene withouten eny slouthe
In your persone, devoide of al defence,
So have atteyned to oure audience
That thurugh oure grace ye shul be wel relevyd,
I you bihote of al that hath you greved.

“And for that ye ever of oon entent,
Withoute chaunge of mutabilité
Have in your peynes ben so pacient
To take louli youre adversité,
And that so long thurugh the cruelté
Of old Saturne, my fadur, unfortuned:
Your wo shal nou no lenger be contuned.

“And thinkith this: within a litel while
It shal asswage and overpassen sone.
For men bi laiser passen meny a myle;
And oft also aftir a dropping mone,
The weddir clereth, and whan the storme is done,
The sonne shineth in his spere bright;
And joy awakith whan wo is put to flight.

“Remembreth eke hou never yit no wight
Ne came to wirship withoute some debate,
And folk also rejosshe more of light
That thei with derknes were waped and amate.
Non manis chaunce is alwai fortunate,
Ne no wight preiseith of sugre the swetnes
But thei afore have tasted bitternes.

“Grisilde was assaied atte ful,
That turned aftir to hir encrese of joye;
Penalope gan eke for sorowis dul,
For that her lord abode so long at Troie;
Also the turment there coude no man akoye
Of Dorigene, flour of al Britayne:
Thus ever joy is ende and fine of paine.

“And trusteth thus, for conclusioun,
The end of sorow is joi ivoide of drede.
For holi saintis thurugh her passioun,
Have heven iwonne for her soverain mede;
And plenti gladli foloith after nede.
And so, my doughter, after your grevauns
I you bihote ye shul have ful plesaunce.

“For ever of Love the maner and the guyse
Is forto hurt his servant and to wounde;
And when that he hath taughte hem his emprise,
He can in joi make hem to abounde
And sith that ye have in my lase be bound
Withoute grucching or rebellion,
Ye most of right have consolacioun.

“This is to sein — douteth never a dele —
That ye shal have ful possession
Of him that ye cherissh nou so wel
In honest maner withoute offencioun,
Bicause I cnowe your entencion
Is truli set, in parti and in al,
To love him best and most in special.

“For he that ye have chosen yow to serve
Shal be to yow such as ye desire
Withoute chaunge, fulli, til he sterve.
So with my brond I have him set afire,
And with my grace I shal him so enspire
That he in hert shal be ryght at your will,
Whethir ye list to save him or to spill.

“For unto yow his hert I shal so lowe,
Withoute spot of eny doubelnes,
That he ne shal escape fro the bowe —
Though that him list thurugh unstidfastnes —
I mene of Cupide that shal him so distres
Unto your hond, with the arow of gold,
That he ne shal escapen though he would.

“And sithe ye list of pité and of grace
In vertu oonli his youthe to cherice,
I shal b’aspectes of my benygne face,
Make him t’eschwe evere synne and vice
So that he shal have no maner spice
In his corage to love thingis nwe:
He shal to you so plain be found and trwe.”

And whan this goodli faire, fressh of hwe,
Humble and benygne, of trouth crop and rote,
Conceyved had hou Venus gan to rwe,
On hir praier plainli to do bote,
To chaunge hir bitter atones into soote,
She fel on kneis of heigh devocion,
And in this wise bigan hir orisoun:

“Heighest of high, quene and emperice,
Goddes of love, of goode yit the best,
That thurugh your beauté, withouten eny vice,
Whilom conquered the appel at the fest
That Jubiter thurugh his hygh request
To al the goddesse above celestial
Made in his paleis most imperial:

“To you my ladi, upholder of my life,
Mekeli I thanke, so as I mai suffice,
That ye list nou with hert ententif,
So graciousli for me to devyse,
That while I live, with humble sacrifise,
Upon your auters, your fest yere bi yere,
I shal encense casten in the fire.

“For of youre grace I am ful reconsiled
From evere trouble unto joy and ease,
That sorois al from me ben exiled,
Sith ye, my ladi, list nou to appese
Mi peynes old and fulli my disease
Unto gladnes so sodeinli to turne
Havyng no cause from hennes forth to mourne.

“For sithin ye so mekeli list to daunte
To my servyce him that loveth me best,
And of your bounté so graciousli to graunte
That he ne shal varie, thoughe him list,
Wherof myn hert is fulli brought to rest:
For nou and ever, o ladi myn benygne,
That hert and wil to yow hole I resigne.

“Thanking yow with al my ful hert
That of youre grace and visitacioun
So humbeli list him to convert
Fulli to bene at my subjeccioun
Withoute chaunge or transmutacioun
Unto his lust — laude and reverence
Be to youre name and your excellence!

“This al and some and chefe of my request
And hool substaunce of myn hole entent,
Yow thankyng ever of your graunt and hest,
Both nou and ever, that ye me grace have sent
To conquere him that never shal repent
Me forto serve and humbli to please,
As final tresur to myn hertis ease.”

And than anon Venus cast adoune
Into hir lap braunchis white and grene
Of hawethorn that wenten enviroun
Aboute hir hed, that joi it was to sene,
And bade hir kepe hem honestli and clene:
Which shul not fade ne nevir wexin old
If she hir bidding kepe, as she hath told:

“And as these bowghis be both faire and swete,
Folowith th’effect that thei do specifie:
This is to sein, both in cold and hete,
Beth of oon hert and of o fantasie
As ar these leves the which mai not die
Thurugh no dures of stormes that be kene,
No more in winter then in somer grene.

“Right so b’ensaumple for wele or for wo,
For joy, turment, or for adversité,
Wherso that fortune favour or be foo,
For povert, riches, or prosperité,
That ye youre hert kepe in oo degré
To love him best, for nothing that ye feine,
Whom I have bound so lowe undir youre cheine.”

And with that worde the goddes shoke hir hede
And was in peas and spake as tho no more.
And therwithal, ful femynyne of drede,
Me thoughte this ladi sighen gan ful sore
And saide again: “Ladi that maist restore
Hertes in joy from her adversité,
To do youre will de mieulx en mieulx magré.”
anxiety, distress; severe; (see note)
melancholy; high (great); (t-note)
(see note)
(see note)
Was last united
Amid; when concerning; (see note)
expectations; (see note)
dark; horned, not at all; (see note)
Had her beams [concealed]
sorrow; I did cover myself
for the oppression
turning; (t-note)
before I began to take notice; (t-note)
sudden deathlike; (see note)

Taken up; (see note); (t-note)
knew not; far (distant) [it was]; (t-note)
established; as it appeared; (t-note)
steel (iron firmness); rock
frozen ice; (see note)
did approach
became amazed (dazed)
strike; piercing continuously
On every; wherever I went

wondrous surroundings; sun
dark clouds; (t-note)
By; dispelled; their course turned
Before; obscured [them]; (see note); (t-note)
behold around me
To report the appearance

wicket (small gate); (see note)
eyes gazed
then high
as soon; to walk slowly
truth precisely (assuredly)
painted upon every; (see note)

i.e., come of age; (see note)
Arranged in the degree that

petitions (written pleas)

(see note)
sat floating; sea
their; pity
(see note); (t-note)
beautiful of face (demeanor)
situation (chance, fate)

Despite; vows; oaths

(see note)
deceived by
nearby; Adonis; (see note)
boar [killed him]
pain enough
(see note)
often became (varied)
next of all; joyous; (see note)


daisy; (t-note)
(see note); (t-note)

(see note)

pierce (split); (see note)

(see note)
slew; house [of Daedalus (Labyrinth)]; (see note)
twisted (convoluted, coiled); (t-note)
love’s heat; (see note)

falsehood; transgression; (t-note)

hanged; filbert (hazel) tree
won; (see note)
beautiful; attractive (amorous)
(see note)
Slain unexpectedly
(see note)

their; honor (celebrate); (see note)
feast day; still; (see note)
(see note)

(see note)

wooded area

(see note); (t-note)
deeply; (t-note)
(see note)
laurel tree; (t-note)
cloak (appearance); (see note)
bull; pursue; (t-note)
Preferred [out] of his divinity
(see note)

outstanding; (t-note)
injured despite; godliness
love’s arrow
captured; (see note)

poetry; (see note); (t-note)

humbly; (t-note)
escort (communicate)
set among stars (glorified)
farther up
(see note)
every bird; language
walked among them
steed of brass
(see note)

various manners
goddess about their woe
(see note)

impeded; (t-note)
without reason; placed blame; (t-note)

release (grant of freedom); (t-note)

Resistance; (see note)

in return
(see note)
Dared in no way; (t-note)
Disclose nor expose in case
lacking [means or qualities]

dared ask
put great blame
Upon deceitful

other [suitor]

(see note); (t-note)

against nature (kindness)

(see note)
piping (shrieking)
contrary to natural law
crooked age; (see note)
sexual activity

grumbling (irritable); angry
Always; anger
inclines toward

sweet sugar to be; bitterness; (t-note)
power to make known

(see note)
Before the goddess
Who without judgment; (see note); (t-note)
often known
Delivered [they] were
Before they had [attained]; (see note)
[So] that
ostentatious robes; pretend
(see note)
secretly to cover;
display; outwardly
guilt they attributed; (t-note)
other [persons]; (see note)
[For the reason] that; (see note)
freedom to choose
[Which is] where; rarely
unrestrained and free; (t-note)
choose freely; negotiation
wring [their hands]
[For the reason] that; (t-note)

[he] rudely scowls
perfect (beloved)
their; remains no more

beyond measure
create an opportunity; (t-note)

passing look

as happens by chance

torment (punishment)
(see note)

greed and sloth; (see note)

last of all
(see note)
Before; (t-note)
(see note)

(see note)

Surpasses; balm; liquid
prize (superiority)

eyes; (t-note)

womanliness, her deportment


luminous hair; wire; (see note)
excellence; radiant

colored; painted


illuminated all around

generosity; nobility; (t-note)

cheer; seemliness
gracious; conversation

wellspring (source)
(see note)
With regard to; learn

(see note)

Ornamented; jewels

scrolls; (see note)

Embroidered; (t-note)
From Better to Better; (see note)
gracious [woman]; (t-note)


bill (written plea)

are arrogant out of pride; (t-note)
Incline [proud hearts]


comfort (consolation)
woeful [ones]

don’t want; (see note); (t-note)
lack; desires
tied; (see note)
outwardly contradict
one (united); deed

honor preserved; (see note)

From whence far; (t-note)

obtain; (see note)
would not is available ever
divided exactly in two [parts]

lovesickness; burn and sweat

no one
difficult position
hotter burn; covered

completely [possesses]

Inasmuch as (Since)

And then


from (out of)
assisted soon

sober devotion; (t-note)

stubborn resistance

(see note)

(see note)

humbly (lowly)

been visited by misfortune; (see note)

at length of time (given time)
misty (waning) moon


(see note)

stunned and overcome; (see note)

tested; (see note); (t-note)

[to grow] dull
(see note); (t-note)

heaven; supreme reward


lore (purpose or power)

cord (snare)


not at all

sin (stumbling)

torch; (see note)

desire; kill

(see note)
In virtue above all
by the influence; (t-note)
shun every

(see note); (t-note)

fair [creature]; (see note)
flower and root
have pity; (t-note)
cause relief
instantly into sweet

prayer (oration)

Once; apple at the feast; (see note)


will; attentive heart

altars; feast year by year
incense cast

appease; (t-note)


since; compel




(see note)

acclaim; (t-note)
(see note); (t-note)

grant and vow

(see note)
all around; (t-note)


vision (hope)
force; are severe

by the example; weal
Whether; foe

maintain in one position


(see note)
spoke at that time
thereupon; womanlike
began to sigh deeply

(see note); (t-note)

EXPLICIT PRIMA PARS Here ends the first part; (t-note)
ICY COMMENCE LE SECUND PARTI DE LA SONGE Here begins the second part of the poem















































































































































































Thus ever sleping and dremyng as I lay
Within the tempil me thoughte that I sey
Gret pres of folk with murmur wondirful,
To bronte and showe (the tempil was so ful),
Everich ful bisé in his owne cause
That I ne may shortli in a clause
Descriven al the rithes and the gise;
And eke I want kunnyng to devyse
Hou som ther were with blood, encense, and mylk,
And som with floures sote and soft as silk,
And som with sparouis and dovues faire and white,
That forto offerin gan hem to delite
Unto the goddes with sigh and with praier
Hem to relese of that thai most desire.
That for the prese, shortli to conclude,
I went my wai for the multitude
Me to refressh oute of the prese allone.
And be myself (me thought) as I gan gone
Within the estres and gan awhile tarie,
I saugh a man that welke al solitarie,
That as me semed for hevines and dole
Him to complein, that he walk so sole,
Withoute espiing of eni othir wight.
And if I shal descryven him aright,
Nere that he hade ben in hevynes,
Me thought he was, to speke of semelynes,
Of shappe, of fourme, and also of stature,
The most passing that evir yit Nature
Made in hir werkis, and like to ben a man;
And therwithal, as I reherse can,
Of face and chere the most gracious
To be biloved, happi and ewrous.
But as it semed outward in his chere
That he compleyned for lak of his desire:
For by himself as he walk up and doune
I herd him make a lamentacioun,
And seid: “Allas, what thing mai this be?
That nou am bound that whilom was so fre
And went at laarge at myn eleccioun,
Nou am I caught under subjeccioun
Forto bicome a verre homagere
To god o’ love — where that, er I come here,
Felt in myn hert right nought of loves peine.
But nou of nwe within his fire cheyne
I am embraced, so that I mai not strive
To love and serve whiles that I am on lyve
The goodli fressh in the tempil yonder
I saugh right nou, that I hade wonder
Hou ever God, forto reken all,
Myght make a thing so celestial,
So aungellike on erthe to appere.
For with the stremes of hir eyen clere
I am iwoundid even to the hert
That fro the deth, I trow, I mai not stert.
And most I mervaile that so sodenli
I was iyolde to bene at hir merci,
Wherso him list, to do me lyve or deie.
Withoute more I most hir lust obeie
And take mekeli my sodein aventur.
For sith my life, my deth, and eke my cure
Is in hir hond, it woulde not availe
To gruch agein: for of this bataile
The palme is hires and pleinli the victorie.
If I rebelled, honour non ne glorie
I myghte not in no wise acheve.
Sith I am yold hou shuld I than preve
To gif a werre — I wot it wil not be —
Though I be loos, at laarge I mai not fle.
O god of love, hou sharp is nou thin arowe;
Hou maist thou nou so cruelli and narowe
Withoute cause hurte me and wound,
And take non hede my soris forto sound!
But lich a brid that fleith at hir desire
Til sodeinli within the pantire
She is icaught, though she were late at laarge,
A nwe tempest forcasteth now my baarge,
Now up, now doune, with wind it is so blowe,
So am I possid and almost overthrowe,
Fordrive in dirknes with many a sondri wawe.
Alas, when shal this tempest overdrawe
To clere the skies of myn adversité?
The lode-ster, when I may not se,
It is so hid with cloudes that ben blake.
Alas, when wil this turment overshake?
I can not wit, for who is hurt of nwe
And bledith inward til he wex pale of hwe
And hath his wound unwarli fressh and grene,
He is not kouthe unto the harmes kene
Of myghti Cupide that can so hertis daunte,
That no man may in your werre him vaunte
To gete a pris, but oonli bi mekenes.
For there ne vaileth strif ne sturdines,
So mai I sain, that with a loke am yold
And have no power to stryve thoughe I would.
Thus stand I even bitwix life and deth
To love and serve while that I have breth,
In such a place where I dar not pleyn,
Lich him that is in turment and in pein,
And knoweth not to whom forto discure.
For there that I have hoolly set my cure,
I dar not wele, for drede and for daunger
And for unknowe, tellen hou the fire
Of Lovis brond is kindled in my brest.
Thus am I murdrid and slain at the lest
So preveli within myn owne thought.
O ladi Venus, whom that I have sought,
So wisse me now what me is best to do
That am distraught within myselfen so
That I ne wot what way forto turne,
Sauf be myself solein forto mourne
Hanging in balaunce bitwix Hope and Drede
Withoute comfort, remedie, or rede
For Hope biddith pursue and assay;
And Drede againward answerith and saith nai.
And now with Hope I am iset on loft,
But Drede and Daunger, hard and nothing softe,
Have overthrowe my trust and put adoune.
Nou at my laarge, nou feterid in prisone,
Nou in turment, nou in soverein glorie,
Nou in paradise and nou in purgatorie,
As man dispeired in a double werre:
Born up with Hope and than anon Daunger
Me drawith abak and seith it shal not be.
For whereas I, of myn adversité,
Am hold somwhile merci to requere,
Than cometh Dispeire and ginneth me to lere
A nwe lessoun, to hope full contrarie
Thei be so divers thei would do me varie.
And thus I stond dismaied in a traunce,
For whan that Hope were likli me t’avaunce,
For drede I tremble and dar a woord not speke.
And if it so be that I not oute breke
To tel the harmes that greven me so sore,
But in myschef encrese hem more and more
And to be slain fulli me delite,
Then of my deth she is nothing to wite;
For but if she my constreint pleinli knwe,
Hou shuld she ever opon my paynis rwe?
Thus ofte tyme with Hope I am imevid
To tel hir al of that I am so greved,
And to ben hardi on me forto take
To axe merci — but Drede than doth awake
And thorugh wanhope answerith me again,
That bettir were, then she have disdeyne,
To deie at onys, unknow of eny wight.
And therewithal bitt Hope anon ryght
Me to bihold to prayen hir of grace,
For sith al vertues be portreid in hir face
It were not sitting that merci were bihind.
And right anone within myself I finde
A nwe ple brought on me with Drede,
That me so maseth that I se no spede,
Bicause he seith — that stoneith al my bloode —
I am so symple and she is so goode.
Thus Hope and Drede in me wil not ceasse
To plete and stryve myn harmes to encrese.
But at the hardest yit or I be dede,
Of my distresse sith I can no rede,
But stonde doumb, stil as eni stone,
Tofore the goddes I wil me hast anone
And complein withoute more sermon.
Though deth be fin and ful conclusioun
Of my request, yit I will assai.”
And right anon me thoughte that I say
This woful man (as I have memorie)
Ful lowli entre into an oratorie,
And knelid doun in ful humble wise
Tofore the goddes, and gan anon devyse
His pitous quarel with a doleful chere
Saying right thus, anone as ye shul here:
“Redresse of sorow, O Citheria,
That with the stremes of thi plesaunt hete
Gladest the contre of al Cirrea
Where thou hast chosen thi paleis and thi sete,
Whos bright bemes ben wasshen and oft wete
In the river of Elicon the wel:
Have nou pité of that I shal here tell.

“And not disdeyneth of your benignité,
Mi mortal wo, O ladi myn, goddes
Of grace and bounté and merciful pité,
Benigneli to helpen and to redresse.
And though so be I can not wele expresse
The grevous harmes that I fele in myn hert,
Haveth nevertheles merci of my smert.

“This is to seyn: O clere hevens light
That next the sonne cercled have your spere,
Sith ye me hurten with your dredful myght
Bi influence of your bemys clere,
And that I bie your servise nou so dere,
As ye me brought into this maledie,
Beth gracious and shapeth remedie.

“For in yow hoolli lith help of al this case
And knowe best my sorow and al my peyne:
For drede of deth hou I ne der, allas,
To axen merci ones ne me compleyne.
Nou with youre fire hire herte so restreyne —
Withoute more, or I deie at the lest —
That she mai wete what is my requeste:

“Hou I nothing in al this world desire
But forto serve fulli to myn ende
That goodli fressh, so womanli of chere,
Withoute chaunge, while I have life and mynde;
And that ye wil me such grace send
Of my servyse, that she not disdeyne,
Sithen hir to serve I may me not restreyne;

“And sith that Hope hathe geve me hardines
To love hire best and never to repent,
Whiles that I lyve with al my bisenes
To drede and serve, though Daunger never assent.
And hereopon ye knowen myn entent,
Hou I have woid fulli in my mynde
To ben hir man though I no merci finde.

“For in myn hert enprentid is so sore
Hir shap, hir fourme, and al hir semelines,
Hir port, hir chere, hir goodnes more and more,
Hir womanhede and eke hir gentilnes,
Hir trouth, hir faith and hir kyndenes,
With al vertues iche set in his degré:
There is no lak, save onli of pité.

“Hir sad demening, of wil not variable,
Of looke benygne and roote of al plesaunce,
And exemplaire to al that wil be stable,
Discrete, prudent, of wisdom suffisaunce,
Mirrour of wit, ground of governaunce,
A world of beauté compassid in hir face,
Whose persant loke doth thurugh myn herte race;

“And over this secré and wondre trwe,
A welle of fredome and right bounteuous,
And ever encresing in vertue nwe and nwe,
Of spech goodli and wonder gracious,
Devoide of pride, to pore not dispitous;
And if that I shortli shal not feyne,
Save opon merci I nothing can compleyne.

“What wonder than though I be with drede
Inli supprised forto axen grace
Of hir that is a quene of womanhed?
For wele I wot in so heigh a place
It wil not ben; therfor I overpace
And take louli what wo that I endure,
Til she of pité me take unto hir cure.

“But oone avowe pleinli here I make:
That whethir so be she do me lyve or deye,
I wil not grucch but humbeli it take,
And thanke God and wilfulli obey.
For be my trouth myn hert shal not reneye,
For life ne deth, merci nor daunger,
Of wil and thought to ben at hir desire;

“To bene as trwe as ever was Antonyus
To Cleopatre while him lasted brethe;
Or unto Tesbé yunge Piramus
That was feithful found til hem departid dethe;
Right so shal I, til Antropos me sleithe,
For wele or wo hir faithful man be found,
Unto my last, lich as myn hert is bounde;

“To love as wel as did Achilles
Unto his last the faire Polixene;
Or as the gret, famous Hercules
For Dianyre that felt the shottes kene;
Right so shal I, y sei right as I mene,
Whiles that I lyve, hir bothe drede and serve,
For lak of merci though she do me sterve.

“Nou ladi Venus, to whom nothing unknowe
Is in the world, ihid ne not mai be —
For there nys thing nethir heigh ne lowe
Mai be concelid from your priveté —
Fro whom my menyng is not nou secré,
But witen fulli that myn entent is trwe
And lich my trowth, nou on my peyne rwe.

“For more of grace than presumpcioun
I axe merci, and not of dueté,
Of louli humblesse, withoute offensioun,
That ye enclyne, of your benygnyté,
Your audience to myn humylité
To graunte me that to you clepe and calle
Somdai relese yit of my paynes alle.

“And sith ye have the guerdon and the mede
Of al lovers pleinli in your hond,
Nou of your grace and pité taketh hede
Of my distresse, that am undir your bond
So louli bound — as ye wele undirstond.
Nou in that place where I toke first my wound
Of pité sufferith my helth mai be found.

“That lich as she me hurte with a sighte
Right so with helpe let hir me sustene,
And as the stremes of hir eyghen bright
Whilom myn hert with woundis sharp and kene
Thurugh perced have — and yit bene fressh and grene —
So as she me hurt, nou let hir me socoure,
Or ellis certein I mai not long endure.

“For lak of spech I can sey nou no more:
I have mater but I can not plein.
Mi wit is dulle to telle al my sore.
A mouth I have and yit for al my peyne,
For want of woordis I may not nou atteyne
To tell half that doth myn herte greve,
Merci abiding, til she me list releve.

“But this th’effecte of my mater finalle:
With deth or merci, reles forto finde.
For hert, bodi, thought, life, lust, and alle,
With al my reson and alle my ful mynde,
And five wittes, of oon assent I bind
To hir service withouten eny strife,
And make hir princesse of my deth or life.

“And you I prai of routh and eke pité,
O goodli planet, O ladi Venus bright,
That ye youre sone of his deité —
Cupid I mene — that with his dredful myght,
And with his brond, that is so clere of lighte,
Hir herte so to fire and to mark,
As ye me whilom brente with a spark:

“That evenlich and with the same fire,
She mai be het, as I nou brenne and melt,
So that hir hert be flaumed bi desire
That she mai knowe bi fervence hou I swelt.
For of pité pleinli if she felt
The selfe hete that doth myn hert enbrace,
I hope of routhe she would do me grace.”

And therwithal Venus (as me thought)
Toward this man ful benygneli
Gan cast hir eyghe, liche as though she rought
Of his disease, and seid ful goodeli:
“Sith it is so that thou so humbelie
Withoute grucchyng oure hestis list obey,
Toward thin help I wil anon purvey.

“And eke my sone Cupide that is so blind,
He shal ben helping, fulli to perfourme
Your hole desire, that nothing behind
Ne shal be left: so we shal refourme
The pitous compleint that makith thee to mourne,
That she for whom thou soroist most in hert
Shal thurugh hir merci relese al thi smert

“Whan she seth tyme thurugh oure purveaunce.
Be not to hasti, but suffre alway wele.
For in abidyng thurugh lowli obeissaunce
Lithe ful redresse of al that ye nou fele,
And she shal be as trw as eny stele
To yowe allone, thurugh oure myght and grace,
Yif ye lust mekeli abide a litel space.

“But undirstondeth that al hir cherisshing
Shal ben groundid opon honesté,
That no wight shal thurugh evil compassing,
Demen amys of hir in no degré.
For neither merci, routhe, ne pité
She shal not have, ne take of thee non hede
Ferther then longith unto hir womanhede.

“Bethe not astoneid of no wilfulnes,
Ne nought dispeired of this dilacioun;
Lete reson bridel lust bi buxumnes,
Withoute grucching or rebellioun,
For joy shal folou al this passioun.
For who can suffre turment and endure
Ne mai not faile that folou shal his cure.

“For toforn all she shal thee loven best:
So shal I here withoute offencioun
Bi influence enspiren in hir brest,
In honest wise with ful entencioun,
Forto enclyne bi clene affeccioun
Hir hert fulli on thee to have routhe,
Bicause I know that thou menyst trouthe.

“Go nou to hir, where as she stant aside,
With humble chere and put thee in hir grace,
And al biforne late Hope be thi guide,
And thoughe that Drede woulde with thee pace,
It sitteth wel; but loke that thou arace
Out of thin hert wanhope and dispaire,
To hir presence er thou have repaire.

“And Merci first shal thi waie make,
And Honest Menyng aforn do thi message
To make Merci in hir hert awake;
And Secrenes, to further thi viage,
With Humble Port to hir that is so sage,
Shul menes ben — and I myself also
Shal thee fortune er thi tale be do.

“Go forthe anon and be right of goode chere,
For specheles nothing maist thou spede;
Be goode of trust and be nothing in were,
Sith I myself shal helpen in this nede;
For at the lest of hir goodlihed
She shal to thee hir audience enclyne,
And louli thee here til thou thi tale fyne.

“Fore wele thou wost, yif I shal not feine,
Withoute spech thou maist no merci have:
For who that wil of his prevé peine
Fulli be cured, his life to help and save,
He most mekeli oute of his hurtis grave
Discure his wound and shew it to his lech,
Or ellis deie for defaute of spech.

“For he that is in myschef rekeles
To sechen help, I hold him but a wrecch.
And she ne mai thin herte bring in peas
But if thi compleint to hir herte strecch.
Wouldist thou be curid and wilte no salve fecch?
It wil not be: for no wighte may atteyne
To come to blis if he lust lyve in peyne.

“Therfore at ones go in humble wise
Tofore thi ladi and louli knele adoun,
And in al trouth thi woordis so devyse
That she on thee have compassioun:
For she that is of so heigh renoun
In al vertues as quene and soverain,
Of womanhed shal rwe opon thi pein.”

And whan the goddes this lesson hade him told,
Aboute me so as I gan bihold,
Right for-astoneid I stode in a traunce,
To sein the maner and the countenaunce
And al the chere of this woful man,
That was of hwe deedli pale and wan,
With drede supprised in his owne thought,
Making a chere as that he roughte nought
Of life ne deth, ne what so him bitide.
So mych fere he hade on everé side,
To put him forthe forto tel his peyne
Unto his ladi, other to compleyne
What wo he felt, turment or disease,
What dedli sorou his herte dide sease —
For routhe of which his wo as I endite,
Mi penne I fele quaken as I write.
Of him I had so great compassioun,
Forto reherse his weymentacioun,
That wel unnethe though with my self I strive,
I want connyng his peynes to discryve.
Allas, to whom shal I for helpe cal?
Not to the Musis, for cause that thei ar al
Help of right in joi and not in wo,
And in maters that thei delite also,
Wherfore thei nyl directe as nou my stile,
Nor me enspiren — allas, the harde while.
I can no ferther but to Thesiphone
And to hir sustren forto helpe me,
That bene goddesses of turment and of peyne.
Nou lete youre teris into myn inke reyne,
With woful woordis my pauper forto blot,
This woful mater to peinte not, but spotte:
To tell the maner of this dredful man,
Upon his compleint, when he first bigan
To tel his ladi, when he gan declare
His hidde sorois and his evel fare
That at his hert constreyned him so sore,
Th’effecte of which was this withoute more:

“Princes of iouthe and flour of gentilesse,
Ensaumple of vertue, ground of curtesie,
Of beauté rote, quene and eke maistres
To al women hou thei shul hem gie,
And sothefast myrrour to exemplifie
The righte wei of port and womanhed,
What shal I sai of merci taketh hede:

“Biseching first unto youre heigh nobles,
With quaking hert of myn inward drede,
Of grace and pité and nought of rightwisnes,
Of verrai routhe, to helpen in this nede.
That is to saie, O wel of goodlihed,
That I ne recch, though ye do me deie,
So ye list first to heren what I saie.

“The dredful stroke, the grete force and myght
Of god Cupide that no man mai rebel,
So inwardli thurughout myn herte right
Ipersid hath that I ne mai concele
Myn hidde wound, ne I ne may apele
Unto no grettir: this myghti god so fast
You to serve hath bound me to my last,

“That hert and al withoute strife ar yolde
For life or deth to youre servise alone,
Right as the goddes myghti Venus would.
Toforne hir mekeli when I made my mone,
She me constreyned, without chaunge, anone
To youre servise, and never forto feyne,
Whereso yow list to do me ease or peyne.

“So that I can nothing but merci crie
Of yow my ladi, and chaungen for no nwe,
That ye list goodeli tofore I deyghe,
Of verrey routhe opon my peynes rwe.
For be my trouthe, and ye the sothe knwe
What is the cause of myn adversité,
On my distres ye would have pité.

“For unto yow trwe and eke secré
I wole be found to serve as I best can.
And therwithal as lowli in ich degré
To yow allone, as evir yit was man
Unto his ladi, from the tyme I gan,
And shal so forthe, withouten eny slouthe
Whiles that I lyve, bi god and be my trouthe.

“For levyr I had to deien sodeinli
Than yow offend in any maner wise,
And suffre peynes inward priveli
Than my servise ye shuld as nou despise.
For I right nought wil asken in no wise
But for youre servaunt ye would me accepte,
And whan I trespace, goodli me correcte,

“And forto graunt of merci this praier:
Oonli of grace and womanli peté,
Fro dai to dai, that I myghte lere
Yow forto please, and therwithal that ye,
When I do mys, list for to teche me
In youre servyse hou that I mai amende
From hensforthe and nevyr yow offende.

“For unto me it doth inough suffise
That for youre man ye would me reseyve
Fulli to ben, as you list devyse,
And as ferforthe my wittes con conceyve,
And therewithal, lich as ye perseyve
That I be trwe, to guerdone me of grace,
Or ellis to punyssh aftir my trespace.

“And if so be that I mai not atteyne
Unto your merci, yit graunteth atte lest
In your service, for al my wo and peyne,
That I mai deighen aftir my bihest.
This is al and som the fine of my request:
Othir with merci your servant forto save
Or merciles that I mai be grave.”

And whan this benygne of hir entent trwe
Conceyved hath the compleint of this man,
Right as the fressh rodi rose new
Of hir coloure to wexin she bigan;
Hir bloode astonyed so from hir hert it ran
Into hir face, of femynynité:
Thurugh honest drede abaisshed so was she

And humbelé she gan hir eighen cast
Towardis him of hir benygnyté,
So that no woord bi hir lippes past
For hast ne drede, merci nor pité.
For so demeyned she was in honesté
That unavised nothing hir astert,
So mych of reson was compast in hir hert.

Til at the last of routhe she did abraide,
When she his trouthe and menyng dide fele,
And unto him ful goodli spake and seide:
“Of youre behest and of your menyng wele,
And youre servise so feithful everedel,
Which unto me so lowli now ye offre,
With al my hert I thanke yow of youre profir,

“That for as mych as youre entent is sette
Oonli in vertu, ibridelid under drede,
Ye most of right nedis fare the bette
Of youre request and the bettir spede.
But as for me, I mai of womanhede
No ferthir graunt to you in myn entent
Thanne as my ladi Venus wil assent.

“For she wele knowith I am not at my laarge
To done right nought but bi hir ordinaunce:
So am I bound undir hir dredful charge
Hir lust to obey withoute variaunce.
But for my part so it be plesaunce
Unto the goddes, for trouthe in your emprise,
I yow accepte fulli to my servyse.

“For she myn hert hath in subjeccioun
Which holi is youres and never shal repent,
In thought nor dede, in myn eleccioun:
Witnes on Venus that knoweth myn entent
Fulli to obei hir dome and jugement,
So as hir lust disposen and ordeyne,
Right as she knoweth the trouth of us tweyne.

“For unto the time that Venus list provyde
To shape a wai for oure hertis ease,
Bothe ye and I mekeli most abide
To take agré and not of oure disease
To grucch agein, til she list to appese
Oure hidde wo, so inli that constreyneth
From dai to day and oure hertes peyneth.

“For in abiding of wo and al affray,
Whoso can suffre is founden remedie;
And for the best ful oft is made delay,
Er men be heled of hir maladie.
Wherfore as Venus list this mater to guie
Late us agreen and take al for the best,
Til her list set oure hertes bothe at rest.

“For she it is that bindeth and can constreyne
Hertes in oon, this fortunate planete,
And can relesen lovers of her peyne,
To turne fulli hir bitter into swete.
Nou blisful goddes, doun fro thi sterri sete
Us to fortune caste your stremes shene,
Like as ye cnow that we trouthe mene.”

And therwithal, as I myn eyghen cast
Forto perceive the maner of these twein,
Tofore the goddes mekeli as thei past,
Me thought I saw with a golden cheyne
Venus anon enbracen and constrein
Her bothe hertes in oon forto persever
Whiles that thei live and never to dessever.

Saiyng right thus with a benygne chere:
“Sith it is so ye ben undir my myght,
Mi wille is this, that ye my daughter dere
Fulli accepte this man as hit is right,
Unto your grace anon here in my sight,
That ever hath ben so louli you to serve:
It is goode skil your thank that he deserve.

“Your honour save and eke your womanhed
Him to cherissen it sittith you right wele,
Sith he is bound under hope and drede
Amyd my cheyne that maked is of stele.
Ye must of merci shape that he fele
In you som grace for his long servise,
And that in hast, like as I shal devyse.

“This is to sein, that ye taken hede
Hou he to you most faithful is and trwe
Of al your servauntis, and nothing for his mede
Of you ne askith but that ye on him rwe;
For he hathe woid to chaunge for no nwe,
For life nor deth, for joye ne for peyne:
Ay to ben yours, so as ye list ordeyne.

“Wherfore ye must, or ellis it were wrong,
Unto your grace fulli hym receyve
In my presence, bicause he hath so long
Holli ben youres, as ye may conceyve,
That from youre merci nou if ye him weyve
I wil myself recorden cruelté
In youre persone, and gret lak of pité.

“Late him for trouth then finde trouth agein;
For long service guerdone him with grace,
And lateth pité weie doun his pein.
For tyme is nou daunger to arace
Out of youre hert and merci in to pace;
And love for love woulde wele biseme
To geve agein, and this I pleinli deme.

“And as for him I wil bene his borow
Of lowlihed and bisé attendaunce:
Hou he shal bene, both at eve and morou,
Ful diligent to don his observaunce,
And ever awayting you to do plesaunce.
Wherfore, my sone, list and take hede
Fulli to obey as I shal thee rede.

“And first of al my wil is that thou be
Feithful in hert and constant as a walle,
Trwe, humble and meke, and therewithal secré,
Withoute chaunge in parti or in al.
And for no turment that thee fallen shal,
Tempest thee not but ever in stidfastnes
Rote thin hert and voide doublenes.

“And forthermore have in reverence
Thes women al for thi ladi sake,
And suffre never that men do them offence,
For love of oon; but evermore undirtake
Hem to defend, whether thei slepe or wake,
And ay be redi to holden champartie
With alle tho that to hem have envie.

“Be curteis ay and lowli of thi spech
To riche and poure ai fressh and welbesein,
And ever bisie, weies forto sech
All trwe lovers to relese of her peyne,
Sith thou art oon; and of no wight have disdein,
For love hath pouer hertis forto daunt;
And never for cherisshing thee to mych avaunte.

“Be lusti eke, devoid of al tristesse,
And take no thought but ever be jocond,
And nought to pensif for non hevynes;
And with thi gladnes let sadnes ay be found;
When wo approcheth let myrth most habound,
As manhod axeth; and though thou fele smert,
Lat not to manie knowen of thin hert.

“And al vertues biseli thou sue,
Vices eschew for the love of oon;
And for no tales thin herte not remue:
Woorde is but winde that shal sone overgon.
Whatever thou here be doumb as eny ston,
And to answere to sone not thee delite,
For here she standeth that al this shal thee quite.

“And where thou be absent or in presence,
None othirs beauté lat in thin herte myne,
Sith I have hir gyve of beauté excellence
Above al othir in vertue forto shine;
And thenk that in fire hou men ar wont to fyne
This purid gold, to put it in assay:
So thee to preve, thou ert put in delay.

“But tyme shal come thou shalt for thi sufferaunce
Be wele apaide and take for thi mede
Thi lives joy and al thi suffisaunce,
So that goode hope alway thi bridel lede.
Lat no dispeire hindir thee with drede,
But ay thi trust opon hir merci ground,
Sith noon but she may thi sores sound.

“Eche houre and tyme, weke, dai and yere,
Be iliche feithful and varie not for lite;
Abide awhile and than of thi desire
The time neigheth that shal thee most delite.
And lete no sorou in thin herte bite
For no differring, sith thou shalt for thi mede
Rejoise in pees the floure of womanhede.

“Thenk hou she is this worldis sonne and light,
The sterre of beauté, flour eke of fairnes,
Bothe crop and rote, and eke the rubie bright
Hertes to glade itroubled with derknes,
And hou I have made hir thin hertes emperesse.
Be glad therfore to be undir hir bonde.
Nou come nere, doughter, and take him by the hond,

“Unto this fyne that after al the showres
Of his turment, he mai be glad and light
Whan thurugh youre grace ye take him to be youres
For evermore anon here in my syght.
And eeke also I wil, as it is ryght
Withoute more his langour forto lisse,
In my presence anon that ye him kisse:

“That here mai be of al youre olde smertis
A ful relese undir joy assured;
And that oo lok be of youre bothe hertes
Shet with my key of gold so wel depured,
Oonli in signe that ye have recured
Youre hole desire here in this holi place,
Within my temple nou in the yere of grace.

“Eternalli, be bonde of assuraunce,
The cnott is knytt, which mai not ben unbound,
That al the goddis of this alliaunce,
Saturne and Jove and Mars, as it is founde,
And eke Cupide that first you dide wounde,
Shal bere record and overmore be wreke
On which of you his trouthe first dothe breke,

“So that bi aspectes of hir ferse lokes,
Withoute merci shal falle the vengeaunce
Forto be raced clene out of my bokes,
On which of yow be founde variaunce.
Therfore atones setteth your plesauns
Fulli to ben, while ye have life and mynd,
Of oon accord unto youre lyves ende,

“That if the spirit of nufangilnes
In any wise youre hertis would assaile
To meve or stir to bring in doubilnes
Upon your trouthe to given a bataile,
Late not youre corage ne youre force fail,
Ne non assautes you flitten or remeve:
For unassaied men may no trouthe preve.

“For white is whitter if it be set bi blak,
And swete is swettir eftir bitternes,
And falshode ever is drive and put abak
Where trouthe is rotid withoute doubilnes.
Withoute prefe may be no sikirnes
Of love or hate; and therfor of yow too
Shal love be more, that it was bought with wo.

“As evere thing is had more in deinté,
And more of pris when it is dere bought;
And eke that love stond more in sureté
When it tofore with peyne, wo and thought
Conquerid was, first when it was sought;
And evere conquest hath his excellens
In his pursuite as he fint resistence:

“And so to yow more sote and agreable
Shal love be found — I do you plein assure —
Withoute grucching that ye were suffrable,
So low, so meke, so pacientli t’endure,
That al atones I shal nou do my cure
For nou and ever your hertis so to bynd,
That nought but deth shal the knot unbynd.

“Nou in this mater what shuld I lengir dwel?
Cometh at ones and do as I have seide.
And first, my doughter, that bene of bounté wele,
In hert and thought be glad and wele apaied
To done him grace that hath, and shal, obeid
Youre lustes ever; and I wole for his sake
Of trouthe to yow be bounde and undertake.”

And so forthwith in presence as thei stonde
Tofore the goddes, this ladi faire and wele
Hir humble servaunt toke goodli bi the honde,
As he toforne here mekeli did knele,
And kissed him after, fulfillyng everedele
Fro point to point in ful tristi wise,
As ye toforne have Venus herd devyse.

Thus is this man to joy and al plesaunce
From hevynes and from his peynes old
Ful reconsiled, and hath ful suffisaunce
Of hir that ever mente wel and would:
And in goode faith, thogh I telle shuld
The inward myrthe that dide hir hertis brace,
For al my life it were to lit a space.

For he hathe wonne hir that he loveth best,
And she to grace hathe take him of pité;
And thus her hertis bethe bothe set in rest,
Withouten chaunge or mutabilité,
And Venus hath of hir benygneté
Confermed all (what shal I lenger tarie?)
This tweyn in oon, and nevere forto varie:

That for the joy in the temple aboute
Of this accord, bi gret solempnyté,
Was laude and honoure within and withoute
Geve unto Venus and to the deité
Of god Cupide, so that Caliopé
And al hir sustren in hir armonye
Sone with her song the goddes magnyfie.

And al at ones with notes loude and sharpe
Thei did her honour and her reverence,
And Orpheus among hem with his harp
Gan strengis touch with his diligence,
And Amphioun that hathe such excellence
Of musike ay dide his bisynes
To please and queme Venus the goddes,

Oonli for cause of the affinité
Betwix these twoo not likli to dessevere.
And evere lover of lough and heigh degré
Gan Venus pray: fro thensforth and ever
That hool of hem the love may persevere,
Withouten ende in suche plite as thei gonne,
And more encrese that it of hard was wonne.

And so the goddes, hering this request,
As she that knew the clene entencioun
Of bothe hem tweyne, hath made a ful bihest:
Perpetuelli, by confirmacioun,
Whiles that thei lyve, of oon affeccioun
Thei shal endure (ther is no more to sein)
That neither shal have mater to compleyne.

“So ferforth ever in oure eternal se
The goddes have, in oure presscience,
Fulli devysed thurugh hir deité,
And holi concludid bi hir influence,
That thurugh hir myght and juste providence
The love of hem, bi grace and eke fortune,
Withoute chaunge shal ever in oon contune.”

Of whiche graunt, the tempil enviroun,
Thurugh heigh confort of hem that were present,
Anone was gone with a melodius sowne,3
In name of tho that trouth in love ment,
A ballade nwe in ful goode entent
Tofore the goddes with notes loude and clere,
Singyng right thus anon as ye shal here:

“Fairest of sterres that with youre persant light
And with the cherisshing of youre stremes clere
Causen in love hertes to ben light,
Oonli thurugh shynyng of youre glade spere:
Nou laude and pris, O Venus, ladi dere,
Be to your name, that have withoute synne
This man fortuned his ladi forto wynne.

“Willi planet, O Esperus so bright,
That woful hertes can appese and sterre,
And ever ar redi thurugh your grace and myght
To help al tho that bie love so dere,
And have power hertis to set on fire:
Honor to yow of all that bene hereinne,
That have this man his ladi made to wynne.

“O myghti goddes, daister after nyght,
Glading the morou whan ye done appere,
To voide derknes thurugh fresshnes of your sight,
Oonli with twinkeling of youre plesaunt chere:
To you we thank, lovers that ben here,
That ye this man — and never forto twyn —
Fortuned have his ladi forto wynne.”

And with the noise and hevenli melodie
Which that thei made in her armonye
Thurughoute the temple, for this manes sake,
Oute of my slepe anone I did awake,
And for astonied knwe as tho no rede.
For sodein chaunge, oppressid so with drede,
Me thought I was cast as in a traunce:
So clene away was tho my remembraunce
Of al my dreme, wherof gret thought and wo
I hade in hert and nyst what was to do,
For hevynes that I hade lost the sight
Of hir that I all the longe nyght
Had dremed of in myn avisioun.
Whereof I made gret lamentacioun
Bicause I had never in my life aforne
Sein none so faire, fro time that I was borne;
For love of whome, so as I can endite,
I purpose here to maken and to write
A litil tretis and a processe make
In pris of women, oonli for hir sake,
Hem to comende as it is skil and right,
For here goodnes, with al my fulle myght:
Praying to hir that is so bounteous,
So ful of vertue and so gracious
Of womanhed and merciful pité,
This simpil tretis forto take in gré
Til I have leiser unto hir heigh renoun
Forto expoune my forseid visioun,
And tel in plein the significaunce,
So as it cometh to my remembraunce,
So that herafter my ladi may it loke.
Nou go thi wai, thou litel rude boke,
To hir presence, as I thee comaund,
And first of al thou me recomaund
Unto hir and to hir excellence,
And prai to hir that it be noon offence
If eny woorde in thee be myssaide,
Biseching hir she be not evel apaied;
For as hir list I wil thee efte correcte,
When that hir liketh againward thee directe:
I mene that benygne and goodli of hir face.
Nou go thi way and put thee in hir grace.

rush and shove
Each full of activity

rites and the behavior
lack intelligence

flowers sweet
sparrows; doves; (see note); (t-note)

That because of the crowd
on account of; (see note)

by myself; went (began to go)
precincts (building); loiter
Escaping notice; (see note)
Were it not

surpassing [creature]
most likely (accordingly)

outwardly; (t-note)


(see note)

true servant
whereas, before I came; (see note)

for the first time; fiery

over there; (see note)
[Whom] I saw
all things considered

leap [out of the way]

handed over
cause me to; (t-note)
will (desire)

grumble against

made to yield; try
put up a fight
loose (unshackled); fly

heed; sorrows to measure; (t-note)

bird trap

casts forth (tosses); (see note)

thrust; (t-note)

lodestar; (see note); (t-note)

pass away

acquainted with; (see note); (t-note)

Win the prize, except through
avails (helps)

divulge (i.e., disclose his secret pain); (see note)

not profitably (fully)
at all events
So inwardly (undetected); (t-note)

know; (t-note)
Left alone; solitary
(see note)

in opposition
on high; (t-note)

in despair for indecision

[out] of
charged sometimes; to ask; (t-note)
begins to teach me
contrary; vacillate

in adversity; (t-note)

none the wiser; (t-note)
upon my pains have pity


despair; (t-note)
better [it] were, than

bids; (t-note)


put to me by
bewilders; success
numbs my body

plead [a case] (debate)
at the least still before
since I know no remedy
still as any; (see note)
hurry now




[Provide] relief; (see note)
country; (see note); (t-note)
seat (residence)
(see note); (t-note)
that [which]


rounded (set like a circle); sphere

purchase; (t-note)



young [creature]

(see note); (t-note)


vowed; (t-note)

(see note)


grave (composed)



(see note)

the poor not contemptuous

(see note)

assuredly I know; (t-note)
skip over
[out] of; into her keeping




(see note)

(see note)
until death parted them
(see note)

(see note); (t-note)

(see note)
sharp/bitter darts


is nothing
hidden counsel (knowledge)

have compassion

duty (what is owed)


hail and call

since; punishment; reward


obediently; thoroughly

permit [that]

(see note)

bring remedy


awaiting; desires to relieve me

(see note)


aim at (strike)


was concerned

make provision

(see note)



well (faithfully)

(see note)

patiently wait awhile


(i.e., do not be willful)
delay; (t-note)
humility (obedience)

above all


in front let
step [alongside]
erase (pluck out)
gone to


Give you success before your complaint

(see note)

listen to you


private (personal); (see note)


misfortune negligent

Unless; extend


extremely stunned

cared not; (t-note)


(see note)

with great difficulty
lack skill

Assistants rightfully

will not; writing style (stylus)
difficult time
can [go]; (see note)

ink rain; (see note); (t-note)
write not, but smudge
troubled man

foul; (t-note)

Princess; (see note)


do not care
desire; (t-note)

appeal; (t-note)
my death; (t-note)




From; no new [lady]
will graciously; die; (t-note)
[Out] of genuine compassion

(see note)


For rather [would]; (t-note)

Exclusively; (t-note)



inasmuch as; (t-note)
besides, just as



(see note)



escaped [her lips]




Exclusively; bridled



by my free choice

it pleases her


bear graciously
grumble against




starry dwelling

(see note)

remain constant




intact (assured)

(see note)

(see note)

not for his compensation
except that
vowed; (see note)


turn aside

(see note); (t-note)


be fitting; (see note)
command; (t-note)


(see note)

Anguish; (see note)

Women in general
tolerate; (t-note)

hold your own; (see note)

ever; nice-looking



gravity also


pass away; (see note)
too soon

break into (undermine); (t-note)
refine; (t-note)

(see note)

sufficiently paid; reward


constantly; for some small thing



end; hardships


sorrow to assuage

one lock
purified; (see note)
Specially; acquired

as regards this alliance
(see note)
Cupid who
moreover be avenged; (t-note)

bearing; fierce appearance

together (once and for all)

fondness for novelty
manner; assail

Against; to provoke

[make you] flee or abandon
untried; prove

rooted (fixed)
proof; certainty

[for the reason] that

held more precious; (t-note)


[in] that; capable of enduring suffering

at once


longer dwell

virtue [the] wellspring; (t-note)


at once in the assembly; (t-note)


in faithful manner; (t-note)


embrace; (t-note)
too small; (t-note)


why shall I further delay? (t-note)

(see note)
act of singing (harmony)
Immediately; (t-note)

(see note)
(see note)


low and high

together their love
danger as they undertake; (t-note)
[in] that

Thus far; heavenly abode
foresight; (t-note)
Fully chosen
special powers

continue; (t-note)


true love intended (strove for)

Before the goddess

piercing; (see note)

praise and glory

Benign (Propitious); (see note)
guide (steer); (t-note)

those who purchase

from all

morning star



(see note)
in bewilderment was at a loss

knew not

dream vision


(see note)
discourse; narrative


simple poem; graciously

interpret; aforesaid; (see note)

(see note)
simple (dull-witted); (see note)

desires; after
directs you back [to me]


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