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Presul Ouile Regis


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.

Presul ouile regis: If a note in the margin of C (see note to lines 1 ff., below) is accurate regarding its subject, then the poem can be dated 1402, the year a great comet was visible across England and the Continent, universally interpreted as presaging disaster. Adam Usk, for example, thought it foretold the death of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, duke of Milan (Chronicle, p. 155). Macaulay (4.420) takes Presul as written for Archbishop Arundel. The text is from C, read against H and G. The form is intricate: three Leonine hexameter couplets with disyllabic collateral rhyme in "-egis" and "-arum" throughout, concluding with an elegiac distich, both disyllabic rhymes being "-arum."

1 ff. Latin marginalia in C: Nota de primordiis Stelle Comate in Anglia. ["Note on the arrival of a comet in England"]

1 morbus . . . macularum. Gower commonly equates heresy with the plague: compare CVP, note to line 11 and O deus immense, line 31, both above; and Unanimes esse qui secula, note to line 6.

2 pestis. See preceding note.

4 insidiarum. Henry's early reign was rife with plots on his life, real and imagined. In 1402, in addition to the Welsh insurrection of Owain Glendower, conspiracies to kill Henry by Sir Roger Clarendon (a bastard son of the Black Prince) and the Austin prior of Launde were put down, as was another hatched by the Franciscans of Winchelsea, up to a dozen of whom Usk reports (Chronicle, p. 175) may have been executed.




11. Presul ouile regis

Presul, ovile regis ubi morbus adest macularum,
Lumina dumque tegis, tenebrescit pestis earum.
Mune pericla gregis, patuit quia stella minarum,
Unde viam regis turbat genus insidiarum.
Velle loco legis mundum nunc ducit avarum,
Sic ubicumque legis, nichil est nisi cordis amarum;
   Quod maneat clarum, stat modo dulce parum.
11. Prelate

O shepherd, a disease of spots affects the king's sheepfold,
And while you hide the light their plague darkens all.
Defend the flock from dangers, for the menacing star has appeared,
By which an invidious race lays ambush on the king's highway.
Greed, not law, now leads an avaricious world;
Thus, wherever you cast your gaze there is nothing but bitterness of heart;
   As should be clear, little sweetness remains.
(see note)

(see note)
(see note)

(see note)


Go To Unanimes esse qui secula