A Complaynte of a Lovers Lyfe


1 In the midst of the Bull (i.e., the zodiacal sign Taurus) with all the beams bright

2 Shortly before the morning hour (i.e., dawn) has pierced [the] horizon (celestial vault)

3 My sickness sat always so near my heart (i.e., affected me deeply)

4 In white motley (i.e., the flowers of the hawthorn) that smells so sweet

5 The circular earthworks surrounding the spring; or, The earthworks encircling the spring on all sides

6 He was experienced [in those things] in which men should have involvement (concern)

7 With sensations of heat and cold my feverous malady (i.e., lovesickness) is so mingled

8 And False-Report so loudly rang the bell (i.e., spoke so slanderously)

9 And do not delay [it] but [merely] prolong my breathing

10 With those whom Love half-heartedly desires [to] promote

11 For formal pledge nor oath, word of honor (promise) nor pledge of loyalty


Abbreviations: see Textual Notes.

1 In May. See explanatory note to line 20 of Clanvowe's BC, for discussion of the convention of love complaints set in spring. Compare also the opening lines of QJ and the General Prologue to Chaucer's CT. 1-2 Flora, the fressh lusty quene . . . in grene, rede, and white. Lydgate uses an amplified version of this setting in the beginning of The Siege of Thebes (lines 13-16):
Whan that Flora the noble myghty quene
The soyl hath clad in newe tendre grene,
With her floures craftyly ymeynt,
Braunch and bough with red and whit depeynt.
(the goddess of flowers)

artfully combined
Chaucer pairs Flora with Zephirus, the west wind, in The Book of the Duchess, line 402, and the Prologue to LGW, F.171. The phrase fressh lusty quene echoes Chaucer's description of Dido in LGW as "this lusty freshe queene" (line 1191), while grene, rede, and white may reflect TC 2.51: "fresshe floures, blew and white and rede." Lydgate often uses the conjunction of green, red, and white, sometimes with other colors: see, for example, his description of the garden of Cupid in Reson and Sensuallyte, where the fruits change colors, being "[s]ommtyme grene, somtime rede, / Sommtyme white as cloth of lake" (lines 3940-41); the discussion of the mutability of the world in Beware of Doubleness, where "fresh somer floures, / White and rede, blewe and grene, / Ben sodeynly with wynter shoures / Made feynt and fade with-oute wene" (lines 11-14); or the report about burgeoning flowers in the garden that Medea's powers create in the midst of winter in Troy Book: "With many colour schewyng ful diuerse, / Of white and rede, grene, ynde, and pers" (1.1661-62).

3-5 Phebus . . . bemes bryght . . . chace awey the nyght. Phebus is the sun, while Lucifer is the morning star. Compare Chaucer's TC 2.54-55: "Whan Phebus doth his bryghte bemes sprede / Right in the white Bole, it so bitidde." See also Romaunt, lines 2636-38: "A, slowe sonne . . . / Sped thee to sprede thy beemys bright, / And chase the derknesse of the nyght." NS notes that line 5 particularly resonates with Boece 3.m.1.9-10: "Lucifer, the day-sterre, hath chased awey the dirke nyght" (p. 163n5-6). In Boece we learn that Hesperus, the evening star, and Lucifer, the morning star, are the same (1.m.5.11-16).

12 Hope. In RR, Hope comforts and encourages lovers (lines 2601 ff.). See Romaunt, lines 2760 ff.

with Seint John to borowe. The MED entry for borgh n., 2b (d) cites this line and translates: "St. John be your sponsor or protector; - usually as a farewell," but the gloss of the phrase in The Riverside Chaucer, "with St. John as my guarantor" (CT V[F]596), makes more sense in the context. The use of the phrase in The Kingis Quair points to its status as a formulaic goodbye: "With mony 'fare wele' and 'sanct Iohne to borowe'" (line 59 [st. 23]). As the several citations in Whiting (S22) indicate, the expression is a fairly common one, used repeatedly by Chaucer, Gower, and Lydgate, among others. See, e.g., Chaucer's Squire's Tale (CT V[F] 596) and Complaint of Mars (line 9); Gower's CA 5.3416; and Lydgate's Troy Book 1.3082.

13 Daunger. In RR, Dangier ("Standoffishness/Resistance") guards the roses from lovers' attempts to pluck them (see for example RR, lines 2807 ff. and 14787 ff.; Romaunt, lines 3011 ff. and 3130 ff.). Compare QJ, line 541, and Roos' BDSM, lines 175-80.

15 ff. The narrator of a medieval love complaint frequently travels to a pleasant scene in nature, such as woods, fields, or a garden, to grapple with problems. For more on the locus amoenus tradition, see explanatory note to lines 58-60 of BC. See also QJ, lines 19 ff.; and BDSM, lines 22-25.

17 As he, alas, that nygh for sorowe deyde. NS (p. 163n17) points to TC, where Troilus, hearing of Criseyde's betrayal, "neigh for sorwe deyde" (4.432).

18 My sekenes sat ay so nygh myn hert. The narrator appears to be suffering from lovesickness, though he later claims not to know much of "suche mater" (line 191). For more on lovesickness, see explanatory note to lines 31-35 of BC.

22-23 thoght I wolde goon / Unto the wode to her the briddes sing. Compare the opening of RR, where the narrator dreams he awakens in May and longs to get out of town to where he can hear the birds sing. Similarly, in BC the narrator desires to go out and hear a nightingale sing: "I wolde goo somme whedir for to assay / Yf that I myght a nyghtyngale here" (lines 52-53).

26-30 dewe also, lyk sylver in shynyng . . . in the grene mede. NS (p. 163n25-30) suggests a comparison with Chaucer's Knight's Tale, where the sun's rays "dryeth in the greves / The silver dropes hangynge on the leves" (CT I[A]1495-96).

28 firy Tytan. A variation of the description of the sun as "fiery Phoebus"; compare Chaucer's Knight's Tale, where "firy Phebus riseth up so bright / That al the orient laugheth of the light" (CT I[A]1493-94); and The Complaint of Mars, line 27: "Phebus with his firy torches rede."

34 golde-borned. The MED cites only this instance of the compound, which it defines as "shining like burnished gold" (see gold n., 5 [b]).

36 by a ryver forth I gan costey. Compare Romaunt, where the narrator walks "thorough the mede, / Dounward ay in my pleiyng, / The river syde costeiyng" (lines 133-35).

36-42 by a ryver forth . . . a parke . . . walled with grene stoon. The narrator makes his way through a pleasant landscape (locus amoenus) of flowered meadows and a river to an enclosed garden (hortus conclusus). See the opening of RR, with its descrip-tions of woods and flowered meadows in May as the narrator's dream-self travels along a riverbank to the walled Garden of Diversion (Déduit). For more on the locus amoenus tradition, see Curtius, pp. 195-202. For more on the convention of the enclosed garden, see Howes, pp. 18-19; and Pearsall and Salter's chapter, "The En-closed Garden," pp. 76-118, which provides a detailed discussion of the convention in medieval art and literature (for discussion of landscape in CLL, see p. 193; for RR, "the most famous and influential of all garden poems of the Middle Ages" [p. 83], see pp. 83-96). Pearsall (1970) notes that the description of the landscape is particularly indebted to RR and Chaucer's PF (pp. 84 ff.). The grene stoon (line 42) recalls Chaucer's PF, where the narrator encounters "a park walled with grene ston" (line 122).

43 ff. Birdsong is a conventional part of the locus amoenus; see BC, explanatory note to lines 67 ff. In RR (lines 497 ff.) the sound of the birds singing in the Garden of Diversion (Déduit) heightens the narrator's longing to enter the garden. Lines 45-46 echo Chaucer's PF: "The noyse of foules . . . / So loude rong . . . / That wel wende I the wode hadde al to-shyvered" (lines 491-93).

52-56 NS (p. 164n52-56) notes that "[t]he roof of boughs which protects the flowers from the sun's heat is an optional feature of the locus amoenus," drawing parallels with Romaunt (lines 1395-1400), Horace (Odes 2.15.9-10), Statius (Silvae 2.1.154-55), Claudian (De raptu Proserpinae 2.105-06), and Achilles Tatius (Clitophon and Leucippe 2.A.24-25).

57-59 The eyre atempre and the smothe wynde / Of Zepherus . . . / So holsomme was. Zephirus is the gentle west wind, conventionally invoked as a sign of spring. See, for example, Chaucer's BD, line 402, and the General Prologue, CT I(A)5. Lydgate uses a very similar set of phrases in The Siege of Thebes, lines 1054-56: "Zephyrus with his blowing softe / The wedere made lusty, smoth, and feir, / And right attempre was the hoolsom eir." The temperate air is a common image; see, for example, Chaucer's PF, lines 204-05: "Th'air of that place so attempre was / That nevere was grevaunce of hot ne cold." NS (p. 164n57) points out parallels with Lydgate's King Henry IV's Triumphal Entry into London, line 19: "The eyre attempred, the wyndis smoth and pleyn"; and Romaunt, line 131.
   Trevisa (De vento orientali et eius collateralibus, 11.3) identifies Zephirus as the southwest wind: "The secounde cardynale and chief wynde is Fauonius, þe west-erne wynde. . . . And þis wynd haþ bysides hym tweye wyndes. Þe on hatte Circius, þe west northwest wynde; þe oþir hatte Zephirus, þe west souþwest wynde" (p. 574/13-17).

64 ff. The convention of cataloguing frequently used by medieval writers derives from classical tradition. Compare Chaucer's catalogue of trees in PF (lines 176-82). See Curtius' discussion of the "mixed forest" catalogue, pp. 194-95, and Howes, pp. 19-20.

64-65 Daphene, closed under rynde . . . / Grene laurer. A reference to the story of Daphne and Phebus (Apollo, god of the sun). Phebus pursued Daphne relentlessly, even though she continually refused his advances. Attempting to escape ravishment, Daphne prayed to Zeus (or her father in some versions) for help and was turned into a laurel tree. See Ovid, Metam. 1.452 ff., Parthenius, Love Stories 15, Pausanias 8.20.1-4, Hyginus, Hyg. Fab. 203, Vat. Myth. I (115) and II (33). See also Boc-caccio, Gen. deo. 7.29. Gower tells a version of the story in CA 3.1685-1720, and Chaucer refers to the story briefly in TC 3.726-28, and in The Knight's Tale (CT I[A]2062-64), where the story appears as one of those depicted on the walls of Diana's temple.
   Trevisa discusses the laurel under De daphiri in 17.48 and again very briefly under De lauro in 17.59. The laurel is said to be protection against lightning (p. 941/24 ff.) and to represent victory (pp. 940/28 ff., 941/11 ff.). Its leaves are said to heal bee and wasp stings, as well as keep moths and worms away from clothes and books (p. 942/11-15); the fruit is good in medicines and "[o]f bayes is ymade precious oyle þat helpeþ a3eins many yueles and colde passiouns" (p. 942/19-21).

65 the holsomme pyne. Trevisa (De pino, 17.121) says that the pine "is good to alle þyng þat is þervnder" (p. 1017/14-15), and its fruit (i.e., the pine nut; De pinea, 17.122) has the medicinal properties of clearing, opening, and cleansing the lungs; soothing coughs; helping those with a wasting disease of the lungs (such as tuber-culosis); and stimulating the blood (p. 1019/7-10).

66 myrre. Trevisa discusses the myrrh in 17.102 (De mirra), saying that it is good for embalming, adding that it keeps its properties for a long time. It helps with digestion and the lungs, works against runny mucus, and purges phlegm ("glemy humours") (p. 994/10-15). It also heals problems with gums and lips, "conforteþ þe brayn," helps conception, and "sleeþ wormes in þe eeren," among other things (p. 994/16 ff.).

67 cedres. Trevisa discusses the cedar in 17.23 (De cedro). It has some similar proper-ties to myrrh. According to Trevisa, cedar wood lasts forever and books that are varnished with the gum (resin) of the tree are not eaten by worms and do not disintegrate with age (p. 920/32, 34-36). The gum or resin of the cedar "wypeþ away dymnesse of yhen, and," like myrrh, "sleeþ wormes of eeren," as well as helping with toothache and snakebite, among other things (p. 921/14-15). Similarly to myrrh, it also "kepiþ and saueþ neisshe fleissch fro rotynge" and "[t]he cedre tree anoynt wiþ his owne gomme kepeþ and saueþ fro rotynge dede bodies þat beþ yleyde þerinne" (p. 921/18-20).

68-70 philbert . . . Demophoune. An allusion to the story of Demophon and Phyllis as Gower tells it in CA 4.731-878. The tale tells of King Demophon of Athens (son of Theseus), who, blown ashore in a storm, seeks help from Phyllis, the queen of Thrace, the country where he has landed. He speaks of love to Phyllis, who believes him and awaits his return after he sails away with promises to return in a month's time. When he does not come back, she hangs herself in a tree. The gods take pity on her and she is "schape into a notetre . . . / And after Phillis philliberd / This tre was cleped in the yerd," (ed. Peck, 4.867-70). According to NS (p. 165n68- 70), in classical versions she turns into an almond tree, not a filbert tree as here, which seems to have been Gower's invention. The story appears in Ovid, Heroides 2 and Remedia amoris, lines 591-604; Hyginus, Hyg. Fab. 59; Vat. Myth. I (156) and II (258); and Boccaccio, Gen. deo. 10.52 and 11.25. There is also a brief mention of the story in RR, lines 13211 ff., and Chaucer tells the tale in LGW, lines 2394-2561. Compare also Lydgate's Temple of Glass, lines 86-90, where the story of how Phyllis "was honged vpon a filbert tre" (line 90) because of Demophon's "falshed" and "trepas" (line 88) is one of those depicted on the walls of the temple of glass.
   Trevisa discusses the filbert in De auellana (17.109), noting that the skin of the nut mixed with honey helps keep hair from falling out as well as making it grow (p. 1000/21-22).

71 hawthorne. In Lydgate's Temple of Glass Venus answers the lady's prayer for a steadfast lover with hawthorn branches: "Venus cast adoune / Into hir lap, braunchis white & grene / Of hawthorn" (lines 503-05). According to Venus, love should be like the leaves of the hawthorn, "þe which mai not die / Þuru3 no dures of stormes þat be kene, / Nomore in winter þen in somer grene" (lines 514-16). In Romaunt, Shame and Dread find Resistance (Daunger) "[l]iggyng undir an hawethorn" asleep (line 4002). See also explanatory note to BC, line 287.

73 Asshe. According to Trevisa (De fraxino, 17.62), ash is good for spears, its leaves help against venom, and the juice of the leaves, squeezed and drunk, helps against venomous snakes, which will not even go into the shade of an ash tree, morning or evening, and which would rather flee into fire than into the leaves of an ash tree (p. 951/32-37).
firre. Trevisa (De abiete, 17.4) says that the fir is good for building because of its height and straight growth (see pp. 904-05).
oke with mony a yonge acorne. Trevisa (De quercu, 17.134) notes that the oak endures a long time and is good for making masts, while acorns help against venom by blocking "weyes and poris" so that venom cannot pass quickly to the heart (p. 1028/29-31). See also Trevisa, De ilice (17.83).

75-77 a litel welle . . . quyke stremes colde. In Romaunt the narrator washes his face in a river that "from an hill that stood ther ner / Cam doun . . . ful stif and bold" (lines 114-15). Compare RR, lines 108-09.

78 The gravel golde, the water pure as glas. In Romaunt the well of Narcissus has "clere water" and "gravell, which that shoon / Down in the botme as silver fyn" (lines 1555-57). Compare RR, lines 1523-25.

80 softe as velvet the yonge gras. NS (p. 165n80) draws a comparison with Romaunt, lines 1417-20: "About the brinkes of these welles . . . / Sprang up the grass, as thicke set / And softe as any veluët."

83 shadowe cast. The well Narcissus drinks from in Romaunt is "shadowid . . . with braunches grene" (line 1511). See also RR, lines 1476-77.

87-88 Narcisus / Islayn was. An allusion to the story of Echo and Narcissus, told in RR (lines 1437 ff.; lines 1469 ff. in Romaunt). As a young man, Narcissus was full of pride and did not love anyone. Echo, who could not speak except to repeat what was said to her, fell in love with Narcissus, but he spurned her, after which she faded away until only her voice was left. In answer to the prayer of another rejected lover, the goddess Nemesis caused Narcissus to fall in love with his own reflection in a spring of water. He then pined away for love of himself and was turned into a flower after his death. Ovid tells the story in Metam. 3.342 ff. See also Boccaccio, Gen. deo. 7.59, and Gower, CA 1.2275-358. In The Knight's Tale Narcissus is one of those depicted on the walls of the temple of Venus (CT I[A]1941); see also The Franklin's Tale (CT V[F]951-52). Gower mentions Narcissus in his company of lovers, CA 8.2542.

87-91 Nat lyche the welle wher as Narcisus . . . deth mot folowe, who that evere drynk. In RR, the narrator sits by the well where Narcissus died (lines 1436 ff.), but in Lydgate's poem, as Spearing (1993) points out, p. 222, the narrator is careful to note that the well from which he drinks is Nat lyche the welle wher as Narcisus / Islayn was thro vengeaunce of Cupide (lines 87-88). Spearing points to this and other changes as evidence that Lydgate "has been careful to alter some of [the] most problematic features [of The Romaunt of the Rose] in such as way as to dissolve potentially dangerous clashes between courtliness and orthodox morality" (p. 222). Lydgate says Cupid hid The greyn of deth upon ech brynk of the well, in contrast to lines 1616-18 of Romaunt, where "Venus sone, daun Cupido, / Hath sowen there of love the seed." Here, Spearing says, Lydgate "simplifies the moral issue by stating that in the fountain of Narcissus Cupid had sown 'The greyn of deth'" rather than that of love (p. 222). NS suggests that Lydgate makes the change as a rejection of "the erotic tendencies encouraged by fine amour," adding: "Much of Lydgate's love ethic borrows imagery and ideas from the Roman, but Lydgate always recoils from any erotic implications" (pp. 166-67n90).

92-93 the pitte of the Pegacé . . . wher poetys slept. According to the MED, Pegasus' well is "the fountain Hippocrene, sacred to the Muses" (see Pegase n., [a]). The Oxford Classical Dictionary elaborates: "Pegasus was said to have created various springs from the earth by a stamp of his hoof, including Hippocrene on Mt. Helicon near the Muses' sacred grove, and another spring of that name at Troezen," referencing Pausanias 9.31.3 and 2.31.9 (p. 1131). See also Ovid, Metam. 5.256 ff.

94-98 the welle of pure chastité . . . nygh the welle. An allusion to the story of Acteon's death. Acteon happened upon Diana, goddess of the hunt and chastity, as she was bathing in a pool in the forest. Offended at his seeing her naked, Diana turned Acteon into a stag. He was then chased down and torn to pieces by his own hounds. See Ovid, Metam. 3.138 ff., Hyginus, Hyg. Fab. 180 and 181, and Vat. Myth. II (103). In Chaucer the story is one of those depicted on the walls of Diana's temple in The Knight's Tale, CT I(A)2065-68, and Emelye also refers to the story in her prayer to Diana (I[A]2302-03). Gower tells the story in CA 1.333 ff. NS (p. 167n91-92) notes:
Lydgate seems to be following Hyginus's account of the myth of Diana and Actæon. Ovid, Metamorphoses III. 161, does not name the fountain or identify it with a moral quality. Hyginus . . . Fabulæ, 181, identifies the fountain as Parthenius in Gargaphia in Boeotia. The association of the spring with chastity may have been suggested to Lyd-gate by Servius's note on Mount Parthenius (ad Ecl. x. 57 [i.e., from Servius' commen-tary on Virgil's Eclogues]).
111-12 And with myn hede . . . a good draght. NS (p. 167n111-12) notes a similarity to the portrayal of Narcissus drinking from the fountain in Romaunt: "And forth his heed and necke he straughte / To drynken of that welle a draughte" (lines 1515-16; compare RR 1479-80).

122-26 Compare the description of the garden where Antigone sings her song in Chaucer's TC 2.820-22: "This yerd was large, and rayled alle th'aleyes, / And shadewed wel with blosmy bowes grene, / And benched newe." The MED explains that in the context of a garden benched adj., (b), means "furnished with turf-covered mounds used for seats." NS suggests that Chaucer's Prologue to LGW (G.203-04) uses a similar setting (p. 167n125-26).

124 Whos names . . . not be tolde. NS notes a comparison to Chaucer's PF, line 229, though the contexts are quite different (p. 167n124).

129 hulfere and a wodebynde. NS suggests that the symbolism here "is vague," and that these "plants are probably meant to suggest no more than the idea of constancy" (p. 168n129). In Chaucer's Knight's Tale, Arcite goes to make himself "a gerland of the greves [branches], / Were it of wodebynde or hawethorn leves" as part of his "observaunce to May" (CT I[A]1507-08, 1500). In TC the embracing of Troilus and Criseyde is compared to the woodbine: "as aboute a tree, with many a twiste, / Bytrent and writh the swote wodebynde, / Gan ech of hem in armes other wynde" (3.1230-32), which would suggest that it may not represent steadfastness, since Criseyde betrays Troilus afterwards. Medieval herbals and surgery manuals give the woodbine a number of curative properties.

130 I sawe ther lay a man. For discussion of the narrator as "the silent watcher and listener," who is in the position of "voyeur and écouteur," see Spearing (1993), pp. 223 ff. (the discussion of the poem begins on page 218). See also the Introduction to CLL, especially pp. 73 ff.

131 In blake and white colour. NS suggests that white represents the knight's chastity and black his anguish, citing Lydgate's My Lady Dere, lines 99 ff. (p. 168n130-31) to support this reading. Compare the knight in Chaucer's BD, who wears black to symbolize his grief (line 445), or the lover in BDSM, whose clothes are also "[a]lle blake" with "noo devise" (i.e., unmarked by any heraldic device that could reveal his identity, line 130).
pale and wan. A common expression to indicate suffering (see MED, wan adj., 2 [a]). Chaucer uses the phrase to describe John the carpenter in The Miller's Tale after he has fallen into the street and broken his arm at the end of the tale (CT A[I]3828), and to illustrate Troilus' distress when he has learned of Criseyde's betrayal: "Upon his beddes syde adown hym sette, / Ful lik a ded ymage, pale and wan" (4.234-35).

146-53 I gan anon . . . marke what he sayed. The narrator here hides himself at a vantage point from which he can see while remaining unseen. Such setups are commonplace in medieval poetry. For example, QJ and BDSM feature similar circumstances in which the narrator's eavesdropping provides fodder for his tale. See also explanatory note to line 130.

151 hys fortune and on his eure. NS (p. 168n151) remarks that this phrase "enjoyed some popularity" after Lydgate's use of it, citing The Kingis Quair (line 65 [st. 10]) and The Court of Love (line 634) as examples.

162 ff. The lover is often described, as here, as robust and attractive but laid low by lovesickness. Compare, for example, the description of the knight in Chaucer's BD, lines 151 ff.

167 Gruffe on the grounde. NS (p. 168n167) points to Chaucer's Prioress' Tale: "And gruf he fil al plat upon the grounde" (CT VII[B2]675).

168 awaped and amate. Apparently a favorite pairing of Lydgate, since he uses it in several places. Compare The Temple of Glass, "That þei wiþ derknes were waped and amate" (line 401), and Troy Book 3.1608-09, where the Trojans, "of long fi3t awaped and amat, / Gan with-drawe, faynted in bataille."

176-77 NS (p. 168n176-82) suggests this is an imitation of The Monk's Tale, CT VII(B2) 2663-64: "Who shal me yeven teeris to compleyne / The deeth of gentillesse and of franchise[?]"

178 O Nyobe! Let now thi teres reyn. Niobe is a symbol of grief. Mother of fourteen children, Niobe considered herself superior to goddess Leto, who only had two: Apollo and Artemis (Diana). Apollo and Artemis, at Leto's bidding, then killed Niobe's children as punishment for her boasting. Niobe's grief was immortalized when she was changed into a rock with water running constantly down its surface. See Ovid, Metam. 6.146 ff. Pausanias (1.21.3) claims to have seen the rock: "This Niobe I myself saw when I had gone up to Mount Sipylus. When you are near it is a beetling crag, with not the slightest resemblance to a woman, mourning or otherwise; but if you go further away you will think you see a woman in tears, with head bowed down."

180-82 NS (p. 169n176-82) suggests these lines are a reworking of Chaucer's TC 4.12-14: "For which myn herte right now gynneth blede, / And now my penne, allas, with which I write, / Quaketh for drede of that I moste endite."

183-86 For unto wo . . . unto drerynesse. Proverbial; see Whiting W254.

190 ff. I, alas, that am of wytte but dulle. The narrator's disclaimer about his abilities as a writer is common in medieval writing. See QJ, lines 160-62 and 185 ff., and BDSM, lines 17 ff. Compare Chaucer's Retraction to CT, as well as the Prologue to LGW, where the narrator complains:
Allas, that I ne had Englyssh, ryme or prose,
Suffisant this flour to preyse aryght!
But helpeth, ye that han konnyng and myght,
Ye lovers that kan make of sentement. (F.66-69)
215-16 Compleynyng . . . reuful chere. A brief picture of lovesickness. For more on lovesickness, see BC, explanatory note to lines 31-32.

218-24 NS (p. 169n218-23) notes the opening lines to Chaucer's PF as the source of this "rhetorical scheme, anaphora, parison, suspensio," suggesting that "[i]n Lydgate's hands it turns into a kind of catalogue."

218-28 In these lines at the beginning of the lover's complaint, a number of words have been underlined in F: thoght (line 218), lyve (line 219), gost (line 220), chere (line 221), face (line 222), teres (line 223), hert (line 225), thoght (line 226), brest (line 227), body (line 228). All of these appear to sum up the significant parts of a lover, as they pertain to the physical and affective attributes appropriate to one suffering from lovesickness.

222 lyke asshes in shynyng. The image is of an extremely pale face, but the phrase has an oxymoronic quality about it, since shininge is normally used to mean something like luminous, clear, radiant, bright, shiny, glossy, brilliant, or gleaming (see MED, shinen v.). Unlike coals, whose gleaming signals that there is life in the fire yet, ashes do not glow and would seem to suggest lifelessness, since they are what remains once the fire has burned itself out. Compare line 232, which contrasts the heat of fire to the cold of ashes: "Now hote as fire, now colde as asshes dede."

229-45 This is an extended description of the lover's acces (line 229), a fever that keeps him burning with sensations of heat and cold. Compare Lydgate's Temple of Glass, lines 356 ff., for a similar description of a love fever. See also BC, explanatory note to line 39, for further literary resonances. NS comments that "[t]he paradox of hot and cold probably derives from Troilus I. 420: 'For hete of cold for cold of hete I dye'" (pp. 169-70n233) and also suggests a comparison with Gower's Cinkante Balades 9.

248 With hert and al. NS (p. 170n248) points to Romaunt, line 1883: "To serve his love with herte and alle."

250-59 Daunger . . . Trouthe shal be slawe. See explanatory note to line 13.

257 fals Envye of wrathe, and Enemyté. See the portrait of Envy on the wall of the Garden of Diversion in RR, lines 235 ff. (Romaunt, lines 247 ff.). In CA Gower discusses Envy in Book 2 and Wrath in Book 3.

260-68 And Male-Bouche . . . the ful possessyon. Male-Bouche is often translated as "Foul Mouth" ("Slander"). In RR Foul Mouth ("Wykked-Tonge" in Chaucer's translation), Shame, Fear, and Resistance (Dangier) are the four companions who guard the roses from lovers' attempts to pluck them. Foul Mouth's role is to prevent the lover's approach by spreading tales to discredit him. See RR, lines 2817 ff., and Romaunt, lines 3024 ff.

260-87 Love punishing the true and favoring the false is a common trope. In BC the cuckoo argues that in Love's court "ful selde trouthe avayleth / So dyverse and so wilful ys he [Love]" (lines 204-05). The dramatic courtroom scene in which Trouthe is placed on trial and condemned so that Falness can take his place is akin to Fals' displacement of Truthe through vigorous legal discourse in Piers Plowman B, Passus 3-4. Compare also Chaucer's Lak of Stedfastnesse. NS explains, "The property into which Falsnes has entered is the person of the knight in the lady's estimation - in the allegory, a land which Truth has a right to, since he is what he is, not what the lady imagines him to be" (p. 170n267).

260-62 And Male-Bouche . . . And Fals-Report so loude ronge the belle. Compare QJ: "Jelousye hath evir suich a tong / That from the malice of his hert procedith, / By quhich that sclander wyde quhare is rong" (lines 394-96).

290 Loves firy cheyn. See, for example, line 288 of BDSM, where the lover is chased by Love into the lady's "chayne." In The Knight's Tale Chaucer refers to "that faire cheyne of love" (CT I[A]2991), and he uses the phrase laced in "loves cheyne" in Romaunt (line 3178), expanding on this idea later, when Reason warns against love:


If love be serched wel and sought,
It is a syknesse of the thought
Annexed and knet bitwixe tweyne,
Which male and female, with oo cheyne,
So frely byndith that they nyll twynne,
Whether so therof they leese or wynne. (lines 4809-14)
See also Lydgate's Temple of Glass: "nov of nwe within his [Love's] fire cheyne / I am enbraced" (lines 574-75), and Troy Book, "Venus sone so felly can prouyde / His arwys kene to perce nerf & veyne, / And hem enlacen in his firy cheyne" (4.1550-52).
   In addition to its literary resonances, this image of love occurs in religious texts. See, for example, Book to a Mother, which warns that "fleshlich men" will often seem to be bound "wiþ chaynes and fetres of loue and drede, to holde Godis hestis," but "aftur Ester þei breken þer bondus and unyuen þer affecciones, folewinge here lustis as þei weren hogges" (Book to a Mother: An Edition with Commentary, ed. James Adrian McCarthy [Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, Uni-versität Salzburg, 1981], 12.12-18, p. 97).

291 thro-girt wyth mony a wounde. Compare The Knight's Tale, where after the battle between Theseus and Creon, Palamon and Arcite are discovered in a heap of dead bodies, "Thurgh-girt with many a grevous blody wounde" (CT I[A]1010).

302 What meneth this? What ys this wonder ure. Compare Mars' questions about God's purpose in making people fall in love in Chaucer's Complaint of Mars: "What meneth this? What is this mystihed?" (line 224). This is a common rhetorical flour-ish; see QJ, line 121 and explanatory note.

303 purveance. Throughout Book 5 of Boece Chaucer uses this word to define God's omniscience: see, e.g., 5.pr.3.8-12.

305 doun of the whele be falle. A reference to the wheel of Fortune. One was either on the top or bottom (i.e., enjoying good fortune or suffering bad), or headed in one direction or the other, depending on Fortune's whims. Boethius, in his Consolation of Philosophy, especially Book 2, argues that one should rely on philosophy rather than Fortune, if one seeks constancy.

309 This blynde chaunce, this stormy aventure. See explanatory note to line 456.

311-15 On Love punishing the true and rewarding the false, see lines 260-87 and explana-tory note.

323-29 See also lines 260-87 and explanatory note. Compare the cuckoo's condemnation of Love for much the same reasons in BC, lines 198-200: "For ofte sithe untrew folke he esith, / And trew folke so bittirly displesith, / That for defaute of grace hee let hem spille."

330 Palamides. One of Arthur's knights, Palomedes "the Saracen," also called "the Knight of the Questing Beast," who is in love with Isolde. See the entry in Chris-topher W. Bruce, The Arthurian Name Dictionary (New York: Garland, 1999), pp. 390-91.

330-99 Catalogues of lovers were common in medieval texts. Compare Gower's companies of lovers in CA 8.2545 ff. NS observes that these lines catalogue two types of lovers: "true lovers unrewarded" and "false lovers rewarded" (p. 171n330-99).

344 Ercules. Hercules (Heracles), "the greatest of Greek heroes," according to The Oxford Classical Dictionary (p. 684), and famous for his Labors. See explanatory note to line 357, for details on his relevance as an exemplary lover.

348 pilers. During his quest for the cattle of Geryon, Hercules created the pillars, the rocky promontories on either side of the Strait of Gibraltar. In some versions he erected the pillars to narrow the passage as protection against sea-monsters; in others he broke through a mountain range to connect the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. Guido delle Colonne's Historia destructionis Troiae explains that Hercules set the pillars up at Gades (now Cadiz, Spain) (ed. Griffin, p. 9; trans. Meek 1.183). See also Boccaccio, Gen. deo. 8.1, and Chaucer's Monk's Tale, CT VII(B2)2117-18.

354-55 The dance of Love is proverbial; see Whiting L535, "Love's old dance." Whiting D14 cites line 355, For him set laste upon a daunce, as the sole example of the proverbial expression "to set someone last upon a dance," though the MED reads the phrase as reflexive, that is, Hercules sets himself on a course of action. See Chaucer's HF, "Thou maist goo in the daunce / Of hem that hym [Love] lyst not avaunce (lines 639-40), and TC, "Now, thanked God, he may gon in the daunce / Of hem that Love list febly for to avaunce" (1.517-18). Chaucer also uses the phrase "old dance" frequently: in TC, "Pandarus . . . wel koude ech a deel / Th' olde daunce, and every point therinne" (3.694-95), in Romaunt Jealousy is an old hag who "knew all the olde daunce" (line 4300), and the portrait of the Wife of Bath from the General Prologue to CT explains: "Of remedies of love she knew per chaunce, / For she koude of that art the olde daunce" (I[A]475-76). See also The Physician's Tale, where the daughters of lords who have "falle in freletee, / . . . knowen wel ynough the olde daunce" (CT VI[C]78-79).

357 For al his trouth, he lost his lyfe. Hercules is one of the lovers featured on the walls of Venus' temple in Chaucer's PF; see also Pyramus (line 365), Tristan (line 366), and Achilles (line 367). Gower mentions the story of Hercules and his wife Deianira in his company of lovers, CA 8.2559-62. Deianira, believing Hercules desired Iole, wanted to recapture his love. To this end, she sent him a tunic dipped in the blood of the centaur Nessus. Nessus had tried to take Deianira from Hercules years before, and as a result Hercules killed him. Nessus had told Deianira the tunic would rekindle diminishing love when he gave it to her as a gift, but the garment instead poisoned Hercules. Burning from the poisoned tunic, which could not be removed, Hercules finally built his own funeral pyre and burned himself upon it to end his misery. Ovid's version of the tale (Metam. 9.136 ff.) explains that Hercules was not really in love with Iole, but "Rumour, who loves to mingle false and true and, though very small at first, grows huge through lying . . . reported that [Hercules] was enthralled by love of Iole. The loving wife believes the tale, and completely overcome by the report of this new love, she indulges her tears" (p. 13). See Ovid, Metam. 9.8-272, and Heroides 9; Hyginus, Hyg. Fab. 34-36; Vat. Myth. I (58); and Boccaccio, Gen. deo. 9.17. Chaucer's Monk tells the tale in a way that emphasizes the idea that Deianira may have known the tunic was poisoned, CT VII(B2)2119-35, though he claims "I wol hire noght accusen" (VII[B2]2129). Gower also tells the story in CA 2.2145 ff., where "Deianara is more clearly a victim than she is in the sources" (ed. Peck, p. 345n2145).

358-64 This stanza alludes to the story of Phebus and Daphne, discussed in explanatory note to lines 64-65.

365 Piramus. A reference to the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, whose parents would not let them marry, despite their love for each other. They communicated secretly by talking through a chink in the wall that separated their family dwellings. Deciding to run away together, they agreed to sneak out at night and meet at Ninus' tomb. Thisbe arrived first and saw a lioness coming to drink at a nearby spring, her jaws dripping blood from the cattle she had just killed. At this sight, Thisbe fled, leaving behind her cloak, which the lioness mauled with her bloody mouth. Pyramus arrived on the scene to find Thisbe's bloody and torn cloak and concluded that she had been killed. He drew his sword and killed himself. Returning to find him dead, Thisbe killed herself with his sword in turn. The story of Pyramus and Thisbe appears in Ovid, Metam. 4.55 ff. Chaucer tells the story in LGW, lines 706 ff., and Gower in CA 3.1331 ff. Pyramus is one of the representative lovers on the walls of Venus' temple in Chaucer's PF; see also Hercules (line 345), Tristan (line 366), and Achilles (line 367). Gower mentions Pyramus in his company of lovers, CA 8.2543, and Thisbe in 8.2578-82.

366 Tristram. A favorite Arthurian tale, the story of Tristan and Isolde appears in numerous medieval versions. See, for example, Gottfried von Strassborg's Tristan, Eilhart von Oberge's Tristrant, Béroul's Roman de Tristran, Thomas of Britain's Tristran, the anonymous Middle English Sir Tristrem, and the Old Norse Tristrams saga (translated as The Saga of Tristram and Isönd by Paul Schach [Lincoln: Uni-versity of Nebraska Press, 1973]). Tristan is sent by his uncle, King Mark of Corn-wall, to bring Isolde from Ireland to be Mark's bride. On the boat, Tristan and Isolde mistakenly drink the love potion intended for Mark and Isolde on their wedding night and fall in love. Isolde marries Mark, but she and Tristan carry on a secret affair, finally running away to together to live for a time in the woods in most versions. Tristan is one of the lovers depicted on the walls of Venus' temple in Chaucer's PF; see also Hercules (line 345), Pyramus (line 365), and Achilles (line 367). Gower mentions Tristan in his company of lovers, CA 8.2500-01.

367 Achilles. Lydgate tells the story of Achilles' love for Polyxena, daughter of Priam and Hecuba, in Troy Book 4.630 ff. The story is a late addition to the myth. See, for example, Hyginus, Hyg. Fab. 110; Dictys Cretensis, De bello Trojano 3.2-3; Dares Phrygius, De exidio Trojae 27; Joseph of Exeter, De bello Trojano, 6.81-85; Guido delle Colonne, Historia destructionis Troiae (ed. Griffin, pp. 184 ff.; trans. Meek 23.110-60); Gest Hystoriale 23.9541 ff. Benoît tells an elaborate version of the story in his Roman de Troie, lines 17511-18472, 20691-812, and 21838-22334. Chaucer mentions the story in BD, lines 1067-71, and Gower in CA 4.1693-1701. Achilles is one of the exemplary lovers who appears on the walls of Venus' temple in Chaucer's PF; see also Hercules (line 345), Pyramus (line 365), and Tristan (line 366). Gower mentions Achilles in his company of lovers, CA 8.2545.
Antonyas. Chaucer tells the famous story of Antony and Cleopatra in LGW, lines 580-705, and Gower alludes to the story in his company of lovers, CA 8.2571-77.

368 Of Arcite or of him, Palamoune. An allusion to Chaucer's Knight's Tale, adapted from Boccaccio's Teseida delle nozze d'Emelia, which tells the story of two cousins of noble blood who are captured by Theseus after the war with Creon over Thebes. Imprisoned together in Athens, Palamon and Arcite both fall in love with Emelye, but Palamon is the one who gets to wed her at the end of the tale. It is therefore puzzling that Lydgate would include Palamon in his catalogue of wronged lovers here. Chaucer also alludes briefly to the story in the Prologue to LGW (F.420-21).

371 Lo, her the guerdon that lovers have! Set in the midst of pagan figures, both those who suffered from love and those who themselves caused pain, this line and lines 400-06 evoke Chaucer's TC 5.1849-55, where the narrator contrasts "payens corsed olde rites" (5.1849), which prove false, with the true love of Christ, "hym the which that right for love / Upon a crois, oure soules for to beye, / First starf, and roos, and sit in hevene above; / For he nyl falsen no wight" (5.1842-45). Lo, her the guerdon that lovers have! and "[l]o, her the fyne of lovers servise!" (line 400) echo TC 5.1852-53 in particular: "Lo here, the fyn and guerdoun for travaille / Of Jove, Appollo, of Mars, of swich rascaille!" Compare also TC 5.1828-32, discussed in the explanatory note to lines 400-06.

372 Jasoun. In his Troy Book Lydgate tells the story of Jason and Medea (1.1823 ff.), detailing Jason's betrayal of Medea in 1.2868 ff. The story is told in Ovid, Metam. 7.1-403 and Heroides 12; Hyginus, Hyg. Fab. 22-26; and Guido delle Colonne, Historia destructionis Troiae 1-3. Chaucer tells the tale in LGW, lines 1580 ff., and Gower in CA 5.3247-4222. Gower mentions Medea's story in his company of lovers, CA 8.2563-66, but also lists Jason as a true lover of Creusa in 8.2504-05.

374 Tereus. Tereus raped Philomela, his wife Procne's sister. He then cut out Philo-mela's tongue to keep her silent about the crime. Philomela sent her story to her sister in a piece of weaving. Procne then killed Itys, her son by Tereus, and served him as a meal to his father in revenge. All three were turned into birds. See Ovid, Metam. 6.424-674. Chaucer's version of the tale is in LGW, lines 2288 ff. Gower tells the tale in CA 5.5551 ff. and also mentions the story in his company of lovers, CA 8.2583-86.

375 Ené. For the story of Dido and Aeneas, see Virgil's Aeneid, books 1-4. Dido was queen of Carthage, where Aeneas landed after fleeing the destruction of Troy. Dido fell in love with Aeneas, but he, feeling the call of destiny, left to found Rome. Dido then killed herself in despair, after cursing Aeneas and his descendants. See also Ovid, Heroides 7; and Hyginus, Hyg. Fab. 243. There were numerous medieval adaptations of the story, especially the twelfth-century French Roman d'Eneas. Chaucer tells the tale in LGW, lines 924 ff., and HF, lines 240 ff.; Gower in CA 4.77 ff. Gower also mentions Dido in his company of lovers, CA 8.2552-53.

379 Arcite. An allusion to Chaucer's Anel., in which the Theban knight Arcite wins the love of Anelida, queen of Armenia, who is visiting Thebes. Even though he does not love her, Arcite not only woos Anelida, but also pretends to be jealous of her interactions with other men. Finally he betrays her for "another lady, proud and newe" (line 144). As The Riverside Chaucer points out, although Chaucer attributes the story to "ancient Latin sources," in fact "the tale of Anelida and the 'false' Arcite seems to have been his own invention" (p. 375).

380 Demophon. See explanatory note to lines 68-70. Gower mentions the story of Demophon and Phyllis in his company of lovers, CA 8.2554-55.

386 For trwe Adon was slayn with the bore. The story of Venus and Adonis is told in Ovid, Metam. 10.542 ff., with Adonis' death and transformation narrated in 10.708 ff. Venus loved Adonis and warned him against the dangers of wild beasts. He ignored her and was slain by a boar in the forest. Overcome with grief, Venus changed him into a flower, the anemone. Compare Chaucer, TC: "Adoun, that with the boor was slawe" (3.721).

389-92 Vulcanus . . . noon he can. The story of the adulterous relationship between Mars and Venus was frequently retold; lines 621-26 further elaborate the details of Vulcan's reaction (see also explanatory note to these lines). See Ovid, Metam. 4.169 ff. and Ars amoris 2.561-92; Hyginus, Hyg. Fab. 148; Vat. Myth. II (144); Patro-logia Latina, ed. Migne, 78.551; and Boccaccio, Gen. deo. 9.3. Gower tells the story in CA 5.651-97. Chaucer's Complaint of Mars tells of the love between Mars and Venus.

393-99 Ipomones . . . guerdonlesse he past. The allusion is to the story of Atalanta and Hippomenes. Warned by the oracle that a husband would prove her undoing, Atalanta avoids marriage. She agrees to marry only the man who can defeat her in a footrace, if he is willing to risk the death that will be his reward should he lose. After several men die, Hippomenes manages to trick Atalanta into losing by throwing golden apples onto the path, thus pulling ahead and defeating her when she stops to pick them up. The two were turned into lions as punishment for making love in the temple of Cybele. Ovid tells the story in Metam. 10.560-707; see also Hyginus, Hyg. Fab. 6.

400-06 The repetition of Lo in these lines echoes TC 5.1849-55 (discussed in explanatory note to line 371), but the emphasis on Love's preference of the false over the true also suggests a comparison to TC 5.1828-32, where the narrator laments the sorrowful end of Troilus:
Swich fyn hath, lo, this Troilus for love!
Swich fyn hath al his grete worthynesse!
Swich fyn that his estat real above!
Swich fyn his lust, swich fyn hath his noblesse!
Swych fyn hath false worldes brotelnesse!
404 suerde of sorowe byte. Compare Chaucer's Anel., "Thogh that the swerd of sorwe byte / My woful herte" (lines 270-71). "Sword of sorrow" is a phrase most com-monly used in religious contexts, especially as an expression of the anguish of the Virgin Mary at Christ's sufferings. See, for example, the lyric "The Knight of Christ," line 12: "Mi sheld shal be þe swerd of sorwe" (in Religious Lyrics of the XIVth Century, ed. Carleton Brown [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924; second ed., rev. G. V. Smithers, 1957], pp. 223-25); and the lyric "Stabat Mater Dolorosa," line 4: "Þe swerd of sorowe þyne hert kitte" (in Religious Lyrics of the XVth Century, ed. Carleton Brown [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1939] pp. 22-25). A homily from The Northern Homily Cycle (ed. Saara Nevanlinna, vol. 1 [Helsinki: Société Néo-philologique, 1972]) recounts the prophesy to Mary by Saint Simeon (Luke 2:35) from which the phrase arises: "Þat for sorow þat þou sal se / Þe swerde of sorow sal pas thurgh þe" (lines 3665-66). Mary's lines in Ludus Coventriae (p. 268, lines 1065-67) enact that same prophesy: "Ffor þese langowrys may I susteyn / Þe swerd of sorwe hath so thyrlyd my meende / Alas what may I do" (in Ludus Coventriae or the Plaie Called Corpus Christi, ed. K. S. Block, EETS e.s. 120 [London: Oxford University Press, 1922; rpt. 1960]), while a Middle English translation of Aelred of Rievaulx's De institutione inclusarum (ed. John Ayto and Alexandra Barratt, EETS 287 [London: Oxford University Press, 1984], pp. 1-25) demands empathy with it on the part of the faithful Christian: "Mi3t þu be wit-owte sobbyngge and whep-yngge, whanne þu sikst a swerd of so scharp sorwe renne þorou3 here tendre herte?" (p. 49/951-53).

421 Lesynges. "Lesynges" ("Lies") is one of the personifications represented on the wall of Venus' temple in Chaucer's Knight's Tale (CT I[A]1927).

425 Under colour depeynt with stidfastnesse. Perhaps a variation on the proverbial idea "under color of kissing is much old hate" (Whiting C374).

426 With fraude cured under a pitouse face. Similar to a proverbial expression Lydgate uses to characterize Fortune's changeable nature in Troy Book: "Feyth in hir face & fraude ay in þe tail" (1.3314; he also describes her as having "forhed pleyn and [a] false visage," 1.3310; brackets in original). See Whiting F5. Whiting also lists a number of proverbial expressions that indicate concern over what a face may hide, such as "deem not after the face" (F1), "the face may fail to be the heart's token" (F2), "the face of treason is black within and white without" (F3), "he that makes the fairest face shall soonest deceive" (F4), "in the face peace, in the heart war" (F7), as well as several having to do with a "double face" (F8, F12, and F13). For discussion of similar proverbial expressions about a false appearance hiding one's true nature, see explanatory note to BDSM, lines 389-94.

429 feyned port. A common image in discussions of love. Compare BDSM, where the lover claims that a true lover (one who is really hurt) complains much better, since "fayned chere is harde to kepe in mewe" (line 338).

431-34 Compare Romaunt, where "fals lovers . . . in herte cunne thenke a thyng, / And seyn another in her spekyng" (lines 2538-42; RR, lines 2394-97). See also the lady's assessment in BDSM of lovers' fair words in wooing, lines 325-32, and her description of love: "Love is sotill and hath a gret awayte, / Sharpe in worching, and in gabbyng [lying] gret plesaunce" (lines 341-42). To thenken on in her opynyon / And sey another (lines 432-33) is a proverbial expression that Lydgate also uses in Troy Book 2.4280. See Whiting T189 for further literary citations.

441 hys dart that hym list to fyle. The image of Cupid filing his arrows also occurs in Chaucer's PF, line 212: "Cupide, oure lord, his arwes forge and file."

448 she hath joy to laughen at my peyn. A common complaint against the beloved. Compare Chaucer's Anel., where Anelida makes a similar criticism of Arcite after he has transferred his affection to another: "Ryght as him list, he laugheth at my peyne" (line 234).

449-50 wilfully hath my dethe sworone / Al giltles. Compare Aurelius' prayer to Apollo in Chaucer's Franklin's Tale, where he complains that Dorigen does not love him: "Lo, lord! My lady hath my deeth ysworn / Withoute gilt" (CT V[F]1038-39).

454 On Venus' blindness, NS suggests a comparison with Robert Henryson's Testament of Cresseid, lines 134-35, and notes that Henryson's portrait makes clear that Venus' blindness "has not been transferred from Cupid to Venus, but from the traditional account of Fortune" (p. 173n454).

456 unto thy stormy, wilful variaunce. Stormy is an image of love used in Lydgate's Troy Book: 2.2544-45: "Þe trowble and aduersite / Þat is in Loue, and his stormy lawe"; and Chaucer's TC 2.778: "love is yet the mooste stormy lyf."

456 ff. The characterization of Cupid as capricious, shooting lovers at random and favoring the false over the true, is typical. See explanatory note to line 461.

461 and ys blynde. "Love is blind" is proverbial; see Whiting C634. Cupid, the God of Love, is frequently depicted as blind. See, for example, Romaunt, lines 3702-03: "Cupide, / The God of Love, blynde as stoon"; and Gower's CA: "love is blind and may noght se" (ed. Peck, 1.47). Compare also line 202 in BC. See Whiting for further citations.

470-83 The idea of the love-object as enemy or foe is commonplace. See, for example, Chaucer's TC, where Troilus exclaims, "Thanne is my swete fo called Criseyde!" (1.874; see also 5.228); and The Knight's Tale, where Arcite says, "Fare wel, my sweete foo, myn Emelye!" (CT I[A]2780). See also Complaint to His Lady, line 37; and Anel., line 272.

473 his leche. The beloved as the doctor or cure is typical. Compare BDSM, line 201: "His leche was nere, the greter was his thought."

487-88 Er I was borne, my destanye was sponne / By Parcas sustren. The three goddesses of Fate (the Parcae) were held to spin the thread of life. See also explanatory note to line 489.

489 my dethe shopen or my shert. "My death was shaped (ordained) before my shirt." Proverbial; see Whiting D106, as well as MED, shapen v., 8 (a), for citations. This is perhaps a strange pun, where the Fates' spinning leads to death rather than the more usual item of cloth. See also a similar expression in Whiting, "to be nearer than one's shirt" (S255). Compare Chaucer's Knight's Tale, CT I(A)1566; TC 3.733-35; and LGW, lines 2629-30.

491 Nature. Nature as God's agent is typical. See, for example, RR, lines 16752 and 19476 ff.; Chaucer's PF, line 379; and The Physician's Tale, CT VI[C]9 ff.

495-511 The idea of the lady's virtues enabling her to resist the black knight's advances is a commonplace. Compare Romaunt, lines 3011 ff. (RR, lines 2807 ff.), where Daun-ger, Wykked-Tonge, Shame, Chastite, and so on keep the lover at bay. Pity in particular is the traditional enemy of Daunger (Resistance). In Romaunt, lines 3499 ff. (RR, lines 3231 ff.), Pite and Fraunchise (Liberality) try to reason with Daunger to let the lover pass.

512 ff. The lover's claim that he will die of unrequited love is typical. Compare the lover's complaint in Romaunt that "lyf and deth, withouten wen, / Is in his [Love's] hand" (lines 4596-97). In Chaucer's Legend of Cleopatra, the narrator avers that women, not men, die from true love in his discussion of Antony: "Ye men that falsly sweren many an oth / That ye wol deye if that youre love be wroth, / Here may ye sen of wemen which a trouthe!" (LGW, lines 666-68), and he maintains an equally skeptical attitude towards Jason in The Legend of Hypsipyle and Medea: "O, often swore thow that thow woldest dye / For love, whan thow ne feltest maladye / Save foul delyt, which that thow callest love!" (LGW, lines 1378-80). Although the lover seems to think he is going to die, it is more often the woman who dies in love laments, becoming a proper object for unrequited love/desire. See, for example, Chaucer's BD or Charles of Orleans' fifteenth-century balade sequence. Compare BDSM, however, where the lover does die (lines 717-24, 812), though the narrator of BDSM explains that he is suffering because his lady has died (lines 57 ff.).

516 my lyves quene. Compare line 674. See also Chaucer's Complaint to His Lady: "Myn hertes lady and hool my lyves quene" (line 54).

540-46 Such appeals are common in love complaints. See, for example, lines 781-88 of BDSM, where the lover complains to God when he realizes grace from his lady is not forthcoming. Compare also Troilus' appeal to the god of love in Chaucer's TC 4.290 ff.: "O god . . . / That knowest best myn herte and al my thought," etc.

551 that am under her legeaunce. It is common to discuss the lover and his lady as vassal and lord respectively. Compare, for example, lines 253 ff. of BDSM.

558-59 yf I dye, in my testament . . . my spirit also. This uses the conventional language of the medieval will, where a person generally began by leaving the soul to God. See Lydgate's translation of Guillaume de Deguileville's Pilgrimage of the Life of Man, where Christ leaves his "soule vn-to [his] Fader dere" (line 4783), his "body . . . / To the sepulkre for dayes thre" (lines 4794-95), and his heart "To all that [his] commaundëment / Kepe" (lines 4803-04). Compare also Romaunt, lines 4610 ff., for a secular context.

569-70 Sithe in her honde . . . al my peyn. Compare Romaunt, where the narrator admits to the God of Love, "My lyf, my deth is in youre hond; / I may not laste out of youre bond" (lines 1955-56).

576 hert ryve wolde atweyne. A conventional expression. See line 799 of BDSM: "His woful hert, almoost it brast atwayne." Compare also Lydgate's Siege of Thebes, where the women's "hertys felt almost ryve asonder" (line 4500) when Creon forbids the bodies of the dead to be buried or burned; and King Lamedoun's grief at the sacking of Troy in Troy Book 1.4268-70: "Þan for to se þe wo he dide make, / It wolde haue made a pitus hert as blyue / Of verray dool asondre for to rive." See also the effect of Pride's anger in The Pilgrimage of the Life of Man, lines 14092- 93: "Myn hertë wolde for Ire tremble, / Ryve atwo almost for tene."

578-81 The narrator's sympathy to the lover is conventional. Compare, for example, QJ, lines 107 ff.

590-91 the sunne his arke diurnall / Ipassed was. Compare the line "Parfourned hath the sonne his ark diurne" in Chaucer's Merchant's Tale (CT IV[E]1795).

592-97 NS (p. 174n594) suggests a comparison with the description of the setting sun in Troy Book:
The hour whan he made his stedis drawe
His rosen chariet lowe vnder the wawe
To bathe his bemys in the wawy see,
Tressed lyche gold, as men my3t[e] see,
Passyng the bordure of oure occian. (Prol. 127-31; brackets in original)
595 chare of golde. A reference to Phebus, the sun, driving his chariot across the sky.

596-97 the rowes rede / Of Phebus lyght. Compare Chaucer's Complaint of Mars: "Lo, Venus, rysen among yon rowes rede!" (line 2); and Lydgate's Troy Book: "the lusty rowes rede / Of Phebus char" (1.1199-1200).

597 deaurat. A neologism, from Latin deauratus, p. ppl. of deauro, deaurare. The MED cites only this line in its entry for deaurat.

603-09 The narrator's self-deprecation is conventional. See explanatory note to lines 190 ff. Compare lines 607-09 to the narrator of Chaucer's TC, who conversely suggests that he is not to blame: "Disblameth me if any word be lame, / For as myn auctour seyde, so sey I" (2.17-18).

610-16 Compare Lydgate's description of Venus as the evening star in The Temple of Glass, lines 326-31. For Esperus (line 612) as the evening star, see Chaucer's Boece 1.m.5.11-13: "the eve sterre, Hesperus, whiche that in the first tyme of the nyght bryngeth forth hir colde arysynges." (See also explanatory note to lines 3-5.) Venus is often described as "clear" - see Trevisa: "among alle sterres Venus schiniþ most comfortabilly and whitly, and þerfore he is iclepid 'cleernesse', for he sendiþ fro himself clere bemes of li3t" (p. 482/6-9).

619 ff. Compare the prayer to Venus in Lydgate's Temple of Glass, lines 321 ff., and Reson and Sensuallyte, lines 2213 ff. See also the proem to Book 3 of Chaucer's TC (3.1 ff.), Palamon's prayer to Venus in The Knight's Tale (CT I[A]2221 ff.), and the narrator's appeal in The Nun's Priest's Tale on behalf of Chauntecleer (CT VII[B2] 3342-46). See also Amans' prayer to Cupid and Venus in Gower's CA 1.124 ff.

621-26 when thou ley . . . smyle. While married to Vulcan, Venus had an affair with Mars. When Vulcan learned that Mars and Venus were lovers, he devised a plan to catch them in the act. Fashioning an invisible net to ensnare them, he caught the two in an intimate embrace, then invited the rest of the gods to witness their disgrace. Arcite makes a similar appeal in his prayer to Mars in The Knight's Tale, CT I(A)2383-92. See explanatory note to lines 389-92 for further classical and medieval references to the story of the affair. Gower's version (CA 5.651-97) is sympathetic to the lovers.

627 wel-willy. Compare Troilus' designation of Venus as "the wel-willy planete" in Chaucer's TC 3.1257.

634 fals Daunger. See explanatory note to lines 250-59.

644 that love thou haddest to Adon. A reference to the story of Venus and Adonis. See explanatory note to line 386 for details.

645 ff. Curtius identifies the topos of ending "because night is coming on" (p. 90) as conventional and discusses its origins (pp. 90-91).

653 ff. Farewel, ye lovers al. Addressing lovers and/or ladies at the end of love complaints is conventional. Compare, for example, the apostrophes to lovers at the ends of QJ (lines 582 ff.) and BDSM (lines 813-20) and to ladies in the latter (lines 821-28).

674 ff. The "envoy de quare," an envoy addressed to the book or poem, is used by Chaucer at the end of TC: "Go, litel bok, go, litel myn tragedye" (5.1786). NS gives a very detailed account of the history of this literary trope, borrowed from classical poets (pp. 174-75n674 ff.).

679-81 Compare line 508.


Abbreviations: A = British Library MS Add. 16165 (Shirley MS), fols. 190v-200v; B = Bodleian Library MS Bodley 638, fols. 1r-4v; Ch = Chepman and Myllar Print; D = Bodleian Library MS Digby 181, fols. 31r-39r; F = Bodleian Library MS Fairfax 16, fols. 20v-30r [base text]; K = E. Krausser; M = Henry Noble MacCracken; NS = John Norton-Smith; P = Cambridge, Magdalene College MS Pepys 2006, pp. 1-17; S = Bodleian Library MS Arch. Selden. B. 24, fols. 120v-129v; Sk = Walter W. Skeat; T = Bodleian Library MS Tanner 346, fols. 48v-59r; Th = William Thynne (1532); W = Wynkyn de Worde.

title F, B, W: The Complaynte of a louers lyfe. F: omits The; in F another hand has added or of the blake knight; in B, which is missing the first 467 lines, this is the running title. A (at bottom of fol. 190r): And here filowyng begynneþe a right lusty amerous balade made in wyse of complaynt of a right worshipful knyght þat truly euer serued his lady enduryng grete disese by fals envye and malebouche made by Lydegate (with various running titles). D: the man in þe erber. P, T, Th: The complaynt of þe blak Knyght. S: omits (but see colophon). Ch: Here begynnys the mayng or disport of Chaucer.

1 fressh. D: omits.

4 al the bemes bryght. A: bemys of delyte.

5 awey the nyght. A: þe night als tyte.

7 lovers. F, T, W: omit. In F a later hand has written louwers or louevers in margin with caret to mark point of insertion. I follow previous editors in emending.

9 dreryhed. W: sluggerdy.
hevy. A: omits. P: any.

11 goodly. W: omits.

15 I. F: omits. I follow previous editors in emending.

16 out stert. D, P, T, S, Ch: vpstert. Sk, NS emend. I follow K, M in retaining F.

17 nygh. P: night.

18 hert. D: smert.

19 of my. W: omits.

20 my. F, W: omit. I follow previous editors in emending.

21 halt. A: haldeþe. P, S, Ch, W: held.

22 anon. A: als swiþe. W: me vp.
wolde goon. F: wol goon. W: wyll anone. I follow previous editors in emending.

23 Unto. A, P, S, T, Ch, Th: In to. K emends. I follow M, NS in retaining F.

25 morownyng. S, Ch: dawing.

26 lyk. F: lykyng. W: lyenge lyke. I follow previous editors in emending.

30 the2. F: omits. W: euery. I follow previous editors in emending.

32 her. F: the. I follow previous editors in emending.

34 golde-borned. A: as golde.

35 hem. D: hym.

42 with grene. A: so with. D: with grete.

44 bothe in. A: and þe. S: and in.
and. F, A, D, S, T, Ch: omit. I follow previous editors in emending.

45 songe. A: were.
wode. F: world. A: park. Ch: londe. I follow previous editors in emending.

46 hyt. T: his.

48 wrest. S: brest.

52 celured. A: syloured. D, P, W coloured. S, Ch: siluered. T, Th: couered.

53 cure. P: couer.

54 That in. T: no longer legible.
they. T: the.
longe. F, P, T, W: not longe. I emend, following K, NS. M retains F's reading.

58 Zepherus. A: feyre Phebus. S, Ch: Phebus.

60 buddes. A, S: briddes.
lyte. T: white.

61 brethe. A: birthe. P: bright.

62 that. F, D, P, T, Th, W: omit. I follow previous editors in emending.
their. S, Ch: thai. W: the eyre.

64 ther. A, D, P, S, T, Ch, Th: the.
closed under. D: clothir.
rynde. A: lynde.

69 Her. S: His.

70 her. S: his.

71 the. F: omits. I follow previous editors in emending.

73 oke with. D: eke.
yonge. T: fressh.

75 And me beforne. A: Þat hade his.

76 That. T: And.

78 golde. D: colde. S, Ch: like golde.

80 velvet. P: violet.

81 gan spryng. F: gan syng. D, P, T, Th: came spryngyng (D: corrected from game), followed by NS, Sk. I emend, following K, M.

82 sute. S, Ch: nowmer.

87 Nat. F: That. A: Nought. I follow previous editors in emending.
Narcisus. F, D, T, W: Narcius. P: Marcius. I follow previous editors in emending.

89 Wher so. S: Quharfor.
covertely. Ch: coniunctly.
hide. A, S, Ch: abyde.

90 greyn. A: greef.
of deth. S: of cruell deth.
ech. A: euer yche a. P, S, Ch: the.

92 of the Pegacé. F: of the Pegate. A: vnder purgatorye. I follow previous editors in emending.

93 Under. A: Or of.
slept. F: splept. I follow previous editors in emending.

94 pure. F, W: omit. I follow previous editors in emending.

95 as. A: þat. Th: ye. W: omits.

97 Atteon. A: Akoun. D: Actioun. P, T, Th, W: Acteon. S: Arceon. Ch: Anceon.
his. A, D, S, Th: hir.
houndes. F: hondes. A, D, W: handes. I follow previous editors in emending.

101 Bollyn. S, Ch: Belyng. W: Swollen.
perse. F: perysh. I follow previous editors in emending.

104 werynesse. Ch: heuinesse.

106 had. F: omits. I follow previous editors in emending.

107 thoght. F: thogh, corrected to thought by later hand.

108 welle. D, P, T: omit.

111 araght. A, D, P, S, T, Ch, Th, W: I raught, which K, M follow (I raght). I follow NS in retaining F.

113-26 S, Ch: omit.

117 therwithalle. P: yer with alon.

121 I. A, D, P, T, Th: And. K, NS emend. I follow M in retaining F.

126 clourys. F, A, D, P, T, Th: colours. W: turues. Emended for sense, following NS, who points out that"[i]t is impossible to bench with colors. The word should be the ME n. clour, 'turf'" (p. 167n126). K, M, Sk retain colours.

127 ynde. F: rende. A, S, Ch: of ynde. Th: gende. W: rynde. I emend, following previous editors.

129 hulfere. A: haselle. S: lorere. Ch: hoser.

130 As I was war, I. A: So was I ware and.
ther. A, D, P, S, T, Ch, Th, W: wher. K, NS emend. I follow M in retaining F.

131 white. D: with.

132 also. S, Ch: was he also.

133 fresh. A: fresshly.

134 overmore. P, S, Ch, W: euermore.

135 as thus. A, D, P, S, T, Ch, Th: al þis. K, M emend. I follow NS in retaining F.
ful. F, W: omit. I follow previous editors in emending.

136 hote. A: harde. S, Ch: grete.
accesse. S: excesse.

138 for. P: omits. Ch: sore.
constreynyng. S, Ch: constreynt. Other editors emend to constreynt, but the MED cites this line under constreininge ger. 2.

malady. T: lady.

140 her. F, W: se. I follow previous editors in emending, although grone could be a variant of grene adj. 1 (b), meaning"of the skin or complexion: green; also, pale, colorless, livid"; as a verb, gronen v. 3 can mean"sicken" or"die" (see MED).

145 routhe. P, S: gret rowthe.

146 I. A: An. D, P, S, T, Ch, Th: And, which previous editors follow.
gan. A: þanne.

147 me prively. T: me peyuyly.

151 eure. W: feuer.

157 without. P: with.

158 speke. D: take.
on lyve. F, P: of lyve. I follow previous editors in emending.

159 trouth. P: through.

167 Gruffe. W: Grouelynge.
in place. T: omits.

168 Sole. T: So.
awaped. W: awaked. S, Ch: he wept.

173 I. A: hit.
yow. W: omits.

174 to yow, so. S, Ch: his wordis ryght.

176 helpe me now. F: now helpe me now. I follow previous editors in emending.

178 O Nyobe. D: Caliope. S, Ch: O eyen two.

182 When. P: What.

187 of. F: to. I follow previous editors in emending.

192 discryve. A, S, Ch: discerne.
wryte. A: wit.

206 Or. A: So.

207 that. A: and. S, Ch: or.

209 ne2. A: neuer. S: as. Ch: omits.

213 high. A: his. D: wofull. W: omits.

214 perturbaunce. S: grete perturbance.

216 and. A, S: and with ful. Ch: and wyth. Other editors emend for meter: K, M add with ful; Sk adds with ruful. NS changes loke to lokes, based on D, P, T, Th, and adds with.

217 Th'effect. W: The fytte.

217a Compleynt. F: in margin at line 219.

218 Marginalia in F: nota.
sighes. D: thoughtis.

218-228 A number of words in these lines have been underlined in F: see explanatory note.

220 and. W: and and.

221 P: omits this line.

223 falle. W: shall.

224 Parcel. Ch: Playn can.
declare. F: declared, with the d added by another hand.

225 grounde. D: grownded. S: bound.

226 resseyt. A: resort.

230 shyver. A: cheele. S, Ch: chill.

233 now cold. F, W: omit. I follow previous editors in emending.

234 now2. S, Ch: now hote.
coles rede. D: firy glede.

236 possed. W: passed.
am. T: omits.

237 hete. F, A, D, P, S, T, Ch, W: colde. I follow previous editors in emending.
as I fele. A: euery dele.

238 grevouse. S, Ch: greuance.
colde. D: hert.
everydele. A: of myn vnseele.

239 dysdeyn. S, Ch: distresse.

241 evere. S, Ch: omit.
besy peyne. A: his peyne. D, P, Th: his besy payne. S, Ch: besynesse. T: his bysy hate. K emends to his besy peyne. I follow M, NS in retaining F.

243 This. F: Thus. I follow previous editors in emending.

246 that in trouthe I. A: þat I in trouthe. S: þat I treuth. W: the trouth I.

248 be. P: omits.

250 me sterve. Ch: desterue.

252 now. P, T, Th: newe.

254 of. P: and.

255 sleghtly. P: sely.

256 Han. P: Thanne.

257 of wrathe. Th: omits of, followed by Sk. NS emends to [and] Wrathe. I follow K, M in retaining F.

259 Trouthe. A: right. S, Ch: throw I.
slawe. P: drawe.

261 Trouthe of. P: through on.

263 Suspecion. P: enspicioun.

273 lyve. T: lyen.

274 accused . . . forjuged. A: forjuged . . . accused.

279 do. D: to. Ch: be.

281 admytted. A: accepted.

282 ne a worde. S: now inward. W: omits ne.

283 othe. S: soth.

284 ys no geyn. A: gayneþe nought.

285 cleke. F, A, P, T, Th, W, Ch: clepe. D: speke. I emend for rhyme, based on S. K, M, Sk retain clepe. NS emends to creke.

287 mordred. D: to mordir. S: murder.

290 P: omits this line.

291 thro-girt. A: hurt. S, Ch: ouergirt.

292 ar. W: am.

294 but. A: and.
the. A: my. S, Ch: thy.

295 Marginalia in F: nota.
sight. A: light. D, P, S, T, Ch, Th: right.

299 more. T: eny.

301 hem. W: hym.

302 What. A: That.
meneth. D: movith.

303 Of. A: Or.

304 Of1. A: On. S, Ch: O.
hem. W: hym.

307 wrongfully. A: wronge.

308 Trouthe. A: truwe.
of Falshed. D, P, T: omit.

319 his. A: hir. S, Ch: my.

he hath. A, S, Ch: I haue.

319-20 A: transposes these lines.
320 banysshed. A: banned.

321 that I shal. A: for to.

327 no. Ch: now.

328 the. P: omits.
hem. A, W: him.

329 her. P, S, Ch: his.

331 the noble worthy. P: and the nobyl.

332 of hys peyne no relese. A: neuer hade relees.

334 Love. W: None.

338 his. W: his hye.
besy. A, D, P, S, T, Ch: his bisy. Previous editors emend.

340 mercie. A: grace.

341 not refreyn. T: neuyr attayne.

342 no. W: to.
obey. F: wey. I follow previous editors in emending.

345 worthynesse. F: worchynesse. I follow previous editors in emending.

347 of him list. S: can of him.

348 pilers. F: periles. P: peyrles. I follow previous editors in emending.
high. D: omits.

349 Away. A: So fer. P, W: Alwey.
Cades. P: Goddes.

351 pilers. Th: pyles.
ben. P, Th: omit.

355 him. A: he him. Previous editors emend.
daunce. P: chance.

356 whom. S, Ch: quhois.

357 he. A: for loue he.

358 al. F: as. I follow previous editors in emending.

359 he. P: she.

360 hert. W: erthe.
Venus. A: goddes Venus. S: fresch Venus. T: Phebus.

363 Thogh. S: Though hit.
her. A: his. P: omits.
love. S: omits.

364 let. A: bade.

365 Piramus. A, D, W: Pryamus.

366 trwe. D: Troy.
high. A: omits. D: grete.

371 lovers. A, D, P, S, T, Ch, Th: þees louers.

373 at Colkos to Medé. A: and al so ymodee.

374 Tereus. A, P, S, T, Th: Theseus. D: the Thesus. Ch: Thecius. W: Terens.

375 Ené. P: gne.

379 the. A: loo þe.

380 his. A: his foule.

382 grete. A: hir gret.

383 ever. A: omits.
alas, and that. S: in that allace. Ch: allace in that.
routhe. A: gret routhe.

385 ungoodly. F: ungooly. I follow previous editors in emending.

387 shade. W: shadowe.

389 with her no mercy. A: no mercy with him.

390 had. F, W: and. I follow previous editors in emending.

391 her. S: the.
worthi. F, A, D, P, T, Ch, Th, W: omit. I follow previous editors in emending.
trewe. F, A, D, P, T, Ch, Th, W: omit. I follow previous editors in emending.

393 Ipomones. Th: Ypomedes.

394 fre. D: and fre.
as. A: was. P: omits. W: and.
his. A, P, S: hir.

395 ches. A, D, P, S, T, Ch, Th, W: he ches.

396 Athalans. D: Atlans.
her. A: his.

399 guerdonlesse. P: grewusly.

400 lovers. A, D, P, S, T, Ch, Th: louys.
servise. A: hye servyce.

401 that Love can. A, S, Ch: he can.

404 byte. P: smyte.

405 must. A: doþe. D, P, S, T, Ch, Th: moste.
his. P: omits.
lust. D: love.

414-20 A: omits these lines.

415-16 P: omits these lines.

419 jupartyng. F, P, S, T, Ch, Th, W: in partyng. D: jupardy. I follow previous editors in emending.

421 Lesynges. Ch: losingeris.
fals. D, P, S, T, Ch: omit.

426 pitouse. S: double.

427 Accept. A: Accepted. Ch: Excep.
rathest. T: accepte ben ratheste.

428 best. W: omits.

429 and. S: and false.

430 haunce. P, Th: haunt. A, S, Ch, W: chaunge.

433 another. S, Ch: they aught.
hemselfe. F: hymselfe. K, M retain F's reading. I follow NS's emendation.

445 of. D: my.

446 throgh. P: trwe. S, Ch: for.

452 feythfully. A: hir feythfully. S, Ch: most feithfully.

453 of Love. A, D, P, S, T, Ch: abowe.
I crie. A: I calle and crye.

457 unstablesse. A: doublenesse.

458 is. S, Ch: in.

458-59 P: Now vp now downe that the to trust may be no sekyrnes / Soyr rynnyng is thy chaunce. (I.e., line 459 is written as the last half of 458, canceled, then rewritten in its proper sequence before line 460; the last half of line 458 is written as 459.)

460 I. P: And.
hit. D, P, T: omit.

462 by wenynge. S: as he wend. Th: by wende. Ch: be the weynd.

464 he. P: omits.
let his arowe goo. A: holdeþe his bowe gode.

466 shetyng. P: settyng.

470 is. Th: omits.

471 When. A: Whome þat. P: Wham.
hurteth he dothe. A: hurteþe doþe. D: hurt doth and. T, Th: hurteth doth to so.

473 Unto. F: Wnto. K, M retain F's reading. I follow NS's emendation.

475 of dethe in. A: of a.
jupardie. F: pardie. P: jupard. I follow previous editors in emending.

477 even. S, Ch: evinly.

478 gaf. F: yaf.

479 axe grace. A: me graunt.

480 wher. B, W: omit.

483 my2. P: omits.
wounde. S, Ch: wo.

488 By. A: omits.
sustren. A: suffre.

493 to. A: to do.
cure. D: omits.

494 wyse. A, B, W: omit.
purveaunce. T: omits.

497 taken. A: omit.

499 wite. A, D, T: with.

501 plenteuous. W: plenteous and.

502 her. A: hir persone.

505 When Mystrust. Ch: Quham to myscheyf.

507 this. Th: his.

508 Routhe. S, Th, W: truthe.
Pité. S: pietee.

509 Out. W: But.

510 her. D, P, T: the. S, Ch: his.

514 al. A, S: al manere.

519 and. T: if.

522 wille. T: omits.

523 Or. F: Er. I follow previous editors in emending.
yf that. D: omits.

524 so. P: so sore.

525 charme. W: charyte.

526 charme. W: maner. A: medecyne.

527 mercie. T: omits.
to helpe in. A: lady. S: in. Ch: in to.
this. S: this wofull.

528 evere. P: ouer.

534 I ne. P: yif I.

536 hit. P: if.
her to. A, S: 3owe to.

561 alderlast. A: euermore.

b>562 mercy. P: omits.

566 me lasteth brethe. A: she lasteþe brethe. P: that lastyth my breth. T: lasteth deth.

570 dethe, my. D: omits.

571 hest. W: herte.

572 my. F, B, W: be my. I follow previous editors in emending.
fatal. F: fal. I follow previous editors in emending.

573 When. P: What.
her. S: it.

575 Marginalia in F, B, W: Nota perseveranciam amantis,"Note the lover's con-stancy."

579 myn. D: his.

580 verry. F: werry. K, M retain F's reading. I follow NS's emendation.

581 That. A: While.
languysshing. W: languysshe. B: sangvisshing.
his. A, S, Ch, Th: omit. T: her.

583 bowes. Ch: leves.

593 Were. F, P: Wher. I follow previous editors in emending.

595 swyftly. T: swythely.

599 pleynt. D, P: payne.

600 Worde. A: Right worde.

602 to. S, Ch: in.

603 wite. W: faute.

606 seme. W: feyne.

607 sey. F, B, S, T, Ch: seme. K, M retain F's reading. I follow NS in emending. Sk follows Th: seyn.

610-51 A: omits these lines.

619 to se. S, Ch: the see.

622 whom. D, P, T, Th: whan. S, Ch: quhen þat.
founde. T: you founde.

623 cheyne. W: reyne.

625 above. W: aboute.

627 wel-willy. Th: wylly.

628 O. F: Of. I follow previous editors in emending.

632 lie. F: he. I follow previous editors in emending.

634 Er. W: Theyr.
hem. P, S: hym.

635 be. P: omits.

638 further. Ch: men thou furthyr.

639 glad. S, Ch: goodly.

640 cause. F: omits. I follow previous editors in emending.
take. B: call.

644 Adon. D: Adamoun. W: downe.

647 verry wery. F: werry wery. S, Ch: verily. D, P, T, Th: wery. K, M retain F's reading. I follow NS's emendation.

648 thus. S: rycht thus.

649 trew. W: true louers.

650 may in relese. P: thou relese.

651 Recured. D, P, S, Ch: Recouered.

656 er. A: as.
he. T: 3e.
his. P, S, T, Th: omit.

659 thus. S: rycht thus.
that. T: omits.

660 togedre. S: with othir.

663 Jelosie. A, D, P, T, Th: jalousyes.
oonly. A: and.

664 his. A, B, P, W: omit.

666 L'envoye. D, P, S, T, Ch: omit.
hit your. A, D, P, Th: hit to your. S, Ch: to your. T: hit to you of youre.

667 mynde. A: your mynde.

668 also. A: oonly.

669 trew. D, Th: omit.
summe. W: omits. Th: your.

670 be behynde. F: be hynde. I follow previous editors in emending.

671 him. F, B, W: omit. I follow previous editors in emending.
provoked. D: promited.

672 by my trouthe. S: trewely.

674 L'envoye de quare. A, D, P, S, T, Ch, Th: omit.

676 shal. D: hath.

679 Routhe. W: trouthe.

681 Recure. A, D, S, Ch: Rekouer.
myn. F: hym.

colophon F: omits. A, P, T, Th: Explicit. B: Explicit the Compleynt of a loveres life. D: Explicit Edorb qd [for quod]. S: Here endith the maying and disport of Chau-cere. Ch: Explicit. Heir endis the maying and disport of chaucer Imprentit in the south gait of Edinburgh be Walter chepman and Androw myllar the fourth day of aperile the yhere of god. M.CCCCC. and viii. yheris. W: Imprynted at London in the Flete strete at the sygne of the Sonne by Wynkyn de Worde.
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A Complaynte of a Lovers Lyfe








































































































































In May when Flora, the fressh lusty quene,
The soyle hath clad in grene, rede, and white,
And Phebus gan to shede his stremes shene
Amyd the Bole wyth al the bemes bryght,1
And Lucifer, to chace awey the nyght,
Agen the morowe our orysont hath take2
To byd lovers out of her slepe awake,

And hertys hevy for to recomforte
From dreryhed of hevy nyghtis sorowe,
Nature bad hem ryse and disporte
Ageyn the goodly, glad, grey morowe;
And Hope also, with Seint John to borowe,
Bad in dispite of Daunger and Dispeyre
For to take the holsome, lusty eyre.

And wyth a sygh I gan for to abreyde
Out of my slombre and sodenly out stert,
As he, alas, that nygh for sorowe deyde -
My sekenes sat ay so nygh myn hert.3
But for to fynde socour of my smert,
Or attelest summe relesse of my peyn
That me so sore halt in every veyn,

I rose anon and thoght I wolde goon
Unto the wode to her the briddes sing,
When that the mysty vapour was agoon,
And clere and feyre was the morownyng.
The dewe also, lyk sylver in shynyng
Upon the leves as eny baume suete,
Til firy Tytan with hys persaunt hete

Had dried up the lusty lycour nyw
Upon the herbes in the grene mede,
And that the floures of mony dyvers hywe
Upon her stalkes gunne for to sprede
And for to splay out her leves on brede
Ageyn the sunne, golde-borned in hys spere,
That doun to hem cast hys bemes clere.

And by a ryver forth I gan costey,
Of water clere as berel or cristal,
Til at the last I founde a lytil wey
Touarde a parke enclosed with a wal
In compas rounde; and, by a gate smal,
Hoso that wolde frely myght goon
Into this parke walled with grene stoon.

And in I went to her the briddes songe,
Which on the braunches, bothe in pleyn and vale,
So loude songe that al the wode ronge,
Lyke as hyt sholde shever in pesis smale.
And, as me thoght, that the nyghtyngale
Wyth so grete myght her voys gan out wrest,
Ryght as her hert for love wolde brest.

The soyle was pleyn, smothe, and wonder softe,
Al oversprad wyth tapites that Nature
Had made herselfe, celured eke alofte
With bowys grene, the flores for to cure,
That in her beauté they may longe endure
Fro al assaute of Phebus fervent fere,
Which in his spere so hote shone and clere.

The eyre atempre and the smothe wynde
Of Zepherus amonge the blosmes whyte
So holsomme was and so norysshing be kynde
That smale buddes and rounde blomes lyte
In maner gan of her brethe delyte
To gif us hope that their frute shal take,
Agens autumpne redy for to shake.

I sawe ther Daphene, closed under rynde,
Grene laurer, and the holsomme pyne,
The myrre also, that wepeth ever of kynde,
The cedres high, upryght as a lyne,
The philbert eke, that lowe dothe enclyne
Her bowes grene to the erthe doune
Unto her knyght icalled Demophoune.

Ther saw I eke the fressh hawthorne
In white motele that so soote doth smelle;4
Asshe, firre, and oke with mony a yonge acorne,
And mony a tre mo then I can telle.
And me beforne I sawe a litel welle
That had his course, as I gan beholde,
Under an hille with quyke stremes colde.

The gravel golde, the water pure as glas,
The bankys rounde the welle environyng,5
And softe as velvet the yonge gras
That therupon lustely gan spryng.
The sute of trees about compassyng
Her shadowe cast, closyng the wel rounde
And al th'erbes grouyng on the grounde.

The water was so holsom and so vertuous
Throgh myghte of erbes grouynge beside -
Nat lyche the welle wher as Narcisus
Islayn was thro vengeaunce of Cupide,
Wher so covertely he did hide
The greyn of deth upon ech brynk
That deth mot folowe, who that evere drynk;

Ne lyche the pitte of the Pegacé
Under Parnaso, wher poetys slept;
Nor lyke the welle of pure chastité,
Whiche as Dyane with her nymphes kept
When she naked into the water lept,
That slowe Atteon with his houndes felle
Oonly for he cam so nygh the welle.

But this welle that I her reherse
So holsom was that hyt wolde aswage
Bollyn hertis, and the venym perse
Of pensifhede with al the cruel rage,
And evermore refresh the visage
Of hem that were in eny werynesse
Of gret labour or fallen in distresse.

And I that had throgh Daunger and Disdeyn
So drye a thrust, thoght I wolde assay
To tast a draght of this welle, or tweyn,
My bitter langour yf hyt myght alay;
And on the banke anon doune I lay,
And with myn hede into the welle araght,
And of the watir dranke I a good draght.

Wherof me thoght I was refresshed wel
Of the brynnyng that sate so nyghe my hert
That verely anon I gan to fele
An huge part relesed of my smert;
And therwithalle anon up I stert
And thoght I wolde walke and se more
Forth in the parke and in the holtys hore.

And thorgh a launde as I yede apace
I gan about fast to beholde,
I fonde anon a delytable place
That was beset with trees yong and olde
(Whos names her for me shal not be tolde),
Amyde of which stode an erber grene
That benched was with clourys nyw and clene.

This erber was ful of floures ynde,
Into the whiche, as I beholde gan,
Betwex an hulfere and a wodebynde,
As I was war, I sawe ther lay a man
In blake and white colour, pale and wan,
And wonder dedely also of his hiwe,
Of hurtes grene and fresh woundes nyw.

And overmore destreyned with sekenesse
Besyde, as thus he was ful grevosly,
For upon him he had a hote accesse
That day be day him shoke ful petously,
So that, for constreynyng of hys malady
And hertly wo, thus lyinge al alone,
Hyt was a deth for to her him grone.

Wherof astonied, my fote I gan withdrawe,
Gretly wondring what hit myght be
That he so lay and had no felowe,
Ne that I coude no wyght with him se,
Wherof I had routhe and eke pité;
I gan anon, so softly as I coude,
Amonge the busshes me prively to shroude;

If that I myght in eny wise espye
What was the cause of his dedely woo,
Or why that he so pitously gan crie
On hys fortune and on his eure also,
With al my myght I leyde an ere to
Every worde to marke what he sayed
Out of his swogh among as he abreyde.

But first, yf I shal make mensyon
Of hys persone and pleynly him discrive,
He was in sothe, without excepcion,
To speke of manhod, oon the best on lyve -
Ther may no man agein trouthe stryve -
For of hys tyme, and of his age also,
He proved was ther men shuld have ado.6

For oon the best ther of brede and lengthe,
So wel ymade by good proporsion
Yf he had be in his delyver strengthe;
But thoght and sekenesse wer occasion
That he thus lay in lamentacion,
Gruffe on the grounde in place desolate,
Sole by himself, awaped and amate.

And for me semeth that hit ys syttyng
His wordes al to put in remembraunce,
To me that herde al his compleynyng
And al the grounde of his woful chaunce,
Yf therwithal I may yow do plesaunce,
I wol to yow, so as I can, anone
Lych as he seyde reherse everychone.

But who shal helpe me now to compleyn?
Or who shal now my stile guy or lede?
O Nyobe! Let now thi teres reyn
Into my penne and eke helpe in this nede,
Thou woful mirre that felist my hert blede
Of pitouse wo, and my honde eke quake,
When that I write for this mannys sake.

For unto wo acordeth compleynyng,
And delful chere unto hevynesse;
To sorow also, sighing and wepyng
And pitouse morenyng unto drerynesse;
And who that shal write of distresse
In partye nedeth to know felyngly
Cause and rote of al such malady.

But I, alas, that am of wytte but dulle
And have no knowyng of suche mater
For to discryve and wryte at the fulle
The wofull compleynt which that ye shul here,
But even like as doth a skryvener
That can no more what that he shal write
But as his maister beside dothe endyte,

Ryght so fare I, that of no sentement
Sey ryght noght, as in conclusion,
But as I herde when I was present
This man compleyn wyth a pytouse son;
For even lych, wythout addissyon
Or disencrese, outher mor or lesse,
For to reherse anon I wol me dresse.

And yf that eny now be in this place
That fele in love brennyng or fervence,
Or hyndered were to his lady grace
With false tonges that with pestilence
Sle trwe men that never did offence
In worde ne dede, ne in their entent -
Yf eny such be here now present,

Let hym of routhe ley to audyence
With deleful chere and sobre contenaunce
To here this man, be ful high sentence,
His mortal wo and his perturbaunce,
Compleynyng, now lying in a traunce
With loke upcast and reuful chere,
Th'effect of which was as ye shal here.


"The thoght oppressed with inward sighes sore,
The peynful lyve, the body langwysshing,
The woful gost, the hert rent and tore,
The petouse chere pale in compleynyng,
The dedely face lyke asshes in shynyng,
The salt teres that fro myn yen falle,
Parcel declare grounde of my peynes alle.

"Whos hert ys grounde to blede on hevynesse,
The thoght resseyt of woo and of compleynt,
The brest is chest of dule and drerynesse,
The body eke so feble and so feynt.
With hote and colde my acces ys so meynt7
That now I shyver for defaute of hete,
And hote as glede now sodenly I suete:

"Now hote as fire, now colde as asshes dede,
Now hote for colde, now cold for hete ageyn,
Now colde as ise, now as coles rede
For hete I bren; and thus betwext tweyn
I possed am, and al forcast in peyn,
So that my hete pleynly, as I fele,
Of grevouse colde ys cause everydele.

"This ys the colde of ynwarde high dysdeyn,
Colde of dyspite, and colde of cruel hate;
This is the colde that evere doth besy peyn
Agens trouthe to fight and debate;
This ys the colde that wolde the fire abate
Of trwe menyng, alas, the harde while;
This ys the colde that will me begile.

"For evere the better that in trouthe I ment
With al my myght feythfully to serve,
With hert and al to be dilygent,
The lesse thanke, alas, I can deserve.
Thus for my trouthe Daunger doth me sterve,
For oon that shuld my deth of mercie let
Hath made Dispite now his suerde to whet

"Agens me and his arowes to file
To take vengeaunce of wilful cruelté;
And tonges fals throgh her sleghtly wile
Han gonne a werre that wol not stynted be;
And fals Envye of wrathe, and Enemyté
Have conspired agens al ryght and lawe,
Of her malis, that Trouthe shal be slawe.

"And Male-Bouche gan first the tale telle
To sclaundre Trouthe of indignacion,
And Fals-Report so loude ronge the belle8
That Mysbeleve and Fals-Suspecion
Have Trouthe brought to hys damnacion,
So that, alas, wrongfully he dyeth,
And Falsnes now his place occupieth

"And entred ys into Trouthes londe
And hath therof the ful possessyon.
O ryghtful God, that first the trouthe fonde,
How may Thou suffre such oppressyon,
That Falshed shuld have jurysdixion
In Trouthes ryght, to sle him giltles?
In his fraunchise he may not lyve in pes.

"Falsly accused and of his foon forjuged,
Without unsuer while he was absent
He damned was and may not ben excused,
For Cruelté satte in jugement
Of hastynesse, without avisement,
And bad Disdeyn do execute anon
His jugement in presence of hys fon.

"Atturney non ne may admytted ben
To excuse Trouthe, ne a worde to speke;
To feyth or othe the juge list not sen;
Ther ys no geyn, but he wil be wreke.
O Lorde of Trouthe, to Thee I calle and cleke:
How may Thou se thus in Thy presence
Without mercy mordred Innocence?

"Now God that art of Trouthe sovereyn
And seest how I lye for trouthe bounde,
So sore knytte in Loves firy cheyn,
Even at the deth, thro-girt wyth mony a wounde
That lykly ar never for to sounde,
And for my trouthe am damned to the dethe,
And noght abide but drawe alonge the brethe,9

"Consider and se in Thyn eternal sight
How that myn hert professed whilom was
For to be trwe with al my ful myght
Oonly to oon, the which now, alas,
Of volunté, withoute more trespas,
Myn accusurs hath taken unto grace
And cherissheth hem my deth for to purchace.

"What meneth this? What ys this wonder ure
Of purveance, yf I shal hit calle,
Of God of Love that fals hem so assure,
And trew, alas, doun of the whele be falle?
And yet, in sothe, this is the worst of alle:
That Falshed wrongfully of Trouth hath the name,
And Trouthe, agenwarde, of Falshed bereth the blame.

"This blynde chaunce, this stormy aventure,
In love hath most his experience,
For who that doth with Trouth most his cure
Shal for his mede fynde most offence,
That serveth Love with al his diligence;
For who can feyne under loulyhede
Ne fayleth not to fynde grace and spede.

"For I loved oon ful longe sythe agoon
With al my hert, body, and ful myght,
And to be ded my hert cannot goon
From his hest, but hold that he hath hight.
Thogh I be banysshed out of her syght
And by her mouthe damned that I shal deye,
Unto my behest yet I wil ever obeye.

"For evere sithe that the worlde began,
Whoso lyste loke and in storie rede,
He shal ay fynde that the trwe man
Was put abake, wheras the falshede
Ifurthered was, for Love taketh no hede
To sle the trwe and hath of hem no charge,
Wheras the fals goth frely at her large.

"I take recorde of Palamides,
The trwe man, the noble worthy knyght,
That ever loved, and of hys peyne no relese;
Notwithstondyng his manhode and his myght,
Love unto him did ful grete unright,
For ay the bette he did in chevalrye,
The more he was hindred by envye;

"And ay the bette he dyd in every place
Throgh his knyghthode and besy peyn,
The ferther was he fro his ladys grace,
For to her mercie myght he never ateyn,
And to his deth he coude hyt not refreyn
For no daunger, but ay obey and serve
As he best coude, pleynly til he sterve.

"What was the fyne also of Ercules,
For al his conquest and his worthynesse,
That was of strengthe alone pereles?
For, lyke as bokes of him list expresse,
He set pilers thro his high prouesse
Away at Cades for to signifie
That no man myght hym passe in chevalrie;

"The whiche pilers ben ferre by-yonde Ynde
Beset of golde for a remembraunce.
And, for al that, was he sete behynde
With hem that Love list febly avaunce;10
For him set laste upon a daunce
Agens whom helpe may no strife -
For al his trouth, he lost his lyfe.

"Phebus also, for al his persaunt lyght,
When that he went her in erthe lowe
Unto the hert with Venus sight
Ywounded was thro Cupides bowe;
And yet his lady list him not to knowe,
Thogh for her love his hert did blede;
She let him go and toke of him non hede.

"What shal I say of yong Piramus?
Of trwe Tristram for al his high renoune?
Of Achilles or of Antonyas?
Of Arcite or of him, Palamoune?
What was the ende of her passion
But after sorowe, dethe, and then her grave?
Lo, her the guerdon that lovers have!

"But false Jasoun with his doublenesse,
That was untrwe at Colkos to Medé;
And Tereus, rote of unkyndenesse;
And with these two eke the fals Ené.
Lo, thus the fals ay in oon degré
Had in love her lust and al her wille,
And save falshed ther was non other skille.

"Of Thebes eke the fals Arcite,
And Demophon eke for his slouthe,
They had her lust and al that myght delyte
For al her falshede and grete untrouthe.
Thus ever Love, alas, and that is routhe,
His fals legys furthereth what he may
And sleeth the trwe ungoodly day be day.

"For trwe Adon was slayn with the bore
Amyde the forest in the grene shade,
For Venus love he felt al the sore.
But Vulcanus with her no mercy made;
The foule cherle had many nyghtis glade,
Wher Mars, her worthi knyght, her trewe man,
To fynde mercy, comfort noon he can.

"Also the yonge, fressh Ipomones,
So lusty fre as of his corage,
That for to serve with al his hert ches
Athalans, so feire of her visage.
But Love, alas, quyte him so his wage
With cruel daunger pleynly at the last,
That with the dethe guerdonlesse he past.

"Lo, her the fyne of lovers servise!
Lo, how that Love can his servantis quyte!
Lo, how he can his feythful men dispise
To sle the trwe men and fals to respite!
Lo, how he doth the suerde of sorowe byte
In hertis suche as must his lust obey
To save the fals and do the trwe dey!

"For feythe nor othe, worde ne assuraunce,11
Trwe menyng, awayte, or besynesse,
Stil port, ne feythful attendaunce,
Manhode, ne myght in armes, worthinesse,
Pursute of wurschip, nor high prouesse,
In straunge londe rydinge ne travayle -
Ful lyte or noght in love dothe avayle.

"Peril of dethe, nother in se ne londe,
Hungre ne thrust, sorowe ne sekenesse,
Ne grete emprises for to take on honde,
Shedyng of blode, ne manful hardynesse,
Nor ofte woundynge at sawtes by distresse,
Nor jupartyng of lyfe, nor dethe also -
Al ys for noghte, Love taketh non hede therto.

"But Lesynges with her fals flaterye,
Thro her falshed and with her doublenesse,
With tales new and mony feyned lye,
By false semlaunce and contrefet humblesse,
Under colour depeynt with stidfastnesse,
With fraude cured under a pitouse face,
Accept ben now rathest unto grace,

"And can hemself now best magnifie
With feyned port and presumpsion.
They haunce her cause with fals surquedrie,
Under menyng of double-entencion,
To thenken on in her opynyon
And sey another, to set hemselfe alofte
And hynder Truthe, as hit ys seyn ful ofte.

"The whiche thing I bye now al to dere,
Thanked be Venus and the god Cupide,
As hit is seen by myn oppressed chere
And by his arowes that stiken in my syde,
That, safe the dethe, I nothing abide
Fro day to day - alas, the harde while!
Whenevere hys dart that hym list to fyle,

"My woful hert for to ryve atwo
For faute of mercye and lake of pité
Of her that causeth al my peyn and woo
And list not ones of grace for to see
Unto my trouthe throgh her cruelté.
And most of al I me compleyn
That she hath joy to laughen at my peyn

"And wilfully hath my dethe sworone
Al giltles and wote no cause why,
Safe for the trouthe that I have hade aforne
To her allone to serve feythfully.
O God of Love, unto thee I crie
And to thy blende, double deyté
Of this grete wrong I compleyn me,

"And unto thy stormy, wilful variaunce,
Imeynt with chaunge and gret unstablesse:
Now up, now down, so rennyng is thy chaunce
That thee to trust may be no sikernesse,
I wite hit nothinge but thi doublenesse;
And who that is an archer and ys blynde
Marketh nothing, but sheteth by wenynge.

"And for that he hath no discrecion
Withoute avise he let his arowe goo,
For lak of syght and also of resoun,
In his shetyng hit happeth oft soo
To hurt his frende rathir then his foo.
So doth this god with his sharpe flon
The trwe sleeth and leteth the fals gon.

"And of his woundyng this is the worst of alle:
When he hurteth he dothe so cruel wreche
And maketh the seke for to crie and calle
Unto his foo for to ben his leche;
And herd hit ys for a man to seche
Upon the poynt of dethe in jupardie
Unto his foo to fynde remedye.

"Thus fareth hit now even by me,
That to my foo that gaf my hert a wounde
Mot axe grace, mercie, and pité,
And namely ther wher noon may be founde,
For now my sore my leche wol confounde;
And God of kynde so hath set myn ure
My lyves foo to have my wounde in cure.

"Alas the while now that I was borne
Or that I ever saugh the bright sonne!
For now I se that ful longe aforne,
Er I was borne, my destanye was sponne
By Parcas sustren, to sle me if they conne,
For they my dethe shopen or my shert,
Oonly for trouthe I may hit not astert.

"The myghty goddesse also of Nature,
That under God hath the governaunce
Of worldly thinges commytted to her cure,
Disposed hath thro her wyse purveaunce
To give my lady so moche suffisaunce
Of al vertues and therwithal purvyde
To mordre Trouthe hath taken Daunger to guyde.

"For bounté, beauté, shappe, and semelyhed,
Prudence, wite, passyngly fairenesse,
Benigne port, glad chere with loulyhed,
Of womanhed ryght plenteuous largesse,
Nature in her fully did empresse
Whan she her wroght, and altherlast Dysdeyne
To hinder Trouthe she made her chambreleyne,

"When Mystrust also, and Fals-Suspecion
With Mysbeleve, she made for to be
Chefe of counseyle, to this conclusion:
For to exile Routhe and eke Pité,
Out of her court to make Mercie fle,
So that Dispite now haldeth forth her reyn
Thro hasty beleve of tales that men feyn.

"And thus I am for my trouthe, alas,
Mordred and slayn with wordis sharp and kene,
Giltles, God wote, of al trespas,
And lye and blede upon this colde grene.
Now mercie, suete, mercye my lyves quene!
And to youre grace of mercie yet I prey,
In your servise that your man may dey.

"But and so be that I shall deye alagate,
And that I shal non other mercye have,
Yet of my dethe let this be the date
That by youre wille I was broght to my grave.
Or hastely, yf that ye list me save,
My sharpe woundes that ake so and blede
Of mercie charme, and also of womanhede.

"For other charme pleynly ys ther noon,
But only mercie, to helpe in this case;
For thogh my wounde blede evere in oon,
My lyve, my deth, stont in your grace;
And thogh my gilt be nothing, alace,
I axe mercie in al my best entent
Redy to dye yf that ye assent.

"For theragens shal I never strive
In worde ne werke, pleynly I ne may,
For lever I have then to be alyve
To dye sothely, and hit be her to pay;
Ye, thogh hit be this ech same day,
Or when that ever her lust to devyse,
Sufficeth me to dye in your servise.

"And God, that knowest the thoght of every wyght
Ryght as hit is in everything Thou maist se,
Yet er I dye, with al my ful myght
Louly I prey, to graunte unto me
That ye, goodly, feir, fressh, and fre,
Which sle me oonly for defaut of routhe,
Er then I die, may know my trouthe.

"For that in sothe suffiche me,
And she hit knowe in every circumstaunce,
And after I am welpayed that she,
Yf that her lyst, of deth to do vengeaunce
Unto me that am under her legeaunce;
Hit sitte me not her doom to dysobey
But at her lust wilfully to dey.

"Wythout gruching or rebellion
In wil or worde holy I assent,
Or eny maner contradixion,
Fully to be at her commaundement.
And yf I dye, in my testament
My hert I send and my spirit also,
Whatsoever she list with hem to do.

"And alderlast to her womanhede
And to her mercy me I recommaunde,
That lye now here betwext hope and drede,
Abyding pleynly what she list commaunde;
For utterly - this nys no demaunde -
Welcome to me while me lasteth brethe,
Ryght at her chose, wher hit be lyf or dethe.

"In this mater more what myght I seyn,
Sithe in her honde and in her wille ys alle:
Bothe lyf and dethe, my joy and al my peyn.
And fynally my hest holde I shall
Til my spirit be destanye fatal
When that her list fro my body wynde.
Have her my trouthe, and thus I make an ynde."

And with that worde he gan sike as sore
Lyke as his hert ryve wolde atweyne
And holde his pese and spake a worde no more.
But for to se his woo and mortal peyn,
The teres gan fro myn eyen reyn
Ful piteusly, for verry inwarde routhe
That I hym sawe so languysshing for his trouthe.

And al this wile myself I kep close
Amonge the bowes and myself gunne hide,
Til at the last the woful man arose
And to a logge went ther besyde
Wher al the May his custom was to abide,
Sole to compleyn of his peynes kene
Fro yer to yer under the bowes grene.

And for because that hit drowe to the nyght,
And that the sunne his arke diurnall
Ipassed was, so that his persaunt lyght,
His bryght bemes, and his stremes all
Were in the wawes of the water fall,
Under the bordure of our occean
His chare of golde his course so swyftly ran;

And while the twilyght and the rowes rede
Of Phebus lyght wer deaurat a lyte,
A penne I toke and gan me fast spede
The woful pleynt of this man to write,
Worde be worde as he dyd endyte:
Lyke as I herde and coude him tho reporte
I have here set, your hertis to dysporte.

Iff oght be mys, leyth the wite on me,
For I am worthy for to bere the blame
Yf enything mysreported be
To make this dité for to seme lame
Thro myn unkynnyng. But for to sey the same,
Lyke as this man his compleynt did expresse,
I axe mercie and forgevenesse.

And as I wrote me thoght I sawe aferre
Fer in the west lustely appere
Esperus, the goodly bryght sterre,
So glad, so feire, so persaunt eke of chere:
I mene Venus with her bemys clere
That hevy hertis oonly to releve
Is wont of custom for to shew at eve.

And I as fast fel doun on my kne
And even thus to her I gan to preie:
"O lady Venus, so feire upon to se,
Let not this man for his trouthe dey,
For that joy thou haddest when thou ley
With Mars thi knyght, whom Vulcanus founde
And with a cheyne unvisible yow bounde

"Togedre both tweyne in the same while,
That al the court above celestial
At youre shame gan laughe and smyle.
O feire lady, wel-willy founde at al,
Comfort to carefull, O goddesse immortal,
Be helpyng now and do thy diligence
To let the stremes of thin influence

"Descende doune in furtheryng of the trouthe,
Namely of hem that lie in sorow bounde:
Shew now thy myght and on her wo have routhe
Er fals Daunger sle hem and confounde.
And specialy let thy myght be founde
For to socour, whatso that thou may,
The trew man that in the erber lay.

"And al trew further for his sake,
O glad sterre, O lady Venus myn,
And cause his lady him to grace take,
Her hert of stele to mercy so enclyne
Er that thy bemes go up to declyne,
And er that thou now go fro us adoune
For that love thou haddest to Adon."

And when she was goon to her rest
I rose anon and home to bed went
For verry wery, me thoght hit for the best,
Preyng thus in al my best entent
That al trew that be with Daunger shent
With mercie may, in reles of her peyn,
Recured be er May come eft agen.

And for that I ne may noo lenger wake,
Farewel, ye lovers al that be trewe,
Prayng to God, and thus my leve I take,
That er the sunne tomorowe be ryse newe,
And er he have agen his rosen hewe,
That eche of yow may have such a grace
His oune lady in armes to embrace.

I mene thus: that in al honesté,
Withoute more, ye may togedre speke
Whatso yow list at good liberté,
That eche may to other her hert breke,
On Jelosie oonly to be wreke,
That hath so longe of his malice and envie
Werred Trouthe with his tiranye.


Princes, pleseth hit your benignité
This litil dité to have in mynde,
Of womanhede also for to se,
Your trew man may summe mercie fynde,
And pité eke that longe hath be behynde
Let him agein be provoked to grace.
For, by my trouthe, hit is agens kynde
Fals Daunger to occupie his place.

L'envoye de quare

Go, litel quayre, go unto my lyves quene
And my verry hertis sovereigne,
And be ryght glad for she shal thee sene -
Such is thi grace, but I, alas, in peyne
Am left behinde and not to whom to pleyn,
For Mercie, Routhe, Grace, and eke Pité
Exiled be, that I may not ateyne
Recure to fynde of myn adversité.
bright invigorating; (see note); (t-note)
began to shine; bright rays; (see note)
i.e., the morning star; (t-note)

bid; their; (t-note)

sorrowful hearts; ease
Of misery; night's; (t-note)
bade them rise; make merry
morning; (t-note)
Saint John as his guarantor; (see note)
Bade; spite; Resistance; Despair; (see note)
wholesome, invigorating air

sigh; began to awake; (see note); (t-note)
sleep; awakened abruptly; (t-note)
Like one; who nearly; died; (see note); (t-note)
(see note); (t-note)
find relief for; suffering; (t-note)
at least some relief; (t-note)
sorely afflicted; (t-note)

right away; would go; (see note); (t-note)
wood; hear; birds; (t-note)
foggy mist; gone
light; pleasant; morning (dawn); (t-note)
like silver; brilliance; (see note); (t-note)
leaves; any sweet balm
i.e., the sun; piercing heat; (see note)

fresh dew
plants; meadow; (t-note)
flowers; many different colors
their; began to open; (t-note)
spread out their; wide
Under; gold-burnished; sphere; (see note); (t-note)
bright beams; (t-note)

river; went alongside; (see note)
little path
surrounded by
All around; by [means of]
Whoever wished; go

hear; birds' song; (see note)
field and valley; (t-note)
sang; wood rang; (t-note)
it; shatter into small pieces; (t-note)
it seemed to me
intensified her voice; (t-note)
as [if]; burst

flat; soil
covered; tapestries (carpets)
canopied also aloft; (see note); (t-note)
boughs; flowers; shield; (t-note)
their; (t-note)
From; assault; heat

mild (temperate) air; (see note)
blossoms; (t-note)
nourishing by nature
shoots (buds); round little blooms; (t-note)
After a fashion did; breath delight; (t-note)
give; will begin to grow; (t-note)
Toward; ready to fall

Daphne; within bark; (see note); (t-note)
laurel; pine; (see note)
myrrh; by nature; (see note)
cedars; perfectly upright; (see note)
filbert (hazel nut tree); (see note)
earth; (t-note)
Demophon; (t-note)

(see note); (t-note)

fir; oak; (see note); (t-note)
before me; spring; (see note); (t-note)
beheld; (t-note)
flowing streams (springs)

(see note); (t-note)

(see note); (t-note)
vigorously did; (t-note)
row; extending all around; (t-note)
Their; enclosing the spring; (see note)
the plants growing

full of power (virtuous)
Through [the] virtue of plants growing
Not like; where Narcissus; (see note); (t-note)
subtly (secretly); (t-note)
seed (grain); death; each side (edge); (t-note)

Nor like; spring; Pegasus; (see note); (t-note)
Parnassus; (t-note)
(see note); (t-note)
Diana; (t-note)

slew Acteon; deadly hounds; (t-note)
Only because; came so near

here discuss (give an account of)
it; sooth (assuage)
Swollen [i.e., with anger]; destroy the venom; (t-note)
Of anger


Resistance; (t-note)
thirst; attempt; (t-note)
taste; drink; two; (t-note)
sickness if it; alleviate (allay)
reached (stretched); (see note); (t-note)

relieved; (t-note)
From; burning; sat; near
truly; feel
alleviated (eased)
in response to that; (t-note)
dark woods

as I went quickly through a clearing
to look around intently; (t-note)
found; delightful; (see note)
here; (see note)
In the middle of; garden (arbor)
was furnished with seats of turfs fresh; (t-note)

deep blue flowers; (t-note)
In which; saw/observed
holly; honeysuckle (woodbine); (see note); (t-note)
I noticed; (see note); (t-note)
(see note); (t-note)
deathly; complexion; (t-note)
recent injuries; recently inflicted (new); (t-note)

moreover tormented; (t-note)
Besides; very severely; (t-note)
fever; (t-note)
because of [the] affliction; (t-note)
heartfelt anguish
It; hear; groan; (t-note)

Astonished by that; foot
why it
Nor; person
compassion; (t-note)
right away, as; (see note); (t-note)
myself secretly; hide; (t-note)

[To see] if; discover

did cry out
Against; fate also; (see note); (t-note)
paid attention
to take note of
swoon at intervals; recovered

fully; describe
truth; (t-note)
one [of]; alive; (t-note)
argue with [the] truth; (t-note)

in every respect; (see note)
been; full
were [the] cause

Face down; uninhabited; (see note)
Alone; stunned; exhausted (overcome); (see note); (t-note)

because it seems to me; appropriate

source; misfortune
with that; please you; (t-note)
Like; every one

(see note); (t-note)
pen (stylus) guide or control
Niobe; tears rain; (see note); (t-note)
stream; feels; (see note)
compassionate; hand; tremble
man's; (t-note)

complaining is fitting for misery (sorrow); (see note)
a sorrowful (doleful) expression to grief

wretched lamentation; grief
part; sympathetically

wit; (see note)

describe; (t-note)
precisely; professional scribe

personal experience/feeling
absolutely nothing

exactly; addition [i.e., of words]
subtraction [i.e., of words], either
devote myself

passion; ardor
slandered; (t-note)
wickedness; (t-note)
Ruin faithful (true)
nor; (t-note)

[out] of pity pay attention
hear; with complete seriousness; (t-note)
severe; agitation; (t-note)
faint; (see note)
glance turned upward; sorrowful face; (t-note)
hear; (t-note)


inner (mental); painful; (see note); (t-note)
existence; suffering
spirit; torn; (t-note)
pale like ashes (i.e., lifeless); (see note)
eyes; (t-note)
To some degree proclaim [the] foundation; (t-note)

crushed; bleed in misery; (t-note)
[the] receptacle; (t-note)
breast; [the] repository; grief

(see note)
shiver; lack; (t-note)
hot as [a] live coal; sweat

cold (i.e., lifeless)
ice; fiery embers; (t-note)
burn; between two
pushed; tossed about; (t-note)
completely; (t-note)
in every respect; (t-note)

cold (i.e., lack of feeling); scorn; (t-note)
does his best (takes pains); (t-note)
faithful (pure) intention; difficult time


attentive; (see note); (t-note)
thanks; did
loyalty Resistance; kill; (see note); (t-note)
[out] of pity prevent
Defiance; sword to sharpen; (t-note)

file (i.e., sharpen)
false; their sly wiles; (t-note)
have begun a war; stopped; (t-note)
Hatred; Hostility; (see note); (t-note)

their malice; Truth (Constancy in love) slain; (t-note)

Slander (lit., "Bad-Mouth"); (see note)
slander; [out] of anger; (t-note)

Skepticism (Mistrust); (t-note)

has asserted ownership of Truth's estate


Falsehood; power/authority
slay; unjustly
freedom; peace; (t-note)

by his enemies convicted/sentenced; (t-note)
Without opportunity to defend himself in court
held court (sat in judgment)
In undue haste; consideration
enforce; (t-note)
sentence/punishment; enemies

be permitted [to plead in court]; (t-note)
formal pledge; oath; does not want to see; (t-note)
help; ruined; (t-note)
hold fast; (t-note)

Innocence mercilessly destroyed; (t-note)

faithfulness bound
fettered; chain; (t-note)
pierced through; (see note); (t-note)
heal; (t-note)


pledged formerly/once

Arbitrarily/Willingly; [suffering] any injury; (t-note)
Has received my accusers with good will
incites them to seek my death; (t-note)

strange fate [ordained]; (see note); (t-note)
providence (foreknowledge); (see note); (t-note)
[the] false are so confident; (t-note)
off the wheel [of Fortune] are fallen; (see note)
on the other hand; (t-note)

(see note)

duty/effort; (see note)
reward; annoyance

whoever; feign; humility

[a] long time ago

to save my life; turn away
its vow; [to] that [which] it has promised; (t-note)
driven out; (t-note)
condemned to death; (t-note)

(see note)
desires; read
ever find; true (devoted)
hindered; deceitful [one]
Was advanced; is not concerned about; (t-note)
Killing; offers them no protection; (t-note)
boldly without restriction; (t-note)

cite the case of Palomedes; (see note)
forever; relief; (t-note)
wrong; (t-note)
ever the better; feats of arms

prowess; constant effort; (t-note)

to save his life; restrain himself; (t-note)
unreservedly (completely); died

end; Hercules; (see note)
victory; (t-note)
Who; peerless (unequaled)
are pleased to relate; (t-note)
pillars; great might; (see note); (t-note)
Cadiz; (t-note)

far beyond Asia; (t-note)
despite all that
(see note)
he finally set himself of a course of action; (t-note)
struggle; (t-note)
Despite; devotion; (see note); (t-note)

piercing; (see note); (t-note)
here; (t-note)
the sight of Venus; (t-note)

made; notice; (t-note)

Pyramus; (see note); (t-note)
(see note); (t-note)
Antony; (see note)
Palamon; (see note)
here; reward; (see note); (t-note)

Jason; faithlessness; (see note)
unfaithful; Colchis; Medea; (t-note)
root of unnaturalness (ingratitude); (see note); (t-note)
Aeneas; (see note); (t-note)
in the same way
their desire; their will
except for

(see note); (t-note)
sloth; (see note); (t-note)
their enjoyment
their; (t-note)
[a] pity; (t-note)
slays; unjustly; (t-note)

Adonis; boar; (see note)

(see note); (t-note)
churl; pleasant nights; (t-note)
favor, gratification/pleasure

Hippomenes; (see note); (t-note)
pleasingly noble; heart; (t-note)
chose; (t-note)
Atalanta; fair; (t-note)
paid; due

unrewarded; passed; (t-note)

conclusion; (see note); (t-note)
does; repay; (t-note)
sword; pierce; (see note); (t-note)
desire; (t-note)
cause the faithful (true) to die

service, or diligence/devotion
Quiet demeanor; attention (homage) paid

Pursuit of honor; might

little; nothing

neither in sea nor land; (t-note)
thirst; (t-note)
chivalric enterprises (deeds)
bold courage (daring)
repeated; raids (assaults)
risking; (t-note)

Lies; their; flattery; (see note); (t-note)
many [a]; lie
pretense; counterfeit humility
Under guise of loyalty; (see note)
dishonesty concealed; (see note); (t-note)
Are most easily taken into good graces; (t-note)

exalt; (t-note)
appearance/demeanor; (see note); (t-note)
advance their; pride; (t-note)
double-purpose; (see note)
one [thing]; their opinion

purchase; too dearly (i.e., at too high a price)

evident; expression
arrows; are embedded
[So] that, except for; await
difficult time
he wishes to file (sharpen); (see note)

rip in two
want; lack

cares never; (t-note)

(see note)

sworn; (see note)
unjustly; [I] know
blind, duplicitous deity (i.e., Venus); (see note)

fickle; instability; (see note)
Mingled; inconstancy; (t-note)
so rapid; (t-note)
blame it [on]; (t-note)
(see note)
Takes aim at; shoots; guessing; (t-note)

heed; (t-note)

shooting, it happens; (t-note)
than; foe

(see note); (t-note)
cruelly punish/injure; (t-note)
sick [person]
be his doctor (leech); (see note); (t-note)
hard; seek
In danger of death; (t-note)

it is happening; (t-note)
gave; (t-note)
[I] must ask; (t-note)
none; (t-note)
wound; doctor will trouble
nature; fate
in [her] power; (t-note)

see; very long ago
Before; determined (spun); (see note)
Parcae sisters (i.e., the three Fates); (t-note)
shaped (ordained) before; shirt; (see note)

(see note)

care; (t-note)
Has ordained; foresight; (t-note)
great [an] abundance; (see note)
by means of that planned (plotted)
destroy; Resistance as guide; (t-note)

wit, surpassing; (t-note)
Gentle deportment; face; humility
womanliness; generosity; (t-note)
put; (t-note)
made (wrought); last of all Disdain

Distrust; (t-note)
Skepticism (Mistrust)
ban Compassion; (t-note)
reign (rule); (t-note)

(see note)
knows; (t-note)
sweet; soul's; (see note)


But if [it] so; in any event; (t-note)

[On] which; (t-note)
quickly; wish to save me; (t-note)
ache; (t-note)
[Out] of; (t-note)

continually; (t-note)


in defiance of that; offer resistance
work; (t-note)
I would rather; than
truly, if it would be her pleasure; (t-note)
Yea; very
she wishes
[It] satisfies

(see note)

Humbly (lowly)

Who; lack
Before I

in truth satisfies
If she wishes
authority; (see note)
desire willingly


(see note)


at the last; (t-note)
between; fear
Awaiting unreservedly
certainly - there is no question about it
I can still breathe (i.e., while I am still alive); (t-note)
choice, whether

Since; (see note)
promise; (t-note)
by predestined fate; (t-note)
i.e., die; (t-note)
here; end (i.e., finish speaking)

sigh; (t-note)
would break in pieces; (see note)
(see note)
eyes rain; (t-note)
for sincere (heartfelt); (t-note)
suffering; (t-note)

boughs; did; (t-note)

building (?summer house)


drew [near]
daily path (arc); (see note)
Had traversed
(see note)
waves; (t-note)
chariot; (see note); (t-note)

beams red; (see note)
gilded a little; (see note)

lament; (t-note)
tell; (t-note)
amuse; (t-note)

anything; wrong, lay; responsibility; (see note); (t-note)

poem; halting; (t-note)
lack of skill (knowledge); (t-note)

at a distance; (see note); (t-note)
Hesperus; star

show; evening

began to pray
fair to look upon; (see note); (t-note)

For [the sake of]; lay; (see note)
chain; (t-note)

[So] that; (t-note)

benevolent (propitious); in every way; (see note); (t-note)
to [the] wretched; (t-note)
relief; exert yourself to the utmost
rays of your

Before; (see note); (t-note)

all [who are]; (t-note)
Before; to [your] setting

for Adonis; (see note); (t-note)

(see note)

On account of weariness; (t-note)
overcome; (t-note)
relief; their; (t-note)
Restored; once more; (t-note)

(see note)

rosy hue; (t-note)


Whatever; wish uninhibitedly
their hearts open
avenged; (t-note)
ill-will; (t-note)
Persecuted; overriding dominance

Princess, may it please your graciousness; (t-note)
poem; (t-note)
see; (t-note)
[So that] your; (t-note)
been in the rear; (t-note)
restored to favor; (t-note)
nature; (t-note)

poem; (see note); (t-note)
true heart's
see; (t-note)

do not know; complain
(see note); (t-note)

A way out; from; (t-note)
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