by: Linne R. Mooney (Editor) , Mary-Jo Arn (Editor)
from: The Kingis Quair and Other Prison Poems 2005
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Charles ends there, but this poet uses his complaint against fate to express his desire to put his soul into the hands of God.
. . . Antropos, <at> ones thy dewte fecche
And with the deth almes me, poor wrecche.
Thus ay diyng y lyue and neuyr deed -
O lacchesse, to longe thou makist thred!
Als flex to moche doth Cloto to <hir> recche.
O onys with deth almes me, poore wrecche!
once; do your duty
give me the gift
you make the string too long
Why nad I rather died an Innocent22 now. R omits.
Or seke in bed ful ofte whan I have layn
Than had my name be paired not ne shent
Better hit had be so . than thus to have me slayn
But what to stryve with thee it may not geyn
And yit thou wotest I suffre and shame [sic]
ffor that / that I god wote am not to blame
Allas, Fortune, alas, what have I gilt
In prison thus to lye here desolate?
Artow the better thus to have me spilt?
Nay, nay, God wote, but for thow wilt debate
With every wight, either erly or late,
And art chaungeable eke as the mone:
From wele to woo thow bryngest a man ful soone.
For like a whele that tournyth ay aboute
Now up, now downe, now est, west, north, and sowth,
So farestow in oone; thow dryvest in and oute
As don these weders out of the wyndes mowth!
In thee no trust is, thow art so selcowth
And canst never stille there abide.
Whan men wene siker to be, thow makest hem to slyde.1
I wote ful wele that lordis, princis, and kyng
Thow hast in his weele worse i-overthrowe.2
Thy condicioun is ever so varyeng
That now thow laughest and now thow makest a mowe.
Allas, Fortune, who may thee trust and trowe?
But yit I thee pray, in som maner wise,
So torne thy whele that I may ones arise.3
But whom along it wore, now wolde I wite,
That wrongfully I ly thus in prisoun:
Saturnus or Mars, I trowe I may it wite,4
Or som infortunate constellacioun.
But this I wote, as for a conclusioun,
Be it by destyné or fortunate chaunce,
In prison here I suffre moche myschaunce.
Peas of thy wordis, that are both lewde and nyce!
Wenistow that God chastisith thee for nought?
Though thow be giltles, I graunt wele, in this wise,
It is for synnes that thow hast afore wrought,
That now perauntre ful litel are in thi thought.
Thee for to gladde it is iwreten thus:
Maxima etenim morum semper paciencia virtus.5
Thow wotist wele God chastiseth whom He lovith,
That of His grace He graunte thee to be oon of tho
Who that wilbe saved, hym behovith
To suffre in this world adversité or he go:6
Thus fortune grace wynne for present woo.
The best conceyt that I can gyve thee,
Esto forti animo cum sis dampnatus inique.7
Farwele, Fortune, and do right as thee list!
Compleyne now wil I as to thi sustres thre
That whan I crept out of my moders chist,
Forthwith anon they shoope my destyné.
Cloto, com forth; what seystow? Late se.
Wiltow no lenger the state of my lif holde
Or be my yeeris comen up that I die shuld?
If it be so the nombre of my dayes
Be comen up, that I may nat hem passe,
Why ne had I than by other maner wayes
Ordeyned me to dye in som other place,
And nat in prison? Is there non other grace?
Wil Lachesis my threde no lengger twyne?
Bestire thee, than, and al my sorwis fyne.
And Antropos, that makith an end of al,
Cutte of the threde - wherto wiltow tarye? -
And help me hens, sith I nedis shal,
That men to chirche my corps myght carye;
And my soule to God and Seynt Marie
I now betake, and pray hem to yeve me space
My rightes al to receyve or I hens passe.
The worst of al, that grevith me so sore,
Is that my fame is lost, and eke goode loos,
And spredith wide, ever lenger the more,
As wele among my friendis as my foos;
For wykked sclaundre will in no wise be close,
But with the wynges of envy fleeth aloft
Thereas goode loos slepith and lith ful soft.
Whan I was fre and in bounchief at ease,
In company over al where that I went,
No man sayde that I did hym displease,
Ne worthy was nothyng to be shent;
And thus with faire wordes was I blent;
And he that sayde he wold me never faile,
I myght for hym chese to synke or saile.
They wold me nat oones yeve a draught of drynk,
Ne say, "Friend, wiltow ought with me?"
The soth is saide, suche frendship soone doth synk
That from his friend fleeth in adversité
And wil nat abide but in prosperité.
Suche feyned friendis, Lord, ther be ful many.
Fy on theyr flateryng! They are nat worth a peny!
I have no friende that wil me now visite
In prison here, to comfort of my care.
Of sorow inowgh, of joye I have but lite.
Farewele my blisse, farewele my welfare!
To telle my sorwe my wittes bien al bare.
There is no man can telle myn hevynesse
Save only Ekko, that can bere me witnesse.
Now and oure Lord, the kyng of blisse, Jhesus,
Shuld with His fynger here on erth write
Amonges hem that me accusen thus,
I trowe they wold on me have litel dispite,
And with theyr mowthis say right lite;
No more than diden the men that soughten wreche
Upon the womman that taken was in spouse-breche.
Fy on this world; it is but fantasie!
Swerte is none, in no degré ne state:
As wele a kyng as a knave shal dye,
Nat witeng where nor whan, erly nor late!
Whan men beth myrriest, al day Deth sayth, "Chekmate!"
There is no man shal alwey here abide:
The richest man eke from his goode shal slyde.
Than best is this world to sette at nought
And mekely suffre al adversité
That may us availe of synnes that we have wrought,
In mede encresyng or relesyng, pardé,
Of peynes whiche in Purgatory be.
And so I wil be glad, so God me save,
To soeffre men me wrongly to deprave.
There is no more, I se now at ie;
These feyned goddis and goddessis availe right nought.
Fortune and eke thi sustres I defye,
For I wil go to Hym that me hath wrought,
To whom I pray and hath besowght
My synnes al that he wil reles;
And furthermore I pray or I cease
Al Holy Chirche, that is His verray spowse,
Benyngne Lord, kepe from al damage;
And make thy people for to be vertuous
Thee for to serve in every maner of age
With fervent love and hertis hole corage;
And al that erre, Lord, in any side,
Or Thow do right, late mercy be theyr guyde.
And stidefastly Thow make us to persevere
In verray feyth, and Holi Chirche beleve,
And us to blisse brynge that lasstyth evere,
And Marie us helpe, both morwe and eve,
And of this world whan we take oure leve,
Or that the Fiende oure soulis than be-trappe,
Help, blisful qwene, and kovere us with thy lappe.
Late nat be spilt that thy Sone dere hath bought
Upon the Crosse with deth and woundes smert;
And namly hym that his synnes hath forthought
Here in this lif with meke and contrite hert,
And thee of grace to aske, ay thow up-stert.
Now, lady swete, I can no more now sey,
But rewe on me and help me whan I dey. Amen.
done wrong; (t-note)
Are you; killed; (t-note)
also; moon; (t-note)
good fortune; in short time
wheel; turns always
So do you all at once; (t-note)
weathers; (see note)
uncanny (various); (t-note)
whose fault it is; I wish I knew; (t-note)
Cease; ignorant and foolish; (t-note)
Do you think; nothing
guiltless; well, in this matter; (t-note)
done before; (t-note)
cheer; written; (t-note)
You know well; (see note); (t-note)
may earn grace
just as you wish; (t-note)
three sisters; (see note); (t-note)
do you say? Let's see
then by any other ways
Brought it about that I should die; (t-note)
Stir yourself; sorrows end
off; why will you tarry
hence, since I must [apparently die here]
hand over; enough time; (t-note)
[Last] rights; before I hence; (t-note)
good name; good reputation; (t-note)
more and more with time
slander; no way be kept secret; (t-note)
[slander] flies on high
Whereas; lies quiet; (t-note)
free and in prosperity; (see note)
wherever I went; (t-note)
Nor was at all worthy; punished
for all he cared choose; (t-note)
once give; (t-note)
do you wish anything from me
enough; little; (t-note)
Echo; (see note); (t-note)
Now if our Lord; (see note)
always; (see note); (t-note)
goods shall fall
Then [it] is best; (t-note)
As a reward; truly
Of [the] pains
suffer; condemn; (t-note)
nothing else; now clearly
feigned; (see note)
thy sisters (Parcae) ; (see note)
will release (forgive) ; (t-note)
ere (before) ; (t-note)
true spouse; (see note); (t-note)
heart's whole desire
err, Lord, anywhere; (t-note)
Ere; then entrap; (t-note)
cover us with your skirt; (see note)
killed those whom
especially; repented; (t-note)
move quickly [to help] ; (t-note)
have pity on me; die