from Fortunes Stabilnes


1 Except for Comfort [who] comes to see him [when he is] in a bad state

2 That [this whole situation] causes this: my heart's violent martyrdom

3 Where he is content to remain for the rest of his life

4 Who against his (the heart's) interests never ceases

5 But just as you first found me in a state of innocence [and did not help]

6 That you should sometimes hurt, and sometimes help

7 That I do not have the skills to gain [her] favor

8 For still you [continue to] harass me with painful deceits

9 [You] who wish always every good thing were quickly lost

10 I have often [gotten] very ill wares/goods from you

11 Now would I say you would have to conduct yourself well

12 Lines 6438-39: [You] who roll around [in your mind] the whole day the double (i.e., false) reversals of your jeopardy

13 And all the schemes you have set in motion against me


Abbreviations: MS: London, British Library MS Harley 682.

1005 welwilleris, frendis, and allyes. The scene that this lyric suggests is to be imagined as a royal or ducal court. As in much of the late medieval English and French love poetry, all lovers are taken to constitute a company of companions and sympathizers to the speaking lover. In the dream vision of Age and Love (lines 2540- 3045), which has a counterpart in Charles' French poetry, the bereaved lover travels to Love's court and asks for the return of his heart, since the only lady he will ever love has died. In this instance, the lovers are presented as courtiers to the king, Cupid. When the speaker presents his petition for his heart's return, they all cry, "Ye, ye, ye! We woll therto consent / To doon withall what that a [he] will trewly!" (lines 2900-01). The "opposing force" to this company is made up of evil characters like "Thought" [Care] and "Woo" [Woe] (line 1009), who will capture the lover and cast him into prison (line 1012). This is obviously a prison of the mind.

1014 I.e., "he is permitted to have Joy by them by a limited contract." Steele and Day find patise ("tribute, treaty," OED, c. 1500) unsatisfactory because "joy is not [the lover's] on terms, it is a stranger to him altogether" (note to their line 1014). The MED glosses in patise, "according to the terms of a bargain or covenant," but cites only this unique occurrence of the word (related to Modern English "pact"). We are not told what the terms of the bargain are.

1016-17 The repetition of maner implies that, though it raises hopes in him, the promise of Comfort is worthless. The word banysshe brings us back to the legal metaphor of a king or duke's power to exile troublemakers or criminals from his realm. The poet often situates his characters in this kind of frame of court behavior and power struggles, with which he was intimately familiar, both in England and in France.

1020 my hertis rage martere. Here the poet switches to religious language, representing the heart not as a prisoner, but as a martyr to love. The metaphor continues into the following stanza, a prayer that opens with the religious apostrophe: "O Myghti God" (though the god so addressed is Cupid).

1025 safcondit. The official records of the English government are full of safe-conducts issued to members of the duke's household and other compatriots who visited him on business. Many of them were involved in helping him to raise money for his ransom and to manage his domains on the Loire. In this case, the country will be purged of bad elements like Thought and Woo, making travel for all lovers easy and safe.

1027 Daungere. A traditional enemy of the lover, Daunger usually represents the lady's reserve or disdain. He functioned in that role in RR and in countless other love poems. In Chaucer's translation, the beautiful figure of Idleness "was nought unmeke [proud], / Ne of hir answer daungerous, / But faire [sweetly] answerde" (Rom. [A]590-92); and in TC, Pandarus counsels Criseyde to let her "daunger sucred a lite" (be sugared a little), so that she will not have his death on her conscience (2.384-85). At one point, Charles calls on Hope to help him release the heart, which is in the "prison of Daunger, his cursid foo" (line 4610; for other prison references, see FS, lines 251, 737, 949, 1442, and 6279.)

1031-36 tise. "Ties"; a clever inversion of the usual meaning of the verb ("to join") which nevertheless retains the sense of constraint or fixedness that the word connotes. The switch from third to first person is standard in the movement from the first three stanzas to the envoy, which the poet frequently directs to the lady, presumably the recipient of the "letter." A number of the ballades contain the unmistakable rhetoric of epistolary prose in their closing lines, even when the poems are not structured formally as letters.

1035 he hath not all that he wolde desere. A polite way of saying he has nothing in the way of his lady's favor. For Charles' French version of this lyric, see Champion, Poésies, vol. 1, Ballade XXVII.

1511 hermyte. A religious person who removes himself from the world, wears a habit or religious garment (line 1542), and lives in a hermitage (which might be a cave or hut, or perhaps something more comfortable) in the woods or in some barren place (line 1519). Though it is not usual, in this case someone (Fortune) has banished the heart from (court) company and forced him to become a hermit, so in fact the hermitage is simply another metaphor, like prison, for the lack of control the lover's heart has over his own life - though the refrain suggests that the supposed banishment is really voluntary (and pointless). Charles often, though not always, represents the heart as foolish and willful and the speaker as more rational, whereas his contemporaries generally make the speaker the foolish one.

1518 where. Charles may have intended "wherein" or some such word but omitted the second syllable for metrical reasons. "Where" often replaces "place"; when used together (the place where), the relative is usually followed not by the infinitive but by a clause.

1522 Moche have Y spent. The heart may live in some fantasy woods, but the speaker has his feet firmly planted on the ground, counting his good advice as money, which unfortunately has no value (not a mite) to his heart (line 1524).

1529 Bad counsel is frequently cited as the source of bad governance in the late Middle Ages.

1533-36 Here the speaker threatens his lady in a tone unusual, though not unique, in late medieval court poetry. He will abandon his heart unless she writes to him. Thus negotiating between heart and lady, he pretends to be only an impartial go-between who predicts for the heart, in the absence of comfort from the lady, a state of lifelong pain followed by death.

1540-42 in him was . . . on him lace. Both rhyme words have been altered in the manuscript (was/lace), but it is not possible to read the original rhymes. For Charles' French version of this lyric, see Champion, Poésies, vol. 1, Ballade XLIII.

4680-4735 The fictional occasion for this poem is explained in the foregoing narrative verse: the speaker, whose lady has died, has been asked by a friend to compose a complaint for him on the theme of Fortune's stableness, presumably because, though he is a devoted though unsuccessful lover, he is not much of a poet. One wonders if the real duke was ever asked to write poetry for the use of others.
The unique and startling premise of this poem is that Fortune is not fickle but too stable. The speaker, whom the reader would expect to lament her wheel's constant turning, here wishes that she would change, i.e., bring him some success in love. Such a presentation is unique in all of English literature. Guillaume de Machaut includes a long complaint in his Remède de Fortune that presents the more usual picture of Fortune, who
. . . does all this harm
as she turns her wheel,
and she doesn't wait for daybreak
to turn it; she doesn't stop,
but turns it, turns it some more, and turns it upside down,
until she brings to the top
him who was lying flat in the gutter;
him who was exalted she brings down low,
and makes the happiest man sad and gloomy
in no time at all. (trans. Wimsatt and Kibler, lines 911-20)
The idea of a stable Fortune may have been dimly foreshadowed by John Gower (whose work Charles evidently read), in CA. His lover, Amans, pleads with Cupid and Venus in these words:
I se the world stonde evere upon eschange,
Nou wyndes loude, and nou the weder [weather] softe; . . .
The dredfull werres into pes ful ofte
Thei torne; and evere is Danger in o place,
Which wol noght change his will to do me grace. (8.2259-65; emphasis added)
The contrast of Danger with the fortunes of this world might have given Charles the idea of conflating the two, but the idea is perhaps more readily to hand in Gower's Cinkante Ballades, Ballade 20, where the poet complains that his luck never changes:
Fortune, om dist, de sa Roe vie ades;
A mon avis mais il n'est pas ensi,
Car as toutz jours la troeve d'un reles,
Qe jeo sai nulle variance en li
Ainz est en mes deseases establi,
En bass me tient, q'a lever ne me lesse:
De mes amours est tout ceo qe jeo di,
Ma dolour monte et ma joie descresce.

Apres la guerre om voit venir la pes,
Apres l'ivern est l'estée beal flori,
Mais mon estat ne voi changer jammes,
Qe jeo d'amour porrai troever merci.
He, noble dame, pour quoi est il ensi?

[Fortune, they say, never stops her wheel,
But to my mind it is not so,
For every day I find it at the same spot
And so come to know no change in it at all.
Instead, it is stuck to my disadvantage,
Keeping me low, not letting me mount high.
In my love affair it is all just as I say,
My pain increases and my joy grows less.

After war we see that peace comes,
After the winter spring's adorned with flowers,
But my condition never alters,
So that I might find mercy.
Alas, noble lady, why is it so? (trans. R. Barton Palmer)]
(John Gower, The Complete Works of John Gower: The French Works, ed. G. C. Macaulay [Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1899], Ballade 20, lines 1-14). Gower, however, blunts the effect of Fortune's stability by introducing a refrain that implies the idea of alternation ("My suffering increases and my happiness decreases"), while Charles' speaker is single-mindedly consistent (see Arn, 1995, pp. 43-45). Charles also hints at this idea in his French Rondeau 213, where he describes Fortune as "tousjours une" (always the same) (Cecily Clark, "Charles d'Orléans: Some English Perspectives," Medium Aevum 40 [1971], p. 258).
The ballade functions here as a mise en abyme of FS: "a literary or artistic structure contained within a larger narrative whole which reflects, repeats, glosses, and/or anticipates the thematic concerns or esthetic processes of the whole" (William Calin, "Medieval Intertextuality: Lyrical Inserts and Narrative in Guillaume de Machaut," in French Review 62 [1988], p. 3). It is for this reason that the work is titled Fortunes Stabilnes.

This complaint recalls the state of mind of the speaker, Boethius, in De cons., who, before Philosophy appears to help him regain his mental and emotional balance, chases the idea of the injustice of this world (ruled by Fortune) round and round in his head without being able to step aside from the conundrum to see that it is largely illusory. Chaucer's Troilus does something similar in Book Four, when he tries unsuccessfully to reason out the Boethian problem of predestination and free will, because he feels so hedged in by ill fortune (TC 4.946-1085). It is his earlier agonized address to Fortune, however, that sounds more like this poet's mindset, though Charles' lines are much more deliberate and less emotional than Chaucer's (TC 4.260-336).

Although it is difficult to pin down sources for such generally available and much-used ideas, Charles may well have known Guillaume de Machaut's Remède de Fortune (which has itself been called a rewriting of De cons.). It contains a long complaint about Fortune that embodies many of the well-known ideas about Fortune, some with their roots in Boethius' work, others harking back to the role of Reason in RR. Machaut's work is pivotal, looking forward as well as back: Chaucer reworked some of its ideas in BD and TC. Wimsatt and Kibler detail those borrowings in their facing-page French/English edition of the Remède, which also includes some of the manuscript illuminations that were made to accompany the poetry, painted during Machaut's lifetime, including one in which the figure of the poet writing his complaint is placed above a representation of Fortune turning her wheel (Wimsatt and Kibler, color frontispiece and Miniatures 5-23).

There is, however, one profound difference between Machaut's complaint and Charles': Machaut's speaker interacts with Hope, a figure indebted both to Boethius' Philosophy and the RR-poets' Reason. Through that dialogue, Machaut aims both to teach the reader and to heal the speaker's deranged mind. Charles' speaker, though, not only has no one to counsel and heal him, he even uses this poem to further the involvement in love of another character, the unliterary lover who has asked him to express what he himself is incapable of composing to relieve his grief. The FS lover, as a result, finds no way out of his predicament and continues suffering to the very end of the work.

4685 in symplesse. This is a reference to the speaker's state of ignorance in his youth when he first became acquainted with Love. Whereas cannot introduce a statement of fact in contrast to that of the main clause; the poet says that Fortune is unchanging: she has always been hostile to the narrator.

4689 As that. Charles frequently uses the phrase to mean simply "that."

4691 A sympill wight. From the following line we can see that don is to be understood before this phrase: "[you] cause the lowly man to ascend in honor and the most well-off to descend." The wording is chosen to be inclusive: the poor/low-class/ unsuccessful/unhappy person is set against the rich/aristocratic/successful/happy one.

4693 witnes. The speaker opposes experience to authority (in the form of traditional wisdom), just as Chaucer's Wife of Bath does in her prologue (CT III[D]1-2), and the result intended by each poet is more or less the same: experience cannot provide the full answer; authority must be respected, too.

4696 Ricches ascendith. Fortune's wheel is often pictured with a king at the top, dressed in rich robes and carrying a scepter. Richesse (Wealth), the companion and protector of Beauty, is presented as the grandest in the company of revelers in the Garden of Deduit (Delight) of Guillaume de Lorris in RR (lines 1017-1126).

4701 The word by seems to have been omitted after Ordaynyd. This is the first mention in the poem of Love, the nature of which presents the speaker with an insoluble conundrum. In Machaut's much longer complainte, the case against Fortune morphs into one against Love and finally into one against Desire - three "problems" that are in fact one (see Wimsatt and Kibler, pp. 218-49). Although the word bisynes can mean "activity," "work," or "diligence," here it means "vexation," "trouble," "difficulty." Compare Boece 1.m.2.1-6: "Allas! How the thought of this man [Boethius], dreynt [drowned] in overthrowynge depness, dulleth and forleteth his propre clerness, myntynge [intending] to gon into foreyne [foreign] dirknesses as ofte as his anoyos bysynes waxeth withoute mesure, that is dryven with [by] werldly wyndes."

4704 more maugré. Maugré is usually encountered as a preposition meaning "in spite of," but here it is a noun meaning "blame" or "ill-will."

4705-06 These two lines are octosyllabic (for no apparent reason). The image of Charles, duke of Orléans, complaining, in the person of his foolish narrator, that Fortune has given him an unpolished simplicity ("rewdenes," line 4709) coupled with a "to bisy demenying" (line 4705) is comic (see also line 4720). Like Chaucer and other late medieval love poets, Charles occasionally throws in phrases that are commonly used of the Christian God ("God . . . that sitt above"), which causes an abrupt but momentary recalibration of our idea of the shape of the poet's literary world, as it echoes the position of Ricches in the previous stanza. These are not mistakes, but witty reminders that we are here, not in a real world where Almighty God rules, but in a make-believe world of love, where Cupid, the God of Love, reigns supreme. We are thus expected to take the reference to apply to Cupid.

4712 now were me wondir wise. Steele and Day gloss "(?) defend me wondrously" (note to their line 4712). The poet is attempting to flatter Fortune by attributing wisdom or prudence to her and suggesting that her best course of action is to give him what he wants.

4718 in noyous lese. MS: in noyouslesse. A scribe may have picked up the wrong spelling of the ending from redresse in the previous line and consequently joined the two words. (The three rhymes in this stanza, -ise, -ese, -esse, do require scribal care.)
Steele and Day gloss "you feed me in evil pasture" (note to their line 4718), which makes little sense in the context of the poem. A charge that suits Fortune better is "you harrass me with painful deceits or lies."

4728 Now farewell, Fortune. For a moment it seems as if the speaker has discovered that the only power one has over Fortune is to abandon her and place that faith in God, but it lasts for only five lines, and he ends the ballade in the same mental state in which he began. He never learns the lesson learned by the speakers in the works of Boethius, James I, George Ashby, and a host of others: turn your back on Fortune, live in patience and sufficiency, and you will gain true happiness and contentment. Machaut's speaker ticks off the good effect of taking the teachings of Hope (elsewhere Philosophy, Reason, or some other wise figures) to heart: "I felt myself much more confident, stronger, calmer, maturer" (Remède, lines 2969-70).

4733 truse. I.e., "cease hostilities," "give me some respite." The word was apparently not commonly used as a verb (see MED treu[e, n[1]). This lyic has no French counterpart.

6420-47 In this ballade, placed near the end of the work (only three lyrics follow), we once again are led to expect that the lover has finally realized the true nature of Fortune and will turn away from her to follow some more rational path. As in Ballade 44, where he challenges Daunger to a mortal combat ("A, Daunger, here y cast to thee my gloue / And thee appele, O traytoure, of tresoun." [lines 1548-49]), the lover here bravely defies Fortune, but his "recovery" is as brief as the lyric, and by the closing of the ballade that follows he is pleading with his lady to be kind to him, asking if she is made of flesh and blood (line 6474). His indignation and bravado are all bluster. Note that he never mentions love or the lady in this lyric. It is from the context of the entire work that we know without asking that both are the speaker's obsession.

6421 For all thi fraude, retorne yet wilfully. The lover is asking Fortune to turn her wheel and show him her better "side." The emphasis shifts in this lyric from the changeability (or not) of Fortune to her deceitful nature, and the poet stuffs into the lyric as many synonyms as he can for deceit and related words.

6423 scoffer. MS: coffer. Though citing only this line as an example, MED lists coffer as a variant spelling of scoffer.

6426-27 This ballade has a two-line refrain.

6430 were an horne. If the meaning "be mocked" is correct, the expression repeats the sense of the previous line. Notice that the speaker mounts no rational argument against Fortune. He promulgates no more sensible worldview; he simply says he will resist (just say no), a strategy that is doomed to fail.

6432 it. Singular for plural; the referent is mokkis.

6439 juparty. In lyrics found earlier in the collection, the speaker plays tables (backgammon) with Love (Ballade 46) and chess with Fortune (Ballade 61), and we know that the duke was deeply interested in chess (see FS, pp. 57-60, and Pierre Champion, Charles d'Orléans: Joueur d'échecs [Paris: H. Champion, 1908]). "Jeopardy" or "danger" is a likely meaning for "juparty," but the word also means a trick or stratagem in a game of chess (hence, tricks), and the word here may have those overtones.

6445 ye have. In the envoy, the speaker switches from the familiar form (thou/thee, used in conversing with intimates, but also with god[s], and certainly with his lady), which he has used throughout the poem, to the polite form (you/ye, used in conversing with superiors, but not with god[s]). He expresses his contempt for Fortune by addressing her with a term applicable only to certain mortals. This lyric has no French counterpart.


Abbreviations: MS: London, British Library MS Harley 682.

1031 tise. MS: tiise.

1519 Wode. MS: caret followed by end, crossed out; wode in outer margin above caret.

1524 worth. MS: worthi.

1527 al. MS: interlined above caret.

1540 was. MS: as written over longer (?4-letter) erasure.

1540-42 See explanatory note to these lines.

4704 oft then love. MS: oft þen written beyond bounding line, loue written beneath þen for lack of space.

4718 See explanatory note to this line.

4724 an hire. MS: am hir.

6423 See explanatory note to this line.
Print Copyright Info Purchase

from Fortunes Stabilnes




































Ballade 27 [addressed to his lady] - fols. 19v-20v

Myn hert hath sent abowt, ye, fer and nere,
For his welwilleris, frendis, and allyes,
As wherefor? Whi, ther advise to here,
To have counsell of grete thingis which that lyes
On him, as this: how he may his enemyes,
As Thought and Woo with ther cursid allyaunce,
Best discomfit (that moyan wold he lere),
Which willith to distroy his joyful chere
As in the Prison of Grevous Displesaunce.

For in desert they putt have his Plesere,
And Joye he holt of them but in patise
Save Comfort cometh to se him in a gere1
And makith him a maner of promysse
Them to banysshe. Lo, in this maner wise
Hope hath him oft achasid Disperaunce
Which kepith Joy fro me as a straungere,
That causith this: my hertis rage martere2
As in the Prison of Grevous Displesaunce.

O Myghti God, Y humbly thee requere
That Y may se the tyme sone to arise
That every man may, to his desere,
Without safcondit seche ther entirprise,
And then may Love, if so he werken wise,
Of Daungere take but right a small doutaunce;
Then wold myn hert and Y bothe laughe in fere
Which now in sighis doth himsilf atere
As in the Prison of Grevous Displesaunce.

Syn Absence thus me holt and from yow tise,
My hert complayneth that ye myght agrise
Hem for to here, myn owen soul suffisaunce,
Me praiyng this to write yow, lady dere;
That he hath not all that he wolde desere,
As in the Prison of Grevous Displesaunce.

Ballade 43 - fols. 29v-30r

My poore hert bicomen is hermyte
In hermytage of Thoughtfull Fantasé.
For false Fortune, so full of gret dispite,
That many yere hath hatid him and me,
Hath newe allyed hir (this may Y se),
To his gret hurt, with Payne and Hevynes,
And hath him banysshid out of all gladnes,
That where to dwelle nath he o bidyng place
Save in the Carfull Wode in payne to ly,
Where he contentith bide his lyvis space,3
And yet Y say him how it is foly.

Moche have Y spent of speche to his profite
But that to harke, Y trowe, he is not he;
My wordis alle nar worth to him a myte;
His will is sett in suche perplexité
That lightly, loo, hit kan not chaungid be.
So is he governyd al as bi Distres,
Which ganyst his profit doth nevyr cesse4
Him to avise (such counsell is't he hase!),
That nyght and day him holdith company,
That he may not eschewe his wrecchid case,
And yet Y say him how it is foly.

This as for me, y cast to leve him quyt,
Mi bestbilovyd, myn hertis soul ladé,
Without so be ye lust to him write
Sum praty word of yowre benygne bounté
For to alesse his gret adversité,
Ellis hath he made a feithfull trewe promys
For to renounce the joy and gret ricches
Of gladsom thought or plesere in him was -
And aftir that unto that howre he dey
The Abite of Discomfort on him lace,
And yet Y say him how it is foly.

O fayre sance per, lo this without yowre grace
For anything that Y kan do trewly
Mi dullid hert wol not comfort, allas,
And yet Y say him how it is foly.

Double Ballade - fols. 112r-113r

O thou Fortune, that causist pepill playne
Upon thi chaunge and mutabilité,
Did Y thee so, Y blamyd wrong, certayne,
For stabill yet herto as fynde Y thee
Withouten chaunge for to prevaylen me,
But whereas first thou fond me in symplesse,5
Thou holdist me in myn adversité
So that Y may biwayle thi stabilnes.

And yet full many holde opynyoun
As that thou shulde now hurt, and now amende,6
And gladly, als, of thi condicioun
A sympill wight in honure to ascende,
And most in weele as don him downe descende,
But Y may well contrary lo witnes,
For of my wrecchid liif Y fynde noon ende,
So that Y may biwayle thi stabilnes.

For well Y se how Ricches ascendith
And all folke bisy him to plese and yeve,
Whereas the sympill wight descendith
Of alle lothid, and noon him lust releve,
Among whiche on am Y in suche myschef
Ordaynyd Love, but to moche bisynes
Thou hast me geve my ladi to acheve,
So that Y may biwayle thi stabilnes,

Thorugh which Y wynne more maugré oft then love
Bi my to bisy demenyng,
And yet, God wot that sitt above,
I most desire of any erthely thing
To doon all that as were to hir plesyng,
But of rewdenes thou gevist me such larges
That thank to pike me wantith the konnyng,7
So that Y may biwayle thi stabilnes.

Alas! Fortune, now were me wondir wise,
Sett me in wey my lady for to plese,
And if that Y have tane to high emprise,
I pardoun axe and that thou not displese,
But turne thi whele my langour to apese
And of my smert to shape me sum redresse,
For yet thou baytist me in noyous lese,8
So that Y may biwayle thi stabilnes.

For my dull rewdenes hath no governaunce
Thorugh my demenyng hir to doon plesere
And yet, God wot, as that Y have pusshaunce,
I sett myn hert, my will, and my desere
Hir for to serve, but all to gret an hire
I willid have thorugh fonnyd wilfulnes,
But me prevaylith werryng nor prayere,
So that Y may biwayle thi stabilnes.

Now farewell, Fortune, with thi stedfast face,
For, as Y fynde, right so Y write of thee
And yn my refrait, though Y thee manace,
Thou oughtist not, me thenke, displesid be
Though Y say trouthe as that thou dost to me,
But evir truse and rewe on my distres
That Y endure in suche adversité,
So that Y may biwayle thi stedfastnes.

Ballade 118 - fols. 145v-146r

O fy, Fortune! Fy thi dissayt and skorne!
For all thi fraude, retorne yet wilfully,
That woldist ay eche wele were sone forlorne.9
Iwis, scoffer, yet art thou no thing ny
Me to disseyve, for clene Y thee defy!
To wel therto parseyve Y, lo, thi thought,
Nor yet thou get me not, for all thi spie,
Nor yet, Y trust, heraftir shalt thou not!

To wel knowen have y thee toforne
To be bigilid with thi mokkery.
I am to ware of thee to were an horne,
Wherfore that this Y pray thee hertily:
Thi mokkis selle to them that lust it by!
Full yvil ware of thee oft have Y bought,10
So yet thou get me not, for all thi spie,
Nor yet, Y trust, heraftir shalt thou not.

Now wolde Y say thou haddist thee wel borne11
Me to deseyve bi sleight or trechery,
Which do revolve at eve or morne
The dowbill turnys of thi juparty.12
So were Y foole to trusten thee trewly,
Wherfore, as I have seid unto thee oft,
That yet thou get me not, for all thi spy,
Nor yet, Y trust, heraftir shalt thou not.

So fy on Fortune! Fy on Jelowsy!
And all the awayte ye have unto me wrought,13
For yet ye get me not, for all yowre spy,
Nor yet, Y trust, heraftir shalt thou not.

well-wishers; allies; (see note)
Why? Why, their advice to hear
such as
Such as Worry and Woe
defeat; means would he learn
Who want; frame of mind
Dire Misery

in the wilderness; Happiness
he holds; by a limited contract; (see note)

a kind; (see note)
in this way
[from] him often chased away Despair

(see note)

soon to come
pursue their [own] business; (see note)
fear very little; (see note)
Who; wears himself out

holds and keeps me from you; (see note); (t-note)
be afraid
Of listening to him, my only

(see note)

has become [a] hermit; (see note)
Melancholy Longing
from all pleasure
[So] that he has no place to dwell; (see note)
Except; Woeful Forest; lie; (t-note)

tell him that

(see note)
to listen, I believe, he will not
are not; a little; (t-note)
[a state of] confusion
he is ruled entirely by Anguish; (t-note)

advise; is it [that]; (see note)
Who; keeps
[So] that; avoid (escape); situation

Thus; plan; entirely; (see note)
only lady
Unless you wish
pleasant; gracious generosity
In order to alleviate

(see note); (t-note)
Garment of Sorrow

O fair one sans peer; thus
In spite of
be comforted

who causes; [to] complain; (see note)
If I did so
stable so far
Without; to benefit
(see note)
[So] you [continue to] hold me

many people
(see note)
also [they believe]; by your nature
[Cause] a lowly person; (see note)
And cause the happiest one
bear witness to the contrary; (see note)

very well; (see note)
everyone busies himself; give

loathed; wishes [to]
I am one in such misfortune
Ordained [by]; too; difficulty; (see note)
You [Fortune]; to win

(see note); (t-note)
too eager efforts; (see note)
knows, who sits

would please her
uncouthness; abundance

help me; (see note)
put me on the right path
taken on too high an undertaking
ask; be displeased
to appease my suffering
pain; give; relief
(see note); (t-note)

self discipline
efforts to give
with all the power I have

too great a reward; (t-note)
I have desired; unwise
avails neither fighting [against you]

(see note)
the way I see you
song/lyric poem; threaten
it seems to me
tell; about what you do
declare a truce and have pity; (see note)

Which makes me

Fie [on] thy deceit; (see note)
From; deception; turn; (see note)

Certainly, mocker; not even close; (see note); (t-note)
Too well
Too; perceive; (see note)
Capture; spying

Too; in the past

too aware; to be fooled; (see note)

Tricks; wish to buy; (see note)

(see note)
I would be a

(see note)

Go to George Ashby, Complaint of a Prisoner in the Fleet 1463 Introduction
Go to George Ashby, Complaint of a Prisoner in the Fleet 1463 Text