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Guillaume de Machaut, The Boethian Poems: Le Confort d'Ami


Abbreviations: BD: Chaucer, Book of the Duchess, ed. Benson; CA: Gower, Confessio Amantis, ed. Peck; Confort: Machaut, Le Confort d’Ami; CP: Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy, trans. Stewart, Rand, and Tester; CT: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, ed. Benson; Hassell: Hassell, Middle French Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases; HF: Chaucer, House of Fame; JRB: Machaut, Le Jugement dou Roy de Behaingne, ed. Palmer (2016); JRN: Machaut, Le Jugement dou Roy de Navarre, ed. Palmer (2016); LGW: Chaucer, Legend of Good Women, ed. Benson; OCD: Oxford Classical Dictionary, eds. Hornblower and Spawforth; OM: L’Ovide moralisé, ed. de Boer; OT: Old Testament, Douay-Rheims; Remede: Machaut, Remede de Fortune; RR: Roman de la Rose, trans. Dahlberg; TC: Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, ed. Benson; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases.


1–10 Amis . . . . je fineray. Charles of Navarre, along with his chief lieutenants, was arrested by Jean II, king of France, at the castle in Rouen on 5 April 1356. The king was accompanied by some 30 men at arms and, more importantly, by Arnould d’Audrehem, the marshal of France. At the time, Charles of Navarre was the guest of his cousin Charles, duke of Normandy, the future Charles V of France, with whom he had been discussing various intrigues intended to displace Jean from the throne. Charles of France threw himself on his father’s mercy and avoided imprisonment, but Charles of Navarre and the others were not so lucky. Charles was quickly led away to prison. He was popular among the people of Normandy and Jean feared trouble when the news of his arrest spread. The others were beheaded; their bodies (and heads) were displayed on the gibbet in Rouen, only to be taken down and buried after Charles of Navarre effected his escape on 9 November 1357 and returned to the city.

The opening passage of the Confort makes it clear that some time had passed since Charles had been taken into custody. Machaut later discusses the battle of Poitiers against the English, 19 September 1356 (lines 2781–2818), so the poem must have been written sometime during the year or so after this defeat of French arms that left Jean a prisoner and before Charles of Navarre, with the aid of friends, made his way out of the chateau at Arleux-en-Palluel, the last of the several fortresses where he was confined. Medieval works can seldom be dated with anything like this precision.

27–44 N’encor pas nommer . . . . ma dame chevauchera. The anagram promised in this passage is found exactly as Machaut suggests it will be, eleven lines from the end of the poem, that is, in lines 3968–69. Unlike other similar anagrams, this one admits of an easy solution, yielding, if one follows the directions, “Guillaume de Machaut” and “Charles roi de Navarre.” Machaut also anagrams his name into the end of the Remede, lines 4258–72. For a more difficult anagram, see JRB explanatory note to lines 2055–66.

71–72 Prouver le vueil . . . . lieus le figure. The narrator proposes to comfort Charles by using episodes from the Old Testament as proof that God always consoles those who trust in Him, for example, the story of Susannah and the elders, or Daniel in the lions’ den, or counseling Nebuchadnezzar, or presenting the fate of the children in the fiery furnace. By constructing a parallel narrative between these stories and Charles’ situation, Machaut is also describing the eventual punishment of those who are bad rulers, such as Jean, the king of France. In addition, using the Biblical stories establishes a precedent for the sort of advice Machaut is giving Charles and the reader is shown that the courtly poet can also play the role of advisor. Machaut’s handling of these Biblical exempla, including the different ways in which they are relevant to the particular situation of Charles’ captivity is discussed in the General Introduction, pp. 38–46 and 55–63.

72 figure. Martha Wallen, “Biblical and Mythological Typology,” using Auerbach’s definition of the figura as “something real and historical which announces something else that is also real and historical” (qtd. in Wallen, p. 192), argues that the word “figure” (meaning figurally, rather than referring to an image) is essential to understanding the poem’s structure. Machaut’s use of examples from the Old Testament to communicate a message to Charles is an argumentative device used in the Bible itself: “Parallels were drawn between historical events recorded in the Old Testament such as the Passover, and New Testament events such as the Last Supper; the New Testament writers and Christ himself sought thereby to prove the validity of the Christian faith by appealing to prefigurations in Jewish scripture” (Wallen, “Biblical and Mythological Typology,” p. 193). In this way, Machaut establishes the validity of his own arguments, engaging in a similar process of biblical intertexuality.

73–426 Jadis en Babiloinne . . . . toudis te gardera. The story of Susannah (Susanna, Shoshana) is included as chapter 13 in the Book of Daniel, upon which Machaut drew for much of the Biblical source material in the poem. Deriving from the Septuagint, the book of Daniel might not have had a Hebrew origin; the book is not included in the Jewish Tanakha and is considered apocryphal by Protestants, though the Catholic church considers the book canonical. This suspenseful tale of lust, failed seduction, false witness, and unexpected vindication obviously suits Machaut’s purpose in this part of the Confort, which is to assure Charles of Navarre that this innocence will be made known by God, who always protects the righteous and his faithful servants.

83–88 Joachim avoit un . . . . et s’i esbatoient. Whereas Machaut’s version of Joachim’s orchard is an Eden-like garden that sets the scene for Susannah’s betrayal, it is described in much less detail in the Biblical text: “Now Joakim was very rich, and had an orchard near his house: and the Jews resorted to him, because he was the most honourable of them all” (OT, Daniel 13:4).

95–108 Des juges Babyloniens . . . . gentes et belles. Machaut apparently refers here to Jeremiah 29:21–23, where the prophet quotes God as saying that the evil judges Ahab and Zedekiah will be delivered into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar for punishment.

95–98 Des juges Babyloniens . . . . est grant iniquité. The quotation from God is a fairly accurate representation of Daniel 13:5.

109–22 Si la veoient . . . . raison et juge. The sinfulness of the judges is emphasized throughout Machaut’s narrative, but is only mentioned once in the scriptural text: “And the old men saw her going in every day, and walking: and they were inflamed with lust towards her” (OT, Daniel 13:8). Their lust is a direct reaction to Susannah’s beauty, whereas Machaut casts aspersions on the judges’ characters from their introduction into the story (line 91). Rather than creating an exaggerated version of the source, however, Machaut’s use of similar vocabulary to explain and expand the original text causes his narrative to act almost as a gloss for the original. Furthermore, he alters a passage that describes the shame of the two men, increasing their sinfulness: “So they were both wounded with the love of her, yet they did not make known their grief one to the other: For they were ashamed to declare to one another their lust, being desirous to have to do with her” (OT, Daniel 13:10–11). Not only do Machaut’s judges appear weak but they also deny the ultimate justice of God.

285–306 En la tourbe . . . . tous m’en descourpe. Here, Machaut’s alteration of the biblical text is drastic as he introduces Daniel as a child in his mother’s arms, not yet able to walk or speak, yet granted the power of speech by God. The effect is more in keeping with Psalms 8:3 and Matthew 21:16 — out of the mouths of babes comes the truth. See figures 20 (A59) and 21 (A60).

299–410 Lors cria haut . . . . des dames fait. The drama of Daniel’s intercession is heightened by Machaut as he omits the part of the story when God hears Susannah’s prayer, thus establishing the power and importance of language: “And the Lord heard her voice” (OT, Daniel 13:44). This importance of language becomes a theme that is continued in subsequent sections of the narrative.

350, 385 yllier, lentillier. The story of Susanna was at an early point in its textual history incorporated into the Book of Daniel. As part of the Septuagint, the Greek language version of Scripture, this book was transmitted to early Christianity through two different recensions, which differ one from the other in both details and style. Although the Latin translation of the two testaments by Jerome, known generally as the Vulgate, became the principal Latin version known to the Middle Ages, other versions were known and consulted. The modern version of the Apocrypha follows the Vulgate in its version of the Susanna story, with the two trees that figure prominently in Daniel’s questioning of the judges identified as the holm and mastic. Machaut must have found the alternative names that figure in his version either in a different text of the book or in a gloss in his text that derives from that alternative version. On this general topic, see the collected essays in Practice of the Bible, eds. Boynton and Reilly.

370 juge. The judge referenced here is God.

415 Dou Latin. Machaut is referring to the Latin bible. The Biblical material in the poem shows that his main, but not exclusive source was the so-called Vulgate text, translated by St. Jerome. See note to lines 350, 385 above.

415–16 Dou Latin ou . . . . com j’ay peü. Even though Machaut is narrating an extant story, he frequently draws attention to the role he plays in the text’s creation by reminding Charles that his source is reputable and that Susannah’s story is valid. Furthermore, in mentioning that this source text is Latin, Machaut is highlighting his role as translator and scholar. See also lines 644–46.

417–26 Si qu’amis, tu . . . . toudis te gardera. Machaut summarizes the moral of the story: like Susannah, Charles should put his faith in God, who will deliver him from an unjust punishment and an unmerited punishment. The exemplum also makes clear that those who bear false witness with the aim of harming others will find the judgment of God visited upon them. Applied to Charles’ situation, Jean of France would figure in the role of the wicked judges, and he would be the innocent maiden, taken unawares, and condemned for no good reason.

427–1660 Et s’on . . . . qui ne mesprengne. This section of the poem is tightly organized, with the four exempla drawn from the Old Testament, discussed in an easily understandable pattern, mostly because the figure of Daniel plays a central role in the first three, but also because Machaut forges links between them and even offers a summary of sorts at the end that — in the manner of a sermon — carefully elucidates the moral lessons they illustrate (lines 1549–1610).

431–33 pluseur docteur . . . . diligemment. The scholars referenced here include those who provided often elaborate interlinear and marginal commentary, as well as longer works of exegesis. Machaut was undoubtedly familiar with many of the writings in this tradition, especially since copies of the testaments often featured both interlinear and marginal glosses as well as commentary.

451–646 Quant Nabugodonosor sot . . . . il est escript. Machaut’s source for this story is Daniel 3, but his version is considerably shorter than the original. In addition to the omission of inessential details, he also leaves out some significant sections, most notably the prayer of Azarias (Daniel 3:24–45) and the subsequent descent of the angel (Daniel 3:46–50). The effect is to emphasize how the innocent are delivered by God rather than the power of prayer, which figures centrally.

457 aimme et prise. In contrast to the popular Biblical stories about Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar, Machaut describes a more equal and affectionate friendship between the two men. This may be compared to the relationship between a poet and his patron, or more specifically, between Machaut and Charles, rather than that of a ruler and his subject. Daniel, of course, delivers to the king a message of truth that serves him well, and in turn the prophet is rewarded with riches and a position of high responsibility.

523 Renommee. Rumor is a Classical, not Biblical, figure. In Virgil’s Aeneid 4, she is a monstrous winged creature, with “an eye beneath . . . every body feather, and . . . as many tongues and buzzing mouths as eyes, as many pricked-up ears” (trans. Fitzgerald, 4.250–52). She takes joy in gossiping and tells “lies and slander evenhandedly with truth” (4.257–58).

560 une seule framboise. This is proverbial. Literally, “more than a lone strawberry,” i.e., not at all, not a whit.

576 Quarante neuf queudes. A queude (modern French coudée) signifies a “measure.” It might refer to a degree, when quantifying heat, or a cubit when quantifying distance. See Daniel 3:19, where the fire in the furnace is said to be seven times hotter than it previously was (Vulgate: Septuplum, meaning a septule, sevenfold). Seven is a number equating with totality (see Peck, “Number as Cosmic Language,” p. 61). Machaut increases it by a common biblical measure of seven times sevenfold (i.e., 49 times greater) in heat elevation.

615 Qu’on claime Benedicité. The reference here is to Daniel 3:57–88.

617–18 Et encor recite . . . . en maint couvent. Machaut steps out of the narrative in order to show a continuation between Biblical and contemporary events. In this case, the link is a hymn, which both highlights the parallels between the two sets of stories and reminds the reader of the centrality of music in Machaut’s poetry. In accordance with the Boethian tradition, music and poetry are essential to the transformation of sorrow into joy.

671–710 Balthasar une court . . . . fueille en tramble. The account of the feast and the appearance of the writing on the wall are, on the whole, a close translation of the original source. Machaut’s additions heighten the effect of the story: for example, the menu served at the feast (lines 676–78), the narrator’s moral commentary (lines 682 and 691–92), and use of similes (lines 702–05 and 710).

671–954 Balthasar une court . . . . en sa poitrine. The story of Balthazar and the temple’s vessels, from Daniel 5, was popular in the drama and literature of the day. See, for example, The Play of Daniel, ed. Bevington, pp. 137–54; Gower, CA 5.7017–25, and Chaucer’s Monk’s Tale, CT VII[B2]2183–2246. Machaut’s version is much more detailed than the Middle English retellings mainly because it is told to comfort Charles in his captivity. As Alexandre Leupin notes, the stories that Machaut chooses to narrate are about “fallen kings whose power is limited by divine transcendence.” This is especially evident in the Biblical story of the writing on the wall, where Nebuchadnezzar is required to enlist “the services of an inspired reader” (Leupin, “Powerlessness of Writing,” p. 135) in order to understand his fate. Thus, Machaut highlights the power of language and the necessity of having an interpreter, which provides a different paradigm for the interpretation of Charles’ situation: instead of merely trusting in God, he must also surround himself with able and trustworthy counselors. Leupin reads this as a radical re-assertion of the relationship between power, poetry (or language), and the poet.

785–864 Diex qui est . . . . ara que remordre. In this section, Machaut expands upon the original text to add a meditation on the abuses of power, and his sacrilegious treatment of objects sacred to Jewish tradition, to the history of Nebuchadnezzar’s rise and fall.

865–932 Roys, se j’ay . . . . a une conclusion. Though Machaut’s version of the interpretation of the writing on the wall is much longer than that of the Old Testament, it still retains much of the original meaning:

MANE: God hath numbered thy kingdom, and hath finished it.
THECEL: thou art weighed in the balance, and art found wanting.
PHARES: thy kingdom is divided, and is given to the Medes and Persians. (OT, Daniel 5:26–28)

Daniel consequently becomes a much more significant presence in Machaut’s version.

872 nulle fiction. Again, Machaut is drawing attention to the importance of truth, but this time it is through the words of Daniel. See lines 415–16 and the corresponding note above.

955–1282 Aprés ce roy . . . . aus lions geté. The source for this story is Daniel 6. Machaut conflates the two versions of the story of Daniel and the lions’ den that appear in the Bible, but alters so little that his account contains contradictions: for example, see line 1121 where Daniel is said to have spent six days in the den and line 1130 where he is there for only one. This section of the narrative develops the theme of false and treacherous counsel, but moves significantly away from the Old Testament version by exaggerating Daniel’s position as a royal advisor and administrator: “It seemed good to Darius, and he appointed over the kingdom a hundred and twenty governors to be over his whole kingdom. And three princes over them, of whom Daniel was one: that the governors might give an account to them, and the king might have no trouble” (OT, Daniel 6:1–2). As in the other stories, Machaut emphasizes the role of God, rather than any earthly forces in the face of evil by playing down passages such as Darius’ attempts to free Daniel (OT, Daniel 6:14).

1252–54 Mais . . . . assez. Machaut’s narrative poetry is not routinely given to humor, but this grim bit of understatement provides an effective conclusion to a story that emphasizes the punishment meted out to those who make false charges, intending the death of others, which is of course a theme quite pertinent to Charles’ situation as he languishes in prison, hoping for deliverance. Interestingly, that the evil counselors are made to suffer the same fate they had wished on Daniel is eerily prescient, looking forward as it does to the revenge Charles might have intended meting out to those who had been complicit in his arrest and the execution of his close advisors. Such revenge certainly included depriving Jean of France of his throne, a campaign that occupied him for a number of months following his escape.

1283 escrire. Darius’ proclamation is disseminated throughout his kingdom thanks to written language, again highlighting the importance of Machaut’s art and profession and his relation with rulers.

1301 Pymalion. A figure from Greek mythology, Pygmalion made an ivory statue of a beautiful woman with whom he fell in love; after praying to Aphrodite, the goddess brought the statue to life (OCD, p. 1281). It is interesting that Machaut focuses only on the first part of the story where Pygmalion worships the statue, but not on the second part where his faith in the goddess is rewarded, thus creating an unusually positive view of the character. For another version of this story, see RR, lines 20817–21215. This section also anticipates the subsequent sections of the Confort in which Machaut draws upon the vernacular versions of the Metamorphoses contained in the Ovide moralisé in order to continue his comforting of Charles.

1314–16 Et nompourquant tant . . . . c’est une beste. Machaut draws attention to his own role as narrator by providing his own commentary on the story of Manasseh and Pygmalion.

1318–52 Par lequel li . . . . bien te delivrera. This section emphasizes the power of God over Fortune. In fact, “although the deity never steps directly into the narrative, he may be nonetheless considered the protagonist. In the first 1,000 lines of the Confort he is alluded to by name forty-three times” (Calin, Poet at the Fountain, p. 136).

1361–548 Rois Manassés, en . . . . roy et signour. As with Daniel and the lions’ den, Machaut combines the two versions of this story that appear in the Bible. According to 4 Kings 21, Manasseh was King of Judah who reversed all of the religious reforms of his father, Ezekias, by reinstating paganism and idolatry. 2 Paralipomenon (Chronicles) 33 further explains that Manasseh was captured and imprisoned as a punishment by God which led to his eventual repentance: “Therefore he brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of the Assyrians: and they took Manasseh, and carried him bound with chains and fetters to Babylon. And after that he was in distress he prayed to the Lord his God: and did penance exceedingly before the God of his fathers” (OT, 2 Paralipomenon 33: 11–12). The inclusion of this episode by Machaut causes the story to resonate strongly with Charles’ own situation.

1364–67 Mais ne vueil . . . . passeray plus briefment. Again, Machaut is drawing attention to his role as author, but this time explicitly highlighting the effort that is involved in the creation of a text.

1427–42 Si muse . . . . munde et actour. The punning on “tour”/”tourne” in this passage highlights Manasseh’s mental struggles (his “tournay,” line 1445). It also draws a parallel between the Creator as author of the world and Machaut as author, both of whom translate ideas into material or textual reality. Because of the word play in this passage the meaning of lines 1437–38 is somewhat obscure. The translation offered here takes “tour” in line 1438 as “change, turning,” but this is by no means certain.

1511–12 Metans abominations / Multiplicans offensions. The first words in these two lines are Latin present participles. Macaronic constructions such as these are not uncommon in French poetry of the period, though Machaut’s reason(s) for resorting to this technique at this point, and at only this point, in the poem are hard to divine.

1611–38 Quant Mathathias dut . . . . et memoire pardurable. Machaut is referencing the story told in 1 Machabees 2 which, again, encourages Charles to trust in God and to do His work. On his deathbed, Mathathias cites numerous figures including Abraham, Joseph, and Phineas as examples for his sons to follow, thus reinforcing the precedent Machaut has established for the sort of advice he is giving Charles.

1631 Finees, qui fu nostre pere. Phineas (Phinehas), son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron, one of the priests during the Exodus, played a key role in preventing the Israelites from succumbing to temptations from both the Moabites and Midianites. As related in Numbers 25:12–13, God rewarded him by saying that his sons, and all the sons of his sons, would constitute a hereditary priesthood. Hence for a cleric like Machaut he is rightly spoken of as “our father.”

1661–1782 Or te dirai . . . . vertu de neccessité. At this point, there is a shift from the tone of rhetorical consolation with an emphasis on exempla drawn from the Bible to one of more general, and often somewhat random, forms of advice that range from the generally applicable (the king is enjoined to practice moderation) to the very specific (he should not eat too heartily). For detailed discussion see the General Introduction.

1675–78 Aprés, amis . . . . tu te honniroies. This might be the cornerstone of Machaut’s advice to Charles, a commonplace rule that applies to most situations. William Calin suggests that “[s]eemingly trivial matters assume importance because the king is a mirror for his people . . . To be a good king he must first of all live virtuously. In other words, the ideal king is an ideal man; only an ideal man will make a good king; and only with such a king can the state function at its best” (Poet at the Fountain, p. 141). In this advisory role to the king that Calin points out, it is conceivable that Gower, for whom good kingship (regardless of one’s rank) is the cornerstone central to all his writings, is inspired in part by Machaut, with whom he is so similarly insistent for advice on the full range of ethical issues pertaining to personal behavior, especially with regard to moderation. As noted elsewhere, Gower frequently uses the same biblical exempla as Machaut, particularly with regard to Daniel 13, as advice to the kings of his own day. See Peck, Kingship and Common Profit.

1707–20 Que Job tenoit . . . . looit et devotement. Machaut’s source for this passage is Job 1.

1758 Socratés. Known mainly through the work of other writers, Socrates (469–399 BCE) was an Athenian philosopher and public figure. Socrates was famed for the moral seriousness of his thought and the courage he showed throughout his trial and execution (OCD, pp. 1419–20).

1791–92 Et si dois . . . . a li penser. In perhaps the most traditionally Christian of all the moral counsel Machaut provides, the king is enjoined to turn his mind to God and abandon his despairing fixation on his own situation. This passage reflects in general the advice that Lady Philosophy provides in CP 3, that Boethius should turn his mind toward the Supreme Good rather than remain fixated on his own emotions and the false goods of Fortune that he has lost, thus providing him with the opportunity to regain his true self.

1830–35 Et si as . . . . ne croy mie. Unlike the individuals that Machaut has been describing from the Old Testament, Charles is not at the mercy of evil or tyrannical judges, or so the poet avers, perhaps eager not to be seen as condemning his sovereign for unjust and arbitrary behavior. His readers are certainly authorized to view Jean’s arrest and imprisonment of the “innocent” man as suggesting a somewhat different reading of his situation in the light of Biblical exempla.

1836–978 Tu as tous . . . . i. cop tuent. As in the Old Testament stories, Machaut suggests that divine intervention has been necessary to remind Charles of his duties to God.

1857–62 N’a pas lonc . . . . qui ravist Heleinne. Priam was the King of Troy during the Trojan War. He had a number of wives and concubines and fathered many daughters and fifty sons, including those mentioned by Machaut: Hector, greatest of the Trojan heroes, Troilus, killed by Achilles, and Paris, who caused the Trojan War by abducting Helen (OCD, pp. 673, 1112, 1244, 1556).

1860 Nector. Nestor, King of Pylos, helped Menelaus assemble his army (OCD, p. 1039).

1861 Menelaus. Menelaus was King of Sparta and the husband of Helen of Troy (OCD, p. 958).

1872–1903 Yes mie subjés . . . . richesse et noblesse. This passage serves, somewhat confusingly, as a bridge between the theological point made by the Biblical exempla (that God punishes sinners and rewards those who merit his mercy) and the main point of the Consolation (that there is no misfortune as such since it is in the nature of the limited goods under the control of Fortune that they come and go accordingly to no discernible moral rule). These sharply contrasting perspectives on human experience do not admit of any easy reconciliation, as Machaut’s attempt to provide one here illustrates. For the Christian, God is the agent of the soul’s restoration and reconciliation. For the philosopher, the true source of happiness is to found within. Compare CP 2.pr4.72–73.

1893–1916 Ou Fortune . . . . ont autre avantage. Compare CP 2.pr1, of which Machaut here provides a somewhat simplified summary.

1904 livre de Boësse. The reference is to CP.

1914–16 Si que noblesse . . . . ont autre avantage. Among his extended discussion of the limited nature of the good as ordinarily understood, Boethius undertakes in CP 3.pr6.27–29 to debunk that notion that nobility is a virtue in itself, an idea that Machaut recycles.

1917–99 Aussi puet elle donner . . . . et de povreté. These themes are drawn from CP 3.

1971 par Saint Denis. St. Denis is the patron saint of Paris and of France.

1972 Mont Senis. This is a peak in the French Alps, west of Turin, that marks a passageway into Italy from France.

1979 Salemons. King of Israel and a son of David, Solomon is known for his wisdom: “And the wisdom of Solomon surpassed the wisdom of all the Orientals, and of the Egyptians” (OT, 3 Kings 4:30).

1979–86 Salemons li sages lisoit . . . . toy feroie injure. See Proverbs 30:8.

2009–14 Je ne di . . . . porroit milleurs trouver. This passage, attempting elaborate word play, manages to express a fairly simple idea rather clumsily. Having made what could be interpreted as a criticism of the nobility, Machaut softens the blow by admitting that some of the rich are very moral. The precise grammar of the passage is somewhat obscure. Hœpffner insists that “nul milleur” in line 2011 be understood, despite its form, as the subject of “trouveroit,” but I think this is unlikely (Œuvres de Guillaume de Machaut, 3:248). I have translated it as direct object, with the “qui” noun clause in line 2012 as the subject of “trouveroit.” This rendering gives a parallelism with the reformulation of the idea in lines 2013–14.

2057–102 Las! Je sui . . . . que je sente. In this passage, a Boethian perspective on suffering and isolation makes way for one derived from the tradition of love poetry. In his prison, Charles become the archetypal lover, separated from his beloved and therefore moved to express his feelings of love and loneliness. It is interesting that Machaut here ventriloquizes the presumed emotions of his patron.

2118–20 Que Douce Pensee . . . . Et Bon Espoir. In the tradition of the Roman de la Rose, Machaut often mentions allegorical characters. Douce Pensee (Sweet Thought) is one of the three gifts that Cupid gives to Amans to help him endure the pains of love. The others are Douce Regart (Sweet Looking) and Douce Parler (Sweet Talking). See also JRB, JRN, and the Remede. In these poems, they take a much more prominent role, interacting with the other characters and often representing ideal aspects of their personalities, for example Esperence in the Remede or the characters in the trial scenes of JRB and JRN.

2162–74 La biauté de . . . . point de meffaçon. The description of the lady’s beauty customarily proceeds from head to toe, with every principal feature meriting both mention and praise.

2249 Lay de Bon Espoir. A Machaut work with this title has not survived, but the poet might be referring here to the monophonic Lay de Bonne Esperence, which figures as item 47 in the Voir Dit, lines 4462–4717 (see the forthcoming Volumes 4 and 10 of this edition, in the latter of which it is included with all of the poet’s other lays).

2277–644 Quant le bon . . . . puist estre acompaingnie. This is the first of the several exempla drawn from OM, which includes French verse versions of classical stories found in other sources such as Ovid’s Metaamorphoses. Machaut might also have had access to the Latin text of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, but this seems unlikely. A detailed discussion of Machaut’s use of the OM is included in the General Introduction, pp. 63–67.

2295–306 A l’entree de . . . . et toudis flame. The OM confuses and conflates two different traditions here, as Machaut’s version attests; the first is that Hades has three judges, male divinities named Rhadamanthys, Minos, and Aeacus, who judge each soul and assign it an eternal abode accordingly (OCD, p. 1311), while the second, which is derived largely from Virgil’s Aeneid, is that of the Erinyes or Furies, three chthonian female divinities named Tisiphone, Megaera, and Alecto, who carry out “retribution for wrongs and blood-guilt [of condemned souls] especially in the family” (OCD, p. 556).

2344 craus et gouvernaus. This passage is somewhat obscure. “Gouvernaus” means “helm” in Middle, as in modern French, while “craus” could represent a number of different words. I have read it as “graux” or “graus,” meaning “crook,” hence, by extension into more familiar diabolical imagery, “pitch-fork.”

2357 Typhoeüs. In Greek mythology, Typhoeüs or Typhon is a fire-breathing monster, a dragon with a hundred heads that never sleeps. Machaut encountered the story, whose main details he repeats here, in either his reading of Ovid’s Metamorphoses Book 5, or in the OM. Typhoeüs participated in the revolt of the Titans against Zeus (the so-called Titanomachy), and in individual combat against him managed to tear out the tendons of his legs, which were eventually returned to him by Hermes. Zeus then overcame Typhoeüs with his thunderbolts and managed to confine him under mount Etna.

2430 Parguse. Machaut here adds a geographical detail to the classical Ovidian (Metamorphoses 5) and Virgilian (Georgics 1) accounts, but the connection between Prosperine/Persephone and Pergusa was made by several classical historians, including Diodorus Siculus (fl. 40 BCE), author of the Bibliotheca Historica, in the Middle Ages a widely read source of geographical and historical information. The hills of Pergusa and surrounding woodlands, the selva Pergusina, are located about ten kilometers from Mt. Etna in Sicily; the lake in the bottomland is the only natural lake on the island.

2461 Dyane / Cyane. In classical accounts, the nymph Cyane (Latin Cyana), plays a key role in the abduction of Proserpina (Persephone), as is evident in Machaut’s version. Subsequently, she was turned to water by an angry Pluto. Machaut evidently confused Cyana with the unrelated Roman goddess Diana, hence his mistaken naming of her as “Dyane” in this passage.

2463 Dis. In Roman culture, the god of the Underworld (Hades in Greek) is referred to either as Pluto or Dis (an older concept, perhaps borrowed from the Celts) and sometimes written as Dis Pater or “Father of the gods.”

2475 Sicanie. This is a region of Sicily, modern Sicania.

2507 Arethusa. Arethusa is a nymph, daughter of Nereus.

2508 Elchalaphus. This is Machaut’s rendering of Ovid’s Ascalaphus, Escalaphus in the OM, a daimon or spirit in the Underworld, where he served as the orchardist.

2515 Si com l’istoire le raconte. The reference here is to the OM, which is the principal source of all the classical stories in this section of the Confort. See the General Introduction, pp. 63–67, for full discussion of Machaut’s adaptation of this material.

2517–628 Tantalus . . . . femme et s’amie. Here Machaut supplies a short catalogue of important figures from Greek and Roman tradition who are passing eternity in the underworld. A fuller version is supplied in Aeneid 6, but this is unlikely to be Machaut’s source since the material was thoroughly conventional.

2523 D’Ysion la roe. Guilty of killing his father-in-law, Ixion was pitied by Zeus, who soon turned on the man when he cast a lustful eye on Hera, his wife. Sent into the pit by a thunderbolt from Zeus, Ixion was bound for eternity to a fiery wheel.

2527–28 Et a Sisiphus . . . . pesant et grieve. King of Corinth, Sisyphyus was punished by the gods for his betrayals and trickery by being confined to a region of the underworld where he was assigned the unending task of rolling a huge boulder up to the top of a hill from which it always rolled back again.

2529–34 Et Tycïus . . . . de son arson. A son of Zeus who angered the gods by his attempted rape of the maiden Leto, Tityos was punished in the underworld by being stretched out on the ground so that two vultures could every day eat his liver, which continually grew back, making his punishment endless.

2535 beles Dyanes. The translation here is an attempt to put the best face on Machaut’s confused mythological reference, in which he furthers his earlier erroneous conflation of Cyane with Diana (see the note to line 2461 above). In the OM, these nymphs at the fountain are called the beledienes (OM 10.115, following Ovid’s designation of them as the belides or daughters of Belus). Note that Machaut refers to them correctly in line 2543.

2543 filles Belli. In Greek mythology, Belus is the king of Egypt, one of whose sons, Danaus, had the misfortune to sire 50 daughters, the Danaides, all of whom but one were subsequently involved in the killing of their husbands. In this passage, Machaut confuses these violent and homicidal women with the semi-divine Erinyes or Furies.

2584 Redope. Rhodope is a region of eastern Macedonia.

2585–88 Et devint homs . . . . si vil matyre. Machaut refers obliquely here to Orpheus’ supposed turn toward homosexuality. See the General Introduction, pp. 63–67, for further discussion.

2623–24 Phebus le sauva . . . . qui le trouva. Phoebus is the Roman name for Apollo. The legend of Apollo and Python, recounted in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, describes Apollo’s slaying of the serpent Python, who guarded Delphi for its mother, Gaia or Earth (OCD, p. 1418).

2645–72 Quant Paris ala . . . . le chastel d’Ylion. Though Machaut describes Paris’ choice as the cause of Troy’s fall, this exemplum is not meant to illustrate what could be interpreted as either his fault or ill luck. Machaut follows the version of the Troy story he found in the OM, which includes, as here, story materials that are not found or developed at length in Ovid. Whatever their origin, the OM provides them with moralizations that draw out their relevance to Christian values and theology. Following this moralizing tradition, Machaut, according to Margaret Ehrhart, presents Paris as “an exemplary lover. His determination in sailing to Greece to win from her husband the woman he had been promised by Venus shows that every lover must nerve himself with hope if he wishes to succeed in his quest” (Ehrhart, Prince Paris, 193).

2657–59 Aus .iij. deesses . . . . richesse ou d’avoir. These three goddesses are Minerva (goddess of wisdom), Venus (goddess of love), and Juno (queen of the gods), respectively.

2683–762 Quant Herculés se . . . . loial, et parfait. Machaut tells Charles the story of Hercules and his wife, Deianira, whom he won from Acheloüs in combat (OCD, p. 440) in order to emphasize the importance of being a faithful lover. This version is based on Sophocles’ portrayal of Deianira as “a gentle, timid and loving woman who unintentionally brings [Hercules] to [his] death.” Previous characterizations have depicted Deianira as “bold-hearted and aggressive” (OCD, p. 440). Gower’s version, CA 2.2145–307, is more in keeping with Machaut’s tale.

2737 Par Licas. Cape Lichadis, off the coast of Locris in central Greece, was the place where, according to legend, Lichas was thrown into the sea.

2763–872 Mais, pour chose . . . . li est requise. Here, the poet applies his lesson on Hope to Charles’ specific situation and reinforces his earlier moral about Fortune, to interpret his capture as a fortunate turn of events, recalling Lady Philosophy’s argument that imprisonment, and the loss of Fortune’s goods, has enabled Boethius to return to himself and to the true nature of the working of the universe that his lifelong immersion in philosophy had provided him. Compare CP 2.pr8.7–18.

2778–2872 Je te vueil prouver . . . . li est requise. Machaut here makes the obvious point that King Charles was fortunate to be in prison during the disastrous battle of Poitiers (19 September 1356), at the end of which Jean II of France was taken prisoner by the English. Considering his desire to keep on good terms with Jean and the Valois family, the poet can hardly gloat over the irony that Jean (who in Machaut’s view wrongly imprisoned Charles of Navarre) found himself in captivity after a series of costly military blunders. However, Machaut is not above pointing out the numerous advantages that Charles enjoyed as a result of being involuntarily absent from a fight in which he would have been obligated to take part on the losing side.

2795–807 La fu pris . . . . comme il fist. Here, Charles’ captor, King Jean, is named and compared to seven of the Nine Worthies (lines 2797–2801), and then to other heroes of myth and legend. The two missing Worthies are Old Testament figures, Joshua and David. As William Calin remarks, “[s]urely such a master is more reliable than Belshazzar or Susanna’s lecherous Elders” (Poet at the Fountain, p. 136). Calin is certainly correct, but the careful fashion in which Machaut overpraises Jean for what was in fact a disastrous defeat that put the very existence of his kingdom in jeopardy seems a politically calculating move as well, for when Machaut composed the Confort Jean was still his sovereign and a man with powerful supporters throughout the realm.

2911–22 Mais honneur est bien . . . . et avoir faut. The poet’s argument that honor is superior to wealth reflects aristocratic values, not Boethian ones. For Boethius both honor (especially in the sense of being honored by others) and wealth are to be numbered among the necessarily limited, and thus ultimately insignificant, goods over which Fortune wields control. Compare CP 2.pr5 and 6.

2923–3086 bon roy de Behaingne . . . . point de blame. The reference here is to Jean L’Aveugle (the Blind), king of Luxembourg and Bohemia (1296–1346), one of the most famous warrior kings of the Middle Ages, and Machaut’s patron for perhaps twenty years before his heroic death on the field at Crécy. See the General Introduction, for a detailed discussion of Machaut’s use of Jean as a model for Charles of Navarre to emulate. Jean of Bohemia’s daughter, Bonne (see the explanatory notes to JRB lines 259–880 and JRN line 3851), was the first wife of Charles’ captor and the mother of the Dauphin who would later become the patron of Machaut’s Voir Dit. In this way, Machaut’s role as the poet-advisor of kings becomes clear as shows himself to be allied with a dynasty rather than individual rulers.

2928 Masouve. Mazovia was a dukedom in north central Poland whose principal cities were Plock and Warsaw. In the course of the later Middle Ages it was incorporated into the kingdom of Poland.

2937–74 Il ne pooit . . . . s’aisa mais hom. The virtues of Jean of Bohemia that Machaut describes in this section (moderation and patience) are the same as those which he encourages Charles to adopt in lines 1675–743. As Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet remarks, “[t]he idealized figure of Jean de Luxembourg continued throughout the fourteenth century to serve as a nostalgic reference point and model” (Color of Melanchol y, 26).

2945 Je le say bien, car je l’ay fait. Machaut emphasizes the importance of eye witnesses when telling the truth. As in his versions of stories from the Old Testament, having personally seen an event or a text lends an extra layer of authority to his own writing: not only is he responsible for producing the text, but he also vouches for its veracity.

2969–74 Et s’il estoit . . . . s’aisa mais hom. The syntax and grammar of this passage are difficult, but the general meaning is clear.

2975–3207 Mais je te . . . . dessous au tournoy. The detail included in this section is a further form of encouragement for Charles and part of the general idealization of Jean de Luxembourg. For more information on Jean’s military and diplomatic success, see Cazelles, Jean l’Aveugle.

2997 Esselingne. Esslingen am Neckar is in southwestern Germany. This former imperial city and rich market town was much fought over in the Middle Ages and eventually annexed by the duchy of Wurtenberg in the early nineteenth century.

2998 Duringne. During the Middle Ages, Durningen was a free imperial city in the Rhineland near Strasbourg.

3013 Bruguelis. Bürglitz was a city in medieval Bohemia not far from Prague, today Gross Bürglitz in the Czech Republic.

3023 Breselau. Breslau was an important city in the Silesian part of the kingdom of Bohemia. Since the end of World War II, it has become a Polish city, now named Wroclaw.

3035–40 Li lieus avoit . . . . Aukahan. In February 1329, the army of the Bohemian king Jean of Luxembourg and the Teutonic Order invaded Lithuania and captured the most important fortresses of Samogitia: Medvegalis, Šiauduva (? Xedeyctain), Gediminas (now Kvedarna), Geguže, and Aukaimis (now Batakiai).

3044–48 le can de Tartarie . . . . Bruges a Paris. During the fourteenth century Lithuania, which had not yet been thoroughly Christianized (a process in which Jean played a significant role — see lines 3033–34) was invaded by the Lipka Tatars, one of the groups that had comprised Genghis Khan’s Golden Horde in the previous century.

3094 n’aroit vaillant une pomme. Proverbial. See Hassell P232.

3183 Car bonté faite autre requiert. Proverbial. See Hassell B142.

3329–30 a son oueil mettre a l’erbe / Qu’on congnoist. Proverbial. See Hassell H25.

3331–48 Aies toudis bonnes . . . . ou vasselage. On the military use of stealth and spying, see Vegetius’ late Latin treatise on Roman warfare, Epitoma Rei Militaris, Book 3, §6. This section emphasizes the value of keeping secret an army’s location and plans, caution against ambush, using scouts to discover the habits of one’s adversary, and even recruiting traitors and deserters from the enemy camp (Vegetius: Epitome of Military Science, trans. Milner 1:71–75). There is also biblical precedent for espionage, especially in commentaries on Joshua 2. See, for example, Matthew Henry’s Exposition of All Books of the Old and New Testaments, which stresses the ruler’s need for men who can see with other people’s eyes, work incognito to observe specific situations, and demands necessary for the occasion. The success of such agents depends upon their honesty and fidelity to their master, and manipulating lies. The end justifies whatever the means might be, regardless of what “untruths” they deploy (Henry, Exposition of All Books, Joshua 1:11–13).

3415–19 Et s’il y a femme qui gise . . . . qui la touche. This remarkable passage, regarding protection of a pregnant woman in time of war, reflects the strong value placed upon the soul of the unborn child, which may be deemed even more important than that of the adult mother. Machaut is emphatic in his advice to Charles regarding the evil of harming women at any time, especially in times of warfare, but here he would protect the unborn fetus of a pregnant woman with a warning flag above the citadel where she has been confined. Women may die as casualties of war, but the killing of an unborn child is murder. See Harris-Stoertz, “Pregnancy and Childbirth.”

3422 fils l’empereur Hanri. Jean was the son of Margaret of Brabant and Henry VII, who was the Holy Roman Emperor at the time.

3454 De plus d’amis, meins d’anemis. Proverbial. See Hassell A102.

3631 Ton bon pere et ta bonne mere. This is Philippe III of Navarre, Count of Évreux, and Jeanne II of Navarre.

3661–3712 Or voy que . . . . tu prens de toy. For a discussion of the origins of ostentatious dress in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, see Blanc, “From Battlefield to Court” and L’Engle, “Addressing the Law.”

3715 Cambelec. In the Persian and the Turkic languages of Central Asia, Beijing was called Khanbaliq, which seems the far-off region to which Machaut here refers. Compare Chaucer’s Squire on exotic places in Tartary where Cambyuskan (Genghis Khan) and Cambalus (his son) are described as “grete mervailles” (CT V[F]656–61). The Squire, unlike his modest father, is a fancy dresser who might well have misread this section of Machaut. He is certainly not some goatskin (“vestus de camelin,” line 3725) fellow.

3716 l’Aubre Sec. According to medieval geographers, there was a solitary dead tree standing in the midst of northern Persian plain, in the general area where Alexander the Great had won a costly victory against King Darius in the battle that is variously referred to as Issos or Gaugamela (1 October 331 BCE). For that reason, the tree was believed to mark the border between Europe and Asia. Marco Polo seems to have been the first European since ancient times to see the tree, which he describes at some length in his Book of the Wonders of the World (also known as The Travels of Marco Polo), a text for which no authoritative edition exists because of the considerable discrepancies among the surviving manuscripts. In modern editions, the story of the “dry tree” is to be found in chapter 22, where it is described as huge and thick, with green leaves on one side and white leaves on the other, which perhaps means it was a plantain tree. The tree bears husks that remind Polo of chestnuts, but with nothing inside. See Travels of Marco Polo, trans. Latham, p. 54.

3752–55 Einsi com Boësses . . . . chacié en essil. For a brief biography of Boethius, see the note to the Remede, lines 982–84 above. The bulk of the references in this poem, as in the Remede, are to Books 1 and 2 in the CP.

3828 par saint Eloy. This may refer to saint Eligius, who is the patron saint of goldsmiths and metal workers and is thus apt for thoughts on coining money that celebrates important leaders (line 3825). See the Catholic Encyclopedia, “St. Eligius.”

3841–42 Car le pechiét . . . . feu, quant l’ateint. Proverbial. See Hassell E4 and Whiting W60.

3945 Amis. In contrast to the confident advice-giving narrator of the main sections of the poem, Machaut returns to the role of courtier that he adopted at the beginning of the Confort.

3968–69 Quant ma dame . . . . diner a Glurvost. The anagram Machaut refers to in lines 27–44 is located here. If there was a riding lady, her identity is lost to history, and the identification of a place named Glurvost is uncertain.

3978 m’en chaut. Another disguised version of Machaut’s name.

3979–4004 Explicit le Confort d’amy . . . . soupir ay vomi. This passage is highly unusual since it is placed at the official ending of the Confort, and thus a question arises about its status. Is it part of Machaut’s poem? Or, as it pretends to be, is it a response in the voice of Charles (either his own words or the poet ventriloquizing for him) to what he sees, with some anger and a palpable desire for revenge, as an injustice that has been visited upon him? This question seems ultimately unanswerable, and perhaps this is precisely its point. Machaut loves metafictional game-playing in his poetry, and this text, whose authorship and place are both indeterminate, naturally emphasizes the “made” nature of the Confort, as it offers yet another text that — like the exempla drawn from the Bible and the stories adapted from the OM — has been made a part of an intricately constructed mélange.

3987 saint Fremi. A shortened, dialectical form of Saint Firmin. Compare Saint Remigius in line 3995. For further information on this saint, see “Saint Firmin,” online at

3995 saint Remi. Remigius is the patron saint of Reims where Machaut was a canon. “Remi” is a shortened, dialectal form of his name. For further information, see the Catholic Encyclopedia, “St. Remigius.”




Abbreviations: A: Paris, BnF, fr. 1584 [base text]; B: Paris, BnF, fr. 1585; C: Paris, BnF, fr. 1586; D: Paris, BnF, fr. 1587; E: Paris, BnF, fr. 9221; F: Paris, BnF, fr. 22545; FP: Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Panciatiachiano 26; G: Paris, BnF, fr. 22546; H: Oeuvres de Guillaume de Machaut, ed. Hœpffner; I: Paris, BnF, n.a.f. 6221; J: Paris, Arsenal 5203; Jp: Le Jardin de Plaisance et Fleur de Rethoricque (Paris: Ant. Gérard, [1501]); K: Berne, Burger-bibliothek 218; Ka: Kassel, Universitätsbibliothek, 4° Ms. Med. 1; M: Paris, BnF, fr. 843; Mn: Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, 10264; P: Paris, BnF, fr. 2166; Pa: Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Fr. 15; Pe: Cambridge, Magdalene College, Pepysian Library, 1594; Pit: Paris, BnF, it. 568; Pm: New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, M. 396; PR: Paris, BnF, n.a.f. 6771; R: Paris, BnF, fr. 2230; Trém: Trémoïlle, Paris, BnF, n.a.f. 23190 [lost]; Vg: Ferrell-Vogue, private ownership of James E. and Elizabeth J. Ferrell; W: Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, 5010 C.

For reasons set out at some length in the General Introduction, this edition takes MS A as an authoritative text for Machaut’s works, including the two dits included in this volume. Because of the unique authority of A, and for the sake of consistency across a complete edition that must depend on the later omnibus MSS for the principal works of the author/composer’s later career, the practice has been to deviate from A’s readings only in clear cases of spelling error, scribal misinterpretation, and omissions, and miswritings of other kinds. Given medieval orthographical practices, which are far from consistent in the modern sense, we are aware that the category “spelling error” is occasionally a matter of interpretation.



Title The principal manuscripts (A, B, F, M) give the title in a rubric: Ci apres commence confort d’amy. The poem is here referred to as Le Confort d’ami, the title by which it has been known to modern scholarship since the nineteenth century.

2 m'lt. So A. This might be a contraction and, though idiosyncratic, not an error. But it could be a spelling error that should be corrected to moult.

12 Pour toy garder. So A. E: De toy garder.

17 a ton fait. So A. E: a mon fait.

21 et. So A. E: omits.

23 scez. So A. H inexplicably reads scay here, though A clearly has scez, a reading well supported by the other manuscripts. His reading has led to a misunderstanding of this famous passage.

24 mieudres. So A. E, J: mendres, which gives reasonable sense, but a less precise indication of the poet’s social class than that of A (well supported by the other manuscripts).

37 commencier. So A. J, L: commencement.

41 Einsi. So A. B, E: eins, also gives satisfactory sense.

45 que amis. So A. H reads qu’amis here without explanation, but the manuscript clearly gives the uncontracted form.

51 l’aimme. So A. M, B, E, J, L: omits l, which gives inferior sense.

57–58 Cils qui tout . . . . et tout pourvoit. These verses are lacking in J.

71 l’Escripture. So A. B, E: omits l. This reading gives satisfactory sense.

93 Nostres Sires. So A. E: Nostre seigneur.

115 Furent puis. So A. B, E, J, L: Furent mis, which also gives satisfactory sense.

128 alee. So A. M: entree.

151 par ta. So A. M: pour ta.

178 Encontre. So A. B, D, E, F, G, J, K, M, P, R: contre. I have retained A’s reading here, even though it is unsupported, because it is satisfactory as far as meter and sense are concerned.

196 esclanche. So A. F, M: esclainche.
ou senestre. So A. B, D, E, F, G, J, K, M, P, R: et sensestre. Both give satisfactory sense.

202 ces. So A. B, D, E, F, G, J, K, M, P, R: ses. This reading should be retained over the other manuscripts’ ses because it is simply a spelling variant of the possessive pronoun.

237 fors. So A. F, M, E, K: fort.

240 enquerismes. So A. F gives enqueismes (or a variant), but with H I read with A here since this form of the verb could hardly be a scribal error.

296 prophetisier. A: prophetiser, a clear error.

312 Helchiel. So A. B, E: Belchiel; K: Balael.

337 entichiés. So A. M, B, E, K, L: entechies.

399 ames. So A. F, M, E, K, L: ame.

430 plus ne n’en. So A. B, E, K: plus ie nen.

435 lions. A: lion, a spelling error since the plural is required.

444 ce a. So A, though H prints the contracted form.

472 Sus. So A. F, M, B, E: Sur.

578 l’ot. So A. B, D, E, F, G, J, K, M, P, R: lost.

635 oÿe. So H. A: oy spoils the rhyme.

646 est. A: est est, a diplography.

655 homs. So A. H reads hons inexplicably (a typographical error?).

670 Tous. A: Tou, a spelling error.

676 païs. So A. H reads servi although A clearly has pais. F, M, B, E, K: servis. Both forms give good meaning.

679 Balthasar. A: barthasar, a spelling error.

695 escrisoit. So A. M, B, E, K: escripsoit.

740 dont. A: don, a spelling and grammatical error.

756 es. So A. F, M, B, K: yes.

763 qu’il. So A. F, M, B, K: qui.

765 ne. So M. F: me makes no sense.

808 tint. A: tin, a spelling error.

830 fis. A: fils, a spelling error.

854 en enfer. A: omits en, a haplography.

872 fiction. So A. F, B: finction; K: fuisson; D: sanz definicion.

917 te moustrë. So A. F, M, B, K: demoustre, which also gives satisfactory sense and meter.

922 de Medee et de Perse. So A. B, D, E, F, G, J, K, M, P, R: de Mede et ceaus de Perse.

951 dist. So A. F, M, K: dit.

964 ses. So A. F, B, K: ces.

976 ses. So A. F, B, K: ces.

990 comme. A: commun, a spelling error.

1002 quelque. So A. F, E: quel estat.

1013 approuva. So A. F reads lapprouvav, which also gives good sense.

1042 haoient. So A. F, M, B, E, K: haioient.

1077 faisoient. So A. F, M, K: haioient.

1093 dist. So A. F, M, B, K: dit.

1108 grosse. A: grousse, a spelling error as confirmed by rhyme.

1181 N’oublie. A: noublia, a spelling error.

1183 aimme. A: aimment, a scribal miscorrection. A singular form is required, as per all other MSS.

1200 son. So H. A: not. H rejects this, which reflects a scribal misreading of the passage.

1203 le chief. So A. F, M, E: les chie(f)s.

1204 ne. So A. F, M, B, K: ni.

1215 sans3. A: sas missing nasal stroke.

1236 vif. So A. F, B, E: vi, also a satisfactory reading.

1256 Tout. So A. F, M, B, K: tous, also a satisfactory reading.

1274 sa. A: et spa makes no sense.

1280 et enserrez. So A. B, E, K: omit et.

1288 cornardie. So A. B: conardie; K: couardie; E: musardie.

1295 il l’a fait. A, F: il a fait, which lacks a pronoun direct object and is likely a spelling error.

1348 applegier. So B, D, E, F, G, J, K, M, P, R. A: appliquer seems a misreading or misinterpretation.

1382 ses. A: tes, a spelling error.

1415 ses. So A. B, D, E, F, G, J, K, M, P, R: les, which is equally possible.

1514 Or. So H. A, F, M, K: O. H’s correction is a better translation of the Scriptural passage.

1520 viltez. So A. F, E, K: vites.

1534 sans. So B, D, E, F, G, J, K, M, P, R. A: omitted.

1565 fiance. A: faence, a spelling error.

1609 et mestre. So B, D, E, F, G, J, K, M, P, R. A omits.

1626 angoisse. So H. A: engroisse, a spelling error.

1716 qu’il ne. So A. F, M, B, E, K: qui ne.

1718 reprouche. So H. A: reproche, a spelling error.

1746 ne si. So A. F, M, B, E, K: et si also gives good sense.

1767 Il ne. So A. B, D, E, F, G, J, K, M, P, R: Nil, which is as satisfactory.

1855 tout par. So A. F: trop par, which is also possible.

1868 roiz. So A. F, M, B, J: roy.

1921 retolt. So A. F, M, B, E, K: retost, a reading that also gives sense. A’s retolt could be a scribal error.

1926 ton. So F. A: son, which is a clear error.

1927 se exente. So A. B, D, E, F, G, J, K, M, P, R have the contracted form sexente.

1929 qui exenter. So A. B, D, E, F, G, J, K, M, P, R have the contracted form quexenter.

1937 Quant aus. So F. A: Quant selle, a diplography that does not give good sense.

1942 Faite. A: Faire, which is a spelling error.

1952 ou d’or. So H. A: d’or.

1955 en porte. So A. B, D, E, F, G, J, K, M, P, R emporte; A’s reading could be a scribal error but it gives good sense.

1965 Fortune nes. So H. A: fortune les, which gives poor sense.

1973 ce, amis. So A. B, D, E, F, G, J, K, M, P, R: camis (the uncontracted form).

1985 vomisse. So F. A: honnisse ou, which is not as accurate a translation of the Biblical passage as that of the other manuscripts.

2024 qu’il. So A. F, M, B, E, K: qui.

2042 De. So A. F, M, B, E, K: Et, which gives equally good sense, making the two infinitives in this line dependent on dois in the line above rather than aviser. A’s reading is perhaps a scribal error.

2052 es. So A. F, B, K: yes.

2057 Et se tu dis. So A. The sentence begun with the conditional clause in this line is never in fact finished even though the reported hypothetical speech extends to line 2102.

2081–82 Desir me fait. . . . . me laisse durer. So H. These lines are reversed in A, a scribal error likely caused by the elaborate word play on the rhyme words.

2122 Combien qu’il. So H. A: que quil, a miswriting.

2166 Seur. So F, M, B, E, K. A: Sur.

2196 et t’aidera. So A. F, B, E, K: et aidera.

2220 ces. So A. F, M, B, E, K: ses.

2236 tuit dous. So A. F, B, E, K: tous dous.

2255 amer si. A: ame si, a spelling error.

2264 sage. A: sge, a spelling error.

2267 sara. So B, D, E, F, G, J, K, M, P, R. A: sera, a spelling error.

2361 Typhoeüs. A: thypheus, a misspelling.

2371 Qu’il. So A. F, M, B, E, K: Qui.

2382 crosle. So A. F, M, K: crole.

2415 turquois. So A. B, E, K: trucois.

2424 fors. So A. F, M, B, E, K: fort.

2463 qui. So A. F, M, B, E, K: que.

2473 hastë. So A. F, M, B, E, K: hasta.

2490 Dyane. So B, D, E, F, J, K, M, P, R. A: leaue.

2611 divin. So A. F, M, B, E, K: devin.

2619 tourblees. So A. B, E, K: troublees.

2658 d’amour. A: donnour for damour, a clear error.

2700 cor. A: corps, a spelling error.

2707 scez. So B, D, E, F, J, K, M, P, R. A: scez tu.

2715 Par. So A. F, M, B, E, K: Quant, which gives inferior sense.

2726 son amy. A: son a amy, a miswriting.

2735 esprise. So A. F, M, K: emprise, which gives equally good sense.

2784 Qu’il. So A. F, M, K: Qui, a reading which is inferior.

2805 Pompee. A: pinpee, a miswriting.

2851 trouvasses. A: trouvassent, a scribal error.

2957 aviaus. A: aveaus, a misspelling.

2986 Qu’onques. A: quonq, a miswriting.

3024 Boselau. So F. A: brelelau, a miswriting based on eyeskip from the previous line.

3034 plus de sis mille. So B, D, E, F, J, K, M, P, R. A repeats en une ville from previous line.

3061 Basenouve. So H. A: basenonne, which makes no sense.

3062 Lendouve. So H. A: Lendonne, a miswriting due to geographical misunderstanding.

3142 mise. So A. F, M, B, K: mes, a clear error.

3161 vueilliez. So A. B, D, E, F, G, J, K, M, P, R: vueilles.

3162 vraiement. So H. A: vraient, a spelling error.

3163 vraiement. So H. A: vraient, a spelling error.

3193 congnoist. A: congnoit, a spelling error.

3195–3202 Qu’en cas qui . . . . honnorable et sage. A difficult passage. I take ceste chose in line 3200 as referring to weeping at misfortune.

3198 faut. A: faus, a spelling error.

3230 nouiaus. So H. A: nouias, a misspelling.

3246 Y. So A. All other manuscripts Il, an equally good reading.

3270 Qu’einsi. A: quinsi, a spelling error.

3296 riens vaille. So A. B, D, E, F, G, J, K, M, P, R: les vaille.

3307 t’amentoy. So A. B, D, E, F, G, J, K, M, P, R: ramentoy, which also gives good sense.

3320 pour toy morte. A: por toute morte, a spelling error.

3341 seürement. A: seurmt, a spelling error.

3496 court. A: cour, a spelling error.

3556 Ja. So A. H: La, which gives an equally good reading.

3634 puissance. So A. H corrects to prudence without explanation.

3665 mie. So F, M, B, E, K. A: omits.

3679 est. So F, M, B, E, K. A: omits.

3714 jusqu’a. A: jusque, a spelling error.

3740 clers. A: cles, a spelling error.

3817 tu les vues. So E, F, K. A: omits les, giving an inferior reading.

3819 N’asservi. A: nasseui, a spelling error.

3920 parfection. A: profection, a spelling error.

3955 cornars. So F, H. A: couars gives possible but inferior sense.

3969 Glurvost. A: gluvost, a spelling error.

3991 qui. A: qiu, a spelling error.

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Amis, a toy donner confort
Ay meintes fois pensé m'lt fort,
Et Diex scet que je le feroie,
Plus que ne di, se je pouoie,
De tres bon cuer et volentiers.
Mais il n’est voie ne sentiers
Qui mon oueil peüst avoier
Que vers toy peüsse envoier.
Nompourquant je commenceray
Et, se Diex plaist, je fineray,
Comment que soies assez sages
Pour toy garder sans mes messages
Et sans mes confors recevoir.
Mais je le fais sans decevoir
Pour t’amour et la ramembrance
Que j’ay toudis de ta grevence.
Et par ma foy, quant a ton fait,
Je croy que tu n’as riens meffait,
Si t’en dois a Dieu conforter
Et tes meschiés plus biau porter.
Sire, et se je t’apelle amy,
N’en aies pieur cuer a my;
Car bien scez que tu yes mes sires,
Et je des mieudres ne des pires
Ne suis, mais sans riens retenir
Sui tiens, quoy qu’il doie avenir.
N’encor pas nommer ne te vueil,
Ne moy aussi jusqu’a mon vueil,
Car je vueil mettre nos .ij. nons
Si proprement que feme ne homs
N’i porra riens oster ne mettre
Que une sillabe et une lettre.
Mais on n’i puet riens adjouster,
Et pour ce les couvient oster.
Si osteras premierement
Une sillabe entierement
Au commencier dou ver onsieme
Et une lettre dou disieme
Pres de la fin; la les saras
Quant .i. petit y museras.
Einsi les met, se Diex m’aïe,
Seulement pour la muserie.
Et sces tu quant on les sara?
“Quant ma dame chevauchera.”
Si que amis, sans riens controuver,
Par exemples te vueil prouver,
Qui sont contenu en la Bible
Et qui sont a nous impossible,
Qu’adés cils qui en Dieu se fie,
S’il a raison de sa partie
Et s’il l’aimme, sert, et honneure,
Adés son fait vient au desseure.
Or commencerai ma matere
En suppliant Dieu nostre pere
Qu’il soit a mon commancement,
Au moien, et au finement.

Cils qui tout scet et qui tout voit,
Q’tout gouverne et tout pourvoit,
Q’ciel et air et terre et mer,
Et quanqu’on scet dedens nommer,
Tout ce qui est, fu, et sera,
Fist tout, et tout ce deffera
A un terme qu’il y a mis,
N’oublie onques ses bons amis,
Eins les conseille et les conforte,
Et joie en misere leur porte
Par mainte diverse maniere,
Et s’aimme d’amour si entiere
Qu’onques a confort ne failli
Qui donna tout son cuer a li.
Prouver le vueil par l’Escripture,
Qui en pluseurs lieus le figure.

Jadis en Babiloinne avoit
.I. homme qui maint bien savoit.
De grans richesses renommés
Estoit: Joachin fu nomez.
Une femme ot en mariage
Qui fu tres bele, bonne, et sage,
Douce, courtoise, et bien aprise
Et duite en la loy de Moÿse.
Susenne avoit a non la dame,
Qui Dieu doubta de cuer et d’ame.

Joachim avoit un vergier
Lés sa maison, qu’onques bergier
Ne fist, car trop fu delitables,
Et a tous fruis de delit ables.
Pour ce a grans tourbes y aloient
Li Juïf et s’i esbatoient.
En celle annee establi furent
.IJ. juge ancien qui se deçurent
Par luxure et par couvoitise,
Qui maint mal engendre et atise,
Des quels Nostres Sires parole,
Et dit einsi en sa parole:
“Des juges Babyloniens
Qui furent vieus et anciens,
Et gouvernoient la cité
Yssue est grant iniquité.”
Cils .ij. la maison frequentoient
De Joachim et la faisoient
Leur edit, leur commandemens,
Leurs consaus et leurs jugemens.
Pour ce a eaus laiens venoient
Tuit cil qui jugement queroient.
Quant li pueples partis s’estoit,
Lors en son vergier s’esbatoit
Susannë avec ces pucelles,
Qui estoient gentes et belles.
Si la veoient ombroier
Tous les jours et esbanoier
Li vieillart plein d’iniquité,
Si qu’en ordure et en vilté,
En ardeur, en concupiscence,
Par desir, par fole plaisence
Furent puis pour l’amour de li,
Tant lor pleü et abelly.
Lors scens et raison oublierent
Et leurs yex en terre clinerent,
Afin que veoir ne peüssent
Le ciel et qu’en leur cuer n’eüssent
Memoire dou souverain juge
Qui fait tout par raison et juge;
Si qu’il visoient sans sejour
Que par .i. couvenable jour
La peüssent seule trouver,
Si qu’on ne peüst riens prouver
De leur fait, ne de leur pensee.
.I. jour estoit Susenne alee
En vergier en tele maniere
Comme elle eu estoit coustumiere,
O .ij. pucelles seulement,
Car en vergier secretement
Pour la chaleur qui grande estoit
Baingnier et laver se voloit.
Si leur dist: “Alez sans targier
Et cloez l’uis de ce vergier,
Et m’aportez oile a mon vueil,
Car laver et baingnier me vueil.”
Li vieillart reponnu s’estoient
Ou vergier, et la la gaitoient
Que seule la peüssent prendre.
Quant seule fu, sans plus attendre,
Ynelement, les saus menus,
En sont a Susanne venus,
Et dirent: “Li vergiers est clos,
N’il n’a creature en cest clos
Qui nous puist veoir n’encuser,
Si ne dois mie refuser
A faire tout nostre plaisir,
Car lieu, temps en as, et loisir.
Car par ta biauté sommes pris
Et de t’amour forment espris.
Fay dont ce que nous requerons.
Se ne le fais, nous te jurons
Que de toy dirons tesmongnage
Au pueple et a tout ton linage
Qu’a toy gisant avons trouvé
.I. jouvencel ci tout prouvé
Et pour l’amour dou bacheler
En feïs tes femmes aler.”

Quant Susanne les entendi,
S’ame et son corps a Dieu rendi;
Fort pleure, gemist, fort se plaint
Et dist, en gettant .i. grant plaint:
“De toutes pars me tient engoisse
Qui mon cuer destreint et engoisse.
Se ce fais, je suis a Dieu morte,
Et, se dou faire me deporte,
De vos mains ne puis eschaper,
Car c’est mie per a per.
Mais miex me vaut en aventure
Estre en vos mains, de pechié pure,
Que par pechié mon Dieu offendre,
S’aim mieus ceste aventure atendre.”
Adont a haute vois s’escrie
Susanne: “Aïe! Aïe! Aïe!”
Et li faus vieillart deputaire
Encontre elle prirent a braire.
Mais pour ceste oueuvre descouvrir
Li uns d’eaus couri l’uis ouvrir.

Quant les gens de l’ostel oïrent
Ceste clamour, tuit y courirent
Pour savoir que ce pooit estre.
Et quant li juge et li faus prestre
Parlerent, chascuns s’esmerveille
Et pleure de ceste merveille,
Car onques mais esté parole
N’avoit d’elle laide ne fole.
L’andemain, devant son mari
Vint li pueples a cuer mari,
Et li .ij. prestre plein d’outrage,
D’inique pensee, et de rage,
Pour mettre Susanne a la mort
Sans conscience et sans remort.
Au pueple dirent li faus prestre,
A droit faire esclanche ou senestre:
“Envoiez nous Susanne querre,
La femme Joachin!” Grant erre
Fu Susanne la amenee,
De tous costez avironnee
De ses parens, de ses amis,
A ces .ij. mortels annemis,
Et aussi devant tout le pueple.
Mais chascuns et chascune pueple
Sa face de larmes piteuses
Pour les nouveles dolereuses,
Car on ne tenoit milleur dame
Ou païs, ne plus preude fame.
Lors li .ij. prestre se leverent
Enmi le pueple et s’aünerent.
Quant Susanne fu la venue,
Chascun d’eaus sa main toute nue
Mist sus la teste de Susanne,
Qui de son cuer efface et planne
Tout pechié, toute villonnie,
Et en Dieu seulement se fie.
Adont deïrent li faus juge
Au pueple: “Ses meffais la juge;
Et nous aussi la jugerons
Selonc ce que nous vous dirons.

Eu vergier, en la pommeroie
Qui a l’ostel Joachin roie,
Nous aliens l’autre jour esbatre,
L’air querir, la rousee abatre.
Susanne eu vergier fu venue,
Qui riens ne sot de no venue;
Avecques li ot .ij. pucelles
Qu’elle en envoia, pour ce qu’elles
Ne veïssent sa lecherie.
Adont issi de la fueillie
Uns jouvenciaus, qu’avons trouvé
Avec li gisant tout prouvé.
Quant nous veïsmes l’avoutyre,
Esmeü fumes et plein d’ire,
Si courismes la pour lui prendre.
Mais bien se sot de nous deffendre,
Car plus fors fu, si s’en fuï,
Quant il nous perçut et oÿ,
Par le postis. Pour ce preïsmes
Susenne et moult li enquerismes
Qui estoit le juene vallet.
Mais ce moult petit nous valet,
Car onques ne le nous volt dire.
Ce meffait et cest avoutire,
Si com nous l’avons recité,
Vous tesmongnons en verité.”
Li pueples qui la venus yere
A eaus ajousta foy planiere,
Car li jugë encien furent,
Pour ce li pueples les creürent,
Et Susanne a mort condampnerent,
Qu’autrement dou fait n’enquesterent.

Quant Susanne son jugement
Vit, et sa mort apertement,
A haute vois, sans detrier,
Les mains jointes, prist a crier:
“Sire Diex, qui es pardurables,
Justes juges et raisonnables,
Tu scez les choses reponnues,
Les alees et les venues;
Tu congnois des cuers les pensees,
Einsois qu’elles soient pensees.
Tu scez tout einsois qu’il soit fait.
Tu scez que je n’ay riens meffait
Et que malicieusement
Ont tesmongnié et faussement
Li faus juge qui m’ont jugie,
Par qui le corps pers et la vie.
Dous sires, qui tout scez et vois,
Oy ma priere, enten ma vois,
Qu’en toy est toute m’esperence,
Mon cuer, m’amour, et ma fience.”

Diex li peres ne voloit mie
Oublier sa serve et s’amie
Endurer, voloir, ne souffrir
Son corps a tel martyre offrir
Sans raison nulle et sans desserte;
Eins fist pour li miracle aperte,
Et de fait oÿ sa priere,
De cuer faite et d’amour entiere.
Car einsi comme on la menoit
A sa mort, li pueples venoit
Veoir la dure destinee
De la lasse desconfortee.
En la tourbe avoit une fame,
Dont le nom ne say, ne la fame,
Qui .i. juene enfançon portoit,
Et au porter se deportoit,
Qu’aler ne parler ne savoit
Pour la juenesse qu’il avoit.
Daniel ot nom l’enfançon,
Si com tesmongne la leçon.
Mais Diex li donna la puissance
D’aler et de parler, scïence,
Congnoissance, et entendement
De prophetisier tellement
Que la verité fu sceüe
Des faus prestres et congneüe.
Lors cria haut a sa vois clere
L’enfant entre les bras sa mere,
Si que li pueples et li mundes
L’entendi: “Je suis purs et mundes
Dou sanc de ceste creature.”
A dire est, selonc l’Escripture:
“Je n’ay en sa mort nulle courpe,
Pour ce devant tous m’en descourpe.”

Li pueples adont a li vint,
Ci .i., ci .ij., ci .x., ci .xx.,
Et li dist: “Qu’est ce que tu dis?”
Il respont: “Fols et arrudis
Estes, li enfant d’Israhel
Qui la fille de Helchiel
Sans congnoistre la verité,
Raison, justice, n’equité,
Avez a la mort condampné.
Retournez, car li faus dampné
Sont et ont porté faus tesmong.
Dieus le scet, et je le tesmong.”
Adont li pueples retourna
Tantost et petit sojourna.
Pour miex savoir la verité,
Li preudome de la cité,
Quant au lieu de conseil venirent,
A l’enfant doucement deïrent:
“Vien sa aveques nous seoir,
Car Dieus donner et pourveoir
T’a volu l’onneur de vieillesse.”
Daniel en mi eaus se dresse
Et dist: “La verité sarez!

L’un long de l’autre separez.”
Et tantost on les separa.
Grant honneur a ce cop ara,
S’il fait que la verité pere
Par la vertu de Dieu le pere.

Daniel hucha l’un des juges
Et dist: “Tu qui faussement juges,
Envieillis yes et entichiés
De mauvais jours plains de pechiés
Qui devant le pueple apparront.
T’ame et tes corps le comparront,
Pour ce qu’as jugié faussement
Maint preudomme et maint jugement.
Car les innocens opprimoies
Et les courpables delivroies,
Et Diex dit qu’on n’ocie mie
L’innocent et juste de vie.
Mais di moy, quant tu la preïs,
Sous quel arbre tu les veïs
Parler ensamble et consillier.”
Cils respont: “Dessous .i. yllier.”
“Certes, tu mens parmi ta teste!
Et vesci la sentence preste
De l’angle de Dieu, qui par mi
Copera ton corps tout par mi.”
Oster le fist; l’autre appella,
Et par tel guise l’aparla:

“Tu qui donnes fausse sentence,
Tu es issus de la semence
De Chanaam, qui fu maudite
Pour ce qu’en li tous maus habite.
Tu n’ies pas de la bonne ligne
De Juda, qui droit regle et ligne,
Et qui fu de Dieu beneoite
Pour ce qu’elle estoit juste et droite.
Biauté t’a pris et deceü,
Et concupiscence esmeü,
Et ton cuer ont si retourné
Qu’a tous maus faire t’ont tourné
Quant a tort Susanne jugas.
Mais saches que plus droit juge as.
Einsi avez vous fait des filles
D’Israhel, par voies soutilles
Que par cremeur et par manasses
Les honnissiés. Helas! Les lasses
Se metoient a vos cordelles
Par cremeur, non par l’acort d’elles.
Mais Susanne, de Juda fille,
Vostre iniquité orde et ville
Ne volt soustenir ne veoir,
Car miex ama estre et cheoir
En vos mains et la mort attendre
Que Dieu son createur offendre.
Mais di sous quel arbre il estoient
Quant veïs qu’ensamble parloient.”
Cils respont: “Sous .i. lentillier.”
“Tu mens, voir! Pour ce apparillier
Voy l’angle de Dieu sans doubtance
Qui tient l’espee de vengence
Dont en .ij. pars te partira,
Ne jamais ne se partira,
Se soiez vous mors et peris
En biens, en corps, en esperis.”
Adont toute la compaignie
Qui estoit la acompaignie
A moult haute vois s’escria:
“He Diex! Quel miracle ci a!”
Se prirent Dieu a mercier,
A loer, a glorefier,
Qui biens et corps et ames garde
A tous ceuls qui sont en sa garde,
Et qui en li ont leur fiance,
Vraie, ferme, et bonne esperence.
Adont li pueples se dressa
Et aus .ij. prestres s’adressa,
Qui atains dou faus tesmognage
Furent par Daniel le sage,
Car de leur bouche le congnurent,
Et pour ce a mort condampné furent,
Et jugié selonc le meffait
Qu’il avoient des dames fait.

Einsi fu Susenne sauvee
Et sans courpe a ce jour trouvee,
Et tout par la vertu divine,
Qui tout malice veint et mine.
Dou Latin ou je l’ay veü
L’ay mis si pres com j’ay peü.
Si qu’amis, tu te dois mirer
En cest exemple et remirer
Com Susanne fu accusee
Et comme elle fu delivree;
N’autre remede n’i savoit
Fors qu’en Dieu s’esperence avoit.
Et vraiement, se t’esperence
Est ferme en li, n’aies doubtance
Qu’en tous cas te confortera
Et que toudis te gardera.

Et s’on me voloit demander,
Ou supplier, ou commander,
Qui fu cest enfant Daniel,
Je n’en say plus, ne n’en di el
Fors tant que pluseur docteur dient,
Qui en l’Escripture estudient
Diligemment, que ce est cil
Qui, pour son corps mettre a essil,
Fu mis avecques les lions,
Et aussi que ce est li homs
Qui maintes fois prophetisa
Et qui le songe devisa
Dou roy Nabugodonosor,
Qui pour avoir, ne pour tresor,
Ne pour riens que faire peüst
N’ot qui deviser li sceüst
Fors Daniel mais son propos
Li dist. Pour ce a parler propos
De sa vie et de sa maniere
Pour continuer ma matiere.
Mais ne vueil pas dire le songe
Qui fu exposez sans mansonge,
Car trop longue chose seroit
Qui en rime le metteroit.

Quant Nabugodonosor sot
Tout son songe, pour .i. ort sot
Tint le plus sage et le plus mestre
Qui en son païs peüst estre
Contre Daniel le prophete,
Et long de li tous autres gette
Pour Daniel qu’il aimme et prise,
Et fait faire honneur et servise.
Adont li rois moult honnoura
Daniel et si l’aoura,
Et li fist faire pour son scens
Sacrefice d’oiste et d’encens.
Puis dist li rois a Daniel:
“Vostres Diex, li Dieus d’Israel,
Est diex des diex, sires et peres
Des rois, revelans les misteres
Et les choses que nuls savoir,
Ne puet pour scens, ne pour avoir.”
Li rois riches dons li donna
Et maistre et signeur l’ordonna,
Et fist de toutes les provinces
Sus les sages et sus les princes
De son païs de Babiloine.
Adont Daniel sans essoine,
Pour bien et par le gré dou roy,
Pour gouverner de bon arroy
Les provinces y mist Sydrac,
Et Abdenago, et Misac;
Et Daniel faisoit demeure
Avecques le roy a toute heure.

Le roy Nabugodonosor
Fist faire une estature d’or
Qui ot .vj. queudes de largesse
Et .xl. en ot de hautesse.
L’estature que ci devis
Fu grande de corps et de vis,
Bien fu faite et bien composee.
En champ de Durain fu posee
Par grant mistere et grant estude.
Li rois manda grant multitude
Des princes et des gouverneurs
De son païs, grans et meneurs.
Princes, juges, dus, et tirans
Furent tuit celle part tirans.
La vint toute la region
Pour vir la dedication
De l’estature et aourer,
Car nuls n’en osse demourer.
Aprés fist li rois .i. edit
Qui pronunça au pueple et dit:
“Si tost que vous orrez sonner
Nos instrumens et resonner:
La trompe, le fretel, la harpe,
Qui doucement fretele et harpe,
La douceur de la symphonie,
Et la tres douce melodie
De tous les genres de musique,
N’i ait celui qui ne s’aplique
Pour aourer l’idole d’or.
Et se vous commandons encor
Que chascuns a terre s’estende
Et honneur et gloire li rende.

S’il y a si fol, ne si fole
Qui einsi n’aoure l’idole,
Nous commandons que sans atendre
Il soit bruïs et ars en cendre
Et gettez en l’ardant fournoise.”
Quant li pueples entent et poise
Le commandement et l’edit,
Chascuns le fist sans contredit,
Car chascuns l’ydole aoura
A son pooir et honnoura.

Renommee, qui partout court
Et qui s’espant en mainte court,
Dist a Nabugodonosor:
“Rois, en ton païs a encor
Pluseurs qui d’aourer n’ont cure
L’idole d’or et l’estature,
Et qui font contre ton decré
Tout en appert, non en secré.”
Il demanda qui il estoient,
Et on li dist que “Ce faisoient
Sidrac qu’on dit Ananias,
Abdenago Azarias,
Aveques Misac Misaël,
Qui par Balthasar Daniel
Sont sus les princes et les oeuvres
De ton païs. Se ne descuevres
Et mes a clarté ceste injure,
Ton edit et ton estature
Ne seront prisié une maille.”
Li rois commanda qu’on les aille
Tantost querre, et on li ameinne,
Si leur dist: “Quel rage vous meinne
A faire contre m’ordenence
Qu’onneur faire, ne reverence
Ne daingniez a l’image d’or?
Briefment, se je veil ou je dor,
Sarez, se vous ne l’aourez,
Qu’ars, mors, bruïs, et devourez
Serez tantost en l’ardant flame
De la fournaise qui fort flame,
N’il n’est diex qui ait tel poissance
Q’de ceste mortel sentence
Vous peüst garder ne deffendre.”
Lors respondirent sans attendre:
“Rois, nous volons bien que tu saches
Que nous ne doubtons tes menaces,
Toy, ne tes diex, ne ta fournaise
Ardant une seule framboise,
Et que tes diex n’aourons mie,
Car nous avons dieu qui la vie,
L’ame, et le corps nous gardera
En ton feu, quant plus ardera.”

Li rois fu pleins de dueil et d’ire
Quant einsi s’oÿ contredire,
Ses diex blasmer et desprisier
Et son pooir petit prisier.
Lors commanda qu’on empreïst
La fournaise et qu’on y feïst
Le feu plus grant qu’on ne soloit
.VIJ. fois, car einsi le voloit.
La fournaise fu eschaufee
Et si durement enflamee
Que la hautesse de la flame
Quarante nuef queudes haut flame.
Des plus tres fors homes qu’il ot
Manda li rois et enmi l’ot
Commanda les trois Juïs prendre
Pour ardoir et brüir en cendre;
Et si leur fist sans detrier
Li piez et les jambes lier
Et eaus geter dedens le fu,
Qui fu tels qu’onques tels ne fu,
Car pluseurs Caldez qui la furent
De la flame dou feu mourent.
Mais li feus qui tout art et robe
N’empira le corps, ne la robe
Des Juïs qui furent enmi
L’ardant feu et de Dieu ami,
Nés .i. seul cheveu de leur teste,
Eins demenoient joie et feste
Sans sentir le chaut, ne l’odour
Dou feu, ne de sa grant ardour.
Dedens la flame benissoient
A haute vois Dieu et looient,
Chascuns par lui et tous ensamble.
.I. angle y avoit, ce me samble,
Q’pardessus le feu ambloit
Et fil de Dieu estre sambloit.
Pour conforter les jouvenciaus
L’avoit Dieus envoié des ceaus,
Si que si bien les conforta
En tel confort leur aporta
Que la flame et le feu estaindre
Fist tout, et la chaleur remaindre,
Et d’un vent dous et convenable
A tout corps humain, delitable,
Plein de plaisence et de tout aise,
Atempra l’angle la fournaise
Par si noble condition
Qu’onques n’i ot corruption.
La chanterent une löange
De Dieu le pere avec l’ange
Qu’on claime “Benedicité.”
On l’a maintes fois recité
Et encor recite on souvent
A matines en maint couvent.

Quant la löange fu fenie,
Li rois et moult grant compaingnie
A la fournaise s’en alerent,
Si veïrent et resgarderent
.IIIJ. personnes qui estoient
Sain et entier et se jouoient.
Li quars, qui en milieu estoit,
Angles de Dieu le pere estoit,
Qu’envoié avoit et tramis
Pour reconforter ses amis.
N’il ne paroit coulour ne trace
En la fournaise, n’en la place
Dou feu, car il estoit estains
Qui si mervilleus estoit ains.

Quant le miracle et la merveille
Vit li rois, forment s’esmerveille
Si dist hautement en oÿe:
“Misaël, et vous Azarie,
Il n’est plus de diex vraiement
Que le vostre qui telement
Vous a garenti et sauvé.
Venez, car vous estes sauvé.”
Lors les prist et les en mena
Et milleur estat leur donna
Qu’il n’avoient onques heü,
Einsi comme je l’ay leü
Et que trouvé l’ay en escript
En la Bible ou il est escript.

Einsi cil qui furent livré
A la mort furent delivré
Par la vertu nostre signeur.
Pour ce li grant et li meneur
Doivent en li prendre confort,
Car nuls n’a si grant desconfort,
Se son cuer et s’amour li porte
Et donne, qu’il ne le conforte,
N’avoir ne puet homs confort tels
Com d’estre de li confortés.
Si qu’amis, se ton cuer li portes
Et en s’amour te reconfortes,
Saches qu’envers tous t’aidera,
Confortera, et portera.

Encor vueil .i. exemple mettre
Q’est vrais, et selonc la lettre:
Li rois Nabugodonosor
Prist les vaissiaus et le tresor
Dou temple de Jherusalem,
Dont s’ame fu mise en mal an.
Balthasar, ses fils, tint son regne
Aprés li, qui fierement regne,
Car il estoit poissans et riches,
Tous autres ne prisoit .ij. miches.

Balthasar une court planiere
Tint .i. jour, ou mainte maniere
Avoit des gens de son païs,
Car c’estoit leur sires naïs,
Et pour ce vinrent plus de mil.
Ne furent pas païs de mil,
Mais de bon vin et de viande,
Selonc ce qu’apetis demande.
Balthasar, pour lui deporter,
Fist les vaissiaus d’or aporter
Qu’en temple en Jherusalem prist
Ses peres; mais trop mal l’emprist,
Qu’il y buvoit, et ses roïnes,
Ses femmes et ses concubines,
Et grant partie de leur gent.
Lors diex orent d’or et d’argent,
D’arein et de pierre et de fust.
N’i avoit dieu qui la ne fust
Glorefiez et aourez,
Servis, loëz, et honnourez.
Et Diex li moustra clerement
Que c’estoit a son dampnement,
Qu’einsi comme au mengier seoit,
Balthasar une main veoit
Qui escrisoit en la paroit;
Mais la main a nul n’apparoit
Fors a Balthasar seulement.
Et se l’Escripture ne ment
Ou je l’ay veü en escript,
La main en la paroit escript
Ces mos: “Mane thechel pharés.”
Mais se cheüs en .i. marés
Fust Balthasar jusqu’au braier,
Ne se peüst tant esmaier
Com de la main qu’il a veü.
Car puis n’a mengié ne beü,
Eins li fremissent tuit li membre
Toutes les fois qu’il se remembre
De la main, et li corps li tramble
Plus que ne fait la fueille en tramble.
Si que tantost envoia querre
Tous les plus sages de sa terre,
Si leur dist, quant furent venu,
Tout ce qui estoit avenu,
Comment il vit la main escrire.
Et qui sara la lettre lire
Et dire l’exposition
Clerement, sans deception,
Ses dieus et ses deesses jure
Qu’il ara riche vesteüre
De pourpre: “Aprés moy et mon hoïr,
De mon regne, de mon avoir
Sera li tiers toute sa vie,
Et ma grace ara sans partie.”
Mais ni ot homme, tant fust sages,
Qui sceüst lire, nés q’uns pages,
La lettre, ne qui la substance
Peüst dire, ne la sentence.

La roïne oÿ la nouvelle,
Qui ne li fu bonne ne belle.
Au roy s’en vint grant aleüre,
Qui pensoit fort a l’escripture,
Et lors li dist moult hautement:
“Bons roys, vif pardurablement!
Tu ne dois mie einsi penser.
Lay ton muser, lay ton penser,
Car il a .i. homme en Caldee
Par qui tu saras ta pensee.
Il ha la scïence des diex,
Si te dira dont vient tes diex
Et de la main la vision
Toute, et la declaration.
Ce est Balthasar Daniel.
Trop a le scens cler et inel,
Et en la transmigration
Vint estre en ceste region.”
Li rois fist un commandement
Qu’on l’alast querre inellement,
Et l’on l’ala tantost querir
Pour demander et enquerir
S’il saroit sorre la demande
Q’li rois enquiert et demande.

Daniel vint devant le roi,
Qui li dist par moult bel arroy:
“Daniel, enten ma pensee;
Tu es des enfans de Judee
Que mes peres amena ça
Quant il les prist et menassa
De mort se ses diex n’aouroient
Et se leur Dieu ne renioient.
On dit que tu as la scïence
Des haus diex et la sapïence,
Et qu’il n’est chose si secrete
Que par voie sage et discrete
Tu ne saches la verité.
En Babyloinne la cité,
N’en mon regne, n’en mon empire
N’a homme qui me sache dire
La sentence de cest escript
Qu’est en ceste paroit escript,
Que une main qui s’esvanuï
De mes yex et qui s’en fuï
Y vint en ma presence mettre.
Se la substance de la lettre
Me dis, robe de pourpre aras,
Et avec ce li tiers seras
De mon empire et de mon regne.
Dont je suis rois et ou je regne.”

Quant li rois ot dit sa parole,
Daniel einsi l’aparole:
“Rois, de tes dons ne de ta terre
N’ay cure; mais de ce qui serre
Ton cuer en grief pensee obscure
Te dirai la verité pure.

Diex qui est rois et qui est sires
Des rois, des regnes, des empires,
Regne, magnificence, et gloire,
Richesse, puisssance, et victoire
Donna a ton pere jadis.
Mais ne volt autre paradis
Qu’estre en ceste magnificence.
Tant avoit richesse et puissance,
Terres, fiez, honneur, et avoir
Que trop estoit de tant avoir.
Pour ce li pueple l’aouroient
Et toutes langues le doubtoient.
Tous ceus qu’il voloit eslever,
Nuls homs ne leur pooit grever.
Ceaus qu’il voloit humelier,
Il les metoit au pain prier,
Et ceaus qu’il haoit jusqu’a mort,
Il estoient en l’eure mort.
Quant il se vit en si haut point,
Orgueil, qui ne scet faire a point,
En son cuer se mist et bouta,
Et telement le debouta
Qu’il perdi sa gloire et son regne,
N’orgueil n’i tint regle ne regne.
De tous hommes fu deboutez
Pour l’orgueil ou il fu boutez,
Et parmi champs, parmi boscages
Fu mis o les bestes sauvages.
La fu son habitation
Maint jour, et pour refection
Toutes les fois qu’il avoit fain,
Aussi comme .i. buef mengoit fain.
Sa char souvent de la rousee
Fu, qui vient dou ciel, arousee.
En ce point fu lonc temps tes peres,
Qui estoit rois et empereres,
Jusqu’atant qu’il ot congnoissance
De la souvereinne puissance
Dou vray Dieu, qui est imortels
Et qui puet aus hommes mortels
Donner roiaumes et empires,
Et tollir com souverains sires,
Et donner richesse ou poverte
A chascun, selonc sa desserte.
Balthasar, tu qui es ses fils,
N’as pas ton cuer, j’en sui tous fis,
Encliné et humilié
Humblement, et amolié
Vers le souverein roy celestre,
Qui est dou ciel seigneur, et mestre
De l’air, de la mer, de la terre,
Et de quanque la nue enserre.
Einsois as pris les vaissiaus d’or
Que prist Nabugodonosor
En son temple, et si ont beü
Tant que tuit en sont embeü,
Ti consillier, tes concubines,
Ti serf, ti vallet, tes meschines.
Ce dieu n’as pas fait honnourer,
Eins as fait les tiens aourer,
Qui sont d’argent, d’or, et de queuvre,
De fer, de fust, de pierre, et de ouevre
Faite d’umainne creature.
C’est ouevre qui mult petit dure,
Qu’il n’oient, ne voient, n’entendent,
Ne parole a homme ne rendent.
Car vie n’ont, ne sentement,
Ne membre qui ait mouvement.
Si que tu es trop deceüs,
Et en enfer dou ciel cheüs,
Pour ce que li diex de nature
Qui crea toute creature
N’as servi, chieri, ne amé
Com ton vray dieu et reclamé.
Si que je te diray l’escript
Qui est en la paroit escript
Avec la main qui l’a escript,
Dont tu vues savoir le descript.
Et je le te diray par ordre
Si qu’il n’i ara que remordre.

Roys, se j’ay bien retenu,
En l’escripture a contenu
Trois mos: “Mane thechel pharés.”
Ne sont pas mos de cabarés,
Car chascuns mos porte sa glose
Grant et fiere, qui bien la glose.
Si que la declaration
Saras, sans nulle fiction.

Li Dieu qui point ne faut ne ment,
Qui n’a fin ne commancement,
Qui est fermes, justes, estables,
Regnans sans fin et pardurables,
Ha veü et congnut les ouevres
De quoy tu as ouvré et ouevres.
Or te diray sans plus attendre
Comment tu dois ‘mane’ entendre.

‘Mane,’ c’est proprement a dire
Que ton roiaume et ton empire
Ha Diex nombré et acompli,
Et si l’a conclus en tel pli
Que jamais il ne croistera,
Mais toudis amenuisera,
Qu’il est en son plus haut sommet.
Se tu m’entens bien, il sommet
Ton corps, ton honneur, ta puissance,
Ta gloire, ta magnificence,
Ton roiaume, ta dignité,
Et toute ta felicité
A mort et a destruction,
Pour ce qu’as fait oblation
Aus ydoles et sacrefice,
Et as laissié si digne office
Com d’aourer le roy celestre,
Qui ton pere fist le feinc pestre.
Tout ce verras isnellement
Parfait, se Daniel ne ment.

‘Thechel’ te moustre et signefie
Pour ta desordenee vie
Que ton roiaume et ta puissance
Ha Diex mis en une balance.
Mais la balance juste et fine
Clerement moustre et determine
Q’tu es cils qui meins y a
Pour l’orgueil qui te conchia
Et conchie de jour en jour
Quant en toy fait si lone sejour,
Qui ne puet nullement souffrir
Que tu ailles ton cuer offrir
Au vray dieu qui fist tout le monde;
Si en morras de mort seconde,
Car l’ame et le corps perderas,
Et l’avoir — einsi fineras.

‘Pharés’ te moustrë a la lettre
— Car je n’i vueil oster ne mettre —
Une chose qui est moult dure
Et qui te sera moult obscure,
Moult anuieuse et moult diverse:
Qu’a ceaus de Medee et de Perse
Sera devisés tes royaumes,
Se c’estoit fins ors ou fins baumes,
S’en ara chascuns sa partie,
Si en perdras la signourie,
Ame, corps, et avoir ensamble.
Or t’ay devisé, ce me samble,
De la main et de l’escripture
Clerement la verité pure.
Mais des .iij. mos l’entention
Tent a une conclusion.”

Quant li rois oÿ la parole,
Il ne la tint pas pour frivole,
Eins li sambla moult mervilleuse,
Moult diverse et moult perilleuse.
Mais nompourquant il commanda
A ses menistres, qu’il manda,
Que une robe ait d’or et de pourpre
Daniel a li toute propre,
Et qu’a la guise de Caldee
Soit la tortice d’or formee
En son col, et qu’il soit li tiers
De son regne. Moult volentiers
Feïrent son commandement,
Mais ne vesqui pas longuement
Balthasar, car il fu tués
Celle nuit et envers rués,
Dont li pueples moult se merveille,
Et se seingne de la merveille
Et dist, n’i a ne ce ne el.
Chascuns voit bien que Daniel
Porte la scïence divine
En son cuer et en sa poitrine.

Aprés ce roy Daires regna,
Qui Daniel en son regne a
Moult amé et moult tenu chier.
Mais par envie trebuchier
Le vorrent li prince et li conte,
Si com la Bible le raconte,
Pour ce qu’il pooit commander
Seur eaus et leurs fais amender,
Car li roys Daires a mandé
Tous ses princes et commandé,
Et aussi a tous ses menistres,
Quels nons qu’il aient ou quels titres,
Q’chascuns d’eaus seur grant amende
A Daniel le compte rende
De sa recepte et de son fait,
Qu’einsi li plaist; et il l’ont fait.
Et encor fu l’entention
Dou roy que domination
Heüst dessus tout son païs,
Dont il fu des princes haïs.
Mais Diex li peres le menoit
En tous ses fais, et soustenoit,
Si que li prince et li satrape
Par pure envie, qui atrape
Maint cuer, quirent occasion
Pour mener a destruction
Daniel, mais il virent bien
Qu’il avoit en li tant de bien
Q’jamais en li ne trouvassent
Chose dont mauvais le prouvassent.
Si s’avisierent d’un malice
Pour li oster de son office
Et pour sa mort, que sans deloy
Il le penroient en sa loy,
Si que d’assentement commun
Tuit furent en acort comme un,
Princes, satrapes, senatours,
Menistres, juges, et centours,
D’un edit faire et .i. decret,
Tout en appert, non en secret,
Que quicunques petition,
Sacrefice, ou oblation
Jusqu’a .xxx. jours, c’est la somme,
A quelque dieu ou a quelque homme
Fera, qu’a Daire seulement,
Qu’il soit getés isnellement
Ou mis en la fosse aus lions,
De quelque estat que soit li hons,
Pour li faire, sans demourer,
Morir a honte et devourer.
Lors vinrent tuit en grant arroy,
Tous ensamble devant le roy,
Si li conterent l’ordenance
Qu’orent fait en sa reverence,
En li priant qu’il y meïst
Son decret et qu’il le feïst
Publier parmi son empire.
Li rois liement, sans plus dire,
Le conferma et approuva,
Mais moult tost message trouva
Pour aler en Perse et en Mede
Publier que sans nul remede
Qu’eu lac o les lions sauvages,
Quels qu’il soit, soit sires ou pages,
Sera cils qui trespassera
L’edit doy roy ou brisera.
Daniel, qui bien sot l’edit,
N’i opposa ne contredit,
Eins s’en ala en son ostel,
Et si vit bien qu’il n’i ot tel
Com d’avoir parfaite fiance
En vray Dieu et bonne esperence.
Si entra en son oratoire
Pour le souverain Dieu de gloire
Aourer, loer, et prier,
Ne riens nel peüst detrier
Qu’a genous trois fois la journee
Ne fust s’orison presentee
A Dieu, qui deffent et qui garde
De tous ceaus qu’il prent en sa garde.
Si tourna son cuer et sa face
Vers le souverain Dieu de grace
Et par devers Jherusalem.
Mais il fust entrez en mal an
Se Dieus ne l’eüst secouru,
Car si anemi acouru.
Y sont pluseurs qui le gaitoient
Et qui mortelment le haoient,
Si virent par une fenestre
Qu’il aouroit le Dieu celestre.
Et tantost sont au roy venus,
Et dirent: “Rois, tu es tenus
A garder raison et justisse,
Et que ton edit ne perisse.
Tu as par ton païs mandé
Et seur la vie commandé
Qu’il ne soit homs, tant ait hautesse,
Qui aoure dieu ne deesse,
Ne homme nul fors toy seulement
Jusqu’a .xxx. jours.” “Vraiement,
C’est verité,” ce respont Daire.
“Homs ne doit faire le contraire.”

Lors respondirent li tirans,
A la mort Daniel tirans:
“Rois, or saches certeinnement
Que Daniel communement
Aoure son dieu a genous
.IIJ. fois le jour. Chascuns de nous
Le scet, l’a veü, l’a prouvé,
Et tantost li avons trouvé,
Et nous t’en portons tesmognage
De ce despit, de cest outrage,
Qu’a ta loy nulle riens n’aconte,
Et si vous fait despit et honte.”
Quant Daires oÿ la nouvelle,
Et vit que ceint d’une cordelle
Furent li prince de Caldee,
Il cheï en moult grief pensee
Et fu courreciés durement,
Car Daniel amoit forment,
Si prist a penser qu’il feroit
Et comment il li aideroit,
Car bien perçut qu’il le faisoient
Par envie et qu’il le haoient.
Mais li prince et li cenatour,
Et ceuls qui estoient entour,
Dirent au roy: “Tu ne dois mie
Estre pour ce en merencolie,
Car trop seroit chose diverse
Se la loy de Mede et de Perse
Estoit pour .i. seul homme enfreinte;
Grant perte seroit et grant pleinte.”
Li rois dist: “Veingne Daniel
Et soit mis en lac; y m’est bel.”

Daniel fu mandés et vint.
Adont le prirent plus de vint
Pour mettre en la fosse crueuse.
Et li rois, a chiere piteuse,
Li dist: “Daniel, biaus amis,
En lac des lions seras mis;
Sergens de Dieu, pren bon espoir
En ton dieu, car par li j’espoir
Que chascuns clerement verra
Qu’a joie te delivera.”
Adont fu une pierre ostee,
Qui moult estoit pesant et lee,
Si le mirent sans demourer
Pour li mengier et devourer,
Comme l’aingnel entre les leus,
Avec les lions familleus.
Daires commanda qu’on preïst
La pierre et qu’on la remeïst
Dessus l’entree de la fosse.
Car il vuet savoir, qui qu’en grosse,
Et veoir que ce devenra,
Et quel fin la chose penra.
Si seela de son anel,
La pierre moult bien et moult bel.
Aussi firent si consillier.
Mais ne s’en doit nuls mervillier
Qu’il ne voloit qu’on li peüst
Meffaire qu’il ne le sceüst.
Si s’en part, Daniel demeure.
Mais chascuns des lions l’onneure
Et li fait feste et reverence,
Sans moleste, sans violence.
La fu .vj. jours, que creature
Pain, ne vin, ne autre pasture
Ne li donna, n’aus .vij. lions,
Plus familleus qu’alerions,
Ne fu riens donné la journee
Par quoy sa char fust devouree.
Et si leur donnoit on sans faille
Tous les jours .ij. pieces d’aumaille,
Et .ij. moutons pour eaus repaistre,
Mais ce jour n’orent point de maistre.

Un prophete avoit en Judee,
Abacuc, qui, une journee,
Avoit fait viande en .i. pot
D’orve et de lait au miex qu’il pot,
S’avoit dou pain en sa louvette,
Et de l’iaue en une cruchette
Pour porter ceaus qui labouroient
Aus champs pour moissons q’estoient.
Quant au champs fu, bonne encontre a
Encontré, car il encontra
L’angle dou haut Dieu souverain,
Qui li dist au mot premerain:
“Abacuc, li grans Dieus te mande
Que tu portes ceste viande
A Daniel en Babiloine.
N’i quier eslonge ne essoine,
Qu’il est mis eu lac aus lions
Par mauvaises detractions.”
Quant son parler ot assevi,
Abacuc dist: “Onques ne vi
Babiloine, et le lac ne say;
N’onques vers la ne m’adressay.”
Adont li angles, sans attendre,
L’ala parmi les cheveus prendre
Et le porta, c’est verité,
En Babiloinne la cité,

Et le mist droit dessus le lieu
Ou Daniel fu en milieu
Des .vij. lions qui desiroient
A mengier, car grant fain avoient.
Quant Abacuc fu mis a terre,
Dou lac ne brisa huis ne serre,
Aussi n’i mist il nulle peinne,
Einsois hucha a longue alainne:
“O Daniel, de Dieu sergens,
Que seur tout doivent amer gens,
Pren le mengier que Diex t’envoie.
Conforte toy et meinne joie;
Car li sires qu’onques n’oubli,
Ne t’a mie mis en oubli.
Ren au grant Dieu grace et löange,
Qui aporté ci par son ange
M’a en brief temps de longue voie.
Si desir moult que je te voie.
Lieve sus et pren le mengier
Qu’ay fait et que tu dois mengier.”

Quant Daniel parler l’oÿ,
Moult durement se resjoÿ
Et dist: “Voirement, li vrais Diex
Qu’est rois des rois et Diex des diex
N’oublie onques ses bons amis;
De moult long m’a secours tramis;
Les bons aimme qui le mal fuient,
Et ceaus secourt qu’a li s’apuient.”
Daniel se mist en estant,
Et si menja de ce més tant
Qu’il fu saous et repeüs,
Et de l’amour Dieu embeüs.
Ce fait, li angles reporta
Abacuc que la aporta,
Et le mist en la propre place
Ou pris l’avoit en po d’espace.

Au jour, li rois Daires
Volt savoir comment li affaires
De Daniel s’estoit portés,
Car moult estoit desconfortés
De son mal et de sa grevence,
Car paour avoit et doubtance
Qu’il ne fust mort et devouré
Pour son dieu qu’il ot aouré.
Lors Daires le lac entrouvri
Et vit que Daniel couvri
De ses mains le chief des lions.
Mais il n’estoit femme ne homs
Qui veïst onques Daniel
En milleur point, ne en plus bel.
Et li rois Daires, qui veoit
Daniel, qui la se seoit
Entre les bestes perilleuses,
Felonnesses et orguilleuses,
Qui n’orent mengié ne beü
D’un jour, que riens n’orent eü,
Et qu’il avoit .vij. jours esté
Dedens le lac en jours d’esté,
Sans pain, sans vin, et sans pasture
Qu’avoir peüst de creature,
Et qu’il ot santé aussi bonne
Ou mieudre assés qu’autre personne,
A haute vois cria et dit,
Contre sa loy et son edit:
“Il n’est plus de dieu vraiement
Que le Daniel seulement,
Qui l’a geté sain et en vie
Dou lac ou mis fu par envie.”

Li rois le fist tirer amont
Sans delay, qu’i desira mont
Li veoir et parler a li.
Mais n’avoit pas le vis pali
Pour ordure, ne pour puour,
Pour jeüne, ne pour paour.
Daires, qui l’amoit durement,
Li demanda moult doucement:
“Sergens de Dieu, comment t’est il?
Tu as esté en grant peril!”
Daniel li respont briefment:
“Bons rois, vif pardurablement!
Mes Diex son angle m’envoia
Qui les bouches tint et loia
Des lions si fort que contraire
Ne mal ne me peüssent faire,
Pour ce qu’il m’a juste trouvé
Partout ou il m’a esprouvé,
N’onques vers toy, roys, ne mespris,
Ne riens a tort d’autrui ne pris.”

Li rois Daires fist enquerir
Partout, enserchier, et querir
Tous ceaus qui de ce malefice
Furent cause, et de quelque office
Il fussent, il les fist geter
Dedens le lac sans arrester,
Et leurs femmes, leurs fils, leurs filles.
Mais a ce n’acontent .ij. billes
Li lion, qu’il ont a mengier
Assez. Einsi se volt vengier
Li rois d’eaus, car il furent mort
Tout ensemble de male mort.

Adont li rois Daires escript
Generaument .i. tel escript:
“A toutes generations,
Pueples, langues, et nations,
A tous les habitans dou munde.
Soit grace et pais qui leur habunde!
.I. estatut et .i. decret,
Fait par bon conseil et discret
En mon empire et en mon regne,
Dont je suis rois et ou je regne,
Fais et ay fait que tout le pueple
Q’ mon regne et empire pueple
Doubte, creingne, serve, et honneure
Le Dieu Daniel a toute heure.
Car vivens est et pardurables,
En siecles de siecles durables;
Son regne ja ne finera
Et sa puissance adés sera.
C’est des prisons li delivrerres.
C’est des pecheurs li vrais sauverres.
C’est cils qui les signes horribles
Fait, et merveilles impossibles
En ciel, en eaue, en mer, en terre;
Les pris et enserrez dessere,
Qui Daniel a sauveté
Ha dou lac aus lions geté.”

Einsi fist li rois Daire escrire
Par son roiaume et son empire,
Qu’au Dieu Daniel oubeïsse
Chascuns et li face servise,
Et qu’on renoie ydolatrie
Que je tien a grant cornardie:
Qu’.i. entailleur fait une ymage
De corps, de membres, de visage.
Et quant faite l’a gente et bele,
Son signeur et son dieu l’apelle.
Il scet bien qu’il est plus grant mestre
Que l’image ne porroit estre,
Car il l’a fait comme soutis
A ses mains et a ses outis,
Et si la porroit bien deffaire,
Mais l’image ne puet riens faire,
Car vie n’a, ne sentement,
Mouvement, scens, n’entendement.
Si ressamble Pymalion
En meurs et en condition,
Qui fist l’image et tant l’ama
Que amie et dame la clama.
Aussi ressamble il Manassés,
Qui ne faisoit feste qu’a ses
Fausses ymages et ydoles.
Moult avoit or pensees foles,
Qui laissoit le Dieu de Nature
Pour servir une tele ordure.
Mais de li ne vueil or plus dire
Pour continuer ma matire,
Car ci aprés en parlerai.
Et nompourquant tant en dirai
Que cils qui fait de tel dieu feste,
Certeinnement, c’est une beste.
Car il n’est qu’.i. Dieu seulement,
Par lequel li .iiij. element
Sont fait, dont toute creature
Prent soustenence et norriture.
Cils Diex qui tout païst et gouverne
Le centre dou ciel et le cerne,
Le soleil tient haut en ardure
Et la lune bas en froidure,
C’est li sires qui si bien nombre
Qu’il scet des arainnes le nombre,
Et combien la mer a de goutes,
Et le nom des estoiles toutes.
C’est cils qui nulle fois ne faut
Aus siens, car de riens n’ont deffaut.
C’est cils qui le monde forma
De nient et qui sa fourme a
Pris de li seul sans autre aïe.
C’est li sires qui tout maistrie.
Son bien n’aroie jamais dit,
Qu’en li n’a deffaut ne mesdit.
Tout puet, tout vaut, tout: scet, tout a.
Onques riens ne crient ne doubta,
Car riens ne le bransle n’esloche.
Einsois est trop plus c’une roche
Fors, fermes, certeins, et seürs.
Certeinnement, c’est grans eürs,
Autant au grant comme au meneur
Qui tient tel dieu pour son signeur.
Or pues tu clerement veoir
Que nostres sires pourveoir
Puet adés les siens de legier,
Sans riens vendre et sans applegier.
Si qu’aies en li bon espoir,
Et si le ser bien, et j’espoir
Que toy et ton fait pourverra,
Si qu’a bien te delivrera.
Encor vueil je .i. exemple mettre
En rime, si prés de la lestre
Comme je porrai bonnement
Pour manifester clerement
Qu’avoir doit chascuns s’esperence
En Dieu et toute sa fiance.
Et pour ce en parler en propos
Qu’i fait moult bien a mon propos.
Rois Manassés, en an,
Regna, rois de Jherusalem,
Et regna d’ans .v. et .i.
Mais ne vueil pas mettre m’entente
A rimer en especial
Tout ce qu’il fist en general;
Eins m’en passeray plus briefment.
Quant il regna premierement,
Il fist faire pluseurs ydoles,
Temples, autez, et marioles,
Et tout son pueple ad ce mena
Que tous ensamble se pena
D’elles servir et aourer,
Sacrefier, et honnourer;
Et com dervez, pleins de foloy,
Leur fist laissier toute la loy
Que Diex ot donné a Moÿse.
Encor ouvra il d’autre guise,
Qu’en temple de Jherusalem
Son dieu — Baalim l’appella l’en —
Fist mettre, et mist hors tout a fait
Quanque ses peres y a fait,
Qui fu bons, loiaus, et preudons,
Et au temple donna preu dons;
Le ciel, le soleil, et la lune
Cultiva — c’est chose commune —
Et toute la chevalerie
Dou ciel et pour l’idolatrie
Plus essaucier, en certein lieu
Les fist mettre en temple de Dieu.
Trop fist de maus, trop fort mesprist.
Or orras comment il l’emprist.
Diex, qui ne vuet mie la mort
Dou pecheur, einsois .i. remort
Li donne qu’il se convertisse
Et qu’il vive en son dous servise,
A son pueple et a li parla,
Mais ne les ot mie par la,
Car a li ne vorrent entendre,
Honneur, ne sacrefice rendre.
Mais n’atendi pas longuement
Que Diex s’en venja telement
Que dou prince de la bataille
Au roy des Siriens sans faille
Fu pris et loiés Manassés,
N’onques n’i ot autre prosés,
Einsois fu menez sans pité
En Babiloinne la cité.
Mais un fers avoit si pesans
Que, qui li donnast mil besans,
Il ne s’en peüst deffergier.
Et puis on l’ala habregier
En une chartre moult obscure,
Pleinne de puour et d’ordure.
Or verra on se ses ydoles,
Dont il faisoit tenir escoles
Le porront geter de ce pas.
Certes, je ne le pense pas;
Eins y morra, je n’en doubt mie,
S’envers Dieu son cuer ne humelie.

Or est Manassés en prison
Si pris qu’onques ne fu pris hon
Plus fort ne mieus emprisonnez,
N’estre ne puet desprisonnez
Se Dieus ne le fait proprement,
Car c’est par son commandement.
Si muse, pense, et se retourne,
Et sa pensee en maint tour tourne,
Mais riens n’i vaut le retourner.
Il li couvient son cuer tourner
Et sa pensee en autre tour
S’il vuet issir de ceste tour.
Einsi pense, muse, et retournoie,
Mais il couvient qu’a ce tour noie
Les ydoles qui bestourné
Ont son sens et si mal tourné
Que ja sans mort n’en tournera
Se sa pais a ce tour ne ra.
Adont vers le ciel se tourna
Et devotement s’aourna
Pour congnoistre son creatour,
Qu’est signeur dou munde et actour,
Qui les mauvais einsi chastie.
Lors son delit et sa sotie
Congnut pour veintre le tournoy,
Et dist: “De mon creatour n’oy
Onques mais vraie congnoissance,
Mais or congnois bien sa puissance,
Et qu’il est diex et souverains
Pardurables et premerains.”
Et lors commensa sa priere,
Humble et devote en tel maniere:

“Sires Diex, qui es tous puissans,
Qui gardes tes oubeïssans,
Diex de nos peres Abraham,
Ysaac, Jacob, qui maint ahan
Heurent pour t’amour en leur vie,
Diex es de leur juste lignie,
Qui la terre et le firmament
Feïs, et quanqu’il y appent,
Qui en la mer termes et signes
Has mis par tes paroles dignes,
En commandant qu’elle oubeïsse
Et que point de son canel n’isse.
Conclus, limité has l’abisme,
Et signé par ton nom saintisme,
Terrible et digne de löange.
Aussi tout tramble, nés li ange
Qu’as enluminé de ta grace,
Contre la vertu de ta face,
Encontre ton ire importable
Qu’est aus pecheurs mort pardurable,
Qui ne menasse ne deffie.
Mais ne soit pecheur qui s’i fie,
Car qui s’i fie a mort se fiert,
Et fait ce qu’a faire n’affiert;
Et aussi la misericorde
Que ta promesse nous acorde
Est large sans nulle mesure,
Car onques ne fu creature,
N’est, ne sera, qui tant sceüst
Faire que savoir le peüst.
Car tu es li souvereins sires
Des roiaumes et des empires,
Et aussi de toute la terre.
Fols est qui vuet autre dieu querre.
Trop yes piteus, misericors,
Dous, courtois a l’ame et au cors,
Et penitens seur les malices
Des hommes, c’est tes drois offices.
Tu, sires, par douce pité
Has promis, selonc ta bonté,
Remission et penitence
Des pechiés qui nous font grevence.
Tu, qui es sires vrais et justes,
N’as pas mis penitence aus justes,
Ne rien remis de leur pechié,
Pour ce que n’ont mie pechié.
Et pour ce que plus entechiés
Sui de vices et de pechiés
Qu’il n’a dedens la mer d’areinne,
Ma grant iniquité me mainne,
Qui monteplie sans sejour,
Ad ce que de nuit et de jour
Sui loiez et enchaainnez,
Pris, conclus, destruis, et minez,
Si que je n’enten respirer
N’a peinne puis je souspirer.
Sire, j’ay excité ton ire
Et pechié plus que ne puis dire,
Metans abominations,
Multiplicans offensions,
Pour ta sainte loy mettre en puer.
Or les .ij. genous de mon cuer
Fleche vers toy, sire, et te pri
Q’oie ta bonté mon depri.
J’ay pechié, sire, j’ay pechié,
Et bien recongnois mon pechié,
Mes deffaus, mes iniquités,
Et de mes pechiés les viltez,
Si te suppli tres humblement
Et te requier devotement:
Pardonne moy, sire, pardonne!
Ne per m’ame avec ma personne
Et avec mes iniquitez
(Ne reserve pas tes pitez),
Mal pour moy pardurablement!
Et moy, non digne, a sauvement
Menra ta grant misericorde.
Si te promet, sire, et t’acorde
Que tu seras de ma partie
Loez tous les jours de ma vie
Car dou ciel toute la vertu
Te loe sans cesser, et tu
Has gloire pardurable es siecles,
Ou tu regnes com Diex et siecles.”

Quant il ot finé s’orison,
En parfaite devotion
Des plours de son cuer arousee,
Et de parfons soupirs sevree,
En recongnoissant son delit
Et son droit Dieu, tant abelit
A Dieu qu’il oÿ sa priere
Et la reçut en tel maniere
Que de prison le deslia,
Et telle amour moustré li a
Qu’en son roiaume a grant honnour
Le remist com roy et signour.

Ces .iiij. exemples que dit ay,
Tres chiers amis, je les ditay
Seulement pour toy conforter,
Car je ne te puis pas porter
A mon vueil consolation
En ta grant desolation.
Si que tu dois bien penre garde
Comment Diex ceuls et celles garde
Qu’il vuet consillier et garder:
Ne leur couvient pas regarder
A leur fait, qu’a eaus son regart
Ha si qu’il n’ont de riens regart.
Et certes, ja ne tardera
Qu’il ne t’aide, et te gardera
De tous, se s’amour a droit gardes
(Et des yex de ton cuer l’esgardes),
Et se tu as vraie fiance
En li, et parfait esperence.

Tu vois comment Susenne fu
De mort garentie et de fu
Seulement pour sa loyauté,
Qui fu prise pour sa biauté.
Li enfant qui de cuer et d’ame
Loerent Dieu dedens la flame
Et menoient revel et feste,
Qu’onques .i. cheveu de leur teste
N’i fu malmis, ne empirez;
Mieus vorrent estre martirez
Que faire ou penser tel foloy
Comme d’errer contre leur loy,
Ne que orer l’estature d’or
Que fist Nabugodonosor.
Il furent sain et sauf delivre,
Si com je le truis en mon livre.
Ce fu par la vertu divine
Qui ses amis d’aidier ne fine.

Daniel dou lac aus lions,
Pour ses bonnes conditions
Et pour ce que Diex l’ot trouvé
Juste, quant bien l’ot esprouvé,
A grant honneur le delivra,
Et si le roy Daire enyvra
De s’amour qu’en plus haut degré
Le mist qu’onques mais, tout de gré,
En despit de ses annemis,
Qui par li furent si mal mis
Qu’il furent tuit ensamble mort
De male et de honteuse mort.

Pour ce que Manassés erra,
Nostres sire si l’enferra
En Babiloine ou enserrez
Fu, si loiés et enferrez
Que ce li sambloit uns enfers,
Tant estoit liez et en fers.
Mais si tost comme il renia
Les ydoles et qu’il pria
A Dieu merci devotement,
En plours et en gemissement,
Diex l’escouta et entendi,
Et son roiaume li rendi
Et Ii remist seigneur et mestre
Assez plus que ne soloit estre.

Quant Mathathias dut fenir
Ses jours, ses enfans fist venir
Devant lui pour euls conforter
Et aussi pour euls enorter
Q’bien gardassent les misteres
De la loy et que leurs sains peres
Ensuissent, qu’onneur et gloire,
Nom pardurable, et bon memoire
Sera d’eaus s’il le font einsi,
Et si leur enseingna aussi
Qu’Abraham fu trouvez estables
En temptation et fiables,
Et cela li fu reputé
A justice et a verité.

Joseph, en temps de son angoisse,
Qui son cuer destreint et angoisse,
Garda et tint le mandement
De la loy son Dieu telement
Qu’il en fu puis sires d’Egypte,
Qui ne fu pas chose petite.

Finees, qui fu nostre pere,
Plus tenrement ama que mere
En amant l’amour de son Dieu,
Et ceste amour li tint tel lieu
Qu’i ot a perpetuité
La plus tres noble dignité
Dou monde, et la plus honnourable,
Nom et memoire pardurable.
Biaus amis, je t’en conteroie
Jusqu’a demain se je voloie,
Si fais dis et si fais exemples,
Car mes oreilles et mes temples
En sont remplies par la Bible.
Mais riens n’est a Dieu impossible,
Ne fort a faire, car il puet
Faire en tous cas tout ce qu’il vuet,
N’onques homs si desconfortez
Ne fu qui ne fust confortez
S’il ot son cuer et sa pensee
A li dou tout jointe et fermee.
Si que, chiers sires et amis,
Tu es pris de tes anemis,
Mais trop as estroite prison.
Si croy que c’est sans mesprison,
Car attrais n’ies pas de nature
Que faire doies mespresure,
Au mains tele ne si notable
Com pour estre en lieu si grevable,
Ja soit ce que nature enseingne
Q’homme ne soit qui ne mesprengne.
Or te dirai que tu feras
Et comment tu gouverneras
T’ame, ton corps, et ta maniere.
Des choses toute la premiere
Que tu feras, tu dois amer
Ton Dieu et souvent reclamer
De cuer devost, humble, et parfait,
Non par feintise, mais par fait.
S’einsi le fais, il t’aidera
Encontre tous et gardera.
Car dit ay qu’nuls ne se fie
En lui qui de confort mendie.
Par les exemples l’as veü
Que je t’ay ci devant leü.

Aprés, amis, se tu vues vivre
Sainnement, mesure ton vivre,
Car s’a mesure ne vivoies,
Vraiement, tu te honniroies.
S’on t’aporte bonne viande
Et ton appetit te commande
Que tu en preingnes largement,
Ne fai pas son commandement.
Car cils se honnist et deffait
Qui trop mengue et riens ne fait.
Et s’on t’aportoit a cautelle
Ceste viande bonne et belle,
Et puis tu en mengasses trop,
Tu t’ociroies a .i. cop,
Qu’on te donroit a la traverse
Aprés d’une autre si diverse
Et si anuieuse a mengier
Que tu n’en porroies mengier.
Einsi seroies deceüs,
Mal gouvernez, et mal peüs.
Si qu’amis, pren ta soustenance,
Mesure et poise en la balance
Tant la mauvaise com la bonne.
Garde qu’en ton mengier ait bonne,
Et qu’adés petit a petit
Tu reteingnes ton appetit,
Car nature est bien repeüe
De moult petit et soustenue.

Aprés, amis, en pacïence
Dois penre et avoir souffissance
Es biens, es maus que Diex t’envoie,
Et dois tenir la droite voie
Que Job tenoit quant essilliez
Fu et si mal aparilliez
Qu’il perdi tout, c’est chose voire,
Fors que le corps et le memoire,
Comment qu’en richesse signeur
N’eüst en Oriant gringneur.
Or just sus .i. fumier puant
Tout seul, en guise d’un truant,
Chargiez de rongne et de vermine.
Mais tant ot a Dieu son cuer qu’il ne
Dist onques chose de sa bouche
Qui peüst tourner a reprouche
De son Dieu; einsois humblement
Le looit et devotement.

Et s’on te dit parole dure
Ou fait de fait aucune injure,
Souveingne toy que Diex souffri
Pour nous, et comment il se offri
A peinne, a dueil, et a martyre.
Je te pri trop: n’en fai que rire
S’on te fait grief peinne ou desroy.
Mais aies toudis cuer de roy,
Et certes, tu les veinqueras
Toutes les fois qu’einsi feras.

Se tu n’ies couchiés et levez,
Pingniez, gallandés, et lavez,
Vestis et chauciez nettement,
Einsois es tenus povrement,
Po honnourez et po servis,
Et de ta franchise asservis,
Et se ti drapel sont tous rous,
Je te pri, n’en moustre courrous.
Et si n’en fai samblant ne chiere,
Car s’on veoit a ta maniere
Que fusses mas et desconfis,
Pis t’en seroit, j’en sui tous fis,
En .iij. manieres ou en .iiij.
Car ne te pues si bien esbatre
Comme en ce qu’on te voie ferme
En lieu si vil, ne si enferme,
Et que tu soies, sans doubtance,
Riches d’avis et de vaillance.
Mieus t’en ameront ti amy;
Aussi feront ti anemy,
S’on te voit sans desconfiture.
Car c’est grant honte et grant laidure
A prince qui se desconforte
Pour nouvelle qu’on li aporte.
Por povreté, ne pour richesse,
Pour grant joie, ne pour tristesse
Ne doit muer qu’il ne soit fermes
Com Socratés. S’en ce te fermes,
Tu en seras si bien parez
Qu’aus philosophes comparez
Seras, qui tant furent estable
Qu’il n’estoit riens, tant fust doutable,
Qu’il n’amassent miex recevoir
Que ce qu’on peüst parcevoir
Qu’en leur bon propos variassent,
Ne que verité declinassent.
Il ne doubtoient riens la mort.
Or puet estre que ce t’amort
A cheoir en merencolie.
Mais vraiement, c’est grant folie.
Tu scez bien que morir te faut,
Si que c’est nonscens et deffaut
Puis qu’il ne puet autrement estre;
Et si n’i a nul si grant mestre
Qui bien a sa mort ne resgarde.
Aussi ta loiauté te garde
Et gardera, n’en doubte pas,
Et te gettera de ce pas.
Si dois eschuer desespoir
Et toudis avoir bon espoir.
Mais en ta grant mendicité
Fai vertu de neccessité.

Encor te vueil je .ij. mos dire
Pour continuer ma matire.
Amis, se tu te desconfortes,
Tu mourdris ton cuer, et avortes,
Et fais joie a tes anemis,
Et s’en est Diex arriere mis,
Meins priez et meins honnourez,
Meins servis et meins adourez,
Et si dois tout autre penser
Laissier pour bien a li penser.
Et se tu me respons: “Je pense
Que chascuns me maudist et tense,
Et dit que je sui en prison
Mis pour murdre ou pour traïson,
S’ai en ce si grant deshonneur
Qu’avoir ne puis jamais honneur.”
Je te vueil a tout ce respondre,
Sans riens enclorre ne repondre,
Et certes, ja n’en mentirai
De tout ce que je t’en dirai.
Je te di que la renommee
S’espant par toute la contree
Que po de gens scevent la cause
Dont ta detention se cause,
Si en dit chascuns a sa guise.
Mais pour .i. qu’est liés de ta prise,
Des dolens en y a .ij. mille.
On le scet bien parmi la ville,
Car chascuns qui de toy parole
En dit bonne et bele parole,
Et te pleint. Nés li enfançon
Chantent de toy bonne chanson.
Et que tous ceaus qui te pourchacent
Ne demandent, quierent, ne chacent
Que par nulle guise on te face
Bonté, courtoisie, ne grace,
Fors justice tant seulement,
C’est grant honneur, certeinnement,
Et si pert bien que tu te sens
De corps et de cuer innocens.
Ce te doit moult reconforter
Et aidier tes maus a porter.

Aussi as tu des bons amis
Que Diex t’a donné et tramis,
Qui si fort pour toy prieront
Q’leurs prieres t’aideront
Envers le Dieu qui a droit juge.
Et si as bon et loial juge,
Sage, piteus, et veritable,
Qui t’est chose si pourfitable
Qu’i te pardonra ton meffait,
Se tu avoies bien meffait,
La quel chose je ne croy mie.
Tu as tous les jours de ta vie
Heü quanque tu as volu.
Se tu vossisses or molu
Mengier, ou pierres precïeuses,
Ou avoir robes curïeuses,
Joiaus, deniers, chevaus, destriers,
Dont d’or fin fussent les estriers,
Tu l’eüsses sans contredit.
N’onques on ne te fist ne dit
Chose qui te deüst desplaire,
Car chascuns voloit a toy plaire.
Si que tu as ton creatour
Mis en oubli pour ton atour,
Pour ta grandeur, pour ta richesse,
Pour ton pooir, pour ta noblesse,
Et ne l’as mie tant servi
Qu’aies sa grace desservi.
Pour ce, biaus amis, il te monstre
De Fortune l’orrible monstre,
Qui tout par est espouentables,
Fiers, crueus, divers, et doutables.

N’a pas lonc temps que tu cuidoies
Q’se Prians, li rois de Troies,
Fust en vie, et son fil Hector,
Troïllus, et le bon Nector —
Qui Menelaus mist en grant peinne
Pour Paris, qui ravist Heleinne —
Et te vosissent faire guerre
En ton païs et en ta terre,
Qu’einsi te peüssent abatre
Si tost, par scens ne par combatre,
Com Fortune t’a abatu,
Qui en sa roiz t’a embatu,
Et la te bat de ses flaiaus,
Qui sont mauvais et desloiaus.
Et se tu vues dire que tu ne
Yes mie subjés de Fortune,
Et que ta grant attration
Affranchist ta condition,
Et qu’elle donné ne t’a mie
Ta richesse et ta signourie,
Einsois te vient de droite ligne,
Li sires qui droit regle et ligne
Prent ses vengences si obscures
Maintes fois sus les creatures
Que nuls ne le porroit penser,
Ymaginer, ne recenser,
Et par maniere trop diverse
Trebuche l’un et l’autre verse.
Son jugement est un abisme:
N’est homs qui en sache la disme,
N’aussi de sa misericorde,
Qui a toutes graces s’acorde.
Maintes fois laist aler la foudre,
Qui tout destruit et met en poudre,
Ou la mort, ou le vent qui vente
Qui tout honnist et tout cravente,
Ou Fortune, qui rit et pleure,
Et tume les siens en po d’eure,
Qui a tel force et tel maistrie
Que tu vois que pluseurs maistrie
Qui furent riche et noble né,
Et si ne leur a riens donné,
Mais quant li plaist, elle moult tost
Ce que pas n’a donné tout tost.
Et vues tu clerement savoir,
Sans riens enclorre, tout le voir
Dont viennent richesse et noblesse?
Resgarde en livre de Boësse,
Qui te dira, se oïr le vues,
Que tous les biens que perdre pues
Sont de Fortune, qui moult tost
Le bien qu’elle a donné tout tost.
Et se des vices separez
Estoit et des vertuz parez,
Uns savetiers nobles seroit,
Et uns rois villains qui feroit
Maises ouevres et villonnie.
Si que noblesse, je t’affie,
Vient de bon et noble corage.
Li roy n’i ont autre avantage.

Aussi puet elle donner bien
A .i. prince assez plus de bien
Qu’il n’en a de pere et de mere.
Mais cils dons a saveur amere,
Qu’elle retolt souvent ensamble
Le sien et l’autrui, ce me samble,
C’est a dire ce qu’elle donne,
Et ce que t’as de lingne bonne.
Si que par ce ies en son servage
Dou tien et de ton heritage.
Si n’est homs vivans qui se exente
De Fortune, ne qui se vente
Qu’en ses mains ne soit, qui exenter
Ne s’en porroit homs, ne vanter
Par raison, s’il n’est de vertus
Et de bonnes meurs revestus.
Mais qui bien est moriginez
Et en vertus enracinez,
Fortune n’a nulle puissance
De lui faire anui ne grievance
Quant aus meurs; quant s’elle a l’avoir,
Les vertus ne puet elle avoir.
Car vertus sont dons que Diex donne
A homme qui a bien s’ordonne,
Et viennent d’acquisition
Faite en bonne condition,
Par armes ou par grant estude,
Ou par avoir grant multitude
De meschiés, de labour, de peinne.
Sages est qui en ce se peinne.
Richesses sont dons de Fortune,
Qui tout aussi comme la lune
Ont leurs cours, qu’elles vont et viennent,
N’onques en .i. point ne se tiennent
Se ce ne sont aucun tresor
De gemmes, de monnoie, ou d’or,
Qui sont en prison et en serre.
Mais quant li homs est mis en terre,
Avec li pas ne les en porte,
Qu’autres les a qui s’en deporte
Et les despent, espoir, et gaste,
Et fait grant tourtel d’autrui paste.
Mais aussi comme les estoiles
Raidient plus cler que chandoiles,
Et sont mises en firmament
Pour luire pardurablement,
Les vertus luisent et luiront.
Adés furent, adés seront,
Si que Fortune nes empire
Pour son plourer, ne pour son rire,
Pour ses dons, ne pour ses promesses,
Pour povreté, ne pour richesses.
Nennil point, mais saches pour voir
Qu’elle ne les porroit mouvoir,
Ne eslochier, par Saint Denis,
Nés qu’on mouveroit Mont Senis.
Et pour ce, amis, je te chastoi
Que les vertus tires a toy,
Et s’en lay toutes autres choses,
Car plus souëf sentent que roses,
Et richesses et vices puent,
Si qu’ame et corps a .i. cop tuent.

Salemons li sages lisoit
En son livre et ainsi disoit:
“De povreté et de richesse,
Sire, ne me donne largesse,
Mais admenistre moy mon vivre
Si qu’onnestement puisse vivre,
Que je ne vomisse et parjure
Ton nom, qu’a toy feroie injure.”
Ne le disoit pas pour niant,
Eins doubtoit l’inconveniant
Qui vient d’estre povres ou riches.
Car trop y a baras et triches,
N’il n’est chose que povre gent
Ne consentissent pour argent.
Et li riche font encor pis,
Car il portent dedens lor pis
Tant de mal et de felonnie,
D’orgueil, d’avarice, et d’envie
Qu’on ne le te porroit nombrer.
Si se fait mauvais encombrer
De richesse et de povreté.
Mais qui vuet vivre a seürté,
Le moien est, je t’asseür,
Li milleur et le plus seür,
Mais qu’on y prengne souffissance.
Car se li roiaumes de France,
Et toute l’empire de Romme
Et tout le monde a .i. seul homme
Estoient, il mendieroit
En cas qu’il ne li souffiroit.
Je ne di mie qu’on n’i trueve
De si tres bons en toute esprueve
Que nul milleur ne trouveroit
D’eaus, qui bien les esprouveroit.
Et qui les vorroit espouver,
On ne porroit milleurs trouver.

Or puet estre qu’en ta juvente
Tu as mis ton cuer et t’entente
En vices et en vanitez,
En ordures et en viltez,
Et que n’as pas recongneü
Les biens que tu as receü
De Dieu einsi com tu deüsses.
Car s’en ce monde plus n’eüsses
De li, fors sans plus ce qu’il t’a
Donné vie, et qu’il t’aquita
De mort d’enfer par ton baptesme,
Fait de parolë et de cresme,
Se tu estoies pardurables
Par ton merite et aggreables
A li plus qu’onques sains ne fu,
N’ies tu que chose de refu,
Ne dignes n’ies pour li servir,
Tant que peüsses desservir
De .v.c mil fois une part
Des grans biens dont il te repart
Et dont meintes fois reparti
T’a, de son bien, non pas par ti.
Si ne say, s’il prent la vengence
De ce qu’as meffait en t’enfance.
Car s’il le fait, il m’est avis
Qu’il te donne trop bel avis
Et que moult te dois aviser
De toudis penser et viser
A mettre jus tout villain vice,
Et a faire son dous service;
Qu’a s’amour te duit et adresse
S’il te punist en ta jonesse,
Einsi comme il fist Manassés,
Qu’en prison ot maint dur assés.
Et vraiement, s’einsi le fais,
De s’amour seras si refais
Qu’il te rendra tout ton païs;
Et ceaus de qui tu es haïs
T’ameront au tour d’un soleil
S’a s’amour as le cuer et l’ueil,
Car autre chose ne demande.
Or as response a ta demande.

Et se tu dis: “Las! Je sui mors,
Car j’ay plus de mille remors,
Et plus de cent mille pensees
Diversement entremeslees
De souvenirs et de pointures,
Tristes, poingnans, fieres, et dures,
Et s’ai desir qui toudis veille,
Qui jusques a mort me traveille.
Et s’ai si tres petit espoir
En moy, vraiement, que j’espoir
Que jamais n’aray bien ne joie,
Einsois suis mors, ou que je soie,
Car tuit mi penser contre my
Sont, et mi mortel anemy;
Et quant Souvenir en moy vient,
Tendrement plourer me couvient,
Qu’en monde n’a bien qu’i m’aporte,
Eins me mourdrist et desconforte,
Et les pointures que je sens,
Qui sont a milliers et a cens,
Chacent de moy par leur rigour
Sanc, couleur, maniere, et vigour.
Desir me point; desir m’assaut.
Desir me rent maint dur assaut.
Desir me fait tant endurer.
Desir ne me laisse durer;
De doleur et de grieté dure
Que mors sui se tels mauls me dure.
Et m’esperence est si petite
Que mes cuers point ne s’i delite,
Qu’en li n’a force, ne vertu,
Ne delit qui vaille .i. festu,
Et tout pour ma tres chiere dame,
Que j’aim tres loiaument, par m’ame,
Que paour ay que ne la perde.
Elas! Ce seroit trop grant perde
A moy, las, se je la perdoie.
Et si n’est tour, ne vent, ne voie
Qui nouvelles m’en face oïr
Pour mon dolent cuer resjoïr,
Pour mon dolent cuer resjoïr,
Que vers li peüsse envoier
Pour moy recommander a li,
Dont j’ay cuer teint et vis pali;
Certes, riens tant ne me tourmente,
Prison, n’autre mal que je sente.”

Amis, bien te responderoie
A tous ces poins se je voloie.
Mais y couvient premierement
Apliquer ton entendement
Ad ce que tu bien entendisses
Mes paroles et retenisses,
Car cils qui escoute et n’entent
Ce qu’on li dit, fait tout autant
Com cils qui riens ne prent et chace,
Car il pert son temps et sa chace.
Or oy ce que je te dirai,
Qu’au cuer moult de dueil et d’ire ay
Quant ton bien en mal convertis
Et quant tu miex ne t’avertis
De congnoistre le bien parfait
Que Douce Pensee t’a fait,
Avec Souvenir et Desir
Et Bon Espoir, que plus desir
Qu’i te compaingne et te conforte,
Combien qu’il soit de tele sorte.
Et tu es si mal entendans
Que tu n’ies mie ad ce tendans
Qu’i te servent de leur mestier,
Quant tu en as plus grant mestier,
Eins reputes a desconfort
Leur bien, leur douceur, leur confort.
Si qu’amis, je te vueil aprendre,
Pour faire ta tristesse mendre,
De quoy Douce Pensee sert,
Quant amans le vaut et dessert.

Douce Pensee est une chose
Qui est en cuer d’amant enclose,
Engendree par Souvenir
(D’ailleurs ne puet elle venir)
Si douce et si melodïeuse,
Si plaisant et si amoureuse
Qu’il est po de choses plus sades
A cuers qui d’amours sont malades.
Et comment qu’elle soit sensible,
Vraiement, elle est invisible,
Car nuls homs ne la voit ne sent
Fors cils en qui elle descent.
Et comment qu’en son cuer la sente,
Il ne voit ne li, ne sa sente.
Mais elle est de si noble affaire
Qu’en cuer d’amant fait tout contraire
Et tout dolour oublier.
Et pour ce te vueil supplier,
Et si le te lo et conseil
Que tu uses de mon conseil.

Je t’ai dit que Douce Pensee
Est de Souvenir engendree,
Dont toutes les fois qu’il avient
Que de ta dame te souvient
(Se tu n’as pas en temps passé
Son commandement trespassé,
Eins l’as servi sans decevoir)
Tu dois en ton cuer concevoir,
Ymaginer, penser, pourtraire
La biauté de son dous viaire
Et ses crins d’or, crespes, et longs,
Qui li batent jusqu’aus talons,
Et de ses dous yex les espars,
Seur toy mignotement espars,
Et de sa tres douce bouchette,
Riant a point et vermillette,
La douce et attraiant parole
Qui t’a mis d’amer a l’escole,
Son menton, sa gorge polie,
Son col plus blanc que noif negie,
Et de son gent corps la façon
En qui n’a point de meffaçon.
Aprés tu dois considerer
Dedens ton cuer et figurer
Les vertus dont elle est paree
Et sa tres bonne renommee,
Ses meurs et ses conditions
Qui en toutes perfections
La parfont si de corps et d’ame
Qu’on la tient pour la milleur dame
Qui soit en monde et la plus belle.
Chascuns la claimme bonne et bele.

Lors dois avoir l’impression
De ceste ymagination
Et de ceste douce figure
Que Dous Penser en toy figure,
S’en dois en ton cuer une ymage
Faire, a qui tu feras hommage.
Et se des amoureus biens fais
T’a de sa grace aucuns biens fais,
Present li les dois tire a tire
Doucement recorder et dire,
Et elle te confortera
A tes besoins et t’aidera.
Elle adoucira ta dolour
Et refroidera ta chalour;
Ta famine saoulera
Et ta grant soif estanchera.

Se tu gis a la terre dure
Sans tapis et sans couverture,
Seur fainc, seur estrain, ou seur paille,
Ou sus lit dur, s’on le te baille,
Elle t’ara si anobli
Que tu mettras tout en oubli,
Et tous tes maus et ta grevence
Penras en bonne pacïence.

Aussi m’as tu dit de Desir
Qu’i te fait durement gesir,
Avoir lons jours et longues nuis,
Et dis qu’il te fait trop d’anuis.
Mais se tu ne la desiroies,
Vraiement petit l’ameroies,
Qu’aussi com li desirs est grans
Est li amans d’amer engrans,
Et quant desirs de li se part
D’amours y vient petite part.
Mais tu yes trop fort arrudis
De ces pointures que tu dis,
Qui tant sont ameres et sures,
Et a ton cuer pesmes et dures
Et s’en a plus de .v.c muis
Ou qu’il n’a d’eaue en .v.c puis.
Je le tien a grant ruderie
Quant tu t’en pleins, et a sotie,
Car ce ne sont que ramembrances,
Monitions, ramentevances
De l’image qu’est figuree
En ton cuer par Douce Pensee.
Avoir y deüsses plaisence
Et penre grant joie et pais en ce
Qu’Amours et ta dame jolie
Te font mener si douce vie
Com de sentir les maus d’amer,
Qui sont tuit dous, sans point d’amer.

De ton espoir que perdu has,
Vraiement tu te partuas,
Biaus amis, quant tu le perdis.
A male chose t’aherdis,
Car chose n’est si neccessaire
Pour le fait que tu as a faire
Comme est avoir bonne esperence.
Tu ne dois pas faire doubtance,
Eins le dois clerement savoir.
Et se son pooir vues savoir,
Sans oublier chose nesune,
Quier en Remede de Fortune,
Et en mon Lay de Bon Espoir,
Ou je l’aimme et hé desespoir.
Nompourquant, j’en diray .ij. mos.
Certes, de ce bien vanter m’os
(Et ne soit nuls qui s’i oppose!)
Qu’en amours n’a si bonne chose
Ne qu’amant doient amer si
Comme esperence, aprés merci.
Si te lo que tu la repreingnes
Et que dedens ton cuer la teingnes
Avec l’ymage gracïeuse.
S’aras compaingnie amoureuse,
Aussi comme une trinité,
Car ce sera une unité
De toy, d’espoir, et de l’image.
Pren la dont, si feras que sage.
Se tu le fais, il te vaurra,
Car ci aprés le temps venra
Que ta dame sara ta vie,
Et s’elle scet que sans partie
Has son ymage enmi ton cuer,
Ne t’oublieroit a nul fuer,
Eins t’amera plus que devant.
Et aussi je t’ai en couvant
Que tant est ferme et veritable,
Juste, loial, et amiable,
Qu’en si tres parfaite bonté
Ne porroit estre fausseté.

Quant le bon poëtte Orpheüs
Fu atout sa harpe meüs
Pour aler Erudice querre
En une trop estrange terre
— Ce fu droit en la region
D’enfer ou fu sa mansion,
Par le serpent qui si l’a mort
En talon qu’elle en ot la mort —
S’esperence de la ravoir
N’eüst, pour quanqu’il a d’avoir
En tout le monde entierement
N’i fust alez, mais vraiement
Esperence le conduisoit,
Qui ad ce faire le duisoit.
Si s’en ala a grant eslais
Droit devant le triste palais
D’enfer ou mainte ame dolent
Pleure, souspire, et se demente.
A l’entree de ce passage
Trois dames ot, pleinnes de rage,
Et s’estoient si grans maistresses
Qu’elles s’appelloient deesses,
L’une d’orgueil, l’autre d’envie,
L’autre de toute tricherie.
La leur crins serpentins pingnoient
Et d’autre chose ne servoient
Que d’elles pingnier et trecier,
Et toutes ames adrecier
Faisoient en l’infernal flame
Qui toudis art et toudis flame.
Orpheüs, qui sa harpe avoit,
Et qui seur tous chanter savoit
Et de tous genres de musique
Avoit le sens et la pratique,
Et en fu plus souverein mestre
Que home né, ne qui fust a nestre,
Sa harpe acorda sans delay
Et joua son dolereus lay
Et chanta de vois douce et seinne,
De si grant melodie pleinne
Qu’a sa vois, qu’a ses instrumens
Fist cesser d’enfer les tourmens.
Car les infernaus s’esjoïrent
De la douceur quant il l’oïrent.
J’ay son lay maintes fois veü
Et l’ay de chief en chief leü,
Mais plus ne contient fors q’il prie
Qu’il rait Erudice s’amie.
Aussi fort de li te puis dire:
Par la grant douceur de sa lire
Les nimphes des bois le sievoient,
Et les grans arbres s’enclinoient
Prés de lui pour lui escouter.
Assés t’en porroie conter,
Car de tous genres a grant nombre
Y venoient pour lui faire umbre.
Les sers et les bestes sauvages
Le sievoient par les boscages.
Les rivieres aler faisoit
Encontremont quant li plaisoit
Pour son chant oïr et sa harpe,
Qui doucement resonne et harpe.
La ot mainte larme plouree
En la tenebreuse valee
Des ames qui entroublierent
Leur peinnes dou chant qu’escouterent.
Aussi li roys des infernaus
Getta jus craus et gouvernaus,
Et se cessa, pour la merveille,
Que plus les ames ne traveille.
Trop s’en merveille Proserpine,
Qui d’enfer est dame et roïne,
Que li rois infernaus ravit
En .i. vergier ou il la vit,
Ou elle cueilloit des flourettes
Avecques pluseurs pucelettes.

Mais un po laissier ma matire
Vueil, pour toy dire tire a tire
Comment ot ceste roiauté
Prosperine pour sa biauté
De Typhoeüs, de Venus,
Et pourquoy Pluto fu venus
Pour enserchier et pour veoir
S’enfers voloit fondre ou cheoir.
Je te di que Typhoeüs
Fu uns jaians trop deceüs,
Que dechacier volt par sa guerre
Les dieus dou ciel et de la terre.
Mais li dieu si fort s’en courcierent
Que crueusement s’en vangierent.
Ne fu adjournez ne semons,
Eins fu mis entre .iiij. mons
Trop pesans et trop mervilleus.
Tout enmi fu li orguilleus,
Qu’il voloit les diex desprisier,
Et li plus que eaus faire prisier.
Trinatris avoit seur son chief,
Qui li faisoit trop de meschief;
L’autre aus piez, le tiers a senestre,
Et le quart estoit a son destre.
La fu li chetis si estrains,
Si tourmentez et si destrains
Qu’il savoit bien qu’il avoit tort.
La se bestourne et se detort,
Si que les .iiij. mons escrosle,
Dont li rois d’enfer de ce crosle
Ot tel paour que tout en l’eure
Sus trois chevaus plus noirs que meure
Yssi hors de sa mansion
Pour faire visitation
S’il avoit crevace ou fendure
En murs de l’infernal closture,
Pour ce qu’il y vuet pourveoir
S’il y puet nul deffaut veoir.
La court et par mons et par vaus
Pluto sus ses faëz chevaus
Sans frein, sans culiere, et sans bride.
C’est horreur dou veoir et hide.
Venus, qui estoit prés de la,
Son dous ami chier appella,
Qu’elle baisoit et acoloit
(Autre plaisence ne voloit)
Si li a dit moult doucement:
“Amis, dessous le firmament
N’a creature qui t’eschape,
Tant ait cours draps, ne longue chape.
Tuit congnoissent ta grant puissance,
Et tuit te font oubeïssance.
Vesla Pluto, le dieu d’enfer,
Qu’est plus dur et plus noir que fer.
Moustre li ce que tu sces faire,
Car il est de si put affaire
Que signeur ne te vuet clamer.
Amis, je te pri, fai le amer.”
Cupido entent sa requeste,
Si li ottroie et tost s’apreste
Pour traire au dieu une saiette
De trop grant force et trop bien faite.
Cupido ha pris l’arc turquois;
La saiette trait dou carquois,
Qui fu tranchans et affilee,
Longue, droite, et bien empanee.
La saiette mist en la coche,
Moult fort tire et elle descoche.
Le dieu d’enfer tel cop en baille
Que tout droit parmi la coraille
Li a mis le fer et le fust.
Cheüs fust se si fors ne fust.
Or est Pluto enamourez,
Mais la n’est gueres demourez,
Eins va et vient et court et serche.
Partout fait son cerne et sa serche.
Tant est alez les saus menus
Qu’il est en Parguse venus.
Parguse, c’estoit .i. vergier
Si bel, si gent, qu’a droit jugier
Il n’estoit lieus plus delitables.
Printemps y estoit pardurables.
Tuit cil qui sont et ont esté
En .xxiiij. jours d’esté
Ne te diroient les delis
Dou vergier, tant estoit jolis,
Et pleins d’odeur plaisant et fine.
La fu la belle Prosperpine,
Qui cueilloit o ses compaingnettes
Roses, esglentiers, violettes.
Mais si tost com Pluto la vit,
Il l’ama et si la ravit.
Prosperpine a haute vois crie:
“Aïe, dieus! Aïe! Aïe!
Ha, Cerés, deesse de blee,
Je suis tollue et emblee!
Helas! Mere, que devenray?
Certes jamais ne te verray!”
Pluto s’en va grante aleüre,
Mais ne va trot ne ambleüre,
Eins samble que ce soit la foudre.
Il fait entour lui si grant poudre
Qu’elle vole jusqu’a la nue.
Prosperpine a enmi tenue,
Qu’il ne vuet pas que l’en la voie.
Il scet bien la plus droite voie,
Les estans dou souffre a passez,
Et d’autres mauvais pas assez.
Dyane, qui vit la merveille,
Moult li desplaist, moult se merveille
De Dis, qui la deese en porte,
Qui moult se pleint et desconforte.
Dyane laissa sa fonteinne
Et s’escria a haute alainne:
“Dis, tu ne l’en porteras mie!
Tu l’as mauvaisement ravie.
Je te deffendrai le passage,
Car tu es sus mon heritage.
Laisse moy tantost la pucelle!”
Quant Dis entendi la nouvelle,
Ses chevaus hastë et son erre,
Et durement, sans mot dire, erre.
Vers les estans de Sicanie
A Pluto sa voie acueillie.
Dyane li volt contrester,
Mais ne le pot pas arrester,
Car li maufez, que Diex maudie,
Sot trop de mal et de boidie.
L’iaue fiert, et la terre s’uevre.
Par la vuet achever son ouevre,
Car ce fu sa voie et s’entree
En la tenebreuse valee.
La Prosperpine d’aventure
Perdi ses fleurs et sa seinture,
Que cheï enmi la fonteinne,
Qui moult fu douce, clere, et seinne,
Mais la fonteinne en devint trouble,
Dont Dyane si fort se trouble,
Et pour la deesse ravie,
Que par larmes fina sa vie.
Cerés la sainture trouva,
Qui sa fille en mains lieus rouva,
Et ce fu la premiere enseigne
Qui Prosperpine li enseigne.
Je ne te puis mie tout dire
Ce qui est de ceste matyre:
Comment Cerés par toute terre
Sa fille ala serchier et querre;
Comment elle escommenia
Sicanie et quanqu’il y a;
Comment les bestes des charrues
Faisoit morir parmi les rues
Et destruisoit tout labourage;
Comment dou roy d’enfer l’outrage
Li fist savoir Arethusa;
Comme Elchalaphus encusa
Prosperpine, qu’il vit mengier
Dou fruit d’enfer en un vergier;
Comment elle fust retournee,
S’elle n’en fust desjeünee.
Mais je t’ay compté la rapine
Que Pluto fist de Proserpine,
Si com l’istoire le raconte.
Or vueil revenir a mon compte.

Tantalus, qui la muert de soy,
Et s’a l’iaue d’encoste soy,
Sa soif et sa peinne entroublie
Pour la tres douce melodie
Dou bon pouëte qui enchante
Tout enfer quant il harpe et chante.
D’Ysion la roe repose,
Qui est si dolereuse chose,
Qu’entour sont roes tous ardans
Et li las est dessous adans.
Et a Sisiphus point ne grieve
La grant roche pesant et grieve.
Et Tycïus, qui son entraille
Et son jusier aus voutoirs baille,
Oublia sa male aventure,
Ni li voutoir n’en orent cure,
Pour la harpe oïr et le son
De son chant et de son arson.

Les beles Dyanes geterent
Jus les tamis qu’elles porterent,
Et leurs seaus qui sans fons sont;
Moult se grievent et riens ne font,
Qu’elles ne cessent de puisier
Pour l’eaue fuitive espuisier.
Mais elles perdent bien leur peinne,
Qu’adés est comble la fonteinne.
Ce sont les .iij. filles Belli.
Plus n’en di, mais n’i a celi
Qui face jamais autre chose,
Ne qui plus jamais se repose.
Brief, d’enfer toutes les roïnes
Plouroient larmes serpentines,
Ce qu’onques mais ne fu veü.
Et ce si forment esmeü
Ha le dieu de la chartre obscure
Qu’il fist mander grant aleüre
Erudice, et si la rendi
Au pouëtte, qui l’atendi.
Mais ce fu par .i. tel couvent,
Que Orpheüs dut aler devant,
Celle aprés, et s’il resgardoit
Darriere lui, il la perdroit.
Mais amours, qui les cuers affole,
Et desirs, ou pensee fole,
Li fist derrier li resgarder,
Et Erudice, sans tarder,
S’en fuï en la chartre horrible,
Qui trop est hideuse et penible,
Et des ses yex s’esvanuï.
Orpheüs aprés li fuï,
Mais c’est niant, bien puet savoir
Que jamais ne la puet ravoir.
N’i vaut riens chose qu’il argue,
Car il l’a a tous jours perdue.
Nompourquant li fols retourna
Et .vij. jours entiers sejourna
Devant la dolereuse porte,
Qu’il n’est homs qui riens li aporte.
Sa soif estanche de son plour,
Et sa faim païst de sa dolour.
Mais la puet assez demourer,
Assez puet braire, assez plourer,
Et pleindre soy tant qu’il vorra,
Que jamais ne la reverra.
Si que de la se departi
En moult grief et moult dur parti,
Et laist Erudice la clope,
Et s’en retourna en Redope,
Et devint homs de tel affaire
Q’ne le vueil mie retraire,
Car li airs corront et empire
De parler de si vil matyre.
Mais onques puis ne volt clamer
Dame amie, ne femme amer.
Dont les dames de Cyconie,
Pour itant que leur druerie
Ne volt avoir, le lapiderent.
Car dars et lances li getterent,
Pierres, caillos, et roches dures;
En ce mirent toutes leurs cures.
Mais li poëtes, qui chantoit,
Les roches dures enchantoit,
Si que nul mal ne li faisoient,
Mais devant li s’amolioient.
Lors les femmes, que Diex maudie,
Feïrent trop grant renardie,
Car elles feïrent ensamble
Si tres grant noise, ce me samble,
Qu’on ne pot oïr le chanter
Qui les roches sot enchanter,
Et la failli l’enchantement
Qui vint de son dous chantement.
N’onques puis chanson ne chanta,
Bois ne rivieres n’enchanta;
Einsois le poëtte divin
Fu la mors et gettez souvin.
Les nimphes dou bois le plourerent
Parfondement, et moult l’amerent,
Et de tous les arbres les genres,
Les grans, les moiens, et les menres,
Et les rivieres ensement
Le plourerent parfondement
Et si qu’elle en furent tourblees,
Et acreües et plus lees.
Je ne te puis mie tout dire:
Que devint son chief et sa lire;
Et comment Phebus le sauva
Dou fier serpent qui le trouva;
Et comment son ame en enfer
Ala, et comment Lucifer
D’Erudice la compaignie
Li bailla, sa femme et s’amie,
Car ce seroit a reciter
Trop longue chose et a diter.
Mais selonc la poëterie,
Telle fu sa mort et sa vie.
Cuides tu se Orpheüs sceüst
Que Erudice avoir ne deüst,
Qu’il se fust mis en aventure
D’entreprendre voie si dure?
Nennil! Mais Espoirs l’i mena
Qu’i si bonnement s’en pena
Qu’il heüst son fait achevé
S’amours ne li heüst grevé.
Si qu’amis fay, que qu’il avengne,
Qu’Esperence adés te compeingne,
Car c’est la milleur compaingnie
Qu’a cuer puist estre acompaingnie.

Quant Paris ala querre Heleinne,
Dont il endura moult de peinne,
Yl y ala en esperence
D’avoir s’amour et s’acointence.
Et quant si tres bele la vit,
Par le gré d’elle la ravit
Ou temple Juno la deesse.
Venus li bailla sa promesse
Que elle li avoit promise,
Quant seur li fu la cause mise
Pour donner la pomme doree
Que Discorde avoit aportee
Aus .iij. deesses de valour,
L’une de scens, l’autre d’amour,
L’autre de richesse ou d’avoir.
Chascune la voloit avoir,
Mais Venus tant le sermonna
Que li pastouriaus li donna,
Dont toute Troie fu destruite,
Et tuit li sien mort ou en fuite,
Et il meïsmes en fu mors,
Dont Heleinne ot meint dur remors,
Et ploura meinte larme amere
O Ecuba, sa chiere mere.
Paris entre lui et sa gent
L’en menerent par mer nagent
A Troie, ou fu sa mansion
Dedens le chastel d’Ylion.
Cuides tu, se Paris pensast
Que dame Heleinne le tensast
Ne qu’a s’amour deüst faillir,
Qu’il la fust alee assaillir?
Nennil! Mais quant pas ne failli,
Je di qu’espoirs moult li vali,
Qu’espoir, ymagination
Font le cas — c’est m’entention —
Et les besongnes miex en viennent
A tous ceaus q’en bien les tiennent.

Quant Herculés se combati
Atheleüs, qu’il abati
Pour la bele Deyamire,
(Q’estoit tant belle, a droit dire,
Qu’autre dame ne damoiselle
N’estoit si gente ne si belle),
Atheleüs avoit maniere
Tele qu’en une grant riviere
Se muoit ou en .i. serpent
Qui tenoit de terre .i. erpent,
Ou tor sauvage se faisoit
Toutes les fois qu’il li plaisoit
Si se mua en .i. fier tor.
Herculés par le destre cor
Le prist et si fort le hacha
Qu’il li rompi et arracha,
Dont Atheleüs desconfis
Fu, et son cor pris et confis.
Les Naiadïennes le prirent,
D’espices et de fleurs l’emplirent,
Et de pommes, si l’en porterent,
Et puis si le sacrefierent
Et le tenoient a l’office
Quant faisoient leur sacrefice.
Et scez que Herculés devint?
Il vesqui des ans plus de vint
En si grant saut, en si grant bruit
Que tous li mondes de li bruit.
Mais la belle Deyamire
Le fist morir a grant martyre,
Nom pas malicieusement,
Einsois le fist ignoranment
Par la chemise envenimee
Qui li fu d’elle presentee.
Nessus estoit .i. sagittaire
Que Herculés occist a traire
Si qu’il fu a sa mort tendant.
A la belle fist entendant
Que tant come il la vestiroit,
Par amours autre n’ameroit.
Et la belle qu’amours affole
Fu deceüe comme fole
Que, pour croire son anemi,
Perdi Herculés son amy.
Mais Herculés ne se tint mie
A li, eins fist une autre amie
Qu’il ama, une damoiselle
Qu’on clamoit Yolaim la belle,
Et tant l’ama, c’est chose voire,
Qu’il en perdi scens et memoire,
S’onneur, et sa chevalerie.
Lors de si mortel jalousie
Deyamire fu esprise
Que li envoia la chemise
Par Licas, qui en roche dure
Fu muëz (encor en mer dure).
Herculés einsi s’en vanja,
Mais puis ne but ne ne menja,
Eins fu mors et deïfiez
Par les diex et glorefiez.

Cuides tu que Herculés peüst
Avoir, s’Esperence n’eüst,
Si belle et si noble victoire?
Je ne di pas qu’on doie croire
Qu’Esperence dou tout le face,
Mais elle conforte et solace
Et donne cuer et hardement
Par tout ou elle est vraiement.
Et aussi estoit la presente
La douce ymage cointe et gente
De la bele Deyamire,
Ou Herculés souvent se mire.
Aussi bien te pues tu mirer
En ton ymage et remirer
Sa grant biauté, son cointe atour,
Et son gentil corps fait a tour,
Et esperer qu’encor sera
Li bons jours qu’elle te fera
Joie par parole et par fait
De cuer fin, loial, et parfait.

Mais, pour chose que je te die,
Garde toy bien que t’estudie
Soit adés tout premierement
En servir Dieu devotement,
Qu’il n’est amour qui se compere
A s’amour, foy que doy saint Pere,
Ne chose, tant soit pure, en monde,
Ne que riens contre tout le monde,
Ou comme une ymage en pointure
Contre une vive creature.
Encor te dirai un confort
Ou moult durement me confort,
Et tu t’i dois bien conforter
En l’oïr, et en deporter,
Se un petit me vues escouter.
Je te vueil prouver et conter
Que ta prise est pour ton millour,
Ton bien, ton profit, et t’onnour.
On dit souvent parmi la ville,
Et le tient on pour euvangile
(Pluseurs fois l’ay oï debatre)
Qu’il te faloit l’un des ces quatre,
Se tu nous fusses demourez:
Car tu fusses deshonnourez,
Mors, ou pris, ou que la bataille
Venquisses, et c’estoit sans faille
Une moult forte chose a faire,
Qui bien considere l’affaire,
Car les gens d’armes a grans routes
S’en alerent, et nom pas toutes,
Car li preudomme demourerent
Et tuit li autre s’en alerent.
La fu pris li bons rois de France,
Qui ot tel cuer et tel constance
Qu’onques Judas Machabeüs,
Hector ne Cesar Julius,
Alixandre ne Charlemainne,
Qui tint l’empire en son demainne,
Godefroy de Buillon, ne Artus,
Ayaus, Achillés, Troïllus,
Gauvains, Tristans, ne Lancelos,
Rolans, n’Ogiers — bien dire l’os —
Guillaume, Oliviers, ne Pompee
N’orent si tres bonne journee,
Ne ne firent tant comme il fist.
En .i. jour trop en desconfist,
Mais seuls ne pooit pas souffire
Pour tout le monde desconfire,
Qu’entour lui furent pris et mort
Sa gent de moult piteuse mort,
Et il pris: c’est pitez et diex.
Or pri devotement que Diex
Et sa mere le nous ramaint,
Et que pacïence li maint,
Einsi comme je le desir
De bon cuer et de vrai desir.

Mais il couvient que je te prueve
Ce que je t’ay dit, sans contrueve.
Miex te vausist vif enfouïr
Ou .x. fois morir que fuïr,
Car tu fusses deshonnourez
Se tu ne fusses demourez.
Et se mors fusses en la place,
Diex t’ehust fait honneur et grace.
Et s’il avenist que pris fusses,
Certes jamais joie ne heüsses,
Car tu fusses si fort pilliez,
Si destruis, et si essilliez,
Qu’on te demandast .x. fois plus
Que n’eüsses, et au seurplus
De ton tans perdisses la rose,
Qui ne m’est pas petite chose.
Eins me samble la riens, sans feindre,
Que tu deüsses plus fort pleindre;
Ou tu fusses par aventure
Toute ta vie en tel ordure,
Ou par une d’ans.
Miex te vaurroit tirer les dans
Ou tu yes (einsi je le te prueve
Et qui bien estat, ne se mueve),
Ou tu fusses en Engleterre
En prison sous clef et sous serre,
Ne peüsses venir n’aler,
Et n’eüsses a qui parler
Se n’apreïsses le langage
En ta prison et en ta cage.
Mais ce n’est pas chose legiere
De l’apenre en tele maniere.
La ne trouvasses verité,
Equité, raison, ne pité,
Plaisence, amour, fors le contraire
De tout ce qu’on te deüst faire.
Tout ce pues veoir clerement
Par vray et juste experiment,
Car maint en sont mat et perdu,
Honni, destruit, et esperdu
D’estat, d’onneur, et de chevense.
Et maint de ceste pestilence
Sont mort, dont leur hoïr tel seront
Que jamais ne reverdiront,
Dont c’est grans dues et grans damages.
Mais c’est la guise et li usages
Dou temps qui court presentement,
Car on le voit communement.
Si qu’il ne t’est pas mescheü,
Eins di qu’il t’est tres bien cheü,
Et que c’est ton bien et t’onnour
Quant tu es pris de tel signour
Qui te fera droit et justise,
Et grace s’a li est requise.

Encor te vueil je sermonner,
Et un autre conseil donner.
Bien croy que tu eschaperas
Briefment, ou delivrés seras
A honneur, et Diex le t’otroie,
Car, par m’ame, je le vorroie.
Je te pri que tu te meinteingnes
En tel maniere, ou que tu veingnes,
Qu’onneur et honnesté toudis
En tous tes fais, en tous tes dis
Aies et en cuer et en bouche,
Car c’est villenie et reproche,
Et deshonneur certeinnement
De parler deshonnestement.

Pour Dieu, ne soies variables,
Mais justes, fermes, et estables,
Autant pour toy com contre toy,
Et n’oublie pas mon chastoy,
Car ce affiert trop bien a personne
Qui vuet que Dieus honneur li donne.
Tu ne dois c’un seul mot avoir,
Mais riens ne dois dire que voir
Car tes paroles escoutees
Seront plus qu’autres et notees.

Soies liés et abandonnez,
Et partout soit li tiens donnés
De tres bon cuer et volentiers,
Qu’autrement n’est li dons entiers
Qu’onques princes, pleins d’avarice,
Ne fu vaillans, c’est trop grant vice.
Ne te doubte d’avoir finance,
Car l’onneur avec la chevence
Te venra se tu le dessers.
Et se tu ta richesse sers,
C’est trop honteuse servitute.
Et saches, biaus amis, que tu te
Honnis et més a deshonneur.
Fi de richesse sans honneur!
Mais honneur est bien sans richesse,
Et certes, c’est plus grant noblesse
D’avoir honneur et povres estre
Que sans honneur estre grant mestre
Et avoir d’or une grant somme.
Nompourquant je di, c’est la somme,
N’est richesse qui honneur vaille.
Honneur est grains; richesse est paille.
Dont qui a honneur, il est riches,
N’il ne doit or prisier .ij. chiches
Qu’il ne puet avoir nul deffaut,
Qu’onneur demeure et avoir faut.

Pren garde au bon roy de Behaingne,
Qui en France et en Alemaingne,
En Savoie et en Lombardie,
En Dannemarche et en Hongrie,
En Pouleinne, en Russe, en Cracoe,
En Masouve, en Prusse, en Letoe
Ala pris et honneur conquerre.
Il donnoit fiez, joiaus, et terre,
Or, argent; riens ne retenoit
Fors l’onneur; ad ce se tenoit.
Et il en avoit plus que nuls.
Des bons fu li mieudres tenus.
De son bien tous li cuers me rit,
Et pour ce aussi qu’il me nourrit.
Il ne pooit estre lassez
De donner, et s’avoit assez
Toudis quelque part qu’il venist.
Et par ma foy, s’il avenist
Qu’il heüst .ij. .c. mille livres,
Il en fust en .i. jour delivres,
Qu’a gens d’armes les departoit,
Et puis sans denier se partoit.
Je le say bien, car je l’ay fait
Plus de .i. fois de fait.
Je ne di pas en si grant somme
Com dessus le devise et somme.
Einsois le di par aventure.
Briefment, il n’avoit d’argent cure,
Ne riens qu’onneur ne desiroit.
La ses cuers seulement tiroit.
S’il avoit une cote grise
De drap de Pouleinne ou de Frise,
Et .i. cheval tant seulement,
Il li souffissoit hautement.
Il n’avoit pas tous ses aviaus,
Car souvent mengoit des naviaus,
Des feves, et dou pain de soile,
D’un haran, d’une soupe a l’oile
Par deffaut de bonne viande.
Et si te respon sans demande
Qu’il n’avoit tapis ne courtine,
N’autre chose qui encourtine
Son lit, eins prenoit a l’ostel
Ce qu’il trouvoit. Onques n’ot tel
Ou munde, ne si patient.
De riens n’estoit impatient.
Et s’il estoit en bonne ville
Ou en lieu pour le fairë, il le
Trouvast, c’estoit tout despendu,
Tout donné et tout respandu.
Mais il s’aisoit en sa maison
Si que miex ne s’aisa mais hom.

Mais je te jur et te prommet
Qu’il estoit en si haut sommet
D’onneur qu’il n’avoit si haut homme
Voisin, ne l’empereur de Romme,
Que s’il li vosist mouvoir guerre
Ou faire qu’il ne l’alast querre
Tout en milieu de son païs.
N’estoit pas de ses gens haïs,
Car chascuns l’amoit et servoit
Pour ce que bien le desservoit.
Et adés si bien se chevi
Qu’onques encor signeur ne vi
Qui telle force avoir peüst
Qu’en sa terre une nuit geüst.
Que fist il premiers en Behaingne?
Que qui s’en loe ou qui s’en plaingne,
Par force d’armes et d’amis
En subjection les a mis.
Comment qu’il li fussent rebelle
Tuit, mais il gaaingna la querelle,
Et maintes fois se combati,
Dont maint grant orgueil abati.
Aprés ce vint a Esselingne,
Une ville qu’est en Duringne.
La l’ordre ot de chevalerie
Et a moult noble compaingnie
Se combati par tel maniere
Eu milieu d’une grant riviere
Q’l’eaue en fu vermeille et teinte
Une demi lieue d’enseinte.
Mais ses annemis desconfit
A s’onneur et a son profit.

De la s’en ala en Baiviere
Et a desploïe baniere
Et compaingnie noble et riche
Desconfit le duc d’Osteriche.
Mais il le prist par la ventaille
A force dedens la bataille,
Et le mena a Bruguelis,
Son chastel, ou n’a fleur de lis
Car il y fait froit en esté.
Bien le say, car je y ay esté.
Le rois se dut loer de Mars,
Car il en ot cent mille mars
Et pluseurs forteresses bonnes,
Qui de Behaingne sont les bonnes.

De la s’en ala en Pouleinne,
Et la conquist a moult grant peinne.
Aussi conquist il Breselau,
Qui estoit le duc Boselau,
Et .xiij. dus qui tout hommage
Le firent par son vasselage.
Je le vi, pour ce le tesmong,
Car partout en seray tesmong.
Bien .x. ans roys s’en appella
Et puis il s’en ala de la
Droit eu roiaume de Cracoe
Et par les glaces en Letoe.
Crestienner fist en une ville
Des mescreans plus de sis mille.
Li lieus avoit nom Medouagle,
Et ne tien pas que ce soit fable
Qu’encor prist il .iiij. fortresses,
Qui dou païs furent maistresses:
Xedeytain et Gedemine,
Gegusë, Aukahan; et si ne
Demoura la homme ne fame
Qui ne perdist le corps et l’ame;
Ne riens qui demourast en vie,
Maugré le can de Tartarie,
A qui Letoe est tributaire.
Et encor leur fist tel contraire
Qu’il leur gasta plus de païs
Qu’il n’a de Bruges a Paris.
Car presens fui a ceste feste.
Je le vi des yex de ma teste.
Puis fu il par .ij. fois en Prusse,
A moult grant honneur, et en Russe.
Aprés conquist en Lombardie
Parme, Rege, Mode, Pavie,
Et jusques a .xij. citez.
On scet bien que c’est veritez.
Il fu sires de Pietrecent,
Et de Luques, mais plus de cent,
Voire de mil, tout a .i. sible,
L’appelloient le roy paisible.

Que fist il devant Basenouve,
A Senouain et a Lendouve,
Et devant La ou fu li Hongres
A .c. mille hommes (c’est li nombres)?
Trop fist de choses merveilleuses,
Apertes, sages, perilleuses.
Se toutes les voloie dire,
Je ne les te porroie lire
Ou compter en jour et demi.
Et si n’ot onques annemi
Qu’il ne chastiast par tel guise
Que l’onneur en avoit acquise.
Mais einsois qu’il finast sa vie,
Par scens, par armes, par maistrie
Fist que roy, duc, marquis, et conte
Fist son fil, qui a droit le conte,
Et le fist signeur de l’empire.
De li ne pense or plus a dire,
Fors qu’il a richesse a son oues.
Si que, biaus amis, se tu vues
Bien retenir ceste lesson,
Au cuer t’en sera dous le son.
De ce qu’il fist dessa le Rin
Me taïs, car maint bon pelerin,
Maint chevalier et mainte dame
Scevent qu’il n’i ot point de blame.

Garde seur tout ta loiauté;
Ne soit laidure, ne biauté,
Amour, ne faveur, ne haïne,
Ne chose en monde qui t’encline
A faire riens de desloial.
Car trop messiet a cuer roial.
Aussi seroit il en .i. homme
Qui n’aroit vaillant une pomme,
Mais en .i. prince est plus parent
Qu’il n’est en son povre parent.

Et s’aucuns te voloit sousquerre
Ou mouvoir en ton païs guerre,
Pren conseil a ceuls qui feront
Tout ce qu’il te conseilleront,
Car la chevense avec la vie
Y va; pour ce ne doubte mie
Qu’il ne te mesconsilleroient
Pour rien, car il s’en honniroient.

Ne fais pas clers tes consaus d’armes,
Qui doivent prier pous les ames,
Et doivent compter et escrire,
Et chanter leur messes ou lire,
Et consillier les jugemens
Aus consaus et aus parlemens
Si que tien chascun en son ordre
Si bien qu’il n’i ait que remordre.

Se tu sens que tes anemis
Veingne, mande tous tes amis
Et fai tantost ton mandement
Si bien, si bel, si sagement
Qu’nuls n’i sache qu’amender.
Mais garde le contremander,
Car li contremant dou roiaume
Ont fait ardoir maint toit de chaume,
Dont encor apperent les traces
En mains leus et en maintes places.
Et s’il faut que tu contremandes,
Garde toy bien qu’a Dieu commandes,
Et mercie tres humblement
Ceuls que tu porras bonnement,
Et leur offre chiens et oiseaus
A chevaliers, a damoiseaus.
Se tu as que donner, si donne;
Se tu ne l’as, di a chiere bonne
Que bien les guerredonneras,
Et le fay quant aaisiez seras.
S’einsi le fais, tuit t’ameront
Et de bon cuer te serviront.

Et se tu has guerre ou riote
A ton voisin qui te riote,
Saches premiers se tu has droit;
Et se tu l’as, en tout endroit
Te dois hardiement deffendre.
Mais je te vueil dire et aprendre
Que, pour despendre ta chemise,
Ne met ton heritage en mise
Pour cas qu’i te puist avenir,
Qu’un autre le porroit tenir.
Et s’il est que tu aies tort,
N’aies pas le cuer si entort
Qu’a toutes raisons ne te mettes,
Et que tort ensus de ti gettes.
Somme le tant, fai li tant d’offres
Qu’on voie par ce que tu offres
Qu’il n’a mie droit s’il s’excuse
Dou prendrë et s’il le refuse.
Deffen toy bien et baudement
S’il t’assaut, et certeinnement
Je croy qu’en ce droit t’aidera
Diex, et qu’il le confundera,
Car cils qui fait ce qu’il ne doit,
Il li vient ce qu’il ne vorroit.

Et s’il est qu’on pregne astinences,
Trieves, ou aucunes souffrances,
Pour Dieu ne les vueilliez brisier.
Trop t’en feroies desprisier,
Car vraiement, c’est traïson,
Et me doub que la vengison
N’en prenist Diex, nostre Signeur,
En corps, en biens, et en honneur.

Et s’il avient que tu t’embates
En tel lieu ou tu te combates,
Et que Diex te donne victoire,
Biaus amis, ne t’en donne gloire,
Mais loe Dieu, car de li vient,
Nom pas de toy. Et s’il avient
Que tu prengnes tes anemis,
Ne soient plus feru ne mis
Villeinnement, mais a franchise
Te conseille, sans couvoitise,
Si que homs ne puist apercevoir
Que tu ne faces ton devoir,
Car contre honneur fait et mesprent
Qui leur meffait puis qu’il les prent.
Gentilment fay ce qu’en feras,
Et encor le retrouveras,
Car bonté faite autre requiert,
Et ce li mestiers d’armes quiert.

Et s’il est que desconfis soies
Et que tes gens mors et pris voies,
Ja soit ce que li cuers t’en dueille,
Garde que ton oueil ne s’en mueille,
Car c’est maniere de commere
Qui doit plourer l’ame sa mere.
Pren bon conseil et par avis
Fay ton fait, car il m’est avis
Que la congnoist on la vaillance
D’un prince mieus et sa prudence,
Qu’en cas qui li puist avenir,
Ne la victoire appartenir
Ne puet a la desconfiture,
Ne tant n’i faut scens et mesure,
Soit a combatre ou a retraire.
Mais tu dois ceste chose faire,
Se tu pues, a ton avantage
Par maniere honnorable et sage.

Encor faut il que je t’aprengne
Le dit au bon roy de Behaingne.
Il disoit que prince a toute heure
Soit pour la guerre a son desseure
Et a son dessous au tournoy,
Dont mais parler a ce jour n’oy.
Mais riens ne prisoit grant puissance,
Ne gens d’armes sans ordenance,
Et qui des chiés entierement
N’estoient en commandement.
Cuides tu par grant assamblee
Avoir d’armes haute journee
Se de tes hommes n’ies amez?
Nennil! Tels est sires clamez
Qu’il ne l’est pas de son païs
Car de ses hommes est haïs.
Si qu’amis, fai par toute voie
Que tu sambles l’oisel de proie,
Qui vuet le cuer tant seulement.
Se les cuers as, legierement
Aras le corps et la chevance,
Dont honneur aras et vaillance,
Car riens n’aront qu’il ne te baillent,
Et tuit morront eins q’l te faillent.
Mais cuides tu, pour estre eschars,
Pour garder tes vins et tes chars,
Ton or, ton argent, tes jouiaus,
Tes robes a dorés nouiaus,
Tes destriers, tes courciers, tes selles,
Aquerir les victoires belles?
Nennil! N’i met mie t’estude,
Car le sens aroies trop rude.
Mais douceur, franchise, largesse,
Diligence, amour, hardiesse,
D’onneur et de victoire don
Te feront; c’est biau guerredon.

Et se ti annemi si fort
Sont qu’il gisent par leur effort,
Maugré toy, dedens ton païs,
Ne soies pas si esbahis
Pour riens qui te puist avenir
Que paroles faces tenir
De traitié, de pais, ou de trieves.
Y te vaurroit mieus estre a Trieves
Ou a Romme, sans revenir.
Laisse Fortune couvenir
Qu’aprés seur eaus chevaucheras
Plus fort. Einsi t’en vengeras.
Mais l’onneur seroit trop blecie
Et doublee ta villenie
Se tu estoies en traitié
Avec eaus d’aucune amitié
Puis qu’il yroient mal traitant
Toy et ton païs en traitant.

Mais se ti anemi d’acort
Sont d’eaus retraire, bien m’acort,
Euls retrais, que hardiement
Tu traites bien et sagement.
Se ton bon y vois, si le pren.
Mais je te conseil et t’apren
Que, comment que li traitiez prengne,
Que ton fait a l’onneur se teigne,
Qu’onneur crie partout et vuet:
“Fais que dois, aveigne que puet.”
Aussi le vuet li mestiers d’armes.
Fai le adés dont, et quant tu t’armes,
Et ne croy homme dou contraire,
Qu’einsi le doit tout prince faire
S’il n’est tels qu’il mette a .i. conte
Et a un pris honneur et honte.

Et se tu n’as de guerre point,
Tu pues mettre dou tien a point,
Bien acquis, et non autrement,
Pour servir bien et richement
Tes bons amis, s’il ont a faire;
Ou de hors dou païs vues traire,
Et aler en estrange terre
Honneur et vasselage acquerre,
Soit en Castelle ou en Grenade
(Qui est une voie moult sade),
En Alemaingne, en Rommenie,
Ou en Prusse, ou en Lombardie,
Plus priveement t’aideras
Dou tien que ne l’emprunteras.
Mais je te pri, quoy qu’on te die,
Pren la milleur chevalerie
De quoy tu porras recouvrer,
Ne qu’on porra pour or trouver.
Soit prés, soit long, fai que tu l’aies,
Et se tu l’as, pas ne t’esmaies
Qu’avoir puisses confusion.
Pren toutes gens d’election,
Et ne te charge de merdaille.
Car il n’est tresors qui riens vaille,
Car c’est l’onneur, l’estat, la vie
D’un prince a tele compaignie.
Et certes, li uns en vaut .iiij.,
Soit a conseil, soit a combatre.
Soit au sejour, soit a la peinne,
Chascuns de mieus faire se peinne.
N’on ne les puet en guise mestre
Qu’onneur ne facent a leur mestre.
Bien fait qui de tels gens se hourde.
Je te di voir, qui que te bourde,
Et t’amentoy ce qu’on doit faire,
Car je ne me puis des bons taire.
Se tu as ci dessus leü,
Je les t’ay ja ramenteü.

Et se tu prens gens de niant,
Tu te pers tout a essient,
Qu’assés plus de bien gasteront
Que li bon n’en despenderont.
Dont par eaus seras diffamez,
Et meins prisiez et meins amés,
Povres, chetis, et mendians.
S’il te tiennent en leurs lians,
Ne mais ne passera ta porte
Honneur, eins sera pour toy morte.
Se tu t’armes, en aventure
Seras d’estre a desconfiture;
Car teles gens ne doubtent honte,
Et si ne scevent qu’onneur monte.
S’il te meschiet, ne te saroient
De riens aidier, qu’il ne porroient.
Si q’amis, soies sus ta garde
Encontre tels gens et t’en garde,
Qu’on doit a son oueil mettre a l’erbe
Qu’on congnoist et qui pas n’enherbe.

Aies toudis bonnes espies,
Que qu’il couste, et ou tu te fies,
Et les paie si largement
Qu’il te servent hardiement
Par quoy tu saches le couvine
Des annemis. Ceste doctrine
Est la chose plus neccessaire
Que je congnoisse en ton affaire;
Car je te promet et t’affie
Que mieus vaut une bonne espie
Qui fait son fait seürement
C’un advocat en parlement;
Qu’on ne puet, sans bien espier
Ses anemis bien guerrier.
Mais princes qui scet bien qu’il font,
Il s’onneure et si les confont,
Car il a toudis l’avantage,
S’il a cuer, scens, ou vasselage.

Se tu pues sentir ou veoir
Que tes anemis asseoir
En bourc, en chastel, ou en ville
Te vueillent, aies tant de guille
Qu’adés aies la clef des chans
S’orras des oisillons les chans.
Et ne te laisse par .i. siege,
Einsi comme un leu, penre au piege.
Et se tu y vues demourer,
Y te couvient sans demourer
Yssir a plain et toy combatre
Pour ton heritage debatre,
Ou ton honneur n’i seroit mie.
Tien donc la plus seinne partie,
Car je te jur et asseür
Qu’estre hors est le plus seür,
Le milleur, le plus honnourable:
Et celi qui est plus grevable
Aus annemis. De ce t’avis
Sans plus, par maniere d’avis,
Qu’il n’apartient en nulle guise
Que uns princes en sa ville assise
Soit, car il se doit pourchacier,
Tant aler, venir, et tracier
Qu’il puist lever ses annemis
Par force d’armes et d’amis.
Mais assis, il n’a de pourchas,
Ne que li princes des eschas
A qui on dit eschac et mat.
Amis, garde toy de tel mat,
Et ne te met a portion,
Car ce seroit desrision,
Qu’on ne scet en tele aventure
Com longuement la chose dure.
Et se voit on tout en appert
Que une ville souvent se pert
Par mal song ou par traïson,
Par famine ou discention.
Qui de ces .iiij. poins se garde
En fort ville assise, il n’a garde:
S’elle est de bonne gent garnie,
D’engiens et d’autre artillerie.
Se de ce y avoit defaut,
On la porroit penre d’assaut.

Et se Diex si ton fait adresse
Que lieu pregnes ou fortresse
Ou il ait dames, damoiselles,
Bourgoises, filles, et pucelles,
En nom de la vierge Marie
A ton pooir ne sueffre mie
Que de tiens soient violees,
Corrompues, ne desflourees.
Et se homme y a qui les efforce
Ou qui les vueille penre a force,
Fay justice, et on s’en tenra,
Et par Dieu, grans biens t’en venra
Car c’est deshonneur et grant honte
A .i. prince qui tant s’ahonte
Qu’il sueffre tels gens en sa route
Et tel meffait, et ne fay doubte
Qu’en ce cas en ta sauve garde
Doivent estre. Amis, or les garde
Et seur ce fay tel ordenance
Que chascuns sache sa sentence,
Et fay tant qu’elle soit tenue
Ou elle est de nulle value.

Et s’il y a femme qui gise,
Soit tantost ton enseigne mise
Seur le sommet de sa maison,
Et en ce garde si raison
Qu’il n’i ait home qui la touche
De piet, ne de main, ne de bouche.
Einsi le faisoit, dont j’en ri,
Li bons fils l’empereur Hanri,
Qu’en son ost n’estoit si hardis
Qu’en ce ne fust acouardis
Et que la teste ne perdist
S’a femme efforcier s’aërdist.

Aussi faisoit il autre chose
Dont s’ame Dieus prise et alose,
Et je le tesmongne encor tel
Qu’onques en .i. pechié mortel
Ne volt se couchier ne armer.
Devoit on bien tel homme amer?
Fai einsi, si feras que sages,
Car c’est uns bons et biaus usages,
Et cils qui a Dieu souvent compte,
Il li rent bon et juste compte.
Mais viez pechiés et vieilles debtes
Font a Dieu compter a clugnettes,
C’est a dire qu’il n’i voit goute.
Non fait cils qui le compte escoute.

Se tu as .ij. voisins ou .iij.
Q’marchissent a tes destroit,
Ne soiez mal des .iij. ensamble.
Cils qui ce fait au fol ressamble.
Mais se tu pues, soies bien d’eus,
Au meins ou de l’un ou des .ij.,
Par quoy, se li tiers te menasse
Q’petit doubtes sa menasse.
Car se riches, puissans, et fors
Sont, ce te sera grans effors.
Einsi chascuns princes le fait,
Qui bien vuet joïr de son fait.
Et on dit adés, biaus amis:
“De plus d’amis, meins d’anemis.”
Mais encor te vueil aviser
D’une chose ou moult dois viser,
Si te pri que tu la reteingnes:
Et que nullement ne desdeingnes
Ton povre ou petit anemi,
Car, foy que doy l’ame de mi,
On en voit assez mescheoir.
Et tu le pues assez veoir.
Car il ne fera que veillier,
Ymaginer, et soustillier
Comment de lui grevez seras;
Et tu riens ne le priseras
Ne point ne seras seur ta garde,
Si que tu ne t’en donras garde,
Qu’il te porra tuer ou prendre.
Et s’avient souvent que li mendre
Ont plus de vaillence et d’onneur
Que n’ont li prince et li signeur
Qu’a ce neccessité les meinne,
Si s’en mettent en plus grant peinne.
Tu vois une plaie petite
Dont on ne donroit une mitte.
Quant cils qui l’a riens n’i aconte,
Elle envenime et croist et monte
Tant qu’on ne trueve si bon mire,
Ne homme qui t’en sache que dire,
Ne phisicien qui s’i congnoisse.
S’en muert aucune fois d’engoisse.
Einsi est il, se Diex me gart,
De tout princë ou n’a regart
A soy, quant en guerre se boute,
Et qui son anemi ne doubte.
Car je te promet, biaus amis,
Qu’il n’est nuls petis anemis,
Ne plaie aussi ou aconter
Ne doiez. Oÿ l’ay compter.
Or te pri que de ce te membres
Et ne te joue de tes membres.

Ne passe tant d’onneur les termes
Que dedens ta chambre t’enfermes
Pour homme qui veingne a ta court,
Car renommee, qui tost court,
Te diffameroit par tout, si que
On diroit: “C’est une relique
Qu’on ne voit c’une fois l’annee.”
Pis en vaurroit ta renommee.
Mais compaingne les chevaliers,
Les gens d’armes, les escuiers,
Et parle aus grans et aus petis
(De ce ne soies alentis!)
Et porte honneur a toutes femmes
Soient damoiselles ou dames,
Grandes, moiennes, ou petites.
Garde que nulles n’en despites,
Car plus d’onneur te porteras
Qu’a elles quant tu le feras.

Mengüe en ta sale souvent
Et tien de tes gens le couvent,
Qu’il leur souffist en ta presence
Trop mieus et a meins de despense.
Mais je te pris trop chierement
(Q’ne croies legierement)
Et que de garçons ne t’acointes
Car c’est trop perilleus acointes,
Et que tu t’armes volentiers,
Car c’est tes souvereins mestiers.
N’autre honneur n’as, n’autre scïence
Qu’armes, dames, et conscïence.
Fay toy servir par bonne gent
Et leur donne de ton argent.
Ou chose autre, s’i le desservent,
Tant que plus loiaument te servent.

De fol et d’ivre ne t’aproche,
Car gent sont de si grant reproche
Qu’il n’en porroit nul bien venir.
Mais bien en puet mesavenir.
Garde toy bien, quoy que tu dies,
Q’de personne ne mesdies.
Et s’on mesdit ou tu seras,
En l’eure le rabateras.
Car tels mesdit souvent d’autrui
Qu’il a moult a mesdire en lui.
Soies diligens et songneus,
Qu’onques juenes hom paresseus
Ne pot a haute honneur venir,
Ne son heritage tenir,
Qu’il n’en perde ou qu’on ne li tole.
Tu yes tous les jours a l’escole
Dou veoir par experience,
Si te dois moult bien mirer en ce.
Ne te laisse desheriter
Pour riens qu’on te puist enditer,
Car par ma foy, mieus ameroie,
S’empereres ou rois estoie,
Despendre tout en bonne guerre
Qu’on me tollist .i. piet de terre,
Car tout prince desherité
Vit a honte et a grant vilté.

Soies humbles, courtois, et frans,
Et de tes bons amis souffrans
Et crueus a tes annemis.
Ja ne soies lens ne remis,
Et ne te vange par tencier,
Par parole, ou par menacier.
Mais parle pou, fai ta besongne.
Sages est qui einsi besongne.
Mais encor supplier te vueil
Que seur tout te garde d’orgueil,
Car de tous vices c’est li pires,
Et cils que plus het nostres Sires,
Et si fait l’omme trebuchier,
Et paresse le fait mendier.
Se tu fais aucune sotie
Et uns povres homs te chastie,
Pour Dieu pren en gré son chastoy
Tout aussi bien comme d’un roy,
Et tien que de cuer t’amera
Quant en secret te blasmera.
Car qui doctrine ne reçoit
En gré de tous, trop se deçoit.
Et si n’est homs, tant soit parfais,
Qui n’erre par dis ou par fais.
Saches souvent la vois dou pueple,
Quel parole de toy il pueple.
S’elle est bonne, ren Dieu löange.
S’elle est mauvaise, ne t’en vange,
Car qui se vuet de tout vangier
Son pain ne puet en pais mengier.
Mais t’amende eins que on te somme,
Si feras ouevre de preudomme.

Se tu vues bien faire et bien vivre,
Soies ordenez en ton vivre,
Car mengier souvent et menu
Ha fait que pluseur sont venu
A leur mort; ne ce n’est pas vie
De vivre en tel gourmanderie,
Eins est vie de beste mue,
Qui toudis runge et toudis mue.
Qui ne se couche a heure et lieve,
C’est une chose qui tant grieve
Qu’on en haste souvent sa mort.
Ne scet qu’il fait qui s’i amort,
Qu’au meins est ce une si grant peinne
Qu’on en pert couleur et aleinne
Et Dieu servir et ses besongnes.
Tu t’ocis s’en ce t’embesongnes.
Que valent teles veilleries
Et puis tels longues dormeries?
Certes, onques bien ordonnez
Ne fu qui ad ce fu donnez.
Mais princes qui fort se traveille
Et qui dou cuer et de l’ueil veille
Pour ses anemis resveillier,
La se doit il bien travillier.
Et certes, ce n’est pas travail,
Ce samble a moy, qui petit vail,
Eins est repos qui renouvelle
Honneur, qui porte tel nouvelle
Que ses annemis trop aville
Qui leur grieve a champ et a ville.
Si que point ne travilleras
Quant en ce faisant veilleras,
Qu’onneur n’est — qui en veille, rie —
Si fort comme en tel veillerie.

Amis, ne fai pas tel outrage
Com de brisier ton mariage,
Car vraiement qui y enchiet,
Dieus s’en couresse et l’en meschiet.
Biaus amis, soiez si discrez
Que tu ne dies tes secrez
Ne chose que vueilles celer
A personne qui reveler
Le doie — nelui ne te nomme,
Mais je n’exepte femme, ne homme.
Ne je ne me porroie taire
Que ne te mette en exemplaire
Ton bon pere et ta bonne mere,
Car c’est la riens qui plus te pere
Et fait d’onneur que leur vaillance.
Tant orent bonté et puissance
Qu’onnneur si les embellissoit
Que d’eaus tout bon et bel issoit.
Aussi ti bon predecesseur
Qui furent plus grant amasseur
D’onneur, et trop plus en avoient
Que nuls, resgarde qu’il faisoient
Et tu feras tout le contraire
De quanque tu vois ores faire.
Il estoient honnestement
De tres fin drap et richement
Vestis, fourrez, et abilliez.
Ne sambloient pas essilliez,
Car de si grant magnificence
N’estoit il nuls rois, sans doubtance,
Ne que on deüst tant amer,
Car deça mer et dela mer
Couroit leur bonne renommee
Et l’onnesté de leur contree.
Il avoient, s’il leur plaisoit
(Et miex qu’a autres leur loisoit)
Robes riches et curïeuses,
Pleinnes de pierres precïeuses,
De rubiz, de saphirs, de pelles,
Mais n’i acontoient .ij. melles,
N’il ne metoient pas leurs cures
En porter tels vesteüres.
Or voy que li roy et li conte,
Li prince et li duc n’ont pas honte
De vestir .i. povre pourpoint
Qui leur est fais trop mal a point.
Plus n’en di qu’il n’apartient mie
Que je des seigneurs chose die
Qui leur puist ou doie desplaire.
Mais il voient par exemplaire
Des autres qui einsi le font
Qu’onneur et honnestét deffont.
Et quant il se vuelent parer,
Il sont legier a separer
De tous autres et de leur gent
Car couvert sont d’or et d’argent,
De pelles et de perrerie,
Plus qu’image d’or entaillie.
Mais leurs gens vestent si ensamble
Que riens n’i a qui se ressamble,
Car li uns est vestus de pers
Qui en cuide estre plus apers.
L’autre est entortillié de vert.
Li autres a son corps couvert
De camelin ou de fusteinne,
De toile ou d’autre drap de leinne.
L’autre l’est de noir ou de blanc.
L’autre l’est plus rouge que sanc;
Qui de jaune porte une bende;
L’autre porte une houpelande,
L’autre .i. pourpoint, l’autre .i. loudier.
Plus n’en vueil dire ne plaidier,
Mais tuit ont les sollers bescuz
Et a chascun d’eaus pert li cuz.
Mais se li signeur se voloient
Ordener, tous les vestiroient
De ce qu’il portent seur leur corps.
Et encor est ce mes acors
Qu’il soient vestu d’unité,
Chascuns selonc sa qualité,
Einsi le faisoient jadis
Li bon qui sunt en paradis,
Et se vestoient richement
De fins dras, et honnestement.
Pour ce je te pri, chiers amis,
Qu’a ce tes cuers soit adés mis
Que tu mainteingnes honnesté
— Je l’ay ja amonnesté —
Et que tu vueilles remirer
Tes gens, et toy en eaus mirer.
Car vraiement, pas ne foloie
Cils qui par autrui se chastoi,
Ne ja n’aras si bon chastoy
Com celui que tu prens de toy.

Qui penroit le plus vaillant homme
Qui soit de Nantes jusqu’a Romme,
Voire jusques a Cambelec,
Ou dela jusqu’a l’Aubre Sec,
S’eüst une robe entaillie
D’or, d’argent, et de perrerie,
La plus tres riche et la plus belle
Qui fust en France, n’en Castelle,
Et puis prenist .i. païsant
De son grant, quoy qu’on voist disant,
Leurs umbres seroient pareilles
Plus que ne soient .ij. corneilles,
Et fust vestus de camelin
Ou d’un sac ou de drap de lin.
Richesse n’i adjousteroit
Plus ne meins, ne riens n’i feroit;
Si qu’amis je t’ay en couvent
Que ce n’est rien fors umbre ou vent.
Et qui le fait pour lui prisier
Ou pour lui plus auctorisier,
Y fait mal, car si fole emprise
Fait li homs, si tost qu’il se prise,
Qu’il boute orgueil et vanité
En sa povre fragilité.
N’est ce chose plus honnourable
Que tu voies devant ta table
Tes chevaliers, tes escuiers,
Tes clers, tes servans, tes mestiers
Vestis ensamble en ordenance
A la bonne guise de France,
Que ce qu’il soient en tel guise
Que chascuns einsi se desguise?
Ne say comment on s’i consent,
Car, certes, li uns en vaut cent.
Je n’en di plus, mais c’est erreur
Au monde et a Dieu grant orreur.

Je te pri que tu te conseilles
A bonnes gens et que tu veilles
A faire le commun pourfit,
Einsi com Boësses le fit,
Et com maint philosophe firent
Qui mainte doleur en souffrirent
Et furent chacié en essil.
L’escripture le dit, mais cil
Qui ce faisoient, verité
Destruisoit leur iniquité.

Encor te lo et te conseil
Que ne croies juene conseil,
Car c’est uns si tres grans peris
Com pour estre mors et peris.
Se sage homme encien en ta terre
N’as, si l’envoie en autre querre.
Et ne te chaille qu’il te couste.
N’i espargne riens, car sans doubte
Il gaaingnera bien sa despense
S’a tes besongnes de cuer pense.
S’aucune chose t’abellit,
N’i pren mie si grant delit
Que tu en perdes tes besongnes.
Garde qu’adés honte ressognes,
Car princes qui ad ce s’assoque,
Tous li mondes de li se moque,
Aussi com de ces chasseries
Au bois et de ce volerie,
Car on y puet bien trop entendre.
Ne di pas qu’on n’en doie prendre
Quant on n’a mie trop a faire.
Car c’est chose bien neccessaire.
Bien say qu’il se couvient esbatre;
Cela ne vueil je pas debatre.
Mais il n’est nul esbatement
Qui se puist penre nullement
A celui qui son heritage
Garde et s’onneur par vasselage,
Aprés l’esbatement divin
Qu’on fait de pain, d’eaue, et de vin.

Je ne di pas qu’adés besognes,
Mais saches comment tes besognes
Yront, car trop mieus en vaurront.
Aussi tes gens meins en faurront,
Car princes qui ne fait de li
Pert souvent et samble a celi
Qui vuet que sa gent soient riche,
Et il n’ait vaillant une miche.
C’est une chiffre en angorime
Qui ne congnoit rente ne disme.
Et tes gens plus prés s’en penront
Quant en tes besongnes venront,
Et diront: “Mes sires savoir
Vuet bien qu’on fait de son avoir.”

Oy tes comptes diligemment
Et par ce verras clerement
Ce que tu pues par an despendre
Et ou tu dois tes rentes prendre.
Et saras se ti receveur
Sont bonne gent ou deceveur.
S’il sont bon, tu es assez sages
Pour eaus bien paier de leurs gages.
S’il sont mauvais, fai leur raison
Sans faire point de desraison.
Mais adés dois plus ta puissance
Tourner a pité qu’a vengence.

Ne pren de tes gens que tes rentes,
Soit en blez, en cens, ou en ventes,
Car se tu les vues escorchier,
Mieus te vaurroit estre .i. porchier.
N’asservi mie tes subjés,
Car tu les dois tenir adés
En leur droit et en leur franchise
Qu’ont de toy et de tiens acquise.
Et s’il meffont, si leur fay grace,
Et s’il meffont, si leur fay grace,
Et se tu fais forgier monnoie,
Pour Dieu, fai la tele qu’on oie
Dire qu’elle est de bon aloy.
Car je te jur, par saint Eloy,
Qu’il n’est chose, grant ne petite,
Dont personne soit tant maudite
Car chascuns la tient et manie,
Si n’i a celui qui n’en die
Sa maleïçon, bas ou haut,
Quant on y trueve aucun deffaut,
Sus les signeurs, sus les facteurs,
Sus les vallés, sus les acteurs.

Garde qu’aus povres soit ouverte
Ta main a gaaing et a perte,
Et Diex le te rendra a double,
Adés pour .i. denier .i. double,
Car le pechiét aumosne esteint,
Si com l’iaue feu, quant l’ateint.

Ne porte en ton cuer tel rançune
A personne vivant que tu ne
Pardonnes, remettes, effaces.
Et s’il avient que tu le faces,
Fai le de volenté si fine
Qu’il n’i ait estoc ne racine
Qui germe jamais, ou semence.
S’il n’est einsi, qu’on recommence.
Et qui bien recommenceroit,
C’iert mal a point, qui le feroit,
Car dou temps passé souvenir
Ne doit, fors dou temps a venir
Et dou present, qu’estre oubliees
Doivent les rançunes passees.
Sages est qui einsi pardonne,
Car Diex honneur adés li donne,
Et l’aime et garde et le deffent,
Et villenie li deffent.
Amis, garde toy de promettre
Chose que tu ne vueilles mettre
A effait, car cils qui promet
A devoir s’oublige et sousmet.
Et se tenir ne pues couvent,
Excuse toy bien et souvent.
Par ce point seras excusez
Ou mains de ce fait accusez.

Encor te pri je, biaus amis,
Porte honneur a tes anemis
De ta parole, qui po couste,
Et si les ressongne et les doubte
Tant qu’encontrë eaus te pourvoies
Si que d’eaus asseürez soies.
Mais garde bien qu’on n’en mesdie
En ta presence, quoy qu’on die,
Car c’est trop petite vengence,
Ce m’est avis; et sans doubtance
Qui en mesdit, ou fait mesdire
Plus que ses anemis s’empire.
Venge t’en par autre maniere,
Sage, bonne, et a po de chiere.

Garde te, amis, qu’aus dez ne joues
Et que pas ton temps n’i aloues
Car c’est chose trop deshonneste
A prince qui quiert vie honneste.
Car il ne vient pas de franchise,
Eins est fondez seur couvoitise,
Et s’i moustre on si sa maniere
Que maint en parlent en derriere.
Mais s’un petit t’i vues esbatre
Joue .xx. gros ou .xxiiij.
A dames et a pucelettes,
De cuer et de pensee nettes.
Et se tu gaaingnes leur argent,
Donne le tantost a leur gent,
Et le tien aussi, sans plus dire.
Et se tu pers, n’en fai que rire.
Ne couvoite pas l’eritage
De ton voisin, et par haussage
Ne l’aquier pas, car ce seroit
Pechiez, qui einsi le feroit.

Amis, se bien te vues veoir
Fait tant qu’aies le mireoir
D’onneur adés devant tes yex
En tous estas et en tous lieus
En tous fais et en toutes ouevres
Et garde qu’onques ne le cuevres.
Si qu’adés voies clerement
D’onneur le bon enseingnement.
La te resgarde, la te mire,
La estudie, la te tire,
La met cuer et corps et entente;
La soit ton adresse et ta sente,
Car de toutes les fleurs, c’est celle
Qu’est la milleur et la plus bele.
Qui l’a, il est, a mon devis,
De quanqu’il li faut assevis.
Et pour ce en ma conclusion
Di que c’est la parfection
Ou toute humeinne creature
Doit plus tendre et mettre sa cure,
Aprés la joie qui ne fine,
Q’seur tout est plaisant et fine.

Les vesves et les orphenins,
Tant masculins com feminins,
Et les eglises dois deffendre,
Et si ne dois riens dou leur prendre;
Car qui en ce vice encherra,
Certeins sui qu’il li mescherra,
Soit a la mort, soit a la vie,
Car Dieus scet tout et riens n’oublie.

Je te pri qu’a ce tes cuers tire
Bien penser, bien faire, et bien dire.
Et eschue tout le contraire,
Car c’est legiere chose a faire.
Et fay a tous ce que vorroies
Qu’on te feïst. Ce sont les voies
Q’Diex vuet que si ami facent,
Qui son commant pas ne trespassent.
Se tout ce fais, tu te reposes,
Si lai de toutes autres choses
Dieu, nostre Pere, couvenir.
Einsi porras terre tenir.

Amis, ci vueil mon dit finer,
Et mon ouvrage terminer.
Je te pri qu’en bon gré le pregnes
Et que le milleur en reteingnes.
Laisse ce qui n’est pourfitable,
Et si retien le plus notable.
Aussi te vueil je supplier,
Les deffaus vueilles supplier
Car je say po et petit vail,
Si n’est merveille se je fail.
Mais un cornars a teste fole
Dit bien une bonne parole.

Or faut que te teingne couvent
De ce que je t’ay en couvent.
C’est de toy et de moy nommer
Par quoy on sache qui blasmer
S’il a deffaut ou mespresure
En ceste presente escripture.
Et vraiement, si pro qu’i a,
Bien croy que des deffaus y a.
Mais qui vorra savoir sans faille
Nos .ij. noms, et sans controuvaille,
Vesci comment on les sara.
Quant ma dame chevauchera,
Elle ira diner a Glurvost,
Droit en la maison le prevost.
C’est une villette en l’Empire
Qui n’est gueres dou Bourget pire.
La trouveras qui te dira
Mon nom, et ja n’en mentira,
Et pour qui j’ai fait ce traitié,
Que j’ay mis en rime et traitié.
Va y, qu’il y fait bon et chaut,
Et s’aler n’i vues, ne m’en chaut.


“Explicit le Confort d’amy
Qui esveilla le cuer de my
Es tenebres ou il dormi,
Et au resveillier dist: ‘Aimy!
Que ne suis je partis par mi
Quant j’ay si longuement gemi
Et tant plouré et tant fremi,
Que le gros de l’uef d’un fremi
N’ay receü, par saint Fremi,
De joie en plus d’an et demi!
Et encor ont mi anemi,
Que j’ay moult doubté et cremi
Et a qui j’ay tant escremi
Q’le cuer en ay entumi,
Mon b mol de be fa be mi
Mis en b dur. Amis, tu m’i
Pues bien aidier, par saint Remi,
Car comme fol et esturmi,
Com forsené et esrami,
M’ont par maintes fois esturmi.
Pour ce te requier, alume y,
Car goute n’i voy; destumi
Mon triste cuer et desdormi,
Et je te promet que tuit mi
Annemi seront avec mi,
Pour qui maint soupir ay vomi.
Friend, I have thought long and hard
About offering you consolation,
And God knows I would do so,
And more than I can say were I able,
Willingly, and with a happy heart,
But there is no path or way
That has come to my attention
For my message to reach you.
Nonetheless I will set out to compose
And, God willing, complete one,
Though you are wise enough
To look after yourself even if you don’t receive
A comforting message from me.
But I undertake this task without deception
Because I love you and have in mind
Every day the misfortune you suffer.
For by my faith, your actions,
I believe, constitute no crime in the least,
And thus you should find consolation from God,
Bearing more easily your sorrow.
Sire, if I call you friend,
Please don’t be angry with me;
For you know quite well you are my lord,
While I am neither of high
Nor low birth, but am, instead, your man
With nothing held back, whatever should happen.
I don’t intend yet to name you
Or myself until I’m ready,
For I’ll write down our two names
In such a way that no man or woman
Can remove from or add to them
But a single letter and syllable.
Now nothing can be added,
And that means something must be removed.
So first eliminate
One whole syllable
From the beginning of the eleventh verse
And then cut out a letter from the tenth
Near the poem’s end; you’ll recognize them
After just a little thought.
I put these names in the text, so God help me,
Just for amusement.
And do you know where they will appear?
“When my lady goes riding.”
In any case, friend, without inventing a thing,
I intend here to offer proof by examples
Contained in the Bible
(And these seem impossible to us),
Attesting that the man who trusts in God,
If he acts according to reason,
And loves, serves, and honors Him,
Will come out on top at last.
Now as I begin with my material
I pray God Our Father
To be with me at the outset,
In the middle, and at the very end.

He who knows everything, sees all,
Who governs everyone, brings forth whatever exists,
Who made the sky and the air,
The earth, the sea, and everything that
Can be named within, all there is, was, will be,
He created it all, and will bring it to an end
At a time He has set,
He never forgets His good friends,
Rather counsels, comforts them,
Offering them solace in their misery
In many an unusual way,
And He loves with a love so complete
That whoever gives his whole heart to Him
Never fails to find comfort.
And I intend to offer proof with Scripture,
Which many times shows this figurally.

Long ago in Babylon there was
A man who could do much good,
And he was renowned for
His great riches; Joakim was his name.
He had married a woman
Very beautiful, wise, and good,
Sweet-tempered, courteous, and well brought up
As well as instructed in the law of Moses.
The woman’s name was Susannah,
And she feared God with her heart and soul.

Joakim owned a garden
Near his house; no bumpkin
Had fashioned it, for it was too delightful,
Stocked with every kind of fruit that offers pleasure.
And so in great crowds the Jewish people
Would go there to enjoy themselves.
At that time two aged judges
Held office who ruined themselves
With lechery and covetousness,
Which bring about great evil and unrest,
And of these Our Lord speaks,
And these are the words he says:
“From the Babylonian judges,
Advanced in years and well-established,
Who governed the city,
A terrible iniquity did arise.”
These two men often visited the household
Of Joakim, there issuing
Their edicts, their commandments,
Offering counsel, rendering judgments.
And so all those seeking justice
Would go inside to where they were.
When the crowd melted away,
Susannah would amuse herself
With her maidens in his garden.
And they were of refined demeanor and lovely.
And every day the elders, rife with vice,
Would watch her enjoy the shade
And disport herself there,
Until finally, in filth and vileness,
In passion and with evil urges,
Through desire and misguided pleasure
These two became infected with lust for her,
So much did she attract and appeal to them.
Then they abandoned reason and propriety,
Casting their eyes to the ground
So they could not look to
The heavens, or hold in their hearts
Any thought of that Sovereign Judge
Who through reason creates and governs all things;
And henceforth they never ceased looking out
For just the right day
When they might come upon her there alone,
So no evidence could be offered
Of what they intended or what they did.
One day Susannah made her way
To the garden, just as
She was accustomed to doing,
With only the two serving women
Because she wished to wash
And bathe herself in private,
So great then was the heat.
And she said to them: “Go without delay
And close the garden gate,
Bringing me the oil I like,
For I wish to wash and bathe.”
The elders had hidden away
In the garden, there watching carefully
In order to surprise her alone.
And when she was alone, swiftly,
Not hesitating, with quick steps,
They came up to Susannah
And said: “The garden is shut,
With not a soul within
Who can bear witness or give us away,
And so you shouldn’t refuse at all
To yield to all we desire,
For you have got the time, the opportunity, the place.
Now we have been overcome by your beauty,
Terribly inflamed with love for you.
So do what it is we request.
For if you don’t, we promise
We will testify against you
To the people and all your family,
Saying we found you lying
With a young man, and no mistake,
Having, because of your passion for the youth,
Dismissed your serving women.”

After Susannah listened to them,
She commended her body and soul to God;
Wept bitterly, sighing, bemoaning her lot,
And then said, after letting out a great cry:
“Anguish holds me fast on every side,
Strangling and paining my heart.
If I do this, I am dead to God,
But if I refuse what you ask,
I will never escape your hands,
For it is not at all a fair fight.
And yet I am better off chancing
Myself, so pure from vice, in your hands,
Than offending my God with sin,
And so I prefer seeing what fate will bring.”
Right then Susannah cried out
In a loud voice: “Help! Help! Help!”
And the traitorous, sinful old men
Started to raise a cry against her.
But to throw more light on the matter
One ran over to open the gate.

When from the house the people heard
This uproar, they all came running
To discover what might be happening.
And after the judges and the false priests
Spoke to them, everyone was amazed,
And wept over the bizarre event,
For there had never been spoken
About her an ugly or reproachful word.
The next day, the people, their hearts saddened,
Went to her husband,
With the two priests filled with outrage,
Evil thoughts, and anger,
In order to have Susannah put to death,
And these had no conscience or remorse.
The false priests spoke to the people,
Distorting the truth in every way:
“Send Susannah out to meet us,
Joakim’s wife!” And with great haste
Susannah was led out,
Accompanied on every side
By her family and relations,
Toward her two mortal enemies,
And, also, toward the people.
Yet all the men and women alike
Covered their faces with tears of pity
Because of the dire news,
For no woman in the land was thought
Better or a more prudent wife.
And the two priests rose up
From the crowd and stood together.
As Susannah arrived there
Each put his bare hand
Over Susannah’s head,
As she removed and erased from her heart
All trace of sin and misdeed,
Placing her trust in God alone.
At this moment, the two judges said
To the crowd: “Her sin pronounces sentence;
And we ourselves will judge her
According to the facts we’ll now relate.

In the garden, in that apple orchard
Which borders the house of Joakim,
We ventured the other day for pleasure,
Seeking fresh air, beating down a dewy path.
Susannah made her way to the garden,
But she knew nothing of our presence;
Two serving girls were her companions,
And these she sent away so that they
Should not witness her lechery.
All at once a young man came out
From the bushes, whom we then found,
And beyond all doubt, to have been lying with her.
Witnesses to such adultery,
We were shocked and filled with anger,
And we rushed forward to seize him.
But he proved quite able to defend himself,
Being stronger, and so he took flight,
As soon as he heard and noticed us,
Through the gate. So we put our hands on
Susannah, asked her over and over again
Who the young man was.
But this got us nowhere,
For she never would tell us.
This crime, this adultery,
Just as we have related it to you,
We affirm as the truth.”
The crowd gathered there
Did place great faith in these two,
For the judges were elders,
And so the people believed them,
Condemning Susannah to death,
For they looked no further into the matter.

When Susannah recognized that the judgment
Clearly meant her death,
She began to cry out in a loud voice,
Her hands joined, not hesitating at all:
“Lord God, Who are eternal,
A just judge, and a reasonable one,
You know the things that are hidden,
What comes and goes;
You recognize the thoughts within a heart
Even before they are thought;
You know everything even before it happens;
And so You recognize that I’ve not sinned
And that the false judges who’ve condemned me
Have testified falsely
And maliciously as well,
So I shall lose my body and my life.
Sweet Lord, You Who see and know all,
Heed my prayer, listen to my voice,
For I have placed all my hope in You,
All my heart, my love, my trust.”

God the Father did not wish at all
To forget His friend and servant,
Did not wish, would not endure or suffer
Her body to be so terribly punished
With no reason, no justification;
Rather He performed a clear miracle for her,
Attending to her prayer indeed,
With a sympathetic heart and complete love.
For just as she was led off to
Her death, the people assembled
To witness the bitter fate
Of this disconsolate and abandoned woman.
And in that crowd was a woman,
Whose name or history I do not know,
And she was carrying a young boy,
Who took much joy in being held
Since he could not walk or speak,
So young was he at the time.
The boy’s name was Daniel,
As Scripture tells us.
Now God granted him the power
To speak and walk, also the intelligence,
Discernment, and understanding
To preach a prophecy
That would reveal the truth
About the false priests and make it acknowledged.
Just at that moment, he cried out in a clear voice,
This child held in his mother’s arms,
So that all the people and the crowd
Could hear, saying: “I am innocent and clean
Of this person’s blood.”
And this means, as Scripture has it:
“I am not guilty in any way for her death
Because before all I refuse responsibility.”

At once the crowd moved toward him,
First one, then two, ten, and twenty,
Saying: “What are you saying?”
And he answered: “Children of Israel,
You are foolish and stupid
Because you have condemned to death
The daughter of Helkias
Without taking into account either truth,
Or reason, either justice or fairness.
Go back, for these liars are
Damned, and they have borne false witness.
God knows this, and I so testify.”
The crowd returned at once,
Delaying little along the way,
The better to learn the truth.
The great nobles of the city,
When they came to the place of council,
Did speak sweetly to the infant:
“Come sit by our side,
For God has wished to accord
And provide for you the honor that goes with age.”
Daniel got to his feet among them,
Saying: “You’ll know the truth!

Let there be some distance between them.”
And at once they were separated.
This ploy will earn him much credit,
For it reveals the truth of the matter
Through the power of God the Father.

Daniel called over one of the judges,
Saying: “You who falsely judge,
You’ve grown old and afflicted
In evil days marked by crimes
That will be made manifest to the people.
Your body and soul will pay the penalty
Because you have falsely judged
Many an important man and many a case.
For you would oppress the innocent
While setting free the guilty,
And God says one doesn’t kill
The innocent, those who live justly.
But tell me, when you laid hands upon her,
Under what tree had you seen them
Talking together and carrying on.”
He answered: “Under a pistachio.”
“Surely you are lying on your head!
And here is the swift sentence
From God’s angel, who will strike right through
Your body, cutting it in half.”
And he had him taken off, calling over the other
And speaking to him in this way:

“You who pass false sentence,
Are an issue from the seed
Of Canaan, which was cursed
Because it was full of every evil.
You did not descend from the good lineage
Of Judah, which upholds the right and rules by it,
And which was blessed by God
Because it was upright, just.
Beauty has captivated and deceived you,
And lust has urged you on,
And these so perverted your heart
They turned you toward committing every crime
When you passed false judgment on Susannah.
But you should know your judge is more just.
And so this is what you’ve done
To the daughters of Israel in secret ways,
Contriving their shame by scaring
And threatening them. Alas! The unfortunate ones
Tumbled into your net
Through fear, not because they consented.
But Susannah, daughter of Judah,
Would not countenance or tolerate
Your vile and filthy iniquity,
Preferring instead to fall and remain
In your hands, expecting death,
Rather than to offend God, her creator.
But say under what tree they were
When you saw them speaking together.”
He answered: “Under a lentil.”
“You’re lying, it’s true! And so watch
The angel of God, and no doubt about it,
He who holds the sword of vengeance,
Make ready to cut you in two halves,
Never to be joined again,
For you shall be dead and your goods,
Body, and soul destroyed.”
At once the entire crowd
That had accompanied her
Cried out in a very loud voice:
“Oh God! What a miracle this is!”
And they began to thank God,
Praising and glorifying Him,
So He would preserve the goods, bodies, and spirits
Of all in His keeping
Who have a true and
Unshakable trust, a virtuous hope in Him.
At once the people arose
And turned toward the two priests
Who had been convicted of false witness
By Daniel the wise man,
For their own mouths acknowledged it,
And thus were condemned to death,
So judged because of the crimes
They had committed against women.

In this way Susannah was delivered,
Found guiltless on this very day,
And all by divine power,
Which overcomes and extirpates all evil.
From the Latin text I’ve seen myself
I’ve put it down as closely as possible.
And so, friend, you should ponder
This example, remarking
How Susannah was accused
And how she was then given her freedom,
Knowing no other way to help herself
But through the hope she had in God.
And truly, if the faith you have in Him
Is strong, then you need not fear,
For He will always bring you consolation,
Always keep you safe.

And if anyone asks me,
Begging or demanding to know
Who this child Daniel was,
I know nothing more, won’t say anything
But what many scholars maintain,
Those who study the Scriptures
Diligently, namely that he’s the one
Who was sent among lions
To be done to death,
And further that he is the man
Who prophesied many times,
Interpreting the dream
Of Nebuchadnezzar the king,
The one who for possessions, for treasure,
Or for anything he could do
Might find no one able to interpret it
Save Daniel, and yet he told him
Its import. And so it’s good sense to speak
Of his life and accomplishments
In order to advance my theme.
Still I don’t intend to treat the dream
That was faithfully interpreted
Since it would be too long a subject,
Whoever would rhyme it.

After Nebuchadnezzar learned the whole truth
Of his dream, he considered a filthy fool
The wisest and most accomplished
Man who might be in his land
Compared to Daniel the prophet,
And he sent far from him all others
Because he loved and valued Daniel,
Having him honored and served.
And then the king greatly exalted
Daniel, worshipping him,
And because of the man’s wisdom
He had a sacrifice made for him of incense and animals.
The king then said to Daniel:
“Your God, the God of Israel
Is the God of gods, the Sire and Father
Of kings, Who reveals mysteries
And those things no one can learn
Either through wisdom or for money.”
The king gave him expensive gifts,
Making him lord and master
Over all his provinces,
Raising him above the wise men and princes
Of Babylon, his own country.
And soon thereafter Daniel without opposition
Appointed Shadrach, Mischach,
And Abed-nego, for the public good
And with the king’s blessing, to govern
The provinces in the proper fashion,
And Daniel remained
With the king at all times.

Nebuchadnezzar the king
Ordered a golden statue to be made,
Six measures in width
And forty in height.
The statue I’m describing
Had a huge body and face,
Was handsomely fashioned, finely featured.
It was placed in the field of Durain
After great effort and careful thought.
The king then summoned a huge multitude
Of princes and governors
From his lands, the lesser and the greater.
Princes, judges, dukes, and potentates
All made their way to that very spot.
And everyone in the region journeyed
To witness the dedication
Of the idol, and to worship it,
For no one dared remain at home.
Afterward the king issued an edict
That he announced to the crowd and said:
“The moment you hear our instruments,
Ring out and sound agreeably,
The trumpet, flute, the harp
That are sweetly piped and plucked,
The sweetness of the symphony,
And the very pleasant melody
Of every kind of music,
Let there be no one who does not
Bend himself to adoring the golden idol.
And we furthermore order you,
Each and every one, to lie on the ground,
Offering it glory and honor.

And if there is any man or woman so foolish
Not to worship the idol,
It is our intention that, with no delay at all,
This person be set ablaze and burned to cinders,
Thrown into a fiery furnace.”
When the people heard and understood
Both the edict and the law,
They all obeyed without a protest,
Worshipping and honoring
The idol as much as they could manage.

Rumor, who runs everywhere
And makes herself known in every court,
Said to Nebuchadnezzar:
“King, there are still several
In your kingdom who refuse to worship
The idol of gold, that statue,
Violating your decree in all openness,
And not in secret.”
He demanded to know who they might be
And was informed that: “The ones doing this
Are Shadrach (who is called Hananiah),
Abed-nego Azariah,
Along with Mischach Mishael,
And these all, by the order of Balthazar Daniel,
Are over the princes, overseeing
The works of this land. If you don’t investigate
This crime, bringing it to light,
No one will care a whit
About your edict and your statue.”
The king commanded someone to go at once
And seek them out, bringing them before him,
And then he addressed them thus: “What madness drives you
To violate my law
By refusing to reverence
Or pay respect to the golden idol?
In short, know well that if you don’t worship it,
Whether I sleep or wake,
You’ll be burned, killed, consumed by fire, destroyed
At once in the burning flame
Of that furnace that blazes so furiously,
Nor is there any god with power enough
To keep you safe or defend you from
This sentence of death.”
Then, not hesitating, they answered:
“King, we very much want you to know
We don’t fear your threats,
Or you, your gods, or your furnace
That blazes, more than a lone strawberry,
And so we’ll not worship your gods at all,
We have a God who will preserve
Our lives, our bodies, our souls
In the midst of your fire, however much it rages.”

Hearing himself contradicted in this way,
The king erupted with anger and rage,
For his gods had been belittled and defied
And his own dominion counted as nothing.
Then he ordered the furnace
To be made ready, and an enormous fire
Kindled within, one seven times fiercer
Than customary, for it was his wish.
The furnace was stoked up,
Set to burning so terribly
That the height of the flames
Reached forty-nine measures into the air.
The king ordered some of the very strongest
Men of his realm to go among the people
And lay hands on the three Jews
To roast and burn them to cinders,
And he had their feet
And legs bound together with no delay
And them thrown into the fire,
Unlike any that had ever been before,
For several of the Chaldeans standing there
Were killed by the blazing flames.
But this all-destroying, all-devastating fire
Did not harm at all the bodies or clothes
Of the Jews in the very midst
Of those roaring flames, for they were friends of God,
Didn’t harm a single hair on their heads,
But, instead, they made merry and celebrated,
Not feeling the heat and stink
Of the fire, or its great ferocity either.
Within the flames they blessed
And glorified God with loud voices,
Each by himself and together with the others.
And, it seems to me, an angel was there,
Moving above the flames,
To all appearances a son of God.
God had sent him from among his company
To comfort the young men,
And he did ease them quite ably,
Bringing them such consolation
That he extinguished completely the fire
And the flames, beating down the heat,
And with a wind sweet and pleasant
For any human body, delightful,
Full of pleasure and total comfort,
The angel cooled the furnace
And so gloriously transformed it
There was no corruption of any kind.
There they sang a hymn of praise
To God the father with the angel,
And it is called “Benedictus.”
The hymn has many times been sung,
And is still often performed
At matins in many a convent.

When the song of praise was finished,
The king, with his huge entourage,
Moved toward the furnace,
Looked in and cast his eyes upon
Four persons who were
Healthy and unharmed as they rejoiced.
The fourth, standing in the middle,
Was the angel from God the father
Who had been sent and ordered
To console His friends.
No marks or stains appeared
Either in the furnace or where the fire
Had been laid, for the fire was extinguished
That previously had been so powerful.

When the king witnessed this miracle
And marvel, he greatly wondered,
Saying loudly for all to hear:
“Mishael, and you Azariah,
Truly there’s no god save
Yours, who in such a way
Watched over and kept you safe.
Come out, for you have been delivered.”
Then he took hold of them, leading them out,
And gave them even higher ranks
Than the ones they had ever held,
And this all just as I have read it myself,
Finding everything in the written text
In the Bible where it is recorded.

And those men saved
From death were delivered
By the power of our Lord.
Thus both the low and the mighty
Ought find consolation in Him
For no one suffers so great a sorrow
That, after granting and giving both heart
And love to Him, He will not console him,
Nor might a man on his own discover such comfort
As that which comes from Him.
And so, friend, if you grant Him your heart,
Drawing consolation from His love,
Know that in all things He will help,
Comfort, and support you.

I would like to adduce a further example
Based on fact, literally true:
King Nebuchadnezzar
Did seize the vessels and the treasure
From the temple in Jerusalem,
And for this his soul suffered damnation.
His son Belshazzar ruled the kingdom
After him, governed it with pride,
For he was a powerful man and a wealthy one,
With no respect for anyone else.

One day Belshazzar held
An open court, where there were
People of all degree from his realm,
For he was their hereditary ruler,
And thus more than a thousand came.
And they were hardly served coarse grain,
But rather fine wine and meat,
As much as appetite demanded.
Belshazzar, to entertain himself,
Had the golden vessels brought in,
Those his father had seized in the temple
Of Jerusalem; but this went badly for him
Because he drank from them, and his queens did as well,
His wives and concubines,
Along with a great many of their company.
They had then idols of gold and silver,
Brass and stone and wood.
And not a god there was not
Glorified and worshipped,
Served, praised, and honored.
But God clearly demonstrated to him
How this was his damnation,
For just as he sat down to the feast,
Belshazzar caught sight of a hand
Writing on the wall;
Yet this hand appeared to no one
Save Belshazzar alone.
And if Scripture does not lie
Where I have seen it written,
The hand traced out these words
On the wall: “Mene Tekel Upharsin.”
Now if Belshazzar at that moment had slipped
Into the mud of some swamp,
He could not have been as surprised
As he was by the hand he spied.
Afterwards he ate and drank no more,
For all his limbs trembled
Whenever he remembered
The hand, and his body shook
More than a leaf from an aspen tree.
And so at once he ordered
The wisest men of his country to be searched out,
And when they arrived,
He told them all that had happened,
Namely how he had seen the hand write.
And whoever could read the words
And offer a clear explanation of
Their meaning, without any tricks,
He swore by his gods and goddesses
That this very man would have rich clothes
Of purple: “After me and my heir,
He would, for the rest of his life, be third
As far as my realm and possessions are concerned,
Enjoying always my exclusive favor.”
But there was no man, however wise,
Who could decipher, better than a valet,
The message, nor who could tell
Either its meaning or import.

The queen learned the news,
Which seemed neither good nor pleasing to her,
And in great haste went to the king,
Then pondering deeply the writing,
And said to him in a very loud voice:
“Good king, may you live forever!
Don’t worry about this so much.
Let go of these thoughts and musings,
For there’s a man in Chaldea
Who’ll tell you what you wish to know.
Knowledge about the gods is his,
And he can explain to you what comes from your gods,
As well as the entire meaning and significance
Of the vision you had of the hand.
This is Balthazar Daniel.
His wit is quite sharp and clear,
And in the wandering
He has come to live in this country.”
The king then ordered
Someone to go at once to seek him out,
And a man left immediately to find him
So that he could be spoken to and questioned
In order to determine if he could solve the puzzle
To which the king sought and demanded an answer.

Daniel appeared before the king,
Who said this to him in quick order:
“Daniel, hear what’s on my mind;
You belong to the children of Judea
Whom my father led here
After taking them prisoner, threatening them
With death if they would not worship his gods
And didn’t deny their own God.
It is said you possess knowledge
About the gods on high, and wisdom as well,
There being no matter so mysterious
You cannot discern its truth,
Following a discreet and wise path.
Neither in the city of Babylon,
Nor in my kingdom, my empire,
Is any man capable of telling me
The meaning of the writing
Traced on the wall over there,
Which a hand that vanished
From my eyes, disappearing,
Came here to bring to my attention.
If you tell me the meaning
Of the message, yours will be a purple robe,
And, even more, you’ll become the third highest
In my kingdom and realm,
Whose king I am and which I rule.”

After the king had said these words,
Daniel answered with the following:
“King, I have no desire for your gifts
Or for your land; but of this thing that binds
Your heart with dark and heavy thoughts
I will reveal to you the pure truth.

God, the king and ruler
Over kings, over realms, over empires,
In former times did grant your father
A kingdom, magnificence, and glory,
Riches, power, victory.
But that man desired no other paradise
Than to live in such grandeur.
He had so much wealth and power,
So many lands, fiefs, privileges, and possessions
That it was too much to own.
And so the people worshipped,
And those of all tongues did fear, him.
And everyone he was pleased to raise up,
No man might challenge.
Those he’d bring low,
He made beg for their bread,
While those he hated even to death
Were dead within the very hour.
When he saw himself so high,
Pride, that knows no moderation,
Began to live within his heart, thriving there,
Yet bringing him down in turn
So that he lost his glory and his kingdom,
For pride heeds neither rules nor law.
He was humbled among all men
Because of that pride that grew within,
And he was set out among the savage beasts
In the fields and wilderness.
There was his home
For many a day, and to nourish himself
Whenever he was hungry,
He would eat grain just like a cow.
His skin was often drenched
By the dew that falls from heaven.
For a long time your father was in this fix,
Who was king and emperor,
Until at last he recognized
The sovereign power
Of the true God, who is immortal
And has the ability to bestow
Kingdoms and empires on mortal men,
But also like a sovereign lord to take them back,
Giving riches or poverty
To each according to his deserts.
Belshazzar, you are his son,
And — of this I’m completely certain — your heart is
Not bent down or bowed
In complete humility, or softened
Toward the sovereign heavenly King,
Who is the ruler of the heavens,
Master of the air, the sea, the dry land,
And whatever the clouds do encompass.
Rather you have taken the golden vessels
Nebuchadnezzar brought
Into his temple, and they have drunk so much
From them they are all filled with drink,
Your counselors, your concubines,
Your slaves, your servants, your maids.
You’ve not had this God honored,
But have had yours worshipped,
Yours made of gold, of silver, of copper,
Of iron, of wood, of stone, of the craft
Fashioned by human hands.
Such work does not endure long,
Nor do these objects hear, see, or understand,
Speaking no word to any man.
For they are not alive, feel nothing,
Have no limbs that might move.
And so you are very much deceived,
Having fallen into Hell from Heaven
Because you have not served, honored, or shown love to
The God of nature,
Who formed all living things
Like a true God, never supplicated Him.
And so I will explain the message
That was written on the wall,
And the hand that traced it as well,
Whose significance you’ve been eager to learn.
And I will explicate this in such an orderly way
No error will need emending.

King, if I remember correctly,
There were three words
In the message: ‘Mene tekel upharsin.’
These are hardly stupid chatter,
For each bears a significance great and important
To the man who can rightly interpret it,
So you’ll learn the meaning
With no untruth.

The God who does not lie or err,
With no beginning, no end,
Who is unmoved, just, and stable,
Ruling without limit and eternal,
He has seen and understood
What you’ve done and do.
Now I will tell you without hesitating
How you should understand ‘mene.’

‘Mene’ properly signifies
How God has numbered the days of
And brought to an end your realm and empire,
Establishing such a limit
It will never thrive again,
Only grow always smaller,
For it’s at its highest point.
If you understand me well, He’s submitting
Your very person, your honor, your power,
Your magnificence and glory,
Your rule, your dignity,
And all your felicity
To death and destruction,
For you have paid homage
And offered sacrifice to idols,
Neglecting the very fitting duty
Of worshipping the celestial King,
Who made your father feed on grain.
You will witness all this come quickly
To pass, if Daniel does not lie.

‘Tekel’ makes manifest and signifies
That because of your immoral life
God has put your power
And your kingdom on the scales.
And the scales, accurate and fair,
Clearly demonstrate and show
You don’t measure up
Because of the pride that’s ruined
And is ruining you from day to day,
Having dwelled so long within you
It will not allow you in the least
To go offer your heart
To the true God who made all the world;
And so you shall die a second death,
Forfeiting body and soul
And what you own — this is how you shall end.

‘Upharsin’ literally signifies
— For I will leave out or add nothing —
A very difficult thing
That will seem terribly dark to you,
Very troublesome, quite mysterious.
All your kingdom will be divided between
Those of Medea and those of Persia;
Whether it’s fine gold or pure balm,
Every man will have his share,
And you shall forfeit thereby the power you wield,
Your soul, your body, your goods at a single blow.
Now I think I have told you
All about the hand and its message,
The pure truth, and clearly.
Yet the meaning of these three words
Points toward only one conclusion.”

After the king heard out what he said,
He did not think it foolish,
But seemingly rather mysterious,
Quite dark, and filled with threat.
Yet he gave an order to
His servants, whom he summoned,
That Daniel should have a robe of gold
And purple, one all his own,
And in the manner of the Chaldeans
He would wear a necklace cast of gold
Around his neck, and he should be third most important
In the realm. Quite willingly
They carried out his command,
But Belshazzar did not live
Long, for he was killed
That very night and overthrown,
And at this the people greatly wondered
Blessing themselves for the miracle,
And affirming it with no dissenting voice.
Everyone saw clearly how Daniel
Possessed a knowledge of things divine
In his heart and soul.

After this king, Darius, held sway,
A man who greatly loved and held dear
Daniel in his kingdom.
But the princes and counts
Wished in their envy to bring that man low,
Just as the Bible tells us,
Because he had the right to command
Them and correct what they did;
Since Darius the king had ordered
And enjoined all his princes
And also all his ministers,
Whatever names or titles they had,
To render, each in turn,
And on pain of great penalty, an accounting to Daniel
Of their actions and of the taxes they collected,
For this would please him; and they had done so.
And further it was the king’s
Intention for him to be dominant
In all his lands;
So he was hated by the princes.
But God the father guided
And sustained him in all he did,
So that the princes and satraps
Through pure jealousy — that lays a snare
For many a heart — sought out the chance
To bring Daniel
To destruction; but they saw well
He was so virtuous
They should never discover
Anything to prove him evil.
So they conspired to create trouble
And so expel him from his office,
Bring about his death
By trapping him with his own law.
And to this plan they all agreed,
Being each of the same mind,
Princes, satraps, senators,
Ministers, judges, officials, and they decided
To promulgate an edict and decree
All quite openly, not in secret,
Which stated that whoever would make
A petition, sacrifice, or offering
During the next thirty days, and that is the number,
To any god whatever, or any man,
Except to Darius himself,
Would be quickly thrown
Or dispatched into the lions’ den,
Regardless of his rank,
There to be devoured
And shamefully killed right on the spot.
Then all of them went together
In their fine array to the king,
Informing him of the law
They had passed to honor him,
And begging him to enact it
As his own decree and have it made
Public throughout his empire.
Without another word, the king happily
Confirmed and approved it,
Finding a messenger right away
To go to Persia and Medea
And make public that whoever violated
Or disregarded the king’s edict
Would, without any mercy, be consigned
To the den with the savage lions,
No matter who he was, lord or page.
Daniel knew all about the edict,
And neither opposed nor objected to it,
Going instead inside his dwelling,
For he saw clearly there was nothing to do
Except have a perfect faith
And an unshakable hope in the true God.
And he entered his chapel
To worship, adore, and pray to
The sovereign God of glory,
The sovereign God of glory,
From falling on his knees
Three times a day to offer his prayers
To God, who defends and watches over
All those He takes into His protection.
And he lifted up his face and heart
Toward the sovereign God of mercy
And in the direction of Jerusalem.
But he would have been in a terrible spot
Had not God come to his rescue,
For his enemies arrived at a run.
Many were present to set the trap,
Men who bore him mortal hatred,
Observing through a window
That he was worshipping the God of heaven.
Immediately they went to the king,
Saying: “King, you are obligated
To safeguard right and justice,
Making sure your edict is not violated.
Throughout your realm you have mandated
That no man at all, according to your order,
However high his rank, and at the risk of losing his life,
Should worship any god or goddess
Or any other man save you alone
For thirty days.” “Certainly,
That is the truth,” answered Darius,
“No man should do the contrary.”

Then the potentates continued,
Intent on Daniel’s death:
“King, know for certain now
That Daniel regularly
Worships his God on his knees
Three times a day. Each of us
Knows this, has seen and proved it,
And as soon as we found it out
We came to inform you
Of this defiance, this outrage,
An act that shows no respect for your law,
Treats you spitefully and shamefully.”
When Darius heard this news,
And recognized that the princes of Chaldea
Were bound as one in this matter,
He fell into a very painful mood
And was terribly upset,
For he loved Daniel very much
And so began considering what to do
And how to help him, though he understood
Perfectly that they were doing this
Because they were jealous and hated him.
But the princes and the senators,
Along with all those assembled there,
Said to the king: “You ought not
Be troubled at all on this account,
For that would be an outrage
If the law of the Medes and Persians
Were broken for the sake of one man;
It would be a great loss and much cause for lament.”
The king said: “Let Daniel come forward
To be put into the lions’ den; it pleases me.”

Daniel was sent for, and he came.
And more than twenty there laid hands upon him
To throw him into the cruel pit.
And the king, his face sorrowful,
Said to him: “Daniel, sweet friend,
You shall be sent into the lions’ den;
Servant of God, put your hope
Firmly in your God, for through Him I expect
Everyone to witness clearly
That He will deliver you to a happy end.”
And then a stone was moved aside,
Which was heavy and huge,
And they put him in at once
With those famished lions
So they should eat him up, devour him,
Just like a lamb fallen among wolves.
Darius ordered the stone
Picked up and then put back
Above the cave entrance.
For he wished to know, whoever might bemoan it,
And see what would happen,
As well as how the matter would end.
He sealed the stone with his ring,
Quite properly and well.
His counselors did the same.
For no one ought wonder
If he did not want the man harmed
By anyone without him knowing.
And then he left while Daniel remained behind.
But every single lion honored him,
Frolicked, and did him reverence,
Without harm or hurt.
He was there six days, and no one
Took him bread, or wine, or any other food,
And the seven lions got none as well,
More famished than hunting hawks they were,
And nothing brought them during the day
So they would devour his flesh.
For without fail they were given
Two sides of beef every day,
And two sheep for their food,
But this day nothing was served them.

There was a prophet in Judea,
A certain Habbakuk who, one day,
Was cooking his meal in a pot,
Barley and milk, as best he could,
And he’d put some bread in his herdsman’s basket,
Also some water in a flask
He would bring to those working
In the fields because of the sparrows there.
Once in the fields, he had a happy
Encounter, for there he met
An angel from the sovereign Lord,
Who was the first to speak:
“Habbakuk, God who is great orders you
To bring this food
To Daniel in Babylon.
Don’t seek out work or leisure,
For he has been put into the lions’ den
Through malicious lies.”
When he had finished speaking,
Habbakuk said: “I have never seen
Babylon, don’t know the den;
Never have I set out that way.”
At once the angel, not hesitating,
Went to seize him by the hair
And carried him off, and this is the truth,
Right to the city of Babylon,

Bringing him above the very spot
Where Daniel remained in the midst
Of the seven lions eager for food
Because they were terribly famished.
And when Habbakuk was put down on the ground,
He didn’t break the gate or lock of the den,
Spent no effort working on it,
But rather called out, in a loud voice:
“O Daniel, servant of God,
Whom all men should love above everything,
Take the food God has sent you.
Be comforted and happy;
For the Lord Who never forgets
Has not forgotten you.
Give great God thanks and praise,
Who by His angel had me brought here
From far off in a short time.
I am so very eager to see you.
Get up and take this food
I have made, which you should eat.”

Hearing these words,
Daniel greatly rejoiced,
Saying: “Surely the true God,
King of kings and God of gods,
Has never forgotten His good friends;
From far off He’s sent me help;
He loves the virtuous who flee evil,
Aiding those who lean on Him.”
Daniel then got to his feet
And ate enough of the food
To be filled and satisfied,
Overflowing with love for God.
This accomplished, the angel who had
Brought Habbakuk there returned,
And put him back in the very spot
He had taken him from and in no time at all.

On the seventh day, King Darius
Was eager to discover
How the matter of Daniel had turned out,
For he was greatly troubled by
His suffering and punishment,
Fearing that and wondering if
He had been killed and devoured
For the sake of the God he worshipped.
When Darius opened the pit,
He saw Daniel with his hands
On the dominant lion.
Now no one, woman or man,
Had ever seen Daniel
In better health, more fit.
And Darius the king, who saw
Daniel sitting there
Among these dangerous beasts,
Frightening and proud,
Who had eaten or drunk nothing
That day, for they had nothing,
And he had been seven full days
Inside the den in the summertime,
With no bread, no wine, or other food
He could have received from anyone,
And yet his health was as good,
Even better than anyone else’s,
Cried out and spoke in a loud voice
Against his own law and edict:
“There is truly no other god
Than that of Daniel alone,
Who delivered him alive and well
From the den where jealousy had sent him.”

The king had him pulled up
At once, for he was quite eager
To see and speak to him.
And yet his face had not turned pale
From the filth and dirt,
Not from hunger, and not from fear.
Darius, who loved him dearly,
Then asked quite tenderly:
“Servant of God, how are you?
You have been in great danger!”
And Daniel answered with these few words:
“Good king, may you live forever!
But God sent His angel to me,
And he held shut their mouths, restraining
The lions with such force they could
Do me no harm or damage,
And this because He has found me just
Whenever He has tested me,
And never, king, did I sin against you
Or do wrong to anyone else.”

Then Darius the king had searched out,
Sought after, and looked for throughout his lands
All those who had been the cause
Of this evil deed, and whatever
Their rank, he had them thrown
Without hesitation into the lions’ den,
Along with their wives, sons, and daughters.
But the lions did not think much
Of all this, who had plenty
To eat. In this way the king
Was pleased to take vengeance, for they died,
And all together, a horrible death.

Afterward Darius the king had issued
The following public proclamation:
“To all generations,
Peoples, tongues, and nations,
To all the inhabitants of the world,
May they have an abundance of peace and mercy!
A statute and decree,
Devised through wise and good counsel
For my empire and realm,
Whose king I am and where I rule,
For I have determined and maintain, that all those
Who populate my kingdom and empire
Should fear, respect, serve, and honor
The God of Daniel at all times.
For He is living and eternal,
Enduring from age to age;
His kingdom will have no end,
And His power will always remain.
He is the deliverer of prisoners.
He is the true savior of sinners,
He is the one who sets awesome signs
In the heavens, and impossible wonders
In the sky, the water, the seas, and on earth;
He delivers those captured and in bonds,
He Who rescued Daniel
From the lions’ den.”

And so Darius the king had it
Written throughout his realm and empire
That everyone should obey the God
Of Daniel and serve Him,
Recanting the idolatry
I hold a great foolishness:
Namely that a sculptor fashions
Some image with a body, limbs, and face.
And, having made it beautiful and noble,
Then calls it his lord and god.
He knows well such a being is much greater
Than any image possibly could be,
For he made this with ingenuity,
Using his own hands and tools,
And he could easily destroy it,
But the image can do nothing,
As it lacks feelings and life,
Movement, sense, or understanding.
And that man is just like Pygmalion
In his ideas and way of thinking,
The one who made an image, then loved it so
He called it lady and beloved.
He is also like Manasseh,
Who made merry only
With his false images and idols.
His many thoughts were then those of a fool
Who abandoned the God of creation
To serve such filth.
But I will say no more about him now,
Pursuing my theme further,
For in what follows I have more to tell of him.
But this much I will say:
Whoever celebrates with such a god
Is no doubt a beast.
For there’s no God but one,
By Whom the four elements
Were created, from Whom every creature
Draws nourishment and life.
This God Who nurtures everything and rules
The heavens’ center and compass,
Who keeps the burning sun on high
And the moon below in its coldness,
He is the Lord Who can count so ably
He knows the number of the grains of sand,
Knows how many are the drops in the ocean,
The names of all the stars.
And He never fails
His own, for they lack nothing.
He created the world
From nothing, taking its form
From Him alone without other help.
He is the Lord who rules all.
His good will I will never put in words,
For in Him is no failing, no falsehood.
He can do everything, contains all value, knows and has all.
Never does He fear anything or feel afraid,
For nothing disturbs or excites Him.
Rather, much more than any rock,
He is strong, firm, certain, and stable.
And surely that is very fortunate,
As much for the greater as the lesser man
Who hold to such a God as their Lord.
Now you can clearly see
Our Lord is readily able
To provide easily for His own,
Without selling anything or giving pledges.
So if your hope in Him is strong,
And you serve Him well, I expect
He will look to you and your situation,
Delivering you to a happy end.
And I will present another exemplum
And rhyme it, staying as close to the letter
As I can best manage
In order to show clearly
How everyone ought put his hope
And all his trust in God.
And so I mean to speak
Of something quite relevant to my theme.
King Manasseh, ruler of Jerusalem,
Came to the throne when he was twelve
And governed for fifty-five years.
But I don’t intend to put my effort
Into rhyming in this particular work
The whole of his life;
Instead I will pass over this quite quickly.
When first he was king,
He had a number of idols fashioned,
Also temples, altars, and painted images,
And he led all his people to them
So that, in a group, they might take pains
To serve and worship such objects,
Sacrifice to and honor them;
Thus, his mind twisted and filled with foolishness,
He made them abandon completely the law
God had given to Moses.
And yet he did even more,
For he had his god — Balaam the name
He was called — installed
In Jerusalem’s temple and took out
Everything his father had put there,
And the father had been a virtuous, loyal, and prudent man
Who gave appropriate gifts to the temple;
And Manasseh worshipped, and it is common enough,
The sky, the sun, and the moon,
And all the noble beings
Of the heavens, and to further this idolatry
He had them installed
In certain places within the temple of God.
This was a grievous wrong Manasseh committed, a terrible sin.
Now you’ll hear what became of him.
God, wishing not at all the death
Of the sinner, instead prompted
Him to change his ways
And live henceforth in His sweet service,
And He spoke to him and his people,
But He did not convert them at all this way,
For they would not listen to Him,
Nor make sacrifice and render Him honor.
But Manasseh didn’t have long to wait
For God to take appropriate vengeance
Since Manasseh was bound and taken
By the prince of battle
To the king of the Syrians with no trouble,
And he never had another hearing,
But, instead, was pitilessly led
Into the city of Babylon
The chains that hung on him were so heavy
That, had someone paid him a thousand besants,
He could not have gotten himself released.
Then he was led off to live
In a very dark prison
Full of evil smell and filth.
Now it will be seen if his idols,
Which he fashioned to be wise,
Can free him from such straits.
I certainly don’t think so;
Instead, he shall die there, I have no doubt,
If he does not turn a humble heart to God.

Now Manasseh is in a prison,
Kept close like no captured man ever was,
None other more securely or effectively locked up,
Nor could he be released from this jail
If God himself does not arrange it,
For it depends on His order.
And so Manasseh considers, thinks it over,
And thinks again, his mind casting this way and that,
But nothing avails to release him.
What is necessary is that he turn both
Heart and mind in another direction
If he wishes to escape that jail.
So he thinks, considers, ponders over and over,
But this impasse means he must deny
The idols that have twisted
His mind, perverting it so much
That, short of dying, he will not reject them,
But if not, Manasseh will not regain his peace.
And then he turned toward the heavens
And devoutly prepared himself
To acknowledge his Maker,
The Lord of the universe and its Author,
Who in turn punishes the sinful.
Then he confessed his madness
And desire to win the struggle,
Saying: “I have never yet had
A true understanding of my Creator,
But now I recognize clearly His Power,
Seeing that He is God and Lord
Above all things and for eternity.”
And thus he began his prayer,
Which was humble and devout:

“Lord God, who are all powerful,
Who keep safe those obedient to you,
God of our fathers Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob, who suffered many trials
In their lives for the sake of Your love,
You are the God of their true line,
Who made the earth
And the heavens, and all that belongs therein,
Limiting the deep, and filling it
With signs through Your holy words,
Commanding the sea to obey
And never depart from its bed.
You have enclosed, limited the abysm,
Signing it with Your holy name,
Which is terrible and worthy of praise.
Likewise everything trembles in fear, even the angels
Illuminated by Your grace,
When in the power of Your presence,
In the face of Your unbearable anger,
Which is unending death to sinners,
And neither menaces nor challenges.
But let no sinner trust to it,
For whoever does brings on his own death,
Doing what he has no business to do;
And also the mercy
Your promise grants us
Is great beyond measure,
For no creature ever was,
Is now, or ever shall be, who is crafty
Enough to comprehend it.
For You are the sovereign lord
Of kingdoms and empires,
And even of all the earth.
Foolish is he who’d seek out another god.
You are too merciful, too pitying,
Mild, concerned for both body and soul,
As well as forgiving of men’s
Sins, and that is Your rightful office.
You, Sire, through Your tender mercy
Have promised, because of Your goodness,
Remission and forgiveness
For the sins that do us harm.
You, a Lord true and just,
Have imposed no penance on the righteous,
Have not forgiven their sins,
For they have not sinned at all.
And because I am more afflicted
With vice and sins
Than there is sand compassing the oceans,
My terrible iniquity drives me on,
Ceaselessly multiplies,
So that by day and night
I am bound and chained,
Captured, held tight, destroyed, so crushed
I cannot manage breathing
Or hardly even sighing.
Sire, I have aroused Your anger,
Sinning more than I can confess,
Doing abominable things,
These offenses breeding others,
To make filthy Your holy law.
Now I bend the two knees of my heart
Toward You, Sire, asking
Your goodness to attend my prayer.
I have sinned, Lord, I have sinned,
And now confess all my transgressions,
My faults, my iniquity,
And the vileness of my misdeeds,
Supplicating You in all humility,
Begging You devoutly
To pardon me, Lord, pardon me!
Let not my soul perish with my body
And with my crimes
(Don’t hold back Your pity),
Eternal evil for me!
Instead let Your great mercy guide me
To salvation, however unworthy I am.
So I promise You, Sire, and agree
For my part to praise You
All the days of my life
Because all the powers in heaven
Glorify You, never ceasing, and Yours
Is eternal glory throughout the universe,
Where You hold sway as God.”

And after he finished his prayer,
With perfect devotion
Made wet by the tears from his heart,
Delivered with deep sighs,
Recognizing his joy
And the true God, he was so pleasing to God,
Who did heed his prayer,
Receiving it in such a way
He released him from prison,
Showing him such love
He returned him as king and lord
To his own realm, and with great honor.

The four examples I’ve related,
Very dear friend, I’ve brought up
Only to offer you some comfort.
For I cannot bring you
The kind of consolation I would like
In your terrible desolation.
Thus you should take good notice
How God keeps watch over the men
And women he wishes to guide and aid:
They don’t have to worry
About looking to themselves, for He has turned
His face toward them so they have no troubles.
And to be sure He will never be slow
To help, and He will protect
You from everyone if you keep well His love
(Casting up the eyes of your heart to Him),
And if you have true faith
And perfect hope in Him.

You see how Susannah
Was saved from death and fire
Through her faith alone,
She who was imprisoned because of her beauty.
The young men who with heart and soul
Praised God from within the fire
And made merry, celebrated,
For not a hair of their heads
Was harmed or hurt;
They would have preferred being martyred
To doing or even considering such a crazy thing
As to violate their law
Or worship the golden statue
Fashioned by Nebuchadnezzar.
They were delivered safe and sound,
Just as I have found in my book.
This was through the divine power
That never ceases aiding His dear ones.

It delivered Daniel
From the lions’ den
In great honor because of his virtues
And because God had found him
A just man whenever put hard to the test,
And he also made Darius the king so intoxicated
With love for him he promoted Daniel
To a higher rank than ever before,
And willingly, despite his enemies,
Who suffered much at his hands,
Dying all together
A most evil and shameful death.

And because Manasseh did wrong,
Our Lord had him put in chains
In Babylon, where he was thrown
In prison, so hung and draped with iron
He thought it Hell itself,
So mightily was he bound and chained.
But as soon as he renounced
The idols and begged
God quite devoutly for mercy,
Crying and lamenting,
God listened to him, understanding,
And gave him back his kingdom,
Making him an even greater
Lord and master than before.

When it was time for Mathathias to end
His days, he summoned his children
To his side in order to comfort
And also exhort them
To preserve well the secrets
Of the law, following their
Holy patriarchs, for theirs would be
Honor and glory, an undying name
And a good reputation if they did,
And he also instructed them
How Abraham had been found steadfast
And trustworthy in the midst of temptation,
Which counted toward
His reputation for truth and justice.

Joseph, in his time of misery,
Which pained and rent his heart,
Kept and obeyed the commandment
Of his God’s law so well
That afterward he became lord of Egypt,
And this was no small accomplishment.

Phineas, who was our father,
Loved more tenderly than a mother,
Holding dear the love of his God,
And this love gained him such high rank
He came to possess eternally
The most noble dignity
In the world, and the most honorable,
An undying name and reputation.
Good friend, I could go on relating such things
Until the dawn if I wished,
Such tales and exempla,
For my ears and my head
Are filled with them because of the Bible.
And yet nothing proves impossible for God
Or hard to accomplish, for He can
Always do all He likes,
Nor ever was there a man
So disconsolate who was not comforted
As long as his heart and mind
Were in every way devoted and joined to Him.
Just so, dear lord and friend,
You have been taken by your enemies,
Though your prison’s much too confining.
But I believe you have done no wrong,
For your nature has not driven you
To do what’s improper,
Or at least nothing wrong enough
To merit your being in such a terrible place,
Though Nature demonstrates
There is no man who doesn’t sin.
But now I will advise you how to act
And how to govern your emotions,
Your person, and your demeanor.
Of all these things the very first
You must do is love
Your God, calling often upon Him
With a devout heart, humble and undivided,
And not in weakness, but confidently.
If you do so, He will help you
Against everyone, keeping you safe,
For, as I have told you, no one
With trust in Him fails to find consolation.
You have seen this in the exempla
I have related to you so far.

Now, friend, if you wish to live
Happily, you must live in moderation,
For if you do not live moderately,
You shall certainly bring shame upon yourself.
If you are served a tasty dish
And your appetite encourages you
To eat a good deal,
Do not follow that impulse.
For the man who eats to excess and is idle
Shames and harms himself.
For if someone brought you this sweet
And tasty dish as a trick,
And you then ate too much,
You should kill yourself at one blow,
For another time you will be given
Some other dish strangely prepared
And so little to make a meal of
You would find little nourishment there.
And thus you should be deceived,
Irresponsible, evilly fed in consequence.
Therefore friend, take what you need to live,
Measuring and weighing on the scales
The evil as well as the good.
Make sure you eat what you should,
Being careful, little by little,
To restrain your appetite
Since our body is well nourished
And sustained by very little.

And then, friend, you should
Patiently accept and be content with
Both the good and evil God sends your way,
And you should keep to the straight path
Job followed when he was made wretched
And fell into terrible misery,
Losing all he had — and it’s true enough —
Except his memory and life,
Even though in the East
There was no lord of greater power.
But he lay down on smelly garbage,
All alone, making like a derelict
Covered with vermin and filled with worms.
Yet his heart belonged so much to God
He never said with his own mouth
What might appear a reproach
To his God; instead, humbly,
Devoutly, he praised Him.

And if someone speaks harsh words,
Or injures you at all,
Recall to mind that God suffered
For our sake and how He offered himself
To pain, to suffering, to death.
I beg you sincerely: do nothing but laugh
Should someone cause you grievous pain or hurt.
Instead always have a king’ s heart,
And surely you will overcome them
Every time you act this way.

If you have not been put to bed and afterward awakened,
Your hair fixed, curled, and washed,
Yourself dressed and shod properly,
But, instead, left in poor shape,
Treated with scant respect and badly served,
Deprived of your freedom,
Your clothes all fallen to rags,
Do not, I beg you, display any anger.
Do not show it in your face or expression,
For if they see from your manner
You are miserable and uncomfortable,
It will go worse for you, I’m quite sure,
In three or four different ways.
For you do yourself no greater favor
Than for them to see you unbowed
In a place this vile and unhealthy,
And, doubtless, you’d find strength
In such determination and courage.
So your friends will love you better
And your enemies too,
Seeing you unperturbed.
For it is quite shameful and unseemly
For a prince to be upset
By any news someone tells him.
Whether it’s disaster or good fortune,
Great joy or misery,
His firm demeanor should never alter,
No more than Socrates ever did. If you keep to this,
You will be so well schooled
You will resemble the philosophers,
Who were so resolute
There was nothing, however fearful,
They would not have preferred enduring
To their being perceived as
Changing their good opinions
Or backing off from the truth.
And they did not fear death in any way.
Now it might be that all this
Tempts you to fall into melancholy.
And yet truly, that would be terrible folly.
You know well you must die,
And so that’s stupid and a mistake
Since it can hardly be otherwise;
And there is no great man, however eminent,
Who himself does not expect to die.
Also your truthfulness watches over you
And will keep doing so, don’t doubt it,
Helping you out in this misfortune.
So you ought to keep yourself from despair,
Always maintaining an unshakable hope.
For in your great deprivation
You should make a virtue of necessity.

I intend to develop two more points for you
In order to expand my theme.
Friend, making yourself miserable
Eats away at and tortures your heart,
Giving joy to your enemies,
And if as a result God’s neglected,
Less prayed to, less honored,
Less served and worshipped,
You must abandon all other thoughts
To think more about Him.
And should you answer me: “I believe
That everyone’s angry at, curses me,
Saying I have been put in prison
For murder or treason,
And I’m thus in such terrible disgrace
I shall never regain my honor,”
Then I would answer you this way,
Without hesitating, and concealing nothing,
With no lies, and that’s for sure,
In anything I have here to say.
The story, I tell you,
Is still spreading throughout the land
And so only a few as yet know the reason
For your imprisonment,
Thus individuals hold different views.
But for every one pleased by your arrest
There are two thousand unhappy about it.
In every town this is quite evident,
For those who speak of you
Say what’s good and favorable,
And grieve for you. Even little children
Sing a praiseworthy song about you.
And that all those asking after you
Do not seek out, look for, or expect
You to be treated
With grace, courtesy, or good will,
But only with justice
Is surely a great honor,
And thus it seems you should
Feel innocent, body and soul.
And this ought to comfort you greatly,
Helping you bear up under your troubles.

And you have good friends as well,
Provided and sent you by God,
Who are so fervently praying for you
They will aid you with their prayers to God,
Who will decide justly.
And your judge is virtuous and trustworthy,
Wise, merciful, and truthful,
All of which is very much to your advantage
Since He will pardon your misdeed,
That is, if you have done anything that wrong,
Which I don’t credit at all.
Every day of your life you’ve had
Whatever you have wanted.
If you desired beaten gold
To eat, or precious stones,
Or to have fancy clothes,
Jewels, money, horses, chargers,
Their very stirrups of fine gold,
It would have been yours, and no refusal,
Nor did anyone ever say or do
Anything to displease you;
Rather all wished to make you happy.
And so you have neglected your Maker
Because of your possessions,
Because of your grandeur, your wealth,
Because of your power and nobility,
And you have hardly served Him well enough
To merit His grace.
And so, dear friend, He shows you
The awesome presence of Fortune,
Who is completely terrifying,
Proud, cruel, inconstant, and fearful.

Not very long ago you would have believed
That if Priam, the King of Troy,
Were alive, and his sons both Hector
And Troilus (also Nestor the good),
Hector — who gave Menelaus such pain
Because of Paris, who had carried off Helen —
And all these would launch an attack
Against your lands and territories,
They could not have as quickly brought
You down, by arms or guile,
As Fortune has done to you,
She who pushed you up on her wheel,
There to beat you with her scourges,
Which are evil and traitorous.
And if you were to reply that
You are not subject at all to Fortune,
And that your powerful lineage
Affords you freedom through your rank,
And that she has granted you not one part
Of your wealth and lordship,
Which are yours by birthright instead,
The lord who rules and establishes justice
Quite often takes vengeance
Upon his creatures so obscurely
No one can understand,
Imagine, or conceive it,
And all too mysteriously
Brings one down while lifting another high.
His judgment is a pit:
No man knows the tenth of it,
Nor of His mercy either,
Accommodating itself to every kind of grace.
Many times He lets loose the thunder
To destroy everything, turning it to dust,
Or death, or the wind that blows
To humble and obliterate all that is,
Or Fortune, who laughs and cries
And ruins her own in no time at all
With such force and mastery
That you see her control many
Who are born noble and powerful,
And though she has given them nothing,
She takes back quite quickly,
When she pleases, what she has not given.
And would you like to know clearly,
With nothing left out, the whole truth about
The origin of power and nobility?
Then look to the book by Boethius,
Who will tell you, should you wish to listen,
That all the goods you can lose
Come from Fortune, who quickly reclaims
The good she has bestowed.
And if he were free from vice
And supplied with virtues,
A shoemaker would be a nobleman
And a king a peasant, who would do
Evil and villainous things.
And so nobility, I affirm to you,
Has its origin in the good and noble heart.
Kings have this, and no more, to their credit.

Furthermore she can grant benefits
To a prince much greater
Than those he has from mother and father.
Yet such a gift leaves a bitter taste,
For she often reclaims at the same time
Her own and the other too, so I believe,
That is, not only what she has given
But what you can claim by right.
Thus all that is yours and your
Heritage is indentured to her.
So there is no man alive exempt
From Fortune, none who can boast
He is not in her hands, for no man
Can escape her, nor be proud
Justifiably unless he’s reclothed
Himself with virtues and good habits.
But the well-educated man
In whom the virtues have taken root
Is not subject to Fortune’s power,
For she can do his character
No hurt or harm; though hers are
His goods, she can’t have his virtues.
For the virtues are gifts God bestows
On the man who lives righteously,
And these develop if acquired
In the proper fashion,
Through the pursuit of arms or great learning,
Or by experiencing a great many
Misfortunes, labors, and torments.
He is wise who struggles this way.
Riches are Fortune’s gifts,
And these, just like the moon,
Have their course, their comings and goings,
Never remaining in one place
Unless they are troves
Of gems, money, or gold,
Locked up or guarded.
But when a man is put in the ground
He cannot take them along;
Instead someone else will have them to enjoy
And dispose of, perhaps waste,
Making a great cake from another’s dough.
But just as the stars
Shine more brightly than candles,
And are placed in the firmament
To give light forever,
So the virtues shine and will shine.
Just as they were, so shall they be,
For Fortune doesn’t harm them
With tears or laughter,
With goods or promises,
Not in poverty or prosperity.
Not in any way, but know it as the truth
That she cannot dislodge
Or shift them, by St. Denis,
No more than Mt. Senis might be moved.
And so, friend, I tell you
Draw the virtues to you,
Disregarding all else,
For they smell sweeter than roses,
While riches and vices stink,
For at one blow they kill body and soul.

Reading in his book,
The wise Solomon said this:
“Lord, do not lead me into
Either extreme poverty or wealth,
But help guide my life
So I can live honestly,
Neither vomiting up nor blaspheming
Your name, doing you injury.”
He did not say this for nothing,
Fearing rather the trouble
That comes with being either poor or rich.
For here’s too much strife and turmoil,
There being nothing the impoverished
Would not agree to for money.
And the rich do even worse,
Bearing within their hearts
So much evil and malice,
So much pride, greed, and envy
That it couldn’t be recounted to you.
The man burdened with either wealth or poverty
Does himself an evil turn.
So the man who wishes to live securely
Is best off with the middle way,
I assure you, which is the safest,
Providing he finds it sufficient.
For if the kingdom of France
And all the empire of Rome,
Even the whole world itself belonged
To one man, he would be a beggar
If this were not enough for him.
I am not saying that one can’t find among the rich
Men so good according to every test
That none better could be found
Whoever would put them to a difficult trial.
And whoever would try them,
He could find none better.

Now perhaps in your youth
Your heart and mind were directed
Toward vice and vanity,
Toward filth and vileness,
And you didn’t acknowledge
The goods you have received
From God as you should have.
For if in this world you had
Nothing more except that
He’d given you life itself, freeing you
From death in Hell through your baptism,
Made from words and chrism,
And if you were immortal
By your merit, and more pleasing
To Him than any saint ever was,
You should still be worthy of rejection,
Not of rank high enough to serve Him,
Deserving of only one part
In every five hundred thousand
Of the substantial goods He gives you
And has bestowed many times
Upon you, these from His merit, not yours.
So I don’t know if He’s taking retribution
For your sins as a young man.
But if He is, it seems to me
He is serving you quite good notice,
And you should always direct your full attention
Toward your resolve to attempt
The defeat of every villainous vice
While serving Him graciously,
For He leads and points you toward His love
If He is punishing what you did as a young man,
Just as He did with Manasseh,
Who suffered many a hard trial in prison.
And truly, should you do the same
You would be so transformed by His love
He should return you all your land;
And those that hate will come
To love you in one turning of the sun
If your eye and heart focus on His love,
For He demands nothing more.
Now you have an answer to your question.

And if you say: “Alas! I’m dead,
For my troubles number more than a thousand,
My thoughts more than a hundred thousand
And these are terribly confused
With memories and miseries that are
Sad, poignant, fierce, long-lasting,
While my desire is ever sleepless,
Tormenting me to the brink of death.
And I possess so little hope
For myself, in truth, I expect
Never again to have joy or any other good thing.
Rather I am dead, or would be,
For all my thoughts oppose me
And are my mortal enemies;
And when Memory comes to me,
It makes me weep painfully,
For in this world it brings me nothing good,
But rather gnaws at, discomforts me,
And the pangs I feel,
In their hundreds and thousands,
With their power deprive me
Of blood, composure, self-control, and strength.
Desire stabs me; desire assails me.
Desire assaults me forcefully and often.
Desire makes me suffer so much.
Desire won’t let me endure;
From pain and difficult grief
I shall die should such misery go on.
And my hope has so diminished
My heart finds no delight there
Because it lacks force and power,
Nor any happiness worth a straw,
And all on my dear lady’s account,
Whom I faithfully love, by my soul,
For I am afraid of losing her.
Alas! That would be too great a loss
For me, miserable if I lost her.
And from no turning, wind, or path
Can news come that I’d hear
Which might gladden my sorrowing heart,
Nor which would speed on my thoughts
And so make contact with her
In order to commend myself,
And thus my heart is pained, my face drained of color.
Surely, nothing troubles me so much,
Not even prison or any other pain I suffer.”

Friend, I could offer a good response
To all these points if I wished;
But first you must
Direct your attention
And listen closely
To my words, retaining them,
For the man who, though listening,
Does not understand what’s said, fares the same
As the one who seeks yet doesn’t find,
Wasting his time and search.
Now listen to what I say,
For in my heart I feel anger and pain
Now that you have turned your benefit into an ill
And were not better prepared
To recognize the perfect good
Sweet Thought created for you,
Along with Memory and Desire,
And Good Hope, which desires even more
To remain by your side to comfort you,
However long this situation lasts.
And yet your understanding is so poor
You have no desire at all
That they serve you in their way
When you feel the greatest need of them,
Thinking instead a discomfort
Their goods, their sweetness, their consolation.
And so, friend, I intend to show you,
In order to lessen your sorrow,
What Sweet Thought provides
When a lover merits and deserves it.

Sweet Thought is something
Enfolded in a lover’s heart,
Brought to life by Memory
(Otherwise she’d never come to be),
So sweet, so pleasing,
So pleasant, and so amorous
There are few things more satisfying
To those hearts sick with love.
And however much she makes herself felt,
She is invisible, in truth,
For no man sees or touches her
Save him to whom she comes.
And though he feels her in his heart,
He never sees her, not even a trace.
But she is of such high estate
She makes forgotten every pain
And trouble in a lover’s heart,
And this is why I exhort,
Advise, and counsel you
To do whatever I say.

I have told you that Sweet Thought
Comes to life through Memory,
And this means that whenever, as it happens,
You remember your lady,
(Providing in times past you have not
Disregarded her wishes,
But rather have served her without deception)
You should conceive in your heart,
Imagine, develop, and form the image
Of her sweet face’s beauty,
And the golden curls, tight and long,
Hanging down to her heels,
And the compass of her sweet eyes,
Daintily resting upon you,
And also her sweet little mouth,
Red and smiling just so,
The soft, endearing speech
That schooled you in love,
Her forehead, her smooth throat,
Her neck whiter than new fallen snow,
And the shape of her noble body
With no trace of flaw.
And then you should consider
And number in your heart
The virtues she is blessed with
And her good reputation as well,
Her ways, her habits
Which in complete perfection
So perfect her body and soul
She is considered to be the best woman
In the world, the most beautiful as well.
Every man calls her virtuous and good.

You should now have the imprint
From forming the image
Of this pleasant figure
Sweet Thought conjures up for you,
And thus you should build an image
In your heart, doing homage to it.
And if you have gained the benefit of her favor
From your lover’s good deeds,
Then in her presence you should recall
And relate them demurely, one by one,
And she will console you
In your suffering, coming to your aid.
She will relieve the bitterness of your pain
And cool your fever;
She will nourish your hunger
And slake your terrible thirst.

If you’re sleeping on the hard ground,
Without a rug or coverlet,
On the dirt, on leaves or straw,
Or on a crude bed, supposing one’s provided you,
She will ennoble you so much
You shall forget all that,
Bearing with good patience
All your misery and hurt.

You have also told me how Desire
Has brought you grievously low,
Prolonging your days and nights,
And you maintain it pains you too much.
But if you felt no desire for her,
Truly you’d love her but little,
For a lover is impelled to love
In proportion to his desire,
And when desire flees from him
Little love then comes his way.
But you’ve been too much hardened
By these pains you speak of,
Which are so bitter and sour for your heart,
Unrelenting and miserable,
That your tears number more than five hundred,
And in these more than five hundred buckets of water.
I consider it great stupidity
That you weep insanely over this,
For they are nothing more than the memories,
Recollections, and remembrances
Of that image figured
In your heart by Sweet Thought.
You should take pleasure there,
Discover great joy and peace
In the fact that Love and your pretty lady
Make you lead such a pleasant life
Feeling the pains of love,
And these are sweet, not bitter at all.

Concerning the hope you have lost
Truly here you did yourself harm,
Sweet friend, having left it behind,
Clinging to something foolish
Since nothing is as necessary
For what you must do
As holding onto an unshakable hope.
You should not doubt,
But rather study it with care,
And if you want to discover what power it has,
Without missing anything,
Look in Remedy for Fortune
And in my Lay of Good Hope
Where I show love to hope, while despising despair.
In any case, I’ll say two things.
Surely I’ll risk boasting of this benefit
(And let no one dare contradict me!):
Namely that in love nothing’s so good,
Nothing a lover should love as much
As hope, after mercy.
So I advise you to regain
And keep it firmly in your heart
Along with her gracious image.
And then you will have a lover’s company,
Just like a trinity,
For here will be a unity
Of you, hope, and the image.
Follow this course and you’ll act wisely.
If you do, it will serve you well,
For afterward the time will come
When your lady discovers your circumstances,
And if she learns you are holding
Her image constantly in your heart,
Then she will never forget you,
But love you more than before.
And too I promise you
She is so stable, full of truth,
Just, loyal, and loving
That in such perfect goodness
No betrayal could exist.

When the good poet Orpheus
Was moved to go
Seek Eurydice with his harp
In a very strange country
— And this was straight into
The region of Hell, where her dwelling was,
Because of the serpent which bit
Her in the heel, causing her death —
If he had had no hope
Of regaining her, he would not have made his way
To the place for whatever goods there are
In the whole world,
But truly Hope guided him there,
And urged him to make the attempt.
So he traveled in great haste
Right before the palace of sadness
In Hell where many a sorrowing soul
Weeps, sighs, goes mad with grief.
Three ladies full of rage stood
At the mouth of the passage,
Mistresses who were so powerful
They were called goddesses,
The first of pride, the second of envy,
The third of deception in all its forms.
They brushed their hair full of snakes,
Busying themselves with nothing other
Than combing and fixing their hair,
Forcing all souls to turn
Into the infernal flame,
Always burning and blazing.
Orpheus, who had his harp with him
And who could sing better than anyone else,
Knowing both the theory and the practice
Of all kinds of music,
Being their sovereign master more
Than any man born, or to be born,
Tuned up his harp at once
And played a sorrowful lay,
Singing with a voice soft and soothing,
And so filled with wonderful melody
That by his voice and instrument
He made Hell’s torments cease,
For the infernal captives rejoiced
In this sweetness as they heard it.
I have looked at his lay many times,
Reading it from beginning to end,
But it contains nothing more
Than a request for the return of Eurydice his beloved.
Even more, I can say this to you about him:
The great sweetness of his lyre
Made the wood nymphs his companions,
Made tall trees bend
Toward him to hear his song.
And still there’s more I could say,
For a great multitude of all the creatures
Assembled there to give him shade.
Wild deer and savage beasts
Followed him through the woods.
He made the rivers flow
Toward him when he pleased
So they might hear his song and harp,
Which sweetly resounded and rang out.
Many a tear was shed
In that valley of shadows
By those souls who forgot their troubles
As they listened to the song.
And the king of Hell as well
Threw down his helm and pitchfork,
Stopping, because of the wonder,
His torture of souls.
Proserpine marveled greatly at all this,
She who is queen and lady of Hell
And had been ravished by Hell’s king
In a garden where he saw her,
Picking little flowers there
Along with several of her damsels.

Now I’ll put aside my theme
A while to tell you in detail
How Proserpine enjoyed
Such royal estate for her beauty’s sake
From Typhoeüs, from Venus,
And why Pluto came
To search out and see if that other
Wished to destroy or bring down Hell.
I tell you that Typhoeüs
Was a much too foolish giant,
Who intended to defeat in war
The gods of earth and sky.
But the gods grew so terribly angry at this
They exacted a cruel vengeance.
He was not warned or reprimanded,
But, instead, was put between four mountains
Terribly huge and strange.
The prideful one was right in the middle,
For he intended to debase the gods
And have himself thought greater.
He had Aetna atop his head,
And this pained him greatly;
The second on his feet, the third on his left hand,
And the fourth was on his right.
There the captive was so oppressed,
So tormented, so constrained
He knew well he was wrong.
There he twisted and turned,
Shaking the four mountains so violently,
The king of Hell, because of this commotion,
Became so terrified that suddenly
He rode out from his palace
On three horses darker than blackberries
To go and see for himself
If there were some crack or break
In the walls of that hellish enclosure,
For he wanted to do what was necessary
Should he spot any damage.
There across mountains and valleys rode
Pluto on his magical steeds
Never stopping, with no bridle, no harness.
It was horrible, monstrous to behold.
Venus, who was close nearby,
Spoke to her sweet, dear lover,
Whom she was kissing and embracing
(No other pleasure did she wish),
Saying quite endearingly to him:
“Lover, below the firmament
No creature escapes you,
However short his clothes or long his cape.
All acknowledge your great power
And pay you obeisance.
See there Pluto, god of Hell,
Harder, blacker than iron.
Show him what you can do
For he is of such low estate
He refuses to call you lord.
Lover, I beg you, make him fall in love.”
Cupid listened to her request,
And granted her it, quickly readying himself
To draw an arrow on the god,
One quite well made and of very great power.
Cupid picked up his Turkish bow,
Plucking an arrow from his quiver,
And this was sharp and pointed,
Long, straight, well-feathered.
He placed the arrow on his bowstring,
Drew back firmly and loosed it.
He dealt the god of Hell such a blow
He sent both the arrowhead and the arrow
Right into his guts, and he would have
Fallen dead were he not so strong.
Now Pluto’s captured by love,
But he hardly stays put in that spot,
Rather he rides off, comes back, gallops and searches.
Circling round about in his quest,
He traveled so far and so quickly
He arrived in Perguse.
And Perguse was a garden
So pretty, so noble, that, to judge fairly,
No place was more delightful.
Spring there lasted forever.
All who are and have been there
Could not describe the garden’s delights
In twenty-four summer days
It was so filled with beauty,
Redolent with a pleasant and pure fragrance.
Beautiful Proserpine was in that place,
Picking, with her companions,
Roses, eglantine, violets.
But as soon as Pluto spied her,
He fell in love and proceeded to carry her off.
In a loud voice Proserpine called out:
“Help, you gods! Help! Help!
Oh Ceres, goddess of the corn,
I’m being carried off and ravished!
Alas! Mother, what will become of me?
Surely, I’ll never see you again.”
Pluto took off in great haste,
Hardly at a trot or run,
Instead he seemed thunder itself.
He raised such a cloud of dust around him
It reached up to the clouds.
He kept Proserpine right in the middle,
Not wanting anyone to notice her.
He knew well the most direct route,
Passed through the places of the suffering
And those of many other evildoers.
Cyane witnessed the wonder,
Greatly displeased, marveling much
At Dis, who was carrying off the goddess,
And she, weeping, was sorely troubled.
Cyane left her fountain behind
And cried out in a loud voice:
“Dis, you’ll not take her from here!
You’ve done wrong to abduct her.
I’ll prevent you from passing,
For you are in the place that belongs to me.
Surrender the maiden to me at once!”
When Dis heard what she had just said,
He spurred his horses, speeding on
And, saying not a word, powerfully went his way.
The path Pluto picked ran
Toward the inhabitants of Sicany.
To oppose him was Cyane’s wish,
But she could not make him halt,
For the evildoer, may God condemn him,
Was too skilled in wrongdoing and deceptions.
He struck the water and the earth opened.
This was how he thought to proceed,
For his path was there, his entrance
Into the world of shadows.
Here Proserpine by chance
Lost her flowers and sash,
And they tumbled into the fountain,
Which was sweet, clear, and pure,
But the fountain roiled up,
And Cyane was so troubled by this,
And also because the goddess had been abducted,
That, weeping, she ended her life.
Ceres came upon the sash,
Seeking her daughter in many a place,
And this was the first clue
Proserpine furnished her.
I cannot tell you everything
Pertaining to this painful story:
How Ceres went searching out and seeking
Her daughter across the entire earth;
How she came to put under interdiction
Sicany and all who dwelled therein;
How she made perish in the street
All the beasts of burden,
Ruining the work completely;
How she brought the outrage committed
By the king of Hell to Arethusa’s attention;
How Ascalaphus blamed
Proserpine, whom he saw eating
The fruit of Hell in a garden;
How she could have returned above
Had she not eaten it.
But I have recounted to you the rape
Of Proserpine committed by Pluto,
Just as the written text has it.
Now I’ll return to my subject.

Tantalus, who there suffered terribly from thirst
And yet had water all around him,
Forgot his thirst, his torment
Because of the very sweet melody
Of the good poet who enchanted
All Hell with song and music.
Ixion’s wheel came to a halt,
And it is certainly a terrible thing
That around him are burning wheels,
With the sufferer atop, facing down.
And the huge rock, heavy and miserable,
Did not trouble Sisyphus at all.
And Tityos, who was offering his guts
And prostrate body to vultures,
Was distracted from his evil fate,
Nor did the vultures pay him any mind,
Hearing his harp, the sound
Of his song, and its passion.

The beautiful nymphs threw down
The sieves they were carrying
And their buckets without bottoms;
They grieved terribly, doing no good,
For they never stopped scooping
The water that was spilled to save it.
But they wasted their efforts completely,
For the fountain was already destroyed.
They are the three daughters of Belus.
I say no more of them, but not a one of them
Ever did anything else
Nor took a rest from that task.
To be brief, all the queens of Hell
Cried huge tears,
For never had they seen the like;
And this so strongly moved
The god of that dark prison
He had Eurydice sent for
With great haste, returning her
To the poet, who was waiting,
But this was only on one condition,
Namely that Orpheus should walk in front,
And she behind, and if he looked
Back, then he would lose her.
But love or desire, that drive hearts
Mad, or some crazy thought,
Made him look behind him,
And Eurydice, without delay,
Flew back to that horrible prison,
Which was too horrible and full of pain,
Vanishing thus from his eyes.
Orpheus hastened back after her,
But it did no good; he knew quite well
He would never possess her again.
Nothing he might say could avail
Since he had lost her forever.
Nevertheless the fool returned,
Remaining seven days altogether
By that gloomy entrance,
And no one brought him anything.
He satisfied his thirst with tears,
Fed his hunger with grief.
But however long he stayed,
However much he moaned, or cried out,
However willing he was to mourn,
He would never see her again.
And so then he left that place,
Grieving terribly, enduring great hardship,
Leaving behind Eurydice the lame,
And he returned to Rhodope,
Becoming a man of such condition
I have not the will to speak of him,
For it would corrupt and pollute the very air
To bring up such a disgusting story.
Now afterward he would never call any lady
Beloved, nor would he love a woman.
And so the women of Sicany,
Because he would not accept
Their love, stoned him.
Spears and darts they threw at him,
Stones, rocks, and rough clods;
And they did so with all their might.
But the poet, singing,
Enchanted the hard stones,
And so these did him no harm,
Turning soft as they came near.
Then the women, may God damn them,
Played too great a trick,
For together they made
Such a very loud noise, so I think,
That the song intended to put a spell
On the rocks could no longer be heard,
And so the enchantment failed,
The one caused by his sweet song.
Nor did he ever sing again,
Charmed neither wood nor river;
Instead the divine poet
Died on the spot, fell down on his face.
The nymphs from the wood bewailed him
Bitterly, for they loved him very much,
And the different kinds of trees did the same,
The tall, the tiny, and those of middling size,
The rivers too
Wept deeply for him,
And thus roiled up,
Swollen, much higher.
I cannot tell you all that happened:
What became of his head, his lyre;
How Phoebus saved him
From the proud serpent that came upon him;
And how his soul made its way down
To Hell, and how Lucifer
Granted him the companionship
Of Eurydice, his wife and beloved,
For this would be too long
To recite and rhyme.
But according to poetic tradition
This was how he lived and died.
Do you think that had Orpheus known
He should not possess Eurydice,
He would have risked
Following a path so arduous?
Not at all! But Hope led him on
To struggle so nobly
He would have accomplished his aim
Had love not prevented him.
And so, friend, whatever might happen
Make sure Hope is your constant companion,
For she is the friend best suited
To accompany any heart.

When Paris went to seek out Helen,
For whom he suffered much pain,
He traveled there in the hope
Of gaining her love and friendship.
And when he saw how very beautiful she was,
He carried her off — and she willing —
Into the temple of the goddess Juno.
Venus thus fulfilled the promise
That she had granted the man
When he had been given the task
Of awarding the golden apple
That Discord had brought before
The three goddesses of worthiness,
The first of intelligence, the second of love,
The other of possessions or wealth.
Each woman wanted to possess it,
But Venus said so much to him
The foolish shepherd awarded it to her.
And thus Troy was completely destroyed,
Its people all killed or sent into exile,
And he himself dead as well,
Causing Helen much terrible grief,
And she cried many a bitter tear
With Hecuba, her beloved mother.
Paris took her with him and his people by boat
Across the sea to Troy
Where his dwelling was
Inside the fortress of Ilion.
Do you believe that if Paris had thought
Lady Helen would be angry with him
And he should fail to win her love,
He would have gone to seduce her?
Not at all, but since he didn’t fail,
I maintain that hope availed him greatly,
And it is hope and imagination
That carry the day — here’s my main point —
And the affairs of all who cling well
To them come to a better end.

When Hercules struggled
Against Achelous, whom he struck down,
For the sake of beautiful Deianira,
(And she was so beautiful, to tell the truth,
That no other lady or damsel
Was so noble or attractive),
Achelous had the ability
To transform himself into
A great river or a serpent
An acre in length,
Or make himself into a wild bull
Whenever it pleased him;
And so he changed then into a proud bull.
Hercules seized him
By the right horn, attacking him so fiercely
He pulled it off, breaking it,
And this pained Achelous,
His horn severed and cracked.
The Naiads took it,
Filled it with flowers and spices,
With apples, and they carried it off,
Afterward making sacrifices
And using it in their ceremonies
Whenever they made their offerings.
And do you know what became of Hercules?
He lived on more than twenty years
In such great toil, such great trouble
That all the world buzzed about him.
But beautiful Deianira
Made him die in terrible suffering,
Though not through malice,
Rather doing so in ignorance
With the shirt soaked in poison
She brought to him.
Nessus was a sagittarius
Hercules struck down with a javelin
So that he was bound to die,
But he made the beautiful woman believe
That as long as that man wore the shirt
He would love no other with passion.
And the beautiful lady driven mad by love
Was deceived like a fool
So that, believing his enemy,
She lost Hercules her beloved.
But Hercules was not faithful at all
To her, finding instead another paramour
Whom he did love, a young girl
Called Iole the beautiful,
Loving her so much, and it’s the truth,
He lost mind and memory,
His honor, and his chivalry.
Afterward Deianira was gripped
By such a fatal jealousy
She sent him the shirt
Through Lichas, who was transformed
Into hard rock (yet enduring in the ocean).
Hercules revenged himself in this way,
But thereafter he did not drink or eat,
Dying instead, and was turned into a god
By the gods themselves and glorified.

Do you think that Hercules, had he
Not possessed Hope, could have had
Such a pleasing and noble victory?
I don’t say that one should trust in
Hope to accomplish everything,
But she does comfort and encourage,
Gives heart and fortitude
Wherever she truly is.
And also there present
Was the sweet image, elegant and noble,
Of beautiful Deianira,
Which Hercules often contemplated.
In the same way you can contemplate
The image within you, marveling at
Her great beauty, her elegant presence,
And her noble body so finely proportioned,
Hoping that there will come
Some fine day when she’ll bring you
Joy through what she says and does
From her heart, noble, loyal, and flawless.

But, for the reason I intend to explain,
Make certain your energies
Should always and first of all
Be directed to serving God devotedly,
For there is no love that compares
To His love, by the faith I owe the Holy Father,
Not anything worldly, however pure it might be,
And nothing beyond earthly ken,
No more than a graven image
Compares to a living creature.
Moreover I wish to explain something comforting
From which I draw much consolation,
And you should find comfort there too
Even as you hear and it pleases you,
Providing you listen to me a while.
I can declare and prove
That your captivity is best for you,
Is to your good, profit, and honor.
It’s often said in town
And considered as the gospel truth
(I have many times heard it defended)
That one of four things would have been your lot
Had you remained among us:
For you would have been dishonored,
Killed, captured, or victorious
In the battle, and this last, doubtless,
Would have been quite difficult to manage,
As anyone familiar with the event would admit,
For knights in their armor fled
In great numbers, but not all,
Because the great nobles stood fast,
Yet all the others ran away.
There the good king of France was captured,
A man with the courage and resolve
Judah Maccabee did not possess,
Or Hector and Julius Caesar,
Alexander or Charlemagne,
Who ruled the empire as his own territory,
Godfrey de Bouillon or Arthur,
Ajax, Achilles, or Troilus,
Gawain, Tristan or Lancelot,
Roland or Ogier — and I dare well say so —
Guillaume, Oliver, or Pompey,
And none of these ever had such a good day,
Never accomplishing as much as did he.
For in one day he undid a great many;
Yet he alone was not enough
To beat them all down,
For beside him his knights
Were killed or taken, dying miserably,
And he himself then captured; it’s pitiful and sad.
Now I pray God
And his mother send him back to us,
And that patience might be with him,
And this I desire myself
With a good heart and a true will.

But I must prove to you
What I’ve said beyond any objection.
Better for you to have been buried alive
Or die ten times than to flee,
For you would have been dishonored
If you had not stood in your place,
And if you had died there,
God would have granted you honor and mercy.
And if it happened that you were captured,
Surely you’d never be happy about it,
For you’d have been so evilly treated,
So molested, so injured
Because ten times more than you own
Would have been asked for you,
And you’d have lost the flower of your remaining days,
No insignificant thing as I see it.
But rather this seems to me, and no lie,
What you should most grievously have lamented;
For, perhaps, you should have spent
The rest of your life in such a filthy place,
Maybe for a term of twenty years.
You would have been better off ripping out your teeth
Where you are (and I’ll prove it to you,
And whoever stands on firm ground, let him not move),
Or if you’d been in England,
Imprisoned under lock and key,
You could not have come or gone,
And you should have had no one to talk to
Unless you learned the language
In your prison and in your cell.
But it’s no easy thing
To learn under such circumstances.
There you’d not have found truthfulness,
Fairness, reasonableness, or pity,
Pleasure, love, but rather just the opposite
Of how you ought to be treated.
You can understand this quite clearly
Because of authentic and relevant experience,
Since many have been undone and killed,
Dishonored, brought down, and ruined,
Insofar as their nobility, honor, and goods are concerned.
And many have died
Through this particular misfortune, and their heirs
Will never make a recovery,
And this makes it a terrible loss and injury.
But such is the way and the common experience
Of the times that come upon us,
For we see it constantly.
And so you have had no bad luck, but I maintain
Things instead have gone your way quite well,
And it’s to your benefit, to your honor
That you were taken by a lord
Who will do what is right, offer you justice
And mercy if he’s asked.

I now intend to continue with my message,
Offering some further advice.
I am convinced you will get out
Soon or be released honorably,
And that God will grant you this,
For, by my soul, I would have it so.
I beg you to be so disciplined
That, wherever you go,
Honesty and honor will always
Be evident in all your deeds and words,
What you say with your mouth and in your heart,
For it’s villainous and shameful,
Certainly dishonorable as well
To speak dishonestly.

For God’s sake, don’t be inconstant,
But just, firm, and stable instead,
The same when things go your way as not,
And don’t forget my admonition,
For it will serve only too well the man
Who wants God to grant him honor.
You need have only a single word,
Yet you should not speak anything but the truth
Because your words will be heard
And noted more than those of others.

Be happy and free from worry,
And let your goods be shared out to everyone,
Willingly and with a good heart,
For otherwise the gift is not complete
Since a prince full of avarice
Is never worthy, so great is the vice.
Don’t worry about acquiring wealth,
For honor will come to you
Along with riches if you’re worthy.
Should you become a slave to your riches
Such servitude would be shameful.
Be aware, good friend, you should be
Disgraced and dishonored.
Fie on wealth without honor!
Honor, on the contrary, is a good unlinked to wealth,
And surely, to have honor and yet be poor
Is a much greater nobility
Than to be a great man without honor
And yet possess a huge amount of gold.
Nevertheless I maintain, and here’s the point,
No wealth is worth as much as honor.
Honor is the grain, wealth the chaff,
And so the honorable man is the rich one,
Nor would he give two peas for gold
Since he wants for nothing
If honor remains and he lacks possessions.

Take as your model the good king of Bohemia,
Who in France and Germany,
In Savoy and Lombardy,
In Denmark and Hungary,
In Poland, Russia, Krakow
In Masovia, Prussia, and Lithuania
Did venture to win glory and honor.
He bestowed fiefs, jewels, land,
Gold, silver, kept nothing
But the honor, treasuring it.
And he had more than anyone else.
Of great men he was considered the best.
My whole heart rejoices at his virtue,
And also because he supported me.
He could never weary
Of giving, and he possessed so much
At all times wherever he went.
And by my faith, if it happened
He had two hundred thousand pounds,
In a single day he would be rid of them,
Giving everything to his knights,
And then going off without a penny.
I know this well, for I have seen it happen
More than fifty times, in fact,
But not, I should add, with so great a sum
As I have described and mentioned above.
That was a random example.
In short, he did not care for money,
Desired nothing but honor.
His heart drew him toward this alone.
If he had only a grey cloak
Of Polish or Frisian cloth
And a horse, and that was all,
These would more than suffice.
He did not have everything he wanted
For often turnips were his dinner,
Beans and black bread,
Herring and garlic soup
Since he lacked better food.
And I’ll tell you more, though not asked:
No rug or curtain
Or anything else covered
His bed; rather he took whatever he
Found at his resting place. Never was there
His like in the world, no one so long suffering.
He was impatient about nothing.
And if he was in a pleasant town
Or in a place where he could do so,
Whatever he found he would share out with all,
Giving away and getting rid of everything,
But in his house he should find better comfort
Than any other man did in his.

Yet I swear to you and maintain
He remained at such a pinnacle
Of honor there was no nobleman so great
Among his neighbors, not even Rome’s emperor,
Whom he would not seek out
Right in the middle of his country
If he wished to attack or make war upon him.
He was not hated by his people,
But rather every man loved and served him
Because he was well deserving.
And he so quickly moved to act
There was never a lord I saw
With sufficient might
To spend even a single night in his territory.
What did he accomplish first in Bohemia?
Whoever might applaud or complain,
Through the force of arms and allies
He did subject these people.
Though they all rebelled
Against him, he prevailed in the war,
Fighting many battles,
And thus humbling many a great pride.
Afterward he went to Esslingen,
A village in Duringen.
There he assembled his knights
And with a very noble company
He engaged in a battle
Right in the midst of a great river,
Reddening and staining the water
For half a league around.
But he humbled his enemies
To his honor and profit.

From there he went to Bavaria,
And with banners flying
And a host noble and powerful
He harassed the Duke of Austria.
Indeed he seized him forcefully
By the helmet in the middle of the fight
And led him off to Bürglitz,
His fortress, where there were no lilies
Because it was cold in summertime.
Well I know it, for I’ve been there.
The king should be honored by Mars,
For his were a hundred thousand marks
And several fine castles,
These the good ones in Bohemia.

Thence he proceeded to Poland,
After much struggle conquering it.
He also won Breslau,
Which belonged to Duke Boleslas,
And thirteen dukes there gave him
Their complete loyalty because of his valor.
I saw this, and so I bear witness,
And everywhere I’ll attest to it.
More than ten years he called himself its king.
And afterward he went
Straight to the kingdom of Krakow
And across the ice into Lithuania.
He had Christianized in one village
More than six thousand unbelievers.
The place was called Medvegalis,
And don’t consider it a mere tale
That afterward he took four fortresses,
The most dominant in that country:
Šiauduva and Gediminas,
Geguže, Aukaimis, and afterward
There was no man or woman
Who did not lose body and soul;
Nothing at all, in fact, was still alive,
Despite the Khan of Tartary
To whom Lithuania is tributary.
And then the king harassed them terribly,
Devastating more of their territory
Than what lies between Bruges and Paris.
Indeed I was present at that celebration.
I witnessed it with the eyes in my head.
Then he traveled twice to Prussia,
Gaining much honor, and to Russia as well.
Afterward in Lombardy he was victorious,
At Parma, Regia, Modena, Pavia,
And then at twelve other cities.
This is well known to be the truth.
He was the lord of Pietrasanta
And of Lucca, but more than a hundred,
Truly more than a thousand, speaking a single voice,
Did accord him the title of the peaceful king.

What did he accomplish before Besenova,
At Sivan and at Lindow,
And before Laa where the Hungarians
Were a hundred thousand men (that’s the figure)?
He did so many incredible things,
And these were remarkable, well-conceived, risky.
If I wished to relate them all,
I could hardly tell you
Or recount them in a day and a half.
And furthermore he never had an enemy
He didn’t punish in such a way
That he gained honor thereby.
But before he ended his life,
Through good sense, arms, and power
He made his son king, duke,
Marquis, and count — so says he who says truly —
And established him as lord of the empire.
Of him I intend to say no more
Except that he has all the wealth he could want.
And so, good friend, if you would
Remember well this lesson,
It will sound sweetly in your heart.
Of what he did on the other side of the Rhine,
I will say nothing, but many good pilgrims,
Many knights and many ladies,
Know that nothing was blameworthy.

Above all else guard carefully your loyalty;
Let neither ugliness nor beauty,
Love, impulse, or hate,
No thing at all in the world persuade you
To give yourself to disloyalty.
It’s terribly unfitting for the kingly heart.
Of course, it would be the same for a man
Lacking the price of an apple,
But in a prince this is more noticeable
Than in his impoverished counterpart.

And if any man should attack you,
Make war on your lands,
Follow the counsel of those who’ll carry out
Whatever they advise you,
For health and life itself
Are both at risk; and so don’t worry at all
That they might offer you bad advice
For any reason since they’d be shamed so doing.

Don’t ever make clerks your war advisors,
Since they should pray for souls,
Should compose and write,
Sing masses or do the readings,
And offer their opinions
In councils and parliaments,
And so all should hold so firmly to his rank
There will be nothing to regret.

If you feel your enemy is
On the move, send for all your allies,
And frame a request at once
So effective, so pleasing, so intelligent
No one could improve on it.
But be on your guard about countermanding
Because refusals to serve the kingdom
Have set fire to many a thatched roof,
And the results endure
In many places and locations.
And if you must make such an excuse,
Take care to commend yourself to God,
And in all humility richly
Recompense those you can,
Offering hounds and birds
To the knights and the young men.
If you’ve anything to give, then give;
And if you don’t, then say pleasantly
You will reward them well,
And do so when you have the means.
If you do this, all will love
And serve you with a willing heart.

And if you fight or quarrel
With a neighbor who provokes you,
Determine first if you are right;
And if you are, you should with courage
Defend yourself at every pass.
But I would advise and instruct you
Not to mortgage your heritage,
To pay for such expenses
Because it might happen
Another will take possession of it from you.
And if indeed you’re wrong,
Don’t be so stubborn at heart
You refuse to see reason
And abandon your error.
Pay him, offer him enough
To make everyone see well by your proposal
That he is not right at all if he declines
To accept, and if he refuses.
Defend yourself ably and boldly
Should he attack, and I firmly
Believe God will aid you
In such a right cause and confound him,
For whoever does what he shouldn’t
Will then suffer what he wouldn’t.

And if it happens that an armistice,
A truce, or other cessation is requested,
Don’t for God’s sake violate it:
You should harm your reputation too much,
For truly, that’s treason.
I’d fear for the retribution
Our Lord God might exact
From your person, your goods, your honor.

Should it happen you find yourself
Fighting some place
And God grants you the victory,
Good friend, don’t magnify yourself,
But praise God since it comes from Him,
Not you. And if it happens
You capture your enemies,
So they might not be too harmed
Or badly treated, let generosity,
Not greed, be your guide,
And thus no one can see
You not doing what you should,
For whoever captures, then mistreats men
Goes against honor and does wrong.
Deal with them nobly in what you do,
And in the end you will make out well,
For one good deed inspires another,
As is required in the profession of arms.

And if as it happens you are defeated,
Your knights killed and taken before your eyes,
However much your heart might sorrow,
Make sure your eye does not flow with tears,
For this is how an old woman acts
Who must weep for her mother’s soul.
Always take good counsel and act
Advisedly, for it seems to me
That at this time a prince’s valor
And wisdom should be the more readily displayed,
Despite what might then happen,
For victory cannot come
To the man who becomes discouraged,
And nothing is more necessary than reason and moderation
Either in attacking or retreating.
But in this particular situation you should act,
As you can, and to your advantage,
With honor and with wisdom.

I should teach you in addition
The motto of the good king of Bohemia.
He would say a prince should
Always be a victor in war
But a loser in tournaments;
More talk that day I didn’t hear.
Still he didn’t esteem great strength
Or armed knights if unrestrained,
Men not always in complete
Control of their leaders.
Do you think you could assemble
Such a great host of armed soldiers
If your troops did not love you?
Not at all! Some man could be called lord
Though he is not one in his country
Because his men hate him.
And so, friend, do what you can
To resemble the bird of prey
Who desires the heart alone.
If you have the hearts, you may easily
Get both bodies and the upper hand,
And thus honor and power,
For they have nothing they will not give you
And all will die before failing you.
But do you think that being a miser,
Hoarding your wine and meat,
Gold, silver, jewels,
Robes with gold-encrusted gems,
Your chargers, coursers, and saddles
Will help you to fine victories?
Not at all! Don’t consider it,
For such behavior is too stupid.
On the contrary, sweetness, frankness, generosity,
Friendship, love, courage,
These will bestow on you honor
And victory: a reward that pleases.

And if your enemies are so powerful
That through their efforts
They occupy your lands despite you,
Don’t be so overwhelmed
By what might happen
That you call a parley
About a treaty, a peace, or a truce.
Better for you to remain
In Triers or Rome, never to return.
Leave everything to Fortune
And ride after them
Even more forcefully. Thus revenge will be yours.
But your honor would suffer too much
And your ignominy be doubled
Should you deal with them
About any kind of amity
As they continue to mistreat
You and your lands while negotiating.

But if your enemies agree
To retire, I certainly then concur,
With them gone, that you should negotiate
From strength, and ably, wisely.
If you see an advantage, then seize the chance.
But I counsel and instruct you
Whatever the treaty’s terms,
To do the honorable thing,
For honor everywhere demands and requires this:
“Do what you must, whatever might follow.”
The profession of arms requires it as well.
Do what you must at once when you take up arms,
Never believing anyone who says the opposite,
For this is what every prince should do
If he is not the kind who thinks of and values
Honor and shame at the same price.

And if you have no war to fight,
You can attend to your possessions,
What is rightfully, but not otherwise, acquired,
In order to serve your good friends
Well and richly, if appropriate for them;
Or if you become involved beyond your borders,
Traveling to a foreign land
To find honor and chivalry,
Be it in Castile or Grenada
(And this is a very agreeable path)
In Germany, in Romania,
Or in Prussia or Lombardy,
You’ll help yourself more discreetly
Using your own resources, instead of borrowing.
I beg you, moreover; whatever anyone might tell you,
Take along the most able knights
You can muster,
Not those to be had for gold.
Be sure to do so, near and far,
And if you have them, you need not
Fear dissension at all.
Always take the men who choose to go,
Avoiding dealings with scoundrels.
For treasure matters not at all
But rather the honor, reputation, and life
Of the prince with such a company.
And to be sure, one such is worth four others,
Either as advisers or in battle.
In easy times, or when hardship comes,
Each man will strain to do his best.
Nor can such men be persuaded
Not to do honor to their calling.
The man who finds strength with such men does well.
I tell you the truth, whoever might make light of it,
Admonishing you to do what is needed,
For I can hardly pass over good counsel in silence.
If you have read what is found above,
Then I have brought it to your attention.

When you take on men of no account,
Surely you deliberately harm your cause,
For they will waste more of your goods
Than virtuous men would use up.
And so you’ll lose your good name,
Be less loved and honored,
Impoverished, wretched, and beggarly.
If they hold you in their bonds,
Then Honor will never enter
Your door, but be dead to you.
If you take up arms, you’ll run
The risk of being overwhelmed;
For such men fear not shame
And do not know that honor ennobles.
So if things go badly for you, they could not
Help at all, for it’s not in them.
And so, friend, be on your guard
Against such men and keep your distance from them,
For a man should put in his eye
The familiar herb, the one that won’t poison.

Always have good spies,
Whatever the cost, ones you trust,
And pay them so handsomely
That they will serve you courageously,
And thus you’ll know your enemy’s
Plans. This precept is
The most important
I know for someone in your place;
For I affirm and promise you
That a good spy is worth more —
One who acts with discretion —
Than a lawyer in parliament;
For without good spying, it’s hardly possible
To war successfully on one’s enemies.
But a prince who knows well what they are about
Brings honor to himself, confounds his enemies,
Because he always has the advantage
If he possesses courage, brains, or prowess.

If you can ever sense or discover
That your enemies intend
To besiege you in a city, castle,
Or town, always be guileful enough
To have the key at once to open country
And you will hear the birds’ song.
And so don’t let a siege snare you
Like some wolf in a trap.
And if you are intent on remaining within,
You must sally out into the open
To fight for yourself without delay
In order to defend your heritage
Or your honor will not amount to much.
Do what seems best at the moment,
But I assure and promise you
Sallying out is the safest course,
The best, the most honorable,
And the one that does the most harm
To your enemies. And so I counsel, and this is the sum,
Giving you this advice:
That it’s not fitting at all
For a prince to be besieged
In his own citadel, for he ought to sally out,
Pursue them vigorously, ride forth and give chase
And thus along with his household
Get rid of his enemies by the force of arms.
If besieged he has no advantage,
No more than does the king in chess
When check and mate are called.
Friend, avoid disaster of this kind
And don’t shut yourself up,
For this would hurt you,
Since one never knows in such circumstances
How long this situation might last.
And since it’s quite apparent
That a town is often destroyed
By treason or the failure of provision,
By famine or mutiny,
Then a man, though besieged in a mighty fortress,
Who looks to these four things has no worry:
That is, if it is well supplied with good men,
With catapults and other artillery.
If these are lacking,
The place can be taken by assault.

And if God so furthers your cause
That you take a fortress or town
With ladies, damsels,
Townswomen, young girls, and maidens,
In the name of the Virgin Mary,
Insofar as you are able, don’t allow
Your men to violate,
Mistreat, or deflower them.
And if there’s a man who assaults them,
Or tries to take them by force,
Do what is just and it will be upheld,
And by God, you’ll benefit greatly
Since it’s dishonorable and terribly shameful
For a prince to degrade himself
By allowing such men in his army
And such violations, and leave no uncertainty
That in this case the women should
Be under your safeguard. Friend, look after them
And establish a code of conduct
Whose terms every man will know,
Doing what’s necessary to insure its observation.
If not, it would be worth nothing.

And if a woman is lying pregnant,
Let your standard be raised at once
On the roof of her house
And see to it as best you can
That no man touches her
With foot, hand, or mouth.
King John, virtuous son of the emperor Henry
Did so, and I rejoice thereby,
Namely that there was no man in his army so brave
Who did not fear committing such a crime
Or who in fact did not lose his head
If he dared force himself on a woman.

And he did something more
For which God may esteem and value his soul.
And I bear witness to it even now,
Namely that never in a state of mortal sin
Would he go to sleep or take up arms.
Should such a man be greatly admired?
Do the same and you’ll act wisely,
This is a virtuous and fine practice,
And the man who often confesses to God
Renders Him a true and just account.
But old sins and failings
Make God count them as if playing hide and seek,
Because the man does not see them clearly.
And his confessor, listening to them, does not either.

If you have two or three neighbors
Intent on marching to destroy you,
Don’t be on bad terms with all three at once.
Whoever does so is a fool.
Rather, if you can, be friendly toward them,
Or at least to one or two,
And thus if the third threatens,
You need fear but little his menace.
For if they are wealthy, powerful, and strong,
You need to put forth great effort.
Every prince eager for
Success in his career does so.
And, good friend, it’s often said:
“The more friends, the fewer enemies.”
Yet I would advise you even further
To attend closely to something,
And, I beg you, remember it:
Don’t neglect in any way
Your impoverished or less powerful enemy,
For, by the faith I owe my own soul,
Great misfortune has often been seen to result
And it is easy enough to understand why,
For he has only to bide his time,
Cast about in his mind, and plot cunningly
Just how he might do you harm;
Yet you disregard him,
Not being on your guard at all,
And so do not protect yourself,
And thus he can capture or kill you.
And it often happens that lesser nobles
Are more valiant and honorable
Than princes and great lords
Because necessity so demands it,
And thus they try much harder.
You see a small wound
That is given no thought
When the wounded man ignores it
Will grow infected, swell, and worsen
Until no adequate physician can be found,
No man who would know what to advise,
No healer who would know what to do.
And so the man dies sometimes in pain.
It’s just the same, may God protect me,
With every prince who doesn’t look out
For himself when he pushes for war,
Not fearing his enemy.
For I promise you, good friend,
No enemy is so insignificant,
And there is no wound that you should not
Attend to. I have heard this said.
Now remember it, I beg you,
And don’t play games with your life.

And don’t flagrantly violate the rules of honor
By remaining sick inside your room
When a man arrives at your court,
For rumor, which runs fast,
Will ruin your reputation everywhere,
And so people will say: “He’s a relic
Seen only once a year.”
Your reputation will suffer in consequence.
Be instead a companion to your knights,
Your men at arms, your squires,
Speaking to those of low and high degree
(Don’t be reluctant to do so),
And treating all women honorably
Whether ladies or maidens,
The great, the lesser, and those in between.
Be careful not to treat any woman disrespectfully,
For you’ll gain more honor
Than you bestow when you act thus.

Take meals often in your hall,
And join in the assembly with your household,
For in your presence they will be
Much more satisfied and at less cost.
But I beg you with great affection
(And don’t take it lightly)
Not to associate with boys
Because such relations are too dangerous,
And you should willingly take up arms
For this is your sovereign calling.
There is no other honor for you, no other endeavor
Than arms, ladies, and moral conduct.
Make sure you are served by the trustworthy,
Bestowing on them your silver
Or something else when they deserve it,
Enough so they will serve you more loyally.

Have no truck with fools or drunks,
For such men are so reviled
That no good can come of it.
But certainly misadventure is likely.
And whatever you say, keep clear
From maligning anyone.
And if people gossip with you at present,
Beat it down as soon as possible.
For many a person gossips about others
Who has much to be reproached for himself.
Be diligent and painstaking,
For no lazy young man
Can ever be a great success
Or even hold onto his birthright,
For he either loses it or someone takes it.
You spend every day seeing
This in the school of experience,
So you should reflect carefully on it.
Don’t let yourself be disinherited
Because of anything you can be blamed for
Since by my faith I would much rather,
Were I an emperor or king,
Expend all in a just war
Than have a foot of land taken from me,
For every disinherited prince
Lives shamefully and in ill repute.

Be humble, courteous, and frank,
Indulgent toward your good friends
As well as cruel to your enemies:
Don’t ever be reluctant or remiss about it,
And yet don’t revenge yourself with threats,
With words or menace.
Rather say little, do what you must,
For the man is wise who does so.
Furthermore I want to ask that you
Refrain from pride above all else
Because it is the worst of the vices,
And the one our Lord hates the most,
And it brings down the man,
While sloth makes him a beggar.
If you ever do something foolish
And a poor man upbraids you for it,
For God’s sake receive his reprimand gratefully,
Just as if it came from a king,
And think he will love you from the heart
Though he will blame you in private.
For whoever does not gracefully receive
Instruction from all, deceives himself too much.
And there’s no man, however perfect,
Who does not err in word or deed.
Inform yourself often about the voice of the people,
What opinion about you is spread abroad.
If good, give God thanks.
But if bad, don’t seek revenge
Because whoever wishes to redress every wrong
Will never eat his bread in peace.
So mend your ways before you are called to account
And you will be acting the nobleman.

If you want to do right and live well,
You should be moderate in your habits,
For eating many, insufficient meals
Has led many men
To their deaths, for it’s no life
To persist in such gourmandizing,
But rather the existence of a dumb beast,
Always grazing, never at rest.
Whoever doesn’t sleep and wake at proper times
Harms himself so much
He often hastens his death.
He doesn’t know what he does hurts him.
For at the least this is so great a strain
One loses the health and energy
To serve God and do what he should.
You will kill yourself if you start this.
What good are such late hours
And then this oversleeping?
Surely whoever gives himself to such habits
Would never be well disciplined.
But that prince who takes great pains,
Attending with eye and mind
To shake up his enemies,
Should labor hard at that task.
And surely, it’s not a labor,
It seems to me, of little worth,
But a respite that renews
Honor, leading to new plans
For greatly shaming one’s foes,
Doing them harm in town and country.
And so you don’t strain yourself at all
When you stay awake for this reason
Since there’s no honor — let he who wants laugh —
So great as in the practice of such vigilance.

Friend, don’t do anything so outrageous
As to dissolve your marriage,
For truly whoever tries to do this
Angers God and brings misfortune on himself.
Good friend, be discreet enough
Not to tell your secrets,
Nor the things you wish kept private
To someone likely
To reveal them — I won’t name names,
But I except no man or woman.
Nor can I keep silent,
Not invoking as an example for you
Your own virtuous father and mother,
For this is what glorifies you more,
Honors you more than their high station.
They were so very moral and powerful
Honor magnified them to such an extent
That every good and virtue flowed from them.
And your good predecessors moreover
Acquired so much
Honor, possessing more than anyone else,
So look to what they accomplished,
And you’ll do the opposite
Of what you see done these days.
They dressed honorably
In very fine clothes, were richly
Turned out with furs, nicely attired.
They did not look wretched,
For no king, without doubt,
Was at that time so magnificent,
Nor was anyone deserving of such love,
For on this and that side of the ocean
Their good reputation spread,
And the honesty of their land.
They had, if they pleased,
— More allowed them than others —
Rich and elaborate robes,
Dressed with precious stones,
With rubies, sapphires, and furs,
But they didn’t care much about these,
And they were rather indifferent
About having such garments to wear.
Now I see kings and counts,
Dukes and princes who are not ashamed
To don some coarse weave
Badly cut to their size.
I will say no more since it’s not fitting
I report anything about the great lords
That should or could displease them.
But they witness the example
Of others who act this way,
Debasing both honor and nobility.
And when such people want to glorify themselves
They are easy to distinguish
From the others and their own company
Since they are covered with gold and silver,
With furs and precious stones,
More than any image worked with gold.
Yet everyone in their retinues
Dresses differently from every other,
For the first wears blue cloth,
Thinking it more stylish.
The other is turned out all in green.
Another dons garments
Of cameline or fustian,
With linen or some similar cloth.
Someone else is all in black and white.
His mate’s more red than blood;
One in yellow wears a belt.
Someone else has a loose-fitting gown,
Another woven cloth, another a cheap surcoat.
I don’t want to say or argue more about it,
But they all have these pointed shoes,
And everyone’s purse is there to see.
Now if the nobles wished
To discipline themselves, they’d dress them
In what they wear themselves.
And further I propose
They should dress alike,
Each according to his rank,
Just as the virtuous used to do,
The blessed now in paradise
Who wore rich clothes
Made of fine cloth, and in a genteel way.
And therefore I beg you, dear friend,
Always to have your heart in the right place
So you maintain honesty
— And this I’ve admonished you to do —
For you should be eager to look
To your household, mirroring yourself in them.
For truly the man’s hardly foolish
Who corrects himself through another,
Though you will never find corrections more useful
Than those you receive from yourself.

Take, for example, the most valiant man
From Nantes to Rome,
Truly as far off as Cambelec,
Or, even further, as far as L’Aubre Sec,
And suppose he had a robe embroidered
With gold, with silver, with precious stones,
The richest and most magnificent
Of those in France or Castile,
And then let’s take a peasant
Of the same size; their shadows, whatever
Else one could say, would be as much alike
As two crows might be,
Though he wore goatskin;
Or sackcloth, or linen.
Wealth wouldn’t make a difference
One way or the other, and nothing could make it so.
And thus, friend, I promise you
It’s no more than shadow or wind.
And whoever does this to glorify
Or gain more power for himself
Does wrong, for such a foolish undertaking
Makes a man from the very outset
Fall prey to pride and vanity
In his pitiful weakness.
Is it not more honorable
For you to see at your table
Your knights, your squires,
Your clerks and servants, your bailiffs
All dressed similarly
In the magnificent fashion of France,
Than for each to be
Dressed in a different way?
I don’t know how such an agreement might be reached,
But certainly this way is a hundred times better.
I’ll say no more, but this other fashion is
A misstep in this world and an abomination to God.

I beg you to take counsel
From virtuous men and to be eager
To do what’s good for all,
Just as Boethius did,
As did many other philosophers,
Suffering much pain as a result
And being chased into exile.
Scripture says the same, for those
Who so act, the truth
Destroys their iniquity.

Furthermore I advise and caution you
Not to trust the counsel of a young man,
For it’s as great a danger
As perishing and dying.
If you don’t have an old and wise
Man in your land, have one sought elsewhere,
Nor should you worry about your expense.
Spare nothing, for doubtless
He’ll repay what you spend
If he thoughtfully considers your needs.
If anything attracts you,
Don’t take such pleasure in it
You neglect your duties.
Make sure you always fear shame,
For the prince drawn there
Is railed at by all the world,
And it’s the same with this hunting
In the woods and foolish ventures,
For one can attend too much to them.
I am not saying you shouldn’t indulge
When there is not much to do,
For this is something necessary enough.
I know well entertainment’s needed;
That I will not dispute.
But there is no recreation
That should command the attention of
The man who preserves his heritage,
And does honor to himself in chivalry,
More than does the divine refreshment
Made of bread, water, and wine.

I am not advising you to work all the time,
But you should be aware of the state
Of your affairs, for they will be worth more this way.
Your household as well will fail you less
Because the prince who doesn’t see to his own
Often loses out, just like the man
Who wants his people to be rich,
Yet has nothing worth a cracker.
The man is an absolute zero
Who doesn’t know rent or tithe.
And your men will pay better attention
When involved in your affairs,
Saying: “My lord wishes
To know well what happens to his goods.”

Hear your accounts diligently
So that you will clearly see
What you can spend in a year
And where you should collect rents.
You will also discover whether your collectors
Are virtuous or deceitful.
If they are trustworthy, you are wise enough
To pay them generous wages.
If they are dishonest, do what is just,
Not acting unreasonably in any way.
Rather you should take care at once
To feel pity, not take vengeance.

Take only rents from your people,
In grain, in taxes, or in levies,
For if you set out to fleece them,
You would be better off a swineherd.
Don’t enslave your subjects,
For you ought always preserve
Their rights and freedom,
Which they received from you and yours.
And if they do wrong, be merciful,
For no man is without sin.
And if you wish to have money coined,
For God’s sake, make the kind
Everyone will hear is good alloy.
For I swear to you, by St. Eloi,
There is nothing, great or small,
Brings such curses upon a person
Since everyone has and uses it,
And there is no one who would not
Put a curse on it, loudly or in a whisper,
When finding something wrong with the coin,
Blaming the great lords, the minters,
The servants, all those responsible.

Make sure, in good times
And bad, your hand is always open to the poor,
And God will reward you double,
Always a dime for every nickel,
For charity wipes out sin,
As water does fire, reaching it.

Don’t carry bitterness in your heart
Toward a living person whom you do not
Pardon, forgive, remove.
And if it happens that you do feel bitter,
Act with an intention so pure
No sprout or twig or seed
Ever remains to grow back,
For, if not, the feeling might return,
And no matter who did so,
It would end badly for him.
For he should not be concerned with
The past, but of days to come
And the present as well, and so past injuries
Should be forgotten.
Whoever forgives this way is wise,
For God will grant him honor at once,
Loving, preserving, and defending him,
Keeping him from villainy.
Friend, refrain from promising
Anything you might not prove able
To accomplish, for the man who promises
Obliges and engages himself in the task.
And if you cannot keep the agreement,
Excuse yourself often and ably.
In this way you will either be forgiven
Or less faulted in the matter.

Even further I pray you, good friend,
Be honorable to your enemies
With what you say (this costs little),
And be worried and concerned
Enough to take precautions
In order to keep yourself safe.
But make sure no one speaks slander
In your presence, whatever anyone might say,
For it is too poor a revenge,
Or so it seems to me; and doubtless
Whoever slanders or has another do so
Harms himself more than his enemies.
Take revenge some other way
That is wise, honorable, and discreet.

Refrain, friend, from dice playing,
And don’t spend your time at it,
Since this is too dishonorable an endeavor
For the prince intending to live virtuously.
Now it is not connected to liberality,
But rooted in covetousness,
And anyone who forms the habit
Will have many speaking behind his back.
But if you want to gamble a little,
Play at “twenty big” or “twenty-four”
With ladies and damsels,
Those pure in heart and mind.
And if you win their money,
Return it at once to their people,
And let it go at that, saying nothing more.
But if you lose, do nothing but laugh.
Don’t covet the inheritance
Of your neighbor or seize it
Through arrogance, for this would be
A sin, whoever might do so.

Friend, if you would see well,
Make sure you’ve the mirror
Of honor before your eyes,
Everywhere and always,
For all your actions, all your deeds,
Taking care never to conceal them.
And this way you’ll always clearly
See the virtuous teaching of honor.
Look at yourself, examine yourself there,
Study yourself, draw yourself there,
There invest your heart and body;
Let your desire and intention be there
Because of all flowers it’s the most beautiful
And the very best.
Whoever possesses it has to my mind
Found all he will ever need.
And so in my conclusion
I maintain this is the perfectionv
Toward which every human being
Should the more tend and direct his desire,
After that joy without end,
More than all else pleasant and pure.

You should be the defender of churches,
And of widows and orphans,
The boys as much as the girls,
Moreover never seizing anything of theirs;
For whoever becomes fond of this vice,
Will, and I am certain, end badly,
Both in life and after death,
For God knows all, forgets nothing.

Let your heart, I beg you, lead you toward
Good thoughts, good deeds, good speech.
Avoid everything to the contrary
Since this is easy enough to do.
And do to all what you would like
Done to you. These are the paths
God wishes his friends to follow,
Never disobeying his commandments.
If you do all these things, you may rest,
Leaving God, our Father,
To take care of everything else.
Thus you can hold onto the land.

Friend, here I intend to finish my poem,
Bringing my work to an end.
I ask you to receive it favorably,
Retaining the best therein.
Let go what is unprofitable
And keep instead what is most memorable.
I would ask you, moreover,
To repair its defects;
Since I know little and am hardly worthy,
It’s not surprising if I go wrong.
But a fool, touched in the head,
May speak — and ably — a useful word.

Now it remains for me to fulfill
What I pledged you earlier.
Namely to include your name and mine
So someone will know whom to blame
If there is any error or misunderstanding
In this present piece of writing.
And truly, if there is anything useful here,
I think there certainly are wrong turnings as well.
But whoever would like to learn correctly
Our two names, and no tricks,
Let him look here how to discover them.
When my lady will go riding,
She’ll go to dine at Glurvost,
Straight to the provost’s house.
This is a small town in the Empire,
Hardly the most insignificant in Bourget.
There you’ll find someone to tell you
My name, and never will he lie,
And that of the man for whom I’ve written this treatise,
Rhymed and composed it.
Go there, for it’s good and pleasant,
But if you don’t want to go, I really don’t care.


“Here ends Comfort for a Friend,
Which awakened this heart of mine
In those shadows where it slept,
Which waking, said: ‘Alas!
That I have not departed this place
Since for so long I have sighed,
Wept and shook so much,
For in more than a year and a half
I have not received, by Saint Firmin,
Joy equal to the yolk of an ant’s egg!
And my enemies have more,
Those I feared greatly, been frightened by,
Those whom I fought so much
It has filled my heart
And changed my tune, step by step,
Into a much more stubborn one. Friend, you can
Certainly help me here, by Saint Remigius,
For as someone foolish and excited,
As someone mad and provoked
They have attacked me many times.
And so I ask you, give me light,
For I can hardly see; give life back
To my sad heart and waken it,
And I promise you that all
My enemies will find themselves here with me,
Those who have made me utter many a moan.’”

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Go to Notes to the Music

Additional Information:

The miniatures (images) from MS A are not included in this digital edition, but are available in the print version. To view these images, see also the Bibliothèque nationale de France's digital edition on Gallica: