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John Gower: In Praise of Peace


1 Pious King Henry, you were chosen by Christ, / Who rightfully came when you caught your own realms, / You conquered evils and restored property to good people, / And you bestowed new joys to a sorrowful people. / I have hope for what you have brought because what you have restored so far / Will raise up through honest blessing what was said of old; / And for you, grateful thanks are given freely.


4 God hath thee chose. In the opening stanzas, Gower repeats some standard justifications for Henry's usurpation of Richard II: the good fortune of divine sanction, hereditary right, and popular consent. Compare Chaucer, The Complaint of Chaucer to His Purse: "O conquerour of Brutes Albyon, / Which that by lyne and free eleccion / Been verray kyng" (23-24). It is only later in the poem (see below, lines 50-70) that Gower alludes to the martial component of Henry's accession to the throne. On both Chaucer's and Gower's poems as examples of Lancastrian propaganda, see Strohm, "Saving the Appearances: Chaucer's Purse and the Fabrication of the Lancastrian Claim" (chapter 4 in Hochon's Arrow).

25 thow art lerned. On Henry IV's books, see Doyle, "English Books"; Meale, "Patrons, Buyers and Owners"; and Summerson ,"English Bible."

29 Kyng Salomon. This is an abbreviated version of Solomon's career. Although in CA Solomon is initially lauded for his wisdom (7.3891-3942), he is nonetheless later denounced for violating chastity, the fifth principle of kingship, since his polygamy and promiscuity lead to idolatry and the division of his kingdom (CA 7.4469-4545).

36 Alisaundre. See the tale of Alexander and the Pirate (CA 3.2361-2480), in which a pirate convinces Alexander that the nature of their exploits differs only in degree. The tale concludes with the consequences of Alexander's tyranny: "Thus was he slain that whilom slowh" (CA 3.2461). Although in some versions of Book 7 Gower includes an exemplum showing Alexander's pity (CA 7.3168-3181), Porter ("Gower's Ethical Microcosm") argues that Gower's Alexander represents the failure to achieve "ethical self-governance."

50-70 In these three stanzas, Gower reiterates four times that war is permissible only when one must defend "the lawe of riht" (line 56) and one's "rightful heritage" (line 59), echoing the official Lancastrian rhetoric used to defend the "naked illegality" (Pollard, Late Medieval England, p. 25) of Henry's usurpation of Richard II; see Barron, "Deposition of Richard II."

66 For of bataile the final ende is pees. The notion is Augustinian in origin; see Yeager, "Pax Poetica."

107-08 It sleth the prest . . . Forlith the maide. See CA 3.2275-6. Macaulay points out several other echoes: line 78 (CA 3.2265), line 113 (CA 3.2294), line 115 (CA Prol.444), and line 155 (CA Prol.89).

174 Pes was the ferste thing. See Matthew 5:9: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God."

178 beqwath to His disciples there. See John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid."

250 Sarazins. Following an aborted attempt to aid Christians against Saracens in Africa, Henry did complete a campaign against the pagan Lithuanians in Prussia. See Du Boulay, "Henry of Derby's Expeditions."
Although the crusade is here condoned as a legitimate outlet for chivalric bellicosity, in CA Genius condemns the activity as violating Christ's law of charity. See, for instance, 3.2481-2546 and 4.1679-81: "A Sarazin if I sle schal, / I sle the Soule forth withal, / And that was nevere Cristes lore."

254 Holy Cherche is in hersilf divided. A reference to the two papal courts - at Rome and Avignon - of the Great Schism, responsible, in Gower's view, for Lollardy and other heresies. See CA Prol.328-498.

267 The two defaltes bringen in the thridde. The first two faults or failures are the Great Schism (1378-1417) and the internecine wars between Christian powers; these lead to the third, the threat of non-Christians. In other words (line 260), the head is sick and the limbs ache, allowing the body of the Church to be attacked by either infidels or heretics.

281-83 The Nine Worthies, three pagan (Alexander, Hector, Julius Caesar), three Jewish (Judas Maccabeas, David, Joshua), and three Christian (Charlemagne, Godfrey of Boulogne, Arthur), are often cited as paragons of a transcultural nobility and chivalry, but also, as here, as exemplary victims of the power of transience and mortality. Godfrey of Boulogne, duke of Lorraine (1061-1100), was the leader of the First Crusade and king of Jerusalem (1099-1100). Judas Maccabeus (c. 2nd century BC), whose exploits are described in 1 and 2 Maccabees, led the Jewish revolt against the Hellenist Seleucids, restored the Temple, and established a period of self-rule.

295 to winne or lese a chace. In the medieval game of tennis, chase refers to the "second impact on the floor (or in a gallery) of a ball which the opponent has failed or declined to return; the value of which is determined by the nearness of the spot of impact to the end wall. If the opponent, on sides being changed, can 'better' this stroke (i.e., cause his ball to rebound nearer the wall) he wins and scores it; if not, it is scored by the first player; until it is so decided, the 'chase' is a stroke in abeyance" (OED). In other words, in tennis, as in life, the significance or meaning of a given action can be understood only in retrospect.

323 Th'apostle. St. Paul. See 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.

330 Cassodre. Cassiodorus was a sixth-century Roman statesman and monk. The reference is to his Variarum Libri XII (11.40). Also quoted in CA: "Cassodre in his apprise telleth, / 'The regne is sauf, wher pité duelleth'" (7.3161-62). See further Jones, "Influence of Cassiodorus."
auctorized. On the textual, literary, and cultural connotations of this term, see Minnis, Medieval Theory of Authorship, pp. 73-159, and Scanlon, Narrative, Authority, and Power, pp. 37-54.

337-57 This version of Constantine's conversion is given more fully in CA 2.3187-3496. As a cure for his leprosy, Constantine's physicians suggest that he bathe in the blood of young children, but the emperor is moved to pity by their mothers' grief. In a dream, he is directed by Peter and Paul to visit Silvester and after having been instructed in the basic tenets of Christianity, he is baptized. The "fisshe skales" of his malady fall away and he orders the baptism - upon pain of death - of all of Rome. Genius tells his story in order to represent the efficacy of charity in combating envy. Grady notes that the sanitized version of Constantine's career found in In Praise of Peace is perhaps cleaned up "for the king's consumption" ("Lancastrian Gower," p. 569). On the different versions of Constantine current in the Middle Ages, see Webb, "Truth about Constantine."


Macaulay emends British Library MS Additional 59495 in four cases. 1) He elides the final -e in the following imperative forms: Leie, line 122; sette, line 124; Lete, line 129; putte, line 130; thenke, line 162; Beholde, line 276. 2) He changes the possessive pronoun of the feminine singular (here, her) to the more regular form (hire, hir) at lines 108, 254, and 329. 3) He adds -e to adverbial ever and never (lines 89, 126, 127, 148, 181, 241, 301, 350, and 365). 4) For the sake of meter, he sometimes elides (Betwen, line 269; line 384) or adds (highe, line 8; alle, line 90; weie, line 336; more, line 382) a final -e. I have let stand the scribal peculiarities that Macaulay finds contrary to Gower's practice, although in the fourth case his emendations surely help the meter.


In Thynne's version (titled "John Gower unto the Noble and Worthy Kynge Henry the Fourth"), the Latin epigraph is placed at the end of the poem, followed without a break by the Trentham version of Gower's Latin poem Quicquid homo scribat.

Abbreviations: see the Introduction to Good Counsel, Wisdom, and Advice.

1 worthi noble. Th: noble worthy.

3 uppon this. Th: here upon.

4 chose. Th: chosen.

16 thi. Th: the.

17 boun. Th: bounde.

21 is this. Th: this is.

27 whiche. Mac: which, from Th.

30 to. Th omits.

31 the. Th omits.

35 unto the. Th: in to his.

36 histoire. Th: storie.

38 victoire. Th: vyctorie.

39 it. MS: itt, with the second t canceled.

42 he. Th omits.

45 paiene. Th: paynem.

54 as. Th omits.

71 Sustene. So Mac. MS: S, followed by an erasure. Th reads To stere.
every man alyve. Th: everiche on lyve.

74 world mai stonden. Th: lande may stande.

93 that. Th: what.

96 soght. Th: ysought.

121 to. Th: be.

144 ben. Th: be.

153 the. Th omits.

155 and of. Th: of.

164 ben. Th: be.

165 the. Th: be.

173 And. Th: But.

175 Agein. Th: Ayenst.

177 stigh. Th: styghed.

183 paiens. Th: paynyms. See also line 194.

185 herre. Th: erre.

200 which. Th: that.

202 worthi. Th omits.

203 ther is. Th: is there.
which. Th: that.

205 ben. Th: be.

209 paien. Th: payne.

211 to. Th omits.
a. Th: any.

213 ben. Th: be.

216 how. Th omits.

219 the. Th omits.

223 slen. Th: slee.

227 men. Th: people.

238 hemselve. Th: him selfe.

246 setten. Th: sette.

250 be. Th: ben.

251 ben. Th: be.
agein. Th: ayenst.

254 is. Th omits.

263 helpples. Th: helplesse. Mac: helpeles.

265 sleth. Mac: sleeth, from Th.

272 Kyng. Mac: King, from Th.

278 thin. Th: thy.

283 Arthus. Th: and A.

288 mai. Th: many.

291 ben. Th: is.

294 pes. Th: men.

305 it. Th: is.
is. Th omits.

306 be gete. Th: begete.

313 be. Th: ben.

321 the pes. Th: these.

331 regneth. Mac: reigneth, from Th.
ther. Th omits.

342 crualté. MS: y inserted between t and e by later hand.

356 were. So MS, Th. Mac emends to weren: "However the case may be with Chaucer, there is no instance elsewhere in Gower of elision prevented by caesura. The cases that have been quoted are all founded on misreadings" (3.554).

360 oghten. Th: ought.

364 schal. So MS. Mac: shal, from Th.

371 loenge. Th: legende.

378 of. Th omits.

382 see. Stow: sease.

Electus Cristi, pie Rex Henrice, fuisti,
Qui bene venisti cum propria regna petisti,
Tu mala vicisti que bonis bona restituisti,
Et populo tristi nova gaudia contribuisti.
Est michi spes lata quod adhuc per te renovata
Succedent fata veteri probitate beata;
Est tibi nam grata gracia sponte data.1

O worthi noble kyng, Henry the ferthe,
In whom the glade fortune is befalle
The poeple to governe uppon this erthe,
God hath thee chose, in comfort of ous alle:
The worschipe of this lond, which was doun falle,
Now stant upriht thurgh grace of thi goodnesse,
Which every man is holde forto blesse.

The highe God of His justice allone,
The right which longeth to thi regalie,
Declared hath to stonde in thi persone,
And more than God may no man justefie.
Thi title is knowe uppon thin ancestrie,
The londes folk hath ek thy riht affermed:
So stant thi regne of God and man confermed.

Ther is no man mai seie in other wise
That God himself ne hath thi riht declared;
Whereof the lond is boun to thi servise,
Which for defalte of help hath longe cared.
Bot now ther is no mannes herte spared
To love and serve and wirche thi plesance,
And al is this thurgh Godes pourveiance.
In alle thing which is of God begonne

Ther folwith grace, if it be wel governed;
Thus tellen thei whiche olde bookes conne,
Whereof, my lord, Y wot wel thow art lerned.
Axe of thi God, so schalt thou nought be werned
Of no reqweste whiche is resonable;
For God unto the goode is favorable.

Kyng Salomon, which hadde at his axinge
Of God what thing him was levest to crave,
He ches wisdom unto the governynge
Of Goddis folk, the whiche he wolde save:
And as he ches, it fel him forto have;
For thurgh his wit, whil that his regne laste,
He gat him pees and reste unto the laste.

Bot Alisaundre, as telleth his histoire,
Unto the God besoghte in other weie:
Of all the world to winne the victoire,
So that undir his swerd it myht obeie.
In werre he hadde al that he wolde preie;
The myghti God behight him that beheste:
The world he wan and had it of conqweste.

Bot thogh it fel at thilke time so,
That Alisandre his axinge hath achieved,
This sinful world was al paiene tho,
Was non which hath the hihe God believed.
No wondir was thogh thilke world was grieved:
Thogh a tiraunt his pourpos myhte winne,
Al was vengance and infortune of sinne.

Bot now the feith of Crist is come a place
Among the princes in this erthe hiere,
It sit hem wel to do pité and grace.
Bot yit it mot be tempred in manere:
For as thei finden cause in the matiere
Uppon the point, what aftirward betide,
The lawe of riht schal noght be leid aside.

So mai a kyng of werre the viage
Ordeigne and take, as he therto is holde,
To cleime and axe his rightful heritage
In alle places wher it is withholde.
Bot other wise if God himsilve wolde
Afferme love and pes betwen the kynges,
Pes is the beste, above alle erthely thinges.

Good is t'eschue werre, and natheles
A kyng may make werre uppon his right,
For of bataile the final ende is pees.
Thus stant the lawe, that a worthi knyght
Uppon his trouthe may go to the fight;
Bot if so were that he myghte chese,
Betre is the pees, of which may no man lese.

Sustene pes oghte every man alyve:
First for to sette his liege lord in reste,
And ek these othre men that thei ne stryve,
For so this world mai stonden ate beste.
What kyng that wolde be the worthieste,
The more he myghte oure dedly werre cesse,
The more he schulde his worthinesse encresse.

Pes is the chief of al the worldes welthe,
And to the Heven it ledeth ek the weie;
Pes is of soule and lif, the mannes helthe
Of pestilence, and doth the werre aweie.
My liege lord, tak hiede of that Y seie:
If werre may be left, tak pes on honde,
Which may noght be withoute Goddis sonde.

With pes stant every creature in reste;
Withoute pes ther may no lif be glad;
Above alle othre good, pes is the beste;
Pes hath himself whan werre is al bestad;
The pes is sauf, the werre is ever adrad:
Pes is of al charité the keie,
Which hath the lif and soul forto weie.

My liege lord, if that thee list to seche
The sothe essamples that the werre hath wroght,
Thow schalt wiel hiere of wisemennes speche,
That dedly werre turneth into noght;
For if these olde bokes be wel soght,
Ther myght thou se what thing the werre hath do,
Bothe of conqueste and conquerer also.

For vein honour or for the worldes good,
Thei that whilom the stronge werres made,
Wher be thei now? Bethenk wel in thi mod,
The day is goon, the nyght is derk and fade;
Her crualté, which mad hem thanne glade,
Thei sorwen now and yit have noght the more;
The blod is schad which no man mai restore.

The werre is modir of the wronges alle:
It sleth the prest in Holi Chirche at Masse,
Forlith the maide and doth here flour to falle;
The werre makth the grete citee lasse,
And doth the Lawe his reules overpasse.
There is no thing wherof meschef mai growe,
Which is noght caused of the werre, Y trowe.

The werre bringth in poverté at hise hieles,
Wherof the comon poeple is sore grieved.
The werre hath set his cart on thilke whieles
Wher that Fortune mai noght be believed;
For whan men wene best to have achieved,
Ful ofte it is al newe to beginne:
The werre hath no thing siker, thogh he winne.

Forthi, my worthi prince, in Cristes halve,
As for a part whos feith thou hast to guide,
Leie to this olde sor a newe salve,
And do the werre awei, what so betide.
Pourchace pes and sette it be thi side,
And suffre noght thi poeple be devoured;
So schal thi name ever after stonde honoured.

If eny man be now, or ever was,
Agein the pes thi prevé counseillour,
Lete God ben of thi counseil in this cas,
And putte awei the cruel werreiour;
For God, which is of man the creatour,
He wolde noght men slowe His creature
Withoute cause of dedly forfeture.

Wher nedeth most, behoveth most to loke:
Mi lord, how so thi werres ben withoute,
Of time passed who that hiede toke,
Good were at hom to se riht wel aboute;
For everemor the werste is forto doute.
Bot if thou myghtest parfit pes atteigne,
Ther schulde be no cause forto pleigne.

Aboute a kyng good counseil is to preise
Above alle othre thinges most vailable;
Bot yit a kyng withinne himself schal peise,
And se the thinges that ben resonable,
And ther uppon he schal his wittes stable,
Among the men to sette pes in evene,
For love of Him which is the Kyng of Hevene.

Ha, wel is him that schedde never blod,
Bot if it were in cause of rihtwisnesse;
For if a kyng the peril undirstod
What is to sle the poeple, thanne Y gesse,
The dedly werres and the hevynesse,
Wherof the pes distourbid is ful ofte,
Schulde at som time cesse and wexe softe.

O kyng, fulfild of grace and of knyghthode,
Remembre uppon this point for Cristes sake:
If pes be profred unto thi manhode,
Thin honour sauf, let it noght be forsake,
Though thou the werres darst wel undirtake;
Aftir reson yit tempre thi corage,
For lich to pes ther is non avantage.

My worthi lord, thenke wel, how so befalle,
Of thilke lore, as holi bokes sein:
Crist is the heved and we ben membres alle,
Als wel the subgit as the sovereign.
So sit it wel that charité be plein,
Which unto God himselve most acordeth,
So as the lore of Cristes word recordeth.

In th'Olde Lawe, er Crist Himself was bore,
Among the Ten Comandementz Y rede
How that manslaghtre schulde be forbore;
Such was the will that time of the Godhede.
And aftirward, whanne Crist tok His manhede,
Pes was the ferste thing He let do crie
Agein the worldes rancour and envie.

And er Crist wente out of this erthe hiere,
And stigh to hevene, He made His testament,
Wher He beqwath to His disciples there
And gaf His pes, which is the foundement
Of charité, withouten whos assent
The worldes pes mai never wel be tried,
Ne love kept, ne lawe justefied.

The Jewes with the paiens hadden werre,
Bot thei among hemself stode evere in pes;
Whi schulde thanne oure pes stonde oute of herre,
Which Crist hath chose unto His oghne encres?
For Crist is more than was Moises,
And Crist hath set the parfit of the lawe,
The which scholde in no wise be withdrawe.

To give ous pes was cause whi Crist dide;
Withoute pes may no thing stonde availed;
Bot now a man mai sen on everi side
How Cristes feith is every dai assailed,
With the paiens destruid, and so batailed
That for defalte of help and of defence,
Unethe hath Crist His dewe reverence.

The righte feith to kepe of Holy Chirche,
The firste point is named of knyghthode,
And everi man is holde forto wirche
Uppon the point which stant to his manhode.
Bot now, helas, the fame is sprad so broode,
That everi worthi man this thing compleigneth,
And yit ther is no man which help ordeigneth.

The worldes cause is waited overal;
Ther ben the werres redi to the fulle.
Bot Cristes oghne cause in special,
Ther ben the swerdes and the speres dulle;
And with the sentence of the popes bulle
As forto do the folk paien obeie,
The chirche is turned al an other weie.

It is to wondre above a mannys wit,
Withoute werre, how Cristes feith was wonne;
And we that ben uppon this erthe yit,
Ne kepe it noght as it was first begonne.
To every creature undir the sonne
Crist bad Himself how that we schulden preche,
And to the folk His evangile teche.

More light it is to kepe than to make;
Bot that we founden mad tofore the hond,
We kepe noght, bot lete it lightly slake.
The pes of Crist hath altobroke his bond;
We reste ourselve and soeffrin every lond
To slen ech other as thing undefendid:
To stant the werre, and pes is noght amendid.

Bot thogh the Heved of Holy Chirche above
Ne do noght al His hole businesse
Among the men to sette pes and love,
These kynges oughten of here rightwisnesse,
Here oghne cause among hemself redresce;
Thogh Petres schip as now hath lost his stiere,
It lith in hem that barge forto stiere.

If Holy Cherche, after the dueté
Of Cristes word, ne be noght al avysed
To make pes, acord, and unité
Among the kinges that ben now devised,
Yit natheles the lawe stant assised
Of mannys wit to be so resonable,
Withoute that, to stonde hemselve stable.

Of Holy Chirche we ben children alle,
And every child is holden forto bowe
Unto the modir, how that ever it falle,
Or elles he mot reson desalowe;
And for that cause a knyght schal ferst avowe
The right of Holi Chirche to defende,
That no man schal the previlege offende.

Thus were it good to setten al in evene,
The worldes princes and the prelatz bothe,
For love of Him which is the King of Hevene;
And if men scholde algate wexe wrothe,
The Sarazins, whiche unto Crist be lothe,
Let men ben armed agein hem to fighte,
So mai the knyht his dede of armes righte.

Uppon thre pointz stant Cristes pes oppressed:
Ferst Holy Cherche is in hersilf divided,
Which oughte of reson first to be redresced;
Bot yit so highe a cause is noght decided.
And thus whan humble pacience is prided,
The remenant, which that thei schulden reule,
No wondir is though it stonde out of reule.

Of that the heved is siek, the limes aken:
These regnes that to Cristes pes belongen,
For worldes good, these dedly werres maken,
Whiche helpples as in balance hongen;
The heved above hem hath noght undirfongen
To sette pes, bot every man sleth other,
And in this wise hath charité no brother.

The two defaltes bringen in the thridde,
Of mescreantz, that sen how we debate;
Betwene the two thei fallen in amidde,
Wher now aldai thei finde an open gate.
Lo, thus the dedly werre stant algate.
Bot evere Y hope of Kyng Henries grace,
That he it is which schal the pes embrace.

My worthi noble prince and kyng enoignt,
Whom God hath of His grace so preserved,
Beholde and se the world uppon this point,
As for thi part, that Cristes pes be served;
So schal thin highe mede be deserved
To Him which al schal qwiten ate laste,
For this lif hiere mai no while laste.

See Alisandre, Ector, and Julius,
See Machabeu, David, and Josue,
See Charlemeine, Godefroi, Arthus,
Fulfild of werre and of mortalité.
Here fame abit, bot al is vanité;
For deth, which hath the werres under fote,
Hath mad an ende of which ther is no bote.

So mai a man the sothe wite and knowe,
That pes is good for every king to have;
The fortune of the werre is evere unknowe,
Bot wher pes is, ther ben the marches save.
That now is up, to morwe is under grave;
The mighti God hath alle grace in honde,
Withouten Him pes mai nought longe stonde.

Of the tenetz to winne or lese a chace,
Mai no lif wite er that the bal be ronne;
Al stant in God what thing men schal pourchace:
Thende is in him er that it be begonne.
Men sein the wolle, whanne it is wel sponne,
Doth that the cloth is strong and profitable,
And elles it mai never be durable.

The worldes chaunces uppon aventure
Ben evere sett, bot thilke chaunce of pes
Is so behoveli to the creature,
That it above alle othre is piereles.
Bot it mai noght be gete, natheles,
Among the men to lasten eny while,
Bot wher the herte is plein withoute guyle.

The pes is as it were a sacrement
Tofore the God, and schal with wordes pleine,
Withouten eny double entendement,
Be treted, for the trouthe can noght feine.
Bot if the men withinne hemself be veine,
The substance of the pes may noght be trewe,
Bot every dai it chaungeth uppon newe.

Bot who that is of charité parfit,
He voideth alle sleightes ferr aweie,
And sett his word uppon the same plit
Wher that his herte hath founde a siker weie;
And thus whan conscience is trewly weie,
And that the pes be handlid with the wise,
It schal abide and stonde in alle wise.

Th'apostle seith ther mai no lif be good
Which is noght grounded uppon charité,
For charité ne schedde nevere blod;
So hath the werre, as ther, no proprité.
For thilke vertu, which is seid pité,
With charité so ferforth is aqweinted
That in here may no fals semblant be peinted.

Cassodre, whos writinge is auctorized,
Seith wher that pité regneth ther is grace,
Thurgh which the pes hath al his welthe assised,
So that of werre he dredeth no manace.
Wher pité dwelleth, in the same place
Ther mai no dedly cruelté sojorne,
Wherof that merci schulde his wei torne.

To se what pité forth with mercy doth,
The croniqe is at Rome, in thilke empire
Of Constantin, which is a tale soth,
Whan him was levere his oghne deth desire
Than do the yonge children to martire:
Of crualté he lafte the querele;
Pité he wroghte, and pité was his hele.

For thilke mannes pité which he dede,
God was pitous and mad him hol at al;
Silvestre cam, and in the same stede,
Gaf him baptisme first in special,
Which dide awai the sinne original,
And al his lepre it hath so purified,
That his pité forever is magnified.

Pité was cause whi this emperour
Was hol in bodi and in soule bothe,
And Rome also was set in thilke honour
Of Cristes feith, so that the lieve of lothe,
Whiche hadden be with Crist tofore wrothe,
Resceived were unto Cristes lore;
Thus schal pité be preised evermore.

My worthi liege lord, Henri be name,
Which Engelond hast to governe and righte,
Men oghten wel thi pité to proclame,
Which openliche, in al the worldes sighte,
Is schewed with the help of God almighte,
To give ous pes, which longe hath be debated,
Wherof thi pris schal nevere ben abated.

My lord, in whom hath ever yit be founde
Pité, withoute spot of violence,
Kep thilke pes alwei withinne bounde
Which God hath planted in thi conscience;
So schal the cronique of thi pacience,
Among the seintz be take into memoire,
To the loenge of perdurable gloire.

And to thin erthli pris, so as Y can,
Which everi man is holde to commende,
I, Gower, which am al thi liege man,
This lettre unto thin excellence Y sende,
As Y, which evere unto my lives ende,
Wol praie for the stat of thi persone
In worschipe of thi sceptre and of thi throne.

Noght only to my king of pes Y write,
Bot to these othre princes Cristene alle,
That ech of hem his oghne herte endite
And see the werre er mor meschief falle;
Sette ek the rightful pope uppon his stalle,
Kep charité and draugh pité to honde,
Maintene lawe, and so the pes schal stonde.

Explicit carmen de pacis commendacione, quod ad laudem et
memoriam serenissimi principis domini Regis Henrici quarti
suus humilis orator Johannes Gower composuit.

[Here ends the poem on the praising of peace, which his humble
orator, John Gower, composed for the praise and memory of that
most august prince of the Lord, King Henry the Fourth.]

fourth; (t-note)
On; has befallen
chosen; (see note); (t-note)
honor; had fallen down

royal status
people of the land have also
your reign

say to the contrary
has not; (t-note)
By which; prepared for; (t-note)
lack; grieved
man's heart
providence; (t-note)

Of which; I know; (see note)
Ask; refused

request; (see note)
wished to ask for; (t-note)
chose; (t-note)
people, whom he would
chose, it came down [to] him to
reign lasted
won peace; until the end; (t-note)

Alexander; (see note); (t-note)
might obey [him]; (t-note)
granted; promise

happened at that
pagan then; (t-note)
then that


into place; (see note)
causes them (i.e., the princes)
whatever [may] afterward occur

war; enterprise

claim and ask [for]


to avoid war

combat; peace; (see note)

Keep [the] peace ought; (t-note)

also; they might not fight


From plague
take heed of what I say
ceased; in hand
God's dispensation


beset (distressed)
safe; afraid

wish to seek
true examples; (t-note)
shall well hear
turns [all things] into nothing
has done

vain; goods (wealth)
once the great wars
Consider; mind
Their cruelty
They regret

slays; (see note)
Rapes; flower (virginity)

I believe

its heels

those wheels

assume; succeeded


Therefore; behalf
sore; remedy
whatsoever happens (i.e., regardless of cost)

Against; personal

would not [have] men kill
reason of; crime

it is necessary
although; external
worst is to be uncertain
perfect peace attain

to settle peace
(i.e., Christ)

Ah, well

slay the people, then I suppose

grow soft

full; nobility; (t-note)


wars did
temper; valor
no benefit

head; limbs; (t-note)
As well; (t-note)

Old Testament, before; born

abstained from

achieved; humanity; (t-note)
(see note)
against; (t-note)

ascended; (t-note)
bestowed; (see note)
gave; foundation


pagans; (t-note)
out of kilter; (t-note)



pagans devastated; beset

principle; attests to; (t-note)
appeals to; (t-note)
provides; (t-note)

attended to everywhere
fully; (t-note)

pronouncement; edict
pagan folk; (t-note)




easy; acquire
made beforehand; (t-note)
completely broken
slay; not forbidden; (t-note)

Head (i.e., Christ)

their righteousness
Peter's ship (i.e., the Church); rudder
falls to them; steer




must; repudiate
first swear


to settle calmly; (t-note)

nevertheless; grow angry
are hateful; (see note); (t-note)
against; (t-note)

(see note); (t-note)

in disorder

Because; head; ache
worldly possessions
kills; (t-note)

failures; third; (see note)
the middle
all day (i.e., always)


attend to

your high reward; (t-note)
From; requite

(see note)
[Judas] Maccabeus; Joshua
Godfrey [of Bouillon]; (t-note)
Too full
Their; abides


truth recognize; (t-note)

territories safe; (t-note)


tennis; (see note)
person; played out
The end; before
say the wool; spun

events; chance
peerless; (t-note)
gotten; (t-note)

sincere; guile

deficient of virtue; (t-note)

removes; schemes
in all respects

The apostle; (see note)

her [pity]; resemblance

Cassiodorus; trustworthy; (see note)
reigns; (t-note)


further; (see note)
would rather
cause; (t-note)

healthy altogether



enemies (disbelievers)
before angry
faith; (t-note)


fame; diminished; (t-note)

praise; eternal; (t-note)



own heart examine
deal with the war before; (t-note)
Set also; seat

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