Incipit Liber Quartus
Dicunt accidiam fore nutricem viciorum,
Torpet et in cunctis tarda que lenta bonis:
Que fieri possent hodie transfert piger in cras,
Furatoque prius ostia claudit equo.
Poscenti tardo negat emolumenta Cupido,
Set Venus in celeri ludit amore viri.1
"Upon the vices to procede
After the cause of mannes dede,
The ferste point of Slowthe I calle
Lachesce, and is the chief of all,
And hath this propreliche of kinde,
To leven alle thing behinde.
Of that he mihte do now hier
He tarieth al the longe yer,
And everemore he seith, 'Tomorwe';
And so he wol his time borwe,
And wissheth after 'God me sende,'
That whan he weneth have an ende,
Thanne is he ferthest to beginne.
Thus bringth he many a meschief inne
Unwar, til that he be meschieved,
And may noght thanne be relieved.
And riht so nowther mor ne lesse
It stant of love and of lachesce.
Somtime he slowtheth in a day
That he nevere after gete mai.
Now, sone, as of this ilke thing,
If thou have eny knowleching
That thou to love hast don er this,
"Mi goode fader, yis.
As of lachesce I am beknowe
That I mai stonde upon his rowe,
As I that am clad of his suite.
For whanne I thoghte mi poursuite
To make, and therto sette a day
To speke unto the swete May,
Lachesce bad abide yit
And bar on hond it was no wit
Ne time for to speke as tho.
Thus with his tales to and fro
Mi time in tariinge he drowh.
Whan ther was time good ynowh,
He seide, 'Another time is bettre;
Thou schalt mowe senden hire a lettre,
And per cas wryte more plein
Than thou be mowthe durstest sein.'
Thus have I lete time slyde
For Slowthe, and kepte noght my tide,
So that Lachesce with his vice
Fulofte hath mad my wit so nyce,
That what I thoghte speke or do
With tariinge he hield me so,
Til whanne I wolde and mihte noght.
I not what thing was in my thoght,
Or it was drede, or it was schame;
Bot evere in ernest and in game
I wot ther is long time passed.
Bot yit is noght the love lassed
Which I unto mi ladi have;
For thogh my tunge is slowh to crave
At alle time, as I have bede,
Min herte stant evere in o stede
And axeth besiliche grace,
The which I mai noght yit embrace.
And God wot that is malgré myn;
For this I wot riht wel a fin,
Mi grace comth so selde aboute,
That is the Slowthe of which I doute
Mor than of al the remenant
Which is to love appourtenant.
And thus as touchende of Lachesse,
As I have told, I me confesse
To you, mi fader, and beseche
That furthermor ye wol me teche;
And if ther be to this matiere
Som goodly tale for to liere
How I mai do Lachesce aweie,
That ye it wolden telle I preie."
"To wisse thee, my sone, and rede,
Among the tales whiche I rede,
An old ensample therupon
Now herkne, and I wol tellen on.
[The Tale of Aeneas and Dido]
Agein Lachesce in loves cas
I finde how whilom Eneas,
Whom Anchises to sone hadde,
With gret navie, which he ladde
Fro Troie, aryveth at Cartage,
Wher for a while his herbergage
He tok; and it betidde so,
With hire which was qweene tho
Of the cité his aqueintance
He wan, whos name in remembrance
Is yit, and Dido sche was hote,
Which loveth Eneas so hote
Upon the wordes whiche he seide,
That al hire herte on him sche leide
And dede al holi what he wolde.
Bot after that, as it be scholde,
Fro thenne he goth toward Ytaile
Be schipe, and there his arivaile
Hath take, and schop him for to ryde.
Bot sche, which mai noght longe abide
The hote peine of loves throwe,
Anon withinne a litel throwe
A lettre unto hir kniht hath write,
And dede him pleinly for to wite,
If he made eny tariinge,
To drecche of his ageincomynge,
That sche ne mihte him fiele and se,
Sche scholde stonde in such degré
As whilom stod a swan tofore,
Of that sche hadde hire make lore;
For sorwe a fethere into hire brain
She schof and hath hireselve slain:
As king Menander in a lay
The sothe hath founde, wher sche lay
Sprantlende with hire wynges tweie,
As sche which scholde thanne deie
For love of him which was hire make.
'And so schal I do for thi sake,'
This qweene seide, 'wel I wot.'
Lo, to Enee thus sche wrot
With many another word of pleinte.
Bot he, which hadde hise thoghtes feinte
Towardes love and full of Slowthe,
His time lette, and that was rowthe.
For sche, which loveth him tofore,
Desireth evere more and more,
And whan sche sih him tarie so,
Hire herte was so full of wo,
That compleignende manyfold
Sche hath hire oghne tale told
Unto hirself, and thus sche spak:
'Ha, who fond evere such a lak
Of Slowthe in eny worthi kniht?
Now wot I wel my deth is diht
Thurgh him which scholde have be mi lif.'
Bot for to stinten al this strif,
Thus whan sche sih non other bote,
Riht evene unto hire herte rote
A naked swerd anon sche threste,
And thus sche gat hireselve reste
In remembrance of alle slowe.
Wherof, my sone, thou mihte knowe
How tariinge upon the nede
In loves cause is for to drede;
And that hath Dido sore aboght,
Whos deth schal evere be bethoght.
And overmore if I schal seche
In this matiere another spieche,
In a cronique I finde write
A tale which is good to wite.
[The Tale of Ulysses and Penelope]
At Troie whan king Ulixes
Upon the siege among the pres
Of hem that worthi knihtes were
Abod long time stille there,
In thilke time a man mai se
How goodli that Penolope,
Which was to him his trewe wif,
Of his Lachesce was pleintif;
Wherof to Troie sche him sende
Hire will be lettre, thus spekende:
'Mi worthi love and lord also,
It is and hath ben evere so,
That wher a womman is alone,
It makth a man in his persone
The more hardi for to wowe,
In hope that sche wolde bowe
To such thing as his wille were,
Whil that hire lord were elleswhere.
And of miself I telle this:
For it so longe passed is,
Sithe ferst than ye fro home wente,
That welnyh every man his wente
To there I am, whil ye ben oute,
Hath mad, and ech of hem aboute,
Which love can, my love secheth,
With gret preiere and me besecheth.
And some maken gret manace,
That if thei mihten come in place
Wher that thei mihte here wille have,
Ther is nothing me scholde save,
That thei ne wolde werche thinges;
And some tellen me tidynges
That ye ben ded, and some sein
That certeinly ye ben besein
To love a newe and leve me.
Bot hou as evere that it be,
I thonke unto the goddes alle,
As yit for oght that is befalle
Mai no man do my chekes rede.
Bot natheles it is to drede,
That Lachesce in continuance
Fortune mihte such a chance,
Which no man after scholde amende.'
Lo, thus this ladi compleignende
A lettre unto hire lord hath write,
And preyde him that he wolde wite
And thenke hou that sche was al his,
And that he tarie noght in this,
Bot that he wolde his love aquite,
To hire ageinward and noght wryte
Bot come himself in alle haste,
That he non other paper waste,
So that he kepe and holde his trowthe
Withoute lette of eny Slowthe.
Unto hire lord and love liege
To Troie, wher the grete siege
Was leid, this lettre was conveied.
And he, which wisdom hath pourveied
Of al that to reson belongeth,
With gentil herte it underfongeth.
And whan he hath it overrad,
In part he was riht inly glad,
And ek in part he was desesed.
Bot love his herte hath so thorghsesed
With pure ymaginacioun,
That for non occupacioun
Which he can take on other side,
He mai noght flitt his herte aside
Fro that his wif him hadde enformed;
Wherof he hath himself conformed
With al the wille of his corage
To schape and take the viage
Homward, what time that he mai,
So that him thenketh of a day
A thousand yer, til he mai se
The visage of Penolope,
Which he desireth most of alle.
And whan the time is so befalle
That Troie was destruid and brent,
He made non delaiement,
Bot goth him home in alle hihe,
Wher that he fond tofore his yhe
His worthi wif in good astat.
And thus was cessed the debat
Of love, and Slowthe was excused,
Which doth gret harm, where it is used,
And hindreth many a cause honeste.
[The Great Clerk Grosseteste]
For of the grete clerc Grossteste
I rede how besy that he was
Upon clergie an hed of bras
To forge, and make it for to telle
Of suche thinges as befelle.
And sevene yeres besinesse
He leyde, bot for the Lachesse,
Of half a minut of an houre,
Fro ferst that he began laboure
He loste all that he hadde do.
And otherwhile it fareth so,
In loves cause who is slow,
That he withoute under the wow
Be nyhte stant fulofte acold,
Which mihte if that he hadde wold
His time kept, have be withinne.
[The Foolish Virgins]
Bot Slowthe mai no profit winne,
Bot he mai singe in his karole
How Latewar cam to the dole,2
Wher he no good receive mihte.
And that was proved wel be nyhte
Whilom of the maidenes fyve,
Whan thilke lord cam for to wyve.
For that here oyle was aweie
To lihte here lampes in his weie,
Here Slowthe broghte it so aboute,
Fro him that thei ben schet withoute.
Wherof, my sone, be thou war,
Als ferforth as I telle dar.
For love moste ben awaited.
And if thou be noght wel affaited
In love to eschuie Slowthe,
Mi sone, for to telle trowthe,
Thou miht noght of thiself ben able
To winne love or make it stable,
Althogh thou mihtest love achieve."
"Mi fader, that I mai wel lieve.
Bot me was nevere assigned place,
Wher yit to geten eny grace,
Ne me was non such time apointed;
For thanne I wolde I were unjoynted
Of every lime that I have,
If I ne scholde kepe and save
Min houre bothe and ek my stede,
If my ladi it hadde bede.
Bot sche is otherwise avised
Than grante such a time assised;
And natheles of mi lachesse
Ther hath be no defalte I gesse
Of time lost, if that I mihte.
Bot yit hire liketh noght alyhte
Upon no lure which I caste;
For ay the more I crie faste,
The lasse hire liketh for to hiere.
So for to speke of this matiere,
I seche that I mai noght finde,
I haste, and evere I am behinde,
And wot noght what it mai amounte.
Bot, fader, upon myn acompte,
Which ye be sett to examine
Of schrifte after the discipline,
Sey what your beste conseil is."
"Mi sone, my conseil is this:
How so it stonde of time go,
Do forth thi besinesse so,
That no Lachesce in thee be founde.
For Slowthe is mihti to confounde
The spied of every mannes werk.
For many a vice, as seith the clerk,
Ther hongen upon Slowthes lappe
Of suche as make a man mishappe,
To pleigne and telle of 'hadde I wist.'
And therupon if that thee list
To knowe of Slowthes cause more,
In special yit overmore
Ther is a vice full grevable
To him which is therof coupable,
And stant of alle vertu bare,
Hierafter as I schal declare."
Qui nichil attemptat, nichil expedit, oreque muto
Munus Amicicie vir sibi raro capit.
Est modus in verbis, set ei qui parcit amori
Verba referre sua, non fauet vllus amor.3
"Touchende of Slowthe in his degré,
Ther is yit Pusillamité,
Which is to seie in this langage,
He that hath litel of corage
And dar no mannes werk beginne.
So mai he noght be resoun winne;
For who that noght dar undertake,
Be riht he schal no profit take.
Bot of this vice the nature
Dar nothing sette in aventure,
Him lacketh bothe word and dede,
Wherof he scholde his cause spede.
He woll no manhed understonde,
For evere he hath drede upon honde.
Al is peril that he schal seie,
Him thenkth the wolf is in the weie,
And of ymaginacioun
He makth his excusacioun
And feigneth cause of pure drede,
And evere he faileth ate nede,
Til al be spilt that he with deleth.
He hath the sor which no man heleth,
The which is cleped lack of herte.
Thogh every grace aboute him sterte,
He wol noght ones stere his fot;
So that be resoun lese he mot,
That wol noght auntre for to winne.
And so forth, sone, if we beginne
To speke of love and his servise,
Ther ben truantz in such a wise
That lacken herte, whan best were
To speke of love, and riht for fere
Thei wexen doumb and dar noght telle,
Withoute soun as doth the belle
Which hath no claper for to chyme.
And riht so thei as for the tyme
Ben herteles withoute speche,
Of love and dar nothing beseche;
And thus thei lese and winne noght.
Forthi, my sone, if thou art oght
Coupable as touchende of this Slowthe,
Schrif thee therof and tell me trowthe."
"Mi fader, I am al beknowe
That I have ben on of tho slowe,
As for to telle in loves cas.
Min herte is yit and evere was,
As thogh the world scholde al tobreke,
So ferful, that I dar noght speke
Of what pourpos that I have nome,
Whan I toward mi ladi come,
Bot let it passe and overgo."
"Mi sone, do no more so!
For after that a man poursuieth
To love, so fortune suieth
Fulofte and gifth hire happi chance
To him which makth continuance
To preie love and to beseche;
As be ensample I schal thee teche.
[Pygmalion and his Statue]
I finde hou whilom ther was on,
Whos name was Pymaleon,
Which was a lusti man of yowthe.
The werkes of entaile he cowthe
Above alle othre men as tho;
And thurgh fortune it fell him so,
As he whom love schal travaile,
He made an ymage of entaile
Lich to a womman in semblance
Of feture and of contienance,
So fair yit nevere was figure.
Riht as a lyves creature
Sche semeth, for of yvor whyt
He hath hire wroght of such delit,
That sche was rody on the cheke
And red on bohe hire lippes eke;
Wherof that he himself beguileth.
For with a goodly lok sche smyleth,
So that thurgh pure impression
Of his ymaginacion
With al the herte of his corage
His love upon this faire ymage
He sette, and hire of love preide;
Bot sche no word ageinward seide.
The longe day, what thing he dede,
This ymage in the same stede
Was evere bi, that ate mete
He wolde hire serve and preide hire ete,
And putte unto hire mowth the cuppe.
And whan the bord was taken uppe,
He hath hire into chambre nome,
And after, whan the nyht was come,
He leide hire in his bed al nakid.
He was forwept, he was forwakid,
He keste hire colde lippes ofte,
And wissheth that thei weren softe,
And ofte he rouneth in hire ere,
And ofte his arm now hier now there
He leide, as he hir wolde embrace,
And evere among he axeth grace,
As thogh sche wiste what he mente.
And thus himself he gan tormente
With such desese of loves peine,
That no man mihte him more peine.
Bot how it were, of his penance
He made such continuance
Fro dai to nyht, and preith so longe,
That his preiere is underfonge,
Which Venus of hire grace herde;
By nyhte and whan that he worst ferde,
And it lay in his nakede arm,
The colde ymage he fieleth warm
Of fleissh and bon and full of lif.
Lo, thus he wan a lusti wif,
Which obeissant was at his wille;
And if he wolde have holde him stille
And nothing spoke, he scholde have failed.
Bot for he hath his word travailed
And dorste speke, his love he spedde,
And hadde al that he wolde abedde.
For er thei wente thanne atwo,
A knave child betwen hem two
Thei gete, which was after hote
Paphus, of whom yit hath the note
A certein yle, which Paphos
Men clepe, and of his name it ros.
Be this ensample thou miht finde
That word mai worche above kinde.
Forthi, my sone, if that thou spare
To speke, lost is al thi fare,
For Slowthe bringth in alle wo.
And over this to loke also,
The god of love is favorable
To hem that ben of love stable,
And many a wonder hath befalle.
Wherof to speke amonges alle,
If that thee list to taken hede,
Therof a solein tale I rede,
Which I schal telle in remembraunce
Upon the sort of loves chaunce.
[The Tale of Iphis and Iante]
The king Ligdus upon a strif
Spak unto Thelacuse his wif,
Which thanne was with childe grete;
He swor it scholde noght be lete
That if sche have a dowhter bore
That it ne scholde be forlore
And slain, wherof sche sory was.
So it befell upon this cas,
Whan sche delivered scholde be,
Isis be nyhte in priveté,
Which of childinge is the goddesse,
Cam for to helpe in that destresse,
Til that this lady was al smal,
And hadde a dowhter forthwithal;
Which the goddesse in alle weie
Bad kepe, and that thei scholden seie
It were a sone: and thus Iphis
Thei namede him, and upon this
The fader was mad so to wene.
And thus in chambre with the qweene
This Iphis was forthdrawe tho,
And clothed and arraied so
Riht as a kinges sone scholde.
Til after, as fortune it wolde,
Whan it was of a ten yer age,
Him was betake in mariage
A duckes dowhter for to wedde,
Which Iante hihte, and ofte abedde
These children leien, sche and sche,
Which of on age bothe be.
So that withinne time of yeeres,
Togedre as thei ben pleiefieres,
Liggende abedde upon a nyht,
Nature, which doth every wiht
Upon hire lawe for to muse,
Constreigneth hem, so that thei use
Thing which to hem was al unknowe;
Wherof Cupide thilke throwe
Tok pité for the grete love,
And let do sette kinde above,
So that hir lawe mai ben used,
And thei upon here lust excused.
For love hateth nothing more
Than thing which stant agein the lore
Of that nature in kinde hath sett.
Forthi Cupide hath so besett
His grace upon this aventure,
That he acordant to nature,
Whan that he syh the time best,
That ech of hem hath other kest,
Transformeth Iphe into a man,
Wherof the kinde love he wan
Of lusti yonge Iante his wif;
And tho thei ladde a merie lif,
Which was to kinde non offence.
And thus to take an evidence,
It semeth love is welwillende
To hem that ben continuende
With besy herte to poursuie
Thing which that is to love due.
Wherof, my sone, in this matiere
Thou miht ensample taken hiere,
That with thi grete besinesse
Thou mihte atteigne the richesse
Of love, if that ther be no Slowthe."
"I dar wel seie be mi trowthe,
Als fer as I my witt can seche,
Mi fader, as for lacke of speche,
Bot so as I me schrof tofore,
Ther is non other time lore,
Wherof ther mihte ben obstacle
To lette love of his miracle,
Which I beseche day and nyht.
Bot, fader, so as it is riht
In forme of schrifte to beknowe
What thing belongeth to the slowe,
Your faderhode I wolde preie,
If ther be forthere eny weie
Touchende unto this ilke vice."
"Mi sone, ye, of this office
Ther serveth on in special,
Which lost hath his memorial,
So that he can no wit withholde
In thing which he to kepe is holde,
Wherof fulofte himself he grieveth:
And who that most upon him lieveth,
Whan that hise wittes ben so weyved,
He mai full lihtly be deceived."
Mentibus oblitus alienis labitur ille,
Quem probat accidia non meminisse sui.
Sic amor incautus, qui non memoratur ad horas,
Perdit et offendit, quod cuperare nequit.4
"To serve Accidie in his office,
Ther is of Slowthe an other vice,
Which cleped is Forgetelnesse;
That noght mai in his herte impresse
Of vertu which reson hath sett,
So clene his wittes he forget.
For in the tellinge of his tale
No more his herte thanne his male
Hath remembrance of thilke forme
Wherof he scholde his wit enforme
As thanne, and yit ne wot he why.
Thus is his pourpos noght forthi
Forlore of that he wolde bidde,
And skarsly if he seith the thridde
To love of that he hadde ment.
Thus many a lovere hath be schent.
Tell on therfore, hast thou be oon
Of hem that Slowthe hath so begon?"
"Ye, fader, ofte it hath be so,
That whanne I am mi ladi fro
And thenke untoward hire drawe,
Than cast I many a newe lawe
And al the world torne up so doun,
And so recorde I mi lecoun
And wryte in my memorial
What I to hire telle schal,
Riht al the matiere of mi tale.
Bot al nys worth a note schale;
For whanne I come ther sche is,
I have it al forgete ywiss;
Of that I thoghte for to telle
I can noght thanne unethes spelle
That I wende altherbest have rad,
So sore I am of hire adrad.
For as a man that sodeinli
A gost behelde, so fare I;
So that for feere I can noght gete
Mi witt, bot I miself forgete,
That I wot nevere what I am,
Ne whider I schal, ne whenne I cam,
Bot muse as he that were amased.
Lich to the bok in which is rased
The lettre, and mai nothing be rad,
So ben my wittes overlad,
That what as evere I thoghte have spoken,
It is out fro myn herte stoken,
And stonde, as who seith, doumb and def,
That al nys worth an yvy lef,
Of that I wende wel have seid.
And ate laste I make abreid,
Caste up myn hed and loke aboute,
Riht as a man that were in doute
And wot noght wher he schal become.
Thus am I ofte al overcome,
Ther as I wende best to stonde.
Bot after, whanne I understonde,
And am in other place alone,
I make many a wofull mone
Unto miself, and speke so:
'Ha fol, wher was thin herte tho,
Whan thou thi worthi ladi syhe?
Were thou afered of hire yhe?
For of hire hand ther is no drede.
So wel I knowe hir wommanhede,
That in hire is no more oultrage
Than in a child of thre yeer age.
Whi hast thou drede of so good on,
Whom alle vertu hath begon,
That in hire is no violence
Bot goodlihiede and innocence
Withouten spot of eny blame?
Ha, nyce herte, fy for schame!
Ha, couard herte of love unlered,
Wherof art thou so sore afered,
That thou thi tunge soffrest frese,
And wolt thi goode wordes lese,
Whan thou hast founde time and space?
How scholdest thou deserve grace,
Whan thou thiself darst axe non,
Bot al thou hast forgete anon?'
And thus despute I loves lore,
Bot help ne finde I noght the more,
Bot stomble upon myn oghne treine
And make an ekinge of my peine.
For evere whan I thenke among
How al is on miself along,
I seie, 'O fol of alle foles,
Thou farst as he betwen tuo stoles
That wolde sitte and goth to grounde.
It was ne nevere schal be founde,
Betwen forgetelnesse and drede
That man scholde any cause spede.'
And thus, myn holi fader diere,
Toward miself, as ye mai hiere,
I pleigne of my forgetelnesse.
Bot elles al the besinesse
That mai be take of mannes thoght,
Min herte takth, and is thorghsoght
To thenken evere upon that swete
Withoute Slowthe, I you behete.
For what so falle, or wel or wo,
That thoght forgete I neveremo,
Wher so I lawhe or so I loure,
Noght half the minut of an houre
Ne mihte I lete out of my mende,
Bot if I thoghte upon that hende.
Therof me schal no Slowthe lette
Til deth out of this world me fette,
Althogh I hadde on such a ring
As Moises thurgh his enchanting
Somtime in Ethiope made,
Whan that he Tharbis weddid hade.
Which ring bar of Oblivion
The name, and that was be resoun
That where it on a finger sat,
Anon his love he so forgat,
As thogh he hadde it nevere knowe.
And so it fell that ilke throwe,
Whan Tharbis hadde it on hire hond,
No knowlechinge of him sche fond,
Bot al was clene out of memoire,
As men mai rede in his histoire.
And thus he wente quit away,
That nevere after that ilke day
Sche thoghte that ther was such on;
Al was forgete and overgon.
Bot in good feith so mai noght I,
For sche is evere faste by,
So nyh that sche myn herte toucheth,
That for nothing that Slowthe voucheth
I mai forgete hire, lief ne loth.
For overal, where as sche goth,
Min herte folwith hire aboute.
Thus mai I seie withoute doute,
For bet for wers, for oght for noght,
Sche passeth nevere fro my thoght.
Bot whanne I am ther as sche is,
Min herte, as I you saide er this,
Somtime of hire is sore adrad,
And somtime it is overglad,
Al out of reule and out of space.
For whan I se hire goodli face
And thenke upon hire hihe pris,
As thogh I were in Paradis,
I am so ravisht of the syhte,
To speke unto hire I ne myhte
As for the time, thogh I wolde.
For I ne mai my wit unfolde
To finde o word of that I mene,
Bot al it is forgete clene;
And thogh I stonde there a myle,
Al is forgete for the while:
A tunge I have and wordes none.
And thus I stonde and thenke alone
Of thing that helpeth ofte noght;
Bot what I hadde afore thoght
To speke, whanne I come there
It is forgete, as noght ne were,
And stonde amased and assoted,
That of nothing which I have noted
I can noght thanne a note singe,
Bot al is out of knowlechinge.
Thus, what for joie and what for drede,
Al is forgeten ate nede.
So that, mi fader, of this Slowthe
I have you said the pleine trowthe;
Ye mai it as you list redresce.
For thus stant my forgetelnesse
And ek my pusillamité.
Sey now forth what you list to me,
For I wol only do be you."
"Mi sone, I have wel herd how thou
Hast seid, and that thou most amende:
For love his grace wol noght sende
To that man which dar axe non.
For this we knowen everichon,
A mannes thoght withoute speche
God wot, and yit that men beseche
His will is; for withoute bedes
He doth His grace in fewe stedes:
And what man that forget himselve,
Among a thousand be noght tuelve
That wol Him take in remembraunce,
Bot lete him falle and take his chaunce.
Forthi pull up a besi herte,
Mi sone, and let nothing asterte
Of love fro thi besinesse.
For touchinge of Forgetelnesse,
Which many a love hath set behinde,
A tale of gret ensample I finde,
Wherof it is pité to wite
In the manere as it is write.
[Tale of Demophon and Phyllis]
King Demephon, whan he be schipe
To Troieward with felaschipe
Sailende goth, upon his weie
It hapneth him at Rodopeie,
As Eolus him hadde blowe,
To londe, and rested for a throwe.
And fell that ilke time thus,
The dowhter of Ligurgius,
Which qweene was of the contré,
Was sojournende in that cité
Withinne a castell nyh the stronde,
Wher Demephon cam up to londe.
Phillis sche hihte, and of yong age
And of stature and of visage
Sche hadde al that hire best besemeth.
Of Demephon riht wel hire qwemeth,
Whan he was come, and made him chiere;
And he, that was of his manere
A lusti knyht, ne myhte asterte
That he ne sette on hire his herte;
So that withinne a day or tuo
He thoghte, howevere that it go,
He wolde assaie the fortune,
And gan his herte to commune
With goodly wordes in hire ere;
And for to put hire out of fere,
He swor and hath his trowthe pliht
To be forevere hire oghne knyht.
And thus with hire he stille abod,
Ther while his schip on anker rod,
And hadde ynowh of time and space
To speke of love and seche grace.
This ladi herde al that he seide,
And hou he swor and hou he preide,
Which was as an enchantement
To hire, that was innocent.
As thogh it were trowthe and feith
Sche lieveth al that evere he seith,
And as hire infortune scholde,
Sche granteth him al that he wolde.
Thus was he for the time in joie,
Til that he scholde go to Troie.
Bot tho sche made mochel sorwe,
And he his trowthe leith to borwe
To come, if that he live may,
Agein withinne a monthe day,
And therupon thei kisten bothe.
Bot were hem lieve or were hem lothe,
To schipe he goth and forth he wente
To Troie, as was his ferste entente.
The daies gon, the monthe passeth,
Hire love encresceth and his lasseth,
For him sche lefte slep and mete.
And he his time hath al forgete,
So that this wofull yonge qweene,
Which wot noght what it mihte meene,
A lettre sende and preide him come,
And seith how sche is overcome
With strengthe of love in such a wise
That sche noght longe mai suffise
To liven out of his presence;
And putte upon his conscience
The trowthe which he hath behote,
Wherof sche loveth him so hote,
Sche seith, that if he lengere lette
Of such a day as sche him sette,
Sche scholde sterven in his Slowthe,
Which were a schame unto his trowthe.
This lettre is forth upon hire sonde,
Wherof somdiel confort on honde
Sche tok, as sche that wolde abide
And waite upon that ilke tyde
Which sche hath in hire lettre write.
Bot now is pité for to wite,
As he dede erst, so he forgat
His time eftsone and oversat.
Bot sche, which mihte noght do so,
The tyde awayteth everemo,
And caste hire yhe upon the see.
Somtime nay, somtime yee,
Somtime he cam, somtime noght,
Thus sche desputeth in hire thoght
And wot noght what sche thenke mai.
Bot fastende al the longe day
Sche was into the derke nyht,
And tho sche hath do set up lyht
In a lanterne on hih alofte
Upon a tour, wher sche goth ofte,
In hope that in his cominge
He scholde se the liht brenninge,
Wherof he mihte his weies rihte
To come wher sche was be nyhte.
Bot al for noght, sche was deceived,
For Venus hath hire hope weyved,
And schewede hire upon the sky
How that the day was faste by,
So that withinne a litel throwe
The daies lyht sche mihte knowe.
Tho sche behield the see at large,
And whan sche sih ther was no barge
Ne schip, als ferr as sche may kenne,
Doun fro the tour sche gan to renne
Into an herber al hire one,
Wher many a wonder woful mone
Sche made, that no lif it wiste,
As sche which al hire joie miste,
That now sche swouneth, now sche pleigneth,
And al hire face sche desteigneth
With teres, whiche, as of a welle
The stremes from hire yhen felle;
So as sche mihte and evere in on
Sche clepede upon Demephon,
And seide, 'Helas, thou slowe wiht,
Wher was ther evere such a knyht,
That so thurgh his ungentilesce
Of Slowthe and of Forgetelnesce
Agein his trowthe brak his stevene?'
And tho hire yhe up to the hevene
Sche caste, and seide, 'O thou unkinde,
Hier schalt thou thurgh thi Slowthe finde,
If that thee list to come and se,
A ladi ded for love of thee,
So as I schal myselve spille;
Whom, if it hadde be thi wille,
Thou mihtest save wel ynowh.'
With that upon a grene bowh
A ceinte of selk, which sche ther hadde,
Sche knette, and so hireself sche ladde,
That sche aboute hire whyte swere
It dede, and hyng hirselven there.
Wherof the goddes were amoeved,
And Demephon was so reproeved,
That of the goddes providence
Was schape such an evidence
Evere afterward agein the slowe,
That Phillis in the same throwe
Was schape into a notetre,
That alle men it mihte se,
And after Phillis philliberd
This tre was cleped in the yerd,
And yit for Demephon to schame
Into this dai it berth the name.
This wofull chance how that it ferde
Anon as Demephon it herde,
And every man it hadde in speche,
His sorwe was noght tho to seche;
He gan his Slowthe for to banne,
Bot it was al to late thanne.
Lo thus, my sone, miht thou wite
Agein this vice how it is write;
For no man mai the harmes gesse,
That fallen thurgh Forgetelnesse,
Wherof that I thi schrifte have herd.
Bot yit of Slowthe hou it hath ferd
In other wise I thenke oppose,
If thou have gult, as I suppose."
Dum plantare licet, cultor qui necgligit ortum,
Si desint fructus, imputet ipse sibi.
Preterit ista dies bona, nec valet illa secunda,
Hoc caret exemplo lentus amore suo.5
"Fulfild of Slowthes essamplaire
Ther is yit on, his secretaire,
And he is cleped Negligence,
Which wol noght loke his evidence,
Wherof he mai be war tofore;
Bot whanne he hath his cause lore,
Thanne is he wys after the hond,
Whanne helpe may no maner bond.
Thanne ate ferste wolde he binde:
Thus everemore he stant behinde.
Whanne he the thing mai noght amende,
Thanne is he war, and seith at ende,
'Ha, wolde God I hadde knowe!'
Wherof bejaped with a mowe
He goth, for whan the grete stiede
Is stole, thanne he taketh hiede,
And makth the stable dore fast.
Thus evere he pleith an aftercast
Of al that he schal seie or do.
He hath a manere eke also,
Him list noght lerne to be wys,
For he set of no vertu pris
Bot as him liketh for the while;
So fieleth he fulofte guile,
Whan that he weneth siker stonde.
And thus thou miht wel understonde,
Mi sone, if thou art such in love,
Thou miht noght come at thin above
Of that thou woldest wel achieve."
"Mi holi fader, as I lieve,
I mai wel with sauf conscience
Excuse me of necgligence
Towardes love in alle wise.
For thogh I be non of the wise,
I am so trewly amerous,
That I am evere curious
Of hem that conne best enforme
To knowe and witen al the forme
What falleth unto loves craft.
Bot yit ne fond I noght the haft
Which mihte unto that bladd acorde;
For nevere herde I man recorde
What thing it is that myhte availe
To winne love withoute faile.
Yit so fer cowthe I nevere finde
Man that be resoun ne be kinde
Me cowthe teche such an art,
That he ne failede of a part;
And as toward myn oghne wit,
Controeve cowthe I nevere yit
To finden eny sikernesse
That me myhte outher more or lesse
Of love make for to spede.
For lieveth wel withoute drede,
If that ther were such a weie,
As certeinliche as I schal deie
I hadde it lerned longe ago.
Bot I wot wel ther is non so.
And natheles it may wel be,
I am so rude in my degree
And ek mi wittes ben so dulle,
That I ne mai noght to the fulle
Atteigne to so hih a lore.
Bot this I dar seie overmore,
Althogh mi Wit ne be noght strong,
It is noght on mi Will along,
For that is besi nyht and day
To lerne al that he lerne may
How that I mihte love winne.
Bot yit I am as to beginne
Of that I wolde make an ende,
And for I not how it schal wende,
That is to me mi moste sorwe.
Bot I dar take God to borwe,
As after min entendement,
Non other wise necgligent
Thanne I yow seie have I noght be.
Forthi, per seinte charité,
Tell me, mi fader, what you semeth."
"In good feith, sone, wel me qwemeth,
That thou thiself hast thus aquit
Toward this vice, in which no wit
Abide mai, for in an houre
He lest al that he mai laboure
The longe yer, so that men sein,
Whatevere he doth it is in vein.
For thurgh the Slowthe of Negligence
Ther was yit nevere such science
Ne vertu, which was bodely,
That nys destruid and lost therby.
Ensample that it hath be so
In boke I finde write also.
[The Tale of Phaeton]
Phebus, which is the sonne hote,
That schyneth upon erthe hote
And causeth every lyves helthe,
He hadde a sone in al his welthe,
Which Pheton hihte, and he desireth
And with his moder he conspireth,
The which was cleped Clemenee,
For help and conseil, so that he
His fader carte lede myhte
Upon the faire daies brihte.
And for this thing thei bothe preide
Unto the fader, and he seide
He wolde wel, bot forth withal
Thre pointz he bad in special
Unto his sone in alle wise,
That he him scholde wel avise
And take it as be weie of lore.
Ferst was, that he his hors to sore
Ne prike, and over that he tolde
That he the renes faste holde;
And also that he be riht war
In what manere he lede his charr,
That he mistake noght his gate,
Bot up avisement algate
He scholde bere a siker yhe
That he to lowe ne to hyhe
His carte dryve at eny throwe,
Wherof that he mihte overthrowe.
And thus be Phebus ordinance
Tok Pheton into governance
The sonnes carte, which he ladde.
Bot he such veine gloire hadde
Of that he was set upon hyh,
That he his oghne astat ne syh
Thurgh negligence and tok non hiede;
So mihte he wel noght longe spede.
For he the hors withoute lawe
The carte let aboute drawe
Wher as hem liketh wantounly.
That ate laste sodeinly,
For he no reson wolde knowe,
This fyri carte he drof to lowe,
And fyreth al the world aboute;
Wherof thei weren alle in doubte,
And to the god for helpe criden
Of suche unhappes as betyden.
Phebus, which syh the necgligence,
How Pheton agein his defence
His charr hath drive out of the weie,
Ordeigneth that he fell aweie
Out of the carte into a flod
And dreynte. Lo now, hou it stod
With him that was so necligent,
That fro the hyhe firmament,
For that he wolde go to lowe,
He was anon doun overthrowe.
[The Tale of Icarus]
In hih astat it is a vice
To go to lowe, and in service
It grieveth for to go to hye,
Wherof a tale in poesie
I finde, how whilom Dedalus,
Which hadde a sone, and Icharus
He hihte, and thogh hem thoghte lothe,
In such prison thei weren bothe
With Minotaurus, that aboute
Thei mihten nawher wenden oute;
So thei begonne for to schape
How thei the prison mihte ascape.
This Dedalus, which fro his yowthe
Was tawht and manye craftes cowthe,
Of fetheres and of othre thinges
Hath mad to fle diverse wynges
For him and for his sone also;
To whom he gaf in charge tho
And bad him thenke therupon,
How that his wynges ben set on
With wex, and if he toke his flyhte
To hyhe, al sodeinliche he mihte
Make it to melte with the sonne.
And thus thei have her flyht begonne
Out of the prison faire and softe;
And whan thei weren bothe alofte,
This Icharus began to monte,
And of the conseil non accompte
He sette, which his fader tawhte,
Til that the sonne his wynges cawhte,
Wherof it malt, and fro the heihte
Withouten help of eny sleihte
He fell to his destruccion.
And lich to that condicion
Ther fallen ofte times fele
For lacke of governance in wele,
Als wel in love as other weie."
"Now goode fader, I you preie,
If ther be more in the matiere
Of Slowthe, that I mihte it hiere."
"Mi sone, and for thi diligence,
Which every mannes conscience
Be resoun scholde reule and kepe,
If that thee list to taken kepe,
I wol thee telle, aboven alle
In whom no vertu mai befalle,
Which gifth unto the vices reste
And is of slowe the sloweste."
Absque labore vagus vir inutilis ocia plectens,
Nescio quid presens vita valebit ei.
Non amor in tali misero viget, immo valoris
Qui faciunt opera clamat habere suos.6
"Among these othre of Slowthes kinde,
Which alle labour set behinde,
And hateth alle besinesse,
Ther is yit on, which Ydelnesse
Is cleped, and is the norrice
In mannes kinde of every vice,
Which secheth eases manyfold.
In wynter doth he noght for cold,
In somer mai he noght for hete;
So whether that he frese or swete,
Or he be inne, or he be oute,
He wol ben ydel al aboute,
Bot if he pleie oght ate dees.
For who as evere take fees
And thenkth worschipe to deserve,
Ther is no lord whom he wol serve,
As for to duelle in his servise,
Bot if it were in such a wise,
Of that he seth per aventure
That be lordschipe and coverture
He mai the more stonde stille,
And use his ydelnesse at wille.
For he ne wol no travail take
To ryde for his ladi sake,
Bot liveth al upon his wisshes;
And as a cat wolde ete fisshes
Withoute wetinge of his cles,
So wolde he do, bot natheles
He faileth ofte of that he wolde.
Mi sone, if thou of such a molde
Art mad, now tell me plein thi schrifte."
"Nay, fader, God I give a gifte,
That toward love, as be mi wit,
Al ydel was I nevere yit,
Ne nevere schal, whil I mai go."
"Now, sone, tell me thanne so,
What hast thou don of besischipe
To love and to the ladischipe
Of hire which thi ladi is?"
"Mi fader, evere yit er this
In every place, in every stede,
What so mi lady hath me bede,
With al myn herte obedient
I have therto be diligent.
And if so is sche bidde noght,
What thing that thanne into my thoght
Comth ferst of that I mai suffise,
I bowe and profre my servise,
Somtime in chambre, somtime in halle,
Riht as I se the times falle.
And whan sche goth to hiere masse,
That time schal noght overpasse,
That I naproche hir ladihede,
In aunter if I mai hire lede
Unto the chapelle and agein.
Thanne is noght al mi weie in vein:
Somdiel I mai the betre fare,
Whan I, that mai noght fiele hir bare,
Mai lede hire clothed in myn arm.
Bot afterward it doth me harm
Of pure ymaginacioun;
For thanne this collacioun
I make unto miselven ofte,
And seie, 'Ha lord, hou sche is softe,
How sche is round, hou sche is smal!
Now wolde God I hadde hire al
Withoute danger at mi wille!'
And thanne I sike and sitte stille,
Of that I se mi besi thoght
Is torned ydel into noght.
Bot for al that lete I ne mai,
Whanne I se time another dai,
That I ne do my besinesse
Unto mi ladi worthinesse.
For I therto mi wit afaite
To se the times and awaite
What is to done and what to leve.
And so, whan time is, be hir leve,
What thing sche bit me don, I do,
And wher sche bidt me gon, I go,
And whanne hir list to clepe, I come.
Thus hath sche fulliche overcome
Min ydelnesse til I sterve,
So that I mot hire nedes serve,
For as men sein, nede hath no lawe.
Thus mot I nedly to hire drawe,
I serve, I bowe, I loke, I loute,
Min yhe folweth hire aboute,
What so sche wole so wol I,
Whan sche wol sitte, I knele by,
And whan sche stant, than wol I stonde.
Bot whan sche takth hir werk on honde
Of wevinge or enbrouderie,
Than can I noght bot muse and prie
Upon hir fingres longe and smale,
And now I thenke, and now I tale,
And now I singe, and now I sike,
And thus mi contienance I pike.
And if it falle, as for a time
Hir liketh noght abide bi me,
Bot besien hire on other thinges,
Than make I othre tariinges
To dreche forth the longe dai,
For me is loth departe away.
And thanne I am so simple of port,
That for to feigne som desport
I pleie with hire litel hound
Now on the bedd, now on the ground,
Now with hir briddes in the cage;
For ther is non so litel page,
Ne yit so simple a chamberere,
That I ne make hem alle chere,
Al for thei scholde speke wel.
Thus mow ye sen mi besi whiel,
That goth noght ydeliche aboute.
And if hir list to riden oute
On pelrinage or other stede,
I come, thogh I be noght bede,
And take hire in min arm alofte
And sette hire in hire sadel softe,
And so forth lede hire be the bridel,
For that I wolde noght ben ydel.
And if hire list to ride in char,
And thanne I mai therof be war,
Anon I schape me to ryde
Riht evene be the chares side;
And as I mai, I speke among,
And otherwhile I singe a song,
Which Ovide in his bokes made,
And seide, 'O whiche sorwes glade,
O which wofull prosperité
Belongeth to the propreté
Of love, whoso wole him serve!
And yit therfro mai no man swerve,
That he ne mot his lawe obeie.'
And thus I ryde forth mi weie,
And am riht besi overal
With herte and with mi body al,
As I have said you hiertofore.
Mi goode fader, tell therfore,
Of Ydelnesse if I have gilt."
"Mi sone, bot thou telle wilt
Oght elles than I mai now hiere,
Thou schalt have no penance hiere.
And natheles a man mai se,
How now adayes that ther be
Ful manye of suche hertes slowe,
That wol noght besien hem to knowe
What thing love is til, ate laste,
That he with strengthe hem overcaste,
That malgré hem thei mote obeie
And don al ydelschipe aweie,
To serve wel and besiliche.
Bot, sone, thou art non of swiche,
For love schal thee wel excuse.
Bot otherwise, if thou refuse
To love, thou miht so per cas
Ben ydel, as somtime was
A kinges dowhter unavised,
Til that Cupide hire hath chastised,
Wherof thou schalt a tale hiere
Acordant unto this matiere.
[The Tale of Rosiphelee]
Of Armenye, I rede thus,
Ther was a king, which Herupus
Was hote, and he a lusti maide
To dowhter hadde and, as men saide,
Hire name was Rosiphelee,
Which tho was of gret renomee,
For sche was bothe wys and fair
And scholde ben hire fader hair.
Bot sche hadde o defalte of Slowthe
Towardes love, and that was rowthe;
For so wel cowde no man seie,
Which mihte sette hire in the weie
Of loves occupacion
Thurgh non ymaginacion;
That scole wolde sche noght knowe.
And thus sche was on of the slowe
As of such hertes besinesse,
Til whanne Venus the goddesse,
Which loves court hath for to reule,
Hath broght hire into betre reule
Forth, with Cupide and with his miht.
For thei merveille how such a wiht,
Which tho was in hir lusti age,
Desireth nother mariage
Ne yit the love of paramours,
Which evere hath be the comun cours
Amonges hem that lusti were.
So was it schewed after there,
For he that hihe hertes loweth
With fyri dartes whiche he throweth,
Cupide, which of love is godd,
In chastisinge hath mad a rodd
To dryve awei hir wantounesse;
So that withinne a while, I gesse,
Sche hadde on such a chance sporned,
That al hire mod was overtorned,
Which ferst sche hadde of slow manere.
For thus it fell, as thou schalt hiere,
Whan come was the monthe of Maii,
Sche wolde walke upon a dai,
And that was er the sonne ariste;
Of wommen bot a fewe it wiste,
And forth sche wente prively
Unto the park was faste by,
Al softe walkende on the gras,
Til sche cam ther the launde was
Thurgh which ther ran a gret rivere.
It thoghte hir fair, and seide, 'Here
I wole abide under the schawe,'
And bad hire wommen to withdrawe,
And ther sche stod alone stille,
To thenke what was in hir wille.
Sche sih the swote floures springe,
Sche herde glade foules singe,
Sche sih the bestes in her kinde,
The buck, the do, the hert, the hinde,
The madle go with the femele.
And so began ther a querele
Betwen love and hir oghne herte,
Fro which sche couthe noght asterte.
And as sche caste hire yhe aboute,
Sche syh clad in o suite a route
Of ladis, wher thei comen ryde
Along under the wodes syde.
On faire amblende hors thei sete,
That were al whyte, fatte, and grete,
And everichon thei ride on side.
The sadles were of such a pride,
With perle and gold so wel begon,
So riche syh sche nevere non;
In kertles and in copes riche
Thei weren clothed, alle liche,
Departed evene of whyt and blew;
With alle lustes that sche knew
Thei were enbrouded overal.
Here bodies weren long and smal,
The beauté faye upon her face
Non erthly thing it may desface;
Corones on here hed thei beere,
As ech of hem a qweene weere,
That al the gold of Cresus halle
The leste coronal of alle
Ne mihte have boght after the worth.
Thus come thei ridende forth.
The kinges dowhter, which this syh,
For pure abaissht drowh hire adryh
And hield hire clos under the bowh,
And let hem passen stille ynowh.
For as hire thoghte in hire avis,
To hem that were of such a pris
Sche was noght worthi axen there,
Fro when thei come or what thei were.
Bot levere than this worldes good
Sche wolde have wist hou that it stod,
And putte hire hed a litel oute.
And as sche lokede hire aboute,
Sche syh comende under the linde
A womman up an hors behinde.
The hors on which sche rod was blak,
Al lene and galled on the back,
And haltede, as he were encluyed,
Wherof the womman was annuied.
Thus was the hors in sori plit,
Bot for al that a sterre whit
Amiddes in the front he hadde.
Hir sadel ek was wonder badde,
In which the wofull womman sat,
And natheles ther was with that
A riche bridel for the nones
Of gold and preciouse stones.
Hire cote was somdiel totore;
Aboute hir middel twenty score
Of horse haltres and wel mo
Ther hyngen ate time tho.
Thus whan sche cam the ladi nyh,
Than tok sche betre hiede and syh
This womman fair was of visage,
Freyssh, lusti, yong, and of tendre age.
And so this ladi, ther sche stod,
Bethoghte hire wel and understod
That this, which com ridende tho,
Tidinges couthe telle of tho
Which as sche sih tofore ryde;
And putte hir forth and preide 'Abide!'
And seide, 'Ha, suster, let me hiere,
What ben thei that now riden hiere,
And ben so richeliche arraied?'
This womman, which com so esmaied,
Ansuerde with ful softe speche,
And seith, 'Ma dame, I schal you teche.
These ar of tho that whilom were
Servantz to love, and trowthe beere,
Ther as thei hadde here herte set.
Farewel, for I mai noght be let.
Ma dame, I go to mi servise,
So moste I haste in alle wise;
Forthi, ma dame, gif me leve,
I mai noght longe with you leve.'
'Ha, goode soster, yit I preie,
Tell me whi ye ben so beseie
And with these haltres thus begon."
"Ma dame, whilom I was on
That to mi fader hadde a king;
Bot I was slow, and for nothing
Me liste noght to love obeie,
And that I now ful sore abeie.
For I whilom no love hadde,
Min hors is now so fieble and badde,
And al totore is myn arai,
And every yeer this freisshe Maii
These lusti ladis ryde aboute,
And I mot nedes suie here route
In this manere as ye now se,
And trusse here haltres forth with me,
And am bot as here horse knave.
Non other office I ne have,
Hem thenkth I am worthi no more,
For I was slow in loves lore,
Whan I was able for to lere,
And wolde noght the tales hiere
Of hem that couthen love teche.'
'Now tell me thanne, I you beseche,
Wherof that riche bridel serveth.'
With that hire chere awei sche swerveth,
And gan to wepe, and thus sche tolde:
'This bridel, which ye nou beholde
So riche upon myn horse hed,
Ma dame, afore, er I was ded,
Whan I was in mi lusti lif,
Ther fel into myn herte a strif
Of love, which me overcom,
So that therafter hiede I nom
And thoghte I wolde love a kniht.
That laste wel a fourtenyht,
For it no lengere mihte laste,
So nyh my lif was ate laste.
Bot now, allas, to late war
That I ne hadde him loved ar.
For deth cam so in haste bi me,
Er I therto hadde eny time,
That it ne mihte ben achieved.
Bot for al that I am relieved,
Of that mi will was good therto,
That love soffreth it be so
That I schal swiche a bridel were.
Now have ye herd al myn ansuere.
To Godd, ma dame, I you betake,
And warneth alle, for mi sake,
Of love that thei ben noght ydel,
And bidd hem thenke upon mi brydel.'
And with that word al sodeinly
Sche passeth, as it were a sky,
Al clene out of this ladi sihte.
And tho for fere hire herte afflihte,
And seide to hirself, 'Helas!
I am riht in the same cas.
Bot if I live after this day,
I schal amende it, if I may.'
And thus homward this lady wente,
And changede al hire ferste entente,
Withinne hire herte and gan to swere
That sche none haltres wolde bere.
Lo, sone, hier miht thou taken hiede,
How ydelnesse is for to drede,
Namliche of love, as I have write.
For thou miht understonde and wite,
Among the gentil nacion
Love is an occupacion
Which for to kepe hise lustes save
Scholde every gentil herte have.
For as the ladi was chastised,
Riht so the knyht mai ben avised,
Which ydel is and wol noght serve
To love, he mai per cas deserve
A grettere peine than sche hadde,
Whan sche aboute with hire ladde
The horse haltres; and forthi
Good is to be wel war therbi.
Bot for to loke aboven alle,
These maidens, hou so that it falle,
Thei scholden take ensample of this
Which I have told, for soth it is.
Mi ladi Venus, whom I serve,
What womman wole hire thonk deserve,
Sche mai noght thilke love eschuie
Of paramours, bot sche mot suie
Cupides lawe; and natheles
Men sen such love sielde in pes,
That it nys evere upon aspie
Of janglinge and of fals envie,
Fulofte medlid with disese.
Bot thilke love is wel at ese,
Which set is upon mariage;
For that dar schewen the visage
In alle places openly.
A gret mervaile it is forthi
How that a maiden wolde lette,
That sche hir time ne besette
To haste unto that ilke feste,
Wherof the love is al honeste.
Men mai recovere lost of good,
Bot so wys man yit nevere stod
Which mai recovere time lore.
So mai a maiden wel therfore
Ensample take, of that sche strangeth
Hir love, and longe er that sche changeth
Hir herte upon hir lustes greene
To mariage, as it is seene.
For thus a yer or tuo or thre
Sche lest, er that sche wedded be,
Whyl sche the charge myhte bere
Of children, whiche the world forbere
Ne mai, bot if it scholde faile.
Bot what maiden hire esposaile
Wol tarie, whan sche take mai,
Sche schal per chance another dai
Be let, whan that hire lievest were.
Wherof a tale unto hire ere,
Which is coupable upon this dede
I thenke telle of that I rede.
[The Tale of Jephthah's Daughter]
Among the Jewes, as men tolde
Ther was whilom be daies olde
A noble duck, which Jepté hihte.
And fell, he scholde go to fyhte
Agein Amon, the cruel king.
And for to speke upon this thing,
Withinne his herte he made avou
To God and seide, 'Ha Lord, if Thou
Wolt grante unto Thi man victoire,
I schal in tokne of Thi memoire
The ferste lif that I mai se,
Of man or womman wher it be,
Anon as I come hom agein,
To Thee, which art God sovereign,
Slen in Thi name and sacrifie.'
And thus with his chivalerie
He goth him forth, wher that he scholde,
And wan al that he winne wolde
And overcam his fomen alle.
Mai no man lette that schal falle.
This duc a lusti dowhter hadde,
And fame, which the wordes spradde,
Hath broght unto this ladi ere
How that hire fader hath do there.
Sche waiteth upon his cominge
With dansinge and with carolinge,
As sche that wolde be tofore
Al othre, and so sche was therfore
In Masphat at hir fader gate
The ferste; and whan he com therate,
And sih his douhter, he tobreide
Hise clothes, and wepende he seide:
'O mihti God among ous hiere,
Nou wot I that in no manere
This worldes joie mai be plein.
I hadde al that I coude sein
Agein mi fomen be Thi grace,
So whan I cam toward this place
Ther was non gladdere man than I.
But now, mi Lord, al sodeinli
Mi joie is torned into sorwe,
For I mi dowhter schal tomorwe
Tohewe and brenne in Thi servise
To loenge of Thi sacrifise
Thurgh min avou, so as it is.'
The maiden, whan sche wiste of this,
And sih the sorwe hir fader made,
So as sche mai with wordes glade
Conforteth him, and bad him holde
The covenant which he is holde
Towardes God, as he behihte.
Bot natheles hire herte aflihte
Of that sche sih hire deth comende;
And thanne unto the ground knelende
Tofore hir fader sche is falle,
And seith, so as it is befalle
Upon this point that sche schal deie,
Of o thing ferst sche wolde him preie,
That fourty daies of respit
He wolde hir grante upon this plit,
That sche the whyle mai bewepe
Hir maidenhod, which sche to kepe
So longe hath had and noght beset;
Wherof hir lusti youthe is let,
That sche no children hath forthdrawe
In mariage after the lawe,
So that the poeple is noght encressed.
Bot that it mihte be relessed,
That sche hir time hath lore so,
Sche wolde be his leve go
With othre maidens to compleigne,
And afterward unto the peine
Of deth sche wolde come agein.
The fader herde his douhter sein,
And therupon of on assent
The maidens were anon asent,
That scholden with this maiden wende.
So for to speke unto this ende,
Thei gon the dounes and the dales
With wepinge and with wofull tales,
And every wyht hire maidenhiede
Compleigneth upon thilke nede,
That sche no children hadde bore,
Wherof sche hath hir youthe lore,
Which nevere sche recovere mai.
For so fell that hir laste dai
Was come, in which sche scholde take
Hir deth, which sche mai noght forsake.
Lo, thus sche deiede a wofull maide
For thilke cause which I saide,
As thou hast understonde above."
"Mi fader, as toward the love
Of maidens for to telle trowthe,
Ye have thilke vice of Slowthe,
Me thenkth, riht wonder wel declared,
That ye the wommen have noght spared
Of hem that tarien so behinde.
Bot yit it falleth in my minde,
Toward the men hou that ye spieke
Of hem that wole no travail sieke
In cause of love upon decerte.
To speke in wordes so coverte,
I not what travaill that ye mente."
"Mi sone, and after min entente
I woll thee telle what I thoghte,
Hou whilom men here loves boghte
Thurgh gret travaill in strange londes,
Wher that thei wroghten with here hondes
Of armes many a worthi dede,
In sondri place, as men mai rede."
Quem probat armorum probitas Venus approbat, et quem
Torpor habet reprobum reprobat illa virum.
Vecors segnicies insignia nescit amoris,
Nam piger ad brauium tardius ipse venit.7
"That every love of pure kinde
Is ferst forthdrawe, wel I finde.
Bot natheles yit overthis
Decerte doth so that it is
The rather had in mani place.
Forthi who secheth loves grace,
Wher that these worthi wommen are,
He mai noght thanne himselve spare
Upon his travail for to serve,
Wherof that he mai thonk deserve,
There as these men of armes be,
Somtime over the grete se.
So that be londe and ek be schipe
He mot travaile for worschipe
And make manye hastyf rodes,
Somtime in Prus, somtime in Rodes,
And somtime into Tartarie;
So that these heraldz on him crie,
'Vailant, vailant, lo, wher he goth!'
And thanne he gifth hem gold and cloth,
So that his fame mihte springe,
And to his ladi ere bringe
Som tidinge of his worthinesse
So that sche mihte of his prouesce
Of that sche herde men recorde,
The betre unto his love acorde
And danger pute out of hire mod.
Whanne alle men recorden good,
And that sche wot wel, for hir sake
That he no travail wol forsake.
Mi sone, of this travail I meene.
Nou schrif thee, for it schal be sene
If thou art ydel in this cas."
"My fader, ye, and evere was.
For as me thenketh trewely
That every man doth mor than I
As of this point, and if so is
That I have oght so don er this,
It is so litel of acompte,
As who seith, it mai noght amonte
To winne of love his lusti gifte.
For this I telle you in schrifte,
That me were levere hir love winne
Than Kaire and al that is therinne.
And for to slen the hethen alle,
I not what good ther mihte falle,
So mochel blod thogh ther be schad.
This finde I writen, hou Crist bad
That no man other scholde sle.
What scholde I winne over the se,
If I mi ladi loste at hom?
Bot passe thei the salte fom,
To whom Crist bad thei scholden preche
To al the world and his feith teche.
Bot now thei rucken in here nest
And resten as hem liketh best
In all the swetnesse of delices.
Thus thei defenden ous the vices,
And sitte hemselven al amidde;
To slen and feihten thei ous bidde
Hem whom thei scholde, as the bok seith,
Converten unto Cristes feith.
Bot hierof have I gret mervaile,
Hou thei wol bidde me travaile:
A Sarazin if I sle schal,
I sle the soule forth withal,
And that was nevere Cristes lore.
Bot nou ho ther, I seie no more.
Bot I wol speke upon mi schrifte;
And to Cupide I make a gifte,
That who as evere pris deserve
Of armes, I wol love serve;
And thogh I scholde hem bothe kepe,
Als wel yit wolde I take kepe
Whan it were time to abide,
As for to travaile and to ryde:
For how as evere a man laboure,
Cupide appointed hath his houre.
For I have herd it telle also,
Achilles lefte hise armes so
Bothe of himself and of his men
At Troie for Polixenen,
Upon hire love whanne he fell,
That for no chance that befell
Among the Grecs or up or doun,
He wolde noght agein the toun
Ben armed, for the love of hire.
And so me thenketh, lieve sire,
A man of armes mai him reste
Somtime in hope for the beste,
If he mai finde a weie nerr.
What scholde I thanne go so ferr
In strange londes many a mile
To ryde, and lese at hom therwhile
Mi love? It were a schort begete
To winne chaf and lese whete.
Bot if mi ladi bidde wolde,
That I for hire love scholde
Travaile, me thenkth trewely
I mihte fle thurghout the sky,
And go thurghout the depe se,
For al ne sette I at a stre
What thonk that I mihte elles gete.
What helpeth it a man have mete,
Wher drinke lacketh on the bord?
What helpeth eny mannes word
To seie hou I travaile faste,
Wheras me faileth ate laste
That thing which I travaile fore?
O in good time were he bore,
That mihte atteigne such a mede.
Bot certes if I mihte spede
With eny maner besinesse
Of worldes travail, thane I gesse,
Ther scholde me non ydelschipe
Departen fro hir ladischipe.
Bot this I se, on daies nou
The blinde god, I wot noght hou,
Cupido, which of love is lord,
He set the thinges in discord,
That thei that lest to love entende
Fulofte he wole hem give and sende
Most of his grace; and thus I finde
That he that scholde go behinde,
Goth many a time ferr tofore.
So wot I noght riht wel therfore,
On whether bord that I schal seile.
Thus can I noght miself conseile,
Bot al I sette on aventure,
And am, as who seith, out of cure
For ought that I can seie or do.
Foreveremore I finde it so,
The more besinesse I leie -
The more that I knele and preie
With goode wordes and with softe -
The more I am refused ofte,
With besinesse and mai noght winne.
And in good feith that is gret sinne;
For I mai seie, of dede and thoght
That ydel man have I be noght.
For hou as evere I be deslaied,
Yit evermore I have assaied.
Bot thogh my besinesse laste,
Al is bot ydel ate laste,
For whan th'effect is ydelnesse,
I not what thing is besinesse.
Sei, what availeth al the dede,
Which nothing helpeth ate nede?
For the fortune of every fame
Schal of his ende bere a name.
And thus for oght is yit befalle,
An ydel man I wol me calle
As after myn entendement.
Bot upon youre amendement,
Min holi fader, as you semeth,
Mi reson and my cause demeth."
"Mi sone, I have herd thi matiere,
Of that thou hast thee schriven hiere.
And for to speke of ydel fare,
Me semeth that thou tharst noght care,
Bot only that thou miht noght spede.
And therof, sone, I wol thee rede,
Abyd, and haste noght to faste;
Thi dees ben every dai to caste,
Thou nost what chance schal betyde.
Betre is to wayte upon the tyde
Than rowe agein the stremes stronge.
For thogh so be thee thenketh longe,
Per cas the revolucion
Of hevene and thi condicion
Ne be noght yit of on acord.
Bot I dar make this record
To Venus, whos prest that I am,
That sithen that I hidir cam
To hiere, as sche me bad, thi lif,
Wherof thou elles be gultif,
Thou miht hierof thi conscience
Excuse, and of gret diligence,
Which thou to love hast so despended,
Thou oghtest wel to be comended.
Bot if so be that ther oght faile,
Of that thou slowthest to travaile
In armes for to ben absent,
And for thou makst an argument
Of that thou seidest hiere above,
Hou Achilles thurgh strengthe of love
Hise armes lefte for a throwe,
Thou schalt another tale knowe,
Which is contraire, as thou schalt wite.
For this a man mai finde write,
Whan that knyhthode schal be werred,
Lust mai noght thanne be preferred;
The bedd mot thanne be forsake
And schield and spere on honde take,
Which thing schal make hem after glade,
Whan thei ben worthi knihtes made.
Wherof, so as it comth to honde,
A tale thou schalt understonde,
Hou that a kniht schal armes suie,
And for the while his ese eschuie.
[The Tale of Nauplus and Ulysses]
Upon knyhthode I rede thus:
How whilom whan the king Nauplus,
The fader of Palamades,
Cam for to preien Ulixes
With othre Gregois ek also,
That he with hem to Troie go,
Wher that the siege scholde be,
Anon upon Penolope
His wif, whom that he loveth hote,
Thenkende, wolde hem noght behote.
Bot he schop thanne a wonder wyle,
How that he scholde hem best beguile,
So that he mihte duelle stille
At home and welde his love at wille.
Wherof erli the morwe day
Out of his bedd, wher that he lay,
Whan he was uppe, he gan to fare
Into the field and loke and stare,
As he which feigneth to be wod.
He tok a plowh, wher that it stod,
Wherinne anon in stede of oxes
He let do yoken grete foxes,
And with gret salt the lond he siew.
Bot Nauplus, which the cause kniew,
Agein the sleihte which he feigneth
Another sleihte anon ordeigneth.
And fell that time Ulixes hadde
A chyld to sone, and Nauplus radde
How men that sone taken scholde
And setten him upon the molde
Wher that his fader hield the plowh
In thilke furgh which he tho drowh.
For in such wise he thoghte assaie
Hou it Ulixes scholde paie,
If that he were wod or non.
The knihtes for this child forthgon;
Thelamacus anon was fett,
Tofore the plowh and evene sett,
Wher that his fader scholde dryve.
Bot whan he sih his child, als blyve
He drof the plowh out of the weie,
And Nauplus tho began to seie,
And hath half in a jape cryd:
'O Ulixes, thou art aspyd;
What is al this thou woldest meene?
For openliche it is now seene
That thou hast feigned al this thing,
Which is gret schame to a king,
Whan that for lust of eny slowthe
Thou wolt in a querele of trowthe
Of armes thilke honour forsake,
And duelle at hom for loves sake.
For betre it were honour to winne
Than love, which likinge is inne.
Forthi tak worschipe upon honde,
And elles thou schalt understonde
These othre worthi kinges alle
Of Grece, which unto thee calle,
Towardes thee wol be riht wrothe,
And grieve thee per chance bothe.
Which schal be to thee double schame
Most for the hindrynge of thi name,
That thou for Slouthe of eny love
Schalt so thi lustes sette above
And leve of armes the knyhthode,
Which is the pris of thi manhode
And oghte ferst to be desired.'
Bot he, which hadde his herte fyred
Upon his wif, whan he this herde,
Noght o word theragein ansuerde,
Bot torneth hom halvinge aschamed,
And hath withinne himself so tamed
His herte, that al the sotie
Of love for chivalerie
He lefte, and be him lief or loth,
To Troie forth with hem he goth,
That he him mihte noght excuse.
Thus stant it, if a knyht refuse
The lust of armes to travaile,
Ther mai no worldes ese availe,
Bot if worschipe be withal.
And that hath schewed overal;
For it sit wel in alle wise
A kniht to ben of hih emprise
And puten alle drede aweie.
For in this wise, I have herd seie:
[Examples of Prowess: Protesilaus]
The worthi king Protheselai
On his passage wher he lai
Towardes Troie thilke siege,
Sche which was al his oghne liege,
Laodomie his lusti wif,
Which for his love was pensif,
As he which al hire herte hadde,
Upon a thing wherof sche dradde
A lettre, for to make him duelle
Fro Troie, sende him, thus to telle,
Hou sche hath axed of the wyse,
Touchende of him in such a wise,
That thei have don hire understonde,
Towardes othre hou so it stonde,
The destiné it hath so schape
That he schal noght the deth ascape
In cas that he arryve at Troie.
Forthi as to hir worldes joie
With al hire herte sche him preide,
And many another cause alleide,
That he with hire at home abide.
Bot he hath cast hir lettre aside,
As he which tho no maner hiede
Tok of hire wommannysshe drede;
And forth he goth, as noght ne were,
To Troie, and was the ferste there
Which londeth, and tok arryvaile.
For him was levere in the bataille,
He seith, to deien as a knyht,
Than for to lyve in al his myht
And be reproeved of his name.
Lo, thus upon the worldes fame
Knyhthode hath evere yit be set,
Which with no couardie is let.
Of king Saul also I finde,
Whan Samuel out of his kinde,
Thurgh that the Phitonesse hath lered
In Samarie was arered
Long time after that he was ded,
The king Saul him axeth red,
If that he schal go fyhte or non.
And Samuel him seide anon,
'The ferste day of the bataille
Thou schalt be slain withoute faile
And Jonathas thi sone also.'
Bot hou as evere it felle so,
This worthi kniht of his corage
Hath undertake the viage,
And wol noght his knyhthode lette
For no peril he couthe sette;
Wherof that bothe his sone and he
Upon the Montz of Gelboe
Assemblen with here enemys.
For thei knyhthode of such a pris
Be olde daies thanne hielden,
That thei non other thing behielden.
And thus the fader for worschipe
Forth with his sone of felaschipe
Thurgh lust of armes weren dede,
As men mai in the Bible rede,
The whos knyhthode is yit in mende,
And schal be to the worldes ende.
[The Education of Achilles]
And for to loken overmore,
It hath and schal ben evermore
That of knihthode the prouesse
Is grounded upon hardinesse
Of him that dar wel undertake.
And who that wolde ensample take
Upon the forme of knyhtes lawe,
How that Achilles was forthdrawe
With Chiro, which Centaurus hihte,
Of many a wondre hiere he mihte.
For it stod thilke time thus,
That this Chiro, this Centaurus,
Withinne a large wildernesse,
Wher was leon and leonesse,
The lepard and the tigre also,
With hert and hynde, and buck and doo,
Hadde his duellinge, as tho befell,
Of Pileon upon the hel,
Wherof was thanne mochel speche.
Ther hath Chiro this chyld to teche,
What time he was of tuelve yer age;
Wher for to maken his corage
The more hardi be other weie,
In the forest to hunte and pleie
Whan that Achilles walke wolde,
Centaurus bad that he ne scholde
After no beste make his chace,
Which wolde flen out of his place,
As buck and doo, and hert and hynde,
With whiche he mai no werre finde;
Bot tho that wolden him withstonde,
Ther scholde he with his dart on honde
Upon the tigre and the leon
Pourchace and take his veneison,
As to a kniht is acordant.
And therupon a covenant
This Chiro with Achilles sette,
That every day withoute lette
He scholde such a cruel beste
Or slen or wounden ate leste,
So that he mihte a tokne bringe
Of blod upon his hom cominge.
And thus of that Chiro him tawhte
Achilles such an herte cawhte,
That he no more a leon dradde
Whan he his dart on honde hadde
Thanne if a leon were an asse.
And that hath made him for to passe
Alle othre knihtes of his dede
Whan it cam to the grete nede,
As it was afterward wel knowe.
Lo, thus, my sone, thou miht knowe
That the corage of hardiesce
Is of knyhthode the prouesce,
Which is to love sufficant
Aboven al the remenant
That unto loves court poursuie.
Bot who that wol no Slowthe eschuie,
Upon knihthode and noght travaile,
I not what love him scholde availe;
Bot every labour axeth why
Of som reward, wherof that I
Ensamples couthe telle ynowe
Of hem that toward love drowe
Be olde daies, as thei scholde."
"Mi fader, therof hiere I wolde."
"Mi sone, it is wel resonable,
In place which is honorable
If that a man his herte sette,
That thanne he for no Slowthe lette
To do what longeth to manhede.
For if thou wolt the bokes rede
Of Lancelot and othre mo,
Ther miht thou sen hou it was tho
Of armes, for thei wolde atteigne
To love, which withoute peine
Mai noght be gete of ydelnesse.
And that I take to witnesse
An old cronique in special,
The which into memorial
Is write, for his loves sake,
Hou that a kniht schal undertake.
[The Tale of Hercules and Achelons]
Ther was a king, which Oenes
Was hote, and he under his pes
Hield Calidoyne in his empire,
And hadde a dowhter Deianire.
Men wiste in thilke time non
So fair a wiht as sche was on;
And as sche was a lusti wiht,
Riht so was thanne a noble kniht,
To whom Mercurie fader was.
This kniht the tuo pilers of bras,
The whiche yit a man mai finde,
Sette up in the desert of Ynde;
That was the worthi Hercules,
Whos name schal ben endeles
For the merveilles whiche he wroghte.
This Hercules the love soghte
Of Deianire, and of this thing
Unto hir fader, which was king,
He spak touchende of mariage.
The king knowende his hih lignage,
And dradde also hise mihtes sterne,
To him ne dorste his dowhter werne;
And natheles this he him seide,
How Achelons er he ferst preide
To wedden hire, and in accord
Thei stode, as it was of record.
Bot for al that this he him granteth,
That which of hem that other daunteth
In armes, him sche scholde take,
And that the king hath undertake.
This Achelons was a geant,
A soubtil man, a deceivant,
Which thurgh magique and sorcerie
Couthe al the world of tricherie.
And whan that he this tale herde,
Hou upon that the king ansuerde
With Hercules he moste feighte,
He tristeth noght upon his sleighte
Al only, whan it comth to nede,
Bot that which voydeth alle drede
And every noble herte stereth,
The love, that no lif forbereth,
For his ladi, whom he desireth,
With hardiesse his herte fyreth,
And sende him word withoute faile
That he wol take the bataille.
Thei setten day, thei chosen field,
The knihtes coevered under schield
Togedre come at time set,
And echon is with other met.
It fell thei foghten bothe afote,
Ther was no ston, ther was no rote,
Which mihte letten hem the weie,
But al was voide and take aweie.
Thei smyten strokes bot a fewe,
For Hercules, which wolde schewe
His grete strengthe as for the nones,
He sterte upon him al at ones
And cawhte him in hise armes stronge.
This geant wot he mai noght longe
Endure under so harde bondes,
And thoghte he wolde out of hise hondes
Be sleyhte in som manere ascape.
And as he couthe himself forschape,
In liknesse of an eddre he slipte
Out of his hond, and forth he skipte;
And efte, as he that feighte wole,
He torneth him into a bole,
And gan to belwe of such a soun,
As thogh the world scholde al go doun.
The ground he sporneth and he tranceth,
Hise large hornes he avanceth
And caste hem here and there aboute.
Bot he, which stant of him no doute,
Awaiteth wel whan that he cam,
And him be bothe hornes nam
And al at ones he him caste
Unto the ground, and hield him faste,
That he ne mihte with no sleighte
Out of his hond gete upon heighte,
Til he was overcome and yolde,
And Hercules hath what he wolde.
The king him granteth to fulfille
His axinge at his oghne wille,
And sche for whom he hadde served,
Hire thoghte he hath hire wel deserved.
And thus with gret decerte of armes
He wan him for to ligge in armes,
As he which hath it dere aboght,
For otherwise scholde he noght.
[Penthesilea, Philemenis, Aeneas]
And overthis if thou wolt hiere
Upon knihthode of this matiere,
Hou love and armes ben aqueinted,
A man mai se bothe write and peinted
So ferforth that Pantasilee,
Which was the queene of Feminee,
The love of Hector for to sieke
And for th'onour of armes eke,
To Troie cam with spere and schield,
And rod hirself into the field
With maidens armed al a route
In rescouss of the toun aboute,
Which with the Gregois was belein.
Fro Pafagoine and as men sein,
Which stant upon the worldes ende,
That time it likede ek to wende
To Philemenis, which was king,
To Troie, and come upon this thing
In helpe of thilke noble toun;
And al was that for the renoun
Of worschipe and of worldes fame,
Of which he wolde bere a name.
And so he dede, and forthwithal
He wan of love in special
A fair tribut foreveremo.
For it fell thilke time so,
Pirrus the sone of Achilles
This worthi queene among the press
With dedli swerd soghte out and fond,
And slowh hire with his oghne hond;
Wherof this king of Pafagoine
Pantasilee of Amazoine,
Wher sche was queene, with him ladde,
With suche maidens as sche hadde
Of hem that were left alyve,
Forth in his schip, til thei aryve;
Wher that the body was begrave
With worschipe, and the wommen save.
And for the goodschipe of this dede
Thei granten him a lusti mede
That every yeer as for truage
To him and to his heritage
Of maidens faire he schal have thre.
And in this wise spedde he,
Which the fortune of armes soghte,
With his travail his ese he boghte;
For otherwise he scholde have failed,
If that he hadde noght travailed.
Eneas ek withinne Ytaile,
Ne hadde he wonne the bataille
And don his miht so besily
Agein king Turne his enemy,
He hadde noght Lavine wonne;
Bot for he hath him overronne
And gete his pris, he gat hire love.
Be these ensamples here above,
Lo, now, mi sone, as I have told,
Thou miht wel se, who that is bold
And dar travaile and undertake
The cause of love, he schal be take
The rathere unto loves grace;
For comunliche in worthi place
The wommen loven worthinesse
Of manhode and of gentilesse,
For the gentils ben most desired."
"Mi fader, bot I were enspired
Thurgh lore of you, I wot no weie
What gentilesce is for to seie,
Wherof to telle I you beseche."
"The ground, mi sone, for to seche
Upon this diffinicion,
The worldes constitucion
Hath set the name of gentilesse
Upon the fortune of richesse
Which of long time is falle in age.
Thanne is a man of hih lignage
After the forme, as thou miht hiere,
Bot nothing after the matiere.
For who that resoun understonde,
Upon richesse it mai noght stonde,
For that is thing which faileth ofte.
For he that stant today alofte
And al the world hath in hise wones,
Tomorwe he falleth al at ones
Out of richesse into poverte,
So that therof is no decerte
Which gentilesce makth abide.
And for to loke on other side
Hou that a gentil man is bore,
Adam, which alle was tofore
With Eve his wif, as of hem tuo,
Al was aliche gentil tho;
So that of generacion
To make declaracion,
Ther mai no gentilesce be.
For to the reson if we se,
Of mannes berthe the mesure,
It is so comun to nature,
That it gifth every man aliche,
Als wel to povere as to the riche;
For naked thei ben bore bothe,
The lord no more hath for to clothe
As of himself that ilke throwe,
Than hath the povereste of the rowe.
And whan thei schulle bothe passe,
I not of hem which hath the lasse
Of worldes good, bot as of charge
The lord is more for to charge,
Whan God schal his accompte hiere,
For he hath had hise lustes hiere.
Bot of the bodi, which schal deie,
Althogh ther be diverse weie
To deth, yit is ther bot on ende,
To which that every man schal wende,
Als wel the beggere as the lord,
Of o nature, of on acord.
Sche which oure eldemoder is,
The erthe, bothe that and this
Receiveth and alich devoureth,
That sche to nouther part favoureth.
So wot I nothing after kinde
Where I mai gentilesse finde.
For lacke of vertu lacketh grace,
Wherof richesse in many place,
Whan men best wene for to stonde,
Al sodeinly goth out of honde.
Bot vertu set in the corage,
Ther mai no world be so salvage,
Which mihte it take and don aweie,
Til whanne that the bodi deie;
And thanne he schal be riched so,
That it mai faile neveremo.
So mai that wel be gentilesse,
Which gifth so gret a sikernesse:
For after the condicion
Of resonable entencion,
The which out of the soule groweth
And the vertu fro vice knoweth,
Wherof a man the vice eschuieth,
Withoute Slowthe and vertu suieth,
That is a verrai gentil man,
And nothing elles which he can,
Ne which he hath, ne which he mai.
Bot for al that yit nou aday,
In loves court to taken hiede,
The povere vertu schal noght spiede,
Wher that the riche vice woweth;
For sielde it is that love alloweth
The gentil man withoute good,
Thogh his condicion be good.
Bot if a man of bothe tuo
Be riche and vertuous also,
Thanne is he wel the more worth.
Bot yit to putte himselve forth
He moste don his besinesse,
For nowther good ne gentilesse
Mai helpen hem whiche ydel be.
Bot who that wole in his degré
Travaile so as it belongeth,
It happeth ofte that he fongeth
Worschipe and ese bothe tuo.
For evere yit it hath be so,
That love honeste in sondri weie
Profiteth, for it doth aweie
The vice, and as the bokes sein,
It makth curteis of the vilein,
And to the couard hardiesce
It gifth, so that verrai prouesse
Is caused upon loves reule
To him that can manhode reule;
And ek toward the wommanhiede,
Who that therof wol taken hiede,
For thei the betre affaited be
In everything, as men mai se.
For love hath evere hise lustes grene
In gentil folk, as it is sene,
Which thing ther mai no kinde areste.
I trowe that ther is no beste,
If he with love scholde aqueinte,
That he ne wolde make it queinte
As for the while that it laste.
And thus I conclude ate laste,
That thei ben ydel, as me semeth,
Whiche unto thing that love demeth
Forslowthen that thei scholden do.
And overthis, mi sone, also
After the vertu moral eke
To speke of love if I schal seke,
Among the holi bokes wise
I finde write in such a wise,
'Who loveth noght is hier as ded';
For love above alle othre is hed,
Which hath the vertus for to lede,
Of al that unto mannes dede
Belongeth: for of ydelschipe
He hateth all the felaschipe.
For Slowthe is evere to despise,
Which in desdeign hath al apprise,
And that acordeth noght to man.
For he that wit and reson kan,
It sit him wel that he travaile
Upon somthing which mihte availe,
For ydelschipe is noght comended,
Bot every lawe it hath defended.
And in ensample therupon
The noble wise Salomon,
Which hadde of everything insihte,
Seith, 'As the briddes to the flihte
Ben made, so the man is bore
To labour,' which is noght forbore
To hem that thenken for to thryve.
For we, whiche are now alyve,
Of hem that besi whylom were,
Als wel in scole as elleswhere,
Mowe every day ensample take,
That if it were now to make
Thing which that thei ferst founden oute,
It scholde noght be broght aboute.
Here lyves thanne were longe,
Here wittes grete, here mihtes stronge,
Here hertes ful of besinesse,
Wherof the worldes redinesse
In bodi bothe and in corage
Stant evere upon his avantage.
And for to drawe into memoire
Here names bothe and here histoire,
Upon the vertu of her dede
In sondri bokes thou miht rede.
Expedit in manibus labor, vt de cotidianis
Actibus ac vita viuere possit homo.
Set qui doctrine causa fert mente labores,
Preualet et merita perpetuata parat.8
[On the Uses of Labor]
Of every wisdom the parfit
The hyhe God of His spirit
Gaf to the men in erthe hiere
Upon the forme and the matiere
Of that he wolde make hem wise.
And thus cam in the ferste apprise
Of bokes and of alle goode
Thurgh hem that whilom understode
The lore which to hem was give,
Wherof these othre, that now live,
Ben every day to lerne newe.
Bot er the time that men siewe,
And that the labour forth it broghte,
Ther was no corn, thogh men it soghte,
In non of al the fieldes oute;
And er the wisdom cam aboute
Of hem that ferst the bokes write,
This mai wel every wys man wite,
Ther was gret labour ek also.
Thus was non ydel of the tuo,
That on the plogh hath undertake
With labour which the hond hath take,
That other tok to studie and muse,
As he which wolde noght refuse
The labour of hise wittes alle.
And in this wise it is befalle,
Of labour which that thei begunne
We be now tawht of that we kunne.
Here besinesse is yit so seene,
That it stant evere alyche greene;
Al be it so the bodi deie,
The name of hem schal nevere aweie.
In the croniqes as I finde.
[Discoverers and Inventors]
Cham, whos labour is yit in minde,
Was he which ferst the lettres fond
And wrote in Hebreu with his hond.
Of naturel philosophie
He fond ferst also the clergie.
Cadmus the lettres of Gregois
Ferst made upon his oghne chois.
Theges of thing which schal befalle,
He was the ferste augurre of alle.
And Philemon be the visage
Fond to descrive the corage.
Cladyns, Esdras, and Sulpices,
Termegis, Pandulf, Frigidilles,
Solins, Pandas, and Josephus
The ferste were of enditours,
Of old cronique and ek auctours:
And Heredot in his science
Of metre, of rime, and of cadence,
The ferste was of which men note.
And of musique also the note
In mannes vois, or softe or scharpe,
That fond Jubal; and of the harpe
The merie soun, which is to like,
That fond Poulins forth with phisique.
Zenzis fond ferst the pourtreture,
And Promotheus the sculpture;
After what forme that hem thoghte,
The resemblance anon thei wroghte.
Tubal in iren and in stel
Fond ferst the forge and wroghte it wel.
And Jadahel, as seith the bok,
Ferst made net and fisshes tok.
Of huntynge ek he fond the chace,
Which now is knowe in many place.
A tente of cloth with corde and stake
He sette up ferst and dede it make.
Verconius of cokerie
Ferst made the delicacie.
The craft Minerve of wolle fond
And made cloth hire oghne hond,
And Delbora made it of lyn:
Tho wommen were of great engyn.
Bot thing which gifth ous mete and drinke
And doth the labourer to swinke
To tile lond and sette vines,
Wherof the cornes and the wynes
Ben sustenance to mankinde,
In olde bokes as I finde,
Saturnus of his oghne wit
Hath founde ferst, and more yit
Of chapmanhode he fond the weie,
And ek to coigne the moneie
Of sondri metall, as it is,
He was the ferste man of this.
Bot hou that metall cam a place
Thurgh mannes wit and Goddes grace
The route of philosophres wise
Controeveden be sondri wise,
Ferst for to gete it out of myne,
And after for to trie and fyne.
And also with gret diligence
Thei founden thilke experience,
Which cleped is alconomie,
Wherof the selver multeplie
Thei made and ek the gold also.
And for to telle hou it is so,
Of bodies sevene in special
With foure spiritz joynt withal
Stant the substance of this matiere.
The bodies whiche I speke of hiere
Of the planetes ben begonne.
The gold is titled to the sonne,
The mone of selver hath his part,
And iren that stant upon Mart,
The led after Satorne groweth,
And Jupiter the bras bestoweth,
The coper set is to Venus,
And to his part Mercurius
Hath the quikselver, as it falleth,
The which, after the bok it calleth,
Is ferst of thilke fowre named
Of spiritz, whiche ben proclamed;
And the spirit which is secounde
In sal armoniak is founde.
The thridde spirit sulphur is;
The ferthe suiende after this
Arcennicum be name is hote.
With blowinge and with fyres hote
In these thinges whiche I seie,
Thei worchen be diverse weie.
For as the philosophre tolde
Of gold and selver, thei ben holde
Tuo principal extremites,
To whiche alle othre be degres
Of the metalls ben acordant,
And so thurgh kinde resemblant,
That what man couthe aweie take
The rust, of which thei waxen blake,
And the savour and the hardnesse,
Thei scholden take the liknesse
Of gold or selver parfitly.
Bot for to worche it sikirly,
Betwen the corps and the spirit,
Er that the metall be parfit,
In sevene formes it is set;
Of alle and if that on be let,
The remenant mai noght availe,
Bot otherwise it mai noght faile.
For thei be whom this art was founde
To every point a certain bounde
Ordeignen, that a man mai finde
This craft is wroght be weie of kinde,
So that ther is no fallas inne.
Bot what man that this werk beginne,
He mot awaite at every tyde,
So that nothing be left aside,
Ferst of the distillacion,
Forth with the congelacion,
And kepe in his entencion
The point of sublimacion,
And forth with calcinacion
Of veray approbacion
Do that ther be fixacion
With tempred hetes of the fyr,
Til he the parfit elixir
Of thilke philosophres ston
Mai gete, of which that many on
Of philosophres whilom write.
And if thou wolt the names wite
Of thilke ston with othre tuo,
Whiche as the clerkes maden tho,
So as the bokes it recorden,
The kinde of hem I schal recorden.
[The Three Philosopher's Stones]
These olde Philosophres wyse
Be weie of kinde in sondri wise
Thre stones maden thurgh clergie.
The ferst, if I schal specefie,
Was lapis vegetabilis,
Of which the propre vertu is
To mannes hele for to serve,
As for to kepe and to preserve
The bodi fro siknesses alle,
Til deth of kinde upon him falle.
The ston seconde I thee behote
Is lapis animalis hote,
The whos vertu is propre and cowth
For ere and yhe and nase and mouth,
Wherof a man mai hiere and se
And smelle and taste in his degré,
And for to fiele and for to go
It helpeth man of bothe tuo.
The wittes fyve he underfongeth
To kepe, as it to him belongeth.
The thridde ston in special
Be name is cleped minerall,
Which the metalls of every mine
Attempreth, til that thei ben fyne,
And pureth hem be such a weie,
That al the vice goth aweie
Of rust, of stink, and of hardnesse.
And whan thei ben of such clennesse,
This mineral, so as I finde,
Transformeth al the ferste kynde
And makth hem able to conceive
Thurgh his vertu, and to receive
Bothe in substance and in figure
Of gold and selver the nature.
For thei tuo ben th'extremetes,
To whiche after the propretes
Hath every metal his desir,
With help and confort of the fyr
Forth with this ston, as it is seid,
Which to the sonne and mone is leid;
For to the rede and to the whyte
This ston hath pouer to profite.
It makth multiplicacioun
Of gold, and the fixacioun
It causeth, and of his habit
He doth the werk to be parfit
Of thilke elixer which men calle
Alconomie, as is befalle
To hem that whilom weren wise.
Bot now it stant al otherwise;
Thei speken faste of thilke ston,
Bot hou to make it, nou wot non
After the sothe experience.
And natheles gret diligence
Thei setten upon thilke dede,
And spille more than thei spede;
For allewey thei finde a lette,
Which bringeth in poverte and dette
To hem that riche were afore.
The lost is had, the lucre is lore,
To gete a pound thei spenden fyve;
I not hou such a craft schal thryve
In the manere as it is used:
It were betre be refused
Than for to worchen upon weene
In thing which stant noght as thei weene.
Bot noght forthi, who that it knewe,
The science of himself is trewe
Upon the forme as it was founded,
Wherof the names yit ben grounded
Of hem that ferste it founden oute;
And thus the fame goth aboute
To suche as soghten besinesse
Of vertu and of worthinesse.
Of whom if I the names calle,
[The First Alchemists]
Hermes was on the ferste of alle,
To whom this art is most applied;
Geber therof was magnefied,
And Ortolan and Morien,
Among the whiche is Avicen,
Which fond and wrot a gret partie
The practique of Alconomie;
Whos bokes, pleinli as thei stonde
Upon this craft, fewe understonde;
Bot yit to put hem in assai
Ther ben full manye now aday,
That knowen litel what thei meene.
It is noght on to wite and weene;
In forme of wordes thei it trete,
Bot yit they failen of begete,
For of to moche or of to lyte
Ther is algate founde a wyte,
So that thei folwe noght the lyne
Of the parfite medicine,
Which grounded is upon nature.
Bot thei that writen the scripture
Of Grek, Arabe, and of Caldee,
Thei were of such auctorité
That thei ferst founden out the weie
Of al that thou hast herd me seie;
Wherof the cronique of her lore
Schal stonde in pris foreveremore.
[Letters and Language]
Bot toward oure marches hiere,
Of the Latins if thou wolt hiere,
Of hem that whilom vertuous
Were and therto laborious,
Carmente made of hire engin
The ferste lettres of Latin,
Of which the tunge Romein cam,
Wherof that Aristarchus nam
Forth with Donat and Dindimus
The ferste reule of scole, and thus,
How that Latin schal be componed
And in what wise it schal be soned,
That every word in his degré
Schal stonde upon congruité.
And thilke time at Rome also
Was Tullius with Cithero,
That writen upon Rethorike,
Hou that men schal the wordes pike
After the forme of eloquence,
Which is, men sein, a gret prudence.
And after that out of Hebreu
Jerom, which the langage kneu,
The Bible, in which the Lawe is closed,
Into Latin he hath transposed;
And many an other writere ek
Out of Caldee, Arabe, and Grek
With gret labour the bokes wise
Translateden. And otherwise
The Latins of hemself also
Here studie at thilke time so
With gret travaile of scole toke
In sondri forme for to boke,
That we mai take here evidences
Upon the lore of the sciences,
Of craftes bothe and of clergie;
Among the whiche in poesie
To the lovers Ovide wrot
And tawhte, if love be to hot,
In what manere it scholde akiele.
Forthi, mi sone, if that thou fiele
That love wringe thee to sore,
Behold Ovide and take his lore."
"Mi fader, if thei mihte spede
Mi love, I wolde his bokes rede;
And if thei techen to restreigne
Mi love, it were an ydel peine
To lerne a thing which mai noght be.
For lich unto the greene tree,
If that men toke his rote aweie,
Riht so myn herte scholde deie,
If that mi love be withdrawe.
Wherof touchende unto this sawe
There is bot only to poursuie
Mi love, and ydelschipe eschuie."
"Mi goode sone, soth to seie,
If ther be siker eny weie
To love, thou hast seid the beste.
For who that wolde have al his reste
And do no travail at the nede,
It is no resoun that he spede
In loves cause for to winne;
For he which dar nothing beginne,
I not what thing he scholde achieve.
Bot overthis thou schalt believe,
So as it sit thee wel to knowe,
That ther ben othre vices slowe,
Whiche unto love don gret lette,
If thou thin herte upon hem sette."
Perdit homo causam linquens sua iura sopori,
Et quasi dimidium pars sua mortis habet.
Est in amore vigil Venus, et quod habet vigilanti
Obsequium thalamis fert vigilata suis.9
"Toward the slowe progenie
Ther is yit on of compaignie,
And he is cleped Sompnolence,
Which doth to Slouthe his reverence,
As he which is his chamberlein,
That many an hundrid time hath lein
To slepe, whan he scholde wake.
He hath with love trewes take,
That wake whoso wake wile,
If he mai couche a doun his bile,
He hath al wowed what him list;
That ofte he goth to bedde unkist,
And seith that for no druerie
He wol noght leve his sluggardie.
For thogh no man it wole allowe,
To slepe levere than to wowe
Is his manere, and thus on nyhtes,
Whan that he seth the lusti knyhtes
Revelen, wher these wommen are,
Awey he skulketh as an hare,
And goth to bedde and leith him softe,
And of his Slouthe he dremeth ofte
Hou that he stiketh in the myr,
And hou he sitteth be the fyr
And claweth on his bare schanckes,
And hou he clymbeth up the banckes
And falleth into slades depe.
Bot thanne whoso toke kepe,
Whanne he is falle in such a drem,
Riht as a schip agein the strem,
He routeth with a slepi noise,
And brustleth as a monkes froise,
Whanne it is throwe into the panne.
And otherwhile sielde whanne
That he mai dreme a lusti swevene,
Him thenkth as thogh he were in hevene
And as the world were holi his.
And thanne he spekth of that and this,
And makth his exposicion
After the disposicion
Of that he wolde, and in such wise
He doth to love all his service.
I not what thonk he schal deserve.
Bot, sone, if thou wolt love serve,
I rede that thou do noght so."
"Ha, goode fader, certes no.
I hadde levere, be mi trowthe,
Er I were set on such a slouthe
And beere such a slepi snoute,
Bothe yhen of myn hed were oute.
For me were betre fulli die
Thanne I of such a slugardie
Hadde eny name, God me schilde;
For whan mi moder was with childe,
And I lay in hire wombe clos,
I wolde rathere Atropos,
Which is goddesse of alle deth,
Anon as I hadde eny breth,
Me hadde fro mi moder cast.
Bot now I am nothing agast,
I thonke Godd; for Lachesis,
Ne Cloto, which hire felawe is,
Me schopen no such destiné,
Whan thei at mi nativité
My weerdes setten as thei wolde;
Bot thei me schopen that I scholde
Eschuie of slep the truandise,
So that I hope in such a wise
To love for to ben excused,
That I no Sompnolence have used.
For certes, fader Genius,
Yit into nou it hath be thus,
At alle time if it befelle
So that I mihte come and duelle
In place ther my ladi were,
I was noght slow ne slepi there.
For thanne I dar wel undertake,
That whanne hir list on nyhtes wake
In chambre as to carole and daunce,
Me thenkth I mai me more avaunce,
If I mai gon upon hir hond,
Thanne if I wonne a kinges lond.
For whanne I mai hire hand beclippe,
With such gladnesse I daunce and skippe
Me thenkth I touche noght the flor.
The ro, which renneth on the mor,
Is thanne noght so lyht as I.
So mow ye witen wel forthi,
That for the time slep I hate.
And whanne it falleth othergate,
So that hire like noght to daunce,
Bot on the dees to caste chaunce
Or axe of love som demande,
Or elles that hir list comaunde
To rede and here of Troilus,
Riht as sche wole or so or thus,
I am al redi to consente.
And if so is that I mai hente
Somtime among a good leisir,
So as I dar of mi desir
I telle a part; bot whanne I preie,
Anon sche bidt me go mi weie
And seith it is ferr in the nyht;
And I swere it is even liht.
Bot as it falleth ate laste,
Ther mai no worldes joie laste,
So mot I nedes fro hire wende
And of my wachche make an ende.
And if sche thanne hiede toke,
Hou pitousliche on hire I loke,
Whan that I schal my leve take,
Hire oghte of mercy for to slake
Hire daunger, which seith evere 'nay.'
Bot he seith often, 'Have good day,'
That loth is for to take his leve:
Therfore, while I mai beleve,
I tarie forth the nyht along,
For it is noght on me along
To slep that I so sone go,
Til that I mot algate so;
And thanne I bidde Godd hire se,
And so doun knelende on mi kne
I take leve, and if I schal,
I kisse hire, and go forthwithal.
And otherwhile, if that I dore,
Er I come fulli to the dore,
I torne agein and feigne a thing,
As thogh I hadde lost a ring
Or somwhat elles, for I wolde
Kisse hire eftsones, if I scholde,
Bot selden is that I so spede.
And whanne I se that I mot nede
Departen, I departe, and thanne
With al myn herte I curse and banne
That evere slep was mad for yhe;
For, as me thenkth, I mihte dryhe
Withoute slep to waken evere,
So that I scholde noght dissevere
Fro hire, in whom is al my liht.
And thanne I curse also the nyht
With al the will of mi corage,
And seie, 'Awey, thou blake ymage,
Which of thi derke cloudy face
Makst al the worldes lyht deface,
And causest unto slep a weie,
Be which I mot nou gon aweie
Out of mi ladi compaignie.
O slepi nyht, I thee defie,
And wolde that thou leye in presse
With Proserpine the goddesse
And with Pluto the helle king.
For til I se the daies spring,
I sette slep noght at a risshe.'
And with that word I sike and wisshe,
And seie, 'Ha, whi ne were it day?
For yit mi ladi thanne I may
Beholde, thogh I do nomore.'
And efte I thenke forthermore,
To som man hou the niht doth ese,
Whan he hath thing that mai him plese
The longe nyhtes be his side,
Where as I faile and go beside.
Bot slep, I not wherof it serveth,
Of which no man his thonk deserveth
To gete him love in eny place,
Bot is an hindrere of his grace
And makth him ded as for a throwe,
Riht as a stok were overthrowe.
And so, mi fader, in this wise
The slepi nyhtes I despise,
And evere amiddes of mi tale
I thenke upon the nyhtingale,
Which slepeth noght be weie of kinde
For love, in bokes as I finde.
Thus ate laste I go to bedde,
And yit min herte lith to wedde
With hire, wher as I cam fro;
Thogh I departe, he wol noght so,
Ther is no lock mai schette him oute,
Him nedeth noght to gon aboute,
That perce mai the harde wall;
Thus is he with hire overall,
That be hire lief, or be hire loth
Into hire bedd myn herte goth,
And softly takth hire in his arm
And fieleth hou that sche is warm,
And wissheth that his body were
To fiele that he fieleth there.
And thus miselven I tormente,
Til that the dede slep me hente.
Bot thanne be a thousand score
Welmore than I was tofore
I am tormented in mi slep,
Bot that I dreme is noght of schep;
For I ne thenke noght on wulle,
Bot I am drecched to the fulle
Of love, that I have to kepe,
That nou I lawhe and nou I wepe,
And nou I lese and nou I winne,
And nou I ende and nou beginne.
And otherwhile I dreme and mete
That I alone with hire mete
And that Danger is left behinde;
And thanne in slep such joie I finde,
That I ne bede nevere awake.
Bot after, whanne I hiede take,
And schal arise upon the morwe,
Thanne is al torned into sorwe,
Noght for the cause I schal arise,
Bot for I mette in such a wise,
And ate laste I am bethoght
That al is vein and helpeth noght.
Bot yit me thenketh be my wille
I wolde have leie and slepe stille,
To meten evere of such a swevene,
For thanne I hadde a slepi hevene."
"Mi sone, and for thou tellest so,
A man mai finde of time ago
That many a swevene hath be certein,
Al be it so, that som men sein
That swevenes ben of no credence.
Bot for to schewe in evidence
That thei fulofte sothe thinges
Betokne, I thenke in my wrytinges
To telle a tale therupon,
Which fell be olde daies gon.
[The Tale of Ceix and Alceone]
This finde I write in poesie:
Ceix the king of Trocinie
Hadde Alceone to his wif,
Which as hire oghne hertes lif
Him loveth; and he hadde also
A brother, which was cleped tho
Dedalion, and he per cas
Fro kinde of man forschape was
Into a goshauk of liknesse;
Wherof the king gret hevynesse
Hath take, and thoghte in his corage
To gon upon a pelrinage
Into a strange regioun,
Wher he hath his devocioun
To don his sacrifice and preie,
If that he mihte in eny weie
Toward the goddes finde grace
His brother hele to pourchace,
So that he mihte be reformed
Of that he hadde be transformed.
To this pourpos and to this ende
This king is redy for to wende,
As he which wolde go be schipe;
And for to don him felaschipe
His wif unto the see him broghte,
With al hire herte and him besoghte,
That he the time hire wolde sein,
Whan that he thoghte come agein.
'Withinne,' he seith, 'tuo monthe day.'
And thus in al the haste he may
He tok his leve, and forth he seileth
Wepende, and sche hirself beweileth,
And torneth hom, ther sche cam fro.
Bot whan the monthes were ago,
The whiche he sette of his comynge,
And that sche herde no tydinge,
Ther was no care for to seche.
Wherof the goddes to beseche
Tho sche began in many wise,
And to Juno hire sacrifise
Above alle othre most sche dede,
And for hir lord sche hath so bede
To wite and knowe hou that he ferde,
That Juno the goddesse hire herde,
Anon and upon this matiere
Sche bad Yris hir messagere
To slepes hous that sche schal wende,
And bidde him that he make an ende
Be swevene and schewen al the cas
Unto this ladi, hou it was.
This Yris, fro the hihe stage,
Which undertake hath the message,
Hire reyny cope dede upon,
The which was wonderli begon
With colours of diverse hewe,
An hundred mo than men it knewe;
The hevene lich unto a bowe
Sche bende, and so she cam doun lowe,
The god of slep wher that sche fond.
And that was in a strange lond,
Which marcheth upon Chymerie.
For ther, as seith the poesie,
The god of Slep hath mad his hous,
Which of entaille is merveilous.
Under an hell ther is a cave,
Which of the sonne mai noght have,
So that no man mai knowe ariht
The point betwen the dai and nyht.
Ther is no fyr, ther is no sparke,
Ther is no dore which mai charke,
Wherof an yhe scholde unschette,
So that inward ther is no lette.
And for to speke of that withoute,
Ther stant no gret tree nyh aboute
Wheron ther myhte crowe or pie
Alihte, for to clepe or crie.
Ther is no cok to crowe day,
Ne beste non which noise may
The hell, bot al aboute round
Ther is growende upon the ground
Popi, which berth the sed of slep,
With othre herbes suche an hep.
A stille water for the nones
Rennende upon the smale stones,
Which hihte of Lethes the rivere,
Under that hell in such manere
Ther is, which gifth gret appetit
To slepe. And thus full of delit
Slep hath his hous; and of his couche
Withinne his chambre if I schal touche,
Of hebenus that slepi tree
The bordes al aboute be,
And for he scholde slepe softe,
Upon a fethrebed alofte
He lith with many a pilwe of doun:
The chambre is strowed up and doun
With swevenes many thousendfold.
Thus cam Yris into this hold,
And to the bedd, which is al blak,
Sche goth, and ther with Slep sche spak,
And in the wise as sche was bede
The message of Juno sche dede.
Fulofte hir wordes sche reherceth,
Er sche his slepi eres perceth;
With mochel wo bot ate laste
His slombrende yhen he upcaste
And seide hir that it schal be do.
Wherof among a thousend tho,
Withinne his hous that slepi were,
In special he ches out there
Thre, whiche scholden do this dede:
The ferste of hem, so as I rede,
Was Morpheus, the whos nature
Is for to take the figure
Of what persone that him liketh,
Wherof that he fulofte entriketh
The lif which slepe schal be nyhte;
And Ithecus that other hihte,
Which hath the vois of every soun,
The chiere and the condicioun
Of every lif, what so it is;
The thridde suiende after this
Is Panthasas, which may transforme
Of everything the rihte forme,
And change it in another kinde.
Upon hem thre, so as I finde,
Of swevenes stant al th'apparence,
Which otherwhile is evidence
And otherwhile bot a jape.
Bot natheles it is so schape,
That Morpheus be nyht alone
Appiereth until Alceone
In liknesse of hir housebonde
Al naked ded upon the stronde,
And hou he dreynte in special
These othre tuo it schewen al.
The tempeste of the blake cloude,
The wode see, the wyndes loude,
Al this sche mette, and sih him dyen;
Wherof that sche began to crien,
Slepende abedde ther sche lay,
And with that noise of hire affray
Hir wommen sterten up aboute,
Whiche of here ladi were in doute,
And axen hire hou that sche ferde;
And sche, riht as sche syh and herde,
Hir swevene hath told hem everydel.
And thei it halsen alle wel
And sein it is a tokne of goode;
Bot til sche wiste hou that it stode,
Sche hath no confort in hire herte,
Upon the morwe and up sche sterte,
And to the see, wher that sche mette
The bodi lay, withoute lette
Sche drowh, and whan that sche cam nyh,
Stark ded, hise armes sprad, sche syh
Hire lord flietende upon the wawe.
Wherof hire wittes ben withdrawe,
And sche, which tok of deth no kepe,
Anon forth lepte into the depe
And wolde have cawht him in hire arm.
This infortune of double harm
The goddes fro the hevene above
Behielde, and for the trowthe of love,
Which in this worthi ladi stod,
Thei have upon the salte flod
Hire dreinte lord and hire also
Fro deth to lyve torned so,
That thei ben schapen into briddes
Swimmende upon the wawe amiddes.
And whan sche sih hire lord livende
In liknesse of a bridd swimmende,
And sche was of the same sort,
So as sche mihte do desport,
Upon the joie which sche hadde
Hire wynges bothe abrod sche spradde,
And him, so as sche mai suffise,
Beclipte and keste in such a wise
As sche was whilom wont to do.
Hire wynges for hire armes tuo
Sche tok, and for hire lippes softe
Hire harde bile, and so fulofte
Sche fondeth in hire briddes forme,
If that sche mihte hirself conforme
To do the plesance of a wif,
As sche dede in that other lif.
For thogh sche hadde hir pouer lore,
Hir will stod as it was tofore,
And serveth him so as sche mai.
Wherof into this ilke day
Togedre upon the see thei wone,
Wher many a dowhter and a sone
Thei bringen forth of briddes kinde;
And for men scholden take in mynde
This Alceoun the trewe queene,
Hire briddes yit, as it is seene,
Of Alceoun the name bere.
Lo, thus, mi sone, it mai thee stere
Of swevenes for to take kepe,
For ofte time a man aslepe
Mai se what after schal betide.
Forthi it helpeth at som tyde
A man to slepe, as it belongeth,
Bot slowthe no lif underfongeth
Which is to love appourtenant."
"Mi fader, upon covenant
I dar wel make this avou,
Of all mi lif that into nou,
Als fer as I can understonde,
Yit tok I nevere slep on honde,
Whan it was time for to wake;
For thogh myn yhe it wolde take,
Min herte is evere theragein.
Bot natheles to speke it plein,
Al this that I have seid you hiere
Of my wakinge, as ye mai hiere,
It toucheth to mi lady swete.
For otherwise, I you behiete,
In strange place whanne I go,
Me list nothing to wake so.
For whan the wommen listen pleie,
And I hir se noght in the weie
Of whom I scholde merthe take,
Me list noght longe for to wake,
Bot if it be for pure schame,
Of that I wolde eschuie a name,
That thei ne scholde have cause non
To seie, 'Ha, lo, wher goth such on,
That hath forlore his contenaunce!'
And thus among I singe and daunce,
And feigne lust ther as non is.
For ofte sithe I fiele this:
Of thoght, which in mi herte falleth
Whanne it is nyht, myn hed appalleth,
And that is for I se hire noght
Which is the wakere of mi thoght.
And thus as tymliche as I may,
Fulofte whanne it is brod day,
I take of all these othre leve
And go my weie, and thei beleve,
That sen per cas here loves there.
And I go forth as noght ne were
Unto mi bedd, so that alone
I mai ther ligge and sighe and grone
And wisshen al the longe nyht,
Til that I se the daies lyht.
I not if that be Sompnolence,
Bot upon youre conscience,
Min holi fader, demeth ye."
"Mi sone, I am wel paid with thee,
Of slep that thou the sluggardie
Be nyhte in loves compaignie
Eschuied hast, and do thi peine
So that thi love thar noght pleine.
For love upon his lust wakende
Is evere, and wolde that non ende
Were of the longe nyhtes set.
Wherof that thou be war the bet,
To telle a tale I am bethoght,
Hou love and slep acorden noght.
[The Prayer of Cephalus]
For love who that list to wake
Be nyhte, he mai ensample take
Of Cephalus, whan that he lay
With Aurora that swete may
In armes all the longe nyht.
Bot whanne it drogh toward the liht,
That he withinne his herte sih
The dai which was amorwe nyh,
Anon unto the sonne he preide,
For lust of love, and thus he seide:
'O Phebus, which the daies liht
Governest til that it be nyht,
And gladest every creature
After the lawe of thi nature,
Bot natheles ther is a thing,
Which onli to the knouleching
Belongeth as in priveté
To love and to his dueté,
Which asketh noght to ben apert,
Bot in cilence and in covert
Desireth for to be beschaded.
And thus whan that thi liht is faded
And Vesper scheweth him alofte,
And that the nyht is long and softe,
Under the cloudes derke and stille
Thanne hath this thing most of his wille.
Forthi unto thi myhtes hyhe,
As thou which art the daies yhe,
Of love and myht no conseil hyde,
Upon this derke nyhtes tyde
With al myn herte I thee beseche
That I plesance myhte seche
With hire which lith in min armes.
Withdrawgh the banere of thin armes,
And let thi lyhtes ben unborn,
And in the signe of Capricorn,
The hous appropred to Satorne,
I preie that thou wolt sojorne,
Wher ben the nihtes derke and longe.
For I mi love have underfonge,
Which lith hier be mi syde naked,
As sche which wolde ben awaked,
And me lest nothing for to slepe.
So were it good to take kepe
Nou at this nede of mi preiere,
And that thee like for to stiere
Thi fyri carte, and so ordeigne,
That thou thi swifte hors restreigne
Lowe under erthe in Occident,
That thei towardes Orient
Be cercle go the longe weie.
And ek to thee, Diane, I preie,
Which cleped art of thi noblesse
The nyhtes mone and the goddesse,
That thou to me be gracious.
And in Cancro thin oghne hous
Agein Phebus in opposit
Stond al this time, and of delit
Behold Venus with a glad yhe.
For thanne upon astronomie
Of due constellacion
Thou makst prolificacion,
And dost that children ben begete:
Which grace if that I mihte gete,
With al myn herte I wolde serve
Be nyhte, and thi vigile observe.'
Lo, thus this lusti Cephalus
Preide unto Phebe and to Phebus
The nyhte in lengthe for to drawe,
So that he mihte do the lawe
In thilke point of loves heste,
Which cleped is the nyhtes feste,
Withoute slep of sluggardie,
Which Venus out of compaignie
Hath put awey, as thilke same,
Which lustles, ferr from alle game
In chambre doth fulofte wo
Abedde, whanne it falleth so
That love scholde ben awaited.10
Bot Slowthe, which is evele affaited,
With slep hath mad his retenue,
That what thing is to love due,
Of all his dette he paieth non.
He wot noght how the nyht is gon
Ne hou the day is come aboute,
Bot onli for to slepe and route
Til hyh midday, that he arise.
Bot Cephalus dede otherwise,
As thou, my sone, hast herd above."
"Mi fader, who that hath his love
Abedde naked be his syde,
And wolde thanne hise yhen hyde
With slep, I not what man is he:
Bot certes as touchende of me,
That fell me nevere yit er this.
Bot otherwhile, whan so is
That I mai cacche slep on honde
Liggende alone, thanne I fonde
To dreme a merie swevene er day;
And if so falle that I may
Mi thought with such a swevene plese,
Me thenkth I am somdiel in ese,
For I non other confort have.
So nedeth noght that I schal crave
The sonnes carte for to tarie,
Ne yit the mone, that sche carie
Hire cours along upon the hevene,
For I am noght the more in evene
Towardes love in no degree.
Bot in mi slep yit thanne I se
Somwhat in swevene of that me liketh,
Which afterward min herte entriketh,
Whan that I finde it otherwise.
So wot I noght of what servise
That slep to mannes ese doth."
"Mi sone, certes thou seist soth,
Bot only that it helpeth kinde
Somtyme, in Phisique as I finde,
Whan it is take be mesure.
Bot he which can no slep mesure
Upon the reule as it belongeth,
Fulofte of sodein chance he fongeth
Such infortune that him grieveth.
Bot who these olde bokes lieveth,
Of Sompnolence hou it is write,
Ther may a man the sothe wite,
If that he wolde ensample take,
That otherwhile is good to wake:
Wherof a tale in poesie
I thenke for to specefie.
[The Tale of Argus and Mercury]
Ovide telleth in his sawes
How Jupiter be olde dawes
Lay be a mayde, which Yo
Was cleped, wherof that Juno
His wif was wroth, and the goddesse
Of Yo torneth the liknesse
Into a cow, to gon theroute
The large fieldes al aboute
And gete hire mete upon the griene.
And therupon this hyhe queene
Betok hire Argus for to kepe,
For he was selden wont to slepe,
And yit he hadde an hundred yhen,
And alle alyche wel thei syhen.
Now herkne hou that he was beguiled.
Mercurie, which was al affiled
This cow to stele, he cam desguised,
And hadde a pipe wel devised
Upon the notes of musiqe,
Wherof he mihte hise eres like.
And over that he hadde affaited
Hise lusti tales, and awaited
His time; and thus into the field
He cam, where Argus he behield
With Yo, which beside him wente.
With that his pype on honde he hente,
And gan to pipe in his manere
Thing which was slepi for to hiere.
And in his pipinge evere among
He tolde him such a lusti song,
That he the fol hath broght aslepe.
Ther was non yhe mihte kepe
His hed, the which Mercurie of smot,
And forthwithal anon fot hot
He stal the cow which Argus kepte,
And al this fell for that he slepte.
Ensample it was to manye mo,
That mochel Slep doth ofte wo,
Whan it is time for to wake:
For if a man this vice take,
In Sompnolence and him delite,
Men scholde upon his dore wryte
His epitaphe, as on his grave;
For he to spille and noght to save
Is schape, as thogh he were ded.
Forthi, mi sone, hold up thin hed,
And let no slep thin yhe englue,
Bot whanne it is to resoun due."
"Mi fader, as touchende of this,
Riht so as I you tolde it is,
That ofte abedde, whanne I scholde,
I mai noght slepe, thogh I wolde;
For love is evere faste by me,
Which takth no hiede of due time.
For whanne I schal myn yhen close,
Anon min herte he wole oppose
And holde his scole in such a wise,
Til it be day that I arise,
That selde it is whan that I slepe.
And thus fro Sompnolence I kepe
Min yhe: and forthi if ther be
Oght elles more in this degré,
Now axeth forth."
"Mi sone, yis;
For Slowthe, which as moder is
The forthdrawere and the norrice
To man of many a dredful vice,
Hath yit another laste of alle,
Which many a man hath mad to falle,
Wher that he mihte nevere arise;
Wherof for thou thee schalt avise,
Er thou so with thiself misfare,
What vice it is I wol declare."
Nil fortuna iuuat, vbi desperacio ledit;
Quo desiccat humor, non viridescit humus.
Magnanimus set amor spem ponit et inde salutem
Consequitur, quod ei prospera fata fauent.11
"Whan Slowthe hath don al that he may
To dryve forth the longe day,
Til it be come to the nede,
Thanne ate laste upon the dede
He loketh hou his time is lore,
And is so wo begon therfore,
That he withinne his thoght conceiveth
Tristesce, and so himself deceiveth,
That he wanhope bringeth inne,
Wher is no confort to beginne,
Bot every joie him is deslaied.
So that withinne his herte affraied
A thousend time with o breth
Wepende he wissheth after deth,
Whan he fortune fint adverse.
For thanne he wole his hap reherce,
As thogh his world were al forlore,
And seith, 'Helas, that I was bore!
Hou schal I live? Hou schal I do?
For nou fortune is thus mi fo,
I wot wel God me wol noght helpe.
What scholde I thanne of joies yelpe,
Whan ther no bote is of mi care?
So overcast is my welfare,
That I am schapen al to strif.
Helas, that I nere of this lif,
Er I be fulliche overtake!'
And thus he wol his sorwe make,
As God him mihte noght availe.
Bot yit ne wol he noght travaile
To helpe himself at such a nede,
Bot slowtheth under such a drede,
Which is affermed in his herte,
Riht as he mihte noght asterte
The worldes wo which he is inne.
Also whan he is falle in sinne,
Him thenkth he is so ferr coupable,
That God wol noght be merciable
So grete a sinne to forgive;
And thus he leeveth to be schrive.
And if a man in thilke throwe
Wolde him consaile, he wol noght knowe
The sothe, thogh a man it finde.
For Tristesce is of such a kinde,
That for to meintiene his folie,
He hath with him Obstinacie,
Which is withinne of such a Slouthe,
That he forsaketh alle trouthe
And wole unto no resoun bowe.
And yit ne can he noght avowe
His oghne skile bot of hed.
Thus dwyneth he, til he be ded,
In hindringe of his oghne astat.
For where a man is obstinat,
Wanhope folweth ate laste,
Which mai noght after longe laste,
Til Slouthe make of him an ende.
Bot God wot whider he schal wende.
Mi sone, and riht in such manere
Ther be lovers of hevy chiere,
That sorwen mor than it is ned,
Whan thei be taried of here sped
And conne noght hemselven rede,
Bot lesen hope for to spede
And stinten love to poursewe.
And thus thei faden hyde and hewe,
And lustles in here hertes waxe.
Hierof it is that I wolde axe,
If thou, mi sone, art on of tho."
"Ha, goode fader, it is so,
Outake a point, I am beknowe;
For elles I am overthrowe
In al that evere ye have seid.
Mi sorwe is everemore unteid,
And secheth overal my veines;
Bot for to conseile of mi peines,
I can no bote do therto;
And thus withouten hope I go,
So that mi wittes ben empeired,
And I, as who seith, am despeired
To winne love of thilke swete,
Withoute whom, I you behiete,
Min herte, that is so bestad,
Riht inly nevere mai be glad.
For be my trouthe I schal noght lie,
Of pure sorwe, which I drye
For that sche seith sche wol me noght,
With drecchinge of myn oghne thoght
In such a wanhope I am falle,
That I ne can unethes calle,
As for to speke of eny grace,
Mi ladi merci to pourchace.
Bot yit I seie noght for this
That al in mi defalte it is;
For I cam nevere yit in stede,
Whan time was, that I my bede
Ne seide and, as I dorste, tolde.
Bot nevere fond I that sche wolde,
For oght sche knew of min entente,
To speke a goodly word assente.
And natheles this dar I seie,
That if a sinful wolde preie
To God of his forgivenesse
With half so gret a besinesse
As I have do to my ladi,
In lacke of askinge of merci
He scholde nevere come in helle.
And thus I mai you sothli telle,
Save only that I crie and bidde,
I am in Tristesce al amidde
And fulfild of Desesperance.
And therof gif me mi penance,
Min holi fader, as you liketh."
"Mi sone, of that thin herte siketh
With sorwe, miht thou noght amende,
Til love his grace wol thee sende,
For thou thin oghne cause empeirest
What time as thou thiself despeirest.
I not what other thing availeth,
Of hope whan the herte faileth,
For such a sor is incurable,
And ek the goddes ben vengable.
And that a man mai riht wel frede,
These olde bokes whoso rede,
Of thing which hath befalle er this.
Now hier of what ensample it is.
[The Tale of Iphis and Araxarathen]
Whilom be olde daies fer
Of Mese was the king Theucer,
Which hadde a kniht to sone, Iphis.
Of love and he so maistred is,
That he hath set al his corage
As to reguard of his lignage
Upon a maide of lou astat.
Bot thogh he were a potestat
Of worldes good, he was soubgit
To love, and put in such a plit,
That he excedeth the mesure
Of reson, that himself assure
He can noght; for the more he preide,
The lasse love on him sche leide.
He was with love unwys constreigned,
And sche with resoun was restreigned.
The lustes of his herte he suieth,
And sche for drede schame eschuieth,
And as sche scholde, tok good hiede
To save and kepe hir wommanhiede.
And thus the thing stod in debat
Betwen his lust and hire astat.
He gaf, he sende, he spak be mouthe,
Bot yit for oght that evere he couthe
Unto his sped he fond no weie,
So that he caste his hope aweie,
Withinne his herte and gan despeire
Fro dai to dai, and so empeire,
That he hath lost al his delit
Of lust, of slep, of appetit,
That he thurgh strengthe of love lasseth
His wit, and resoun overpasseth.
As he which of his lif ne rowhte,
His deth upon himself he sowhte,
So that be nyhte his weie he nam,
Ther wiste non wher he becam;
The nyht was derk, ther schon no mone,
Tofore the gates he cam sone,
Wher that this yonge maiden was,
And with this wofull word, 'Helas!'
Hise dedli pleintes he began
So stille that ther was no man
It herde, and thanne he seide thus:
'O thou Cupide, o thou Venus,
Fortuned be whos ordinaunce
Of love is every mannes chaunce,
Ye knowen al min hole herte,
That I ne mai your hond asterte;
On you is evere that I crie,
And yit you deigneth noght to plie,
Ne toward me youre ere encline.
Thus for I se no medicine
To make an ende of mi querele,
My deth schal be in stede of hele.
Ha, thou mi wofull ladi diere,
Which duellest with thi fader hiere
And slepest in thi bedd at ese,
Thou wost nothing of my desese,
Hou thou and I be now unmete.
Ha lord, what swevene schalt thou mete,
What dremes hast thou nou on honde?
Thou slepest there, and I hier stonde.
Thogh I no deth to thee deserve,
Hier schal I for thi love sterve,
Hier schal a kinges sone dye
For love and for no felonie;
Wher thou therof have joie or sorwe,
Hier schalt thou se me ded tomorwe.
O herte hard aboven alle,
This deth, which schal to me befalle
For that thou wolt noght do me grace,
Yit schal be told in many a place,
Hou I am ded for love and trouthe
In thi defalte and in thi slouthe.
Thi Daunger schal to manye mo
Ensample be for everemo,
Whan thei my wofull deth recorde.'
And with that word he tok a corde,
With which upon the gate tre
He hyng himself, that was pité.
The morwe cam, the nyht is gon,
Men comen out and syh anon
Wher that this yonge lord was ded.
Ther was an hous withoute red,
For no man knew the cause why.
Ther was wepinge and ther was cry:
This maiden, whan that sche it herde,
And sih this thing hou it misferde,
Anon sche wiste what it mente,
And al the cause hou it wente
To al the world sche tolde it oute,
And preith to hem that were aboute
To take of hire the vengance,
For sche was cause of thilke chance,
Why that this kinges sone is spilt.
Sche takth upon hirself the gilt,
And is al redi to the peine
Which eny man hir wole ordeigne.
And bot if eny other wolde,
Sche seith that sche hirselve scholde
Do wreche with hire oghne hond,
Thurghout the world in every lond
That every lif therof schal speke,
Hou sche hirself it scholde wreke.
Sche wepth, sche crith, sche swouneth ofte,
Sche caste hire yhen up alofte
And seide among ful pitously:
'A, Godd, Thou wost wel it am I,
For whom Iphis is thus besein.
Ordeine so, that men mai sein
A thousend wynter after this,
Hou such a maiden dede amis,
And as I dede, do to me.
For I ne dede no pité
To him which for mi love is lore,
Do no pité to me therfore.'
And with this word sche fell to grounde
Aswoune, and ther sche lay a stounde.
The goddes, whiche hir pleigntes herde
And syhe hou wofully sche ferde,
Hire lif thei toke awey anon,
And schopen hire into a ston
After the forme of hire ymage
Of bodi bothe and of visage.
And for the merveile of this thing
Unto the place cam the king
And ek the queene and manye mo;
And whan thei wisten it was so,
As I have told it hier above,
Hou that Iphis was ded for love,
Of that he hadde be refused,
Thei hielden alle men excused
And wondren upon the vengance.
And for to kepe in remembrance,
This faire ymage mayden liche
With compaignie noble and riche
With torche and gret sollempnité
To Salamyne the cité
Thei lede, and carie forth withal
The dede corps, and sein it schal
Beside thilke ymage have
His sepulture and be begrave:
This corps and this ymage thus
Into the cité to Venus,
Wher that goddesse hire temple hadde,
Togedre bothe tuo thei ladde.
This ilke ymage as for miracle
Was set upon an hyh pinacle,
That alle men it mihte knowe,
And under that thei maden lowe
A tumbe riche for the nones
Of marbre and ek of jaspre stones,
Wherin this Iphis was beloken,
That evermor it schal be spoken.
And for men schal the sothe wite,
Thei have here epitaphe write,
As thing which scholde abide stable.
The lettres graven in a table
Of marbre were and seiden this:
'Hier lith, which slowh himself, Iphis,
For love of Araxarathen:
And in ensample of tho wommen,
That soffren men to deie so,
Hire forme a man mai sen also,
Hou it is torned fleissh and bon
Into the figure of a ston.
He was to neysshe and sche to hard.
Be war forthi hierafterward;
Ye men and wommen bothe tuo,
Ensampleth you of that was tho.'
Lo thus, mi sone, as I thee seie,
It grieveth be diverse weie
In desespeir a man to falle,
Which is the laste branche of alle
Of Slouthe, as thou hast herd devise.
Wherof that thou thiself avise
Good is, er that thou be deceived,
Wher that the grace of hope is weyved."
"Mi fader, hou so that it stonde,
Now have I pleinly understonde
Of Slouthes court the propreté,
Wherof touchende in my degré
Forevere I thenke to be war.
Bot over this, so as I dar,
With al min herte I you beseche,
That ye me wolde enforme and teche
What ther is more of youre aprise
In love als wel as otherwise,
So that I mai me clene schryve."
"Mi sone, whyl thou art alyve
And hast also thi fulle mynde,
Among the vices whiche I finde
Ther is yit on such of the sevene,
Which al this world hath set unevene
And causeth manye thinges wronge,
Where he the cause hath underfonge.
Wherof hierafter thou schalt hiere
The forme bothe and the matiere."
Explicit Liber Quartus
Procrastination (see note)
property of nature
here and now
i.e., in his livery [as a retainer]
bade [me] abide yet
declared [that]; neither intelligent
Nor timely; then
might just as well send
by chance; clearly
planned to speak
in spite of my [will]
know well in the end
all the rest
cause; [to go] away
Against; (see note)
as a son
fleet of ships; led; (see note)
did entirely; desired
By; place of disembarkation
chosen; prepared; depart
caused him; know
delay; returning [to her]
once; in a prior time
(the swan) thrust
Sprawling (Writhing); two
delayed; a pity
to be feared
a second example
Since first; departed
their carnal desire
accomplish [their] deeds
endowed with beauty
make me blush
might [bring about]
And [should] remember
And that he [should] not delay
read over carefully
a day seems to him
but because of
their oil; unavailable
'had I known'
(see note); (t-note)
[because] of fantasy
by; lose he must
venture in order to win
Who lack courage
And dare ask nothing concerning love
I fully acknowledge
one; those [who are] slothful
according to what; (see note)
craft of sculpture he mastered
feature; outward appearance
full of tears; sleepless
cause him more pain
was most miserable
dared to speak; won
desired in bed
lonely (strange); (see note)
quarrel; (see note)
it would not be prevented
if she should bear a daughter
be nothing but destroyed
Who; childbearing; (see note)
Ordered to be kept
taken away then
[To] him was delivered
Who; in bed; (see note)
And caused [the love] to be put above nature
what nature naturally
he knows not
Deprived; plead for
a third part
is not worth a nutshell
what I planned to say
entirely intended [to] have declared
wither I will [go]; whence I came
out of; thrust; (t-note)
[I] stand; deaf
ivy leaf; (t-note)
thought well [to] have
start [as if from sleep]
fear; so good a person
cowardly heart; untutored
allow to freeze
dare to ask none
such a person
like it or not (willy-nilly)
[even] though I wanted [to]
what I intend
i.e., about twenty minutes
that is often useless
as if it had never been
[I] stand bewildered; befuddled
written music for
act according to you (i.e., to your advice)
dares not ask
knows; that men [should] make requests
That [God] will take thought for
from your diligence
by; (see note)
Sailing; (see note)
most becomes her
[she] pleases herself
[she] welcomed him
[it] should (mis)happen to her
pledges as surety
whether it were pleasing or not
die because of
delayed too long
abstaining from food
garden by herself alone; (t-note)
[So] that; faints
girdle of silk
against the slothful
[Such] that; instant
not missing then
keep watch over his documents
after the fact
horse; (see note)
plays; plan made after the event
he often suffers guile
believes he stands on solid ground
not one of the learned
That pertain to
handle of the tool
blade be fitting
Could teach me
would have learned it
Attain; lofty an erudition
It is not my Will's fault
still a beginner
since I know not; turn out
how it seems to you
is not destroyed
sun called; (see note)
[should] steer; chariot
[So] that; pathway
with good attention always
keep a sharp eye
[neither] too low nor too high
Because of which; tumble over
by Phebus' permission
his own control
Because he was
own situation saw not
it pleased them
was called; it seemed wretched to them
nurse; (see note)
nothing because of
freeze or sweat
sees by fortune
aristocratic privilege and its legal protection
according to his desires
[it] is so [that] she asks nothing
fail to approach
On [the] chance that I might
embrace her naked
despite; I cannot cease
by her permission
it pleases her to call
must I of necessity
composure; select [as agreeable]; (see note)
It does not please her [to] be with me
to occupy herself with
So that; speak well [of me]
wheel; (see note)
it pleases her
be aware of that
speak from time to time
despite themselves; must
Armenia; (see note)
Who then; renown
one deficiency [in her]
school [of love]
one of the slothful
[Will] have brought her up (i.e., have educated her)
by means of Cupid; power
Who then; youthfully sensual
who humbles proud hearts
made an instrument of punishment
before; sun arose
[that was] near by
seemed lovely to her
grove of trees
male; (see note)
could not escape
matching colors; company
each rode sidesaddle
gowns; expensive cloaks
all the same
enchanting beauty; their; (see note); (t-note)
Crowns; their heads; bear
As [if] each of them
For sheer wonder; herself aside
kept herself hidden; bough
limped; ill-shod (hurt by a nail)
On his forehead
at that particular time
[she] came forward; 'Wait!'
kept their love pledges
follow their path (see note)
their stable boy
previously, before; dead
So close my life was to its end
[So] that it (love)
In that my intention; to that extent
And may you admonish
desires healthy (unharmed)
is not; set upon with snares
dares to show its face
[So] that; would not occupy
so wise a person
of what happens if; suppresses
[it is] long before
burden; (see note)
fail to impose
unless [offspring] should be lacking
when she may enter into it
obstructed; most dear to her
duke; was called
[it] so happened; fight; (see note)
whether it [might] be
As soon as
band of knights
hinder that [which] must be; (see note)
Cut to pieces; burn
[to] which; beholden
with his permission
according to its merit
once men earned their love
carried out; their hands
more quickly; (see note); (t-note)
remove standoffishness from her attitude
to this labor I refer
it would be preferable to me
do not know
across the sea
[let] those cross over; foam
But place themselves in the midst
stop; (see note)
whoever [might] deserve renown
I shall serve love
(i.e., love and arms)
lose; (see note)
thanks; otherwise get
is missing; table
Separate me from
which ship-side; sail (i.e., on whatever tack)
commit to chance
continued to try
is persistent; (see note)
Except in how; succeed
though it seems a long time to you
sent to war; (t-note)
His (Ulysses') wife; passionately
[he] would not promise them [that he would go]
he (Ulysses) devised; clever deceit
A son as his child; advised
the same furrow; then plowed
to test (investigate)
And set directly before the plow
returns home half
whether it pleased him or not
not excuse himself
lofty chivalric deed
own loyal subject
[Apart] from Troy
[So] that; [would] remain
as if it were nothing
it was preferable to him
in his reputation
called back from the dead
knew [to be] determined
Join [in battle]; their
By Chiro; was called
(i.e., the listener)
In whom he would find no fight
Pursue; game animal
feats of strength
know not what use love would be to him
demands an inducement
And [as to] that
called; in his dominion
dared; refuse to give
earlier; [had] prayed
what the king [had] answered
removes all fears
that leaves no living thing untouched
hinder their arena
powerful a clutch
turns himself; bull
tosses them here
possesses no fear of him
[So] that; trickery
It seemed to her
He gained for himself to lie in arms
moreover; (see note)
written and portrayed
it was also pleasing
To Philemenis [to travel]
possess the renown
(i.e., Penthesilea); multitude
a pledge of tribute
manner he prospered
(see note); (t-note)
would not have
How nobility is to be described
has become vulnerable; (see note)
before all other
then; (see note)
at that time
be held responsible
ancient mother; (t-note)
according to nature
worldly circumstances; violent
made so wealthy
nothing else [produces it]
i.e., the virtue not based on wealth; achieve
presses its case
a courtier out of a peasant
creature; (see note)
Behave slothfully with regard to what
dead; (see note)
to be scorned
holds all instruction
that (such scorn)
is capable of
yield something worthwhile
birds; (see note)
From those who formerly were industrious
if it were [necessary] now to create
the perfection; (see note)
before; scattered seed on the ground
what we understand
physiognomy; (see note)
heart (seat of the emotions)
medicine; (see note)
Zeuxis; portrait painting; (see note)
woolen goods invented; (see note)
[by] her own hand
linen; (see note)
separate metal from ore; refine
that experienced science
assigned; sun; (see note)
moon; silver; its
pertains to Mars
reduction [to a nontransferable substance]
nature; them; commit to memory
learned procedures; (see note)
(see note); (t-note)
perceive and be animate
stench; lack of fusibility
i.e., gold and silver; (see note)
now knows none
lose; succeed [in making]
money is lost
the first one of all; (see note)
try them out
too much; too little
[own] cleverness; (see note)
took; (see note)
institutional instruction; (t-note)
[So] that; written results
facilitate; (see note)
a particular one
lay down his beak (i.e., go to sleep)
has done all the wooing he wants
[Such] that; unkissed
lays himself down softly
dream; erotic dream
know not; reward; (t-note)
[it] would be better utterly to
reputation, [may] God protect me
As soon as
from my mother abandoned me
(one of the fateful sisters)
Shaped for me
Avoid the truancy of sleep
it pleases her
It seems to me; floor
ask some question about love
what [it] pleases her to order
hear; (see note)
(i.e., or whatever else she wants)
at some point in the course of things
too late at night
he (her "daunger")
dependent (i.e., because of my wish)
pray God watch over her
swear and curse
be put away
next I think
i.e., affords sensual gratification
for a time; (t-note)
Just as if a tree trunk
stands as a pledge; (see note)
he (my heart)
whether she likes it or not
[should] seize me
what I dream of is not sheep
With love; watch over
[Such] that now; laugh
pray [that I might] never
lain; continued sleeping
sea accompanied him
two month's time
distress to seek (i.e., none lacking)
And at once
By dream vision; show
rainy cloak (rainbow) put on; (see note)
borders on Chimerea
eye; open (unshut)
impediment [to sleep]
animal; make noises
[On] the hill
reluctance (expression of woe)
whatever; pleases him
Someone who; at night
Icelos; second was called
sometimes is true testimony
other times but a joke
things are thus arranged
dreamed; saw him die
for their; fear
And in the morning
human ability lost
before; (see note)
hold in memory
But no one accepts sloth
[No one, that is] who
up to the present
It does not please me at all
wish to play
lost his composure
Who see by chance their
as if there were nothing [wrong]
your love ought not complain
I have in mind
maiden; (see note)
Because of desire
exposed (made public)
banner of your heraldic sign (i.e., sunrise)
moon; (see note)
that climax of love's command
is called; feast
pays nothing; (see note)
tricks my heart
taken in moderation
a man may know the truth
tales; (see note)
in olden days
furious; (see note)
food; grassy field
often causes harm; (see note)
For dying; not for being safe
[He] is fashioned
Except; appropriate to reason
with me (i.e., so has me in its grasp)
the appropriate time
give his lectures
has reached a crisis
withheld from him
a single breath
hopes for death
Alas; were not deceased
neglects to be absolved
reason except rashly (unadvisedly)
languishes (pines away); dead
delayed; their intention
know not how to counsel themselves
lose; of success
stop pursuing love
listless; their hearts grow
one of those
Except for; I confess
dared, said [it]
For insufficient requests for mercy
Once; far gone; (see note); (t-note)
as a son
In comparison to his lineage
gave [gifts]; sent [messages]
[to] become worse
exceeds his reason
had no pity
knew; where he went
shone no moon
place of health
incompatible (at odds)
unless some other would
did; (see note)
for a time
declare it must
know the truth
too soft; too
rocked the whole world
When he (i.e., that sin) has taken up the case