by: Derek Pearsall (Editor)
The Isle of Ladies
THE ISLE OF LADIES: FOOTNOTES
1 Certainly knew how to carve a sculpted image
2 Of an unforeseen matter having to do with pleasure
3 According to correct custom
4 `Madam,' I said, `This is the long and short of it'
5 They were both in the same style of clothing
6 They well exemplified there that they knew exactly what was right
7 Now doesn't it seem to you it would be a good idea
8 According to my pleasure, [whether it be] disdain or favor
9 To anything that I have said
10 He murmured I know not what (i.e. something inaudible) of dying
11 And really wanted you to know that
12 in the midst of his distress he stirred
13 Should afterward cause her to be [thought of as] a saint
14 Easily two fathoms (twelve feet) high
15 By his manner resolved to be generous
16 We committed no fault, nor erred with regard to truth
17 And in plain English, according with her view of the matter
18 Without a lot of words or laborious business
19 For a secret is not appropriate to rhyme
20 It were better for me not to have been born than to break it
21 Wedded be, both those of higher and those of lower rank
22 And said it would be a source of great security, truly
23 Leaving the narrow [path], keeping to the broad [highway]
24 Which [was still] in battle-formation on the coast
25 Or medicine more potent than any antidote [for poison]
26 Frightened people the distance of a day's journey away
27 And gave them tokens [of authentication] and good success
28 Now gave command that all exert themselves
29 And caused these things to be made known to everyone
30 And everything that was in accordance with gentilesse
31 Anyone who desires aught else is exerting himself for nothing
32 And, like my dream, it was all illusion
33 Might turn some day to acknowledgment of fact
THE ISLE OF LADIES: NOTESl-6 The reclothing of the bare earth after winter in the mantle of Flora is a common motif in the spring-opening (for which see FL 1-14).
10-14 It was not unusual for a beautiful lady to be described as a masterpiece of Nature's handiwork (e.g., Chaucer's description of Virginia in the Physician's Tale, VI.9), but God the Creator is not so commonly invoked. The daringly suggestive use of religious imagery and allusion in relation to sexual love, which was fraught with irony and a sense of dangerous transgression in the best of the earlier poetry (e.g., Troilus and Criseyde), seems to have declined here to a more straightforward conceit.
20 huntinge is often associated with love-visions, partly because of the opportunities it gives for allusion to the hounds of desire, wounded h(e)arts, etc. See 2172-6.
22 halfe on slepe. Medieval authorities on dreams thought that the moments between waking and slumber produced particularly vivid dreams.
25-31 what I dreamed. The idea that the dream was as real as real experience (see also 43-50) and occurred in a state not much different from waking is familiar in the discussions of dreams which frequently appear in dream-poems (e.g., Chaucer's House of Fame 1-58).
35 axes and heale: one of the traditional paradoxes (cf. fire and freezing cold) of the oxymoron of love.
43-50 The assertion that the dream has an oracular significance, beyond that of a mere dream, echoes similar assertions in the Romaunt of the Rose, 11-20, and of course Chauntecler's discussion of dreams in the Nun's Priest's Tale.
54-5 There is a degree of sophisticated self-consciousness in the dreamer's recognition of the appropriateness of what he is doing to what is conventionally done.
60 slepe wrightter: 'sleep-writer' is rather charming, but it sounds modern, and one suspects that slepe is a form of or a mistake for slepye (the reading of the other manuscript of IL). The sense would not be 'somnolent' but 'sleeping' (note the contrast with on that wakinge is in line 62) or 'having to do with sleep.'
63-70 The apology for the writer's boysteousnes is a conventional 'modesty-topos,' employed with especial frequency by Lydgate; but it is unusual for the writer to suggest that he be excused because he is relating a dream, or that the reader should take no notice of his lack of skill (usually the reader is asked to emend or correct where he sees fit). As often, the tone suggests not ignorance of the conventions but a carelessly sophisticated mock-naiveté somewhat reminiscent of Chaucer.
71 an ylle. Courtly love-visions are occasionally located on islands, but paradisal islands inhabited only by women are particularly characteristic of the Celtic tradition of the 'maidenland' (see Daly, ed. IL, pp. 50-54).
72 of glasse. There are temples of glass in Chaucer's House of Fame and of course in Lydgate's Temple of Glass, as also in Stephen Hawes's Pastime of Pleasure, which has many palaces like this one.
73 closed. Both the traditional garden of love (e.g., Romaunt of the Rose 138) and the allegorical garden of female chastity and beauty (as here, and in the hortus conclusus of the Song of Songs) are conventionally enclosed by a wall.
77 fannes: decorative weathervanes are a feature of late fifteenth-century palaces, both real and feigned (see AL 161). Musical weathervanes of solid gold, in thousands, with pairs of artificial singing birds set upon them, are a touch of fantasy (though they recall the hydraulically-operated birds that adorned the emperor's throne in Byzantium).
81-4 The flowers carved on the towers, like other features of the palace, suggest both beauty and a degree of unnaturalness in the artifice, as may be appropriate to the allegory.
90 all and womanhed: an unusual phrase, but cf. 'all and some' (as in line 208).
116 she nas younge. There seems no particular reason in the allegory why the lady should be elderly; indeed she ought not to be, given the power of the three apples. There may be some allusion to real life, whether casual and general (she is a kind of governess to this troupe of girls) or covert and specific.
176 Benedicite. See AL 148n.
194-202 fortunes purveaunce. The narrator hints here at a complaint against Fortune, for her fickle treatment of him, despite his truth (197), presumably in love. It is conventional, and has to do with what follows, but in relation to his arrival on the isle it is a little uncomplimentary to the ladies.
298 all that vironed is withe see: i.e., the whole world, which was represented in maps as a single land-mass surrounded by ocean, and not, of course, the Isle of the poem.
306 in one clothinge: may suggest a livery, or form of dress worn by all the members of a particular household.
331 on a roche. The location of the 'heavenly hermitage' is rather like the dwelling place of Fortune in the Romaunt of the Rose (5921), a rocky island way out in the sea.
340 apples three. The golden apples of the Hesperides, also the object of a quest, are the best known otherworldly apples, but the closest parallels are in Irish literature, from which Daly (ed. IL, p. 294) cites the story of the land of Emne, famous for its apple trees, a land of women where all live free from grief, sickness, and death.
346 nexst. It is hard to see how the apple that is highest on the tree can be nearest (nexst) to the observer.
407 leche: a term usually thought appropriate to the relationship of a lady to her lover.
418 our brother frinde: 'our brother's friend.' This can only refer to the dreamer, but the queen is not supposed to know at this point of the existence and presence of the dreamer.
436 a world of ladyes. Cf. FL 137.
463 playe. The playfulness is of course related to the delicacy of the commission and the entrusting of it to the aged lady, who will not be so much affected by its delicacy. This aged lady understands the implication, as we see by her smile (48l).
520 sowninge. The swooning is a good sign: it indicates that the knight is truly noble and gentle at heart. It is not a sign of unmanly weakness, as modern readers often assume, for example in relation to Troilus's swoon (Troilus, iii.1092).
561-2 The queen's anxiety is reminiscent of that of Criseyde in Troilus ii.459-62, and witnesses to a similar struggle between the restraint demanded by an honorable reputation and the fear that excessively severe behavior may do even more harm to that reputation. It is a classic little cameo of internal sentimental debate.
588 The knight's speechlessness is like that of Troilus, when Criseyde comes to his bedside. Troilus, similarly, for all his prepared speeches, can manage only the reiterated cry for mercy (Troilus, iii.98).
613 To thi dishonour. It will be to death's dishonor if he dies since death prides himself on opposing man's will to live.
619 His cowardice must be his unmanly behavior in trying to seize the queen by force (line 384).
641 Cf. Troilus, ii.541: 'And gan to motre, I noot what .... '
669-81 The queen's sympathy and care for the knight is richly balanced against her refusal to make any personal commitment to him other than that of womanly compassion.
708 Aftercastelles: refers to the elaborate wooden structures built high above deck, in this case aft (cf. forecastle), in ships of the late Middle Ages.
711 toppes: railed platforms at the head of a mast.
714 Smale burdes. The real birds that accompany Love's navy make a nice allegorical contrast with the artificial singing-birds that decorate the island-fortress of the ladies (line 78).
739 good langauge. In the past, pleasant non-committal words have been enough to keep prospective suitors at bay, as we saw with the queen and the knight (569-82, 644-58).
751 walles of glasse are an insubstantial defense against the entry of love.
781-91 The portrayal of the God of Love, and especially of his fierce power to wound the heart, owes much to the Roman de la Rose (see Romaunt, especially 1723-9).
794 Note the use of the second person singular pronoun in this speech, implying the close relationship of lord to servant. Elsewhere in the poem the more polite and formal second person plural is used, except in the knight's apostrophe to death (607-17), where the singular is suggestive of contempt, and the poet's address to his heart (2215-35), where it conveys intimacy.
816 his owne lodginge. Pity's natural dwelling-place is the lady's heart, as medieval poets reiterate constantly.
834 by requeste. There is an explicit contrast between what the God of Love commands of others and what he requests of the poet's lady.
838 consentes: the Northern dialectal form of the imperative plural.
866 that mightye saynte. The God of Love is called Seynt Amour in the Romaunt of the Rose 6781. The poet of IL does not make much of these religious associations (see l0n); he treats the God of Love more as a feudal lord than as a divinity.
888 So thowght I. This introduces the alternative to the first, more cheerful thought of line 883 (as I thowght).
902 the yere of grace. A play on words: the 'year of grace' is when he will win his lady's favor; it is also a form of reference to the year in the Christian era, anno gratiae (cf. anno domini).
920 A byll. For a discussion of such bills and their presence in poems of this kind see AL 325n.
943 his sleve. The capacious hanging sleeves that were part of the fashionable costume of the time must have been very handy on occasions such as these.
952 flowers. The wearing of flowers, especially chaplets of flowers, was commonly associated with the service of love. See Romaunt of the Rose 887-917. FL has some variations on the convention.
973 old romansys. The reading of romances is an aristocratic pastime frequently alluded to in love-poetry. So Pandarus composes himself 'as for to looke upon an old romaunce' (Troilus iii.980), and the narrator of the Book of the Duchess bids one pass him a book, a 'romaunce,' to 'drive the night away' (47-9). See here, 977.
979 the spere: that one of the concentric spheres surrounding the earth in which the sun was fixed and which caused the sun's (apparent) movement.
990 up in the eyer: presumably upon some raised platform or scaffold, such as would be erected for a tournament, as in the Knight's Tale, I.2533.
1097 The statutes of the God of Love are frequently alluded to, as in the classic text, the De Arte Honeste Amandi of the late 12th-century Andreas Capellanus, or in the Romaunt of the Rose 2175 ff., where Love gives his 'comaundementis' (2l37), or, more playfully, in the early 16th-century Chaucerian pastiche, The Court of Love. There are some examples of love's commandments in the present poet's Envoy to his heart (2215-35).
1150 as wood man. These lines (1150-66) allegorize the stifling feeling of panic that the lover experiences at the fear of losing his lady.
1153-4 wave: overthrowghe. The original rhyme must have been wawe: overthrawe, the latter form one of several indications of the northern or north midland provenance of the original poet.
1167 my testament. Troilus likewise advises Pandarus of his funeral arrangements when he fears he has lost his lady (Troilus, v.295-315).
1195 of her apples. This is the second time the lady has used one of her apples (cf. 401) for purposes of resuscitation. in my sleve. See 943n.
1209 He that all joyes, etc. Such references are commonly ambiguous in love-poetry, but here the allusion is clearly (see line 1216) to the Creator, not the God of Love.
1242 on consyte. The phrase is problematic, and the interpretation offered here, taking consyte as a form of conceit (opinion, view), is one of a number of possibilities.
1301-49 The waking from the dream in the smoke-filled room, the change of location and return to the dream are an unusual and effective device for renewing the impetus and interest of the narrative. Only Piers Plowman comes to mind as a poem which makes similar use of connected but separate dreams (eight in number, in that case).
1324 a chaumbre painte. Rooms decorated with narrative wall-paintings are a favorite feature of love-vision poems. See AL 456n. For their significance here, see 2172-4.
1377 In speaking of the barge of manes thowght, the poet is making an explicit allegory of one of the most universal of metaphors for the inner life of thought and imagination: the opening lines of Dante's Purgatorio, or of Book II of Troilus, are famous examples, as is the Petrarch sonnet adapted by Sir Thomas Wyatt in 'My galley charged with forgetfulness.'
1379-80 The allegorical suggestion here is that the queen is active in the knight's inner life.
1381 nether mast ne rother. Rudderless boats are common in folk-literature, and are especially associated with journeys to the otherworld in Celtic tradition.
1505-6 Failure to keep to the letter a promise to return to one's lady by a set date was a mortal sin in love-romance. Chrétien's Yvain spends the greater part of the romance of Yvain regretting and expiating just such a failure. Here the knight could hardly complain that the matter was not made quite clear (136l-72). More generally, plots that rely on the consequences of the violation of a prohibition are very common in folk-literature.
1555-65 The boat's miraculous capacity: Daly (ed. IL, pp.313-14) compares the story of the shirt of Joseph of Arimathaea in Robert de Boron's History of the Holy Grail (translated into English in the early 15th century by Herry Lovelich), in which 150 sail to Britain.
1571 sayd was the crede. It was customary to offer prayers for a safe voyage before setting out.
1674 an open weye. The phrase has a strong suggestion of female promiscuity, explicit in the proverb alluded to in Piers Plowman, C.III.167, where the maiden Meed is 'As comyn as the cartway to knaves and to alle.'
1679-80 thrise ... twise. What looks like an arcane bit of administrative detail is certainly due, like much in the poem, to nothing more than the exigencies of rhyme.
1799 nonnes ... blacke: an abbey of Benedictine nuns.
1864 An erb. The most striking analogue for this episode is in the Lai d'Eliduc of Marie de France (12th century), where a dead weasel is restored to life by its mate with a magic plant. The plant is then used to revive the maiden Guillardon. The motif of an animal reviving its companion or mate with a magic herb is widespread, especially in Celtic tradition, as in Marie. The animals are most often snakes.
1917 of ther lord. Presumably the sight of the lady brings to the minds of the assembled company (mostly the knight's retinue, since the ladies are all dead or dying) the sad fate of their lord.
1923 Thre. The bird sang thre songes (1832), and so there are three greynes. The scene is reminiscent of the Prioress's Tale, where the greyn on his tongue keeps the child miraculously alive after his throat has been cut.
1939 The queen takes over the role of the abbess, and thus acts out literally her metaphorical role as leche to the knight.
1955 of ladyes ... a rowte. The two partes (two thirds) of the ladies who died (1649-52) are now restored to life.
1974 parlament. For the difference between an assemble (1971) and a parlament, see AL 720n.
2050 Seynt John to borowe: a formulaic prayer to ward off bad luck, as at leavetaking or the making of promises. Cf. Squire's Tale, V.596.
2063 in tentes. Great outdoor feasts were commonly held in tented pavilions.
2111 the soveraynge above: i.e., the God of Love, whose commands to the lady were outlined in 803-77.
2113 him: i.e., the dreamer.
2137 churche perochiall. The dreamer's care to affirm that he was married, in his dream, in a tent which was actually his own proper parish church, is of a piece, in its wry pragmatism, with the frustration he accepts in being the only one who does not get to sleep with his lady.
2167 The moment of sudden waking is often carefully prepared for in dream-poems (see AL 726n), and the noise of singing and music is a frequent motif in such awakenings, as in Lydgate's Temple of Glass. Here the noise of music at the wedding disturbs the dreamer's sleep, and it is natural that he should wish to be present in person at his own marriage feast.
2172 For the appropriateness of such hunting-scenes to the lover's situation, see 20n.
2187 Lo here ... lo here: echoes Troilus, v.1849-55.
2194-5 cognisaunce ... preve. There is a legal conceit here, alluding to the difference between acknowledgement of an alleged fact and the evidential demonstration of its truth.
2208 His. Other texts and editors have her, which makes better sense, but is clearly not a harder reading, and thus may be one that a scribe may well have preferred. The sense of 'His' would be rather audacious: that dwelling in his lady's grace would be to dwell also in God's.
2209-35 For his Envoy, or epilogue, the poet turns from the octosyllabic couplet to the pentameter, as do Gower and Lydgate on similar occasions. The first stanza, addressed to the lady, is a sixain in couplets, and is independent in both dramatic and metrical form from the rest. The other three stanzas are in rhyme royal, with repeated last line as in the true envoy, and are addressed to his heart. There is no reason to think that lines 2209-35 were not part of the original poem of IL.
2215 Go forthe. The apostrophe in such epilogues is usually to the poet's litel bok (as in Troilus, v.1786). The poet here works a rather neat variation on the convention, apostrophizing his heart and swearing upon his book as if it were a bible.
2226 you. The appropriateness of the use of the second person singular in the poet's address to his heart has been noted (794n). It is hard to tell whether this anomalous you is the poet's or the scribe's slip.
2233-5 The religious allusion is nicely pointed: falsehood leads to a fall from grace which loses the promise of bliss.
2237 fall: i.e., the fall from grace mentioned in 2233. These last two lines, though they appear in all three early texts, are very probably a spurious addition. The hand that adds the final hopeful attribution (only in the Longleat manuscript) has also crossed out the earlier Finis.
When Flora, the Quene of Pleasaunce,
Had hol acheved th' obessiaunce
Of the freshe and new season
Thorowte every region,
And withe her mantell hol covert
That winter made had discovert,
Of aventure, without light,
In May I lay uppon a nyght
Allone, and on my lady thowght
And how the Lord that her wrought
Couthe well entayle in imagerye1
And shewed had great masterye
When he in so litle space
Made suche a body and a face:
So great beawty, with suche features,
More then in other creatures.
And in my thowghtes, as I laye
In a lodge out of the waye,
Beside a well in a foreste,
Wher after huntinge I toke reste,
Nature and kynd so in me wrought
That halfe on slepe thay me browght,
And gan to dreme, to my thinkinge,
With minde of knowledge leke wakinge.
For what I dreamed, as me thought,
I sawe it, and I slepte nought.
Wherfore is yet my full beleve
That some good spirite, that eve,
By maner of some cureux port
Bare me where I saw payne and sport.
But wether it were I woke or slept,
Well wot I oft I laught and wepte.
Wherefor I woll in remembraunce
Put hole the paine and the pleasaunce
Whiche was to me axes and heale.
Wold God ye wiste it every dele!
Or at the least ye might on night
Of suche another have a syght.
Althowghe it were to yow a payne,
Yet, on the morrowe, ye wold be fayne
And wishe it might longe duer.
Then might you saye ye had good eure!
For who that dremes and wenes he see,
Muche the better yet may hee
Wit what, and of home, and where,
And eke the lesse it wol him deare.
To thinke I se thus withe myne eyne!
Iwis this may no dreme bene,
But signe or signiffiaunce
Of hasty thinge, soundinge pleasaunce.2
For on this wise uppon a nyght,
As ye have hard, witheout light,
Not all wakynge ne full on slepe,
Abowte suche houre as lovers wepe
And cry after ther ladies grace,
Befell me this wonder case
Whiche ye shall here and all the wise
As holly as I cane devise
In playne Englishe, evell writton;
For slepe wrightter, well ye weten,
Excused is, thowghe he do mise,
More then on that wakinge is.
Wherefor, here, of your gentulnes
I you requier my boysteousnes
Ye let passe as thinge rude,
And hereth what I woll conclude;
And of th' enditinge takethe no hede,
Ne of the termes, so God you sped,
But let all passe as nothinge were:
For thus befell as ye shall here.
Withein an ylle me thowght I was
Where wall and yate was all of glasse,
And so was closed rounde abowte
That leveles non come in ne owt:
Uncothe and straunge to beholde.
For every yate of fine golde
A thousannd fannes ay turninge
Entuned had, and birdes singinge
Diverse, and on eche fanne a payer
Withe open mouthe agayne th' ayer.
And of a suite were all the towers
Sotilly carven after flowers
Of uncothe colours, duringe aye,
That never been none sene in May,
Withe many a smale turret highe.
But mane on lyve culd I non spye,
Ne creatures save ladyes playe,
Wiche were suche of ther arraye
That, as me thowght, of godlyhed
They passen all and womanhed.
For to beholde hem daunce and singe
Hit semed like none earthely thinge,
Suche was ther uncoth countenaunce
In every playe of right usaunce.3
And of one age everychon
They semed all, save only one
Wiche had of yeres sufficaunce;
For she might neyther singe ne daunce,
But yet her countenaunce was as glad
As she as few yeres had hadd
As any lady that was there;
And as litle it did her dere
Of lustines to laugh and tale
As she had full stuffed a male
Of disport and new playes.
Fayre had she been in her dayes,
And mistres semed well to be
Of all that lusty companye;
And so she might, I you ensure,
For on the coningest creature
She was, and so sayd everychone
That ever her knew, ther fayled none;
For she was sobre and well avised,
And from every fault disguysed,
And nothinge used but faythe and trothe.
That she nas younge hit was great routhe,
For everywhere and in eche place
She governed her, that in grace
She stod alwaye withe pore and riche,
That, in a word, was none her liche,
Ne halfe so able misteres to be
To suche a lustye company.
Byfell me so, when I avised
Had the yle, at me sufficed,
And hol th' astate everywhere
That in that lusty yle was there,
Wiche was more wonder to devise
Then the joieux paradise,
I dare well say; for flower, ne tree,
Ne thinge wherein pleassaunce myght be,
Ther fayled none for every wighte;
Had thay desyred day and nyghte
Richesse, hele, beauwty, and ease,
Withe everye thinge that hem might please,
Thynke, and have, hit cost no more.
In suche a countrye there before
Had I not been, ne hard tell
That lyves creature might dwell.
And when I had thus all abowght
The yle advised thorowghte
The state and how they were arrayed,
In my harte I wex well payed,
And in my self I me assured
That in my body I was well eured,
Sithe I might have suche a grace
To se the ladyes and the place
Wiche were so fayer, I you ensure,
That to my dome, thowghe that nature
Wold ever strive and do hir payne,
She shuld not con ne mowe attaigne
The lest feature to amende;
Thowgh she wold all hir coninge spende
That to beawty might availe,
Hit were but payne and lost travayle:
Suche parte in ther nativite
Was hem alarged of beawtie.
And eke they had a thinge notable
Unto ther deathe ay durable,
And was that ther beawte shuld dure,
Wiche was never seen in creature;
Save only ther, as I trowe,
Hit hathe not be wist ne know.
Wherefore I praise with ther coninge
That duringe bewte, riche thinge;
Had thay been of ther lyves certaigne,
Thay had been qwyt of every payne.
And when I wend thus all have seen,
Th' estate, the riches, that might been,
That me thowght impossible were
To se one thinge more then was there
That to beautie or glad coninge
Serve or avayle might ony thinge,
All sodenly, as I there stode,
This lady, that couth so moche good,
Unto me come withe smilinge chere
And sayd: 'Benedicite! This yere
Saw I never man here but you.
Tell me how ye come hether nowe,
And your name, and were you dwell,
And whom ye sek eke mot ye tell,
And how ye come be to this place.
The soth well told may cause you grace;
And else ye mote prisoner be
Unto these ladyes here and me
That han the governaunce of this yle.'
And withe that word she gane to smyle,
And so dyd all the lusty rowte
Of ladyes that stode her abowte.
'Madame,' quod I, 'this night paste,
Lodged I was and slepte faste
In a forest beside a well,
And nowe ame here. How shuld I tell?
Wot I not by whos ordinaunce,
But only Fortunes purveaunce
Wiche puttes many, as I gesse,
To travell, payne, and busines,
And lettes nothinge for ther trowth
But some sleethe eke, and that is rowth;
Wherefore I dowt hir britelnes,
Hir variaunce and unstedfastnes,
So that I am as yet affrayd
And of my beinge here amayed;
For wondre thinge, semethe me,
Thus many freshe ladyes to see,
So fayer, so connynge, and so yonge,
And no mane dwellethe hem amonge.
Wot I not how I hether come,
Madame,' quod I, 'this all and some. 4
What shuld I feyne a longe processe
To you that seme suche a princes?
What please you comaunde or saye,
Here I am you to obeye
To my power, and all fulfill,
And prisoner byde at your will
Till you dewlye enformed be
Of everye thinge ye aske me.'
This lady ther right well appayed
Me by th' ande toke and sayd:
'Welcome, prisoner adventurus!
Right glad am I ye have sayd thus.
And for ye doute me to displease,
I will assaye to do you ease.'
And with that word, ye anon,
She and the ladyes everychone
Assembled and to counsell went;
And after that, sone for me sent,
And to me sayd on this maner,
Word for word as ye shall here.
'To se you here us thinketh marvayle,
And how witheout boot or sayle
By any souttyllete or wyle
Ye get have entre in this Ile.
But not for that, yet shall you see
That we gentilwomen bee,
Lothe to displease any wight,
Notwithstondinge our great right.
And for ye shall well understand
The old custome of this lande
Wiche hathe continewed many yere,
Ye shall well wyt that withe us here
Ye may not byd, for causes twayne
Wheche we be purposed you to seyne.
The ton is this: our ordinaunce,
Whiche is of longe continuaunce,
Woll not, sothely we you tell,
That no mane here amonge us dwell;
Wherefore ye mot nedes retorne.
In no weys may ye here sojorne.
The tother is eke that our qwene
Owt of the reme, as ye may sene,
Is, and may be to us a charge
Yf we let you go here at large.
For wiche cause, the more we dowbte
To do a faute while she is owte,
Or suffer that may be noysaunce
Again our olde acustemaunce.'
And when I had these causes tweine
Herd, O God, whiche a payne
All sodenly abowte my harte
Ther come attons, and how smerte!
In crepinge soft, as who wold stele
Or me do robe of all myn hele;
And made me in my thought so frayd
That in corage I stode dismayed.
And standinge thus, as was my grace,
A lady come, more then apas,
Withe huge pres hir abowte,
And told how the quene withoute
Was arryved and wold come in.
Wele were thay that thether might wyn;
They hied so, they wold not byde
The bridelinge of ther horse to ryde.
By ten, by six, by two, by thre,
Ther was not one abode with me.
The quene to mete, everychone
They went, and bod withe me not one.
And I after, a softe paas,
Imageninge how to purchace
Grace of the quene ther t' abyde,
Till good fortune some happy guyde
Me send might, that wold me bringe
Where I was borne to my woninge;
For way ne sent knew I none,
Ne whetherward I nyst to gone,
For all was see aboute the Ile.
No wonder thowghe me lest not smyle,
Seinge the case unquowth and straunge
And so like a perelus chaunge.
Imageninge thus, walkinge allone,
I saw the ladyes everychone.
So that I myght somwhat ofer,
Sone after that I drew me neare.
And tho I was war of the quene,
And how the ladyes on there knene
Withe joyeuse wordes, gladly avised,
Hir welcomed, so that hit sufficed
Thoghe she princes hole had bee
Of all that vironed is withe see.
And thus avisinge with chere sadd,
All sodenlye I wex gladd,
That greatter joye, as mot I thrive,
I trow had never mon on lyve
Then had I tho, ne harte more light,
When of my lady I had syght
Wiche withe the quene come was there.
And in one clothinge bothe they were.5
A knyght also, right wel besene,
I sawe, that come was with the quene;
Of whom the ladyes of that Ile
Had huge wonder longe whyle,
Till at the last, right soberlye
The quene herselfe full coninglye
With softe wordes, in goodlye wyse,
Sayd to the ladyes yonge and wyse:
'My susters, how hit hathe befall,
I trow ye know it, on and all,
That of longe tyme here have I been
Withein this yle bydinge as quene,
Lyvinge at ease, that never wight
More perfyte joye have ne mighte;
And to you been of governaunce
Suche as ye fond in hol pleasaunce
In every thinge, as ye knowe,
After our costome and our lowe.
Wiche how they first found were,
I trow ye wote all the manere
And how who quene is of this Ile -
As I have bene longe while -
Yche seven yeres mot of usage
Visyt the hevenly armitage,
Wiche on a roche so highe stondes
In strange se, out from all londes,
That to make the pillerenage
Is caled a longe perileuse viage;
For yf the winde be not good frind,
The jorney duers to th' ende
Of hem that hit undertakes:
Of twenti thousande one not skapes.
Oppon whiche roche growethe a tree
That certayne yeres bares apples three,
Wiche thre apples who may have
Bene from all displeasaunce save
That in the seven yere may fall.
This wote ye well, one and all.
For the first appull, and the hexst
Whiche growethe unto you nexst,
Hathe thre vertues notable
And kepethe youthe ay durable,
Bewtie and hele ever in one,
And is the beste in everychone.
The second appule, red and grene,
Only with lokes of your yene
You nurrisshes in pleasaunce
Better then partrich ne fesaunce,
And fedes every lyves wyght
Plesauntlye with the syght.
The thirde appule of the thre,
Wiche growethe loueste in the tree,
Who yt beres may not fayle
That to his pleasaunce may availe.
So your pleasure and beutie riche,
Your duringe youthe ever liche,
Your trothe, your coninge, and your welle,
Hathe ay flowred, and your good hele
Witheout sicknes or displesaunce
Or thinge that to you was noysaunce,
So that you have as goddesses
Lived aboven all princesses.
Now is byfall as ye may see:
To gedre these sayd appuls three,
I have not fayled agayne the daye
Thetherward to take the weye,
Weninge to spede, as I had oft;
But when I come, I found aloft
My sister wiche that here stondes,
Havinge those appulles in her handes,
Avisinge hem, and nothinge sayde
But loked as she wer well payed.
And as I stode her to behold,
Thenkinge howe my joyes were cold
Sithe I those apples have ne might,
Even withe that, so come this knight,
And in his armes, of me unware,
Me toke, and to his shipe me bare,
And sayd, thowgh he me never had sene,
Yet had I longe his lady bene,
Wherefore I shuld withe him wend,
And he wolde to his lives ende
My servaunte be, and can to singe
As one that had wone riche thinge.
Tho were my spirites fro me gone
So sodenlye, everychone,
That in me appered but deathe;
For I feld neyther live, ne brethe,
Ne good, ne harme, non I knewe.
The sodeyne paine me was so new,
That had not the hasty grace be
Of this lady, that fro the tree
Of her gentulnes so hiede
Me to comforthe, I had dyed;
And of her three applus, one
In myn hand ther put annone,
Wiche browght agayne minde and brethe,
And me recovered from the deathe.
Wherefore to her so am I holde
That for her all thinge do I wolde;
For she was leche of all my smart,
And from great paine socourte myn harte,
And, as God wotte, right as ye here,
Me to comforte, with frindlye chere
She did her power and her might;
And trewlye eke so did this knight,
In that he couthe, and oft sayd
That of my woo he was il payed,
And cursed the shipe hem thether browght,
The mast, the master that hit wrought.
And as eche thinge mot have an ende,
My suster here, our brother frinde,
Con withe her wordes so womanlye
This knyght entreat and coningelye,
For myn honour and his also,
And sayd that with her we shuld goo
Bothe in her shippe, where she was browght,
Wiche was so wonderfullye wrought,
So clene, so riche, and so arrayed
That we were bothe content and payed.
And me to comfort and to plesse,
And myn hart to put at easse,
She toke great payne in litle while,
And thus hathe browght us to this Ile
As ye maye se. Wherefore echone
I praye you thanke her, one and one,
As hertelye as ye cane devise
Or imagen in any wyse.'
At once ther, tho, men myght sene
A world of ladyes fall on knene
Before my lady, that ther abowte
Was left none stanndinge in the route,
Bot all to th' erthe they went at once;
To knele they spared not for the stones,
Ne for estate, ne for ther blode.
Well shewed they ther they cuthe moche good,6
For to my lady they made suche feaste,
With such wordes, that the leste
So frindlye and so faythefullye
Sayd was, and so coninglye,
That wonder was, seinge ther youthe,
To here the launguage they cothe,
And holly how they governed were
In thannkynge of my ladye there;
And sayd by will and maundement
They were at her comandemente,
Wiche was to me as great a joye
As wininge of the towne of Troye
Was to the hardye Grekes stronge
When thay yt wane with seage longe:
To se my ladye in suche a place
So receyved as she was.
And when they taled had a while
Of this and that, and of the Ile,
My lady and the ladyes there,
All together as they were,
The quene herselfe begane to playe,
And to the aged lady saye:
'Now semethe you nat good it were,7
Sith we be all togither here,
To ordayne and avise the best
To set this knyght and me at rest?
For woman is a feble wyght
To rere a ware agayne a knyght.
And sith he here is in this place
At my lyst, daunger or grace,8
It were in me great villanye
To do him any tirrannye.
But fayne I wolde now, will ye here,
In his owne cunterye that he were,
And I in peace, and he at ease;
This were a waye us bothe to please.
Yf yt might be, I you beseche
Withe him hereof ye fall in speche.'
This lady tho began to smyle,
Avisinge her a littull whille,
And withe glad chere she sayd annon;
'Madame, I will unto him gone
And withe him speke, and of him fele
What he desyers, everye dele.'
And soberlye this lady tho,
Herselfe and other ladyes two
She toke withe her, and with sad chere
Sayd to the knyght on this maner:
'Syr, the princesse of this Ile,
Whom for your pleasaunce many myle
Ye sowght have, as I understand,
Till at the last ye have her found,
Me sende hathe here, and ladyes twayne,
To here all thinge that ye sayne,
And for what cause ye have her sowght,
Fayne wold she wyt, and hole your thought,
And whi you do her all this woo,
And for what cause ye be her foo,
And whi, of everye wight unware,
By force ye to your shippe her bare
That she so nyghe was agone
That minde ne speche had she none,
But as a paynefull creature
Diinge abode her adventure,
That her to se enduer that payne,
I dare well saye unto you playne,
Right on yourselfe ye did amise,
Seeinge how she a princes is.'
This knyght, the whiche couth his good,
Ryght of his trothe meved his blood,
That pale he wox as any ledd
And loked as he wold be dedd.
Blud was ther none in nayther cheke;
Wordles he was, and semed sike;
And so yt preved well he was,
For without mevinge any passe,
All sodenlye, as thinge dyinge,
He fell at once downe sowninge;
That, for his wo, this lady frayed
Unto the quene her hied and sayd:
'Comethe on, anone, as have ye blisse!
But be ye wyse, thinge is misse.
This knyght is ded or wil be sone;
Lo, where he lyethe yonde in sowne,
Without word or answeringe
To that I sayd have any thinge!9
Wherefore I dowbte that the blame
Might be hinderinge to your name,
Whiche flowred hathe so many yere
So longe, that for nothinge here
I wold in no wyse he dyedd.
Wherefore good were that ye hiedd
His lyfe to save, at the lest;
And after that his woo be ceste,
Commaunde him to voyd or dwell,
For in no wyse dare I more medell
Of thinge wherein suche perill is
As lyke is now to fall of this.'
This quene right tho, full of great feare,
Withe all the ladyes present there,
Unto the knyght come where he leye
And mad a lady to him saye:
'Lo, here the quene! Awacke, for shame!
What will ye do? Is this good game?
Whi lye you here? Where is your minde?
Now is well sene your wyt is blinde,
To see so many ladyes here,
And ye to make none other chere
But as ye sett them all at nowght.
Aryse, for His love that you bowght!'
But what she sayed, a word not one
He spake, ne answere gave her none.
The quene of very pytye tho,
Her worshipe and his life also
To save, ther she dyd her payne,
And quocke for fere and con to sayne
For woo: 'Allas, what shall I do?
What shall I saye this man unto?
Yf he dye here, lost is my name.
How shall I pleye this perilous game?
Yf any thinge be here amise,
Yt shal be sayd hit rigor is,
Whereby my name enpayer myght,
And like to dye eke is this knyght.'
And withe that word, her hande she layed
Uppon his brest, and to him sayed:
'Awacke, my knyght! Lo, yt am I
That to you speke! Now tell me whi
Ye fare thus and this payne enduer,
Seinge ye be in counterye suer,
Amonge suche frindes that wold your hele,
Your hartes ease eke, and your welle;
And yf I wyst what you might ease
Or knew the thinge that you might please,
I you ensuer it shulde not fayle
That to youre hele you might avayle.
Wherefore with all myne harte I praye
Ye rysse, and lett us tale and pleye,
And see how many ladyes here
Be common for to make you chere.'
All was for nawght; for still as stone
He laye, and worde spake he none.
Longe while was or he might brayd,
And of all that the quene had sayd
He wyst no worde; but at the last,
'Mercy' twies he cried faste,
That pyty was his voice to here
Or to beholde his paynefull chere,
Wiche was not fayned, well was to sene
Bothe by his visage and his eyne
Wiche on the quene at once he caste,
And syghte as he wolde to-braste.
And after that he shright soo
That wonder was to se his woo;
For sythe that paine was first named
Was never more woofull paine entamed,
For withe voice ded he gan to playne,
And to himselfe these wordes sayne:
'I, woofull wyght full of maleure,
Am worse then ded, and yet I duer
Magre any payne or deathe;
Agaynst my will I fele my brethe.
Whi ner I ded, sythe I ne serve
And sythe my lady will I sterve?
Where art thou, deathe? Art thou agast?
Well shall we mete yet at the laste!
Thowghe thou the hide, it is for nawght;
For, where thou dwell, thou shall be sought,
Magre thi subtill dowble face;
Here will I dye, right in this place,
To thi dishonour and myn ease.
Thi manner is no wyght to please.
What nedes the, sythe I the seche,
So the to hide, my paine to eche?
And well wyst thou I woll not lyve -
Who wolde me all this world here gefe -
For I have withe my cowardice
Lost joye, and helle, and my service,
And made my soveraigne lady soo,
That while she lyves, I trow, my foo
She wil be ever to her ende.
Thus have I neyther joye ne frend.
Wote I not whither hast or slowthe
Hathe caused this now, by my trothe;
For at the hermitage full hye,
Where I her saw first withe myn eye,
I hyed till I was alofte,
And mad my pace smale and softe,
Till in myn armes I had her faste,
And to my shipe bare at the laste;
Whereof she was displeased soo
That endles there semed her woo,
And I thereof had so great feare
That me repent that I came there;
Wiche hast, I trowe, con her displease
And be the cause of my deseace.'
And withe that word he can to crye
'Now deathe, deathe!' twy or thrye,
A motird wot I not what of slougthe.10
And even withe that, the quene, of routhe,
Him in her armes tooke and sayd:
'Now myn owne knyght, be not yll payed
That I a lady to you sente
To have knowledge of your entent;
For, in good faythe, I ment but well,
And wold ye wyst yt everye dell,11
Nor woll not do to you, iwysse.'
And withe that word she can him kysse,
And prayed him ryse, and sayd she wold
His welfare by her trothe, and tolde
Him howe she was for his diseace
Right sorye, and fayne wold him please.
His lyfe to save, thes wordes thoo
She sayd to him, and many moo,
In comfortinge; for from the peyne
She wold he were delyvered fayne.
The knight tho upcast his eyne,
And when he se it was the quene
That to him had those wordes sayde,
Ryght in his woo he can to brayd12
And him updressed for to knele,
The quene avisinge wonder well.
But as he rosse, he over-threwe;
Wherefore the quene, yet eft newe,
Him in her armes annon toke
And piteuslye con on him looke.
But, for all that, nothinge she sayde,
Ne spake not lyke she were well paied,
Ne no chere mad more sadd ne lyght,
But all in on, to every wyght,
Ther was sene connynnge withe estate
In her, witheout noyse or debate;
For, save only a look peteus
Of womanehed, undispiteous,
That she shewed in countenaunce,
Far semed her hart from obeysaunce.
And not for that, she did her paine
Him to recover from the paine,
And his harte to put at large.
For her entent was to his barge
Him to bringe agenst the eve,
Withe sertayne ladyes, and take leve,
And pray him of his gentulnes
To suffer her thenceforthe in peace
As other princisse had byfore;
And from thenseforthe, for evermore,
She wold him worshipe in all wise
That jentylnes myght devise,
And payne her holly to fulfill,
In honor, his pleasure and will.
And duringe thus the knyghtes woo -
Present the quene and other mo,
My lady and many another wight -
Ten thousand shippes, at a syght,
I sawe come over the wavy floude
Withe sayle and ore, thatt, as I stoode
Them to beholde, I cone marvell
From whense myght come so many a sayle;
For sythe the tyme that I was bore,
Suche a navy ther before
Had I not sene, ne so arrayed,
That for the syght myn hart played
Two and fro withein my brest
Fro joy; longe was or it wold rest.
For ther wer sayles full of flowers,
Aftercastelles withe huge towers,
Seminge full of armes bright,
That wonder lusty was the syght,
Withe large toppes and mastes longe,
Richelye depainte; and ever amonge,
At certen tymes, con repayer
Smale burdes downe from the eyor,
And on the shippes bordes abowte
Sate, and songe withe voice full owt
Ballades and leyes, right joyouslye,
As they couthe in ther armonye;
That you to wright that I ther see,
Myn excuse is it may not bee;
For whi the matter were to longe
To name the birdes and wright her songe.
Whereof, annon, the thithinges ther
Unto the quene sonne browght wer
Withe many 'alas' and many a doubte,
Shewinge the shippes ther without.
Tho can the aged lady weppe
And sayd, 'Allas, your joye on slepe
Sone shal be browght; ye, long or night!
For we distroyed bene by this knyght.
For certes it may none other be
But he is of yened companie,
And thay be come him here to seche.'
And withe that word her fayled speche.
'Witheout remedy we be distroyed,'
Full ofte sayd all, and con conclude,
Holy at once at the laste,
That best was shett ther yattes faste,
And arme them all in good langauge,
As they had done of old usage,
And of fayre wordes make ther shoot.
And this was ther counsell and the knot.
And other purpose toke they none,
But, armed thus, forthe they gone
Towarde the walles of the Ile.
But or they come ther longe while,
They mette the great lord of above
That cauled is the God of Love
That hem advised withe suche chere
Right as he withe them angrye were.
Avayled them not ther walles of glasse -
This mighty lord lett not to passe -
Ne shettinge of ther yattes fast.
All they had ordayned was but wast;
For when his shipe had founde londe,
This lord anone withe bowe in hande,
In to this Ile withe huge presse
Hyed fast, and wold not ceasse
Tyll he come where this knyght laye.
Of quene ne ladye by the waye
Toke he no hedd, but forthe past -
And yet all followed at the laste.
And when he come where laye the knight,
Well shewed he he had great might,
And forthe the quene cauled, anone,
And all the ladyes everychone,
And to them sayde: 'Is this not rothe
To se my servaunte for his trothe
Thus lene, thus syke, and in this paine,
And wote not unto home to plaine,
Save onlye one, witheout mo,
Wiche might him helle and is his foo?'
And withe that word, his hevye browe
He shewed the quene, and loked rowghe.
This mighty lord, forthe tho annone,
Withe o loke, her feautes echeon
He can her shew in littell speche,
Comaundinge her to be his leche.
Witheout more, shortlye to saye,
He thawght the quene sonne shuld obye.
And in his hannd he shoke his bowe,
And sayd right sone he wolde be know;
And for she had so longe refused
His servaunte, and his lawes not used,
He lett her witt that he was wrothe,
And bent his bowe, and forthe he goethe
A paace or two, and even here
A large drawght up to his eare
He drew, and withe an arrow ground
Sharpe and new, the quene a woounde
He gave that pearced unto the harte,
Wiche afterward full sore can smarte,
And was not holle of many a yere.
And even withe that: 'Be of good chere,
My knyght,' quod he. 'I will the hele,
And the restore to parfyte wele.
And for eche payne thou hast endured,
To have two joyes thou ar ewred.'
And forthe he past by the rowte
Withe sobre chere, walkynge aboute,
And what he sayd I thowght to here.
Well wist he wiche his servauntes were,
And as he passed, annone he found
My lady, and her toke by the hande,
And made her chere as a goddesse,
And of beutye he cauled her princesse;
Of bountye eke gave her the name,
And sayd ther was nothinge blame
In her but she was vertuus,
Savinge she wolde no pitye use,
Wiche was the cause he ther her sawght
To put that faute owt of her thawght.
And sythe she had the hole riches
Of womanehed and frendlynes,
He sayd it was nothinge syttinge
To voyd petye his owne lodginge;
And can her preache and withe her playe,
And of her beawtye tolde her aye,
And sayd she was a creature
Off whom the name shuld longe dewer
And in bookes full of plesaunse
Be put for ever in remembraunce.
And as me thowght, more frindlyely
Unto my ladye and goodlelye
He spake, then any that was ther;
And for the apples, I trow yt were,
That she had in possession.
Wherefor longe in processyon,
Many a paace, arme under other,
He walked, and so did with none other.
But what he wold comaunde or saye
Forthewithe neades all must obeye;
And what he desyred at the least
Of my ladye, was by requeste.
And when they longe together had bene,
He browght my ladye to the quene,
And to her sayd: 'So God you spede,
Shew grace, consentes, that is neade.'
My ladye, tho, full conninglye,
Right well avised and womanlye,
Downe cone to knele uppon the flores,
Whiche Aprell nurrished had with showers,
And to this mightye lord cane saye,
'That pleassethe you, I woll obeye
And me restraine from other thowght;
As ye woll, all thinges shal be wrought.'
And withe that word, knelinge, she qwoke.
That mightye lord in armes her toke
And sayd: 'Ye have a sarvaunte, one
That trewer livinge is ther none;
Wherefore, god were, seinge his trothe,
That on his paynes ye had rothe
And purposed you to here his speche,
Fullye avised him to leche.
For of one thinge ye may be suer:
He wil be youres while he may duer.'
And withe that word, right on his game,
Me thowght he lowghe and tolde my name,
Wiche was to me marvell and fere,
That what to do I nist there,
Ne whither me was better or none
Ther to abyde or thence to gone.
For well wend I my ladye wolde
Imagen or deme that I had tolde
My counsell hole, or made complainte
Unto that lorde, that mightye saynte;
So verelye eche thinge unsawght
He sayd as he had know my thought,
And tolde my trothe and myn unease
Bet then I couthe for myn ease,
Tho I had studied all a weake.
Well wist that lord that I was syke
And wold be leched wonder faine.
No mane me blame; myne was the paine.
And when this lord had all sayd
And longe withe my ladye playd,
She can to smyle withe sprite glade.
This was the answere that she mad,
Wiche put me there in dowble paine,
That what to do, ne what to sayne,
Wist I not ne what was the best.
Fare was myn harte tho from his rest:
For as I thowght that smylinge sygne
Was token that the hart inclyne
Wold to request reasonable,
By cause smylinge is favorable
To every thinge that shall thrive,
So thowght I tho, anon belyve,
That wordeles answere in no towne
Was tane for obligacyon,
Ne cauled sewertye, in no wyse,
Amonges them that cauled bene wise.
Thus was I in a joyous doubte,
Suer an unsurest of that rowte.
Right as myn hart thowght it were,
So more or lesse woxe my fere,
That yf one thowght made it well,
Annother shente yt everye deale,
Till at the last I couthe no more,
But porposed, as I dyd before,
To serve trewelye my lyves space,
Awaytinge ever the yere of grace
Wiche may fall yet or I sterve,
Yf it please her that I serve,
And served have, and wil do ever.
For thinge is none that me is lever
Then her service, whose presence
Myn heven is hole, and her absence
An hell full of diverse paines
Wiche to the deathe full oft me straynes.
Thus in my thowghtes, as I stode -
That unethe felt I harme ne good -
I sawe the quene at littell paace
Come where this mightye lord was,
And kneled downe in presence there
Of all the ladyes that ther were,
Withe sobre countenance avised,
In fewe wordes that well sufficed,
And to this lord, annon, pressent
A byll, wherin hol her intente
Was writton, and how she besowght,
As he knew every will and thought,
That of his godhede and his grace
He wold forgeve all old trespace,
And undispleased be of tyme past,
For she wold ever be stedfaste,
And, in his service, to the deathe
Use every thought wall she had breathe,
And syght, and wepte, and sayde no more.
Withein was wrytton all the sore.
At wiche bill the lord cane smyle,
And sayd he wold withein that Ile
Be lord and syr, bothe est and west;
And cauled it ther his new conquest,
And in great counsell toke the quene.
Longe were the tales them betwene.
And over her bill he rede thrise,
And wonder gladlye con devise
Her features fayer and hir visage,
And bad good thrifte on that image,
And sayd he trowed her complaynet
Shuld after cause her be corseint13
And in his sleve he put the bill -
Was ther none that knewe his will -
And forthe walked apace abowte,
Beholdinge all the lustye rowte,
Halfe in a thowght, withe smylinge chere,
Till, at the last, as ye shall here,
He torned unto the quene agayne
And sayd: 'To morne, here in this playne
I woll ye be, and all yours
That purposed bene to were flowers
Or of my lustye collours use.
It may not be to you excuse,
Ne none of youres, in no wyse,
That able be to my service.
For, as I sayd have here before,
I woll be lord for evermore
Of you, and of this Ile and all,
And of all youres that have shall
Joye, peace, or easse, or in pleasaunce
Your lives use witheoute mischaunce;
Here will I in estate be sene' -
And turned his visage to the quene -
'And you geve knowledge of my will,
And a full answere of youre bill.'
Was ther non 'ney,' ne wordes none,
But very obeysaunt semed eche one,
Quene and other that were there.
Well semed yt they had great feare.
And toke lodginge every wyght;
Was none departed of that night.
And some to reade old romansys
Hem occupied for ther pleasaunces,
Some to make virleyes and leyes,
And some to other diverse pleyes.
And I to me a romaunse toke,
And as I readinge was the booke,
Me thowght the spere had so rone
That it was risinge of the sonne,
And suche a presse into the playne
Assemble con, that withe great paine
One might for other go ne stande,
Ne none take other by the hand
Witheouten they distorbed were,
So huge and great the presse was ther.
And after that, within two oweres,
This mightye lord, all in flowers
Of diverse coloures many a payer,
In his estate up in the eyer,
Well to fadome as his hight,14
He sett him ther in all ther syght;
And for the quene, and for the knyght,
And for my ladye, and every wyght
In hast he sende, so that never one
Was ther absent, but come echeon.
And when thay thus assembled were,
As ye have hard me saye you here,
Witheout more tarringe, on hight,
Ther to be sene of everye wyght,
Up stood, amonge the presse above,
A counseler, servaunt of Love,
Wiche semed well of great estate;
And shewed ther how no debate
Ofte ne goodlye might be used
In gentullnes and be excussed.
Wherefore he sayd his lordes will
Was, every wyght there shuld be still
And in peace and one accorde,
And thus comaunded at a word.
And cane his tonge to suche laungauge
Turne, that yet in all his age
Hard I never so coninglye
Man speke, ne halfe so faythefullye;
For every thinge he sayd there
Semed as it insealed were
Or appreved for very trew.
Shuche was his conninge langauge new,
And well accordinge to his chere,
That, where I be, me thinke I here
Him yet alwaye, when I my one
In any place may be allone.
First con he of the lustye Ile
All the astate in little while
Reherse, and hollye every thinge
That caused ther his lordes cominge;
And everye wele, and every wo,
And for what cause eche thinge was so,
Well shewed he there, in easye speche;
And how the syke had nede of leche,
And who that whole was and in grace,
He told playnelye how eche thinge was.
And, at the last, he con conclude,
Voydinge every language rude,
And sayd that prince, that mightye lord,
Or his depertinge wold accorde
All the perties ther presente,
And was the fyne of his entente:
'Wittnesse his presence in your syght
Whiche syttes amonge you in his might.'
And kneled downe, witheowten more,
And no o word spoke he more.
Tho can this mightye lord him dresse,
Withe chere avised to do largesse,15
And sayd unto this knyght and me:
'Ye shall to joye restored be.
And for ye have bene trewe, ye twayne,
I graunte you here for every payne
A thousand joyes everye weckee,
And look ye be no lenger syke;
And bothe your ladyes - lo them here! -
Take eche his owne. Beth of good chere!
Your happye daye is now begonne
Sythe yt was rissinge of the sunne.
And to all other in this place,
I graunt hollye to staund in grace
That servethe trewelye witheout slowthe
And to avanced be, by trothe.'
Tho can this knyght and I downe knele,
Weninge to do wonder well,
Sayinge, 'O Lord, your great mercye
Us hathe enriched so openly,
That we deserve may nevermore
The least parte, but evermore
Withe sowle and bodye trulye serve
You and yours till we sterve.'
And to oure ladyes, ther they stood,
This knyght that cothe so mikle good
Whent in hast, and I allso -
Joyeux and glad were we tho,
And as riche in everye thowght
As he that all hathe and owe nowght -
And them besoute, in humble wise,
Us t'accepte to ther service
And shewe us of ther frendlye cheres,
Wiche in ther treasure many yeres
They kepte had, us to great paine;
And told that servauntes twayne
Were, and wolde be, and so had ever,
And for the deathe chaunge wold we never,
Ne do offence, ne thinge leke yll,
But full ther ordinaunce and will;
And made oure othes freshe new,
Oure olde servaunce to renewe,
And hollye thers for evermore
We ther become, what might we more,
And well awaytinge that in slowghth
We made no faute, ne in no trothe,16
Ne thowght not do, I you ensure,
Withe oure will while we may duer.
This season past, againse an eve
This lord of the quene toke leve,
And sayd he wold hastelye retorne
And at good leasure there sojorne,
Bothe for his honor and her ease,
Comaundinge fast the knyght to please.
And gave his statutes in papers,
And ordayned diverse officers,
And forthe to shipe the same nyght
He wente, and sone was owt of syght.
And on the morrow, when the ayere
Attempered was and wether fayer,
Erlye at rysinge of the sonne,
After the nyght awaye was ronne,
Playinge us on the rivage,
My lady spake of her viage,
And sayd she made smale jorneys
And held her in straunge conteryes;
And forthewithe to the quene went,
And shewed her holly her entent,
And toke her leve withe chere wepinge,
That petye it was to se that partinge.
For to the quene it was a paine
As to a martyre new slayne;
That for her woo, and she so tender,
Yet wepe I ofte, when I remembre.
She offered ther to resyne
To my ladye, eyght tymes or nyne,
Th'astate, the Ile, shortlye to tell,
If it might please her ther to dwell;
And sayd forever her linage
Shuld to my lady do omage
And herrs be holl, witheowten more,
They and all thers for evermore.
'Naye, God forbyd,' my ladye ofte
Withe many connynge wordes and softe
Sayd, 'that ever suche thinge shuld bene
That I consent shulde that a quene
Of youre estate, and so well named,
In any wise shuld be entamed!
But wold be fayne withe all my hart,
What so befell or how me smarte,
To do thinge that you might please
In any wise, or be your ease.'
And kysed ther, and bad goodnyght.
For wiche leve wepte many a wyght.
Ther might men here my ladye preysed,
And suche a name of her arrayssed -
What of connynge and fryndlyenes,
What of beautye withe jentulnes,
What of glad and frendlye cheres
That she used in all her yeres -
That wonder was here every wight
To saye well how they did ther might.
And withe a prese, uppon the morrowe
To shipe her browght; and wich a sorrowe
They made when she shuld under sayle,
That, and ye wyst, ye wold mervayle!
Forthe goethe the shipe; owt goethe the sonde;
And I, as wood man unbownde,
For dowbte to be behinde there,
Into the see, witheowten feare,
Annone I ranne, till withe a wave
All sodenly I was overthrowghe;
And withe the water, to and fro,
Bacwarde and forward, traveled so,
That mynd and brethe nyghe was gone,
That for good ne harme knew I none.
Till, at the last, withe hockes twayne
Men of the shipe withe mickle paine
To save my lyve dyd suche travell
That, and ye wyst, ye wold mervell;
And in the shipe me drew on highe,
And sayden all that I wold dye,
And layd me longe downe by the maste,
And of ther clothes uppon me caste.
And ther I made my testament,
And wyst my selfe not what I mente;
But when I sayd had what I wolde,
And to the mast my wo all toulde,
And tane my leve at everye wight,
And closyd myn eyne, and lost my syght,
Avised to dye witheout more speche
Or any remedye to seche,
Of grace newe, as was grete ned,
My ladye of my paine toke hede,
And her bethought how that for trothe
To se me dye it were great routhe;
And to me came in sobre wyse
And softelye sayd, 'I praye you, ryse.
Come on withe me; let be this fare.
All shall be well. Have ye no care.
I woll obey, ye, and fulfyll
Holly in all that lordes will
That you and me, not longe ago,
After his liste comaunded so,
That ther agayne no resistaunce
May be, witheout great offence.
And therefore, here now what I saye.
I am, and wol be, frindlye aye.
Ryse up! Beholde this avauntage
I graunt you in erytage,
Peaseble witheowt stryve
Duringe the dayes of your lyfe.'
And of her apples in my sleve
One she put, and toke her leve
In wordes few, and sayd, 'Good hele,
He that all made you send, and wele!'
Werewithe my paines, all at once,
Toke suche leve, that all my bones
For the newe ourewse pleasaunce,
So as they cothe, desyred to daunce.
And I, as hole as any wyght,
Up rose withe joyoux harte and light,
Hole and unsyke, right well at ease,
And all forgett had my diseace;
And to my ladye, where she playd,
I went annone and to her sayd:
'He that all joyes, persones to plese,
First ordayned withe perfyt ease,
And everye pleasure cane departe,
Send you, madame, as large parte;
And of his goodes suche plentye
As he has done you of bewtye,
Withe hele and all that maye be thowght,
He send you all, as he all wrought.
Madame,' quod I, 'Your servaunte trewe
Have I byne longe, and yet woll new,
Witheowten chaunge or repentaunce
In any wise, or variaunce,
And so wool do, as thrive I ever;
For thinge is none that me is lever
Then you to please, however I fare,
Myn hartes ladye and my welfare,
My lyfe, myn hele, my leche also
Of every thinge that doth me wo,
Myn helpe at ned, and my suertye
Of everye joye that longes to me,
My succors hole in all wyse
That may be thowght or man devise.
Your grace, madame, suche have I found
Now, in my nead, that I am bound
To you for ever, so Christ me save,
For hele and lyve of you I have;
Wherefore is reason I you serve
Withe dew obeysaunce till I starve,
And so wil do by my trothe,'
Quod I, 'Madame, witheout slouthe,
And dead and quicke be ever youres,
Late, erlye, and at all owers.'
Tho can my ladye smyle a lyte,
And in playne englyshe on consyte,17
In wordes fewe, holl her entent
She shewed me ther, and how she ment
To meward, in every wyse,
Holly she can all ther devise
Witheout prosses or longe travell, 18
Charginge me to kepe counsell
As I wold to her grace attayne;
Of wiche comaundemente I was fayne.
Wherefore I passe over at this tyme,
For counsell cordes not well in ryme,19
And eak the othe, that I have swore,
To breke me were bet unbore;20
Whi for untrewe for evermore
I shuld be hold, that nevermore
Of me in place shuld be reporte
Thinge that avayle might or comfort
To mewardes in any wysse,
And eche wyght wold me dispice
In that they couthe, and me repreve,
Whiche were a thinge sore for to greve;
Wherefore, hereof more mencyon
Make I not now, ne longe sermone,
But shortlye thus I me excuse:
To ryme a counssell I refuce.
Saylinge thus, two dayes or thre,
My ladye, towardes her cunterye,
Over the waves highe and grene
Wiche were large and depe betwene,
Uppon a tyme me cauled, and sayd
That of my hele she was well paide;
And of the quene, and of the Ile,
She taled withe me longe while,
And of all that she there had sene,
And of th'astate, and of the quene,
And of the ladyes, name by name,
Two owres or mo, this was her game.
Till at the last the wynde can ryse,
And blew so fast, and in suche wyse,
The shipe, that every wyght con saye:
'Madame, or eve be of this daye,
And God tofore, ye shal be there
As ye wold faynest that ye were;
And doubte not that withein six owres
Ye shal be ther as all is youres.'
At whiche wordes she cane to smyle,
And sayd that was no longe while
That they hur sett, and up she rosse,
And all abowt the shipe she goes,
And mad good chere to everye wyght,
Till of the londe she had syght;
Of wiche syght glad, God yt wote,
She was, and abasshed annon a boote
And forthe goethe, shortlye you to tell,
Where she accostomed was to dwell,
And recyved was, as good right,
Withe joyeux chere and hartes light,
And as a glad newe aventure,
Pleasaunte to every creature.
Withe whiche landinge tho I woke,
And found my chaumbre full of smoke,
My chekes eke, unto the eares,
And all my body weate of teares;
And all so feble and in suche wise
I was, that unethe might I rise,
So fare traveled and so feynte,
That neither knew I kyrk ne saynt,
Ne what was what, ne who was who,
N'avysed what wey I wolde goo.
But, by aventures grace,
I ryse and welke sawght paace and pace,
Till I a windinge stayer founde,
And held the vice ay in my hand,
And upwardes sauftelye so can crepe
Till I cam where I thowght to slepe
More at myn ease and owt of presse,
At my good leysure and in peace,
Till somewhat I recoumfort were
Of the travell and great feare
That I indured had before:
This was my thought, witheowt more.
And as a wyght wittles and faynte,
Witheout more, in a chaumbre painte
Full of storyes old and diverse -
More then I cane now reherse -
Unto a bed full soberlye,
So as I might full sauftelye,
Pace after other, and nothinge sayd.
Till, at the last, downe I me layde;
And, as my mynd wolde geve me leve,
All that I dremed had that eve
Before, all I con reherse,
Right as a childe at skole his vearse
Dothe, after that he thinkethe to thrive,
Right so did I; for all my lyve
I thawght to have in remembraunce -
Bothe the paine and the pleasaunce -
The dreame, hole as yt me befell,
Wiche was as ye here me tell.
Thus in my thowghtes as I laye,
That happy or unhappy daye -
Woote I not, so have I blame,
Of the two wiche is the name -
Befell me so that ther a thought
By processe new on slepe me browght,
And me governed so, in a while,
That agayne withein the Ile
Me thawght I was; where of the knyght,
And of the ladyes I had a syght,
And were assembled on a grene,
Knyght and lady withe the quene;
At wiche assemble ther was sayd
How they all content and payd
Were holly, as in that o thinge,
That the knyght ther shuld be kynge,
And thay wold all for suer wytnes
Wedded be, bothe more and lesse,21
In remembraunce, witheout more;
Thus they concente for evermore.
And was concluded that the knyght
Departe shulde the same nyght,
And forthewithe ther take his viage,
To jorneye for his mariage
And retorne withe suche an ooste
That weddid might be lest and most;
This was concluded, writton, and sealed,
That yt might not be repeled
In no wyse, but aye be fyrme,
And all shuld be withein a terme
Witheouwt more excusacyon,
Bothe feast and coronacyon.
This knyght, wiche had thereof the charge,
Annone into a littull barge
Browght was, late ageynst an eve,
Where of all he toke his leave;
Wiche barge was a manes thowght,
After his pleasure it him browght;
The quene herselfe accostomed aye
In the same barge to pleye.
Yt nedethe nether mast ne rother -
I have not hard of suche another -
Ne master for the governaunce;
Hit sayled by thowght and by pleasaunce,
Witheowt labor, est or west
All was one, calme and tempest.
And I wente withe, at his requeste,
And was the first prayed to the fest.
When he come in his cuntrye,
And passed had the wavy sea,
In an haven, depe and large,
He left his riche and noble barge,
And to the court, shortlye to tell,
He wente, where he was wont to dwell;
And was receyved as good right
As heyre and for a worthi knyght,
Withe all the stattes of the lande
Wiche come annon at his first sende,
Withe glad spirites, full of trothe,
Lothe to do faute, or withe a slouthe
Attaynte be in any wyse -
Ther riches was ther olde service,
Wiche ever trew had be founde
Sythe first inhabyte was the lond.
And so receyved ther there kynge,
That forgotten was nothinge
That owe to be done, ne might please,
Ne ther soverayne lord do ease,
And withe them so, shortlye to saye,
As they of custome had done aye.
For seven yere past was, and more,
The father, the olde, wyse and hoore
Kinge of the lande, toke his leve
Of all his barones one an eve,
And tolde them how his dayes past
Were all, and comen was the laste;
And hartelye prayd hem to remembre,
His sonne, wiche yonge was and tender,
That borne was ther prince to be,
Yf he retorne to that cuntrye
Might, be aventure or grace,
Withein any tyme or space;
And to be trewe and frindlye aye,
As they to him had bene allweye,
Thus he them prayd, witheowt more,
And toke his leve for evermore.
Knowne was how, in tender age
This younge prince a great viage,
Oncouthe and straunge, onors to sekche,
Toke on hand, withe littull speche;
Wiche was to seke a princes
That he desyred more then riches
For her great name that flowred so,
That in that tyme ther was no moo
Of her estate, ne so well named,
For borne was none that ever hir blamed;
Of wiche princes, sumewhat before
Here have I spoke, and sonne will more.
So thus befell as ye shall here.
Unto the lord they made suche chere,
That joye was, there to be presente
To se ther trothe and how they ment;
So very glade they were echeone,
That them amonge ther was not one
That desyred more riches
Than for ther lord suche a princes,
That they might please and that were fayer;
For faste desyred they an heyer,
And sayd great suertye were, iwis.22
And as they were speakinge of this,
The prince himeselfe him avised,
And in playne englyshe undisgised
Them shewed hole his jorneye,
And of ther counsell can them praye;
And tolde how he ensured was,
And how his daye he might not passe
Witheouwt dishonor and great blame
And to him forever a shame;
And of ther counsell and avise
There he prayed them, once or twyse,
And that they wolde withein ten dayes
Avise and ordayne him suche wayes
So that it were no displeasaunce,
Ne to this reme over great grevaunce,
And that he have might to his feaste
Sixti thousannd at the leaste;
For his intente withein short while
Was to retorne unto this Ile
That he came fro, and kepe his daye:
For nothinge wolde he be awaye.
To counsell tho the lordes annone
Into a chaumbre everychon
Together went, them to devyse
How they might best, and in what wise,
Purveye for ther lordes pleasaunce
And the realmes contynuaunce
Of honor, whiche in it before
Had contynewed evermore.
So, at the last, they founde the weys
How withein the next fyftene dayes
All myght withe paine and diligence
Be done, and cast what the dispence
Might draw and, in conclusyon,
Made for eache thinge provisyon.
When this was done hollye, tofore
The prince, the lordes all before
Come and shewed what they had done,
And how they couthe by no reason
Fynde that within the ten dayes
He myght departe, by no wayes,
But wolde be fiftene at least
Or he retorne might to his feaste;
And shewed him every reason whi
Yt myght not be so hastelye
As he desyred, ne his daye
He might not kepe by no waye,
For diverse causes wonder greate.
Wiche when he hard, in suche a heate
He fell for sorrowe, and was syke
Stil in his bed hole that weake
And nyghe the tother, for the shame,
And for the dowbte, and for the blame
That might on him be arette.
And oft uppon his brest he bette,
And sayd: 'Allas! Myn honor for aye
Have I here lost clene this daye.
Ded wold I be! Allas, my name
Shall aye be more henseforthe in shame,
And I disonered and repreved
And never more shal be beleved!'
And made suche sorowe that, in trothe,
Him to behold it was great rothe.
And so endured the dayes fyftene
Till that the lordes, of an even,
Him come and toulde they reydye wayre,
And shewed, in fewe wordes there,
How and what wysse they had purveyd
For his estate; unto him sayde
That twentye thousannd knyghtes of name
And fortye thousande witheowt blame,
All come of noble lyne,
Togather in a companye
Were lodged on a ryvers syde,
Him and his pleasures ther to abyde.
The prince, tho, for joye uprosse
And, were they lodged were, he goes,
Witheout more, the same nyght,
And ther his supper made to dytte,
And withe them boode till it was daye,
And forthewithe so toke his jorneye,
Levinge the streyght, holdinge the large,23
Till he come till his noble barge.
And when this prince, this lusty knyght,
Withe his pepull in armes bright
Was comen where he thowght to passe,
And knewe well none abyden was
Behind, but all were there present,
Forthewithe annone all his entent
He told them ther, and made his cryes
Throwghe his host that daye twyse,
Comandinge every lyves wight,
Ther beinge present in his syght,
To be the morrowe on the rivage
Where he begine wold his vioage.
The morrow come; the crye was kept;
Fewe was ther that night that slepte,
But trussed and purveyed for the morowe.
Faute of shippes was all ther sorrowe;
For save the barge and other two,
Of shippes ther sawe I no moe.
Thus in ther dowbtes as they stode,
Waxinge the see, cominge the flode,
Was cryed: 'To shipe go, everye wight!'
Then was but hye that hye myght.
Unto the barge, me thowght, echeon
They wente; witheout was lefte not one -
Horse, male, trusse, ne baggage,
Sallett, spere, gardbrace, ne page -
But was loudged and rome inowghe.
At wiche shippinge me thought I lowghe,
And cane to marvell in my thought
How ever suche a shipe was wrought;
For what people that cane increasse
Ne never so thicke might be the presse,
But all had rome at ther will.
Ther was not one that was lodged yll;
For, as I trow, my selfe the laste
Was one that lodged by the mast,
And where I loked I sawe suche rome
As all were lodged in a towne.
Forthe goethe the shipe; sayd was the crede;
And on ther knees, for ther good spedde,
Downe kneled everye wight a while
And prayed fast unto the Ile
They might come in savetye,
The prince and all the companye,
Withe worshipe and witheout blame
Or disslaunder of his name
Of the promese he shuld retorne
Withein the tyme he did sojorne
In his land, biddinge his hoost -
This was ther prayer, lest and most.
To kepe the daye duye, it might not bene,
That he appoynt had withe the quene,
To retorne witheowt slouthe,
And so assured had his trothe.
For wiche faute, this prince, this knygkte,
Durynge the tyme slepte not a night;
Suche was his woo and his disease,
For dowbt he shuld the quene displeace.
Forthe goethe the shipe withe suche spede,
Right as the prince for his great neade
Desyer wolde after his thawghte,
Till it unto the Ile him browght;
Were in hast, upon the sannde,
He and his people toke the land
Withe hartes glade and chere light,
Weninge to be in heven that night.
But or they passed had a myle,
Enteringe in toward that Ile,
All cladd in blacke withe chere peteus
A lady, wiche never dispeteouse
Had be in all her lyfe tofore,
Withe sorye chere and harte to-tore,
Unto this prince, where he cane ryde,
Come and sayde: 'Abyde! Abyde!
And have no hast, but fast retorne.
No reason is ye here sojorne,
For your untrothe hathe us distroyed;
Woo worthe the tyme we us alyed
Withe you, that ar so sone untrewe.
Allas the daye that we you knewe!
Allas the tyme that ye were bore;
For all this land by you is lore!
Accursed be he you hether browght,
For all oure joye is turned to nowght.
Youre accquayntaunce we may complayne,
Wiche is the cause of all oure peine.'
'Allas, madame!' quod tho this knight;
And withe that from his horse he light
Withe color pale and chekes lene.
'Allas, what is this for to mene?
What have ye sayde? Whi be you wrothe?
You to displease I wold be lothe.
Knowe ye not well the promese
I made have to youre princes,
Wiche to performe is myne entent,
So mote I sped, as I have mente,
And as I am her verye trewe,
Witheowte chaunge or thowght new,
And also solelye her seruaunte
As creature or man lyvenante
May be to ladye or princes;
For she myn heven and hole riches
Is, and the ladye of myn hele,
My wordes joye and all my wele.
What maye this be? Wense comes this speche?
Tell me, madame, I you beseche;
For sythe the first of my lyvinge
Was I so fearfull of nothinge
As I am now to here you speke.
For dowbte I feale my harte brecke.
Say on, madame! Tell me your will.
The remenaunt is it good or ill?'
'Allas,' quod she, 'that you ware bore!
For, for your love, this land is lore;
The quene is ded, and that is rothe,
For sorrow of your great untrothe.
Of two partes of the lusty rowte
Of ladyes that were here abowte,
That wonte were to tale and pleye,
Nowe ar ded and clene awaye,
And under earthe tane lodginge newe.
Alas, that ever ye were untrewe!
For when the tyme ye sett was paste,
The quene to counsell sone in hast -
What was to do? - and sayd great blame
Your accquayntaunce cause wold and shame,
And the ladyes of ther avise
Prayed, for nead was to be wisse
In eschewinge tales and songes,
That by them make culd evell tunges,
And say they were lyghtlye conquest
And prayed to a poore feast
And fowle had ther worshipe wayved,
When so onwyselye they conceyved
Ther riche treasure and ther hele,
Ther famous name and ther wele,
To put in suche an aventure;
Of wiche the slaunder ever duer
Was lyke, witheowt helpe of apele;
Wherefore they nede had of counscell,
For everye wight of them wold saye
Ther closed Ile an open weye
Was become to every wight,
And well approved by a knyght,
Wiche he holles, witheowt pesaunse,
Had sone atcheved th'obeysaunce.
All this was meved at counsell thrise,
And concludedd daylye twise,
That bet was dye witheowt blame
Then losse the riches of her name.
Wherefor, the deathes acquantaunce
They chese, and leste have ther pleasaunce,
For dowbte to lyve as repreved
In that they you so sone beleved;
And made ther othes withe one accord,
That eate, ne drinke, ne speke a worde
They shuld never, but ever wepinge
Byde in oo place witheout partinge,
And use ther dayes in penaunce,
Witheowt desyer of allegiaunce.
Of wiche the trothe annone con preve;
For whi the quene, forthewithe, her leve
Tooke at them all that were present,
Of her defautes fullye repente,
And dyed there witheowten more.
Thus ar we lost for evermore.
What shuld I more hereof reherse?
Come on withe me. Come se the herse,
Where ye shall se the petiust syght
That ever yet was shewed to knyght;
For ye shal se ladyes stand,
Eche withe a great rood in hand,
Clade in blacke, withe visage whight,
Be rydye eche other for to smyte;
Yf any be that will not wepe,
Or who that makes countenaunce to slepe,
They be so bet, that also blewe
They be, as clothe that dyed is newe.
Suche is ther perfyte repentaunce.
And thus they kepe ther ordinaunce,
And woll do ever to the deathe,
While them induers any brethe.'
This knyght, tho, in armes twayne
This ladye toke, and cone her saynne:
'Allas my birthe! Wo worthe my lyfe!'
And even withe that he drewe a knyfe
And thorowghe gowne, dublet, and shirte,
He made the blode cume from his hart;
And sett him downe uppon the grene,
And full repent, and closeyd his eyne,
And, save that once he drew his brethe,
Witheowt more thus he tooke his deathe.
For wiche cause, the lustye hoost
Whiche, in a battayle on the coste,24
At once, for sorrowe, suche a crye
Con reare thorowe the companye,
That to the heven hard was the sowne
And under th' earthe as far downe,
That wild beastes for feare
So sodanlye aferde awere,
That for the doubt, while they might duer,
They ranne as of ther lyves unsuer
From the woddes untto the plaine,
And from the valles the highe mountayne
They sowght, and rane as bestes blind
That clene forgetten had ther kynd.
This wo not ceassed, to counsell went
This lordes, and for that ladye sente,
And of avise what was to done
They her besowght she saye wold sone.
Wepinge full sore, all clad in blacke,
This ladye saftelye to them spake,
And sayd: 'My lordes, by my trothe,
This mischeve holl is of your slouthe.
And yf ye had, that judge wold right,
A prince that were a very knyght,
Ye that bene of estate, eche one
Dye for his faute shulde, one and one;
For ye hold had the promesse,
And done that longes to jentulnes,
And fulfilled the prince behest,
This hastye harme had bene a feast,
And now is unrecoverable,
And us a slaunder aye durable.
Wherefore I saye, as of counsell,
In me is none that may avayle;
But, yf you list, for remembraunce,
Purveye and make such ordinaunce
That the quene, that was so meke,
Withe all her wemen, ded or syke,
Might in your land a chapell have,
Withe some remembraunce on her grave
Shewinge her end withe the petye,
In somme notable olde cetye,
Nighe unto an highe-waye
Where everye wight might for her praye,
And for all heres that have bene trewe.'
And even withe that she chaunged hewe,
And twise wished after the deathe,
And syght, and thus passed her brethe.
Then sayd the lordes of the ooste,
And so concluded lest and most,
That they wold ever in houses of thacke
Ther lyves use, and were but blacke,
And forsake all ther pleasaunces,
And turne all joye to penaunces,
And bare the ded prince to the barge,
And named them shuld have the charge.
And to the hearse where laye the quene
The remenante went, and downe on knene,
Holdinge ther handes on hight, con crye,
'Mercy! Mercy!' everiche thrye;
And cursed the tyme that ever slouthe
Shuld have suche masterdome of trothe.
And to the barge, a long mile,
They bere her forthe, and in a while
All the ladyes, one and one,
By companies were browght echeon;
And past the see, and toke the lande,
And in newe hersses on a sannde
Put, and browght were all annone
Unto a cety clossed withe stone,
Where it had bene used aye
The kynges of the lannd to leye
After they reyned in honors,
And wright was wiche were conquerers,
In an abbye of nonnes wiche were blacke,
Wiche accostomed were to wacke,
And of ussage rysse eche a night
To pray for everye lyves wight.
And as befell, as is the gyse,
Ordayned and sayd was the service
Of the prince and of the quene
As devoutlye as might bene;
And after that, abowght the hercesse,
Many orrysonnes and vearses,
Witheowt note, full softelye
Sayd were and full hartelye,
That all the night, till it was daye,
The peple in the churche cone preye
Unto the Hollye Trynite
Of those sowles to have petye.
And when the night past and ronne
Was, and the newe daye begonne,
The yonge morrowe withe rayes redd,
Wiche from the sonne over all con spredd,
Attempered cleare was and fayer,
And made a tyme of holsome ayer,
Befell a wonder case and straunge
Amonge the people, and con chaunge
Sone the worde and everye woo
Unto a joye, and some to two.
A byrde all fethered blewe and grene,
Withe bright arrayes, lyke gold, betwene,
As smale thredes over every joynte,
All full of collors straunge and cointe,
Uncothe and wonderfull to syghte,
Uppon the quenes herse cone lyghte,
And songe full lowe and softelye
Thre songes in his armoneye,
Unletted of every wight;
Till, at the last, an aged knyght,
Whiche semed a man in great thought
Lyke as he sett all thinge at nawght,
Withe visage and eyne over-wepte,
And pale as mane longe unslepte,
By the hersses as he stoode,
Withe hasty handelinge of his hood
Unto a prince that by him past,
Made the birde somewhat agast;
Wherefore he rose, and lefte his songe,
And departe from us amonge,
And spred his winges for to passe
By the place he entered was;
And in his hast, shortlye to tell,
He him hurte, that bacwarde downe he fell
From a windowe, richelye painte
Withe lyves of many a dyverse saynte,
And beate his winges, and bled faste,
And of the hurte thus dyed and paste,
And ley ther well an hower or more,
Till, at the last, of birdes a skore
Come, and sembled at the place
Where the windowe broken was,
And made suche weymentacyon,
That petye was to here the son
And the werbelinge of ther throtes
And the complainte in ther nottes,
Wiche from joye clene was reversed.
And of them on the glasse sone percsyd,
And in his beke, of colours nyne,
An erb he browght, flowerles, all grene,
Full of smale leves and plaine,
Swerte, and longe, withe many a vayne;
And where his fellowe laye thus ded,
This erbe downe layd by his hede,
And dressed hit full softelye,
And hange his hede, and stode therbye.
Whiche erbe, in lesse then halfe an owere,
Cone over all knote, and after flower
Full owt, and rype the seade;
And right this one another feede
Wold, in his beake, he toke a grayne
And in his fellowes beke, certayne,
Yt put; and thus withein the thirde,
Up stode and pruned him the birde
Wiche dede had be in all oure syght,
And bothe together forthe ther flyght
Toke, singinge, from us, and ther leve;
Was none disturbe them wold, ne greve.
And when they perted were and gone,
Th' abbas the seades sone echeon
Gathered had, and in her hande
Th' erbe she helde, well avisaunte
The lefe, the sede, the stalke, the flower,
And sayd it had a good savor
And was no comone herbe to fynde
And well approved of uncothe kynde,
And then other more vertuus;
Who so yt have myght, for to use
In his neade - flower, lefe, or graine -
Of ther hele myght be certainge;
And layd it downe uppon the hersse
Where lay the quene, and con rehersse
Eche one to other that they had sene.
And talinge this, the seade wox grene,
And on the drye herse con springe,
Wiche me thowght a wonder thinge,
And after that, flower an new seade,
Of wiche the pepull all toke hede
And sayd yt was some great miracle
Or medicyne more fyne then treacle,25
And were well done ther to assaye
Yf yt might ease in any waye
The corsses wiche withe torche-lyght
Thay waked had ther, all that night.
Sone were the lordes there concent,
And all the pepull therto content,
Withe easye wordes and lyttull fare,
And made the quenes visage bare,
Wiche shewed was to all abowte;
Wherefore in sowne fell hole the rowte,
And were so sorye, most and leste,
That longe of wepinge they not ceased;
For, of ther lord the remembraunce
Unto them was suche displeasaunce,
That for to lyve they cauled paine,
So were they verye trewe and playne.
And after this, the good abbas
Of the greynes con chesse and dresse
Thre, withe her fingers clene and smale;
And in the quenes mothe, be tall,
One after other full easelye
She put and full coninglye,
Wiche sheewed sone suche vertu,
That preved was the medicyne trewe;
For withe a smylinge countenaunce
The quene uprose, and of usaunce,
As she was wonte, to everye wight
She made good chere; for wiche syght,
The people knelynge on the stones
Thowght they in heven were, sowle and bones.
Unto the prince where he laye
They went, to make the same assaye.
And when the quene it understode,
And how the medicyne was good,
She prayed she might have the greynes
To releve him from the paines
Whiche she and he had bothe endured;
And to him wente, and so him ured,
That withein a lyttull space
Lustye and freshe one lyve he was,
And in good hele, and hole of speche,
And lowghe, and sayd, 'Gramercy, leche.'
For whiche the joye throwgheowt the towne
So great was, that the belles sowne
Affrayde the peopull a jorneye26
Abowte the cetye everye waye
And comen and asked cause and whi
They rongen were so stattelelye.
And after that, the quene, th' abbas,
Made dilligence, or theye wolde cease,
Suche that of ladyes sonne a rowte
Suinge the quene was all abowte;
And cauled by name eche one and tolde,
Was none forgotton, yonge ne olde.
There mighte mene se joyes newe,
When the medicyne, fyne and trewe,
Thus restored had every wight,
As well the ladyes as the knyght,
Unto pefyte joye and hele,
That flyttinge they were in suche wele,
As folke that wolde in no wyse
Desyer more perfyte parradysse.
And thus, when passed was the sorrowe,
Withe mickell joye, sone on the morrowe,
The kinge, the quene, and everye lord,
Withe all the ladyes, by one accorde
A generall assemble
Gert crye thorowghe the cunterye;
The whiche after, as ther intente,
Was turned to a parlament,
Where was ordayned and avised
Everye thinge and devised
That please might to most and lest.
And ther concluded was, the feast
Withein the Ile to be holde,
Withe full concente of yonge and olde;
In the same wyse as before
All thinges shulde be, witheowten more;
And shipeden, and thether went.
And into straunge remes sent
To kinges, quenes, and ducheces,
To diverse princes and princesses
Of ther linage, and cane praye,
Yf yt lyke them, at that daye
Of marriage, for ther sporte,
Come se the Ile and them disporte,
Where shulde be justes and turneyes,
And armes done in other wayes,
Signifyinge over all the daye,
After Aprell withein Maye.
And was avised that ladyes twayne
Of good estate and wel besene,
Withe certayne knightes and squiers,
And of the quenes officers,
In maner of imbassad
Withe certeyne leters, closed and made,
Shuld take the barge, and departe,
And seke my ladye evrye parte
Till they her founde, for any thinge;
Bothe charged thus, quene and kinge,
And as ther ladye and misteris,
For to beseke, of jentulnes,
At the daye ther for to bene.
And ofte her recomaunde the quene,
And prayed, for all loves, to hast;
For but she come, all woll be wast,
And the feast a busynes
Witheout joye or lustynes;
And toke them tokenes, and god spede27
Prayed God send, after ther neade.
Forthe wente the ladyes and the knightes,
And were owt fourteen dayes and nightes,
And browght my ladye in ther barge,
And had well sped, and done the charge.
Whereof the quene so hartelye glad
Was, that in sothe shuche joyes she hadd
When the shipe approched lannde,
That she my ladye on the sannde
Met, and in armes so constrayne,
That wonder was beholde them twayne
Whiche, to my dome, duringe twelve oures,
Nether for heat ne watery showers
Departed not; ne companye,
Savinge themselfe, bode none them bye,
But gave them leaysure, at ther ease,
To reherse joye and diseace,
After the pleasure and corrages
Of ther yonge and tender ages;
And after, withe many a knyght
Browght were where, as for that nyght,
They parted not, for to pleasaunce
Consent was hart and countenaunce,
Bothe of the quene and my mistris:
This was that night ther busynes.
And one the morrowe, withe huge route -
This prince - of lordes him abowte,
Come, and to my ladye sayd
That of her cominge glad and well appaide
He was, and full conninglye
Her thannked and full hertelye,
And lowghe, and smyled, and sayd, 'Iwis,
That was in dowbte in suerty es.'
And comaunde do dilygence,28
And spare for neyther golde ne spence,
But make redye; for, one the morrowe,
Weddid withe 'Seynt John to borowe'
He wold be, witheouten more;
And let them wytt them, lesse and more.29
The morowe come, and the service
Of marriage in suche wyse
Sayd was, that with more honor
Was never prince ne connqueror
Wedd, ne withe suche companye
Of gentulnes in chivalrye,
Ne of ladyes so great rowtes,
Ne so besene, as all abowghtes
They were there, I certefye
You and my lyffe, witheout lye.
And the feast helde was in tentes -
As to tell you myne intent is -
In a rome, a large playne,
Under a wood in a champayne,
Betwene a ryver and a well,
Where never had abby ne sell
Ben, ne kyrke, house, ne village,
In tyme of any manes age.
And dured thre monethes the feast
In one estate, and never ceste
From earlye the ryssinge of the sune
Till the daye spent was and rune,
In justinge, dauncesinge, and lustines,
And all that sowned to gentulnes.30
And, as me thowght, the second morrowe,
When endid was all old sorrowe
And in suertye everye wight
Had withe his ladye slepte a nyght,
The prince, the quene, and all the feast,
Unto my ladye made request,
And her besowght and ofte prayed
To mewardes to be well paied,
And consyther myne olde trothe,
And one my paines to have rothe,
And me accepte to her service
In suche forme, and in suche wyse,
That we bothe myght be as one:
Thus prayde the quene and everyechone.
And for ther shuld be no 'naye,'
They stinte justinge all a daye
To praye my ladye and requier
Be content and owt of feare,
And withe good hart make frindlye chere,
And sayd yt was an happye yere.
At wiche she smyled and sayd, 'Iwis,
I trow well he my servante is,
And wold my welfare, as I trist.
So wold I his, and wolde he wist
How, and I knew his trothe
Contynewe wold witheout slouthe
And be suche as ye here reporte,
Restraynynge bothe corrage and sport,
And couthe consent at youre request
To be named of your feast,
And do so after your usaunce
In obeyinge your pleasaunce;
At your request, thus I concent
To please you in youre entent,
As eke the soveraynge above
Comaunded hathe me for to love
And before other him prefarre,
Agaynst wiche prince may be no warr,
For his power over all reynegthe,
That other wold for nowght him paynethe.31
And sythe his will and yours is one,
Contrarye in me shal be none.'
Tho, as me thowght, the promesse
Of marriage before the messe
Desyred was - of every wight -
To be made the same nyght,
To put awaye all maner dowbtes
Of everye wyght there abowtes;
And so was do. And one the morrow,
When every thowght and every sorrowe
Dislodged was owt of myne harte,
Withe everye wo and every smarte,
Unto a tente the prince and princesse,
Me thowght, me browght and my misteris,
And sayd we were at full age
Ther to conclud our marriage,
Withe ladyes, knyghtes, and squiers,
And a great hoost of mynistres
Withe instrumentes and soundes diverse,
That longe were here you to reherse.
Wiche tente was churche perochiall,
Ordeyned it was in especiall
For the feast and for the sacre,
Where arshebyshope and archedyaker
Sunge full owt the service,
After the custome and the gyse
And the churches ordinaunce;
And after that, to dyne and daunce
Browght were we unto diverse pleyes.
And, for oure spede, eache wihte prayse,
And merrye was most and lest;
And sayd amended was the feast
And where right glad, ladye and lord,
Of the marriage and th' accorde,
And wished us hartes pleasaunce,
Joye, hele, and continuaunce;
And to the minsterelles made request
That in increasynge of the feast
Thay wold tuche ther cordes,
And withe some newe joyeux accordes
Meve the pepull to gladnes,
And prayden of all gentulnes
Eche to paine him, for the daye,
To shew his conninge and his pleye.
Tho begane sowndes marvelus,
And intuned withe accordes joyeux,
Rounde abowte all the tentes,
Withe thousanndes of instrumentes,
That everye wyght to daunce him pained,
To be merye was none that fayned;
Wiche so me trowbeled in my slepe,
That from my bed forthe I lepe,
Weninge to be at the feast.
But when I wocke, all was ceaste.
For ther was ladye, ne creature,
Save one the walles old portrature
Of horsemen, hawkes, and houndes,
And hurte deare full of woundes,
Some lyke bytton, some hurtte with shott,
And, as my dreme, semed that was not.32
And when I wocke and knew the trothe,
Had ye sene, of verye rothe
I trow ye wold have wepte a wecke;
For never man yet halfe so sike
Escaped, I wene, withe the lyfe;
And was for faute that sword ne knyfe
I find myght, my lyve t' abrege,
Ne thinge that carved, ne had edge,
Wherewithe I might my wofull peines
Have voyd withe bledinge of my veynes.
Lo, here my blysse! Lo, here my payne!
Whiche to my lady I complayne,
And grace and mercy her requier,
To ende my wo and besy fere,
And me accepte to her service
After her pleasaunce, in suche wise
That of my dreame the substaunce
Might turne once to cognisaunce,33
And cognisaunce to very preve,
By full concent and good leave;
Or else, witheowten more, I pray
That this night, or yt be daye,
I mote unto my dreame retorne,
And slepinge so, forthe ay sojorne
Abowte the Ile of pleasaunce,
Under my ladyes obeysaunce,
In her service, and in suche wyse
As yt please her may to devise,
And grace once to be accepte,
Like as I dremed when I slepte,
And duer a thousannd yeres and tene
In His good grace. Amen. Amen.
Fayrest of fayer and goodleste on lyve,
All my secre to you I playne and shreve,
Requiringe grace, and of all my complainte
To be heled, or martered as a saynt;
For by my trothe I swere, and by this booke,
Ye may bothe hele and slaye me with a looke.
Go forthe myn owne trew harte innocent,
And withe humblenesse do thine observaunce,
And to thi lady on thi knes present
Thi service new, and thinke how great plesaunce
Hit is to lyve under the obeysaunce
Of her, that may withe her lookes softe
Geve the blisse that thou desyers ofte.
Be diligent, awacke, obye, and dread,
And not to wilde of thi countenaunce,
But meke and glade, and thi nature fead
To do eche thinge that may her pleasaunce.
When you shall slepe, have ay in remembraunce
The image of her whiche may withe lookes softe
Geve the blysse that thou desyers ofte.
And yf so be that thou her name finde,
Writton in booke or else uppon wall,
Looke that thou do as servaunte trew and kynde
Thine obeysaunce, as she were ther witheall.
Fayninge in love is breadinge of a fall
From the grace of her, whose lookes softe
May geve the blisse that thou desyers ofte.
[Added in a different hand]
Ye that this balade rede shall,
I pray you kepe you from the fall.
FINIS QUOD CHAUCER
What winter had laid bare
And [I] began
mysterious mode of conveyance
Well I know; laughed
both fever and health; (see note)
Would to God; knew; bit
thinks; sees; (see note)
Know; of whom
in this manner
nor fully asleep
cry out for
all the manner of it
sleep(y) writer; know; (see note)
lack of polish
art of composition take
rhetorical figures; prosper
as if it were of no account
isle; (see note)
gate; (see note)
without permission; came
weather-vanes always; (see note)
Made to sound in tune together
to meet the air
in the same fashion; (see note)
Cleverly carved like
strange; lasting ever
none of them
a living man
in fine appearance
surpass; (see note)
pleasure; tell stories
one of the wisest of creatures
not one disagreed
was not; pity; (see note)
all the state of things
Think of it and you had it
condition of things
became well pleased
in my judgment
make her greatest effort
be able nor have power to
And that was; last
Where it; been known
thought; to have seen
Bless ye!; (see note)
forward planning; (see note)
yes indeed straightway
seems to us a marvel
have got entry
of great antiquity
it may; harm
at once; painfully
as if someone
have me robbed; well-being
at a gentle pace
carried away; dwelling
did not know
I had no wish to
surrounded; (see note)
looking on; gloomy
very well turned out
in my way of governing
found entirely satisfying
must; ancient custom
sea; far from
health ever the same
lasting; ever the same
To gather these same
Thinking to have success
Looking at them
to me unexpectedly
immediate help been
physician; hurt; (see note)
the ship that
one after another
knees; (see note)
their high birth
had command of
speak playfully; (see note)
raise a war
Considering within herself
with a serious face
know, and all
was so nearly distracted
full of sorrow
awaited her fate
knew what was good for him
drained (from his face)
moving a step
swooning; (see note)
as you may have
it would be good
quaked; and said
might be injured
a safe country
desire your well-being
as could clearly be seen
Why should I not be dead
wishes that I die
Even if someone; give
short and stealthy
haste; displeased her
And was; distress
twice or thrice
do [any harm]; indeed
rose; fell over
yet once again
politeness with nobility
free from scorn
allow her [to live]
The queen being present
To and fro
it was a long time before
Stern-castles; (see note)
coats of arms (weapons?)
mast-head platforms; (see note)
ever and again
made their way
air; (see note)
write what; saw
joy to sleep
to shut; gates
looked at them
was not hindered
whom to complain
in few words
acknowledged as lord
let her know
sharpened by grinding
to be blamed
thrust out pity from; (see note)
needful; (see note)
it were good
in his playful way
did not know
a whole week
I blame no one
This (the smile)
So too; just as quickly; (see note)
in no place
destroyed; every bit
the duration of my life
befall; before I die
Is my whole heaven
letter; wholly; (see note)
gave an account of
wished good success
in my position of power
virelays and lays
sphere; run; (see note)
because of others nearby
argument [against God of Love]
Ought nor properly might
in all of his age
had the seal of authority
confirmed; absolute truth
on my own
Before his departure
And that was; whole point
not a single word
prepared to rise
no longer sick
to our great distress
even in the face of death
nor anything like an injury
watching out; sloth
Nor thought not to do [any]
time; towards one evening
Commanding [her] earnestly
Chatting playfully; shore
was accustomed to make
in a tearful manner
and of such a high reputation
or however I was hurt
To speak well [of her]
[begin to leave] under sail
if you knew
mad; (see note)
I could not distinguish
thought to herself
as a gift
as large a part
been; still will [be] anew
My whole salvation
The reason being that
Towards me; way
Because of what they knew
had a boat lowered at once
as was proper
a piece of good fortune
So greatly over-exerted
walked soft step by step
out of danger
[I approached] a bed
Step by step
in so far as he
even though I am to be blamed
In due course again
the least and the greatest
a set time
late towards one evening
rudder; (see note)
as was proper
persons of rank
Be found guilty
And [done] by them thus
For it was seven years ago
[Since] the father; grey-haired
by good fortune
Marvellous; honors; seek
rank; spoken of
made up his mind
Not for anything
all that week
And most of the next
I wish I were dead
Shall be for evermore
in what way
caused to be prepared
the proclamation was kept
packed and provided
The sea rising, the tide coming in
everyone hurrying that could
feat of ship-loading; laughed
whatever the number of people
And however thick
Concerning the promise
summoning his retinue
torn to pieces
Woe be to
So may I prosper
very true [servant]
the first day of my life
Some two thirds
for their advice
concerning them; could
honor given up
to such hazard
ever to last
put forward for discussion
it was better to die
advice; to be done
whole; due to your
[you] that would judge rightly
one by one
if you had kept
to us; lasting forever
if it pleases you
all piteous circumstances
hers (i.e., women)
And they bore
appointed those who
each one thrice
crossed over; landed
been ever the custom
And it was written;
And so it befell; custom
Was made mild and clear
an astonishing happening
the decree of destiny
exhausted with weeping
touching [or doffing]
one of them; pierced
Burst into bud all over
And just as one [bird]
in a trice
And as they talked thus
[came] flower and
And it would do well
had kept vigil over
swoon; all the company
for a long time
they called living a pain
faithful and honest
choose and prepare
according to custom
brought a happy destiny
perfectly able to speak
Made every effort, before
counted them off
Caused to be proclaimed
everyone, regardless of rank
without more ado
[they] took ship
feats of arms
[Which should be] after
[it] was resolved
well turned out
as [she was]; mistress
commended herself [to her]
in my opinion; hours
Did not separate
stirrings of the spirit
[They] were brought
What; is now assured
May St. John be my security; (see note)
on my life
great open space
Close by; open meadow
In unvarying splendor; ceased
in the security [of wedlock]
Towards me; pleased
[Her to] be
[he] desires; trust
wished he knew
How, if I knew
free and wanton spirit
named [as one]
in what you purpose
And this tent; parochial; (see note)
with full voice
to add to the pleasure of
skill in playing
all in tune; harmonies
Thinking [I was]
as if bitten
with his life
only for want
[be granted] grace one day
And [may I] endure; ten
alive; (see note)
lament and confess
may [give] her
original source of; (see note)
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