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Orate pro Anima (Armigeri Scutum)


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.

Orate pro anima (Armigeri scutum): Intended as an epitaph (once inscribed on his tomb, it is no longer visible), it seems likely from the same period and impulse as Dicunt scripture -- i.e., early fall of 1408. Macaulay (4.420) calls attention to CVP, lines 217-24, as a passage similar in style and sentiment. The prose text survives in two distinct versions: C (also surviving in H) and G versions, with the C version probably being the older of the two; the poem itself only appears in G. The form is Leonine hexameters rhyming unisontantly eight times in "-utum."

In G a sketch of two angels holding a shield bearing three lion heads in a chevron is included between the heading and the poem -- presumably Gower's arms. (See Fisher, John Gower, pp. 37-39, and Figure 1.) A similar shield now hangs above his tomb in Southwark Cathedral (see Fisher, John Gower, Figure 2). A drawing of a bier, with candles at head and foot, follows the poem, suggesting G's completion after Gower's death.

Glasgow version

2 Reddidit immo lutum. Compare Genesis 3:19, and CVP, note to lines 218-19,above.

15. Orate pro anima (Armigeri scutum)

[Cotton, Harleian text (no poem)]

Orate pro anima Iohannis Gower. Quicumque enim pro anima ipsius Iohannis
devote oraverit, tociens quociens mille quingentos dies indulgencie, ab ecclesia
rite concessos misericorditer in Domino possidebit.
15. Pray for the Soul

[Cotton, Harleian text (no poem)]

Pray for the soul of John Gower. For whoever devoutly prays for the soul of the
said John will receive each time one thousand five hundred days of indulgence,
mercifully granted in the Lord in due form by the Church.
(see note)

[Glasgow text and poem]

Orantibus pro anima Iohannis Gower, mille quingenti dies indulgencie
misericorditer in Domino conceduntur.
[Glasgow text and poem]

To those praying for the soul of John Gower, one thousand five hundred days of
indulgence are granted mercifully in the Lord.


Armigeri scutum nichil ammodo fert sibi tutum,
Reddidit immo lutum, morti generale tributum.
Spiritus exutum se gaudeat esse solutum,
Est ubi virtutum regnum sine labe statutum.
   The esquire's shield now no longer gives him protection,
   For he has rendered up his clay, the common tribute of death.
   May his spirit rejoice to be rid of it and freed,
   Where the kingdom of virtues is established without stain.

(see note)


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