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Confessio Amantis: Prologue

The marginal Latin glosses, identified by a capital L in the left margin next to the text, are transcribed and translated in the notes and can be accessed by clicking on (see note) at the corresponding line.



1 Listlessness, dull discernment, little schooling and tiniest labor cause me, the least of all, to sing these little things. Nonetheless, in the tongue of Hengist in which the island of Brutus sings, with Carmentis’ aid I will utter English verses. Let then the boneless one that breaks bones with speeches be absent, and let the malicious interpreter (I pray) stand far off.

2 Present-day Fortune has left behind the blessed times of the past, and overturned on her world-wheel the ancient ways. In the old days, harmonious love engendered peace, when a person's face was the messenger of his thought: the unicolored air of those days was aglow with laws, and the paths of justice were broad and even. But now hidden hatred presents a painted face of love, and cloaks under false peace an age at arms. The law carries on like the chameleon, changeable with every varied thing; and new laws are for new kingdoms. Regions that were most steady throughout the world’s orb are unmoored, nor do they possess axis-points of quiet.

3 The laws of yesterday that old Moses and new John — that one — cherished, this day hardly keeps. Thus the church, formerly glittering with double virtue and now disheveled, grows pale on either path. At the word of Christ the sword of Peter, restored to its peaceful sheath, abhorred the way of blood; now, however, with sacred law grown tepid, covetousness vigorously thrusts its blood-stained sword. Thus the wolf is the shepherd, the father the enemy, death the commiserator, the brigand the benefactor, and the peace on earth is fear.

4 So long as the commonfolk lies subjugated by royal law, it will bear its burden as meek as a ewe lamb; if its head should come up and the law release its reins on it, as desire demands, it becomes like a tiger [or, like the Tigris River]. Fire, domination by water are two things lacking mercy, but the wrath of the commoners is still more violent.

5 Fortunate and adverse, turning through its mazy trail, the unclean, disordered world deceives every sort. The world's outcomes are tossed by chance like a die, as quickly as the covetous hand throws at the games. Like an image of man do the ages of the world vary, and nothing but the love of God stands firm.








Abbreviations: Anel.: Chaucer, Anelida and Arcite; BD: Chaucer, Book of the Duchess; CA: Gower, Confessio Amantis; CT: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; HF: Chaucer, House of Fame; LGW: Chaucer, Legend of Good Women; Mac: Macaulay (4 vol. Complete Works); MED: Middle English Dictionary; Met.: Ovid, Metamorphoses; MO: Gower, Mirour de l’Omme; MS(S): manuscript(s); OED: Oxford English Dictionary; PF: Chaucer, Parliament of Fowls; PL: Patrologia Latina; RR: Lorris and de Meun, Roman de la Rose; TC: Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde; Tilley: Tilley, Dictionary of Proverbs in England; Vat. Myth.: Vatican Mythographer I, II, or III; VC: Gower, Vox Clamantis; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases. For manuscript abbreviations, see Textual Notes, below.

Latin verses i (before line 1). Lines 1–2: Opening protestations of literary modesty were legion in medieval Latin poetry. This verse parallels in brief outline the longer, preliminary sections of the popular twelfth-century school-text, Johannes de Hauvilla’s Architrenius, which inveighs against Sloth, Lechery, Sleep, Detraction, Mockery, Error, etc. (lines 1–40), asserts the poet’s modest abilities yet confidence in success (lines 55–56), and exhorts envious detractors to remain far off (lines 213–15). Behind the modesty trope, Gower challenges his audience to read his work sympathetically, even though it is written in English. The implication is that English, Hengist’s language (line 3), is inferior as a literary language. To counteract its insularity he alludes to the history of the peoples of the island and the heroic origins of the nation founded by Brutus, the great-grandson of Aeneas. See Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain for the full account of the Trojan descendant’s winning of the island from giants, founding his kingdom, and siring a line of kings that culminates with King Arthur, despite the treachery of Hengist. Hengist was the first Saxon on the island. One anecdote in this mythical history recounts that Hengist’s daughter greeted the reigning British king, Vortiger, with the drinking toast “Wassail!” (“Be healthy!”); according to the fourteenth- and fifteenth-century prose Brut, a popular French and English adaptation and continuation of Geoffrey’s history, this was the first “Englisshe” word spoken in Britain (Brut, ch. 57; ed. Brie, 1.52). Line 4: Carmentis is said by Isidore of Seville to have first brought Latin script to the speakers of ancient Italy (Etymologies 1.4.1). Gower will “utter” but also write his English verses, an event implicitly as foundational as Hengist’s and Carmentis’ founding contributions to linguistic history. See Echard, “With Carmen’s Help,” pp. 3–10, on Carmen as Gower’s muse and one who makes tongues. Line 5: The tongue, whose lack of bones yet had “bone-breaking” power, was the subject of many Latin proverbs (ed. Echard and Fanger, pp. xxxvii and 3). See also VC 5.921–22: “Res mala lingua loguax, res peior, pessima res est, / Que quamuis careat ossibus, ossa terit” (“An evil thing is a talkative tongue . . . / which although it lack bones, destroys bones”); and CA 3.462–65: “the harde bon . . . [a] tunge brekth it al to pieces.” Line 6: The Architrenius also concludes its introductory sections with the same ritual apotropaicism: “Let the slanderous razor of envy, keen only in treachery, remain far off, and far off too be that viper whose venom is harmful only to noteworthy achievements” (lines 213–15).

On the subject of CA as a bilingual poem with distinct functions for each language, see Yeager, “‘Oure englisshe’ and Everyone’s Latin”; Minnis, Medieval Theory of Authorship, pp. 274–75n45; and Olsen, “Betwene Ernest and Game,” pp. 5–18 (on likenesses between its bilingual structure and that of Dante’s Vita Nuova). Pearsall suggests that the vernacular author who nearest approaches Gower in his extensive use of Latin in diverse ways (vatic verse headings, scho­lastic apparatus of prose commentaries, Latin speech prefixes, and elabor­ate Latin apparatus at the end of the poem including a long colophon and various Latin poems) is Boccaccio (“Gower’s Latin in the Confessio Amantis,” p. 15). For further discussion of Gower’s Latin verses see Echard and Fanger, Latin Verses, especially pp. xiii–lviii, and sundry notes. On Gower’s shorter Latin poems see the edi­tion by Yeager (Minor Latin Works). On tensions between Latin and English texts see Batchelor, “Feigned Truth and Exemplary Method.”

2 bokes duelle. Gower positions books as the repository of moral values and his­tory, against which he encourages the reader to judge present behavior. Books provide examples from “olde wyse” (line 7); that wisdom of the past enables people to see what is new, whether in method, topic, or circumstance.

7 Essampled. For discussion of Gower’s use of narrative exempla see Yeager, “John Gower and the Exemplum Form”; Shaw, “Gower’s Illustrative Tales”; Simpson, Sciences and the Self; Runacres, “Art and Ethics”; and Mitchell, Ethics and Ex­emplary Narrative. For his use of Ovid see Harbert, “Lessons from the Great Clerk.” See also note to Book 1, line 79.

7–8 wyse . . . wyse. Gower’s verse thrives on rime riche, the rhyming of homophones (words with the same sound but different meanings or functions). The device catches the ear off-guard and provokes double, more careful reading, the way riddles do. Single glosses (e.g., wyse as both “wise” [men or books] and “man­ner”) can scarce­ly do justice to the device which, like puns, flourishes on multi­plicity of mean­ings and function, such as adjective versus noun, etc. The de­vice reminds us that glosses are starting points only, not simple equations or “facts.” See note to Prol.237–38.

11-18 An inkblot in the middle of the first column obliterates a portion of the text. The blot apparently was made sometime after the page had been copied and bound, for two streaks extend toward the center, as if running down the page. A corresponding blot occurs on the facing page, a mirror image of the first blot. If this MS was in fact corrected by Gower, as Macaulay suggested, the poet himself could be the culprit (2:cxxx). More likely, the accident occurred at some later date after the presentation of the copy.

17 The middel weie is both a rhetorical and an ethical proposition. Gower would see his poem as a mediator between social issues and personal moral choices. See Middleton (“Idea of Public Poetry,” pp. 101–02) on the public dimen­sions of Gower’s methodological agenda. By striking a medial position be­tween wisdom and delight, with English as his medium, the poet would make fictive paradigms from which moral therapy might be achieved. See Intro­duction.

19 Somwhat of lust, somewhat of lore. See Zeeman on Gower’s appropriation of “Amans, his love, his text and all texts of courtly love into an exemplum of worldly uncertainty and deceit” (“Framing Narrative,” p. 223). Lust, she sug­gests, denotes desire, the feeling of pleasure and delight, but also the object of desire and something causing pleasure. The shift of the narrator from auctor to Amans engages the reader in the pleasure of narrative, while the conversion of the lover into the old man in Book 8 brutally subverts the courtly narrative as a deceit from which there is no “recoverir” (pp. 231–32, with reference to 8.2443).

22 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic in principio declarat qualiter in anno Regis Ricardi secun­di sexto decimo Iohannes Gower presentem libellum composuit et finaliter com­ple­uit, quem strenuissimo domino suo domino Henrico de Lancastria tunc Derbeie Comiti cum omni reuerencia specialiter destinauit. [Here in the beginning he de­clares how in the sixteenth year of King Richard II John Gower composed and ultimately completed the present little book, which he especially directed with all reverence to the most vigorous lord, his lord Henry of Lancaster, at that time Earl of Derby.] This Latin inscription is found in only five MSS, and appears to be a late addition, after the establishing of the third recension, though not necessarily in third recension copies. It does not occur, however, in Fairfax 3. Olsson points out that what is important here is the fact that the note replaces a gloss at Prol.34 of the first recension, which read: “John Gower . . . most zealously compiled the present little book, like a honeycomb gathered from various flowers” (see full text of the gloss below, at the end of the following note). Olsson suggests that the shift from compilauit to compleuit (from compilation to composition) may indicate a shift in Gower’s conception of his work as he puts aside the earlier sense of himself as a compilator gather­ing flowers of wisdom from the past to consider himself more confidently in the role of auctor (Structures of Conversion, pp. 5–11). Nicholson (“Dedications,” pp. 171–74), on the other hand, suggests that the Latin note was added by Gower or a scribe long after the original presentation to Henry, and thus the gloss gives a misleading account of the history of CA.

24 A bok for Engelondes sake. Aers (“Reflections on Gower as ‘Sapiens in Ethics and Politics’”) sees in the phrase an epitome of Gower’s attack on ecclesiastical fail­ure. Aers suggests that Gower is attempting to persuade lay power, es­pecially that of the sovereign (line 25), that what was destructive of the church was also subversive of royal power, and that “the sovereign needed the whole­hearted support of the church. . . . The auctor of the Prologue and Genius in Book II [with his attack on the papacy] develop a radical critique of the actually exist­ing church combined with a defence of the secular sovereign’s role in chal­lenging the ecclesiastical hierarchy when it is judged to be in serious error” (p. 196).

24-92 These lines are found only in third recension MSS. That is, they must have been written c. 1392 when Gower rededicated the poem to Henry of Lan­caster, count of Derby. Nicholson (“Dedications”) argues that the change in text represents the honoring of a patron, not some disenchanted transfer of allegiance from Richard to the count of Derby; others have seen evidences of disappoint­ment in Richard (e.g., Peck, Kingship and Common Profit, pp. 7–9; “Politics and Psychology,” pp. 224–38; Ferster, Fictions of Advice, pp. 109–10; and Simpson, Sciences and the Self, pp. 297–99). The majority of the MSS include the Richard citation here marked as *24–*92, rather than the dedi­cation to Henry that was introduced in 1392 as in the carefully corrected Fair­fax 3 MS. But the earlier dedication continued to be copied after 1392, almost certainly with Gower’s approval. Thus I have placed the first dedication as a parallel text in this edition. For further com­ment see note to Prol.25, below. On Gower as a Lancastrian advocate, see Staley, Languages of Power, pp. 351–55.

[The Ricardian recension of the poem reads as follows:]

A book for King Richardes sake
To whom bilongeth my ligeance
With al myn hertes obeissance
In al that ever a liege man
Unto his king may doon or can;
So ferforth I me recomaunde
To him which al me may comaunde,
Prayend unto the hihe regne
Which causeth every king to regne,
That his corone longe stonde.
I thenke and have it understonde,
As it bifel upon a tyde,
As thing which scholde tho bityde,
Under the toun of newe Troye,
Which took of Brut his ferste joye,
In Temse whan it was flowende
As I by bote cam rowende,
So as Fortune hir tyme sette,
My liege lord par chaunce I mette;
And so bifel, as I cam neigh,
Out of my bot, whan he me seigh,
He bad me come into his barge.
And whan I was with him at large,
Amonges othre thinges seyde
He hath this charge upon me leyde,
And bad me doo my busynesse
That to his hihe worthinesse
Som newe thing I scholde booke,
That he himself it mighte looke
After the forme of my writyng.
And thus upon his comaundyng
Myn hert is wel the more glad
To write so as he me bad;
And eek my fere is wel the lasse
That non envye schal compasse
Without a resonable wite
To feyne and blame that I write.
A gentil herte his tunge stilleth,
That it malice noon distilleth,
But preyseth that is to be preised;
But he that hath his word unpeysed
And handeleth onwrong every thing,
I pray unto the heven king
Fro suche tunges He me schilde.
And natheles this world is wilde
Of such jangling, and what bifalle,
My kinges heste schal nought falle,
That I, in hope to deserve
His thonk, ne schal his wil observe;
And elles were I nought excused,
For that thing may nought be refused
Which that a king himselve byt.
Forthi the symplesce of my wit
I thenke if that it may avayle
In his service to travaile.
Though I seknesse have upon honde,
And long have had, yit wol I fonde,
So as I made my byheste,
To make a book after his heste,
And write in such a maner wise,
Which may be wisdom to the wise
And pley to hem that lust to pleye.
But in proverbe I have herd seye
That who that wel his werk begynneth
The rather a good ende he wynneth;
And thus the prologe of my book
After the world that whilom took,
And eek somdel after the newe,
I wol begynne for to newe.
(see note)
myself admit
all people may
Praying; high ruler (i.e., God)
then happen
(see note)
Thames; flowing
came rowing by in a boat
(see note)
comfortably (without restraint)
meanly perverts
ordered; (t-note)
(see note)
once came about

[Here ends the passage for which Gower substituted new lines in Fairfax 3.]

*24-*25 book . . . bilongeth. N.b. spelling differences here as juxtaposed to the spelling of the Fairfax scribe. Macaulay uses Bodley 294 as the text for the Ricardian version, as do I. He allows that the spelling in his edition has been “slightly normalized” (2:457), which is an understatement. I have followed the spelling of Bodley 294 as an antidote to any notion that the spelling of the Fairfax 3 scribe necessarily equates with Gower’s.

25 The yer sextenthe of Kyng Richard. Gower completed his first version of CA dur­ing or prior to the fourteenth year of Richard’s reign. Although some por­tions of the poem may have been written four or five years or perhaps even seven years earlier, when Chaucer was working on TC and beginning LGW, the Pro­logue of CA may have been completed later. In that first version, lines *24–*92 tell of Gower’s boarding of the royal barge and the king’s requesting that he write the poem, which the poet agrees to do despite ill health (*79–*80), out of “ligeance” and “obeissance” (lines *25–*26) to his king. By 1392, the sixteenth year of Richard’s reign, Gower rewrote this beginning and conclusion of the poem, deleting the king’s commission here and the ending of the poem in praise of Richard’s worthiness, and dedicated the poem to Henry of Lancaster (see Prol. 81–92 and the Latin postscript to Book 8), even as much as seven years before Henry would become king. (See Mac 2:cxxvii–clxx, for a description of most of the known MSS and an account of the revisions; see Fisher, John Gower, pp. 116– 17, for discussion of the revisions in their historical setting.) The politics underlying the revision are not known. Perhaps Gower became disenchanted with Richard’s behavior as king at the time of the king’s harsh treatment of London officials earlier in 1392. That he sees hope for England in a man like Henry of Lancaster so long before he would return from exile to “save” England seems clairvoyant, though it is quite possible that Gower meant only for the Fairfax 3 version of CA to be a compliment to Henry and that recopying of the earlier recensions continued with the poet’s approval.

*33 That his corone longe stonde. This line, especially, resonates in its omission from the third recension, where Gower speaks of time reversing itself as it yearns for the good rule of one like Henry of Lancaster. In the Tripartite Chronicle, Gower, per­haps anachronistically, sees Richard’s misbehavior reaching back to 1392 and earlier as he quite boldly speaks of not only shortening but ending Richard’s reign.

*34–*35 Latin marginalia: Inserted between lines *34–*35 in MS Bodley 294, a second recension MS which has been my copy-text for lines *24–*92, is a Latin summary: Hic declarat in primis qualiter ob reuerenciam serenissimi principis domini sui [Regis Anglie Ricardi secundi] totus suus humilis Iohannes Gower, licet graui infirmitate a diu multipliciter fatigatus, huius opusculi labores suscipere non recusauit, sed tanquam fauum ex variis floribus recollectum, presentem libellum ex variis cronicis, historiis, poetarum philosophorumque dictis, quatenus sibi infirmitas permisit, studio­sissime compilauit. [Here he declares particularly how, because of reverence of the most serene prince, his lord king of England Richard II, his own and humble John Gower, although long wearied in many ways by grave illness, did not refuse to take up the labors of this little work, but instead has most zeal­ously compiled the present little book from various chronicles, histories, and sayings of poets and philosophers, like a honeycomb gathered from various flowers, to the extent that his infirmity allowed him.] In some first and second recension MSS, e.g., Cambridge University Library Mm 2.21, the Latin note appears in the margin, though the practice of inserting marginal prose summaries into the text itself, just as the Latin verse epigrams appear in the text, is common in many of the later MSS, even though the insertion disrupts the sense and syntax of the English verse. Usually the Latin insertions are written in a different colored ink, as here. On the variis floribus trope as evidence of Gower’s initial regard for his work as compilatio, a sort of anthology of purposeful writing from former days, see Olsson, Structures of Conversion, pp. 5–11.

*37 newe Troye. Gower flatters Richard and the kingdom with the allusion to London as the “new Troye,” as if to identify a renaissance of ancient culture of which they are the heart. The designation was encouraged by Edward III and Richard II, as part of the celebration of the new vernacular culture surpassing that of France or even Italy. The term evolves from the mythography of Geoffrey of Monmouth, since the Trojan descendant Brutus founded his kingdom on the happy island. Contemporary romances based on Geoffrey, such as The Alliterative Morte Arthure, impress their audience with the superiority of Arthur’s culture to that of Rome or France. See note to Latin verses i, above.

*45 He bad me come into his barge. For speculation against the historicity of the meeting on the Thames, see Grady, “Gower’s Boat.” But see Staley, Languages of Power, pp. 16–17.

52 burel clerk. Literally, one dressed in coarse clothing — hence common or ignorant; possibly a lay clerk, though more likely an oxymoron (secular-religious). See Galloway, “Gower in His Most Learned Role,” on the unusual posture of secular learnedness that Gower cultivates.

59 neweth every dai. See Olsson, Structures of Conversion, pp. 10 ff., on Gower’s con­cept of the value of reading and of the past as new ideas come out of old works. The idea is intimately linked to his technique of compilatio, which be­comes a means of invention rather than encyclopedic accumu­lation. The re­telling converts dead ideas to living ones for the audience as well as for Amans. Olsson goes on to suggest that this process of perpetual renewal provides an interconnectedness between Gower’s earlier writings and CA (pp. 16 ff.). Com­pare Chaucer’s “For out of olde feldes, as men seyth, / Cometh al this newe corn from yer to yere” (PF lines 22–23).

60 So as I can, so as I mai. Proverbial: “As I am able, so will I do.” Not in Whiting, though Tilley, Dictionary of Proverbs, offers the variant: “Men must do as they may (can), not as they would” (M554).

61-62 Although the allusion to the poet’s illness enhances the Prologue’s theme of the degenerating world and thus anticipates the conclusion to the poem where the poet rejects mundane love because of his decrepitude, biographers gen­erally agree that Gower was in fact in ill health during his later years. He had retired from public life some fifteen years earlier and was now over sixty years old. It is note­worthy that this couplet alone is found in both the first and third recensions (compare *79–*80). Gower changed the dedication, but not the reference to his illness.

67 to wisdom al belongeth. Simpson argues that the branch of wisdom to which Gow­er is referring is that of the stoic and moral philosophers (Socrates, Seneca, and Boethius), who, according to Robert Holcot’s third kind of sapientia in his Com­mentum super librum sapientiae, define sapientia as “the collection of intel­lectual and moral powers” (“Ironic Incongruence,” pp. 618–19).

72 bot the god alone. Conceivably the sense might be “God alone.” But Macaulay (2:459) notes the preeminence of locutions such as “the god” (i.e., the good) in 2:594, and “the vertu” (Prol.116), “the manhode” (Prol.260), “the man” (Prol.546, 582), and “[t]he charité” (Prol.319), etc. See also “the vertu and the vice” (Prol.79). The placement of the article reflects a French affectation. The implication seems deterministic, as if the good know by virtue of their good­ness. See Mark 4:11–12, where the good see and hear the mysteries of God, but to others (those outside the faith) things happen in parables.

77 ff. Macaulay suggests that in lines 77 ff. Gower alludes to Book 7, which deals with the instruction of great men. He glosses the lines to read: “I shall make a discourse also with regard to those who are in power, marking the distinction between the virtues and the vices which belong to their office” (2:459). Cer­tainly the sense of the lines is complex with respect to authority and submis­sion (see marginal gloss to lines 77–80). Book 7 provides one context; but the lines might also be understood in terms of CA 8.2109–20, where the focus shifts from great men as power figures now to kingship as a psycho­logical phenomenon. That is, in writing about love which has upset so many men he will in this “wise” (that is, in the mode of courtly romance) consider virtues and vices which have general significance to “great” men of all times. See Peck’s discussion of 8.2109 ff. in Kingship and Common Profit, pp. 173–74, and his earlier edition (1967), pp. xxi–xxii.

81-87 Bot for my wittes . . . amendement . . . is Henri named. The modesty trope with deference to the patron is common in late fourteenth- and early-fifteenth-century literature, as the author presents his work as receptive to criticism.

*86–*88 in proverbe. See Whiting W646.

Latin verses ii (before line 93). Line 2: vertit in orbe has punning implications difficult to translate in brief: vertit may mean “has overturned, destroyed,” but also in context the rotation of Fortune’s orb; in orbe may mean “on [Fortune’s] wheel” or “in the world.” The association between Fortune’s orbis and the world’s orbis is increasingly clear in the verse (as throughout Gower’s poetry). “World-wheel” makes an effort to capture both the global sense and the pun on For­tune’s inexorably turning wheel. Compare Chaucer’s “Lak of Sted­fast­nesse” and “Fortune: Balade de Visage sanz Peinture.” The idea of a “golden age” is a commonplace of ancient and medieval poetry; for Gower’s likeliest models see Boethius, Consolation 2.m.5, and Jean de Meun, RR, lines 8381–9668. Compare Chaucer’s “The Former Age.” Line 9: For a dif­ferent comparison to the chameleon, see CA 1.2698–2702.

94 The tyme passed. On Gower’s nostalgic feel for the ancients and former days as an ubi sunt golden age, see Peter, Complaint and Satire, p. 70.

Latin marginalia: De statu regnorum, vt dicunt, secundum temporalia, videlicet tempore regis Ricardi secundi anno regni sui sexto decimo. [Concerning the status of kingdoms, as they say, in regard to worldly matters, particularly in the time of King Richard II in the sixteenth year of his reign.]

113 The word was lich to the conceite. A phrase equivalent to Chaucer’s “The wordes moote be cosyn to the dede” (CT I[A]742), which Chaucer attributes to Plato. The phrase is proverbial. See Whiting W645.

120 in special. “In its specifics, or singularities,” or “in its details, or particularities.” Gower frequently uses the term with philosophical precision, as if it marks features of the minor premise from which causation might be deduced. See Prol.165, 281, 383, 432, 572, 946. Boethius speaks of the confusion of human­kind in terms of knowing and not knowing simultaneously: “while the soule is hidd in the cloude and in the derknesse of the membres of the body, it ne hath nat al foryeten itself, but it withholdeth the somme of thinges and lesith the singularites. Thanne who so that sekith sothnesse, he nis in ney­ther nother habite, for he not nat al, ne he ne hath nat al foryeten; but yit hym remem­breth the somme of thinges that he withholdeth, and axeth conseile, and retretith deepliche thinges iseyn byforne (that is to seyn, the grete somme in his mynde) so that he mowe adden the parties that he hath foryeten to thilke that he hath withholden” (Chaucer’s Boece, 5.m.3.43–56; emphasis mine).

124 comune vois. Macaulay emends to comun vois. His emendation improves the meter. In his idealism, Gower imagines an innate voice of truth lying within the people of every society, like a God-given conscience which might be sounded in hard times despite the almost universal corruptions of sin and oppression. See Peck, Kingship and Common Profit (especially pp. xi–xxv), for discussion of the people and the common voice. Compare the proverb vox populi vox dei, which recurs in MO and VC. See Whiting V52–V54.

143 Stonde in this world upon a weer. Weer derives from Old Germanic *warra, mean­ing “conflict,” “doubt,” “uncertainty.” N.b. OHG werra, MDu, MLG werre, ONF wiere, and OE and ME wer(e). In ME its homonym weir, for a bog or stagnant water, provides a rich pun, as one who stonde in doubt is akin to one who stands on unstable ground or is “bogged down.” A second homonym, were (the past tense of the verb to be), provides a further pun, as if the newness of an idea passes, becomes lost, and the mind falls back into a forgetting. See Chaucer’s HF, lines 970–82, for a similar use of the term. This wordplay is highly Boethian in its sense of place versus lack of steadfastness, a sensibility commonly implicit in the often-repeated main verb to stand, which is used philosophically several hundred times in CA (e.g., “evere stant . . . in doute” [Prol.562] or “stant evere upon debat” [Prol.567]). On uncertainty and muta­bility as philosophical concepts within the Prologue and Book 1, see Simpson, Sciences and the Self.

152-53 Latin marginalia: Apostolus. Regem honorificate [The Apostle: "Honor the king" — I Peter 2:17]

155 With al his herte and make hem chiere. “And welcome them with all his heart.” Gower commonly places the conjunction in a medial position where we would require its position at the head of the clause. See also Prol.521, 756, and 1014. Macaulay cites Prol.759 as well, which is possible, though I have punctuated the sentence as if the first clause were an instance of enjambment and “wroghte” a transitive verb.

156 ff. Latin marginalia: Salomon. Omnia fac cum consilio [Solomon: “Do all things with counsel”] Fili sine consilio nihil facias, et post factum non paeniteberis [My son, do nothing without counsel, and thou shalt not repent when thou hast done — Vulgate/Douai, Ecclesiasticus 32:24]. Macaulay (2:460) notes that Gower often cites Ecclesiasticus in MO, but the proverb is very common. Compare Chaucer’s Miller’s Tale (CT I[A]3529–30): “For thus seith Salomon, that was ful trewe: / ‘Werk al by conseil, and thou shalt nat rewe’”; and Merchant’s Tale (CT IV[E]1485–86): “Wirk alle thyng by conseil . . . And thanne shaltow nat repente thee.” See Whiting C470. The proverb also occurs in The Tale of Melibee (CT VII[B2]1003) which Benson suggests is due to Albertanus of Brescia, Lib. consolationis et consilii, a source for The Tale of Melibee.

167 Among the men to geve pes. Gower is alluding to the recurrent wars with France, Spain, and Scotland. A three-year truce had been made with France and Scotland in 1389, but, because of profiteering, it was not maintained. An attempt for a truce with Spain in the same year failed. Not until 1396, when Richard married the daughter of the king of France, was a firm truce established with the French.

Latin verses iii (before line 193). Line 4: Macaulay suggests the double virtue to be charity and chastity (2:460).

194-99 Latin marginalia: De statu cleri, vt dicunt, secundum spiritualia, videlicet tempore Roberti Gibbonensis, qui nomen Clementis sibi sortitus est, tunc antipape. [Concerning the status of the clergy, as they say, in regard to spiritual matters, in the time of Robert of Geneva, who took to himself the name Clement, at that time the antipope.] In 1378 the Great Schism began, in which both Pope Urban VI (supported by the English) and Clement VII (supported by the French) were elected popes, in Rome and Avignon respectively; the schism did not end until 1418. Gower attacks the Avignon pope Clement also in VC 3.955–56. It may be a sign of his different anticipated audiences or different kinds of linguistic decorum that, although Gower discusses in English the moral point of the schism (below, lines 360–77), he names names only in Latin.

196 Ensample. The term is a favorite of Gower in defining “a fitting vehicle for his personal philosophy by mirroring the complexities and interrelatedness of the microcosm and the macrocosm in its multileveled construction” (Shaw, “Gower’s Illustrative Tales,” p. 447). See Simpson, Sciences and the Self; Runacres, “Art and Ethics”; and Mitchell, Ethics and Exemplary Narrative, on the diversity of rhetorical functions of “ensamples” in CA as Gower effects the trans­formation of sources for judiciously particularized situations.

204 Simon. Simon Magus, a Samaritan sorcerer mentioned in Acts 8:18–24. Simon offers money for purchasing the power of the Holy Spirit, but Peter rebukes him, condemning his iniquity. Hence, simony, the practice of buying or selling ecclesiastical preferment, benefices, emoluments, or sacred objects for personal gain. Simon’s name became synonymous with ecclesiastical corruption. See also line 241.

207-11 Lumbard . . . withoute cure. Lombardy, especially Milan and Lucca, was the banking center of Europe in the fourteenth century. The Lombards were so notorious as bankers, moneylenders, and pawnbrokers that their name came to denote such behavior in both Old French and Middle English (OED ). Lang­land links Lombards and Jews to exemplify avarice in Piers Plowman B 5.238, and in C 4.193–94 he yokes merchants, “mytrede bysshopes,” Lom­bards, and Jews as enemies of Conscience. Lombard bankers were often em­ployed as intermediaries in church and state transactions, which sometimes became confused. The Lombard’s refusal to make eschange alludes to King Richard’s dispute with London when city officials would not lend revenue to the king but would lend to the Lombards. Macaulay notes that “the ‘letter’ referred to [in line 209] is the papal provision, or perhaps the letter of request addressed to the pope in favour of a particular person” (2:461). Gower makes a similar complaint in VC 3.1375 ff. (See also CA 2.2093 ff.) For full discussion of the relationship of the Lombard bankers to English kings in the previous century, see Kaeuper, Bankers to the Crown.

237-38 goode . . . goode. Rime équivoque, where the poet repeats words or portions of words with punning effect (compare rime riche), and metonymic structures are preeminent features of Gower’s rhetoric and the basis of much of its wit and innuendo. For discussion of the devices and their effects upon the poem’s texture see Olsen, “Betwene Ernest and Game,” pp. 33–69. For a tour de force example of the device see 5.79–90.

247 lawe positif. Positive law refers to any law which is arbitrarily instituted; it is customarily classified as distinct from divine law and natural law. Gower’s point is that the church has departed from its own regulation. It is perhaps note­worthy that under positive law fell the selling of indulgences, pardons, trentals, and the like, a jurisdiction that was much abused. Chaucer satirizes the manipulations of such laws in The Friar’s Tale, The Summoner’s Tale, and The Pardoner’s Tale. See also Piers Plowman B 7.168–95 and VC 3.227 ff.

266-77 “The allusion is to the circumstances of the campaign of the Bishop of Nor­wich in 1385; cf. Vox Clam. iii. 373 (margin), and see Froissart (ed. Lettenhove [Brussels, 1879]), vol. x. p. 207” (Mac 2:461–62).

284 Gregoire. The allusion is to Gregory I’s Pastoral Care 1.8, 9. (See PL 76.1128.)

298-305 Latin marginalia: Gregorius. Terrenis lucris inhiant, honore prelacie gaudent, et non vt prosint, set vt presint, episcopatum desiderant. [Gregory: "They gulp down worldly riches, rejoice in the honor of the prelacy and desire a bishopric, not to be useful but to be in control."] Macaulay observes that the passage is taken loosely from Gregory's Homilies on the Gospel, printed in PL 76:1128 and Regula Pastoralis 2.6. See his note (2.462).

329 Ethna. Mt. Etna, the Sicilian volcano (the highest in Europe, over 10,000 feet), frequently cited in classical sources from Thucydides to Lucretius and repeatedly used in Gower as a metaphor of the explosive fires of Envy. See CA 2.20, 163, 2337, 5.1289, and so on. Perhaps Gower takes the figure from Ovid, Met. 8.868, though references abound in all mythographers.

331 Gower refers to the papal dispute between Clement VII at Avignon and Boniface IX at Rome, both of whom claimed the allegiance of Christendom. He sees the schism in the head of the church as responsible for schismatic heresies such as Lollardry throughout the clergy.

349 Lollardie. A derogatory term implicating Christian fundamentalists who, fol­lowing the views of Wyclif and promulgating the first straight translation of the Bible into English since the Norman Conquest, challenged the authority of the priest­hood and the efficacy of the sacraments.

369 For trowthe mot stonde ate laste. Proverbial. See Whiting T509.

389 ther I love, ther I holde. Proverbial. See Whiting L571. The sense is that one is loyal to what one loves and that that may be the best "defence" (line 388).

434-36 Latin marginalia: Qui vocatur a deo tanquam Aaron. ["Who is called by God, as was Aaron" — Hebrews 5:4.] Aaron was the articulate priest, chosen by God to assist his brother Moses in guiding the children of Israel out of Egypt and through the desert. The full passage (Hebrews 5:1-6) refers to those who choose themselves for the priesthood versus those chosen by God. See Exodus 4:14. In Gower's day, Hebrews was thought to have been written by St. Paul.

462 ff. betwen ernest and game. Gower's objection is to evasiveness by ecclesiasts who turn moral issues into word games with which to advantage their worldly estates. They use fiction ("holy tales") for harm rather than common profit.

484 made ferst the mone. I.e., created the first sphere, beneath which is the chaos of the world (see line 142), the sublunar realm of shadows, doubts, sloth, greed, and such confusions that so afflict the church these days.

491–92 For every man hise oghne werkes / Schal bere. Proverbial. See Whiting M79.

496 mirour of ensamplerie. Good “clerkes” (line 492) reflect the “goodnesse” of “the hyhe God” (line 485), and, thus, though in the realm of sublunar chaos, pro­vide good example of ordinances between “the men and the Godhiede” (line 498).

Latin verses iv (before line 499). Line 1: Vulgaris populus. . . . The tone of these verses is akin to that of the first book of VC, where Gower assails the people for becoming destructively willful during the Rising of 1381.

504-07 Latin marginalia: De statu plebis ut dicunt, secundum accidencium mutabilia. [Concerning the status of the people, as they say, in regard to the changeability of conditions and circumstances.]

511 Wher lawe lacketh, errour groweth. Proverbial. See Whiting L109.

518–19 And therupon his jugement / Gifth every man in sondry wise. “And thereupon every man gives his judgment in diverse ways.”

529-43 Latin marginalia: Nota contra hoc, quod aliqui sortem fortune, aliqui influenciam planetarum ponunt, per quod, vt dicitur, rerum euentus necessario contingit. Set pocius dicendum est, quod ea que nos prospera et aduersa in hoc mundo vocamus, secundum merita et demerita hominum digno dei iudicio proveniunt. [Note against this, that some posit the chance of fortune, some the influence of planets, as the means by which, as is said, the outcome of things happens by necessity. But it should rather be said that those things we call prosperity and adversity in this world come to be according to the merit or demerits of human beings, by the worthy judgment of God.]

567-71 Latin marginalia: Boicius. O quam dulcendo humane vite multa amaritudine aspersa est. [Boethius: "O how much the sweetness of human life is stained by bitterness."] See Consolation Gower's rendition simplifies the wording.

Latin verses v (before line 585). Line 1: Prosper et . . . . The vision of Nebuchadnezzar is frequently depicted at this point in MSS which have miniatures at or near the beginning of CA (see illustrations 2 and 4). Gower's account of the vision is based on Daniel 2:19-45, though Gower expands Daniel's commentary anachronistically (lines 633-821) in order to comment on the decadence of contemporary history. See VC 7, where he uses the same biblical device. For discussion see Introduction, and Peck, “John Gower and the Book of Daniel.”

591-608 Latin marginalia: Hic in prologo tractat de Statua illa, quam Rex Nabugodonosor viderat in sompnis, cuius caput aureum, pectus argenteum, venter eneus, tibie ferree, pedum vero quedam pars ferrea, quedam fictilis videbatur, sub qua membrorum diuersitate secundum Danielis exposicionem huius mundi variacio figurabatur. [Here in the Prologue he discourses about that Statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had seen in dreams, whose head was gold, chest silver, stomach brass, legs iron, but whose feet were some part iron, some part clay, through which diversity of members, according to Daniel's exposition, the variation of this world is figured.] See Daniel 2:31-45. As it is in the book of Daniel itself, the passage was a common locus for medieval historical allegory.

617-24 Latin marginalia: Hic narrat vlterius de quodam lapide grandi, qui, vt in dicto sompnio videbatur, ab excelso monte super statuam corruens ipsam quasi in nichilum penitus contruit. [Here he narrates further concerning the certain great stone, which, as appeared in the said dream, hurtling from a high mountain onto the statue, utterly crushed it almost to nothing.]

619 of sodein aventure. Gower treats fortune (aventure) as a demonstrative com­ponent of God’s will, an important counterforce to the classical notion of the degeneration of time.

626-30 Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur de interpretacione sompnii, et primo dicit de significacione capitis aurei. [Here he speaks concerning the interpretation of the dream, and first he speaks concerning the interpretation of the head of gold.]

635-39 Latin marginalia. Brief Latin directors at the appropriate lines: line 635: De pectore argenteo [Concerning the silver chest]; line 637: De ventre eneo [Concerning the brass stomach]; line 639: De tibeis ferreis [Concerning the iron legs].

641 ff. Latin marginalia: De significacione pedum, qui ex duabus materiis discordantibus adinuicem diuisi extiterant. [Concerning the significance of the feet, which exist in division because of the two mutually discordant materials.]

641–42 the werste of everydel / Is last. Proverbial. See variants in Tilley W918 and W911. The saying is congruent with an entropic theory of history, one which Daniel counters with his theory of divine purpose that he proceeds to explicate.

651-54 Latin marginalia: De lapidis statuam confringentis significacione. [Concerning the significance of the stone shattering the statue.]

658 the laste. Gower projects an apocalyptic conclusion to the old world, after which the new age of the Parousia shall begin.

661-69 Latin marginalia: Hic consequenter scribit qualiter huius seculi regna variis mutacionibus, prout in dicta statua figurabatur, secundum temporum distincciones sencibiliter hactenus diminuuntur. [Here consequently he writes how the kingdoms of this world, because of various mutations, just as they are figured in the said statue, are perceptibly diminished in accord with each distinction of historical times right up to the present.]

663 thus expondeth Daniel. Daniel’s explication satisfies Nebuchadnezzar’s concern by providing meaning to the king’s otherwise depressing vision of the de­gen­eration of time, where worse moves to worst.

670-76 Latin marginalia: De seculo aureo, quod in capite statue designatum est, a tempore ipsius Nabugodonosor Regis Caldee vsque in regnum Ciri Regis Persarum. [Concerning the golden age, which is designated in the statue's head, from the time of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Chaldea, up to the kingdom of Cyrus, king of the Persians.]

688-94 Latin marginalia: De seculo argenteo, quod in pectore designatum est, a tempore ipsius Regis Ciri vsque in regnum Alexandri Regis Macedonie. [Concerning the silver age, which is designated in the chest, from the time of king Cyrus up to the kingdom of Alexander, king of Macedonia.]

698 soffre thei that nedes mote. Proverbial. Variant of Whiting N61. See 1.1714 and 8.1020.

699-705 Latin marginalia: De seculo eneo, quod in ventre designatum est, a tempore ipsius Alexandri vsque in regnum Iulii Romanorum Imparatoris. [Concerning the age of brass, which is designated in the belly, from the time of that Alexander up to the kingdom of Julius, emperor of the Romans.]

731-37 Latin marginalia: De seculo ferreo, quod in tibeis designatum est, a tempore Iulii vsque in regnum Karoli magni Regis Francorum. [Concerning the age of iron, which is designated in the legs, from the time of Julius up to the kingdom of Charles the Great, king of the Franks.]

745 ff. "It is hardly necessary to point out that our author's history is here incorrect. Charlemagne was not called in against the Emperor Leo, who died in the year before he was born, but against the Lombards by Adrian I, and then against the rebellious citizens of Rome by Leo III, on which latter occasion he received the imperial crown" (Mac 2:464). Gower is following Brunetto Latini's account in the Trésor.

759 wise; and. See note to line 155.

772 ff. Macaulay notes (2:464) that “Here again the story is historically inac­curate, but it is not worthwhile to set it straight.” Gower’s historicist/ethical point is plainly evident, despite the deficiency of historical accuracy.

779-806 Latin marginalia: De seculo nouissimis iam temporibus ad similitudinem pedum in discordiam lapso et diuiso, quod post decessum ipsius Karoli, cum imperium Romanorum in manus Longobardorum peruenerat, tempore Alberti et Berengarii incepit: nam ob eorum diuisionem contigit, vt Almanni imperatoriam adepti sunt maiestatem. In cuius solium quendam principem theotonicum Othonem nomine sublimari primitus constituerunt. Et ab illo regno incipiente diuisio per vniuersum orbem in posteros concreuit, vnde nos ad alterutrum diuisi huius seculi consummacionem iam vltimi expectamus. [Concerning the age of the most recent times, in the likeness of the feet, fallen and divided in discord, which began after the passing of that Charles, when the Roman Empire fell to the hands of the Lombards, in the time of Albert and Berengar: for on their account division occurred as the Germans seized the imperial majesty. In this throne they caused to be raised up a certain Teutonic prince, Otto by name. And from the inception of this kingdom, division hardened through the whole world for subsequent generations, whence we expect from one or the other of the divisions the end of this present, last age.]

851-52 divisioun . . . moder of confusioun. On divisioun as a moral crux in CA see Intro­duction. Also see White, “Division and Failure,” p. 600, and Peck, Kingship and Common Profit, pp. 14–22 and 32–35. Right use of memory is the best remedy for division, which is, ultimately, a kind of forgetting. See Chand­ler on three types of remembering — confession, tales, and spiritual memory — that “work to reunite Amans’ divided self” (“Memory and Unity,” p. 18).

881–83 Th’apostel writ . . . Th’ende of the world. Macaulay (2:465) sees an allusion here to St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 10:11–12: “These things . . . are written for our correction, upon whom the ends of the world are come . . . let him take heed lest he fall.”

881-85 Latin marginalia: Hic dicit secundum apostolum, quod nos sumus in quos fines seculi deuenerunt. [Here he speaks in accord with the Apostle, that we are "those upon whom the end of the world has come."] See 1 Corinthians 10:11–12: “these things . . . are written for our correction, upon whom the ends of the world are come. . . . [L]et him take heed lest he fall.” N.b. the apocalyptic overtones of the various references to the world divided against itself in wars, especially lines 883–904 and 1029–44.

904 Wher dedly werre is take on honde. The first of Gower’s antiwar assertions, which remain prominent to the end of his life. See his last English poem In Praise of Peace (ed. Livingston).

910 ff. See MO, lines 26605 ff. and VC 7.509 ff. on the corruption of all creation due to man’s fall.

918-23 Latin marginalia: Hic scribit quod ex diuisionis passione singula creata detrimentum corruptibile paciuntur. [Here he writes that from the suffering of and desire for division, all created things suffer a corrupting diminishment.] "Suffering of and desire for division" seeks to translate divisionis passione. "Suffering" is the routine sense of passio elsewhere to mean, like ME "passioun," both "desire to sin" as well as "suffering" (see e.g., the marginal Latin at line 9). Thus it is likely that an ambiguous sense of "sinful desire for" as well as "suffering of" obtains in the Latin as in the corresponding English here: "man hath passioun / Of seknesse" (Prol.915-16). This ambiguity, however, is absent from the verb for the second Latin clause, paciuntur, as from the corresponding English: "So soffren othre creatures" (Prol.917).

945 Gregoire in his Moral. Moralia VI.16 (PL 75.740). Macaulay (2:465) notes that this idea of man as a microcosm is one of Gower’s favorite citations. Gregory is commenting on Job 5:10 (“Who giveth rain upon the earth, and sendeth waters upon the fields” — Douai), where he gives the sensus mysticus of universa as “man.” See MO, lines 26869 ff., which attributes the “man as a microcosm” idea to Aristotle (see especially line 26929), and VC 7.639 ff. Gregory’s passage is also quoted in RR, lines 19246 ff. See Fox, Mediaeval Sciences, pp. 18–19.

949 ff. Following Gregory's elaboration of Job 5:10 (see note above), Gower delineates the medieval concept of a triparte soul, with intelligence akin to the divine, feeling akin to that of the animal, and growth to that of the vegetable.

967-70 Latin marginalia: Hic dicit secundum euangelium, quod omne regnum in se diuisum desolabitur. [Here he speaks in accord with the Evangile, that "every kingdom divided against itself will be devastated."] See Luke 11:17, with the present tense changed to future.

971–72 Division aboven alle / . . . makth the world to falle. On division as the primary ef­fect of the Fall that leaves the psyche stranded amidst contingencies, see Intro­duction, pp. 11–13, and White (“Division and Failure,” pp. 601–03, 607 ff.) on such bifurcations as soul and body, reason and its antagonists (sex, desire, appetite, complexion, need, etc.), and other forms of fragmentation both so­cial and personal.

974-77 Latin marginalia: Quod ex sue complexionis materia diuisus homo mortalis existat. [That, divided because of the components of his constitution, every human being is mortal.]

975–79 complexioun / Is mad upon divisioun . . . the contraire of his astat. Macaulay: “That is, the opposite elements in his constitution (‘complexioun’) are so much at vari­ance with one another” (2:465).

978 He mot be verray kynde dye. Gower’s theory of death and the corruptibility of mixed elements is in agreement with medical theories of his day. Averroës, following Aristotle’s thesis that all living things consist of mixtures of the primal elements, argues that if bodies were one and the same there would be no contrariety corrupting them. But unlike stones, which have one nature and are permanent, the body is composed of various natures and thus decays (Avicennae Cantica cum Averrois Commentariis, I.19. See Fox, Mediaeval Sciences, p. 34.) Plato explains this idea of corruptibility fully in Timaeus 81c–82b. The Timaeus was the one Platonic dialogue that was well known and honored in the Latin West during the Middle Ages. Although Gower probably did not know the Timaeus firsthand, he certainly knew of it.

982 no final pes be nome. The line anticipates Gower’s conclusion where Venus gives Amans a “peire of bedes” upon which is written “Por reposer” (8.2904–07), put­ting to rest his internal conflict, giving him back his true name “John Gower,” and restoring his quiet vision of “pes” (see below, 8.2913 ff.).

989–90 he may noght laste, / That he ne deieth ate laste. “He may not survive / But that he dies in the end.” The noght . . . That . . . ne idiom occurs repeatedly in Gower, where ne functions not as a negative but as a calque with That to form a relative conjunction “But that,” “Than that.” See MED that conj. 2c on that ne con­structions that the MED glosses as “lest.” Gower’s additional noght alters the sense somewhat. See notes to 1.786–88, 1.2046–47, and 1.2091–93.

991-96 Latin marginalia: Quod homo ex corporis et anime condicione diuisus, sicut sal­ua­cionis ita et dampnacionis aptitudinem ingreditur. [That every human being, di­vided because of the condition of body and soul, is capable of salvation as much as damnation.]

1001 The fieble hath wonne the victoire. In sin, beginning with the fall from Paradise (Prol.1005), the proverb “the weaker has the worse” becomes inverted (so it seems). See Whiting W131 and F110.

1002-06 Latin marginalia: Qualiter Adam a statu innocencie diuisus a paradiso voluptatis in terram laboris peccator proiectus est. [How Adam, divided from a state of in­nocence, was cast as a sinner from a paradise of pleasure into a world of labor.]

1005 ferst began in Paradis. Sin began in Paradise, but it is noteworthy that Gower does not place the blame for divisiveness on Eve. The Latin marginalia at 1002 mentions Adam’s division from innocence, but the Fall is not otherwise linked to gender problems.

1011-17 Latin marginalia: Qualiter populi per vniuersum orbem a cultura dei diuisi, Noe cum sua sequela dumtaxat exceptis, diluuio interierunt. [How the populace of the entire earth, divided from the worship of God, was destroyed in the flood, except for Noah with his following.]

1013 sende. A preterit form. Macaulay cites 1.851, 992, 1452, etc., as parallel exam­ples (2:466).

1018-26 Latin marginalia: Qualiter in edificacione turris Babel, quam in dei contemptum Nembrot erexit, lingua prius hebraica in varias linguas celica vindicta diuidebatur. [How in the building of the Tower of Babel, which Nembrot erected in con­tempt of God, the first language, Hebrew, was divided by heavenly retribution into many languages.]

1022-25 On the “poetic Babel” that Gower, a master at multiple voicing, introduces in this passage — a babel of voices that oppose and even contradict, so that the mind can scarcely contain the contradictions — see Echard, “With Carmen’s Help,” p. 30. Elsewhere in her essay Echard stresses Gower’s awareness of “the uncontrollable nature of text, in both its intellectual complexities and physical manifestations” (p. 10). Throughout the Confessio “language — all language — is shown to be radically unreliable” (p. 9).

1031-41 Latin marginalia: Qualiter mundus, qui in statu diuisionis quasi cotidianis pre­senti tempore vexatur flagellis, a lapide superueniente, id est a diuina potencia vsque ad resolucionem omnis carnis subito conterentur. [How the world, which, in a state of division, is ravaged almost daily by punishments in the present age, will, by the stone descending onto it (that is, by divine power), be suddenly crushed, destroying all flesh.]

1045–52 One reason love is so powerful in Gower’s scheme is that it has the capacity, when experienced wholesomely, to heal division. See lines 967–1044.

1047 loveday. A day set for making peaceful settlement of deadlocked disputes.

1053-54 wolde God . . . An other such as Arion. Echard, “With Carmen’s Help,” pp. 29–30, notes the conditional tense as part of her argument that Gower is keenly aware of the inability of language, even that of the poet, to contain authority in any stable way. Echard agrees with Yeager (John Gower’s Poetic) that Gower may be in search of a new Arion, but that Gower knows how difficult it will be to find him. The story of Arion first appears in Herodotus 1.24. Also see Ovid, Fasti, 2.79–118 ff., Hyginus, Fables 194, and Solinus, cap. 11, for a third-century account of Arion as a dolphin. The story is well known in the later Middle Ages and appears in collections of Latin moralized tales such as those de­scribed in the British Museum Catalogue of Romances and in some versions of the Gesta Roma­norum (for example, see Oesterley, cap. 148). Gower ignores that part of the story which deals with the dolphin and concentrates on Arion the peace­maker to create an effect appropriately reminiscent of the peaceable king­dom in Isaias 11:1–10. See VC 1.i.1–124, for a description of what En­gland might be like if it were to find its Arion. The figure of Arion, with his harp and sense of good measure, becomes a metaphor for the poet himself. See Yeager (John Gower’s Poetic) for an extended analysis of Gower’s Arion poetic. See also Peck, Kingship and Common Profit, pp. 22–23; and Simpson, Sciences and the Self, p. 289.

1053-72 Latin marginalia: Hic narrat exemplum de concordia et vnitate inter homines pro­uocanda; et dicit qualiter quidam Arion nuper Citharista ex sui cantus cithareque consona melodia tante virtutis extiterat, ut ipse non solum virum cum viro, set eciam leonem cum cerua, lupum cum agno, canem cum lepore, ipsum audientes vnanimiter absque vlla discordia adinvicem pacificauit. [Here he tells a story about the stim­ulating of concord and unity among human beings: and he says how a certain Arion, a harper in recent times, was of such power and virtue because of the harmonious melody of his song and his harp that he pacified those hearing him unani­mously and without any discord, not only making mutual peace between man and man, but even lion and deer, wolf and sheep, and hound and hare.]

1056 good mesure. The idea is Pythagorean and could allude to the harmonic ratio of sounds to each other in a well-tempered instrument, though more likely the sense is that the performer kept good rhythm.

1088 In his revisions of the first recension, Gower may have added ten lines. Macaulay (2:466) notes that Sidney College MS concludes the Prologue as follows:

So were it gode at þis tide
Þat eueri man vpon his side
besowt and preied for þe pes
wiche is þe cause of al encres
of worschep and of werldis welþe
of hertis rest of soule helþe
withouten pes stant no þing gode
forthi to crist wiche sched his blode
for pes beseketh alle men
Amen amen amen amen.

Macaulay observes that the Sidney College MS is related to the Stafford MS, which is missing the conclusion to the Prologue. Had they been found in the Stafford MS, Macaulay suggests, “the authority of S would be conclusive in their favour.” The lines were printed by Caxton and Berthelet, with some variation in spelling.




Abbreviations: A: Bodleian Library MS Bodley 902 (SC 27573), fols. 2r–183r; B: Bodleian Library MS Bodley 294 (SC 2449), fols. 1r–197r; C: Corpus Christi College, Oxford MS 67, fols. 1r–209r; F: Bodleian Library MS Fairfax 3 (SC 3883; copy text for this edition), fols. 2r–186r; J: St. John’s College, Cambridge MS B.12 (34), fols. 1r–214r; Mac: G. C. Macaulay; S: Stafford, now Ellesmere 26, fols. 1r–169v; T: Trinity College, Cambridge MS R.3.2 (581), fols. 1r–147v.

1 Of. F: Off. The scribe usually writes ff to indicate a capital letter, as in the first letter of the first words of lines 4, 66, 89, etc., which I have simply transcribed as F. But he occasionally writes -ff for -f in medial and terminal positions. Here, as in line 93, where the words begin sections of the poem, the point is, perhaps, to capitalize the whole word as a section marker — i.e., OF and IF.

29–30 Omitted in S.

*34–*35 Latin marginalia: line 2: Regis Anglie Ricardi secundi. So Mac. B omits.

*65 onwrong every. So Mac. B: outkrong eny. J: outkrong euery.

*75 Which. MS: What. Most other good MSS, including J and F, read Which, so I have followed Mac's emendation here.

*77 may. So B. J: myht. Mac emends to myhte, as in F, though several other manuscripts read may. So I have left the subjunctive in the idiom of the Bodley 294 scribe.

80 office. So S, Mac. F: officie.

83 amendement. So S, F. Mac: amendment.

113 word. So F, J, Mac. S, B: world.

147–320 Omitted in S (missing leaf).

149 whiche. So F. B, Mac: which. J: wheche.

173 resoun. So B, Mac. F, J: reson.

201 erthly. So J, Mac. F: ertly. B: eorþely.

249 which. So B, Mac. F: wich. J: wheche.

280 pacience. So B, J, Mac. F: paciencie.

370 argumenten. So S, B, J, Mac. F: argumeten.

419 com. So F, S, J. B, Mac: come.

495–98 Omitted in S, B, J.

579–84 Omitted in S, B, J.

581 ben. So F. Mac: be.

588 sent. So S, B, J, Mac. F: send.

592 Til. So F, S, B. J: Tyl. Mac: Till.

723 chivalrie. So F. J: cheualrie. Mac emends to chivalerie from S, B for purposes of meter. The stress would fall on the second syllable.

772 Lombardy. F, S: Lombardõ. B: Lumbards. J: Lombardi. Mac: Lombardz.

865 Omitted in B.

957 mistorneth. So S, Mac. F: mistornieth (or, perhaps, mistormeth). B, J: mystorneþ.

1046 ful. So F, S, B. J: foll. Mac: full.

1055–end Omitted in S (lost leaf).

1078 waxeth. So J, Mac. F: waxed. B: wexeþ.



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Confessio Amantis: Prologue

by: John Gower (Author) , Russell A. Peck (Editor) , Andrew Galloway (Translator)


635 L   
670 L   

Torpor, ebes sensus, scola parua labor minimusque
   Causant quo minimus ipse minora canam:
Qua tamen Engisti lingua canit Insula Bruti
   Anglica Carmente metra iuuante loquar
Ossibus ergo carens que conterit ossa loquelis
   Absit, et interpres stet procul oro malus.
Incipit Prologus
   Of hem that writen ous tofore
The bokes duelle, and we therfore
Ben tawht of that was write tho:
Forthi good is that we also
In oure tyme among ous hiere
Do wryte of newe som matiere,
Essampled of these olde wyse,
So that it myhte in such a wyse,
Whan we ben dede and elleswhere,
Beleve to the worldes eere
In tyme comende after this.
Bot for men sein, and soth it is,
That who that al of wisdom writ
It dulleth ofte a mannes wit
To him that schal it aldai rede,
For thilke cause, if that ye rede,
I wolde go the middel weie
And wryte a bok betwen the tweie,
Somwhat of lust, somewhat of lore,
That of the lasse or of the more
Som man mai lyke of that I wryte.
And for that fewe men endite
In oure Englissh, I thenke make
A bok for Engelondes sake,
The yer sextenthe of Kyng Richard.
What schal befalle hierafterward
God wot, for now upon this tyde
Men se the world on every syde
In sondry wyse so diversed,
That it wel nyh stant al reversed,
As for to speke of tyme ago.
The cause whi it changeth so
It needeth nought to specifie,
The thing so open is at ÿe
That every man it mai beholde.
And natheles be daies olde,
Whan that the bokes weren levere,
Wrytinge was beloved evere
Of hem that weren vertuous;
For hier in erthe amonges ous,
If no man write hou that it stode,
The pris of hem that weren goode
Scholde, as who seith, a gret partie
Be lost; so for to magnifie
The worthi princes that tho were,
The bokes schewen hiere and there,
Wherof the world ensampled is;
And tho that deden thanne amis
Thurgh tirannie and crualté
Right as thei stoden in degré,
So was the wrytinge of here werk.
Thus I, which am a burel clerk,
Purpose for to wryte a bok
After the world that whilom tok
Long tyme in olde daies passed.
Bot for men sein it is now lassed,
In worse plit than it was tho,
I thenke for to touche also
The world which neweth every dai,
So as I can, so as I mai.
Thogh I seknesse have upon honde
And longe have had, yit woll I fonde
To wryte and do my bisinesse,
That in som part, so as I gesse,
The wyse man mai ben avised.
For this prologe is so assised
That it to wisdom al belongeth.
What wys man that it underfongeth,
He schal drawe into remembrance
The fortune of this worldes chance,
The which no man in his persone
Mai knowe, bot the god alone.
Whan the prologe is so despended,
This bok schal afterward ben ended
Of love, which doth many a wonder
And many a wys man hath put under.
And in this wyse I thenke trete
Towardes hem that now be grete,
Betwen the vertu and the vice
Which longeth unto this office.
Bot for my wittes ben to smale
To tellen every man his tale,
This bok, upon amendement
To stonde at his commandement,
With whom myn herte is of accord,
I sende unto myn oghne lord,
Which of Lancastre is Henri named.
The hyhe God him hath proclamed
Ful of knyhthode and alle grace.
So woll I now this werk embrace
With hol trust and with hol believe.
God grante I mot it wel achieve.
[The State]
Tempus preteritum presens fortuna beatum
   Linquit, et antiquas vertit in orbe vias.
Progenuit veterem concors dileccio pacem,
   Dum facies hominis nuncia mentis erat:
Legibus vnicolor tunc temporis aura refulsit,
   Iusticie plane tuncque fuere vie.
Nuncque latens odium vultum depingit amoris,
   Paceque sub ficta tempus ad arma tegit;
Instar et ex variis mutabile Cameliontis
   Lex gerit, et regnis sunt noua iura nouis:
Climata que fuerant solidissima sicque per orbem
   Soluuntur, nec eo centra quietis habent.
   If I schal drawe into my mynde
The tyme passed, thanne I fynde
The world stod thanne in al his welthe.
Tho was the lif of man in helthe,
Tho was plenté, tho was richesse,
Tho was the fortune of prouesse,
Tho was knyhthode in pris be name,
Wherof the wyde worldes fame -
Write in cronique - is yit withholde.
Justice of lawe tho was holde,
The privilege of regalie
Was sauf, and al the baronie
Worschiped was in his astat;
The citees knewen no debat,
The poeple stod in obeissance
Under the reule of governance,
And pes, which ryhtwisnesse keste,
With charité tho stod in reste.
Of mannes herte the corage
Was schewed thanne in the visage;
The word was lich to the conceite
Withoute semblant of deceite.
Tho was ther unenvied love,
Tho was the vertu sett above
And vice was put under fote.
Now stant the crop under the rote.
The world is changed overal,
And therof most in special
That love is falle into discord.
And that I take to record
Of every lond, for his partie,
The comune vois which mai noght lie;
Noght upon on, bot upon alle
It is that men now clepe and calle,
And sein the regnes ben divided:
In stede of love is hate guided,
The werre wol no pes purchace,
And lawe hath take hire double face,
So that justice out of the weie
With ryhtwisnesse is gon aweie.
And thus to loke on every halve,
Men sen the sor withoute salve,
Which al the world hath overtake.
Ther is no regne of alle outtake,
For every climat hath his diel
After the tornynge of the whiel,
Which blinde Fortune overthroweth.
Wherof the certain no man knoweth.
The hevene wot what is to done,
Bot we that duelle under the mone
Stonde in this world upon a weer,
And namely bot the pouer
Of hem that ben the worldes guides -
With good consail on alle sides -
Be kept upriht in such a wyse,
That hate breke noght th'assise
Of love, whiche is al the chief
To kepe a regne out of meschief.
For alle resoun wolde this,
That unto him which the heved is
The membres buxom scholden bowe,
And he scholde ek her trowthe allowe,
With al his herte and make hem chiere,
For good consail is good to hiere.
Althogh a man be wys himselve,
Yit is the wisdom more of tuelve;
And if thei stoden bothe in on,
To hope it were thanne anon
That God his grace wolde sende
To make of thilke werre an ende,
Which everyday now groweth newe.
And that is gretly for to rewe
In special for Cristes sake,
Which wolde His oghne lif forsake
Among the men to geve pes.
But now men tellen natheles
That love is fro the world departed,
So stant the pes unevene parted
With hem that liven now adaies.
Bot for to loke, at alle assaies,
To him that wolde resoun seche
After the comun worldes speche
It is to wondre of thilke werre,
In which non wot who hath the werre.
For every lond himself deceyveth
And of desese his part receyveth,
And yet ne take men no kepe.
Bot thilke Lord which al may kepe,
To whom no consail may ben hid,
Upon the world which is betid,
Amende that wherof men pleigne
With trewe hertes and with pleine,
And reconcile love ageyn,
As He which is king sovereign
Of al the worldes governaunce,
And of His hyhe porveaunce
Afferme pes betwen the londes
And take her cause into Hise hondes,
So that the world may stonde appesed
And His Godhede also be plesed.
[The Church]
Quas coluit Moises vetus aut nouus ipse Iohannes,
   Hesternas leges vix colit ista dies.
Sic prius ecclesia bina virtute polita
   Nunc magis inculta pallet vtraque via.
Pacificam Petri vaginam mucro resumens
   Horruit ad Cristi verba cruoris iter;
Nunc tamen assiduo gladium de sanguine tinctum
   Vibrat auaricia, lege tepente sacra.
Sic lupus est pastor, pater hostis mors miserator,
   Predoque largitor, pax et in orbe timor.
   To thenke upon the daies olde,
The lif of clerkes to beholde,
Men sein how that thei weren tho
Ensample and reule of alle tho
Whiche of wisdom the vertu soughten.
Unto the God ferst thei besoughten
As to the substaunce of her scole,
That thei ne scholden noght befole
Her wit upon none erthly werkes,
Which were agein th'estat of clerkes,
And that thei myhten fle the vice
Which Simon hath in his office,
Wherof he takth the gold in honde.
For thilke tyme, I understonde,
The Lumbard made non eschange
The bisschopriches for to change,
Ne yet a lettre for to sende
For dignité ne for provende,
Or cured or withoute cure.
The cherche keye in aventure
Of armes and of brygantaille
Stod nothing thanne upon bataille;
To fyhte or for to make cheste
It thoghte hem thanne noght honeste.
Bot of simplesce and pacience
Thei maden thanne no defence.
The court of worldly regalie
To hem was thanne no baillie.
The vein honour was noght desired,
Which hath the proude herte fyred;
Humilité was tho withholde,
And Pride was a vice holde.
Of holy cherche the largesse
Gaf thanne and dede gret almesse
To povere men that hadden nede;
Thei were ek chaste in word and dede,
Wherof the poeple ensample tok;
Her lust was al upon the bok,
Or for to preche or for to preie,
To wisse men the ryhte weie
Of suche as stode of trowthe unliered.
Lo, thus was Petres barge stiered
Of hem that thilke tyme were,
And thus cam ferst to mannes ere
The feith of Crist and alle goode
Thurgh hem that thanne weren goode
And sobre and chaste and large and wyse.
Bot now men sein is otherwise,
Simon the cause hath undertake,
The worldes swerd on honde is take;
And that is wonder natheles,
Whan Crist Himself hath bode pes
And set it in His Testament,
How now that holy cherche is went
Of that here lawe positif
Hath set, to make werre and strif
For worldes good, which may noght laste.
God wot the cause to the laste
Of every right and wrong also;
But whil the lawe is reuled so
That clerkes to the werre entende,
I not how that thei scholde amende
The woful world in othre thinges,
To make pes betwen the kynges
After the lawe of charité,
Which is the propre dueté
Belongende unto the presthode.
Bot as it thenkth to the manhode,
The hevene is ferr, the world is nyh,
And veine gloire is ek so slyh,
Which coveitise hath now withholde,
That thei non other thing beholde,
Bot only that thei myhten winne.
And thus the werres thei beginne,
Wherof the holi cherche is taxed,
That in the point as it is axed
The disme goth to the bataille,
As thogh Crist myhte noght availe
To don hem riht be other weie.
Into the swerd the cherche keie
Is torned, and the holy bede
Into cursinge, and every stede
Which scholde stonde upon the feith
And to this cause an ere leyth,
Astoned is of the querele.
That scholde be the worldes hele
Is now, men say, the pestilence
Which hath exiled pacience
Fro the clergie in special.
And that is schewed overal,
In eny thing whan thei ben grieved.
Bot if Gregoire be believed,
As it is in the bokes write,
He doth ous somdel for to wite
The cause of thilke prelacie,
Wher God is noght of compaignie.
For every werk as it is founded
Schal stonde or elles be confounded;
Who that only for Cristes sake
Desireth cure for to take,
And noght for pride of thilke astat,
To bere a name of a prelat,
He schal be resoun do profit
In holy cherche upon the plit
That he hath set his conscience.
Bot in the worldes reverence
Ther ben of suche manie glade
Whan thei to thilke astat ben made,
Noght for the merite of the charge,
Bot for thei wolde hemself descharge
Of poverté and become grete.
And thus for pompe and for beyete
The Scribe and ek the Pharisee
Of Moises upon the See
In the chaiere on hyh ben set;
Wherof the feith is ofte let,
Which is betaken hem to kepe.
In Cristes cause alday thei slepe,
Bot of the world is noght forgete;
For wel is him that now may gete
Office in court to ben honoured.
The stronge coffre hath al devoured
Under the keye of avarice
The tresor of the benefice,
Wherof the povere schulden clothe
And ete and drinke and house bothe;
The charité goth al unknowe,
For thei no grein of pité sowe;
And slouthe kepeth the libraire
Which longeth to the saintuaire;
To studie upon the worldes lore
Sufficeth now withoute more;
Delicacie his swete toth
Hath fostred so that it fordoth
Of abstinence al that ther is.
And for to loken over this,
If Ethna brenne in the clergie
Al openly to mannes ÿe,
At Avynoun th'experience
Therof hath gove an evidence
Of that men sen hem so divided.
And yit the cause is noght decided.
Bot it is seid and evere schal,
Betwen tuo stoles lyth the fal
Whan that men wenen best to sitte.
In holy cherche of such a slitte
Is for to rewe unto ous alle;
God grante it mote wel befalle
Towardes him whiche hath the trowthe.
Bot ofte is sen that mochel slowthe,
Whan men ben drunken of the cuppe,
Doth mochel harm, whan fyr is uppe,
Bot if somwho the flamme stanche;
And so to speke upon this branche,
Which proude Envie hath mad to springe,
Of Scisme, causeth for to bringe
This newe secte of Lollardie,
And also many an heresie
Among the clerkes in hemselve.
It were betre dike and delve
And stonde upon the ryhte feith,
Than knowe al that the Bible seith
And erre as somme clerkes do.
Upon the hond to were a schoo
And sette upon the fot a glove
Acordeth noght to the behove
Of resonable mannes us.
If men behielden the vertus
That Crist in erthe taghte here,
Thei scholden noght in such manere,
Among hem that ben holden wise,
The Papacie so desguise
Upon diverse eleccioun,
Which stant after th'affeccioun
Of sondry londes al aboute.
Bot whan God wole, it schal were oute,
For trowthe mot stonde ate laste.
Bot yet thei argumenten faste
Upon the Pope and his astat,
Wherof thei falle in gret debat;
This clerk seith yee, that other nay,
And thus thei dryve forth the day,
And ech of hem himself amendeth
Of worldes good, bot non entendeth
To that which comun profit were.
Thei sein that God is myhti there,
And schal ordeine what He wile,
Ther make thei non other skile
Where is the peril of the feith,
Bot every clerk his herte leith
To kepe his world in special,
And of the cause general,
Which unto holy cherche longeth,
Is non of hem that underfongeth
To schapen eny resistence.
And thus the riht hath no defence,
Bot ther I love, ther I holde.
Lo, thus tobroke is Cristes folde,
Wherof the flock withoute guide
Devoured is on every side,
In lacke of hem that ben unware
Schepherdes, whiche her wit beware
Upon the world in other halve.
The scharpe pricke in stede of salve
Thei usen now, wherof the hele
Thei hurte of that thei scholden hele;
And what schep that is full of wulle
Upon his back, thei toose and pulle,
Whil ther is eny thing to pile.
And thogh ther be non other skile
Bot only for thei wolden wynne,
Thei leve noght, whan thei begynne,
Upon her acte to procede,
Which is no good schepherdes dede.
And upon this also men sein,
That fro the leese which is plein
Into the breres thei forcacche
Her orf, for that thei wolden lacche
With such duresce, and so bereve
That schal upon the thornes leve
Of wulle, which the brere hath tore;
Wherof the schep ben al totore
Of that the hierdes make hem lese.
Lo, how thei feignen chalk for chese,
For though thei speke and teche wel,
Thei don hemself therof no del.
For if the wolf com in the weie,
Her gostly staf is thanne aweie,
Wherof thei scholde her flock defende;
Bot if the povere schep offende
In eny thing, thogh it be lyte,
They ben al redy for to smyte;
And thus, how evere that thei tale,
The strokes falle upon the smale,
And upon othre that ben grete
Hem lacketh herte for to bete.
So that under the clerkes lawe
Men sen the merel al mysdrawe
I wol noght seie in general,
For ther ben somme in special
In whom that alle vertu duelleth,
And tho ben, as th'apostel telleth,
That God of His eleccioun
Hath cleped to perfeccioun
In the manere as Aaron was.
Thei ben nothing in thilke cas
Of Simon, which the foldes gate
Hath lete, and goth in othergate,
Bot thei gon in the rihte weie.
Ther ben also somme, as men seie,
That folwen Simon ate hieles,
Whos carte goth upon the whieles
Of coveitise and worldes Pride,
And holy cherche goth beside,
Which scheweth outward a visage
Of that is noght in the corage.
For if men loke in holy cherche,
Betwen the word and that thei werche
Ther is a full gret difference.
Thei prechen ous in audience
That no man schal his soule empeire,
For al is bot a chirie feire
This worldes good, so as thei telle;
Also thei sein ther is an helle,
Which unto mannes sinne is due,
And bidden ous therfore eschue
That wikkid is, and do the goode.
Who that here wordes understode,
It thenkth thei wolden do the same;
Bot yet betwen ernest and game
Ful ofte it torneth otherwise.
With holy tales thei devise
How meritoire is thilke dede
Of charité, to clothe and fede
The povere folk and for to parte
The worldes good, bot thei departe
Ne thenken noght fro that thei have.
Also thei sein, good is to save
With penance and with abstinence
Of chastité the continence;
Bot pleinly for to speke of that,
I not how thilke body fat,
Which thei with deynté metes kepe
And leyn it softe for to slepe,
Whan it hath elles al his wille,
With chastité schal stonde stille.
And natheles I can noght seie,
In aunter if that I misseye.
Touchende of this, how evere it stonde,
I here and wol noght understonde,
For therof have I noght to done.
Bot He that made ferst the mone,
The hyhe God, of His goodnesse,
If ther be cause, He it redresce.
Bot what as eny man accuse,
This mai reson of trowthe excuse;
The vice of hem that ben ungoode,
Is no reproef unto the goode.
For every man hise oghne werkes
Schal bere, and thus as of the clerkes
The goode men ben to comende,
And alle these othre God amende.
For thei ben to the worldes ÿe
The mirour of ensamplerie,
To reulen and to taken hiede
Betwen the men and the Godhiede.
[The Commons]
Vulgaris populus regali lege subactus
   Dum iacet, vt mitis agna subibit onus.
Si caput extollat et lex sua frena relaxet,
   Vt sibi velle iubet, Tigridis instar habet.
Ignis, aqua dominans duo sunt pietate carentes,
   Ira tamen plebis est violenta magis.
   Now for to speke of the comune,
It is to drede of that fortune
Which hath befalle in sondri londes.
Bot often for defalte of bondes
Al sodeinliche, er it be wist,
A tonne, whanne his lye arist,
Tobrekth and renneth al aboute,
Which elles scholde noght gon oute;
And ek fulofte a litel skar
Upon a banke, er men be war,
Let in the strem, which with gret peine,
If evere man it schal restreigne.
Wher lawe lacketh, errour groweth,
He is noght wys who that ne troweth,
For it hath proeved ofte er this.
And thus the comun clamour is
In every lond wher poeple dwelleth,
And eche in his compleignte telleth
How that the world is al miswent,
And ther upon his jugement
Gifth every man in sondry wise.
Bot what man wolde himself avise,
His conscience and noght misuse,
He may wel ate ferste excuse.
His God, which evere stant in on,
In Him ther is defalte non,
So moste it stonde upon ousselve
Nought only upon ten ne twelve,
Bot plenerliche upon ous alle,
For man is cause of that schal falle.
   And natheles yet som men wryte
And sein that fortune is to wyte,
And som men holde oppinion
That it is constellacion,
Which causeth al that a man doth.
God wot of bothe which is soth.
The world as of his propre kynde
Was evere untrewe, and as the blynde
Improprelich he demeth fame,
He blameth that is noght to blame
And preiseth that is noght to preise.
Thus whan he schal the thinges peise,
Ther is deceipte in his balance,
And al is that the variance
Of ous, that schold ous betre avise.
For after that we falle and rise,
The world arist and falth withal,
So that the man is overal
His oghne cause of wel and wo.
That we fortune clepe so
Out of the man himself it groweth
And who that otherwise troweth,
Behold the poeple of Irael:
For evere whil thei deden wel,
Fortune was hem debonaire,
And whan thei deden the contraire,
Fortune was contrariende,
So that it proeveth wel at ende
Why that the world is wonderfull
And may no while stonde full,
Though that it seme wel besein.
For every worldes thing is vein,
And evere goth the whiel aboute,
And evere stant a man in doute:
Fortune stant no while stille,
So hath ther no man al his wille.
Als fer as evere a man may knowe,
Ther lasteth nothing bot a throwe.
The world stant evere upon debat,
So may be seker non astat:
Now hier now ther, now to now fro,
Now up now doun, this world goth so,
And evere hath don and evere schal,
Wherof I finde in special
A tale writen in the Bible,
Which moste nedes be credible.
And that as in conclusioun
Seith that upon divisioun
Stant, why no worldes thing mai laste,
Til it be drive to the laste.
And fro the ferste regne of alle
Into this day, hou so befalle,
Of that the regnes ben muable
The man himself hath be coupable,
Which of his propre governance
Fortuneth al the worldes chance.
[Nebuchadnezzar's Dream]
Prosper et aduersus obliquo tramite versus
   Immundus mundus decipit omne genus.
Mundus in euentu versatur ut alea casu,
   Quam celer in ludis iactat auara manus.
Sicut ymago viri variantur tempora mundi,
   Statque nichil firmum preter amare deum.
   The hyhe almyhti pourveance,
In whos eterne remembrance
Fro ferst was every thing present,
He hath his prophecie sent,
In such a wise as thou schalt hiere,
To Daniel of this matiere,
Hou that this world schal torne and wende
Til it befalle to his ende.
Wherof the tale telle I schal,
In which it is betokned al.
   As Nabugodonosor slepte,
A swevene him tok, the which he kepte
Til on the morwe he was arise,
For he therof was sore agrise.
To Daniel his drem he tolde,
And preide him faire that he wolde
Arede what it tokne may,
And seide, "Abedde wher I lay,
Me thoghte I syh upon a stage
Wher stod a wonder strange ymage.
His hed with al the necke also
Thei were of fin gold bothe tuo;
His brest, his schuldres, and his armes
Were al of selver, bot the tharmes,
The wombe, and al doun to the kne,
Of bras thei were upon to se;
The legges were al mad of stiel,
So were his feet also somdiel,
And somdiel part to hem was take
Of erthe which men pottes make.
The fieble meynd was with the stronge,
So myhte it wel noght stonde longe.
And tho me thoghte that I sih
A gret ston from an hull on hyh
Fel doun of sodein aventure
Upon the feet of this figure,
With which ston al tobroke was -
Gold, selver, erthe, stiel, and bras –
That al was into pouldre broght,
And so forth torned into noght."
   This was the swevene which he hadde,
That Daniel anon aradde,
And seide him that figure strange
Betokneth how the world schal change
And waxe lasse worth and lasse,
Til it to noght al overpasse.
The necke and hed, that weren golde,
He seide how that betokne scholde
A worthi world, a noble, a riche,
To which non after schal be liche.
Of selver that was overforth
Schal ben a world of lasse worth;
And after that the wombe of bras
Tokne of a werse world it was.
The stiel which he syh afterward,
A world betokneth more hard.
Bot yet the werste of everydel
Is last, whan that of erthe and stiel
He syh the feet departed so,
For that betokneth mochel wo.
Whan that the world divided is,
It moste algate fare amis,
For erthe which is meynd with stiel
Togedre may noght laste wiel,
Bot if that on that other waste;
So mot it nedes faile in haste.
The ston, which fro the hully stage
He syh doun falle on that ymage,
And hath it into pouldre broke,
That swevene hath Daniel unloke,
And seide how that is Goddes myht,
Which whan men wene most upryht
To stonde, schal hem overcaste.
And that is of this world the laste,
And thanne a newe schal beginne,
Fro which a man schal nevere twinne.
Or al to peine or al to pes
That world schal lasten endeles.
[Daniel's Prophecies Fulfilled]
   Lo thus expondeth Daniel
The kynges swevene faire and wel
In Babiloyne the cité,
Wher that the wiseste of Caldee
Ne cowthen wite what it mente;
Bot he tolde al the hol entente,
As in partie it is befalle.
Of gold the ferste regne of alle
Was in that kinges time tho,
And laste manye daies so,
Therwhiles that the monarchie
Of al the world in that partie
To Babiloyne was soubgit;
And hield him stille in such a plit,
Til that the world began diverse.
And that was whan the king of Perse,
Which Cirus hyhte, agein the pes
Forth with his sone Cambises
Of Babiloine al that empire,
Ryht as thei wolde hemself desire,
Put under in subjeccioun
And tok it in possessioun,
And slayn was Baltazar the king,
Which loste his regne and al his thing.
And thus whan thei it hadde wonne,
The world of selver was begonne
And that of gold was passed oute.
And in this wise it goth aboute
Into the regne of Darius;
And thanne it fell to Perse thus,
That Alisaundre put hem under,
Which wroghte of armes many a wonder,
So that the monarchie lefte
With Grecs, and here astat uplefte,
And Persiens gon under fote,
So soffre thei that nedes mote.
And tho the world began of bras,
And that of selver ended was.
Bot for the time thus it laste,
Til it befell that ate laste
This king, whan that his day was come,
With strengthe of deth was overcome.
And natheles yet er he dyde,
He schop his regnes to divide
To knyhtes whiche him hadde served,
And after that thei have deserved
Gaf the conquestes that he wan;
Wherof gret werre tho began
Among hem that the regnes hadde,
Thurgh proud Envie which hem ladde,
Til it befell agein hem thus.
The noble Cesar Julius,
Which tho was king of Rome lond,
With gret bataille and with strong hond
Al Grece, Perse, and ek Caldee
Wan and put under, so that he
Noght al only of th'orient
Bot al the marche of th'occident,
Governeth under his empire,
As he that was hol lord and sire,
And hield thurgh his chivalrie
Of al this world the monarchie,
And was the ferste of that honour
Which tok the name of Emperour.
   Wher Rome thanne wolde assaille,
Ther myhte nothing contrevaille,
Bot every contré moste obeie.
Tho goth the regne of bras aweie,
And comen is the world of stiel,
And stod above upon the whiel.
As stiel is hardest in his kynde,
Above alle othre that men finde
Of metals, such was Rome tho
The myhtieste, and laste so
Long time amonges the Romeins
Til thei become so vileins,
That the fals Emperour Leo
With Constantin his sone also
The patrimoine and the richesse,
Which to Silvestre in pure almesse
The ferste Constantinus lefte,
Fro holy cherche thei berefte.
Bot Adrian, which Pope was,
And syh the meschief of this cas,
Goth into France for to pleigne,
And preith the grete Charlemeine,
For Cristes sake and soule hele
That he wol take the querele
Of holy cherche in his defence.
And Charles for the reverence
Of God the cause hath undertake,
And with his host the weie take
Over the montz of Lombardie;
Of Rome and al the tirandie
With blodi swerd he overcom
And the cité with strengthe nom
In such a wise; and there he wroghte
That holy cherche agein he broghte
Into franchise, and doth restore
The Popes lost, and gaf him more.
And thus whan he his God hath served,
He tok, as he wel hath deserved,
The diademe and was coroned.
Of Rome and thus was abandoned
Th'empire, which cam nevere agein
Into the hond of no Romein;
Bot a long time it stod so stille
Under the Frensche kynges wille,
Til that Fortune hir whiel so ladde,
That afterward Lombardy it hadde,
Noght be the swerd, bot be soffrance
Of him that tho was kyng of France,
Which Karle Calvus cleped was;
And he resigneth in this cas
Th'empire of Rome unto Lowis
His cousin, which a Lombard is.
And so hit laste into the yeer
Of Albert and of Berenger;
Bot thanne upon dissencioun
Thei felle, and in divisioun
Among hemself that were grete,
So that thei loste the beyete
Of worschipe and of worldes pes,
Bot in proverbe natheles
Men sein, ful selden is that welthe
Can soffre his oghne astat in helthe,
And that was on the Lombardz sene;
Such comun strif was hem betwene
Thurgh coveitise and thurgh Envie
That every man drowh his partie,
Which myhte leden eny route,
Withinne burgh and ek withoute.
The comun ryht hath no felawe,
So that the governance of lawe
Was lost, and for necessité,
Of that thei stode in such degré
Al only thurgh divisioun,
Hem nedeth in conclusioun
Of strange londes help beside.
   And thus for thei hemself divide
And stonden out of reule unevene,
Of Alemaine princes sevene
Thei chose in this condicioun,
That upon here eleccioun
Th'empire of Rome scholde stonde.
And thus thei lefte it out of honde
For lacke of grace, and it forsoke,
That Alemans upon hem toke.
And to confermen here astat,
Of that thei founden in debat
Thei token the possessioun
After the composicioun
Among hemself, and therupon
Thei made an emperour anon,
Whos name as the cronique telleth
Was Othes; and so forth it duelleth,
Fro thilke day yit unto this,
Th'empire of Rome hath ben and is
To th'Alemans. And in this wise,
As ye tofore have herd divise
How Daniel the swevene expondeth
Of that ymage, on whom he foundeth
The world which after scholde falle,
Come is the laste tokne of alle.
Upon the feet of erthe and stiel
So stant this world now everydiel
Departed, which began riht tho,
Whan Rome was divided so.
And that is for to rewe sore,
For alway siththe more and more
The world empeireth every day.
Wherof the sothe schewe may,
At Rome ferst if we beginne.
The wall and al the cit withinne
Stant in ruine and in decas;
The feld is wher the paleis was,
The toun is wast, and overthat,
If we beholde thilke astat
Which whilom was of the Romeins,
Of knyhthode and of citezeins,
To peise now with that beforn,
The chaf is take for the corn.
As for to speke of Romes myht,
Unethes stant ther oght upryht
Of worschipe or of worldes good,
As it before tyme stod.
And why the worschipe is aweie,
If that a man the sothe seie,
The cause hath ben divisioun,
Which moder of confusioun
Is wher sche cometh overal,
Noght only of the temporal
Bot of the spirital also.
The dede proeveth it is so,
And hath do many day er this,
Thurgh venym which that medled is
In holy cherche of erthly thing.
For Crist Himself makth knowleching
That no man may togedre serve
God and the world, bot if he swerve
Froward that on and stonde unstable;
And Cristes word may noght be fable.
The thing so open is at ÿe,
It nedeth noght to specefie
Or speke oght more in this matiere;
Bot in this wise a man mai lere
Hou that the world is gon aboute,
The which wel nyh is wered oute,
After the forme of that figure
Which Daniel in his scripture
Expondeth, as tofore is told.
Of bras, of selver, and of gold
The world is passed and agon,
And now upon his olde ton
It stant of brutel erthe and stiel,
The whiche acorden nevere a diel;
So mot it nedes swerve aside
As thing the which men sen divide.
   Th'apostel writ unto ous alle
And seith that upon ous is falle
Th'ende of the world; so may we knowe,
This ymage is nyh overthrowe,
Be which this world was signified,
That whilom was so magnefied,
And now is old and fieble and vil,
Full of meschief and of peril,
And stant divided ek also
Lich to the feet that were so,
As I tolde of the statue above.
And this men sen, thurgh lacke of love
Where as the lond divided is,
It mot algate fare amis.
And now to loke on every side,
A man may se the world divide,
The werres ben so general
Among the Cristene overal,
That every man now secheth wreche,
And yet these clerkes alday preche
And sein, good dede may non be
Which stant noght upon charité.
I not hou charité may stonde,
Wher dedly werre is take on honde.
Bot al this wo is cause of man,
The which that wit and reson can,
And that in tokne and in witnesse
That ilke ymage bar liknesse
Of man and of non other beste.
For ferst unto the mannes heste
Was every creature ordeined,
Bot afterward it was restreigned.
Whan that he fell, thei fellen eke,
Whan he wax sek, thei woxen seke;
For as the man hath passioun
Of seknesse, in comparisoun
So soffren othre creatures.
Lo, ferst the hevenly figures,
The sonne and mone eclipsen bothe.
And ben with mannes senne wrothe;
The purest eir for senne alofte
Hath ben and is corrupt ful ofte,
Right now the hyhe wyndes blowe,
And anon after thei ben lowe,
Now clowdy and now clier it is.
So may it proeven wel be this,
A mannes senne is for to hate,
Which makth the welkne to debate.
And for to se the propreté
Of every thyng in his degree,
Benethe forth among ous hiere
Al stant aliche in this matiere.
The see now ebbeth, now it floweth,
The lond now welketh, now it groweth,
Now be the trees with leves grene,
Now thei be bare and nothing sene,
Now be the lusti somer floures
Now be the stormy wynter shoures,
Now be the daies, now the nyhtes,
So stant ther nothing al upryhtes.
Now it is lyht, now it is derk,
And thus stant al the worldes werk
After the disposicioun
Of man and his condicioun.
Forthi Gregoire in his Moral
Seith that a man in special
The lasse world is properly,
And that he proeveth redely.
For man of soule resonable
Is to an angel resemblable,
And lich to beste he hath fielinge,
And lich to trees he hath growinge;
The stones ben and so is he.
Thus of his propre qualité
The man, as telleth the clergie,
Is as a world in his partie,
And whan this litel world mistorneth,
The grete world al overtorneth.
The lond, the see, the firmament,
Thei axen alle jugement
Agein the man and make him werre.
Therwhile himself stant out of herre,
The remenant wol noght acorde.
And in this wise, as I recorde,
The man is cause of alle wo,
Why this world is divided so.
[Division and Evil]
   Division, the Gospell seith,
On hous upon another leith,
Til that the regne al overthrowe.
And thus may every man wel knowe,
Division aboven alle
Is thing which makth the world to falle,
And evere hath do sith it began.
It may ferst proeve upon a man;
The which, for his complexioun
Is mad upon divisioun
Of cold, of hot, of moist, of drye,
He mot be verray kynde dye,
For the contraire of his astat
Stant evermor in such debat,
Til that o part be overcome,
Ther may no final pes be nome.
Bot otherwise, if a man were
Mad al togedre of o matiere
Withouten interrupcioun,
Ther scholde no corrupcioun
Engendre upon that unité.
Bot for ther is diversité
Withinne himself, he may noght laste,
That he ne deieth ate laste.
Bot in a man yit over this
Full gret divisioun ther is,
Thurgh which that he is evere in strif,
Whil that him lasteth eny lif.
The bodi and the soule also
Among hem ben divided so,
That what thing that the body hateth
The soule loveth and debateth;
Bot natheles fulofte is sene
Of werre which is hem betwene
The fieble hath wonne the victoire.
And who so drawth into memoire
What hath befalle of old and newe,
He may that werre sore rewe,
Which ferst began in Paradis.
For ther was proeved what it is,
And what desese there it wroghte;
For thilke werre tho forth broghte
The vice of alle dedly sinne,
Thurgh which division cam inne
Among the men in erthe hiere,
And was the cause and the matiere
Why God the grete flodes sende,
Of al the world and made an ende
Bot Noë with his felaschipe,
Which only weren saulf be schipe.
And over that thurgh senne it com
That Nembrot such emprise nom,
Whan he the Tour Babel on heihte
Let make, as he that wolde feihte
Agein the hihe Goddes myht,
Wherof divided anon ryht
Was the langage in such entente,
Ther wiste non what other mente,
So that thei myhten noght procede.
And thus it stant of every dede
Wher Senne takth the cause on honde
It may upriht noght longe stonde;
For Senne of his condicioun
Is moder of divisioun
And tokne whan the world schal faile.
For so seith Crist withoute faile,
That nyh upon the worldes ende
Pes and acord awey schol wende
And alle charité schal cesse
Among the men, and hate encresce;
And whan these toknes ben befalle,
Al sodeinly the ston schal falle,
As Daniel it hath beknowe,
Which al this world schal overthrowe,
And every man schal thanne arise
To joie or elles to juise,
Wher that he schal for evere dwelle,
Or straght to hevene or straght to helle.
In hevene is pes and al acord,
Bot helle is ful of such descord
That ther may be no loveday.
Forthi good is, whil a man may,
Echon to sette pes with other
And loven as his oghne brother;
So may he winne worldes welthe
And afterward his soule helthe.
[Example of Arion]
   Bot wolde God that now were on
An other such as Arion,
Which hadde an harpe of such temprure,
And therto of so good mesure
He song, that he the bestes wilde
Made of his note tame and milde,
The hinde in pes with the leoun,
The wolf in pes with the moltoun,
The hare in pees stod with the hound;
And every man upon this ground
Which Arion that time herde,
Als wel the lord as the schepherde,
He broghte hem alle in good acord;
So that the comun with the lord,
And lord with the comun also,
He sette in love bothe tuo
And putte awey malencolie.
That was a lusti melodie,
Whan every man with other low;
And if ther were such on now,
Which cowthe harpe as he tho dede,
He myhte availe in many a stede
To make pes wher now is hate;
For whan men thenken to debate,
I not what other thing is good.
Bot wher that wisdom waxeth wod,
And reson torneth into rage,
So that mesure upon oultrage
Hath set his world, it is to drede;
For that bringth in the comun drede,
Which stant at every mannes dore.
Bot whan the scharpnesse of the spore
The horse side smit to sore,
It grieveth ofte. And now nomore,
As for to speke of this matiere,
Which non bot only God may stiere.
Explicit Prologus

   (see note)

Of those who wrote before us; (t-note)
remain; (see note)
Are instructed from what; then
us here
Cause to be written anew
Exemplified by; wise [men/books]; (see note)
manner; (see note)
are dead
Be left behind for; ear
coming; (see note)
But since men say; true
whoever writes only sententiously
Of the one who reads it all day
that same; if you agree
(see note)
pleasure; learning (wisdom); (see note)
be pleased with what
since; compose; (see note)
plan to make
(see note, for first-recension verses); (see note)
(see note)
knows; time
various ways; changed; (t-note)
nearly stands
Compared to time past
in the old days
more dear
those who
no one; how; stood
reputation of those who
as one may say
those who did
Just as
ignorant clerk; (see note)
Intend to
About; once came about
Long ago
since men see; lessened
plight; then
plan therefore to touch upon
renews [itself]; (see note)
Insofar as I am able and am allowed; (see note)
sickness; (see note)
(see note)
except the good alone; (see note)
be finished up
[As a book] about love
has toppled many a wise person
way I plan to treat (make a discourse); (see note)
In respect to those who (In submission to those who)
pertain; social position; (t-note)
But since; too small; (see note)
for correction; (t-note)
To submit to
that I have the power to finish
(see note)
(see note)
(see note)
its wealth
high time of virtue (strength)
valued by report
Written; chronicles; yet maintained
Justice was then upheld by law
Honored; its estate
peace; justice kissed
shown; face (countenance)
like; concept; (see note); (t-note)
top; root (i.e., upside down)
particular; (see note)
From; part
unanimous voice of the people; (see note)
what; make appeal
see kingdoms at odds
war; obtain
lawyers; put on (donned) their
all sides
see the wound lacking healing ointment
has ruined
has its share
According to
turns over
fact (certainty) no one
moon (i.e., amidst changeability)
in doubt; (see note)
unless; power
Of those who are
way; (t-note)
the court
principal means; (t-note)
who; head; (see note)
also their loyalty accept
And welcome them with all his heart; (see note)
hear; (see note)
that war
Who; own life
give peace; (see note)
peace unequally distributed
at any rate
seek; (t-note)
that strife
no one knows; worse
trouble its share
men are indifferent (take no heed)
But that very
come to pass
[May he] amend; complain
[may he] reconcile
lofty overview
(see note)
When thinking; days of old
(see note)
see; then
those; (see note)
Who; sought
For the material wealth of their community
[So] that; besmirch
Their; (t-note)
[so] that; might flee
(see note)
bankers had not [yet] financed; (see note)
papal provision
Either with or without spiritual duties
power of the church
brigands (irregular troops)
empty (vain)
heart inflamed
practiced (held with)
held to be a vice
Gave; distributed quantities of alms
were needy
Their desire
Either; or; pray
untaught in truth (untrained in loyalty)
St. Peter's ship guided
By those who at that time lived
(see note)
But now [what] men say; contrarywise
proclaimed peace
has departed
From what their [own] formal law; (see note)
Has established; war; contention
material wealth; (t-note)
do not know how
According to
seems to human beings
far; near
also so sly
retained [as servant]
Except what they
wars; (see note)
the moment it is requested
tithe (L. decima, "tenth")
bring about justice by other means
What (i.e., the papacy); health
say; plague
revealed everywhere
(see note)
causes us in part to know
such a priestly estate
benefice (curacy)
such [priestly] estate
by reason give profit
in the manner
established his conscience
(see note)
rid themselves
[Red] Sea
entrusted to them
there is no forgetting
belongs to the Church (sanctuary)
sweet tooth
burns among the clergy; (see note)
people's eyes
(see note)
given; indication
Since men see them
two stools lies the fall
division (schism)
Is regrettable for us all
may well turn out
In respect to whoever has
Unless someone should extinguish the flame
[it] causes
(see note)
to ditch; dig (i.e., work as a plowman)
Is not becoming; advantage
adhered to
dress up
holds according to the inclination
wants, it [the schism] will wear away
must remain; (see note)
debate vigorously; (t-note)
great conflict
pass the time
In respect to
[About] where peril to faith exists
exerts his desire (lays his heart)
To support his own fortunes
Except where; there; (see note)
broken to pieces
want; those who; careless
who spend their wit
On another part of the world
make a profit
pasture land; open
briars; drive out
Their sheep, because they would [like to] steal
By; cruelty; rob
What [the sheep] shall
what the shepherds; lose
something worthless for something good
apply to themselves; part
Their spiritual
With which
reckon (tally)
lot (OF merel, "token," "coin")
a few here and there
those are; [St. Paul] says; (see note)
The ones
summoned (chosen)
sheepfold's gate
Have abandoned; behave contrariously
at Simon's heels
what; heart
the clerical profession
to us; public assembly
cherry harvest fair
Whosoever; their
One would think they would behave accordingly
(see note)
pious stories
detach [themselves]
And do not consider [distributing]
do not know how that fattened body
foods maintain
everything else to its desire
can remain steady
On the chance that I am wrong
it is not my business
moon; (see note)
may He redress it
evil; unrighteous
(see note)
bear; regarding churchmen
righteous will be commended
others may God improve
eye; (t-note)
example; (see note)
guide; warn
(see note)
commons (third estate)
tun (vessel); its lye boils over; (see note)
crack (hole)
before; aware [of it]
(see note)
does not believe
noisy disapproval
(see note)
Every man gives; ways
And not misuse his conscience
stands united
no deficiency
what shall befall
(see note)
the stars
knows; true
its own nature
who should; consider
in accord with how
to them
in turmoil; (see note)
true (believed)
end [of all things]
mutable; (t-note)
has been to blame
(see note)
manner; hear
change and decay; (see note)
its; (t-note)
dream overwhelmed him; remembered
sorely terrified
asked him courteously what
Interpret; signify
both of them
silver; entrails
in part
weak was mingled with
then it seemed to me (see note)
hill on high
(see note)
clay, steel; brass
So that; powder
explained; (see note)
Is an omen of (Portends); vary
grow less and less valuable
becomes worthless
that [the gold] was directly above; (see note)
(see note)
saw; (see note)
of all; (see note)
saw; divided
must unceasingly go wrong
alloyed (mingled)
Unless they both consume one another
mountainous location; (see note)
powder smashed
dream; interpreted (unlocked)
(see note)
Either entirely for pain or peace; (see note)
(see note)
Could not figure out; meant
whole meaning
As in part it has [already]come to pass
(see note)
began to change
Cyrus was named, against the peace
kingdom; possessions
(see note)
overthrew them
their estate elevated
suffer what needs must be; (see note)
(see note)
before; died
arranged for (shaped); to be divided
according to what they
Distributed; booty; won
those who
motivated them
armed might
Not only all of the East
territories of the West
prowess in warfare; (t-note)
of such honor
resist with equal force
(see note)
[Fortune's] wheel
depraved (villainous)
(see note)
by force took
manner; (see note)
sovereignty; causes to be restored
loss of property
(see note); (t-note)
by; permission
was called
(see note)
seldom [it] is
tolerate its own; to be healthy
seen in the case of the
seduced his followers
Whoever might; mob
common law
They had need finally
since they
From Germany
[So] that
strengthen their property
that [which]; in turmoil
gained rulership over
According to the agreement
Under jurisdiction of the Germans
prior to this have heard explained
established by interpretation
Stands; decay
ruined; moreover
compare (weigh)
Rome's power
Scarcely stands; anything
sees the truth
(see note)
unless he
Away from that one (God)
so evident to the eye; (t-note)
come to naught (gone to ruin)
brittle (untrustworthy)
not at all
come apart
(see note)
nearly overthrown
feeble; vile
must continually
conflicts (wars)
seeks vengeance
I do not know how
(see note)
caused by
Who has understanding and intelligence
command (dominion); (see note)
(see note)
mankind's sins made angry
air; on high
sin; to be hated
causes; heavens to be in turmoil
On earth
(see note)
smaller (microcosmic)
proves skillfully
(see note)
sensory perception
as learning teaches us
for his part
make war against him
stands out of kilter (ME herre, "hinge")
(see note)
One; lays
(see note)
(see note)
since his; (see note)
must by [his] very nature die; (see note)
peace be attained; (see note)
Made; one
separation of parts
survive; (see note)
But that he ultimately dies
(see note)
fights [against the body]
(see note)
(see note)
war sorely lament
(see note)
(see note)
sent; (see note)
Except Noah
safe by
besides that; came about
enterprise undertook; (see note)
Had made; fight
immediately; (see note)
none knew
signifies; (see note)
close to (nigh)
shall depart
be resurrected
(see note)
(see note)
(see note)
tunefulness; (t-note)
meter/harmonic ratio?; (see note)
wild animals
citizenry (common people)
such a person
engage in conflict
do not know
goes mad; (t-note)
So that moderation has put licentiousness
In charge of his world
horse's; pierced too sorely
guide (govern); (see note)


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