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Dicunt Scripture


ABBREVIATIONS: CA: Gower, Confessio Amantis; CB: Gower, Cinkante Ballades; Cronica: Gower, Cronica Tripertita; CT: Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales; CVP: Gower, Carmen super multiplici viciorum pestilencia; IPP: Gower, In Praise of Peace; Mac: Macaulay edition; MO: Gower, Mirour de l'Omme; TC: Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde; Thynne: William Thynne, printer, The Works of Geffray Chaucer (1532) [prints IPP from Tr]; Traitié: Gower, Traitié pour essampler les amantz marietz; VC: Gower, Vox Clamantis.

All biblical citations are to the Vulgate text, and, unless otherwise noted, all biblical translations are from the Douai-Rheims. For a list of manuscript abbreviations, please see Manuscripts in the Introduction.


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 the L at the corresponding line.

Dicunt scripture: Perhaps written in conjunction with his will, produced 15 August 1408 and proved 24 October of the same year. See Macaulay 4.xvii; the will is reproduced in translation on 4.xvii-xviii. The form is Leonine elegiac distichs, each line with a separate monosyllabic rhyme.

The text here is from C, read against H, G, and E.

1 ff. Latin marginalia in C: Nota contra mortuorum executors. ["Note against the executors of death."]

1 novissima vite. Undoubtedly intended are the "Four Last Things," i.e., death, judgment, hell, and heaven, which are not scriptural (although thought to be adapted from Paul: compare Hebrews 6:2, 9:27) but traditional or proverbial. See CVP, Marginalia to lines 302 ff.

6 sis memor ergo tue. Perhaps reflecting the care Gower took to create his own monument -- the tomb with its lifelike effigy at St. Mary Overys, its head resting on his three major books; the carefully spelled-out will; provision included there for daily masses for his soul, and an obit sung annually (according to Berthelette, in the preface to his 1532 edition of the Confessio Amantis, quoted in Mac 4.420) "on fryday after the feaste of the blessed pope saynte Gregory." Apparently Gower provided for a monument of some sort for Agnes as well, but nothing of it now remains, nor is a physical description known (although John Bale records an epitaph, presumably attached; see Mac 4.lix, and Hines, Cohen, and Roffey, "Johannes Gower, Armiger, Poeta," p. 27).




14. Dicunt scripture

Dicunt scripture memorare novissima vite;
Pauper ab hoc mundo transiet omnis homo.
Dat fortuna status varios, natura set omnes
Fine suo claudit, cunctaque morte rapit.
Post mortem pauci qui nunc reputantur amici
Sunt memores anime; sis memor ergo tue:
Da, dum tempus habes, tibi propria sit manus heres;
Auferet hoc nemo, quod dabis ipse Deo.
14. They Say in Scripture

They say in Scripture to remember the end of life.
Everyone will pass from this world as a poor man.
Fortune gives various conditions, but Nature brings to an end
All with her own conclusion, seizing everything at death.
After your death few who are now considered friends
Will be mindful of your soul; therefore, you should be mindful of it yourself.
Give, while you have time, let your heir be your own hand;
No one will take away what you yourself give to God.
(see note)

(see note)

(see note)


Go To Orate pro anima (Armigeri scutum)